A more unequally matched couple than the cartwright Molnár and his wife can seldom be seen. When, on Sunday, the pair went to church through the main street of Kisfalu, an insignificant village in the Pesth county, every one looked after them, though every child, nay, every cur in the hamlet, knew them and, during the five years since their marriage, might have become accustomed to the spectacle. But it seemed as though it produced an ever new and surprising effect upon the by no means sensitive inhabitants of Kisfalu, who imposed no constraint upon themselves to conceal the emotions awakened by the sight of the Molnár pair. They never called the husband by any other name than "Csunya Pista," ugly Stephen. And he well merited the epithet. He was one-eyed, had a broken, shapeless nose, and an ugly scar, on which no hair grew, upon his upper lip, so that his moustache looked as if it had been shaven off there; to complete the picture, one of his upper eye-teeth and incisors were missing, and he had the unpleasant habit of putting his tongue into these gaps in his upper row of teeth, which rendered his countenance still more repulsive.
The wife, on the contrary, was a very beautiful woman, a magnificent type of the Magyar race. She was tall, powerful, only perhaps a trifle too broad-shouldered. Her intensely dark hair and sparkling black eyes suited the warm bronze hue of her plump face, which, with its little mouth filled with magnificent teeth, its fresh full lips, the transparent, enamel like crimson of the firm, round cheeks, and the somewhat low, but beautifully formed brow, suggested a newly-ripe peach. This unusually healthy countenance, overspread with a light down, involuntarily produced in the spectator the impression that it must exhale a warm, intoxicating, spicy fragrance; it looked so tempting that one would fain have bitten it.
This had been much the feeling of the Uhlan officers who, with part of a company of men, were stationed in Kisfalu. From the first day that the three gentlemen had entered their village garrison the beautiful woman had attracted their attention, and they had seen in the husband's ugliness a pleasant encouragement to make gallant advances. The captain, a Bohemian gentleman, was the first to introduce himself to the fair wife. The morning of the second day after his arrival in the hamlet, taking advantage of the absence of the master of the house, he stole into the miserable clay hut tenanted by the ill-assorted pair, but remained inside only a few minutes, after which he came out with a deeply-flushed face and somewhat hasty steps, cast stealthy glances around him to the right and left, and then hurried away. In the afternoon of the same day, the young lieutenant tried his luck, but he too left the cartwright's hut more quickly than he had entered, and not exactly with the air of a conqueror. In the evening the three gentlemen met in the spare room of the tavern where they took their meals, and were remarkably taciturn and ill-tempered. On the third day the slender, handsome first lieutenant called on the cartwright's wife. He was a far-famed conqueror of women's hearts, which he was accustomed to win with as little trouble as a child gathers strawberries in the woods, and was envied by the whole regiment for his numberless successes, which he did not treat with too much reticence. This time the adventure lasted somewhat longer; those who were passing heard loud outcries and uproar for a short time, as if a wrestling match were going on in the hut, and the letter-carrier, an old woman, who was just going by, even stood still in surprise and curiosity. The curiosity was satisfied, for she soon saw the handsome Uhlan officer rush out, pressing his hand to his cheek as if he had a violent toothache. He looked very much dishevelled and made off with noticeable haste. He did not appear in the tavern at noon, so in the afternoon his two comrades sent their orderlies to him to enquire about his health; in the evening he joined them at table and showed his astonished friends a broad strip of black court-plaster on his right cheek.