Page:A chambermaid's diary.djvu/286

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house. ' '



And so these quarrels went on; -we exchanged the worst insults and the lowest threats ; we descended to the vocabulary of the street-walkers and the prisons. And then, suddenly, everything quieted down. M. Xavier had only to show signs of a re- viving interest in me, — fleeting, alas! — when straightway began again the suspicious familiarity, the shameful complicities, the gifts of garments, the promises of doubled wages, the washing with Simon cream, — it is more suitable, — and the initia- tions into the mysteries of refined perfumes. M. Xavier' s conduct toward me was the thermometer by which Madame regulated her own. The latter' s kindness immediately followed the former's caresses. Abandonment by the son was accom- panied by insults from the mother. I was the victim, continually tossed back and forth, of the enervating fluctuations to which the intermittent love of this capricious and heartless boy was sub- ject. One would have thought that Madame must have played the spy with us, must have listened at the door, must have kept tabs for herself on the different phases of our relations. But no. She simply had the instinct of vice, that's all. She scented it through walls and souls, as a dog inhales in the breeze the far-away odor of game.

As for Monsieur, he continued to dance about among all these events, among all the hidden