“Of all the—” began Helene, looking at me fixedly. Then she stopped.
“Well,” said I, pausing in the caressing of my chin, “what do I worse every day than make love to Katrin Texel?”
Her eyes fairly sparkled fire at me. They were “sweetest eyes” no more, but rarely worth looking into all the same.
“You go ogling and staring at that little she-cat in the window over there, that screeches and becks and pats herself, all for showing off! And you, Hugo Gottfried, like a great oaf, thinking all the time how innocent and sweet and—oh, I have no patience with you!—to neglect and think nothing of—of Katrin Texel, and—and then to go gazing and gaping after a thing like that!”
And I declare there were tears in the Little Playmate’s eyes.
“Dear Little Sister, why are you so mindful about Katrin Texel?” said I. “Faith, my lass, wait till she comes again, and I will court her to your heart’s content. There—there—I will be a very Valentine’s true lover to your Katrin.”
For all that she was not greatly cheered, but edged away, still strangely disconsolate when I came near and tried to pet her. Mysterious and hidden are the ways of women! For once, when I would have put my hand about her pretty slender waist, she promptly took me by the wrist, and holding it at arm’s-length, she dropped it from her with a disgustful curl of her lip, as if it had been an intruding spider she had perforce to put forth out of her chamber into the garden.
Yet formerly, upon occasion when, as it might be, she was reading or looking out of the window, if I but came behind her and called her “Little Sister,” I might even put my hand upon her shoulder, and so stand for five minutes at a time and she never seem to notice it.
SIR AMOROUS IS PLEASED WITH HIMSELF
For, as I say, women have curious ways, and there are a good many of them recorded in this book. And yet more I have observed which I cannot find room for in a chronicle of so many sad and bad and warlike happenings. But none of them all is more notable than this—that women, or at least (for it is no use saying “women,” every one being different in temper, though like as pease in some things) many women, will permit that which it suits them to be oblivious of, when if you ask them for permission or make a favor of the matter, they will promptly flame sky-high with indignation. So my advice to the young man who honestly goes a-courting is to keep talking earnestly, to occupy his mistress’s attention withal, and progress in her favors during the abstractions of high discourse.
Of course in this, as in all other similar enterprises, Sir Amorous must have a certain trading-stock of favor to start with. But if he have this much, ’tis not difficult to increase it by honest endeavor, and, as it were, the sweat of his brain. So at least I am told by those who have proved it. Nevertheless, for myself, I have used no such nice refinements, but rather taken with thankfulness such things as came in my way.