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HOME > Short Stories > The Children's Pilgrimage > CHAPTER V. OUTSIDE CAEN.
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 The morning after this little conversation between Joe and Cecile broke so dismally, and was so bitterly cold, that the old woman with whom the children had spent the night begged of them in her patois not to leave her. Joe, of course, alone could understand a word she said, and even Joe could not make much out of what very little resembled the Bearnais of his native Pyrenees; but the Norman peasant, being both kind and intelligent, managed to convey to him that the weather looked ugly; that every symptom of a violent snowstorm was brewing in the lowering and leaden sky; that people had been lost and never heard of again in Normandy, in less severe snowstorms than the one that was likely to fall that night; that in almost a moment all landmarks would be utterly obliterated, and the four little travelers dismally perish.  
Joe, however, only remembering France by what it is in the sunny south, and having from his latter life in London very little idea of what a snowstorm really meant, paid but slight heed to these warnings; and having ascertained that Cecile by no means wished to remain in the little wayside cottage, he declared himself ready to encounter the perils of the way.
The old peasant bade the children good-by with tears in her eyes. She even caught up Maurice in her arms, and said it was a direct flying in the face of Providence to let so sweet an angel go forth to meet "certain destruction." But as her vehement words were only understood by one, and by that one very imperfectly, they had unfortunately little result.
The cottage was small, close, and very uncomfortable, and the children were glad to get on their way.
Soon after noon they reached the old town of Caen. They had walked on for two or three miles by the side of the river Orne, and found themselves in old Caen before they knew it. Following strictly Cecile's line of action, the children had hitherto avoided all towns—thus, had they but known it, making very little real progress. But now, attracted by some washer-women who, bitter as the day was, were busy washing their clothes in the running waters of the Orne, they got into the picturesque town, and under the shadow of the old Cathedral.
Here, indeed, early as it was in the day, the short time of light seemed almost to have disappeared. The sky—what could be seen of it between the tall houses of the narrow street—looked almost black, and little flakes of snow began to fall noiselessly.
Here Joe, thinking of the Norman peasant, began to be a little alarmed. He proposed, as they had got into Caen, that they should run no further risk, but spend the night there.
But this proposition was met by tears of reproach by Cecile. "Oh, dear Jography! and stepmother did say, never, never to stay in the big towns—always to sleep in the little inns. Caen is much, much too big a town. We must not break my word to stepmother—we must not stay here."
Cecile's firmness, joined to her great childish ignorance, could be dangerous, but Joe only made a feeble protest.
"Do you see that old woman, and the little lass by her side making lace?" he said. "That house don't look big; we might get a night's lodging as cheap as in the villages."
But though the little Norman girl of seven nodded a friendly greeting to pretty brown-eyed Maurice as he passed, and though the making of lace on bobbins must be a delightful employment, Cecile felt there could be no tidings of Lovedy for her there; and after partaking of a little hot soup in the smallest cafe they could come across, the little pilg............
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