Meanwhile, Pere Maurice had returned to the farm-house, while Germain employed the last hour of daylight, between sunset and darkness, in mending the breaches made by the sheep in the hedge surrounding a vineyard near the farm buildings. He raised the stalks of the bushes, and supported them with clods of earth, while the thrushes chattered in the neighboring thicket, and seemed to call to him to make haste, they were so curious to come to examine his work as soon as he had gone.
Pere Maurice found in the house an elderly neighbor, who had come to have a chat with his wife, and borrow some embers to light her fire. Mere Guillette lived in a wretched hovel within two gunshots of the farm. But she was a decent woman and a woman of strong will. Her poor house was neat and clean, and her carefully patched clothes denoted proper self-respect with all her poverty.
“You came to get some fire for the night, eh, Mere Guillette?” said the old man. “Is there anything else you would like?”
“No, Pere Maurice,” she replied; “nothing just now. I’m no beggar, you know, and I don’t abuse my friends’ kindness.”
“That’s the truth; and so your friends are always ready to do you a service.”
“I was just talking with your wife, and I was asking her if Germain had at last made up his mind to marry again.”
“You’re no gossip,” replied Pere Maurice, “and one can speak before you without fear of people talking; so I will tell my wife and you that Germain has really made up his mind; he starts to-morrow for Fourche.”
“Bless me!” exclaimed Mere Maurice; “the poor fellow! God grant that he may find a wife as good and honest as himself!”
“Ah! he is going to Fourche?” observed La Guillette. “Just see how things turn out! that helps me very much, and as you asked me just now, Pere Maurice, if there was anything I wanted, I’ll tell you what you can do to oblige me.”
“Tell us, tell us, we shall be glad to oblige.”
“I would like to have Germain take the trouble to take my daughter with him.”
“Where? to Fourche?”
“Not to Fourche, but to Ormeaux, where she is going to stay the rest of the year.”
“What!” said Mere Maurice, “are you going to part from your daughter?”
“She has got to go out to service and earn something. It comes hard enough to me and to her, too, poor soul! We couldn’t make up our minds to part at midsummer; but now Martinmas is coming, and she has found a good place as shepherdess on the farms at Ormeaux. The farmer passed through here the other day on his way back from the fair. He saw my little Marie watching her three sheep on the common land.—’You don’t seem very busy, my little maid,’ he said; ’and three sheep are hardly enough for a shepherd. Would you like to keep a hundred? I’ll take you with me. The shepherdess