Laurence Sterne,-A Sentimental Journey through France and Italy

 
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THE TEMPTATION.

PARIS.

WHEY I alighted at the hotel,
the porter told me a young
woman with a band-box had been that
moment enquiring for me.—I do not
know, said the porter, whether she
is gone away or no. I took the key
of my chamber of him, and went
up stairs ; and when I had got with-
in ten steps of the top of the landing
before my door, I met her coming
easily down.

   It was the fair fille de chambre I had walked along the Quai de Conti

                     with:

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with: Madame de R**** had sent
her upon some commission to a mer-
chande
de modes
within a step or two
of the hotel de Modene ; and as I had
fail'd in waiting upon her, had bid
her enquire if I had left Paris ; and
if so, whether I had not left a letter
address'd to her.

   As the fair fille de chambre was so
near my door, she return'd back and
went into the room with me for a
moment or two whilst I wrote a
card.

   It was a fine still evening in the
latter end of the month of May—
the crimson window curtains (which
were of the same colour of those of

                     the

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the bed) were drawn close—the sun
was setting, and reflected through
them so warm a tint into the fair fille
de chambre'
s face—I thought she
blush'd—the idea of it made me
blush myself— we were quite alone ;
and that super-induced a second blush
before the first could get off.

   There is a sort of a pleasing half
guilty blush, where the blood is
more in fault than the man—'tis sent
impetuous from the heart, and virtue
flies after it—not to call it back, but
to make the sensation of it more
delicious to the nerves— 'tis asso-
ciated.—

                     But

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   But I'll not describe it—I felt
something at first within me which
was not in strict unison with the
lesson of virtue I had given her
the night before—I sought five mi-
nutes for a card—I knew I had not
one. — I took up a pen—I laid it
down again — my hand trembled—
the devil was in me.

   I know as well as as any one he is an adversary, whom if we resist he will
fly from us—but I seldom resist him
at all; from a terror, that though I
may conquer, I may still get a hurt
in the combat—so I give up the
triumph, for security; and instead
of making him fly, I ge-
nerally fly myself.

                     The

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   The fair fille de chambre came close
up to the bureau where I was looking
for a card—took up first the pen I
cast down, then offered to hold me
the ink : she offer'd it so sweetly, I
was going to accept it—but I durst
not—I have nothing, my dear, said
I, to write upon.—Write it, said she, simply, upon any thing—

   I was just going to cry out, Then
I will write it, fair girl! upon thy
lips.—

   If I do, said I, I shall perish—
so I took her by the hand, and led
her to the door, and begg'd she would
not forget the lesson I had given her
—She said, indeed she would not —

                     and

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and as she utter'd it with some ear-
nestness, she turned about, and gave
me both her hands, closed together,
into mine—it was impossible not to
compress them in that situation—I
wish'd to let them go ; and all the
time I held them, I kept arguing
within myself against it—and still I
held them on. — In two minutes I
found I had all the battle to fight
over again—and I felt my legs and
every limb about me tremble at the
idea.

   The foot of the bed was within a
yard and a half of the place where
we were standing—I had still hold of
her hands— and how it happened I
can give no account, but I neither

                     ask'd

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ask'd her—nor drew her—nor did I
think of the bed—but so it did hap-
pen, we both sat down.

   I'll just shew you, said the fair
fille de chambre,
the little purse I have
been making to-day to hold your
crown. So she put her hand into
her right pocket, which was next me,
and felt for it some time—then into
into the left—" She had lost it."—I
never bore expectation more quietly
— it was in her right pocket at last—
she pull'd it out ; it was of green
taffeta, lined with a little bit of white
quilted sattin, and just big enough
to hold the crown—she put it into
my hand; it was pretty ; and I held it
ten minutes with the back of my hand

VOL. II.        H         refting

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   resting upon her lap—looking some-
times at the purse, sometimes on one
side of it.

   A stitch or two had broke out in
the gathers of my stock— the fair
fille de chambre,
without saying a word,
took out her little hussive, threaded
a small needle, and sew'd it up—
I foresaw it would hazard the glory
of the day ; and as she pass'd her hand
in silence across and across my neck
in the manoeuvre, I felt the laurels
shake which fancy had wreath'd
about my head.

   A strap had given way in her
walk, and the buckle of her shoe was
just falling off—See, said the fille de

                     chambre,

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chambre,
holding up her foot—I
could not from my soul but fasten the
buckle in return, and putting in the
strap—and lifting up the other foot
with it, when I had done, to see both
were right—in doing it too suddenly
—it unavoidably threw the fair fille de
chambre
off her centre—and then—

          H 2           THE 


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