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16 o Lise’s Return The Beautiful Baker and the ‘‘Table d’hôte’’—Hemoptysis— Waiting for Ernest—When the Courtesan Has Nothing Left to Sell—Two People, Including the Coachman    was going from bad to worse! The women to whom we had refused credit were not coming anymore. The rent was due. There was not one red cent saved. The goods had been sold and we had to pay for them. I was going to be sued, my property seized. I was going mad. Every day I cried for having failed in killing myself. Lise was in Italy. The only friendship that gave a little comfort to my despair was Deligny. When I left for Holland, our relations were still very bittersweet. I have already stated that he was quarrelsome and made fun of every woman. He and his friend Médème, a tall, pale, blond, thin man, vied with each other to seewho could drink the most, have the most quarrels, change mistresses most often. . . . Because of his personality, he could not have remembered me very clearly. Therefore I was very surprised when I received his visit. I was in such a state of mind that only something extraordinarycould have reconciled me with a desire to live. Delignycould not accomplish this miracle. But hewas witty, amusing, and my life was so sad, so isolated, that I welcomed him with pleasure, finding in his visits some distraction from my worries. . . . Our first meeting was short. He had conceded on every point. That could be considered a victory over such a willful nature. We spent a fewevenings together. I kept him from getting intoxicated and from swearing. He reluctantly obeyed, but he obeyed. His father had an income of fifteen or twenty thousand pounds, but  Lise’s Return he had four children and could give his son only a modest pension, which his cabaret life ate up and then some. He did everything he could to help me. I could have abused his generosity . He would have signed bills of exchange, notes for whomever I wished. I used my influence only to make him leave this life and this society of people who, wealthier than he, were ruining him.      ‘‘ ’’’ One day I saw a woman stop in front of my shop window. That sort of thing happened all day, and yet I let out a cry. I opened my door to see her better. She walked by without looking at me, crossed the street, and went in at number , right across the way. A little while later the mezzanine window opened and I saw her looking out, standing next to a fat woman named Fond. This Fond was one of those former beauties who, after wasting their lives, sell youth and beauty to others. This woman hid her odious business under the name of ‘‘table d’hôte.’’ I was about to go back inside, still wondering, ‘‘Where have I seen this face?’’ when a maid came over to say, ‘‘Would you be kind enough to take two or three bonnets up there, on the second floor?’’ I was led into a small red living room.The small woman came toward me as she was removing her hat. Once her hat was off, I recognized her immediately. She was the pretty girl from Bordeaux Denise had pointed out to me at the reformatory, the one a man had married so he could sell her. I wanted to ask herall sorts of questions.Wewere not alone. I showed her what she had asked for, telling her if there was anything else she needed, to please come see me. She promised she would and was true to her word. The next day she came to order a hat. She told me everything. In Paris she was called the Beautiful Baker. I had heard of her. A man had kidnapped her, and her husband, who was not getting anything out of the affair, had him arrested. She had turned her husband in to the police and was separated from him to come live with Mme Fond. Now she never passed by the shop without coming in. She was living across the street. Two or three times she had invited me over. To please her, one evening I accepted, and I did not regret it. There is quite a study to be made of these so-called table d’hôtes. After dinner a game is played. The regulars arrive. They...

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Additional Information

ISBN
9780803202139
MARC Record
OCLC
50753843
Pages
325
Launched on MUSE
2012-01-11
Language
English
Open Access
No
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