These ridiculous conversations considerably cooled my religious zeal, my ardor for repentance. The work, too, annoyed me. It made me home- sick for my own calling. I felt impatient desires to escape from this prison, to return to the pri- vacies of dressing-rooms. I sighed for the closets full of sweet-smelling linen, the wardrobes stuffed with silks, satins, and velvets, so smooth to the touch, and the bath-rooms where white flesh is lathered with oily soaps. And the stories of the servants' hall, and the unforeseen adventures, and the evenings on the stairs and in the chambers ! It is really curious ; when I have a place, these things disgust me, but, when I am out of a place, I miss them. I was tired also, excessively tired, sickened in fact, from having eaten for a week nothing but preserves made out of spoiled currants, of which the good sisters had purchased a large quantity in the Levallois market. Anything that the holy women could rescue from the refuse-heap was good enough for us.
What completed my irritation was the evident, the persistent effrontery with which we were exploited. Their game was a very simple one, and they took little pains to conceal it. They found places only for those girls of whom they could make no use themselves. Those from whom they could reap any profit whatever they held as prisoners, taking advantage of their talents, of