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in the evening when I got to the house—so I left the postillion to manage his point as he could—and for mine, I walk'd directly into the house.
The family consisted of an old grey-headed man and his wife, with five or six sons and sons-in-law, and their several wives, and a joyous genealogy out of them.
They were all sitting down together to their lentilsoup; a large wheaten loaf was in the middle of the table; and a flaggon of wine at each end of it, promised joy through the stages of the repast—'twas a feast of love.
The old man rose up to meet me, and with a respectful cordiality would have me sit down at the table; my heart was set down the moment I enter'd the room ; 80 I sat down at once like a son of the family; and to invest myself in the character as speedily as I could, I instantly borrowed the old man's knife, and taking up the loaf, cut myself a hearty luncheon; and as I did it, I saw a testimony in every eye, not only of an honest welcome, but of a welcome mix'd with thanks that I had not seem'd to doubt it.
Was it this; or tell me, Nature, what else it was that made this morsel so sweet- -and to what magic I owe it, that the draught I took of their flaggon was so delicious with it, that they remain upon my palate to this hour?
If the supper was to my taste- -the grace which followed it was much more so.
supper was over, the old man gave a knock upon the table with the haft of his
knife, to bid them prepare for the dance: the moment the signal was given, the women and girls ran all together into a back apartment to tye up their Ritual hair—and the young men to the door to wash their faces, and change their sabots ; and in three minutes every soul was ready upon a little esplanade before the house to begin–The old man and his wife came out last, and placing me betwixt them, sat down upon a sopha of turf by the door.
The old man had some fifty years ago been no mean performer upon the vielle- -and, at the age he was then of, touch'd it well enough for the purpose. His wife sung now-and-then a little to the tune—then intermitted—and join'd her old man again as their children and grand-children danced before them.
It was not till the middle of the second dance, when for some pauses in the movement wherein they all seem'd to look up, I fancied I could distinguish an elevation of spirit different from that which is the cause or the effect of simple jollity.--In a word, I thought I beheld Religion mixing in the dance- but as I had never Seen her so engaged, T should have look'd
upon it now as one of the illusions of an imagination which is eternally misleading me, had not the old man, as soon as the dance ended, said that this was their constant way; and that all his life long he had made it a rule, after supper was over, to call out his family to dance and rejoice; believing, he said, that a cheerful and contented mind was the best sort of thanks to Heaven that an illiterate peasant could pay
THE CASE OF DELICACY.
THEN you have gain'd the top of mount Taurira,
you run presently down to Lyons-adieu then to all rapid movements !
'Tis a journey of caution; and it fares better with sentiments, not to be in a hurry with them; so I contracted with a Voiturin to take his time with a couple of mules, and convey me in my own chaise safe to Turip through Savoy.
Poor, patient, quiet, honest people! fear not: your poverty, the treasury of your simple virtues, will not be envied you by the world, nor will your vallies . be invaded by it. —Nature ! in the midst of thy disorders, thou art still friendly to the scantiness thou hast created —with all thy great works about thee, little hast thou left to give, either to the scythe or to the sicklebut to that little thou grantest safety and protection ; and sweet are the dwellings which stand so shelter'd.
Let the way-worn traveller vent his complaints upon the sudden turns and dangers of your roads—your rocks—your precipices—the difficulties of getting upthe horrors of getting down-mountains impracticable —and cataracts, which roll down great stones from their summits, and block his road up—The peasants had been all day at work in removing a fragment of this kind between St Michael and Madane'; and by the time
my Voiturin got to the place, it wanted full two hours of completing before a passage could any how be gain’d: there was nothing but to wait with patience— 'twas a wet and tempestuous night : so that by the delay, and that together, the Voiturin found himself obliged to keep up five miles short of his stage at a little decent kind of an inn by the road-side.
I forthwith took possession of my bed-chambergot a good fire-order'd supper; and was thanking Heaven it was no worse- -when a voiture arrived with a lady in it and her servant-maid.
As there was no other bed-chamber in the house, the hostess, without much nicety, led them into mine, telling them, as she usher'd them in, that there was nobody in it but an English gentleman—that there were two good beds in it, and a closet within the room which held another.—The accent in which she spoke of this third bed did not say much for it—however, she said there were three beds, and but three people and she durst say, the gentleman would do any thing to accommodate matters.— I left not the lady a moment to make a conjecture about it-80 instantly made a declaration that I would do any thing in my power.
As this did not amount to an absolute surrender of my bed-chamber, I still felt myself so much the roprietor, as to have a right to do the honours of it
so I desired the lady to sit down—pressed her into the warmest seat-call’d for more wood-desired the hostess to enlarge the plan of the supper, and to favour us with the very best wine.
The lady had scarce warm’d herself five minutes at the fire, before she began to turn her head back, and give a look at the beds; and the oftner she cast her eyes
the more they return'd perplex'd—I felt for her --and for myself; for in a few minutes, what by her looks, and the case itself, I found myself as much embarrassed as it was possible the lady could be herself.
That the beds we were to lie in were in one and the same room, was enough simply by itself to have excited all this_but the position of them, for they stood parallel
, and so very close to each other, as only/ to allow space for a small wicker chair betwixt them,
rendered the affair still more oppressive to us—they
up moreover near the fire, and the projection of the chimney on one side, and a large beam which cross’d the room on the other, form’d a kind of recess for them that was no way favourable to the nicety of our sensations
-if any thing could have added to it, it was that the two beds were both of them so very small, as to cut us off from every idea of the lady and the maid lying together; which in either of them, could it have been feasible, my lying beside them, though a thing not to be wish’d, yet there was nothing in it so terrible which the imagination might not have pass'd over without torment.
As for the little room within, it offer'd little or no consolation to us ; 'twas a damp cold closet, with a half dismantled window-shutter, and with a window which had neither glass or oil paper in it to keep out the tempest of the night.
I did not endeavour to stifle my cough when the lady gave a peep into it; so it reduced the case in course to this alternative—that the lady should sacrifice her health to her feelings, and take up with the closet herself, and abandon the bed next mine to her maid- or that the girl should take the closet, &c. &c.
The lady was a Piedmontese of about thirty, with a glow of health in her cheeks.- -The maid was a Lyonoise of twenty, and as brisk and lively a French girl as ever moved. There were difficulties every way
-and the obstacle of the stone in the road, which brought us into the distress, great as it appeared whilst the
peasants were removing it, was but a pebble to what lay in our ways now- I have only to add, that it did not lessen the weight which hung upon our spirits, that we were both too delicate to communicate what we felt to each other upon the occasion.
We sat down to supper ; and had we not had more