Page:A chambermaid's diary.djvu/236

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scarcely in the



conversation, he nevertheless felt its enormous and forbidding stupidity like a weight upon his skull. Impatient, feverish, very pale, he watched the service, tried to catch favorable or ironical impres- sions of the faces of his guests, and mechanically, with movements more and more accelerated, and in spite of the warnings of his wife, rolled big pellets of bread-crumb between his fingers. When a ques- tion was put to him, he answered in a bewildered, distracted, far-away voice :

' < Certainly . . , certainly . . . certainly. ' '

Opposite him, very stiff in her green gowo, upon which spangles of green steel glittered with a phos- phorescent brilliancy, and wearing an aigrette of red feathers in her hair, Mme. Charrigaud bent to right and to left, and smiled, without ever a word, — a smile so eternally motionless that it seemed painted on her lips.

"What a goose! " said Charrigaud to himself; "what a stupid and ridiculous woman! And what a carnival costume! To-morrow, because of her, we shall be the laughing-stock of Parisian society."

And on her side Mme. Charrigaud, beneath the fixity of her smile, was thinking:

"What an idiot this Victor is! And what a bad appearance he makes! To-morrow we shall catch it on account of his pellets."

The topic of correctness in society being ex- hausted, there followed an embarrassing lull in the