Page:Stories by Foreign Authors (French II).djvu/158

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153
THE VENUS OF ILLE.

ing on the rope, though he has not much more strength than a chicken. With much trouble we got her up straight. I reached for a broken tile to support her, when if she does n't tumble over backwards all in a heap. I said, 'Take care,' but not quick enough, for Jean did not have time to draw away his leg—"

"And it was hurt?"

"Broken as clean as a vine-prop. When I saw that I was furious, I wanted to take my pickaxe and smash the statue to pieces, but M. de Peyrehorade stopped me. He gave Jean Coll some money, but all the same, he is in bed still, though it is two weeks since it happened, and the physician says that he will never walk as well with that leg as with the other. It is a pity, for he was our best runner, and, after M. de Peyrehorade's son, the cleverest racquet player. M. Alphonse de Peyrehorade was sorry I can tell you, for Coll always played on his side. It was beautiful to see how they returned each other the balls. They never touched the ground."

Chatting in this way we entered Ille, and I soon found myself in the presence of M. de Peyrehorade. He was a little old man, still hale and active, with powdered hair, a red nose, and a jovial, bantering manner. Before opening M. de P.'s letter he had seated me at a well-spread table, and had presented me to his wife and son as a celebrated archæologist who was to draw