« PreviousContinue »
FRANCE AND ITALY.
THE FILLE DE CHAMBRE
T the old French officer had' delivered -upon travelling, bringing Polonius's advice to his son upon the same subject into my head—and that bringing in Hamlet, and Hamlet the rest of Shakspeare's works, I stopped at the Quai de Conti in my return home, to purchase the whole set.
The bookseller said he had not a set in the world —Comment! said I; taking one up out of a set which lay upon the counter betwixt us—He said they were sent him only to be got bound, and were to be sent back to Versailles in the morning. to the Count de B .
And does the Count de B , said I, read Shakspeare? C'est un Esprit fort; replied the bookseller; ~—He loves English books; and, what is mare.tahis honour, Monsieur, he loves the English too. You speak this so civilly, said I, that it is enough to oblige an Englishman to lay out a louis d'or or two at your shop—The bookseller made a bow, and was going to say something, when a young decent girl about twenty, who by her air and dress seemed to be fille de chambre to some devout woman of sashion, came into the shop and asked for Les Egarements du Cxur et de I'Esprit; the bookseller gave her the book directly; she pulled out a little green satin purse, run round with riband of the same colour, and putting her singer and thumb into it, she took out the money, and paid for it. As I had nothing more to stay me in the shop, we both walked out of the door together.
—And what have you to do, my dear, said I, with The Wanderings of the Heart, who scarce know yet you have one? nor, till love has sirst told you it, or some saithless shepherd has made it ache, canst thou
ever be sure it is so Le Dieu men garde! said the
girl.—With reason, said I for if it is a good one,
"tis pity it should be stolen: it is a little treasure to thee, and gives a better air to your sace, than if it was dressed out with pearls.
The young girl listened with a submissive attention, holding her satin purse by its riband in her
hand all the time. It is a very small one, said I,
taking hold of the bottom of it—she held it towards me—and there is very little in it, my dear, said I; but be but as good as thou art handsome, and heaven will sill it: I had a parcel of crowns in my hand to pay for Shakspeare; and as she had let go the purse entirely, I put a single one in; and, tying up the riband in a bow-knot, returned it to her.
The young girl made me more an humble courtesy than a low. one—it was one of those quiet thankful sinkings, where the spirit bows itself down—the body does no more than tell it. I never gave a girl a crown in my life which gave me half the pleasure.
My advice, my dear, would not have been worth a pin to you, said I, if I had not. given this along with it: 'but now, when you fee the crown, you will remember it—so do not, my dear, lay it out in ribands.
Upon my word, Sir, said the girl, earnestly, I am incapable—in saying which, as is' usual in little bargains of honour, she gave me her hand—En verite, Monsieur, je mettrai cet argent apart, said she.
When a virtuous convention is made betwixt man and woman, it sanctisies their most private walks: so notwithstanding it was dulky, yet as both our roads lay the same way, we made no scruple of walking along the.the Quai de Conti together..
She made me a second courtesy in setting osf, and before we got twenty yards from the door, as if she had not done enough before, she made a sort of a little stop, to tell me again—she thanked me.
It was a small tribute, I told her, which I could not avoid paying to virtue, and would not be mistaken in the person I had been rendering it to for the world—but I see innocence, my dear, in your sace —and foul besal the man who ever lays a snare in its way!
The girl seemed affected some way or other with what I said—she gave a low sigh 1 found I was
not empowered to inquire at all after it—so said nothing more till I got to the corner of the Rue de Nevers where we were to part.
—But is this the way, my dear, said I, to the hotel de Modene? she told me it was—or, that I might go by the Rue de Guenegualt, which was the- next turn—Then I will go, my dear, by the Rue de Guenegualt, said I, for two reasons; sirst I shall please myself, and next I shall give you the protection of' my company as sar on your way as I can. The girl
was sensible I was civil and said, she wished the
hotel de Modene was in the Rue de St. Pierre.
You live there? said I. She told me she was fille de chambre to Madame R****—Good God! said I, it is the very lady for whom I have brought a letter
from Amiens the girl told me, that Madame
R****, she believed, expected a stranger with a letter, and was impatient to fee him—so I desired the girl to present my compliments to Madame R****, and say I would certainly wait upon her in themorning.
We stood still at the corner of the Rue de Neverswhilst this passed—We then stopped a moment while slie disposed of her Egarements du Caur. fye. more
commodioufly than carrying them in her hand
they were two volumes; so I held the second for her, whilst she put the sirst into her pocket; and then she held her pocket, and I put in the other after it.
It is sweet to feel by what sine-spun threads oui? affections are drawn together.