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The Honor of the Name

Chapter 16
The cottage where M. Lacheneur had taken refuge was situated on a hill overlooking the
water.
It was, as he had said, a small and humble dwelling, but it was rather less miserable than
the abodes of most of the peasants of the district.
It was only one story high, but it was divided into three rooms, and the roof was covered
with thatch.
In front was a tiny garden, in which a few fruit-trees, some withered cabbages, and a vine
which covered the cottage to the roof, managed to find subsistence.
This garden was a mere nothing, but even this slight conquest over the sterility of the soil
had cost Lacheneur's deceased aunt almost unlimited courage and patience.
For more than twenty years the poor woman had never, for a single day, failed to throw
upon her garden three or four basketfuls of richer soil, which she was obliged to bring
more than half a league.
It had been more than a year since she died; but the little pathway which her patient feet
had worn in the performance of this daily task was still distinctly visible.
This was the path which M. d'Escorval, faithful to his resolution, took the following day,
in the hope of wresting from Marie-Anne's father the secret of his inexplicable conduct.
He was so engrossed in his own thoughts that he failed to notice the overpowering heat as
he climbed the rough hill-side in the full glare of the noonday sun.
When he reached the summit, however, he paused to take breath; and while wiping the
perspiration from his brow, he turned to look back on the road which he had traversed.
It was the first time he had visited the spot, and he was surprised at the extent of the
landscape which stretched before him.
From this point, which is the most elevated in the surrounding country, one can survey
the entire valley of the Oiselle, and discern, in the distance, the redoubtable citadel of
Montaignac, built upon an almost inaccessible rock.
This last circumstance, which the baron was afterward doomed to recall in the midst of
the most terrible scenes, did not strike him then. Lacheneur's house absorbed all his
attention.
 
 
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