Laurence Sterne,-A Sentimental Journey through France and Italy

 
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[50]

THE REMISE DOOR.

CALAIS.

THIS certainly, fair lady!
said I, raising her hand up
a little lightly as I began, must be
one of Fortune's whimsical doings:
to take two utter strangers by their
hands---of different sexes, and per-
haps from different corners of the
globe, and in one moment place
them together in such a cordial situ-
ation, as Friendship herself could
scarce have atchieved for them, had
she projected it for a month---

                     ---And

[51]

And your reflection upon it,
shews how much, Monsieur, she has
embarrassed you by the adventure.---

When the situation is what we
would wish, nothing is so ill-timed as
to hint at the circumstances which
make it so: you thank Fortune, con-
tinued she---you had reason---the
heart knew it, and was satisfied;
and who but an English philosopher
would have sent notice of it to the
brain to reverse the judgment?

In saying this, she disengaged her
hand with a look which I thought
a sufficient commentary upon the
text.

     E 2          It

[52]

It is a miserable picture which I
am going to give of the weakness of
my heart, by owning, that it suffered
a pain, which worthier occasions
could not have inflicted---I was
mortified with the loss of her hand,
and the manner in which I had lost
it carried neither oil nor wine to the
wound: I never felt the pain of a
sheepish inferiority so miserable in
my life.

The triumphs of a true feminine
heart are short upon the discomfi-
tures. In a very few seconds she
laid her hand upon the cuff of my
coat, in order to finish her reply; so
some way or other, God knows how,
I regained my situation.

                     ---She

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---She had nothing to add.

I forthwith began to model a dif-
ferent conversation for the lady,
thinking from the spirit as well as
moral of this, that I had been mi-
staken in her character; but upon
turning her face towards me, the
spirit which had animated the reply
was fled---the muscles relaxed, and
I beheld the same unprotected look
of distress which first won me to her
interest---melancholy! to see such
sprightliness the prey of sorrow.---I
pitied her from my foul; and though
it may seem ridiculous enough to a
torpid heart,---I could have taken her
into my arms, and cherished her,

     E 3          though

[54]

though it was in the open street,
without blushing.

The pulsations of the arteries along
my fingers pressing across hers, told
her what was passing within me: she
looked down---a silence of some mo-
ments followed.

I fear, in this interval, I must
have made some slight efforts to-
wards a closer compression of her
hand, from a subtle sensation I felt
in the palm of my own---not as if
she was going to withdraw hers---
but as if she thought about it---
and I had infallibly lost it a second
time, had not instinct more than rea-
son directed me to the last resource

               in

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in these dangers--- to hold it more loosely,
and in a manner as if I was every
moment going to release it, of my-
self; so she let it continue, till Mon-
sieur Dessein returned with the key;
and in the mean time I set myself to
consider how I should undo the ill
impressions which the poor monk's
story, in case he had told it her,
must have planted in her breast
against me.

                     

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