Within an Inch of His Life
"Is it a serious fire?"
"Serious!" exclaimed the peasant. "How could it be otherwise with such a wind as this,--a wind that would blow off the horns of our oxen."
"Hm!" uttered the mayor again. "Hm, hm!"
It was not exactly the first time, since he was mayor of Sauveterre, that he was thus roused by a peasant, who came and cried under his window, "Help! Fire, fire!"
At first, filled with compassion, he had hastily called out the firemen, put himself at their head, and hurried to the fire.
And when they reached it, out of breath, and perspiring, after having made two or three miles at double-quick, they found what? A wretched heap of straw, worth about ten dollars, and almost consumed by the fire. They had had their trouble for nothing.
The peasants in the neighborhood had cried, "Wolf!" so often, when there was no reason for it, that, even when the wolf really was