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Transcriber's Note: Some spelling variations have been standardised to
agree with the original French version of "En Famille". For example
"Madamoiselle" and "Mademoiselle" have been changed to Mademoiselle
exclusively. Dr Cendrier, rather than Centrier, is correct according to
the original French version, so Centrier has been changed to Cendrier.

In the fourth last paragraph "daughter" has been corrected to
"granddaughter".

Some spelling, punctuation and grammatical errors have been
corrected where detected.




[Illustration: "WHY, IT'S BEAUTIFUL," SAID PERRINE, SOFTLY. (See page 86)]


NOBODY'S
GIRL

(_En Famille_)

BY
HECTOR MALOT

TRANSLATED BY
FLORENCE CREWE-JONES

_Illustrated by_
THELMA GOOCH

NEW YORK MCMXXII
CUPPLES & LEON COMPANY

_Copyright, 1922, by_
CUPPLES & LEON COMPANY

Printed in United States of America



CONTENTS

CHAPTER PAGE

I PERRINE AND PALIKARE 1

II GRAIN-OF-SALT IS KIND 20

III "POOR LITTLE GIRL" 41

IV A HARD ROAD TO TRAVEL 47

V STORMS AND FEARS 59

VI THE RESCUE 72

VII MARAUCOURT AT LAST 77

VIII GRANDFATHER VULFRAN 86

IX ONE SLEEPLESS NIGHT 95

X THE HUT ON THE ISLAND 110

XI WORK IN THE FACTORY 115

XII NEW SHOES 130

XIII STRANGE HOUSEKEEPING 136

XIV A BANQUET IN THE HUT 149

XV AURELIE'S CHANCE 157

XVI GRANDFATHER'S INTERPRETER 166

XVII HARD QUESTIONS 175

XVIII SECRETARY TO M. VULFRAN 184

XIX SUSPICION AND CONFIDENCE 194

XX THE SCHEMERS 206

XXI LETTERS FROM DACCA 217

XXII A CABLE TO DACCA 227

XXIII GRANDFATHER'S COMPANION 238

XXIV GETTING AN EDUCATION 248

XXV MEDDLING RELATIVES 260

XXVI PAINFUL ARGUMENTS 269

XXVII THE BLIND MAN'S GRIEF 277

XXVIII AN UNRESPECTED FUNERAL 285

XXIX THE ANGEL OF REFORM 292

XXX GRANDFATHER FINDS PERRINE 302

XXXI THE GRATEFUL PEOPLE 307




LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS
PAGE

"WHY, IT'S BEAUTIFUL," SAID PERRINE, SOFTLY.
(_See Page 86_) _Frontispiece_

SOMETHING WARM PASSING OVER HER FACE MADE
HER OPEN HER EYES 72

"WHAT'S THE MATTER NOW?" HE CRIED, ANGRILY 124

SHE HAD SOME TIME AGO DECIDED ON THE SHAPE 139

SHE TRIED TO DO AS SHE WAS TOLD, BUT HER EMOTION
INCREASED AS SHE READ 218

HE TOLD HER THAT SHE WAS LIKE A LITTLE
DAUGHTER TO HIM 270




INTRODUCTION


"Nobody's Girl," published in France under the title "En Famille",
follows "Nobody's Boy" as a companion juvenile story, and takes place
with it as one of the supreme juvenile stories of the world. Like
"Nobody's Boy" it was also crowned by the Academy, and that literary
judgment has also been verified by the test of time.

"Nobody's Girl" is not a human document, such as is "Nobody's Boy", because
it has more story plot, and the adventure is in a more restricted field,
but it discloses no less the nobility of a right-minded child, and how
loyalty wins the way to noble deeds and life. This is another beautiful
literary creation of Hector Malot which every one can recommend as an
ennobling book, of interest not only to childhood, page by page to the
thrilling conclusion, but to every person who loves romance and
character.

Only details, irrelevant for readers in America, have been eliminated.
Little Perrine's loyal ideals, with their inspiring sentiments, are
preserved by her through the most discouraging conditions, and are
described with the simplicity for which Hector Malot is famous. The
building up of a little girl's life is made a fine example for every
child. Every reader of this story leaves it inspired for the better way.

THE PUBLISHERS.




NOBODY'S GIRL




CHAPTER I

PERRINE AND PALIKARE


It was Saturday afternoon about 3 o'clock. There was the usual scene;
outside the Gates of Bercy there was a crowd of people, and on the
quays, four rows deep, carts and wagons were massed together. Coal
carts, carts heaped with hay and straw, all were waiting in the clear,
warm June sunshine for the examination from the custom official. All had
been hurrying to reach Paris before Sunday.

Amongst the wagons, but at some little distance from the Gates, stood an
odd looking cart, a sort of caravan. Over a light frame work which was
erected on four wheels was stretched a heavy canvas; this was fastened
to the light roof which covered the wagon. Once upon a time the canvas
might have been blue, but it was so faded, so dirty and worn, that one
could only guess what its original color had been. Neither was it
possible to make out the inscriptions which were painted on the four
sides. Most of the words were effaced. On one side there was a Greek
word, the next side bore part of a German word, on the third side were
the letters F I A, which was evidently Italian, and on the last a newly
painted French word stood out boldly. This was _PHOTOGRAPHIE_, and was
evidently the translation of all the others, indicating the different
countries through which the miserable wagon had come before it had
entered France and finally arrived at the Gates of Paris.

Was it possible that the donkey that was harnessed to it had brought the
cart all this distance? At first glance it seemed impossible, but
although the animal was tired out, one could see upon a closer view that
it was very robust and much bigger than the donkeys that one sees in
Europe. Its coat was a beautiful dark grey, the beauty of which could be
seen despite the dust which covered it. Its slender legs were marked
with jet black lines, and worn out though the poor beast was, it still
held its head high. The harness, worthy of the caravan, was fastened
together with various colored strings, short pieces, long pieces, just
what was at hand at the moment; the strings had been carefully hidden
under the flowers and branches which had been gathered along the roads
and used to protect the animal from the sun and the flies.

Close by, seated on the edge of the curb, watching the donkey, was a
little girl of about thirteen years of age. Her type was very unusual,
but it was quite apparent that there was a mixture of race. The pale
blond of her hair contrasted strangely with the deep, rich coloring of
her cheeks, and the sweet expression of her face was accentuated by the
dark, serious eyes. Her mouth also was very serious. Her figure, slim
and full of grace, was garbed in an old, faded check dress, but the
shabby old frock could not take away the child's distinguished air.

As the donkey had stopped just behind a large cart of straw, it would
not have required much watching, but every now and again he pulled out
the straw, in a cautious manner, like a very intelligent animal that
knows quite well that it is doing wrong.

"Palikare! stop that!" said the girl for the third time.

The donkey again dropped his head in a guilty fashion, but as soon as he
had eaten his wisps of straw he began to blink his eyes and agitate his
ears, then again discreetly, but eagerly, tugged at what was ahead of
him; this in a manner that testified to the poor beast's hunger.

While the little girl was scolding him, a voice from within the caravan
called out:

"Perrine!"

Jumping to her feet, the child lifted up the canvas and passed inside,
where a pale, thin woman was lying on a mattress.

"Do you need me, mama?"

"What is Palikare doing, dear?" asked the woman.

"He is eating the straw off the cart that's ahead of us."

"You must stop him."

"He's so hungry."

"Hunger is not an excuse for taking what does not belong to us. What will
you say to the driver of that cart if he's angry?"

"I'll go and see that Palikare doesn't do it again," said the little girl.

"Shall we soon be in Paris?"

"Yes, we are waiting for the customs."

"Have we much longer to wait?"

"No, but are you in more pain, mother?"

"Don't worry, darling; it's because I'm closed in here," replied the woman,
gasping. Then she smiled wanly, hoping to reassure her daughter.

The woman was in a pitiable plight. All her strength had gone and she could
scarcely breathe. Although she was only about twenty-nine years of age, her
life was ebbing away. There still remained traces of remarkable beauty: Her
head and hair were lovely, and her eyes were soft and dark like her
daughter's.

"Shall I give you something?" asked Perrine.

"What?"

"There are some shops near by. I can buy a lemon. I'll come back at once."

"No, keep the money. We have so little. Go back to Palikare and stop him
from eating the straw."

"That's not easy," answered the little girl.

She went back to the donkey and pushed him on his haunches until he was
out of reach of the straw in front of him.

At first the donkey was obstinate and tried to push forward again, but she
spoke to him gently and stroked him, and kissed him on his nose; then he
dropped his long ears with evident satisfaction and stood quite still.

There was no occasion to worry about him now, so she amused herself with
watching what was going on around her.

A little boy about her own age, dressed up like a clown, and who evidently
belonged to the circus caravans standing in the rear, had been strolling
round her for ten long minutes, without being able to attract her
attention. At last he decided to speak to her.

"That's a fine donkey," he remarked.

She did not reply.

"It don't belong to this country. If it does, I'm astonished."

She was looking at him, and thinking that after all he looked rather
like a nice boy, she thought she would reply.

"He comes from Greece," she said.

"Greece!" he echoed.

"That's why he's called Palikare."

"Ah! that's why."

But in spite of his broad grin he was not at all sure why a donkey that
came from Greece should be called Palikare.

"Is it far ... Greece?"

"Very far."

"Farther than ... China?"

"No, but it's a long way off."

"Then yer come from Greece, then?"

"No, farther than that."

"From China?"

"No, but Palikare's the only one that comes from Greece."

"Are you going to the Fair?"

"No."

"Where yer goin'?"

"Into Paris."

"I know that, but where yer goin' to put up that there cart?"

"We've been told that there are some free places round the
fortifications."

The little clown slapped his thighs with his two hands.

"The fortifications: _Oh la la!_"

"Isn't there any place?"

"Yes."

"Well, then?"

"It ain't the place for you ... round the fortifications! Have yer got
any men with yer? Big strong men who are not afraid of a stab from a
dagger. One who can give a jab as well as take one."

"There is only my mother and me, and mother is ill."

"Do you think much of that donkey?" he asked quickly.

"I should say so!"

"Well, the first thing he'll be stolen. He'll be gone tomorrow. Then
the rest'll come after, and it's Fatty as tells yer so."

"Really?"

"Should say so! You've never been to Paris before?"

"No, never."

"That's easy to see. Some fools told you where to put your cart up, but
you can't put it there. Why don't you go to Grain-of-Salt?"

"I don't know Grain-of-Salt."

"Why, he owns the Guillot Fields. You needn't be afraid of him, and he'd
shoot anybody who tried to get in his place."

"Will it cost much to go there?"

"It costs a lot in winter, when everybody comes to Paris, but at this
time I'm sure he won't make you pay more than forty sous a week. And
your donkey can find its food in the field. Does he like thistles?"

"I should say he does like them!"

"Well, then, this is just the place for him, and Grain-of-Salt isn't a
bad chap," said the little clown with a satisfied air.

"Is that his name ... Grain-of-Salt?"

"They call him that 'cause he's always thirsty. He's only got one arm."

"Is his place far from here?"

"No, at Charonne; but I bet yer don't even know where Charonne is?"

"I've never been to Paris before."

"Well, then, it's over there." He waved his arms vaguely in a northerly
direction.

"Once you have passed through the Gates, you turn straight to the
right," he explained, "and you follow the road all along the
fortifications for half an hour, then go down a wide avenue, then turn
to your left, and then ask where the Guillot Field is. Everybody knows
it."

"Thank you. I'll go and tell mama. If you'll stand beside Palikare for a
minute, I'll go and tell her at once."

"Sure, I'll mind him for yer. I'll ask him to teach me Greek."

"And please don't let him eat that straw."

Perrine went inside the caravan and told her mother what the little
clown had said.

"If that is so," said the sick woman, "we must not hesitate; we must go
to Charonne. But can you find the way?"

"Yes, it's easy enough. Oh, mother," she added, as she was going out,
"there are such a lot of wagons outside; they have printed on them
'Maraucourt Factories,' and beneath that the name, 'Vulfran
Paindavoine.' There are all kinds of barrels and things in the carts.
Such a number!"

"There is nothing remarkable in that, my child," said the woman.

"Yes, but it's strange to see so many wagons with the same name on
them," replied the girl as she left the caravan.

Perrine found the donkey with his nose buried in the straw, which he was
eating calmly.

"Why, you're letting him eat it!" she cried to the boy.

"Well, why not?" he retorted.

"And if the man is angry?"

"He'd better not be with me," said the small boy, putting himself in a
position to fight and throwing his head back.

But his prowess was not to be brought into action, for at this moment
the custom officer began to search the cart of straw, and then gave
permission for it to pass on through the Gates of Paris.

"Now it's your turn," said the boy, "and I'll have to leave you.
Goodbye, Mademoiselle. If you ever want news of me ask for Double Fat.
Everybody knows me."

The employés who guard the entrances of Paris are accustomed to strange
sights, yet the man who went into Perrine's caravan looked surprised
when he found a young woman lying on a mattress, and even more surprised
when his hasty glance revealed to him the extreme poverty of her
surroundings.

"Have you anything to declare?" he asked, continuing his investigations.

"Nothing."

"No wine, no provisions?"

"Nothing."

This was only too true; apart from the mattress, the two cane chairs, a
little table, a tiny stove, a camera and a few photographic supplies,
there was nothing in this wagon; no trunks, no baskets, no clothes....

"All right; you can pass," said the man.

Once through the Gates, Perrine, holding Palikare by the bridle,
followed the stretch of grass along the embankment. In the brown, dirty
grass she saw rough looking men lying on their backs or on their
stomachs. She saw now the class of people who frequent this spot. From
the very air of these men, with their bestial, criminal faces, she
understood why it would be unsafe for them to be there at night. She
could well believe that their knives would be in ready use.

Looking towards the city, she saw nothing but dirty streets and filthy
houses. So this was Paris, the beautiful Paris of which her father had
so often spoken. With one word she made her donkey go faster, then
turning to the left she inquired for the Guillot Field.

If everyone knew where it was situated, no two were of the same opinion
as to which road she should take to get there, and several times, in
trying to follow the various directions which were given to her, she
lost her way.

At last she found the place for which she was looking. This must be it!
Inside the field there was an old omnibus without wheels, and a railway
car, also without wheels, was on the ground. In addition, she saw a
dozen little round pups rolling about. Yes, this was the place!

Leaving Palikare in the street, she went into the field. The pups at
once scrambled at her feet, barked, and snapped at her shoes.

"Who's there?" called a voice.

She looked around and saw a long, low building, which might have been a
house, but which might serve for anything else. The walls were made of
bits of stone, wood and plaster. Even tin boxes were used in its
construction. The roof was made of tarred canvas and cardboard, and most
of the window panes were of paper, although in one or two instances
there was some glass. The man who designed it was another Robinson
Crusoe, and his workman a man Friday.

A one-armed man with a shaggy beard was sorting out rags and throwing
them into the baskets around him.

"Don't step on my dogs," he cried; "come nearer."

She did as she was told.

"Are you the owner of the Guillot Field?" she asked.

"That's me!" replied the man.

In a few words she told him what she wanted. So as not to waste his time
while listening, he poured some red wine out of a bottle that stood on
the ground and drank it down at a gulp.

"It can be arranged if you pay in advance," he said, sizing her up.

"How much?" she asked.

"Forty sous a week for the wagon and twenty for the donkey," he
replied.

"That's a lot of money," she said, hesitatingly.

"That's my price."

"Your summer price?"

"Yes, my summer price."

"Can my donkey eat the thistles?"

"Yes, and the grass also if his teeth are strong enough."

"We can't pay for the whole week because we are only going to stay one
day. We are going through Paris on our way to Amiens, and we want to
rest."

"Well, that's all right; six sous a day for the cart and three for the
donkey."

One by one she pulled out nine sous from the pocket in her skirt.

"That's for the first day," she said, handing them to the man.

"You can tell your people they can all come in," he said, "How many are
there? If it's a whole company it's two sous extra for each person."

"I have only my mother."

"All right; but why didn't your mother come and settle this?"

"She is in the wagon, ill."

"Ill! Well, this isn't a hospital."

Perrine was afraid that he would not let her sick mother come in.

"I mean she's a little bit tired. We've come a long way."

"I never ask people where they come from," replied the man gruffly. He
pointed to a corner of the field, and added: "You can put your wagon
over there and tie up the donkey. And if it squashes one of my pups
you'll pay me five francs, one hundred sous ... understand?"

As she was going he called out:

"Will you take a glass of wine?"

"No, thanks," she replied; "I never take wine."

"Good," he said; "I'll drink it for you."

He drained another glass, then returned to his collection of rags.

As soon as she had installed Palikare in the place that the man had
pointed out to her, which was accomplished not without some jolts,
despite the care which she took, Perrine climbed up into the wagon.

"We've arrived at last, poor mama," she said, bending over the woman.

"No more shaking, no more rolling about," said the woman weakly.

"There, there; I'll make you some dinner," said Perrine cheerfully.
"What would you like?"

"First, dear, unharness Palikare; he is very tired also; and give him
something to eat and drink."

Perrine did as her mother told her, then returned to the wagon and took
out the small stove, some pieces of coal and an old saucepan and some
sticks. Outside, she went down on her knees and made a fire; at last,
after blowing with all her might, she had the satisfaction of seeing
that it had taken.

"You'd like some rice, wouldn't you?" she asked, leaning over her
mother.

"I am not hungry."

"Is there anything else you would fancy? I'll go and fetch anything you
want. What would you like, mama, dearie?"

"I think I prefer rice," said her mother.

Little Perrine threw a handful of rice into the saucepan that she had
put on the fire and waited for the water to boil; then she stirred the
rice with two white sticks that she had stripped of their bark. She only
left her cooking once, to run over to Palikare to say a few loving words
to him. The donkey was eating the thistles with a satisfaction, the
intensity of which was shown by the way his long ears stood up.

When the rice was cooked to perfection, Perrine filled a bowl and placed
it at her mother's bedside, also two glasses, two plates and two forks.
Sitting down on the floor, with her legs tucked under her and her skirts
spread out, she said, like a little girl who is playing with her doll:
"Now we'll have a little din-din, mammy, dear, and I'll wait on you."

In spite of her gay tone, there was an anxious look in the child's eyes
as she looked at her mother lying on the mattress, covered with an old
shawl that had once been beautiful and costly, but was now only a faded
rag.

The sick woman tried to swallow a mouthful of rice, then she looked at
her daughter with a wan smile.

"It doesn't go down very well," she murmured.

"You must force yourself," said Perrine; "the second will go down
better, and the third better still."

"I cannot; no, I cannot, dear!"

"Oh, mama!"

The mother sank back on her mattress, gasping. But weak though she was,
she thought of her little girl and smiled.

"The rice is delicious, dear," she said; "you eat it. As you do the work
you must feed well. You must be very strong to be able to nurse me, so
eat, darling, eat."

Keeping back her tears, Perrine made an effort to eat her dinner. Her
mother continued to talk to her. Little by little she stopped crying and
all the rice disappeared.

"Why don't you try to eat, mother?" she asked. "I forced myself."

"But I'm ill, dear."

"I think I ought to go and fetch a doctor. We are in Paris now and there
are good doctors here."

"Good doctors will not put themselves out unless they are paid."

"We'll pay."

"With what, my child?"

"With our money. You have seven francs in your pocket and a florin which
we could change here. I've got 17 sous. Feel in your pocket."

The black dress, as worn as Perrine's skirt but not so dusty, for it had
been brushed, was lying on the bed, and served for a cover. They found
the seven francs and an Austrian coin.

"How much does that make in all?" asked Perrine; "I don't understand
French money."

"I know very little more than you," replied her mother.

Counting the florin at two francs, they found they had nine francs and
eighty-five centimes.

"You see we have more than what is needed for a doctor," insisted
Perrine.

"He won't cure me with words; we shall have to buy medicine."

"I have an idea. You can imagine that all the time I was walking beside
Palikare I did not waste my time just talking to him, although he likes
that. I was also thinking of both of us, but mostly of you, mama,
because you are sick. And I was thinking of our arrival at Maraucourt.
Everybody has laughed at our wagon as we came along, and I am afraid if
we go to Maraucourt with it we shall not get much of a welcome. If our
relations are very proud, they'll be humiliated.

"So I thought," she added, wisely, "that as we don't need the wagon any
more, we could sell it. Now that you are ill, no one will let me take
their pictures, and even if they would we have not the money to buy the
things for developing that we need. We must sell it."

"And how much can we get for it?"

"We can get something; then there is the camera and the mattress."

"Everything," said the sick woman.

"But you don't mind, do you, mother, dear?..."

"We have lived in this wagon for more than a year," said her mother;
"your father died here, and although it's a poor thing, it makes me sad


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