Mr Hire passed by without giving her a glance. After he had gone a way, a pocket of silence formed behind him: the concierge hurried feverishly into the corridor.
Mr Hire continued walking. The cold intensified everything: whites grew whiter, greys lighter, blacks blacker. He bought his newspaper at the newsstand and forced his way into the human mass clogging the pavement around the market stalls.
He hardly said the word. It was inaudible, really, even to himself. But it was a habit, a movement of the lips that occurred whenever he passed between two women, bumped into someone, knocked against the side of a car.
The train was waiting. Mr Hire picked up his pace, stuck out his chest and with his briefcase at his side broke into a trot, as he always did for the final stretch.
He didn't look at individual people. He didn't single anyone out. He pushed forward, advancing into the human swarm and finding unexpected openings, whole unoccupied squares of pavement, where he could slip through more quickly.
[Mr Hire's Engagement, Simenon, G.]