Here endeth the first lesson. It was a mistake.

As long as we had that fellow after that, he was always hungry; he was always thirsty. He came early; he stayed late; he could not pass a restaurant; he looked with a lecherous eye upon every wine shop. Suggestions to stop, excuses to eat and to drink, were forever on his lips. We tried all we could to fill him so full that he would have no room to spare for a fortnight, but it was a failure. He did not hold enough to smother the cravings of his superhuman appetite.

He had another "discrepancy" about him. He was always wanting us to buy things. On the shallowest pretenses he would inveigle us into shirt stores, boot stores, tailor shops, glove shops--anywhere under the broad sweep of the heavens that there seemed a chance of our buying anything. Anyone could have guessed that the shopkeepers paid him a percentage on the sales, but in our blessed innocence we didn't until this feature of his conduct grew unbearably prominent. One day Dan happened to mention that he thought of buying three or four silk dress patterns for presents. Ferguson's hungry eye was upon him in an instant. In the course of twenty minutes the carriage stopped.

"What's this?"

"Zis is ze finest silk magazin in Paris--ze most celebrate."

"What did you come here for? We told you to take us to the palace of the Louvre."

"I suppose ze gentleman say he wish to buy some silk."

"You are not required to 'suppose' things for the party, Ferguson. We do not wish to tax your energies too much. We will bear some of the burden and heat of the day ourselves. We will endeavor to do such 'supposing' as is really necessary to be done. Drive on." So spake the doctor.

Within fifteen minutes the carriage halted again, and before another silk store. The doctor said:

"Ah, the palace of the Louvre--beautiful, beautiful edifice! Does the Emperor Napoleon live here now, Ferguson?"

"Ah, Doctor! You do jest; zis is not ze palace; we come there directly. But since we pass right by zis store, where is such beautiful silk--"

"Ah! I see, I see. I meant to have told you that we did not wish to purchase any silks to-day, but in my absent-mindedness I forgot it. I also meant to tell you we wished to go directly to the Louvre, but I forgot that also. However, we will go there now. Pardon my seeming carelessness, Ferguson. Drive on."

Within the half hour we stopped again--in front of another silk store. We were angry; but the doctor was always serene, always smooth-voiced. He said:

"At last! How imposing the Louvre is, and yet how small! How exquisitely fashioned! How charmingly situated!--Venerable, venerable pile--"

"Pairdon, Doctor, zis is not ze Louvre--it is--"

"What is it?"

"I have ze idea--it come to me in a moment--zat ze silk in zis magazin--"

"Ferguson, how heedless I am. I fully intended to tell you that we did not wish to buy any silks to-day, and I also intended to tell you that we yearned to go immediately to the palace of the Louvre, but enjoying the happiness of seeing you devour four breakfasts this morning has so filled me with pleasurable emotions that I neglect the commonest interests of the time. However, we will proceed now to the Louvre, Ferguson."

"But, doctor," (excitedly,) "it will take not a minute--not but one small minute! Ze gentleman need not to buy if he not wish to--but only look at ze silk--look at ze beautiful fabric. [Then pleadingly.] Sair--just only one leetle moment!"

Dan said, "Confound the idiot! I don't want to see any silks today, and I won't look at them. Drive on."

And the doctor: "We need no silks now, Ferguson. Our hearts yearn for the Louvre. Let us journey on--let us journey on."

"But doctor! It is only one moment--one leetle moment. And ze time will be save--entirely save! Because zere is nothing to see now--it is too late. It want ten minute to four and ze Louvre close at four--only one leetle moment, Doctor!"

The treacherous miscreant! After four breakfasts and a gallon of champagne, to serve us such a scurvy trick. We got no sight of the countless treasures of art in the Louvre galleries that day, and our only poor little satisfaction was in the reflection that Ferguson sold not a solitary silk dress pattern.

The Innocents Abroad Page 48

Mark Twain

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