I've got a confession to make, dear readers: I have procrastinated. I have an essay due tomorrow that I'm not finished with. This means that today is Literary Enrichment Day, and you will be enjoying a short story by Mark Twain, entitled "Buying Gloves in Gibraltar." Enjoy!
A very handsome young lady in the store offered me a pair of blue gloves. I did not want blue, but she said they would look very pretty on a hand like mine. The remark touched me tenderly. I glanced furtively at my hand, and somehow it did seem rather a comely member. I tried a glove on my left, and blushed a little. Manifestly the size was too small for me. But I felt gratified when she said:
“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 while some gentlemen are so awkward abut putting them on.”
It was the last compliment I had expected. I only understand about 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 tear. She kept up her compliments, and I kept up my determination to deserve them or die.
“Ah, you have had experience!” (Yes, 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.” (There was 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 patience.” (Meanwhile, my efforts caused the whole afterguard of the glove to “fetch away,” as the sailors say, and then 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, yet 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 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!”
And I tried to remember why I had entered the store in the first place, and if I shouldn’t return on the morrow to complete my initial mission.
M. J. Piazza is a Jesus-loving, dog-walking country girl who just so happens to write books.