"What would you have done? " she said. "You cannot impartintelligence to a fool, heart to a coward, or delicacy of feelingto a boor.""I could have chastised the miserable insulter."She had a superb gesture of indifference.
"Bash!" she interrupted. "What are insults to me? I am soaccustomed to them, that they no longer have any effect upon me.
I am eighteen: I have neither family, relatives, friends, nor anyone in the world who even knows my existence; and I live by mylabor. Can't you see what must be the humiliations of each day?
Since I was eight years old, I have been earning the bread I eat,the dress I wear, and the rent of the den where I sleep. Can youunderstand what I have endured, to what ignominies I have beenexposed, what traps have been set for me, and how it has happenedto me sometimes to owe my safety to mere physical force? And yetI do not complain, since through it all I have been able to retainthe respect of myself, and to remain virtuous in spite of all."She was laughing a laugh that had something wild in it.
Tips, opportunities to make money：Platform for online orders to make moneyAnd, as Maxence was looking at her with immense surprise,"That seems strange to you, doesn't it?" she resumed. "A girl ofeighteen, without a sou, free as air, very pretty, and yet virtuousin the midst of Paris. Probably you don't believe it, or, if youdo, you just think, 'What on earth does she make by it?'
Tips, opportunities to make money：Whether online landlord makes money?"And really you are right; for, after all, who cares, and who thinksany the more of me, if I work sixteen hours a day to remain virtuous?
But it's a fancy of my own; and don't imagine for a moment that I amdeterred by any scruples, or by timidity, or ignorance. No, no!
I believe in nothing. I fear nothing; and I know as much as theoldest libertines, the most vicious, and the most depraved. And Idon't say that I have not been tempted sometimes, when, coming homefrom work, I'd see some of them coming out of the restaurants,splendidly dressed, on their lover's arm, and getting into carriagesto go to the theatre. There were moments when I was cold and hungry,and when, not knowing where to sleep, I wandered all night throughthe streets like a lost dog. There were hours when I felt sick ofall this misery, and when I said to myself, that, since it was myfate to end in the hospital, I might as well make the trip gayly.
But what! I should have had to traffic my person, to sell myself!"She shuddered, and in a hoarse voice,"I would rather die," she said.
It was difficult to reconcile words such as these with certaincircumstances of Mlle. Lucienne's existence, - her rides around thelake, for instance, in that carriage that came for her two or threetimes a week; her ever renewed costumes, each time more eccentricand more showy. But Maxence was not thinking of that. What shetold him he accepted as absolutely true and indisputable. And hefelt penetrated with an almost religious admiration for this youngand beautiful girl, possessed of so much vivid energy, who alone,through the hazards, the perils, and the temptations of Paris, hadsucceeded in protecting and defending herself.
"And yet," he said, "without suspecting it, you had a friend nearyou."She shuddered; and a pale smile flitted upon her lips. She knewwell enough what friendship means between a youth of twenty-fiveand a girl of eighteen.
"A friend!" she murmured.
Maxence guessed her thought; and, in all the sincerity of his soul,"Yes, a friend," he repeated, "a comrade, a brother." And thinkingto touch her, and gain her confidence,"I could understand you," he added; "for I, too, have been veryunhappy."But he was singularly mistaken. She looked at him with an astonishedair, and slowly,"You unhappy!" she uttered, - "you who have a family, relations, amother who adores you, a sister." Less excited, Maxence might havewondered how she had found this out, and would have concluded thatshe must feel some interest in him, since she had doubtless takenthe trouble of getting information.
"Besides, you are a man," she went on; "and I do not understand howa man can complain. Have you not the freedom, the strength, and theright to undertake and to dare any thing? Isn't the world open toyour activity and to your ambition? Woman submits to her fate: manmakes his."This was hurting the dearest pretensions of Maxence, who seriouslythought that he had exhausted the rigors of adversity.
" There are circumstances," he began.
But she shrugged her shoulders gently, and, interrupting him,"Do not insist," she said, "or else I might think that you lackenergy. What are you talking of circumstances? There are noneso adverse but that can be overcome. What would you like, then?
To be born with a hundred thousand francs a year, and have nothingto do but to live according to your whim of each day, idle, satiated,a burden upon yourself, useless, or offensive to others? Ah! If Iwere a man, I would dream of another fate. I should like to startfrom the Foundling Asylum, without a name, and by my will, myintelligence, my daring, and my labor, make something and somebodyof myself. I would start from nothing, and become every thing!"With flashing eyes and quivering nostrils, she drew herself upproudly. But almost at once, dropping her head,"The misfortune is," she added, "that I am but a woman; and you whocomplain, if you only knew "She sat down, and with her elbow on the little table, her headresting upon her hand, she remained lost in her meditations, hereyes fixed, as if following through space all the phases of theeighteen years of her life.
There is no energy but unbends at some given moment, no will buthas its hour of weakness; and, strong and energetic as was Mlle.