Laurence Sterne,-A Sentimental Journey through France and Italy

 
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[40]

IN THE STREET.

CALAIS.

IT must needs be a hostile kind
of a world, when the buyer (if
it be but of a sorry post-chaise) can-
not go forth with the seller there-
of into the street, to terminate the
difference betwixt them, but he in-
stantly falls into the same frame of
mind, and views his conventionist
with the same sort of eye, as if he
was going along with him to Hyde-
park corner to fight a duel. For my
own part, being but a poor sword's-
man, and no way a match for Mon-
sieur Dessein, I felt the rotation of

                      all


[41]

all the movements within me, to
which the situation is incident---I
looked at Monsieur Dessein through
and through---ey'd him as he walked
along in profile---then, en face---
thought he look'd like a Jew---
then a Turk---disliked his wig---
cursed him by my gods---wished
him at the devil---

---And is all this to be lighted
up in the heart for a beggarly ac-
count of three or four louisd'ors,
which is the most I can be over-
reach'd in?---Base passion! said I,
turning myself about, as a man na-
turally does upon a sudden reverse of
sentiment---base ungentle passion!
thy hand is against every man, and

                      every

[42]

every man's hand against thee---
Heaven forbid! said she, raising her
hand up to her forehead, for I had
turned full in front upon the lady
whom I had seen in conference with
the monk---she had followed us
unperceived--- Heaven forbid indeed!
said I, offering her my own--- she
had a black pair of silk gloves, open
only at the thumb and two fore-
fingers, so accepted it without re-
serve---and I led her up to the door
of the Remise.

Monsieur Dessein had diabled the
key above fifty times before he found
out he had come with a wrong one
in his hand: we were as impatient as
himself to have it open'd; and so

                      attentive

[43]

attentive to the obstacle, that I con-
tinued holding her hand almost with-
out knowing it: so that Monsieur
Dessein left us together with her hand
in mine, and with our faces turned
towards the door of the Remise, and
said he would be back in five
minutes.

Now a colloquy of five mi-
nutes, in such a situation, is worth
one of as many ages with your
faces turned towards the street:
in the latter case, 'tis drawn from
the objects and occurrences with-
out--- when your eyes are fixed upon
a dead blank---you draw purely from
yourselves. A silence of a single
moment upon Mons. Dessein's

                 leaving

[44]

leaving us, had been fatal to the
situation--- she had infallibly turned
about---so I begun the conversation
instantly---

---But what were the temptations,
(as I write not to apologise for the
weaknesses of my heart in this tour,
--- but to give an account of them)---
shall be described with the same
simplicity, with which I felt them.


             


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