a week past, people passing along the road had announced the Prussians: "They are at Lormière, they are at Novelles;" and, hearing that they were approaching so fast, Rocreuse thought, every morning, to see them come down by the Gagny woods. Still, they did not come; this frightened the inhabitants still more. They would surely fall upon the village at night and cut everybody's throat.
The night before, a little before daybreak, there had been, an alarm. The inhabitants had waked up, hearing a great noise of men on the road. The women were just falling upon their knees and crossing themselves, when red trousers were recognized through cracks of windows prudently opened. It was a detachment of French. The captain immediately asked for the mayor of the place, and stayed at the mill, after talking with old Merlier.
The sun rose gayly that day. It would be hot at noon. Over the woods floated a yellow light, while in the distance, above the meadows, rose white vapors. The clean, pretty village awoke in the cool air, and the country, with its river and springs, had the dew-sprinkled loveliness of a nosegay. But this fine weather made no one laugh. They had just seen the captain walk round about the mill, examine the neighboring houses, cross to the other side of the Morelle, and from there study the country through a spy-