A Ball part 7

At last my quadrille came. The band played the symphony, and the dancers hastened to seek their partners. My heart almost burst from my dress when I saw my dancer approach and, bowing low, press the little flower to his heart. I fear my hand trembled as he took it in his, but I only smiled and made some observation about the music.

“Ah, you are carrying off my neighbor,” cried the Major laughing, with one of his annihilating gesticulations.

As we joined the Golumns, somebody whispered behind us, “What a well-matched couple!”

Ah, lima, how happy I was! I felt, as we stood there hand in hand, as if his blood were flowing into mine, and mine into his!

We waited for the music, but before it could begin, the noise of horses` feet was heard galloping up the street and, at the same time, several cannon were fired at a distance, which made all the windows rattle. Suddenly an officer entered the ball-room with his csako on his head, and covered with mud, and announced that the enemy had attacked the outposts.

The Major had heard the cannon, and read from the courier s face ` what he could not understand from his words.

People express killing

“Ah, that`s right,” he exclaimed clapping his hands, and again those fearful gestures by which people express killing. “We were only wait- 1 ing for them, Messieurs; we must ask our ladies for a few moments` leave—just a few moments, Mesdames! We shall return immediately, and meantime you can rest.”

And he hastened to put on his sword; all the other officers ran to get theirs, and I saw the gay, courtly, flattering expression suddenly change to angry, fierce, threatening countenances, but one and all seemed eager to start, as if they had expected it all along.

My dancer, too, forsook me to look for his sword and csako. His step was the firmest, his eye the keenest of all; if I had hitherto felt happiness—more than happiness—in looking at him, admiration, enthusiasm, now filled my breast. As he buckled on his sword a strange fever seemed to burn in all my veins; I could have wished to be in battle with him, to ride beside him, and dash with him into the midst of the enemy! He still had my rose in his hand and as he took up his csako, he placed it beside the cockade, and then he turned back as if he sought something through the crowd.

Our eyes met—he hastened away, and looked around and when he saw me, immediately approached, and, making a grotesque bow, without waiting for me to speak, “Fair lady,” he said, “your dancer entreats your pardon for this breach of politeness, but he is unable with tljie best will to enjoy the happiness of dancing the Frangaise with you, having been shot through the leg, which must be amputated above the knee.”

Oh, lima! I shall never dance a quadrille again!

I am very ill! I am overwhelmed by despair!

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