Laurence Sterne,-A Sentimental Journey through France and Italy

 
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[108]

THE CASE OF CONSCIENCE.

PARIS.

I WAS immediately followed up
by the master of the hotel, who
came into my room to tell me I must
provide lodgings elsewhere.—How
so, friend ? said I.—He answer'd,
I had had a young woman lock'd up
with me two hours that evening in
my bed-chamber, and 'twas against
the rules of his house.—Very well,
said I, we'll all part friends then— for
the girl is no worse—and I am no
worse—and you will be just as I found
you.—It was enough, he said, to

                     overthrow

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overthrow the credit of his hotel.—
Voyez-vous, Monsieur, said he, poin-
ting to the foot of the bed we had
been sitting upon. — I own it had
something of the appearance of an
evidence; but my pride not suffering
me to enter into any detail of the case,
I exhorted him to let his soul sleep in
peace, as I resolved to let mine do
that night, and that I would dis-
charge what I owed him at break-
fast.

   I should not have minded, Monsieur,
said he, if you had twenty girls
— 'Tis a score more, replied I, in-
terrupting him, than I ever reckon'd
upon—Provided, added he, it had

  6                   been

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been but in a morning.—And does
the difference of the time of the day
at Paris make a difference in the sin?
— It made a difference, he said, in the
scandal.—I like a good distinction in
my heart ; and cannot say I was in-
tolerably out of temper with the
man.—I own it is necessary, re-assumed
the master of the hotel, that a stranger
at Paris should have the opportuni-
ties presented to him of buying lace
and silk stockings and ruffles, et tout cela—and 'tis nothing if a woman
comes with a band box.—O' my
conscience, said I, she had one ; but
I never look'd into it.—Then.
Monsieur, said he, has bought no-
thing.—Not one earthly thing, replied
I.—Because, said he, I could recom-

   3                  mend

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mend one to you who would use you
en conscience
.—But I must see her this
night, said I.—He made me a low
bow, and walk'd down

   Now shall I triumph over this
maitre d'hotel
,
cried I— and what
then? Then I shall let him see I
know he is a dirty fellow. — And what
then?—What then!—I was
too near myself to say it was for
the sake of others.— I had no good
answer left—there was more of spleen
than principle in my project, and I
was sick of it before the execution.

   In a few minutes the Grisset came in with her box of lace— I'll buy

                     nothing

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nothing, however, said I, within my-
self.

   The Grisset would shew me every
thing—I was hard to please : she
would not seem to see it ; she open'd
her little magazine, and laid all her laces
one after another before me— un-
folded and folded them up again one by one with the most patient sweetness
—I might buy—or not—she would
let me have every thing at my own
price—the poor creature seem'd
anxious to get a penny ; and laid her-
self out to win me, and not so much
in a manner which seem'd artful, as
in one I felt simple and caressing.

                     If

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   If there is not a fund of honest
cullibility in man, so much the worse
—my heart relented, and I gave up
my second resolution as quietly as the
first—Why should I chastise one for
the trespass of another ? If thou
art tributary to this tyrant of an
host, thought I, looking up in her
face, so much harder is thy bread.

   If I had not had more than four
Louis d'ors in my purse, there was no
such thing as rising up and shewing
her the door, till I had first laid
three of them out in a pair of ruffles.

   —The master of the hotel will
share the profit with her—no mat-

VOL. II.        I          ter

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ter— then I have only paid as many
a poor soul has paid before me for
an act he could not do, or think
of.

                     THE


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