Page:A chambermaid's diary.djvu/363

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there was

nothing to cause one to stop, nothing to move one. Nevertheless it seemed to me an enormous drama, these three persons, silently gazing at one another. I felt that I was witnessing a social tragedy, terrible, agonizing, worse than a murder ! My throat was dry. My heart beat violently.

" I do not get a good view of you, my little one," said the old lady, suddenly. "Do not stay there ; I do not get a good view of you. Go to the rear of the room, that I may see you better."

And she cried, in an astonished voice :

" My God! how little you are ! "

In saying these words, she had moved her chair, and now I had a sight of her profile, I expected to see a hooked nose, long teeth protruding from the mouth, and the round and yellow eye of a hawk. Not at all; her face was calm, rather amiable. In truth, there was no expression at all in her eyes, either kind or unkind. She must have been an old shop-keeper, retired from busi- ness. Merchants have this faculty of acquiring a special physiognomy, revealing nothing of their inner nature. In proportion as they grow hardened in their business, and as the habit of unjust and rapid gains develops low instincts and ferocious ambitions, the expression of their face softens, or, rather, becomes neutralized. That in them which is bad, that which might inspire distrust in their customers, hides itself in the privacies of their