Page:Stories by Foreign Authors (French II).djvu/84

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79
THE ATTACK ON THE MILL.

of the ditch, to keep his eye on the mill. As she was just turning into Rocreuse, Françoise met an old beggar, old Bontemps, who knew the whole country. He bowed to her, he had just seen the miller in the midst of the Prussians; then, crossing himself and mumbling some disconnected words, he went on his way.

——"The two hours are over," said the officer when Françoise appeared.

Old Merlier was there, sitting on the bench by the well. He was still smoking. The young girl once more implored, wept, fell upon her knees. She wished to gain time. The hope of seeing the French return had grown in her, and, while bewailing her fate, she thought she heard the measured tread of an army. Oh! if they had come, if they had delivered them all!

——"Listen, monsieur, one hour, one hour more. . . . You can surely grant me one hour!"

But the officer was still inflexible. He even ordered two men to take her in charge and lead her away, that they might proceed quietly with the old man's execution. Then a frightful conflict went on in Françoise's heart. She could not let her father be thus murdered. No, no, she would die with Dominique first; and she was bounding toward her room, when Dominique himself walked into the courtyard.

The officer and soldiers gave a shout of triumph. But he, as if no one but Françoise had