Page:Stories by Foreign Authors (French II).djvu/123

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point—that of forcing an entrance into the hut—would soon be gained, and I therefore rapidly made my way down again.

Just as I arrived the door gave way. A stream of flame, clouds of smoke, and sparks rushed out, and scared the bystanders away; but the fury of the fire was already spent, and in a few moments the priest was able to enter, followed by Salaun and myself. The others remained standing outside, partly out of respect to the injunctions of the priest, partly through terror of the things that might have to be encountered within.

The first sight that met our eyes was Judock lying upon the hearth in a pool of blood. He was still alive, and we instantly carried him out into the open air; and at the earnest entreaty of the priest, the barber of the neighboring village, who, like the many others, found himself on the spot, undertook to examine, and, as far as he was able, to treat the severely-wounded man. At the same time, all that could be done was done to save the hut. It was found that all that was combustible was already consumed, and the glowing embers were easily quenched. No trace was found of the perpetrator, or of the cause of the crime, except, indeed, a mattock, which had evidently served to raise the hearthstone, and to dig under it.

That this calamity was not accidental, we none