Page:Stories by Foreign Authors (French II).djvu/57

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

When they struck stone, you heard them flatten out and fall back into the water. Into wood they penetrated with a hollow sound. Now and then a cracking told that the wheel had been hit. The soldiers inside husbanded their shots, fired only when they could take aim. From time to time the captain would look at his watch; and, as a ball split a shutter and then lodged in the ceiling,—

——"Four o'clock," he muttered. "We shall never hold out."

It was true, this terrible firing of musketry was shivering the old mill. A shutter fell into the water, riddled like a piece of lace, and had to be replaced by a mattress. Old Merlier exposed himself every moment, to make sure of the injury done to his poor wheel, whose cracking went to his heart. It was all over with it, this time; never would he be able to repair it. Dominique had implored Françoise to go, but she would stay with him; she had sat down behind a great oak clothespress, the sides of which gave out a deep sound. Then Dominique placed himself in front of Françoise. He had not fired yet; he held his gun in his hands, not being able to get up to the windows, whose entire width was taken up by the soldiers. At every discharge the floor shook.

——"Look out! look out!" the captain cried of a sudden.