At the Hotel X, near the Place de la Concorde — five hundred francs a month, and food. I have been working there today. Name of Jesus Christ, how I have eaten!’   After ten or twelve hours’ work, and with his game leg, his first nike air max r4 thought had been to walk three kilometres to my hotel and tell me the good news! What was more, he told me to meet him in the Tuileries the next day during his afternoon interval, in case he should be able to steal some food for me. At the appointed time I met Boris on a public bench. He undid his waistcoat and produced a large, crushed, newspaper packet; in it were some minced veal, a wedge of Gamembert cheese, bread and an eclair, all jumbled together.   ‘VOILA!’ said Boris, ‘that’s all I could smuggle out for you. The doorkeeper is a cunning swine.’   It is disagreeable to eat out of a newspaper on a public seat, especially in the Tuileries, which are generally full of pretty girls, but I was too hungry to care. While I ate, Boris explained that he was working in the cafeterie of the hotel — that is, in English, the stillroom. It appeared that the cafeterie was the very lowest post in the hotel, and a dreadful come-down for a waiter, but it would do until the Auberge de Jehan Gottard opened. Meanwhile I was to meet Boris every day in the Tuileries, and he would smuggle out as much food as he dared. For three days we continued with this arrangement, and I lived entirely air max lunar on the stolen food. Then all our troubles came to an end, for one of the PLONGEURS left the Hotel X, and on Boris’s recommendation I was given a job there myself.   Chapter 10   The Hotel X was a vast, grandiose place with a classical facade, and at one side a little, dark doorway like a rat-hole, which was the service entrance. I arrived at a quarter to seven in the morning. A stream of men with greasy trousers were hurrying in and being checked by a doorkeeper who sat in a tiny office. I waited, and presently the CHEF DU PERSONNEL, a sort of assistant manager, arrived and began to question me. He was an Italian, with a round, pale face, haggard from overwork. He asked whether I was an experienced dishwasher, and I said that I was; he glanced at my hands and saw that I was lying, but on hearing that I was an Englishman he changed his tone and engaged me.   ‘We have been looking for someone to practise our English on,’ he said. ‘Our clients are all Americans, and the only English we know is —— ’ He repeated something that little boys write on the walls in London. ‘You may be useful. Come downstairs.’   He led me down a winding staircase into a narrow passage, deep underground, and so low that I had to stoop in places. It was stiflingly hot and very dark, with only dim, yellow bulbs several yards apart. There seemed to be miles of dark labyrinthine passages — actually, I suppose, a few hundred yards in all — that reminded one queerly of the lower decks of a liner; there were the same heat and cramped space and warm reek of food, and a humming, whirring noise (it came from the kitchen furnaces) just like the whir of engines. We passed doorways which let out sometimes a shouting of oaths, sometimes the red glare of a fire, once a shuddering draught from an ice chamber. As we went along, something struck me violently in the back. It was a hundred-pound block of ice, carried by a blue-aproned porter. After him came a boy with a great slab of veal on his shoulder, his cheek pressed into the damp, spongy flesh. They shoved me aside with a cry of ‘SAUVE-TOI, IDIOT!’ and rushed on. On the wall, under one of the lights, someone had written in a very neat hand: ‘Sooner will you find a cloudless sky in winter, than a woman at the Hotel X who has her maidenhead.’ It seemed a queer sort of place.   One of the passages branched off into a laundry,nike air max 2013+ where an old, skull-faced woman gave me a blue apron and a pile of dishcloths. Then the CHEF DU PERSONNEL took me to a tiny underground den — a cellar below a cellar, as it were — where there were a sink and some gas-ovens. It was too low for me to stand quite upright, and the temperature was perhaps 110 degrees Fahrenheit. The CHEF DU PERSONNEL explained that my job was to fetch meals for the higher hotel employees, who fed in a small dining-room above, clean their room and wash their crockery. When he had gone, a waiter, another Italian, thrust a fierce, fuzzy head into the doorway and looked down at me.   ‘English, eh?’ he said. ‘Well, I’m in charge here. If you work well’ — he made the motion of up-ending a bottle and sucked noisily. ‘If you don’t’ — he gave the doorpost several vigorous kicks. ‘To me, twisting your neck would be no more than spitting on the floor. And if there’s any trouble, they’ll believe me, not you. So be careful.’   After this I set to work rather hurriedly. Except for about an hour, I was at work from seven in the morning till a quarter past nine at night; first at washing crockery, then at scrubbing the tables and floors of the employees’ dining-room, then at polishing glasses and knives, then at fetching meals, then at washing crockery again, then at fetching more meals and washing more crockery. It was easy work, and I got on well with it except when I went to the kitchen to fetch meals. The kitchen was like nothing I had ever seen or imagined — a stifling, low-ceilinged inferno of a cellar, red-lit from the fires, and deafening with oaths and the clanging of pots and pans. It was so hot that all the metal-work except the stoves had to be covered with cloth. In the middle were furnaces, where twelve cooks skipped to and fro, their faces dripping sweat in spite of their white caps. Round that were counters where a mob of waiters and PLONGEURS clamoured with trays. Scullions, naked to the waist, were stoking the fires and scouring huge copper saucepans with sand. Everyone seemed to be in a hurry and a rage. The head cook, a fine, scarlet man with big moustachios, stood in the middle booming continuously, ‘CA MARCHE DEUX AUFS BROUILLES! CA MARCHE UN CHATEAUBRIAND AUX POMMES SAUTEES!’ except when he broke off to curse at a PLONGEUR. There were three counters, and the first time I went to the kitchen I took my tray unknowingly to the wrong one. The head cook walked up to me, twisted his moustaches, and looked me up and down. Then he beckoned to the breakfast cook and nike free 3.0 pointed at me.   ‘Do you see THAT? That is the type of PLONGEUR they send us nowadays. Where do you come from, idiot? From Charenton, I suppose?’ (There is a large lunatic asylum at Charenton.)   ‘From England,’ I said.   ‘I might have known it. Well, MAN CHER MONSIEUR L’ANGLAIS, may I inform you that you are the son of a whore? And now — the camp to the other counter, where you belong.’   I got this kind of reception every time I went to the kitchen, for I always made some mistake; I was expected to know the work, and was cursed accordingly. From curiosity I counted the number of times I was called MAQUEREAU during the day, and it was thirty-nine.   At half past four the Italian told me that I could stop working, but that it was not worth going out, as we began at five. I went to the lavatory for a smoke; smoking was strictly forbidden, and Boris had warned me that the lavatory was the only safe place. After that I worked again till a quarter past nine, when the waiter put his head into the doorway and told me to leave the rest of the crockery. To my astonishment, after calling me pig, mackerel, etc., all day, he had suddenly grown quite friendly. I realized that the curses I had met with were only a kind of probation.   ‘That’ll do, MAN P’TIT,’ said the waiter. ‘TU N’ES PAS DEBROUILLARD, but you work all right. Come up and have your dinner. The hotel allows us two litres of wine each, and I’ve stolen another bottle. We’ll have a fine booze.  
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