The Fat and the Thin
At about four o'clock on the afternoon of the following day Lisa betook herself to Saint
Eustache. For the short walk across the square she had arrayed herself very seriously
in a black silk gown and thick woollen shawl. The handsome Norman, who, from her
stall in the fish market, watched her till she vanished into the church porch, was quite
"Hallo! So the fat thing's gone in for priests now, has she?" she exclaimed, with a sneer.
"Well, a little holy water may do her good!"
She was mistaken in her surmises, however, for Lisa was not a devotee. She did not
observe the ordinances of the Church, but said that she did her best to lead an honest
life, and that this was all that was necessary. At the same time, however, she disliked to
hear religion spoken ill of, and often silenced Gavard, who delighted in scandalous
stories of priests and their doings. Talk of that sort seemed to her altogether improper.
Everyone, in her opinion, should be allowed to believe as they pleased, and every
scruple should be respected. Besides, the majority of the clergy were most estimable
men. She knew Abbe Roustan, of Saint Eustache—a distinguished priest, a man of
shrewd sense, and one, she thought, whose friendship might be safely relied upon. And
she would wind up by explaining that religion was absolutely necessary for the people;
she looked upon it as a sort of police force that helped to maintain order, and without
which no government would be possible. When Gavard went too far on this subject and
asserted that the priests ought to be turned into the streets and have their shops shut
up, Lisa, shrugged her shoulders and replied: "A great deal of good that would do! Why,
before a month was over the people would be murdering one another in the streets, and
you would be compelled to invent another God. That was just what happened in '93.
You know very well that I'm not given to mixing with the priests, but for all that I say that
they are necessary, as we couldn't do without them."
And so when Lisa happened to enter a church she always manifested the utmost
decorum. She had bought a handsome missal, which she never opened, for use when
she was invited to a funeral or a wedding. She knelt and rose at the proper times, and
made a point of conducting herself with all propriety. She assumed, indeed, what she
considered a sort of official demeanour, such as all well-to-do folks, tradespeople, and
house-owners ought to observe with regard to religion.
As she entered Saint Eustache that afternoon she let the double doors, covered with
green baize, faded and worn by the frequent touch of pious hands, close gently behind
her. Then she dipped her fingers in the holy water and crossed herself in the correct