"It takes a clever man to play the fool," said Vitalis, "the boy will be able to act the part with a few lessons. We'll test him at once. If he has any intelligence he will understand that with me he will be able to see the country and other countries besides; but if he stays here all he can do is to drive a herd of cattle in the same fields from morning to night.
We must be off. Come on, my little fellow. What's your name?" "Remi." "Well, then, Remi, take your bundle and walk along beside Capi." I held out both my hands to him, then to Barberin. But both men turned away their heads. Then Vitalis took me by the wrist. I had to go. Ah, our poor little house! It seemed to me when I passed over the threshold that I left a bit of my body there.
What he said at first, and what they asked him, I scarcely knew, my emotion was so great. I stared at Vitalis; he stood upright, his white head thrown back. He looked ashamed and worried. I looked at the judge. "You gave blows to the officer who arrested you," said the judge. "Not blows, your Honor," said Vitalis, "I only struck once.
This terrible thought had never occurred to me, and yet poor Vitalis had died, ... how was it I had not thought that I might lose her.... "Why didn't you say that before?" I demanded. "Because when I'm happy I don't have those ideas. I have been so happy at the thought of offering your cow to Mother Barberin and thinking how pleased she'd be, I never thought before that she might be dead."
I could not get along very fast, and often I regretted having expressed a wish to learn. I must say, however, it was not because I was lazy, it was pride. While teaching me my letters Vitalis thought that he would teach Capi at the same time. If a dog could learn to tell the hour from a watch, why could he not learn the letters?
Vitalis had said that we should reach a village by night where we could sleep, but night had come, and I saw no signs of this village, no smoke in the distance to indicate that we were near a house. I could see nothing but a stretch of plains ahead of us. I was tired, and longed to go to sleep. Vitalis was tired also.
Vitalis had already considered the matter of the disposal of the body. He had bought a pick and spade. He intended to bury his former mistress in the soil under the cellar. After that had been done, he and Marie would sell the business for what it would fetch, and go to Brussels an admirable plan, which two unforeseen circumstances defeated.
My master, who slept much lighter than I, did not wish me to wake him by pulling down the wood from the walls each time I needed it. So from this heap that he had prepared, I could take the wood and throw on the fire without making a noise. It was a wise thing to do, but alas, Vitalis did not know what the result would be.
Many a time I had walked this road and I knew that for a little while longer I should still see the house, then when we turned the bend, I should see it no more. Before me the unknown, behind me was the house, where until that day I had lived such a happy life. Perhaps I should never see it again! Fortunately the hill was long, but at last we reached the top. Vitalis had not let go his hold.
Vitalis had been a good master, and I was very grateful for all he had taught me, but there was no comparison between my life with him and that which I should have with Arthur, and at the same time, there was also no comparison between the respect I had for Vitalis and the affection which I felt for Mrs. Milligan and her invalid boy.