It was Carnival.
Lina, Justine and Marie leaned out of the kitchen window, Lina and Marie chattered excitedly to each other, and Justine maintained a disapproving demeanor to which the others appeared entirely indifferent.
"Will they pass here, Marie?"
"Part of the procession undoubtedly will, Mademoiselle, on its way to the Grande Place."
"How I wish," cried Lina, "that I was going with them. It would be so easy—I could wear my new white tarlatan ballet-dress and a mask. I could pass as Columbine, whom I have often seen, long ago, in the English pantomimes."
"Monsieur would be much annoyed if you did any such thing," Justine instantly remarked.
"I know, I know, and I can't understand why. People are so seldom happy in Bruges, only once a year, it seems to me, which is all the more reason for making the most of it."
"They come, they come!" cried Marie, pinching Lina's arm in her excitement, and indeed the strains of a band could plainly be heard approaching from the other side of the canal. The three women listened intently as the music swelled louder, now mingled with other and more confused sounds—a din of shrill tin trumpets, whistles, noisy laughter, cheering and the clatter of wooden rattles.
A bell pealed in the kitchen.
"Monsieur," said Justine reverently, and disappeared immediately, but Lina and Marie scarcely noticed her departure.