Page:Stories by Foreign Authors (French II).djvu/74

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69
THE ATTACK ON THE MILL.

dead body of a Prussian soldier, which was stretched out near the well, on a cloak spread on the ground.

Around the body, soldiers were gesticulating, crying aloud in fury. Many of them shook their fists at the village. Meanwhile, the officer had had old Merlier called, as mayor of the township.

——"See here," said he, in a voice choking with rage, "here's one of our men who has been found murdered by the river-side. . . . We must make a tremendous example, and I trust you will help us to find out the murderer."

——"Anything you please," answered the miller in his phlegmatic way. "Only it will not be easy."

The officer had stooped down to throw aside a flap of the cloak that hid the dead man's face. Then a horrible wound appeared. The sentinel had been struck in the throat, and the weapon was left in the wound. It was a kitchen knife with a black handle.

——"Look at this knife," said the officer to old Merlier, "perhaps it may help us in our search."

The old man gave a start. But he recovered himself immediately, and answered, without moving a muscle of his face,—

——"Everybody in these parts has knives like that. . . . Maybe your man was tired of fighting, and did the job himself. Such things have been known to happen."