I think I can see the precise and distinguishing marks of national characters more in these nonsensical minuti, than in the most important matters of state; where great men of all nations talk and stalk so much alike, that I would not give ninepence to chuse amongst them.
I was so long in getting from under my barbers hands, that it was too late of thinking of going with my letter to Madame R*** that night: but when a man is once dressed at all points for going out, his reflections turn to little account; so taking down the name of the Hotel de Modene1 where I lodged, I walkd forth without any determination where to goI shall consider of that, said I, as I walk along.
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 Opera 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 along in search of a face not likely to be disordered by such an interruption, till at last, this hitting my fancy, I had walkd 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
Tres volontiers; 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 dors with her, I should have saidThis woman is grateful.
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 takeyou must turn first to your left handmais prenez gardethere are two turns; and be so good as to take the secondthen go down a little way and youll see a church, and when you are passd 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 crossand there, any one will do himself the pleasure to shew you
She repeated her instructions three times over to me with the same good naturd patience the third time as the firstand if tones and manners have a meaning, which certainly they have, unless to hearts which shut them outshe seemd really interested, that I should not lose myself.
I will not suppose it was the Womans 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 lookd 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 tittle of what she had saidso looking back and seeing her still standing in the door of the shop as if to look whether I went right or notI returned back to ask her whether the first turn was to my right or leftfor that I had absolutely forgotIs it possible! said she, half laughingTis very possible, replied I, when a man is thinking more of a Woman, than of her good advice.
As this was the real truthshe 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 calld a lad out of the back- shop, to get ready a parcel of glovesI 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 walkd in with her to the far side of the shop, and taking up the ruffle in my hand
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