THE ATTACK ON THE MILL
by emile zola
OLD Merlier's mill was in high feather, that fine summer evening. In the courtyard they had set out three tables, end to end, ready for the guests. All the country knew that, on that day, Merlier's daughter Françoise was to be betrothed to Dominique, a fellow who had the name of being an idle loafer, but whom the women for eight miles round looked at with glistening eyes, so well-favored was he.
This mill of old Merlier's was a real delight. It stood just in the middle of Rocreuse, at the point where the highway makes a sharp turn. The village has only one street, two rows of hovels, one row on each side of the road; but there, at the corner, the fields spread out wide, great trees, following the course of the Morelle, cover the depths of the valley with a magnificent shade. There is not in all Lorraine a more lovely bit of nature. To the right and left, thick woods of century-old trees rise up the gentle slopes, fill-