Page:A chambermaid's diary.djvu/57

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that they crush under the weight of their hideous million, this million none the less surrounds them with a halo of respectability, and almost of glory. The people bow lower to them than to others, and receive them more warmly than others. They call—with what fawning civility!—the dirty hovel in which they live in the filth of their soul, the château. To strangers coming to inquire concerning the curiosities of the region I am sure that the haberdasher herself, hateful though she is, would answer:

"We have a beautiful church, a beautiful fountain, and, above all, we have something else very beautiful,—the Lanlaires, who possess a million and live in a château. They are frightful people, and we are very proud of them."

The worship of the million! It is a low sentiment, common not only to the bourgeois, but to most of us also,—the little, the humble, the penniless of this world. And I myself, with my frank ways and my threats to break everything, even I am not free from this. I, whom wealth oppresses; I, who owe to it my sorrows, my vices, my hatreds, the bitterest of my humiliations, and my impossible dreams, and the perpetual torment of my life,—well, as soon as I find myself in presence of a rich man, I cannot help looking upon him as an exceptional and beautiful being, as a sort of marvellous divinity, and, in spite of myself, surmounting my