Page:Stories by Foreign Authors (French III).djvu/69

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By Pierre Loti

THIS is a little story which was told me by Yves. It happened one evening when he had gone into the Roads to carry in his gunboat a cargo of convicts to the transport vessel which was to take them to New Caledonia.

Among them was a very old convict (seventy at least), who carried with him very tenderly a poor sparrow in a small cage.

Yves, to pass the time, had entered into conversation with this old fellow, who had not, it appears, a bad face, but who was tied by his chain to a young gentleman—ignoble-looking, sneering, with the glasses of the short-sighted on a small, pale nose.

An old highwayman arrested for the fifth or sixth time for vagabondage and robbery, he said he was. "How can a man avoid stealing when he has once commenced, and when he has no trade whatever, and when people won't have anything to do with him anywhere? He must, must n't he? My last sentence was for a sack of