Page:Stories by Foreign Authors (French II).djvu/48

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nothing; they had taken each other softly by the hand, behind the bench, so that no one could see them, and it seemed so good that they stayed there, their eyes lost in the depths of the darkness.

How warm and splendid a night! The village was falling asleep on both sides of the road, tranquil as a child. You only heard, from time to time, the crowing of some cock, waked too soon. From the great woods hard by came long breaths that passed like caresses over the roofs. The meadows, with their black shadows, put on a mysterious and secluded majesty, while all the running waters that gushed forth into the darkness seemed to be the cool and rhythmic breathing of the sleeping country. At moments, the mill-wheel, fast asleep, seemed to be dreaming, like those old watchdogs that bark while snoring. It creaked, it talked all by itself, lulled by the falls of the Morelle, whose sheet of water gave forth the sustained and musical note of an organ pipe. Never had more widespread peace fallen over a happier corner of the earth.


Just a month later, day for day, on Saint-Louis's eve, Rocreuse was in dismay. The Prussians had beaten the emperor, and were advancing toward the village by forced marches. For