Page:Stories by Foreign Authors (French II).djvu/64

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59
THE ATTACK ON THE MILL.

repair all this damage. Françoise found him already stopping up cracks with broken bits of wood and moss.

——"Father," she said, "you are wanted."

And at last she wept, telling him what she had just heard. Old Merlier shook his head. You didn't shoot people that way. He must see. And he went back into the mill, with his silent, pacific air. When the officer asked him for victuals for his men, he answered that the people in Rocreuse were not accustomed to being bullied, and that nothing would be got from them by violence. He took everything upon himself, but on the condition of being allowed to act alone. The officer showed signs, at first, of getting angry at this cool manner; then he gave in to the old man's curt and businesslike way of talking. He even called him back, to ask him,—

——"What do you call those woods there, opposite?"

——"The Sauval woods."

——"And what is their extent?"

The miller looked at him fixedly.

——"I don't know," he answered.

And he walked away. An hour later the contributions of victuals and money required by the officer were in the courtyard of the mill. Night was approaching; Françoise followed the soldiers' movements anxiously. She did not go far from the room in which Dominique was shut up. At