Page:Stories by Foreign Authors (French II).djvu/50

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45
THE ATTACK ON THE MILL.

glass; old Merlier, who was with him, seemed to be explaining the country to him. Then the captain stationed soldiers behind walls, behind trees, in holes in the ground. The bulk of the detachment was encamped in the courtyard of the mill. So there was to be a fight? And when old Merlier came back, he was plied with questions. He gave a long nod with his head, without speaking. Yes, there was to be a fight.

Françoise and Dominique were in the courtyard, looking at him. At last, he took his pipe out of his mouth and said simply,—

——"Ah! my poor children, there will be no wedding for you to-morrow!"

Dominique, his lips set, a line of anger across his forehead, raised himself up on tiptoe from time to time, with his eyes fixed on the Gagny woods, as if he longed to see the Prussians come. Françoise, very pale, serious, came and went, supplying the soldiers with what they needed. They were making their soup in a corner of the courtyard, and joking while waiting for their meal.

Meanwhile the captain seemed delighted. He had examined the rooms and the great hall of the mill, looking out upon the river. Now, sitting by the well, he was talking with old Merlier.

——"You have a real fortress here," said he. "We ought to hold out till evening. . . . The beggars are late. They should be here by this time."

The miller looked serious. He saw his mill