Page:Stories by Foreign Authors (French II).djvu/45

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poacher could have bewitched his daughter. Dominique had never come to the mill. The miller began to watch him, and espied the gallant on the other side of the Morelle, lying in the grass and pretending to be asleep. The thing was clear: they must have fallen in love, making sheep's-eyes at each other across the mill-wheel.

Meanwhile another week passed by. Françoise looked more and more solemn. Old Merlier still said nothing. Then, one evening, he brought Dominique home with him, without a word. Françoise was just setting the table. She did not seem astonished; she only added another plate and knife and fork; but the little dimples appeared once more in her cheeks, and her laugh came back again. That morning old Merlier had gone after Dominique to his hut on the outskirts of the wood. There the two men had talked for three hours, with closed doors and windows. No one ever knew what they found to say to each other. What was certain was that, on coming out, old Merlier already treated Dominique like his own son. No doubt, the old man had found the man he was after, a fine fellow, in this lazybones who lay in the grass to make the girls fall in love with him.

All Rocreuse gossiped. The women, in the doorways, did not run dry of tittle-tattle about old Merlier's folly in taking a scapegrace into his household. He let them talk on. Perhaps he