Laurence Sterne,-A Sentimental Journey through France and Italy

 
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THE PULSE.

PARIS.

HAIL ye small sweet courtesies
of life, for smooth do ye make
the road of it! like grace and beauty
which beget inclinations to love at
first sight; 'tis ye who open this door
and let the stranger in.

---Pray, Madame, said I, have
the goodness to tell me which way
I must turn to go to the Opéra
comique:
---Most willingly, Monsieur,
said she, laying aside her work---

I had given a cast with my eye
into half a dozen shops as I came

VOL. I.             M          along

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along in search of a face not likely
to be disordered by such an interrup-
tion; till at last, this hitting my
fancy, I had walked in.

She was working a pair of ruffles
as she sat in a low chair on the far
side of the shop facing the door---

---Très voluntiers; most willingly,
said she, laying her work down upon
a chair next her, and rising up from
the low chair she was sitting in,
with so chearful a movement and so
chearful a look, that had I been
laying out fifty louis d'ors with her,
I should have said---"This woman is
" grateful."

              You

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You must turn, Monsieur, said
she, going with me to the door of
the shop, and pointing the way down
the street I was to take--- you must
turn first to your left hand---mais
prenez guarde
---
there are two turns;
and be so good as to take the
second---then go down a little way
and you'll see a church, and when
you are past it, give yourself the
trouble to turn directly to the right,
and that will lead you to the foot of
the Pont-Neuf, which you must cross---
and there any one will do himself
the pleasure to shew you---

She repeated her instructions three
times over to me, with the same
good-natur'd patience the third time

M 2          as

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as the first;---and if tones and manners
have a meaning, which certainly
they have, unless to hearts which
shut them out---she seemed really
interested, that I should not lose
myself.

I will not suppose it was the wo-
man's beauty, notwithstanding she
was the handsomest grisset, I think,
I ever saw, which had much to do
with the sense I had of her courtesy;
only I remember, when I told her
how much I was obliged to her, that
I looked very full in her eyes,---and
that I repeated my thanks as often
as she had done her instructions.

I had not got ten paces from the
door, before I found I had forgot

              every

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every tittle of what she had said---so
looking back, and seeing her still
standing in the door of the shop as
if to look whether I went right or
not---I returned back, to ask her
whether the first turn was to my right
or left---for that I had absolutely
forgot.---Is it possible! said she, half
laughing.---'Tis very possible, replied
I, when a man is thinking more of
a woman, than of her good advice.

As this was the real truth---she
took it, as every woman takes a
matter of right, with a slight courtesy.

---Attendez! said she, laying her
hand upon my arm to detain me,
whilst she called a lad out of the

M 3          back-

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back-shop to get ready a parcel of
gloves. I am just going to send him,
said she, with a packet into that
quarter, and if you will have the
complaisance to step in, it will be
ready in a moment, and he shall
attend you to the place.--- So I
walk'd in with her to the far side of
the shop, and taking up the ruffle
in my hand which she laid upon the
chair, as if I had a mind to sit, she
sat down herself in her low chair, and
I instantly sat myself down besides
her.

---He will be ready, Monsieur, said
she, in a moment---And in that mo-
ment, replied I, most willingly would
I say something very civil to you for

              all

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all these courtesies. Any one may do
a casual act of good nature, but a
continuation of them shews it is a part
of the temperature; and certainly,
added I, if it is the same blood which
comes from the heart, which de-
scends to the extremes (touching her
wrist) I am sure you must have one
of the best pulses of any woman in
the world---Feel it, said she, holding
out her arm. So laying down my
hat, I took hold of her fingers in one
hand, and applied the two fore-fingers
of my other to the artery---

---Would to heaven! my dear Eu-
genius, thou hadst passed by, and
beheld me sitting in my black coat,
and in my lack-a-day-sical manner,

M 4          counting

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counting the throbs of it, one by
one, with as much true devotion as
if I had been watching the critical
ebb or flow of her fever--- How
wouldst thou have laugh'd and mo-
ralized upon my new profession?---
and thou shouldst have laugh'd and moralized on---Trust me, my dear
Eugenius, I should have said, "there
"are worse occupations in this world
"than feeling a woman's pulse."---But
a Grisset's! thou wouldst have said---
and in an open shop! Yorick---

---So much the better: for when
my views are direct, Eugenius, I
care not if all the world saw me
feel it.

           


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