MATHURIN AND MATHURINE 101
she was not going to see him for a long time, and overwhelmed Mathurin with caresses; curling about his legs and arms, and rubbing her head against him. Then she glided by his side for part of the way, and only vanished among the bushes at the sound of the bells of the stage coach.
Mathurin was away seven years, from 1793 to 1800— a rather lively time he had—and it was only after the peace of Luneville that he was set free to return home, with the uniform of a corporal.
His first visit was of course to his mother; then to his sisters, his cousins, and his friends. After that, he thought about the adder. Would she remember him, he wondered, after seven years' absence ? He was curious to know.
He put on his old milkman's clothes, so that Mathurine might the more easily recognise him, and went straight to their old meeting-place in the rocks. ' Mathurine! Mathurine !' cried he.
Instantly there was a loud rustling among the leaves, and a snake ten feet long, with gleaming eyes, came wriggling along with amazing quickness and flung herself with a bound upon Mathurin, twining herself tightly round his neck. He tried to free himself from the pressure which threatened to choke him, but could not unloose the closely curled rings ; then he attempted to call for help, but his voice died in his throat, and, throwing his hands despairingly in the air, he rolled dead upon the rocks, strangled by the embraces of his friend.1
1 The young reader is requested to correct the mistakes in this exercise of French fancy.—A. L.