Margot’s mother is less than impressed by this deliciousness, however, and beats Margot when she learns that her daughter has been using her wages to pay for Pierrot’s drinking and gambling. In response, Margot flees the family home and, destitute, hungry and wandering the Tuileries gardens, meets her apparent saviour in the form of Madame Florence, a small, respectable-looking woman who offers to listen to her troubles over a light meal at the gardens’ café:
Allons, mon Ange, allons au bout de la terrasse, nous déjeûnerons chez Madame La Croix. Là, vous me ferez part du sujet de votre affliction : peut-être vous serai-je plus utile que vous ne pensez. Je me fis d’autant moins prier, que j’étois encore à jeun ; & je la suivis, ne doutant pas que le Ciel ne l’eut envoyée pour m’aider de ses sages conseils, & m’arracher au danger de rester sur le pavé. Après m’être muni l’estomac de deux tasses de café au lait & d’un couple de petits pains, je lui avouai ingénûment mon origine & ma profession ; mais pour le reste, je ne fus pas si sincére. Je crus qu’il étoit plus prudent de mettre le tort du côté de ma mere que du mien.
(There, there, my sweet, there, let’s go for a little walk. Shall we? Let’s get a bite to eat at Madame Lacroix’s? What do you say? There, you can tell me all about it. I can perhaps be more help than you think. I was easily persuaded, especially as I hadn’t had anything to eat all day. I followed her, convinced that my lucky star had sent a guardian angel whose wise counsel would save me from the dangers of living out-ofdoors. After two cups of steaming white coffee and a couple of rolls, I told her where I was from and explained my profession. In this I was entirely truthful, but I thought it prudent to blame my mother for my present predicament.)13
Far from being heaven-sent, Madame Florence is, of course, seeking a hungry and impressionable young charge to join her brothel. The café au lait and petits pains she buys, though unremarkable to our cosmopolitan twenty-first century stomachs, mark a significant socio-economic leap from humble bread and cheese. This repast
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