Chapitre 10. The Introduction - printable version

"Monsieur le comte," said Réginard, after the other guests had departed, " I begin here my métier of cicerone, and during the course of this tour you will discover in how little space a hobbite can live, and that not one of the more ill-housed."

The Count was a worthy connoisseur of everything that Réginard had accumulated in his atelier: silver spoons of the Bilbonesque school, faïence of the Dwarves, woodcuts of Numéneur - everything was familiar to him, and at first glance he knew the century, the country, and the origin.  Réginard had thought to be the explicator, but on the contrary, it was he who underwent an education in everything from the politics of the Numénoréan xylographic industry to the correct manner of ménaging a spoon of the Haradrins.  Réginard hoped at least to show the Count something new in the Folques-Bouffon nudes, noted for the elegance of their freckles; but Monte Fato not only knew the history and the dominant critical views regarding each masterpiece, but introduced an amazed Réginard to the unusual painting techniques of Folques-Bouffon, and clearly proved two paintings in the collection not to be the work of the master at all.  He made a sudden halt, however, in the smial de café - a model of elegance and severe taste, adorned by a single painting, signed by Léopold Proudefont.  It was of a woman of about twenty-five years, with hair the color of the smoke of a Gauloise and the eyes of a gazelle of Cande; she wore the picturesque costume of the Farthing-Midi and held a beautiful Portobello mushroom as she gazed at the sea.

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