Sunday, 25/02/2024 - 19:23
01:13 | 17/10/2019

Meanwhile the mother was searching for her little ones, walking straight onward; and how she subsisted we cannot tell, since she did not know herself. She walked day and night, begging as she went, often living on herbs and sleeping upon the ground in the open air, among the bushes, under the stars, and sometimes mid the rain and the wind. Thus she wandered from village to village and from farm to farm, making inquiries as she went along, but, tattered and torn as she was, never venturing beyond the threshold. Sometimes she found a welcome, sometimes she was turned away; and when they refused to let her come in, she would go into the woods.

Unfamiliar as she was with the country beyond Siscoignard and the parish of Azé, and having nothing to serve as guide, she would retrace her steps, going over and over the same ground, thus wasting both time and strength. Sometimes she followed the highway, sometimes the cart-ruts, and then again she would turn into the paths in the woods. In this wandering life she had worn out her wretched garments. At first she had her shoes, then she went barefoot, and it was not long before her feet were bleeding.

Unconsciously she travelled on, mid bloodshed and warfare, neither hearing, seeing, nor trying to shield herself, simply looking for her children. As the entire country was in rebellion, there were no longer any gendarmes, or mayors, or authorities of any kind. Only such persons as she encountered on the way would she stop to ask.

“Have you seen three little children anywhere?”

And when the passers-by lifted their heads she would say, –

“Two boys and a girl,” and go on to name them:

“René-Jean, Gros-Alain, Georgette. Have you not seen them?”

And again, –

“The oldest one was four and a half and the youngest twenty months.”

Presently she would add, –

“Do you know where they are? They have been taken from me.”

People gazed at her, and that was all.

Perceiving that she was not understood, she would explain, –

“It is because they are mine. That is the reason.”

And then seeing the passers-by continue their way, she would stand speechless, tearing her breast with her nails. One day, however, a peasant stopped to listen to her. The worthy man set his wits at work.

“Let us see. Did you say three children?” he asked.

“Yes.”

“Two boys?”

“And a girl.”

“And you are looking for them?”

“Yes.”

“I was told that a nobleman had carried off three little children and keeps them with him.”

“Where is that man? Where are they?” she cried.

“Yon must go to the Tourgue,” answered the peasant.

“And shall I find my children there?”

“Very likely you will.”

“What did you say the name was?”

“The Tourgue.”

“What is the Tourgue?”

“It is a place.”

“Is it a village, a castle, or a farm?”

“I never was there.”

“Is it far?”

“I should say so.”

“In what direction?”

“In the direction of Fougères.”

“Which way shall I go?”

“You are now at Ventortes,” replied the peasant. “You will leave Ernée on your left and Coxelles on your right; you must pass through Longchamps, and cross the Leroux.”

The peasant raised his hand and pointed westward.

“Keep straight ahead, facing the sunset.”

She had already started before he had time to lower his arm.

He called out to her.

“You must be careful; they are fighting over there.”

She never turned to reply, but walked straight ahead without pausing.

 

 

 



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