You are no longer my daughter!"
I was in a difficult position. The man begged her not to make such a noise, as it would draw all the neighbours about the house; but the enraged woman answered only by abuse. I drew six francs from my pocket and gave them to her, but she flung them in my face. At last I went out with the daughter, whose hair she attempted to pull out by the roots, which project was defeated by the aid of my man. As soon as we got outside, the mob which the uproar had attracted hooted me and followed me, and no doubt I should have been torn to pieces if I had not escaped into a church, which I left by another door a quarter of an hour later. My fright saved me, for I knew the ferocity of the Provencals, and I took care not to reply a word to the storm of abuse which poured on me. I believe that I was never in greater danger than on that day.
Before I got back to my inn I was rejoined by the servant and the girl.
"How could you lead me into such a dangerous position?" said I. "You must have known your mother was savage."
"I hoped she would behave respectfully to you."
"Be calm; don't weep any more. Tell me how I can serve you."
"Rather than return to that horrible house I was in yesterday I would throw myself into the sea."
"Do you know of any respectable house where I can keep her?" said I to the man.
He told me he did know a respectable individual who let furnished apartments.
"Take me to it, then."
The man was of an advanced age, and he had rooms to let on all the floors.
"I only want a little nook," said the girl; and the old man took us to the highest story, and opened the door of a garret, saying,-
"This closet is six francs a month, a month's rent to be paid in advance, and I may tell you that my door is always shut at ten o'clock, and that nobody can come and pass the night with you."
The room held a bed with coarse sheets, two chairs, a little table, and a chest of drawers.
"How much will you board this young woman for?" said I.
He asked twenty sous, and two sous for the maid who would bring her meals and do her room.
"That will do," said the girl, and she paid the month's rent and the day's board. I left her telling her I would come back again.
As I went down the stairs I asked the old man to shew me a room for myself. He skewed me a very nice one at a Louis a month, and I paid in advance. He then gave me a latch-key, that I might go and come when I liked.
"If you wish to board here," said he, "I think I could give satisfaction."
Having done this good work, I had my dinner by myself, and then went to a coffee-house where I found the amiable Knight of Malta who was playing. He left the game as soon as he saw me, put the fistfull of gold he had won into his pocket, accosted me with the politeness natural to a Frenchman, and asked me how I had liked the lady who had given me my supper. I told him what had happened, at which he laughed, and asked me to come and see his ballet-girl. We found her under the hairdresser's hands, and she received me with the playful familiarity with which one greets an old acquaintance. I did not think much of her, but I pretended to be immensely struck, with the idea of pleasing the good-natured knight.
When the hairdresser left her, it was time for her to get ready for the theatre, and she dressed herself, without caring who was present. The knight helped her to change her chemise, which she allowed him to do as a matter of course, though indeed she begged me to excuse her.
As I owed her a compliment, I could think of nothing better than to tell her that though she had not offended me she had made me feel very uncomfortable.
"I don't believe you," said she.
"It's true all the same."
She came up to me to verify the fact, and finding I had deceived her, she said half crossly,
"You are a bad fellow."
The women of Marseilles are undoubtedly the most profligate in France. They not only pride themselves on never refusing, but also on being the first to propose.