In the Hayloft
Sleeping in the hayloft with the rats

The "veuve Aubert," as she liked to be called, had had thirteen children; this many pairs of arms had been a welcome free workforce on the tenant farm.

The farmhouse was too small to accommodate them and their offspring on their occasional visits, so the brothers Mauricet—not yet in their teens—were sent off to spend the night in the loft, home to families of rodents, which did not seem to appreciate this disturbance to their usual routine.

They scurried about as soon as we appeared. Their domain was the repository for hay and straw and we now faced the delicate decision of exactly where, and on what herb, to bed down for the night.

Since the rodents were everywhere, there was actually no solution to our quandary and we usually bedded down in the middle of the loft, clinging to each other, wrapped in smelly tarpaulins, and hoping for the best.

It is probable that these rats or mice were as scared of us as we were of them; they never did attack us.