Page:Stories by Foreign Authors (French II).djvu/89

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were washed away by the current, the carcass collapsed. The mill had breathed out its soul.

Then the French stormed the place. There was a furious fight with side-arms. Beneath the rust-colored sky, the cutthroat hollow of the valley was filled with killed. The broad meadows looked grim, with their great single trees, their rows of poplars streaking them with shadows. To the right and left, the forests were like the walls of a circus, shutting in the combatants; while the springs, the fountains, the running waters, gave forth sounds of sobbing, amid the panic of the countryside.

Under the shed, Françoise had not stirred, crouched down opposite Dominique's body. Old Merlier was killed outright by a spent bullet. Then, when the Prussians had been annihilated, and the mill was burning, the French captain was the first man to enter the courtyard. From the beginning of the campaign it was the only success he had won. And, all aglow, drawing up his tall figure to its full height, he laughed with his gracious air of a fine cavalier. And, seeing Françoise, imbecile, between the dead bodies of her husband and father, amidst the smoking ruins of the mill, he gallantly saluted her with his sword, crying out:

——"Victory! victory!"