Page:A chambermaid's diary.djvu/318

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These sensations that I feel are so new, so im- perious, so strongly tenacious, that they do not leave me a minute's rest, and that I remain always under the influence of their stupefying fascination. In vain do I seek to occupy my mind with other thoughts. I try to read. and walk in the garden, when my masters are away, and, when they are at home, to work furiously at my mending in the linen-room. Impossible! Joseph has complete possession of my thought. And not only does he possess it in the present, but he possesses it also in the past. Joseph so interposes himself between my entire past and myself that I see, so to speak, nothing but him, and that this past, with all its ugly or charming faces, draws farther and farther from me, fades away, disappears. Cleophas Bis- couille; M. Jean; M. Xavier; William, of whom I have not yet spoken; M. Georges, himself, by whom I believed my soul to have been branded for- ever, as the shoulder of the convict is branded by the red iron; and all those to whom, voluntarily, joyously, passionately, I have given a little or much of myself, of my vibrant flesh and of my sor- rowful heart, — all of them shadows already! Un- certain and ludicrous shadows that fade away until they are hardly recollections, and then become con- fused dreams . . . intangible, forgotten realities . . . vapors . . . nothing. Sometimes, in the kitchen, after dinner, when looking at Joseph and