Page:Stories by Foreign Authors (French II).djvu/40

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35
THE ATTACK ON THE MILL.

weeds grow rank. It is like a flower garden lying between two wooded hillsides; but a natural garden, in which the lawns are fields, and giant trees trace out colossal flower-beds. When the sun, at noon, casts its rays straight down, the shadows turn blue, the scorched weeds slumber in the heat, while an icy shudder runs along beneath the foliage.

It was there that old Merlier's mill enlivened a nook of rank green growth with its clacking. The building, of planks and mortar, seemed as old as the world. Half of it dipped into the Morelle, which, at this point, widens out into a clear, rounded basin. A dam was contrived to let the water fall from a height of several metres upon the mill-wheel, which turned creaking, with the asthmatic cough of a faithful servant, grown old in the household. When people advised old Merlier to change it for a new one, he would shake his head, saying that a young wheel would be lazier and not so well up in its business; and he mended the old one with everything that came to hand,—staves of casks, bits of rusty iron, zinc, lead. The wheel seemed all the gayer for it, its outline grown strange, all beplumed with weeds and moss. When the water beat against it with its silver stream, it would cover itself with beads, you saw it deck out its strange carcass with a sparkling bedizenment of mother-of-pearl necklaces.