At this moment, René-Jean, satisfied with his observations concerning the woodlouse, raised his head and said,—
"It is a female."
Georgette's laugh made René-Jean laugh, and René-Jean's laugh made Gros-Alain laugh.
Georgette sat down beside her brothers, and they formed a sort of little club together on the floor.
But the woodlouse had disappeared.
Georgette's laugh had given him a chance to crawl into a hole in the floor.
Other events followed that of the woodlouse.
First some swallows flew by.
Their nests were probably under the edge of the roof. Somewhat disturbed by the children they flew close to the window, describing wide circles in the air, and uttering their gentle springtime call. This made the three children raise their eyes, and the woodlouse was forgotten.
Georgette pointed her finger towards the swallows, and exclaimed,—
René-Jean reprimanded her,—
"They are not chickens, they are birds."
"Boords," said Georgette.
And all three looked at the swallows.
Then a bee flew in.
Nothing is so like a soul as a bee. It goes from flower to flower as a soul from star to star, and it gathers honey as a soul gathers light.
This one made a great noise as he came in buzzing at the top of his voice, and he seemed to say: "I have just seen the roses, and now I come to see the children. What is going on here?"
A bee is a housewife, and it scolds while it sings.
As long as the bee remained, the children never took their eyes from it.
The bee explored the whole library, searched the corners, darted about as though it were at home in its hive, and making music on the wing, roved from bookcase to bookcase, looking at the titles of the books through the glass-windows, as though it were a mind.
His visit over, he went out.
"He has gone home," said René-Jean.
"It is a monster," said Gros-Alain.
"No," replied René-Jean, "It is a fly."
"Fly," said Georgette.
Thereupon, Gros-Alain, who had just found on the floor a string with a knot in one end of it, took the other end of it between his thumb and forefinger, made a sort of little mill with the cord, and watched it turn with deep interest.
As for Georgette, having gotten down on all fours again, and taken up her capricious roving, she had discovered a venerable arm-chair covered with moth-eaten tapestry, from which the hair was escaping through numerous holes. She stopped by this chair. She made the holes larger and pulled out the hair as if her life depended upon it.
Suddenly she raised her finger, which meant: "Listen!"
The two brothers turned their heads.
An indistinct, distant noise was heard from without; it was probably the attacking camp executing some strategic movement in the forest; horses neighed, drums beat, caissons rolled along, chains clanked, military signals called to each other and gave answer, confusion of savage sounds which as they mingled grew into a sort of harmony; the children listened, delighted.
"The good God is doing that." said René-Jean.