Page:Stories by Foreign Authors (French II).djvu/77

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upon the officer and strangling him. He drew himself up stiffly; he did not answer. Françoise put her face between her hands.

——"Yes, that's it," the Prussian went on, "you or your daughter have helped him to run away. You are his accomplice. . . . For the last time, will you give him up to us?"

The miller did not answer, He had turned away, looking off into the distance, as if the officer had not been speaking to him. This put the last touch to the latter's anger.

——"Very well," he said, "you shall be shot instead."

And he once more ordered out the firing party. Old Merlier still kept cool. He hardly gave a slight shrug of his shoulders; this whole drama seemed to him in rather bad taste. No doubt, he did not believe that a man was to be shot with so little ado. Then, when the squad had come, he said gravely:

——"You're in earnest, then? . . . All right. If you absolutely must have some one, I will do as well as another."

But Françoise sprang up, half crazed, stammering out:

——"Mercy, monsieur, don't do any harm to my father. Kill me instead. . . . It's I who helped Dominique to escape. I am the only culprit."

——"Be quiet, little girl," cried old Merlier. "What are you lying for? . . . She spent the