Page:Stories by Foreign Authors (French II).djvu/47

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been validated.

you that Françoise will marry that fellow there in a month, on Saint-Louis's day."

Then they clinked glasses noisily. Everybody laughed. But old Merlier, raising his voice, went on,—

——"Dominique, kiss your intended. That must be done."

And they kissed each other, very red, while the crowd laughed still louder. It was a real jollification. A small cask was emptied. Then, when only the intimate friends were left, they chatted quietly. Night had come, a starlit and very clear night. Dominique and Françoise, sitting side by side on a bench, said nothing. An old peasant spoke of the war the emperor had declared with Prussia. All the boys in the village were already gone. The day before, troops had passed through. There would be hard knocks going.

——"Bah!" said old Merlier, with a happy man's egoism. "Dominique is a foreigner, he won't go. . . . And, if the Prussians come, he will be here to defend his wife."

This notion that the Prussians might come seemed a good joke. They were to be given an A 1 thrashing, and it would be soon over.

——"I've seen 'em, I've seen 'em," the old peasant said over and over again.

There was a silence. Then they clinked glasses once more. Françoise and Dominique had heard