Laurence Sterne. (17131768). A Sentimental Journey through France and Italy.
The Harvard Classics Shelf of Fiction. 1917.
68. The Supper
A SHOE coming loose from the fore foot of the thillhorse, at the beginning of the ascent of mount Taurira, the postilion dismounted, twisted the shoe off, and put it in his pocket; as the ascent was of five or six miles, and that horse our main dependence, I made a point of having the shoe fastend on again, as well as we could; but the postilion had thrown away the nails, and the hammer in the chaise-box being of no great use without them, I submitted to go on.
He had not mounted half a mile higher, when coming to a flinty piece of road, the poor devil lost a second shoe, and from off his other fore foot. I then got out of the chaise in good earnest; and seeing a house about a quarter of a mile to the left hand, with a great deal to do I prevailed upon the postilion to turn up to it. The look of the house, and of everything about it, as we drew nearer, soon reconciled me to the disaster.It was a little farm-house, surrounded with about twenty acres of vineyard, about as much cornand close to the house, on one side, was a potagerie of an acre and a half, full of everything which could make plenty in a French peasants houseand on the other side was a little wood, which furnishd wherewithal to dress it. It was about eight in the evening when I got to the houseso I left the postilion to manage his point as he couldand for mine, I walkd directly into the house.
They were all sitting down together to their lentil soup; a large wheaten loaf was in the middle of the table; and a flagon of wine at each end of it, promised joy thro the stages of the repastt was a feast of love.
The old man rose up to meet me, and with a respectful cordiality would have me sit down at the table; my heart was sat down the moment I enterd the room; so I sat down at once like a son of the family; and to invest myself in the character as speedily as I could, I instantly borrowed the old mans knife, and taking up the loaf, cut myself a hearty luncheon; and as I did it, I saw a testimony in every eye, not only of an honest welcome, but of a welcome mixd with thanks that I had not seemd to doubt it.
Was it this; or tell me, Nature, what else it was which made this morsel so sweetand to what magic I owe it, that the draught I took of their flagon was so delicious with it, that they remain upon my palate to this hour?