Waiters, porters, and boys, when asked if they know French, answer with the greatest assurance, "Oui" or "Un peu," and they try in a thousand ways to make themselves understood, laughing themselves sometimes at the eccentric contortion of their speech, and ending every answer with "S'il vous plait" or a "Pardon, monsieur;" which are often said so prettily and yet are so out of place that they make one laugh even against one's will.
He arose in a terrible passion, slouched his funnel down over his eyes, swore a vast oath, uttered a threat of some character, which I did not precisely comprehend, and finally made me a low bow and departed, wishing me, in the language of the archbishop in "Gil Bias," beaucoup de bonheur et un peu plus de bon sens. His departure afforded me relief.
A new train of thoughts was roused by these words in Olivia's mind; and looking at me, she eagerly inquired why the journey to Petersburg was to be given up, if she was in no danger? I assured her that Josephine spoke at random, that my intentions with regard to the embassy to Russia were unaltered. "Seulement retarde un peu," said Josephine, who was intent only upon her own selfish object.
It is my opinion, that if democracy were formed to-morrow, it would be danced away in a week; or if every pedigree in France were burned in this evening's fire, you would have the Boulevards crowded with marquises and marchionesses before the month was over. Is my friend un peu philosophe?"
"Who would travel without adventures?" and she made an expressive gesture. "Romantic?" "Hm! tant soit peu." "I am all attention: begin." "You promise not to tell?" "Not for the world: torture could not induce me to divulge a single word." "Well, the way it came about was this: Annie and I had been sent from England to a small French town on the coast, for the benefit of the warm sea-water baths.
Yet, though the wheels of life rolled round with such an alluring smoothness, they did not roll of themselves; the skill and care of trained mechanicians were needed to keep them going; and the task was no light one. 'Il y a peu de choses, he wrote, 'aussi difficiles et aussi dangereuses que le commerce des hommes. The sentence, true for all ages, was particularly true for his own.
But here, too, great attention must be had to the difference of age, rank, and situation. A 'marechale' of fifty must not be played with like a young coquette of fifteen; respect and serious 'enjouement', if I may couple those two words, must be used with the former, and mere 'badinage, zeste meme d'un peu de polissonerie', is pardonable with the latter.
When I reminded him that I could only have done such a thing by turning traitor, he replied, 'Les grands âmes se soucient peu des petits moraux. It was not worth while to reason with a man who had neither little morals nor great ones, so I merely replied that from the genius and situation of the country the thing was impracticable; and he answered, 'That depends on the estimate we form of the human passions, and of the means of influencing them. Burr would neither regard a scheme of usurpation as visionary, he is sanguine and visionary to a degree that will be his ruin, nor be restrained by any reluctance to occupy an infamous place in history."
Lies, I have no doubt to some people, but I was compelled to be truthful to this man who carried a gentle and open countenance with him. No gentleman could have answered me more politely than he did now. "Sir I am astonish oui un peu, but if there is anyting I can tell you, anyting I can show you I shall be ver glad. The mill how do you find dat, Sir?
However, his native manhood prevailed over that morbid sensitiveness which, born out of the union of pride and poverty, has all the effects of vanity, and yet is not vanity itself. The Count was at home, a thin spare man with a narrow but high forehead, and an expression of countenance keen, severe, and 'un peu moqueuse.