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Laurence Sterne. (1713–1768). A Sentimental Journey through France and Italy.
The Harvard Classics Shelf of Fiction. 1917.

The Gloves. Paris

THE BEAUTIFUL Grisset rose up when I said this, and going behind the counter, reach’d down a parcel and untied it: I advanc’d to the side over against her: they were all too large. The beautiful Grisset measured them one by one across my hand.—It would not alter the dimensions.—She begg’d I would try a single pair, which seemed to be the least.—She held it open—my hand slipp’d into it at once.—It will not do, said I, shaking my head a little.—No, said she, doing the same thing.

There are certain combined looks of simple subtlety—where whim, and sense, and seriousness, and nonsense, are so blended, that all the languages of Babel set loose together could not express them—they are communicated and caught so instantaneously, that you can scarce say which party is the infecter. I leave it to your men of words to swell pages about it—it is enough in the present to say again, the gloves would not do; so folding our hands within our arms, we both loll’d upon the counter—it was narrow, and there was just room for the parcel to lay between us.

The beautiful Grisset look’d sometimes at the gloves, then sideways to the window, then at the gloves—and then at me. I was not disposed to break silence.—I follow’d her example: so I look’d at the gloves, then to the window, then at the gloves, and then at her—and so on alternately.

I found I lost considerably in every attack—she had a quick black eye, and shot through two such long and silken eyelashes with such penetration, that she look’d into my very heart and reins.—It may seem strange, but I could actually feel she did.—

—It is no matter, said I, taking up a couple of the pairs next me, and putting them into my pocket.

I was sensible the beautiful Grisset had not ask’d above a single livre above the price.—I wish’d she had asked a livre more, and was puzzling my brains how to bring the matter about.—Do you think, my dear Sir, said she, mistaking my embarrassment, that I could ask a sou too much of a stranger—and of a stranger whose politeness, more than his want of gloves, has done me the honor to lay himself at my mercy?—M’en croyez capable?—Faith! not I, said I; and if you were, you are welcome.—So counting the money into her hand, and with a lower bow than one generally makes to a shopkeeper’s wife, I went out, and her lad with his parcel followed me.