Cecil looked at him a moment; he saw the man was in earnest, and thought but little of his repentance and trepidation, for the citizens were all afraid of slighting or annoying a soldier.
“So be it. Thank you,” he said, as he stretched out his hand and took the coins, not without a keen pang of the old pride that would not be wholly stilled, yet gladly for sake of the Chasseur dying yonder, growing delirious and retching the blood off his lungs in want of one touch of the ice, that was spoiled by the ton weight, to keep cool the wines and the fish of M. le Marquis de Chateauroy. And he went onward to spend the gold his sculpture had brought on some yellow figs and some cool golden grapes, and some ice-chilled wines that should soothe a little of the pangs of dissolution to his comrade.
“You did it? That is well. Now, see here—one word of me, now or ever after, and there is a little present that will come to you from Cigarette,” said the little Friend of the Flag with a sententious sternness. The unhappy Jew shuddered and shut his eyes as she held a bullet close to his sight, then dropped it with an ominous thud in her pistol barrel.
“Not a syllable, never a syllable,” he stammered; “and if I had known you were in love with him—”
A box on the ears sent him across his own counter.
“In love? Parbleu! I detest the fellow!” said Cigarette, with fiery scorn and as hot an oath.
“Truly? Then why give your Napoleons——” began the bruised and stammering Israelite.
Cigarette tossed back her pretty head that was curly and spirited and shapely as any thoroughbred spaniel’s; a superb glance flashed from her eyes, a superb disdain sat on her lips.
“You are a Jew trader; you know nothing of our code under the tricolor. We are too proud not to aid even an enemy when he is in the right, and France always arms for justice!”
With which magnificent peroration she swept all the carvings—they were rightfully hers—off the table.
“They will light my cooking fire!” she said contemptuously, as she vaulted lightly over the counter into the street, and pirouetted along the slope of the crowded Babazoum. All made way for her, even the mighty Spahis and the trudging Bedouin mules, for all knew that if they did not she would make it for herself, over their heads or above their prostrated bodies. Finally she whirled herself into a dark, deserted Moresco archway, a little out of the town, and dropped on a stone block, as a swallow, tired of flight, drops on to a bough.
“Is that the way I revenge myself? Ah, bah! I deserve to be killed! When he called me unsexed—unsexed—unsexed!”—and with each repetition of the infamous word, so bitter because vaguely admitted to be true, with her cheeks scarlet and her eyes aflame, and her hands clinched, she flung one of the ivory wreathes on to the pavement and stamped on it with her spurred heel until the carvings were ground into powdered fragments—stamped, as though it were a living foe, and her steel-bound foot were treading out all its life with burning hate and pitiless venom.