The Devil's Pool by George Sand

The Devil's Pool by George Sand

Author:George Sand [Sand, George]
Language: eng
Format: epub
Tags: Pastoral fiction, French
Published: 2004-07-03T16:00:00+00:00

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XIV

THE OLD WOMAN

Germain soon found himself at the spot on the edge of the pool where he had passed the night. The fire was still smoking; an old woman was picking up what was left of the dead wood Marie had collected. Germain stopped to question her. She was deaf, and misunderstood his questions.

"Yes, my boy," she said, "this is the Devil's Pool. It's a bad place, and you mustn't come near it without throwing three stones in with your left hand and crossing yourself with your right: that drives away the spirits. Unless they do that, misfortune comes to those who walk around it."

"I didn't ask you about that," said Germain, drawing nearer to her and shouting at the top of his voice: "Haven't you seen a girl and a young child going through the woods?"

"Yes," said the old woman, "there was a small child drowned there!"

Germain shivered from head to foot; but luckily the old woman added:

"That was a long, long while ago; they put up a beautiful cross; but on a fine stormy night the evil spirits threw it into the water. You can still see one end of it. If any one had the bad luck to stop here at night, he would be very sure not to be able to go away before dawn. It would do him no good to walk, walk: he might travel two hundred leagues through the woods and find himself still in the same place."—The ploughman's imagination was impressed, do what he would, by what he heard, and the idea of the misfortune which might follow, to justify the remainder of the old woman's assertions, took such complete possession of his brain that he felt cold all over his body. Despairing of obtaining any additional information, he mounted his horse and began to ride through the woods, calling Pierre at the top of his voice, whistling, cracking his whip, breaking off branches to fill the forest with the noise of his progress, then listening to see if any voice answered; but he heard naught but the bells on the cows scattered among the bushes, and the fierce grunting of pigs fighting over the acorns.

At last, Germain heard behind him the footsteps of a horse following in his track, and a man of middle age, swarthy, robust, dressed like a semi-bourgeois, shouted to him to stop. Germain had never seen the farmer of Ormeaux; but an angry instinct led him to determine at once that it was he. He turned, and, eyeing him from head to foot, waited to hear what he had to say to him.

"Haven't you seen a young girl of fifteen or sixteen, with a little boy, pass this way?" said the farmer, affecting an indifferent manner, although he was visibly moved.

"What do you want of her?" demanded Germain, not seeking to disguise his indignation.

"I might tell you that that was none of your business, my friend, but as I have no reason to hide it, I will tell you that she's a shepherdess I hired for the year without knowing her.



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