Page:Stories by Foreign Authors (French II).djvu/122

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117
THE VIRGIN'S GOD-CHILD.

"The Church will put it out, then," here interfered a deep, well-toned voice.

It was that of a priest who had joined us. All surrounded him, taking off their hats with much respect, while I in a few words explained the state of things. Though advanced in years, he was still strong and active in mind and body. We understood each other instantly. While he sent a messenger to fetch an axe from the nearest village, and gave some other judicious orders, which the people unhesitatingly obeyed, I climbed to the top of the rock into whose fissures the hut was squeezed, that I might thence try to find out whether it had any other opening or not.

I was, however, unable to discover anything of the kind, and was therefore about to descend, when I saw a dark figure glide behind some low bushes at a little distance, but the very same moment it vanished behind the next projection of rock. It had already become too dark, and the apparition was too sudden and momentary for me to have any distinct impression as to its form or features.

At first I felt half inclined to pursue it, but after two or three onward steps I felt convinced that to do so along such a road as this, over such masses of rocks, such crevices, and through such brushwood, would be not only vain, but dangerous. At the same time, too, the strokes of the axe upon the door announced that the chief