Page:Stories by Foreign Authors (French II).djvu/59

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looked at her; then, stepping up to the window, he fired his first shot, and kept on firing. He loaded, fired, without paying any attention to what was going on near him; only from time to time he would give Françoise a look. For the rest, he did not hurry himself, took careful aim. The Prussians, creeping along by the poplars, were attempting the passage of the Morelle, as the captain had foreseen; but, as soon as one of them risked showing himself, he would fall, hit in the head by a ball from Dominique. The captain, who followed this game, was astonished. He complimented the young man, saying that he would be glad to have a lot of marksmen like him. Dominique did not hear him. A ball cut his shoulder, another bruised his arm; and he kept on firing.

There were two more men killed. The matresses, all slashed to bits, no longer stopped up the windows. A last volley seemed as if it would carry away the mill. The position was no longer tenable. Still the officer repeated,—

——"Stick to it. . . . Half an hour more."

Now he counted the minutes. He had promised his superior officers to hold the enemy there until evening, and would not draw back a sole's breadth before the time he had set for the retreat. He still had his gracious manner, smiling at Françoise, to reassure her. He himself had just picked up a dead soldier's rifle, and was firing.