Paris 3

Vol. II

The Fille De Chambre


What the old French officer had deliver’d upon travelling, bringing Polonius’s advice1 to his son upon the same subject into my head—and that bringing in Hamlet; and Hamlet the rest of Shakespear’s works, I stopp’d 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 Shakespear? C’est un Esprit fort, replied the bookseller—He loves English books; and what is more to his honour, Monsieur, he loves the English too. You speak this so civilly, said I, that ’tis 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 of about twenty, who by her air and dress seemed to be fille de chambre to some devout woman of fashion, came into the shop and asked for Les Egarements du Cœur & de l’Esprit:2 the bookseller gave her the book directly; she pulled out a little green sattin purse run round with a ribband of the same colour, and putting her finger 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 at 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 first told you it, or some faithless shepherd has made it ache, can’st thou ever be sure it is so.—Le Dieu m’en guarde! said the girl.—With reason, said I; for if it is a good one, ’tis pity it should be stolen: ’tis a little treasure to thee, and gives a better air to your face, than if it was dress’d out with pearls.

The young girl listened with a submissive attention, holding her sattin purse by its ribband in her hand all the time—’Tis 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 fill it. I had a parcel of crowns in my hand to pay for Shakespear; and as she had let go the purse entirely, I put a single one in; and tying up the ribband in a bow-knot, returned it to her.

The young girl made me more a humble court’sy than a low one—’twas 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 see the crown, you ’ll remember it—so don’t, my dear, lay it out in ribbands.

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 verité, Monsieur, je mettrai cet argent apart, said she.

When a virtuous convention is made betwixt man and woman, it sanctifies their most private walks: so notwithstanding it was dusky, yet, as both our roads lay the same way, we made no scruple of walking along the Quai de Conti together.

She made me a second court’sy in setting off, 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 thank’d me.

  By PanEris using Melati.

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