there was one serious person who was pushing his way through the throng; he was a sad-looking old man, dressed in black, wearing a high hat; he went up to the constable and said to him in a low voice very gently and firmly:
“You are mistaken. This man did not insult you.”
“Mind your own business,” replied the policeman, but without threatening, for he was speaking to a man who was well dressed.
The old man insisted calmly and tenaciously. And the policeman ordered him to make his declaration to the Police Commissioner.
Meanwhile Crainquebille was explaining:
“Then I did say ‘Mort aux vaches!’ Oh!…”
As he was thus giving vent to his astonishment, Madame Bayard, the shoemaker’s wife, came to him with sevenpence in her hand. But Constable 64 already had him by the collar; so Madame Bayard, thinking that no debt could be due to a man who was being taken to the police-station, put her sevenpence into her apron pocket.
Then, suddenly beholding his barrow confiscated, his liberty lost, a gulf opening beneath him and the sky overcast, Crainquebille murmured:
“It can’t be helped!”