Page:Stories by Foreign Authors (French II).djvu/124

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119
THE VIRGIN'S GOD-CHILD.

of us had any doubt; and as I, in company with the priest, again approached the late possessor of the hut, the surgeon, as he called himself, showed us a deep wound in the breast, and a considerable dint in the head of the old Kakous, which could only have been dealt by a murderer's hand.

It was quite plain that no recovery was to be looked for. Before we found the old man, he had bled almost to death, and seemed to have already entirely lost consciousness. But after a few minutes, he came to himself a little, moved his lips, opened his eyes, and tried, with the convulsive energy of a dying effort, to shape his loud groans into intelligible words. If his appearance had been repulsive in life, it was now almost insufferably horrible. At length he was able to make it understood that he wished to confess. The bystanders seemed to look upon such a request not only with wonder, but displeasure, as involving unheard-of presumption, and actual desecration of the rite. But the priest knelt down at once by the head of the dying man, and at a sign from him the people reverentially retired, the greatest part evincing their sympathy with the solemn occasion by kneeling also, with heads uncovered, and hands folded in silent prayer.

The moon had by this time risen, and spread a mild, peaceful light on the shore, the rocks, and