left pinky

“No, thank you,“ Ellen replied, blushing. She watched Ted leave the theatre box and sighed. He was always so thoughtful. Not like Nick. Nick was such a brute. On the other hand, Ted didn’t excite her like Nick. Ellen bit the nail on her left pinky. The newsreel ended and a trailer began. A gun went off and a body hit the floor with a thud.”

— Lord Malinov, Flowers of Malinov

old as dullards

These are beings of the great neuter species: impotent men, parasites, cyphers, who have a little land, a little folly, a little wit; who would be rustics in a drawing-room, and who think themselves gentlemen in the dram-shop; who say, “My fields, my peasants, my woods”; who hiss actresses at the theatre to prove that they are persons of taste; quarrel with the officers of the garrison to prove that they are men of war; hunt, smoke, yawn, drink, smell of tobacco, play billiards, stare at travellers as they descend from the diligence, live at the cafe, dine at the inn, have a dog which eats the bones under the table, and a mistress who eats the dishes on the table; who stick at a sou, exaggerate the fashions, admire tragedy, despise women, wear out their old boots, copy London through Paris, and Paris through the medium of Pont-A-Mousson, grow old as dullards, never work, serve no use, and do no great harm.

Victor Hugo, Les Miserables

a sponge

She has become marble in becoming mire. Whoever touches her feels cold. She passes; she endures you; she ignores you; she is the severe and dishonored figure. Life and the social order have said their last word for her. All has happened to her that will happen to her. She has felt everything, borne everything, experienced everything, suffered everything, lost everything, mourned everything. She is resigned, with that resignation which resembles indifference, as death resembles sleep. She no longer avoids anything. Let all the clouds fall upon her, and all the ocean sweep over her! What matters it to her? She is a sponge that is soaked.

Victor Hugo, Les Miserables

called prostitution

The sacred law of Jesus Christ governs our civilization, but it does not, as yet, permeate it; it is said that slavery has disappeared from European civilization. This is a mistake. It still exists; but it weighs only upon the woman, and it is called prostitution. It weighs upon the woman, that is to say, upon grace, weakness, beauty, maternity. This is not one of the least of man’s disgraces.

Victor Hugo, Les Miserables