The next morning the whole village was up early, and plans were
perfected for the voyage of Father Meraut and Grandpere. A long
list of necessary articles was made out, and the money for their
purchase safely hidden away in their inside pockets. They were
just about to start down the road to the river, when suddenly a
wonderful thing happened. Right through the great gate of the
Chateau rumbled a large motor truck with an American flag
fluttering from the radiator! It was driven by a strange young
woman in a smart gray uniform. Beside her on the driver's seat
sat an older woman dressed the same way and carrying in her hand
a black medicine-case.
The girl stopped her engine, climbed down to the ground, and
approached the astonished people of Fontanelle: "Bon jour," she
said, smiling. Then in excellent French she explained her errand.
"We are Americans," she said, and at that name every face smiled
back at her. "We have come to help you restore your homes.
America loves and admires the French people, and since we women
cannot fight with you, we wish at least to help in the
reconstruction of your beautiful France. Your government has
given us permission to start our work here, and has promised help
from the soldiers whose camp is near. The money we bring from
America will purchase materials, and with your labor and the help
of the soldiers we shall soon see what can be done."
For a moment after she had ceased speaking there was silence. The
people of Fontanelle were too astonished for words. So much good
fortune after all their sorrow left them stunned. It was Pierre
who first found his voice. He took off his cap, swung it in the
air and shouted, "Vive l'Amerique," at the top of his lungs, and
"Vive l'Amerique," chorused the whole village, relieved to be
able to vent their feelings in sound.
Mademoiselle laughed. "Vive la France," she answered, and then,
turning to the truck, she cried, "Come and see what we have in
our little shop on wheels. But first let me introduce to you Dr.
Miller. She is an American doctor who has come to take care of
any who may be sick."
The Doctor had already climbed down from her high seat and was
opening the back of the truck. She smiled and shook hands with
the people. "Is there not something here you wish to buy?" she
asked. "The prices are plainly marked."
Everybody now crowded about the truck, and in it,—oh, wonderful,-
-piled on the floor and hanging from the top and sides, were the
very things for which they had been longing so eagerly! There
were hoes, and shovels, and rakes, and garden seeds of all kinds.
There were bolts of cloth and woolen garments and wooden shoes,
and yarn for knitting. There were even knitting-needles! And,
best of all, there was food, food such as they had not seen in
many weary months. Ah, it was indeed marvelous what that truck
The buying began at once, and never before had any one been able
to purchase so much for a franc! Soon there was nothing left in
the truck but some bedding and other articles belonging to the
Doctor and Mademoiselle, as the people at once began to call her.
"Will you not come with me to my apartment in the stable?" said
Mother Meraut cordially to the two women. "You must be tired from
"We must first see the Commandant at the camp," said the Doctor,
"and then we shall be happy if you will find some lunch for us.
It is necessary to see at once if our houses have come."
"Your houses!" cried Pierre, so surprised that he quite forgot
his manners. "But, Madame, it is not possible that you carry your
houses with you like the snails?"
The Doctor laughed. "Not just like the snails," she said; "our
houses have been sent on ahead of us in sections, with the army
supplies, and are no doubt here in the care of the Commandant."
"Go, my Pierre, conduct them to the camp," said his Mother, "and
when you come back," she added, turning to the two women, "I will
have ready for you the best that my poor house affords." The
Doctor and Mademoiselle thanked Mother Meraut, and then,
following Pierre, started down the river road toward the camp a
mile or more away.
The next few days seemed to Pierre and Pierrette, and indeed to
all the inhabitants of Fontanelle, little less than a series of
miracles. In the first place, the Doctor and Mademoiselle had
scarcely finished the good lunch which Mother Meraut had waiting
for them on their return from camp, when a great truck, loaded
with sections of the portable houses, entered the great gate of
the Chateau. It was followed by a detachment of soldiers from the
Foreign Legion, sent by the Commandant to erect them. The
soldiers were also Americans, and Pierre and Pierrctte were
delighted to find that both "Jim" and "Uncle Sam" were among
them. Indeed Uncle Sam was in command of the squad, and when he
presented himself and his men to the Doctor and Mademoiselle, he
explained that the Commandant had detailed Americans to this
duty, as he thought that they would more easily understand what
the ladies wished to have done.
The whole place now swarmed with people working as busily as bees in a hive. By
night one house was fit to be occupied. The following night two
more had been erected, and the soldiers had laid tent floors in
all of them. The day after that six more young women in gray
came, bringing more supplies. Under the generalship of the
Doctor, Mother Meraut was installed in the carriage-house which
opened from the stable, and here she prepared meals for her
family and for all the new-comers as well. The Doctor established
a dispensary in one room of the Chateau, and Mademoiselle opened
a store in the basement, keeping there for sale a large quantity
of the supplies which had been brought by the six young women.
Father Meraut and Grandpere worked hard on the gardens, assisted
by Pierre and Pierrette and any other person in the village who
was capable of wielding a hoe. Soon people began to come in from
the neighboring hamlets, bringing their sick babies to the Doctor
for treatment. The great truck was loaded with supplies received
through the Army Service and the Red Cross, and the young women
took turns in driving the "Shop on Wheels" into other, less
favored districts, to start there work similar to that begun at
Uncle Sam and Jim came so often to the village that they were
soon on friendly terms with every one in it. They acted as
emissaries between the camp and the village, and if anything was
needed which was beyond the power of these determined women to
supply, Uncle Sam and Jim seemed always by some miracle to
accomplish it. One day the Doctor said to Jim "I wish there were
some way of getting a good cow here. These little children cannot
get rosy and strong without fresh milk, and they haven't had any
since the Germans drove away their cows."
A week later Jim appeared at the Chateau gate leading a cow!
There was a card tied to one horn. The Doctor removed it and
read, "To Dr. Miller for the little children of Fontanelle."
"It's from the Commandant," said Jim, beaming with pride.
The cow proved such a success, and the babies and young children
showed at once such improvement, that the Doctor determined that
they should have not only milk but fresh eggs, and Mademoiselle
was sent to Paris to make investigations, and, if possible, place
an order for more cows and some hens. Upon her return she
announced that a load of live-stock from southern France would
soon arrive at the nearest railroad station, five miles away.
"It's going to be a regular menagerie," said Mademoiselle, when
she told Mother Meraut about it. "There will be two more cows,
two pigs, a pair of goats, ten pairs of rabbits, and sixty
"Mercy upon us!" cried Mother Meraut. "Where in the world can we
put them all? Must we move out of our apartment to admit the
"No," laughed Mademoiselle, "we must find another way to take
care of them. The cows can stay out of doors now, and there is
grass to feed them and the goats. They can all be tethered by
ropes, if necessary, but we must find a secure place to keep the
pigs and the rabbits, and the chicken-house must be mended and
put in order for the fowls."
"But Madame Corbeille now resides in the chicken-house. What will
become of her and her children?" cried Mother Meraut.
"Easy enough," said Mademoiselle; "there is still room in your
stable, is there not? For example, there is the granary! It will
do excellently for the Corbeilles. Pierre and Pierrette will help
build the rabbit-hutch, I know, and there we are, all provided
So it was arranged, and that afternoon another family came to
live under the same roof with the Merauts. Grandpere, with his
new hammer and some nails, mended the chicken-house, and then
helped Pierre and Pierrette build enclosures for the rabbits and
pigs out of stones and rubble from the fallen walls.
At last the day came when all the creatures were to arrive, and
Mademoiselle arranged that the Twins, Mother Meraut, and four of
her own party of young women should go to the railroad station to
get them. The great truck was brought out, ropes were then thrown
in, and all the people who composed what Mademoiselle called the
"Reception Committee" climbed in and sat on the floor, while
Mademoiselle and the Doctor occupied the driver's seat. The
soldiers had done some work on the roads, so they were not as bad
as they had been earlier in the spring; but they were still bad
enough, and the people in the truck were bounced about like
kernels of corn in a popper.
"Now," said Mademoiselle, when they arrived at the station, "the
fowls and the rabbits will have to go back in the truck. That
will be easy, for they came in crates; but the cows, the goats,
and the pigs must be either led or driven."
"It sounds simple enough," said the Doctor, "but have any of you
ever known any cows or pigs? Do you know how to manage them?"
"I have an acquaintance with cows," said Mother Meraut, "but to
goats and pigs I am a stranger."
"Very well," said Mademoiselle, "Mother Meraut shall lead the way
with the cows. You, Kathleen and Louise," she said, turning to
two of the gray-uniformed girls, "you shall attend the goats.
Mary and Martha may tackle the pigs. Pierre and Pierrette will
serve excellently as short-stops in case any of our live-stock
gets away, and the Doctor and I will bring up the rear."
"It's going to be a regular circus!" said Kathleen. "I feel as if
we ought to wear spangles and be led by a band."
"We haven't any clown, though," said Martha.
"I shouldn't wonder," said Mary, "if we'd all look like clowns in
The car with the creatures in it was standing on a side track,
and the station agent, looking doubtfully at the girls, led the
way to it, and after the rabbits and fowls had been loaded into
the truck, placed a gangplank for the cows to walk down, and
opened the door of the car. But nothing happened; the cows
obstinately refused to step down the plank.
"Here's a rope," said Mademoiselle, at last, throwing one up to
the agent. "I hoped we shouldn't need it, but I guess we do."
The agent fixed the rope to the horns of one of the cows, and
threw the other end to Mademoiselle. "Now," said he, "pull gently
to begin with."
Mademoiselle, pale but valiant, pulled, quietly at first, then
harder. The cow put her head down, braced her feet and backed.
"Come on," cried Mademoiselle to the others, "we'll all have to
Any one who could get hold of it seized the rope.
"I never played 'pom pom pull away' with a cow before," quavered
Louise. "I—I—don't feel sure she knows the rules of the game!"
"She'll soon learn," said Mademoiselle, grimly. "Don't welch.
Now, then, one—two—three—pull!"
At the word, they all leaned back and pulled. The cow, yielding
suddenly, shot out of the car like a cork out of a champagne
bottle, and the girls attached to the rope went down like a row
of bricks. The rope flew out of their hands, and the cow went
careering down the track with the rope dangling wildly after her,
while the other cow, fired by her example, came bawling after.
When they found grass by the roadside they became reasonable at
once. Mother Meraut then took charge of them, and, as Kathleen
remarked, "that ended the first movement." The second began when
the goats were unloaded. Mademoiselle took no chances with them.
She got the agent to put ropes on them in the first place, and
Kathleen and Louise, cautiously advancing to the plank, held up
propitiatory offerings of grass.
"That 's right," laughed Mademoiselle, "leading citizens with
bouquets! Perhaps a speech of welcome might help. They aren't the
first old goats to be received that way."
"Hush!" implored Louise. "My knees are knocking together so I can
hardly stand up now, and suppose they should butt!"
"In the words of the immortal bard 'butt me no butts,'" murmured
Kathleen, as they reached the gang-plank.
The agent, having attached the rope and released the goats from
their moorings, stood back and gave them full access to the open
door, holding the other end of the rope firmly in his hands. "You
can take the ropes when they are safely down the plank," he cried
gallantly. "They need a man to handle them."
"Oh, thank you," said Kathleen and Louise with one voice.
The goats accepted the suggestion of the open door at once and
galloped down the gang-plank with such reckless speed that the
agent lost his footing and came coasting down after them. "Mille
tonneurs!" he exclaimed, as he reached the end of the gang-plank
and struck a bed of gravel. "Those goats are possessed of the
The Doctor was beside him in an instant. "I hope you are not
injured," she cried. "Is there anything I can do for you? I am a
"No, Madame," said the agent, bowing politely, as he got himself
on his feet again, "I am hurt only in my pride, and you have no
medicine for that!"
"Oh," cried Mademoiselle, "how brave it was of you! It's as you
say—they need a man to manage them!"
The station agent looked at the goats, who were now grazing
peacefully, attended by Kathleen and Louise, and then, a little
thoughtfully, at Mademoiselle. "It is indeed better that a man
should take these risks," he said, throwing out his chest. "And
there are still the pigs! I doubt not they are as full of demons
as the Gadarene Swine themselves!"
"What should we do without your help?" said Mademoiselle. "The
pigs cannot be roped!"
"No," said the agent sadly, "they cannot." He considered a
moment. Then he motioned to Pierre and Pierrette, who were
standing with Mary and Martha at a respectful distance. "Come
here, all of you," he said, addressing them from the top of the
gang-plank; "pigs must be taken by strategy. I am an old soldier.
I will engineer an encircling movement. Mademoiselle; will you
stand here at the left, and, Madame la Docteur, will you station
yourself at my right? The rest of you arrange yourselves in a
curved line extending westward from Madame. Then I will release
the pigs, and you, watching their movements, will head them off
if they start in the wrong direction. Voila! We will now
He went back into the car, and in another moment the pigs,
squealing vociferously, thundered down the gang-plank, gave one
look at the "encircling movement," and, wheeling about, instantly
dashed under the car and out on the other side into an open
field. It was not until they had made a complete tour of the
village, pursued by the entire personnel of the "encircling
movement" that they were at last turned into the Fontanelle road.
"This isn't—the way—this parade—was advertised!" gasped
Kathleen, as she struggled with her goat in an effort to take her
appointed place in the caravan. "The—cows—were to—go—first!"
"Never mind," answered Louise cheerfully, as she pulled her goat
into the road. "A little informality will be overlooked, I'm
Mother Meraut followed them with the cows, and last of all
Mademoiselle and the Doctor climbed into the truck and brought up
the rear of the procession, with all the roosters crowing at the
top of their lungs.
There is not time to tell of all the adventures that befell them
on the eventful journey back to Fontanelle. One can merely guess
that it must have been full of excitement, since the Reception
Committee did not reach the village with their charges until some
time after dark. Mother Meraut was worried because she was not
home in time to get a hot supper for the tired girls, but when
they arrived they found that Grand'mere had stepped into the
breach, and had made steaming hot soup for every one. Grandpere
and Father Meraut took charge of the live-stock, and Mother
Corbeille milked the cows.
As they dragged themselves wearily to bed that night, Kathleen
decorated Mademoiselle with a huge cross,—cut out of paper,—
which she pinned upon her nightgown. "For extreme gallantry," she
explained, "in leading your forces into action in face of a
fierce charge by two goats, and for taking prisoner two
rebellious pigs!" Then she saluted ceremoniously and tumbled into
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