Page:A chambermaid's diary.djvu/114

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his mouth. There was the mayor; there was the rector; there was the captain of customs; there was the marine policeman. I was frightened; I freed myself from my shawl, and, running between the legs of these men, over the wet stone floor, I began to cry,—to call papa,—to call mamma. A neighbor took me away.


From that moment my mother took to drinking furiously. At first she really tried to work in the sardine-packing establishments, but, as she was always drunk, none of her employers would keep her. Then she stayed at home to intoxicate herself, quarrelsome and gloomy; and, when she was full of brandy, she beat us. How does it happen that she did not kill me?

I avoided the house as much as I could. I spent my days in playing on the pier, in thieving in the gardens, and in paddling in the puddles when the tide was low. Or else, on the Plogoff road, at the bottom of a grassy decline, sheltered from the sea wind and covered with thick bushes, I misbehaved with the little boys, among the hawthorns. On returning at night, I generally found my mother stretched on the tile floor across the threshold, inert, her mouth covered with vomit, and a broken bottle in her hands. Often I had to step over her body. Her awakenings were terrible. She was seized with a passion for destruction. Without