Ball of Fat 36
The girl stood still, stupefied with astonishment; then, plucking up courage,
accosted the manufacturer's wife with a humble "Good-morning, madame," to which
the other replied merely with a slight and insolent nod, accompanied by a look
of outraged virtue. Every one suddenly appeared extremely busy, and kept as far
from Ball of Fat as if tier skirts had been infected with some deadly disease.
Then they hurried to the coach, followed by the despised courtesan, who,
arriving last of all, silently took the place she had occupied during the first
part of the journey.
The rest seemed neither to see nor to know her—all save Madame Loiseau, who, glancing contemptuously in her direction, remarked, half aloud, to her husband:
"What a mercy I am not sitting beside that creature!"
The lumbering vehicle started on its way, and the journey began afresh.
At first no one spoke. Ball of Fat dared not even raise her eyes. She felt at once indignant with her neighbors, and humiliated at having yielded to the Prussian into whose arms they had so hypocritically cast her.
But the countess, turning toward Madame Carre-Lamadon, soon broke the painful silence:
"I think you know Madame d'Etrelles?"
"Yes; she is a friend of mine."
"Such a charming woman!"
"Delightful! Exceptionally talented, and an artist to the finger tips. She sings marvellously and draws to perfection."
The manufacturer was chatting with the count, and amid the clatter of the window-panes a word of their conversation was now and then distinguishable: "Shares—maturity—premium—time-limit."
Loiseau, who had abstracted from the inn the timeworn pack of cards, thick with the grease of five years' contact with half-wiped-off tables, started a game of bezique with his wife.
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