And Of All The Swearers That I Ever
Heard, Commend Me To An Old Lady In Gondet, A Village Of The Loire.
I Was Making A Sketch, And Her Curse Was Not Yet Ended When I Had
Finished It And Took My Departure.
It is true she had a right to
be angry; for here was her son, a hulking fellow, visibly the worse
for drink before the day was well begun.
But it was strange to
hear her unwearying flow of oaths and obscenities, endless like a
river, and now and then rising to a passionate shrillness, in the
clear and silent air of the morning. In city slums, the thing
might have passed unnoticed; but in a country valley, and from a
plain and honest countrywoman, this beastliness of speech surprised
The Conductor, as he is called, of Roads and Bridges was my
principal companion. He was generally intelligent, and could have
spoken more or less falsetto on any of the trite topics; but it was
his specially to have a generous taste in eating. This was what
was most indigenous in the man; it was here he was an artist; and I
found in his company what I had long suspected, that enthusiasm and
special knowledge are the great social qualities, and what they are
about, whether white sauce or Shakespeare's plays, an altogether
I used to accompany the Conductor on his professional rounds, and
grew to believe myself an expert in the business.
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