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pipe from his workshop below and brought it
to bear upon his hospitable board. He gilds
the numerous picture frames that adorn his
house, he places stands and corner cupboards,
he nails down carpets, he knocks up curtains
it is true that he fails in making his nails or
screws keep together those unlucky gilded
heads of curtain pins which, in every French
house, seem only placed to fall, with a
clatter, regularly every time the curtains are

Monsieur is very jocose: he knows every
trick at cards, and no end to sleight of hand
marvels; he can send a five franc piece
through the table and you hear it fall into a
tumbler beneath, even while you think you
are holding it in your hand enveloped in a
handkerchief which he is whisking away; his
dog can do things, taught by him, that no
other dog can. If an acquaintance boasts of
having made a good leap, he has made one at
least three times as good; if a race has been
run successfully, he can run twice as far and
fast; he is the best rider of the country,
which perhaps is not saying much; and as for
sporting, no one has ever caught so many
trout or such remarkably large pike. His
friends are always playing him practical jokes
but he is always more than even with them,
and never, by any chance, out of humour if
defeated in any of his plans, as he has
instantly a better to replace the failure. He
once, not only invented, but executed in
miniature, a break to ward off danger in a
railroad collision; he was about to apply for
a patent for it, when decision was given that
it would inevitably cause the death of all the
passengers, even if it succeeded in stopping the
trains; he was very confident about this
discovery, and exhibited his pretty toy of a
machine on his table to all comers, but I never
ask about it now, and have not heard of any
new wonders brought to light by his
mechanical genius. He has made a little gutta
percha fish, whose scales move and whose
body is induced to take natural curves, to
deceive the finny fools who trust in it; in
this he has improved on the lumpy model
made in England, which was sent him as
superior to French bait: he has been offered
a large sum for his secret, but declines it.
Monsieur is very gay and sings a great deal
as he runs up and down stairs, but he,
fortunately, does not play on any instrument. If
his musical genius has not been developed he
makes it up in his passion for pictures; his
walls are hung with chef d'oeuvres by unknown
masters with impossible Dutch names, whose
force appeared to lie in solitary windmills
placed on gray heaths, overshadowed by
ominous dark clouds in bundles; while others
come out grandly in cabinet pictures of
fat-faced maidens, holding shining brass pots at
open windows, the seats strewn with carrots,
and the whole adorned with gaudy curtains,
in the manner of the first-rate masters in this
impressive style. He has a disinterested
friend of the Jewish persuasion who kindly
sacrifices occasionally a miracle of art of this
description at his requestalways for a good
consideration. Madame is extremely
suspicious of this friend, and, whenever she has
an opportunity, intercepts his letters, and
does not mention the fact to her husband that
a fine occasion is within his reach of becoming
possessor of another treasure. Monsieur
covers a good deal of canvas with his own
inspirations in oil, for which he sometimes
buys stupendous frames at sales, which he
regilds and hangs up.

Madame never misses attending the Saturday
market, even though the weather is
unfavourable, and is always smartly dressed, as
she is sure to meet more than one neighbour
in whose eyes she would not like to appear in
deshabille; "for you conceive," she justly
remarks, "that one is looked upon according to
one's costume, and every one knows that my
husband is making money." The same motive
actuates her on Sunday when she goes to the
twelve o'clock mass, which Monsieur, who
does not go, slyly designates "Longchamps,
a place for brilliant toilettes." He is, however,
quite as anxious as his wife that she
should do him credit by her attire, and
attends minutely to the effect of her colours;
a piece of connubial care perhaps worthy of
imitation in England. Madame Obé has an
intimate friend who frequently goes to
England; and, having an Anglo-mania,
furnishes her house as nearly in an English
style as she can manage it. There is some
rivalry between the two ladies on this subject;
and one piece of lately acquired furniture I
found had caused much anxiety, as well as
admiration, in the breast of my hostess. I
was taken to see this coveted ornament, and
found it to be an enormous circular mirror
of the old English school, the frame adorned
with the full complement of eagles,
wheat-sheaves, wreaths of laurel with berries, and
sprawling Cupids. My evident want of enthusiasm
has given a different turn to Madame
Obé's feelings, and she has not mentioned her
friend's acquisition since; but has occasionally
thrown out hints that the taste of some folks
is "rococo," and that they are apt to be
seduced by "rossignols" a favourite term in
these parts to express old-fashioned articles.

I cannot help being a good deal struck by
the fact that, amongst a people so fond of
change as the French, there are some customs
which never alter. For instance, no new
year arrives which does not bring in its
train the same amount of bons-bons, and gifts
of all imaginable sorts, for young and old.
Revolutions come and go, and dynasties sink
and rise, but all France still keeps constant
to its sugar-plums. A great day, before the
greatest, is the sixth of December, which is
dedicated to Saint Nicolas, a benevolent
patron, whose special care is the entertainment
of children. He used, in former days,
to figure in effigy over the bon-bon shops in