Page:A chambermaid's diary.djvu/362

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imagination transformed it into a gloomy butcher- shop for the sale of human meat. No; I wanted to see Louise Randon, in the clutches of the slave- traders.

There she was, near the window, in a false light, standing motionless, with hanging arms. A hard shadow, like a thick veil, added confusion to the ugliness of her face, and made still more of a heap of the short and massive deformity of her body. A hard light illuminated the lower locks of her hair, enhanced the shapelessness of her arms and breast, and lost itself in the dark folds of her deplorable skirt. An old lady was examining her. She was sitting in a chair with her back toward me, — a hostile back, a ferocious neck. Of this old lady I saw nothing but her black cap, with its ridiculous plumes, her black cape, whose lining turned up at the bottom in grey fur, and her black gown, which made rings upon the carpet. I saw especially, lying upon one of her knees, her hand gloved with black floss-silk, a knotty and gouty hand that moved slowly about, the fingers stretching out and drawing back, clutching the material of her dress, as talons fasten upon living prey. Standing near the table, very erect and dignified, Mme. Paulhat- Durand was waiting.

It seems a small matter, does it not? the meeting of these three commonplace beings, in this common- place setting. In this very ordinary fact