`I passed you on the road?'
`Monseigneur, it is true. I had the honour of being passed on the road.'
`Coming up the hill, and at the top of the hill, both?'
`Monseigneur, it is true.
`What did you look at, so fixedly?'
`Monseigneur, I looked at the man.'
He stooped a little, and with his tattered blue cap pointed under the carriage. All his fellows stooped to look under the carriage.
`Mat man, pig? And why look there?'
`Pardon, Monseigneur; he swung by the chain of the shoe the drag.'
`Who?' demanded the traveller.
`Monseigneur, the man.'
`May the Devil carry away these idiots! How do you call the man? You know all the men of this part of the country. Who was he?'
`Your clemency, Monseigneur! He was not of this part of the country. Of all the days of my life, I never saw him.'
`Swinging by the chain? To be suffocated?'
`With your gracious permission, that was the wonder of it, Monseigneur. His head hanging over--like this!'
He turned himself sideways to the carriage, and leaned back, with his face thrown up to the sky, and his head hanging down; then recovered himself, fumbled with his cap, and made a bow.
`what was he like?'
`Monseigneur, he was whiter than the miller. All covered with dust, white as a spectre, tall as a spectre!'
The picture produced an immense sensation in the little crowd; but all eyes, without comparing notes with other eyes, looked at Monsieur the Marquis. Perhaps, to observe whether he had any spectre on his conscience.
`Truly, you did well,' said the Marquis, felicitously sensible that such vermin were not to ruffle him, `to see a thief accompanying my carriage, and not open that great mouth of yours. Bah! Put him aside, Monsieur Gabelle!'
Monsieur Gabelle was the Postmaster, and some other taxing functionary united; he had come out with great obsequiousness to assist at this examination, and had held the examined by the drapery of his arm in an official manner.
`Bah! Go aside!' said Monsieur Gabelle.
`Lay hands on this stranger if he seeks to lodge in your village to-night, and be sure that his business is honest, Gabelle.'
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