Page:A chambermaid's diary.djvu/56

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disease and can have no children, will not allow him to approach her.

"Then," asked the haberdasher, in finishing her conversation, "why is Monsieur so good and so cowardly toward a woman who denies him not only money, but pleasure? I would bring him to his senses, and rudely, too."

And this is what happens. When Monsieur, who is a vigorous man, and who is also a kindly man, wishes to enjoy himself away from home, or to bestow a little charity upon a poor man, he is reduced to ridiculous expedients, to clumsy excuses, to not very dignified loans, the discovery of which by Madame brings on terrible scenes,—quarrels that often last for months. Then Monsieur is seen going off through the fields, walking, walking, like a madman, making furious and threatening gestures, crushing the turf beneath his feet, talking to himself, in the wind, in the rain, in the snow; and then coming back at night more timid, more bowed, more trembling, more conquered than ever.

The curious, and also the melancholy, part of the matter is that, amid the worst recriminations of the haberdasher, among these unveiled infamies, this shameful vileness, which is hawked from mouth to mouth, from shop to shop, from house to house, it is evident that the jealousy of the town's-people toward the Lanlaires is even greater than their contempt for them. In spite of their criminal uselessness, of their social wrong-doing, in spite of all