Page:A chambermaid's diary.djvu/365

This page needs to be proofread.





were tearing the material of her gown, with the movements of a cruel beast.

She questioned Louise regarding her family, her previous places, and her capacities for cooking, sewing, and doing housework. Louise answered, ' ' Yes, indeed, " or " No, indeed, ' ' hoarsely and spasmodically. The examination, fastidious, unkind, criminal, lasted twenty minutes.

' ' Well, my little one, ' ' concluded the old lady, ' ' the clearest thing about you is that you do not know how to do anything. I shall have to teach you everything. For four or five months you will be of no use to me. And besides, such ugliness is not prepossessing. That gash in your nose? Have you received a blow? "

"No, Madame, it has always been there."

"Well, it is not very attractive. What pay do you expect ? ' '

"Thirty francs, washing, and wine," declared Louise, resolutely.

The old woman started.

" Thirty francs! Have you never, then, looked at yourself? It is senseless! What? Nobody wants you ; nobody will ever want you. If I take you, it is because I am kind, it is because I really pity you. And you ask me thirty francs Well, you have audacity, my little one. Undoubtedly your comrades have been giving you bad advice. You do wrong to listen to them."