She had never looked at a beautiful, high-born woman before, holding them in gay, satirical disdain as mere butterflies who could not prime a revolver and fire it off to save their own lives, if ever such need arose. But now she studied one through all the fine, quickened, unerring instincts of jealousy; and there is no instinct in the world that gives such thorough appreciation of the very rival it reviles. She saw the courtly negligence, the regal grace, the fair, brilliant loveliness, the delicious, serene languor, of a pure aristocrate for the very first time to note them, and they made her heart sick with a new and deadly sense; they moved her much as the white, delicate carvings of the lotus-lilies had done; they, like the carvings, showed her all she had missed. She dropped her head suddenly like a wounded bird, and the racy, vindictive camp oaths died off her lips. She thought of herself as she had danced that mad bacchic bamboula amid the crowd of shouting, stamping, drunken, half-infuriated soldiery; and for the moment she hated herself more even than she hated that patrician yonder.
“I know what he meant now!” she pondered, and her spirited, sparkling, brunette face was dark and weary, like a brown, sun-lightened brook over whose radiance the heavy shadow of some broad-spread eagle’s wings hovers, hiding the sun.
She looked once, twice, thrice, more inquiringly, envyingly, thirstily; then, as the band under the cedars rolled out their music afresh, and light laughter echoed to her from the terrace, she turned and wound herself back under the cover of the shrubs; not joyously and mischievously as she had come, but almost as slowly, almost as sadly, as a hare that the greyhounds have coursed drags itself through the grasses and ferns.
Once through the cactus hedge her old spirit returned; she shook herself angrily with petulant self-scorn; she swore a little, and felt that the fierce, familiar words did her good like brandy poured down her throat; she tossed her head like a colt that rebels against the gall of the curb; then, fleet as a fawn, she dashed down the moonlit road at topmost speed. “She can’t do what I do!” she thought.
And she ran the faster, and sang a drinking-song of the Spahis all the louder, because still at her heart a dull pain was aching.
Cigarette en condottiera.
Cigarette always went fast. She had a bird-like way of skimming her ground that took her over it with wonderful swiftness; all the tassels, and ribbon knots, and sashes with which her uniform was rendered so gay and so distinctive fluttering behind her; and her little military boots, with the bright spurs twinkling, flying over the earth too lightly for a speck of dust,—though it lay thick as August suns could parch it,—to rest upon her. Thus she went now, along the lovely moonlight; singing her drinking song so fast and so