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floor; chairs moved about, and cupboards opened and closed. Finally Monsieur began again to sing:


Et allez done, Mam'zelle Suzon! …
Et ron, ronron … petit patapon …

"No, really, he is too stupid! " I murmured, in a low voice, furiously spiteful.

And I went back to the linen-room, firmly resolved to take no further pity on him.

In the afternoon Monsieur kept revolving around me, in an absent-minded way. He joined me in the yard, whither I had gone to throw some refuse on the muck-heap. And as I, for the sake of laughing a little at his embarrassment, apologized for what had happened in the morning, he whispered:

"That is nothing, that is nothing; on the contrary."

He tried to detain me, stammering I know not what. But I dropped him then and there, in the middle of the phrase in which he was floundering; and, in a cutting voice, I said these words:

"I ask Monsieur's pardon. I have no time to talk to Monsieur. Madame is waiting for me."

"Sapristi! Célestine, listen to me a moment."

"No, Monsieur."

When I turned the corner of the path leading to the house, I could see Monsieur. He had not stirred from the spot. With head lowered, and irresolute legs, he was still looking at the muck-heap, scratching his neck.