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Title: Waterloo - A sequel to The Conscript of 1813
Author: Erckmann-Chatrian
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Waterloo - A sequel to The Conscript of 1813" ***

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[Frontispiece: The Emperor had left for Paris.]








NEW YORK :::::::::::::::::::::: 1911


_The Emperor had left for Paris_ . . . . . . . . . . _Frontispiece_

_People were heard shouting, "There it is! there it is!"_

_A mounted hussar was looking out into the night_

_The Emperor, his hands behind his back and his head bent forward_

_He had had the courage to pull up the bucket_

_Combat of Hougoumont Farm_


Often as the campaign of Waterloo has been described by historians and
frequently as it has been celebrated in fiction it has rarely been
narrated from the stand-point of a private soldier participating in it
and telling only what he saw.  That this limitation, however, does not
exclude events of the greatest importance and incidents of the most
intensely dramatic interest is abundantly proved by the narrative of
the Conscript who makes another campaign in this volume and describes
it with his customary painstaking fulness and fidelity.  But what
renders "Waterloo" still more interesting is the picture it presents of
the state of affairs after the first Bourbon restoration, and its
stupidity of the new _régime_ for that return to power of Napoleon
which seems so dramatically sudden and unexpected to a superficial view
of the events of the time.  In this respect "Waterloo" deserves to rank
very high as a chapter of familiar history, or at least of historical





The joy of the people on the return of Louis XVIII., in 1814, was
unbounded.  It was in the spring, and the hedges, gardens, and orchards
were in full bloom.  The people had for years suffered so much misery,
and had so many times feared being carried off by the conscription
never to return, they were so weary of battles, of the captured cannon,
of all the glory and the Te Deums, that they wished for nothing but to
live in peace and quiet and to rear their families by honest labor.

Indeed, everybody was content except the old soldiers and the

I well remember how, when on the 3d of May the order came to raise the
white flag on the church, the whole town trembled for fear of the
soldiers of the garrison, and Nicholas Passauf, the slater, demanded
six louis for the bold feat.  He was plainly to be seen from every
street with the white silk flag with its "fleur-de-lis," and the
soldiers were shooting at him from every window of the two barracks,
but Passauf raised his flag in spite of them and came down and hid
himself in the barn of the "Trois Maisons," while the marines were
searching the town for him to kill him.

That was their feeling, but the laborers and the peasants and the
tradespeople with one voice hailed the return of peace and cried, "Down
with the conscription and the right of union."  Everybody was tired of
living like a bird on branch and of risking their lives for matters
which did not concern them.

In the midst of all this joy nobody was so happy as I; the others had
not had the good luck to escape unharmed from the terrible battles of
Weissenfels and Lutzen and Leipzig, and from the horrible typhus.  I
had made the acquaintance of glory and that gave me a still greater
love for peace and horror of conscription.

I had come back to Father Goulden's, and I shall never in my life
forget his hearty welcome, or his exclamation as he took me in his
arms: "It is Joseph!  Ah! my dear child, I thought you were lost!" and
we mingled our tears and our embraces together.  And then we lived
together again like two friends.  He would make me go over our battles
again and again, and laughingly call me "the old soldier."  Then he
would tell me of the siege of Pfalzbourg, how the enemy arrived before
the town, in January, and how the old republicans with a few hundred
gunners were sent to mount our cannon on the ramparts, how they were
obliged to eat horseflesh on account of the famine, and to break up the
iron utensils of the citizens to make case-shot and canister.

Father Goulden, in spite of his threescore years, had aimed the pieces
on the Magazine bastion on the Bichelberg side, and I often imagined I
could see him with his black silk cap and spectacles on, in the act of
aiming a twenty-four pounder.  Then this would make us both laugh and
helped to pass away the time.

We had resumed all our old habits.  I laid the table and made the soup.
I was occupying my little chamber again and dreamed of Catherine day
and night.  But now, instead of being afraid of the conscription as I
was in 1813, I had something else to trouble me.  Man is never quite
happy, some petty misery or other assails him.  How often do we see
this in life?  My peace was disturbed by this.

You know I was to marry Catherine; we were agreed, and Aunt Grédel
desired nothing better.  Unhappily, however, the conscripts of 1815
were disbanded, while those of 1813 still remained soldiers.  It was no
longer so dangerous to be a soldier as it was under the Empire, and
many of these had returned to their homes and were living quietly, but
that did not prevent the necessity of my having a permit in order to be
married.  Mr. Jourdan, the new mayor, would never allow me to register
without this permission, and this made me anxious.

Father Goulden, as soon as the city gates were opened, had written to
the minister of war, Dupont, that I was at Pfalzbourg and still unwell,
that I had limped from my birth, and that I had in spite of this been
pressed into the service, that I was a poor soldier, but that I could
make a good father of a family, that it would be a real crime to
prevent me from marrying, that I was ill-formed and weak and should be
obliged to go into the hospital, etc.

It was a beautiful letter, and it told the truth too.  The very idea of
going away again made me ill.  So we waited from day to day--Aunt
Grédel, Father Goulden, Catherine, and I, for the answer from the

I cannot describe the impatience I felt when the postman Brainstein,
the son of the bell-ringer, came into the street.  I could hear him
half a mile away, and then I could not go on with my work, but must
lean out of the window and watch him as he went from house to house.
When he would stay a little too long, I would say to myself, "What can
he have to talk about so long? why don't he leave his letters and come
away? he is a regular tattler, that Brainstein!"  I was ready to pounce
upon him.  Sometimes I ran down to meet him, and would ask, "Have you
nothing for me?"  "No, Mr. Joseph," he would reply as he looked over
his letters.  Then I would go sadly back, and Father Goulden, who had
been looking on, would say:

"Have a little patience, child! have patience, it will come.  It is not
war time now."

"But he has had time to answer a dozen times, Mr. Goulden."

"Do you think he has nobody's affairs to attend to but yours?  He
receives hundreds of such letters every day--and each one receives his
answer in his turn.  And then everything is in confusion from top to
bottom.  Come, come! we are not alone in the world--many other brave
fellows are waiting for their permits to be married."

I knew he was right, but I said to myself, "If that minister only knew
how happy he would make us by just writing ten words, I am sure he
would do it at once.  How we would bless him, Catherine and I, Aunt
Grédel and all of us."  But wait we must.

Of course I had resumed my old habit of going to Quatre Vents on
Sundays.  On these mornings I was always awake early--I do not know
what roused me.  At first I thought I was a soldier again; this made me
shiver.  Then I would open my eyes, look at the ceiling, and think,
"Why you are at home with Father Goulden, at Pfalzbourg, in your own
little room.  To-day is Sunday, and you are going to see Catherine."
By this time I was wide awake, and could see Catherine with her
blooming cheeks and blue eyes.  I wanted to get up at once and dress
myself and set off.  But the clocks had just struck four, and the city
gates were still shut.  I was obliged to wait, and this annoyed me very
much.  In order to keep patience I began to recall our courtship,
remembering the first days, how we feared the conscription and the
drawing of the unlucky number, with its "fit for service;" the old
guard Werner, at the mayor's, the leave-taking, the journey to Mayence,
and the broad Capougnerstrasse where the good woman gave me a
foot-bath, Frankfort and Erfurth farther on, where I received my first
letter, two days before the battle, the Russians, the
Prussians--everything in fact--and then I would weep, but the thought
of Catherine was always uppermost.

When the clock struck five I jumped from my bed, washed and shaved and
dressed myself, then Father Goulden, still behind his big curtains,
would put out his nose and say:

"I hear you!  I hear you!  You have been rolling and tumbling for the
last half hour.  Ha! ha! it is Sunday to-day."

He would laugh at his own wit, and I laughed with him, and would then
bid him good-morning and be down the stairs at a bound.

Very few people were stirring, but Sepel the butcher would always call
out: "Come here, Joseph, I have something to tell you."  But I only
just turned my head, and ten minutes after was on the high-road to
Quatre Vents, outside the city walls.  Oh! how fine the weather was
that beautiful year!  How green and flourishing everything looked, and
how busy the people were, trying to make up for lost time, planting and
watering their cabbages and turnips, and digging over the ground
trodden down by the cavalry; how confident everybody was too of the
goodness of God, who, they hoped, would send the sun and the rain which
they so much needed.  All along the road, in the little gardens, women
and old men, everybody, were at work, digging, planting, and watering.

"Work away, Father Thiébeau, and you too, Mother Furst.  Courage!"
cried I.

"Yes, yes, Mr. Joseph, there is need enough for that; this blockade has
put everything back, there is no time to lose."

The roads were filled with carts and wagons, laden with brick and
lumber and materials for repairing the houses and roofs which had been
destroyed by the howitzers.  How the whips cracked and the hammers rang
in all the country round!  On every side carpenters and masons were
seen busily at work on the summer houses.  Father Ulrich and his three
boys were already on the roof of the "Flower Basket," which had been
broken to pieces by the balls, strengthening the new timbers, whistling
and hammering in concert.  What a busy time it was, indeed, when peace
returned!  They wanted no more war then.  They knew the worth of
tranquillity, and only asked to repair their losses as far as possible.
They knew that a stroke of a saw or a plane was of more value than a
cannon-shot, and how many tears and how much fatigue it would cost to
rebuild even in ten years, that which the bombs had destroyed in ten
minutes.  Oh! how happy I was as I went along.  No more marches and
counter-marches; I did not need the countersign from Sergeant Pinto
where I was going!  And how sweetly the lark sang as it soared
tremblingly upward, and the quails whistled and linnets twittered.  The
sweet freshness of the morning, the fragrant eglantine in the hedges,
urged me on till I caught sight of the gable of the old roof of Quatre
Vents, and the little chimney with its wreath of smoke.  "'Tis
Catherine who made the fire," I thought, "and she is preparing our
coffee."  Then I would moderate my steps in order to get my breath a
little, while I scanned the little windows and laughed with anticipated
pleasure.  The door opens, and Mother Grédel, with her woollen
petticoat and a big broom in her hand, turns round and exclaims: "Here
he is! here he is!"  Then Catherine runs up, always more and more
beautiful, with her little blue cap, and says: "Ah! that is good; I was
expecting thee!"  How happy she is, and how I embrace her!  Ah! to be
young!  I see it all again!

I go into the old room with Catherine, and Aunt Grédel flourishes her
broom and exclaims energetically: "No more conscription--that is done
with!"  We laugh heartily and sit down, and while Catherine looks at
me, aunt commences again:

"That beggar of a minister, has he not written yet?  Will he never
write, I wonder?  Does he take us for brutes?  It is very disagreeable
always to be ordered about.  Thou art no longer a soldier, since they
left thee for dead.  We saved thy life, and thou art nothing to them

"Certainly, you are right, Aunt Grédel," I would say; "but for all that
we cannot be married without going to the mayor--without a permit--and
if we do not go to the mayor, the priest will not dare to marry us at
the church."

Then aunt would be very grave, and always ended by saying: "You see,
Joseph, that all those people from first to last have fixed everything
to suit themselves.  Who pays the guards, and the judges, and the
priests, and who is it that pays everybody?  It is we! and yet they
dare not marry us.  It is shameful; and if it goes on, we will go to
Switzerland and be married."  This would calm us, and we would spend
the rest of the day in singing and laughing.


In spite of my great impatience every day brought something new, and it
comes back to me now like the comedies that are played at the fairs.
The mayors and their assistants, the municipal counsellors, the grain
and wood merchants, the foresters and field-guards, and all those
people who had been for ten years regarded as the best friends of the
Emperor, and had been very severe if any one said a word against his
majesty, turned round and denounced him as a tyrant and usurper, and
called him "the ogre of Corsica."  You would have thought that Napoleon
had done them some great injury, when the fact was that they and their
families had always had the best offices.

I have often thought since, that this is the way the good places are
obtained under all governments, and still I should be ashamed to abuse
those who could not defend themselves, and whom I had a thousand times
flattered.  I should prefer to remain poor and work for a living rather
than to gain riches and consideration by such means.  But such are men!
And I ought to remember too, that our old mayor and three or four of
the counsellors did not follow this example, and Mr. Goulden said that
at least they respected themselves, and that the brawlers had no honor.

I remember how, one day, the Mayor of Hacmatt had come to have his
watch put in order at our shop, when he commenced to talk against the
Emperor in such a way that Father Goulden, rising suddenly, said to him:

"Here, take your watch, Mr. Michael, I will not work for you.  What!
only last year you called him constantly 'the great man.'  And you
never could call him Emperor simply, but must add, Emperor and King,
protector of the Helvetic Confederation, etc., while your mouth was
full of beef; now you say he is an ogre, and you call Louis XVIII.,
'Louis the well-beloved!'  You ought to be ashamed of yourself!  Do you
take people for brutes? and do you think they have no memories?"

Then the mayor replied, "It is plain to be seen that you are an old

"What I am is nobody's business," replied Father Goulden, "but in any
case I am not a slanderer."  He was pale as death, and ended by saying,
"Go, Mr. Michael, go! beggars are beggars under all governments."

He was so indignant that day he could hardly work, and would jump up
every minute and exclaim:

"Joseph, I did like those Bourbons, but this crowd of beggars has
disgusted me with them already.  They are the kind of people who spoil
everything, for they declare everything perfect, beautiful, and
magnificent; they see no defect in anything, they raise their hands to
heaven in admiration if the king but coughs.  They want their part of
the cake.  And then, seeing their delight, kings and emperors end by
believing themselves gods, and when revolutions come, these rascals
abandon them, and begin to play the same rôle under some one else.  In
this way they are always at the top, while honest people are always in

This was about the beginning of May, and it had been announced that the
King had just made his solemn entry into Paris, attended by the
marshals of the Empire, that nearly all the population had come out to
meet him, and that old men and women and little children had climbed
upon the balconies to catch a glimpse of him, and that he had at first
entered the church of Notre Dame to give thanks to God, and immediately
after retired to the Tuileries.

It was announced also that the Senate had pronounced a high-sounding
address, assuring him there need be no alarm on account of all the
disturbances, urging him to take courage and promising the support of
the senators in case of any difficulties.

Everybody approved this address.  But we were soon to have a new sight,
we were to witness the return of the _émigrés_ from the heart of
Germany and from Russia.  Some returned by the government vessels, and
some in simple "salad baskets," a kind of wicker carriage, on two and
four wheels.  The ladies wore dresses with immense flower patterns, and
the men wore the old French coats and short breeches, and waistcoats
hanging down to the thighs, as they are represented in the fashions of
the time of the Republic.

All these people were apparently proud and happy to see their country
once more.  In spite of the miserable beasts which dragged their
wretched wagons filled with straw, and the peasants who served as
postilions--in spite of all this, I was moved with compassion as I
recalled the joy I felt five months before on seeing France again, and
I said to myself:

"Poor people! they will weep on beholding Paris again, they are going
to be happy!"

They all stopped at the "Red Ox," the hotel of the old ambassadors and
marshals and princes and dukes and rich people, who no longer
patronized it, and we could see them in the rooms brushing their own
hair, dressing and shaving themselves.

About noon they all came down, shouting and calling "John!" "Claude!"
"Germain!" with great impatience, and ordering them about like
important personages, and seating themselves around the great tables,
with their old servants all patched up and standing behind them with
their napkins under their arms.  These people with their old-fashioned
clothes, and their fine manners and happy air, made a very good
appearance, and we said to ourselves: "There are the Frenchmen
returning from exile; they did wrong to go, and to excite all Europe
against us, but there is mercy for every sin; may they be well and
happy!  That is the worst we wish them."

Some of these _émigrés_ returned by post, and then our new mayor, Mr.
Jourdan, chevalier de St. Louis, the vicar, Mr. Loth, and the new
commandant, Mr. Robert de la Faisanderie, in his embroidered uniform,
would wait for them at the gate, and when they heard the postilion's
whip crack they would go forward, smiling as if some great good fortune
had arrived, and the moment the coach stopped, the commandant would run
and open it, shouting most enthusiastically.

At other times they would stand quite still to show their respect; I
have seen these people salute each other three times in succession,
slowly and gravely, each time approaching a little nearer to each other.

Father Goulden would laugh and say: "Do you see, Joseph, that is the
grand style--the style of the nobles of the _ancien régime_; by just
looking out of the window we can learn fine manners which may serve us
when we get to be dukes and princes."  Again it would be: "Those old
fellows, there, Joseph, fired away at us from the lines at Wissembourg,
they were good riders and they fought well, as all Frenchmen do, but we
routed them after all."

Then he would wink and go back laughing to his work.  But the rumor
spread among the servants of the "Red Ox," that these people did not
hesitate to say that they had conquered _us_, and that they were our
masters; that King Louis XVIII. had always reigned since Louis XVII.,
son of Louis XVI.; that we were rebels, and that they had come to
restore us to order.

Father Goulden did not relish this, and said to me in an ill-humored
way: "Do you know, Joseph, what these people are going to do in Paris?
they are going to demand the restoration of their ponds and their
forests, their parks and their chateaux, and their pensions, not to
speak of the fat offices and honors and favors of every kind.  You
think their coats and perukes very old-fashioned, but their notions are
still older than their coats and perukes.  They are more dangerous for
us than the Russians or the Austrians, because they are going away, but
these people are going to remain.  They would like to destroy all we
have done for the last twenty-five years.  You see how proud they are;
though many of them lived in the greatest misery on the other side of
the Rhine, yet they think they are of a different race from ours--a
superior race; they believe the people are always ready to let
themselves be fleeced as they were before '89.  They say Louis XVIII.
has good sense; so much the better for him, for if he is unfortunate
enough to listen to these people, if they imagine even that he can act
upon their advice, all is lost.  There will be civil war.  The people
have _thought_, during the last twenty-five years.  They know their
rights, and they know that one man is as good as another, and that all
their 'noble races' are nonsense.  Each one will keep his property,
each one will have equal rights and will defend himself to the death."
That is what Father Goulden said to me, and as my permit never came, I
thought the minister had no time to answer our demands with all these
counts and viscounts, these dukes and marquises at his back, who were
clamoring for their woods and their ponds and their fat offices.  I was

"Great God," I cried, "what misery! as soon as one misfortune is over
another begins! and it is always the innocent who suffer for the faults
of the others!  O God! deliver us from the _nobles_, old and new!
Crown them with blessings, but let them leave us in peace!"

One morning Aunt Grédel came in to see us; it was on Friday and
market-day.  She brought her basket on her arm and seemed very happy.
I looked toward the door, thinking that Catherine was coming too, and I
said: "Good-morning, Aunt Grédel; Catherine is in town, she is coming

"No!  Joseph, no; she is at Quatre Vents.  We are over our ears in work
on account of the planting."

I was disappointed and vexed too, for I had anticipated seeing her.
But Aunt Grédel put her basket on the table, and said as she lifted up
the cover:

"Look! here is something for you, Joseph, something from Catherine."

There was a great bouquet of May roses, violets, and three beautiful
lilacs with their green leaves around the edge.  The sight of this made
me happy, and I laughed and said: "How sweetly it smells."  And Father
Goulden turned round and laughed too, saying:

"You see, Joseph, they are always thinking of you!"

And we all laughed together.  My good-humor had returned, and I kissed
Aunt Grédel and told her to take it to Catherine from me.

Then I put my bouquet in a vase on the window-sill by my bedside, and
thought of Catherine going out in the early morning to gather the
violets and the fresh roses and adding one after the other in the dew,
putting in the lilacs last, and the odor seemed still more delightful.
I could not look at them enough.  I left them on the window-sill,

"I shall enjoy them through the night, and shall give them fresh water
in the morning, and the next day after will be Sunday and I shall see
Catherine and thank her with a kiss."

I went back into the room, where Aunt Grédel was talking to Father
Goulden about the markets and the price of grain, etc., both in the
best of humor.  Aunt put her basket on the ground and said:

"Well, Joseph, your permit has not come yet?"

"No! not yet, and it is terrible!"

"Yes," she replied, "the ministers are all alike, one is no better than
another; they take the worst and laziest to fill that place."

Then she went on: "Make yourself easy, I have a plan which will change
all that."  She laughed, and as Father Goulden and I listened to hear
her plan, she continued:

"Just now while I was at the town-hall, Sergeant Harmantier announced
that we were to have a grand mass for the repose of the souls of Louis
XVI., Pichegru, Moreau, and--another one."

"Yes," interrupted Father Goulden, "for George Cadoudal,--I read it
last evening in the gazette."

"That is it, of Cadoudal," said Aunt Grédel.  "You see, Joseph, hearing
that, I thought at once, 'now we will have the permit.'  We are going
to have processions and atonements, and we will all go together,
Joseph, Catherine, and I.  We shall be the first, and everybody will
say, 'They are good royalists, they are well disposed.'  The priest
will hear of it.  Now the priests have long arms, as in the time of the
generals and colonels,--we will go and see him, he will receive us
favorably, and will even make a petition for us.  And I tell you this
will succeed, we shall not fail this time."

She spoke quite low as she explained all this, and seemed well
satisfied with her ingenuity.  I felt happy too, and thought, "That is
what we must do, Aunt Grédel is right."  But on looking at Father
Goulden, I saw he was very grave, and that he had turned away and was
looking at a watch through his glass, and knitting his big white
eyebrows.  So, knowing he was not pleased, I said:

"I think myself, that would succeed, but before we do anything I would
like to have Father Goulden's opinion."

Then he turned round and said:

"Every one is free, Joseph, to follow his own conscience.  To make an
expiation for the death of Louis XVI. is all very well; honest people
of all parties will have nothing to say, if they are royalists, of
course; but if you kneel from self-interest, you had better stay at
home.  As for Louis XVI., I will let him pass, but for Pichegru,
Moreau, and Cadoudal,--that is altogether another thing.  Pichegru
surrendered his troops to the enemy, Moreau fought against France, and
George Cadoudal was an assassin,--three kinds of ambitious men, who
asked for nothing but to oppress us, and all three deserved their fate.
_That_ is what I think."

"But what has all that to do with us, pray?" exclaimed Aunt Grédel.
"We will not go for them, we will go to get our permit.  I despise all
the rest, and so does Joseph, do you not?"

I was greatly embarrassed, for what Father Goulden said seemed to me to
be right, and he, seeing this, said:

"I understand the love of young people, Mother Grédel, but we must not
use such means to induce a young man to sacrifice what he thinks is
right.  If Joseph does not hold the same opinion as I do of Pichegru
and Moreau and Cadoudal, very well, let him go to the procession.  I
shall not reproach him for it, but as for me, I shall not go."

"I shall not go either.  Mr. Goulden is right," I replied.

I saw Aunt Grédel was displeased, she turned quite red, but was calm
again in a moment, and added:

"Very well!  Catherine and I will go, because we mock at all those old

Father Goulden could not help smiling as he saw her anger.

"Yes, everybody is free," said he, "to do as he pleases, so do as you

Aunt Grédel took up her basket and went away, and he laughed and made a
sign to me to go with her.  I very quickly had my coat on and overtook
her at the corner of the street.

"Listen, Joseph," said she, as she went toward the square, "Father
Goulden is an excellent man, but he is an old fool!  He has never since
I knew him been satisfied with anything.  He does not say so, but the
Republic is always in his head.  He thinks of nothing but his old
Republic, when everybody was a sovereign--beggars, tinkers,
soap-boilers, Jews, and Christians.  There is no sense in it.  But what
are we to do?  If he were not such an excellent man I would not care
for him, but we must remember he has taught you a good trade, and done
us all many favors, and we owe him great respect, that is why I hurried
away, for I was inclined to be angry."

"You did right," I said, "I love Father Goulden like my father, and you
like my mother, and nothing could give me so much pain as to see you
angry with one another."

"I quarrel with a man like him!" said Aunt Grédel.  "I would rather
jump out of the window.  No, no, but we need not listen to all he says,
for I insist that this procession is a good thing for us, that the
priest will get the permit for us, and that is the principal thing.
Catherine and I will go, and as Mr. Goulden will stay at home, you had
best stay too.  But I am certain that three-fourths of the town and
country round will go, and whether it be for Moreau or Pichegru or
Cadoudal it is of no consequence.  It will be very fine.  You will see!"

"I believe you," I answered.

We had reached the German gate; I kissed her again, and went back quite
happy to my work.


I recollect this visit of Aunt Grédel because eight days after the
processions and atonements and sermons commenced, and did not end till
the return of the Emperor in 1815, and then they commenced again and
continued till the fall of Charles X. in 1830.  Everybody who was then
alive knows there was no end to them.  So when I think of Napoleon, I
hear the cannon of the arsenal thunder and the panes of our windows
rattle, and Father Goulden cries out from his bed: "Another victory,
Joseph!  Ha! ha! ha!  Always victories."  And when I think of Louis
XVIII., I hear the bells ring and I imagine Father Brainstein and his
two big boys hanging to the ropes, and I hear Father Goulden laugh and
say: "That, Joseph, is for Saint Magloire or Saint Polycarp."

I cannot think of those days in any other way.

Under the Empire I see too at nightfall, Father Coiffé, Nicholas Rolfo,
and five or six other veterans, loading their cannon for the evening
salute of twenty-one guns, while half of Pfalzbourg stand on the
opposite bastion looking at the red light, and smoke, and watching the
wads as they fall into the moat; then the illuminations at night and
the crackers and rockets, I hear the children cry _Vive l'Empereur_,
and then some days after, the death notices and the conscription.
Under Louis XVIII. I see the altars and the peasants with their carts
full of moss and broom and young pines; the ladies coming out of their
houses with great vases of flowers; people carrying their chandeliers
and crucifixes, and then the processions--the priest and his vicars,
the choir boys and Jacob Cloutier, Purrhus, and Tribou, the singers;
the beadle Koekli, with his red robe and his banner which swept the
skies, the bells ringing their full peals; Mr. Jourdan, the new mayor,
with his great red face, his beautiful uniform with his cross of St.
Louis, and the commandant with his three-cornered hat under his arm,
his great peruke frosted with powder, and his uniform glittering in the
sunshine, and behind them the town council, and the innumerable
torches, which they lighted for each other as the wind blew them out;
the Swiss, Jean-Peter Siroti, with his blue beard closely shaven and
his splendid hat pointing across his shoulders, his broad white silk
shoulder-belt sprinkled with fleur-de-lis across his breast, his
halberd erect, glistening like a plate of silver; the young girls,
ladies, and thousands of country people in their Sunday clothes,
praying in concert with the old people at their head, from each
village, who kept repeating incessantly, "pray for us, pray for us."
With the streets full of leaves and garlands and the white flags in the
windows, the Jews and the Lutherans looking out from their closed
blinds and the sun lighting up the grand sight below.  This continued
from 1814 to 1830, except during the hundred days, not to speak of the
missions, the bishop's visits, and other extraordinary ceremonies.  I
like best to tell you all this at once, for if I should undertake to
describe one procession after another the story would be too long.

Well! this commenced the 19th of May, and the same day that Harmentier
announced the grand atonement, there arrived five preachers from Nancy,
young men, who preached during the whole week, from morning until
midnight.  This was to prepare for the atonement; nothing else was
talked about in the town, the people were converted, and all the women
and girls went to confession.  It was rumored also that the national
property was to be restored, and that the poor men would be separated
from the respectable people by the procession, because the beggars
would not dare to show themselves.  You may imagine my chagrin at being
obliged, in spite of myself, to remain among the poor people; but,
thank God!  I had nothing to reproach myself with in regard to the
death of Louis XVI., and I had none of the national property, and all I
wanted was permission to marry Catherine.  I thought with Aunt Grédel
that Father Goulden was very obstinate, but I never dared to say a word
to him about that.  I was very unhappy, the more so, because the people
who came to us to have their watches repaired, respectable citizens,
mayors, foresters, etc., approved of all these sermons, and said that
the like had never been heard.  Mr. Goulden always kept on his work
while listening to them, and when it was done he would turn to them and
say, "Here is your watch, Mr. Christopher or Mr. Nicholas; it is so and
so much."  He did not seem to be interested in these matters, and it
was only when one and another would speak of the national property, of
the rebellion of twenty-five years, and of expiating past crimes, that
he would take off his spectacles and raise his head to listen, and
would say with an air of surprise, "Pshaw! well! well! that is fine!
that is, Mr. Claude! indeed you astonish me.  These young men preach so
well then?  Well, if the work were not so pressing, I would go and hear
them.  I need instruction also."

I always kept thinking that he would change his mind, and the next
evening as we were finishing our supper I was happy enough to hear him
say good-humoredly:

"Joseph, are you not curious to hear these preachers?  They tell so
many fine things of them, that I want to hear how it is for myself."

"Oh!  Mr. Goulden, I should like nothing better! but we must lose no
time, for the church is always full by the second stroke of the bell."

"Very well! let us go," said he, rising and taking down his hat.  "I am
curious to see how it is.  Those people astonish me.  Come!"

We went out; the moon was shining so brightly that we could recognize
people as easily as in broad daylight.  At the corner of the rue
Fouquet we saw that even the steps of the church were already covered
with people.  Two or three old women, Annette Petit, Mother Balaie, and
Jeannette Baltzer, with their big shawls wrapped closely round them,
and the long fringes of their bonnets over their eyes, hurried past us,
when Father Goulden exclaimed, "Here are the old women!  Ha! ha! ha!
always the same!"

He laughed, and as he went on said, that since Father Colin's time
there had never been so many people seen at the evening service.  I
could not believe that he was speaking of the old landlord of the
"Three Roses," opposite the infantry barracks, so I said:

"He was a priest, Mr. Goulden?"

"No, no," he answered smiling, "I mean old Colin.  In 1792, when we had
a club in the church, everybody could preach; but Colin spoke best of
all.  He had a magnificent voice, and said many forcible and true
things, and the people came from far and near, from Saverne and
Saarburg, and even still farther away to hear him; women and girls,
'citoyennes' as they called them then, filled the choir galleries and
the pews.  They wore little cockades in their bonnets, and sang the
'Marseillaise' to arouse the young men.  You never saw anything like
it!  Annette Petit, Mother Baltzer, and all those whom you see running
before us, with their prayer-books under their arms, were among the
foremost.  But they had white teeth and beautiful hair then, and loved
'Liberty, Equality, and Fraternity.'  Ha! ha! poor Bevel! poor Annette!
Now they are going to repent, though they were good patriots then; I
believe God will pardon them."  He laughed as he recalled these old
stories, but when we had reached the steps of the church he grew sober,
and said:

"Yes--yes--everything changes, everything!  I remember the day in '93,
when old Colin spoke of the country being in danger, when three hundred
young men left the country to join the army of Hoche; Colin followed
them, and became their commander.  He was a terrible fellow among his
grenadiers.  He would not sign the proposition to make Napoleon
emperor,--now he sells over the counter by the glass!"

Then looking at me as if he were astonished at his own thoughts, he
said, "Let us go in, Joseph."

We entered under the great pillars of the organ; the crowd was very
great, and he did not say a word more.  There were lights burning in
the choir over the heads of the people.  The only sound which broke the
silence was the opening and shutting of the doors of the pews.  At last
we heard Sirou's halberd on the floor, and Mr. Goulden said, "There he

A light near the vessel for the holy water enabled us to see a little.
A shadow mounted to the pulpit at the left, while Koekli lighted two or
three candles with his stick.  The preacher might have been twenty-five
or thirty years old, he had a pleasant, rosy face and heavy blonde hair
below his tonsure, that fell in curls over his neck.  They commenced by
singing a psalm, the young girls of the village sang in the choir "What
joy to be a Christian."  After that the preacher from the desk said,
that he had come to defend the faith, the law, and the "right divine"
of Louis XVIII., and demanded if any one had the audacity to take the
other side.  As nobody wished to be stoned, there was a dead silence.
Then a brown, thin man, six feet high with a black cloak on, rose in
one of the pews opposite, and exclaimed:

"I have!  I maintain that faith, religion, and the right of kings, and
all the rest, are nothing but superstitions.  I maintain that the
republic is just, and that the worship of reason is worth them all!"
and so on.

The people were indignant.  There never was anything like it!  When he
had finished speaking, I looked at Mr. Goulden, who laughed softly, and
said: "Listen! listen!"

Of course I listened; the young preacher prayed to God for this
infidel, and then he spoke so beautifully that the crowd was entranced.
The big thin man replied, saying, "They had done right to guillotine
Louis XVI., Marie Antoinette, and all the family."  The indignation
increased, and the men from Bois-de-Chênes, and especially their wives,
wanted to get into the pew to knock him down, but just then Sirou came
up, crying "Room! room!" and old Koekli in his red gown threw himself
before the man, who escaped into the sacristy, raising his hands to
heaven and declaring that he was converted, and that he renounced the
devil and all his works.  Then the preacher made a prayer for the soul
of the sinner.  It was a real triumph for religion.

Everybody left about eleven o'clock, and it was announced that there
would be a procession the next day, which was Sunday.

In consequence of the great crowd, which had pushed us into the corner,
Mr. Goulden and I were among the last to get out, and by the time we
reached the street, the people from Quatre Vents and the other villages
were already beyond the German gate, and nothing was heard in the
streets but the closing of the shutters by the townspeople, and a few
old women talking about the wonderful things they had heard, as they
went home by the rue de l'Arsenal.

Father Goulden and I walked along in the silence, he with his head bent
down and smiling, though without speaking a word.  When we reached home
I lighted the candle, and while he was undressing asked:

"Well!  Father Goulden, did they preach well?"

"Yes," he replied smiling, "yes, for young men who have seen nothing,
it was not bad."  Then he laughed aloud and said, "But if old Colin had
been in the Jacobin's place, he would have puzzled the young man
terribly."  I was greatly surprised at that, and as I still waited to
hear what more he had to say, he slowly pulled his black silk cap over
his ears and added thoughtfully, "but it's all the same; all the same.
These people go too fast, much too fast.  They will never make me
believe that Louis XVIII. knows about all this.  No, he has seen too
much in his life not to know men better than that.  But, good-night,
Joseph, good-night.  Let us hope that an order will soon arrive from
Paris sending these young men back to their seminary."

I went to bed and dreamed of Catherine, the Jacobin, and of the
procession we were going to see.


Next morning the bells began to ring as soon as it was light.  I rose
and opened my shutters and saw the red sun rising from behind the
Magazine, and over the forest of Bonne-Fontaine.  It might have been
five o'clock, and you could feel beforehand how hot it was going to be,
and the air was laden with the odor of the oak and beech and holly
leaves which were strewn in the streets.  The peasants began to arrive
in companies, talking in the still morning.  You could recognize the
villagers from Wechem, from Metting, from the Graufthal and Dasenheim,
by their three-cornered hats turned down in front and their square
coats, and the women with their long black dresses and big bonnets
quilted like a mattress hanging on their necks; and those from
Dagsberg, Hildehouse, Harberg, and Houpe with their large round felt
hats, and the women without bonnets and with short skirts, small,
brown, dry, and quick as powder, with the children behind with their
shoes in their hands, but when they reached Luterspech they sat down in
a row and put them on to be ready for the procession.

Some priests from the different villages, also came by twos and threes,
laughing and talking among themselves in the best of humor.

And I thought, as I rested my elbows on the window-sill, that these
people must have risen before midnight to reach here so early in the
morning, and that they must have come over the mountains walking for
hours under the trees, crossing the little bridges in the moonlight; as
I thought this I reflected that religion is a beautiful thing, that the
people in towns do not know what it is, and that for thousands upon
thousands of field laborers and wood-choppers, uncultivated and rude
beings, who at the same time were good and loved their wives and
children and honored their aged parents, supporting them and closing
their eyes in the hope of a better world; this was the only
consolation.  And in looking at the crowd, I imagined that Aunt Grédel
and Catherine had the same thoughts, and I was happy to know that they
prayed for me.  It grew lighter and lighter, and the bells rang while I
continued to look on.  I heard Father Goulden rise and dress himself,
and a few minutes after he came into my chamber in his shirt-sleeves,
and seeing me so thoughtful, he exclaimed:

"Joseph, the most beautiful thing in the world is the religion of the

I was quite astonished to hear him express precisely my own thoughts.

"Yes," he added, "the love of God, the love of country and of family,
are one and the same thing; but it is sad to see the love of country
perverted to satisfy the ambition of a man, and the love of God to
exalt the pride and the desire to rule in a few."

These words impressed me deeply, and I have often thought since that
they expressed the sad truth.  Well! to return to those days, you know
that after the siege we were obliged to work on Sundays, because Mr.
Goulden while serving as a gunner on the ramparts had neglected his
work and we were behindhand.  So that on that morning as on the others
I lighted the fire in our little stove and prepared the breakfast; the
windows were open and we could hear the noise from the streets.

Mr. Goulden leaned out of the window and said: "Look! all the shops
except the inns and the beer-houses are closed!"

He laughed, and I asked, "Shall we open our shutters, Mr. Goulden?"

He turned round as if surprised: "Look here, Joseph, I never knew a
better boy than you, but you lack sense.  Why should we close our
shutters?  Because God created the world in six days and rested the
seventh?  But we did not create it ourselves, and we need to work to
live.  If we shut our shop from interest and pretend to be saints and
so gain new customers, that will be hypocrisy.  You speak sometimes
without thinking."

I saw at once that I was wrong, and I replied: "Mr. Goulden, we will
leave our windows open and it will be seen that we have watches to
sell, and that will do no harm to any one."

We were no sooner at table than Aunt Grédel and Catherine came.
Catherine was dressed entirely in black, on account of the service for
Louis XVI.  She had a pretty little bonnet of black tulle, and her
dress was very nicely made, and this set off her delicate red and white
complexion and made her look so beautiful that I could hardly believe
that she was Joseph Bertha's beloved; her neck was white as snow, and
had it not been for her lips and her rosy little chin, her blue eyes
and golden hair, I should have thought that it was some one who
resembled her, but who was more beautiful.  She laughed when she saw
how much I admired her, and at last I said: "Catherine, you are _too_
beautiful now; I dare not kiss you."

"Oh! you need not trouble yourself," said she.

As she leaned upon my shoulder I gave her a long kiss, so that Aunt
Grédel and Mr. Goulden looked on and laughed, and I wished them far
enough away, that I might tell Catherine that I loved her more and
more, and that I would give my life a thousand times for her; but as I
could not do that before them, I only thought of these things and was

Aunt had a black dress on also, and her prayer-book was under her arm.

"Come, kiss me too, Joseph; you see I too have a black dress, like

I embraced her, and Mr. Goulden said, "You will come and dine with
us--that is understood; but, meanwhile you will take something, will
you not?"

"We have breakfasted," replied Aunt Grédel.

"That is nothing; God knows when this procession will end, you will be
all the time on your feet, and will need something to sustain you."

Then they sat down, Aunt Grédel on my right, and Catherine on my left,
and Father Goulden opposite.  They drank a good glass of wine, and aunt
said the procession would be very fine, and that there were at least
twenty-five priests from the neighborhood round; that Mr. Hubert, the
pastor of Quatre Vents, had come, and that the grand altar in the
cavalry quarter was higher than the houses; that the pine-trees and
poplars around had crape on them, and that the altar was covered with a
black cloth.  She talked of everything under the sun, while I looked at
Catherine, and we thought, without saying anything, "Oh! when will that
beggarly minister write and say, 'Get married and leave me alone?'"

At last, toward nine o'clock, and when the second bell had rung, Aunt
Grédel said, "That is the second ringing; we will come to dinner as
soon as possible."

"Yes, yes, Mother Grédel," replied Mr. Goulden, "we will wait for you."

They rose, and I went down to the foot of the stairs with Catherine in
order to embrace her once again, when Aunt Grédel cried, "Let us hurry,
let us hurry!"

They went away, and I went back to my work; but from that moment till
about eleven o'clock I could do nothing at all.  The crowd was so very
great that you could hear nothing outside but a ceaseless murmur; the
leaves rustled under foot, and when the procession left the church the
effect was so impressive that even Mr. Goulden himself stopped his work
to listen to the prayers and hymns.  I thought of Catherine in the
crowd more beautiful than any of the others, with Aunt Grédel near her,
repeating "Pray for us, pray for us," in their clear voices.  I thought
they must be very much fatigued, and all these voices and chants made
me dream, and though I held a watch in my hand and tried to work, my
mind was not on it.  The higher the sun rose the more uneasy I became,
till at last Mr. Goulden said, laughing, "Ah!  Joseph, it does not go
to-day!" and as I blushed rosy red, he continued, "Yes, when I was
dreaming of Louisa Bénédum I looked in vain for springs and wheels.  I
could see nothing but her blue eyes."

He sighed, and I too, thinking, "you are quite right, Mr. Goulden."

"That is enough," he added a moment after, taking the watch from my
hands.  "Go, child, and find Catherine.  You cannot conquer your love,
it Is stronger than you."

On hearing this, I wanted to exclaim "Oh, good, excellent man! you can
never know how much I love you," but he rose to wipe his hands on a
towel behind the door, and I said, "If you _really_ wish it, Mr.

"Yes, yes; certainly!"

I did not wait for another word.  My heart bounded with joy, I put on
my hat and went down the stairs at a leap, exclaiming, "I will be back
in an hour, Mr. Goulden."

I was out of doors in a moment, but what a crowd, what a crowd! they
swarmed! military hats, felt hats, bonnets, and over all the noise and
confusion, the church bell tolled slowly.

For a minute I stood on our own steps, not knowing which way to turn,
and seeing at last that it was impossible to take a step in that crowd
I turned into the little lane called the Lanche, in order to reach the
ramparts and run and wait for the procession at the slope by the German
gate, as then it would turn up the rue de Collége.  It might have been
eleven o'clock.  I saw many things that day which have suggested many
reflections since; they were the signs of great trouble but nobody
noticed them, nobody had the good sense to comprehend their
significance.  It was only later, when everybody was up to their necks
in trouble, when we were obliged to take our knapsacks and guns, again
to be cut in pieces; then they said, "if we had only had good sense and
justice and prudence we should have been so much better off, we should
have been quiet at home instead of this breaking up, which is coming;
we can do nothing but be quiet and submit; what a misfortune!"

I went along the Lanche, where they shot the deserters under the
Empire.  The noise grew fainter in the distance, and the chanting and
prayers and the sound of the bells as well.  All the doors and windows
were closed, everybody had followed the procession.  I stopped in the
silent street to take breath, a slight breeze came from the fields
beyond the ramparts, and I listened to the tumult in the distance and
wiped the sweat from my face and thought, "how am I to find Catherine?"

I was climbing the steps at the postern gate when I heard some one say:
"Mark the points, Margarot."

I then saw that Father Colin's windows on the first floor were open,
and that some men in their shirt-sleeves were playing billiards.  They
were old soldiers with short hair, and mustaches like a brush.  They
went back and forth, without troubling themselves about the mayor, or
the commandant, or Louis XVI., or the bourgeoisie.  One of them, short,
thick, with his whiskers cut as was the fashion of the hussars in those
days, and his cravat untied, leaned out of the window, resting his cue
on the sill, and, looking toward the square, said:

"We will put the game at fifty."

I thought at once that they were half-pay officers, who were spending
their last sous, and who would soon be troubled to live.  I continued
on my way, and hurried along under the vault of the powder magazine
behind the college, thinking of all these things, but when I reached
the German gate I forgot everything.  The procession was just turning
the corner at Bockholtz, the chants broke forth opposite the altar like
trumpets, and the young priests from Nancy were running among the crowd
with their crucifixes raised to keep order, and the Swiss Sirou carried
himself majestically under his banner; at the head of the procession
were the priests and the choir singing, while the prayers rose to
heaven, and behind, the crowd responded: and all this took form, in a
low fearful murmur.

I stood on my tiptoes, half hidden by the shed, trying to discover
Catherine in all that multitude and thinking only of her, but what a
crowd of hats and bonnets and flags I saw defiling down the rue Ulrich.
You would never have imagined that there were so many people in the
country; there could not have been a soul left in the villages, except
a few little children and old people who stayed to take care of them.

I waited about twenty minutes, and gave up hoping to find Catherine,
when suddenly I saw her with Aunt Grédel.  Aunt was praying in such a
loud clear voice, that you could hear her above all the others.
Catherine said nothing, but walked slowly along with her eyes cast
down.  If I could only have called to her she might perhaps have heard
me, but it was bad enough not to join the procession without causing
further scandal.  All I can say is,--and there is not an old man in
Pfalzbourg who will assert the contrary,--that Catherine was not the
least beautiful girl in the country, and that Joseph Bertha was not to
be pitied.

She had passed, and the procession halted on the "Place d'armes,"
before the high altar at the right of the church.  The priest
officiated, and silence spread all over the city.  In the little
streets at the right and the left, it was as quiet as if they could
have seen the priest at the altar, great numbers kneeled, and others
sat down on the steps of the houses, for the heat was excessive, and
many of them had come to town before daylight.  This grand sight
impressed me very much, and I prayed for my country and for peace, for
I felt it all in my heart, and I remember that just then I heard under
the shed at the German gate, voices which said very good-humoredly,
"Come, come, give us a little room, my friends."

The procession blocked the way, everybody was stopped, and these voices
disturbed the kneeling multitude.  Several persons near the door made
way.  The Swiss and the beadle looked on from a distance, and my
curiosity induced me to get a little nearer the steps, when I saw five
or six old soldiers white with dust, bent down and apparently exhausted
with fatigue, making their way along the slope in order to gain the
little rue d'Arsenal, through which they no doubt thought to find the
way clear, it seems as if I could see them now, with their worn-out
shoes and their white gaiters, and their old patched uniforms and
shakos battered by the sun and rain and the hardships of the campaign.
They advanced in file, a little on the grass of the slope in order to
disturb the people who were below as little as possible.  One old
fellow with three chevrons, who marched ahead and resembled poor
Sergeant Pinto who was killed near the Hinterthor at Leipzig, made me
feel very sad.  He had the same long, gray mustaches, the same wrinkled
cheeks, and the same contented air in spite of all his misfortunes and
sufferings.  He had his little bundle on the end of his stick, and
smiling and speaking quite low he said, "Excuse us, gentlemen and
ladies, excuse us," while the others followed step by step.

They were the first prisoners released by the convention of the 23d of
April, and we saw these men pass afterward every day until July.  They
had no doubt avoided the magazines, in order the sooner to reach France.

On reaching the little street they found the crowd extended beyond the
arsenal; and then in order not to disturb the people, they went under
the postern and sat down on the damp steps, with their little bundles
on the ground beside them, and waited for the procession to pass.  They
had come from a great distance, and hardly knew what was going on with

Unhappily the wretches from Bois-de-Chênes, the big Horni, Zaphéri
Roller, Nicholas Cochart, the carder, Pinacle, whom they had made mayor
to pay him for having shown the way to Falberg and Graufthal to the
allies during the siege, all these rascals and others who were with
them, who wanted the fleur-de-lis--as if the fleur-de-lis could make
them any better--unhappily, I say, all that bad set who lived by
stealing fagots from the forest, had discovered the old tri-colored
cockade in the tops of their shakos, and "now," they thought, "is the
time to prove ourselves the real supporters of the throne and the

They came on disturbing everybody, Pinacle had a big black cravat on
his neck and a crape, an ell wide, on his hat, with his shirt collar
above his ears, and as grave as a bandit who wants to make himself look
like an honest man; he came up the first one.  The old soldier with the
three chevrons had discovered that these men were threatening them at a
distance and had risen to see what it meant.

"Come, come! don't crowd so!" said he.  "We are not much in the habit
of running, what do you want?"

But Pinacle, who was afraid of losing so good an occasion to show his
zeal for Louis XVIII., instead of replying to him, smashed his shako at
a blow, shouting, "Down with the cockade!"

Naturally the old veteran was indignant and was about to defend
himself, when these wretches, both men and women, fell upon the
soldiers, knocking them down, pulling off their cockades and epaulets,
and trampling them under foot without shame or pity.

The poor old fellow got up several times, exclaiming, in a voice which
went to one's heart, "Pack of cowards, are you Frenchmen, assassins,
etc., etc."

Every time he rose they beat him down again, and at last left him with
his clothes torn, and covered with blood in a corner, and the
commandant, de la Faisanderie, having arrived, ordered them to be
escorted to the "Violin."  If I had been able to get down, I should
have run to the rescue, without thinking of Catherine or Aunt Grédel or
Mr. Goulden, and they might have killed me too.  When I think of it now
even, I tremble, but fortunately the wall of the postern was twenty
feet thick, and when I saw them carried away covered with blood, and
comprehended the whole horrible affair, I ran home by way of the
arsenal, where I arrived so pale that Father Goulden exclaimed:

"Why, Joseph! have you been hurt?"

"No, no," I replied, "but I have seen a frightful thing."  And I
commenced to cry as I told him of the affair.  He walked up and down
with his hands behind his back, stopping from time to time to listen to
me, while his lips contracted and his eyes sparkled.

"Joseph," said he, "these men provoked them?"

"No, Mr. Goulden."

"It is impossible, they must have invited it.  The devil! we are not
savages!  The rascals must have had some other reason than the cockades
for attacking them!"

He could not believe me, and it was only after telling him all the
details twice over that he said at last:

"Well! since you saw it with your own eyes I must believe you.  But it
is a greater misfortune than you think, Joseph.  If this goes on, if
they do not put a strong check on these good-for-nothings, if the
Pinacles are to have the upper hand, honest people will open their

He said no more, for the procession was finished and Aunt Grédel and
Catherine had come.

We dined together, aunt was happy and Catherine too, but even the
pleasure it gave me to see them, could not make me forget what I had
witnessed, and Mr. Goulden was very grave too.

At night, I went with them to the "Roulette," and then I embraced them
and bade them good-night.  It might have been eight o'clock, and I went
home immediately.  Mr. Goulden had gone to the "Homme Sauvage" brewery,
as was his habit on Sunday, to read the gazette, and I went to bed.  He
came in about ten, and seeing my candle burning on the table, he pushed
open the door and said:

"It seems that they are having processions everywhere.  You see nothing
else in the gazette."  And he added that twenty thousand prisoners had
returned, and that it was a happy thing for the country.


The next morning all the clocks in the village were to be wound up, and
as Mr. Goulden was growing old he had intrusted that to me, and I went
out very early.  The wind had blown the leaves in heaps against the
walls during the night, and the people were coming to take their
torches and vases of flowers from the altars.  All this made me sad,
and I thought, "Now that they have performed their service for the
dead, I hope they are satisfied.  If the permit would come, it would be
all very well, but if these people think they are going to amuse us
with psalms they are mistaken.  In the time of the Emperor we had to go
to Russia and Spain it is true, but the ministers did not leave the
young people to pine away.  I would like to know what peace is for if
it is not to get married!"

I denounced Louis XVIII., the Comte d'Artois, the _émigrés_, and
everybody else, and declared that the nobles mocked the people.

On going home I found that Mr. Goulden had set the table, and while we
were eating breakfast, I told him what I thought.  He listened to my
complaint and laughed, saying, "Take care, Joseph, take care; you seem
to me as if you were becoming a Jacobin."

He got up and opened the closet, and I thought he was going to take out
a bottle, but, instead, he handed me a thick square envelope with a big
red seal.

"Here, Joseph," said he, "is something that Brigadier Werner charged me
to give you."

I felt my heart jump and I could not see clearly.

"Why don't you open it?" said Father Goulden.

I opened it and tried to read, but had to take a little time.  At last
I cried out, "It is the permit."

"Do you believe it?" said he.

"Yes, it is the permit," I said, holding it at arm's length.

"Ah! that rascal of a minister, he has sent no others," said Father

"But," I said, "I know nothing of politics, since the permit has come,
the rest does not concern me."

He laughed aloud, saying, "Good, Joseph, good!"

I saw that he was laughing at me, but I did not care.

"We must let Catherine and Aunt Grédel know immediately," I cried in
the joy of my heart; "we must send Chaudron's boy right away."

"Ha! go yourself, that will be better," said the good man.

"But the work, Mr. Goulden?"

"Pshaw! pshaw! at a time like this one forgets work!  Go! child, stir
yourself, how could you work now?  You cannot see clearly."

It was true I could do nothing.  I was so happy that I cried, I
embraced Mr. Goulden, and then without taking time to change my coat I
set off, and was so absorbed by my happiness, that I had gone far
beyond the German gate, the bridge and the outworks and the post
station, and it was only when I was within a hundred yards of the
village and saw the chimney and the little windows that I recalled it
all like a dream, and commenced to read the permit again, repeating,
"It is true, yes, it is true; what happiness! what will they say!"

I reached the house and pushed open the door exclaiming, "The permit!"

Aunt Grédel in her sabots was just sweeping the kitchen, and Catherine
was coming downstairs with her arms bare, and her blue kerchief crossed
over her breast; she had been to the garret for chips, and both of them
on seeing me and hearing me cry, "the permit!" stood stock still.  But
I repeated, "the permit!" and Aunt Grédel threw up her hands as I had
done, exclaiming, "Long live the King!"

Catherine, quite pale, was leaning against the side of the staircase; I
was at her side in an instant and embraced her so heartily that she
leaned on my shoulder and cried, and I carried her down, so to speak,
while aunt danced round us, exclaiming, "Long live the King! long live
the Minister!"

There was never anything like it.  The old blacksmith, Ruppert, with
his leather apron on and his shirt open at the throat, came in to ask
what had happened.

"What is it, neighbor?" said he, as he held his big tongs in his hands
and opened his little eyes as wide as possible.

This calmed us a little, and I answered, "We have received our permit
to marry."

"Ah, that is it? is it? now I understand, I understand."

He had left the door open and five or six other neighbors came in--Anna
Schmoutz, the spinner, Christopher Wagner, the field-guard, Zaphéri
Gross, and several others, till the room was full.  I read the permit
aloud; everybody listened, and when it was finished Catherine began to
cry again, and Aunt Grédel said:

"Joseph, that minister is the best of men.  If he were here, I would
embrace him and invite him to the wedding; he should have the place of
honor next Mr. Goulden."

Then the women went off to spread the news, and I commenced my
declarations anew to Catherine, as if the old ones went for nothing;
and I made her repeat a thousand times that she had never loved any one
but me, till we cried and laughed, and laughed and cried, one after the
other, till night.  We heard Aunt Grédel, as she attended to the
cooking, talking to herself and saying, "That is what I call a good
king;" or, "If my good Franz could come back to the earth he would be
happy to-day, but one cannot have everything."  She said, also, that
the procession had done us good; but Catherine and I were too happy to
answer a word.  We dined, and lunched, and took supper without seeing
or hearing anything, and it was nine o'clock when I suddenly perceived
it was time to go home.  Catherine and Aunt Grédel and I went out
together, the moon was shining brightly, and they went with me to the
"Roulette," and while on the way we agreed that the marriage should
take place in fifteen days.  At the farm-house, under the poplars, aunt
kissed me, and I kissed Catherine, and then watched them as they went
back to the village.  When they reached home they turned and kissed
their hands to me, and then I came back to town, crossed the great
square, and got home about ten o'clock.  Mr. Goulden was awake though
in bed, and he heard me open the door softly.  I had lighted my lamp
and was going to my chamber, when he called, "Joseph!"

I went to him, and he took me in his arms and we kissed each other, and
he said:

"It is well, my child; you are happy, and you deserve to be.  Now go to
bed, and to-morrow we will talk about it."

I went to bed, but it was long before I could sleep soundly.  I wakened
every moment, thinking, "Is it really true that the permit has come?"
Then I would say to myself, "Yes; it is true."  But toward morning I
slept.  When I wakened it was broad day, and I jumped out of bed to
dress myself, when Father Goulden called out, as happy as possible,
"Come, Joseph, come to breakfast."

"Forgive me, Mr. Goulden," I replied; "I was so happy I could hardly

"Yes, yes, I heard you," he answered and we went into the workshop,
where the table was already laid.


After the joy of marrying Catherine, my greatest delight was in
thinking I should be a tradesman, for there was a great difference
between fighting for the King of Prussia and doing business on one's
own account.  Mr. Goulden had told me he would take me into partnership
with him, and I imagined myself taking my little wife to mass and then
going for a walk to the Roche-plate or to Bonne-Fontaine.  This gave me
great pleasure.  In the meantime I went every day to see Catherine; she
would wait for me in the orchard, while Aunt Grédel prepared the little
cakes and the bride's loaf for the wedding.  We did nothing but look at
each other for hours together; she was so fresh and joyous and grew
prettier every day.

Mr. Goulden would say on seeing me come home happier every night,
"Well!  Joseph, matters seem to be better than when we were at Leipzig!"

Sometimes I wanted to go to work again, but he always stopped me by
saying, "Oh! pshaw! happy days in life are so few.  Go and see
Catherine, go!  If I should take a fancy to be married by and by, you
can work for us both."  And then he would laugh.  Such men as he ought
to live a hundred years, such a good heart! so true and honest!  He was
a real father to us.  And even now, after so many years, when I think
of him with his black silk cap drawn over his ears, and his gray beard
eight days old, and the little wrinkles about his eyes showing so much
good-humor, it seems to me that I still hear his voice and the tears
will come in spite of me.  But I must tell you here of something which
happened before the wedding and which I shall never forget.  It was the
6th of July and we were to be married on the 8th.  I had dreamed of it
all night.  I rose between six and seven.  Father Goulden was already
at work, with the windows open.  I was washing my face and thinking I
would run over to Quatre Vents, when all at once a bugle and two taps
of a drum were heard at the gate of France, just as when a regiment
arrives, they try their mouthpieces, and tap their drums just to get
the sticks well in hand.  When I heard that my hair stood on end, and I
exclaimed, "Mr. Goulden, it is the Sixth!"

"Yes, indeed, for eight days everybody has been talking about it, but
you hear nothing in these days.  It is the wedding bouquet, Joseph, and
I wanted to surprise you."

I listened no longer, but went downstairs at a jump.  Our old drummer
Padoue had already lifted his stick under the dark arch, and the
drummers came up behind balancing their drums on their hips; in the
distance was Gémeau, the commandant, on horseback, the red plumes of
the grenadiers and the bayonets came up slowly; it was the Third
battalion.  The march commenced, and my blood bounded.  I recognized at
the first glance the long gray cloaks which we had received on the 22d
of October, on the glacis at Erfurth; they had become quite green from
the snow and wind and rain.  It was worse than after the battle of
Leipzig.  The old shakos were full of ball holes, only the flag was
new, in its beautiful case of oil-cloth, with the fleur-de-lis at the

Ah! only those who have made a campaign can realize what it is to see
your regiment and to hear the same roll of the drum as when it is in
front of the enemy, and to say to yourself, "There are your comrades,
who return beaten, humiliated, and crushed, bowing their heads under
another cockade."  No!  I never felt anything like it.  Later many of
the men of the Sixth came and settled down at Pfalzbourg, they were my
old officers, old sergeants, and were always welcome, there was
Laflèche, Carabin, Lavergne, Monyot, Padoue, Chazi, and many others.
Those who commanded me during the war sawed wood for me, put on tiles,
were my carpenters and masons.  After giving me orders they obeyed me,
for I was independent, and had business, while they were simply
laborers.  But that was nothing, and I always treated my old chiefs
with respect, I always thought, "at Weissenfels, at Lutzen, and at
Leipzig, these men who now are forced to labor so hard to support
themselves and their families, represented at the front the honor and
the courage of France."  These changes came after Waterloo! and our old
Ensign Faizart, swept the bridge at the gate of France for fifteen
years!  That is not right, the country ought to be more grateful.

It was the Third battalion that returned, in so wretched a state that
it made the hearts of good men bleed.  Zébédé told me that they left
Versailles on the 31st of March, after the capitulation of Paris, and
marched to Chartres, to Chateaudun, to Blois, Orleans and so on like
real Bohemians, for six weeks without pay or equipments, until at last
at Rouen, they received orders to cross France and return to
Pfalzbourg, and everywhere the processions and funeral services for the
King, Louis XVI., had excited the people against them.  They were
obliged to bear it all, and even were compelled to bivouac in the
fields while the Russians, Austrians, and Prussians, and other beggars,
lived quietly in our towns.

Zébédé wept with rage as he recounted their sufferings afterward.

"Is France no longer France?" he asked.  "Have we not fought for her

But it gives me pleasure now in my old age, to remember how we received
the Sixth at Pfalzbourg.  You know that the First battalion had already
arrived from Spain, and that the remnant of this regiment and of the
24th infantry of the line formed the 6th regiment of Berry, so that all
the village was rejoicing that instead of the few old veterans, we were
to have two thousand men in garrison.  There was great rejoicing, and
everybody shouted, "Long live the Sixth;" the children ran out to St.
Jean to meet them, and the battalion had nowhere been better received
than here.  Several old fellows wept and shouted, "Long live France."
But in spite of all that, the officers were dejected and only made
signs with their hands as if to thank the people for their kind

I stood on our door-steps while three or four hundred men filed past,
so ragged that I could not distinguish our number, but suddenly I saw
Zébédé, who was marching in the rear, so thin that his long crooked
nose stood out from his face like a beak, his old cloak hanging like
fringe down his back, but he had his sergeant's stripes, and his large
bony shoulders gave him the appearance of strength.  On seeing him, I
cried out so loud that it could be heard above the drums, "Zébédé!"

He turned round and I sprang into his arms and he put down his gun at
the corner of the rue Fouquet.  I cried like a child and he said, "Ah!
it is you, Joseph! there are two of us left then, at least."

"Yes, it is I," said I, "and I am going to marry Catherine, and you
shall be my best man."

We marched along together to the corner of the rue Houte, where old
Furst was waiting with tears in his eyes.  The poor old man thought,
"Perhaps my son will come too."  Seeing Zébédé coming with me, he
turned suddenly into the little dark entrance to his house.  On the
square, Father Klipfel and five or six others were looking at the
battalion in line.  It is true they had received the notices of the
deaths, but still they thought there might be mistakes, and that their
sons did not like to write.  They looked amongst them, and then went
away while the drums were beating.

They called the roll, and just at that moment the old grave-digger came
up with his little yellow velvet vest and his gray cotton cap.  He
looked behind the ranks where I was talking with Zébédé, who turned
round and saw him and grew quite pale, they looked at each other for an
instant, then I took his gun and the old man embraced his son.  They
did not say a word, but remained in each other's arms for a long while.
Then when the battalion filed off to the right to go to the barracks,
Zébédé asked permission of Captain Vidal to go home with his father,
and gave his gun to his nearest comrade.  We went together to the rue
de Capucins.  The old man said: "You know that grandmother is so old
that she can no longer get out of bed, or she would have come to meet
you too."

I went to the door, and then said to them, "You will come and dine with
us, both of you."

"I will with pleasure," said the father.  "Yes, Joseph, we will come."

I went home to tell Father Goulden of my invitation, and he was all the
more pleased as Catherine and her aunt were to be there also.

I never had been more happy than when thinking of having my beloved, my
best friend, and all those whom I loved the most, together at our house.

That day at eleven o'clock our large room on the first floor was a
pretty sight to see.  The floor had been well scrubbed, the round table
in the middle of the room was covered with a beautiful cloth with red
stripes and six large silver covers upon it, the napkins folded like a
boat in the shining plates, the salt-cellar and the sealed bottles, and
the large cut glasses sparkling in the sun which came over the groups
of lilac ranged along the windows.

Mr. Goulden wished to have everything in abundance, grand and
magnificent, as he would for princes and embassadors, and he had taken
his silver from the basket, a most unusual thing; I had made the soup
myself.  In it there were three pounds of good meat, a head of cabbage,
carrots in abundance, indeed everything necessary; except that,--which
you can never have so good at an hotel,--everything had been ordered by
Mr. Goulden himself from the "Ville de Metz."

About noon we looked at each other, smiling and rubbing our hands, he
in his beautiful nut-brown coat, well shaved, and with his great peruke
a little rusty, in place of his old black silk cap, his maroon breeches
neatly turned over his thick woollen stockings, and shoes with great
buckles on his feet; while I had on my sky-blue coat of the latest
fashion, my shirt finely plaited in front, and happiness in my heart.

All that was lacking now was our guests--Catherine, Aunt Grédel, the
grave-digger, and Zébédé.  We walked up and down laughing and saying,
"Everything is in its place and we had best get out the soup-tureen."
And I looked out now and then to see if they were coming.

At last Aunt Grédel and Catherine turned the corner of the rue Foquet;
they came from mass and had their prayer-books under their arms, and
farther on I saw the old grave-digger in his fine coat with wide
sleeves, and his old three-cornered hat, and Zébédé, who had put on a
clean shirt and shaved himself.  They came from the side next the
ramparts arm in arm, gravely, like men who are sober because they are
perfectly happy.

"Here they are," I said to Father Goulden.

We just had time to pour out the soup and put the big tureen, smoking
hot in the middle of the table.  This was happily accomplished just as
Aunt Grédel and Catherine came in.  You can judge of their surprise on
seeing the beautiful table.  We had hardly kissed each other when aunt

"It is the wedding-day then, Mr. Goulden."

"Yes, Madame Grédel," the good man answered smiling,--on days of
ceremony he always called her Madame instead of Mother Grédel, "yes,
the wedding of good friends.  You know that Zébédé has just returned,
and he will dine with us to-day with the old grave-digger."

"Ah!" said aunt, "that will give me great pleasure."

Catherine blushed deeply, and said to me in a low voice:

"Now everything is as it should be, that was what we wanted to make us
perfectly happy."

She looked tenderly at me as she held my hand.  Just then some one
opened the door, and old Laurent from the "Ville de Metz," with two
high baskets in which dishes were ranged in beautiful order one above
the other, cried out, "Mr. Goulden, here is the dinner!"

"Very well!" said Mr. Goulden, "now arrange it on the table yourself."

And Laurent put on the radishes first, the fricasseed chicken and
beautiful fat goose at the right, and on the left the beef which we had
ourselves arranged with parsley in the plate.  He put on also a nice
plate of sauerkraut with little sausages, near the soup.  Such a dinner
had never been seen in our house before.

Just at that moment we heard Zébédé and his father coming up the
stairs, and Father Goulden and I ran to meet them.  Mr. Goulden
embraced Zébédé and said:

"How happy I am to see you, I know you showed yourself a good comrade
for Joseph in the midst of the greatest danger."

Then he shook the old grave-digger's hand, saying, "I am proud of you
for having such a son."

Then Catherine, who had come behind us, said to Zébédé:

"I could not please Joseph more than to embrace you, you would have
carried him to Hanau only your strength failed.  I look upon you as a

Then Zébédé, who was very pale, kissed her without saying a word, and
we all went into the room in silence, Catherine, Zébédé, and I first,
Mr. Goulden and the old grave-digger came afterward.  Aunt Grédel
arranged the dishes a little and then said:

"You are welcome, you are welcome! you who met in sorrow, have rejoined
each other in joy.  May God send his grace on us all."

Zébédé kissed Aunt Grédel and said, "Always fresh and in good health,
it is a pleasure to see you."

"Come, Father Zébédé, sit at the head of the table, and you there,
Zébédé, that I may have you on my right and my left, Joseph will sit
farther down, opposite Catherine, and Madame Grédel at the other end to
watch over all."

Each one was satisfied with his place, and Zébédé smiled and looked at
me as if he would say: "If we had had the quarter of such a dinner as
this at Hanau, we should never have fallen by the roadside."  Joy and a
good appetite shone on every face.  Father Goulden dipped the great
silver ladle into the soup as we all looked on, and served first the
old grave-digger, who said nothing and seemed touched by this honor,
then his son, and then Catherine, Aunt Grédel, himself, and me.  And
the dinner was begun quietly.

Zébédé winked and looked at me from time to time with great
satisfaction.  We uncorked the first bottle and filled the glasses.
This was very good wine, but there was better coming, so we did not
drink each other's health yet, we each ate a good slice of beef, and
Father Goulden said:

"Here is something _good_, this beef is excellent."  He found the
fricassee very good also, and then I saw that Catherine was a woman of
spirit, for she said:

"You know, Mr. Zébédé, that we should have invited your grandmother
Margaret, whom I go to see from time to time, only she is too old to go
out, but if you wish, she shall at least eat a morsel with us, and
drink her grandson's health in a glass of wine.  What do you say,
Father Zébédé?"

"I was just thinking of that," said the old man.

Father Goulden looked at Catherine with tears in his eyes, and as she
rose to select a suitable piece for the old woman, he kissed her, and I
heard him call her his daughter.

She went out with a bottle and a plate; and while she was gone Zébédé
said to me:

"Joseph, she who is soon to be your wife deserves to be perfectly
happy, for she is not only a good girl, not only a woman who ought to
be loved, but she deserves respect also, for she has a good and feeling
heart.  She saw what my father and I thought of this excellent dinner,
and she knew it would give us a thousand times more pleasure if
grandmother could share it.  I shall love her for it, as if she were my
sister."  Then he added in a low voice: "It is when we are happy that
we feel the bitterness of poverty.  It is not enough to give our blood
to our country, but there is suffering at home in consequence, and when
we return we must have misery before our eyes."

I saw that he was growing sad, so I filled his glass and we drank, and
his melancholy vanished.  Catherine came back and said, "the
grandmother was very happy, and that she thanked Mr. Goulden, and said
it had been a beautiful day for her."  And this roused everybody.  As
the dinner continued, Aunt Grédel heard the bells for vespers, and she
went out to church, but Catherine remained, and the animation which
good wine inspires had come, and we began to speak of the last
campaign; of the retreat from the Rhine to Paris, of the fighting of
the battalion at Bibelskirchen and at Saarbruck, where Lieutenant
Baubin swam the Saar when it was freezing as hard as stone, to destroy
some boats which were still in the hands of the enemy; of the passage
at Narbefontaine, at Courcelles, at Metz, at Enzelvin, and at Champion
and Verdun, and, still retreating, the battle of Brienne.  The men were
nearly all destroyed, but on the 4th of February the battalion was
re-formed from the remnant of the 5th light infantry, and from that
moment they were every day under fire; on the 5th, 6th, and 7th at
Méry-sur-Seine; on the 8th at Sézanne, where the soldiers died in the
mud, not having strength enough to get out; the 9th and 10th at Mürs,
where Zébédé was buried at night in the dung-heap of a farmhouse in
order to get warm, and the terrible battle of Marché on the 11th, in
which the Commandant Philippe was wounded by a bayonet-thrust; the
encounter on the 12th and 13th at Montmirail, the battle of Beauchamp
on the 14th, the retreat on Montmirail on the 15th and 16th, when the
Prussians returned: the combats at the Ferté-Gauché, at Jouarre, at
Gué-à-Train, at Neufchettes, and so on.  When the Prussians were
beaten, then came the Russians, after them the Austrians, the
Bavarians, the Wurtemburgers, the Hessians, the Saxons, and the Badois.

I have often heard that campaign described, but never as it was done by
Zébédé.  As he talked his great thin face quivered and his long nose
turned down over the four hairs of his yellow mustache, and his eyes
would flash and he would stretch out his hand from his old sleeve and
you could see what he was describing.  The great plains of Champagne
with the smoking villages to the right and to the left, where the
women, children, and old men were wandering about in groups, half
naked, one carrying a miserable old mattress, another with a few pieces
of furniture on his cart, while the snow was falling from the sky, and
the cannon roared in the distance, and the Cossacks were flying about
like the wind with kitchen utensils and even old clocks hanging to
their saddles, shouting hurrah!

Furious battles were raging, singly, or one against ten, in which the
desperate peasants joined also with their scythes.  At night the
Emperor might be seen sitting astride his chair, with his chin resting
in his folded hands on the back, before a little fire with his generals
around him.  This was the way he slept and dreamed.  He must have had
terrible reflections after the days of Marengo, Austerlitz, and Wagram.

To fight the enemy, to suffer hunger and cold and fatigue, to march and
countermarch, Zébédé said, were nothing, but to hear the women and
children weeping and groaning in French in the midst of their ruined
homes, to know you could not help them, and that the more enemies you
killed, the more would you have; that you must retreat, always retreat,
in spite of victories, in spite of courage, in spite of everything!
"that is what breaks your heart, Mr. Goulden."

In listening and looking at him we had lost all inclination to drink,
and Father Goulden, with his great head bent down as if thinking, said
in a low voice:

"Yes, that is what glory costs, it is not enough to lose our liberty,
not enough to lose the rights gained at such a cost, we must be
pillaged, sacked, burned, cut to pieces by Cossacks, we must see what
has not been seen for centuries, a horde of brigands making law for
us--but go on, we are listening, tell us all."

Catherine, seeing how sad we were, filled the glasses.

"Come," said she, "to the health of Mr. Goulden and Father Zébédé.  All
these misfortunes are past and will never return."

We drank, and Zébédé related how it had been necessary to fill up the
battalion again, on the route to Soissons, with the soldiers of the
16th light infantry, and how they arrived at Meaux where the plague was
raging, although it was winter, in the hospital of Piété, in
consequence of the great numbers of wounded who could not be cared for.

That was horrible, but the worst of all was when he described their
arrival at Paris, at the Barrière de Charenton: the Empress, King
Joseph, the King of Rome, the ministers, the new princes and dukes, and
all the great world, were running away toward Blois, and abandoning the
capital to the enemy, while the workingmen in blouses, who gained
nothing from the Empire, but to be forced to give their children to
defend it, were gathered around the town-house by thousands, begging
for arms to defend the honor of France; and the Old Guard repulsed them
with the bayonet!

At this Father Goulden exclaimed:

"That is enough, Zébédé, hold! stop there, and let us talk of something

He had suddenly grown very pale; at this moment Mother Grédel returned
from vespers, and seeing us all so quiet, and Mr. Goulden so disturbed,

"What has happened?"

"We were speaking of the Empress and of the ministers of the Emperor,"
replied Father Goulden, forcing a laugh.

Said she, "I am not astonished that the wine turns against you.  Every
time I think of them, if by accident I look in the glass, I see that it
turns me quite livid.  The beggars! fortunately, they are gone."

Zébédé did not like this.  Mr. Goulden observed it and said, "Well!
France is a great and glorious country all the same.  If the new nobles
are worth no more than the old ones, the people are firm.  They work in
vain against them.  The bourgeois, the artisan, and the peasant are
united, they have the same interests and will not give up what they
have gained, nor let them again put their feet on their necks.  Now,
friends, let us go and take the air, it is late, and Madame Grédel and
Catherine have a long way to go to Quatre Vents.  Joseph will go with

"No," said Catherine, "Joseph must stay with his friend to-day, and we
will go home alone."

"Very well! so be it! on a day like this friends should be together,"
said Mr. Goulden.

We went out arm in arm, it was dark, and after embracing Catherine
again at the Place d'Armes she and her aunt took their way home, and
after having taken a few turns under the great lindens we went to the
"Wild Man" and refreshed ourselves with some glasses of foaming beer.
Mr. Goulden described the siege, the attack at Pernette, the sorties at
Bigelberg, at the barracks above, and the bombardment.  It was then
that I learned for the first time that he had been captain of a gun,
and that it was he who had first thought of breaking up the
melting-pots in the foundry to make shot.  These stories occupied us
till after ten o'clock.  At last Zébédé left us to go to the barracks,
the old grave-digger went to the rue Capucin, and we to our beds, where
we slept till eight o'clock the next morning.


Two days afterward I was married to Catherine at Aunt Grédel's at
Quatre Vents.  Mr. Goulden represented my father.  Zébédé was my best
man, and some old comrades remaining from the battalion were also at
the wedding.  The next day we were installed in our two little rooms
over the workshop at Father Goulden's, Catherine and I.  Many years
have rolled away since then!  Mr. Goulden, Aunt Grédel, and the old
comrades have all passed away, and Catherine's hair is as white as
snow!  Yet often, even now, when I look at her, those times come back
again, and I see her as she was at twenty, fresh and rosy, I see her
arrange the flower-pots in the chamber-window, I hear her singing to
herself, I see the sun opposite, and then we descend the steep little
staircase and say together, as we go into the workshop: "Good-morning,
Mr. Goulden;" he turns, smiles, and answers, "Good-morning, my
children, good-morning!"  Then he kisses Catherine and she commences to
sweep and rub the furniture and prepare the soup, while we examine the
work we have to do during the day.

Ah, those beautiful days, that charming life.  What joy in being young
and in having a simple, good, and industrious wife!  How our hearts
rejoice, and the future spreads out so far--so far--before us!  We
shall never be old; we shall always love each other, and always keep
those we love!  We shall always be of good heart; we shall always take
our Sunday walk arm in arm to Bonne-Fontaine; we shall always sit on
the moss in the woods, and hear the bees and May bugs buzzing in the
great trees filled with light; we shall always smile!  What a life!
what a life!

And at night we shall go softly home to the nest, as we silently look
at the golden trains which spread over the sky from Wecham to the
forests of Mittelbronn, we shall press each other's hand when we hear
the little clock at Pfalzbourg ring out the "Angelus," and those of all
the villages will respond through the twilight.  Oh, youth! oh, life!

All is before me just as it was fifty years ago; but other sparrows and
larks sing and build in the spring, other blossoms whiten the great
apple-trees.  And have we changed too, and grown old like the old
people of those days?  That alone makes me believe that we shall become
young again, that we shall renew our loves and rejoin Father Goulden
and Aunt Grédel and all our dear friends.  Otherwise we should be too
unhappy in growing old.  God would not send us pain without hope.  And
Catherine believes it too.  Well! at that time we were perfectly happy,
everything was beautiful to us, nothing troubled our joy.

It was when the allies were passing through our city by hundreds of
thousands on their way home.  Cavalry, artillery, infantry, foot and
horse, with oak leaves in their shakos, on their caps, and on the ends
of their muskets and lances.  They shouted so that you could hear them
a league away.  Just as you hear the chaffinches, thrushes, and
blackbirds, and thousands of other birds in the autumn.  At any other
time this would have made me sad, because it was the sign of our
defeat, but I consoled myself by thinking that they were going away,
never to return.  And when Zébédé came to tell me that every day the
Russian, Austrian, Prussian, and Bavarian officers crossed the city to
visit our new commandant, Mons. de la Faisanderie, who was an old
émigré, and who covered them with honors--that such an officer of the
battalion had provoked one of these strangers, and that such another
half-pay officer had killed two or three in duels at the "Roulette," or
the "Green Tree," or the "Flower Basket," for they were everywhere--our
soldiers could not bear the sight of the foreigners, there were fights
everywhere, and the litters of the hospital were constantly going and
coming--when Zébédé told me all these things, and when he said that so
many officers had been put upon half-pay in order to replace them by
officers from Coblentz, and that the soldiers were to be compelled to
go to mass in full uniform, that the priests were everything and
epaulettes nothing any more; instead of being vexed, I only said, "Bah!
all these things will get settled by and by.  So long as we can have
quiet, and can live and labor in peace, we will be satisfied."

I did not think that it is not enough that one is satisfied; to
preserve peace and tranquillity, all must be so likewise.  I was like
Aunt Grédel, who found everything right now that we were married.  She
came very often to see us, with her basket full of fresh eggs, fruits,
vegetables, and cakes for our housekeeping, and she would say:

"Oh!  Mr. Goulden, there is no need to ask if the children are well,
you have only to look at their faces."

And to me she would say: "There is some difference, Joseph, between
being married, and trudging along under a knapsack and musket at

"I believe you, Mamma Grédel," I would answer.

Then she would sit down, with her hands on her knees, and say: "All
this comes from peace; peace makes everybody happy, and to think of
that mob of barefoot beggars who shout against the King!"

At first Mr. Goulden, who was at work, would say nothing, but when she
kept on he would say, "Come, Mother Grédel, a little moderation, you
know that opinion is free now, we have two chambers and constitution,
and each one has a voice."

"But it is also true," said aunt looking at me maliciously, "that one
must hold his tongue from time to time, and that shows a difference

Mr. Goulden never went farther than this, for he looked upon aunt as a
good woman, but who was not worth the trouble of converting.  He would
only laugh when she went too far, and matters went on without jarring
until something new happened.  At first there was an order from Nancy
to compel the people to close all their shutters during service on
Sunday--Jews, Lutherans, and all.  There was no more noise in the inns
and wine-shops, it was still as death in the city during mass and
vespers.  The people said nothing, but looked at each other as if they
were afraid.

The first Sunday that our shutters were closed, Mr. Goulden seemed very
sad, and said, as we were dining in the dark, "I had hoped, my
children, that all this was over, and that people would have
common-sense, and that we should be tranquil for years, but unhappily I
see that these Bourbons are of the same race as Dagobert.  Affairs are
growing serious."

He did not say anything else on this Sunday, and went out in the
afternoon to read the papers.  Everybody who could read went, while the
peasants were at mass, to read the papers after shutting their shops.
The citizens and master-workmen then got in the habit of reading the
papers, and a little later they wanted a Casino.  I remember that
everybody talked of Benjamin Constant and placed great confidence in
him.  Mr. Goulden liked him very much, and as he was accustomed to go
every evening to Father Colin's, to read of what had taken place, we
also heard the news.  He told us that the Duke d'Angoulême was at
Bordeaux, the Count d'Artois at Marseilles, they had promised this, and
they had said that.

Catherine was more curious than I, she liked to hear all the news there
was in the country, and when Mr. Goulden said anything, I could see in
her eyes that she thought he was right.  One evening he said, "The Duke
de Berry is coming here."

We were greatly astonished.  "What is he going to do here, Mr.
Goulden?" asked Catherine.

"He is coming to review the regiment," he answered, "I have a great
curiosity to see him.  The papers say that he looks like Bonaparte, but
that he has a great deal more mind.  It is not astonishing for if a
legitimate prince had no more sense than the son of a peasant it would
be a great pity.  But you have seen Bonaparte, Joseph, and you can
judge of the matter."

You can imagine how this news excited the country.  From that day
nothing was thought of but erecting triumphal arches, and making white
flags, and the people from all the villages kept coming with their
carts covered with garlands.  They raised a triumphal arch at
Pfalzbourg and another near Saverne.  Every evening after supper
Catherine and I went out to see how the work progressed.  It was
between the hotel "de la Ville de Metz" and the shop of the
confectioner Dürr, right across the street.  The old carpenter Ulrich
and his boys built it.  It was like a great gate covered with garlands
of oak leaves, and over the front were displayed magnificent white

While they were doing this, Zébédé came to see us several times.  The
prince was to come from Metz, the regiment had received letters, which
represented him as being as severe as if he had gained fifty battles.
But what vexed Zébédé most was, that the prince called our old
officers, "Soldiers of fortune."

He arrived the 1st of October, at six in the evening, we heard the
cannon when he was at Gerberhoff.  He alighted at the "Ville de Metz,"
without going under the arch.  The square was crowded with officers in
full uniform, and from all the windows the people shouted, "Long live
the King, Long live the Duke de Berry," just as they cried in the time
of Napoleon, "Long live the Emperor."

Mr. Goulden and Catherine and I could not get near because of the
crowd, and we only saw the carriages and the hussars file past.  A
picket near our house cut off all communication.  That same evening he
received the corps of officers and condescended to accept a dinner
offered to him by the Sixth, but he only invited Colonel Zaepfel.
After the dinner, from which they did not rise till ten o'clock, the
principal citizens gave a ball at the college.  All the officers and
all the friends of the Bourbons were present in black coats, and
breeches and stockings of white silk, to meet the prince, and the young
girls of good families were there in crowds, dressed in white.  I still
seem to hear the horses of the escort as they passed in the middle of
the night amid the thousands shouting "Vive le Roi!  Vive le Duc de

All the windows were illuminated, and before those of the commandant
there was a great shield of sky blue, and the crown and the three
fleur-de-lis in gold, sparkled in the centre.  The great hall of the
college echoed with the music of the regimental band.

Mademoiselle Bremer, who had a very fine voice, was to sing the air of
"Vive Henri IV." before the prince.  But all the village knew the next
day, that she had been so confused by the sight of the prince, that she
could not utter a word, and everybody said, "Poor Mademoiselle
Félicité, poor Mademoiselle Félicité."

The ball lasted all night.  We--Mr. Goulden, Catherine, and I--were
asleep, when about three in the morning we were wakened by the hussars
going by and the shouts of "Vive le Duc de Berry."  These princes must
have excellent health to be able to go to all the balls and dinners
which are offered to them on their journeys.  And it must become very
tiresome at last to be called "Your Majesty," "Your Excellence," "Your
Goodness," and "Your Justice," and everything else that can be thought
of, that is new and extraordinary, in order to make them believe that
the people adore them and look upon them as gods.  If they do despise
the men at last it is not astonishing.  If the same thing were done to
us we might think ourselves eagles too.

What I have told you is exactly the truth.  I have exaggerated nothing.

The next day they began again with new enthusiasm.  The weather was
very fine, but as the prince had slept badly, and the children who
wished to imitate the court without succeeding, annoyed him, and he
thought perhaps, that they had not done him sufficient honor and had
not shouted "Vive le Roi, Vive le Duc de Berry" loud and long
enough--for all the _soldiers_ kept silent--he was in a very bad humor.

I saw him very well that day, while the review was taking place--the
soldiers occupied the sides of the square, we were at Wittman's, the
leather merchant, on the first floor--and also during the consecration
of the flag and the Te Deum at the church, for we had the fourth pew in
front of the choir.  They said he looked like Napoleon, but it was not
true; he was a good-looking fat fellow, short and thick, and pale with
fatigue, and not at all lively, quite the contrary.  During the service
he did nothing but yawn and rock back and forth like a pendulum.  I am
telling you what I saw myself, and that shows how blind people are,
they want to find resemblances everywhere.

During the review, too, I remembered that the Emperor always came on
horseback, and so would discover at a glance if everything was in
order; instead of this, the duke came along the ranks on foot, and two
or three times he found fault with old soldiers, examining them from
head to foot.  That was the worst.  Zébédé was one of these men, and he
never could forgive him.

That was well enough for the review, but a more serious thing was the
distribution of the crosses and the fleur-de-lis.  When I tell you that
all the mayors and their assistants, the councillors from the
Baraques-d'en-Haut and the Baraques-du-bois-de-Chênes, from Holderloch
and Hirschland, received the fleur-de-lis because they headed their
village deputations with a white flag, and that Pinacle received the
cross of honor, for having arrived first with the band of the Bohemian,
Waldteufel, who played "Vive Henri IV.," and had five or six white
flags larger than the others; when I tell you that, you will understand
what reasonable people thought.  It was a real scandal!

In the afternoon about four o'clock, the prince left for Strasbourg,
accompanied by all the royalists in the country on horseback, some on
good mounts, and others, like Pinacle, on old hacks.

One event the Pfalzbourgers of that day remember until this, and that
is, that after the prince was seated in his carriage and was driving
slowly away, one of the émigré officers with his head uncovered and in
uniform, ran after him, crying in a pitiful voice, "Bread, my prince,
bread for my children!"  That made the people blush, and they ran away
for shame.

We went home in silence, Father Goulden was lost in thought, when Aunt
Grédel arrived.

"Well!  Mother Grédel, you ought to be satisfied," said he.

"And why?"

"Because Pinacle has been decorated."

She turned quite livid, and said after a minute:

"That is the greatest trumpery that ever was seen.  If the prince had
known what he is, he would have hung him rather than decorate him with
the cross of honor."

"That is just the trouble," said Mr. Goulden, "those people do many
such things without knowing it, and when they do know, it is too late."


So it was that Monseigneur the Duke de Berry, visited the departments
of the East.  Every word he uttered was taken up and repeated again and
again.  Some praised his exceeding graciousness, and others kept
silence.  From that time I suspected that all these émigrés and
officers on half-pay, these preachers with their processions and their
expiations, would overturn everything again, and about the beginning of
winter we heard that not only with us, but all over Alsace affairs were
growing worse and worse in just the same way.

One morning between eleven and twelve Father Goulden and I were both at
work, each one thinking after his own fashion, and Catherine was laying
the cloth.  I started to go out to wash my hands at the pump, as I
always did before dinner, when I saw an old woman wiping her feet on
the straw mat at the foot of the stairs and shaking her skirts which
were covered with mud.  She had a stout staff, and a large rosary hung
from her neck.  As I looked at her from the top of the stairs, she
began to come up and I recognized her immediately by the folds about
her eyes and the innumerable wrinkles round her little mouth, as
Anna-Marie, the pilgrim of St. Witt.  The poor old woman often brought
us watches to mend, from pious people who had confidence in her, and
Mr. Goulden was always delighted to see her.

"Ah!" he exclaimed, "it is Anne-Marie! now we shall have the news.  And
how is Mr. Such-an-one, the priest?  How is the Vicar So-and-So?  Does
he still look as well as ever? and Mr. Jacob, of such a place.  And the
old sexton, Niclausse, does he still ring the bells at Dann, and at
Hirschland, and Saint Jean?  He must begin to look old?"

"Ah!  Mr. Goulden, thanks for Mr. Jacob, you know that he lost
Mademoiselle Christine last week."

"What!  Mademoiselle Christine?"

"Yes, indeed?"

"What a misfortune! but we must remember that we are all mortal!"

"Yes, Mr. Goulden, and when one is so fortunate as to receive the holy
consolations of the Church."

"Certainly--certainly, that is the principal thing."

So they talked on, Father Goulden laughing in his sleeve.  She knew
everything that happened within six leagues round the city.  He looked
mischievously at me from time to time.  This same thing had happened a
hundred times during my apprenticeship, but you will understand how
much more curious he was now to learn all that was going on in the

"Ah! it is really Anna-Marie!" said he rising, "it is a long time since
we have seen you."

"Three months, Mr. Goulden, three long months.  I have made pilgrimages
to Saint Witt, to Saint Odille, to Marienthal, to Hazlach, and I have
vows for all the saints in Alsace, in Lorraine, and in the Vosges.  But
now I have nearly finished, only Saint Quirin remains."

"Ah! so much the better, your affairs go on well, and that gives me
pleasure.  Sit down, Anna-Marie, sit down and rest yourself."

I saw in his eyes how happy he was to have her unroll her budget of
news.  But it appeared she had other matters to attend to.

"Oh!  Mr. Goulden," said she.  "I cannot today.  Others are before me,
Mother Evig, Gaspard Rosenkranz, and Jacob Heilig.  I must go to Saint
Quirin, to-night.  I only just came in to tell you that the clock at
Dosenheim is out of order, and that they are expecting you to repair

"Pshaw! pshaw! stay a moment."

"No, I cannot, I am very sorry, Mr. Goulden, but I must finish my

She had already taken up her bundle, and Mr. Goulden seemed greatly
disappointed; when Catherine put a great dish of cabbage on the table,
and said, "What! are you going, Anna-Marie? you cannot think of it!
here is your plate!"

She turned her head and saw the smoking soup and the cabbage, which
exhaled a most delicious odor.

"I am in a great hurry," said she.

"Oh! pshaw! you have very good legs," said Catherine, glancing at Mr.

"Yes, thank God, they are very good still."

"Well, sit down then and refresh yourself.  It is hard work to be
always walking."

"Yes, indeed, Madame Bertha, one earns the thirty sous that one gets."

I placed the chairs.

"Sit down, Anna-Marie, and give me your stick."

"Well, I must listen to you, I suppose, but I cannot stay long, I will
only take a mouthful and then go."

"Yes, yes, that is settled, Anna-Marie," said Mr. Goulden; "we will not
hinder you long."

We sat down, and Mr. Goulden served us at once.  Catherine looked at me
and smiled, and I said to myself, "Women are more ingenious than we,"
and I was very happy.  What more could a man wish for than to have a
wife with sense and spirit?  It is a real treasure, and I have often
seen that men are happy when they allow themselves to be guided by such
a woman.  You can easily believe that when once seated at the table
near the fire, instead of being out in the mud, with the sharp November
wind whistling in her thin skirts, she no longer thought of her
journey.  She was a good creature sixty years old, who still supported
two children of her son who died some years before.  To travel round
the country at that age, with the sun and rain and snow on your back,
to sleep in barns and stables on straw, and three-quarters of the time
have only potatoes to eat and not enough of them, does not make one
despise a plate of good hot soup, a piece of smoked bacon and cabbage,
with two or three glasses of wine to warm the heart.  No, you must look
at things as they are, the life of these poor people is very hard,
every one would do well to try a pilgrimage on his own account.

Anna-Marie understood the difference between being at table and on the
road, she ate with a good appetite, and she took real pleasure in
telling us what she had seen during her last round.

"Yes," said she, "everything is going on well now.  All the processions
and expiations which you have seen are nothing, they will grow larger
and more imposing from day to day.  And you know there are missionaries
coming among us, as they used to do among the savages, to convert us.
They are coming from Mr. de Forbin-Janson and Mr. de Ranzan, because
the corruption of the times is so great.  And the convents are to be
rebuilt, and the gates along the roads restored, as they were before
the twenty-five years' rebellion.  And when the pilgrims arrive at the
convents, they will only have to ring and they will be admitted at
once, when the brothers who serve, will bring them porringers of rich
soup with meat on ordinary days, and vegetable soup with fish on
Fridays and Saturdays and during Lent.  In that way piety will
increase, and everybody will make pilgrimages.  But the pious women of
Bischoffsheim say, that only those who have been pilgrims from father
to son, like us, ought to go; that each one ought to attend to his
work, that the peasants should belong to the soil, and that the lords
should have their chateaux again, and govern them.  I heard this with
my own ears from these pious women, who are to have their properties
again because they have returned from exile, and that they must have
their estates in order to build their chapels is very certain.  Oh! if
that were only done now, so I could profit by it in my old age!  I have
fasted long enough, and my little grandchildren also.  I would take
them with me, and the priests would teach them, and when I die I should
have the consolation of seeing them in a good way."

On hearing her recount all these things so contrary to reason we were
much moved, for she wept as she imagined her little girls begging at
the door of the convent and the brother bringing them soup.

"And you know, too, that Mr. de Ranzan and the Reverend Father Tarin
want the chateaux rebuilt, and the woods and meadows and fields given
up to the nobles, and in the meantime that the ponds are to be put in
good condition, because they belong to the reverend fathers, who have
no time to plough or sow or reap.  Everything must come to them of

"But tell us, Anna-Marie, is all this quite certain?  I can hardly
believe that such great happiness is in store for us."

"It is quite certain, Mr. Goulden.  The Count d'Artois wishes to secure
his salvation, and in order to do that everything must be set in order.
Mons. le Vicar Antoine of Marienthal said the same things last week.
They come from above,--these things,--and the hearts of the people must
be accustomed to them by the sermons and expiations.  Those who will
not submit, like the Jews and Lutherans, will be forced to do so, and
the Jacobins"--in speaking of the Jacobins Anna-Marie looked suddenly
at Mr. Goulden and blushed up to her ears, for he was smiling.

But she recovered herself, and went on:

"Among the Jacobins there are some very good people, but the poor must
live.  The Jacobins have taken the property of the poor and that is not

"When and where have they taken the property of the poor?"

"Listen, Mr. Goulden, the monks and the Capuchins had the estates of
the poor, and the Jacobins have divided them amongst themselves."

"Ah!  I understand, I understand, the monks and Capuchins had your
property, Anna-Marie; I never should have guessed that."

Mr. Goulden was all the time in good-humor, and Anna-Marie said:

"We shall be in accord at last."

"Oh! yes, we are, we are," said he pleasantly.

I listened without saying anything, as I was naturally curious to hear
what was coming.  It was easy to see that this was what she had heard
on her last journey.

She said also that miracles were coming again and that Saint Quirin,
Saint Odille, and the others would not work miracles under the usurper,
but that they had commenced already; that the little black St. John at
Kortzeroth, on seeing the ancient prior return had shed tears.

"Yes, yes, I understand," said Mr. Goulden, "that does not astonish me
in the least, after all these processions and atonements the saints
must work miracles; and it is natural, Anna-Marie, quite natural."

"Without doubt, Mr. Goulden, and when we see miracles, faith will
return.  That is clear, that is certain."

The dinner was finished, and Anna-Marie seeing that nothing more was
coming, remembered that she was late, and exclaimed:

"Oh!  Lord, that is one o'clock striking.  The others must be near
Ercheviller; now I must leave you."

She rose and took her stick with a very important air.

"Well! _bon voyage_, Anna-Marie, don't make us wait so long next time."

"Ah!  Mr. Goulden, if I do not sit every day at your table it is not my

She laughed, and as she took up her bundle she said:

"Well, good-by, and for the kindness you have shown me I will pray the
blessed Saint Quirin to send you a fine fat boy as fresh and rosy as a
lady-apple.  That is the best thing, Madame Bertha, that an old woman
like me can do for you."

On hearing these good wishes, I said, "That old woman is a good soul.
There is nothing I so much wish for in the world.  May God hear her
prayer!"  I was touched by that good wish.

She went downstairs, and as she shut the door, Catherine began to
laugh, and said:

"She emptied her budget this time."

"Yes, my children," replied Mr. Goulden, who was quite grave, "that is
what we may call human ignorance.  You would believe that poor creature
had invented all that, but she has picked it up right and left, it is
word for word what those émigrés think, and what they repeat every day
in their journals, and what the preachers say every day openly in all
the churches.  Louis XVIII. troubles them, he has too much good sense
for them, but the real king is Monseigneur the Duke d'Artois, who wants
to secure his salvation, and in order that this may be done everything
must be put back where it was before the 'rebellion of twenty-five
years,' and all the national property must be given up to its ancient
owners, and the nobles must have their rights and privileges as in
1788; they must occupy all the grades of the army, and the Catholic
religion must be the only religion in the state.  The Sabbath and fête
days must be observed, and heretics driven from all the offices, and
the priests alone have the right to instruct the children of the
people, and this great and terrible country, which carried its ideas of
Liberty, Equality, and Fraternity everywhere by means of its good sense
and its victories, and which never would have been vanquished if the
Emperor had not made an alliance with the kings at Tilsit, this nation,
which in a few years produced so many more great captains and orators,
learned men and geniuses of all kinds, than the noble races produced in
a thousand years, must surrender everything and go back to tilling the
earth, while the others, who are not one in a thousand, will go on from
father to son, taking everything and gladdening their hearts at the
expense of the people!  Oh! no doubt the fields and meadows and ponds
will be given up as Anna-Marie said, and that the convents will be
rebuilt in order to please Mons. le Comte d'Artois and help him to gain
his salvation--that is the least the country could do for so great a

Then Father Goulden, joining his hands, looked upward saying:

"Lord God, Lord God, who hast wrought so many miracles by the little
black St. John of Kortzeroth, if thou wouldst permit even a single ray
of reason to enter the heads of Monseigneur and his friends, I believe
it would be more beautiful than the tears of the little saint!  And
that other one on his island, with his clear eyes like the sparrow-hawk
who pretends to sleep as he watches the unconscious geese in a pool,--O
Lord, a few strokes of his wing and he is upon them, the birds may
escape, while we shall have all Europe at our heels again!"

He said all this very gravely, and I looked at Catherine to know
whether I should laugh or cry.

Suddenly he sat down, saying:

"Come!  Joseph, this is not at all cheerful, but what can we do?  It is
time to be at work.  Look, and see what is the matter with Mr. Jacob's

Catherine took off the cloth, and each one went to his work.


It was winter.  Rain fell constantly, mingled with snow.  There were no
gutters, and the wind blew the rain as it fell from the tiles quite
into the middle of the street.  We could hear it pattering all day
while Catherine was running about, watching the fire, and lifting the
covers of the saucepans, and sometimes singing quietly to herself as
she sat down to her spinning.  Father Goulden and I were so accustomed
to this kind of life that we worked on without thinking.  We troubled
ourselves about nothing, the table was laid and the dinner served
exactly on the stroke of noon.  At night Mr. Goulden went out after
supper to read the gazette at Hoffman's, with his old cloak wrapped
closely round his shoulders and his big fox-skin cap pulled down over
his neck.

But in spite of that, often when he came in at ten o'clock, after we
had gone to bed, we heard him cough; he had dampened his feet.  Then
Catherine would say, "He is coughing again, he thinks he is as young as
he was at twenty," and in the morning she did not hesitate to reproach

"Monsieur Goulden," she would say, "you are not reasonable; you have an
ugly cold, and yet you go out every evening."

"Ah! my child, what would you have?  I have got the habit of reading
the gazette, and it is stronger than I.  I want to know what Benjamin
Constant and the rest of them say, it is like a second life to me and I
often think 'they ought to have spoken further of such or such a thing.
If Melchior Goulden had been there he would have opposed this or that,
and it would not have failed to produce a great effect.'"

Then he would laugh and shake his head and say:

"Every one thinks he has more wit and good sense than the others, but
Benjamin Constant always pleases me."

We could say nothing more, his desire to read the gazette was so great.
One day Catherine said to him:

"If you wish to hear the news, that is no reason why you should make
yourself sick, you have only to do as the old carpenter Carabin does,
he arranged last week with Father Hoffman, and he sends him the journal
every night at seven o'clock, after the others have read it, for which
he pays him three francs a month.  In this way, without any trouble to
himself, Carabin knows everything that goes on, and his wife, old
Bevel, also; they sit by the fire and talk about all these things and
discuss them together, and that is what you should do."

"Ah!  Catherine, that is an excellent idea, but--the three francs?"

"The three francs are nothing," said I, "the principal thing is not to
be sick, you cough very badly and that cannot go on."

These words, far from offending, pleased him, as they proved our
affection for him and that he ought to listen to us.

"Very well! we will try to arrange it as you wish, and the rather as
the café is filled with half-pay officers from morning till night, and
they pass the journals from one to the other so that sometimes we must
wait two hours before we can catch one.  Yes, Catherine is right."

He went that very day to see Father Hoffman, so that after that,
Michel, one of the waiters at the café brought us the gazette every
night at seven o'clock, just as we rose from the table.  We were happy
always when we heard him coming up the stairs, and we would say, "There
comes the gazette."

Catherine would hurry off the cloth and I would put a big bullet of
wood in the stove, and Mr. Goulden would draw his spectacles from their
case, and while Catherine spun and I smoked my pipe like an old
soldier, and watched the blaze as it danced in the stove, he would read
us the news from Paris.

You cannot imagine the happiness and satisfaction we had in hearing
Benjamin Constant and two or three others maintain the same opinions
which we held ourselves.  Sometimes Mr. Goulden was forced to stop to
wipe his spectacles, and then Catherine would exclaim:

"How well these people talk.  They are men of good sense.  Yes, what
they say is right--it is the simple truth."

And we all approved it.  Sometimes Father Goulden thought that they
ought to have spoken of this or that a little more, but that the rest
was all very well.  Then he would go on with his reading, which lasted
till ten o'clock, and then we all went to bed, reflecting on what we
had just heard.  Outside the wind blew, as it only can blow at
Pfalzbourg, and vanes creaked as they turned, and the rain beat against
the walls, while we enjoyed the warmth and comfort, and thanked God
till sleep came, and we forgot everything.  Ah! how happily we sleep
with peace in our souls, and when we have strength and health, and the
love and respect of those whom we love.

Days, weeks, and months went by, and we became, after a manner,
politicians, and when the ministers were going to speak, we thought:

"Now the beggars want to deceive us! the miserable race! they ought to
be driven out, every one of them!"

Catherine above all could not endure them, and when Mother Grédel came
and talked as before about our good King, Louis XVIII., we allowed her
to talk out of respect, but we pitied her for being so blind to the
real interests of the country.

It must be remembered, too, that these émigrés, ministers, and princes,
conducted themselves in the most insolent manner possible toward us.
If the Count d'Artois and his sons had put themselves at the head of
the Vendéeans and Bretons, and marched on Paris and had been
victorious, they would have had reason to say, "We are masters, and
will make laws for you."  But to be driven out at first, and to be
brought back by the Prussians and the Russians, and then to come and
humiliate us, that was contemptible, and the older I grow the more I am
confirmed in that idea--it was shameful!

Zébédé came to see us from time to time, and he knew all that was in
the gazette.  It was from us that he first learned that the young
émigrés had driven General Vandamme from the presence of the King.
This old soldier, who had just returned from a Russian prison, and whom
all the army respected in spite of his misfortune at Kulm, they
conducted from the royal presence, and told him that was not his place.
Vandamme had been colonel of a regiment at Pfalzbourg, and you cannot
imagine the indignation of the people at this news.

And it was Zébédé who told us, that processes had been made out against
the generals on half-pay, and that their letters were opened at the
post, that they might appear like traitors.  He told us a little
afterward that they were going to send away the daughters of the old
officers who were at the school of St. Denis and give them a pension of
two hundred francs; and later still, that the émigrés alone would have
the right to put their sons in the schools at "St. Cyr" and "la Flèche"
to be educated as officers, while the people's sons would remain
soldiers at five centimes (one cent) a day for centuries to come.

The gazettes told the same stories, but Zébédé knew a great many other
details--the soldiers knew everything.

I could not describe Zébédé's face to you as he sat behind the stove,
with the end of his black pipe between his teeth, recounting all these
misfortunes.  His great nose would turn pale, and the muscles would
twitch around the corners of his light gray eyes, and he would pretend
to laugh from time to time, and murmur, "It moves, it moves."

"And what do the other soldiers think of all this?" said Father Goulden.

"Ha! they think it is pretty well when they have given their blood to
France for twenty years, when they have made ten, fifteen, and twenty
campaigns, and wear three chevrons, and are riddled with wounds, to
hear that their old chiefs are driven from their posts, their daughters
turned out of the schools, and that the sons of those people are to be
their officers forever--that delights them, Father Goulden!" and his
face quivered even to his ears as he said this.

"That is terrible, certainly," said Father Goulden, "but discipline is
always discipline there.  The marshals obey the ministers, and the
officers the marshals, and the soldiers the officers."

"You are right," said Zébédé, "but there, they are beating the

And he shook hands and hurried off to the barracks.

The winter passed in this way, while the indignation increased every
day.  The city was full of officers on half-pay, who dared not remain
in Paris,--lieutenants, captains, commandants, and colonels of infantry
and cavalry,--men who lived on a crust of bread and a glass of wine a
day, and who were the more miserable because they were forced to keep
up an appearance--think of such men with their hollow cheeks and their
hair closely cropped, with sparkling eyes and their big mustaches and
their old uniform cloaks, of which they had been forced to change the
buttons, see them promenading by threes and sixes and tens on the
square, with their sword-canes at their button-holes, and their
three-cornered hats so old and worn, though still well brushed; you
could not help thinking that they had not one quarter enough to eat.

And yet we were compelled to say to ourselves, these are the victors of
Jemmapes, of Fleurus, of Zurich, of Hohenlinden, of Marengo, of
Austerlitz, and of Friedland and Wagram.  If we are proud of being
Frenchmen, neither the Comte d'Artois nor the Duke de Berry can boast
of being the cause; on the contrary, it is these men, and now they
leave them to perish, they even refuse them bread and put the émigrés
in their place.  It does not need any extraordinary amount of
common-sense, or heart, or of justice to discover that this is contrary
to nature.

I never could look at these unhappy men; it made me miserable.  If you
have been a soldier for only six months, your respect for your old
chiefs, for those whom you have seen in the very front under fire,
always remains.  I was ashamed of my country for permitting such

One circumstance I shall never forget: it was the last of January,
1815, when two of these half-pay officers--one was a large, austere,
gray-haired man, known as Colonel Falconette, who appeared to have
served in the infantry, the other was short and thick and they called
him Commandant Margarot, and he still wore his hussar whiskers--came to
us and proposed to sell a splendid watch.  It might have been ten
o'clock in the morning.  I can see them now as they came gravely in,
the colonel with his high collar, and the other one with his head down
between his shoulders.

The watch was a gold one, with double case; a repeater which marked the
seconds, and was wound up only once in eight days.  I had never seen
such a fine one.

While Mr. Goulden examined it I turned round on my chair and looked at
the men, who seemed to be in great need of money, especially the
hussar.  His brown, bony face, his big red mustaches, and his little
brown eyes, his broad shoulders and long arms, which hung down to his
knees, inspired me with great respect.  I thought that when he took his
sabre his long arm would reach a good way, that his eyes would burn
under his heavy brows, and that the parry and thrust would come like
lightning.  I imagined him in a charge, half hidden behind his horse's
head, with the point advanced, and my admiration was greater still.  I
suddenly remembered that Colonel Falconette and Commandant Margarot had
killed some Russian and Austrian officers in a duel in the rear of the
"Green Tree," when the allies were passing through the town six months

The large man too, without any shirt-collar, although he was thin,
wrinkled, and pale, and his temples were gray and his manner cold,
seemed respectable too.

I waited to hear what Father Goulden would say about the watch.  He did
not raise his eyes, but looked at it with profound admiration, while
the men waited quietly like those who suffer from not being able to
conceal their pain.  At last he said:

"This, gentlemen, is a beautiful watch, fit for a prince?"

"Indeed it is," said the hussar, "and it was from a prince I received
it after the battle of Rabbe," and he glanced at his companion, who
said nothing.

Mr. Goulden saw that they were in great need.  He took off his black
silk bonnet, and said, as he rose slowly from his seat:

"Gentlemen, do not take offence at what I am going to say.  I am like
you an old soldier, I served France under the Republic, and I am sure
it must be heart-breaking to be forced to sell such a thing as that, an
object which recalls some noble action, the souvenir of a chief whom we

I had never heard Father Goulden speak with such emotion, his bald head
was bowed sadly, and his eyes were on the ground, so that he might not
see the pain of those to whom he was speaking.

The commandant grew quite red, his eyes were dim, his great fingers
worked, and the colonel was pale as death.  I wished myself away.

Mr. Goulden went on, "This watch is worth more than a thousand francs,
I have not so much money in hand, and besides you would doubtless
regret to part with such a souvenir.  I will make you this offer, leave
the watch with me, I will hang it in my window--it shall always be
yours--and I will advance you two hundred francs, which you shall repay
me when you take it away."

On hearing this, the hussar extended his two great hairy hands, as if
to embrace Father Goulden.

"You are a good patriot," he exclaimed, "Colin told us so.  Ah! sir, I
shall never forget the service you have rendered me.  This watch I
received from Prince Eugène for bravery in action, it is dear to me as
my own blood, but poverty----"

"Commandant!" exclaimed the other, turning pale.

"Colonel, permit me! we are old comrades together.  They are starving
us, they treat us like Cossacks.  They are too cowardly to shoot us

He could be heard all over the house.  Catherine and I ran into the
kitchen in order not to see the sad spectacle.  Mr. Goulden soothed
him, and we heard him say:

"Yes, yes, gentlemen, I know all that, and I put myself in your place."

"Come!  Margarot, be quiet," said the colonel.  And this went on for a
quarter of an hour.

At last we heard Mr. Goulden count out the money, and the hussar said:

"Thank you, sir, thank you!  If ever you have occasion, remember the
Commandant Margarot."

We were glad to hear the door open, and to hear them go downstairs, for
Catherine and I were much pained by what we had heard and seen.  We
went back to the room, and Mr. Goulden, who had been to show the
officers out, came back with his head bare.  He was very much disturbed.

"These unhappy men are right," said he, "the conduct of the government
toward them is horrible, but it will have to pay for it sooner or

We were sad all day, but Mr. Goulden showed me the watch and explained
its beauties, and told me, we ought always to have such models before
us, and then we hung it in our window.

From that moment the idea never left me that matters would end badly,
and that even if the émigrés stopped here, they had done too much
mischief already.  I could still hear the commandant exclaiming, that
they treated the army like Cossacks.  All those processions and
expiations and sermons about the rebellion of twenty-five years, seemed
to me to be a terrible confusion, and I felt that the restoration of
the national property and the rebuilding of the convents would be
productive of no good.


It was about the beginning of March, when a rumor began to circulate
that the Emperor had just landed at Cannes.  This rumor was like the
wind, nobody ever could tell where it came from.  Pfalzbourg is two
hundred leagues from the sea, and many a mountain and valley lies
between them.  An extraordinary circumstance, I remember, happened on
the 6th of March.  When I rose in the morning, I pushed open the window
of our little chamber which was just under the eaves, and looked across
the street at the old black chimneys of Spitz the baker, and saw that a
little snow still remained behind them.  The cold was sharp, though the
sun was shining, and I thought, "What fine weather for a march!"  Then
I remembered how happy we used to be in Germany, as we put out our
campfires and set off on such fine mornings as this, with our guns on
our shoulders, listening to the footfalls of the battalion echoing from
the hard frozen ground.  I do not know how it was, but suddenly the
Emperor came into my mind, and I saw him with his gray coat and round
shoulders, with his hat drawn over his eyes, marching along with the
Old Guard behind him.

Catherine was sweeping our little room, and I was almost dreaming as I
leaned out into the dry, clear air, when we heard some one coming up
the stairs.  Catherine stopped her sweeping and said:

"It is Mr. Goulden."

I also recognized his step, and was surprised, as he seldom came into
our chamber.  He opened the door and said in a low voice:

"My children, the Emperor landed on the 1st of March at Cannes, near
Toulon, and is marching upon Paris."

He said no more, but sat down to take breath.  We looked at each other
in astonishment, but a moment after Catherine asked:

"Is it in the gazette, Mr. Goulden?"

"No," he replied, "either they know nothing of it over there, or else
they conceal it from us.  But, in Heaven's name, not a word of all
this, or we shall be arrested.  This morning, about five o'clock,
Zébédé, who mounted guard at the French gate, came to let me know of
it; he knocked downstairs, did you hear him?"

"No! we were asleep, Mr. Goulden."

"Well!  I opened the window to see what was the matter, and then I went
down and unlocked the door.  Zébédé told it to me as a fact, and says
the soldiers are to be confined to the barracks till further orders.
It seems they are afraid of the soldiers, but how can they stop
Bonaparte without them?  They cannot send the peasants, whom they have
stripped of everything, against him, nor the bourgeoisie, whom they
have treated like Jacobins.  Now is a good time for the émigrés to show
themselves.  But silence, above all things, the most profound silence!"

He rose, and we all went down to the workshop.  Catherine made a good
fire, and everyone went about his work as usual.

That day everything was quiet, and the next day also.  Some neighbors,
Father Riboc and Offran, came in to see us, under pretence of having
their watches cleaned.

"Anything new, neighbor?" they inquired.

"No, indeed!" replied Mr. Goulden.  "Everything is quiet.  Do you hear


But you could see by their eyes, that they had heard the news.  Zébédé
stayed at the barracks.  The half-pay officers filled the café from
morning till night, but not a word transpired, the affair was too
serious.  On the third day these officers, who were boiling over with
impatience, were seen running back and forth, their very faces showing
their terrible anxiety.  If they had had horses or even arms, I am sure
they would have attempted something.  But the guards went and came
also, with old Chancel at their head, and a courier was sent off hourly
to Saarbourg.  The excitement increased, nobody felt any interest in
his work.  We soon learned through the commercial travellers, who
arrived at the "City of Basle," that the upper Rhine provinces and the
Jura had risen, and that regiments of cavalry and infantry were
following each other from Besançon, and that heavy forces had been sent
against the usurper.

One of these travellers having spoken rather too freely, was ordered to
quit the town at once, the brigadier in command having examined his
passport and, fortunately for him, found it properly made out.

I have seen other revolutions since then, but never such excitement as
reigned on the 8th of March between four and five in the evening, when
the order arrived for the departure of the first and second battalions
fully equipped for service for Lons-le-Saulnier.  It was only then that
the danger was fully realized, and every one thought, "It is not the
Duke d'Angoulême nor the Duke de Berry that we need to arrest the
progress of Bonaparte, but the whole of Europe."

The faces of the officers on half-pay lighted up as with a burst of
sunshine, and they breathed freely again.  About five o'clock the first
roll of the drum was heard on the square, when suddenly Zébédé rushed

"Well!" said Father Goulden to him.

"The first two battalions are going away," he replied.  He was very

"They are sent to stop him," said Mr. Goulden.

"Yes," said Zébédé, winking, "they are going to stop him."

The drums still rolled.  He went downstairs, four at a time.  I
followed him.  At the foot of the stairs, and while he was on the first
step, he seized me by the arm, and raising his shako, whispered in my

"Look, Joseph, do you recognize that?"

I saw the old tri-colored cockade in the lining.

"That is ours," he said, "all the soldiers have it."

I hardly had time to glance at it when he shook my hand and, turning
away, hurried to Fouquet's corner.  I went upstairs, saying to myself,
"Now for another breaking up, in which Europe will be involved; now for
the conscription, Joseph, the abolition of all permits and all the
other things that we read of in the gazettes.  In the place of quiet,
we must be plunged in confusion; instead of listening to the ticking of
clocks, we must hear the thunder of cannon; instead of talking of
convents, we must talk of arsenals; instead of smelling flowers and
incense, we must smell powder.  Great God! will this never come to an
end?  Everything would go prosperously without missionaries and
émigrés.  What a calamity!  What a calamity!  We who work and ask for
nothing are always the ones who have to pay.  All these crimes are
committed for our happiness, while they mock us and treat us like
brutes."  A great many other ideas passed through my head, but what
good did they do me?  I was not the Comte d'Artois, nor was I the Duke
de Berry; and one must be a prince in order that his ideas may be of
consequence, and that every word he speaks may pass for a miracle.

Father Goulden could not keep still a moment that afternoon.  He was
just as impatient as I was when I was expecting my permit to marry.  He
would look out of the window every moment and say, "There will be great
news to-day; the orders have been given, and there is no need of hiding
anything from us any longer."  And from time to time he would exclaim,
"Hush! here is the mail coach!"  We would listen, but it was Lanche's
cart with his old horses, or Baptiste's boat at the bridge.  It was
quite dark and Catherine had laid the cloth, when for the twentieth
time Mr. Goulden exclaimed, "Listen!"

This time we heard a distant rumbling, which came nearer every moment.
Without waiting an instant, he ran to the alcove and slipped on his big
waistcoat, crying:

"Joseph, it has come."

He rolled down the stairs, as it were, and from seeing him in such a
hurry the desire to hear the news seized me, and I followed him.  We
had hardly reached the street when the coach came through the dark
gateway, with its two red lanterns, and rushed past us like a
thunder-bolt.  We ran after it, but we were not alone; from all sides
we heard the people running and shouting, "There it is, there it is!"
The post-office was in the rue des Foins, near the German gate, and the
coach went straight down to the college and turned there to the right.
The farther we went the greater was the crowd; it poured from every

[Illustration: People were heard shouting, "There it is, there it is!"]

The old mayor, Mr. Parmentier, his secretary, Eschbach, and Cauchois,
the tax-gatherer, and many other notables were in the crowd, talking
together and saying:

"The decisive moment has come."

When we turned into the Place d'Armes, we saw the crowd already
gathered in front of the postoffice; innumerable faces were leaning
over the iron balustrade, one trying to get before the other, and
interrogating the courier, who did not answer a word.

The postmaster, Mr. Pernette, opened the window, which was lighted up
from the inside, and the package of letters and papers flew from the
coach through this window into the room; the window closed, and the
crack of the postilion's whip warned the crowd to get out of the way.

"The papers, the papers!" shouted the crowd from every side.  The coach
set off again and disappeared through the German gate.

"Let us go to Hoffman's café," said Mr. Goulden.  "Hurry! the papers
will go there, and if we wait we shall not be able to get in."

As we crossed the square we heard some one running behind us, and the
clear, strong voice of Margarot, saying:

"They have come, I have them."

All the half-pay officers were following him, and as the moon was
shining we could see they were coming at a great pace.  We rushed into
the café and were hardly seated near the great stove of Delft ware,
when the crowd at once poured in through both doors.  You should have
seen the faces of the half-pay officers at that moment.  Their great
three-cornered hats, defiling under the lamps, their thin faces with
their long mustaches hanging down, their sparkling eyes peering into
the darkness, made them look like savages in pursuit of something.
Some of them squinted in their impatience and anxiety, and I think that
they did not see anything at all, and that their thoughts were
elsewhere with Bonaparte;--that was fearful.

The people kept coming and coming, till we were suffocating, and were
obliged to open the windows.  Outside in the street, where the cavalry
barracks were, and on the Fountain Square, there was a great tumult.

"We did well to come at once," said Mr. Goulden, springing on a chair
and steadying himself with his hand on the stove.  Others were doing
the same thing, and I followed his example.  Nothing could be seen but
the eager faces and the big hats of the officers, and the great crowd
on the square outside in the moonlight.  The tumult increased and a
voice cried, "Silence."  It was the Commandant Margarot, who had
mounted upon a table.  Behind him the gendarmes Keltz and Werner looked
on, and at all the open windows people were leaning in to hear.  On the
square at the same instant somebody repeated, "Silence, silence."  And
it was at once so still that you would have said, there was not a soul

The commandant read the gazette, his clear voice pronouncing every word
with a sort of quaver in it, resembling the tic-tac of our clock in the
middle of the night, and it could be distinctly heard in the square.
The reading lasted a long time, for the commandant omitted nothing.  I
remember it commenced by declaring that the one called Bonaparte, a
public enemy, who for fifteen years had held France in despotic
slavery, had escaped from his island, and had had the audacity to set
his foot on the soil deluged with blood through his own crimes, but
that the troops--faithful to the King and to the nation--were on the
march to stop him, and that in view of the general horror, Bonaparte,
with the handful of beggars that accompanied him, had fled into the
mountains, but that he was surrounded on all sides and could not escape.

I remember too, according to that gazette all the marshals had hastened
to place their glorious swords at the service of the King, the father
of the people and of the nation, and that the illustrious Marshal Ney,
Prince of Moscowa, had kissed the King's hand and promised to bring
Bonaparte to Paris dead or alive.  After that there were some Latin
words which no doubt had been put there for the priests.

From time to time I heard some one behind me laughing and jeering at
the journal.  On turning round, I saw that it was Professor Burguet and
two or three other noted men who had been taken after the "Hundred
days," and had been forced to remain at Bourges because, as Father
Goulden said, they had too much spirit.  That shows plainly that it is
better to keep still at such times, if one does not wish to fight on
either side; for words are of no use, but to get us into difficulty.

But there was something worse still toward the end, when the commandant
commenced to read the decrees.

The first indicated the movement of the troops, and the second,
commanded all Frenchmen to fall upon Bonaparte, to arrest and deliver
him dead or alive, because he had put himself out of the pale of law.

At that moment the commandant, who had until then only laughed when he
read the name of Bonaparte, and whose bony face had only trembled a
little as it was lighted up by the lamp--at that moment his aspect
changed completely, I never saw anything more terrible; his face
contracted, fold upon fold, his little eyes blazed like those of a cat,
and his mustaches and whiskers stood on end; he seized the gazette and
tore it into a thousand pieces, and then pale as death he raised
himself to his full height, extended his long arms, and shouted in a
voice so loud that it made our flesh creep, _Vive l'Empereur!_
Immediately all the half-pay officers raised their three-cornered hats,
some in their hands and some on the end of their sword-canes, and
repeated with one voice, _Vive l'Empereur!_

You would have thought the roof was coming down.  I felt just as if
some one had thrown cold water down my back.  I said to myself, "It is
all over now.  What is the use in preaching peace to such people?"

Outside among the groups of citizens, the soldiers of the post repeated
the cry, _Vive l'Empereur_.  And as I looked in great anxiety to see
what the gendarmes would do, they retired without saying a word, being
old soldiers also.

But it was not yet over.  As the commandant was getting down from the
table, an officer suggested that they should carry him in triumph.
They seized him by the legs, and forcing the crowd aside, carried him
around the room, screaming like madmen, _Vive l'Empereur_.  He was so
affected by the honor shown him by his comrades and by hearing them
shout what he so much loved to hear, that he sat there with his long
hairy hands on their shoulders, and his head above their great hats,
and wept.  No one would have believed that such a face could weep; that
alone was sufficient to upset you and make you tremble.  He said not a
word; his eyes were closed and the tears ran down his nose and his long
mustaches.  I was looking on with all my eyes, as you can imagine, when
Father Goulden got down from his chair and pulled me by the arm,
saying: "Joseph, let us go, it is time."

Behind us the hall was already empty.  Everybody had hurried out by the
brewer Klein's alley for fear of being mixed up in a disagreeable
affair, and we went that way also.

As we crossed the square, Father Goulden said, "There is danger that
matters will take a bad turn.  To-morrow the gendarmerie may commence
to act, the Commandant Margarot and the others have not the air of men
who will allow themselves to be arrested.  The soldiers of the third
battalion will take their part, if they have not already.  The city is
in their power."

He was talking to himself, and I thought as he did.

When we reached home, Catherine was waiting anxiously for us in the
workshop.  We told her all that had happened.  The table was set, but
nobody was inclined to eat.  Mr. Goulden drank a glass of wine, and
then as he took off his shoes he said to us:

"My children, after what we have just heard we may be sure that the
Emperor will reach Paris; the soldiers wish it, and the peasants desire
it, and if he has considered well since he has been on his island and
will give up his ideas about war, and will respect the treaties, the
bourgeoise will ask nothing better, especially if we have a good
Constitution that will guarantee to everyone his liberty, which is the
best of all good things.  Let us wish it for ourselves and for him.


The next day was Friday and market day, and there was nothing talked of
in the whole town but the great news.  Great numbers of peasants from
Alsace and Lorraine came filing into town on their carts, some in
blouses, some in their waistcoats, some in three-cornered hats, and
some in their cotton caps, under pretence of selling their grain, their
barley and oats, but in reality to find out what was going on.

You could hear nothing but "Get up, Fox! gee ho, Gray!" and the rolling
of the wheels and the cracking of the whips.  And the women were not
behindhand, they arrived from the Houpe, from Dagsberg, Ercheviller,
and Baraques, with their scanty skirts and with great baskets on their
heads, striding and hurrying along.  Everybody passed under our
windows, and Mr. Goulden said, "What an excitement there is, what a
rush!  It is easy to see that there is another spirit in the land.
Nobody is marching now with candles in his hand and a surplice on his

He seemed to be satisfied, and that proved how much all these
ceremonies had annoyed him.  At last about eight o'clock it was
necessary to set about our work again, and Catherine went out as usual
to buy our butter and eggs and vegetables for the week.  At ten o'clock
she came back again.

"Oh!  Heavens!" said she, "everything is topsy-turvy."  And then she
related how the half-pay officers were promenading with their
sword-canes, with the Commandant Margarot in their midst, that on the
square, in the market, in the church, and around the stands, everywhere
the peasants and citizens were shaking hands and taking snuff together,
and saying, "Ah! now trade is brisk again."

And she told us also that during the night proclamations had been
posted up at the town-house and on the three doors of the church, and
even against the pillars of the market, but that the gendarmes had torn
them down early in the morning, in fact, that everything was in
commotion.  Father Goulden had risen from the counter in order to
listen to her, and I turned round on my chair and thought:

"All that is good, very good, but at this rate your leave of absence
will soon be recalled.  Everything is moving and you must also move,
Joseph!  Instead of remaining here quietly with your wife, you will
have to take your cartridge-box and knapsack and musket and two
packages of cartridges on your back."

As I looked at Catherine, who did not think of the bad side of affairs,
Weissenfels, Lutzen, and Leipzig passed through my mind, and I was
quite melancholy.  While we were all so sober, the door opened and Aunt
Grédel walked in.  At first you would have thought she was quite

"Good-morning, Mr. Goulden; good-morning, my children," said she,
putting down her basket behind the stove.

"Are you well too, Mother Grédel?" asked Mr. Goulden.

"Ah! well! well!" said she.

I saw that she had set her teeth, and that two red spots burned on her
cheeks.  She crammed her hair which was hanging down over her ears,
with a single thrust into her cap, and looked at us one after the other
with her gray eyes to see what we thought, and then she commenced.

"It seems that the rascal has escaped from his island."

"Of what rascal do you speak?" asked Mr. Goulden calmly.

"Oh! you know very well of whom I speak, I speak of your Bonaparte."

Mr. Goulden, seeing her anger, turned round to his counter to avoid a
dispute.  He seemed to be examining a watch, and I followed his example.

"Yes," said she, speaking still louder, "his evil deeds are commencing
again; just as we thought all was finished! and he comes back again
worse than ever!  What a pest!"

I could hear her voice tremble.  Mr. Goulden kept on with his work, and
asked, without turning round, "Whose fault is it, Mother Grédel?  Do
you think that those processions, atonements, and the sermons in regard
to the national domains and the 'rebellion of twenty-five years,' these
continual menaces of establishing the old order of things, the order to
close the shops during the service, do you think all that could
continue?  Did any one, let me ask, ever see since the world began,
anything more calculated to rouse a nation against those who attempt to
degrade it!  You would have said that Bonaparte himself had whispered
in the ears of those Bourbons, all the stupidities which would be
likely to disgust the people.  Tell me, might we not expect just what
has come to pass?"

He kept on looking at the watch through his glass in order to keep
calm.  While he was speaking I had looked at Aunt Grédel out of the
corner of my eye.  She had changed color two or three times, and
Catherine, who was behind us near the stove, made signs to her not to
make trouble in our house, but the wilful woman disregarded all signs.

"You, too, are satisfied then, are you? you change from one day to
another like the rest of them, you always bring out your republic when
it suits you."

On hearing this, Mr. Goulden coughed softly, as if he had something in
his throat, and for half a minute he seemed to be considering, while
aunt looked on.  He recovered himself at last and said slowly: "You are
wrong, Madame Grédel, to reproach me, for if I had wished to change I
should have begun sooner.  Instead of being a clock-maker in Pfalzbourg
I should have been a colonel or a general, like the others, but I
always have been, I am now, and shall remain till I die, for the
Republic and the Rights of Man."

Then he turned suddenly round, and looking at aunt from head to foot,
and raising his voice; he went on: "And that is the reason why I like
Bonaparte better than the Comte d'Artois, the émigrés, the
missionaries, and the workers of miracles; at least he is forced to
keep something of the Revolution, he is forced to respect the national
domain, to guarantee to every one his property, his rank, and
everything he has acquired under the new laws.  Without that, what
right would he have to be Emperor?  If he had not maintained equality
why should the nation wish to have him?  The others, on the contrary,
have attacked everything; they want to destroy everything that we have
done.  Now you understand why I like him better than the others.

"Ah!" said Mother Grédel, "that is new!" and she laughed
contemptuously.  I would have given anything if she had been at Quatre

"There was a time when you talked otherwise, when he re-established the
bishops and the archbishops and the cardinals, when he had himself
crowned by the Pope, and consecrated with oil from the holy ampoule,[1]
when he recalled the émigrés, when he gave up the chateaux and forests
to the great families, when he made princes and dukes and barons by the
dozen; how many times have I heard you say that all that was atrocious,
that he had betrayed the Revolution, that you would have preferred the
Bourbons, because they did not know any other way, that they were like
blackbirds, who only whistle one tune because they know no other, and
because they think it the most beautiful air in the world.  While he,
the result of the Revolution, whose father had only a few dozens of
goats on the mountains of Corsica, should have known that all men are
equal, that courage and genius alone elevate them above their
fellows,--that he should have despised all those old notions, and that
he should have made war only to defend the new rights, the new ideas,
which are just and which nothing can arrest: did you not say that, when
you were talking with old Colin in the rear of our garden, for fear of
being arrested--did you not say that between yourselves and before me?"

[1] Vial which contains the oil for anointing the kings of France.

Father Goulden had grown quite pale.  He looked down at his feet and
turned his snuff-box round and round in his fingers as if he were
thinking, and I saw his emotion in his face.

"Yes, I said it," he replied, "and I think so still--you have a good
memory, Mother Grédel.  It is true that for ten years Colin and I have
been obliged to hide ourselves if we spoke of events that will
certainly be accomplished, and it is the despotism of one man born
among us, whom we have sustained with our own blood, which compelled us
to do that.  But to-day everything is changed.  The man, to whom you
cannot deny genius, has seen his sycophants abandon and betray him; he
has seen that his strength lies in the people, and that those alliances
of which he had the weakness to be so proud, were the cause of his
ruin.  He has come now to rid us of the others, and I am glad."

"Then you have no faith in yourself, eh?  Have you any need of him?"
exclaimed Aunt Grédel.  "If the processions annoyed you, and if you
were, as you say, 'the people,' why do you need him?"

Father Goulden smiled, and said, "If everybody had the courage to
follow his own conscience, and if so many persons who joined the
processions had not done so from vanity or to show their fine clothes,
and if others had not joined from interest, from the hope of getting a
good office, or to obtain permits, then Madame Grédel you would be
right, and we should not have needed Bonaparte to overturn all that,
and you would have seen that three-quarters of the people had
common-sense, and perhaps even the Comte d'Artois himself would have
cried, Hold!  But as hypocrisy and interest hide and obscure everything
and make night out of the broad day, unhappily we must have
thunder-bolts to make us see clearly.  It is you, and those who are
like you, who have caused those who have never changed their opinions,
to rejoice when fever takes the place of colic."

Father Goulden rose and walked up and down in great agitation, and as
Aunt Grédel was going on again, he took his cap and went out, saying:

"I have given you my opinions.  Now talk to Joseph; he thinks you are
always right."

As soon as he had gone, Mother Grédel cried out:

"He is an old fool, and he has been, always!  Now, as for you, if you
do not go to Switzerland, I warn you, you will be obliged to go, God
knows where.  But we will talk about that another time, the principal
thing is to warn you.  We will wait and see what happens; perhaps
Bonaparte will be arrested, but if he reaches Paris, we will go
somewhere else."

She embraced us and took her basket and went away.  A few minutes
afterward, Father Goulden came in and we sat down to our work and said
no more about these things.  We were very sober, and at night I was
more than ever surprised, when Catherine said:

"We will always listen to Mr. Goulden, he is right and will give us
good counsel."

On hearing that, I thought that she agreed with Father Goulden because
they read the gazette together.  That gazette always says what just
pleases them, but that does not prevent it being very terrible if we
are obliged to take our guns and knapsacks again, and it would be
better to be in Switzerland, either at Geneva, or at Father Rulle's
manufactory or at Chaux-de-Fonds, than at Leipzig, and those other
places.  I did not wish to contradict Catherine, but her remarks
annoyed me greatly.


From that moment there was confusion everywhere, the half-pay officers
shouted, "_Vive l'Empereur_."  The commandant gave orders to arrest
them, but the battalion did the same thing, and the gendarmes seemed to
be deaf.  Nobody was at work; the tax-gatherers and overseers, the
mayor and his counsellors, grew gray with uncertainty, not knowing on
which foot they should dance.  Nobody dared to come out for Bonaparte,
or for Louis XVIII., except the slaters and masons and knife-grinders,
who could not lose their offices and who wished for nothing better than
to see others in their places.  With their hatchets stuck in their
leather belts and a bag of chips on their shoulders, they did not
hesitate to shout, "Down with the émigrés," they laughed at the
troubles, which increased visibly.

One day the gazette said, the usurper is at Grenoble, the next he is at
Lyons, the next at Mâcon, and the next at Auxerre, and so on.  Father
Goulden was in good-humor as he read the news at night, and he would

"They can see now that the Frenchmen are for the Revolution, and that
the others cannot hold out.  Everybody says, 'Down with the _émigrés_.'
What a lesson for those who can see clearly!  Those Bourbons wanted to
make us all Vendéeans, they ought to rejoice that they have succeeded
so well."

But one thing troubled him still, that was the great battle which was
announced between Ney and Napoleon.

"Although Ney has kissed the hand of the King, yet he is an old
soldier, and I will never believe that he will fight against the will
of the people.  No, it is not possible, he will remember the old cooper
of Saar-Louis, who would break his head with his hammer, if he were
still living, on learning that Michel had betrayed the country in order
to please the King."

That was what Mr. Goulden said, but that did not prevent people from
being uneasy, when suddenly the news arrived that he had followed the
example of the army and the bourgeoisie and all those who wished to be
rid of the atonements, and that he had rallied with them.  Then there
was greater confidence, but still prudent men were silent in view of
what might happen.

On the 21st of March, between five and six in the evening, Mr. Goulden
and I were at work; it had begun to grow dark, and Catherine was
lighting the lamp, a gentle rain was falling on the panes, when
Theodore Roeber, who had charge of the telegraph, passed under our
windows, riding a big dapple-gray horse at the top of his speed, his
blouse filled out by the air, he went so fast, and he was holding his
great felt hat on with one hand, while he kept striking his horse with
a whip which he held in the other, though he was galloping like the
wind.  Father Goulden wiped the glass and leaned over to see better,
and said:

"That is Roeber, who is coming from the telegraph, some great news has
arrived."  His pale cheeks reddened, and I felt my heart beat
violently.  Catherine came and placed the lamp near us, and I opened
the window to close the shutter.  That took me some moments, as I was
obliged to disarrange the glasses on the work-table, and take down the
watches before I could do it.  Mr. Goulden seemed lost in thought.
Just as I had fastened the window, we heard the assembly beat from both
sides of the city at once, from the bastion of the Mittelbronn and from
Bigelberg, the echoes from the ramparts and from the target valley
responded, and a dull rumbling filled the air, Mr. Goulden rose, saying:

"The matter is decided at last," in a tone which made me shudder.
"Either they are fighting near Paris, or the Emperor is in his old
palace as he was in 1809."

Catherine ran for his cloak, for she saw plainly he was going out in
spite of the rain.  He was speaking with his great gray eyes wide open,
and took no notice as she slipped on the sleeves, and as he went out
Catherine touched me on the shoulder--I was still sitting--and said:

"Go, Joseph, follow him."

We reached the square just as the battalion filed out of the broad
street at the corner by the mayor's, behind the drummers, who had their
drums over their shoulders.  A great crowd followed them.  When they
reached the great lindens, the drums recommenced, and the soldiers
hurriedly got into their ranks, and almost immediately the Commandant
Gémeau, who was suffering from his wounds and had not been out for two
months appeared on the steps of the "Minque."  A sapper held his horse
by the bridle, and gave him his shoulder to mount.  Everybody was
looking on, and the roll commenced.  The commandant crossed the square,
and the captains went quickly up to meet him; he said a few words to
them, and then passed in front of the battalion, followed by a sergeant
with three chevrons, who carried a flag in its oil-cloth case.  The
crowd increased every moment.  Mr. Goulden had mounted on the stone
posts in front of the arch of the guard-house.  After the roll was
called, the commandant waited a moment and then drew his sword and gave
the order to form a square.  I tell you these things in a simple way,
because they were simple and terrible.

The commandant was very pale, and we could see, though it was almost
night, that he had fever.  The gray lines of soldiers in the square,
the commandant on horseback, the officers around him in the rain, the
listening citizens, the profound silence, the opening of the windows in
the vicinity, all are present to my mind though fifty years have passed
since then.  Not a word was said, for we all felt that we were going to
learn the fate of France.

"Carry arms! shoulder arms!"

After this nothing was heard but the voice of the commandant, that
voice which I had heard on the other side of the Rhine at Lutzen and
Leipzig, saying:

"Close the ranks."

The words went through my very marrow.

"Soldiers!" said he, "Louis XVIII. left Paris on the 20th of March, and
the Emperor Napoleon made his entry into the capital the same day."

A sort of shiver went through the crowd, but it lasted for a moment
only, and the commandant continued:

"Soldiers, the flag of France is the flag of Arcola, of Rivoli, of
Alexandria, of Chébreisse, of the Pyramids, of Aboukir, of Marengo, of
Austerlitz, and of Jena, of Eylau, of Friedland, of Sommo-Sierra, of
Madrid, of Abensberg, of Eckmül, of Essling, of Wagram, of Smolensk, of
Moscowa, of Weissenfels, of Lutzen, of Bautzen, of Wurtschen, of
Dresden, of Bischofswarda, of Hanau, of Brienne, of Saint Dizier, of
Champaubert, of Chateau-Thierry, of Joinvilliers, of Méry-sur-Seine, of
Montereau, and of Montmirail.  It is the flag which we have dyed with
our blood, and it is that which makes it our glory."

The old sergeant had drawn the torn flag from its case, and the
commandant continued:

"Here is the flag! you recognize it; it is the flag of the nation, it
is that flag which the Russians and Austrians and Prussians took from
us on the day of their first victory, because they feared it."

A great number of the old soldiers, on hearing these words, turned away
their heads to hide their tears; while others, deathly pale, looked and
listened with flashing eyes.

"I," said the commandant, raising his sword, "know no other.  _Vive la
France!  Vive l'Empereur!_"

The words had hardly left his mouth when from every window, from the
square, from the streets, rose the shouts, "_Vive la France!  Vive
l'Empereur!_" like the blast of a trumpet.  The people and the soldiers
embraced each other, you would have thought that everything was safe,
that we had found all that France lost in 1814.  It was almost dark,
and the people went away in companies of threes, sixes, and twenties,
shouting, "_Vive l'Empereur!_"  When near the hospital a red flash
lighted up the sky, the cannon thundered, another responded from the
rear of the arsenal, and so they continued to roar from second to

Mr. Goulden and I left the square arm in arm, crying, "_Vive
l'Empereur!_" also, and as at each discharge of cannon the flash
lighted up the square, in one of them we saw Catherine, who was coming
to meet us with old Madelon Schouler.  She had put on her little cloak
and hood, protecting her rosy little nose from the mist, and she
exclaimed, on seeing us:

"There they are, Madelon!  The Emperor is master, is he not, Mr.

"Yes, my child," he replied, "it is decided."

Catherine took my arm, and I kissed her two or three times as we were
going home.  Perhaps I felt that we should soon be forced to part, and
that then, it would be long before I should kiss her again.  Father
Goulden and Madelon were before us, and he said:

"Come up, Madelon; I want to drink a good glass of wine with you."  But
she declined, and left us at the door.  I can only say that the joy of
the people was as great as on the return of Louis XVIII., and perhaps
still greater.

Father Goulden took off his cloak and sat down in his place at table,
as supper was waiting.  Catherine ran down to the cellar and brought up
a bottle of good wine, we laughed and drank while the cannon made our
windows rattle.  Sometimes people's heads are turned, even those who
love nothing but peace.  So the sound of the cannon made us happy, and
we went back in a measure to our old habits.

"The commandant," said Mr. Goulden, "spoke well, but he might have kept
on till to-morrow with his victories, commencing with Valmy,
Hundschott, Wattignies, Fleurus, Neuwied, Ukerath, Fröeschwiller,
Geisberg, to Zurich and Hohenlinden.  These were also great victories,
and even the most splendid of all, for they preserved liberty.  He only
spoke of the last ones, that was enough for the moment.  Let those
people come! let them dare to move!  The nation wants peace, but if the
allies commence war woe be unto them.  Now we shall again talk of
liberty, equality, and fraternity.  All France will be roused by it, I
warn you beforehand.  There will be a national guard, and the old men
like me and the married men will defend the towns, while the younger
ones will march, but no one will cross the frontiers.  The Emperor,
taught by experience, will arm the artisans, the peasants, and the
bourgeoisie, and when we are attacked, even if they are a million, not
one shall escape.  The day for soldiers is past, regular armies are for
conquest, but a people who can defend themselves do not fear the best
armies in the world.  We proved that to the Prussians and Austrians, to
the English and the Russians from 1792 to 1800, and since then the
Spaniards have shown us the same thing, and even before that, the
Americans demonstrated it to the English.  The Emperor will speak to us
of liberty, be sure of that; and if he will send his proclamations into
Germany, many Germans will be with us; they were promised liberty in
order to make them rise against France, and now the sovereigns in
conference at Vienna mock at their own promises.  Their plan is fixed.
They divide the people among themselves as they would a flock of sheep.
Those who have good sense will unite, and in that way peace will be
established by force.  The kings alone have any interest in war, the
people do not need to conquer themselves, provided that they arrange
for the freedom of commerce, that is the principal thing."

In his excitement everything looked bright to him.  And all that he
said seemed to me so natural, that I was sure that the Emperor would
direct matters as we had supposed.  Catherine believed it too.  We
thanked God for what had come, and about eleven o'clock, after having
laughed and drank and shouted, we went to bed with the brightest hopes.
All the city was illuminated, and we had put lamps in our windows also.
Every moment we heard the crackers in the street and the children were
shouting, "Vive l'Empereur!" and the soldiers were coming out of the
inns, singing, "Down with the émigrés."  This lasted till very late,
and it was one o'clock before we slept.


This general satisfaction continued for five or six days.  The old
mayors and their assistants were replaced as well as the field-guards,
and all those who had been displaced a few months before.  The whole
city, even the women, wore little tri-colored cockades, and all the
seamstresses were busily at work making them, of red, white, and blue
ribbon; and those who railed so bitterly against the "ogre of Corsica,"
never spoke of Louis XVIII. except as the "Panada King."  On the 25th
of March a Te Deum was sung, the garrison and all the civil authorities
joining in the service with great ceremony.  After the Te Deum, the
authorities gave a grand dinner to the officers of the garrison at the
"Ville de Metz."  The weather was fine and the windows were open, and
the hall was lighted by clusters of lamps hanging from the ceiling.
Catherine and I went out in the evening to enjoy the spectacle.  We
could see the uniforms and the black coats sitting side by side around
the long tables, and first the mayor would rise, and then his
assistants, or the new commandant of the post, Mr. Brandon, to drink to
the health of the Emperor or of his ministers, of France, to peace or
to victory, etc., etc., and this they kept up till midnight.

Inside the glasses jingled, and outside the children fired crackers.
They had erected a climbing pole before the church, and wooden horses
and organ-grinders had come from Saverne, and there was a holiday at
the college.  In Klein's Court, at the "Ox," there was a fight between
dogs and donkeys; in short, it was just as it was in 1830 and in 1848,
and afterward.  The people never invent anything new to glorify those
who rise, or to express their contempt for those who fall.

But they soon found out that the Emperor had no time to lose in
rejoicings.  The gazette said that "his Majesty wished for peace, that
he made no demands, that he was on good terms with his father-in-law
the Emperor Francis, that Marie Louise and the King of Rome were to
return, they were daily expected," etc.

But meanwhile the order arrived to arm the place.  Two years before
Pfalzbourg was a hundred leagues from the frontier.  The ramparts were
in ruins, the ditches filled up, and there was nothing in the arsenal
but miserable old muskets of the time of Louis XIV., which were
discharged with matches; and the guns were so unwieldy on their heavy
carriages, that horses were required to move them.  The arsenals were
really at Dresden and Hamburg and Erfurt; but though we had not
stirred, we were ten leagues from Rhenish Bavaria, and it was upon us
that the first shower of bombs and bullets would fall.  So, day after
day, we received orders to restore the earthworks and to clear out the
ditches and to put the old ordnance in good condition.  At the
beginning of April a great workshop was established at the arsenal for
repairing the arms, and skilful engineers and artillerists arrived from
Metz to repair the earthworks of the bastions and make terraces around
the embrasures.  The activity was very great--greater than in 1805 and
in 1813, and I thought more than once that these extensive frontiers
had their good side, because we might in the interior live in peace,
while they took the blows and bombardments.

But we had great anxiety, for naturally when the palisades were newly
planted on the glacis, and the half-moons filled with fascines, when
cannon were placed in every nook and corner, we knew that there must be
soldiers to guard and serve them.

Often as we heard these decrees read at night, Catherine and I looked
at each other in mute apprehension.  I felt beforehand that instead of
remaining quietly at home, cleaning and mending clocks, I would be
obliged to be again on the march, and that always made me sad; and this
melancholy increased from day to day.  Sometimes Father Goulden, seeing
this, would say cheerfully:

"Come!  Joseph, courage! all will come right at last."

He wished to raise my spirits, but I thought: "Yes, he says that to
encourage me, but any one who is not blind can see what turn affairs
will take."

Events followed each other so rapidly, that the decrees came like hail,
always with sounding phrases and grand words to embellish them.

And we learned too that the regiments were to take their old numbers,
"illustrious in so many glorious campaigns."  Without being very
malicious, we could understand that the old numbers which had no
regiments would soon find them again.  And not only that, but we
learned that the skeletons of the third, fourth, and fifth battalions
of infantry, the fourth and fifth squadrons of cavalry, and thirty
battalions of artillery trains were to be filled up, and twenty
regiments of the Young Guard, ten battalions of military equipages, and
twenty regiments of marines were to be formed, ostensibly to give
employment to all the half-pay officers of both arms of the service,
land and naval.  That was very well to say; but when they are created
they are to be filled up, and when they are full the soldiers must go.
When I saw that, my confidence vanished, but yet everybody cried,
"Peace, peace, peace!  We accept the treaty of Paris.  The kings and
emperors convened at Vienna are our friends.  Marie Louise and the King
of Rome are coming."

The more I heard of these things, the more my distrust increased.  In
vain Mr. Goulden would say, "He has taken Carnot into his counsels.
Carnot is a good patriot; Carnot will prevent him from going to war, or
if we are forced to go to war, he will show him that the enemy must
come here to find us, the nation must be roused, declare the country in
danger, etc."

In vain did he tell me these things, I always said to myself, "all
these new regiments are to be filled; that is certain."  We heard also
that ten thousand picked men were to be added to the Old Guard, and
that the light artillery was to be reorganized.  Everybody knows that
light artillery follows the army.  To remain behind the ramparts or for
defence at home, it is useless.

I came to this conclusion at once, and though I was generally careful
to conceal my anxiety from Catherine, yet this night I could not help
telling her so.  She said nothing, which shows plainly that she had
good sense and that she thought so too.

All these things diminished my enthusiasm for the Emperor very much
indeed, and I sometimes said to myself as I was at work, "I would
rather see processions going past my windows, than to go and fight
against people whom I never saw."  At least the sight would cost me
neither leg nor arm, and if it annoyed me too much I could make an
excursion to Quatre Vents.  My vexation increased the more, as since
the dispute with Mr. Goulden, Aunt Grédel did not come to see us.  She
was a very wilful woman and would not listen to reason, and would hold
resentment against a person for years and years.  But she was our
mother, and it was our duty to yield something to her as she wished us
only good.  But how could we be reconciled to her ideas and those of
Mr. Goulden?

This was what embarrassed us, for if we were bound to love Aunt Grédel,
we owed also the most profound respect to him, who looked upon us as
his own children, and who loaded us every day with his benefits.

These thoughts made us sad, and I had resolved to tell Mr. Goulden,
that Catherine and I were Jacobins like himself, but without doing
injustice to Jacobin ideas, or abandoning them, we ought to honor our
mother, and go and inquire after her health.

I did not know how he would receive this declaration, when one Sunday
morning, as we went down about eight o'clock, we found him dressed, and
in excellent humor.  He said to us, "Children, here it is more than a
month since Aunt Grédel has been to see us.  She is obstinate.  I wish
to show her that I can yield.  Between friends like us, there should
not be even a shadow of difference.  After breakfast we will go to
Quatre Vents, and tell her that she is prejudiced, and that we love her
in spite of her faults.  You will see how ashamed she will be."  He
laughed, but we were quite touched by his generosity.

"Ah!  Mr. Goulden, how good and kind you are," said Catherine, "they
who do not love you, must have very bad hearts."

"Ha!" he exclaimed, "is not what I have done quite natural? must we let
a few words separate us?  Thank God! age teaches us to be more
reasonable and to be willing to take the first step,--that you know is
one of the principles of the Rights of Man,--in order to maintain
concord between reasonable persons."

Everything was summed up, when he had quoted the "Rights of Man."  You
can hardly imagine our satisfaction.  Catherine could hardly wait till
breakfast was over, she was here and there and everywhere, to bring his
hat and cane and his shoes and the box which held his beautiful peruke.
She helped him on with his brown coat, while he laughed as he watched
her, and at last he kissed her saying, "I knew this would make you
happy, so do not let us lose a minute, let us go."

We all set off together, Father Goulden gravely giving his arm to
Catherine, as he always did in the street, and I marched on behind as
happy as possible.  Those I loved best in the world were here before my
eyes, and as I went on I thought of what I should say to Aunt Grédel.

The weather was splendid, and on we went beyond the wall and the
glacis, and in twenty minutes, without hurrying, we stood before Aunt
Grédel's door.  It might have been ten o'clock, and as I had gained a
little on them at the "Roulette" I went in by the alley of elders that
ran along the side of the house, and looked into the little window to
see what aunt was doing.  She was seated right opposite me near the
fireplace, in which a little fire was smouldering, she had on her short
skirt, striped with blue, with great pockets on the outside, and her
linen corsage with shoulder-straps, and her old shoes.  She was
spinning away, with her eyes cast down, looking very sober, her great
thin arms naked to the elbow, and her gray hair twisted up in her neck
without any cap.  "Poor Aunt Grédel," thought I, "she is thinking of us
no doubt--and she is so obstinate in her vexation.  It is sad though,
all the same, to live alone and never see her children."  It made me
sad to see her.

At that moment the door opened on the side next the street, and Father
Goulden walked in with Catherine, as happy as possible, exclaiming:

"Ha!  Mother Grédel, you do not come to see us any more, therefore I
have brought your children to see you, and have come myself to embrace
you.  You will have to get us a good dinner, do you hear?  and that
will teach you a lesson."  He seemed a little grave with all his joy.

On seeing them, aunt sprang up and embraced Catherine, and then she
fell into Mr. Goulden's arms and hung on his neck:

"Ah!  Mr. Goulden, how happy I am to see you.  You are a good man; you
are worth a thousand of me."

Seeing that matters had taken a pleasant turn, I ran round to the door
and found them both with their eyes full of tears.  Father Goulden said:

"We will talk no more politics!"

"No! but whether one is Jacobin or anything else you will, the
principal thing is to keep in good temper."

She then came and embraced me, and said:

"My poor Joseph!  I have been thinking of you from morning till night.
But all is well now and I am satisfied."

She ran into the kitchen and commenced bustling among the kettles to
prepare something to regale us with, while Mr. Goulden placed his cane
in a corner and hung his great hat upon it, and sat down with an air of
contentment near the hearth.

"What fine weather!" he exclaimed, "how green and flourishing
everything is!  How happy I should be to live in the fields, to see the
hedges and apple-trees and plum-trees from my windows, covered with
their red and white blossoms!"

He was gay as a lark, and we all should have been except for the
thoughts of the war which were constantly coming into our heads.

"Leave all that, mother," said Catherine, "I will get the dinner to-day
as I used to do; go and sit down quietly with Mr. Goulden."

"But you do not know where anything is, I have disarranged everything,"
said aunt.

"Sit down, I beg you," said Catherine, "I shall find the butter and the
eggs and the flour and everything that is necessary."

"Well, well!  I am going to obey you," said she, as she went down to
the cellar.

Catherine took off her pretty shawl and hung it on the back of my
chair, then she put some wood on the fire and some butter in a saucepan
and looked into the kettles to see that everything was in order.  Aunt
came in at that moment with a bottle of white wine.

"You will first refresh yourselves a little before dinner, and while
Catherine looks after the kitchen I will go and put on my sacque and
give my hair a touch with the comb, for certainly it needs it, and
you--go into the orchard;--here, Joseph, take these glasses and the
bottle and go and sit in the bee-house, the weather is fine, in an hour
all will be in order and I will come and drink with you."

Father Goulden and I went out through the tall grass and the yellow
dandelions which came up to our knees.  It was very warm and the air
was full of soft murmurs.  We sat down in the shade and looked at the
glorious sunshine.

Mr. Goulden took off his peruke in order to be more at his ease and
hung it up behind him, and I opened the bottle and we drank some of the
good white wine.

"Well! all goes on even though man does commit follies; the Lord God
watches over all his works.  Look at the grain, Joseph, how it grows!
What a harvest there will be in three or four months.  And those
turnips and cabbages, and the shrubs, and the bees, how busy everything
is, how they live and grow! what a pity it is that men do not follow so
good an example! what a pity that some must labor to support the others
in idleness.  What a pity that there must be always idlers of every
kind, who treat us like Jacobins because we wish for order and peace
and justice!"

There was nothing he liked so much to see as industry, not only that of
man but even of the smallest insect that runs about in the grass, as in
an endless forest, which builds and pairs and covers its eggs, heaps
them up in its places of deposit, exposes them to the sunshine,
protects them from the chills of night, and defends them from its
enemies; in short, all that great universe of life where everything
sings, everything is in its place; from the lark which fills the air
with his joyous music to the ant which goes and comes and runs and mows
and saws and pulls and is master of all trades.

This was what pleased Mr. Goulden, but he never spoke of it except in
the fields, when this grand spectacle was right under his eyes, and
naturally he then spoke of God, whom he called the "Supreme Being," as
in the time of the Republic, and he said, He was reason and wisdom and
goodness and love; justice, order, and life.  The ideas of the
almanac-makers came back to him also, and it was splendid to hear him
talk of the "Pluviose" the season of rains, of "Nivose" the season of
snows, of "Ventose" season of winds, and "Floreal, Prairial, and
Fructidor."  He said the ideas of men in those times were more closely
allied to God's, while July, September, and October meant nothing, and
were only invented to confuse and obscure everything.  Once on this
subject it was plain that he could not exhaust it.  Unfortunately I
have not the learning that that good man had, otherwise it would give
me real pleasure to recount his sayings to you.  We were just here when
Mother Grédel, well washed and combed and in her Sunday dress, came
round the corner of the house toward us.  He stopped instantly that she
might not be disturbed.

"Here I am," she said, "all in order."

"Sit down," said Father Goulden, making a place for her beside him on
the bench.

"Do you know what time it is?" said she.  "Does it not seem long to
you?  Listen!" and we heard the city clock slowly strike twelve.

"What! is it noon already!  I would not have believed that we had been
here more than ten minutes."

"Yes, it is noon, and dinner is waiting."

"So much the better," said Mr. Goulden, offering his arm to her, "since
you have told me the hour I find I have a good appetite."

They went along the alley arm in arm, and when we were at the door a
most charming sight met our eyes, the great tureen with its red flowers
was smoking on the table, a breast of stuffed veal filled the room with
a delicious odor.  A great plate of cinnamon cakes stood on the edge of
the old oak buffet, two bottles of wine, and glasses clear as crystal,
shone on the white cloth beside the plates.  The very sight of it made
you feel that it is the joy of the Lord to shower blessings on His

Catherine, with her rosy cheeks and white teeth, laughed to see our
satisfaction, and during the whole dinner our anxiety for the future
was forgotten.  We laughed and were as happy as if the world were in
the best condition possible.  But as we were taking coffee our sadness
returned, and without knowing why, we were all very grave.  Nobody
wished to speak of politics, when suddenly Aunt Grédel herself asked if
there was anything new.  Mr. Goulden then said that the Emperor desired
peace, and that he wished to put himself in a condition of defence, in
order to warn our enemies that we were not afraid.  He said that in any
case, in spite of the ill-feeling of the allies they would not dare to
attack us, that the Emperor Francis, though he had not much heart,
would not wish to overthrow his son-in-law and his own daughter and
grandson a second time, that it would be contrary to nature, and
besides that, the nation would rise _en masse_, that they would declare
the country to be in danger, and that it would not be a war of soldiers
alone, but of all Frenchmen against those who wished to oppress them,
that this would make the allied sovereigns reflect, etc., etc.

He said many other things which I do not recall.  Aunt Grédel listened
without saying a word.  She rose at last, and went to a closet and took
a piece of paper from a porringer, and, giving it to Mr. Goulden, said,
"Read this; such papers are all around the country; this came to me
from the Vicar Diemer.  You will see whether peace is so certain."

As Mr. Goulden had left his spectacles at home, I read the paper.  I
put all those old papers aside years and years ago, they have grown
yellow and no one thinks of them or speaks of them, and still it is
well to read them.  How do we know what will happen?  Those old kings
and emperors died after doing us all the harm possible, but their sons
and grandsons still live, and do not wish us overmuch good, and that
which they said then they may say again now, and those who lent their
aid to the fathers might incline to help their sons.  Here is the paper.

"The Allied Powers which signed the treaty of Paris, assembled in
Congress at Vienna, having been informed of the escape of Napoleon
Bonaparte, and of his entrance into France with arms in his hands, owe
it to their dignity and to the interest of social order to make a
solemn declaration of the sentiments which this event has excited.  In
violating the terms of the convention which placed him at Elba,
Bonaparte destroyed his only legal title to life; and in reappearing in
France with projects for disturbing the public peace, he has deprived
himself of the protection of the laws, and made it manifest to the
universe that there can be neither truce nor peace with him."

And so they continued through two long pages, and those people who had
nothing in common with us, who had no concern with our affairs, and who
gave themselves the title of Defenders of the Peace, finished by
declaring that they united themselves to maintain the treaty of Paris
and replace Louis XVIII. on the throne.

When I had finished, aunt turned to Mr. Goulden and asked:

"What do you think of all that?"

"I think," said he, "that those sovereigns despise the people, and that
they would exterminate the human race without shame or pity in order to
maintain fifteen or twenty families in luxury.  They look upon
themselves as gods, and upon us as brutes."

"Doubtless," replied Aunt Grédel.  "I do not deny it, but all that will
not prevent Joseph from being compelled to go away."

I turned quite pale, for I saw that she was right.

"Yes," said Mr. Goulden, "I knew that some days ago, and this is what I
have done.  You have heard, no doubt, Mother Grédel, that great
workshops have been built for repairing arms.  There is an arsenal at
Pfalzbourg, but they are in want of skilful workmen.  Of course the
good laborers render as much service to the state in repairing arms as
those who go to battle; they have more to do, but they do not risk
their lives, and they remain at home.  Well!  I went at once to the
commandant of artillery, and asked him to accept Joseph as a workman.
It is nothing for a good clock-maker to repair a gun-lock, and Mr.
Montravel accepted him at once.  Here is his order," said he, showing
us a paper which he took from his pocket.

I felt as if I had returned to life, and I exclaimed, "Oh!  Mr.
Goulden, you are more than a father; you have saved my life."

Catherine, who had been overwhelmed with anxiety, got up and went out,
and Aunt Grédel kissed Mr. Goulden twice over, and said, "Yes, you are
the best of men, a man of sense and of a great spirit.  If all Jacobins
were like you, women would wish only for Jacobins."

"But it was the most simple thing in the world to do!"

"No, no; it is your good heart which gives you good thoughts."

Words failed me in my joy and astonishment, and while aunt was speaking
I went out into the orchard to take the air.  Catherine was there in a
corner of the bake-house, weeping hot tears.

"Ah! now I can breathe again," she said, "now I can live."

I embraced her with deep emotion.  I saw what she had suffered during
the last month, but she was a brave woman, and had concealed her
anxiety from me, knowing that I had enough on my own account.  We
stayed for ten minutes in the orchard to wipe away our tears, and then
went in.  Mr. Goulden said:

"Well, Joseph! you go to-morrow; you must set off early, and you will
not lack work."

Oh! what joy to think I should not be compelled to go away, and then
too I had other reasons for wishing to remain at home, for Catherine
and I already had our hopes.  Ah! those who have not suffered cannot
realize our feelings, nor understand what a weight this good news
lifted from our hearts.  We stayed an hour longer at Quatre Vents, and
as the people were coming from vespers, at nightfall, we set off for
the town.  Aunt Grédel went with us to where the post changes horses,
and at seven o'clock we were at home again.

It was thus that peace was established between Aunt Grédel and Mr.
Goulden, and now she came to see us as often as before.  I went every
day to the arsenal and worked at repairing the guns.  When the clock
struck twelve I went home to dinner, and at one returned to my work and
stayed until seven o'clock.  I was at once soldier and workman, excused
from roll-call but overwhelmed with work.  We hoped that I could remain
in that position till the war was over, if unfortunately it commenced
again, but we were sure of nothing.


Our confidence returned a little after I worked at the arsenal, but
still we were anxious, for hundreds of men on furloughs for six months,
conscripts, and old soldiers enlisted for one campaign, passed through
the town in citizens' clothes but with knapsacks on their backs.  They
all shouted "_Vive l'Empereur!_" and seemed to be furious.  In the
great hall of the town-house they received one a cloak, another a
shako, and others epaulettes and gaiters and shoes, at the expense of
the department, and off they went, and I wished them a pleasant
journey.  All the tailors in town were making uniforms by contract, the
gendarmes gave up their horses to mount the cavalry, and the mayor,
Baron Parmentier, urged the young men of sixteen and seventeen to join
the partisans of Colonel Bruce, who defended the defiles of the Zorne,
the Zinselle, and the Saar.

The baron was going to the "Champ de Mai," and his enthusiasm
redoubled.  "Go!" cried he, "courage!" as he spoke to them of the
Romans who fought for their country.  I thought to myself as I listened
to him, "If you think all that so beautiful why do you not go yourself."

You can imagine with what courage I worked at the arsenal; nothing was
too much for me.  I would have passed night and day in mending the guns
and adjusting the bayonets and tightening the screws.  When the
commandant, Mr. Montravel, came to see us, he praised me.

"Excellent!" said he, "that is good!  I am pleased with you, Bertha."

These words filled me with satisfaction, and I did not fail to report
them to Catherine, in order to raise her spirits.  We were almost
certain that Mr. Montravel would keep me at Pfalzbourg.

The gazettes were full of the new constitution, which they called the
"Additional Act," and the act of the "Champ de Mai."  Mr. Goulden
always had something to say, sometimes about one article and sometimes
another, but I mixed no more in these affairs, and repented of having
complained of the processions and expiations; I had had enough of

This lasted till the 23d of May.  That morning about ten o'clock I was
in the great hall of the arsenal, filling the boxes with guns.  The
great door was wide open, and the men were waiting with their wagons
before the bullet park, to load up the boxes.  I had nailed the last
one, when Robert, the guard, touched me on the shoulder and said in my

"Bertha, the Commandant Montravel wishes to see you.  He is in the

"What does he want of me?"

"I do not know."

I was afraid directly, but I went at once.  I crossed the grand court,
near the sheds for the gun-carriages, mounted the stairs, and knocked
softly at the door.

"Come in," said the commandant.

I opened the door all in a tremble, and stood with my cap in my hand.
Mr. Montravel was a tall, brown, thin man, with a little stoop in his
shoulders.  He was walking hastily up and down his room, in the midst
of his books and maps, and arms hung on the wall.

"Ah!  Bertha, it is you, is it?  I have disagreeable news to tell you,
the third battalion to which you belong leaves for Metz."

On hearing this my heart sank, and I could not say a word.  He looked
at me, and after a moment he added:

"Do not be troubled, you have been married for several months, and you
are a good workman, and that deserves consideration.  You will give
this letter to Colonel Desmichels at the arsenal at Metz; he is one of
my friends, and will find employment in some of his workshops for you,
you may be certain."

I took the letter which he handed me, thanked him, and went home filled
with alarm.  Zébédé, Mr. Goulden, and Catherine were talking together
in the shop, distress was written on every face.  They knew everything.
"The third battalion is going," I said as I entered, "but Mr. Montravel
has just given me a letter to the director of the arsenal at Metz.  Do
not be anxious, I shall not make the campaign."

I was almost choking.  Mr. Goulden took the letter and said, "It is
open; we can read it."

Then he read the letter, in which Mr. Montravel recommended me to his
friend, saying that I was married, a good workman, industrious, and
that I could render real service at the arsenal.  He could have said
nothing better.

"Now the matter is certain," said Zébédé.

"Yes, you will be retained in the arsenal at Metz," said Father Goulden.

Catherine was very pale, she kissed me and said, "What happiness,

They all pretended to believe that I should remain at Metz, and I tried
to hide my fears from them.  But the effort almost suffocated me, and I
could hardly avoid sobbing, when happily I thought I would go and
announce the news to Aunt Grédel.  So I said, "Although it will not be
very long, and I shall stay in Metz, yet I must go and tell the good
news to Aunt Grédel.  I will be back between five and six, and
Catherine will have time to prepare my haversack, and we will have

"Yes, Joseph, go!" said Father Goulden.  Catherine said not a word, for
she could hardly restrain her tears.  I set off like a madman.  Zébédé,
who was returning to the barracks, told me at the door, that the
officer in charge at the town-house would give me my uniform, and that
I must be there about five o'clock.  I listened, as if in a dream, to
his words, and ran till I was outside of the city.  Once on the glacis
I ran on without knowing where, in the trenches, and by the
Trois-Châteaux and the Baraques-à-en-haut, and along the forest to
Quatre Vents.

I cannot describe to you the thoughts that ran through my brain.  I was
bewildered, and wanted to run away to Switzerland.  But the worst of
all was when I approached Quatre Vents by the path along the Daun.  It
was about three o'clock.  Aunt Grédel was putting up some poles for her
beans, in the rear of the garden, and she saw me in the distance, and
said to herself:

"Why it is Joseph! what is he doing in the grain?"

But when I got into the road, which was full of ruts and sand and which
the sun made as hot as a furnace, I went on more slowly with my head
bent down, thinking I should never dare to go in, when, suddenly aunt
exclaimed from behind the hedge, "Is it you, Joseph?"

Then I shivered.  "Yes, it is I."

She ran out into the little elder alley, and seeing me so pale she
said, "I know why you have come, you are going away!"

"Yes," I replied, "the others are going, but I am to stay in Metz; it
is very fortunate."

She said nothing, and we went into the kitchen, which was very cool
compared with the heat outside.  She sat down, and I read her the
commandant's letter.  She listened to it, and repeated, "Yes, it is
very fortunate."

And we sat and looked at each other without speaking a word, and then
she took my head between her hands and kissed me, and embraced me for a
long time, and I could see she was crying, though she did not say a

"You weep," said I, "but since I am to stay in Metz!"

Still she did not speak, but went and brought some wine.  I took a
glass, and she asked, "What does Catherine say?"

"She is glad that I am to remain at the arsenal; and Mr. Goulden also."

"That is well; and are they preparing what you need?"

"Yes, Aunt Grédel, and I must be at the city hall before five o'clock
to receive my uniform."

"Well! then you must go; kiss me, Joseph.  I will not go with you.  I
do not wish to see the battalion leave--I will stay here.  I must live
a long while yet--Catherine has need of me--" here her restraint gave

Suddenly she checked herself, and said, "At what time do you leave?"

"To-morrow, at seven o'clock, Mamma Grédel."

"Well! at eight o'clock I will be there.  You will be far away, but you
will know that the mother of your wife is there, that she will take
care of her daughter, that she loves you, that she has only you in the
whole world."

The courageous woman sobbed aloud; she accompanied me to the door, and
I left her.  It seemed as if I had not a drop of blood left in my
veins.  Just as the clock struck five I reached the town-house.  I went
up and saw that hall again where I had lost, that cursed hall where
everybody drew unlucky numbers.  I received a cloak and coat,
pantaloons, gaiters, and shoes.  Zébédé, who was waiting for me, told
one of the musketeers to take them to the mess-room.

"You will come early and put them on," said he; "your musket and
knapsack have been in the rack since morning."

"Come with me," said I.

"No, I cannot, the sight of Catherine breaks my heart; and besides I
must stay with my father.  Who knows whether I shall find the old man
alive at the end of a year?  I promised to take supper with you, but I
shall not go."

I was obliged to go home alone.  My haversack was all ready; my old
haversack, the only thing I had saved from Hanau, as my head rested on
it in the wagon.  Mr. Goulden was at work.  He turned round without
speaking, and I asked, "Where is Catherine?"

"She is upstairs."

I knew she was crying, and I wanted to go up, but my legs and my
courage both failed me.

I told Mr. Goulden of my visit to Quatre-Vents, and then we sat and
waited, thinking, without daring to look each other in the face.  It
was already dark when Catherine came down.  She laid the table in the
twilight, and then I took her hand, and made her sit down on my knee,
and we remained so for half an hour.

Then Mr. Goulden asked:

"Is not Zébédé coming?"

"No, he cannot come."

"Well! let us take our supper then."

But no one was hungry.  Catherine removed the table about nine o'clock,
and we all retired.  It was the most terrible night I ever passed in my
life.  Catherine was in a deathly swoon.  I called her, but she did not
answer.  At midnight I wakened Mr. Goulden, and he dressed himself and
came up to our chamber.  We gave her some sugar-water, when she revived
and got up.  I cannot tell you everything; I only know that she sank at
my feet and begged me not to abandon her, as if I did it voluntarily!
but she was crazed.  Mr. Goulden wanted to call a doctor, but I
prevented him.  Toward morning she recovered entirely, and after a long
fit of weeping, she fell asleep in my arms.  I did not even dare to
embrace her, and we went out softly and left her.

When we feel all the miseries of life, we exclaim: "Why are we in the
world?  Why did we not sleep through the eternal ages?  What have we
done, that we must see those we love suffer, when we are not in fault?
It is not God, but man, who breaks our hearts."

After we went downstairs Mr. Goulden said to me, "She is asleep, she
knows nothing of it all, and that is a blessing; you will go before she
wakes."  I thanked God for His goodness, and we sat waiting for the
least sound, till at last the drums beat the assembly.  Then Mr.
Goulden looked at me very gravely, we rose, and he buckled my knapsack
on my shoulders in silence.

At last he said: "Joseph, go and see the commandant in Metz, but count
upon nothing; the danger is so great that France has need of all her
children for her defence, and this time it is not a question of
acquiring from others, but of saving our own country.  Remember that it
is yourself and your wife and all that is dearest to you in the world
that is at stake."  We went down to the street in silence, embraced
each other, and then I went to the barracks.  Zébédé took me to the
mess-room and I put on my uniform.  All that I remember after so many
years is, that Zébédé's father, who was there, took my clothes and made
them into a bundle and said he would take them home after our
departure; and the battalion filed out by the little rue de Lanche
through the French gate.  A few children ran after us, and the soldiers
on guard presented arms; we were _en route_ for _Waterloo_.


At Sarrebourg we received tickets for lodgings.  Mine was for the old
printer Jârcisse, who knew Mr. Goulden and Aunt Grédel, and who made me
dine at his table with my new comrade and bedfellow, Jean Buche, the
son of a wood-cutter of Harberg, who had never eaten anything but
potatoes before he was conscripted.  He devoured everything, even to
the bones that they set before us.  But I was so melancholy, that to
hear him crunch the bones made me nervous.  Father Jârcisse tried to
console me, but every word he said only increased my pain.  We passed
the remainder of that day and the following night at Sarrebourg.  The
next day we kept on our route to the village of Mézières, the next to
the Vic, and on to Soigne, till on the fifth day we came to Metz.  I do
not need to tell you of our march, of the soldiers white with dust, how
we passed one magazine after another, with our knapsacks on our backs,
and our guns carried at will, talking, laughing, looking at the young
girls as we passed through the villages, at the carts, the manure
heaps, the sheds, the hills, and the valleys, without troubling
ourselves about anything.  And when one is sad and has left his wife at
home, and dear friends too, whom he may never see again, all these pass
before his eyes like shadows, and a hundred steps more and they too are
unthought of.  But yet the view of Metz, with its tall cathedral and
its ancient dwellings, and its frowning ramparts awakened me.  Two
hours before we arrived, we kept thinking we should soon reach the
earthworks, and hastened our steps in order the sooner to get into the
shade.  I thought of Colonel Desmichels, and had a little--very little,
hope.  "If fate wills!" I thought, and I felt for my letter.

Zébédé did not talk to me now, but from time to time he turned his head
and looked back at me.  It was not exactly as it was in the old
campaign, he was sergeant, and I only a common soldier; we loved each
other always, but that made a difference of course.  Jean Buche marched
along beside me, with his round shoulders and his feet turned in like a
wolf.  The only thing he said from time to time was, that his shoes
hurt him on the march, and that they should only be worn on parade.
During two months the drill-sergeant had not been able to make him turn
out his toes, or to raise his shoulders, but for all that he could
march terribly well in his own fashion, and without being fatigued.  At
last about five in the afternoon, we reached the outposts.  They soon
recognized us, and the captain of the guard himself exclaimed, "Pass!"
The drums rolled, and we entered the oldest town I had ever seen.

Metz is at the confluence of the Seille and the Moselle.  The houses
are four or five stories high; their old walls are full of beams as at
Saverne and Bouxviller, the windows round and square, great and small,
on the same line, with shutters and without, some with glass and some
without any.  It is as old as the mountains and rivers.  The roofs
project about six feet, spreading their shadows over the black water,
in which old shoes, rags, and dead dogs are floating.  If you look
upward you will be sure to see the face of some old Jew at the windows
in the roof, with his gray beard and crooked nose, or a child who is
risking his neck.  Properly speaking, it is a city of Jews and
soldiers.  Poor people are not wanting either.  It is much worse in
this respect than at Mayence, or at Strasbourg, or even at Frankfort.
If they have not changed since then, they love their ease now.  In
spite of my sadness I could not help looking at these lanes and alleys.
The town swarmed with national guards; they were arriving from Longwy,
from Sarrelouis and other places; the soldiers left and were replaced
by these guards.

We came upon a square encumbered with beds and mattresses, bedding,
etc., which the citizens had furnished for the troops.  We stacked arms
in front of the barracks, every window of which was open from top to
bottom.  We waited, thinking we should be lodged there, but at the end
of twenty minutes the distribution commenced, and each man received
twenty-five sous and a ticket for lodging.  We broke rank, each one
going his own way.  Jean Buche, who had never seen any other town than
Pfalzbourg, did not leave me for a moment.  Our ticket was for Elias
Meyer, butcher, in the rue St. Valery.  When we reached the house the
butcher was cutting meat in the arched and grated window, and was
anything but pleased to see us, and received us very ungraciously.  He
was a fat, red, round-faced Jew, with silver rings on his fingers and
in his ears.  His thin, yellow-skinned wife came down exclaiming that
they had "had lodgers for two nights before, that the mayor's secretary
did it on purpose, that he sent soldiers every day, and that the
neighbors did not have them," and so on.

But they allowed us to enter after all.  The daughter came and stared
at us, and behind her was a fat servant-woman, frizzled and very dirty.
I seem to see those people before me still, in that old room with its
oak wainscoting, and the great copper lamp hanging from the ceiling,
and the grated window looking into the little court.  The daughter, who
was very pale and had very black eyes, said something to her mother and
then the servant was ordered to show us to the garret, to the beggars'
chamber, for all the Jews feed and shelter beggars on Friday.  My
comrade from Harberg did not complain, but I was indignant.  We
followed the servant up a winding stair slippery with filth, to the
room.  It was separated from the rest of the garret by slats, through
which we could see the dirty linen.  It was lighted by a little window
like a lozenge in the roof.  Even if I had not been so miserable I
should have thought it abominable.  There was only one chair and a
straw mattress on the floor and one single coverlet for us both.  The
servant stood staring at us at the door, as if she expected thanks or
compliments.  I took off my knapsack, sad enough as you can imagine,
and Jean Buche did the same.  The servant turned to go downstairs when
I cried out: "Wait a minute, we will go down too, we do not want to
break our necks on those stairs."  We changed our shoes and stockings
and fastened the door and went down to the shop to buy some meat.  Jean
went to the baker opposite for some bread, and as our ticket gave us a
place at the fire we went to the kitchen to make our soup.  The butcher
came to see us just as we were finishing our supper.  He was smoking a
big Ulm pipe.  He asked where we were from.  I was so indignant I would
not answer him, but Jean Buche told him that I was a watch-maker from
Pfalzbourg, upon which he treated me with more consideration.  He said
that his brother travelled in Alsace and Lorraine, with watches, rings,
watch-chains, and other articles of silver and gold, and jewelry, and
that his name was Samuel Meyer, and perhaps we had had business with
him.  I replied that I had seen his brother two or three times at Mr.
Goulden's, which was true.  Thereupon he ordered the servant to bring
us a pillow, but he did nothing more for us and we went to bed.

We were very weary and were soon sound asleep.  I thought to get up
very early and go to the arsenal, but I was still asleep when my
comrade shook me and said: "The assembly!"

I listened--it was the assembly!  We only had time to dress, buckle on
our knapsacks, take our guns, and run down.  When we reached the
barracks the roll-call had begun.  When it was finished two wagons came
up, and we received fifty ball-cartridges each.  The Commandant Gémeau,
the captains, and all the officers were there.  I saw that all was
over, that I had nothing to count on longer, and that my letter to
Colonel Desmichels might be good after the campaign was over, if I
escaped and should be obliged to serve out my seven years.  Zébédé
looked at me from a distance--I turned away my head.  The order came:

"Carry arms! arms at will! by file! left! forward! march!"

The drums rolled, we marked step, and the roofs, the houses, the
windows, the lanes, and the people seemed to glide past us.  We crossed
over the first bridge and the drawbridge.  The drums ceased to beat and
we went on toward Thionville.  The other troops followed the same
route, cavalry and infantry.

That night we reached the village of Beauregard, the next night we were
at Vitry, near Thionville, where we were stationed till the 8th of
June.  Buche and I were lodged with a fat landlord named Pochon.  He
was a very good man and gave us excellent white wine to drink, and
liked to talk politics like Mr. Goulden.  During our stay in this
village General Schoeffer came from Thionville, and we went to be
reviewed with our arms at a large farm called "Silvange."

It is a woody country, and we often went, several of us together, to
make excursions in the vicinity.  One day Zébédé came and took me to
see the great foundry at Moyeuvre where we saw then run bullets and
bombs.  We talked about Catherine and Mr. Goulden, and he told me to
write to them, but somehow I was afraid to hear from home, and I turned
my thoughts away from Pfalzbourg.

On the 8th of June we left this village very early in the morning,
returning near to Metz but without entering the city.  The city gates
were shut and the cannon frowned on the walls as in time of war.  We
slept at Chatel, and the next day we were at Etain, the day following
at Dannevoux, where I was lodged with a good patriot named Sebastian
Perrin.  He was a rich man, and wanted to know the details of

As a great number of battalions had followed the same route before us,
he said, "In a month perhaps we shall see great things, all the troops
are marching into Belgium.  The Emperor is going to fall upon the
English and Prussians."

This was the last place where we had good supplies.  The next day we
arrived at Yong, which is in a miserable country.  We slept on the 12th
of June at Vivier, and the 13th at Cul-de-Sard.  The farther we
advanced the more troops we encountered, and as I had seen these things
in Germany, I said to Jean Buche:

"Now we shall have hot work."

On all sides and in every direction, files of infantry, cavalry, and
artillery, were seen as far as the eye could reach.  The weather was as
delightful as possible, and nothing could be more promising than the
ripening grain.  But it was very hot.  What astonished me was, that
neither before nor behind, on the right hand nor on the left could we
discover any enemies.  Nobody knew anything about them.  The rumor
circulated amongst us that we were to attack the English.  I had seen
the Russians, Prussians, Austrians, Bavarians and Wurtemburgers and the
Swedes.  I knew the people of all the countries in the world, and now I
was going to make the acquaintance of the English also.  If we must be
exterminated, I thought, it might as well be done by them as by the
Germans.  We could not avoid our fate--if I was to escape, I should
escape, but if I were doomed to leave my bones here, all I could do
would avail nothing--but the more we destroyed of them the greater
would be the chances for us.  This was the way I reasoned with myself,
and if it did me no good it caused me at least no harm.


We passed the Meuse on the 12th, and during the 13th and 14th we
marched along the wretched roads, bordered with grain fields, barley,
oats, and hemp, without end.  The heat was extraordinary, the sweat ran
down to our hips from under our knapsacks and cartridge-boxes.  What a
misfortune to be poor, and unable to buy a man to march and take the
musket-shots in our place!  After having gone through the rain, wind,
and snow, and mud, in Germany, the turn of the sun and dust had come.
And I saw too, that the destruction was approaching, you could hear the
sound of the drum and the bugle in every direction, and whenever the
battalion passed over an elevation long lines of helmets and lances and
bayonets were seen as far as the eye could reach.

Zébédé, with his musket on his shoulder, would exclaim cheerfully,
"Well, Joseph! we are going to see the whites of the Prussians' eyes
again;" and I would force myself to reply, "Oh! yes, the weddings will
soon begin again."  As if I wanted to risk my life and leave Catherine
a young widow for the sake of something which did not in the least
concern me.

That same day at seven o'clock we reached Roly.  The hussars occupied
the town already, and we were obliged to bivouac in a deep road along
the side of the hill.  We had hardly stacked our arms when several
general officers arrived.  The Commandant Gémeau, who had just
dismounted, sprang upon his horse and hurried to meet them.  They
conversed a moment together and came down into our road.  Everybody
looked on and said, "Something has happened."  One of the officers,
General Pechaux, whom we knew afterward, ordered the drums to beat, and
shouted, "Form a circle."  The road was too narrow, and some of the
soldiers went up on the slope each side of the road, while the others
remained on the road.  All the battalion looked on while the general
unrolled a paper, and said, "Proclamation from the Emperor."

When he had said that, the silence was so profound that you would have
thought yourself alone in the midst of these great fields.  Every one,
from the last conscript to the Commandant Gémeau, listened, and, even
to-day, when I think of it, after fifty years, it moves my heart; it
was grand and terrible.  This is what the general read:

"Soldiers!  To-day is the anniversary of Marengo and of Friedland,
which twice decided the fate of Europe!  Then, as after Austerlitz and
after Wagram, we were too generous, we believed the protestations and
the oaths of princes, whom we left on their thrones.  They have
combined to attack the independence and even the most sacred rights of
France.  They have commenced the most unjust aggressions, let us meet
them!  They and we,--are we no longer of the same race?"

The whole battalion shouted, "_Vive l'Empereur_."  The general raised
his hand, and all were silent.

"Soldiers! at Jena, we were as one to three against these Prussians who
are so arrogant to-day; at Montmirail we were as one against six!  Let
those among you who have been prisoners of the English tell the tale of
their frightful sufferings in their prison ships.  The Saxons, the
Belgians, the Hanoverians, the soldiers of the Confederation of the
Rhine, complain that they are compelled to lend their arms to princes
who are enemies of justice and of the rights of all nations.  They know
that this coalition is insatiable.  After having devoured twelve
millions of Poles, twelve millions of Italians, one million of Saxons,
six millions of Belgians, it will devour all the states of the second
order in Germany.  Madmen! a moment of prosperity has blinded them; the
oppression and humiliation of the French people is beyond their power.
If they enter France they will find their graves there.  Soldiers, we
have forced marches to make, battles to wage, and perils to encounter,
but, if we are constant, victory will be ours.  The rights of man and
the happiness of our country will be reconquered.  For all Frenchmen,
who have hearts, the time has come to conquer or to perish.--NAPOLEON."

The shouts which arose were like thunder, it was as if the Emperor had
breathed his war spirit into our hearts, and moved us as one man to
destroy our enemies.  The shouts continued long after the general had
gone, and even I was satisfied.  I saw that it was the truth, that the
Prussians, Austrians, and Russians, who had talked so much of the
deliverance of the people, had profited by the first opportunity to
grasp everything, that those grand words about liberty, which had
served to excite their young men against us in 1813, and all the
promises of constitutions which they had made, had been set aside and
broken.  I looked upon them as beggars, as men who had not kept their
word, who despised the people, and whose ideas were very narrow and
limited, and consisted in always keeping the best place for themselves
and their children and descendants whether they were good or bad, just
or unjust, without any reference to God's law.  That was the way I
looked at it; the proclamation seemed to me very beautiful.  I thought
too, that Father Goulden would be pleased with it, because the Emperor
had not forgotten the rights of man, which are liberty, equality, and
justice, and all those grand ideas which distinguish men from brutes,
causing them to respect themselves and the rights of their neighbors
also.  Our courage was greatly strengthened by these strong and just
words.  The old soldiers laughed and said, "We shall not be kept
waiting this time.  On the first march we shall fall upon the

But the conscripts, who had never yet heard the bullets whistle, were
the most excited of all.  Buche's eyes sparkled like those of a cat, as
he sat on the road-side, with his knapsack opened on the slope, slowly
sharpening his sabre, and trying the edge on the toe of his shoe.
Others were setting their bayonets and adjusting their flints, as they
always do when on the eve of a battle.  At those times their heads are
full of thought, which makes them knit their brows, and compress their
lips; giving them anything but pleasant faces.

The sun sank lower and lower behind the grain fields, several
detachments of men went to the village for wood, and they brought back
onions and leeks and salt, and even several quarters of beef were hung
on long sticks over their shoulders.  But it was when the men were
around the fires, watching their kettles as they commenced to boil, and
the smoke went curling up into the air, that their faces were happiest,
one would talk of Lutzen, another of Wagram, of Austerlitz, of Jena, of
Friedland, of Spain, of Portugal, and of all the countries in the
world.  They all talked at once, but only the old soldiers whose arms
were covered with chevrons, were listened to.  They were most
interesting, as they marked the positions on the ground with their
fingers, and explained them by a line on the right, and a line on the
left.  You seemed to see it all while listening to them.  Each one had
his pewter spoon at his button-hole, and kept thinking, "The soup will
be capital, the meat is good and fat."

When we were stationed for the night, the order was given to extinguish
the fires and not to beat the retreat, which indicated that the enemy
was near, and that they feared to alarm them.

The moon was shining, and Buche and I were eating at the same mess;
when we had finished, he talked to me more than two hours about his
life at Harberg, how they were obliged to drag two or three cords of
wood on great sleds at the risk of being run over and crushed,
especially when the snow was melting.  Compared with that, the life of
a soldier, with his pleasant mess and good bread, regular rations, the
neat warm uniform, the stout linen shirts, seemed to him delightful.
He had never dreamed that he could be so comfortable, and his strongest
desire was to let his two younger brothers, Gaspard and Jacob, know how
delighted he was, in order that they might enlist as soon as they were
old enough.

"Yes," said I, "that is all very well,--but the English and
Prussians,--you do not think of that."

"I despise them," said he, "my sabre cuts like a butcher's knife, and
my bayonet is sharp as a needle.  It is they who should be afraid to
encounter me."

We were the best friends in the world, and I liked him almost as well
as my old comrades Klipfel, Furst, and Zébédé.  And he liked me too.  I
believe he would have let himself be cut to pieces to save me from
danger.  Old comrades and bed-fellows never forget each other.  In my
time, old Harwig whom I knew in Pfalzbourg, always received a pension
from his old comrade Bernadotte, King of Sweden.  If I had been a king,
Jean Buche should have had a pension, for if he had not a great mind he
had a good heart, which is better still.

While we were talking, Zébédé came and tapped me on the shoulder.

"You do not smoke, Joseph?"

"I have no tobacco."

Then he gave me half of a package which he had and I saw that he loved
me still, in spite of the difference in our rank, and that touched me.
He was beside himself with delight at the thought of attacking the

"We'll be revenged!" he cried.  "No quarter! they shall pay for all,
from Katzbach even to Soissons."

You would have thought that those English and Prussians were not going
to defend themselves, and that we ran no risk of catching bullets and
canister as at Lutzen and at Gross-Beren, at Leipzig and everywhere
else.  But what could you say to a man who remembered nothing and who
always looked on the bright side?

I smoked my pipe quietly and replied, "Yes! yes! we'll settle the
rascals, we'll push them!  They'll see enough of us!"

I left Jean Buche with his pipe, and as we were on guard, Zébédé went
about nine o'clock to relieve the sentinels at the head of the picket.
I stepped a little out of the circle and stretched myself in a furrow a
few steps in the rear with my knapsack under my head.  The weather was
warm, and we heard the crickets long after the sun went down.  A few
stars shone in the heavens.  There was not a breath of air stirring
over the plain, the ears of grain stood erect and motionless, and in
the distance the village clocks struck nine, ten, and eleven, but at
last I dropped asleep.  This was the night of the 14th and 15th of
June, 1815.  Between two and three in the morning Zébédé came and shook
me.  "Up!" said he, "come!"  Buche had stretched himself beside me
also, and we rose at once.  It was our turn to relieve the guard.  It
was still dark, but there was a line of light along the horizon at the
edge of the grain fields.  Thirty paces farther on, Lieutenant
Bretonville was waiting for us, surrounded by the picket.  It is hard
to get up out of a sound sleep after a march of ten hours.  But we
buckled on our knapsacks as we went, and I relieved the sentinel behind
the hedge opposite Roly.  The countersign was "Jemmapes and Fleurus,"
this struck me at once, I had not heard this countersign since 1813.
How memory sleeps sometimes for years!  I seem to see the picket now as
they turn into the road, while I renew the priming of my gun by the
light of the stars, and I hear the other sentinels marching slowly back
and forth, while the footsteps of the picket grew faint and fainter in
the distance.  I marched up and down the hedge with my gun on my arm.
There was nothing to be seen but the village with its thatched roofs
and the slated church spire a little farther on; and a mounted sentinel
stationed in the road with his blunderbuss resting on his thigh looking
out into the night.  I walked up and down thinking and listening.
Everything slept.  The white line along the horizon grew broader.
Another half hour and the distant country began to appear in the gray
light of morning.  Two or three quails called and answered each other
across the plain.  As I heard these sounds I stopped and thought sadly
of Quatre Vents, Danne, the Baraques-du-bois-de-chênes, and of our
grain fields, where the quails were calling from the edge of the forest
of Bonne Fontaine.  "Is Catherine asleep? and Aunt Grédel and Father
Goulden and all the town?  The national guard from Nancy has taken our
place."  I saw the sentinels of the two magazines and the guard at the
two gates; in short, thoughts without number came and went, when I
heard a horse galloping in the distance, but I could see nothing.

[Illustration: A mounted hussar was looking out into the night.]

In a few minutes he entered the village, and all was still except a
sort of confused tumult.  In an instant after, the horseman came from
Roly into our road at full gallop.  I advanced to the edge of the hedge
and presented my musket, and cried, "Who goes there?" "France!" "What
regiment?"  "Twelfth chasseurs!  Staff."  "Pass on!"  He went on his
way faster than before.  I heard him stop in the midst of our
encampment, and call "Commandant."  I advanced to the top of the hill
to see what was going on.  There was a great excitement; the officers
came running up, and the soldiers gathered round.  The chasseur was
speaking to Gémeau, I listened, but was too far away to hear.  The
courier went on again up the hill, and everything was in an uproar.
They shouted and gesticulated.  Suddenly the drums beat to mount guard,
and the relief turned a corner in the road.  I saw Zébédé in the
distance looking pale as death; as he passed me he said, "Come!" the
two other sentinels were in their places a little to the left.  Talking
is not allowed when under arms, but, notwithstanding, Zébédé said,
"Joseph, we are betrayed.  Bourmont, general of the division in
advance, and five other brigands of the same sort, have just gone over
to the enemy."  His voice trembled.

My blood boiled, and looking at the other men on the picket, two old
soldiers with chevrons, I saw their lips quiver under their gray
mustaches, their eyes rolled fiercely as if they were meditating
vengeance, but they said nothing.  We hurried on to relieve the other
two sentinels.  Some minutes afterward, on returning to our bivouac, we
found the battalion already under arms and ready to move.  Fury and
indignation were stamped on every face, the drums beat and we formed
ranks, the commandant and the adjutant waited on horseback at the head
of the battalion, pale as ashes.

I remember that the commandant suddenly drew his sword as a signal to
stop the drums, and tried to speak, but the words would not come, and
he began to shout like a madman: "Ah! the wretches! miserable villains!
_Vive l'Empereur_!  No quarter!"  He stammered and did not know what he
said, but the battalion thought he was eloquent, and began to shout as
one man, "Forward! forward! to the enemy! no quarter!"  We went through
the village at quick step, and the meanest soldier was furious at not
finding the Prussians.

It was an hour after, when having reflected a little, the men commenced
swearing and threatening, secretly at first, but soon openly, and at
last the battalion was almost in revolt.  Some said that all the
officers under Louis XVIII. must be exterminated, and others, that we
were given up _en masse_, and several declared that the marshals were
traitors, and ought to be court-martialed and shot.

At last the commandant ordered a halt, and riding down the line he told
the men, that the traitors had left too late to do mischief, that we
would make the attack that very day, and that the enemy would not have
time to profit by the treason, and that he would be surprised and
overwhelmed.  This calmed the fury of a great proportion of the men,
and we resumed our march, and all along the route, we heard repeatedly
that the exposure of our plans had been made too late.

But our anger gave place to joy, when about ten o'clock we heard the
thunder of cannon five or six leagues to the left, on the other side of
the Sambre.  The men raised their shakos on their bayonets and shouted:
"Forward!  Vive l'Empereur!"

Many of the old soldiers wept, and over all that great plain there was
one immense shout; when one regiment had ceased another took it up.
The cannon thundered incessantly.  We quickened our steps.  We had been
marching on Charleroi since seven o'clock, when an order reached us by
an orderly to support the right.  I remember that in all the villages
through which we passed, the doors and windows were full of eager
friendly faces, waving their hands and shouting, "The French, the
French!"  We could see that they were friendly to us, and that they
were of the same blood as ourselves; and in the two halts that we made,
they came out with their loaves of excellent home-made bread, with a
knife stuck in the crust, and great jugs of black beer, and offered
them to us without asking any return.  We had come to deliver them
without knowing it, and nobody in their country knew it either, which
shows the sagacity of the Emperor, for there were already in that
corner of the Sambre et Meuse, more than one hundred thousand men, and
not the slightest hint of it had reached the enemy.

The treason of Bourmont had prevented our surprising them as they were
scattered about in their separate camps.  We could then have
annihilated them at a blow, but now it would be much more difficult.

We continued our march till after noon, in the intense heat and choking
dust.  The farther we advanced the greater the number of troops we saw,
infantry and cavalry.  They massed themselves more and more, so to
speak, and behind us there were still other regiments.

Toward five o'clock we reached a village where the battalions and
squadrons filed over a bridge built of brick.  This village had been
taken by our vanguard, and in going through it, we saw some of the
Prussians stretched out in the little streets on the right and left,
and I said to Jean Buche: "Those are Prussians, I saw them at Lutzen
and Leipzig, and you are going to see them too, Jean."

"So much the better," he replied, "that is what I want."

This village was called Chatelet.  It is on the river Sambre, the water
is very deep, yellow, and clayey, and those who are so unfortunate as
to fall into it, find it very difficult to get out of, for the banks
are perpendicular, as we found out afterward.  On the other side of the
bridge we bivouacked along the river; we were not in the advance, as
the hussars had passed over before us, but we were the first infantry
of the corps of Gérard.  All the rest of that day the Fourth corps were
filing over the bridge, and we learned at night, that the whole army
had passed the Sambre, and that there had been fighting near Charleroi,
at Marchiennes, and Jumet.


On reaching the other bank of the river, we stacked our arms in an
orchard, and lighted our pipes and took breath as we watched the
hussars, the chasseurs, the artillery, and the infantry, file over the
bridge hour after hour, and take their positions on the plain.  In our
front was a beech forest, about three leagues in length, which extended
toward Fleurus.  We could see great yellow spots, here and there in
this wood; these were stubble, and great patches of grain, instead of
being covered with bramble or heath and furze as in our country.  About
twenty old decrepit houses were on that side the bridge.  Chatelet is a
very large village, larger than the city of Saverne.

Between the battalions and squadrons, which were constantly moving
onward, the men, women, and children would come out with jugs of sour
beer, bread, and strong white brandy which they sold to the soldiers
for a few sous.  Buche and I broke a crust as we looked on and laughed
with the girls, who are blonde and very pretty in that country.

Very near us was the little village Catelineau, and in the distance on
our left, between the wood and the river, lay the village of Gilly.
The sound of musketry, cannon, and platoon firing, was heard constantly
in that direction.  The news soon came that the Emperor had driven the
Prussians out of Charleroi, and that they had re-formed in squares at
the corner of the wood.

We expected every moment to be ordered to cut off their retreat, but
between seven and eight o'clock, the sound of musketry ceased, the
Prussians retired to Fleurus, after having lost one of their squares;
and the others escaped into the wood.  We saw two regiments of dragoons
arrive and take up their position at our right, along the bank of the
Sambre.  There was a rumor a few minutes afterward that General Le Tort
had been killed by a ball in the abdomen, very near the place where in
his youth he had watched and tended the cattle of a farmer.  What
strange things happen in life!  The general had fought all over Europe,
since he was twenty years old, but death waited for him here!

It was about eight o'clock in the evening, and we were expecting to
remain at Chatelet until our three divisions had crossed.  An old bald
peasant, in a blue blouse and a cotton cap and as lean as a goat, came
into camp and told Captain Grégoire that on the side of the beech wood
in a hollow, lay the village of Fleurus, and to the right of this, the
little village of Lambusart; that the Prussians had been stationed in
these towns more than three weeks, and that more of them had arrived
the night before, and the night before that.  He told us also that
there was a broad road, bordered with trees, running two good leagues
along our left; that the Belgians and Hanoverians had posts at
Gosselies and at Quatre-Bras; that it was the high-road to Brussels,
where the English and Hanoverians and Belgians had all their forces;
while the Prussians, four or five leagues at our right, occupied the
route to Namur, and that between them and the English, there was a good
road running from the plateau of Quatre-Bras to the plateau of Ligny in
the rear of Fleurus, over which their couriers went and came from
morning till night, so that the Prussians and English were in perfect
communication, and could support each other with men, guns, and
supplies when necessary.

Naturally enough I thought at once, that the first thing to be done was
to get possession of this road and so cut off their communication; and
I was not the only one who thought so; but we said nothing for fear of
interrupting the old man.  In five minutes half the battalion had
gathered round him in a circle.  He was smoking a clay pipe and
pointing out all the positions with the stem.  He was a sort of
commissioner between Chatelet, Fleurus, and Namur and knew every foot
of the country and all that happened every day.

He complained greatly of the Prussians, said they were proud and
insolent, that they corrupted the women and were never satisfied, and
that the officers boasted of having driven us from Dresden to Paris,
that they had made us run like hares.

I was indignant at that, for I knew they were two to one at Leipzig,
and that the Russians, Austrians, Saxons, Bavarians, Wurtemburgers,
Swedes, in fact all Europe had overwhelmed us, while three-quarters of
our army were sick with typhus, cold, and famine, marching and
countermarching; but that even all this had not prevented us from
beating them at Hanau, and fifty other times when they were three to
one, in Champagne, Alsace, in the Vosges, and everywhere.

Their boasting disgusted me, I had a horror of the whole race, and I
thought, "those are the rascals who sour your blood."  The old man said
too, that the Prussians constantly declared that they would soon be
enjoying themselves in Paris, drinking good French wines; and that the
French army was only a band of brigands.  When I heard that, I said to
myself, "Joseph, that is too much! now you will show no more mercy,
there is nothing but extermination."

The clocks of Chatelet struck nine and a half, and the hussars sounded
the retreat, and each one was about to dispose himself behind a hedge
or a bee-house or in a furrow for the night, when the general of the
brigade, Schoeffer, ordered the battalion to take up their position on
the other side of the wood, as the vanguard.  I saw at once that our
unlucky battalion was always to be in the van, just as it was in 1813.

It is a sad thing for a regiment to have a reputation; the men change,
but the number remains the same.  The Sixth light infantry had always
been a distinguished number, and I knew what it cost.  Those of us who
were inclined to sleep, were wide awake now, for when you know that the
enemy is at hand, and you say to yourself, "The Prussians are in
ambush, perhaps in that wood, waiting for you," it makes you open your

Several hussars deployed as scouts on our right and left, in front of
the column.  We marched at the route step, with the captains between
the companies, and the Commandant Gémeau, on his little gray mare, in
the middle of the battalion.  Before starting each man had received
three pounds of bread and two pounds of rice, and this was the way in
which the campaign opened for us.

The sky was without a cloud, and all the country and even the forest,
which lay three-quarters of a league before us, shone in the moonlight
like silver.  I thought involuntarily of the wood at Leipzig, where I
had slipped into a clay-pit with two Prussian hussars, when poor
Klipfel was cut into a thousand pieces at a little distance from me.
All this made me very watchful.  No one spoke, even Buche raised his
head and shut his teeth, and Zébédé, who was at the left of the
company, did not look toward me, but right ahead into the shadow of the
trees, like everybody else.

It took us nearly an hour to reach the forest, and when within two
hundred paces the order came to "halt."

The hussars fell back on the flanks of the battalion, and one company
deployed as scouts.  We waited about five minutes, and as not the
slightest noise or sound of any kind reached our ears, we resumed our
march.  The road which we followed through the wood was quite a wide
cart-path.  The column marked step in the shadows.  At every moment
great openings in the forest gave us light and air, and we could see
the white piles of newly cut wood between their stakes, shining in the
distance from time to time.

Besides this, nothing could be heard or seen.  Buche said to me in a
low voice, "I like the smell of the wood, it is like Harberg."

"I despise the smell of the wood," I thought; "and if we do not get a
musket-shot, I shall be satisfied."

At the end of two hours the light appeared again through the underwood,
and we reached the other side, fortunately without encountering either
enemy or obstacle.  The hussars who had accompanied us returned
immediately, and the battalion stacked arms.

We were in a grain country, the like of which I had never seen.  Some
of the grain was in flower, a little green still, though the barley was
almost ripe.  The fields extended as far as the eye could reach.  We
looked around in perfect silence, and I saw that the old man had not
deceived us.  Two thousand paces in front of us, in a hollow, we saw
the top of an old church spire and some slated gables, lighted up by
the moon.  That was Fleurus.  Nearer to us on our right were some
thatched cottages, and a few houses; this was without doubt Lambusart.
At the end of the plain, more than a league distant and in the rear of
Fleurus, the surface of the country was broken into little hills, and
on these hills innumerable fires were burning.  Three large villages
were easily recognized extending over the heights from left to right.
The one nearest to us, we afterward found, was St. Amand, Ligny in the
middle, and two leagues beyond, was Sombref.  We could see them more
distinctly, even, than in the day-time, on account of the fires of the
enemy.  The Prussians were in the houses and the orchards and the
fields; and beyond these three villages in a line, was another, lying
still higher and farther away, where fires were burning also.  This was
Bry, where the rascals had their reserves.

As we looked at this grand spectacle, I understood the disposition and
the plan, and saw too that it would be very difficult to take the
position.  On the plain at our left there were fires also, but it was
the camp of the Third corps, which had turned the corner of the forest
after having repulsed the Prussians, and had halted in some village
this side of Fleurus.  There were a few fires along the edge of the
forest, on a line with us; these were the fires of our own soldiers.  I
believe there were some on both sides of us, but the great mass were at
the left.

We posted our sentinels immediately, and without lighting our fires
laid down at the border of the wood to wait for further orders.
General Schoeffer came again during the night with several hussar
officers, and talked a long time with our commandant, Gémeau, who was
watching under arms.  Their conversation was quite distinct at twenty
paces from us.  The general said that our army corps continued to
arrive, but that they were very late, and would not all reach here the
next day.  I saw at once that he was right; for our fourth battalion,
which should have joined us at Chatelet, did not come till the day
after the battle, when we were almost exterminated by those rascals at
Ligny, having only four hundred men left.  If they had been there they
would have had their share of the combat and of the glory.

As I had been on guard the night before, I quietly stretched myself at
the foot of a tree by the side of Buche, with my comrades.  It was
about one o'clock in the morning of the day of the terrible battle of
Ligny.  Nearly half of those men who were sleeping around me left their
bodies on the plain and in the villages which we saw, to be food for
the grain, such as was growing so beautifully around us, for the oats
and the barley for ages to come.  If they had known that, there was
more than one of them who would not have slept so well, for men cling
to life, and it is a sad thing to think, "to-day I draw my last breath!"


During the night the air was heavy, and I wakened every hour in spite
of my great fatigue, but my comrades slept on, some talking in their
sleep.  Buche did not stir.

Close at hand, on the edge of the forest, our stacked muskets sparkled
in the moonlight.  In the distance on the left I could hear the "Qui
vive,"[1] and on our front the "Wer da."[2]  Nearer to us, our
sentinels stood motionless, up to their waists in the standing grain.

[1] Who goes there!--French.

[2] Who goes there!--German.

I rose up softly and looked about me.  In the vicinity of Sombref, two
leagues to our right, I could hear a great tumult from time to time,
which would increase and then cease entirely.  It might have been
little gusts of wind among the leaves, but there was not a breath of
air and not a drop of dew fell, and I thought, "Those are the cannon
and wagons of the Prussians, galloping over the Namur road; their
battalions and squadrons, which are coming continually.  What a
position we shall be in to-morrow with that mass of men already before
us, and re-enforcements arriving every moment."

They had extinguished their fires at St. Amand and at Ligny, but they
burned brighter than ever at Sombref.  The Prussians who had just
arrived after forced marches were no doubt making their soup.

A thousand thoughts ran through my brain, and I said to myself from
time to time, "You escaped from Lutzen and Leipzig and Hanau, why not
escape this time also?"

But the hopes which I cherished did not prevent me from realizing that
the battle would be a terrible one.  I lay down, however, and slept
soundly for half an hour, when the drum-major, Padoue himself,
commenced to beat the reveille.  He promenaded up and down the edge of
the wood and turned off his rolls and double rolls with great
satisfaction.  The officers were standing in the grain on the hill-side
in a group, looking toward Fleurus, and talking among themselves.  Our
reveille always commenced before that of the Austrians or Prussians or
any of our enemies.  It is like the song of the lark at dawn.  They
commence theirs on their big drums with a dismal roll which gives you
the idea of a funeral.  But, on the contrary, their buglers have pretty
airs for sounding the reveille, while ours only give two or three
blasts, as much as to say: "Come, let us be going! there is no time to
lose."  Everybody rose and the sun came up splendidly over the grain
fields, and we could feel beforehand how hot it would be at noon.

Buche and all the detailed men set off with their canteens for water,
while others were lighting handfuls of straw with tinder for their
fires.  There was no lack of wood, as each one took an armful from the
piles that were already cut.  Corporal Duhem and Sergeant Rabot and
Zébédé came to have a talk with me.  We were together in 1813, and they
had been at my wedding, and in spite of the difference in our rank they
had always continued their friendship for me.

"Well!  Joseph," said Zébédé, "the dance is going to commence."

"Yes," I replied, and recalling the words of poor Sergeant Pinto the
morning before Lutzen, I added with a wink, "this, Zébédé, will be a
battle, as Sergeant Pinto said, where you will gain the cross between
the thrusts of ramrod and bayonet, and if you do not have a chance now
you need never expect it."

They all began to laugh, and Zébédé said:

"Yes, indeed, the poor old fellow richly deserved it, but it is harder
to catch than the bouquet at the top of a climbing pole."

We all laughed, and as they had a flask of brandy, we took a crust of
bread together as we watched the movements of the enemy which began to
be perceptible.  Buche had returned among the first with his canteen
and now stood behind us with his ears wide open like a fox on the alert.

Files of cavalry came out of the woods and crossed the grain fields in
the direction of St. Amand, the large village at the left of Fleurus.

"Those," said Zébédé, "are the light horse of Pajol who will deploy as
scouts.  These are Exelman's dragoons.  When the others have
ascertained the positions they will advance in line, that is the way
they always do, and the cannon will come with the infantry.  The
cavalry will form on the right or the left and support the flanks, and
the infantry will take the front rank.  They will form their attacking
columns on the good roads and in the fields, and the affair will begin
with a cannonade for twenty minutes or half an hour, more or less, and
when half the batteries are disabled, the Emperor will choose a
favorable moment to put us in, but it is we who will catch the bullets
and canister because we are nearest.  We advance, carry arms, in
readiness for a charge, at a quick step and in good order, but it
always ends in a double quick, because the shot makes you impatient.  I
warn you, conscripts, beforehand, so that you may not be surprised."
More than twenty conscripts had ranged themselves behind us to listen.
The cavalry continued to pour out of the wood.

"I will bet," said Corporal Duhem, "that the Fourth cavalry has been on
the march in our rear since daybreak."

And Rabot said they would have to take time to get into line, as it was
so bad traversing the wood.  We were discussing the matter like
generals, and we scanned the position of the Prussians around the
villages, in the orchards, and behind the hedges, which are six feet
high in that country.  A great number of their guns were grouped in
batteries between Ligny and St. Amand, and we could plainly see the
bronze shining in the sun, which inspired all sorts of reflections.

"I am sure," said Zébédé, "that they are all barricaded, and they have
dug ditches and pierced the walls; we should have done well to push on
yesterday, when their squares retreated to the first village on the
heights.  If we were on a level with them it would be very well, but to
climb up across those hedges under the enemy's fire will cost a trifle,
unless something should happen in the rear as is sometimes the case
with the Emperor."

The old soldiers were talking in this fashion on all sides, and the
conscripts were listening with open ears.

Meanwhile the camp-kettles were suspended over the fire, but they were
expressly forbidden to use their bayonets for this purpose as it
destroyed their temper.  It was about seven o'clock, and we all thought
that the battle would be at St. Amand.  The village was surrounded by
hedges and shrubbery, with a great tower in the centre, and higher up
in the rear there were more houses and a winding road bordered with a
stone wail.  All the officers said: "That is where the struggle will
be."  As our troops came from Charleroi they spread over the plain
below us, infantry and cavalry side by side; all the corps of Vandamme
and Gérard's division.  Thousands and thousands of helmets glittered in
the sun, and Buche who stood beside me, exclaimed:

"Oh! oh! oh! look, Joseph, look! they come continually!"

And we could see innumerable bayonets in the same direction as far as
the eye could reach.

The Prussians were spreading more and more over the hill-side near the
windmills.  This movement continued till eight o'clock.  Nobody was
hungry, but we ate all the same, so as not to reproach ourselves; for
the battle, once begun, might last two days without giving us a chance
to eat again.

Between eight and nine o'clock the first battalions of our division
left the wood.  The officers came to shake hands with their comrades,
but the staff remained in the rear.  Suddenly the hussars and chasseurs
passed us, extending our line of battle toward the right.  They were
Morin's cavalry.  Our idea was that when the Prussians should have
become engaged in the attack on St. Amand, we would fall on their flank
at Ligny.  But the Prussians were on their guard, and from that moment
they stopped at Ligny, instead of going on to St. Amand.  They even
came lower down, and we could see the officers posting the men among
the hedges and in the gardens and behind the low walls and barracks.
We thought their position very strong.  They continued to come lower
down in a sort of fold of the hill-side between Ligny and Fleurus, and
that astonished us, for we did not yet know that a little brook divided
the village into two parts, and that they were filling the houses on
our side, and we did not know that if they were repulsed they could
retreat up the hill and still hold us always under their fire.

If we knew everything about such affairs beforehand, we should never
dare to commence such a dangerous enterprise, but the difficulties are
discovered step by step.  We were destined that day to find a great
many things which we did not expect.

About half-past eight several of our regiments had left the wood, and
very soon the drums beat the assembly and all the battalions took their
arms.  The general, Count Gérard, arrived with his staff, and passing
us at a gallop, without any notice, went on to the hill below Fleurus.
Almost immediately the firing commenced; the scouts of Vandamme
approached the village on the left, and two pieces of cannon were sent
off, with the artillerymen on horseback.  After five or six discharges
of cannon from the top of the hill the musketry ceased and our scouts
were in Fleurus, and we saw three or four hundred Prussians mounting
the hill in the distance, toward Ligny.  General Gérard, after looking
at this little engagement, came back with his staff and passed slowly
down our front, inspecting us carefully, as if he wished to ascertain
what sort of humor we were in.  He was about forty-five years old,
brown, with a large head, a round face, the lower part heavy, with a
pointed chin.  A great many peasants in our country resemble him, and
they are not the most stupid.  He said not a word to us, and when he
had passed the whole length of our line, all the generals and colonels
were grouped together.  The command was given to order arms.  The
orderlies then set off like the wind; this engrossed the attention of
all, but not a man stirred.  The rumor spread that Grouchy was to be
commander-in-chief, and that the Emperor had attacked the English four
leagues away, on the route to Brussels.

This news put us in anything but a pleasant humor, and more than one
said, "It is no wonder that we are here doing nothing since morning; if
the Emperor was with us, we should have given battle long ago, and the
Prussians would not have had time to know where they were."

This was the talk we indulged in, and it shows the injustice of men;
for three hours afterward, in the midst of shouts of "_Vive
l'Empereur_," Napoleon arrived.  These shouts swept along the line like
a tempest, and were continued even opposite Sombref.  Now everything
was right.  That for which we had reproached Marshal Grouchy, was
perfectly proper when done by the Emperor, since it was he.

Very soon the order reached us to advance our line five hundred paces
to the right, and off we started through the rye, oats, and barley,
which were swept down before us, but the principal line of battle on
the left was not changed.

As we reached a broad road which we had not before seen and came in
sight of Fleurus, with its little brook bordered with willows, the
order was given to halt!  A murmur ran through the whole
division--"There he is!"

He was on horseback, and only accompanied by a few of the officers of
his staff.

We could only recognize him in the distance by has gray coat and his
hat; his carriage with its escort of lancers was in the rear.  He
entered Fleurus by the high road, and remained in the village more than
an hour, while we were roasting in the grain fields.

At the end of this hour, which we thought interminable, files of staff
officers set off, at a gallop, bent over their saddle-bows till their
noses were between their horse's ears.  Two of them stopped near
General Gérard, one remained with him, and the other went on again.
Still we waited, until suddenly the bands of all the regiments began to
play; drums and trumpets all together; and that immense line which
extended from the rear of St. Amand to the forest, swung round, with
the right wing in the advance.  As it reached beyond our division in
the rear, we advanced our line still more obliquely, and again the
order came, Halt!  The road running out of Fleurus was opposite us, a
blank wall on the left; behind which were trees and a large house, and
in front a windmill of red brick, like a tower.

We had hardly halted, when the Emperor came out of this mill with three
or four generals and two old peasants in blouses, holding their cotton
caps in their hands.  The whole division commenced to shout, "Vive

I saw him plainly as he came along a path in front of the battalion,
with his head bent down and his hands behind his back listening to the
old bald peasant.  He took no notice of the shouts, but turned round
twice and pointed toward Ligny.  I saw him as plainly as I could see
Father Goulden when we sat opposite each other at table.  He had grown
much stouter than when he was at Leipzig, and looked yellow.  If it had
not been for his gray coat and his hat, I should hardly have recognized
him.  His cheeks were sunken and he looked much older.  All this came,
I presume, from his troubles at Elba, and in thinking of the mistakes
he had made; for he was a wise man, and could see his own faults.  He
had destroyed the revolution which had sustained him, he had recalled
the émigrés who despised him, he had married an archduchess who
preferred Vienna to Paris, and he had chosen his bitterest enemies for
his counsellors.

[Illustration: The Emperor, his hands behind his back, and his head
bent forward.]

In short he had put everything back where it was before the revolution,
nothing was wanting but Louis XVIII., and then the kings had put Louis
XVIII. on his throne again.  Now he had come to overthrow the
legitimate sovereign, and some called him a despot, and some a Jacobin.
It was unfortunate for him that he had done everything possible to
facilitate the return of the Bourbons.  Nothing remained to him but his
army, if he lost that, he lost everything, for many of the people
wanted liberty like Father Goulden, others wanted tranquillity and
peace like Mother Grédel, and like me and all those who were forced
into the war.

These things made him terribly anxious, he had lost the confidence of
the whole world.  The old soldiers alone preserved their attachment to
him, and asked only to conquer or die.  With such notions you cannot
fail of one or the other, all is plain and clear; but a great many
people do not have these ideas, and for my part I loved Catherine a
thousand times more than the Emperor.

On reaching a turn in the wall, where the hussars were waiting for him,
he mounted his horse, and General Gérard who had recognized him came up
at a gallop.  He turned round for two seconds to listen to him, and
then both went into Fleurus.

Still we waited!  About two o'clock General Gérard returned, and our
line was obliqued a third time more to the right, and then the whole
division broke into columns, and we followed the road to Fleurus with
the cannon and caissons at intervals between the brigades.  The dust
enveloped us completely.

Buche said to me:

"Cost what it may, I must drink at the first puddle we come to."

But we did not find any water.  The music did not cease, and masses of
cavalry kept coming up behind us, principally dragoons.  We were still
on the march when suddenly the roar of musketry and cannon broke on our
ears as when water breaking over its barriers sweeps all before it.

I knew what it was, but Buche turned pale and looked at me in mute

"Yes, indeed, Jean," said I, "those over there are attacking St. Amand,
but our turn will come presently."

The music had ceased but the thunder of the guns had redoubled, and we
heard the order on all sides, "Halt!"

The division stopped on the road and the gunners ran out at intervals
and put their pieces in line fifty paces in front, with their caissons
in the rear.

We were opposite Ligny.  We could only see a white line of houses half
hidden in the orchards, with a church spire above them--slopes of
yellow earth, trees, hedges, and palisades.  There we were, twelve or
fifteen thousand men without the cavalry, waiting the order to attack.

The battle raged fiercely about St. Amand, and great masses of smoke
rose over the combatants toward the sky.

While waiting for our turn, my thoughts turned to Catherine with more
tenderness than ever, the idea that she would soon be a mother crossed
my mind, and then I besought God to spare my life, but with this, came
the comfort of feeling that our child would be there if I should die to
console them all, Catherine, Aunt Grédel, and Father Goulden.  If it
should be a boy they would call it Joseph, and caress it, and Father
Goulden would dandle it on his knee, Aunt Grédel would love it, and
Catherine would think of me as she embraced it, and I should not be
altogether dead to them.  But I clung to life while I saw how terrible
was the conflict before us.

Buche said to me, "Joseph, will you promise me something?--I have a
cross--if I am killed."

He shook my hand, and I said: "I promise."

"Well!" he added, "it is here on my breast.  You must carry it to
Harberg and hang it up in the chapel in remembrance of Jean Buche, dead
in the faith of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit."

He spoke very earnestly, and I thought his wish very natural.  Some die
for the rights of Humanity; with some, the last thought is for their
mother, others are influenced by the example of just men who have
sacrificed themselves for the race, but the feeling is the same in
every case, though each one expresses it according to his own manner of

I gave him the desired promise and we waited for nearly half an hour
longer.  All the troops as they left the wood came and formed near us,
and the cavalry were mustering on our right as if to attack Sombref.

Up to half-past two o'clock not a gun had been fired, when an
aid-de-camp of the Emperor arrived on the road to Fleurus, at full
speed, and I thought immediately, "Our turn has come now.  May God
watch over us, for, miserable wretches that we are, we cannot save
ourselves in such a slaughter as is threatening."

I had scarcely made these reflections when two battalions on the right
set off on the road, with the artillery, toward Sombref, where the
Uhlans and Prussian cavalry were deploying in front of our dragoons.
It was the fortune of these two battalions to remain in position on the
route all that day to observe the cavalry of the enemy, while we went
to take the village where the Prussians were in force.

The attacking columns were formed just as the clock struck three; I was
in the one on the left which moved first at a quick step along a
winding road.

On the hill where Ligny was situated, was an immense ruin.  It had been
built of brick and was pierced with holes and overlooked us as we
mounted the hill.  We watched it sharply too, through the grain as we
went.  The second column left immediately after us and passed by a
shorter route directly up the hill, we were to meet them at the
entrance to the village.  I do not know when the third column left, as
we did not meet again till later.

All went smoothly until we reached a point where the road was cut
through a little elevation and then ran down to the village.  As we
passed through between these little hills covered with grain, and
caught sight of the nearest house, a veritable hail of balls fell on
the head of the column with a frightful noise.  From every hole in the
old ruin, from all the windows and loop-holes in the houses, from the
hedges and orchards and from above the stone walls the muskets showered
their deadly fire upon us like lightning.

At the same time a battery of fifteen pieces which had been for that
very purpose placed in a field in the rear of the great tower at the
left of, and higher tip than Ligny, near the windmill, opened upon us
with a roar, compared with which that of the musketry was nothing.
Those who had unfortunately passed the cut in the road fell over each
other in heaps in the smoke.  At that moment we heard the fire of the
other column which had engaged the enemy at our right, and the roar of
other cannon, though we could not tell whether they were ours or those
of the Prussians.

Fortunately the whole battalion had not passed the little knoll, and
the balls whistled through the grain above us, and tore up the ground
without doing us the least injury.  Every time this whizzing was heard,
I observed that the conscripts near me ducked their heads, and Jean
Buche, I remember, was staring at me with open eyes.  The old soldiers
marched with tightly compressed lips.

The column stopped.  For an instant each man thought whether it would
not be better to turn back, but it was only for a second, the enemy's
fire seemed to slacken, the officers all drew their sabres and shouted,

The column set off again at a run and threw itself into the road that
led down the hill across the hedges.  From the palisades and the walls
behind which the Prussians were in ambush, they continued to pour their
musketry fire upon us.  But woe to every one we encountered! they
defended themselves with the desperation of wolves, but a few blows
from a musket, or a bayonet thrust, soon stretched them out in some
corner.  A great number of old soldiers with gray mustaches had secured
their retreat, and retired in good order, turning to fire a last shot,
and then slipped through a breach or shut a door.  We followed them
without hesitation, we had neither prudence nor mercy.

At last, quite scattered and in the greatest confusion, we reached the
first houses, when the fusillade commenced again from the windows, the
corners of the streets, and from everywhere.  There were the orchards
and the gardens and the stone walls which ran along the hill-side, but
they were thrown down and demolished, the palisades torn up, and could
no longer serve as a shelter or a defence.  From the well-barricaded
cottages, they still poured their fire upon us.  In ten minutes more,
we should have been exterminated to the last man; seeing this, the
column turned down the hill again, drummers and sappers, officers and
soldiers pell-mell, all went without once turning their heads to look
back.  I jumped over the palisades where I never should have thought it
possible at any other time, with my knapsack and cartridge-box at my
back; the others followed my example, and we all tumbled in a heap like
a falling wall.

Once in the road again between the hills, we stopped to breathe.  Some
stretched themselves on the ground, and others sat down with their
backs against the slope.  The officers were furious; as if they too had
not followed the movement to retreat, and some shouted to bring up the
cannon, and others wanted to re-form the troops, though they could
scarcely make themselves heard in the midst of the thunder of the
artillery which shook the air like a tempest.

I saw Jean Buche hurrying back with his bayonet red with blood.  He
took his place beside me without saying a word, and commenced to reload.

Captain Grégoire, Lieutenant Certain, and several sergeants and
corporals, and more than a hundred men were left behind in the
orchards; and the first two battalions of the column had suffered as
much as we.

Zébédé, with his great crooked nose, white as snow, seeing me at some
distance, shouted, "Joseph--no quarter!"

Great masses of white smoke rose over the sides of the road.  The whole
hill-side from Ligny to St. Amand was on fire behind the willows and
aspens and poplars.

As I crept up on my hands and knees, and looked over the surface of the
grain and saw this terrible spectacle, and saw the long black lines of
infantry on the top of the hill and near the windmills, and the
innumerable cavalry on their flanks ready to fall upon us, I went back

"We shall never rout that army.  It fills the villages, and guards the
roads, and covers the hill as far as the eye can reach, there are guns
everywhere, and it is contrary to reason to persist in such an

I was indignant and even disgusted with the generals.

All this did not take ten minutes.  God only knew what had become of
our other two columns.  The terrible musketry fire on the left, and the
volleys of grape and canister which we heard rushing through the air,
were no doubt intended for them.

I thought we had had our full share of troubles, when Generals Gérard,
Vichery, and Schoeffer came riding up at full speed on the road below
us, shouting like madmen, "Forward!  Forward!"

They drew their swords, and there was nothing to do but go.

At this moment our batteries on the road below opened their fire on
Ligny, the roofs in the village tumbled, and the walls sank, and we
rushed forward with the generals at our head with their swords drawn,
the drums beating the charge.  We shouted, "_Vive l'Empereur_."  The
Prussian bullets swept us away by dozens, and shot fell like hail, and
the drums kept up their "pan-pan-pan."  We saw nothing, heard nothing,
as we crossed the orchards, nobody paid any attention to those who
fell, and in two minutes after, we entered the village, broke in the
doors with the butts of our muskets, while the Prussians fired upon us
from the windows.

It was a thousand times worse in-doors, because yells of rage mingled
in the uproar; we rushed into the houses with fixed bayonets and
massacred each other without mercy.  On every side the cry rose, "No

The Prussians who were surprised in the first houses we entered, were
old soldiers and asked for nothing better.  They perfectly understood
what "No quarter" meant, and made a most desperate defence.

As we reached the third or fourth house on a tolerably wide street on
which was a church, and a little bridge farther on, the air was full of
smoke from the fires caused by our bombs; great broken tiles and slate
were raining down upon us, and everything roared and whistled and
cracked, when Zébédé, with a terrible look in his eyes, seized me by
the arm, shouting, "Come!"

We rushed into a large room already filled with soldiers, on the first
floor of a house; it was dark, as they had covered the windows with
sacks of earth, but we could see a steep wooden stairway at one end,
down which the blood was running.  We heard musket-shots from above and
the flashes each moment showed us five or six of our men sunk in a heap
against the balustrade with their arms hanging down, and the others
running over their bodies with their bayonets fixed, trying to force
their way into the loft.

It was horrible to see those men with their bristling mustaches, and
brown cheeks, every wrinkle expressing the fury which possessed them,
determined to force a passage at any cost.  The sight made me furious,
and I shouted, "Forward!  No quarter!"

If I had been near the stairway, I might have been cut to pieces in
mounting, but fortunately for me, others were ahead and not one would
give up his place.

An old fellow, covered with wounds, succeeded in reaching the top of
the stairs under the bayonets.  As he gained the loft he let go his
musket, and seized the balustrade with both hands.  Two balls from
muskets touching his breast did not make him let go his hold.  Three or
four others rushed up behind him striving each to be first, and leaped
over the top stairs into the loft above.

Then followed such an uproar as is impossible to describe, shots
followed each other in quick succession, and the shouts and trampling
of feet made us think the house was coming down over our heads.  Others
followed, and when I reached the scene behind Zébédé, the room was full
of dead and wounded men, the windows were blown out, the walls splashed
with blood, and not a Prussian was left on his feet.  Five or six of
our men were supporting themselves against the different pieces of
furniture, smiling ferociously.  Nearly all of them had balls or
bayonet thrusts in their bodies, but the pleasure of revenge was
greater than the pain of their wounds.  My hair stands on end when I
recall that scene.

As soon as Zébédé saw that the Prussians were all dead, he went down
again, saying to me, "Come, there is nothing more to do here."

We went out and found that our column had already passed the church,
and thousands of musket-shots crackled against the bridge like the fire
breaking out from a coal-pit.

The second column had come down the broad street on our right and
joined ours, and in the meantime, one of those Prussian columns which
we had seen on the hill in the rear of Ligny, came down to drive us out
of the village.

Here it was that we had the first encounter in force.  Two staff
officers rode down the street by which we had come.

"Those men," said Zébédé, "are going to order up the guns.  When they
arrive, Joseph, you will see whether they can rout us."

He ran and I followed him.  The fight at the bridge continued.  The old
church clock struck five.  We had destroyed all the Prussians on this
side the stream except those who were in ambush in the great old ruin
at the left, which was full of holes.  It had been set on fire at the
top by our howitzers, but the fire continued from the lower stories,
and we were obliged to avoid it.

In front of the church we were in force.  We found the little square
filled with troops ready to march, and others were coming by the broad
street, which traversed the whole length of Ligny.  Only the head of
the column was engaged at the little bridge.  The Prussians tried hard
to repulse them.  The discharges in file followed each other like
running water.  The square was so filled with smoke that we could see
nothing but the bayonets, the front of the church, and the officers on
the steps giving their orders.  Now and then a staff officer would set
off at a gallop, and the air round the old slated spire was full of
rooks whirling about affrighted with the noise.  The cannon at St.
Amand roared incessantly.

Between the gables on the left, we could see on the hill, the long blue
lines of infantry and masses of cavalry coming from Sombref to turn our
columns.  It was there in our rear that the desperate combats took
place between the Uhlans and our hussars.  How many of these Uhlans we
saw next morning stretched dead on the plain!

Our battalion having suffered the most, we fell back to the second
rank.  We soon found our own company commanded by Captain Florentin.
The guns were arriving by the same street on which we were; the horses
at full gallop foaming and shaking their heads furiously, while the
wheels crushed everything before them.  All this produced a tremendous
uproar, but the thunder of cannon and the crash of musketry was all
that could be distinguished.  The soldiers were all shouting and
singing, with their guns on their shoulders, but we knew this only by
seeing their open mouths.

I had just taken my place by the side of Buche and had begun to
breathe, when a forward movement began.

This time the plan was to cross the little stream, push the Prussians
out of Ligny, mount the hill behind and cut their line in two, and the
battle would be gained.  Each one of us understood that, but with such
masses of troops as they held in reserve, it was no small affair.

Everything moved toward the bridge, but we could see nothing but the
five or six men before us, and I was well satisfied to know that the
head of the column was far in front.

But I was most delighted when Captain Florentin halted our company in
front of an old barn with the door broken down, and posted the remnant
of the battalion behind the ruins in order to sustain the attacking
columns by firing from the windows.

There were fifteen of us in that barn and I can see it now, with the
door hanging by one hinge, and battered with the balls, and the ladder
running up through a square hole, three or four dead Prussians leaning
against the walls, and a window at the other end looking into the
street in the rear.

Zébédé commanded our post, Lieutenant Bretonville occupied the house
opposite with another squad, and Captain Florentin went somewhere else.
The street was filled with troops quite up to the two corners near the

The first thing we tried to do was to put up the door and fasten it,
but we had hardly commenced when we heard a terrible crash in the
street, and walls, shutters, tiles, and everything were swept away at a
stroke.  Two of our men who were outside holding up the door, fell as
if cut down with a scythe.

At the same moment we could hear the steps of the retreating column
rolling over the bridge, while a dozen more such explosions made us
draw back in spite of ourselves.  It was a battery of six pieces
charged with canister which Blücher had masked at the end of the
street, and which now opened upon us.

The whole column--drummers, soldiers, officers, mounted and foot, were
in retreat, pushing and jostling each other, swept along as by a
hurricane.  Nobody looked back, those who fell were lost.  The last
ones had hardly passed our door when Zébédé, who looked out to see what
had happened, shouted in a voice of thunder, "The Prussians!"

He fired, and several of us rushed for the ladder, but before we could
think of climbing they were upon us.  Zébédé, Buche, and all who had
not had time to get up the ladder drove them back with their bayonets.
It seems to me as if I could see those Prussians still, with their big
mustaches, their red faces and flat shakos, furious at being checked.

I never had such a shock as that.  Zébédé shouted, "No quarter," just
as if we had been the stronger.  But immediately he received a blow on
the head from the butt of a musket and fell.

I saw that he was going to be murdered and I burned for revenge.  I
shouted, "To the bayonet," and we all fell upon the rascals, while our
comrades fired at them from above, and a fusillade commenced from the
houses opposite.

The Prussians fell back, but a little distance away there was a whole
battalion.  Buche took Zébédé on his shoulders and started up the
ladder.  We followed him, shouting "Hurry!" while we aided him with all
our strength to climb the ladder with his burden.  I was next to the
last, and I thought we should never get up.  We heard the shots already
in the barn, but we were up at last, and all inspired with the same
idea, we tried to draw the ladder up after us.  To our horror we found,
as we endeavored to pull it through the opening between the shots, one
of which took off the head of a comrade, that it was so large we could
not get it into the loft.  We hesitated for a moment, when Zébédé,
recovering himself, exclaimed, "Shoot through the rounds!"  This seemed
to us an inspiration from heaven.

Below us the uproar was terrible.  The whole street, as well as our
barn, was full of Prussians.

They were mad with rage, and worse than we; repeating incessantly, "No

They were enraged by the musket-shots from the houses; they broke down
the doors, and then we could hear the struggles, the falls, curses in
French and German, the orders of Lieutenant Bretonville opposite, and
the Prussian officers commanding their men to go and bring straw to
fire the houses.  Fortunately the harvest was not yet secured, or we
should all have been burned.

They fired into the floor under our feet, but it was made of thick oak
plank and the balls tapped on it like the strokes of a hammer.  We
stood one behind the other and continued our fire into the street, and
every shot told.

It appeared as if they had retaken the church square, for we only heard
our fire very far away.  We were alone, two or three hundred men in the
midst of three or four thousand.  Then I said to myself, "Joseph! you
will never escape from this danger.  It is impossible! your end has
come!"  I dared not think of Catherine, my heart quaked.  Our retreat
was cut off, the Prussians held both ends of the street and the lanes
in the rear, and they had already retaken several houses.

Suddenly the hubbub ceased; they were making some preparation we
thought; they have gone for straw or fagots or they are going to bring
up their guns to demolish us.

Our gunners looked out of the window, but they saw nothing, the barn
was empty.  This dead silence was more terrible than the tumult had
been a few minutes before.

Zébédé had just raised himself up, and the blood was running from his
mouth and nose.

"Attention! we are going to have another attack.  The rascals are
getting ready.  Charge!"

He hardly finished speaking when the whole building, from the gables to
the foundation, swayed as if the earth had opened beneath it, and beams
and lath and slate came down with the shock, while a red flame burst
out under our feet and mounted above the roof.  We all fell in a heap.

A lighted bomb which the Prussians had rolled into the barn had just
exploded.  On getting up I heard a whizzing in my ears, but that did
not prevent me from seeing a ladder placed at the window of the barn.
Buche was using his bayonet with great effect on the invaders.

The Prussians thought to profit by our surprise to mount the ladder and
butcher us; this made me shudder, but I ran to the assistance of my
comrade.  Two others who had escaped, ran up shouting, "_Vive

I heard nothing more, the noise was frightful.  The flashes of the
muskets below and from the windows lighted up the street like a moving
flame.  We had thrown down the ladder, and there were six of us still
remaining, two in front who fired the muskets, and four behind who
loaded and passed the guns to them.

In this extremity I had become calm.  I resigned myself to my fate,
thinking I would try to sell my own life as dearly as possible.  The
others no doubt had the same thoughts, and we made great havoc.

This lasted about a quarter of an hour, when the cannon began to
thunder again, and some seconds after our comrades in front looked out
the window and ceased firing.  My cartridge-box was nearly empty, and I
went to replenish it from those of my dead comrades.

The cries of "_Vive l'Empereur!_" came nearer and nearer, when suddenly
the head of our column with its flag all blackened and torn, filed into
the little square through our street.

The Prussians beat a retreat.  We all wanted to go down, but two or
three times the column recoiled before the grape and canister.  The
shouts and the thunder of the cannon mingled afresh.  Zébédé, who was
looking out, ran to the ladder.  Our column had passed the barn and we
all went down in file without regarding our comrades who were wounded
by the bursting of the bomb, some of whom begged us piteously not to
leave them behind.

Such are men! the fear of being taken prisoners, made us barbarians.

When we recalled these terrible scenes afterward, we would have given
anything if we had had the least heart, but then it was too late.


An hour before, fifteen of us had entered that old barn, now there were
but six to come out.

Buche and Zébédé were among the living; the Pfalzbourgers had been

Once outside it was necessary to follow the attacking column.

We advanced over the heaps of dead.  Our feet encountered this yielding
mass, but we did not look to see if we stepped on the face of a wounded
man, on his breast, or on his limbs; we marched straight on.  We found
out next morning, that this mass of men had been cut down by the
battery in front of the church; their obstinacy had proved their ruin.
Blücher was only waiting to serve us in the same manner, but instead of
going over the bridge we turned off to the right and occupied the
houses along the brook.  The Prussians fired at us from every window
opposite, but as soon as we were ambushed we opened our fire on their
guns and they were obliged to fall back.

They had already begun to talk of attacking the other part of the
village, when the rumor was heard that a column of Prussians forty
thousand strong had come up behind us from Charleroi.  We could not
understand it, as we had swept everything before us to the banks of the
Sambre.  This column which had fallen on our rear, must have been
hidden in the forest.

It was about half-past six and the combat at St. Amand seemed to grow
fiercer than ever.  Blücher had moved his forces to that side, and it
was a favorable moment to carry the other part of the village, but this
column forced us to wait.

The houses on either side of the brook were filled with troops, the
French on the right and the Prussians on the left.  The firing had
ceased, a few shots were still heard from time to time, but they were
evidently by design.  We looked at each other as if to say, "Let us
breathe awhile now, and we will commence again presently."

The Prussians in the house opposite us, in their blue coats and leather
shakos, with their mustaches turned up, were all strongly built men,
old soldiers with square chins and their ears standing out from their
heads.  They looked as if they might overthrow us at a blow.  The
officers, too, were looking on.

Along the two streets which were parallel with the brook and in the
brook itself, the dead were lying in long rows.

Many of them were seated with their backs against the walls.  They had
been dangerously wounded in the battle but had had sufficient strength
to retire from the strife, and had sunk down against the wall and died
from loss of blood.

Some were still standing upright in the brook, their hands clutching
the bank as if to climb out, rigid in death.  And in obscure corners of
the ruined houses, when they were lighted up with the sun's rays, we
could see the miserable wretches crushed under the rubbish, with stones
and beams lying across their bodies.

The struggle at St. Amand became still more terrible, the discharges of
cannon seemed to rise one above the other, and if we had not all been
looking death in the face, nothing could have prevented us from
admiring this grand music.

At every discharge hundreds of men perished, but there was no
interruption, the solid earth trembled under our feet.  We could
breathe again now, and very soon we began to feel a most intolerable
thirst.  During the fight nobody had thought of it, but now everybody
wanted to drink.

Our house formed the corner at the left of the bridge, but the little
water that was running over the muddy bottom of the brook was red with
blood.  Between our house and the next there was a little garden, where
there was a well from which to water it.  We all looked at this well
with its curb and its wooden posts; the bucket was still hanging to the
chain in spite of the showers of shot, but three men were already lying
face downward in the path leading to it.  The Prussians had shot them
as they were trying to reach it.

As we stood there with our loaded muskets, one said, "I would give half
my blood for one glass of that water;" another, "Yes, but the Prussians
are on the watch."

This was true, there they were, a hundred paces from us, perhaps they
were as thirsty as we, and were guessing our thoughts.

The shots that were still fired came from these houses, and no one
could go along the street, they would shoot him at once, so we were all
suffering horribly.

This lasted for another half hour, when the cannonade extended from St.
Amand to Ligny, and we could see that our batteries had opened with
grape and canister on the Prussians by the great gaps made in their
columns at every discharge.

This new attack produced a great excitement.  Buche, who had not
stirred till that moment, ran down through the path leading to the well
in the garden and sheltered himself behind the curb.  From the two
houses opposite a volley was fired, and the stones and the posts were
soon riddled with balls.

But we opened our fire on their windows and in an instant it began
again from one end of the village to the other, and everything was
enveloped in smoke.

At that moment I heard some one shout from below, "Joseph, Joseph!"

It was Buche; he had had the courage after he had drank himself, to
fill the bucket, unfasten it, and bring it back with him.

[Illustration: He had had the courage to pull up the bucket.]

Several old soldiers wanted to take it from him, but he shouted, "My
comrade first! let go, or I'll pour it all out!"

They were compelled to wait till I had drank, then they took their
turn, and afterward the others who were upstairs drained the rest.

We all went up together greatly refreshed.

It was about seven o'clock and near sunset, the shadows of the houses
on our side reached quite to the brook--while those occupied by the
Prussians were still in the sunlight, as well as the hill-side of Bry,
down which we could see the fresh troops coming on the run.  The
cannonade had never been so fierce as at this moment from our side.

Every one now knows, that at nightfall between seven and eight o'clock
the Emperor, having discovered that the column which had been signalled
in our rear was the corps of General d'Erlon, which had missed its
route between the battle of Ney with the English at Quatre-Bras and
ours here at Ligny, had ordered the Old Guard to support us at once.

The lieutenant who was with us said, "This is the grand attack.

The whole of the Prussian cavalry was swarming between the two
villages.  We felt that there was a grand movement behind us, though we
did not see it.  The lieutenant repeated, "Attention to orders!  Let no
one stay behind after the order to march!  Here is the attack!"

We all opened our eyes.  The farther the night advanced the redder the
sky grew over St. Amand.  We were so absorbed in listening to the
cannonade that, we no longer thought of anything else.  At each
discharge you would have said the heavens were on fire.  The tumult
behind us was increasing.

Suddenly the broad street running along the brook was full of troops,
from the bridge quite to the end of Ligny.  On the left in the distance
the Prussians were shooting from the windows again, while we did not
reply.  The shout rose--"The Guard! the Guard!"  I do not know how that
mass of men passed the muddy ditch, probably by means of plank thrown
across, but in a moment they were on the left bank in force.

The batteries of the Prussians at the top of the ravine between the two
villages, cut gaps through our columns, but they closed up immediately,
and moved steadily up the hill.  What remained of our division ran
across the bridge, followed by the artillerymen and their pieces with
the horses at a gallop.

Then we went down to the street, but we had not reached the bridge when
the cuirassiers began to file over it, followed by the dragoons and the
mounted grenadiers of the guard.  They were passing everywhere, across
and around the village.  It was like a new and innumerable army.

The slaughter began again on the hill, this time the battle was in the
open fields, and we could trace the outlines of the Prussian squares on
the hill-side at every discharge of musketry.

We rushed on over the dead and wounded, and when we were clear of the
village we could see that there was an engagement between the cavalry,
though we could only distinguish the white cuirasses as they pierced
the lines of the Uhlans; then they would be indiscriminately mingled
and the cuirassiers would re-form and set off again like a solid wall.

It was dark already, and the dense masses of smoke made it impossible
to see fifty paces ahead.  Everything was moving toward the windmills,
the clatter of the cavalry, the shouts, the orders of the officers and
the file-firing in the distance, all were confounded.  Several of the
squares were broken.  From time to time a flash would reveal a lancer
bent to his horse's neck, or a cuirassier, with his broad white back
and his helmet with its floating plume, shooting off like a bullet, two
or three foot soldiers running about in the midst of the fray,--all
would come and go like lightning.  The trampled grain, the rain
streaking the heavens, the wounded under the feet of the horses, all
came out of the black night--through the storm which had just broken
out--for a quarter of a second.

Every flash of musket or pistol showed us inexplicable things by
thousands.  But everything moved up the hill and away from Ligny; we
were masters.

We had pierced the enemy's centre, the Prussians no longer made any
defence, except at the top of the hill near the mills and in the
direction of Sombref, at our right.  St. Amand and Ligny were both in
our hands.

As for us, a dozen or so of our company there alone among the ruins of
the cottages, with our cartridge-boxes almost empty;--we did not know
which way to turn.

Zébédé, Lieutenant Bretonville, and Captain Florentin had disappeared,
and Sergeant Rabot was in command.  He was a little old fellow, thin
and deformed, but as tough as steel; he squinted and seemed to have had
red hair when young.  Now, as I speak of him, I seem to hear him say
quietly to us, "The battle is won! by file right! forward, march!"

Several wanted to stop and make some soup, for we had eaten nothing
since noon and began to be hungry.  The sergeant marched down the lane
with his musket on his shoulder, laughing quietly, and saying in an
ironical tone:

"Oh! soup, soup! wait a little, the commissary is coming!"

We followed him down the dark lane; about midway we saw a cuirassier on
horseback with his back toward us.  He had a sabre cut in the abdomen
and had retired into this lane, the horse leaned against the wall to
prevent him from falling off.

As we filed past he called out, "Comrades!"  But nobody even turned his

Twenty paces farther on we found the ruins of a cottage completely
riddled with balls, but half the thatched roof was still there, and
this was why Sergeant Rabot had selected it; and we filed into it for

We could see no more than if we had been in an oven; the sergeant
exploded the priming of his musket, and we saw that it was the kitchen,
that the fireplace was at the right, and the stairway on the left.
Five or six Prussians and Frenchmen were stretched on the floor, white
as wax, and with their eyes wide open.

"Here is the mess-room," said the sergeant, "let every one make himself
comfortable.  Our bedfellows will not kick us."

As we saw plainly that there were to be no rations, each one took off
his knapsack and placed it by the wall on the floor for a pillow.  We
could still hear the firing, but it was far in the distance on the hill.

The rain fell in torrents.  The sergeant shut the door, which creaked
on its hinges, and then quietly lighted his pipe.  Some of the men were
already snoring when I looked up, and he was standing at the little
window, in which not a pane of glass remained, smoking.

He was a firm, just man, he could read and write, had been wounded and
had his three chevrons, and ought to have been an officer, only he was
not well formed.

He soon laid his head on his knapsack, and shortly after all were
asleep.  It was long after this when I was suddenly awakened by
footsteps and fumbling about the house outside.

I raised up on my elbow to listen, when somebody tried to open the
door.  I could not help screaming out.  "What's the matter?" said the

We could hear them running away, and Rabot turned on his knapsack

"Night birds,--rascals,--clear out, or I'll send a ball after you!"  He
said no more and I got up and looked out of the window, and saw the
wretches in the act of robbing the dead and wounded.  They were going
softly from one to another, while the rain was falling in torrents.  It
was something horrible.

I lay down again and fell asleep overcome by fatigue.

At daybreak the sergeant was up and crying, "En route!"

We left the cottage and went back through the lane.  The cuirassier was
on the ground, but his horse still stood beside him.  The sergeant took
him by the bridle and led him out into the orchard, pulled the bits
from his mouth and said:

"Go, and eat, they will find you again by and by."

And the poor beast walked quietly away.  We hurried along the path
which runs by Ligny.  The furrows stopped here and some plats of garden
ground lay along by the road.  The sergeant looked about him as he
went, and stooped down to dig up some carrots and turnips which were
left.  I quickly followed his example, while our comrades hastened on
without looking round.

I saw that it was a good thing to know the fruits of the earth.  I
found two beautiful turnips and some carrots, which are very good raw,
but I followed the example of the sergeant and put them in my shako.

I ran on to overtake the squad, which was directing its steps toward
the fires at Sombref.  As for the rest, I will not attempt to describe
to you the appearance of the plateau in the rear of Ligny where our
cuirassiers and dragoons had slaughtered all before them.  The men and
horses were lying in heaps.  The horses with their long necks stretched
out on the ground and the dead and wounded lying under them.

Sometimes the wounded men would raise their hands to make signs when
the horses would attempt to get up and fall back, crushing them still
more fearfully.

Blood! blood! everywhere.  The directions of the balls and shot was
marked on the slope by the red lines, just as we see in our country the
lines in the sand formed by the water from the melting snow.  But will
you believe it?  These horrors scarcely made any impression upon me.
Before I went to Lutzen such a sight would have knocked me down.  I
should have thought then, "Do our masters look upon us as brutes?  Will
the good God give us up to be eaten by wolves?  Have we mothers and
sisters and friends, beings who are dear to us, and will they not cry
out for vengeance?"

I should have thought of a thousand other things, but now I did not
think at all.  From having seen such a mass of slaughter and wrong
every day and in every fashion, I began to say to myself:

"The strongest are always right.  The Emperor is the strongest, and he
has called us, and we must come in spite of everything, from
Pfalzbourg, from Saverne, or other cities, and take our places in the
ranks and march.  The one who would show the least sign of resistance
ought to be shot at once.  The marshals, the generals, the officers,
down to the last man, follow their instructions, they dare not make a
move without orders, and everybody obeys the army.  It is the Emperor
who wills, who has the power and who does everything.  And would not
Joseph Bertha be a fool to believe that the Emperor ever committed a
single fault in his life?  Would it not be contrary to reason?"

That was what we all thought, and if the Emperor had remained here, all
France would have had the same opinion.

My only satisfaction was in thinking that I had some carrots and
turnips, for in passing in the rear of the pickets to find our place in
the battalion, we learned that no rations had been distributed except
brandy and cartridges.

The veterans were filling their kettles; but the conscripts, who had
not yet learned the art of living while on a campaign, and who had
unfortunately already eaten all their bread, as will happen when one is
twenty years old, and is on the march with a good appetite, they had
not a spoonful of anything.  At last about seven o'clock we reached the
camp.  Zébédé came to meet me and was delighted to see me, and said,
"What have you brought, Joseph?  We have found a fat kid and we have
some salt, but not a mouthful of bread."

I showed him the rice which I had left, and my turnips and carrots.

"That's good," said he, "we shall have the best soup in the battalion."

I wanted Buche to eat with us too, and the six men belonging to our
mess, who had all escaped with only bruises and scratches, consented.
Padoue, the drum-major, said, laughing, "Veterans are always veterans,
they never come empty-handed."

We looked into the kettles of the five conscripts, and winked, for they
had nothing but rice and water in them, while we had a good rich soup,
the odor of which filled the air around us.

At eight we took our breakfast with an appetite, as you can imagine.

Not even on my wedding-day did I eat a better meal, and it is a
pleasure even now to think of it.  When we are old we are not so
enthusiastic about such things as when we are young, but still we
always recall them with satisfaction.

This breakfast sustained us a long time, but the poor conscripts with
only a few crumbs as it were soaked in rain water, had a hard time next
day--the 18th.  We were to have a short but terrible campaign.

Though all is over now, yet I cannot think of those terrible sufferings
without emotion, or without thanking God that we escaped them.  The sun
shone again and the weather was fine,--we had hardly finished our
breakfast when the drums began to beat the assembly along the whole

The Prussian rear-guard had just left Sombref, and it was a question
whether we should pursue them.  Some said we ought to send out the
light-horse, to pick up the prisoners.  But no one paid any attention
to them,--the Emperor knew what he was doing.

But I remember that everybody was astonished notwithstanding, because
it is the custom to profit by victories.  The veterans had never seen
anything like it.  They thought that the Emperor was preparing some
grand stroke; that Ney had turned the enemy's line, and so forth.

Meanwhile the roll commenced and General Gérard reviewed the Fourth
corps.  Our battalion had suffered most, because in the three attacks
we had always been in the front.

The Commandant Gémeau and Captain Vidal were wounded, and Captains
Grégoire and Vignot killed, seven lieutenants and second lieutenants,
and three hundred and sixty men _hors de combat_.

Zébédé said that it was worse than at Montmirail, and that they would
finish us up completely before we got through.

Fortunately the fourth battalion arrived from Metz under Commandant
Délong and took our place in the line.

Captain Florentin ordered us to file off to the left, and we went back
to the village near the church, where a quantity of carts were

We were then distributed in squads to superintend the removal of the
wounded.  Several detachments of chasseurs were ordered to escort the
convoys to Fleurus as there was no room for them at Ligny; the church
was already filled with the poor fellows.  We did not select those to
be removed, the surgeons did that, as we could hardly distinguish in
numbers of cases, between the living and the dead.  We only laid them
on the straw in the carts.

I knew how all this was, for I was at Lutzen, and I understand what a
man suffers in recovering from a ball, or a musket-shot, or such a cut
as our cuirassiers made.

Every time I saw one of these men taken up, I thanked God that I was
not reduced to that condition, and, thinking that the same thing might
befall me, I said to myself: "You do not know how many balls and slugs
have been near you, or you would be horrified."  I was astonished that
so many of us had escaped in the carnage, which had been far greater
than at Lutzen or even at Leipzig.  The battle had only lasted five
hours, and the dead in many places were piled two or three feet deep.
The blood flowed from under them in streams.  Through the principal
street where the artillery went, the mud was red with blood, and the
mud itself was crushed flesh and bones.

It is necessary to tell you this, in order that the young men may
understand.  I shall fight no more, thank God, I am too old, but all
these young men who think of nothing but war, instead of being
industrious and helping their aged parents, should know how the
soldiers are treated.  Let them imagine what the poor fellows who have
done their duty think, as they lie in the street, wanting an arm or a
leg, and hear the cannon, weighing twelve or fifteen thousand pounds,
coming with their big well-shod horses, plunging and neighing.

Then it is that they will recall their old parents who embraced them in
their own village, while they went off saying:

"I am going, but I shall return with the cross of honor, and with my

Yes, indeed! if they could weep and ask God's pardon, we should hear
their cries and complaints, but there is no time for that; the cannon
and the caissons with their freight of bombs and bullets arrive--and
they can hear their own bones crack beforehand--and all pass right over
their bodies, just as they do through the mud.

When we are old, and think that such horrible things may happen to the
children we love, we feel as if we would part with the last sou before
we would allow them to go.

But all this does no good, bad men cannot be changed, while good ones
must do their duty, and if misfortune comes, their confidence in the
justice of God remains.  Such men do not destroy their fellows from the
love of glory, they are forced to do so, they have nothing with which
to reproach themselves, they defend their own lives and the blood which
is shed is not on their hands.

But I must finish my story of the battle and the removal of the wounded.

I saw sights there which are incredible; men killed in a moment of
fury, whose faces had not lost their horrible expression, still held
their muskets in their hands and stood upright against the walls, and
you could almost hear them cry, as they stared with glazed eyes, "To
the bayonet!  No quarter!"

It was with this thought and this cry that they appeared before God.
He was awaiting them, and He may have said to them, "Here am I.  Thou
killest thy brethren--thou givest no quarter?  None shall be given

I have seen others mortally wounded strangling each other.  At Fleurus
we were obliged to separate the French and the Prussians, because they
would rise from their beds, or their bundles of straw, to tear each
other to pieces.  Ah! war! those who wish for it, and those who make
men like ferocious beasts, will have a terrible account to settle above.


The removal of the wounded continued until night.  About noon shouts of
_Vive l'Empereur_ extended along the whole line of our bivouac from the
village of Bry to Sombref.  Napoleon had left Fleurus with his staff
and had passed in review the whole army on the plateau.  These shouts
continued for an hour, and then all was quiet and the army took up its

We waited a long time for the orders to follow, but as they did not
come, Captain Florentin went to see what was the matter, and came back
at full speed shouting, "Beat the assembly!"  The detachments of the
battalion joined each other and we passed through the village at a
quick step.

All had left, many other squads had received no orders, and in the
vicinity of St. Amand the streets were full of soldiers.

Several companies remained behind, and reached the road by crossing the
fields on the left, where we could see the rear of the column as far as
the eye could reach--caissons, wagons, and baggage of every sort.

I have often thought that we might have been left behind, as Gérard's
division was at St. Amand, and nobody could have blamed us, as we
followed our orders to pick up the wounded, but Captain Florentin would
have thought himself dishonored.

We hurried forward as fast as possible.  It had commenced to rain again
and we slipped in the mud and darkness.  I never saw worse weather, not
even at the retreat from Leipzig when we were in Germany.  The rain
came down as if from a watering pot, and we tramped on with our guns
under our arms with the cape of our cloaks over the locks, so wet that
if we had been through a river it could not have been worse; and such
mud!  With all this we began to feel the want of food.  Buche kept

"Well! a dozen big potatoes roasted in the ashes as we do at Harberg
would rejoice my eyes.  We don't eat meat every day at home, but we
always have potatoes."

I thought of our warm little room at Pfalzbourg, the table with its
white cloth, Father Goulden with his plate before him, while Catherine
served the rich hot soup and the smoked cutlets on the gridiron.  My
present sufferings and troubles overwhelmed me, and if wishing for
death only had been necessary to rid me of them, I should have long ago
been out of this world.

The night was dark, and if it had not been for the ruts, into which we
plunged to our knees at every step, we should have found it difficult
to keep the road; as it was, we had only to march in the mud to be sure
we were right.

Between seven and eight o'clock we heard in the distance something like
thunder.  Some said: "It is a thunder-storm!" others, "It is cannon!"

Great numbers of disbanded soldiers were following us.

At eight o'clock we reached Quatre-Bras.  There are two houses opposite
each other at the intersection of the road from Nivelles to Namur with
that from Brussels to Charleroi.  They were both full of wounded men.
It was here that Marshal Ney had given battle to the English, to
prevent them from going to the support of the Prussians along the road
by which we had just come.  He had but twenty thousand men against
forty thousand, and yet Nicholas Cloutier, the tanner, maintains to-day
even, that he ought to have sent half his troops to attack the Prussian
rear, as if it were not enough to stop the English.

To such people everything is easy, but if they were in command, it
would be easy to rout them with four men and a corporal.

Below us the barley and oat fields were full of dead men.  It was then
that I saw the first red-coats stretched out in the road.

The captain ordered us to halt, and he went into the house at the
right.  We waited for some time in the rain, when he came out with
Dauzelot, general of the division, who was laughing, because we had not
followed Grouchy toward Namur; the want of orders had compelled us to
turn off to Quatre-Bras.  Notwithstanding, we received orders to
continue our march without stopping.

I thought I should drop every moment from weakness, but it was worse
still when we overtook the baggage, for then we were obliged to march
on the sides of the road, and the farther from it we went the more
deeply we sank in the soft soil.

About eleven o'clock we reached a large village called Genappe, which
lies on both sides of the route.

The crowd of wagons, cannon, and baggage was so great that we were
forced to turn to the right and cross the Thy by a bridge, and from
this point we continued to march through the fields of grain and hemp,
like savages who respect nothing.  The night was so dark that the
mounted dragoons, who were placed at intervals of two hundred paces
like guide-posts, kept shouting, "This way, this way!"

About midnight we reached a sort of farm-house thatched with straw,
which was filled with superior officers.  It was not far from the main
road, as we could hear the cavalry and artillery and baggage wagons
rushing by like a torrent.

The captain had hardly got into the house, when we jumped over the
hedge into the garden.  I did like the rest, and snatched what I could.
Nearly the whole battalion followed this example in spite of the shouts
of the officers, and each one began digging up what he could find with
his bayonet.  In two minutes there was nothing left.  The sergeants and
corporals were with us, but when the captain returned we had all
regained our ranks.

Those who pillage and steal on a campaign ought to be shot; but what
could you do?  There was not a quarter enough food in the towns through
which we passed to supply such numbers.  The English had already taken
nearly everything.  We had a little rice left, but rice without meat is
not very strengthening.

The English troops received sheep and beeves from Brussels, they were
well fed and glowing with health.  We had come too late, the convoys of
supplies were belated, and the next day when the terrible battle of
Waterloo was fought the only ration we received was brandy.

We left the village, and on mounting a little elevation we perceived
the English pickets through the rain.  We were ordered to take a
position in the grain fields with several regiments which we could not
see, and not to light our fires for fear of alarming the English, if
they should discover us in line, and so induce them to continue their

Now just imagine us lying in the grain under a pouring rain like
regular gypsies, shivering with cold and bent on destroying our
fellows, and happy in having a turnip or a radish to keep up our
strength and tell me if that is the kind of life for honest people.  Is
it for that, that God has created us and put us in the world?  Is it
not abominable that a king or an emperor, instead of watching over the
affairs of the state, encouraging commerce, and instructing the people
in the principles of liberty and giving good examples, should reduce us
to such a condition as that by hundreds of thousands.  I know very well
that this is called glory, but the people are very stupid to glorify
such men as those.  Yes, indeed, they must have first lost all sense of
right, all heart, and all religion!

But all this did not prevent my teeth from chattering, or from seeing
the English in our front warming and enjoying themselves around their
good fires, after receiving their rations of beef, brandy, and tobacco.
And I thought, "It is we poor devils, drenched to our very marrow, who
are to be compelled to attack these fellows who are full of confidence,
and want neither cannon nor supplies, who sleep with their feet to the
fire, with their stomachs well lined, while we must lie here in the
mud."  I was indignant the whole night.  Buche would say:

"I do not care for the rain, I have been through many a worse one when
on the watch; but then I had at least a crust of bread and some onions
and salt."

I was quite absorbed with my own troubles and said nothing, but he was

The rain ceased between two and three in the morning.  Buche and I were
lying back to back in a furrow, in order to keep warm, and at last
overcome by fatigue I fell asleep.

When I woke about five in the morning, the church bells were ringing
matins over all that vast plain.

I shall never forget the scene; and as I looked at the gray sky, the
trampled grain, and my sleeping comrades on the right and left, my
heart sunk under the sense of desolation.  The sound of the bells as
they responded to each other from Planchenois to Genappe, from
Frichemont to Waterloo, reminded me of Pfalzbourg, and I thought:

"To-day is Sunday, the day of rest and peace.  Mr. Goulden has hung his
best coat, with a white shirt, on the back of his chair.  He is getting
up now and he is thinking of me; Catherine has risen too and is sitting
crying on the bed, and Aunt Grédel at Quatre Vents is pushing open the
shutters and she has taken her prayer-book from the shelf and is going
to mass."  I could hear the bells of Dann and Mittelbronn and Bigelberg
ring out in the silence.  I thought of that peaceful quiet life and was
ready to burst into tears.

The roll of the drums was heard through the damp air, and there was
something inauspicious and portentous in the sound.

Near the main road, on the left, they were beating the assembly, and
the bugles of the cavalry sounded the reveille.  The men rose and
looked over the grain.  Those three days of marching and fighting in
the bad weather without rations made them sober; there was no talking
as at Ligny, every one looked in silence and kept his thoughts to

We could see too, that the battle was to be a much more important
affair, for instead of having villages already occupied, which caused
so many separate battles, on our front, there was an immense elevated
naked plain on which the English were encamped.

Behind their lines at the top of the hill was the village of
Mont-St.-Jean, and a league and a half still farther away, was a forest
which bounded the horizon.

Between us and the English, the ground descended gently and rose again
nearest us, forming a little valley, but one must have been accustomed
to the country to perceive this; it was deepest on the right and
contracted like a ravine.  On the slope of this ravine on our side,
behind the hedges and poplars and other trees, some thatched roofs
indicated a hamlet; this was Planchenois.  In the same direction but
much higher, and in the rear of the enemy's left, the plain extended as
far as the eye could reach, and was scattered over with little villages.

The clear atmosphere after the storm enabled us to distinguish all this
very plainly.

We could even see the little village of Saint-Lambert three leagues
distant on our right.

At our left in the rear of the English right, there were other little
villages to be seen, of which I never knew the names.

We took in all this grand region covered with a magnificent crop just
in flower, at a glance; and we asked ourselves why the English were
there, and what advantage they had in guarding that position.  But when
we observed their line a little more closely--it was from fifteen
hundred to two thousand yards from us--we could see the broad,
well-paved road, which we had followed from Quatre-Bras and which led
to Brussels, dividing their position nearly in the centre.  It was
straight, and we could follow it with the eye to the village of
Mont-St.-Jean and beyond quite to the entrance of the forest of
Soignes.  This we saw the English intended to hold to prevent us from
going to Brussels.

On looking carefully we could see that their line of battle was curved
a little toward us at the wings, and that it followed a road which cut
the route to Brussels like a cross.  On the left it was a deep cut, and
on the right of the road it was bordered with thick hedges of holly and
dwarf beech which are common in that country.  Behind these were posted
mass of red-coats who watched us from their trenches.  In the front,
the slope was like a glacis.  This was very dangerous.

Immense bodies of cavalry were stationed on the flanks, which extended
nearly three-quarters of a league.

We saw that the cavalry on the plateau in the vicinity of the main road
after having passed the hill, descended before going to Mont-St.-Jean,
and we understood that there was a hollow between the position of the
English and that village; not very deep, as we could see the plumes of
the soldiers as they passed through, but still deep enough to shelter
heavy reserves from our bullets.

I had already seen Weissenfels, Lutzen, Leipzig, and Ligny, and I began
to understand what these things meant, and why they arranged themselves
in one way rather than another, and I thought that the manner in which
these English had laid their plans and stationed their forces on this
cross-road to defend the road to Brussels, and to shelter their
reserves, showed a vast deal of good sense.

But in spite of all that, three things seemed to me to be in our favor.
The position of the enemy with its covered ways and hidden reserves was
like a great fort.  Every one knows that in time of war everything is
demolished that can furnish a shelter to the enemy.

Well! just in their centre, on the high-road and on the slope of their
glacis, was a farm-house like the "Roulette" at Quatre Vents, but five
or six times larger.

I could see it plainly from where we stood.  It was a great square, the
offices, the house, the stables and barns formed a triangle on the side
toward the English, and on our side the other half was formed by a wall
and sheds, with a court in the centre.  The wall running along the
field side, had a small door, the other on the road had an entrance for
carriages and wagons.

It was built of brick and was very solid.  Of course the English had
filled it with troops like a sort of demilune, but if we could take it
we should be close to their centre and could throw our attacking
columns upon them, without remaining long under their fire.

Nothing could be better for us.  This place was called Haie-Sainte, as
we found out afterward.

A little farther on, in front of their right wing was another little
farmstead and grove, which we could also try to take.  I could not see
it from where I stood, but it was a stronger position than Haie-Sainte
as it was covered by an orchard, surrounded with walls, and farther on
was the wood.  The fire from the windows swept the garden, and that
from the garden covered the wood, and that from the wood the side-hill,
and the enemy could beat a retreat from one to the other.

I did not see this with my own eyes, but some veterans gave me an
account of the attack on this farm; it was called Hougoumont.

One must be exact in speaking of such a battle, the things seen with
one's own eyes are the principal, and we can say:

"I saw them, but the other accounts I had from men incapable of
falsehood or deception."

And lastly in front of their left wing on the road leading to Wavre,
about a hundred paces from the hill on our side, were the farms of
Papelotte and La Haye, occupied by the Germans, and the little hamlets
of Smohain, Cheval-de-Bois, and Jean-Loo, which I informed myself about
afterward in order to understand all that took place.  I could see
these hamlets plainly enough then, but I did not pay much attention to
them as they were beyond our line of battle on the right, and we did
not see any troops there.

Now you can all see the position of the English on our front, the road
to Brussels which traversed it, the cross-road which covered it, the
plateau in the rear where the reserves were, and the three farms,
Hougoumont, Haie-Sainte, and Papelotte in front, well garrisoned.  You
can all see that it would be very difficult to force.

I looked at it about six o'clock that morning very attentively, as a
man will do who is to run the risk of breaking his bones and losing his
life in some enterprise, and who at least likes to know if he has any
chance of escape.

Zébédé, Sergeant Rabot, and Captain Florentin, Buche, and indeed every
one as he rose cast a glance at that hill-side without saying a word.
Then they looked around them at the great squares of infantry, the
squadrons of cuirassiers, of dragoons, chasseurs, lancers, etc.,
encamped amid the growing grain.

Nobody had any fears now that the English would beat a retreat, we
lighted as many fires as we pleased, and the smoke from the damp straw
filled the air.  Those who had a little rice left, put on their
camp-kettles, while those who had none looked on thinking:

"Each has his turn; yesterday we had meat, and we despised the rice,
now we should be very grateful for even that."

About eight o'clock the wagons arrived with cartridges and hogsheads of
brandy; each soldier received a double ration: with a crust of bread we
might have done very well, but the bread was not there.  You can
imagine what sort of humor we were in.

This was all we had that day: immediately after, the grand movements
commenced.  Regiments joined their brigades, brigades their divisions,
and the divisions re-formed their corps.  Officers on horseback carried
orders back and forth, everything was in motion.

Our battalion joined Donzelot's division; the others had only eight
battalions, but his had nine.

I have often heard the veterans repeat the order of battle given by
Napoleon.  The corps of Reille was on the left of the road opposite
Hougoumont, that of d'Erlon, at the right, opposite Haie-Sainte; Ney on
horseback on the highway, and Napoleon in the rear with the Old Guard,
the special detachments, the lancers and chasseurs, etc.  That was all
that I understood, for when they began to talk of the movements of
eleven columns, of the distance which they deployed, and when they
named the generals one after another, it seemed to me as if they were
talking of something which I had never seen.

I like better therefore to tell you simply what I saw and remember

The first movement was at half-past eight, when our four divisions
received the order to take the advance to the right of the highway.
There were about fifteen or twenty thousand men marching in two
columns, with arms at will, sinking to our knees at every step in the
soft ground.  Nobody spoke a word.

Several persons have related that we were jubilant and were all
singing; but it is false.  Marching all night without rations, sleeping
in the water, forbidden to light a fire, when preparing for showers of
grape and canister, all this took away any inclination to sing, we were
glad to pull our shoes out of the holes in which they were buried at
every step, and chilled and drenched to our waists by the wet grain,
the hardiest and most courageous among us wore a discontented air.  It
is true that the bands played marches for their regiments, that the
trumpets of the cavalry, the drums of the infantry, and the trombones
mingled their tones and produced a terrible effect, as they do always.

It is also true that these thousands of men marched briskly and in good
order, with their knapsacks at their backs, and their muskets on their
shoulders, the white lines of the cuirassiers followed the red, brown,
and green of the dragoons, hussars, and lancers, with their little
swallow-tailed pennons filling the air; the artillerymen in the
intervals between the brigades, on horseback around their guns, which
cut through the ground to their axles,--all these moved straight
through the grain, not a head of which remained standing behind them,
and truly there could not be a sight more dreadful.

The English drawn up in perfect order in front, their gunners ready
with their lighted matches in their hands, made us think, but did not
delight us quite so much as some have pretended, and men who like to
receive cannon-balls are still rather rare.

Father Goulden told me that the soldiers sang in his time, but then
they went voluntarily and not from force.  They fought in defence of
their homes and for human rights, which they loved better than their
own eyes, and it was not at all like risking our lives to find out
whether we were to have an old or a new nobility.  As for me, I never
heard any one sing either at Leipzig or Waterloo.

On we went, the bands still playing by order from head-quarters.

The music ceased, and the silence which followed was profound.  Then we
were at the edge of the little valley, and about twelve hundred paces
from the English left.  We were in the centre of our army, with the
chasseurs and lancers on our right flank.

We took our distances and closed up the intervals.  The first brigade
of the first division turned to the left and formed on the highway.
Our battalion formed a part of the second division, and we were in the
first line, with a single brigade of the first division before us.  The
artillery was passed up to the front, and that of the English was
directly opposite and on the same level.  And for a long time the other
divisions were moving up to support us.  It seemed as if the earth
itself was in motion.  The veterans would say: "There are Milhaud's
cuirassiers!  Here are the chasseurs of Lefebvre-Desnoëttes!  Yonder is
Lobau's corps!"

On every side, as far as the eye could reach, there was nothing to be
seen but cuirasses, helmets, colbacks,[1] sabres, lances, and files of

[1] Military caps of bear-skin.

"What a battle," exclaimed Buche.  "Woe to the English!"

I had the same thought; I did not believe a single Englishman would
escape.  But it was we who were unfortunate that day, though had it not
been for the Prussians I still believe we should have exterminated them.

During the two hours we stood there, we did not see the half of our
regiments and squadrons, and new ones were continually coming.  About
an hour after we took our position we heard suddenly on the left,
shouts of "Vive l'Empereur," they increased as they approached us like
a tempest; we all stood on our tiptoes and stretched our necks to see;
they spread through all the ranks, and even the horses in the rear
neighed as if they would shout too.  At that moment a troop of general
officers whirled along our front like the wind.  Napoleon was among
them, and I thought I saw him, though I was not certain, he went so
swiftly, and so many men raised their shakos on the points of their
bayonets that I hardly had time to distinguish his round shoulders and
gray coat in the midst of the laced uniforms.  When the captain had
shouted, "Carry arms! present arms!" it was over.

We saw him in this way every day, at least when we were on guard.

After he had passed, the shouts continued along our right farther and
farther away, and we all thought the battle would begin in twenty

But we were obliged to wait a long time and we grew impatient.  The
conscripts in d'Erlon's corps, who were not in battle the day before,
began to shout "Forward!"  At last, about noon, the cannon thundered on
the left and were followed by the fire from the battalion and then the
file.  We could see nothing, for it was on the other side of the road.
The attack had commenced on Hougoumont.  Immediately shouts of "Vive
l'Empereur!" broke out.  The cannoneers of our four divisions were
standing the whole length of the hill-side, at twenty paces from each
other.  At the discharge of the first gun, they all commenced to load
at once.  I see them still, as they put in the charge, ram it home,
raise up, and shake out their matches as by a single movement.  This
made us shiver.  The captains of the guns, nearly all old officers,
stood behind their pieces and gave orders as if on parade; and when the
whole twenty-four guns went off together, the report was deafening, and
the whole valley was covered with smoke.

At the end of a second, we heard the calm voices of these veterans
above the whistling in our ears saying "Load! take aim! fire!"  And
that continued without interruption for half an hour.  We could see
nothing at all, but the English had opened their fire, and we heard
their bullets scream in the air and strike with a dull sound in the
mud; and then we could hear another sound too, that of the muskets
striking against each other, and the sound of the bodies of wounded men
as they were thrown like boneless sacks twenty paces in the rear, or
sank in a heap with a leg or an arm wanting.  All this mingled with the
dull rumbling; the destruction had commenced.

The groans of the wounded mingled also with these sounds, and with the
fierce terrible neighing of the horses, which are naturally ferocious,
and delight in slaughter.  We could hear this tumult half a league in
the rear; and it was with great difficulty the animals could be
restrained from setting off to join in the battle.

For a long time we had been able to see nothing but the shadows of the
gunners as they manoeuvred in the smoke, on the border of the ravine,
when we heard the order, "Cease firing!"  At the same moment we heard
the piercing voices of the colonels of our four divisions shout, "Close
up the ranks for battle!"  All the lines approached each other.

"Now it is our turn," said I to Buche.

"Yes," he replied, "let us keep together."

The smoke from our guns rose up into the air, and then we could see the
batteries of the English, who still continued their fire all along the
hedges which bordered the road.

The first brigade of Alix's division advanced at a quick step along the
road leading to Haie-Sainte.  In the rear I recognized Marshal Ney with
several of the officers of his staff.

From every window of the farm-house, and from the garden, and walls
which had been pierced with holes, came fiery showers, and at every
step men were left stretched on the road.  General Ney on horseback
with the corners of his great hat pointing over his shoulders, watched
the action from the middle of the road.  I said to Buche:

"That is Marshal Ney, the second brigade will go to support the first,
and we shall come next."

But I mistook; at that very moment the first battalion of the second
brigade received orders to march in line on the right of the highway,
the second in the rear of the first, the third behind the second, and
the fourth following in file.

We had not time to form in column, but we were solidly arrayed after
all, one behind the other, from one hundred and fifty to two hundred
men in line in front, the captains between the companies, and the
commandants between the battalions.  But the balls instead of carrying
off two men at a time would now take eight.  Those in the rear could
not fire because those in front were in the way and we found too that
we could not form in squares.  That should have been thought of
beforehand, but was overlooked in the desire to break the enemy's line
and gain all at a blow.

Our division marched in the same order: as the first battalion
advanced, the second followed immediately in their steps, and so on
with all the rest.  I was pleased to see, that, commencing on the left,
we should be in the twenty-fifth rank, and that there must be terrible
slaughter before we should be reached.

The two divisions on our right were also formed in close column, at
three hundred paces from each other.

Thus we descended into the little valley, in the face of the English
fire.  We were somewhat delayed by the soft ground, but we all shouted,
"To the bayonet!"

As we mounted on the other side, we were met by a hail of balls from
above the road at the left.  If we had not been so crowded together,
this terrible volley would have checked us.  The charge sounded and the
officers shouted, "Steady on the left!"

But this terrible fire made us lengthen our right step more than our
left, in spite of ourselves, so that when we neared the road bordered
by the hedges, we had lost our distances and our division formed a
square, so to speak, with the third.

Two batteries now swept our ranks, and the shot from the hedges a
hundred feet distant pierced us through and through; a cry of horror
burst forth and we rushed on the batteries, overpowering the redcoats
who vainly endeavored to stop us.

It was then that I first saw the English close at hand.  They were
strong, fair, and closely shaved, like well-to-do bourgeois.  They
defended themselves bravely, but we were as good as they.  It was not
our fault--the common soldiers--if they did defeat us at last, all the
world knows that we showed as much and more courage than they did.

It has been said that we were not the soldiers of Austerlitz and Jena,
of Friedland and of Moskowa.  It was because they were so good,
perhaps, that they were spared.  We would have asked nothing better,
than to have seen them in our place.

Every shot of the English told, and we were forced to break our ranks.
Men are not palisades, and must defend themselves when attacked.

Great numbers were detached from their companies, when thousands of
Englishmen rose up from among the barley and fired, their muskets
almost touching our men, which caused a terrible slaughter.  The other
ranks rushed to the support of their comrades, and we should all have
been dispersed over the hill-side like a swarm of ants, if we had not
heard the shout, "Attention, the cavalry!"

Almost at the same instant, a crowd of red dragoons mounted on gray
horses, swept down upon us like the wind, and those who had straggled
were cut to pieces without mercy.

They did not fall upon our columns in order to break them, they were
too deep and massive for that; but they came down between the
divisions, slashing right and left with their sabres, and spurring
their horses into the flanks of the columns to cut them in two, and
though they could not succeed in this, they killed great numbers and
threw us into confusion.

It was one of the most terrible moments of my life.  As an old soldier
I was at the right of the battalion, and saw what they were intending
to do.  They leaned over as far as possible when they passed, in order
to cut into our ranks; their strokes followed each other like
lightning, and more than twenty times I thought my head was off my
shoulders, but Sergeant Rabot closed the file fortunately for me; it
was he who received this terrible shower of blows, and he defended
himself to the last breath.  At every stroke he shouted, "Cowards,

His blood sprinkled me like rain, and at last he fell.  My musket was
still loaded, and seeing one of the dragoons coming with his eye fixed
on me and bending over to give me a thrust, I let him have it full in
the breast.  This was the only man I ever saw fall under my fire.

The worst was, that at that moment their foot-soldiers rallied and
recommenced their fire, and they even were so bold as to attack us with
the bayonet.  Only the first two ranks made a stand.  It was shameful
to form our men in that manner.

Then the red dragoons and our columns rushed pell-mell down the hill

And still our division made the best defence, for we brought off our
colors, while the two others had lost two eagles.

We rushed down in this fashion through the mud and over the cannon,
which had been brought down to support us, and had been cut loose from
the horses by the sabres of the dragoons.

We scattered in every direction, Buche and I always keeping together,
and it was ten minutes before we could be rallied again near the road
in squads from all the regiments.

Those who have the direction of affairs in war should keep such
examples as these before their eyes, and reflect that new plans cost
those dear who are forced to try them.

We looked over our shoulders as we took breath, and saw the red
dragoons rushing up the hill to capture our principal battery of
twenty-four guns, when, thank God! their turn came to be massacred.

The Emperor had observed our retreat from a distance, and as the
dragoons mounted the hill, two regiments of cuirassiers on the right,
and a regiment of lancers on the left fell on their flanks like
lightning, and before they had time to look, they were upon them.  We
could hear the blows slide over their cuirasses, hear their horses
puff, and a hundred paces away we could see the lances rise and fall,
the long sabres stretch out, and the men bend down to thrust under; the
furious horses, rearing, biting, and neighing frightfully, and then men
under the horses' feet were trying to get up, and sheltering themselves
with their hands.

What horrible things are battles!  Buche shouted, "Strike hard!"

I felt the sweat run down my forehead, and others with great gashes,
and their eyes full of blood, were wiping their faces and laughing

In ten minutes, seven hundred dragoons were _hors-de-combat_; their
gray horses were running wildly about on all sides, with their bits in
their teeth.  Some hundreds of them had retired behind their batteries,
but more than one was reeling in his saddle and clutching at his
horse's mane.

They had found out that to attack was not all the battle, and that very
often circumstances arise which are quite unexpected.

In all that frightful spectacle, what impressed me most deeply, was
seeing our cuirassiers returning with their sabres red to the hilt,
laughing among themselves; and a fat captain with immense brown
mustaches, winked good-humoredly as he passed by us, as much as to say,
"You see we sent them back in a hurry, eh!"

Yes, but three thousand of our men were left in that little hollow.
And it was not yet finished: the companies and battalions and brigades
were being re-formed, the musketry rattled in the vicinity of
Haie-Sainte, and the cannon thundered near Hougoumont.  "It was only
just a beginning," the officers said.  You would have thought that
men's lives were of no value!

But it was necessary to get possession of Haie-Sainte, and to force a
passage from the highway to the enemy's centre just as an entrance must
be effected into a fortification through the fire of the outworks and
the demilunes.  We had been repulsed the first time, but the battle was
begun, and we could not go back.  After the charge of the cuirassiers,
it took a little time for us to re-form: the battle continued at
Hougoumont, and the cannonade re-opened on our right, and two batteries
had been brought up to sweep the highway in the rear of Haie-Sainte,
where the road begins to mount the hill.  We all saw that that was to
be the point of attack.

We stood waiting with shouldered arms, when about three o'clock Buche
looked behind him on the road and said, "The Emperor is coming!"

And others in the ranks repeated, "Here is the Emperor."

The smoke was so thick that we could barely see the bear-skin caps of
the Old Guard on the little hill of Rossomme.  I turned round also to
see the Emperor, and immediately recognized Marshal Ney, with five or
six of his staff officers.  He was coming from head-quarters and pushed
straight down upon us across the fields.  We stood with our backs to
him; our officers hurried to meet him, and they conversed together, but
we could not hear a word in consequence of the noise which filled our

The marshal then rode along the front of our two battalions, with his
sword drawn.  I had never seen him so near since the grand review at
Aschaffenbourg; he seemed older, thinner, and more bony, but still the
same man; he looked at us with his sharp gray eyes, as if he took us
all in at a glance, and each one felt, as if he were looking directly
at him.

At the end of a second he pointed toward Haie-Sainte with his sword,
and exclaimed:

"We are going to take _that_, you will have the whole at once, it is
the turning-point of the battle.  I am going to lead you myself.
Battalions by file to the left!"

We started at a quick step on the road, marching by companies in three
ranks.  I was in the second.  Marshal Ney was in front, on horseback,
with the two colonels and Captain Florentin: he had returned his sword
to the scabbard.  The balls whistled round our ears by hundreds, and
the roar of cannon from Hougoumont and on our left and right in the
rear was so incessant, that it was like the ringing of an immense bell,
when you no longer hear the strokes, but only the booming.  One and
another sank down from among us, but we passed right on over them.

Two or three times the marshal turned round to see if we were marching
in good order; he looked so calm, that it seemed to me quite natural
not to be afraid, his face inspired us all with confidence, and each
one thought, "Ney is with us, the others are lost!" which only shows
the stupidity of the human race, since so many others besides us

As we approached the buildings the report of the musketry became more
distinct from the roar of cannon, and we could better see the flash of
the guns from the windows, and the great black roof above in the smoke,
and the road blocked up with stones.

We went along by a hedge, behind which crackled the fire of our
skirmishers, for the first brigade of Alix's division had not quitted
the orchards; and on seeing us filing along the road, they commenced to
shout, "Vive l'Empereur."

The whole fire of the German musketry was then turned on us, when
Marshal Ney drew his sword and shouted in a voice which reached every
ear, "Forward!"

He disappeared in the smoke with two or three officers, and we all
started on a run, our cartridge-boxes dangling about our hips, and our
muskets at the "ready."

Far to the rear they were beating the charge; we did not see the
marshal again till we reached a shed which separated the garden from
the road, when we discovered him on horseback before the main entrance.

It appeared that they had already tried to force the door, as there was
a heap of dead men, timbers, paving stones, and rubbish piled up before
it, reaching to the middle of the road.  The shot poured from every
opening in the building, and the air was heavy with the smell of the

"Break that in," shouted the marshal.  Fifteen or twenty of us dropped
our muskets, and seizing beams we drove them against the door with such
force, that it cracked and echoed back the blows like thunder.  You
would have thought it would drop at every stroke; we could see through
the planks the paving stones heaped as high as the top inside.  It was
full of holes, and when it fell it might have crushed us, but fury had
rendered us blind to danger.  We no longer had any resemblance to men,
some had lost their shakos, others had their clothes nearly torn off;
the blood ran from their fingers and down their sides, and at every
discharge of musketry the shot from the hill struck the paving stones,
pounding them to dust around us.

I looked about me, but I could not see either Buche or Zébédé or any
others of our company, the marshal had disappeared also.  Our rage
redoubled; and as the timbers went back and forth, we grew furious to
find that the door would not come down, when suddenly we heard shouts
of "Vive l'Empereur" from the court, accompanied with a most horrible
uproar.  Every one knew that our troops had gained an entrance into the
enclosure.  We dropped the timbers, and seizing our guns we sprang
through the breaches into the garden to find where the others had
entered.  It was in the rear of the house through a door opening into
the barn.  We rushed through one after the other like a pack of wolves.

The interior of this old structure, with its lofts full of hay and
straw, and its stables covered with thatch, looked like a bloody nest
which had been attacked by a sparrow-hawk.

On a great dung-heap in the middle of the court, our men were
bayoneting the Germans who were yelling and swearing savagely.

I was running hap-hazard through this butchery, when I heard some one
call, "Joseph, Joseph!"  I looked round, thinking, "That is Buche
calling me."  In a moment I saw him at the door of a woodshed, crossing
bayonets with five or six of our men.

I caught sight of Zébédé at that same instant, as our company was in
that corner, and rushing to Buche's assistance, I shouted, "Zébédé!"
Parting the combatants, I asked Buche what was the matter.

"They want to murder my prisoners!" said he.  I joined him, and the
others began to load their muskets to shoot us.  They were voltigeurs
from another battalion.

At that moment Zébédé came up with several men from our company, and
without knowing how the matter stood, he seized the most brutal one by
the throat and exclaimed, "My name is Zébédé, sergeant of the Sixth
light infantry.  When this affair is settled, we will have a mutual

Then they went away, and Zébédé asked:

"What is all this, Joseph?"

I told him we had some prisoners.  He turned pale with anger against
us, but when he went into the wood-shed he saw an old major, who
presented him the guard of his sabre in silence, and another soldier,
who said in German, "Spare my life, Frenchman; don't take my life."

The cries of the dying still filled the court, and his heart relenting,
Zébédé said, "Very well, I take you prisoners."

He went out and shut the door.  We did not quit the place again until
the assembly began to beat.

Then, when the men were in their ranks, Zébédé notified Captain
Florentin that we had taken a major and a soldier prisoners.

They were brought out and marched across the court without arms, and
put in a room with three or four others.  These were all that remained
of the two battalions of Nassau troops which were intrusted with the
defence of Haie-Sainte.

While this had been going on, two other battalions from Nassau, who
were coming to the assistance of their comrades, had been massacred
outside by our cuirassiers, so that for the moment we were victorious:
we were masters of the principal outpost of the English and could begin
our attack on their centre, cut their communication by the highway with
Brussels, and throw them into the miserable roads of the forest of
Soignes.  We had had a hard struggle, but the principal part of the
battle had been fought.  We were two hundred paces from the English
lines, well sheltered from their fire; and I believe, without boasting,
that with the bayonet and well supported by the cavalry, we could have
fallen upon them, and pierced their line.  An hour of good work would
have finished the affair.

But while we were all rejoicing over our success, and the officers,
soldiers, drummers, and trumpeters were all in confusion, amongst the
ruins, thinking of nothing but stretching our legs and getting breath,
the rumor suddenly reached us that the Prussians were coming, that they
were going to fall on our flank, and that we were about to have two
battles, one in front and the other on our right, and that we ran the
risk of being surrounded by a force double our own.

This was terrible news, but several hot-headed fellows exclaimed:

"So much the better, let the Prussians come! we will crush them all at

Those who were cool saw at once what a mistake we had made by not
making the most of our victory at Ligny, and in allowing the Prussians
quietly to leave in the night without being pursued by our cavalry, as
is always done.

We may boldly say that this great fault was the cause of our defeat at
Waterloo.  It is true, the Emperor sent Marshal Grouchy the next day at
noon, with thirty-two thousand men to look after the enemy, but then it
was quite too late.  In those fifteen hours they had time to re-form,
to communicate with the English, and to act on the defensive.

The next day after Ligny, the Prussians still had ninety thousand men,
of whom thirty thousand were fresh troops, and two hundred and
seventy-five cannon.  With such an army they could do what they
pleased; they could have even fought a second battle with the Emperor,
but they preferred falling on our flank, while we were engaged with the
English in front.  That is so plain and clear, that I cannot imagine
how any one can think the movement of the Prussians surprising.

Blücher had already played us the same trick at Leipzig--and he
repeated it now in drawing Grouchy on to pursue him so far.  Grouchy
could not force him to return, and he could not prevent him from
leaving thirty or forty thousand men to stop his pursuers, while he
pushed on to the relief of Wellington.

Our only hope was that Grouchy had been ordered to return and join us,
and that he would come up in the rear of the Prussians; but the Emperor
sent no such order.

It was not we, the common soldiers, as you may well think, who had
these ideas; it was the officers and generals; we knew nothing of it;
we were like children, utterly unconscious that their hour is near.

But now having told you what I think, I will give you the history of
the rest of the battle just as I saw it myself, so that each one of you
will know as much about it as I do.


Almost immediately after the news of the arrival of the Prussians, the
assembly began to beat, the soldiers of the different battalions formed
their ranks, and ours, with another from Quiot's brigade, was left to
guard Haie-Sainte, and all the others went on to join General d'Erlon's
corps, which had advanced again into the valley, and was endeavoring to
flank the enemy on the left.

The two battalions went to work at once to barricade the doors and the
breaches in the walls with timbers and paving stones, and men were
stationed in ambush at all the holes which the enemy had made in the
wall on the side toward the orchard and on that next the highway.

Buche and I, with the remainder of our company, were posted over a
stable in a corner of the barn, about ten or twelve hundred paces from
Hougoumont.  I can still see the row of holes which the Germans had
knocked in the wall, about as high as a man's head, in order to defend
the orchard.  As we went up into this stable, we looked through these
holes, and we could see our line of battle, the high-road to Brussels
and Charleroi, the little farms of Belle-Alliance, Rossomme, and
Gros-Caillou, which lie along this road at little distances from each
other; the Old Guard which was stationed across it, with their
shouldered arms, and the staff on a little eminence at the left, and
farther away in the same direction, in the rear of the ravine of
Planchenois, we could see the white smoke rising continually above the
trees.  This was the attack of the first Prussian corps.

We heard afterward that the Emperor had sent Lobau with ten thousand
men to turn them back.  The battle had begun, but the Old and the Young
Guard, the cuirassiers of Milhaud and of Kellerman, and the chasseurs
of Lefebvre-Desnoëttes; in fact the whole of our magnificent cavalry
remained in position.  The great, the real battle was with the English.

What a crowd of thoughts must have been suggested, by that grand
spectacle and that immense plain, to the Emperor, who could see it all
mentally better than we could with our own eyes.

We might have stayed there for hours, if Captain Florentin had not come
up suddenly, and exclaimed, "What are you doing here?  Are we going to
dispute the passage with the Guard?  Come! hurry!  Knock a hole in that
wall on the side toward the enemy!"

We picked up the sledges and pickaxes which the Germans had dropped on
the floor, and made holes through the wall of the gable.

This did not take fifteen minutes, and then we could see the fight at
Hougoumont; the blazing buildings, the bursting of the bombs from
second to second among the ruins, and the Scotch chasseurs in ambuscade
in the road in the rear of the place, and on our right about two
gunshots distant, the first line of the English artillery, falling back
on their centre, and stationing their cannon, which our gunners had
begun to dismount, higher up the hill.  But the remainder of their line
did not change; they had squares of red and squares of black touching
each other at the corners like the squares of a chess-board, in the
rear of the deep road; and in attacking them we would come under their
crossfire.  Their artillery was in position on the brow of the hill,
and in the hollow on the hill-side toward Mont-St.-Jean their cavalry
was waiting.

The position of the English seemed to me still stronger than it was in
the morning; and as we had already failed in our attack on their left
wing, and the Prussians had fallen on our flank, the idea occurred to
me, for the first time, that we were not sure of gaining the battle.

I imagined the horrible rout that would follow in case we lost the
battle--shut in between two armies, one in front and the other on our
flank, and then the invasion which would follow; the forced
contributions, the towns besieged, the return of the émigrés, and the
reign of vengeance.

I felt that my apprehension had made me grow pale.

At that moment the shouts of "_Vive l'Empereur_" broke from thousands
of throats behind us.  Buche, who stood near me in a corner of the
loft, shouted with all the rest of his comrades, "_Vive l'Empereur!_"

I leaned over his shoulder and saw all the cavalry of our right wing;
the cuirassiers of Milhaud, the lancers and the chasseurs of the Guard,
more than five thousand men--advancing at a trot.  They crossed the
road obliquely and went down into the valley between Hougoumont and
Haie-Sainte.  I saw that they were going to attack the squares of the
English, and that our fate was to be decided.

We could hear the voices of the English artillery officers, giving
their orders, above the tumult and the innumerable shouts of "_Vive

It was a terrible moment when our cuirassiers crossed the valley; it
made me think of a torrent formed by the melting snows, when millions
of flakes of snow and ice sparkle in the sunshine.  The horses, with
the great blue portmanteaux fastened to their croups, stretched their
haunches like deer and tore up the earth with their feet, the trumpets
blew their savage blasts amidst the dull roar as they passed into the
valley, and the first discharge of grape and canister made even our old
shed tremble.  The wind blew from the direction of Hougoumont, and
drove the smoke through all the openings; we leaned out to breathe, and
the second and third discharges followed each other instantly.

I could see through the smoke that the English, gunners had abandoned
their cannon and were running away with their horses, and that our
cuirassiers had immediately fallen upon the squares, which were marked
out on the hill-side by the zig-zag line of their fire.

Nothing could be heard but a grand uproar of cries, incessant clashing
of arms and neighing of horses, varied with the discharge from time to
time, and then new shouts, new tumult and fresh groans.  A score of
horses with their manes erect, rushed through the thick smoke which
settled around us, like shadows; some of them dragging their riders
with one foot caught in the stirrup.

And this lasted more than an hour.

After Milhaud's cuirassiers, came the lancers of Lefebvre-Desnoëttes,
after them the cuirassiers of Kellerman, followed by the grenadiers of
the Guard, and after the grenadiers came the dragoons.  They all
mounted the hill at a trot, and rushed upon the squares with drawn
sabres, shouting, "_Vive l'Empereur!_" in tones which reached the
clouds.  At each new charge it seemed as if the squares must be
overthrown; but when the trumpets sounded the signal for rallying and
the squadrons rushed pell-mell back to the edge of the plateau to
re-form, pursued by the showers of shot, there were the great red
lines, steadfast as walls, in the smoke.

Those Englishmen are good soldiers, but then they knew that Blücher was
coming to their assistance with sixty thousand men, and no doubt this
inspired them with great courage.

In spite of everything, at six o'clock we had destroyed half their
squares, but the horses of our cuirassiers were exhausted by twenty
charges over the ground soaked with rain.  They could no longer advance
over the heaps of dead.

As night approached, the great battle-field in our rear began to be
deserted; at last the great plain where we had encamped the night
before was tenantless, only the Old Guard remained across the road with
shouldered arms, all had gone--on the right against the Prussians, on
the left against the English.  We looked at each other in terror.

It was already growing dark, when Captain Florentin appeared at the top
of the ladder, and placing both hands on the floor, he said in a grave
voice, "Men, the time has come to conquer or die!"

I remembered that these words were in the proclamation of the Emperor,
and we all filed down the ladder.  It was still twilight, but all was
gray in the devastated court; the dead were lying stiff on the
dung-heap and along the walls.

The captain formed our men on the right side of the court, and the
commandant of the other battalion ranged his on the left; our drums
resounded through the old building for the last time, and we filed out
of the little rear door into the garden, stooping one after the other
as we went through.

The walls of the garden outside had been knocked down, and all along
the rubbish, men were binding up their wounds--one his head, another
his arm or his leg.  A cantinière with her donkey and cart, and with a
great straw hat flattened on her back--was there too in a corner.  I do
not know what had brought the wretched creature there.  Several
sorry-looking horses were standing there, exhausted with fatigue, with
their heads hanging down, and covered with blood and mud.

What a difference between them now, and in the morning.  Then the
companies were half destroyed, but still they were companies.
Confusion was coming.  It had taken only three hours to reduce us to
the same condition we were in at Leipzig at the end of a year.  The
remains of the two battalions still formed only one line, in good
order, and I must admit that we began to be anxious.

When men have tasted nothing for twenty-four hours, and have exhausted
all their strength by fighting all day, the pangs of hunger seize them
at night, fear comes also, and the most courageous lose hope.  All our
great retreats, with their horrors, are traceable to the want of food.

For in spite of everything we were not conquered; the cuirassiers still
held their position on the plateau, and from all sides over the thunder
of cannon, over all the tumult, the cry was heard, "The Guard is
coming!"  Yes, the Guard was coming at last!  We could see them in the
distance on the highway, with their high bear-skin caps, advancing in
good order.

Those who have never witnessed the arrival of the Guard on the
battle-field, can never know the confidence which is inspired by a body
of tried soldiers; the kind of respect paid to courage and force.

The soldiers of the Old Guard were nearly all old peasants, born before
the Republic; men five feet and six inches in height, thin and well
built, who had held the plough for convent and chateau; afterward they
were levied with all the rest of the people, and went to Germany,
Holland, Italy, Egypt, Poland, Spain, and Russia, under Kleber, Hoche,
and Marceau first, and under Napoleon afterward.  He took special care
of them and paid them liberally.  They regarded themselves as the
proprietors of an immense farm, which they must defend and enlarge more
and more.  This gained them consideration; they were defending their
own property.  They no longer knew parents, relatives, or compatriots;
they only knew the Emperor; he was their God.  And lastly they had
adopted the King of Rome, who was to inherit all with them, and to
support and honor them in their old age.  Nothing like them was ever
seen, they were so accustomed to march, to dress their lines, to load,
and fire, and cross bayonets, that it was done mechanically in a
measure, whenever there was a necessity.  When they advanced, carrying
arms, with their great caps, their white waistcoats and gaiters, they
all looked just alike; you could plainly see that it was the right arm
of the Emperor which was coming.  When it was said in the ranks, "The
Guard is going to move," it was as if they had said, "The battle is

But now, after this terrible massacre, after the repulse of these
furious attacks, on seeing the Prussians fall on our flank, we said,
"This is the decisive blow."

And we thought, "If it fails, all is lost."

This was why we all looked at the Guard as they marched steadily up on
the road.

It was Ney who commanded them, as he had commanded the cuirassiers.
The Emperor knew that nobody could lead them like Ney, only he should
have ordered them up an hour sooner, when our cuirassiers were in the
squares; then we should have gained all.

But the Emperor looked upon his Guard as upon his own flesh and blood;
if he had had them at Paris five days later, Lafayette and the rest of
them would not have remained long in their chamber to depose him, but
he had them no longer.

This was why he waited so long before sending them; he hoped that Ney
would succeed in overwhelming the enemy with the cavalry, or that the
thirty-two thousand men under Grouchy would return, attracted by the
sound of the cannon, and then he could send them in place of his Guard;
because he could always replace thirty or forty thousand by
conscription; but to have another such Guard, he must commence at
twenty-five, and gain fifty victories, and what remained of the best,
most solid, and the toughest would be _the Guard_.

It came, and we could see it.  Ney, old Friant, and several other
generals, marched in front.  We could see nothing but _the Guard_--the
roaring cannon, the musketry, the cries of the wounded, all were

But the lull did not last long; the English perceived as well as we,
that this was to be the decisive blow, and hastened to rally all their
forces to receive it.

That part of our field at our left was nearly deserted; there was no
more firing, either because their ammunition was exhausted, or the
enemy were forming in a new order.

On the right, on the contrary, the cannonade was redoubled; the
struggle seemed to have been transferred to that side, but nobody dared
to say, "The Prussians are attacking us; another army has come to crush

No! the very idea was too horrible; when suddenly a staff officer
rushed past like lightning, shouting:

"Grouchy, Marshal Grouchy is coming!"

This was just at the moment when the four battalions of the Guard took
the left of the highway in order to go up in the rear of the orchard,
and commence the attack.

How many times during the last fifty years I have seen it over again at
night, and how many times I have heard the story related by others.  In
listening to these accounts you would think that only the Guard took
part in the attack, that it moved forward like ranks of palisades; and
that it was the Guard alone which received the showers of shot.

But in truth this terrible attack took place in the greatest confusion;
our whole army joined in it; all the remnant of the left wing and
centre, all that was left of the cavalry exhausted by six hours of
fighting; every one who could stand or lift an arm.  The infantry of
Reille which concentrated on the left, we who remained at Haie-Sainte,
_all_ who were alive and did not wish to be massacred.

And when they say we were in a panic of terror and tried to run away
like cowards, it is not true.  When the news arrived that Grouchy was
coming, even the wounded rose up and took their places in the ranks; it
seemed as if a breath had raised the dead; and all those poor fellows
in the rear of Haie-Sainte with their bandaged heads and arms and legs,
with their clothes in tatters and soaked with blood, every one who
could put one foot before the other, joined the Guard when it passed
before the breaches in the wall of the garden, and every one tore open
his last cartridge.

The attack sounded, and our cannon began again to thunder.  All was
quiet on the hill-side, the rows of English cannon were deserted, and
we might have thought they were all gone, only as the bear-skin caps of
the Guard rose above the plateau, five or six volleys of shot warned us
that they were waiting for us.

Then we knew that all those Englishmen, Germans, Belgians, and
Hanoverians, whom we had been sabring and shooting since morning, had
reformed in the rear, and that we must encounter them.  Many of the
wounded retired at this moment, and the Guard, upon which the heaviest
part of the enemy's fire had fallen, advanced through the showers of
shot almost alone, sweeping everything before it, but it closed up more
and more, and diminished every moment.  In twenty minutes every officer
was dismounted, and the Guard halted before such a terrible fire of
musketry, that even we, two hundred paces in the rear, could not hear
our own guns; we seemed to be only exploding our priming.  At last the
whole army, in front, on the right and on the left, with the cavalry on
the flanks, fell upon us.

The four battalions of the Guard, reduced from three thousand to twelve
hundred men, could not withstand the charge, they fell back slowly, and
we fell back also, defending ourselves with musket and bayonet.

We had seen other battles more terrible, but this was the last.

When we reached the edge of the plateau, all the plain below was
enveloped in darkness and in the confusion of the defeat.  The
disbanded troops were flying, some on foot and some on horseback.

A single battalion of the Guard in a square near the farm-house, and
three other battalions farther on, with another square of the Guard at
the junction of the route at Planchenois, stood motionless as some firm
structure in the midst of an inundation which sweeps away everything

They all went--hussars, chasseurs, cuirassiers, artillery, and
infantry--pell-mell along the road, across the fields, like an army of

Along the ravine of Planchenois the dark sky was lighted up by the
discharges of musketry; the one square of the Guard still held out
against Bulow, and prevented him from cutting off our retreat, but
nearer us the Prussian cavalry poured down into the valley like a flood
breaking over its barriers.  Old Blücher had just arrived with forty
thousand men: he doubled our right wing and dispersed it.

What can I say more!  It was dissolution--we were surrounded.  The
English pushed us into the valley, and it was through this valley that
Blücher was coming.  The generals and officers and even the Emperor
himself were compelled to take refuge in a square, and they say that we
poor wretches were panic-stricken!  Such an injustice was never seen.

[Illustration: Combat of Hougoumont Farm.]

Buche and I with five or six of our comrades ran toward the
farm-house--the bombs were bursting all around us, we reached the road
in our wild flight just as the English cavalry passed at full gallop,
shouting, "No quarter! no quarter!"

At this moment the square of the Guard began to retreat, firing from
all sides in order to keep off the wretches who sought safety within
it.  Only the officers and generals might save themselves.

I shall never forget, even if I should live a thousand years, the
immeasurable, unceasing cries which filled the valley for more than a
league; and in the distance the _grenadière_ was sounding like an
alarm-bell in the midst of a conflagration.  But this was much more
terrible; it was the last appeal of France, of a proud and courageous
nation; it was the voice of the country saying, "Help, my children!  I

This rolling of the drums of the Old Guard in the midst of disaster,
had in it something touching and horrible.  I sobbed like a
child;--Buche hurried me along, but I cried, "Jean, leave me--we are
lost, everything is lost!"

The thought of Catherine, and Mr. Goulden, and Pfalzbourg, did not
enter my mind.  What astonishes me to-day is, that we were not
massacred a hundred times on the road, where files of English and
Prussians were passing.  But perhaps they mistook us for Germans, or
they were running after the Emperor, for they were all hoping to see

Opposite the little farm of Rossomme, we were obliged to turn off the
road to the right, into the field; it was here that the last square of
the Guard still held out against the attack of the Prussians; they soon
gave way, for twenty minutes afterward the enemy poured over the road,
and the Prussian chasseurs separated into bands to arrest all those who
straggled or remained behind.  This road was like a bridge; all who did
not keep on it fell into the abyss.

At the slope of the ravine in the rear of the inn "Passe-Avant," some
Prussian hussars rushed upon us: there were not more than five or six
of them, and they called out to us to surrender; but if we had raised
the butts of our muskets, they would have sabred us.  We aimed at them,
and seeing that we were not wounded, they passed on.

This forced us to return to the road, where the uproar could be heard
for at least two leagues; cavalry, infantry, artillery, ambulances, and
baggage-wagons, were creeping along the road pell-mell, howling,
beating, neighing, and weeping.  The retreat at Leipzig furnished no
such spectacle as this.

The moon rose above the wood behind Planchenois, and lighted up this
crowd of shapskas,[1] bear-skin caps, helmets, sabres, bayonets, broken
caissons, and abandoned cannon; the crowd and confusion increased every
moment, plaintive howls were heard from one end of the line to the
other, rolling up and down the hill-side and dying away in the distance
like a sigh.

[1] Polish military cap.

But the saddest of all, were the cries of the women, those unhappy
creatures who follow armies.  When they were knocked down or crowded
out on to the slope with their carts, their screams could be heard
above all the uproar, but no one turned his head, not a man stretched
out a hand to help them: "Every one for himself!--I shall crush
you,--so much the worse for you,--I am the stronger--you scream, but it
is all the same to me!--take care,--take care--I am on horseback--I
shall hit you!--room--let me get away--the others do just the
same--room for the Emperor! room for the marshal!"  The strong crush
the weak--the only thing in the world is strength!  On! on!  Let the
cannons crush everything, if we can only save them!

But the cannon can move no farther,--unhitch them, cut the traces, and
the horses will carry us off.  Make them go as fast as possible, and if
they break down--then let them go?  If we were not the stronger our
turn would come to be crushed--we should cry out and everybody would
mock at our complaints.  Save himself who can--and "_Vive l'Empereur!_"

"But the Emperor is dead!"

Everybody thought the Emperor had died with, the Old Guard; that seemed
perfectly natural.

The Prussian cavalry passed us in files with drawn sabres, shouting,
"Hurrah!"  They seemed to be escorting us, but they sabred every one
who straggled from the road, and took no prisoners, neither did they
attack the column; a few musket-shots passed over us from the right and

Far in the rear we could see a red light: this was the farm-house at

We hastened onward, borne down with fatigue, hunger, and despair; we
were ready to die, but still the hope of escape sustained us.  Buche
said to me as we went along, "Joseph, let us help each other."

"I will never abandon you," I replied.  "We will die together.  I can
hold out no longer, it is too terrible,--we might better lie down at

"No, let us keep on," said he.  "The Prussians make no prisoners.
Look! they kill without mercy, just as we did at Ligny."

We kept on in the same direction with thousands of others, sullen and
discouraged, and yet we would turn round all at once and close our
ranks and fire, when a squadron of Prussians came too near.  We were
still firm, still the stronger from time to time; we found abandoned
gun-carriages, caissons, and cannons, and the ditches on either side
were full of knapsacks, cartridge-boxes, guns, and sabres, which had
been thrown away by the men to facilitate their flight.

But the most terrible thing of all was the great ambulances in the
middle of the road filled with the wounded.  The drivers had cut the
traces and fled with the horses for fear of being taken prisoners.  The
poor half-dead wretches, with their arms hanging down, looked at us as
we passed with despairing eyes.

When I think of all this now, it reminds me of the tufts of straw and
hay which lodge among the bushes after an inundation.  We say "That is
our harvest, this is our crop, that is what the tempest has left us."

Ah! I have had many such reflections during fifty years!

What grieved me most and made my heart bleed in the midst of this rout
was that I could not discover a single man of our battalion besides
ourselves.  I said to myself, "They cannot all be dead;" and I said to

"If I could only find Zébédé it would give me back my courage."

But he replied: "Let us try to save ourselves, Joseph.  As for me, if I
ever see Harberg again, I will not complain because I have to eat
potatoes.  No, no.  God has punished me.  I shall be contented to work
and go into the woods with my axe on my shoulder.  If only I do not go
home maimed, and if I am not compelled to hold out my hand at the
roadside in order to live, like so many others.  Let us try to get home
safe and sound."

I thought he showed great good sense.

At about half-past ten, as we reached the environs of Genappe, terrible
cries were heard in the distance.  Fires of straw had been lighted in
the middle of the principal street to give light to the multitude, and
we could see from where we were, that the houses were full of people
and the streets so full of horses and baggage that they could not move
a step.  We knew that the Prussians might come at any moment, and that
they would have cannon; and that it would be better for us if we went
round the village than to be taken prisoners altogether.  This was why
we turned to the left across the grain fields with a great many others.
We crossed the Thy in water up to our waists, and toward midnight we
reached Quatre-Bras.

We had done well not to stop at Genappe, for we already heard the roar
of the Prussian cannon and musketry near the village.  Great numbers of
fugitives came along the road, cuirassiers, lancers, and chasseurs.
Not one of them stopped.

We began to be terribly hungry.  We knew very well that everything in
these houses must have been eaten long ago, but still we went into the
one on the left.  The floor was covered with straw, on which the
wounded were lying.  We had hardly opened the door when they all began
to cry out at once; to tell the truth, the stench was so horrible that
we left immediately and took the road to Charleroi.  The moon shone
beautifully, and we could see on the right amongst the grain a quantity
of dead men, who had not yet been buried.

Buche followed a furrow about twenty-five paces, to where three or four
Englishmen were lying one on the top of the other.  I asked him what he
was going to do amongst the dead.

He came back with a tin bottle, and shaking it at his ear, he said,
"Joseph, it is full."

He dipped it in the water of the ditch before opening it, and then took
out the cork and drank, saying, "It is brandy!"

He passed it to me, and I drank also.  I felt my life returning, and I
gave him back the bottle half full, thanking God for the good idea that
he had given us.

We looked on all sides to see if we could not find some bread in the
haversacks of the dead, but the uproar increased, and as we could not
resist the Prussians if they should surround us, we set off again full
of strength and courage.  The brandy made us look at everything on the
bright side already, and I said to Buche:

"Jean, now the worst is over and we shall see Pfalzbourg and Harberg
again.  We are on a good road which will take us back to France.  If we
had gained the battle, we should have been forced to go still farther
into Germany, and we should have been obliged to fight the Austrians
and the Russians, and if we had had the good fortune to escape with our
lives, we should have returned old gray-haired veterans, and should
have been compelled to keep garrison at 'Petite Pierre,' or somewhere

These miserable thoughts ran through my head, but I marched on with
more courage, and Buche said:

"The English are right in having their bottles made of tin, for if I
had not seen this shining in the moonlight, I should never have thought
of going to look for it."

Every moment while we were talking in this way men were riding by,
their horses almost ready to drop, but by beating and spurring, they
kept them trotting just the same.

The noise of the retreating army began to reach our ears again in the
distance, but fortunately we had the advance.

It might have been about one o'clock in the morning, and we thought
ourselves safe, when suddenly Buche said to me:

"Joseph, here are the Prussians!"

And looking behind us, I saw in the moonlight five bronzed hussars from
the same regiment as those who, the year before, had cut poor Klipfel
to pieces.  I thought this was a bad sign.

"Is your gun loaded?" I asked Buche.


"Well! let us wait, we must defend ourselves, I will not surrender."

"Nor I either," said he, "I had rather die than to be taken prisoner."

At the same moment the Prussian officer shouted arrogantly, "Lay down
your arms."

Instead of waiting, as I did, Buche discharged the contents of his
musket full in the officer's breast.  Then the other four fell upon us.
Buche received a blow from a sabre which cut his shako down to the
visor, but with one thrust with his bayonet he killed his antagonist.
Three of them still remained.  My musket was loaded.  Buche planted
himself with his back against a nut-tree, and every time the Prussians,
who had fallen back, approached us, I took aim.  Neither of them wanted
to be the first to die!  As we waited, Buche with his bayonet fixed and
I with my musket at my shoulder, we heard a galloping on the road.
This frightened us, for we thought more Prussians were coming, but they
were our lancers.  The hussars then turned off into the grain, and
Buche hastened to re-load his gun.

Our lancers passed and we followed them on the run.

An officer who joined us, said that the Emperor had set out for Paris,
and that King Jerome had just taken command of the army.

Buche's scalp was laid completely open, but the bone was not injured,
and the blood ran down his cheeks.  He bound up his head with his

After that we saw no more Prussians.

About two o'clock in the morning, we were so weary we could hardly take
another step.  About two hundred paces to the left of the road there
was a little beech grove.  Buche said: "Look, Joseph, let us go in
there and lie down and sleep."

It was just what I wanted.

We went down across the oat-field to the wood, and entered a close
thicket of young trees.

We had both kept our guns and knapsacks and cartridge-boxes.  We laid
our knapsacks on the ground for a pillow, and it had long been broad
daylight, and the retreating crowd had been passing for hours, when we
awoke and quietly pursued our journey.


Numbers of our comrades and of the wounded remained behind at
Gosselies, but the larger part of the army kept on their way, and about
nine o'clock we began to see the spires of Charleroi in the distance,
when suddenly we heard shouts, cries, complaints, and shots
intermingled, half a league before us.

The whole immense column of miserable wretches halted, shouting: "The
city closes its doors against us! we are stopped here!"

Consternation and despair were stamped on every face.

But a moment after, the news came that the convoys of provisions were
coming and that they would not distribute them.

"Let us fall upon them!  Kill the rascals who are starving us!  We are

The most fearful and the most exhausted quickened their pace, and drew
their sabres or loaded their muskets.

It was plain that there would be a veritable butchery if the guards did
not give way.  Buche himself shouted:

"They ought all to be murdered, we are betrayed.  Come, Joseph, let us
be revenged."

But I held him back by the collar and exclaimed:

"No, Jean, no!  We have had murders enough already, and we have escaped
all, and we do not want to be killed here by Frenchmen.  Come!"

He struggled still, but at last I showed him a village on the left of
the road and said:

"Look! there is the road to Harberg, and there are houses like those at
Quatre Vents; let us go there and ask for bread; I have money, and we
shall certainly find some.  That will be better than to attack the
convoys like a pack of wolves."

He allowed himself to be persuaded at last, and we set off once more
through the grain.  If hunger had not urged us on, we should have sat
down on the side of the path at every step.  But at the end of half an
hour, thanks to God, we reached a sort of farm-house; it was abandoned,
with the windows broken out, and the door wide open, and great heaps of
black earth lying about.  We went in and shouted, "Is there no one

We knocked against the furniture with the butts of our muskets, but not
a soul answered.  Our fury increased, because we saw several wretches,
following the route by which we had come, and we thought, "They are
coming to eat up our bread."

Ah! those who have never suffered these privations cannot comprehend
the fury which possessed us.  It was horrible--horrible!

We had already broken open the door of a cupboard filled with linen,
and were turning over everything with our bayonets, when an old woman
came out from behind a table, which hid the passage to the cellar.  She
sobbed and exclaimed:

"My God, my God! have mercy upon us."

The house had been pillaged early in the morning; they had taken away
the horses, the master had disappeared and the servants had fled.

In spite of our fury the sight of the poor old woman made us ashamed of
ourselves, and I said to her:

"Do not be afraid, we are not monsters, only give us some bread, we are

She was sitting on an old chair with her withered hands crossed over
her knee, and she said:

"I no longer have any, they have taken all.  My God! all! all!"

Her gray hair was hanging down over her face, and I felt like weeping
for her and for ourselves.  "Well!" I said, "we must look for
ourselves, Buche."  We went into all the rooms and the stables, there
was nothing to be seen, everything had been stolen and broken.

I was going out, when in the shadow behind the old door, I saw
something whitish against the wall.  I stopped, and stretched out my
hand.  It was a linen bag with a strap, I took it down, trembling in my
hurry.  Buche looked at me--the bag was heavy--I opened it, there were
two great black radishes, half of a small loaf of bread, dry and hard
as stone, a large pair of shears for trimming hedges, and quite in the
bottom some onions and some gray salt in a paper.

On seeing these we made an exclamation of joy, but the fear of seeing
the others come in, made us run out in the rear, far into the
rye-field, skulking and hiding like thieves.

We had regained all our strength, and we went and sat down on the edge
of a little brook.  Buche said:

"Look here!  I must have my part."

"Yes,--half of all," I replied.  "You let me drink from your bottle, I
will divide with you."

Then he was calm again.  I cut the bread in two with my sabre and said:
"Choose, Jean; that is your radish, and there are half the onions, and
we will share the salt between us."  We ate the bread without soaking
it in the water, we ate our radishes, our onions and the salt.  We
should have kept on eating still, if we had had more to eat, but yet we
were satisfied.

We knelt down with our hands in the water and we drank.

"Now let us go," said Buche, "and leave the bag."

In spite of our weary legs, which were ready to give out, we went on
again toward the left; while on the right behind us, toward Charleroi,
the shouts and shots redoubled, and all along the road we could see
nothing but the men fighting, but they were already far away.

We looked back from time to time, and Buche said:

"Joseph, you did well to bring me away, had it not been for you, I
might have been stretched out over there by the road-side, killed by a
Frenchman.  I was too hungry.  But where shall we go now?"

I answered, "Follow me!"

We passed through a large and beautiful village, pillaged and abandoned

Farther on we met some peasants, who scowled at us from the road-side.
We must have had ill-looking faces, especially Buche with his head
bound up, and his beard eight days old, thick and hard as the bristles
of a boar.

About one o'clock in the afternoon we re-crossed the Sambre, by the
bridge of Chatelet, but as the Prussians were still in pursuit we did
not halt there.  I was quite at ease, thinking:

"If they are still pursuing us, they will follow the bulk of the army,
in order to take more prisoners and pick up the cannon, caissons, and

This was the manner in which we were compelled to reason, we, who three
days before had made the world tremble.

I recollect that when we reached a small village about three o'clock in
the afternoon, we stopped at a blacksmith's shop to ask for water.  The
country people immediately began to gather round, and the smith, a
large, dark man, asked us to go to the little inn, opposite, saying he
would join us and take a glass of beer with us.

Naturally enough this pleased us, for we were afraid of being arrested,
and we saw that these people were on our side.

I remembered that I had some money in my knapsack, and that now it
would be useful.

We went into the inn, which was only a little shop, with two small
windows on the street, and a round door opening in the middle, as is
common in our country villages.

When we were seated the room was so full of men and women, who had come
to hear the news, that we could hardly breathe.

The smith came.  He had taken off his leather apron and put on a little
blue blouse, and we saw at once that he had five or six men with him.
They were the mayor and his assistant, and the municipal councillors of
the place.

They sat down on the benches opposite, and ordered the favorite sour
beer of the country for us to drink.  Buche asked for some bread; the
innkeeper's wife brought us a whole loaf and a large piece of beef in a

All urged us to "Eat, eat!"  When one or another would ask us a
question about the battle, the smith or the mayor would say:

"Let the men finish, you can see plainly that they have come a long

And it was only when we had finished eating, that they questioned us,
asking if it was true that the French had lost a great battle.  The
first report was that we were the victors, but afterward they heard a
rumor that we were defeated.

We understood that they were speaking of Ligny, and that their ideas
were confused.  I was ashamed to tell that we were overthrown; I looked
at Buche, and he said:

"We have been betrayed.  The traitors revealed our plans.  The army was
full of traitors, who cried, 'Sauve qui peut!'  How was it possible for
us not to lose, under such circumstances?"

It was the first time I had heard treason spoken of; some of the
wounded, it is true, had said, "We are betrayed," but I had paid no
attention to their words, and when Buche relieved us from our
embarrassment by this means, I was glad of it, though I was astonished.

The people sympathized with us in our indignation against the traitors.

Then we were obliged to explain the battle and the treason.  Buche said
the Prussians had fallen upon us through the treason of Marshal Grouchy.

This seemed to me to be going too far, but the peasants in their pity
for us had made us drink again and again, and had given us pipes and
tobacco, and at last I said the same as Buche.  It was not till after
we had left the place that the recollection of our shameful falsehoods
made me ashamed of myself, and I said to Buche:

"Do you know, Jean, that our lies about the traitors were not right?
If every one tells as many, we shall all be traitors, and the Emperor
will be the only true man amongst us.  It is a disgrace to the country
to say that we have so many traitors; it is not true."

"Bah! bah!" said he.  "We have been betrayed; if we had not, the
English and Prussians could never have forced us to retreat."

We did nothing but dispute this point till eight o'clock in the
evening.  By this time we had reached a village called Bouvigny.

We were so tired that our legs were as stiff as stakes, and for a long
while we had needed a great deal of courage to take a single step.

We were certain that the Prussians were no longer near, and as I had
money we went into an inn and asked for a bed.

I took out a six-franc piece in order to let them see that we could
pay.  I had resolved to change my uniform the next day, to leave my gun
and knapsack and cartridge-box here and to go home, for I believed that
the war was over, and I rejoiced in the midst of my misfortunes that I
had escaped with my arms and legs.

Buche and I slept that night in a little room, with a Holy Virgin and
infant Jesus in a niche between the curtains over our heads, and we
rested like the blessed in heaven.

The next morning, instead of keeping on our way, we were so glad to sit
on a comfortable chair in the kitchen, to stretch our legs and smoke
our pipes as we watched the kettles boiling, that we said, "Let us stay
quietly here.  To-morrow we shall be well rested, and we will buy two
pairs of linen pantaloons, and two blouses, we will cut two good sticks
from a hedge, and go home by easy stages."

The thought of these pleasant plans touched us.  And it was from this
inn that I wrote to Catherine and Aunt Grédel and Mr. Goulden.  I wrote
only a word:

"I have escaped, let us thank God, I am coming, I embrace you a
thousand times with all my heart.


I thanked God as I wrote, but a great many things were to happen before
I should mount our staircase at the corner of the rue Fouquet opposite
the "Red Ox."  When one has been taken by conscription he must not be
in a hurry to write that he is released.  That happiness does not
depend upon us, and the best will in the world helps nothing.

I sent off my letter by the post, and we stayed all that day at the inn
of the "Golden Sheep."

After we had eaten a good supper, we went up to our beds, and I said to
Buche, "Ha!  Jean, to do what you please is quite a different thing
from being forced to respond to the roll-call."

We both laughed in spite of the misfortunes of the country, of course
without thinking, otherwise we should have been veritable rascals.

For the second time we went to sleep in our good bed, when about one
o'clock in the morning we were wakened in a most extraordinary manner:
the drums were beating and we heard men marching all over the village.

I pushed Jean, and he said, "I hear it, the Prussians are outside."

You cannot imagine our terror, but it was much worse a moment after;
some one knocked at the door of the inn, and it opened; in a moment the
great hall was full of people.  Some one came up the stairs.  We had
both got up, and Buche said, "I shall defend myself if they try to take

I dared not think what I was going to do.

We were almost dressed, and I was hoping to escape in the darkness
without being recognized, when suddenly there was a knock at the door
and a shout, "Open."

We were obliged to open it.

An infantry officer, wet through by the rain, with his great blue cloak
thrown over his epaulettes, followed by an old sergeant with a lantern,
came in.

We recognized them as Frenchmen, and the officer asked brusquely,
"Where do you come from?"

"From Mont-St.-Jean, lieutenant," I replied.

"From what regiment are you?"

"From the Sixth light infantry," I answered.

He looked at the number on my shako, which was lying on the table, and
at the same time I saw that his number was also the Sixth.

"From which battalion are you?" said he, knitting his brows.

"The third."

Buche, pale as ashes, did not say a word.  The officer looked at our
guns and knapsacks and cartridge-boxes behind the bed in the corner.

"You have deserted," said he.

"No, lieutenant, we left, the last ones, at eight o'clock, from

"Go downstairs, we will see if that is true."

We went downstairs.  The officer followed us, and the sergeant went
before with his lantern.

The great hall below was full of officers of the 12th mounted
chasseurs, and of the 6th light infantry.  The commandant of the 4th
battalion of the 6th was promenading up and down, smoking a little
wooden pipe.  They were all of them wet through and covered with mud.

The officers said a few words to the commandant, who stopped, and fixed
his black eyes upon us, while his crooked nose turned down into his
gray mustache.

His manner was not very gentle as he asked us half a dozen questions
about our departure from Ligny, the road to Quatre-Bras, and the
battle.  He winked and compressed his lips.  The others walked up and
down dragging their sabres without listening to us.  At last the
commandant said, "Sergeant, these men will join the second company; go!"

He took his pipe again from the edge of the mantel, and we went out
with the sergeant, happy enough to get off so easily, for they might
have shot us as deserters before the enemy.

We followed the sergeant for two hundred paces to the other end of the
village to a shed.  Fires had been lighted farther on in the fields;
men were sleeping under the shed, leaning against the doors of the
stables, and the posts.

A fine rain was falling and the puddles quivered in the gray uncertain
moonlight.  We stood up under a part of the roof at the corner of the
old house thinking of our troubles.

At the end of an hour, the drums began to beat with a dull sound; the
men shook the straw from their clothes and we resumed our march.  It
was still dark--but we could hear the chasseurs sounding their signal
to mount, behind us.

Between three and four in the morning, at dawn, we saw a great many
other regiments, cavalry, infantry, and artillery, on the march like
ourselves by different roads, all the corps of Marshal Grouchy in
retreat!  The wet weather, the leaden sky, the long files of weary men,
the disappointment of being retaken, and the thought that so many
efforts and so much bloodshed had only terminated a second time in an
invasion, all this made us hang down our heads.  Nothing was heard but
the sound of our own footsteps in the mud.

I could not shake off my sadness for a long time, when a voice near me

"Good-morning, Joseph."

I was awakened, and looking at the man who spoke to me, I recognized
the son of Martin the tanner, our neighbor at Pfalzbourg; he was
corporal of the Sixth, and the file-closer, marching with arms at will.
We shook hands.  It was a real consolation for me to see some one from
our own place.

In spite of the rain which continued to fall and our great fatigue, we
could talk of nothing but this terrible campaign.

I related the story of the battle of Waterloo, and he told me that the
4th battalion on leaving Fleurus had taken the route toward Wavre with
the whole of Grouchy's corps, and that in the afternoon of the next
day, the 18th, they heard the cannon on their left and that they all
wanted to go in that direction, even the generals, but the marshal
having received positive orders, had continued on the route to Wavre.
It was between six and seven o'clock, before they were convinced that
the Prussians had escaped; then they changed their course to the left
in order to rejoin the Emperor, but unfortunately, it was too late, and
toward midnight they were obliged to take a position in the fields.

Each battalion formed in a square.  At three o'clock in the morning the
cannon of the Prussians had awakened the bivouacs, and they had
skirmished until two o'clock in the afternoon, when the order to
retreat reached them.

Again, Martin said they were too late, for a part of the enemy's force
which had been engaged with that of the Emperor, was in their rear, and
they were obliged to march all the rest of that day and the night
following in order to escape from their pursuers.

At six o'clock the battalion had taken a position near the village of
Temploux, and at ten the Prussians came up in superior force.  They
opposed them in the most vigorous manner in order to give the baggage
and artillery time to get over the bridge at Namur.

Fortunately the whole army corps had escaped from the village except
the 4th battalion which, through a mistake of the commandant, had
turned off the road at the left, and was obliged to throw itself into
the Sambre in order to escape being cut off.  Some of the men were
taken prisoners and some were drowned in trying to swim across the

This was all that Martin told me; he had no news from home.

That same day we passed through Givet; the battalion bivouacked near
the village of Hierches half a league farther on.  The next day we
passed through Fumay and Rocroy, and slept at Bourg-Fidèles, the 23d of
June at Blombay, the 24th at Saulsse-Lenoy--where we heard of the
abdication of the Emperor--and the days following at Vitry, near
Rheims, at Jonchery, and at Soissons.  From there the battalion took
the route toward Ville-Cotterets, but the enemy was already before us,
and we changed our course to Ferté-Milon, and bivouacked at Neuchelles,
a village destroyed by the invasion of 1814, and which had not yet been
rebuilt.  We left that place on the 29th, about one o'clock in the
morning, passing through Meaux.

Here we were obliged to take the road to Laguy, because the Prussians
occupied that which led to Claye.  We marched all that day and the
night following.

On the 30th, at five in the morning, we were at the bridge of

The same day we passed outside of Paris and bivouacked in a place rich
in everything, called Vaugirard.

The 1st of July we reached Meudon, a superb place.  We could see by the
walled gardens and orchards, and by the size and good condition of the
houses, that we were in the suburbs of the most beautiful city in the
world, and yet we were in the midst of the greatest danger and
suffering, and our hearts bled in consequence.

The people were kind and friendly to the soldiers, and called us the
defenders of the country, and even the poorest were willing to go to
battle with us.

We left our position at eleven o'clock in the evening of the 1st of
July, and went to St. Cloud, which is nothing but palace upon palace,
and garden upon garden, with great trees, and magnificent alleys, and
everything that is beautiful.  At six o'clock we quitted St. Cloud to
go back to our position at Vaugirard.

The most startling rumors filled the city.  The Emperor had gone to
Rochefort--they said; the King was coming back--Louis the XVIII. was
_en route_--and so forth.

They knew nothing certain in the city, where they should soonest know

The enemy attacked us in the suburbs of Issy about one o'clock in the
afternoon, and we fought till midnight for our capital.

The people aided as much as possible; they carried off the wounded from
under the enemy's fire; even the women took pity on us.

What we suffered from being driven to this, I cannot describe.  I have
seen Buche himself cry because we were in one sense dishonored.  I
wished I had never seen that time.  Twelve days before I did not know
that France was so beautiful.  But on seeing Paris with its towers and
its innumerable palaces extending as far as the horizon, I thought,
"This is France, these are the treasures that our fathers have amassed
during century after century.  What a misfortune that the English and
Prussians should ever come here."

At four in the morning we attacked the Prussians with new fury, and
retook the positions we had lost the day before.  Then it was that some
generals came and announced a suspension of hostilities.  This took
place on the 3d of July, 1815.

We thought that this suspension was to give notice to the enemy, that
if he did not quit our country, France would rise as one man, and crush
them all as she did in '92.  These were our opinions, and seeing that
the people were on our side, I remembered the general levies which Mr.
Goulden was always talking about.

But unhappily a great many were so tired of Napoleon and his soldiers,
that they sacrificed the country itself, in order to be rid of him.
They laid all the blame on the Emperor, and said, if it had not been
for him, our enemies would never have had the force or the courage to
attack us, that he had exhausted our resources, and that the Prussians
themselves would give us more liberty than he had done.

The people talked like Mr. Goulden, but they had neither guns nor
cartridges, their only weapons were pikes.

On the 4th, while we were thinking of these things, they announced to
us the armistice, by which the Prussians and English were to occupy the
barriers of Paris, and the French army was to retire beyond the Loire.

When we heard this, our indignation was so great that we were furious.
Some of the soldiers broke their guns, and others tore off their
uniforms, and everybody exclaimed, "We are betrayed, we are given up."
The old officers were quiet, but they were pale as death, and the tears
ran down their cheeks.

Nobody could pacify us, we had fallen below contempt, we were a
conquered people.

For thousands of years it would be said, that Paris had been taken by
the Prussians and the English.  It was an everlasting disgrace, but the
shame did not rest on us.

The battalion left Vaugirard at five o'clock in the afternoon to go to
Montrouge.  When we saw that the movement toward the Loire had
commenced, each one said, "What are we then?  Are we subjects to the
Prussians? because they want to see us on the other side of the Loire,
are we forced to gratify them?  No, no! that cannot be.  Since they
have betrayed us, let us go!  All this is none of our concern any
longer.  We have done our duty, but we will not obey Blücher!"

The desertion commenced that very night; all the soldiers went, some to
the right and some to the left; men in blouses and poor old women tried
to take us with them through the wilderness of streets, and endeavored
to console us, but we did not need consolation.  I said to Buche: "Let
us leave the whole thing, and return to Pfalzbourg and Harberg, let us
go back to our trades and live like honest people.  If the Austrians
and Russians come there, the mountaineers and villagers will know how
to defend themselves.  We shall need no great battles to destroy
thousands of them, let us go!"

There were fifteen of us from Lorraine in the battalion, and we all
left Montrouge, where the headquarters were, together; we passed
through Ivry and Bercy, both places of great beauty, but our trouble
prevented us from seeing a quarter of what we should have done.  Some
kept their uniforms, while others had only their cloaks, and the rest
had bought blouses.

We found the road to Strasbourg at last, in the rear of St. Mandé, near
a wood to the left of which we could see some high towers, which they
told us was the fortress of Vincennes.

From this place, we regularly made our twelve leagues a day.

On the 8th of July we learned that Louis XVIII. was to be restored, and
that Monseigneur le Comte d'Artois would secure his salvation.  All the
wagons and boats and diligences already carried the white flag, and
they were singing "Te Deums" in all the villages through which we
passed; the mayors and their assistants and the councillors all praised
and glorified God for the return of "Louis the well-beloved."

The scoundrels called us "Bonapartists," as they saw us pass, and even
set their dogs on us.

But I do not like to speak of them; such people are the disgrace of the
human race.

We replied only by contemptuous glances, which made them still more
insolent and furious.

Some of them flourished their sticks, as much as to say,--"If we had
you in a corner, you would be as meek as lambs."

The gendarmes upheld these _Pinacles_ and we were arrested in three or
four places.  They demanded our papers and took us before the mayor,
and the rascals forced us to shout "_Vive le Roi!_"

It was shameful, and the old soldiers rather than do it allowed
themselves to be taken to prison.  Buche wanted to follow their
example, but I said to him, "What harm will it do us to shout Vive Jean
Claude, or Vive Jean Nicholas?  All these kings and emperors, old and
new, would not give a hair of their heads to save our lives, and shall
we go and break our necks in order to shout one thing rather than
another?  No, it does not concern us, and if people will be so stupid,
as long as we are not the strongest, we must satisfy them.  By and by,
they will shout something else, and afterward still something else.
Everything changes--nothing but good sense and good will remain."

Buche did not want to understand this reasoning, but when the gendarmes
came, he submitted notwithstanding.

As we went along, one after another of our little party would drop off
in his own village, till at last no one was left but Toul, Buche, and I.

We saw the saddest sight of all, and this was the crowds of Germans and
Russians in Lorraine and Alsace.  They were drilling at Luneville, at
Blamont, and at Sarrebourg, with oak branches in their wretched shakos.
What vexation to see such savages living in luxury at the expense of
our peasants.

Father Goulden was right when he said that military glory costs very
dear.  I only hope the Lord will save us from it for ages to come!

At last, on the 16th July, 1815, about eleven o'clock in the morning,
we reached Mittelbronn, the last village on that side, before reaching
Pfalzbourg.  The siege was raised after the armistice, and the whole
country was full of Cossacks, Landwehr,[1] and Kaiserlichs.[2]  Their
batteries were still in position around the town, though they no longer
discharged them; the gates were open, and the people went out and in to
secure their crops.

[1] German militiamen.

[2] German imperial troops.

There was great need of the wheat and rye, and you can imagine the
suffering it caused us, to feed so many thousands of useless beings,
who denied themselves nothing, and who wanted bacon and schnapps every

Before every door and at every window there was nothing to be seen but
their flat noses, their long filthy yellow beards, their white coats
filled with vermin, and their low shakos, looking out at you, as they
smoked their pipes in idleness and drunkenness.  We were obliged to
work for them, and at last honest people were compelled to give them
two thousand millions of francs more to induce them to go away.

How many things I might say against these lazybones from Russia and
Germany, if we had not done ten times worse in their country.  You can
each one make reflections for yourself, and imagine the rest.

At Heitz's inn I said to Buche, "Let's stop here.  My legs are giving

Mother Heitz, who was then still a young woman, threw up her hands and
exclaimed, "My God! there is Joseph Bertha!  God in heaven! what a
surprise for the town!"

I went in, sat down and leaned my head on a table and wept without

Mother Heitz ran down to the cellar to bring a bottle of wine, and I
heard Buche sobbing in the corner.  Neither of us could speak for
thinking of the joy of our friends.  The sight of our own country had
upset us, and we rejoiced to think that our bones would one day rest
peacefully in the village cemetery.  Meanwhile we were going to embrace
those we loved best in the world.

When we had recovered a little, I said to Buche:

"Jean, you must go on before me, so that my wife and Mr. Goulden may
not be too much surprised.  You will tell them that you saw me the day
after the battle, and that I was not wounded, and then you must say,
you met me again in the suburbs of Paris, and even on the way home, and
at last, that you think I am not far behind, that I am coming--you

"Yes, I understand," said he, getting up after having emptied his
glass, "and I will do the same thing for grandmother, who loves me more
than she does the other boys; I will send some one on before me."

He went out at once, and I waited a few minutes; Mother Heitz talked to
me but I did not listen; I was thinking how far Buche had gone; I saw
him near the ford, at the outworks, and at the gate.  Suddenly I went
out, saying to Mother Heitz, "I will pay you another time."

I began to run; I partly remember having met three or four persons, who
said, "Ah! that is Joseph Bertha!"  But I am not sure of that.

All at once, without knowing how, I sprang up the stairs, and then I
heard a great cry--Catherine was in my arms.

My head swam--in a minute after I seemed to come out of a dream; I saw
the room, Mr. Goulden, Jean Buche, and Catherine; and I began to sob so
violently, that you would have thought some great misfortune had
happened.  I held Catherine on my knee and kissed her, and she cried
too.  After a long while I exclaimed:

"Ah!  Mr. Goulden, pardon me!  I ought to have embraced you, my father!
whom I love as I do myself!"

"I know it, Joseph," said he with emotion, "I know it, I am not
jealous."  And he wiped his eyes.  "Yes--yes--love--and family and then
friends.  It is quite natural, my child, do not trouble yourself about

I got up and pressed him to my heart.

The first word Catherine said to me was, "Joseph, I knew you would come
back, I had put my trust in God!  Now our worst troubles are over, and
we shall always remain together."

She was still sitting on my knee with her arm on my shoulder, I looked
at her, she dropped her eyes and was very pale.  That which we had
hoped for before my departure had come.

We were happy.

Mr. Goulden smiled as he sat at his workbench--Jean stood up near the
door and said:

"Now I am going, Joseph, to Harberg.  Father and grandmother are
waiting for me."

"Stay, Jean, you will dine with us."  Mr. Goulden and Catherine urged
him also, but he would not wait.  I embraced him on the stairs and felt
that I loved him like a brother.

He came often after that, but never once for thirty years without
stopping with me.  Now he lies behind the church at Hommert.  He was a
brave man and had a good heart.

But what am I thinking of?  I must finish my story, and I have not said
a word of Aunt Grédel, who came an hour afterward.  Ah! she threw up
her hands, and she embraced me, exclaiming:

"Joseph!  Joseph! you have then escaped everything! let them come now
to take you again! let them come! oh! how I repented of letting you go
away! how I cursed the conscription and all the rest! but here you are!
how good it is! the Lord has had mercy upon us!"

Yes, all these old stories bring the tears to my eyes, when I think of
them; it is like a long forgotten dream, and yet it is real.  These
joys and sorrows that we recall, attach us to earth, and though we are
old and our strength is gone and our sight is dim, and we are only the
shadows of ourselves; yet we are never ready to go, we never say, "It
is enough!"

These old memories are always fresh; when we speak of past dangers we
seem to be in the midst of them again; when we recall our old friends,
we again press their hands in imagination, and our beloved is again
seated on our knee, and we look in her face, thinking, "She is
beautiful!" and that which seemed to us just and wise and right in
those old days, seems right and wise and just still.

I remember--and I must here finish my long story--that for many months
and even years there was great sorrow in many families, and nobody
dared to speak openly, or wish for the glory of the country.

Zébédé came back with those who had been disbanded on the other side of
the Loire, but even he had lost his courage.  This came from the
vengeance and the condemnations and shootings, massacres and revenge of
every kind which followed our humiliation; from the hundred and fifty
thousand Germans, English, and Russians, who garrisoned our fortresses,
from the indemnities of war, from the thousands of émigrés, from the
forced contributions, and especially from the laws against suspects,
and against sacrilege, and the rights of primogeniture which they
wished to be re-established.

All these things so contrary to reason and to the honor of the nation,
together with the denunciations of the Pinacles and the outrages that
the old revolutionists were made to suffer--altogether these things
have made us melancholy, so that often when we were alone with
Catherine and the little Joseph, whom God had sent to console us for so
many misfortunes, Mr. Goulden would say, pensively:

"Joseph, our unhappy country has fallen very low.  When Napoleon took
France she was the greatest, the freest, and most powerful of nations,
all the world admired and envied us, but to-day we are conquered,
ruined, our fortresses are filled with our enemies, who have their feet
on our necks; and what was never before seen since France existed,
strangers are masters of our capital--twice we have seen this in two
years.  See what it costs to put liberty, fortune, and honor in the
hands of an ambitious man.  We are in a very sad condition, the great
Revolution is believed to be dead, and the Rights of Man are
annihilated.  But we must not be discouraged, all this will pass away,
those who oppose liberty and justice will be driven away, and those who
wish to re-establish privileges and titles will be regarded as fools.
The great nation is reposing, is reflecting upon her faults, is
observing those who are leading her contrary to her own interests: she
reads their hearts, and in spite of the Swiss, in spite of the royal
guard, in spite of the Holy Alliance, when once she is weary of her
sufferings she will cast them out some day or other.  Then it will be
finished, for France wants liberty, equality, and justice.

"The one thing which we lack is instruction, though the people are
instructing themselves every day, they profit by our experiences, by
our misfortunes.

"I shall not have the happiness, perhaps, of seeing the awakening of
the country, I am too old to hope for it, but you will see it, and the
sight will console you for all your sufferings; you will be proud to
belong to that generous nation which has outstripped all others since
'89; these slight checks are only moments of repose on a long journey."

This excellent man preserved to his last hour his calm confidence.

I have lived to see the accomplishment of his predictions, I have seen
the return of the banner of liberty, I have seen the nation grow in
wealth, in prosperity, and in education.  I have seen those who
obstructed justice and who wished to establish the old regime,
compelled to leave.  I have seen that mind always progresses, and that
even the peasants are willing to part with their last sou for the good
of their children.

Unfortunately we have not enough schoolmasters.  If we had fewer
soldiers and more teachers the work would go on much faster.
But--patience--that will come.

The people begin to understand their rights, they know that war brings
them nothing but increased contributions, and when _they_ shall say,
"Instead of sending our sons to perish by thousands under the sabre and
cannon, we prefer that they should be taught to be men;" who will dare
to oppose them?  To-day the people are sovereign!

In this hope, my friends, I embrace you with my whole heart, and bid
you, Adieu!

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