The Grey Woman HTML version

Portion III 
Far on in the night there were voices outside reached us in our hiding-place; an angry knocking
at the door, and we saw through the chinks the old woman rouse herself up to go and open it for
her master, who came in, evidently half drunk. To my sick horror, he was followed by Lefebvre,
apparently as sober and wily as ever. They were talking together as they came in, disputing about
something; but the miller stopped the conversation to swear at the old woman for having fallen
asleep, and, with tipsy anger, and even with blows, drove the poor old creature out of the kitchen
to bed. Then he and Lefebvre went on talking - about the Sieur de Poissy's disappearance. It
seemed that Lefebvre had been out all day, along with other of my husband's men, ostensibly
assisting in the search; in all probability trying to blind the Sieur de Poissy's followers by putting
them on a wrong scent, and also, I fancied, from one or two of Lefebvre's sly questions,
combining the hidden purpose of discovering us.
Although the miller was tenant and vassal to the Sieur de Poissy, he seemed to me to be much
more in league with the people of M. de la Tourelle. He was evidently aware, in part, of the life
which Lefebvre and the others led; although, again, I do not suppose he knew or imagined one-
half of their crimes; and also, I think, he was seriously interested in discovering the fate of his
master, little suspecting Lefebvre of murder or violence. He kept talking himself, and letting out
all sorts of thoughts and opinions; watched by the keen eyes of Lefebvre gleaming out below his
shaggy eyebrows. It was evidently not the cue of the latter to let out that his master's wife had
escaped from that vile and terrible den; but though he never breathed a word relating to us, not
the less was I certain he was thirsting for our blood, and lying in wait for us at every turn of
events. Presently he got up and took his leave; and the miller bolted him out, and stumbled off to
bed. Then we fell asleep, and slept sound and long.
The next morning, when I awoke, I saw Amante, half raised, resting on one hand, and eagerly
gazing, with straining eyes, into the kitchen below. I looked too, and both heard and saw the
miller and two of his men eagerly and loudly talking about the old woman, who had not appeared
as usual to make the fire in the stove, and prepare her master's breakfast, and who now, late on in
the morning, had been found dead in her bed; whether from the effect of her master's blows the
night before, or from natural causes, who can tell? The miller's conscience upbraided him a little,
I should say, for he was eagerly declaring his value for his housekeeper, and repeating how often
she had spoken of the happy life she led with him. The men might have their doubts, but they did
not wish to offend the miller, and all agreed that the necessary steps should be taken for a speedy
funeral. And so they went out, leaving us in our loft, but so much alone, that, for the first time
almost, we ventured to speak freely, though still in a hushed voice, pausing to listen continually.
Amante took a more cheerful view of the whole occurrence than I did. She said that, had the old
woman lived, we should have had to depart that morning, and that this quiet departure would
have been the best thing we could have had to hope for, as, in all probability, the housekeeper
would have told her master of us and of our resting-place, and this fact would, sooner or later,
have been brought to the knowledge of those from whom we most desired to keep it concealed;
but that now we had time to rest, and a shelter to rest in, during the first hot pursuit, which we
knew to a fatal certainty was being carried on. The remnants of our food, and the stored-up fruit,