He went with his barrow for more bulbs. Meanwhile, the sun sank behind the range. The plain lay bathed in soft, golden light; the ravines were tongues of black shadow. As the evening gun boomed out from a fortress on the Brown side of the frontier, Feller glanced around to see if any one were watching. Assured that he was alone, he removed his hat, and, though he wiped the brim and wiped his brow, in his attitude was the suggestion of the military stance of attention at colors. A minute later, when the evening gun of the Grays across the white posts reverberated over the plain, he jammed his hat back on his head rather abruptly and started to the tool house with his barrow.
“War! war!” he repeated softly. “Yes, war!” he added in eager desire.
THE DIVIDENDS OF POWER
Westerling realized that the question of marriage as a social requirement might arise when he should become officially chief of staff with the retirement of His Excellency the field-marshal. For the present he enjoyed his position as a bachelor who was the most favored man in the army too much to think of marriage. This did not imply an absence of fondness for women; rather the contrary. He liked sitting next to a beautiful neck and shoulders and having a pair of feminine eyes sparkle into his at dinner; though, with rare exceptions, not the same neck and shoulders on succeeding nights. His natural sense of organization divided women into two classes: those of family and wealth, whom he met at great houses, and those purring kittens who live in small flats. Both afforded him diversion. A woman had been the most telling influence in making him vice-chief of staff; an affair to which gossip gave the breath of scandal had been an argument against him.
It was a little surprising that the bell that the girl of seventeen had rung in his secret mind when he was on one of the first rounds of the ladder, now lost in the mists of a lower stratum of existence, should ever tinkle again.... Yet he had heard its note in the tone of her prophecy with each step in his promotion; and while the other people whom he had known at La Tir were the vaguest shadows of personalities, her picture was as definite in detail as when she said: “You have the will! You have the ambition!” She had recognized in him the power that he felt; foreseen his ascent to the very apex of the pyramid. She was still unmarried, which was strange; for she had not been bad-looking and she was of a fine old family. What was she like now? Commonplace and provincial, most likely. Many of the people he had known in his early days appeared so when he met them again. But, at the worst, he looked for an interesting half-hour.