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A Simple Heart

A Simple Soul — Gustave Flaubert
trait of Monsieur dressed in the costume of a dandy. It
communicated with a smaller room, in which there were two
little cribs, without any mattresses. Next, came the parlour
(always closed), filled with furniture covered with sheets. Then
a hall, which led to the study, where books and papers were
piled on the shelves of a book-case that enclosed three quar-
ters of the big black desk. Two panels were entirely hidden
under pen-and-ink sketches, Gouache landscapes and Audran
engravings, relics of better times and vanished luxury. On
the second floor, a garret-window lighted Felicite’s room,
which looked out upon the meadows.
She arose at daybreak, in order to attend mass, and she
worked without interruption until night; then, when din-
ner was over, the dishes cleared away and the door securely
locked, she would bury the log under the ashes and fall
asleep in front of the hearth with a rosary in her hand.
Nobody could bargain with greater obstinacy, and as for
cleanliness, the luster on her brass sauce-pans was the envy
and despair of other servants. She was most economical,
and when she ate she would gather up crumbs with the tip
of her finger, so that nothing should be wasted of the loaf of
bread weighing twelve pounds which was baked especially
for her and lasted three weeks.
Summer and winter she wore a dimity kerchief fastened
in the back with a pin, a cap which concealed her hair, a red
skirt, grey stockings, and an apron with a bib like those
worn by hospital nurses.
Her face was thin and her voice shrill. When she was
twenty-five, she looked forty. After she had passed fifty,
nobody could tell her age; erect and silent always, she re-
sembled a wooden figure working automatically.
CHAPTER II
LIKE EVERY OTHER WOMAN, she had had an affair of the heart.
Her father, who was a mason, was killed by falling from a
scaffolding. Then her mother died and her sisters went their
different ways; a farmer took her in, and while she was quite
small, let her keep cows in the fields. She was clad in miser-
able rags, beaten for the slightest offence and finally dis-
missed for a theft of thirty sous which she did not commit.
She took service on another farm where she tended the poul-
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