Page:Stories by Foreign Authors (French II).djvu/58

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53
THE ATTACK ON THE MILL.

He had just seen a whole black mass come out from the wood. Immediately a formidable platoon fire was opened. It was as if a waterspout had passed over the mill. Another shutter gave way, and, by the gaping opening of the window, the bullets came in. Two soldiers rolled upon the floor. One did not move; they pushed him up against the wall, because he was in the way. The other squirmed on the ground, begging them to make an end of him; but no one minded him, the balls kept coming in, every one shielded himself, and tried to find a loophole to fire back through. A third soldier was wounded; he said not a word, he let himself slide down by the edge of a table, with fixed and haggard eyes. Opposite these dead men, Françoise, seized with horror, had pushed her chair aside mechanically, to sit down on the ground next the wall; she felt smaller there, and in less danger. Meanwhile they had gone after all the mattresses in the house, and had half stopped up the window. The hall was getting filled with rubbish, with broken weapons, with gutted furniture.

——"Five o'clock," said the captain. "Keep it up. . . . They are going to try to cross the water."

At this instant Françoise gave a shriek. A rebounding ball had just grazed her forehead. A few drops of blood appeared. Dominique