Laurence Sterne,-A Sentimental Journey through France and Italy

 
-1-----

[115]

THE RIDDLE.

PARIS.

WHEN La Fleur came up to
wait upon me at supper, he
told me how sorry the master of the
hotel was for his affront to me in
bidding me change my lodgings.

   A man who values a good night's
rest will not lie down with enmity
in his heart, if he can help it—So I
bid La Fleur tell the master of the
hotel, that I was sorry on my side
for the occasion I had given him—

        I 2              and

[115]

and you may tell him, if you will,
La Fleur, added I, that if the young
woman should call again, I shall not
see her.

   This was a sacrifice not to him,
but myself, having resolved, after so
narrow an escape, to run no more
risks, but to leave Paris, if it was
possible, with all the virtue I enter'd
in.

   C'est deroger à noblesse, Monsieur, said La Fleur, making me a bow
down to the ground as he said it— Et encore, Monsieur, said he, may change
his sentiments—and if (par hasard)
he should like to amuse himself—

                     I find

[117]

I find no amusement in it, said I,
interrupting him—

   Mon Dieu ! said La Fleur—and
took away.

   In an hour's time he came to put
me to bed, and was more than com-
monly officious—something hung
upon his lips to say to me, or ask
me, which he could not get off : I
could not conceive what it was ; and
indeed gave myself little trouble to
find it out, as I had another riddle so
much more interesting upon my mind, which was that of the man's asking
charity before the door of the hotel
—I would have given any thing to
have got to the bottom of it ; and

I 3                  that,

[118]

that, not out of curiosity—'tis so
low a principle of enquiry, in ge-
neral, I would not purchase the grati-
fication of it with a two-sous piece—
but a secret, I thought, which so
soon and so certainly soften'd the
heart of every woman you came near,
was a secret at least equal to the phi-
losopher's stone : had I had both the
Indies, I would have given up one
to have been master of it.

   I toss'd and turn'd it almost all
night long in my brains to no man-
ner of purpose ; and when I awoke in
the morning, I found my spirit as
much troubled with my dreams, as ever the king of Babylon had been

                     with

[119]

with his ; and I will not hesitate to
affirm, it would have puzzled all the
wise men of Paris as much as those
of Chaldea, to have given its inter-
pretation.

I 4                  THE


next section