Unawares by Frances Peard Page 1 of 189

Chapter One.
"Quaint old town of toil and traffic."

"You might tell us something, Madame Angelin, since you know so much!"

"Yes, indeed. What is the good of knowing if you keep it to yourself?" cried a younger woman, impatiently, placing, as she spoke, her basket of herbs and vegetables upon the broad stone edge of the fountain around which a little group had gathered.

"Was it a fit?"

"Has Monsieur Deshoulieres gone to him?"

"Is he dead?"

"What becomes of her?"

"Holy Virgin! will the town have to bury him?"

The individual upon whom this volley of shrill questions was directed was a small, thin, pungent-faced Frenchwoman, who had just filled her pitcher at the fountain, and stood with hands clasped over her waist, and with ineffable satisfaction in her twinkling black eyes, looking upon the excited questioners who crowded round her.

It is not given to everybody to know more than their neighbours, nor, as Veuve Angelin shrewdly reflected, is it a privilege to be lightly parted with. There was something very enchanting in the eager attention with which her information was awaited, and she looked round upon them all with a patronising benignity, which was, to say the least, irritating.

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