“Hola, Cigarette!” cried the Zouave Tata, leaning out of a little casement of the As de Pique as she passed it. “A la bonne heure, ma belle! Come in; we have the devil’s own fun here—”
“No doubt!” retorted the Friend of the Flag. “It would be odd if the master-fiddler would not fiddle for his own!”
Through the window, and over the sturdy shoulders, in their canvas shirt, of the hero Tata, the room was visible—full of smoke, through which the lights glimmered like the sun in a fog; reeking with bad wines, crowded with laughing, bearded faces, and the battered beauty of women revelers, while on the table, singing with a voice Mario himself could not have rivaled for exquisite sweetness, was a slender Zouave gesticulating with the most marvelous pantomime, while his melodious tones rolled out the obscenest and wittiest ballad that ever was caroled in a guinguette.
“Come in, my pretty one!” entreated Tata, stretching out his brawn arms. “You will die of laughing if you hear Gris-Gris to-night—such a song!”
“A pretty song, yes—for a pigsty!” said Cigarette, with a glance into the chamber; and she shook his hand off her, and went on down the street. A night or two before a new song from Gris-Gris, the best tenor in the whole army, would have been paradise to her, and she would have vaulted through the window at a single bound into the pandemonium. Now, she did not know why, she found no charm in it.
And she went quietly home to her little straw-bed in her garret, and curled herself up like a kitten to sleep; but for the first time in her young life sleep did not come readily to her, and when it did come, for the first time found a restless sigh upon her laughing mouth.
The mistress of the white king.
“Fighting in the Kabaila, life was well enough; but here!” thought Cecil as, earlier awake than those of his Chambree, he stood looking down the lengthy, narrow room where the men lay asleep along the bare floor.
Tired as overworked cattle, and crouched or stretched like worn-out, homeless dogs, they had never wakened as he had noiselessly harnessed himself, and he looked at them with that interest in other lives that had come to him through adversity; for if misfortune had given him strength it had also given him sympathy.
They were of marvelously various types—these sleepers brought under one roof by fates the most diverse. Close beside a huge and sinewy brute of an Auvergnat, whose coarse, bestial features and massive bull’s head were fitter for a galley-slave than a soldier, were the lithe, exquisite limbs and the oval, delicate face of a man from the Valley of the Rhone. Beneath a canopy of flapping, tawny wild-beast skins, the spoils of his own hands, was flung the torso of one of the splendid peasants of the Sables d’Olonne; one steeped so long in