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A SHOE Coming loose from the forefoot of the thill-horse at the beginning of the ascent of Mount Taurira, the postilion dismounted, twisted the shoe off, and put it in his pocket. As the ascent was of five or six miles, and that horse our main dependence, I made a point of having the shoe fastened on again as well as we could; but the postilion had thrown away the nails; and, the hammer in the chaise-box being of no great use without them, I submitted to go on.
He had not mounted half a mile higher, when coming to a flinty piece of road, the poor devil lost a second shoe, and from off his other fore-foot. I then got out of the chaise in good earnest; and seeing a house about a quarter of a mile to the left hand, with a great deal to do I prevailed upon the postilion to turn up to it. The look of the house, and of everything about it, as we drew nearer, soon reconciled me to the disaster. It was a little farm-house, surrounded with about twenty acres of vineyard, about as much corn; and close to the house, on one side, was a potagerie of an acre and a half, full of everything which could make plenty in a French peasant's house; and on the other side was a little wood, which furnished wherewithal to dress it. It was about eight in the evening when I got to the
house: so I left the
postilion to manage his point as he could; and, for mine, I walked directly into the house.
The family consisted of an old gray-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 lentil-soup; a large wheaten loaf was in the middle of the table; and a flagon 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 entered the room: so I sat down at once,
- 202 of
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 mixed with thanks that I had not seemed 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 flagon 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.