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7. CHAPTER VII. (continued)
"Oh, it is just right!" Yet I knew it was no such thing.
I tugged at it diligently, but it was discouraging work. She said:
"Ah! I see you are accustomed to wearing kid gloves--but some gentlemen are so awkward about putting them on."
It was the last compliment I had expected. I only understand putting on the buckskin article perfectly. I made another effort and tore the glove from the base of the thumb into the palm of the hand--and tried to hide the rent. She kept up her compliments, and I kept up my determination to deserve them or die:
"Ah, you have had experience! [A rip down the back of the hand.] They are just right for you--your hand is very small--if they tear you need not pay for them. [A rent across the middle.] I can always tell when a gentleman understands putting on kid gloves. There is a grace about it that only comes with long practice." The whole after-guard of the glove "fetched away," as the sailors say, the fabric parted across the knuckles, and nothing was left but a melancholy ruin.
I was too much flattered to make an exposure and throw the merchandise on the angel's hands. I was hot, vexed, confused, but still happy; but I hated the other boys for taking such an absorbing interest in the proceedings. I wished they were in Jericho. I felt exquisitely mean when I said cheerfully:
"This one does very well; it fits elegantly. I like a glove that fits. No, never mind, ma'am, never mind; I'll put the other on in the street. It is warm here."
It was warm. It was the warmest place I ever was in. I paid the bill, and as I passed out with a fascinating bow I thought I detected a light in the woman's eye that was gently ironical; and when I looked back from the street, and she was laughing all to herself about something or other, I said to myself with withering sarcasm, "Oh, certainly; you know how to put on kid gloves, don't you? A self-complacent ass, ready to be flattered out of your senses by every petticoat that chooses to take the trouble to do it!"
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