Within an Inch of His LifeWithin an Inch of His Life
M. Galpin and the doctor had both considered it a point of honor who should show the
most perfect indifference; and thus they had betrayed by no sign their curiosity to know
what was going on out doors. Dr. Seignebos was on the point of resuming the operation;
and, as coolly as if he had been in his own rooms at home, he was washing the sponge
which he had just used, and wiping his instruments. The magistrate, on the other hand,
was standing in the centre of the room, his arms crossed, his eyes fixed upon the infinite,
apparently. It may be he was thinking of his star which had at last brought him that
famous criminal case for which he had ardently longed many a year.
Count Claudieuse, however, was very far from sharing their reserve. He was tossing
about on his bed; and as soon as the mayor and his friend reappeared, looking quite upset,
"What does that uproar mean?"
And, when he had heard of the calamity, he added,--
"Great God! And I was complaining of my losses. Two men killed! That is a real
misfortune. Poor men! to die because they were so brave,-- Bolton hardly thirty years old;
Guillebault, a father of a family, who leaves five children, and not a cent!"
The countess, coming in at that moment, heard his last words.
"As long as we have a mouthful of bread," she said in a voice full of deep emotion,
"neither Bolton's mother, nor Guillebault's children, shall ever know what want is."
She could not say another word; for at that moment the peasants crowded into the room,
pushing the prisoner before them.
"Where is the magistrate?" they asked. "Here is a witness!"
"What, Cocoleu!" exclaimed the count.
"Yes, he knows something: he said so himself. We want him to tell it to the magistrate.
We want the incendiary to be caught."
Dr. Seignebos had frowned fiercely. He execrated Cocoleu, whose sight recalled to him
that great failure which the good people of Sauveterre were not likely to forget soon.
"You do not really mean to examine him?" he asked, turning to M. Galpin.
"Why not?" answered the magistrate dryly.