The Grey Woman HTML version

Portion II
A Norman woman, Amante by name, was sent to Les Rochers by the Paris milliner, to become
my maid. She was tall and handsome, though upwards of forty, and somewhat gaunt. But, on
first seeing her, I liked her; she was neither rude nor familiar in her manners, and had a pleasant
look of straightforwardness about her that I had missed in all the inhabitants of the château, and
had foolishly set down in my own mind as a national want. Amante was directed by M. de la
Tourelle to sit in my boudoir, and to be always within call. He also gave her many instructions as
to her duties in matters which, perhaps, strictly belonged to my department of management. But I
was young and inexperienced, and thankful to be spared any responsibility.
I daresay it was true what M. de la Tourelle said - before many weeks had elapsed - that, for a
great lady, a lady of a castle, I became sadly too familiar with my Norman waiting-maid. But you
know that by birth we were not very far apart in rank: Amante was the daughter of a Norman
farmer, I of a German miller; and besides that, my life was so lonely! It almost seemed as if I
could not please my husband. He had written for someone capable of being my companion at
times, and now he was jealous of my free regard for her - angry because I could sometimes laugh
at her original tunes and amusing proverbs, while when with him I was too much frightened to
From time to time families from a distance of some leagues drove through the bad roads in their
heavy carriages to pay us a visit, and there was an occasional talk of our going to Paris when
public affairs should be a little more settled. These little events and plans were the only
variations in my life for the first twelve months, if I except the alternations in M. de la Tourelle's
temper, his unreasonable anger, and his passionate fondness.
Perhaps one of the reasons that made me take pleasure and comfort in Amante's society was, that
whereas I was afraid of everybody (I do not think I was half as much afraid of things as of
persons), Amante feared no one. She would quietly beard Lefebvre, and he respected her all the
more for it; she had a knack of putting questions to M. de la Tourelle, which respectfully
informed him that she had detected the weak point, but forbore to press him too closely upon it
out of deference to his position as her master. And with all her shrewdness to others, she had
quite tender ways with me; all the more so at this time because she knew, what I had not yet
ventured to tell M. de la Tourelle, that by-and-by I might become a mother - that wonderful
object of mysterious interest to single women, who no longer hope to enjoy such blessedness
It was once more autumn; late in October. But I was reconciled to my habitation; the walls of the
new part of the building no longer looked bare and desolate; the debris had been so far cleared
away by M. de la Tourelle's desire as to make me a little flower-garden, in which I tried to
cultivate those plants that I remembered as growing at home. Amante and I had moved the
furniture in the rooms, and adjusted it to our liking; my husband had ordered many an article
from time to time that he thought would give me pleasure, and I was becoming tame to my
apparent imprisonment in a certain part of the great building, the whole of which I had never yet
explored. It was October, as I say, once more. The days were lovely, though short in duration,