Ball of Fat 26
"How can you think of such a thing, in this snow? And with our wives? Besides,
we should be pursued at once, overtaken in ten minutes, and brought back as
prisoners at the mercy of the soldiery."
This was true enough; they were silent.
The ladies talked of dress, but a certain constraint seemed to prevail among them.
Suddenly, at the end of the street, the officer appeared. His tall, wasp-like, uniformed figure was outlined against the snow which bounded the horizon, and he walked, knees apart, with that motion peculiar to soldiers, who are always anxious not to soil their carefully polished boots.
He bowed as he passed the ladies, then glanced scornfully at the men, who had sufficient dignity not to raise their hats, though Loiseau made a movement to do so.
Ball of Fat flushed crimson to the ears, and the three married women felt unutterably humiliated at being met thus by the soldier in company with the girl whom he had treated with such scant ceremony.
Then they began to talk about him, his figure, and his face. Madame Carre-Lamadon, who had known many officers and judged them as a connoisseur, thought him not at all bad-looking; she even regretted that he was not a Frenchman, because in that case he would have made a very handsome hussar, with whom all the women would assuredly have fallen in love.
When they were once more within doors they did not know what to do with themselves. Sharp words even were exchanged apropos of the merest trifles. The silent dinner was quickly over, and each one went to bed early in the hope of sleeping, and thus killing time.
They came down next morning with tired faces and irritable tempers; the women scarcely spoke to Ball of Fat.
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