Page:A chambermaid's diary.djvu/97

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91
A CHAMBERMAID"S DIARY.

Monsieur. At last, after efforts that were almost sorrowful,—efforts that brought grotesque grimaces to his lips,—Monsieur asked:

"Do you like pears, Célestine? "

"Yes, Monsieur."

I did not disarm; I answered in a tone of lofty indifference.

In the fear of being surprised by his wife, he hesitated a few seconds. And suddenly, like a thieving child, he took a pear from the tree, and gave it to me,—oh! how piteously! His knees bent, his hand trembled.

"There, Célestine, hide that in your apron. You never have any in the kitchen, do you?"

"No, Monsieur."

"Well, I will give you some occasionally, because … because … I wish you to be happy."

The sincerity and ardor of his desire, his awkwardness, his clumsy gestures, his bewildered words, and also his masculine power, all had a softening effect upon me. I relaxed my face a little, veiled the severity of my look with a sort of smile, and, half ironically, half coaxingly, I said to him:

"Oh! Monsieur, if Madame were to see you?"

Again he became troubled, but, as we were separated from the house by a thick curtain of chestnut trees, he quickly recovered himself, and,