she was an old chambermaid. That was to be seen, moreover, in her pretentious bearing, in her man- ners, modeled upon those of the great ladies in whose service she had been, and beneath which, in spite of her gold chain and black silk dress, one could see the filth of her inferior origin. She showed all the insolence of an old domestic, but she reserved this insolence for us exclusively, showing her customers, on the contrary, a servile obsequiousness, proportioned to their wealth and social rank.
" Oh ! what a set of people, Madame the Coun- tess," said she, with an air of affectation. " Chambermaids de luxe, â€” that is, wenches who are unwilling to do anything, who do not work, and whose honesty and morality I do not guarantee, â€” as many of those as you want ! But women who work, who sew, who know their trade, â€” there are no more of them ; I have no more of them ; nobody has any more of them. That's the way it is."
Yet her bureau was well patronized. She had the custom especially of the people in the Champs- Elysees quarter, consisting largely of foreigners and Jewesses. Ah! the scandals that I know about them!
The door opens into a hall leading to the salon, where Mme. Paulhat-Durand is enthroned in her perpetual black silk dress. At the left of the hall is a sort of dark hole, a vast ante-room with cir- cular benches, and in the middle a table re