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A History of the French Novel, Vol. 1

Sidenote Nicodeme takes Javotte home from church

[Sidenote: Nicodeme takes Javotte home from church.]

This new kind of gallantry [_his removing the offensive copper coins as pretended "change" for his pistole_] was noticed by Javotte, who was privately pleased with it, and really thought herself under an obligation to him. Wherefore, on their leaving the church, she allowed him to accost her with a compliment which he had been meditating all the time he was waiting for her. This chance favoured him much, for Javotte never went out without her mother, who kept her in such a strait fashion of living that she never allowed her to speak to a man either abroad or at home. Had it not been so, he would have had easy access to her; for as she was a solicitor's daughter and he was an advocate, they were in relations of close affinity and sympathy--such as allow as prompt acquaintance as that of a servant-maid with a _valet-de-chambre_.[264]

As soon as the service was over and he could join her, he said, as though with the most delicate attention, "Mademoiselle, as far as I can judge, you cannot have failed to be lucky in your collection, being so deserving and so beautiful." "Alas! Sir," replied Javotte in the most ingenuous fashion, "you must excuse me. I have just been counting it up with the Father Sacristan, and I have only made 65 livres 5 sous.

Now, Mademoiselle Henriette made 90 livres a little time since; 'tis true she collected all through the forty hours'[265] service, and in a place where there was the finest Paradise ever seen." "When I spoke," said Nicodeme, "of the luck of your collection, I was not only speaking of the charity you got for the poor and the church; I meant as well what you gained for yourself." "Oh, Sir!" replied Javotte, "I assure you I gained nothing. There was not a farthing more than I told you; and besides, can you think I would butter my own bread[266] on such an occasion? 'Twould be a great sin even to think of it." "I was not speaking," said Nicodeme, "of gold or silver. I only meant that nobody can have given you his alms without at the same time giving you his heart." "I don't know," quoth Javotte, "what you mean by hearts; I didn't see one in the plate." "I meant," added Nicodeme, "that everybody before whom you stopped must, when he saw such beauty, have vowed to love and serve you, and have given you his heart. For my own part I could not possibly refuse you mine." Javotte answered him naively, "Well! Sir, if you gave it me I must have replied at once, 'God give it back to you.'"[267] "What!" cried Nicodeme rather angrily, "can you jest with me when I am so much in earnest, and treat in such a way the most passionate of all your lovers?" Whereat Javotte blushed as she answered, "Sir, pray be careful how you speak. I am an honest girl. I have no lovers. Mamma has expressly forbidden me to have any." "I have said nothing to shock you," replied Nicodeme. "My passion for you is perfectly honest and pure, and its end is only a lawful suit." "Then, Sir," answered Javotte, "you want to marry me? You must ask my papa and mamma for that; for indeed I do not know what they are going to give me when I marry." "We have not got quite so far yet," said Nicodeme. "I must be assured beforehand of your esteem, and know that you have admitted me to the honour of being your servant." "Sir," said Javotte, "I am quite satisfied with being my own servant, and I know how to do everything I want."

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