“That’s as may be, Master Rouel,” said Annot. “Those who ask no questions are seldom told many lies.”
“I know Annot Stein loves a soldier in her heart,” said another old man, who was sitting inside the large open chimney. “The girls think there is no trade like soldiering. I went for a soldier when I was young, and it was all to oblige Lolotte Gobelin; and what think ye, when I was gone, she got married to Jean Geldert, down at Petit Ange. There’s nothing for the girls like soldiering.”
“You give us great encouragement truly,” said Jacques. “I hope our sweethearts will not all do as Lolotte did. You would not serve your lover so, when he was fighting for his King and country—would you, Annot?”
“I might, then, if I didn’t like him,” said she.
“She’s no better than her neighbours, M. Chapeau,” said one of her brothers. “There was young Boullin, the baker, at St. Paul’s. Till we heard of these wars, Annot was as fond of him as could be. It was none but he then; but now, she will not as much as turn her head if she sees his white jacket.”
“Hold thine unmannerly, loutish, stupid tongue, wilt thou, thou dolt,” said Annot, deeply offended. “Boullin indeed! I danced with him last harvest-home; I know not why, unless for sheer good-nature; and now, forsooth, I am to have Boullin for ever thrust in my teeth. Bah! I hate a baker. I would as lieve take a butcher at once.”
Jacques Chapean also was offended.
“I wonder, Jean Stein,” said he, “that you know not better than to liken your sister to such as young Boullin—a very good young man in his way, I have no doubt. You should remember there is a difference in these things.”
“I don’t know,” said Jean, “why a smith’s daughter should not marry a baker’s son; but I did not mean to vex Annot, and will say no more about him; only good bread is a very good thing to have in one’s house.”
“And a butcher is a good trade too,” said the old man inside the chimney. “Jean Geldert, he that Lolotte Gobelin ran off with, he was a butcher.”
Sunday in the Bocage.
The remainder of that week was spent by Henri and the Cure as actively and as successfully as the day in which they visited Echanbroignes. The numbers they enrolled exceeded their hopes, and they found among the people many more arms than they expected, though mostly of a very rude kind. The party separated on the Saturday night, with the understanding that they were to meet together at Done on the Tuesday evening, to proceed from thence to the attack of Saumur. Henri Larochejaquelin returned to Durbelliere. The Cure of St. Laud went to his own parish, to perform mass among his own people on the following morning, and Jacques Chapeau, according to agreement, took up his quarters at the smith’s house in Echanbroignes.