Page:Stories by Foreign Authors (French II).djvu/56

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effort was to be made on the side toward the fields.

The firing had once more ceased. The mill seemed dead beneath the hot sun. Not a shutter was opened, not a sound came from the inside. Little by little, meanwhile, the Prussians showed themselves at the outskirts of the Gagny wood. They stretched forth their heads, grew more daring. In the mill, several soldiers had already levelled their rifles; but the captain cried out,—

——"No, no, wait. . . . Let them come up."

They were very cautious about it, looking at the mill with evident distrust. This old dwelling, silent and dismal, with its curtains of ivy made them uneasy. Still, they kept advancing. When there were about fifty of them in the meadow opposite, the officer said a single word,—


A tearing sound was heard, followed by single shots. Françoise, shaken with a fit of trembling, put her hands up to her ears, in spite of herself. Dominique, behind the soldiers, looked on; and, when the smoke had blown away a little, he saw three Prussians stretched on their backs in the middle of the field. The rest had thrown themselves down behind the willows and poplars; and the siege began.

For over an hour the mill was riddled with bullets. They whipped its old walls like hail.