Then, taking his son’s hand in one of his, and little Marie’s in the other, he walked away, trembling with indignation.
THE RETURN TO THE FARM
Within a quarter of an hour they had crossed the moors. They trotted along the high-road, and Grise neighed at every familiar object. Petit-Pierre told his father what had taken place so far as he had been able to understand it.
“When we got there,” he said, “that man came and talked to my Marie in the sheepfold, where we went first to see the fine sheep. I’d got up into the crib to play, and that man didn’t see me. Then he said good-day to my Marie and then he kissed her.”
“You let him kiss you, Marie?” said Germain, trembling with anger.
“I thought it was a compliment, a custom of the place for new arrivals, just as grandma, at your house, kisses the girls who take service with her, to show that she adopts them and will be like a mother to them.”
“And then,” continued Petit-Pierre, who was very proud to have a story to tell, “that man said something naughty, something you told me not to say and not to remember: so I forgot it right away. But if my papa wants me to tell him what it was—”
“No, my Pierre, I don’t want to hear it, and I don’t want you to remember it ever.”
“Then I’ll forget it again,” said the child. “And then that man acted as if he was mad because Marie said she was going away. He told her he’d give her all she wanted,—a hundred francs! And my Marie got mad, too. Then he went at her, just like he was going to hurt her. I was afraid, and I ran up to Marie and cried. Then that man said like this: ’What’s that? where did that child come from? Put him out of here.’ And he put up his stick to beat me. But my Marie stopped him, and she said like this: ’We will talk by and by, monsieur; now I must take this child to Fourche, and then I’ll come back again.’ And as soon as he’d gone out of the sheepfold, my Marie says to me like this: ’Let’s run away, my Pierre, we must go away right off, for that man’s a bad man, and he would only hurt us.’—Then we went behind the barns and crossed a little field and went to Fourche to look for you. But you weren’t there, and they wouldn’t let us wait for you. And then that man came up behind us on his black horse, and we ran still farther away, and then we went and hid in the woods. Then he came, too, and we hid when we heard him coming. And then, when he’d gone by, we began to run for ourselves so as to go home; and then at last you came and found us; and that’s all there was. I didn’t forget anything, did I, my Marie?”
“No, Pierre, and it’s the truth. Now, Germain, you will bear witness for me and tell everybody at home that it wasn’t for lack of courage and being willing to work that I couldn’t stay over yonder.”