deemed it my duty to pour a good shower of cold water on this fire. In a very dry tone, and at the same time very loftily, I said:
"Monsieur is mistaken. Monsieur thinks that he is speaking to his other chambermaids. Monsieur must know, however, that I am a good girl."
And with great dignity, to show exactly to what extent this outrage had offended me, I added:
"It will serve Monsieur right, if I go to complain to Madame directly."
And I made a pretence of starting. Monsieur quickly grasped me by the arm.
"No, no," he stammered.
How did I ever say all that without bursting? How did I ever succeed in burying in my throat the laugh that was ringing there? Really, I don't know.
Monsieur was prodigiously ridiculous. Livid now, with mouth wide open, his whole person bearing a twofold expression of annoyance and fear, he remained silent, digging into his neck with his nails.
Near us an old pear tree twisted its pyramid of branches, eaten by lichens and mosses. A few pears hung within reach of his hand. A magpie was chattering ironically at the top of a neighboring chestnut tree. Crouching behind the border of box, the cat was pawing at a bumble-bee. The silence was becoming more and more painful for