Find this Story

Print, a form you can hold

Wireless download to your Amazon Kindle

Look for a summary or analysis of this Story.

Enjoy this? Share it!


by [?]

“How many men are you going to take?”

“Five. The others will relieve them at five o’clock in the evening.”

“Very well. Leave me four to look after provisions, to do the cooking and to set the table. I will go and find out where the wine is hidden.”

I went off, to reconnoitre the deserted streets until they ended in the open country, so as to post my sentries there.

Half an hour later I was back, and found Marchas lounging in a great easy-chair, the covering of which he had taken off, from love of luxury, as he said. He was warming his feet at the fire and smoking an excellent cigar, whose perfume filled the room. He was alone, his elbows resting on the arms of the chair, his head sunk between his shoulders, his cheeks flushed, his eyes bright, and looking delighted.

I heard the noise of plates and dishes in the next room, and Marchas said to me, smiling in a con tented manner: “This is famous; I found the champagne under the flight of steps outside, the brandy–fifty bottles of the very finest in the kitchen garden under a pear tree, which did not seem to me to be quite straight when I looked at it by the light of my lantern. As for solids, we have two fowls, a goose, a duck, and three pigeons. They are being cooked at this moment. It is a delightful district.”

I sat down opposite him, and the fire in the grate was burning my nose and cheeks. “Where did you find this wood?” I asked. “Splendid wood,” he replied. “The owner’s carriage. It is the paint which is causing all this flame, an essence of punch and varnish. A capital house!”

I laughed, for I saw the creature was funny, and he went on: “Fancy this being the Epiphany! I have had a bean put into the goose dressing; but there is no queen; it is really very annoying!” And I repeated like an echo: “It is annoying, but what do you want me to do in the matter?” “To find some, of course.” “Some women. Women?–you must be mad?” “I managed to find the brandy under the pear tree, and the champagne under the steps; and yet there was nothing to guide me, while as for you, a petticoat is a sure bait. Go and look, old fellow.”

He looked so grave, so convinced, that I could not tell whether he was joking or not, and so I replied: “Look here, Marchas, are you having a joke with me?” “I never joke on duty.” “But where the devil do you expect me to find any women?” “Where you like; there must be two or three remaining in the neighborhood, so ferret them out and bring them here.”

I got up, for it was too hot in front of the fire, and Marchas went off:

“Do you want an idea?” “Yes.” “Go and see the priest.” “The priest? What for?” “Ask him to supper, and beg him to bring a woman with him.” “The priest! A woman! Ha! ha! ha!”

But Marchas continued with extraordinary gravity: “I am not laughing; go and find the priest and tell him how we are situated, and, as he must be horribly dull, he will come. But tell him that we want one woman at least, a lady, of course, since we, are all men of the world. He is sure to know his female parishioners on the tips of his fingers, and if there is one to suit us, and you manage it well, he will suggest her to you.”

“Come, come, Marchas, what are you thinking of?” “My dear Garens, you can do this quite well. It will even be very funny. We are well bred, by Jove! and we will put on our most distinguished manners and our grandest style. Tell the abbe who we are, make him laugh, soften his heart, coax him and persuade him!” “No, it is impossible.”