Running home breathless, dishevelled and desperate, she had frightened her brother and grandfather into speechless activity by a terrible command to harness a horse! Dragging out a light vehicle herself she speedily completed the arrangements, and whipping the animal pitiless lashes, dashed out of the presence of her relatives and was soon at the side of her injured lover, on the moorland road.
It must not tell against Zotique’s humanity that he had all this time such a mastering sense of the necessity of getting on to Misericorde that, after barely aiding to place the body on Chamilly’s vehicle, he took possession of the lighter one of Josephte, and sped on for his destination. The young girl and Haviland, however, conveyed their charge carefully and safely to the farm-house, had him laid upon her own prettily-belaced bed, and Haviland insisted—was it not a sacrifice in him on that critical evening of his election!—in watching with her the whole night by the bedside of Francois. As the silent hours were broken by the occasional sobs of Josephte, the young seigneur often gazed anxiously into the face of his faithful friend, wiping the bruised forehead and hoping that he might not die.
Chrysler hurried down into the village in the dusk for medicine. By the occasional lights of houses he discerned the people, up and out discussing the exciting topic. Shadowy young men were standing on the path, straining their eyes to make out who passed by; shadowy fathers of families sat together at their doorways; half discernible women conversed from window to window.
A hand-bell rings somewhere in the dark. It slowly swings and rings a thin, melancholy warning tone, comes nearer, a lantern appears, the young men, the fathers, the women, the miscellaneous groups, seem, for half-a-second, to disappear like lights put out, they drop on their knees so instantly wherever they happen to be. A white-robed figure—an acolyte—passes; feebly shone upon by a lantern; the “young cure” follows, bearing the holy wafer,—a ghostly procession; and Chrysler takes off his hat, for he recognizes it as the passing of the Host.
When they are fairly past, and have disappeared into the gloom, the shadowy shapes all rise from their knees, and follow the direction with eyes and ears, and a distinct, ominous murmur passes through the whole village, for clearly Francois Le Brun is in articulo mortis.
Election day at Dormilliere was as election days in country places always—that is, a great peal of driving to and fro, and a great deal of crowding about the doors of the poll, and a dense atmosphere of smoke and had jokes among the few to whom the polling-room was reserved, and now and then a flying visit from Haviland, Libergent, or Grandmoulin, for either of whom the people immediately made way by stumbling back on each other’s toes; and intermittent activity at head-quarters; and ominous quiet at the parsonage.