It does not matter what excuse they make for coming, they forget all about it as soon as they are inside the door; it is like the market, where each one has her place; Guillemine the bright- eyed, Huguette with her straight nose, clever Jacquotte, Margueron, Alizon, and all the rest of them, and the old man in the middle, snug under his down comforter. Such gossiping and such a clack of tongues, with their gay laughter ringing out like bells — mine is the big deep one. I know a lot of good stories which hit the girls in the right spot, and they laugh sometimes till they roll on the floor, and you can hear them across the street.
Florimond was actually jealous of my popularity, and wanted me to tell him the secret of my suc- cess. I said that it was an open secret; I was young, that was all; but he said rather spitefully that he knew that it was because I had such a bad reputation, as women always like a rake.
" True enough," said I, " you know how boys admire an old soldier, when he comes back from the field of glory, and in the same way the ladies like Colas because they understand each other; they think he has fought in the campaigns of Love, and may perhaps live to fight another day."
"Did any one ever hear such an old wretch?"