Page:Stories by Foreign Authors (French II).djvu/52

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

and pressed them in his, as if to take her under his protection. The captain smiled again, but added not a word. He remained sitting, his sword between his legs, his eyes looking at vacancy, as if in a dream.

It was already two o'clock. It was growing very hot. There was a dead silence. In the courtyard, under the sheds, the soldiers had fallen to eating their soup. Not a sound came from the village, in which the people had barricaded their houses, doors, and windows. A dog, left alone in the road, was howling. From the neighboring woods and meadows, motionless in the heat, came a far-off voice, long sustained, made up of every separate breath of air. A cuckoo was singing. Then the silence spread itself over the country also.

And, in this slumbering air, a shot suddenly burst forth. The captain sprang up quickly, the soldiers dropped their plates of soup, still half full. In a few seconds, every man was at his post for the fight; the mill was occupied from top to bottom. Yet the captain, who had gone out upon the road, could make out nothing; to the right and left, the road stretched out, empty and all white. A second shot was heard, and still nothing, not a shadow; but, on turning round, he espied, over towards Gagny, between two trees, a light cloudlet of smoke wafted away like gossamer. The wood was still profoundly quiet.