The talk was simple, quiet and cordial. Every one had the good taste to avoid politics. The General was a royalist. He did not say so, but it was well known. His manners were perfect. His two sons had been arrested for crying: "Panama!" on the boulevards when President Loubet came into office. The General's own attitude had always been discreet. Horses and cannon were the topics of conversation.
"The new 75 is a gem," said the General.
"One cannot too highly commend the ease with which the firing is regulated. It is really wonderful," added Captain Varnot.
"And during the manœuvres," said Madame Worms-Clavelin, "by a new and ingenious arrangement the covers of the ammunition wagons serve as a shelter for the gunners."
Madame la Préfète was congratulated on her military knowledge.
Madame Worms-Clavelin appeared to equal advantage when she spoke of Notre-Dame des Belles-Feuilles.
"You know, General, that in this department, no further away than Brécé, we have a miraculous statue of the Blessed Virgin."
"I have heard of it," replied the General.
"Before he was made a Bishop," continued