• TABLE OF CONTENTS
HIDE
 Front Cover
 Front Matter
 Half Title
 Title Page
 Table of Contents
 Prologue
 A strange company
 The light on the scene
 Advertising
 Back Cover
 Spine






Title: A strange company
CITATION PAGE TURNER PAGE IMAGE ZOOMABLE
Full Citation
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Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00065159/00001
 Material Information
Title: A strange company
Physical Description: 124, 4 p. : col. ill. 18 cm. ;
Language: English
Creator: Macquoid, Katharine S ( Katharine Sarah ), 1824-1917
Muir, James ( Printer )
Morgan, Walter Jenks, 1847-1924 ( Illustrator )
Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge (Great Britain) ( Publisher )
E. & J.B. Young & Co ( Publisher )
Publisher: Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge
E. & J.B. Young & Co.
Place of Publication: London ;
Brighton
New York
Manufacturer: James Muir
Publication Date: [1889?]
 Subjects
Subject: Brothers -- Juvenile fiction   ( lcsh )
Children and death -- Juvenile fiction   ( lcsh )
Street entertainers -- Juvenile fiction   ( lcsh )
Dogs -- Juvenile fiction   ( lcsh )
Kindness -- Juvenile fiction   ( lcsh )
Cruelty -- Juvenile fiction   ( lcsh )
Mothers and sons -- Juvenile fiction   ( lcsh )
Children's stories   ( lcsh )
Children's stories -- 1889   ( lcsh )
Publishers' advertisements -- 1889   ( rbgenr )
Prize books (Provenance) -- 1889   ( rbprov )
Bldn -- 1889
Genre: Children's stories   ( lcsh )
Publishers' advertisements   ( rbgenr )
Prize books (Provenance)   ( rbprov )
novel   ( marcgt )
Spatial Coverage: England -- London
England -- Brighton
United States -- New York -- New York
Scotland -- Edinburgh
 Notes
Statement of Responsibility: by Mrs. Macquoid ; illustrated by W.J. Morgan.
General Note: Date of publication from prize inscription.
General Note: Illustrated title page and illustrations printed in colors.
General Note: Publisher's advertisements follow text.
Funding: Preservation and Access for American and British Children's Literature, 1870-1889 (NEH PA-50860-00).
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: UF00065159
Volume ID: VID00001
Source Institution: University of Florida
Holding Location: Baldwin Library of Historical Children's Literature in the Department of Special Collections and Area Studies, George A. Smathers Libraries, University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved, Board of Trustees of the University of Florida.
Resource Identifier: aleph - 002233621
notis - ALH4030
oclc - 70658199

Table of Contents
    Front Cover
        Cover 1
        Cover 2
    Front Matter
        Front Matter
    Half Title
        Page 1
        Page 2
    Title Page
        Page 3
        Page 4
    Table of Contents
        Page 5
        Page 6
    Prologue
        Page 7
        Page 8
        Page 9
    A strange company
        Page 10
        Chapter I
            Page 10
            Page 11
            Page 12
            Page 13
            Page 14
            Page 15
            Page 16
            Page 17
            Page 18
            Page 19
            Page 20
            Page 21
            Page 22
            Page 23
            Page 24
        Chapter II
            Page 25
            Page 26
            Page 27
            Page 28
            Page 29
            Page 30
            Page 31
            Page 32
            Page 33
            Page 34
            Page 35
            Page 36
            Page 37
            Page 38
            Page 39
            Page 40
            Page 41
            Page 42
            Page 43
            Page 44
            Page 45
            Page 46
        Chapter III
            Page 47
            Page 48
            Page 49
            Page 50
            Page 51
            Page 52
            Page 53
            Page 54
            Page 55
            Page 56
            Page 57
            Page 58
            Page 59
            Page 60
            Page 61
            Page 62
            Page 63
            Page 64
            Page 65
        Chapter IV
            Page 66
            Page 67
            Page 68
            Page 69
            Page 70
            Page 71
            Page 72
            Page 73
            Page 74
            Page 75
            Page 76
            Page 77
            Page 78
            Page 79
            Page 80
            Page 81
            Page 82
        Chapter V
            Page 83
            Page 84
            Page 85
            Page 86
            Page 87
            Page 88
            Page 89
            Page 90
            Page 91
            Page 92
            Page 93
            Page 94
            Page 95
            Page 96
            Page 97
            Page 98
            Page 99
            Page 100
            Page 101
            Page 102
    The light on the scene
        Page 103
        Page 104
        Chapter I
            Page 105
            Page 106
            Page 107
            Page 108
            Page 109
            Page 110
            Page 111
            Page 112
            Page 113
        Chapter II
            Page 114
            Page 115
            Page 116
            Page 117
            Page 118
            Page 119
            Page 120
            Page 121
            Page 122
            Page 123
            Page 124
    Advertising
        Page 1
        Page 2
        Page 3
        Page 4
    Back Cover
        Cover 1
        Cover 2
    Spine
        Spine
Full Text












.. .


















A STRANGE COMPANY.

























RANGE


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CONTENTS.





R Strange Company.

tbe Sigbt on the seine.


4i.

























RO Lo (G _- E.


SI I M A N 1.- d','," i' th,:. '.,'L-, .'L -d I
German town at the foot of the round topped
chain of the Vosges. On one side of the little
bed was a delicate-looking boy, on the other a
stout, powerful man, with a look of concern on
his dull, dark face, that seemed to be brought
there by effort. The boy's eyes were full of tears,
and as he stood listening to his father's feeble voice, he
clasped the limp, fevered hand between his slender fingers,
as if he would compel the dying man to remain with
him.


But the father's face was turned from the child. He








PROLOGUE.


was speaking in a gasping voice to the man on the other
side of the bed.
"I do not know much of you, Wilhelm Krause,"
he said-he fixed his gaze earnestly on the dull dark
face-" but I hope I can trust my boys safely to
you."
The man's eyes drooped, and travelled across the coverlet
to the little boy. Then he bent his head.
"It will not take you long," the feeble voice went on, to
guide them and the dogs and Heinrich back to their
mother at Fribourg. They are both good boys-my little
Louis is an angel-the dogs pay their way, poor things,
and "-he paused for breath-" you will earn a mother's
blessing and her prayers when she sees her boys," he ended
faintly. He raised his dim eyes again to the man's
face; but the pathetic entreaty in them was lost on Wilhelm
Krause; he had turned his head aside, it might be to
avoid the chance of such a mute appeal, or to hide the
look of disappointment that showed in his face as the dying
man ended his sentence. After a little time the faint voice
went on again :-
Where is Jean? Fetch him quickly, Wilhelm."
The man was glad to go, and then, as little Louis's
father turned his face once more towards him, the child
broke down, and, flinging his arms round his neck,- his
tears fell fast on the dying face.


8








PROLOGUE. 9

"Kiss your mother for me, Louis."
That was all the boy heard. When, after some delay,
his brother Jean reached the hospital ward, his father still
lived, but he could not speak. A few painful, gasping
sounds, then a faint sigh-and all was over.























t-iflP' ER I.


T I; 1., [,:t..j.i, A I
I t A ;LI-' n Itn
tI'l, ': :Lt. CI:--.,i
tlic ',' I u ILI 'iI C I'.'I. I' ill


of scarlet tomatoes
and globe-shaped cabbages, creamy-white cauliflowers set
out on reversed baskets, flanked by the orange of carrots,
or by bundles of huge pink-and-white and purple radishes.
Here and there are a few fruit-stalls, but the pears look hard as
bullets, while such grapes as there are, seem to be little


. =- -:%- -_ =-























t-iflP' ER I.


T I; 1., [,:t..j.i, A I
I t A ;LI-' n Itn
tI'l, ': :Lt. CI:--.,i
tlic ',' I u ILI 'iI C I'.'I. I' ill


of scarlet tomatoes
and globe-shaped cabbages, creamy-white cauliflowers set
out on reversed baskets, flanked by the orange of carrots,
or by bundles of huge pink-and-white and purple radishes.
Here and there are a few fruit-stalls, but the pears look hard as
bullets, while such grapes as there are, seem to be little


. =- -:%- -_ =-








A STRANGE COMPANY.


larger than good-sized black currants, so closely clustered
that they squeeze one another out of shape.
One of the squares has lower houses than the rest around
it. On the sloping roofs of these, many little dormer win-
dowspeep out like half-closed eyes; while pigeons, in constant
flight, form now a grey and white wreath in the air, now a
bit of moving pavement, as they alight with outspread
wings among the refuse greenery on the round stones of the
square. Just now, however, disturbed by some unusual
sound, they career wildly across to the screen of trees that
curtains in the market-place, just where it opens to the
town, and hovering round the head of the grey statue
commemorating some Strasburg worthy, they settle them-
selves on his head, shoulders and arms, as if in readiness to
inspect the cause of their alarm.
This soon revealed itself. The muffled noise that had
disturbed the pigeons made itself heard in distinct drum-
beats, and with the squeak of a fife, came the jingle of a
triangle, and then, in a few moments, the strangest proces-
sion appeared.
A very lightly-built cart, raised between three and four
feet from the ground, came along, drawn by a large black-
and-white goat a poodle that had once been white, was tied
under the cart, and helped with much energy to draw the
load; inside were five little dogs, two brown, with curious
fox-like faces, two poodles, now a dirty stone colour, with


11








A STRANGE COMPANY.


rough and tangled coats, and a pretty little lion-faced yellow
dog; a monkey, dressed in a dirty scarlet coat, sat on the
back of one of the poodles. A surly-looking man, very red
in the face-he had been playing the fife-walked in front
beside the goat, but he kept a sharp watch on a boy who
walked near the cart. This boy seemed about fourteen;
another, some years younger, a pretty little fellow, followed
behind him. The elder boy carried the drum, but he looked
sullen, and every now and then he held up a drum-stick
menacingly at the dogs in the cart. The pretty little boy
appeared sad and tired; he walked with faltering steps;
every now and then, however, he turned round and
smiled, and held out his hand to two larger poodles who
came limping behind the cart; they, too, were tired with
the journey they had made.
The man left off playing as the procession came into the
square; he stared round him on all sides. Every available
space was occupied by busy buyers, some of whom were
well-dressed ladies, followed by bones wearing large bows
of broad black ribbon on their heads, with streamers behind
falling nearly as low as their knees. There were several of
these head-dresses among the market women, but these
were not black, most of them had an admixture of white
Sand yellow. Every one was chattering or bargaining as he
or she bought or sold; a few only turned to look at the
strange procession; even the pigeons had soon tired


12








A STRANGE COMPANY.


of gazing at it, and again flew on to the old tiled roofs
above.
The red-faced man muttered and quickened his pace,
giving a savage tug at the goat's bridle; and at this the
creature's pale eyes shot out a yellow gleam of anger.
Come on with you, Jean the man said, in a choked,
hoarse voice, "and tell that little scamp Louis not to
lag behind. It is your fault, you good-for-nothing, if he
does!"
The boy's eyes gave out as much. angry light as those of
the goat, but he showed less self-restraint. He went back
till he reached Louis, and gave him a cuff on the shoulder.
"You little fool," he said, "that's for getting me hard
words."
Louis was too tired to quarrel. When Jean turned away
he rubbed his eyes with the torn, soiled cuff of his linen
jacket, and hobbled on faster.
All at once, up a side street, they got a glimpse of the
cathedral, massive and black, like some old fortress; from
this point its spire was not visible.
As he saw it the man looked less sullen. He began to
play the fife again, and Jean beat loudly on the drum,
whilst Louis joined in with the triangle. It was wonderful
to see how the two lame dogs behind the cart raised their
dejected heads at the sound: the tangled ringlets at their
ears wagged cheerfully, and they stepped along as if they


13








A STRlANGE COMPANY.


but had just set forth; the poor beasts knew that they were
about to halt. In a few minutes they had reached the open
space, and the glorious cathedral fully revealed itself-a
colossal shrine of carved stone with the tapering spire
rising up as if to pierce the clouds.
There were many people, evidently strangers to the town
coming out of the beautiful carved stone porch. The
wonderful clock within had just struck twelve; and, as
every one knows, the cathedral clock of Strasburg is the
eighth wonder of the world. It can tell the day of
the week, of the month, of the year, and much more
besides; and when the bell strikes each quarter of an hour,
a figure comes out on one side and crosses to the other side;
and at the hour itself the twelve apostles appear, and bend
before the figure of our Saviour: but at noon the cock,
beside the clock, crows three times and claps his wings,
and the figure of Time (a skeleton) raises his scythe, and
strikes twelve strokes on the brass ball in the centre of the
huge machine.
The surly man looked at the pleased and still wondering
faces of the crowd flocking out of the huge church, and he
made a sign to Jean to beat the drum louder: then, while
he played shrilly on his fife, he frowned savagely at the
little tired child who by this time had come limping up
with the dogs.
Attention, you little lazy scamp !" he said, in the half


1-1








A STRANGE COMPANY.


French, half Italian patois spoken in some parts of Switzer-
land.
Louis came forward, and taking hold of the goat's bridle,
he led him out into the middle of the open space before
the cathedral. Then at a sign from Louis, the monkey
sprang out of the cart into his arms. The boy placed it
on the back of one of the two large poodles, and the
sagacious dog walked on, pressing back the people, and
turning sharply at each angle, till he had formed an open
square five or 'six yards beyond the cart and Jean and the
red-faced owner of the show.
Long before the dog got back to Louis, a murmur,
begun by two little children clinging to their nurse's skirts,
had swelled into a chorus of admiration. Every one
stopped to look ; and, as the crowd kept pouring out of the
cathedral, there was soon a dense throng of gazers to see
the show.
All this while, the red-faced, sulky man was busy.
"Beat louder !" he said angrily to Jean. "Attention !"
he growled at Louis. But his tone was far more civil when
he called out to the gazers to keep the square, and to
remain still in the places they had chosen.
"Raton he cried. The other poodle came forward.
The monkey sprang on to the dog's back, and once more
travelled along the square now bordered with spectators.
"Bravo !-Gut !" and many other words of admiration,


15







A STRANGE COMPANY.


in French and German patois, rattled along the lines of
men and women as the monkey, placing one paw on his
chest, took off his little feathered cap with the other, and
bowed low when Raton, obedient to his master's voice,
trotted back into the middle of the square.
As the dog reached the cart, the man moved up to where
Jean stood beating the drum, and drove his elbow viciously
into the boy's side.
"What are you doing?" he growled; "where are the
ladders? how much longer am I to wait for you? where's
that little scamp?"
Louis was standing out of sight behind the cart; he
rested his weight against it while he played with the two
little brown dogs,.and with a very small acid-faced poodle
called Didi. Didi was evidently fond of fighting; one of
his eyes had been injured, and he had a long scratch across
his nose.
See, see, mother," a little girl cried, the poor dirty little
dog sits up and begs; he wants biscuit, I'm sure he does."
The mother had her marketing basket on her arm, and
at this appeal she pulled out a bit of bread, and gave it to
the child; the little girl ran forward to the cart, and reached
the back of it just as Jean had set up two ladders in the
middle of the square, one leaning against the other in the
form of a gigantic A.
While the crowd cried out joyfully at this sight, the surly








A STRANGE COMPANY.


man had passed swiftly behind the cart; Louis was just
lifting Didi down in order that the little girl might feed
him. A sudden box on the ears knocked the boy over.
He fell on the stones with the dog in his arms, striking his
mouth so violently that the blood gushed out. The little girl
was terribly frightened; she stood crying with the bit of
bread in her hand.
"Little pig," Wilhelm said, "get up and bring Rubis to
the ladder."
There was a murmur of indignation from the crowd on
this side, but the little scene had been invisible to those in
front, and as the master went round at once to the ladders,
no more notice was taken of his brutality.
He held up his hand at Jean and the drum ceased;
then he called out Raton-Rubis-climb."
The two large poodles walked to the ladders with droop-
ing heads and tails; evidently they feared to fail in the
performance required of them, as they placed themselves
one at the foot of each ladder. At a word from Wilhelm
they bowed their poor tangled heads, and began step by
step to climb up.
The audience cried out with delight, but as the intelli-
gent creatures went steadily up the narrow ladders, keeping
time as they went, their long gaunt bodies and thin legs
moved many of the spectators to pity. One woman began
to cry pitifully, and wiped her eyes with her apron-
/B


17








A STRANGE COMPANY.


My poor Fiddle she was like that poor dirty dog" she
sobbed, who knows that some wretched mountebank has
not picked her up and whipped her into antics like this.
Ah, my Fidele, my dearly beloved one, why did you leave
your home ?"
The dogs had now reached the tops of the ladders;
there was no room to pass one another. Raton stood erect
-his legs wide apart and his tail cocked-then Rubis bent
prostrate and squeezed himself under the body of his
comrade, and there was a fresh burst of applause as the
two dogs began to descend heads downward at the same
moment. This part of the performance was evidently
difficult; the dogs trembled and went so slowly that every
moment it seemed as if they must fall on their noses ; but
at last they reached the ground again and looked up in
their master's face.
"Well done !" he said, and the poor beasts wagged their
tails and their ears pricked up a little. "Now, show the
company a dance."
He began to play a lively waltz tune, and the two dogs
stood up on their hind legs, and touching one another's
paws, waltzed together round and round, all round the
square, and then to the cart in the centre of it.
"Encore, encore !" came from the crowd, but the poor
tired beasts slunk away behind to Louis, and the master
lifted down little Didi and another poodle he called Caracol,


18








A STRANGE COMPANY.


and gave them some instructions which they seemed to
understand.
No sooner had Wilhelm reached the middle of the
square and straddled his legs wide apart, than the two little
dogs walked first round one leg, and then round the other,
describing an exact figure of eight, crossing one another in
their progress like the dancers in a Scotch reel. It was
done so gracefully, and in such perfect time to the tune
the man whistled, that it drew forth the loud applause of
the audience. Meantime Jean had loosened the goat;
the monkey jumped from the cart on to the animal's
back, and cracked a little whip, which the lad put into his
hand.
At this the Impetuous little Didi sprang forward and ran
on in front of the goat and its rider, barking vociferously
and pirouetting in the air as if he were challenging the
surrounding crowd to produce a more distinguished caval-
cade. But though the people applauded loudly and were
delighted when Raton and Caracol climbed the ladders
backwards, they soon began to disperse, for it was dinner-
time in Strasburg, and hunger carried the day. The dark-
browed burly man, seeing that the spectators were thinning,
bent down, and put a tin plate in Raton's mouth,
Go," he said, and Raton walked slowly along the square,
stopping now and then and sitting up on his hind legs
with the tin plate held flat in his mouth.


19








A STRANGE COMPANY.


Money rattled in with a dull chinking sound, for it was
chiefly copper coin, and when the dog brought back the
little plate to his master, full certainly, but only full of
centimes, with here and there a pewter coin marked 5,
Wilhelm looked as black as a thunder-cloud.
Raton wagged his tail and gazed up in the man's face,
but the heavy frown he saw there sent the poor beast's ears
down, and his tail drooped till it reached the ground.
Raton is clumsy," his master said; he forgot his bow,
at first setting out." The dog bowed at once. "Go
round again, sir," Wilhelm added, with a savage change of
tone.
Raton cringed, and then went round the crowd again,
trembling as he went.
This little scene had been understood by the remaining
spectators; the men laughed and growled, but the women
were indignant.
"Give me a ten-sous piece, for the love of mercy !" a
girl said to her old father. That man there will beat the
poor dog; he is much the biggest brute of the two."
A shout of laughter from those nearest the speaker, and
the unfriendly looks directed towards Wilhelm, made him
yet more angry. Before Raton came back he had picked
up Didi and Caracol.
"Put the goat to the cart," he growled out to Jean, and
he flung the dogs into the vehicle, then he gave little Louis a


20








A STRANGE COMPANY.


cuff, and pointed straight before him. Go on with the
cart," he said; "cross the river, and then on out of the
town till you come to where four roads meet. Wait there
for Jean and me. Come here, Heinrich."
The monkey, who had been grimacing over a ginger-cake
given to him as he passed along, sprang on to Wilhelm's
shoulder, and took off his plumed cap with an air. But his
master was angry with every one.
"Get along, you little fool," he said, putting a little whip
in the monkey's paw. "Go to Raton and give it him."
The creature grinned and chattered, and bounded on to
the poodle's back; then, whipping him smartly, he took
the lead down the almost empty street, followed by the
cart full of dogs, and by Louis and Rubis.
Wilhelm looked at Jean to see that he followed him, and
he slunk off into a narrow street. Here the houses were
so high that the sun could not find its way into the narrow
alley which reached from one street to another without
any side opening. The houses looked dark, the windows
were dirty, and those on a level with the street were filled
with bits of old iron, old furniture, old .garments-every-
thing suggested dirt and decay. Half way up the alley
Wilhelm paused before an open door-way; he beckoned
Jean to follow him, and led the way into a small open
court smelling strongly of stables, and overlooked on the four
sides by a gallery, which was reached by a dirty stone stair-


21








A STRANGE COMPANY.


case. Opening a door opposite the stair-case, they went into
a dark stuffy room. About a dozen men were sitting here
smoking large-bowled pipes, on each side of a table covered
Smith oil cloth. They were drinking beer out of huge
glass mugs with handles, and gaily-painted china, or else metal
tops.
Wilhelm seated himself apart from the others at a little
table in a corner, and Jean sat down opposite him. A
fat pink-cheeked girl, with yellow hair neatly plaited into a
long braid that reached quite round her head, placed
a dirty sloppy tray with two mugs of beer on the little
table.
Jean was tired and thirsty; he had walked far that
morning, and he put out his hand for the mug nearest him:
but his master snatched at the handle, drank off some of the
beer, and then set the half-empty mug down before the
angry boy. Then Wilhelm raised the other mug to his
lips.
Jean swore a German oath, and muttered fiercely to
himself.
You have a short memory, I see," the man said. You
think you are still with that father of yours, who starved
himself that you and that little fool Louis might have plenty.
You've got into wiser hands, you will be no longer spoiled,
and it will be the making of you."
The boy looked across at the other table, but no one








A STRANGE COMPANY.


was noticing him. He saw some louring, brutal faces among
the smokers and drinkers; the place, for anything he knew,
might be a den of thieves. Probably the men round the
table would not take his part against Wilhelm.
"More like the ruin of me," he answered with a scoff.
"You do me more harm than you do Louis-brute though
you are to strike a little weak child, who returns good for
evil."
The man laughed out so loudly that some of the smokers
looked round.
"I think two can play at that, you young scamp," he
said, roughly. "Why, only to-day I saw you cuff him
yourself"
"You're enough to ruin a saint," the boy said: "but
cruelty does not pay. The dogs don't perform half so well
for you as they did for father. He used to get silver coins
in the plate often and often," he added maliciously.
Jean stopped when he saw the evil look that came in the
man's eyes, and he sat grinding his teeth and knocking
his knuckles on the rough table.
Wilhelm called for a glass of spirits, and drank it off.
Then, as he sat stupid-looking, and more red-faced than
ever, he presently closed his eyes.
The lad rose up softly, and went out of the room to the
door of the tavern. He looked up the street, then down
it. There was no one in sight. A wild gleam came into


23








24 A STRANGE COMPANY.

his eyes and a sudden hope of escape from this terrible
slavery. If he could reach Louis unobserved, they might
soon be beyond pursuit. Jean felt sure now that, in spite
of his promise to their father, this man had no intention of
taking them back to Fribourg. At that moment a
heavy grasp came on his shoulder, and he saw the brutal
face of Wilhelm close to his own.









a CJ{IPI ER II.


SELL tried,
W Jean,"
.' \ ilhelm said, with a
hideous sneer. -"I
Don't blame you for
Stringg" He dragged
i the lad back into
She passage and
"\ raised his voice.
Undutiful boy," he
S .aeid, in a tone which
h; tried to make
pathetic, "to run
a. way from the father
he owes everything
to."
While he spoke he was dragging Jean back to the door
of the.drinking-room, but Jean resisted.
"You coward, Wilhelm," he said, in a low voice. "Do
you suppose, if those fellows in there knew the truth, they
would stand by such a rogue as you are, you kidnapper ?"
The man tightened his grasp on the lad. His fury
almost choked him, and Jean was startled to see how the
dull, lead-coloured veins stood out on his companion's fore-







A STRANGE COMPANY.


head, and how deeply red his face had become. He shook
Jean violently, and then, still holding him, he changed his
intention, dragged him forward to the door, and went more
slowly with him down the narrow alley.
Jean had never seen Wilhelm like this before. What
did his silence mean ? He was too well used to his violent
language, and to his kicks and blows, but this manner was
new. He looked up in the savage face lowering close to
his own, and a sudden idea took hold of the lad. Wilhelm
meant to kill him-and what was there to hinder him?
He would then have undisputed possession of the dogs.
Jean was not a coward, but he shuddered at the prospect,
so near now, of finding himself on the high road, alone with
this ruffian. And, when he was dead, what would become
of poor little Louis ?
Jean did not struggle or try to free himself. He knew
that he had no chance against the powerful villain, and a
struggle would only attract notice-perhaps gather together
a knot of idlers who would, doubtless, believe Wilhelm's
assertion that he was the father of the boys. This had
already happened in the only large town through which
they had passed since their father's death, when first Jean
had appealed to some bystanders to release him and his
brother from their tyrant, and then Louis had told their
pitiful story to a clergyman, but Wilhelm, when appealed to,
told his version of the tale so plausibly, and acted the


26








A STRANGE COMPANY.


injured father so naturally, that no one had ventured to
interfere between him and his supposed children. So it
seemed best to Jean, as he noted the man's desperate
manner, to keep silence while they traversed the streets of
Strasburg.
They crossed the river Ill, and soon after reached a
large open Place, where the scanty houses showed that they
were approaching the outskirts of the town. As soon as
they were free of these, Jean stopped in the middle of the
road.
"Look here, Wilhelm," he said, "I don't seek to punish
you for the way in which you have treated us, but I will
make you a proposal. You say that when my father died
he owed you wages, and, therefore, you claim the dogs
and our services."
Now that Jean spoke calmly it was easy to see that he
had been better taught than the purple-faced man who
stood glowering at him like a bull at bay.
"That's good. You make me a proposal!" Wilhelm
interrupted, with a scoff. "Why, you little fool, if you
worked for me a whole year, you couldn't make up to me
for what your father owed me-a whole month's wages-
and see what I did for him."
His voice was thick, and, instead of standing firm on his
feet, he rocked now and then as if he were going to fall.
Jean thought he was intoxicated, and he felt that he must not


27








A STRANGE COMPANY.


irritate him, if he meant to succeed in his attempt at
freedom.
"Look here, Wilhelm "-he spoke more quietly, and he
tried to smile-" be fair to us. Give us half the dogs and
the monkey, and you keep the goat." "I should like to
keep the cart;" he was going to say, "because my father
made it," but he reflected that this would only excite his
companion's mockery. I do not ask you for a pfennig of
the money Raton brought you to-day; only let us go free.
It is a good bargain for you; you will have fewer to feed."
He had not looked at Wilhelm, but as he ended he
fixed his eyes on him, and he shuddered.
The man's face had become livid, and his mouth worked
as if too full of words to speak.
A sound of approaching wheels caught Jean's ear, and
he looked eagerly forward in hope that help might be near,
for it seemed to him that Wilhelm was mad.
But he did not see anything, for, as he turned his head,
so violent a blow struck his ear that he reeled and
fell. He seemed to see a blaze of light and to hear a.
yell, and then he lost consciousness. Presently he
roused and heard voices.
"Help me lift him; we'll take him to the hospital. It
was this one struck the blow," said a voice close by.
SJean opened his eyes and raised himself on his arm, but
he felt weak and giddy,


28








A STRANGE COMPANY.


Two men were lifting Wilhelm from the ground, and
now they placed him in the chaise they had been driving.
Hullo you," said one of the men, "we are taking him
to the hospital. He fell as he struck you down. You can
come too,-there's room."
Jean looked dazed, and put his hand to his head. The
blow had been a severe one, and he had been slightly
stunned.
"Well, my poor fellow, you can follow us," the man said.
"I am a doctor. We are taking him to the Great Hospital.
Is he, by chance, your father?"
Jean felt that at last his chance had come.
"No," he said; "I thank God I do not belong to him,
he is a bad man. His name is Wilhelm Krause, and I
am called Jean Webern. I am too giddy to move just
now.
"So. You can then follow us when you are all right,"
the doctor said, "and you can give your account to the
police."
Jean waited till the chaise was out of sight. Then, when
he saw figures in the distance, he tried to rise. He was
still giddy, but he managed to walk unsteadily along the
road. After he had taken a few steps, the hope of freedom
quickened his pulses, his blood circulated more freely, and
he hastened on; some way further he saw the cart and the
dogs and Louis waiting at the cross roads, and his heart gave


29







A STRANGE COMPANY.


a joyful bound. He had not felt so happy since his father's
death.
Louis stood leaning against the finger-post. The dogs
seemed to be asleep, but the monkey was sitting near his
little master, fastened by his chain to the side of the cart.
Raton and Rubis lay stretched out on the dry roadside;
but as Jean approached they roused, and when they saw
him they wagged their long, tasselled tails.
Louis stood upright, with a sad, wistful look in his soft
blue eyes; but they grew large with wonder when he saw
that his brother was alone.
"Where is Wilhelm? Is he coming?" he said.
"Never mind Wilhelm !" Jean answered, roughly.
Then he examined the hand-post. "Whip up the goat-
let us get on, for the love of heaven. It is our only
chance," he said.
"But, Jean, is it wise to run away from Wilhelm?
Think how he will beat us when he catches us. And
though he is cruel, our father placed us in his charge."
Jean looked almost as savage as the man who had struck
him to the ground.
Do not be a little fool !" he said. I am master now;
and you have got to do as I bid you. Wilhelm is in the
hospital. He's ill."
Louis was putting the monkey back into the cart. He had
told the goat to move forward; but at this he looked round.


30







A STRANGE COMPANY.


In the hospital Ought we not to go back and care for
him ?" he said. "Do not you remember, Jean, Monsieur
le Cure told us in his sermons that we must always return
good for evil?"
"Monsieur le CurY be hanged !" said Jean with energy.
Then, either the shocked look in his little brother's face
reminded him of his mother's teaching, or, perhaps his
conscience convicted him, he went on quietly:-
"I left him in good hands. A doctor was going to
drive him in his carriage to the hospital."
Louis shuddered. The word hospital took him back to
the day, only a few weeks ago, when Wilhelm had made
them follow him from the quiet German town, -where their
sad loss had gained them so much kindness and sympathy
from the women of the place. They had seen their father
laid in a pauper's grave in the cemetery of the quiet town.
Wilhelm said ie had no money to pay for his burial, unless
he sold the dogs, and that he was sure no one in that quiet,
sleepy place would buy them. Then he had added:-
"Come along, boys! let us go and find your mother."
And they had followed him.
Louis remembered that his father had money in a bag
before he was ill; and he had said, more than once, that
there was a little sum put by in case of illness, or any such
disaster, but they had never found this bag. It was evident
that Wilhelm had taken it.


31







A STRANGE COMPANY.


The boy sighed, and looked sadly at his brother. He
and Jean had been so happy when they left their home in
early spring with their father. The only cloud had been
the remembrance of their mother's tears. She had cried
bitterly as she said good-bye to them; and then his father
had gone back and kissed her once more.
"We are going away to make you a rich woman, dear
Lieschen," he said.
Louis began to cry as he called up the memory of this
parting.
"Poor mother !" he sobbed. "Are we going back to
her, Jean?"
Jean only nodded for answer; but he did not look quite
so surly.
He had looked at the direction-post, and the names on
it were unknown to him.
For some time past Jean had suspected that, instead of
taking them homewards, Wilhelm had been leading them
farther and farther away from Fribourg; and this was true,
the man had artfully changed the route, going sometimes
east and sometimes west, avoiding large towns which might
have served as landmarks to the kidnapped boys. Jean
felt utterly bewildered in regard to his way home; he would
not have understood a map if he had seen one. He had
gone early in life to out-door work, and had by this time
forgotten most of his school teaching. Louis was more of a


32







A STRANGE COMPANY.


scholar than his brother; but this winter he had been
sickly, and had not gone to school.
There had been great distress in Fribourg owing to the
heavy rainfall, and Jean had failed to get work.
Hitherto their father, Karl Webern, had gone alone on
his summer wanderings with his troop of dogs, with the goat,
and Heinrich, the monkey; but, during his enforced idle-
ness in the winter, Jean had amused himself, and had be-
come interested, in teaching the dogs new tricks, and when
he saw his father making preparations for a fresh setting
forth, he announced his wish to accompany him. At first
his father demurred, for he wished only to take Louis.
He fancied that a few months of the free, outdoor life,
with its constant change of air and scenery, would benefit
the delicate boy, as it had benefited his own weak chest,
and he shrank from companionship because of the lad's
sulky moods. But when the mother heard of Jean's wish,
she urged her husband to take a shorter wandering than
usual, with both the boys as his companions. That was in
April, and now it was August, and Jean did not know how
far they were from home.
"Have you any money, Louis?" he said presently, as
they walked on.
"Only this." The boy held out half a mark. "A kind
little girl gave it to me for letting her feed Didi."
At the sound of his name, the small, sour-faced poodle
c


33







A STRANGE COMPANY.


came tumbling and scrambling over his companions to the
back of the cart, and, seeing only his two. playfellows, he
gave a short, sharp bark of welcome to Jean and Louis, as
if inviting them to a game of play.
I have two marks," Jean said, and then hung his head
and looked ashamed of himself. He had spent more than
another two marks at various times in beer, when Wilhelm
had taken him to some drinking-shop, while poor little
Louis had been left alone to mind the cart.
His frame was much stronger, but Jean had a weaker
will than Louis had; and when after their father's death
Wilhelm suddenly changed his manner, Jean, after a few
days of active revolt against the man's tyranny, had sunk
into sullen despair, out of which he sometimes roused into
violent anger, or else he gave way to self-indulgence. He
had spoken truth in telling Wilhelm that he had done him
more harm than he had done to Louis, for the ruffian had
seen that the shortest way to get the mastery was to drag
the elder boy down to his own level; and now, while
Louis' heart was lifted up in thanksgiving for their escape,
Jean felt confused and remorseful for all he had done.
They had gone on for about a mile up the dry, dusty
road, and had not met any one of whom they could ask
their way. One or two market carts coming out of
Strasburg had passed them, but the people in the carts were
tired, and took little heed of the strange-looking caravan.


34







A STRANGE COMPANY.


They had reached a point where a narrow road branched
off on the right, when, all at once, a cart came along at a
quick pace. Jean had not looked round before, fearing to
attract notice, but he now turned his head, and, as the cart
passed him, he recognized two of the evil-looking fellows
he had seen in the drinking-shop, and he saw that they
recognized him; the driver, however, was a stranger.
"Halt !" Jean said, in a low voice to his little brother.
"Stop the goat as quickly as you can."
"Stop, stop!" one of the men called out to his com-
panions; then he leaned out of the cart. "I say, you
young fellow, where's your master ? are you running away
from him? "
Jean grew white and stood trembling.
But the man who was driving paid no heed; he urged
the horse on at such a rate that there was no fear that his
companions would be able to jump down into the road.
"Look here, Louis!" Jean spoke hurriedly; "we are
not safe; those men may come back presently, and who
can say that that brute Wilhelm may not recover in an hour
or so and come on after us? He has money enough-I
know he has-to hire a horse, or to get some one to drive
him after us, and there will be plenty of market people
coming out of that big town to-day. Go to the goat's head
and we'll turn down this narrow road." He pointed to the
road on the right.


35







A STRANGE COMPANY.


Do you know where it leads to ?" Louis asked.
"No, but that does not matter just now. I'll ask, when
I get a chance, if this is the way to Fribaurg; but I must
be careful whom I ask. If we find out that ve are on the
wrong track, we must wait till it gets dark, and then get
back to the. high road again."
Jean spoke with decision, but he felt hungry and
miserably faint-hearted. He and Louis had each had a bit
of bread and a slice of sausage that morning; he saw no
chance of further provisions for that day at least. He knew
very well that they would have been more likely to find a
village by keeping on the high road, but he dared not run
this risk after his fright just now, and his perplexity made
him feel helpless and irritable.
The narrow road they were now in was much rougher
than the wide one had been. On each side was a loosely
piled stone fence, and it seemed as if, during the wet
season, the fields on either side had drained between the
stones into this intersecting way, for the ridges made by
cart-wheels were sometimes nearly a foot deep and still
looked moist at the bottom.
Presently Louis stumbled and fell down.
It's a pity you're such a weak little fool," Jean said,
roughly. Can't you keep your legs ? If you let the cart
slip into one of these ruts, we shall have a fine business to
get it out again. You ought to be of some use at your age."


36







A STRANGE COMPANY.


Louis had picked himself up and was brushing the dirt
off his trousers as he walked beside the cart.
I'll be as careful as I can, Jean."
The little fellow gave his brother a wistful look. He
knew well enough that the real Jean had not spoken; this
was only the manner that Jean had learned from Wilhelm;
but still, when Raton came up to him and rubbed against
him as if to sympathise in his disaster, tears rose in the
little boy's eyes.
After this they went on in silence. It required great
watchfulness to keep the cart always in the middle of the
road, and to prevent the monkey from springing out on to
the goat's back, a proceeding which was sure to make -the
creature swerve to one side or another.
At last Jean roused from his moody fit. He unfastened
Heinrich's chain, and let him perch on his shoulder, whence
the monkey chattered and grimaced at the dogs, who
peered curiously at him from the cart.
Brother," Louis said timidly, how must we feed the
dogs? I saw Wilhelm feed Heinrich and the goat, and
poor old Diane,"--Diane was the dog who helped draw the
cart-" but none of the others have had a bit to-day except
Didi. Look at Raton and Rubis, how tired they are."
Jean was touched; he knew that his little brother was
sorely tired, and hungry too. It must be past three o'clock,
and yet Louis had only spoken for the dogs. He did not


37






A STRANGE COMPANY.


answer, but presently he stooped down and gathered a tall
stick of sorrel that grew beside the stone fence.
"Chew it," he said gruffly, "it will quench your thirst."
"Thank you," Louis said. He would have thrown his
arms round his brother, but Jean's new and strange
behaviour had made Louis afraid of him, though at home
he had always been his brother's pet.
The lane they had been following now made a sudden
bend, and they found themselves again on a wider road.
Jean stood still and looked at Louis.
The child was very pale, but he was still carefully
watching the cart.
Look here," Jean said, if we follow the road this way,
I fancy we shall, in about two hours, get back to Strasburg;
there we can get food and lodging, and we can learn our
best way to Fribourg. "This road," he pointed to the left,
"leads to a town, perhaps, but it may be far off. Shall we
run the risk and go back to Strasburg?"
Louis looked up. "No, Jean," he said without hesita-
tion; "we have been delivered from Wilhelm as by a
miracle; do not let us go back; let us put our trust in
God, He will be our pilot."
In his heart Jean was struck by his brother's simple
faith, but it seemed to him more manly to laugh.
"So be it, my young prophet," he said mockingly;
"only don't cry out if we get no supper to-night."


38







A STRANGE COMPANY.


Raton and Rubis now began to lag behind; their tongues
hung out of their mouths, and their tails dragged on the
ground.
All at once an idea came to Louis.
Don't you remember," he said, "when Rubis used to
get tired, how father made Joli and Ami walk, and gave
the big dog a ride, or I could carry Joli a little way."
"'Poor fellow !" Jean looked more kindly at his little
brother, "you have enough to do to carry yourself-stop."
He tugged at the goat's reins-" Hi, there, Joli, Ami."
Instantly the two little brown foxy-faced dogs jumped
out of the cart. Jean lifted up poor tired Rubis and put
him in with the rest. The poor dog stretched itself out,
and lay like a dead sheep in the bottom of the cart.
"There is not room for Raton," Jean said; but the dog
had remembered old times, and leaping into the cart, he
nearly smothered Didi, who set up a dismal howl.
"Be quiet, simpleton !" Jean caught Didi by the scruff
of the neck and set him down in the road. Come along,
Hector."
As he spoke, this pretty, long-haired yellow dog that had
kept itself much cleaner than any of the others had,
jumped down beside him.
"Only Caracol is left in now," Jean said, "there must
be room for Raton and Rubis."
Caracol, who was thin and very dirty, whimpered; he


39








A STRANGE COMPANY.


wanted to get out, for the two big dogs, stretched at full
length, filled up the little vehicle and left him only a
corner to crouch iii. ._ _


dirrt.il,,,:ir,:, i*A k
p !" H .,, .. i -i "h ..t



mother could only see them
Jean did not answer. He wondered very sadly if his
mother would ever see Louis again, even if he himself sur-
vived the long journey that lay before them; for some-


40







A STRANGE COMPANY.


thing seemed to warn him that it would be long and full
of danger.
Before them mountains rose on one side of .the strange
road. Not far off they saw that they should have to pass
through a wood, which on one side seemed to stretch as
far as the dark range of hills.
As they drew near the wood, Louis touched Jean's arm.
"Do you see that?" he said; "that blue must be
smoke against the pine-trees. Ah, we shall get supper and
a bed, after all!" And he clapped his hands.
Jean looked; then he shook his head. We must be
careful," he said; "it may only be a forest-guard's hut, and
as like as not he may take us up for tramps. I will go on
first and see. You wait here."
Louis took the monkey from his brother's shoulder,
called the dogs round him, and then flung himself full
length beside the road. Heinrich nestled into his bosom,
seeing which jealous little Didi squeezed himself close to
the boy's face, while Joli and Ami rubbed themselves
against his legs. Pretty little Hector set off to follow Jean.
He was in a frisky state, and wanted to use his legs a
little, so Jean thought it safer to put him back into
the cart in the place of Caracol, who was usually half
asleep.
As the wood deepened on either side Jean saw that the
road looked dark. The smoke that they had seen was no


41







A STRANGE COMPANY.


longer visible, it was evidently in the wood itself,
and had shown in the distance through some opening in
the trees; but Jean was determined to find it. He
must learn without delay whether they were on the right
track, and also he must get some food for Louis and the
dogs.
Just then he heard a trickling sound before him, and
going on he saw a tiny thread of water issuing from a huge
block of stone near the road. But he did not stop to
drink; turning back again, he plunged in among the pine-
trees with a lighter heart. The fragrant, invigorating smell
refreshed him, and the ground was soft and pleasant to his
tired feet, but it was very dark among the tall red boles
with their blue-green foliage. All at once he came to what
seemed a group of phantoms. Tall, brown, filmy arms
stretched across one another till they made a cobweb-like
veil. Through this objects showed indistinctly, but as Jean
stood still gazing, he heard a continued sound, chip, chip,
chip. Some one was chipping wood behind the dead pine-
trees.
His fatigue vanished, he felt full of hope and of courage,
and, scrambling down into the hollow in which the dead
pine-trees stood, he found himself close to a rude hut. In
front and on each side was a heap of bright yellow pine-
shavings. Inside the light of a fire gleamed on a mass of
yellow which seemed to line the hut, and in front of this,


42







A STRANGE COMPANY.


within the low entrance, sat a gaunt, withered man, shaping
with a knife a piece of wood which he had just cut from a
log beside him. Jean's eyes had grown accustomed to the
gloom, and he had made out that the yellow stack within
the hut was made by rows of wooden shoes, and that the
man, now shaping one with his knife, was a sabotier or
wooden shoemaker.
Plainly the sabotier was deaf, for he did not even raise
his head.
"Hallo," Jean called out loudly, and at the sound a
queer, wrinkled face looked up at him; the skin of it
seemed a good deal too large and loose; wrinkles lay on
the forehead, and round the corners of the mouth. He
opened this widely at the sight of a stranger.
Can you tell me the way to Fribourg?" Jean shouted;
"is it along the road there ?"
He pointed out the direction in which they were
travelling.
Oui, oui, oui," the man answered, and then he said
something quite unintelligible, for, as Jean now perceived,
he had lost his teeth.
"I want to buy some bread," the lad said; "can you
sell me some?"
The sabotier grinned and jabbered again. Then he
put his finger in his mouth, and looked questioningly at
Jean.


43







A STRANGE COMPANY.


Jean nodded. -"Yes, I am very hungry, and I have a
little sick brother who is very hungry, too."
At this the man's face looked troubled. He said, in
French, "Poor little brother poor little brother !" He
got up and went into the hut. In a minute or two he
came out with a big loaf of black bread, for which Jean
held him out some copper coin. The man counted this
over, and then going back into the hut he produced a
lump of sausage, which he held out to the lad.
"For the little sick brother," he said, with a friendly look
on his strange wrinkled face.
Jean shook his hand heartily. He could almost have
hugged the sabotier in the sudden gratitude he felt.
"Thank you many times," he said.
And then he hurried back through the dark, fragrant
wood, impatient to bring Louis and the poor thirsty dogs
to the little spring beside the road.
Louis lay sound asleep, and most of the dogs had
followed his example; but. at the noise Jean made, they
set up a joyful bark of welcome, and the little boy roused
and rubbed his eyes.
Jean went round to the dogs and gave them each a bit
of bread; but when Louis had stretched himself awake he
shook his head.
"I cannot eat till I have drunk," he said, "my mouth is
so parched."


44







A STRANGE COMPANY.


By the time they reached the spring the shadow of the
pine-wood had made the road dark. Louis had eagerly
quenched his burning thirst and bathed his face and his
hot hands : and all the dogs, except Hector, who was left
in the cart, had drunk at the trickling stream, which had
channelled for itself a little ditch beside the road.
Jean was in the act of lifting Hector out of the cart after.
putting all the little dogs back in their places, when a sound
made him suddenly stop.
"Hark !" Louis said; but his brother frowned him into
silence, and pointed to the wood on the opposite side from
that where he had found the sabotier.
The sound came nearer every instant. It was the
galloping of a horse.
"Go on with the dogs," Jean whispered, as he pointed
to the wood; "in among the trees, quick, for your life !"
Then he pulled at the goat's bridle, and, almost carrying
the cart, he managed to get it down the little descent into
the wood. He dared not go far in lest the pursuer should
hear any sound. He knew the well-trained dogs would
obey his command and be silent, and it seemed to him
that even if Wilhelm-for he felt sure it was he-should
spy out the sabotier and make inquiry, he would seek for
the runaways on the road itself, he would not be likely to
look for them in the wood beside it.
But who could tell ? Jean's heart throbbed painfully as


45







46 A STRANGE COMPANY.

he stood among the closely-growing pine-trees, while the
galloping horse came nearer and nearer along the dark
road. He glanced in among the trees, and he saw that
Louis had unharnessed the goat, and had lain down on the
ground among the pine needles that covered it thickly, with
all the dogs round him. But Jean stood still trembling,
while sounds of galloping came fast towards him.


























W HEN Jean a.,,oke it 1)
was already light.
He sate up and looked about him. The sun had not risen,
but a dull grey dawn found its way in among the crossing
fir branches; and all around him there was the strange
stillness that marks a pine forest. Louis lay sound asleep,
and so did Rubis. Raton had roused at Jean's first move-
ment, and now, seeing his master on his feet stretching
himself, he came wagging his tail and fawning for notice.
Jean stooped down and patted him. Quiet, old fellow."
he said.


7.0I1PTER III.







A STRANGE COMPANY.


Heinrich had gone to sleep inside Louis's jacket, now
he started awake, and soon roused his little master and the
rest of the party.. Louis was very stiff and sore when he
rose up from his bed of pine needles. He and Jean
shared a bit of bread and sausage. The dogs had some
bread; and then boys and dogs too, came out of the wood
again, and, crossing the road, they refreshed themselves at
the little spring.
Jean felt in a dream; he had heard the horse go by
without stopping, and then he remembered having felt an
intense sense of relief, that was all; he supposed he must
have lain down, so overcome with fatigue that he had
instantly fallen asleep.
"Louis," he said," if we follow this road we may come
upon Wilhelm all in a moment; what do you think we
had better do ?"
"Did the man in the wood say it led to Fribourg ?"
Jean nodded.,
"' Then, let us trust in God and go on, brother? Father
said we were to go back to mother without delay: even
then we were over our time; and that was more than a
month ago. Ah, the poor mother! how long she has
been alone, expecting father to return !
"Well, well; go on, then," Jean said, impatiently;
"words only waste time," and he. led the goat out into the
middle of the road.







A STRANGE COMPANY.


Little yellow Hector sat up before him begging;. the
pretty little dog felt that he was irresistible when he put his
head on one side, and peeped through his long and fluffy
yellow hair, with an imploring look in his bright black eyes;
he did this now, and crossing his paws he gave.a little
whine of remonstrance.
Poor little Hector," Louis said; "he is asking you not
to put him back in the cart, Jean."
Well, then, you must take the risk of losing him;
remember he is only a waif. We have not brought him up
ourselves, as we have, the others. I feel sure he will run
away.'
"You will like to walk a little. You will not run away,
will you, Hector ? Louis said lovingly. -
The little dog sprang up and began to bark and caper
about. Louis stooped down and patted him, and the dog
licked his face, and then lay down in the road at his young
master's feet. I will put him in soon, Jean," he said; "I
only wanted to humour him a little, and it makes the cart
lighter for the goat and for poor old Diane."
The goat was out of temper this morning. Some days had
gone by since he had been free to browse where he chose, and
yesterday he had only had half rations : he butted savagely at
Raton when the dog went up to him; and when Heinrich
leaped on his back he plunged so violently that he nearly
upset the cart.


49







A STRANGE COMPANY.


Jean slashed at him with the whip, and the creature's
eyes gleamed with anger.
At length they reached the end of the wood; and now,
on either side, the hills rose some way off. On the right
these hills looked green and rounded, but on the left they
were clothed with dark pine forests; now and then a tree
grew on the waste ground beside the road.
At last the sunshine grew so hot that they were glad to halt
under one of these welcome trees. Jean unharnessed the
goat and Diane; and then he stooped under the cart for
the bag which held the rest of the food, for it was long
past noon. All at once a violent blow on the leg sent
him almost off his balance, but he saved himself by
holding on to the cart. There stood the goat, his pale eyes
flaming with anger, ready to repeat his attack.
Father always said there was no use in hitting him; he
can butt pretty hard when he likes," said Louis.
Jean grumbled and threatened, but he did not use the
whip again.
He now produced the bread; counting heads he divided
it into twelve portions, four larger than the rest for Diane and
the goat, himself and Louis; then a portion each for Raton
and Rubis, and six smaller bits for Hector and his little
companions; the monkey tried to snatch from Louis the
bit of sausage which Jean gave him. He seemed to resent
being put on a level with the dogs; but Jean found a stray


50







A STR.AN(GE COMPANY.


nut in his pocket, and so pacified the chattering little
creature.
There was no welcome spring, however, to drink at; but
Jean fancied, as he looked ahead, that he saw the sun
gleaming on a river. He was not in a hurry to set forth
again; Louis was still sadly pale, and Raton and Rubis
seemed tired and sore-footed.
The air was wonderfully still; the sharp click of the
grasshoppers and the trumpetting of a cloud of gnats were
the only sounds that broke into the silence. Heinrich grew
impatient of it, and just when his two masters had stretched
themselves out for a nap in imitation of the dogs, the
monkey sprang off Jean's shoulder and climbed up the tree
under which they were lying. Jean looked round at the
sleeping dogs; he knew he had only to put Raton on guard,
and he would never allow the monkey to pass without
giving warning, but he shrank from disturbing the poor
tired dog. He got up, lifted little Didi out of the cart,
pointed to the monkey which sat grinning and chattering
on a pendent bough overhead, and then leaving the small
sour-faced dog on guard, he once more stretched himself
out and fell asleep.
Suddenly he started awake ... It seemed to him that
Wilhelm had surprised them, and was bending over him
trying to throttle him in his sleep. At first he could not
see, then putting up his hands he clutched at something







A STRANGE COMPANY.


soft, and heard a violent barking; next minute he got a
scratch on his face, and opening his eyes fully, he saw
Louis laughing as he pulled Heinrich off him, while Didi,
looking bigger than usual with indignation, was barking
furiously at the monkey.
"Heinrich swung himself down from one branch to another
and missed his hold," Louis said; He fell plump on your
face, which seems to have aggravated Didi."
"Little fool." Jean shook his fist at the monkey, "it is
time to be moving," he said roughly. It vexed him to have
been caught napping by his brother.
The road now began to go steeply down hill, and towards
evening, to their joy, they saw on the right, some way from
the road, a few scattered, red-roofed, white houses, with the
spire of a church rising from among them.
At this sight Jean stopped the cart.
"We must rest the dogs here," he said, "and try and
brush them up a little. Father always liked them to look
clean and cared-for when they went into a new place."
"Yes," Louis sighed; poor things, he'd hardly know
them now." Then he said timidly, Couldn't you let them
off the ladder trick, Jean, they fear it; that was Wilhelm's
teaching."
Don't be a little fool! Jean spoke in the brutal manner
he had adopted. That trick brings more money than any
of the others, besides, we have the ladders."







A STRANGE COMPANY.


Louis's face flushed and his eyes sparkled. "I don't
care," he said, it's cruel and-"
Hold your tongue Jean interrupted- and he began to
unharness Diane.
Louis felt miserable; he had hoped that Jean, away from
Wilhelm's influence, would get all right again. However,
he began to rub Raton's coat, and he tried to disentangle the
hair on his long dirty ears; it was so matted that he soon
gave up the attempt; but the dog evidently appreciated it, he
pressed close up to to the child and licked his hands and
his face, and Louis hugged him when Jean was not looking.
Meantime Jean had taken from one of his pockets a
smart scarlet cap like that of a French soldier. He placed
this on the monkey's head, and then bid him bow to the
company.
Heinrich made faces, and took off the cap repeatedly,
first to Louis, and then in turn to each of the dogs, but
when it came to the turn of Didi, he sprang on the little
creature, and crammed the cap on his head. Didi looked
so comic with his angry one-sided little face showing under
the red cap, that both the boys burst out laughing, and this
helped Jean to recover his temper.
When they had rested, Jean took the drum from its place
behind the cart, and, marching at the head of the little
procession, began to beat it loudly.
"We must give up the fife," he said; "I can't do that


53








A STRANGE COMPANY.


as well. I must whistle now and then. You can make a
noise with your triangle."
And now a road showed itself on the right leading down
to the village. Jean began to marshal the procession. He
walked first, beating the drum, then came Raton with Hein-














S: .- lie


7-C






S .- n .el d. I. .:.uis
went along striking his triangle, and with Rubis beside him
followed the cart.
It was wonderful to see the effect the sounds of the


51







A STRANGE COMPANY.


drum and the triangle had on the dogs. They pricked up
their ears and wagged their tails, even Raton and Rubis
seemed to forget their fatigue, while Hector and little Didi
opened their mouths and grinned with satisfaction. As to
the monkey, he kept one paw fixed on his cap, and went
on bowing first to one side, then to the other, as if he were
a royal personage, although as yet there was no one in
sight.
But the sound of the drum quickly roused the attention
of the village. Very soon a flock of round-eyed, flaxen-
headed children came running out of the doors to see what
this unusual noise meant, and, at the first house the pro-
cession came to, women looked out of the windows and
men in the road stood still to see this strange company.
"Shall we make them perform here?" Louis said.
"No, no, we will go on to the market-place," Jean
answered.
He was in a state of nervous terror; he wondered how
Louis could look so pleasant and smile back at the women
as they gazed compassionately at his wan face; as he saw
the people noticing them, it came into his head that it was
quite possible Wilhelm had preceded them to this village,
and had given information about them which might cause
them to be detained there till he returned to claim them.
But it was impossible to turn back now. He set his teeth
doggedly and went on.


55







A STRANGE COMPANY.


Louis, firm in his belief that they would be rightly guided,
felt peaceful and happy. He was looking forward to a com-
fortable supper and to a night's rest, if not in a bed, then,
at least on some hay or straw, where he could sleep off the
fatigue of his hard lodging in the pine wood. Poor little
Louis, he did not yet know what lay between him and the
end of his journey.
At last, in front of the church, they reached a long,
narrow opening, paved with uneven stones, between which
the grass grew plentifully.
Jean gave a thundering roll-call on the drum, and the
quaint procession halted. Several of the children had fol-
lowed them; others had gone home to fetch mothers, and
brothers, and sisters, to see the strange sight, and soon about
thirty spectators had gathered in the narrow market place.
Go-" Louis said to Raton, and the obedient dog went
on, forming a square as he went, while Heinrich on his back
bowed incessantly, and drew shouts of laughter from the
audience.
Seeing that the children were chiefly little ones, Jean
took the four little dogs, Hector and Didi, Joli and Ami
out of the cart and placed them in opposite couples, then
he began to whistle a lively dance tune: the pretty little
creatures stood on their hind legs, and touching each
other's paws they gave an excellent imitation of the figures
of a quadrille, bowing to one another and to the audience


56







A STRANGE COMPANY.


as they ended, and then dropping down on all fours they
ran behind the cart.
Gut, that is fine !" the children cried in ecstacy. They
laughed and clapped their hands and shouted with delight,
and many of them thronged behind the cart to stroke the
pretty little performers; but Jean shook his head at this,
and motioned to Louis to lift the dogs into their places.
Then, putting the tin plate in Raton's mouth, and taking
the monkey from his back, he told the dog to go along the
square.
But this was not a remunerative performance. The
children had no money, and though Raton sat up on his
hind legs and begged to perfection, the mothers seemingly
had little spare coin, for presently Raton came back with
his ears and his tail set very low indeed. A heavy frown
came on Jean's face when he saw only a few pfennigs in
the plate. Muttering to himself, he took Heinrich from his
shoulder and put him in the cart among the dogs; then
he fastened the goat between the shafts, and, cracking his
whip, turned to lead the way out of the village.
"The monkey !" cried the children; "we want to see
the monkey do tricks, and the big dogs too."
Then you may want, we cannot amuse you for nothing,"
Jean said roughly; "such a sight is too good for such as
you."
"Well, I never," said a fair-haired fat woman, who had


57







A ST1tANGE COMPANY.


been looking very kindly at Louis, "to think of a tramp
being so saucy; why, we've given him our time and we've
praised his beasts : but there, gratitude is not to be found
in this world."
Louis had stood still.
"Why don't you move on?" said Jean angrily; "are
you going to stay here all night?"
"I hope so," the child said quietly. The kindly faces
of the women had given him courage, and now he looked
at the fat fair-haired Frau, and smiled.
Madam," he said, my brother means no harm; he
is tired and hungry, and he hoped to get money enough
to pay for our supper and a lodging here for the night.
It would be kinder to give us that than to give us coin."
His pale blue eyes full of pathetic entreaty touched the
woman's heart.
"Poor child," she said, "you can rest in our stable, all
but the goat; but you may tie him outside, and you and
your brother shall share supper with us. My man has taken
the horses into Strasburg with a load of timber. He will
not be back yet awhile." Then she looked on to. Jean.
"Tell your brother to keep a civil tongue in his head, dear
child," she said; "it is not for him that I do this."
"You are very good, madam," Louis said, and we thank
you heartily; and, if you please, we will show you how
clever our monkey is."







A STRANGE COMPANY.


He took Heinrich out of the cart, and told him to dance
a hornpipe, but the monkey was as cross as Jean. He
flew at Raton, and would have scratched the poor dog's
eye, if Louis had not interfered. The only feat he would
consent to show off was to twist his face into a ridiculous
imitation of little Didi, and sit up and beg.
Well, well, come along," the woman said, it will soon
be time for supper; and if those poor things were cleaned
a bit wouldd do them good. Gretchen here shall give you
soap and water."
A shy girl, rather older than Louis, fair-haired like her
mother, with cheeks like a pair of pink sausages, came for-
ward and walked beside the boys.
"Are you hungry'?" she whispered to Louis.
"Yes, I am very hungry," he said in the same tone, and
then they went on in silence.
The woman walked in front with two fair-haired toddlers
clinging to her skirts. She stopped before a long, low,
white cottage with two green-shuttered windows on each
side of the door, and a smaller window in the apex of the.
gable. The slopes of the roof were uneven, that on one
side reached no farther than the wall of the house, but the
other came to within a few feet of the ground and sheltered
a good-sized stable, divided into two, for the accommodation
of both horses and cows.
The horse stable was empty, but there was plenty of dry


59







A STRANGE COMPANY.


straw there, and Louis felt inclined to lie down in it at
once, he was so sorely tired.
"I will send Gretchen when supper is ready," the woman
said, and she closed the door behind her.
Jean came close up to his brother.
Louis, did you see the handpost at the corner of the
road we turned down?" he said.
"Yes; well, what of it? It said this way to Ettweiler,
which is, I suppose, the name of the village we are in, and
it pointed along the road to Rosenheim."
"Then, remember we are going to Rosenheim," Jean
said gloomily; "not a word about Fribourg unless you
wish to ruin us. If Wilhelm is giving information about
us, he will describe us as two boys bound for Fribourg."
"Yes," said Louis. Tlen he added, "I suppose we
really shall go through Rosenheim ?"
"Yes, Mr. Scrupulous," Jean sneered. "Now you had
best make good use of that brush the girl has lent you,
and clean up the dogs a bit."
Beside the coarse brush the girl had set a bucket of
water and a huge bit of soap, and Louis gave first himself
and then some of the dogs, a good washing, and rubbed
them dry with the clean straw. The washing so changed
the aspect of Raton and Rubis that when Gretchen came
to fetch the boys into supper she called out with surprise,
Mother I mother 1" she cried, "the dogs have turned


60







A STRANGE COMPANY.


white!" And indeed, but for their lean condition, the
dogs looked attractive, their faces, too, showed that they
had enjoyed their bath.
Gretchen came and fetched the lads into a long, low-
roofed kitchen. A savoury smell of soup made Louis still
more hungry.
They all had a plentiful supper, of which bean soup was
a leading feature, while the little children vied with one
another in feeding the monkey and the dogs.
Heinrich placed himself in the rack below the beam
overhead, and, his hunger being appeased, he was in a
better humour; every now and then, to the children's
delight, he made raids on the supper-table below. In vain
the mother scolded and threatened him, and Jean menaced
him with his chain; Heinrich looked round at his little
group of allies and felt himself privileged.
"I advise you to go to bed early, my poor boys," the
woman said, when supper was ended; you must be very
tired. I will rouse you in the morning."
The children hugged and kissed the dogs, and took their
chance of getting scratched by the monkey. But at last
the visitors were all safely housed in the stable, and the
good woman and Gretchen put the fair-haired toddlers and
the two other children to bed in the sleeping-room upstairs,
and set the kitchen in order again.
By this time it was nearly eight o'clock.


61







A STRANGE COMPANY.


Gretchen was still upstairs, and her mother was thinking of
going to bed, when there came a rapping at the house-door.
"What is that, I wonder, at such a time?" the woman
said. Can it be Fritz already, and the stable is full of
vagrants How angry he will be."
The knock was repeated, and this time it was louder.
It is not Fritz," said the Frau.
She opened the door, and in the fading light -she saw
three persons. One was the village clergyman, Pastor
Drohmann, and the two others were the richest men in the
village. It seemed to her that they looked even more
important than usual.
"My good woman," the clergyman said, "we hear that
you have charitably taken in some wayfarers and a troop of
dogs; and my friends here think we may as well see them,
and ask them a few questions. Call them here, will you?"
The Frau felt discomfited. There had been such an
excitement all through supper, between feeding the dogs
and defending the table from the monkey, that she had
had no time in which to question the boys-but, indeed, it
had not occurred to her to ask questions. Her pity and her
motherly instincts had guided her, and she had felt there
could be no risk in sheltering these poor travellers in her
stable. Now it seemed as if she had been doing wrong.
"They are asleep by now," she said. Is it not a pity
to disturb the poor things, they.are sorely tired ?"


62







A STRANGE COMPANY.


"Prudence, my good neighbour, prudence," said the
richest and most pompous of the farmers. "These are
doubtless, runaways, who will be inquired for; it is even
possible that they have stolen the dogs. I hear that they
are too young to be their lawful possessors. We must see
them, and judge for ourselves."
The Frau felt unhappy, and inclined to resist. She
thought this proceeding very uncharitable.
While she hesitated, Jean opened the door between the
stable and the kitchen. Louis was sound asleep, and he
had been just preparing to follow his example, when he
heard the knocking. Full of alarm he had at once
set the door ajar, and listened to the talk that followed.
Now he came forward, and bowed when he saw the
pastor.
Ah here is one of your lodgers. Where do you come
from, my friend ?" the clergyman said kindly.
Jean yawned and rubbed his eyes with his hands like
some one half asleep.
"I come from the stable yonder, sir," he said. Will
you give me some water, if you please?" he said to the
woman, as if that was his sole purpose in coming in.
"Yes, surely," the woman answered, and, going back
into the kitchen, she poured some water out of a large
metal jug into an earthen pan which Jean had brought
from the stable.


63







A STRANGE COMPANY.


"You had better come in the morning," she said; "the
lad is half asleep, as you see."
Jean opened his eyes widely, as if to show his readiness
to answer.
What place were you at before this ?" said one of the
rich men, screwing up his eyes.
"Strasburg," said Jean, and another yawn stretched his
mouth so widely that perforce the pastor gaped from
sympathy.
"And where may you be going to?" said the other
farmer.
Rosenheim," Jean said, with another yawn.
"Have you a father ?
Jean shook his head and looked so sad, that the clergy-
man felt very compassionate and inclined to send him back
at once to bed.
"Have you a mother ?" said the pompous man.
Jean nodded, amid his yawns. "We are going to
mother as fast as we can."
"Good, good," said the rich man, still more pompously.
" They come from Strasburg, and they are going to their
mother at Rosenheim. Will you not write down what he
says ?"
He spoke to the pastor, but the good man shook his
head.
"The poor boy is dead tired; we had better talk to


64







A STRANGE COMPANY.


them in the morning," he said, "then we can do what is
necessary. Good night," he nodded to Jean; "you are to
come up to my house to-morrow morning. Now you may
go back to bed."
Then, as Jean disappeared into the stable, he said, It
will be easy to tell whether his story is true, to-morrow I
will ask his name. At the presbytery I have a list of all the
inhabitants of Rosenheim, but I do not think this lad is a
vagrant."
"You had best lock them in, safe bind, safe find," said
the rich man. Good-night, neighbour."
Jean meantime felt that his night's rest was spoiled, but
he fell asleep among the clean, warm straw sooner than he
could have expected; while, in obedience to her important
neighbour, the Frau drew a bolt across the door that
parted the kitchen from the stable.


E



























r l'WEEK I,-,i 'z:rlL I',', hut
1 I to:' Jc.tui t -Icl ll- nui:I
longer ago since the
morning when he roused up Louis and the dogs in the stable
at Ettweiler. A faint grey line of light under the stable
door showed them where it opened into the road. The door
leading into the kitchen was fast, but they had got out
quietly by the other exit, and were some way on the road
to Rosenheim before the sun rose above the trees.
Since that time they had passed through several villages,
and more than once they had been taken in by kind people,
and housed and fed. They had earned a little money, too,







A STRANGE COMPANY.


but hardly enough to buy their daily food for they took
large circuits now and then to avoid the few towns that lay
in their way; but they found they were on the right track,
for two peasants whom they had questioned had nodded
and said, "All right," when they asked for Fribourg.
They had now reached very wild country: lofty hills on
either side were suddenly cleft here and there by dark
valleys, and down these gorges came mountain streams
which sometimes crossed their path, for they had left the
high road that had taken them to Rosenheim, and were
following a narrower track beside the foot of the hills which
made one side of the valley.
But since yesterday Jean had forgotten his dread of Wil-
helm's pursuit; his anxiety now was to reach a town without
delay, for Louis was very ill.
The poor child had grown paler and paler day by day,
but now his eyes were bright again, and a red spot burned
on each cheek; his hands, too, were hot as fire, and yet he
shivered and complained of cold.
All at once Jean saw, on the farther side of the valley,
at a higher level than that on which they were .lli- a
broad high road, issuing from an opening between the hills.
The ridge beneath which they walked curved forward here,
and a wider gorge than they had yet seen, opened on this
side, and showed the top of a dark and lofty mountain
filling up the end of it, while yet another valley branched


67







A STRANGE COMPANY,


out from it. At the junction of these two valleys,
but evidently some miles off, was a little white village
clinging to the dark hill-side; below it, issuing from the
gorge, was the slender silver thread of the river.
This morning Louis had not been able to swallow
his breakfast, though he had drunk at a spring greedily,
as if he could never quench his thirst; he complained
of headache, too, and they had been forced to make
constant halts, for his limbs trembled so he could hardly
walk.
They halted again now. There was grass beside the
road, but Jean did not unharness the goat. He stood
calculating the distance to the distant village, and wonder-
ing whether Louis would be able to climb so high. While
he stood looking, he felt his brother touch his hand; he
started, for the child's fingers were burning hot. Louis's
eyes were fixed on the road.
"I see a hand-post up there," he said, pointing eagerly,
"where it turns again a little further on. Jean, will you not
go and see if it says 'Fribourg?'"
The name had been on his tongue often these last days;
it brought him comfort to say it over and over to himself.
He sank down on the grass, and Raton came and stood
over him, licking his hot face and hands. The boy was so
weak that he cried with pleasure as he roused himself to
pat his favourite.


C8







A STRANGE COMPANY.


Good Raton," he said; "you would carry me if you
could, wouldn't you, Raton ?"
The dog whined and licked his face again for answer.
Meantime Jean had gone up to the hand-post. He stood
motionless before it, for he felt in a dream. Yes, there was
Freiburg written plain enough, and scarcely two miles away,
and yet the country round his home was not like these dark
pine-covered hills with narrow valleys between them. The
Fribourg he had lived in was in the midst of open country,
in which the Mol6son rose grandly above all lesser hills.
Jean was sadly puzzled. But the thought of Louis roused
him. This must be his home, though he did not recog-
nise it, and surely his news would do Louis as much good
as a doctor could. He ran across the valley, and was soon
beside his brother.
"You are right, Louis, we are close to Fribourg. Come
and look at the hand-post yourself."
Louis got up from the grass. He smiled with delight,
and colour stole back again into his pale eyes and wasted
cheeks. He was sick with weariness, but he forgot it all
at the thought of home. He was near his mother,-that was
what filled his mind as he slowly followed his brother to
the hand-post.
He looked at it fixedly, and then he looked all round
.him. As he gazed down the wild gorge with the dark
mountain behind it, and at the little village in the foreground


69







A STRANGE COMPANY.


clinging to the side of a hill, he grew pale again, and he
caught at Jean's arm to steady himself.
His brother thought the excitement had been too much
for him, and he held him up firmly.
"Surely we have gone wrong," the child said in a low
broken voice; "this is not our own country, Jean. Oh,
Jean, what shall we do? We have lost our way. Mother,
mother !" he staggered against Jean.
It seemed to the elder brother as if the small, frail boy
was turning to lead in his arms. He staggered, and then
laid the unconscious Louis down in the road, which only a
few minutes before he had felt so sure would lead to home
and happiness.
"What shall I do?" Jean cried aloud; "oh, what shall
I do? God help us, we are lost! "
It seemed to him that Louis was dying, and he felt for
an instant that the only thing left for him was to lie down
and die beside the child, for there was a root of bitterness in
Jean's sorrow which crushed his energy. It is true that, as
he had seen his young brother's strength failing, he had
tried to spare him fatigue; but he, too, had begun to feel
exhausted,-and he had been full of perplexity. Until
lately he had been haunted by a constant dread of Wilhelm's
pursuit; and the bodily and mental strain had helped to
make him speak harshly and rudely to the suffering child,
even when Louis's pale worn face told that he was striving


70







A STRANGE COMPANY.


bravely to hide his feebleness. But now, as Louis lay at
his feet to all appearance dead, Jean did not try to offer to
himself any excuse for his conduct, he saw it in its true
light. He had heard of Cain and Abel, and it seemed
to him that he was like Cain, he had murdered the
gentle, innocent child who had once been his cherished
darling. He remembered now that his father had one day
said,
"Neither you nor I, Jean, can fathom Louis's goodness;
he is like one of the angels."
All at once, as if a veil had been torn away from his
mind, the meaning of those words stood out clearly. Louis
had been exposed, even more than he himself had been, to
the contamination of Wilhelm's evil example, for the ruffian
had been far more cruel in his treatment of the younger
boy, and yet he had returned good for evil, and he had
never imitated the bad pattern set him. Dimly Jean
recognized the use of Louis' faith, the source of his strength,
for the child had been stronger than Wilhelm's brutality
had been, stronger than the hunger, and thirst, and weari-
ness of the toilsome journeys.
Jean sank down on his knees beside his brother, and
kissed his forehead. Then he drew back. Every instant
the consciousness of his wrong-doing deepened. He had
given up so completely the habit of self-control, he had so
allowed impulse to move him, that even now, when he was


71







A STRANGE COMPANY.


called on imperiously to act, to try at least to save this
precious life, he flung himself down on the ground beside
his brother, and gave way to an agony of despair. He had
given up the key of his will to Self, and Self would not
easily yield it back again.
He was roused by a cool, moist touch on his forehead,
he looked up. Raton was standing over him licking his face.
Jean roused at once. He had left Raton.in charge of
the cart, and he knew the faithful dog would not have left
his post without cause. Pointing to Louis, he bade the dog
stay beside him, and hurried back to where he had left the
cart and the other dogs.
He was only just in time. The goat had strayed in
search of pasture a little way up the ridge beside the road,
and as it moved upwards it was dragging the cart and poor
unwilling Diane with it. The ladders placed under the
cart had got fixed against a projecting rock, which came
between 'hem and the wheel, and now the goat was
making frantic efforts to get up higher. Jean saw that if
he did not hasten, it was possible that the violent jolts
which the frightened creature's tugs gave to the cart would
separate it from the wheels, and if this happened, there would
be little hope of getting any farther. He ran forward and
caught at the goat's head. Then he saw that Hector and
the monkey were missing.
He called them, but lie could not wait more than an


72







A STRANGE COMPANY.


instant; his one idea was to get back to Louis. Just then
he did not care if he never saw the monkey or Hector
again. He hurried back leading the goat by the bridle.
Louis lay just as he had left him. It seemed to Jean
that the only hope of saving the child-if, indeed, he still
lived-would be to put him in the cart and try if the goat
and Diane could draw him, ever so slowly, to Fribourg,
but he hesitated about moving him while he was still
unconscious.
He knelt down beside him, and put his hand inside the
child's shirt. Jean's own heart beat much quicker when
he felt a feeble movement beneath his fingers, but Louis'
face and lips were as still as death,
All at once Jean remembered that the man who had said
he was a doctor had lifted Wilhelm into his carriage while
he was still insensible; he remembered, too, that he had
once seen his mother close her eyes and turn white, and
that a neighbour whom he had called in in his terror had
flung water over the still face, and that his mother had
then opened her eyes. He sought eagerly for the drinking-
mug, and once more went down towards the gorge and the
little river.
The stream was further off than he had thought, for a
yawning crevice in the ground, hidden in the distance,
made an obstacle to straight progress; he saw that it would
be quicker to go round this crack than to try to cross it,


73







A STRANGE COMPANY.


for it was filled with brambles and bushes, and was possibly
even deeper than it looked.
At last he reached the water. He had brought all the
dogs but Raton and Diane with him, and they drank
eagerly while he filled his mug. But Jean did not even
put his lips to the water, his anxiety was too great to get
back to his brother.
Kneeling down beside Louis, he moistened the parched
purple lips, and tried to pour a little water into his mouth;
then, with a sudden jerk, he flung some of the water on
the child's face.
Yes, there was still life in him. His eyelids quivered,
though they did not unclose; there was a slight movement,
too, in the lips, and then they parted with a deep sigh.
"Thank God Jean said involuntarily, and, although
since his father's death he had grown careless about saying
his prayers, he prayed now very humbly and earnestly that
in spite of all his ill conduct, little Louis might be spared to
him and to his mother.
He put the bag which held their clothes in the cart, and
then he tried to raise Louis from the ground. Jean was
not so strong as when he left Strasburg, and at first he
staggered in lifting up the inert weight. But his over-
wrought feelings helped him. He thought of his mother:
how could he ever go back to his home, or meet her kind
loving eyes again, unless he could take Louis with him,


74







A STRANGE COMPANY.


and if he stayed here with the child he felt that he could
not save him ? Then with a sudden rush came the thought
that already it might be too late; he had seen in Wilhelm's
case how anxious the doctor was not to lose time; and as
this thought came, Jean felt the strength of two men.
He clasped Louis closely, and lifting him over the edge of
the cart, laid him safely on the hay at the bottom, with the
bag of clothes for a pillow. He stood a minute to recover
himself, and once more he flung water on the white, set face.
Louis opened his eyes widely, but there was no recogni-
tion in them ; they looked at Jean as if he were a stranger,
and then they closed again.
"Forward!" Jean said; but when the goat felt the
unusual load behind him he stood still.
Then Jean remembered that he had not let either the
goat or Diane drink with the others. For the goat it did
not signify, he was rarely thirsty, but poor old Diane must
be considered; and yet he dared not leave the cart now
that Louis was in it.
SThe ground rose some way up to the road on either side.
If, while he left him, the goat were to stray downwards, as
he had just now strayed upwards, the cart would certainly
be overturned. No, such a risk could not be run; and
yet. His eyes fell on Raton. The dog was snuffing round
them and then looking back to the place they had quitted.
He was evidently uneasy.


75







A SThANGE COMPANY


He misses Heinrich and Hector," Jean said to himself;
then to the dog, "Hi there, Raton, good dog." He
unharnessed Diane, and pointing to the river, he signed to
Raton to lead his old companion there. Heinrich,
Hector," he called, while he stood waiting, but no answer
came to his call. His voice died away, and then there came
back, like a far-off cry, the echo-" Heinrich, Hector !"
For some way he watched the dogs, then they vanished
as the ground became rough.
What a long time it seemed while he stood waiting there!
and still Louis lay utterly unconscious; Jean felt that he
could no longer bear the suspense.
Louis; dear, dear Louis," he cried wildly, "wake up,
for God's sake, wake up-" But he might as well have
cried upon the rocks to answer; better, for they tried to
answer in their fashion, and the faint,' far-off echo sent him
back the word "wake up,"
Presently he saw something move near the river, and in
a few moments Diane came in sight; but the old dog was
alone.
Jean let the dog rest a few minutes, and then he
harnessed it again, but he could not move on without
Raton. What could have happened to the wise, faithful
creature, who always seemed like the father of the company.
It seemed to Jean like half-an-hour, but really in about ten.
minutes Raton came trotting across the valley more slowly


76







A STRANGE COMPANY,


than usual, for Heinrich was on his back, and the dog kept
constantly looking behind him. Jean soon after saw little
yellow Hector, who seemed to be returning against his will,
he followed so slowly.
Jean stooped down and took the monkey from Raton,
then he hugged and kissed the faithful dog. He could
scarcely thank him, for words seemed to draw tears along
with them; but he felt that he had a real friend in his
four-footed companion, who had trotted on in front with
his tail cocked up and his ears pricked forward. Raton
was evidently proud of his achievement. Jean shook
his head at Hector when he came up, and the little
yellow dog hung down his curly tail and his fluffy ears
drooped.
The goat and Diane went on slowly. Jean pushed the
cart from behind, but this did not seem to help them much.
The pace became slower and slower, and Jean knew by the
light that it was now late in the afternoon.
All at once Louis opened his eyes and made an effort
to rise. His face was flushed, and he had an eager
frightened look, as he fixed his eyes on Jean.
"Make haste," he murmured. "Hide me, Gretchen.
Yes, yes, I am hungry; but never mind supper. Hide me
from Jean; he is cruel; he will hit me if he can-"
Jean had halted the cart as his brother began to speak,
He stood with blanched face and open mouth-horror-







A STRANGE COMPANY.


stricken He was then Cain to his little brother. It had
been no mere remorseful feeling that had come to him
awhile ago, but the bare truth; and, oh if Louis thought
this of him, what must he be in the sight of God.
Poor Jean knew nothing about delirium; he did not
know that fever was making a kaleidoscope of his little
brother's brain, and that even if he had been the kindest
of companions, every action would appear distorted in
Louis's present mental state.
He bent over the cart and kissed him-" No dear, dear
Louis," he said, Jean loves you dearly; Jean will never
hurt you; he will never speak unkindly to you again. Oh !
my boy, my boy, don't speak like that to poor Jean-"
Sobs choked him, and hot tears fell on the sick boy's
face. He felt them, for he moved his head uneasily; then
Jean's loud sobs seemed to catch his ear. Louis burst into
a fit of weak laughter that shocked his listener; it sounded
so unnatural. "Do you hear, mother, it is the old pig
grunting. Come and see her, little mother."
A happy smile followed these words, and again he closed
his eyes.
Jean felt that the unconsciousness was far easier to bear
than this wild, fevered talk.
They had now left the gorge far behind them. The
red rocky hills approached closer to the road on either side,
now and then a cleft between them showed a glimpse of wild


78







A STRANGE COMPANY.


pine-covered mountains. All at once, as the road began to
descend, Jean saw before them a town surrounded by lofty
hills, while from its midst rose up a beautiful cathedral in red
stone, with a tall graceful spire that seemed to be trying
to reach the summit of the hills.
It was a beautiful sight; the level sunbeams glinted on
the white houses, and on their red roofs, on the foliage that
they seemed bowered in, but it glowed on the fine carved
work of the cathedral till this shone out like a carbuncle
against its background of pine-clad hills.
But Jean was blind to the beauty of it all. His heart
sank so low with the intensity of his disappointment, that
he felt inclined to throw himself down on the stony road.
He saw that this must be the Freiburg that the direction-
post had promised, but this was not the place he was seeking
he had never seen it before; and who could tell ?-perhaps
they were still a hundred miles from their own dear home.
"Louis is spared this disappointment, at least," he
thought, as he looked at the fever-stricken face, but I
think he guessed at it when he was taken ill."
The rocky ridge on one side was in deep shadow, and
objects below it were fast merging into the olive tints which
make things at once indistinct and lovely.
"Holloa !" came a voice from the gloom, "what have
you there?"
Jean looked round him in terror: he expected that


79







A STRANGE COMPANY.


Wilhelm would start out of the shadow and claim him as
his prisoner.
"Well, let him come," was the next thought; "he can't
hurt Louis now, and he may know what to do for him."
But no one came forward, and, peering into the gloom,
Jean saw a man seated on a stone some little way from the
road, just under a spur of rock that formed a sort of
natural shelter overhead.
Jean stopped the cart.
"Good friend, I am in trouble," he said; "my little
brother is very ill."
The man got off the bit of rock and came forward; he
looked quiet, Jean thought, but when he came close up to
him the lad thought that this wayfarer, too, must have
known trouble; he had such a sad, wistful look in his
large, dark eyes.
"What's the matter?" the man said. "Let me look at
your brother."
He looked long and earnestly at Louis, he felt his
pulse, and put his hand to his head, and then he shrugged
his shoulders.
Jean knew that gesture, and he sighed. He had often
seen Frenchmen in Fribourg, and he knew that when they
thought anything was past help or mending they would
shrug their shoulders and pass on.
To his surprise this man stood still.


80








A; STRANGE COMPANY.


You do not think he will die ?"
Jean did not know it, but his soul went out at his eyes
just then, and pleaded powerfully with the stranger.
I ,..nn,:,t tC l!
my I :
nust hol pe.. he, -;al.I -
gra cl.. "" I ,.- -i, -
goil :, i liCll, ,,_
anC .- rut get
your bl-,t th-cr tlhrie A i
soon ri. -."
11C I.,It I',.,I r T
and loo'.ked t thIc /
goat Ai,- "it DL .I'i
The l: cr._:,.


wee,dia1 h i


hung out, and the tired old dog panted terribly.
"There is only one way," the man said, we must unhar-
ness those poor beasts and draw the cart ourselves.'
F


81







82 A STRANGE COMlPANY.

Jean stared at him in grateful wonder. Why had he
not thought of this before ?
The wayfarer went back to where he had been sitting,
and brought from it a bundle tied in a handkerchief. Jean
took it from him, and put it in the cart beside his
unconscious brother, and then, without another word, the
man placed himself between the slight shafts, while Jean
pushed behind.
So they continued their journey to Freiburg.
























I Il IiWL i







enough to blow down
the sturdy old chimney-stack ot the Presbytery, but it
made the chimney-pots shake and feel nervous, and it soon
stripped the trees in the garden of every leaf which had been
so incautious as to change colour, for it was now the middle
of September, and although the trees were still green, the
leaves were getting dry and wrinkled, and the wind seemed
to think they ought to be ready to leave their stalks, and to
career amid the clouds of dust it was'raising this morning.







A STRANGE COMPANY.


At this moment the wind caught the hat of a lad digging
in the square plot at the end of the Cur6's garden, and sent
it flying to the other side. Another man was digging here,
and he picked up the hat and sent it back to its owner.
"A stormy morning, eh, Jean ? Fit to blow one inside
out."
"Thank you, friend;" but Jean did not smile. He
went on digging, as if life depended on it, with a sad, serious
face.
The man was the kind traveller who had met Jean beside
the road; he struck his spade into the ground and came over
to where the lad was working.
"Look here;" he spoke kindly, but in a brisk, cheerful
tone; You shouldn't lose heart, my lad. Louis has been
ill, very ill, I know that, but the doctor says the worst is
over; we have only weakness to fear now."
Jean still looked sad. I know that, and it is what I fear
most. Louis is like our father; our father had recovered from
his illness but he died in the hospital. He was too weak to
get well, they said, and see how weak Louis is?"
Come, come," the man smiled; "you must try and
hope for the best, Jean. Monsieur le Curd is hopeful, and
so is Marthe, the housekeeper, and she tells me they often
nurse sick people here. Louis could not be in better hands,
and he makes progress, yet you look sadder every day."
At this Jean roused and looked gratefully at his companion.


84







A STRANGE COMPANY.


"Thanks to you if he lives," he said; if I had not met
you that day, I suppose we should all have died in that dark
bit of road; and I could never have faced mother without
Louis. You must come home with us; you must, indeed;
the mother's thanks will be worth having."
The man smiled.
"You think of your mother, Jean, and I think of my
wife and my little four-year-old Pierre. They count -the days
till they.see me again. Still, if Monsieur le Cur6 says that
your Fribourg is not out of the road to Grenoble, I should
like to see you safe home again."
"You are a good fellow, Auguste."
Then Jean went on digging in silence. He liked his new
friend it seemed to him as if he had found his father again,
for Auguste Bertin had the same quiet manner, although he
was some years younger.
He, too, was recovering -rom illness. He had been
travelling in Germany with a dancing bear; but the poor
animal had caught cold and died, and Bertin would have
died too but for the kindness of a Cure, in whose village
the poor bear had fallen ill. Bertin was on his way to the
village they had now reached on the outskirts of Freiburg,
where he had a fellow-countryman (for the Cur6 was a native
of his own town of Grenoble), when he met Jean and heard
his pitiful story; and when Louis, rousing from his stupor,
began. afresh to rave in delirium, the bear-leader drew the


85







86


A STRANGE COMPANY.


cart on to the Presbytery, and asked his old friend's advice
about the sick boy.
You are welcome," the Curd said, when he had heard the
sad story; "my housekeeper will be truly glad to see you;
she is just in want of a patient, and her sick-chamber is
always ready. You two must be content with rougher
quarters. Marthe Marthe!" he called out, and a small
wrinkled old woman came bustling forward.
Since that day Jean had seen little of his .brother.
Marthe said her patient must be kept very quiet. She found
plenty of work for Jean to do, sometimes in the.kitchen, some-
times in the garden. She often sent him on errands, and
more than once she had asked Bertin to take the lad off for
a long country walk. His sadness worried the cheerful old
woman.
She came down the garden now, holding on her cap with
one hand, for the wind almost took her off her legs, and blew
her ample skirts out like a balloon.
"Can you bring me in some potatoes, Jean ?" she said.
"and some small herbs; my boy has a fancy for a tisane,
so the herbs must be the best you can gather;" then seeing
his sad face : "If you would undertake to smile now, you
might take care of Louis for half-an-hour or so; but I
don't suppose you can smile. I-lein Look cheerful my
boy-the dear child is better."
Jean smiled now. He is really better, then ?"







A STRANGE COMPANY.


"Did I not tell you he was better? You are as un-
believing as St. Thomas. You have got to tell him he is
nearly well, and that very soon he is to go home to his
mother."
Jean's eyes sparkled. What a good nurse you must be !"
he said, admiringly.
The housekeeper turned to Bertin, who stood listening.
I ought to be a good nurse by this time, with the mania
the master has for taking in sick folk. I tell him some-
times he had better put up a board over the gate and write
on it, 'Here sick people are housed and cared for'-and
then he says he does it to please me !" She turned again
to Jean: "How is the monkey to-day?" she asked.
"Much better, thank you." Jean had to try to hide a
smile now, for the housekeeper's zeal in curing the sick
had made her almost insist on putting a mustard plaster
on poor little Heinrich's back. "He is in fact almost
well."
She turned away from him and shook her head.
"Young people are obstinate," she said to Bertin, "if I
had had my way, that monkey would have been a different
creature, and as to your bear-pouf, I would never have
let him die, if I had been his nurse."
At this Bertin's smile faded. His bear, his poor Roger,
had been his dear friend, his faithful companion for years
past. He could not speak of him to any one, and the idea


87







A STRANGE COMPANY.


that better nursing might have saved the loving, patient
creature, was acutely painful to the good fellow.
He went back to his spade and dug vigorously. Presently
he saw Monsieur Martin himself coming out of the house.
The Cur6 had a broad beaming smile on his rosy face, and
though his dark eyes were shrewd, they were benevolent.
As he came down the garden, the wind made his bright old
face rosier than ever, and blew about the silver hair that
showed round the edge of his velvet skull-cap.
"Ah you are both here, my friends," he nodded, as
Auguste Bertin and Jean took off their hats; "that is well,
for what I have to say regards you both."
He gave Jean a much keener look than he bestowed on
his companion, for he had accepted the two stranger lads
as friends of Bertin, whom he had known from a child.
Now he thought the time had come to ask a few questions.
The two diggers had stuck their spades into the ground.
They stood listening.
"Your brother," the Curd looked at Jean, "is so much
better that in a few days he will be able to travel." Jean
looked surprised. "Yes, yes, the change is marvellous,"
said the Cur6.
Can he walk, monsieur ? asked Jean.
"No, he cannot walk," the Cur6 blew his nose resoundingly
in a huge red handkerchief "I do not propose that he
should walk, and happily there is no need for it. He and


88







A STRANGE COMPANY.


my friend Bertin," he smiled at the bear-leader, "are
neither of them robust enough to tramp along high-roads
and bye-ways, and some pious friends here have raised a
sum which will carry them home by train; and will also
help you on your way," he added
He paused, but Jean stood silent. At last he said in a
faltering voice,
Do you then mean, sir, to part me from my brother ?"
Jean's face was so doleful that the Cure laughed.
"Well," he said, "you will not be long parted, if you
keep to the high-road, which is much wiser for you than
trying a mountain-pass with that troop of animals."
Is it farther off than Strasburg ?" Jean asked gloomily.
"Yes, my lad, it is farther off" the Cure said, "but you
need not be longer about it; you must have strayed from
the direct route in coming to our village, for Bertin tells
me you had been more than a week in making the journey
here."
Jean was silent; he stood looking sadly at the half-dug
potatoes.
The Cur6's eyes grew keener; this seemed an oppor-
tunity for asking a question or two.
"Had you a reason for avoiding the high road, my friend ?"
Jean looked at Bertin; he had made a confidant of the
kindly, simple bear-leader, and the man's eyes seemed to
tell him to be open with the Curd,


89






A STRANGE COMPANY.


"Yes, monsieur," he said sadly, I had a strong reason,
and if you like I will tell it to you."
"By all means," said the Curd, "but I prefer to hear it
in the house, for this wind seems disposed to blow our
heads off our shoulders."
Jean felt very shy as he followed Bertin into the priest's
study. It was the first time he had gone beyond the
kitchen, and he felt quite surprised to see such a bare little
room. A table stood in the centre; there were four high-
backed wooden chairs, and a bench against the wall; some
shelves with books on one side, on the other a black crucifix
flanked by some coloured prints, and a rosary hanging from
a nail. A little corner cupboard with open doors showed
a collection of glass phials and plenty of dried herbs,
poppy-heads, and medicinal roots; the presbytery had a
reputation to sustain in regard to medical skill, for its cures
on man and beast were noted. No wonder Dame Marthe
resented Jean's refusal of the mustard-plaster.
The Cure seated himself in the chair at the head ot the
table, then he pointed to two others at the foot.
Sit down, my friends, you have been working hard;
and you, Auguste, are still weak. Now, my lad, you can
tell me your reasons for quitting the high road."
We were followed by a man who had ill-treated us," said
Jean. Then, as he saw how surprised the Cure looked, he
added, I had better tell you how it came about, monsieur,


90







A STRANGE COMPANY.


and then you can judge. Every year my father went away
from our home with the dogs and the monkey, and brought
home money to the mother for the winter. In the winter, he
used to chop wood and do carpentering for the great church
at Fribourg." '
Ah," interrupted the Cur ; "you have then heard the
organ there, my friend ?"
Jean's face lighted up with enthusiasm.
Yes, monsieur, it is the finest in the world. Little Louis
says that he feels as if he knew what heaven was when he
listens to the music of our organ."
Perhaps the Cure had felt some doubt of Jean; it is
certain that his face cleared, and his eyes grew yet more
kindly while he listened to the boy's story.
"You say your father used to go away alone?"
Yes, monsieur, and I worked out-of-doors, and Louis
went to school. But this year I had got no work, times
have been bad in our country, and Louis had been ill, and
so we came away with father, and we thought-we hoped"
-his voice grew unsteady-" we wanted to take mother
home more money."
"And then- ? His listener had grown interested.
"Ah, monsieur," Jean sighed, "father fell ill, and he
died in an hospital."
And you have been trying to find your way home alone.
Poor lads poor children :'


91







A STRANGE COMPANY.


The Cur6 blew his nose again with emphasis. He had
already learned from Bertin how the brothers had been
wrongly sent to Freiburg in Breisgau when they were seeking
Fribourg in Switzerland.
It would have been better for us if we had been left
alone," Jean said sadly; "but, monsieur, father was ill a
month or so before he died, and I suppose he feared what
the end might be. One day he met with a man-a
wanderer like ourselves-he said he used to have dogs like
ours, and he offered to teach ours some new tricks. When
Louis and I went to bed he sit up talking with father, and
next morning father told us he had taken him as his
assistant. I liked the man, at first, I am sorry to say, but
also I thought he would save father the hard work; Louis
never took to him. I see now that he saw truer than I
did, and the rascal knew that: he always hated Louis, he
was a wicked fellow."
The Cure frowned slightly.
"Why do you speak so harshly of this man ?" he said.
Monsieur "-Jean grew flushed and eager-" he robbed
us, and he tried to murder me, and if he finds us he may
still do us a mischief. I am telling you the truth, monsieur.
When our father died, this man would scarcely give us time
to attend his funeral, and then he said we must come away:
he would not let us get so much as a wreath to put on
father's grave "-Jean paused and cleared his throat, but







A STRANGE COMPANY.


neither of his listeners spoke-" Well, then, monsieur, he
soon began to beat the dogs, and then he was cruel to
Louis."
"Was he kind to you?" said the priest quickly.
"Ah, monsieur, it is hard to tell you this "-Jean was
very red, and he pressed his rough hands nervously
together-" At first Wilhelm seemed to be kind to me. He
gave me money, and took me with him to places where they
drank and sang songs that Louis would not have listened
to,"-the poor fellow paused and clasped his shame-
stricken face between his hands. Presently he went on,
huskily-" This was at first; then I got surly, just like him,
and by fits and starts I was as bad to my little brother as
he was, though I tried twice to get away from Wilhelm.
Then, one day, at Strasburg-God must have looked at
me out. of Louis's eyes to give me warning-I felt that we
must get away from this evil man, even if we left the dogs
with him. But he found out that I meant to leave him,
and we quarrelled, and I saw that he wanted to do me a
mischief; then, when we had left the town, I offered him
half the dogs and the goat if he would only let us go free.
He had been drinking, and he seemed mad with rage.
While I looked round, he struck me a blow which took away
my senses. When I roused, I found that he had fallen
down in a fit; a man was lifting him from the ground, and
he told me he was a doctor, and that I was to follow his


93







A STRANGE COMPANY.


carriage to the hospital. But I did not do this; I went on
to Louis and the dogs. In the night, when we were hidden
in a wood, we heard Wilhelm go by on horseback, and if
we had kept to the high road he would long ago have
found us. After that Louis fell ill all at once; that is why
we strayed from the high road, monsieur."
He ended with a sigh of relief. Monsieur Martin leaned
back in his chair, and there was a silence. Presently the
priest said:
"Do you know what you ought to have done ?"
Jean looked up hopefully.
"You should have done as the doctor bade you; you
should have gone back to Strasburg, and have claimed the
protection of the police against this man who had knocked
you down."
Hope faded out of the lad's face; he felt sadly disap-
pointed in the Cur6. He had begun to think him very
wise indeed.
We had already spoken to the police, but Wilhelm said
we were his children, and he had taken my father's bag with
his money and his papers, so that he could prove his words;
he had the certificates of our birth, he knew all about us.
Ah, monsieur, in one town we saw the clergyman, with as
kind a face as yours, walking with a gentleman. Wilhelm
was some way behind, and Louis ran up to the priest, and
told him we were in the power of a bad man, would he


94







A STRANGE COMPANY.


not help us? Monsieur, you should have seen how well
Wilhelm played his part! he cried and sobbed, and said
we had a bad mother at home who set us against him,
and that he could prove that we were his own children.
They believed him, monsieur, and when they had scolded
poor little Louis they went away. Wilhelm sent me on
with the dogs, and then he thrashed the poor little chap
till I heard his cries, and went back to him."
"It is all very sad," the Cure said. "Then, my poor
boy, you still fear being waylaid by this man. Well, I will
take advice, and I think I can protect you from him.
If you were to start for Fribourg to-morrow or next
day, Louis and my good friend here might stay a week
longer with us, and then you would probably arrive the
same day."
Jean did not answer. He hung his head, and looked
gloomier than ever. Bertin put his arm round him.
"Come, come, Jean, what is it? You have told so
much, why not tell all out to Monsieur le Cur6, if you have
more to tell him ?"
The lad looked up, and the priest saw that he was
suffering terribly.
My friend" he said to Bertin, "will you tell Marthe
that his brother shall come to Louis in a few minutes."
Then when the man had closed the door on them, the
Cure turned to Jean:


95







A STRANGE COMPANY.


"You have something on your mind," he said. "You
have, perhaps, something to confess."
Jean had risen. He stood speechless, but his face
worked and twitched nervously. All at once he sank into
his chair again, and, bending forward, till his head touched
the table, he hid his face between his arms, and burst into
vehement sobs.
The priest sat rigid as a bit of stone. He knew that
this passion must spend itself before he could learn the
truth.
It did not last long. Jean rose up, and wiped his eyes
with the back of his hand.
"I will tell you, monsieur," he said, in a low, broken
voice. Our mother is not strong, and she is alone.
She may .have learned our father's death, and she loved
him dearly. They were so happy, those two," he said,
with a sob. "Well, then, monsieur, it seems to me that
when she finds herself left alone, and that Louis and I
too do not go back to her, she, too, may have died."
He turned his face to the wall against which he stood.
"No, no, Jean; you must not think so. But why did
you not speak of this before. You might have gone on to
her before now, or I could have written. Stay, I will
write now."
"Thank you, sir, but I could not have gone to her
without Louis," he said, simply. "When we went away,


96




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