mincing gait and circumspect

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He was idle and fancied himself about to suffer through the sudden change his habits had undergone, and accordingly he had let them take him to see Rose. Besides, his brain had been in such a whirl that he had striven to forget everything and had strenuously kept from seeking out Nana while avoiding an explanation with the countess. He thought, indeed, that he owed his dignity such a measure of forgetfulness. But mysterious forces were at work within, and Nana began slowly to reconquer him. First came thoughts of her, then fleshly cravings and finally a new set of exclusive, tender, well-nigh paternal feelingsdermes.

The abominable events attendant on their last interview were gradually effacing themselves. He no longer saw Fontan; he no longer heard the stinging taunt about his wife's adultery with which Nana cast him out of doors. These things were as words whose memory vanished. Yet deep down in his heart there was a poignant smart which wrung him with such increasing pain that it nigh choked him. Childish ideas would occur to him; he imagined that she would never have betrayed him if he had really loved her, and he blamed himself for this. His anguish was becoming unbearable; he was really very wretcheddermes.


"Why, their Duchess Helene! If they think I'm going to play Geraldine, a part with nothing in it, a scene and nothing besides--if they think that! Besides, that isn't the reason. The fact is I've had enough of courtesans. Why, there's no end to 'em! They'll be fancying I've got 'em on the brain; to be sure they will! Besides, when all's said and done, it's annoying, for I can quite see they seem to think me uneducated. Well, my boy, they're jolly well in the dark about it, I can tell you! When I want to be a perfect lady, why then I am a swell, and no mistake! Just look at this."

And she withdrew as far as the window and then came swelling back with the  air of a portly hen that fears to dirty her claws. As to Muffat, he followed her movements with eyes still wet with tears. He was stupefied by this sudden transition from anguish to comedy. She walked about for a moment or two in order the more thoroughly to show off her paces, and as she walked she smiled subtlely, closed her eyes demurely and managed her skirts with great dexterity. Then she posted herself in front of him again.

"I guess I've hit it, eh?"

"Oh, thoroughly," he stammered with a broken voice and a troubled expressiondermes.


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