Page:A chambermaid's diary.djvu/400

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oric personage.

Edgar -was born in London, in a frightful den, between two hiccups of whiskey. As a boy he was a vagabond, a beggar, a thief, and a jail-bird. Later, having the requisite physical deformities and the most crapulous instincts, he was pitched on for a groom. From ante-room to stable, rubbing against all the trickery, all the rapacity, all the vice prevailing among the servants of a grand establishment, he became a "lad" in the Eaton stud. And he strutted about in a Scotch cap, a yellow and black striped waistcoat, and light pantaloons, loose at the thighs, tight at the calves, and wrinkled at the knees in the form of a screw. When scarcely an adult, he looked like a little old man, with frail limbs and furrowed face, red at the cheek-bones, yellow at the temples, with worn-out and grimacing mouth, with thin hair brushed over his ears in the form of a greasy spiral. In a society which the odor of horse-dung causes to swoon with delight Edgar was already a personage less anonymous than a workingman or a peasant, — almost a gentleman.

At Eaton he learned his trade thoroughly. He knows how to groom a stylish horse, how to take care of it when it is sick, and what detailed and complicated toilets are most suitable to the color of its coat. He knows the secret of the intimate washings, the refined polishings, the expert pedi- curings, and the ingenious processes of make-up.