"May I?" she whispered, smiling round into his face. His shoulder-knots just perceptibly rose. "There isn't a policeman in sight, John. You're at my mercy. No, no; I'm at yours. Tolerate me. You really do look quite wonderful. There, I won't be so impertinent as to praise you. Only let me be with you. Will you?" The shoulder-knots repeated their answer.
Her gown of yellow satin, covered with old Alencon lace, was cut low at the neck; and she had put on all her diamonds, a necklace, a diadem, shoulder-knots, bracelets and rings. With her candid, girlish face, she looked like some Virgin in a missal, a Queen-Virgin, laden with the offerings of all Christendom.
That point is seldom reached before he is thirty-five years of age. Marriage helps him out of the difficulty, and since the army is so deified in the Fatherland that the highest ambition of nearly every girl is to marry an officer, his opportunity of trading shoulder-knots for a dowry is excellent.
Carriage after carriage rolls up through the dense throng of curious but silent spectators and discharges its load of richly-dressed occupants through the carpeted, canvas-roofed lane of belted police, through the massive portals of the church, past the welcoming "masters of ceremonies," two society swells, who know everybody and where everybody is to be seated, and by them are presented to one of half a dozen stalwart young officers in all the glitter of shoulder-knots, helmet-cords, aiguillettes, sabres, and belts, and these martial ushers receive the wondering ladies on their arms and escort them with much ceremony to the designated pews, wherein they are deposited with the precision of military bows, and the escort returns forthwith, clanking down the aisle followed by curious eyes.
Yet it was only a heavy black silk, rich and glossy as satin, cut, as was then the universal rule of evening dress, tolerably low in the neck, with short sleeves; bunches of pomegranate-blossoms and buds for breast and shoulder-knots, and among the classic braids of her dark hair a half-wreath of the same.
And the other grenadiers, with the red shoulder-knots and the fur hats strapped above their knapsacks, are the Imperial Guard, the successors of the old Consular Guard who won Marengo for us. Eighteen hundred of them got the cross of honour after the battle.
He walked on, arguing with his companion, who was rather spare than prodigal in his person, but marvelously lithe and supple. The latter was shod with low shoes, garters united the stockings to the light-blue breeches, the waistcoat was cane-colored, his sash light green, and jaunty shoulder-knots, lappets, and rows of buttons ornamented the carmelite jacket.
Before a very small table surrounded with gilt armchairs stood Louis XIII, encircled by the great officers of the crown. His dress was very elegant: a kind of fawn-colored vest, with open sleeves, ornamented with shoulder-knots and blue ribbons, covered him down to the waist.
They were all six feet high. They all wore bouquets of the richest flowers: they wore bags, their hair slightly powdered, brilliant shoulder-knots, and cocked-hats laced with gold.
He seemed to see him yet, blond, dusty, the sweat in beads on his blanched cheeks, the crimson furrow in his colourless scalp. He had seen, too, the padded yellow shoulder-knots bearing the regimental number "11," and he knew that he had shot a trooper of the 11th Uhlans, and that the 11th Uhlan Regiment was Rickerl's regiment. He set his teeth and stared fearfully over his shoulder.