MADAME LA MARQUISE
stupid story which has been told thousands of times and will continue to be told as long as there are big, thick-necked fathers who lay down the law with their sledge-hammer fists, and ambitious old gentlemen”—here she cut her eye at Lemois—“who try to wheedle you with their flimsy arguments—arguments which they would have thrown in your face had you tried it on them when they themselves were young. The father forgot, of course—just as they all forget—that she was precisely the same young girl with precisely the same heart before the fête as she was after it; that every rag on her back I had given her; that her triumph was purely a matter of chance—my going first to his house and thus finding her—and that on the very next day she had milked the cows and polished the tins just as she had done since she was old enough to help her mother.
“Again that old story was repeated: the mother begged and pleaded; the girl drowned herself in tears, but the father stormed on. Poor Henri continued to peep over the fence at Loyette when she went milking, or met her clandestinely on the path behind the cow sheds, and everybody was wretched for months trying to make water run uphill.