Page:Stories by Foreign Authors (French II).djvu/65

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about seven she had a poignant emotion; she saw the officer go into the prisoner's room, and, for a quarter of an hour, she heard their voices raised. One instant, the officer reappeared on the threshold, to give an order in German, which she did not understand; but, when twelve men came and fell into line in the courtyard, with their muskets, she fell a-trembling, she felt ready to die. So it was all over; the execution was to take place. The twelve men waited there ten minutes. Dominique's voice was still raised in a tone of violent refusal. At last the officer came out, slamming the door and saying,—

——"Very well, think it over. . . . I give you till to-morrow morning."

And, with a motion of his arm, he ordered the twelve men to break ranks. Françoise stayed on in a sort of stupor. Old Merlier, who had not stopped smoking his pipe, while looking at the squad with an air of simple curiosity, came up and took her by the arm with fatherly gentleness. He led her to her room.

——"Keep quiet," he said, "try to sleep. . . . To-morrow it will be daylight, and we will see."

When he withdrew, he locked her in, for prudence sake. It was a principle of his that women were no good, and that they made a mess of it whenever they undertook anything serious. But Françoise did not go to bed; she stayed a long time sitting on her bed, listening to the noises in