Page:Stories by Foreign Authors (French II).djvu/41

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The part of the mill that thus dipped into the Morelle looked like a barbarous ark, stranded there. A good half of the structure was built on piles. The water ran in under the board floor; there, too, were holes, well known in the country for the eels and enormous crawfish caught there. Above the fall, the basin was as clear as a mirror, and when the wheel did not cloud it with its foam, you could see shoals of large fish swimming there with the deliberateness of a naval squadron. A broken flight of steps led down to the river, near a stake to which a boat was moored. A wooden balcony ran above the wheel. Windows opened upon it, cut at irregular distances. This pellmell of corners, little walls, L's added as an after-thought, beams and bits of roof, gave the mill the appearance of an old dismantled citadel. But ivy had grown there, all sorts of climbing vines had stopped up the two wide cracks and thrown a cloak of green over the old dwelling. Young ladies who passed by would sketch old Merlier's mill in their albums.

Toward the road the house was stouter. A stone gateway opened upon the main courtyard, which was bordered on the right by sheds and stables. Near a well a huge elm covered half the courtyard with its shade. At the farther end, the house showed the line of its four first-story windows, surmounted by a pigeon-house. Old Merlier's only bit of dandyism was to have