MADAME LA MARQUISE
eyes on him. Pass me my coffee, Lemois, and give me my full share of sugar—three lumps if you please—and put four into your own to sweeten your temper, for you will need them all before I get through.
“The story I promised you is one of sheer stupidity, and always enrages me when I think of it. I have all my life set my face against this idiotic custom of my country of choosing wives and husbands for other people. In any walk of life it is a mistake; in some walks of life it is a crime. This particular instance occurred some twenty years ago in a little village near Beaumont, where I lived as a girl. Outside our far gate, leading to the best fields, was the house of a peasant who had made some thousands of francs by buying calves when they were very small, fattening them, and driving them to the great markets. He was big and coarse, with a red face, small, shrewd eyes, and a bull neck that showed puffy above his collar. He was loud, too, in his talk and could be heard above every one else in the crowd when the auction sales were being held in the market. But for his blue blouse, which reached to his feet, he might have been taken for one of his own steers.