Laurence Sterne,-A Sentimental Journey through France and Italy

 
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[68]

IN THE STREET.

CALAIS.

HAVING, on the first sight of the
lady, settled the affair in my
fancy, "that she was of the better
"order of beings"---and then laid it
down as a second axiom, as indisput-
able as the first, that she was a wi-
dow, and wore a character of dis-
tress---I went no further; I got ground
enough for the situation which pleased
me---and had she remained close be-
side my elbow till midnight, I should
have held true to my system, and
considered her only under that gene-
ral idea.

                   She

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She had scarce got twenty paces
distant from me, ere something within
me called out for a more particular
inquiry---it brought on the idea of a
further separation---I might possibly
never see her more---the heart is for
saving what it can; and I wanted the
traces through which my wishes might
find their way to her, in case I should
never rejoin her myself: in a word,
I wish'd to know her name---her fa-
mily's---her condition; and as I knew
the place to which she was going, I
wanted to know from whence she
came: but there was no coming at
all this intelligence: a hundred little
delicacies stood in the way. I form'd
a score different plans---There was

       F 3            no

[70]

no such thing as a man's asking her
directly---the thing was impossible.

A little French debonaire captain,
who came dancing down the street,
shewed me, it was the easiest thing
in the world; for popping in betwixt
us, just as the lady was returning back
to the door of the Remise, he intro-
duced himself to my acquaintance,
and before he had well got announ-
ced, begg'd I would do him the ho-
nour to present him to the lady---I
had not been presented myself--- so
turning about to her, he did it just
as well by asking her, if she had come
from Paris? No, she was going
that route, she said.---Vous n'êtes pas
de Londres?
--- She was not, she replied.

                   ---Then

[71]

---Then Madame must have come
through Flanders---Apparemment vous
êtes Flamande?
said the French cap-
tain---The lady answered, she was.---
Peutetre de Lisle? added he---She
said, she was not of Lisle.---nor Ar-
ras?---nor Cambray?---nor Ghent?---
nor Brussels? She answered, she was
of Brussels.

He had the honour, he said,
to be at the bombardment of it last
war--- that it was finely situated, pour
cela
---and full of noblesse when the
Imperialists were driven out by the
French (the lady made a slight curtsy)
--- so giving her an account of the af-
fair, and of the share he had had in

           F 4            it---   

[72]

it---he begg'd the honour to know
her name--- so made his bow.

Et Madame a son Mari? said
he, looking back when he had made
two steps---and without staying for an
answer--- danced down the street.

Had I served seven years' appren-
ticeship to good breeding, I could
not have done as much.

                     


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