The Lane That Had No Turning, Volume 3

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THE TRAGIC COMEDY OF ANNETTEThe chest of drawers, the bed, the bedding, the pieces of linen, and thepile of yarn had been ready for many months. Annette had made inventoryof them every day since the dot was complete--at first with a great dealof pride, after a time more shyly and wistfully: Benoit did not come. Hehad said he would be down with the first drive of logs in the summer, andat the little church of St. Saviour's they would settle everything andget the Cure's blessing. Almost anybody would have believed in Benoit.He had the brightest scarf, the merriest laugh, the quickest eyes, andthe blackest head in Pontiac; and no one among the river drivers couldsing like him. That was, he said gaily, because his earrings were gold,and not brass like those of his comrades. Thus Benoit was a little vain,and something more; but old ladies such as the Little Chemist's wife saidhe was galant. Probably only Medallion the auctioneer and the Cure didnot lose themselves in the general admiration; they thought he was toAnnette like a farthing dip to a holy candle.Annette was the youngest of twelve, and one of a family of thirty-forsome of her married brothers and sisters and their children lived in herfather's long white house' by the river. When Benoit failed to come inthe spring, they showed their pity for her by abusing him; and when shepleaded for him they said things which had an edge. They ended byoffering to marry her to Farette, the old miller, to whom they owed moneyfor flour. They brought Farette to the house at last, and she waspatient while he ogled her, and smoked his strong tabac, and tried tosing. She was kind to him, and said nothing until, one day, urged by herbrother Solime, he mumbled the childish chanson Benoit sang the day heleft, as he passed their house going up the river: "High in a nest of the tam'rac tree, Swing under, so free, and swing over; Swing under the sun and swing over the world, My snow-bird, my gay little lover My gay little lover, don, don! . . . don, don! "When the winter is done I will come back home, To the nest swinging under and over, Swinging under and over and waiting for me, Your rover, my snow-bird, your rover-- Your lover and rover, don, don! . . . don, don!"It was all very well in the mouth of the sprightly, sentimental Benoit;it was hateful foolishness in Farette. Annette now came to her feetsuddenly, her pale face showing defiance, and her big brown eyes flickinganger. She walked up to the miller and said: "You are old and ugly and afool. But I do not hate you; I hate Solime, my brother, for bringing youhere. There is the bill for the flour? Well, I will pay it myself--andyou can go as soon as you like."Then she put on her coat and capote and mittens, and went to the door."Where are you going, Ma'm'selle?" cried Solime, in high rage."I am going to M'sieu' Medallion," she said.
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