Laurence Sterne. (17131768). A Sentimental Journey through France and Italy.
The Harvard Classics Shelf of Fiction. 1917.
40. The Passport. Paris
WHEN I got home to my hotel, La Fleur told me I had been inquired after by the Lieutenant de Police.The deuce take it! said II know the reason. It is time the reader should know it, for in the order of things in which it happened, it was omitted; not that it was out of my head; but that, had I told it then, it might have been forgot nowand now is the time I want it.
I had left London with so much precipitation, that it never enterd my mind that we were at war with France; and had reachd Dover, and lookd through my glass at the hills beyond Boulogne, before the idea presented itself; and with this in its train, that there was no getting there without a passport.
Go but to the end of a street, I have a mortal aversion for returning back no wiser than I set out; and as this was one of the greatest efforts I had ever made for knowledge, I could less bear the thoughts of it; so hearing the Count dehad hired the packet, I beggd he would take me in his suite. The Count had some little knowledge of me, so made little or no difficultyonly said, his inclination to serve me could reach no further than Calais, as he was to return by way of Brussels to Paris; however, when I had once passd there, I might get to Paris without interruption; but that in Paris I must make friends and shift for myself.Let me get to Paris, Monsieur le Count, said Iand I shall do very well. So I embarkd, and never thought more of the matter.
When La Fleur told me the Lieutenant de Police had been inquiring after methe thing instantly recurredand by the time La Fleur had well told me, the master of the hotel came into my room to tell me the same thing, with this addition to it, that my passport had been particularly askd after: the master of the hotel concluded with saying, He hoped I had one.Not I, faith! said I.
The master of the hotel retired three steps from me, as from an infected person, as I declared thisand poor La Fleur advanced three steps towards me, and with that sort of movement which a good soul makes to succor a distressd onethe fellow won my heart by it; and from that single trait, I knew his character as perfectly, and could rely upon it as firmly, as if he had served me with fidelity for seven years.
Mon seigneur! cried the master of the hotelbut recollecting himself as he made the exclamation, he instantly changed the tone of it.If Monsieur, said he, has not a passport, (apparemment) in all likelihood he has friends in Paris who can procure him one.Not that I know of, quoth I, with an air of indifference.Then, certes, replied he, youll be sent to the Bastille or the Châtelet, au moins. Poo! said I, the king of France is a good-naturd soulhell hurt nobody.Cela nempêche pas, said heyou will certainly be sent to the Bastille to-morrow morning.But Ive taken your lodgings for a month, answerd I, and Ill not quit them a day before the time for all the kings of France in the world. La Fleur whisperd in my ear, that nobody could oppose the king of France.