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 advanced 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 their dimensions.—She begg’d I would try a single pair, which seemed to be the least.—She held it open;—my hand slipped 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 infector. 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 lolled upon the counter—it was narrow, and there was just room for the parcel to lay between us.
The beautiful Grisset looked 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 followed her example: so, I looked 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 asked above a single livre above the price.—I wish’d she had asked a livre more, and was puzzling my brains how to p. 604bring the matter about.—Do you think, my dear Sir, said she, mistaking my embarrassment, that I could ask a sous too much of a stranger—and of a stranger whose politeness, more than his want of gloves, has done me the honour 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. (from Laurence Sterne, A Sentimental Journey Through France and Italy, 1768)
THE CUFF. DAYTON.
The gruff Proprietor returned from the stall across from hers, where she had been eating a brownie, when I said this.
She had wanted a cream puff, she explained, but wouldn’t you know that they had run out. But the brownie, which was studded with chocolate chips was a fair substitute, she declared.
I pointed to the cuff I had in mind. It was made of a warm, conker-colored leather with a brass clasp. How do you like your cuff to fit? said she. —I hesitated;— I’ve never worn one, I confessed, so I don’t know. Oho! said she, well let’s try some on.
Some people like a cuff to fit quite tightly, she observed, so that it doesn’t slide around and the clasp stays put in the same place. Let’s try this one said she, picking up the one I had chosen. I held out my left wrist aloft; —the gruff Proprietor wrapped the cuff around my wrist tenderly and fastened the clasp. Oh that’s very loose, said she, twisting it to show me how easily it moved around my wrist;—yes, said I, that seems too loose.
Here, we’ll try another one on for size, said she; and then I can custom fit the one you like to just the right size. —Oh, really! I exclaimed, isn’t that too much trouble? Oh no, it’s no problem at all, said she.
The gruff Proprietor fastened a reddish tinted one around my wrist. —The stiff leather snugly bound my wrist like a corset. She tugged at it to show me that it wouldn’t move at all. The leather will soften right up as it ages, she murmured. How does that feel, she asked.
It feels tight, I said, a bit too tight, I added.
There are certain combined looks of simple subtlety,—where whim, and sense, and seriousness, and nonsense, are so blended, that all the languages of the blogosphere set loose together, could not express them;—they are communicated and caught so instantaneously, that you can scarce say which party is the infector. I leave it to your women of words to swell pages about it—it is enough in the present to say again, the cuff would not do.
All right then, she said, I’ll fit it for you so it’s just in between.
She picked up the brown leather cuff and set it on her work bench, hammering and tugging at the clasp, removing and then re-riveting it, adjusting its position so as to tighten the cuff. Try this now, she said. It was still too loose. Your wrist is very slender, said she, I’ll tighten it a bit more. She hammered and plied at the cuff a bit more. Try this now, said she, fastening it once again around my wrist. Now it fit closely but not tightly. Perfect, said I. She nodded her agreement.
What do I owe you, I asked. Aw … well … let’s see, I’ll give you a discount, so …. so let’s say 25. Oh thank you! said I, let me see if I have cash. I dug around in my wallet, but I just had a large wad of ones. I think I’ll need to use a card, I’m afraid, said I. That’s no problem at all ma’am, said she, let me get my phone. I handed the gruff Proprietor my card; — she swiped it and I signed my name shakily with my index finger across the screen. Thank you so much, said I, warmly, for the discount and also for fitting it especially to me. It was my pleasure said she, nodding her head.