“I must confess,” answered Mahiette, “that it’s only in Paris you see such Flemings as these.”

“Did you see among the embassy that great Ambassador who’s a hosier?” asked Oudarde.

“Yes,” said Mahiette, “he looks like a Saturn.”

“And that fat one, with a face like a bare paunch,” Gervaise went on; “and the little one, with small, blinking eyes and red eye-lids with half the lashes pulled out like a withered thistle?”

“But their horses are a treat to look at,” said Oudarde, “all dressed after the fashion of their country!”

“Ah, my dear,” interrupted country Mahiette, assuming in her turn an air of superiority, “what would you have said then, if you had seen the horses of the Princess and the whole retinue of the King at the coronation at Reims in ’61—twenty-one years ago! Such housings and caparisons! Some of Damascus cloth, fine cloth of gold, and lined with sable fur; others of velvet and ermine; others heavy with goldsmith’s work and great tassels of gold and silver! And the money that it must all have cost! And the beautiful pages riding them!”

“But for all that,” replied Damoiselle Oudarde dryly, “the Flemings have splendid horses; and yesterday a sumptuous supper was given them by Monsieur the Provost-Merchant at the Hôtel-de-Ville, at which sweetmeats, and hippocras, and spices, and the like delicacies, were set before them.”

“What are you saying, neighbour!” exclaimed Gervaise.

“Why, it was with the Lord Cardinal, at the Petit-Bourbon, that the Flemings supped.”

“Not at all! At the Hôtel-de-Ville!”

“No, it wasn’t—it was at the Petit-Bourbon.”

“I know that it was at the Hôtel-de-Ville,” retorted Oudarde sharply, “for the very good reason that Doctor Scourable made them a speech in Latin, with which they were very well satisfied. My husband told me, and he is one of the sworn booksellers.”

“And I know that it was at the Petit-Bourbon,” responded Gervaise no less warmly, “for I can tell you exactly what my Lord Cardinal’s purveyor set before them: twelve double quarts of hippocras, white, pale, and red; twenty-four boxes of gilded double marchpanes of Lyons; four-and-twenty was torches of two pounds apiece; and six demi-hogsheads of Beaune wine, both white and yellow, the best that could be procured. I hope that’s proof enough! I have it from my husband, who’s Captain of the fifty guards at the Châtelet, who only this morning was making a comparison between the Flemish Ambassadors and those of Prester John and the Emperor of Trebizonde, who came to Paris from Mesopotamia and wore rings in their ears.”

“So true is it that they supped at the Hôtel de Ville,” replied Oudarde, quite unmoved by this string of evidence, “that never was seen so fine a show of meats and delicacies.”

“I tell you they were served by Le Sec, the town sergeant at the Petit-Bourbon, and that is what has put you wrong.”

“At the Hôtel-de-Ville, I say.”

“At the Petit-Bourbon, my dear! And what’s more, they lit up the word ’Hope,’ which stands over the great doorway, with fairy glasses.”

“At the Hôtel-de-Ville! At the Hôtel-de-Ville!—for Husson le Voir played the flute to them.”

  By PanEris using Melati.

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