110 THE GOLOSHES OF FORTUNE
cards, so that one could prophesy from them all that would happen in the coming year.
The idea struck him : he would have liked to possess such a pair of spectacles. If they were used rightly, they would enable the wearer to look into people's hearts ; and that, he thought, would be more interesting than to see what was going to happen in the next year ; for future events would be known in time, but the people's thoughts never.
' Now I'll look at the row of ladies and gentlemen on the first bench : if one could look directly into their hearts ! yes, that must be a hollow, a sort of shop. How my eyes would wander about in that shop ! In every lady's, yonder, I should doubtless find a great milliner's warehouse : with this one here the shop is empty, but it would do no harm to have it cleaned out. But there would also be substantial shops. Ah, yes ! ' he continued, sighing, ' I know one in which all the goods are first-rate, but there 's a shopman in it already ; that's the only drawback in the whole shop ! From one and another the word would be " Please to step in ! " Oh that I might only step in, like a neat little thought, and slip through their hearts ! '
That was the word of command for the goloshes. The volunteer shrivelled up, and began to take a very remarkable journey through the hearts of the first row of spectators. The first heart through which he passed was that of a lady ; but he immediately fancied himself in the Orthopaedic Institute, in the room where the plaster casts of deformed limbs are kept hanging against the walls ; the only difference was, that these casts were formed in the institute when the patients came in, but here in the heart they were formed and preserved after the good persons had gone away. For they were casts of female friends, whose bodily and mental faults were preserved here.
Quickly he had passed into another female heart. But this seemed to him like a great holy church ; the white dove of innocence fluttered over the high altar. Gladly would he have sunk down on his knees ; but he was obliged to go away into the next heart. Still, however, he heard the tones of the organ, and it seemed to him that he