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A Village of Vagabonds   By: (1869-1931)

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TRANSCRIBER'S NOTE: Every effort has been made to replicate this text as faithfully as possible; please see detailed list of printing issues at the end of the text.

A VILLAGE OF VAGABONDS

By F. BERKELEY SMITH

Author of "The Lady of Big Shanty."

A. L. BURT COMPANY PUBLISHERS NEW YORK

ALL RIGHTS RESERVED, INCLUDING THAT OF TRANSLATION INTO FOREIGN LANGUAGES, INCLUDING THE SCANDINAVIAN

COPYRIGHT, 1910, BY DOUBLEDAY, PAGE & COMPANY PUBLISHED MAY, 1910

COPYRIGHT, 1909, 1910, BY SMITH PUBLISHING HOUSE

CONTENTS

CHAPTER PAGE

I. The House by the Marsh 3

II. Monsieur le Curé 35

III. The Exquisite Madame de Bréville 63

IV. The Smugglers 91

V. Marianne 120

VI. The Baron's Perfectos 151

VII. The Horrors of War 186

VIII. The Million of Monsieur de Savignac 213

IX. The Man with the Gun 245

X. The Bells of Pont du Sable 274

XI. The Miser Garron 308

XII. Midwinter Flights 339

A VILLAGE OF VAGABONDS

[Illustration: house by the marsh]

A Village of Vagabonds

CHAPTER ONE

THE HOUSE BY THE MARSH

It was in fat Madame Fontaine's little café at Bar la Rose, that Norman village by the sea, that I announced my decision. It being market day the café was noisy with peasants, and the crooked street without jammed with carts. Monsieur Torin, the butcher, opposite me, leaned back heavily from his glass of applejack and roared.

Monsieur Pompanet, the blacksmith, at my elbow, put down his cup of black coffee delicately in its clean saucer and opened his honest gray eyes wide in amazement. Simultaneously Monsieur Jaclin, the mayor, in his freshly ironed blouse, who for want of room was squeezed next to Torin, choked out a wheezy " Bon Dieu! " and blew his nose in derision.

"Pont du Sable Bon Dieu! " exclaimed all three. "Pont du Sable Bon Dieu! "

" Cristi! " thundered Torin. "You say you are going to live in Pont du Sable? Hélas! It is not possible, my friend, you are in earnest!"

"That lost hole of a village of sacré vagabonds," echoed Pompanet. "Why, the mud when the tide is out smells like the devil. It is unhealthy."

"Père Bordier and I went there for ducks twenty years ago," added the mayor. "We were glad enough to get away before dark. B r r! It was lonely enough, that marsh, and that dirty little fishing village no longer than your arm. Bah! It's a hole, just as Pompanet says."

Torin leaned across the table and laid a heavy hand humanely on my shoulder.

"Take my advice," said he, "don't give up that snug farm of yours here for a lost hole like Pont du Sable."

"But the sea shooting is open there three hundred and sixty five days in the year," I protested, with enthusiasm. "I'm tired of tramping my legs off here for a few partridges a season. Besides, what I've been looking for I've found a fine old abandoned house with a splendid old courtyard and a wild garden. I had the good luck to climb over a wall and discover it."

"I know the place you mean," interrupted the mayor. "It was a post tavern in the old days before the railroad ran there."

"And later belonged to the estate of the Marquis de Lys," I added proudly. "Now it belongs to me."

"What! You've bought it!" exclaimed Torin, half closing his veal like eyes.

"Yes," I confessed, "signed, sealed, and paid for."

"And what the devil do you intend to do with that old stone pile now that you've got it?" sneered Jaclin. "Ah! You artists are queer fellows!"

"Live in it, messieurs," I returned as happily as I could, as I dropped six sous for my glass into Madame Fontaine's open palm, and took my leave, for under the torrent of their protest I was beginning to feel I had been a fool to be carried away by my love of a gun and the picturesque... Continue reading book >>




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