Overcome by such magnanimous disdain, Crainquebille remained for some time stolid and silent, with his feet in the gutter. Before going, he tried to explain:
"I didn't mean to say: Mort aux vaches! to you. It was not for you more than for another. It was only an idea."
The constable replied sternly but kindly:
"Whether an idea or anything else it ought not to be said, because when a man does his duty and endures much, he ought not to be insulted with idle words.… I tell you again to pass on."
Crainquebille, with head bent and arms hanging limp, plunged into the rain and the darkness.