ONLY A SINGLE DANCE
Down from the musicians’ platform Crappy Zachy handed a glass to Amrei. She took a sip, and handed it back; and Crappy Zachy said:
“If you dance, Amrei, I’ll play all my instruments so that the angels will come down from the sky and join in.”
“Yes, but unless an angel comes down from the sky and asks me, I shall not get a partner,” said Amrei, half in fun and half in sorrow. And then she began to wonder why there had to be a gendarme at a dance; but she did not hold to this thought long, but immediately went on to say to herself: “After all, he is a man like anybody else, even though he has a sword on; and before he became a gendarme, he was a lad like the rest. It must be a plague for him that he can’t dance. But what’s that to me? I, too, am obliged to be a mere spectator, and I don’t get any money for it.”
For a short time things went on in a much more quiet and moderate manner in the dancing-room. For the “English woman,” as Agy, the wife of Severin, the building contractor, was still called, had come to the dance with her children. The rich wood-merchants set the champagne corks to popping and offered a glass to the English woman; she drank the health of the young couple and then made each one happy by a gracious word. A constant and complacent smile was lighting up the face of everybody. Agy honored many a young fellow who drank to her from the garlanded glasses, by sipping from hers in return. The old women, who sat near Barefoot, were loud in their praises of the English woman, and stood up a long time before she came when they saw her approaching to speak a few words to them. When Agy had gone away, the rejoicing, singing, dancing, stamping, and shouting broke out again with renewed vigor.
Farmer Rodel’s foreman now came toward Amrei, and she felt a thrill of expectation. But the foreman said:
“Here, Barefoot, take care of my pipe for me while I am dancing.” And after that several young girls from her village also came; from one she received a jacket, from another a cap, or a neckerchief, or a door-key. She let them hand it all over to her, and stood there with an ever-increasing load as one dance followed another. All the time she smiled quietly to herself, but nobody came to ask her to dance. Now a waltz was being played, so smoothly that one could have swum to it. And then a wild and furious galop; hurrah! now they are all hopping and stamping and jumping and panting in supreme delight. And how their eyes glitter! The old women who are sitting in the corner where Amrei is standing, complain of the dust and heat; but still, they don’t go home. Then—suddenly Amrei starts; her eyes are fixed upon a handsome young man who is walking proudly to and fro among the crowd. It is the rider who had met her that morning, and whom she had snubbed in such a pert way. All eyes