Page:A chambermaid's diary.djvu/199

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193
A CHAMBERMAID'S DIARY.

me, and at the same time he interests me prodigiously. Often I have seen frightful things passing in the troubled water, in the dead water of his eyes. Since I have been observing him, I have changed the opinion that I formed of him when I first entered this house,—the opinion that he is a gross, stupid, and clumsy peasant. I ought to have examined him more attentively. Now I think him singularly shrewd and crafty, and even better than shrewd, worse than clever; I know not how to express myself concerning him. And then—is it because I am in the habit of seeing him every day?—I no longer find him so ugly or so old. Habit, like a fog, tends to palliate things and beings. Little by little it obscures the features of a face and rubs down deformities; if you live with a humpback day in and day out, after a time he loses his hump. But there is something else; I am discovering something new and profound in Joseph, which upsets me. It is not harmony of features or purity of lines that makes a man beautiful to a woman. It is something less apparent, less defined, a sort of affinity, and, if I dare say so, a sort of sexual atmosphere, pungent, terrible, or intoxicating, to the haunting influence of which certain, women are susceptible, even in spite of themselves. Well, such an atmosphere emanates from Joseph. The other day I admired him as he was lifting a cask of wine. He played with it