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HOME > Short Stories > The Children's Pilgrimage > CHAPTER XV. AN ESCAPE.
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 It was very late, in fact quite night, when Pericard returned. By this time the rats had come out in troops, and even Toby could scarcely keep them at bay. He barked, however, loudly, and ran about, and so kept them from absolutely attacking the children. By this, however, he exposed them to another danger, for his noise must soon have been heard in the street above, and it was well for them that the cellar in which they were hiding was not in the same house with Anton.  
It was, as I said, quite late at night when Pericard arrived. He let himself in, not by the entrance through which he had come previously, but by the underground passage. He carried a dark lantern in one hand, and a neat little basket in the other. Never was knight of old more eagerly welcomed than was this French boy now by the poor little prisoners. They were all cold and hungry, and the rushing and scraping of the rats had filled their little hearts with most natural alarm.
Pericard came in softly, and laying down his dark lantern proceeded to unpack the contents of the basket. It contained cold sausages, broken bits of meat, and some rolls buttered and cut in two: there was also a pint bottle of vin ordinaire.
Pericard broke the neck of the bottle on the cellar wall. He then gave the children a drink by turns in a little tin mug.
"And now," he said in French, "we must be off. Anton is in the house; he is waiting for you all; he is roaring with anger and rage; he would be out looking for you, but luckily—or you could not escape—he is lame. The brave good dog bit him severely in the leg, and now he cannot walk; and the grandmere has to poultice his leg. He thinks I have gone to fetch you, for I pretend to be on his side. You have just to-night to get away in; but I don't answer for the morning, for Anton is so dying to get hold of Joe there that he will use his leg, however he suffers, after to-night. You have just this one short night in which to make your escape."
Then Joe told Cecile's plan to Pericard, and Pericard nodded, and said it was good—only he could not help opening his eyes very widely at the idea of three such little beggars, as he termed the children, being able to afford the luxury of going by train. As, however, it was impossible and, dangerous to confide in him any further, and as Cecile had already given Joe the number of francs they thought they should req............
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