Unfortunately, I was engaged. What would I not have given at that moment had a courier entered to call away my dancer!
“Perhaps the next one?” said the Captain, seating himself beside me.
I do not know what I said, or whether I replied at all; I only know I felt as I do when flying in a dream.
“But you will forget, perhaps, that you promised me?” he continued.
Had I not suddenly recollected myself, I should probably have told him that sooner could I forget my existence. However, I only replied III a very indifferent tone that I should not forget.
‘But you do not know me!”
A country simpleton would have answered, in my place, “Among a hundred—among thousands! At the first glance!”
Not I! As if I were doing the simplest thing in the world, I took a single rosebud from my breast and gave it to him. “I shall know you by this,” I said, without betraying the slightest agitation.
The Captain silently pressed the rose to his lips. I did not look, but I knew it. I would not have encountered his eyes, at that moment for all the world. He then left me and sat down under a mirror opposite. He did not dance, and seemed absorbed in his own reflections. Meanwhile, two Czardas and a Polonaise were danced, after which our quadrille would come. You may conceive how long the time appeared.
Most diverting person
These eternal harom a tanczes seemed absolutely to have no end. I never saw people dance so furiously, and although it was the third night since they had slept, nothing would tire them out. However, I amused myself pretty well by making the acquaintance of the Commander of the Battalion, Major Sch , who is a most diverting person. His name is German, and though he speaks Hungarian shockingly, he will always speak it, even if he is addressed in German or French. Then he is most dreadfully deaf, and accustomed to such loud-toned conversation one would think the cannon were conversing together.
They say he is a very gallant soldier, but his appearance is not prepossessing—an uncouth, grotesque figure, with a long thin face, shortcut hair, and a grisly beard which is not all becoming. But the most amusing thing was that what I spoke he did not hear; and what he spoke I did not understand. He brought me over a box of bonbons— and I complained of the badness of confectionery in our town.
He probably supposed from my grimace that somebody had offended me at the ball, and answered something from which—by the gesture which accompanied it—I could only infer that he intended cutting the offender in pieces; unless, indeed, what others would express under such circumstances may be the common gesticulation of men who live in war.