The Project Gutenberg EBook of Tom Burke Of "Ours", Volume II (of II), by
Charles James Lever

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Title: Tom Burke Of "Ours", Volume II (of II)

Author: Charles James Lever

Illustrator: Phiz.

Release Date: April 6, 2010 [EBook #31902]
Last Updated: February 27, 2018

Language: English

Character set encoding: UTF-8


Produced by David Widger


By Charles Lever

With Illustrations By Phiz. and H. Browne

In Two Volumes, Vol. II.

Transcriber's Note: Two print editions have been used for this Project Gutenberg Edition of “Tom Burke of 'Ours'”: The Little Brown edition (Boston) of 1913 with illustrations by Phiz; and the Chapman and Hall editon (London) of 1853 with illustrations by Browne. Illegible and missing pages were found in both print editions.

















































Browne: Murat and Minnette

Phiz: Bivwac After the Battle

Browne: Bivwac After the Battle

Phiz: Locomotive Chair

Browne: Locomotive Chair

Phiz: The Scrimmage

Phiz: The Dance

Phiz: Minnette Receives Cross of the Legion

Browne: Minnette Receives Cross of the Legion

Phiz: Minnette

Browne: The Drummer Boy

Phiz: Moisson

Phiz: A Slight Mistake

Phiz: Cut and Run

Phiz: The Big Drum

Browne: The Foraging Party

Phiz: The Summer House

Phiz: The Newsvendor

Phiz: There was Always a Sting in ye

Phiz: The Law Office

Brown: Darby in the Chair

Phiz: Minnette at the Bridge

Phiz: Death of Minnette

Browne: Death of Minnette

Browne: Parting from Napoleon

Browne: Henri Beauvais



“What is it, Minette?” said I, for the third time, as I saw her lean her head from out the narrow casement, and look down into the valley beside the river; “what do you see there?”

“I see a regiment of infantry coming along the road from Ulm,” said she, after a pause; “and now I perceive the lancers are following them, and the artillery too. Ah! and farther again, I see a great cloud of dust. Mère de Ciél! how tired and weary they all look! It surely cannot be a march in retreat; and, now that I think of it, they have no baggage, nor any wagons with them.”

“That was a bugle call, Minette! Did you not hear it?”

“Yes, it's a halt for a few minutes. Poor fellows! they are sadly exhausted; they cannot even reach the side of the way, but are lying down on the very road. I can bear it no longer. I must find out what it all means.” So saying, she threw round her a mantle which, Spanish fashion, she wore over her head, and hurried from the room.

For some time I waited patiently for her return; but when half an hour elapsed, I arose and crept to the window. A succession of rocky precipices descended from the terrace on which the house stood, down to the very edge of the Danube, and from the point where I sat the view extended for miles in every direction. What, then, was my astonishment to see the wide plain, not marked by regular columns in marching array, but covered with straggling detachments, hurrying onward as if without order or discipline. Here was an infantry battalion mixed up with a cavalry corps, the foot-soldiers endeavoring to keep up with the ambling trot of the dragoons; there, the ammunition wagons were covered with weary soldiers, too tired to march. Most of the men were without their firelocks, which were piled in a confused heap on the limbers of the guns. No merry chant, no burst of warlike music, cheered them on. They seemed like the scattered fragments of a routed army hurrying onward in search of some place of refuge,-sad and spiritless.

“Can he have been beaten?” was the fearful thought that flashed across me as I gazed. “Have the bold legions that were never vanquished succumbed at last? Oh, no, no! I'll not believe it.” And while a glow of fever warmed my whole blood, I buckled on my sabre, and taking my shako, prepared to issue forth. Scarcely had I reached the door, with tottering limbs, when I saw Minette dashing up the steep street at the top speed of her pony, while she flourished above her head a great placard, and waved it to and fro.

“The news! the news!” cried I, bursting with anxiety. “Are they advancing; or is it a retreat?”

“Read that!” said she, throwing me a large sheet of paper, headed with the words, “Proclamation! la Grande Armée!” in huge letters,-“read that! for I've no breath left to tell you.”

Soldiers!—The campaign so gloriously begun will soon be completed.

One victory, and the Austrian empire, so great but a week since, will be humbled in the dust. Hasten on, then! Forced marches, by day and night, will attest your eagerness to meet the enemy; and let the endeavor of each regiment be to arrive soonest on the field of battle.

“Minette! dearest Minette!” said I, as I threw my arms around her neck, “this is indeed good news.” “Gently, gently, Monsieur!” said she, smiling, while she disengaged herself from my sudden embrace. “Very good news, without doubt; but I don't think that there is any mention in the bulletin about embracing the vivandières of the army.”

“At a moment like this, Minette—”

“The best thing to do is, to make up one's baggage and join the march,” said she, very steadily, proceeding at the same time to put her plan into execution.

While I gave her all assistance in my power, the doctor entered to inform us that all the wounded who were then not sufficiently restored to return to duty were to be conveyed to Munich, where general military hospitals had been established; and that he himself had received orders to repair thither with his sick detachment, in which my name was enrolled.

“You'll keep your old friend, François, company, Lieutenant Burke; he is able to move at last.”

“François!” said I, in ecstasy; “and will he indeed recover?”

“I have little doubt of it; though certainly he's not likely to practise as maître d'armes again. You 've spoiled his tierce, though not before it cost the army some of the prettiest fellows I ever saw. But as to yourself—”

“As for me, I 'll march with the army. I feel perfectly recovered; my arm—”

“Oh! as for monsieur's arms,” said mademoiselle, “I'll answer for it, they are quite at his Majesty's service.”

“Indeed!” said the doctor, knowingly; “I thought it would come to that. Well, well, Mademoiselle, don't look saucy; let us part good friends for once in our lives.”

“I hate being reconciled to a surgeon,” said she, pettishly.

“Why so, I pray?”

“Oh, you know, when one quarrels with an officer, the poor fellow may be killed before one sees him again; and it's always a sad thought, that. But your doctor, nothing ever happens to him; you're sure to see him, with his white apron and his horrid weapons, a hundred times after, and one is always sorry for having forgiven such a cruel wretch.”

“Come, come, Mademoiselle, you bear us all an ill-will for the fault of one, and that's not fair. It was the hospital aide of the Sixth, Monsieur, (a handsome fellow, too), who did not fall in love with her after her wound,—a slight scratch.”

“A slight scratch, do you call it?” said I, indignantly, as I perceived the poor girl's eyes fill at the raillery of her tormentor.

“Ah! monsieur has seen it, then?” said he, maliciously. “A thousand pardons. I have the honor to wish you both adieu.” And with that, and a smile of the most impertinent meaning, he took his leave.

“How silly to be vexed for so little, Minette!” said I, approaching and endeavoring to console her.

“Well, but to call my wound a scratch!” said she. “Was it not too bad? and I the only vivandière of the army that ever felt a bullet.”

And with that she turned away her head; but I could see, as she wiped her eyes, that she cared less for the sarcasm on her wounded shoulder than the insult to her wounded heart. Poor girl! she looked sick and pale the whole day after.

We learned in the course of the day that some cavalry detachments would pass early on the morrow, thus allowing us sufficient time to provide ourselves with horses, and make our other arrangements for the march. These we succeeded in doing to our satisfaction; I being fortunate enough to secure the charger of an Austrian prisoner, mademoiselle being already admirably mounted with her palfrey. Occupied with these details, the day passed rapidly over, and the hour for supper drew near without my feeling how the time slipped past.


At last the welcome meal made its appearance, and with it mademoiselle herself. I could not help remarking that her toilette displayed a more than common attention: her neat Parisian cap; her collar, with its deep Valenciennes lace; and her tablier, so coquettishly embroidered,—were all signs of an unusual degree of care; and though she was pale and in low spirits, I never saw her look so pretty. All my efforts to make her converse were, however, in vain. Some secret weight lay heavily on her spirits, and not even the stirring topics of the coming campaign could awaken one spark of her enthusiasm. She evaded, too, every allusion to the following day's march, or answered my questions about it with evident constraint. Tired at last with endeavoring to overcome her silent mood, I affected an air of chagrin, thinking to pique her by it; but she merely remarked that I appeared weary, and that, as I had a long journey before me, it were as well I should retire early.

The marked coolness of her manner at this moment struck me so forcibly that I began really to feel some portion of the ill-temper I affected, and with the crossness of an over-petted child, I arose to withdraw at once.

“Good-by, Monsieur; good-night, I mean,” said she, blushing slightly.

“Good-night, Mademoiselle,” said I, taking her hand coldly as I spoke. “I trust I may find you in better spirits to-morrow.”

“Good-night,—adieu!” said she, hastily; and before I could add a word she was gone.

“She is a strange girl,” thought I, as I found myself alone, and tortured my mind to think whether anything I could have dropped had offended her. But no: we had parted a few hours before the best friends in the world; nothing had then occurred to which I could attribute this sudden change. I had often remarked the variable character of her disposition,—the flashes of gayety mingled with outbursts of sorrow; the playful moods of fancy alternating with moments of deep melancholy; and, after all, this might be one of them.

With these thoughts I threw myself on my bed, but could not sleep. At one minute my brain went on puzzling about Minette and her sorrow; at the next I reproached myself for my own harsh, unfeeling manner to the poor girl, and was actually on the eve of arising to seek her and ask her pardon. At last sleep came, and dreams too; but, strange enough, they were of the distant land of my boyhood and the hours of my youth; of the old house in which I was born, and its well-remembered rooms. I thought I was standing before my father, while he scolded me for some youthful transgression; I heard his words as though they were really spoken, as he told me that I should be an outcast and a wanderer, without a friend, a house, or home; that while others reaped wealth and honors, I was destined to be a castaway: and in the torrent of my grief I awoke.

It was night,—dark, silent night. A few stars were shining in the sky, but the earth was wrapped in shadow; and as I opened my window to let the fresh breeze calm my fevered forehead, the deep precipice beneath me seemed a vast gulf of yawning blackness. At a great distance off I could see the watchfires of some soldiers bivouacking in the plain; and even that much comforted my saddened heart, as it aroused me to the thoughts of the campaign before me. But again my thoughts recurred to my dream, which I could not help feeling as a sort of prediction.

When our sleep leaves its strong track in our waking moments, we dread to sleep again for fear the whole vision should come back; and thus I sat down beside the window, and fell into a long train of thought. The images of my dream were uppermost in my mind; and every little incident of childhood, long lost to memory, came now fresh before me,—the sorrows of my schoolboy years, unrelieved by the sense of love awaiting me at home; the clinging to all who seemed to feel or care for me; and the heart-sickening sorrow when I found that what I mistook for affection was merely pity: all save one,—my mother! Her mild, sad looks, so seldom cheered by a ray of pleasure,—I remember well how they fell on me! with such a thrilling sensation at my heart, and such a gush of thankfulness, as I felt then! Oh! if they who live with children knew how needful it is to open their hearts to all the little sorrows and woes of infant life; to teach confidence and to feed hope; to train up the creeping tendrils of young desire, and not to suffer them to lie straggling and tangled on the earth,—what a happier destiny would fall to the lot of many whose misfortunes in late life date from the crushed spirit of childhood!

My mother I—I thought of her as she would bend oyer me at night, her last kiss pressed on my brow,—the healing balm of some sorrow for which my sobs were still breaking,—her pale, worn cheek, her white dress, her hand so bloodless and transparent, the very emblem of her malady. The tears started to my eyes and rolled heavily along my cheek, my chest heaved, and my heart beat till I could hear it. At this moment a slight rustle stirred the leaves: I listened, for the night was calm and still; not a breeze moved. Again I heard it close beside the window, on the little terrace which ran along the building, and occupied the narrow space beside the edge of the rock. Before I could imagine what it meant, a figure in white glided from the shade of the trees and approached the window. So excited was my mind, so wrought up my imagination by the circumstances of my dream and the thoughts that followed, that I cried out, in a voice of ecstasy, “My mother!” Suddenly the apparition stood still, and then as rapidly retreated, and was lost to view in the dark foliage. Maddened with intense excitement, I sprang from the window, and leaped out on the terrace. I called aloud; I ran about wildly, unmindful of the fearful precipice that yawned beside me. I searched every bush, I crept beneath each tree, but nothing could I detect. The cold perspiration poured down my face; my limbs trembled with a strange dread of I knew not what. I felt as if madness was creeping over me, and I struggled with the thought and tried to calm my troubled brain. Wearied and faint, I gave up the pursuit at last, and, throwing myself on my bed, I sank exhausted into the heavy slumber which only tired nature knows.

“The Sous-Lieutenant Burke,” said a gruff voice, awakening me suddenly from my sleep, while by the light of a lantern he held in his hand I recognized the figure of an orderly sergeant in full equipment.

“Yes. What then?” said I, in some amazement at the summons.

“This is the order of march, sir, for the invalid detachment under your command.”

“How so? I have no orders.”

“They are here, sir.”

So saying, he presented me with a letter from the assistant-adjutant of the corps, with instructions for the conduct of forty men, invalided from different regiments, and now on their way to Lintz. The paper was perfectly regular, setting forth the names of the soldiers and their several corps, together with the daily marches, the halts, and distances. My only surprise was how this service so suddenly devolved on me, whose recovery could only have been reported a few hours before.

“When shall I muster the detachment, sir?” said the sergeant, interrupting me in the midst of my speculations.

“Now,—at once. It is past five o'clock. I see Langenau is mentioned as the first halting-place; we can reach it by eight.”

The moment the sergeant withdrew, I arose and dressed for the road, anxious to inform mademoiselle as early as possible of this sudden order of march. When I entered the salon, I found to my surprise that the breakfast table was all laid and everything ready. “What can this mean?” said I; “has she heard it already?” At the same instant I caught sight of the door of her chamber lying wide open. I approached, and looked in. The room was empty; the various trunks and boxes, the little relics of military glory I remembered to have seen with her, were all gone. Minette had departed; when or whither, I knew not. I hurried through the building, from room to room, without meeting any one. The door was open, and I passed out into the dark street, where all was still and silent as the grave. I hastened to the stable: my horse, ready equipped and saddled, was feeding; but the stall beside him was empty,—the pony of the vivandière was gone. While many a thought flashed on my brain as to her fate, I tortured my mind to remember each circumstance of our last meeting,—every word and every look; and as I called to my memory the pettish anger of my manner towards her, I grew sick at heart, and hated myself for my own cold ingratitude. All her little acts of kindness, her tender care, her unwearying good-nature, were before me. I thought of her as I had seen her often in the silence of the night, when, waking from some sleep of pain, she sat beside my bed, her hand pressed on my heated forehead; her low, clear voice was in my ear; her soft, mild look, beaming with hope and tender pity. Poor Minette! had I then offended you? was such the return I made for all your kindness?

“The men are ready, sir,” said the sergeant, entering at the moment.

“She is gone,” said I, following out my own sad train of thought, and pointing to the vacant stall where her pony used to stand.

“Mademoiselle Minette—”

“Yes, what of her—where is she?”

“Marched with the cuirassier brigade that passed here last night at twelve o'clock. She seemed very ill, sir, and the officer made her sit on one of the wagons.”

“Which road did they take? »

“They crossed the river, and moved away towards the forest. I think I heard the troop-sergeant say something about Salzburg and the Tyrol.”

I made no answer, but stood mute and stupefied; when I was again recalled to thought by his asking if my baggage was ready for the wagons.

With a sullen apathy I pointed out my trunks in silence, and throwing one last look on the room, the scene of my former suffering, and of much pleasure too, I mounted my horse, and gave the word to move forward.

As we passed from the gate, I stopped to question the sous-officier as to the route of the cuirassier division. But he could only repeat what the sergeant had already told me; adding, there were several men slightly wounded in the squadrons, for they had been engaged twice within the week. The gates closed! and we were on the highroad.


As day was breaking, we came up with a strong detachment of the cavalry of the Guard proceeding to join Bessiere's division at Lintz. From them we learned that the main body of the army was already far in advance, several entire corps having marched from Lintz with the supposed intention of occupying Vienna. Ney's division, it was said, was also bearing down from the Tyrol; Davoust and Mortier were advancing by the left bank of the Danube; whilst Lannes and Murat, with an overwhelming force of light troops, had pushed forward two days' march in advance on their way to the capital. The fate of Ulm was already predicted for the Austrian city, and each day's intelligence seemed to make it only the more inevitable. Meanwhile the Emperor Francis had abandoned the capital, and retreated on Brunn, a fortified town in Moravia, there to await the arrival of his ally, Alexander, hourly expected from Berlin.

As day after day we pressed forward, our numbers continued to increase. A motley force, indeed, did we present: cavalry of every sort, from the steel-clad cuirassier to the gay hussar, dragoons, chasseurs, guides, and light cavalry, all mixed up together, and all eagerly recounting the several experiences of the campaign as it fell under their eyes in different quarters. From none, however, could I learn any tidings of Minette; for though known to many there, the detachment she had joined had taken a southerly direction, and was not crossed by any of the others on their march. The General d'Auvergne, I heard, was with the headquarters of the Emperor, then established at the monastery of Molk, on the Danube.

On the evening of the 13th of November we arrived at Lintz, the capital of Upper Austria, but at the time I speak of one vast barrack. Thirty-eight thousand troops of all arms were within its walls; not subject to the rigid discipline and regular command of a garrison town, but bivouacking in the open streets and squares. Tables were spread in the thoroughfares, at which the divisions as they arrived took their places, and after refreshing themselves, moved on to make way for others. The great churches were strewn with forage, and filled with the horses of the cavalry; there might be seen the lumbering steeds of the cuirassier, eating their corn from the richly-carved box of a confessional; here lay the travel-stained figure of a dragoon, stretched asleep across the steps of the altar. The little chapelries, where the foot of the penitent awoke no echo as it passed, now rung with the coarse jest and reckless ribaldry of the soldiers; parties caroused in the little sacristies; and the rude chorus of a drinking song now vibrated through the groined roof where only the sacred notes of the organ had been heard to peal. The Hôtel de Ville was the quartier-général, where the generals of divisions were assembled, and from which the orderlies rode forth at every moment with despatches. The one cry, “Forward!” was heard everywhere. They who before had claimed leave for slight wounds or illness, were now seen among their comrades with bandaged arms and patched faces, eager to press on. Many whose regiments were in advance became incorporated for the time with other corps; and dismounted dragoons were often to be met with, marching with the infantry and mounting guard in turn. Everything bespoke haste. The regiments which arrived at night frequently moved off before day broke. The cavalry often were provided with fresh horses to press forward, leaving their own for the corps that were to follow. A great flotilla, provided with all the necessaries for an army on the march, moved along the Danube, and accompanied the troops each day. In a word, every expedient was practised which could hasten the movement of the army; justifying the remark so often repeated among the soldiers at the time, “Le Petit Caporal makes more use of our legs than our bayonets in this campaign.”

On the same evening we arrived came the news of the surprise of Vienna by Murat. Never was there such joy as this announcement spread through the army. The act itself was one of those daring feats which only such as he could venture on, and indeed at first seemed so miraculous that many refused to credit it. Prince Auersberg, to whom the great bridge of the Danube was intrusted, had prepared everything for its destruction in the event of attack. The whole line of woodwork was laid with combustibles; trains were set, the matches burning; a strong battery of twelve guns, posted to command the bridge, occupied the height on the right bank, and the Austrian gunners lay, match in hand, beside their pieces: but a word was needed, and the whole work was in a blaze.

Such was the state of matters when Sebastiani pushed through the faubourg of the Leopoldstadt at the head of a strong cavalry detachment, supported by some grenadiers of the Guard, and by Murat's orders, concealed his force among the narrow streets which lead to the bridge from the left bank of the Danube. This done, Lannes and Murat advanced carelessly along the bridge, which, from the frequent passage of couriers between the two headquarters, had become a species of promenade, where the officers of either side met to converse on the fortunes of the campaign. Dressed simply as officers of the staff, they strolled along till they came actually beneath the Austrian battery; and then entered into conversation with the Austrian officers, assuring them that the armistice was signed, and peace already proclaimed between the two countries.

The Austrians, trusting to their story, and much interested by what they heard, descended from the mound, and joining them, proceeded to walk backwards and forwards along the bridge, conversing on the probable consequences of the treaty; when suddenly turning round by chance, as they walked towards the right bank, they saw the head of a grenadier column approaching at the quick step. The thought of treachery crossed their minds; and one of them, rushing to the side of the bridge, called out to the artillerymen to fire. A movement was seen in the battery, the matches were uplifted, when Murat, dashing forward, cried aloud, “Reserve your fire; there is nothing to fear!”

The same instant the Austrian officers were surrounded; the sappers rushing on the bridge cleared away the combustibles, and cut off the trains; and the cavalry, till now in concealment, pushing forward at a gallop, crossed the bridge, followed by the grenadiers in a run,—before the Austrians, who saw their own officers mingled with the French, could decide on what was to be done,—while Murat, springing on his horse, dashed forward at the head of the dragoons; and before five minutes elapsed the battery was stormed, the gunners captured, and Vienna won.

Never was there a coup de main more hardy than this, whether we look to the danger of the deed itself, or the insignificant force by which it was accomplished. A few horsemen and some companies of foot, led on by an heroic chief, thus turned the whole fortune of Europe; for, by securing this bridge, Napoleon enabled himself, as circumstances might warrant, to unite the different corps of his army on the right or left banks of the Danube, and either direct his operations against the Russians, or the Austrians under the Archduke Charles, as he pleased.

The treachery by which the bold deed was made successful, was, alas! deemed no stain on the achievement. But one rule of judgment existed in the Imperial army: Was the advantage on the side of France, and to the honor of her arms? That covered every flaw, no matter whether inflicted by duplicity or breach of faith. The habit of healing all wounds of conscience by a bulletin had become so general, that men would not trust to the guidance of their own reason till confirmed by some Imperial proclamation; and when the Emperor declared a battle gained and glory achieved, who would gainsay him? If this blind, headlong confidence tended to lower the morale of the nation, in an equal degree did it make them conquerors in the field; and thus—by a strange decree of Providence, would it seem—were they preparing for themselves the terrible reverse of fortune which, when the destinies of their leader became clouded and their confidence in him shaken, was to fall on a people who lived only in the mad intoxication of victory, and knew not the sterner virtues that can combat with defeat.

But so was it. Napoleon commanded the legions and described their achievements; he led them to the charge and he apportioned their glory; the heroism of the soldier had no existence until acknowledged by the proclamation after the battle; the valor of the general wanted confirmation till sealed by his approval. To fight beneath his eyes was the greatest glory a regiment could wish for; to win one word from him was fame itself forever.

If I dwell on these thoughts here, it is because I now felt for the first time the sad deception I had practised on myself; and how little could I hope to realize in my soldier's life the treasured aspirations of my boyhood Î Was this, then, indeed the career I had pictured to my mind,—the chivalrous path of honor? Was this the bold assertion of freedom I so often dreamed of? How few of that armed host knew anything of the causes of the war,—how much fewer still cared for them! No sentiment of patriotism, no devotion to the interests of liberty or humanity, prompted us on. Yet these were the thoughts first led me to the career of arms; such ambitious promptings first made my heart glow with the enthusiasm of a soldier.

This gloomy disappointment made me low-spirited and sad. Nor can I say where such reflections might not have led me, when suddenly a change came over my thoughts by seeing a wounded soldier, who had just arrived from Mortier's division, with news of a fierce encounter they had sustained against Kutusof's Russians. The poor fellow was carried past in a litter,—his arm had been amputated that same morning, and a frightful shot-wound had carried away part of his cheek; still, amid all his suffering, his eye was brilliant, and a smile of proud meaning was on his lips.

“Lift it up, Guillaume; let me see it again,” said he, as they bore him along the crowded street.

“What is it he wishes?” said I. “The poor fellow is asking for something.”

“Yes, mon lieutenant. It is the sabre d'honneur the Emperor gave him this morning. He likes to look at it every now and then; he says he doesn't mind the pain when he sees that before him. And it is natural, too.

“Such is glory!” said I to myself; “and he who feels this in his heart has no room for other thoughts.”

“Oh, give to me the trumpet's blast, And the champ of the charger prancing; Or the whiz of the grape-shot flying past, That 'a music meet for dancing.

“Tralararalal” sang a wild-looking voltigeur, as he capered along the street, keeping time to his rude song with the tramp of his feet.

“Ha! there goes a fellow from the Faubourg!” said an officer near me.

“The Faubourg?” repeated I, asking for explanation.

“Yes, to be sure. The Faubourg St. Antoine supplies all the reckless devils of the army; one of them would corrupt a regiment, and so, the best thing to do is to keep them as much together as possible. The voltigeurs have little else; and proof is, they are the cleverest corps in the service, and if they could be kept from picking and stealing, lying, drinking, and gambling, there's not a man might not be a general of division in time. There goes another!”

As he spoke, a fellow passed by with a goose under his arm, followed by a woman most vociferously demanding restitution; while he only amused himself by replying with a mock courtesy, deploring in sad terms the unhappy necessities of war and the cruel hardships of a campaign.

“It's no use punishing those fellows,” said the officer. “They desert in whole companies if you send one to the salle de police; and so we have only one resource, which is, to throw them pretty much in advance, and leave their chastisement to the enemy. And, sooth to say, they ask for nothing better themselves.”

Thus, even these fellows seemed to have their own sentiment of glory,—a problem which the more I reasoned over the more puzzled did I become.

While a hundred conjectures were hourly in circulation, none save those immediately about the person of Napoleon could possibly divine the quarter where the great blow was to be struck, although all were in expectation of the orders to prepare for battle. News would reach us of marchings and counter-marchings; of smart skirmishes here, and prisoners taken there; yet could we not form the slightest conception of where the chief force of the enemy lay, nor what the direction to which our own army was pointed. Indeed, our troops seemed to scatter on every side. Marmont, with a strong force, was despatched towards Gratz, where it was said the Archduke Charles was at the head of a considerable army; Davoust moved on Hungary, and occupied Presburg; Bernadotte retraced his steps towards the Upper Danube, to hold the Archduke Frederick in check, who had escaped from Ulm with ten thousand men; Mortiers corps, harassed and broken by the engagement with Kutusof, were barely sufficient to garrison Vienna; while Soult, Lannes, and Murat pushed forward towards Moravia, with a strong cavalry force and some battalions of the Guard. In fact, the whole army was scattered like an exploded shell; nor could we see the means by which its wide extended fragments were to be united at a moment, much less divine the spot to which their combined force was to be directed.

Had these Russians been fabulous creatures of a legend, instead of men of mortal mould, they could scarcely have been endowed with more attributes of ubiquity than we conferred on them. Sometimes we believed them at one side of the Danube, sometimes at the other; now we heard of them as retreating by forced marches into their native fastnesses, now as encamped in the mountain regions of Moravia. Yesterday came the news that they laid down their arms and surrendered as prisoners of war; to-day we heard of them as having forced back our advanced posts and carried off several squadrons as prisoners.

At length came the positive information that the allied armies were in cantonments around Olmutz; while Napoleon had pushed forward to Brunn, a place of considerable strength, communicating by the highroad with the Russian headquarters. It was no longer doubtful, then, where the great game was to be decided, and thither the various battalions were now directed by marches day and night.

On the 29th of November our united detachments, now numbering several hundred men, arrived at Brunn. I lost no time in repairing to headquarters, where I found General d'Auvergne deeply engaged with the details of the force under his command: his brigade had been placed under the orders of Murat; and it was well known the prince gave little rest or respite to those under his command. From him I learned that three days of unsuccessful negotiation had just passed over, and that the Emperor had now resolved on a great battle. Indeed, every moment was critical. Russia had assumed a decidedly hostile aspect; the Swedes were moving to the south; the Archduke Charles, by a circuitous route, was on the march to join the Russian army, to whose aid fresh reinforcements were daily arriving, and Benningsen was hourly expected with more. Under these circumstances a battle was inevitable; and such a one, as, by its result, must conclude the war.

This much did I learn from the old general as we rode over the field together; examining with caution the nature of the ground, and where it offered facilities, and where it presented obstacles, to the movement of cavalry. Such were the orders issued that morning by Napoleon to the generals of brigade, who might now be seen with their staffs traversing the plain in every direction. As we moved along we could discover in the distance the dark columns of the enemy marching, not towards us, but in a southerly direction towards our extreme right. This movement attracted the attention of several others, and more than one aide-de-camp was despatched to Brunn to carry the intelligence to the Emperor.

The same evening couriers departed in every direction to Bernadotte and Davoust to hasten forward at once; even Mortier, with his mangled division, was ordered to abandon Vienna to a division of Marmont's army, and move on to Brunn. And now the great work of concentration began.

Meanwhile the Russians advanced, and on the 30th drove in an advanced post, and compelled our cavalry to fall back behind our position. The following morning the allies resumed their flank movement. And now no doubt could be entertained of their plan; which was, by turning our right, to cut us off from our supporting columns resting at Vienna, and throw our retreat back upon the mountainous districts of Bohemia. In this way five massive columns moved past us scarce half a league distant from our advanced posts, numbering eighty thousand men, of which fifteen were cavalry in the most perfect condition.

Our position was in advance of the fortress of Brunn; the headquarters of the Emperor occupied a rising piece of ground, at the base of which flowed a small stream, a tributary to some of the numerous ponds by which the field was intersected. The entire ground in our front was indeed a succession of these small lakes, with villages interspersed, and occasionally some stunted woods; great morasses extended around these ponds, through which led the highroads or such bypaths as conducted from one village to another. Here and there were plains where cavalry might act with safety, but rarely in large bodies.

Our right rested on the lake of Moeritz, where Soult's division was stationed; behind which, thrown back in such a manner as to escape the observation of the enemy, was Davoust's corps, the reserve occupying a cliff of ground beside the convent of Eeygern. Our left, under Lannes, occupied the hill of Santon,—a wooded eminence, the last of a long chain of mountains running east and west. Above, and on the crest of the height, a powerful park of artillery was posted, and defended by strong intrenchments. A powerful cavalry corps was placed at the bottom of the mountain. Next came Bernadotte's division, separated by the highroad from Brunn to Olmutz from the division under Murat, which, besides his own cavalry, contained Oudinot's grenadiers and Bessière's battalions of the Imperial Guard; the centre and right being formed of Soult's division, the strongest of all; the reserve, consisting of several battalions of the Guard and a strong force of artillery, being under the immediate orders of Napoleon, to be employed wherever circumstances demanded.

These were the dispositions for the coming battle, made with all the precision of troops moving on parade; and such was the discipline of the army at Boulogne, and so perfectly arranged the plans of the Emperor, that the ground of every regiment was marked out, and each corps moved into its allotted space with the regularity of some piece of mechanism.


The dispositions for the battle of Austerlitz occupied the entire day. From sunrise Napoleon was on horse-back, visiting every position; he examined each battery with the skill of an old officer of artillery; and frequently dismounting from his horse, carefully noted the slightest peculiarities of the ground,—remarking to his staff, with an accuracy which the event showed to be prophetic, the nature of the struggle, as the various circumstances of the field indicated them to his practised mind.

It was already late when he turned his horse's head towards the bivouac hut,—a rude shelter of straw,—and rode slowly through the midst of that great army. The ordre du jour, written at his own dictation, had just been distributed among the soldiers; and now around every watchfire the groups were kneeling to read the spirit-stirring lines by which he so well knew how to excite the enthusiasm of his followers. They were told that “the enemy were the same Russian battalions they had already beaten at Hollabrunn, and on whose flying traces they had been marching ever since.” “They will endeavor,” said the proclamation, “to turn our right, but in doing so they must open their flank to us: need I say what will be the result? Soldiers, so long as with your accustomed valor you deal death and destruction in their ranks, so long shall I remain beyond the reach of fire; but let the victory prove, even for a moment, doubtful, your Emperor shall be in the midst of you. This day must decide forever the honor of the infantry of France. Let no man leave his ranks to succor the wounded,—they shall be cared for by one who never forgets his soldiers,—and with this victory the campaign is ended!”

Never were lines better calculated to stimulate the energy and flatter the pride of those to whom they were addressed. It was a novel thing in a general to communicate to his army the plan of his intended battle, and perhaps to any other than a French army the disclosure would not have been rated as such a favor; but their warlike spirit and military intelligence have ever been most remarkably united, and the men were delighted with such a proof of confidence and esteem.

A dull roar, like the sound of the distant sea, swelled along the lines from the far right, where the Convent of Reygern stood, and growing louder by degrees, proclaimed that the Emperor was coming. It was already dark, but he was quickly recognized by the troops, and with one burst of enthusiasm they seized upon the straw of their bivouacs, and setting fire to it, held the blazing masses above their heads, waving them wildly to and fro, amid the cries of “Vive l'Empereur!” For above a league along the plain the red light flashed and glowed, marking out beneath it the dense squares and squadrons of armed warriors. It was the anniversary of Napoleon's coronation; and such was the fête by which they celebrated the day.

The Emperor rode through the ranks uncovered. Never did a prouder smile light up his features, while thronging around him the veterans of the Guard struggled to catch even a passing glance at him. “Do but look at us tomorrow, and keep beyond the reach of shot,” said a grognard, stepping forward; “we'll bring their cannon and their colors, and lay them at thy feet.” The marshals themselves, the hardened veterans of so many fights, could not restrain their enthusiasm; and proffers of devotion unto death accompanied him as he went.

At last all was silent in the encampment; the soldiers slept beside their watchfires, and save the tramp of a patrol or the qui vive? of the sentinels, all was still. The night was cold and sharp; a cutting wind blew across the plain, which gave way to a thick mist,—so thick, the sentries could scarcely see a dozen paces off.

I sat in my little hovel of straw,—my mind far too much excited for sleep,—watching the stars as they peeped out one by one, piercing the gray mist, until at last the air became thin and clear, and a frosty atmosphere succeeded to the weighty fog; and now I could trace out the vast columns, as they lay thickly strewn along the plain. The old general, wrapped in his cloak, slept soundly on his straw couch; his deep-drawn breathing showed that his rest was unbroken. How slowly did the time seem to creep along! I thought it must be nigh morning, and it was only a little more than midnight.

Our position was a small rising ground about a mile in front of the left centre, and communicating with the enemy's line by a narrow road between the marshes. This had been defended by a battery of four guns, with a stockade in front; and along it now, for a considerable distance, a chain of sentinels were placed, who should communicate any movement that they observed in the Russian lines, of which I was charged to convey the earliest intelligence to the quartier-général. This duty alone would have kept me in a state of anxiety, had not the frame of my mind already so disposed me; and I could not avoid creeping out from time to time, to peer through the gloom in the direction of the enemy's camp, and listen with an eager ear for any sounds from that quarter. At last I heard the sound of a voice at some distance off; then, a few minutes after, the hurried step of feet, and a voltigeur came up, breathless with haste: “The Russians were in motion towards the right. Our advanced posts could hear the roll of guns and tumbrels moving along the plain, and it was evident their columns were in march.” I knelt down and placed my ear to the ground, and almost started at the distinctness with which I could hear the dull sound of the large guns as they were dragged along; the earth seemed to tremble beneath them.

I awoke the general at once, who, resting on his arm, coolly heard my report; and having directed me to hasten to headquarters with the news, lay back again, and was asleep before I was in my saddle. At the top speed of my horse I galloped to the rear, winding my way between the battalions, till I came to a gentle rising ground, where, by the light of several large fires that blazed in a circle I could see the dismounted troopers of the chasseurs à cheval, who always formed the Imperial Bodyguard. Having given the word, I was desired by the officer of the watch to dismount, and following him, I passed forward to a space in the middle of the circle, where, under shelter of some sheaves of straw piled over each other, sat three officers, smoking beside a fire.

“Ha! here comes news of some sort,” said a voice I knew at once to be Murat's. “Well, sir, what is't?”

“The Russian columns are in motion, Monsieur le Maréchal; the artillery moving rapidly towards our right.”

Diantre! it's not much more than midnight! Davoust, shall we awake the Emperor?”

“No, no,” said a harsh voice, as a shrivelled, hard-featured man turned round from the blaze, and showing a head covered by a coarse woollen cap, looked far more like a pirate than a marshal of France; “they 'll not attack before day breaks. Go back,” said he, addressing me; “observe the position well, and if there be any general movement towards the southward, you may report it.”

By the time I regained my post, all was in silence once more; either the Russians had arrested their march, or already their columns were out of hearing,—not a gleam of light could I perceive along their entire position. And now, worn out with watching, I threw myself down among the straw, and slept soundly.

“There! there! that's the third!” said General d'Auvergne, shaking me by the shoulder; “there again! Don't you hear the guns?”

I listened, and could just distinguish the faint booming sound of far-off artillery coming up from the extreme right of our position. It was still but three o'clock, and although the sky was thick with stars, perfectly dark in the valley. Meanwhile we could bear the galloping of cavalry quite distinctly in the same direction.

“Mount, Burke, and back to the quartier-général! But you need not; here comes some of the staff.”

“So, D'Auvergne,” cried a voice whose tones were strange to me, “they meditate a night attack, it would seem; or is it only trying the range of their guns?”

“I think the latter, Monsieur le Maréchal, for I heard no small arms; and, even now, all is quiet again.”

“I believe you are right,” said he, moving slowly forward, while a number of officers followed at a little distance. “You see, D'Auvergne, how correctly the Emperor judged their intentions. The brunt of the battle will be about Reygern. But there! don't you hear bugles in the valley?”

As he spoke, the music of our tirailleurs' bugles arose from the glen in front of our centre, where, in a thick beech-wood, the light infantry regiments were posted.

“What is it, D'Esterre?” said he to an officer who galloped up at the moment.

“They say the Russian Guard, sir, is moving to the front; our skirmishers have orders to fall back without firing.”

As he heard this, the Marshal Bernadotte—for it was he—turned his horse suddenly round, and rode back, followed by his staff. And now the drums beat to quarters along the line, and the hoarse trumpets of the cavalry might be heard summoning the squadrons throughout the field; while between the squares, and in the intervals of the battalions, single horsemen galloped past with orders. Soult's division, which extended for nearly a league to our right, was the first to move, and it seemed like one vast shadow creeping along the earth, as column beside column marched steadily onward. Our brigade had not as yet received orders, but the men were in readiness beside the horses, and only waiting for the word to mount.

The suspense of the moment was fearful. All that I had ever dreamed or pictured to myself of a soldier's enthusiasm was faint and weak, compared to the rush of sensations I now experienced. There must be a magic power of ecstasy in the approach of danger,—some secret sense of bounding delight, mingled with the chances of a battle,—that renders one intoxicated with excitement. Each booming gun I heard sent a wild throb through me, and I panted for the word “Forward!”

Column after column moved past us, and disappeared in the dip of ground beneath; and as we saw the close battalions filling the wide plain in front, we sighed to think that it was destined to be the day of glory peculiarly to the infantry. Wherever the nature of the field permitted shelter or the woods afforded cover, our troops were sent immediately to occupy. The great manoeuvre of the day was to be the piercing of the enemy's centre whenever he should weaken that point by the endeavor to turn our right flank.

A faint streak of gray light was marking the horizon when the single guns which we had heard at intervals ceased; and then, after a short pause, a long, loud roll of artillery issued from the distant right, followed by the crackling din of small-arms, which increased at every moment, and now swelled into an uninterrupted noise, through which the large guns pealed from time to time. A red glare, obscured now and then by means of black smoke, lit up the sky in that quarter, where already the battle was raging fiercely.

The narrow causeway between the two small lakes in our front conducted to an open space of ground, about a cannon-shot from the Russian line; and this we were now ordered to occupy, to be prepared to act as support to the infantry of Soult's left, whenever the attack began. As we debouched into the plain, I beheld a group of horsemen, who, wrapped up in their cloaks, sat motionless in their saddles, calmly regarding the squadrons as they issued from the wood: these were Murat and his staff, to whom was committed the attack on the Russian Guard. His division consisted of the hussars and chasseurs under Kellermann, the cuirassiers of D'Auvergne, and the heavy dragoons of Nansouty,—making a force of eight thousand sabres, supported by twenty pieces of field artillery. Again were we ordered to dismount, for although the battle continued to rage on the right, the whole of the centre and left were unengaged.

Thus stood we as the sun arose,—that “Sun of Austerlitz!” so often appealed to and apostrophized by Napoleon as gilding the greatest of his glories. The mist from the lakes shut out the prospect of the enemy's lines at first; but gradually this moved away, and we could perceive the dark columns of the Russians, as they moved rapidly along the side of the Pratzen, and continued to pour their thousands towards Reygern.

At last the roar of musketry swelled louder and nearer, and an officer galloping past told us that Soult's right had been called up to support Davoust's division. This did not look well; it proved the Russians had pressed our lines closely, and we waited impatiently to hear further intelligence. It was evident, too, that our right was suffering severely, otherwise the attack on the centre would not have been delayed. Just then a wild cheer to the front drew our attention thither, and we saw the heads of three immense columns—Soult's division—advancing at a run towards the enemy.

Par Saint Louis,” cried General d'Auvergne, as he directed his telescope on the Russian line, “those fellows have lost their senses! See if they have not moved their artillery away from the Pratzen, and weakened their centre more and more! Soult sees it: mark how he presses his columns on! There they go, faster and faster! But look! there's a movement yonder,—the Russians perceive their mistake.”

“Mount!” was now heard from squadron to squadron; while dashing along the line like a thunderbolt, Murat rode far in advance of his staff, the men cheering him as he went.

“There!” cried D'Auvergne, as he pointed with his finger, “that column with the yellow shoulder-knots,—that's Vandamme's brigade of light infantry; see how they rush on, eager to be first up with the enemy. But St. Hilaire's grenadiers have got the start of them, and are already at the foot of the hill. It is a race between them!”

And so had it become. The two columns advanced, cheering wildly; while the officers, waving their caps, led them on, and others rode along the flanks urging the men forward.

The order now came for our squadrons to form in charging sections, leaving spaces for the light artillery between. This done, we moved slowly forward at a walk, the guns keeping step by step beside us. A few minutes after, we lost sight of the attacking columns; but the crashing fire told us they were engaged, and that already the great struggle had begun.

For above an hour we remained thus; every stir, every word loud spoken, seeming to our impatience like the order to move. At last, the squadrons to our right were seen to advance; and then a tremulous motion of the whole line showed that the horses themselves participated in the eagerness of the moment; and, at last, the word came for the cuirassiers to move up. In less than a hundred yards we were halted again; and I heard an aide-de-camp telling General d'Auvergne that Davoust had suffered immensely on the right; that his division, although reinforced, had fallen back behind Reygern, and all now depended on the attack of Soult's columns.

I heard no more, for now the whole line advanced in trot, and as our formation showed an unbroken front, the word came,—“Faster!” and “Faster!” As we emerged from the low ground we saw Soult's column already half way up the ascent; they seemed like a great wedge driven into the enemy's centre, which, opening as they advanced, presented two surfaces of fire to their attack.

“The battery yonder has opened its fire on our line,” said D'Auvergne; “we cannot remain where we are.”

“Forward!—charge!” came the word from front to rear, and squadron after squadron dashed madly up the ascent. The one word only, “Charge!” kept ringing through my head; all else was drowned in the terrible din of the advance. An Austrian brigade of light cavalry issued forth as we came up, but soon fell back under the overwhelming pressure of our force. And now we came down upon the squares of the red-brown Russian infantry. Volley after volley sent back our leading squadrons, wounded and repulsed, when, unlimbering with the speed of lightning, the horse artillery poured in a discharge of grapeshot. The ranks wavered, and through their cleft spaces of dead and dying our cuirassiers dashed in, sabring all before them. In vain the infantry tried to form again: successive discharges of grape, followed by cavalry attacks, broke through their firmest ranks; and at last retreating, they fell back under cover of a tremendous battery of field-guns, which, opening their fire, compelled us to retire into the wood.

Nor were we long inactive. Bernadotte's division was now engaged on our left, and a pressing demand came for cavalry to support them. Again we mounted the hill, and came in sight of the Russian Guard, led on by the Grand-Duke Constantino himself,—a splendid body of men, conspicuous for their size and the splendor of their equipment. Such, however, was the impetuous torrent of our attack that they were broken in an instant; and notwithstanding their courage and devotion, fresh masses of our dragoons kept pouring down upon them, and they were sabred, almost to a man.

While we were thus engaged, the battle became general from left to right, and the earth shook beneath the thundering sounds of two hundred great guns. Our position, for a moment victorious, soon changed; for having followed the retreating squadrons too far, the waves closed behind us, and we now saw that a dense cloud of Austrian and Russian cavalry were forming in our rear. An instant of hesitation would have been fatal. It was then that a tall and splendidly-dressed horseman broke from the line, and with a cry to “Follow!” rode straight at the enemy. It was Murat himself, sabre in hand, who, clearing his way through the Russians, opened a path for us. A few minutes after we had gained the wood; but one third of our force had fallen.

“Cavalry! cavalry!” cried a field-officer, riding down at headlong speed, his face covered with blood from a sabre-cut, “to the front!”

The order was given to advance at a gallop; and we found ourselves next instant hand to hand with the Russian dragoons, who having swept along the flank of Bernadotte's division, were sabring them on all sides. On we went, reinforced by Nansouty and his carabineers, a body of nigh seven thousand men. It was a torrent no force could stem. The tide of victory was with us; and we swept along, wave after wave, the infantry advancing in line for miles at either side, while whole brigades of artillery kept up a murderous fire without ceasing. Entire columns of the enemy surrendered as prisoners; guns were captured at each instant; and only by a miracle did the Grand-Duke escape our hussars, who followed him till he was lost to view in the flying ranks of the allies.

As we gained the crest of the hill, we were in time to see Soult's victorious columns driving the enemy before them; while the Imperial Guard, up to that moment unengaged, reinforced the grenadiers on the right, and broke through the Russians on every side.

The attempt to outflank us on the right we had perfectly retorted on the left; where Lannes's division, overlapping the line, pressed them on two sides, and drove them back, still fighting, into the plain, which, with a lake, separated the allied armies from the village of Austerlitz. And here took place the most dreadful occurrence of the day.

The two roads which led through the lake were soon so encumbered and blocked up by ammunition wagons and carts that they became impassable; and as the masses of the fugitives thickened, they spread over the lake, which happened to be frozen. It was at this time that the Emperor came up, and seeing the cavalry halted, and no longer in pursuit of the flying columns, ordered up twelve pieces of the artillery of the Imperial Guard, which, from the crest of the hill, opened a murderous fire on them. The slaughter was fearful as the discharges of grape and round shot cut channels through the jammed-up mass, and tore the dense columns, as it were, into fragments.

Dreadful as the scene was, what followed far exceeded it in horror; for soon the shells began to explode beneath the ice, which now, with a succession of reports louder than thunder, gave way. In an instant whole regiments were ingulfed, and amid the wildest cries of despair, thousands sank never to appear again, while the deafening artillery mercilessly played upon them, till over that broad surface no living thing was seen to move, while beneath was the sepulchre of five thousand men. About seven thousand reached Austerlitz by another road to the northward; but even these had not escaped, save for a mistake of Bernadotte, who most unaccountably, as it was said, halted his division on the heights. Had it not been for this, not a soldier of the Russian right wing had been saved.

The reserve cavalry and the dragoons of the Guard were now called up from the pursuit, and I saw my own regiment pass close by me, as I stood amid the staff round Murat. The men were fresh and eager for the fray; yet how many fell in that pursuit, even after the victory! The Russian batteries continued their fire to the last. The cannoneers were cut down beside their guns, and the cavalry made repeated charges on our advancing squadrons; nor was it till late in the day they fell back, leaving two thirds of their force dead or wounded on the field of battle.

On every side now were to be seen the flying columns of the allies, hotly followed by the victorious French. The guns still thundered at intervals; but the loud roar of battle was subdued to the crashing din of charging squadrons, and the distant cries of the vanquishers and the vanquished. Around and about lay the wounded in all the fearful attitudes of suffering; and as we were fully a league in advance of our original position, no succor had yet arrived for the poor fellows whose courage had carried them into the very squares of the enemy.

Most of the staff—myself among the number—were despatched to the rear for assistance. I remember, as I rode along at my fastest speed, between the columns of infantry and the fragments of artillery which covered the grounds, that a peloton of dragoons came thundering past, while a voice shouted out “Place! place!” Supposing it was the Emperor himself, I drew up to one side, and uncovering my head, sat in patience till he had passed, when, with the speed of four horses urged to their utmost, a calèche flew by, two men dressed like couriers seated on the box. They made for the highroad towards Vienna, and soon disappeared in the distance.

“What can it mean?” said I, to an officer beside me; “not his Majesty, surely?”

“No, no,” replied he, smiling: “it is General Lebrun on his way to Paris with the news of the victory. The Emperor is down at Reygern yonder, where he has just written the bulletin. I warrant you he follows that calèche with his eye; he'd rather see a battery of guns carried off by the enemy than an axle break there this moment.”

Thus closed the great day of Austerlitz—a hundred cannons, forty-three thousand prisoners, and thirty-two colors being the spoils of this the greatest of even Napoleon's victories.


We passed the night on the field of battle,—a night dark and starless. The heavens were, indeed, clothed with black, and a heavy atmosphere, lowering and gloomy, spread like a pall over the dead and the dying. Not a breath of air moved; and the groans of the wounded sighed through the stillness with a melancholy cadence no words can convey. Far away in the distance the moving lights marked where fatigue parties went in search of their comrades. The Emperor himself did not leave the saddle till nigh morning; he went, followed by an ambulance, hither and thither over the plain, recalling the names of the several regiments, enumerating their deeds of prowess, and even asking for many of the soldiers by name. He ordered large fires to be lighted throughout the field, and where medical assistance could not be procured, the officers of the staff might be seen covering the wounded with greatcoats and cloaks, and rendering them such aid as lay in their power.

Dreadful as the picture was,—fearful reverse to the gorgeous splendor of the vast army the morning sun had shone upon, and in the pride of strength and spirit,—yet even here was there much to make one feel that war is not bereft of its humanizing influences. How many a soldier did I see that night, blackened with powder, his clothes torn and ragged with shot, sitting beside a wounded comrade—now wetting his lips with a cool draught, now cheering his heart with words of comfort! Many, though wounded, were tending others less able to assist themselves. Acts of kindness and self-devotion—not less in number than those of heroism and courage—were met with at every step; while among the sufferers there lived a spirit of enthusiasm that seemed to lighten the worst pang of their agony. Many would cry out, as I passed, to know the fate of the day, and what became of this regiment or of that battalion. Others could but articulate a faint “Vive l'Empereur!” which in the intervals of pain they kept repeating, as though it were a charm against suffering; while one question met me every instant,—“What says the Petit Caporal? Is he content with us?” None were insensible to the glorious issue of that day; nor amid all the agony of death, dealt out in every shape of horror and misery, did I hear one word of anger or rebuke to him for whose ambition they had shed their heart's blood.



Having secured a fresh horse, I rode forward in the direction of Austerlitz, where our cavalry, met by the chevaliers of the Russian Imperial Guard, sustained the greatest check and the most considerable loss of the day. The old dragoon who accompanied me warned me I should find few, if any, of our comrades living there.

Ventrebleu! lieutenant, you can't expect it. The first four squadrons went down like one man; for when our fellows fell wounded from their horses, they always sabred or shot them as they lay.”

I found this information but too correct. Lines of dead men lay beside their horses, ranged as they stood in battle, while before them lay the bodies of the Russian Guard, their gorgeous uniform all slashed with gold, marking them out amid the dull russet costumes of their comrades. In many places were they intermingled, and showed where a hand-to-hand combat had been fought; and I saw two clasped rigidly in each other's grasp, who had evidently been shot by others while struggling for the mastery.

“I told you, mon lieutenant, it was useless to come here; this was à la mort while it lasted; and if it had continued much longer in the same fashion, it's hard to say which of us had been going over the field now with lanterns.”

Too true, indeed! Not one wounded man did we meet with, nor did one human voice break the silence around us. “Perhaps,” said I, “they may have already carried up the wounded to the village yonder; I see a great blaze of light there. Bide forward, and learn if it be so.”

When I had dismissed the orderly, I dismounted from my horse, and walked carefully along the ridge of ground, anxious to ascertain if any poor fellow still remained alive amid that dreadful heap of dead. A low brushwood covered the ground in certain places; and here I perceived but few of the cavalry had penetrated, while the infantry were all tirailleurs of the Russian Guard, bayoneted by our advancing columns. As I approached the lake the ground became more rugged and uneven; and I was about to turn back, when my eye caught the faint glimmering of a light reflected in the water. Picketing my horse where he stood, I advanced alone towards the light, which I saw now was at the foot of a little rocky crag beside the lake. As I drew near, I stopped to listen, and could distinctly hear the deep tones of a man's voice, as if broken at intervals by pain, while in his accents I thought I could trace a tone of indignant passion rather than of bodily suffering.

“Leave me, leave me where I am,” cried he, peevishly. “I thought I might have had my last few moments tranquil, when I staggered thus far.”

“Come, come, Comrade!” said another, in a voice of comforting; “come, thou wert never faint-hearted before. Thou hast had thy share of bruises, and cared little about them too. Art dry?”

“Yes; give me another drink. Ah!” cried he, in an excited tone, “they can't stand before the cuirassiers of the Guard. Sacrebleu! how proud the Petit Caporal will be of this day!” Then, dropping his voice, he muttered, “What care I who's proud? I have my billet, and must be going.”

“Not so, mon enfant; thou'lt have the cross for thy day's work. He knows thee well; I saw him smile to-day when thou madest the salute in passing.”

“Didst thou that?” said the wounded man, with eagerness; “did he smile? Ah, villain! how you can allure men to shed their heart's blood by a smile! He knows me! That he ought, and, if he but knew how I lay here now, he 'd send the best surgeon of his staff to look after me.”

“That he would, and that he will; courage, and cheer up.”

“No, no; I don't care for it now. I'll never go back to the regiment again; I could n't do it!”

As he spoke the last words his voice became fainter and fainter, and at last was lost in a hiccup; partly, as it seemed, from emotion, and partly from bodily suffering.

Qui vive?” cried his companion, as the clash of my sabre announced my approach.

“An officer of the Eighth Hussars,” said I, in a low voice, fearing to disturb the wounded man, as he lay with his head sunk on his knees.

“Too late, Comrade! too late,” said he, in a stifled tone; “the order of route has come. I must away.”

“A brave cuirassier of the Guard should never say so while he has a chance left to serve his Emperor in another field of battle.”

“Vive l'Empereur! vive l'Empereur!” shouted he, madly, as he lifted his helmet and tried to wave it above his head. But the exertion brought on a violent fit of coughing, which choked his utterance, while a torrent of red blood gushed from his mouth, and deluged his neck and chest.

“Ah, mon Dieu! that cry has been his death,” said the other, wringing his hands in utter misery.

“Where is he wounded?” said I, kneeling down beside the sick man, who now lay, half on his face, upon the grass.

“In the chest, through the lung,” whispered the other. “He doesn't know the doctor saw him; it was he told me there was no hope. 'You may leave him,' said he; 'an hour or two more are all that 's left him;' as if I could leave a comrade we all loved. My poor fellow, it is a sad day for the old Fourth when thou art taken from them!”

“Ha! was he of the Fourth, then?” said I, remembering the regiment.

“Yes, parbleu! and though but a corporal, he was well known throughout the army. Pioche—”

“Pioche!” cried I, in agony; “is this Pioche?”

“Here,” said the wounded man, hearing the name, and answering as if on parade,—“here, mon commandant! but too faint, I 'm afraid, for duty. I feel weak to-day,” said he, as he pressed his hand upon his side, and then slowly sank back against the rock, and dropped his arms at either side.

“Come,” said I, “we must lose no time. Let us carry him to the rear. If nothing else can be done, he 'll meet with care—”

“Hush! mon lieutenant! don't let him hear you speak of that. He stormed and swore so much when the ambulance passed, and they wanted to bring him along, that it brought on a coughing fit, just like what you saw, and he lay in a faint for half an hour after. He vows he 'll never stir from where he is. Truth is, Commandant,” said he, in the lowest whisper, “he is determined to die. When his squadron fell back from the Russian square, he rode on their bayonets, and cut at the men while the artillery was playing all about him. He told me this morning he 'd never leave the field.”

“Poor fellow! what was the meaning of this sad resolution?”

Ma foi! a mere trifle, after all,” said the other, shrugging his shoulders, and making a true French grimace of contempt. “You 'll smile when I tell you; but he takes it to heart, poor fellow. His mistress has been false to him,—no great matter that, you 'd say,—but so it is, and nothing more. See how still he lies now! is he sleeping?”

“I fear not; he looks exhausted from loss of blood. Come, we must have him out of this; here comes my orderly to assist us. If we carry him to the road I 'll find a carriage of some sort.”

I said this in a tone of command, to silence any scruples he might still have about obeying his comrade in preference to the orders of an officer. He obeyed with the instinct of discipline, and proceeded to fold his cloak in such a manner that we could carry the wounded man between us.

The poor corporal, too weak to resist us, faint from bleeding and semi-stupid, suffered himself to be lifted upon the cloak, and never uttered a word or a cry as we bore him along between us.

We had not proceeded far when we came up with a convoy, conducting several carts with the wounded to the convent of Reygern, which had now been fitted up as an hospital. On one of these we secured a place for our poor friend, and walked along beside him towards the convent. As we went along I questioned his comrade closely on the point; and he told me that Pioche had resolved never to survive the battle, and had taken leave of his friends the evening before.

“Ah, parbleu!” added he, with energy, “mademoiselle is pretty enough,—there 's no denying that; but her head is turned by flattery and soft speeches. All the gay young fellows of the hussar regiment, the aides-de-camp,—ay, and some of the generals, too,—have paid her so much attention that it could not be expected she'd care for a poor corporal. Not but that Pioche is a brave fellow and a fine soldier. Sapristi! he 'd be no discredit to any girl's choice. But Minette—”

“Minette, the vivandière?”

“Ay, to be sure, mon lieutenant; I'd warrant you must have known her.”

“What of her? where is she?” said I, burning with impatience.

“She's with the wounded, up at Reygern yonder. They sent for her to Heilbrunn yesterday, where she was with the reserve battalions. Ma foi! you don't think our fellows would do without Minette at the ambulance, where there was a battle to be fought. They say they'd hard work enough to make her come up. After all, she's a strange girl; that she is.”

“How was that? Has she taken offence with the Fourth?”

“No, that is not it; she likes the old regiment in her heart. I'd never believe she didn't; but” (here he dropped his voice to a low whisper, as if dreading to be overheard by the wounded man), “but they say—who knows if it's true?—that when she was left behind at Ulm or Elchingen, or somewhere up there on the Danube, that there was a young fellow—I heard his name, too, but I forget it—who was brought in badly wounded, and that mademoiselle was left to watch and nurse him. He got well in time, for the thing was not so serious as they thought. And what do you think was the return he made the poor girl? He seduced her!”

“It's false! false as hell!” cried I, bursting with passion. “Who has dared to spread such a calumny?”

“Don't be angry, mon lieutenant; there are plenty to answer for the report. And if it was yourself—”

“Yes; it was by my bedside she watched; it was to me she gave that care and kindness by which I recovered from a dangerous wound. But so far from this base requital—”

“Why did she leave you, then, and march night and day with the chasseur brigade into the Tyrol? Why did she tell her friends that she'd never see the old Fourth again? Why did she fret herself into an illness—”

“Did she do this, poor girl?”

“Ay, that she did. But, mayhap, you never heard of all this. I can only say, mon lieutenant, that you'd be safer in a broken square, charged by a heavy squadron, than among the Fourth, after what you 've done.”

I turned indignantly from him without a reply; for while my pride revolted at answering an accusation from such a quarter, my mind was harassed by the sad fate of poor Minette, and perplexed how to account for her sudden departure. My silence at once arrested my companion's speech, and we walked along the remainder of the way without a word on either side.

The day was just breaking when the first wagon of the convoy entered the gates of the convent. It was an enormous mass of building, originally destined for the reception of about three thousand persons; for, in addition to the priestly inhabitants, there were two great hospitals and several schools included within the walls. This, before the battle, had been tenanted by the staffs of many general officers and the corps of engineers and sappers, but now was entirely devoted to the wounded of either army; for Austrians and Russians were everywhere to be met with, receiving equal care and attention with our own troops.

It was the first time I had witnessed a military hospital after a battle, and the impression was too fearful to be ever forgotten by me.

The great chambers and spacious rooms of the convent were soon found inadequate for the numbers who arrived; and already the long corridors and passages of the building were crowded with beds, between which a narrow path scarcely permitted one person to pass. Here, promiscuously, without regard to rank, officers in command lay side by side with the meanest privates, awaiting the turn of medical aid, as no other order was observed than the necessities of each case demanded. A black mark above the bed, indicating that the patient's state was hopeless, proclaimed that no further attention need be bestowed; while the same mark, with a white bar across it, implied that it was a case for operation. In this way the surgeons who arrived at each moment from different corps of the army discovered, at a glance, where their services were required, and not a minute's time was lost.

The dreadful operations of surgery—for which, in the events of every-day life, every provision of delicate secrecy, and every minute detail which can alleviate dread, are so rigidly studied,—were here going forward on every side; the horrible preparations moved from bed to bed with a rapidity which showed that where suffering so abounded there was no time for sympathy; and the surgeons, with arms bare to the shoulder and bedaubed with blood, toiled away as though life no longer moved in the creeping flesh beneath the knife, and human agony spoke not aloud with every motion of their hand.

“Place there! move forward!” said an hospital surgeon, as they carried up the litter on which Pioche lay stretched and senseless.

“What's this?” cried a surgeon, leaning forward, and placing his hand on the sick man's pulse. “Ah! take him back again; it 's all over there!”

“Oh, no!” cried I, in agony, “it can scarcely be; they lifted him alive from the wagon.”

“He's not dead, sir,” replied the surgeon, in a whisper, “but he will soon be; there's internal bleeding going on from that wound, and a few hours, or less perhaps must close the scene.”

“Can nothing be done? nothing?”

“I fear not.” He opened the jacket of the wounded man as he spoke, and slitting the inner clothes asunder with a quick stroke of his scissors, disclosed a tremendous sabre-wound in the side. “That is not the worst,” said he. “Look here,” pointing to a small bluish mark of a bullet hole above it; “here lies the mischief.”

An hospital aid whispered something at the instant in the surgeon's ear, to which he quickly replied, “When?”

“This instant, sir; the ligature slipped, and—”

“Remove him,” was the reply. “Now, sir, I have a bed for your poor fellow here; but I have little hope to give you. His pulse is stronger, otherwise the endeavor would be lost time.”

While they carried the litter forward, I perceived that another party were lifting from a bed near a figure, over whose face the sheet was carelessly thrown. I guessed from the gestures that the form they lifted was lifeless; the heavy sumph of the body upon the ground showed it beyond a doubt. The bearers replaced the dead man by the dying body of poor Pioche; and from a vague feeling of curiosity, I stooped down and drew back the sheet from the face of the corpse. As I did so, my limbs trembled, and I leaned back almost fainting against the wall. Pale with the pallor of death, but scarcely altered from life, I beheld the dead features of Amédée Pichot, the captain whose insolence had left an unsettled quarrel between us. The man for whose coming I waited to expiate an open insult, now lay cold and lifeless at my feet. What a rush of sensations passed through my mind as I gazed on that motionless mass! and oh, what gratitude my heart gushed to think that he did not fall by my hand!

“A brave soldier, but a quarrelsome friend,” said the surgeon, stooping down to examine the wound, with all the indifference of a man who regarded life as a mere problem. “It was a cannon-shot carried it off.” As he said this, he disclosed the mangled remains of a limb, torn from the trunk too high to permit of amputation. “Poor Amédée! it was the death he always wished for. It was a strange horror he had of falling by the hand of an adversary, rather than being carried off thus. And now for the cuirassier.”

So saying, he turned towards the bed on which Pioche lav, still as death itself. A few minutes' careful investigation of the case enabled him to pronounce that although the chances were many against recovery, yet it was not altogether hopeless.

“All will depend on the care of whoever watches him,” said the surgeon. “Symptoms will arise, requiring prompt attention and a change in treatment; and this is one of those cases where a nurse is worth a hundred doctors. Who takes charge of this bed?” he called aloud.

“Minette, Monsieur,” said a sergeant. “She has lain down to take a little rest, for she was quite worn out with fatigue.”

“Me voici!” said a silvery voice I knew at once to be hers. And the same instant she pierced the crowd around the bed, and approached the patient. No sooner had she beheld the features of the sick man than she reeled back, and grasped the arms of the persons on either side. For a few seconds she stood, with her hands pressed upon her face, and when she withdrew them, her features were almost ghastly in their hue, while, with a great effort over her emotion, she said, in a low voice, “Can he recover?”

“Yes, Minette!” replied the surgeon, “and will, if care avail anything. Just hear me for a moment.”

With that he drew her to one side, and commenced to explain the treatment he proposed to adopt. As he spoke, her cloak, which up to this instant she wore, dropped from her shoulders, and she stood there in the dress of the vivandière: a short frock coat, of light blue, with a thin gold braid upon the collar and the sleeve; loose trousers of white jean, strapped beneath her boots; a silk sash of scarlet and gold entwined was fastened round her waist, and fell in a long fringe at her side; while a cap of blue cloth, with a gold band and tassel, hung by a hook at her girdle. Simple as was the dress, it displayed to perfection the symmetry of her figure and her carriage, and suited the character of her air and gesture, which, abrupt and impatient at times, was almost boyish in the wayward freedom of her action.

The surgeon soon finished his directions, the crowd separated, and Minette alone remained by the sick man's bed. For some minutes her cares did not permit her to look up; but when she did, a slight cry broke from her, and she sank down upon the seat at the bedside.

“Minette, dear Minette, you are not angry with me?” said I, in a low and trembling tone. “I have not done aught to displease you,—have I so?”

She answered not a word, but a blush of the deepest scarlet suffused her face and temples, and her bosom heaved almost convulsively.

“To you I owe my life,” continued I, with earnestness; “nay more, I owe the kindness which made of a sick-bed a place of pleasant thoughts and happy memories. Can I, then, have offended you, while my whole heart was bursting with gratitude?”

A paleness, more striking than the blush that preceded it, now stole over her features, but she uttered not a word. Her eyes turned from me and fell upon her own figure, and I saw the tears till up and roll slowly along her cheeks.

“Why did you leave me, Minette?” said I, wound up by her obstinate silence beyond further endurance. “Did the few words of impatience—”

“No, no, no!” broke she in, “not that! not that!”

“What then? Tell me, for Heaven's sake, how have I earned your displeasure? Believe me, I have met with too little kindness in my way through life, not to feel poignantly the loss of a friend. What was it, I beseech you?”

“Oh, do not ask me!” cried she, with streaming eyes; “do not, I beg of you. Enough that you know—and this I swear to you,—that no fault of yours was in question. You were always good and always kind to me,—too kind, too good,—but not even your teaching could alter the waywardness of my nature. Speak of this no more, I ask you, as the greatest favor you can bestow on me. See here,” cried she, while her lips trembled with emotion; “I have need of all my courage to be of use to him; and you will not, I am sure, render me unequal to my task.”

“But we are friends, Minette; friends as before,” said I, taking her hand, and pressing it within mine.

“Yes, friends!” muttered she, in a broken voice, while she turned her head from me. “Adieu! Monsieur, adieu!”

“Adieu, then, since you wish it so, Minette! But whatever your secret reason for this change towards me, you never can alter the deep-rooted feeling of my heart, which makes me know myself your friend forever.”

The more I thought of Minette's conduct, the more puzzled I was. No jealousy on the part of Pioche could explain her abrupt departure from Elchingen, and her resolve never to rejoin the Fourth. She was, indeed, a strange girl, wayward and self-willed; but her impulses all had their source in high feelings of honor and exalted pride. It might have been that some chance expression had given her offence; yet she denied this. But still, her former frankness was gone, and a sense of coldness, if not distrust, had usurped its place. I could make nothing of it. One thing alone did I feel convinced of,—she did not love Pioche. Poor fellow! with all the fine traits of his honest nature, the manly simplicity and openness of his character, he had not those arts of pleasing which win their way with a woman's mind. Besides that, Minette, from habit and tone of voice, had imbibed feelings and ideas of a very different class in society, and with a feminine tact, had contrived to form acquaintance with, and a relish for, the tastes and pleasures of the cultivated World. The total subversion of all social order effected by the Revolution had opened the path of ambition in life equally to women as to men; and all the endeavors of the Consulate and the Empire had not sobered down the minds of France to their former condition. The sergeant to-day saw no reason why he might not wear his epaulettes to-morrow, and in time exchange his shako even for a crown; and so the vivandière, whose life was passed in the intoxicating atmosphere of glory, might well dream of greatness which should be hers hereafter, and of the time when, as the wife of a marshal or a peer of France, she would walk the salons of the Tuileries as proudly as the daughter of a Rohan or a Tavanne.

There was, then, nothing vain or presumptuous in the boldest flight of ambition. However glittering the goal, it was beyond the reach of none; and the hopes which, in better-ordered communities, had been deemed absurd, seemed here but fair and reasonable. And from this element alone proceeded some of the greatest actions, and by far the greatest portion of the unhappiness, of the period. The mind of the nation was unfixed; men had not as yet resolved themselves into those grades and classes, by the means of which public opinion is brought to bear upon individuals from those of his own condition. Each was a law unto himself, suggesting his own means of advancement and estimating his own powers of success; and the result was, a general scramble for rank, dignity, and honors, the unfitness of the possessor for which, when attained, brought neither contempt nor derision. The epaulette was noblesse; the shako, a coronet. What wonder, then, if she, whose personal attractions were so great, and whose manners and tone of thought were so much above her condition, had felt the stirrings of that ambition within her heart which now appeared to be the moving spirit of the nation!

Lost in such thoughts, I turned homewards towards my quarters, and was already some distance from the convent when a dragoon galloped up to my side, and asked eagerly if I were the surgeon of the Sixth Grenadiers. As I replied in the negative, he muttered something between his teeth, and added louder, “The poor general; it will be too late after all.”

So saying, and before I could question him further, he set spurs to his horse, and dashing onwards, soon disappeared in the darkness of the night. A few minutes afterwards I beheld a number of lanterns straight before me on the narrow road, and as I came nearer, a sentinel called out,—

“Halt there! stand!”

I gave my name and rank, when the man, advancing towards me, said in a half whisper,—

“It is our general, sir; they say he cannot be brought any farther, and they must perform the operation here.”

The soldier's voice trembled at every word, and he could scarcely falter out, in reply to my question, the name of the wounded officer.

“General St. Hilaire, sir, who led the grenadiers on the Pratzen,” said the poor fellow, his sorrow struggling with his pride.

I pressed forward; and there on a litter lay the figure of a large and singularly fine-looking man. His coat, which was covered with orders, lay open, and discovered a shirt stained and clotted with blood; but his most dangerous wound was from a grapeshot in the thigh, which shattered the bone, and necessitated amputation. A young staff surgeon, the only medical man present, was kneeling at his side, and occupied in compressing some wounded vessels to arrest the bleeding, which, at the slightest stir of the patient, broke out anew. The remainder of the group were grenadiers of his own regiment, in whose sad and sorrow-struck faces one might read the affection his men invariably bore him.

“Is he coming? can you hear any one coming?” said the young surgeon, in an anxious whisper to the soldier beside him.

“No, sir; but he cannot be far off now,” replied the man.

“Shall I ride back to Reygern for assistance?” said I, in a low voice, to the surgeon.

“I thank you, sir,” said the wounded man, in a low, calm tone,—for with the quick ear of suffering he had overheard my question,—“I thank you, but my orderly has already been sent thither. If you could relieve my young friend here from his fatiguing duty for a little, you would render us both a service. I am truly grieved to see him so much exhausted.”

“No, no, sir!” stammered the youth, as the tears ran fast down his cheeks; “this is my place. I will not leave it.”

“Kind fellow!” muttered the general, as he pressed his hand gently on the young man's arm; “I can bear this better than you can.”

“Ah, here he comes now,” said the sentinel; and the same moment a man dismounted from his horse, and came forward towards us.

It was Louis, the surgeon of the Emperor himself, despatched by Napoleon the moment he heard of the event. At any other moment, perhaps, the abrupt demeanor of this celebrated surgeon would have savored little of delicacy or feeling; nor even then could I forgive the sudden announcement in which he conveyed to the sufferer that immediate amputation must be performed.

“No chance left but this, Louis?” said the general.

“None, sir,” replied the doctor, while he unlocked an instrument case, and busied himself in preparation for the operation.

“Can you defer it a little; an hour or two, I mean?”

“An hour, perhaps; not more, certainly.”

“But am I certain of your services then, Louis?” said the general, trying to smile. “You know I always promised myself your aid when this hour came.”

“I shall return in an hour,” replied the doctor, pulling out his watch; “I am going to Rapp's quarters.”

“Poor Rapp! is he wounded?”

“A mere sabre-cut; but Sebastiani has suffered more severely. Now then, Lanusse,” said he, addressing the young surgeon, “you remain here. Continue as you are doing, and in an hour—”

“In an hour,” echoed the wounded man, with a shudder, as though the anticipation of the dreadful event had thrilled through his very heart. Nor was it till the retiring sounds of the surgeon's horse had died away in the distance that his features recovered their former calm and tranquil expression.

“A prompt fellow is Louis,” said he, after a pause; “and though one might like somewhat more courtesy in the Faubourg, yet on the field of battle it is all for the best; this is no place nor time for compliments.”

The young man answered not a word, either not daring to criticise too harshly his superior, or perhaps his emotion at the moment was too strong for utterance. In reply to my offer to remain with him, however, he thanked me heartily, and seemed gratified that he was not to be left alone in such a trying emergency.

“Come,” said St. Hilaire, after a pause, “I have asked for time, and am already forgetting how to employ it. Who can write here? Can you, Guilbert?”

“Alas, no, sir!” said a dark grenadier, blushing to the very eyes.

“If you will permit a stranger, sir,” said I, “I will be but too proud and too happy to render you any assistance in my power. I am on the staff of General d'Auvergne, and—”

“A French officer, sir,” interrupted he; “quite enough. I ask for no other guerdon of your honor. Sit down here, then, and—But first try if you can discover a pocket-book in my sabretache; I hope it has not been lost.”

“Here it is, General,” said a soldier, coming forward with it; “I found it on the ground beside you.”

“Well, then, I will ask you to write down from my dictation a few lines, which, should this affair,”—he faltered slightly here,—“this affair prove unfortunate, you will undertake to convey, by some means or other, to the address I shall give you in Paris. It is not a will, I assure you,” continued he with a faint smile. “I have no wealth to leave; but I know his Majesty too well to fear anything on that score. But my children, I wish to give some few directions—” Here he stopped for several minutes, and then, in a calm voice, added, “Whenever you are ready.”

It was with a suffering spirit and a faltering hand I wrote down, from his dictation, some short sentences addressed to each member of his family. Of these it is not my intention to speak, save in one instance, where St. Hilaire himself evinced a wish that his sentiments should not be a matter of secrecy.

“I desire,” said he, in a firm tone of voice, as he turned round and addressed the soldiers on either side of him,—“I desire that my son, now at the Polytechnique, should serve the Emperor better than, and as faithfully as, his father has done, if his Majesty will graciously permit him to do so, in the grenadier battalion, which I have long commanded; it will be the greatest favor I can ask of him.” A low murmur of grief, no longer repressible, ran through the little group around the litter. “The grenadiers of the Sixth,” continued he, proudly, while for an instant his pale features flushed up, “will not love him the less for the name he bears. Come, come, men! do not give way thus; what will my kind young friend here say of us, when he joins the hussar brigade? This is not their ordinary mood, believe me,” said he, addressing me. “The Russian Guard would give a very different account of them; they are stouter fellows at the pas dé charge than around the litter of a wounded comrade.”

While he was yet speaking, Louis returned, followed by two officers, one of whom, notwithstanding his efforts at concealment, I recognized to be Marshal Murat.

“We must remove him, if it be possible,” said the surgeon, in a whisper. “And yet the slightest motion is to be dreaded.”

“May I speak to him?” said Murat, in a low voice.

“Yes, that you may,” replied Louis, who now pushed his way forward and approached the litter.

“Ah, so soon!” said the wounded man, looking up; “a man of your word, Louis. And how is Rapp? Nothing in this fashion, I hope,” added he, pointing to his fractured limb with a sickly smile.

“No, no,” replied the surgeon. “But here is Marshal Murat come to inquire after you, from the Emperor.”

A flush of pride lit up St. Hilaire's features as he heard this, and he asked eagerly, “Where, where?”

“We must remove you, St. Hilaire,” said Murat, endeavoring to speak calmly, when it was evident his feelings were highly excited; “Louis says you must not remain here.”

“As you like, Marshal. What says his Majesty? Is the affair as decisive as he looked for?”

“Far more so. The allied army is destroyed; the campaign is ended.”

“Come, then, this is not so bad as I deemed it,” rejoined St. Hilaire, with a tone of almost gayety; “I can afford to be invalided if the Emperor has no further occasion for me.”

While these few words were interchanging, Louis had applied a tourniquet around the wounded limb, and having given the soldiers directions how they were to step, so as not to disturb or displace the shattered bones, he took his place beside the litter, and said,—

“We are ready now, General.”

They lifted the litter as he spoke, and moved slowly forward. Murat pressed the hand St. Hilaire extended to him without a word; and then, turning his head away, suffered the party to pass on.

Before we reached Beygern, the wounded general had fallen into a heavy sleep, from which he did not awake as they laid him on the bed in the hospital.

“Good-night, sir,—or rather, good-morning,” said Louis to me, as I turned to leave the spot. “We may chance to have better news for you than we anticipated, when you visit us here again.”

And so we parted.


The day after the battle of Austerlitz the Prince of Lichtenstein arrived in our camp, with, as it was rumored, proposals for a peace. The negotiations, whatever they were, were strictly secret, not even the marshals themselves being admitted to Napoleon's confidence on this occasion. Soon after mid-day, a great body of the Guard who had been in reserve the previous day were drawn up in order of battle, presenting an array of several thousand men, whose dress, look, and equipment, fresh as if on parade before the Tuileries, could not fail to strike the Austrian envoy with amazement. Everything that could indicate the appearance of suffering, or even fatigue, among the troops, was sedulously kept out of view. Such of the cavalry regiments as suffered least in the battle were under arms; while the generals of division received orders to have their respective staffs fully equipped and mounted, as if on a day of review.

It was late in the afternoon when the word was passed along the lines to stand to arms; and the moment after a calèche, drawn by six horses, passed in full gallop, and took the road towards Austerlitz. The return of the Austrian envoy set a thousand conjectures in motion, and all were eager to find out what had been the result of his mission.

“We must soon learn it all,” said an old colonel of artillery near me. “If the game be war, we shall be called up to assist Davoust's movement on Göding. The Russians have but one line of retreat, and that is already in our possession.”

“I cannot for the life of me understand the Emperor's inaction,” said a younger officer; “here we remain just as if nothing had been done. One would suppose that a Russian army stood in full force before us, and that we had not gained a tremendous battle.”

“Depend on it, Auguste,” said the old officer, smiling, “his Majesty is not the man to let slip his golden opportunities. If we don't advance, it is because it is safer to remain where we are.”

“Safer than pursue a flying enemy?”

“Even so. It is not Russia, nor Austria, we have in the field against us; but Europe,—the world.”

“With all my heart,” retorted the other, boldly; “nor do I think the odds unfair. All I would ask is, the General Bonaparte of Cairo or Marengo, and not the purple-clad Emperor of the Tuileries.”

“It is not while the plain is yet reeking with the blood of Austerlitz that such a reproach should be spoken,” said I, indignantly. “Never was Bonaparte greater than Napoleon.”

“Monsieur has served in Egypt?” said the young man, contemptuously, while he measured me from head to foot.

“Would that I had! Would that I could give whatever years I may have before me, for those whose every day shall live in history!”

“You are right, young man,” said the old colonel; “they were glorious times, and a worthy prelude to the greatness that followed them.”

“A bright promise of the future,—never to come,” rejoined the younger, with a flash of anger on his cheek.

Parbleu, sir, you speak boldly!” said a harsh, low voice from behind. We turned: it was Napoleon, dressed in a gray coat, all covered with fur, and looking like one of the couriers of the army. “I did not know my measures were so freely canvassed as I find them. Who are you, sir?”

“Legrange, Sire, chef d'escadron of the Second Voltigeurs,” said the young man, trembling from head to foot while he uncovered his head, and stood, cap in hand, before him.

“Since when, sir, have I called you into my counsels and asked your advice? or what is it in your position which entitles you to question one in mine? Duroc, come here. Your sword, sir!”

The young man let fall his shako from his hand, and laid it on his sword-hilt.

“Ah!” cried the Emperor, suddenly; “what became of your right arm?”

“I left it at Aboukir, Sire.”

Napoleon muttered something between his teeth; then added, aloud,—

“Come, sir, you are not the first whose hand has saved his head. Return to your duty, and, mark me! be satisfied with doing yours, and leave me to mine. And you, sir,” said he, turning towards me, and using the same harsh tone of voice, “I should know your face.”

“Lieutenant Burke, of the Eighth Hussars.”

“Ah! I remember,—the Chouanist. So, sir, it seems that I stand somewhat higher in your esteem than when you kept company with Messieurs Georges and Pichegru, eh?”

“No, Sire; your Majesty ever occupied the first place in my admiration and devotion.”

Sacristi! then you took a strange way to show it when first I had the pleasure of your acquaintance. You are on General St. Hilaire's staff?”

“General d'Auvergne's, Sire.”

“True. D'Auvergne, a word with you.”

He turned and whispered something to the old general, who during the whole colloquy stood at his back, anxious but not daring to interpose a word.

“Well, well,” said Napoleon, in a voice of much kinder accent, “I am satisfied. Your general, sir, reports favorably of your zeal and capacity. I do not desire to let your former conduct prove any bar to your advancement; and on his recommendation, of which I trust you may prove yourself worthy, I name you to a troop in your own regiment.”

“And still to serve on my staff?” said the general, half questioning the Emperor.

“As you wish it, D'Auvergne.”

With that he moved forward ere I could do more than express my gratitude by a respectful bow.

“I told you, Burke, the time would come for this,” said D'Auvergne, as he pressed my hand warmly, and followed the cortege of the Emperor.

Hitherto I had lived an almost isolated life. My staff duties had so separated me from my brother officers that I only knew them by name; while the other aides-de-camp of the general were men much older than myself, and with none of them had I formed any intimacy whatever. It was not without a sense of this loneliness that I now thought over my promotion. The absence of those who sympathize with our moments of joy and sorrow reduces our enjoyment to a narrow limit indeed. The only one of all I knew who would really have felt happy in my advancement was poor Pioche. He was beyond every thought of pleasure or grief.

Thus reflecting, I turned towards my quarters at Brunn. It was evening: the watchfires were lighted, and round them sat groups of soldiers at their supper, chatting away pleasantly, and recounting the events of the battle. Many had been slightly wounded, and by their bandaged foreheads and disabled arms claimed a marked pre-eminence above the rest. A straw bivouac, with its great blazing fire in front, would denote some officer's quarters; and here were generally some eight or ten assembled, while the savory odor of some smoking dish, and the merry laughter, proclaimed that feasting was not excluded from the life of a campaign.

As I passed one of these I heard the tones of a voice which, well known, had somehow not been heard by me for many a day before. Who could it be? I listened, but in vain. I asked myself whose was it. I dismounted, and leading my horse by the bridle, passed before the hut. The strong light of the blazing wood lit up the interior, and showed me a party of about a dozen officers, seated and lying on a heap of straw, occupied in discussing a supper, which, however wanting in all the elegancies of table equipment, even where I stood had a most appetizing odor. Various drinking vessels, some of them silver, passed from hand to hand rapidly; and the clinking of cups proclaimed that, although of different regiments,—as I saw they were,—a kindly feeling united them.

“Well, François,” said the same voice, whose accents were so familiar to me without my being able to say why,—“well, Francois, you have not told us how it happened.”

“Easily enough,” said another; “he broke my blade in his back, and gave point afterwards and ran me through the chest.” It was the maître d'armes of the Fourth, my old antagonist, who said this, and I drew near to hear the remainder. “You could not call the thing unfair,” continued he; “but, after all, no one ever heard of such a passe.”

“I could have told you of it, though,” rejoined the other; “for I remember once, in the fencing school at the Polytechnique, I saw him catch his antagonist's blade in his sleeve, and when he had it secure, snap it across, and then thrust home with his own. Parbleu! he lost a coat by it; and I believe, at the time, poor fellow, he could ill spare it.”

This story, which was told of myself, was an incident which occurred in a school duel, and was only known to two or three others; and again was I puzzled to think which of my former companions the speaker could be. My curiosity was now stronger than aught else; and so, affecting to seek a light for my cigar, I approached the blaze.

“Halloo, Comrade! a cup of wine with you,” cried out a voice from within; “Melniker is no bad drinking—”

“When Chambertin can't be had,” said another, handing me a goblet of red wine.

Par Saint Denis! it's the very man himself,” shouted a third. “Why, Burke, my old comrade, do you forget Tascher?”

“What!” said I, in amazement, turning from one to the other of the mustached faces, and unable to discover my former friend, while they laughed loud and long at my embarrassment.

“Make way for him there; make way, lads! Come, Burke, here's your place,” said he, stretching out his hand and pressing me down beside him on the straw. “So you did not remember me?”

In truth, there was enough of change in his appearance since last I saw him to warrant my forgetfulness. A dark, bushy beard, worn cuirassier fashion, around the mouth and high on the cheeks, almost concealed his face, while in figure he had grown both taller and stouter.

“Art colonel of the Eighth Regiment?” said he, laughing; “you know I promised you were to be, when we were to meet again.”

“No; but, if I mistake not,” said a hussar officer opposite, “monsieur is in the way to become so. Were you not named to a troop, about half an hour ago, by the Emperor himself?”

“Yes!” said I, with an effort to suppress my pride.

Diantre bleu!” exclaimed Tascher, “what good fortune you always have I I wish you joy of it, with all my heart. I say, Comrades, let us drown his commission for him.”

“Agreed! agreed!” cried they all in a breath. “Francois will make us a bowl of punch for the occasion.”

“Most willingly,” said the little maître d'armes. “Monsieur le Capitaine, I am sure, bears me no ill-will for our little affair. I thought not,” added he, seizing my hand in both his. “Ma foi! you spoiled my tierce for me; I shall never be the same man again. Now, gentlemen, pass down the brandy, and let the man with most credit go seek for sugar at the canteen.”

While François commenced his operations, Tascher proceeded to recount to me the miserable life he had spent in garrison towns, till the outbreak of the campaign had called him on active service.

“It was no use that I asked the Empress to intercede for me, and get me appointed to another regiment; being the nephew of Napoleon seemed to set a complete bar to my advancement. Even now,” said he, “my name has been sent forward by my colonel for promotion, and I wager you fifty Naps I shall be passed over.”

“And what if you be?” said a huge, heavy-browed major beside him; “what great hardship is it to be a lieutenant in the cuirassiers at two and twenty? I was a sergeant ten years later.”

“Ay, parbleu!” cried another, “I won my epaulettes at Cairo, when three officers were reported living, in a whole regiment.”

“To be sure,” said François, looking up from his operation of lemon-squeezing; “here am I, a maître d'armes, after twenty-six years' service; and there's Davoust, who never could stand before me, he's a general of brigade.”

The whole party laughed aloud at the grievances of Maître Francois, whose seriousness on the subject was perfectly real.

“Ah; you may laugh,” said he, half in pique; “but what a mere accident can determine a man's fortune in life! Would Junot there be a major-general to-day if he did not measure six feet without his boots? We were at school together, and, ma foi! he was always at the bottom of the class.”

“And so, Francois, it was your size, then, that stopped your promotion?”

“Of course it was. When a man is but five feet—with high heels, too—he can only be advanced as a maître d'armes. Parbleu! what should I be now if I had only grown a little taller?”

“It is all better as it is,” growled out an old captain, between the puffs of his meerschaum. “If thou wert an inch bigger, there would be' no living in the same brigade with thee.”

“For all that,” rejoined Maître François, “I have put many a pretty fellow his full length on the grass.”

“How many duels, François, did you tell us, the other evening, that you fought in the Twenty-second?”

“Seventy-eight!” said the little man; “not to speak of two affairs which, I am ashamed to confess, were with the broadsword; but they were fellows from Alsace, and they knew no better.”

Tonnerre de ciel!” cried the major, “a little devil like that is a perfect plague in a regiment. I remember we had a fellow called Piccotin—”

“Ah! Piccotin; poor Piccotin! We were foster-brothers,” interrupted Francois; “we were both from Châlons-sur-Marne.”

“Egad! I 'd have sworn you were,” rejoined the major. “One might have thought ye were twins.”

“People often said so,” responded François, with as much composure as though a compliment had been intended. “We both had the same colored hair and eyes, the same military air, and gave the passe en tierce always outside the guard exactly in the same way.”

“What became of Piccotin?” asked the major. “He left us at Lyons.” “You never heard, then, what became of him?” “No. We knew he joined the chasseurs à pied.” “I can tell you, then,” said Francois; “no one knows better. I parted from Piccotin when we were ordered to Egypt. We did our best to obtain service in the same brigade, for we were like brothers, but we could not manage it; and so, with sad hearts, we separated,—he to return to France, I to sail for Alexandria. This was in the spring of 1798, or, as we called it, the year Six of the Republic. For three years we never met; but when the eighth demi-brigade returned from Egypt, we went into garrison at Bayonne, and the first man I saw on the ramparts was Piccotin himself. There was no mistaking him; you know the way he had of walking with a long stride, rising on his instep at every step, squaring his elbows, and turning his head from side to side, just to see if any one was pleased to smile, or even so much as to look closely at him. Ah, ma foi! little Piccotin knew how to treat such as well as any one. Methinks I see him approaching his man with a slide and a bow, and then, taking off his cap, I hear him say, in his mildest tone, 'Monsieur assuredly did not intend that stare and that grimace for me. I know I must have deceived myself. Monsieur is only a fool; he never meant to be impertinent.' Then, parbleu! what a storm would come on, and how cool was Piccotin the whole time! How scrupulously timid he would be of misspelling the gentleman's name, or misplacing an accent over it! How delicately he would inquire his address, as if the curiosity was only pardonable I And then with what courtesy he would take his leave, retiring half a dozen paces before he ventured to turn his back on the man he was determined to kill next morning!”

“Quite true; perfectly true, Francois,” said the major; “Piccotin did the thing with the most admirable temper and good-breeding.”

“That was the tone of Chalons when we were both boys,” said François, proudly; “he and I were reared together.”

He finished a bumper of wine as he made this satisfactory explanation, and looked round at the company with the air of a conqueror.

“Piccotin saw me as quickly as I perceived him, and the minute after we were in each other's arms. 'Ah! mon cher! how many?' said he to me, as soon as the first burst of enthusiasm had subsided.

“'Only eighteen,' said I, sadly; 'but two were Mamelukes of the Guard.'

“'Thou wert ever fortunate, François,' he replied, wiping his eyes with emotion; 'I have never pinked any but Christians.'

“'Come, come,' said I, 'don't be down-hearted; good times are coming. They say Le Petit Caporal will have us in England soon.'

“'Mayhap,' said he, sorrowfully, for he could not get over my Turks. Well, in order to cheer him up a little, I proposed that we should go and sup together at the 'Grenadier Rouge;' and away we went accordingly.

“It would amuse you, perhaps,” said Maître François, “were I to tell some of the stories we related to each other at night. We both had had our share of adventure since we met, and some droll ones among the number. However, that is not the question at present. We sat late; so late that they came to close the café at last, and we were obliged to depart. You know the 'Grenadier Rouge,' don't you?”

“Yes, I know it well,” replied the major; “it's over the glacis, about a mile outside the barrier.”

“Just so; and there's a pleasant walk across the glacis to the gate. As Piccotin and I set out together on our way to the town, the night was calm and mild; a soft moonlight shed a silvery tint over every object, and left the stately poplars to throw a still longer shadow on the smooth grass. For some time we walked along without speaking; the silence of the night, the fragrant air, the mellow light, were all soft and tranquillizing influences, and we sank each into his own reflections.

“When we reached the middle of the plain,—you know the spot, I'm sure; there's a little bronze fountain, with four cedars round it,” (the major nodded, and he resumed),—“Piccotin came to a sudden halt, and seizing my hand in both of his, said, 'François, canst thou guess what I 'm thinking of?'

“I looked at him, and I looked around me, and after a few seconds' pause I answered, 'Yes, Piccotin, I know it; it is a lovely spot.'

“'Never was anything like it!' cried he, in a rapture; 'look at the turf, smooth as velvet, and yet soft to the foot; see the trees, how they fall back to give the light admittance; and there, that little fountain, if one felt thirsty, eh! What say you?'

“'Agreed,' said I, grasping him by both hands; 'for this once; once only, Piccotin.'

“'Only once, François; a few passes, and no more.'

“'Just so; the first touch.'

“'Exactly; the first touch,' said he, as, taking off his cloak, and folding it neatly, he laid it on the grass.

“It was a strange thing, but in all our lives, from earliest boyhood up, we never had measured swords together; and though we were both maîtres d'armes, we never crossed blades, even in jest. Often and often had our comrades pitted us against each other, and laid wagers on the result, but we never would consent to meet; I cannot say why. It was not fear; I know not how to account for it, but such was the fact.

“'What blade do you wear, François?' said he, approaching me, as I arranged my jacket and vest, with my cap, on the ground.

“'A Rouen steel,' said I; 'too limber for most men, but I am so accustomed to it, I prefer it.'

“'Ah! a pretty weapon indeed,' said he, drawing it from the scabbard, and making one or two passes with it against an elder trunk. 'Was this the blade you had with you in Egypt?'

“'Yes; I have worn none other for eight years.'

“'Ah, ma foi! those Mamelukes. How I envy you those Mamelukes!' he muttered to himself, as he walked back to his place.

“'Move a little, a very little, to the left; there's a shadow from that tree. Can you see me well?' said I.

“'Perfectly; are you ready? Well; en garde!'

“Piccotin's forte, I soon saw, lay in the long meditated attack, where each movement was part of an artfully devised series; and I perceived that he suffered his adversary to gain several trifling advantages, by way of giving him a false confidence, biding his own time to play off the scores. In this description of fence he was more than my equal. My strength was in the skirmishing passages, where most men lunge at random; then, no matter how confused the rally, I was as cool as in the salute.

“For some time I permitted him to play his game out; and certainly nothing could be more beautiful than his passes over the hilt. Twice he planted his point within an inch of my bosom; and nothing but a spring backwards would have saved me.

“At length, after a long-contested struggle, he made a feint within, and then without, the guard, and succeeded in touching my sword-arm, above the wrist.

“'A touch, I believe,' said he.

“'A mere nothing,' said I; for although I felt the blood running down my sleeve, and oozing between my fingers, I was annoyed to think he had made the first hit.

“'Ah, François, these Mamelukes were not of the première force, after all. I have only been jesting all this time; see here.' With that he closed on me, in a very different style from his former attack. Pushing and parrying with the rapidity of lightning, he evinced a skill in 'skirmish' I did not believe him possessed of. In this, however, I was his master; and in a few seconds gave him my point sharply, but not deeply, in the shoulder. Instead of dropping his weapon when he received mine, he returned the thrust. I parried it, and touched him again, a little lower down. He winced this time, and muttered something I could not catch. 'You shall have it now,' said he, aloud; 'I owe you this,—and this.' True to his word, he twice pierced me in the back, outside the guard. Encouraged by success, he again closed on me; while I, piqued by his last assault, advanced to meet him.

“Our tempers were both excited; but his far more than mine. The struggle was a severe one. Three several times his blade passed between my arm and my body; and at last after a desperate rally, he dropped on one knee, and gave me the point here, beneath the chest. Before he could extricate his blade, I plunged mine into his chest, and pushed till I heard the hilt come clink against his ribs. The blood spurted upwards, over my face and breast, as he fell backwards. I wiped it hurriedly from my eyes, and bent over him. He gave a shudder and a little faint moan, and all was still.”

“You killed him?” cried out three or four of us together.

Ma foi! yes. The 'coup' was mortal; he never stirred after. As for me,” continued Francois, “I surrendered myself a prisoner to the officer on guard at the gate. I was tried ten days after by a military commission, and acquitted. My own evidence was my accusation and my defence.”

Ventrebleu! had I been on the court-martial, you had not been here to tell the story,” said the old major, as his face became almost purple with passion.

“Nonsense!” said Tascher, jeeringly. “What signifies a maître d'armes the more or the less?”

“Monsieur will probably explain himself,” said François, with one of his cold smiles of excessive deference.

“It is exactly what I mean to do, François.”

“Come, sirs, none of this,” broke in the major. “Lieutenant Tascher, you may not fancy being placed under an arrest when the enemy is in the field. Master Francois, do you forget the sentence of a court-martial is hanging over your head for an affair at Elchingen, where you insulted a young officer of the hussars?”

“In that case I must be permitted to say that Maître François conducted himself like a man of honor,” said I.

Parbleu! and got the worst of it besides,” cried he, placing his hand on his hip. The tone of his voice as he said this, and the grimace he made, restored the party once more to good-humor, and we chatted away pleasantly till day was breaking.

As Tascher strolled along with me towards my quarters, I was rejoiced to discover that he had never heard of my name as being mixed up in the Chouan conspiracy; nor was he aware with how little reason he believed me to be favored by fortune.

I received, however, all his congratulations without any desire to undeceive him. Already had I learned the worldly lesson, that while friends cling closer in adversity, your mere acquaintance deems your popularity your greatest merit; and I at length perceived that, however ungenial in many respects the companionship, the life of isolation I led had rendered me suspected by others, and in a career, too, where frankness was considered the first of virtues.

I assented at once with pleasure to the prospect of our meeting frequently while in camp. My own regiment had joined Davoust's corps, and I was glad to have the society of some others of my own age, if only to wean myself from my habits of solitude. While I formed these plans for the future, I little anticipated what events were in store for me, nor how soon I should be thrown among scenes and people totally different from those with which I had ever mixed before.

“You mess with us, then, Burke,—that's agreed,” said Tascher. “They 're excellent fellows, these cuirassiers of ours, and I know you 'll like them.”

With this promise we parted, hoping to meet on the morrow.


At an early hour on the morning of the 4th came orders for the “Garde à Cheval” to hold themselves in readiness, with two squadrons of the carabineers, on the road to Holitsch; part of this force being under the command of General d'Auvergne. We found ourselves fully equipped and in waiting soon after eight o'clock. From the “tenue” and appearance of the troops, it was evident that no measure of active service was contemplated; yet, if a review were intended, we could not guess why so small a force had been selected. As usual on such occasions, many conjectures were hazarded, and a hundred explanations passed current,—one scarcely a whit better than the other, when at last we perceived a peloton of dragoons advancing towards us at a brisk trot.

The word was passed to close up and draw swords; and scarcely was it obeyed when the staff of the Emperor came up. They were all in the full blaze of their gala uniforms, brilliant with crosses and decorations. Napoleon alone wore the simple costume of the “Chasseurs of the Garde,” with the decoration of the Legion; but his proud look and his flashing eye made him conspicuous above them all. He was mounted on his favorite charger “Marengo,” and seemed to enjoy the high spirit of the mettled animal, as he tossed his long mane about, and lashed his sides with his great silken tail.

As the cortége passed we closed up the rear, and followed at a sharp pace, more than ever puzzled to divine what was going forward. After about two hours' riding, during which we never drew bridle, we saw a party of staff-officers in front, who, saluting the Emperor, joined the cortége. At the same instant General d'Auvergne passed close beside me, and whispered in my ear. “Bernadotte has just come up, and been most coldly received.” I wished to ask him what was the object of the whole movement, but he was gone before I could do so. In less than a quarter of an hour afterwards we left the highroad, and entered upon a large plain, where the only object I could perceive was an old mill, ruined and dilapidated. Towards this the imperial staff rode forward, while the peloton in front wheeled about, and rode to the rear of our squadrons. The next moment we were halted, and drawn up in order of battle.

While these movements were going forward, I remarked that the Emperor had dismounted from his horse and dismissed his staff, all save Marshal Berthier, who stood at a little distance from him. Several dismounted dragoons were employed in lighting two immense fires,—a process which Napoleon appeared to watch with great interest for a second or two; and then, taking out his glass, he remained for several minutes intently surveying the great road to Holitsch.

In this direction at once every eye was turned; but nothing could we see. The road led through a wide open country for some miles, and at last disappeared in the recesses of a dark pine wood, that covered the horizon for miles on either side. Meanwhile Napoleon, with his hands clasped behind his back, walked hurriedly backwards and forwards beside the blazing fires, stopping at intervals to look along the road, and then resuming his walk as before. He was not more than two hundred paces from where we stood, and I could mark well his gesture of impatience, as he closed his glass each time, after looking in vain towards Holitsch.

“I say, Burke,” whispered one of my brother officers beside me, “I should not fancy being the man who keeps him waiting in that fashion. Look at Berthier, how he keeps aloof; he knows that something is brewing.”

“What can it all mean?” said I. “Who can he be expecting here?”

“They say now,” whispered my companion, “that Davoust cannot hold the bridge of Goding, and must fall back before the Russian column; and that Napoleon has invited Alexander to a conference here to gain time to reinforce Davoust.”

“Exactly; but the Czar is too wily an enemy for that to succeed; and probably hence the delay, which appears to irritate him now.”

The supposition, more plausible than most of those I heard before, was still contradicted by the account of the Emperor Alexander's retreat; and again was I at a loss to reconcile these discrepancies, when I beheld Napoleon, with his glass to his eye, motion with his hand for Berthier to come forward. I turned towards the road, and now could distinguish in the distance a dark object moving towards us. A few minutes after the sun shone out, and I remarked the glitter of arms, stretching in a long line; while my companion, with the aid of a glass, called out,—

“I see them plainly; they are lancers. The escort are Hungarians, and there's a calèche, with four horses in front.”

The Emperor stood motionless, his arms folded on his breast, and his head a little leaned forward, exactly as I have seen him represented in so many pictures and statues. His eyes were thrown downwards; and as he stirred the blazing wood with his foot, one could easily perceive how intensely his mind was occupied with deep thought.

The clattering sound of cavalry now turned my attention to another quarter; and I saw, exactly in front of us, and about five hundred paces off, a regiment of Hungarian Hussars, and some squadrons of Hulans drawn up. I had little time to mark their gorgeous equipment and splendid uniform, for already the calèche had drawn up at the roadside, and Prince John of Lichtenstein, descending, took off his chapeau, and offered his arm to assist another to alight. Slowly, and, as it seemed, with effort, a tall thin figure, in the white uniform of the Austrian Guard, stepped from the carriage to the ground. The same instant the officers of the staff fell back, and I saw Napoleon advance with open arms to embrace him. The Austrian emperor—for it was Francis himself—seemed scarcely able to control the emotion he felt at this moment; and we could see that his head rested for several seconds on Napoleon's shoulder. And what a moment must that have been! How deeply must the pride of the descendant of the Cæsars have felt the humiliation which made him thus a suppliant before one he deemed a mere Corsican adventurer! What a pang it must have cost his haughty spirit as he uttered the words, Mon frère!

As they walked side by side towards the plateau, where the fires were lighted, it was easy to mark that Napoleon was the speaker, while Francis merely bowed from time to time, or made a gesture of seeming assent.

As the Emperor arrived at the place of conference, we fell back some fifty yards; and although the air was still and frosty, and the silence was perfect around, we could not catch a word on either side. After about an hour the conversation appeared to assume a tone of gayety and good-humor, and we could hear the sovereigns laughing repeatedly.

The conference lasted for above two hours, when once more the emperors embraced, and, as we thought, with more cordiality, and separated; the Emperor of Austria returning, accompanied by Prince Lichtenstein; while Napoleon stood for some minutes beside the fire as if musing, and then, beckoning his staff to follow, he walked towards the highroad.

Scarcely had the Austrian emperor reached his carriage, when Savary, bareheaded and breathless, stood beside the door of it. He was the bearer of a message from Napoleon. The next moment the calèche started, accompanied by Savary, who, with a single aide-de-camp, took the road towards the Austrian headquarters.

As Napoleon was about to mount his horse, I saw General d'Auvergne move forward towards him. A few words passed between them; and then the general, riding up to where I stood, said,—

“Burke, you are to remain here, and if any orders arrive from General Savary, hasten with them to the headquarters of his Majesty. In twelve hours you will be relieved.”

So saying, he galloped back to the imperial staff; and soon after the squadrons defiled into the road, the cortége dashed forward, and all that remained of that memorable scene was the dying embers of the fires beside which the fate of Europe was decided.

The old mill of Holitsch had been deserted when the Austrian and Russian columns took up their position before Austerlitz. The miller and his household fled at the first news of the advance, and had not dared to return. It was a solitary spot at best: a wild heath, without shelter of any kind, stretched away for miles on all sides; but now, in its utter loneliness, it was the most miserable-looking place that can be conceived. While, therefore, I contented myself with the hope that my stay there might not be long, I resolved to do what I could to render my quarters more comfortable.

My first care was my horse, which I picketed in the kitchen, where I was happy to find an abundant supply of firewood; my next, was to explore the remainder of the concern, in which I discovered traces of its having been already occupied by the allied troops,—rude caricatures of the French army in full déroute, before terrible-looking dragoons in Austrian and Russian uniforms, ornamented the walls in many parts; whole columns of French prisoners were depicted begging their lives from a single Austrian grenadier; and one figure, which it could be easily discovered was intended for Napoleon himself, was about to be hanged upon a tree, to the very marked satisfaction, as it would seem, of a group of Russian officers, who stood by, laughing. It is easy to smile at the ridicule of which fortune has thwarted the application and so I amused myself a good while by contemplating these grotesque frescos.

But a more welcome sight still awaited me, in a small chamber at the top of the building, where, in large letters, written with chalk on the door, I read, “Rittmeister von Oxenhausen's quarters.” Here, to my exceeding delight, I discovered a neatly-furnished chamber, with a bed, sofa, and, better still, a table, on which the remains of the Rittmeister's sapper yet stood,—a goodly ham, the greater part of a capon, a loaf of wheaten bread, and an earthenware crock, with a lid of brass, containing about two bottles of Austrian red wine. This was a most agreeable surprise to me,—a pleasant exchange from the meagre meal of bread and cheese I had but time to procure from a sergeant of my troop at parting. It need not be supposed that I hesitated long about becoming the Rittmeister's successor; and so I drew the chair to the table, and the table nearer to the fire,—for, singularly enough, the embers of a wood fire still slumbered on the hearth. Having taken the keen edge off an appetite the cold air had whetted to the sharpest, I began an inspection of my quarters, first having replenished the fire with some logs of wood.

The chamber was an octagon, with five windows in as many of the faces, a fireplace and two doors occupying the other three. One of the doors—that by which I entered,—opened from the stairs; the other led into a granary, or something of that nature,—at least, so I conjectured, from a heap of sacks which littered the floor, and filled one corner completely. As I could not discover any corn, I resolved on sharing my loaf with my horse,—a meal every campaigning steed is well accustomed to make. And now, returning to my little chamber, I resumed my supper with all the satisfaction of one who felt he had made his rounds of duty, and might enjoy repose.

As I knew the Château de Holitsch, where the Emperor Francis held his quarters, was some six leagues distant, I guessed that General Savary was not likely to return from his mission before morning at very soonest; and so it behooved me to make my arrangements for passing the night where I was. Having, then, looked to my horse, for whose bedding I made free with some dozen of the corn-sacks in the granary, I brought up to my own quarters a supply of wood; and having fastened the door, and secured the windows as well as I was able, I lit my meerschaum, and lay down before the fire in as happy a frame of mind as need be.

Indeed, I began to fancy that fortune had done tormenting, and was now about to treat me more kindly. The notice of the Emperor had relieved my heart of a load which never ceased to press on it, and I could not help feeling that a fairer prospect was opening before me. It is true, time and misfortune had both blunted the ardor of enthusiasm with which I started in life; the daring aspirations after liberty, the high-souled desire for personal distinction, had subsided into calmer hopes and less ambitious yearnings. Young as I yet was, I experienced in myself that change of sentiment and feeling which comes upon other men later on in life; and I was gradually reconciling myself to that sense of duty which teaches a man well to play his part, in whatever station he may be called to act, rather than indulge in those overweening wishes for pre-eminence, which in their accomplishment are so often disappointing, and in their failure a source of regret and unhappiness. These feelings were impressed on me more by the force of events than by any process of my own reasoning. The career in which I first started as a boy had led to nothing but misfortune. The affection I conceived for one,—the only one I ever loved,—was destined equally to end unhappily. The passion for liberty, in which all my first aspirations were centred, had met the rude shocks which my own convictions suggested; and now I perceived that I must begin life anew, endeavoring to forget the influences whose shadows darkened my early days, and carve out my destiny in a very different path from what I once intended.

These were my last waking thoughts, as my head sank on my arm, and I fell into a deep sleep. The falling of a log from the fire awoke me suddenly. I rubbed my eyes, and for a second or two could not remember where I was. At length I became clearer in mind, and looking at my watch, perceived it was but two o'clock. As the flame of the replenished fire threw its light through the room, I remarked that the door into the granary stood ajar. This struck me as strange. I thought I could remember shutting it before I went to sleep. Yes,—I recollected perfectly placing a chair against it, as the latch was bad, and a draught of cold air came in that way; and now the chair was pushed back into the room, and the door lay open. A vague feeling, half suspicion, half curiosity, kept me thinking of the circumstance, when by chance—the merest chance—my eyes fell upon the table where I had left my sabre and my pistols. What was my amazement to find that one of the latter—that which lay nearest the door—was missing!

In an instant I was on my feet. Nothing can combat drowsiness like the sense of fear; and I became perfectly awake in a moment. Examining the room with caution, I found everything in the same state as I had left it, save the door and the missing pistol. The granary alone, then, could be the shelter of the invader, whoever he might be. What was to be done? I was totally unprovided with light, save what the fire afforded; and even were it otherwise, I should expose myself by carrying one, long before I could hope to detect a concealed enemy. The best plan I could hit upon seemed to secure the door once more; and then, placing myself in such a position as not to be commanded by it again, to wait for morning patiently. This then, I did at once; and having examined my remaining pistol, and found the charge and priming all safe, I drew my sabre, and sat down between the door and the window, but so that it should open against me.

Few sensations are more acutely painful than the exercise of the hearing when pushed to intensity. The unceasing effort to catch the slightest sound soon becomes fatigue, and as the organ grows weary, the mental anxiety grows more acute; and then begins a struggle between the failing sense and the excited brain. The spectral images of the eye in fever are not one half so terrible as the strange discordant tones that jar upon the tympanum in such a state as this. Each inanimate object seems endowed with its own power of voice, and whispering noises come stealing through the dead silence of midnight.

In this state of almost frenzied anxiety I sat long,—my eyes turned towards the door, which oftentimes I fancied I could perceive to move. At length the thought occurred to me, that by affecting sleep, if any one lay concealed within whose object was to enter the room, this would probably induce him.



I had not long to wait for the success of my scheme. The long-drawn breathing of my seeming slumber was not continued for more than a few minutes, when I saw the door slowly, almost imperceptibly, move. At first it stirred inch by inch; then gradually it opened wider and wider till it met the obstacle of the chair. There now came a pause of several seconds, during which it demanded all my efforts to sustain my part,—the throbbing at my throat and temples increasing almost beyond endurance, and the impulse to dash forward, and flinging wide the door, confront my enemy, being nearly too much for my resistance. Again it moved noiselessly as before; and then a hand stole out, and, laying hold of the chair, pushed it slowly backwards. The gray light of the breaking day fell upon the spot, and I could see that the cuff of the coat was laced with gold.

This time my anxiety became intense. Another second or two and I should be engaged in the conflict,—I knew not against how many. I clutched my sabre more fairly in my grasp, as my breathing grew thicker and shorter. The chair still continued to slide silently into the room, and already the arm of the man within protruded. Now was the moment, or never; and with a spring, I threw myself on it, and, pinioning the wrist in my hands, held it down upon the floor while I opposed my weight against the door.


Quick as lightning the other hand appeared, armed with a pistol; and I had but a moment to crouch my head nearly to the ground when a bullet whizzed past and smashed through the window behind me, while with a crash the frail door gave way to a strong push, and a man sprang fiercely forward to seize me by the throat. Jumping backward, I recovered my feet; but before I could raise my pistol he made a spring at me, and we both rolled together on the floor. On the pistol both our hands met, and the struggle was for the weapon.

Twice was it pointed at my heart; but my hand held the lock, and not all his efforts could unclasp it. At last I freed my right hand from the sword-knot of my sabre, and striking him with my clenched knuckles on the forehead, threw him back. His grasp relaxed at the instant, and I wrenched the pistol from his fingers, and placed the muzzle against his chest.

Another second and he would have rolled a corpse before me, when, to my horror and amazement, I saw in my antagonist my once friend, Henri de Beauvais. I flung the weapon from me, as I cried out, “De Beauvais, forgive me! forgive me!”

A deathly paleness came over his features; his eyes grew glazed and filmy, and with a low groan he fell fainting on the floor. I bathed his temples with water; I moistened his pale lips; I rubbed his clammy fingers. But it was long before he rallied; and when he did come to himself and looked up, he closed his eyes again, as though the sight of me was worse than death itself.

“Come, Henri!” said I, “a cup of wine, my friend, and you will be better presently. Thank God, this has not ended as it might.”

He raised his eyes towards me, but with a look of proud and unforgiving sternness, while he uttered not a word.

“It is unfair to blame me, De Beauvais, for this,” said I. “Once more I say, forgive me!”

His lips moved, and some sounds came forth, but I could not hear the words.

“There, there,” cried I; “it's past and over now. Here is my hand.”

“You struck me with that hand,” said he, in a deep, distinct voice, as though every word came from the very bottom of his chest.

“And if I did, Henri, my own life was on the blow.”

“Oh that you had taken mine with it!” said he, with a bitterness I can never forget. “I am the first of my name that ever received a blow; would I were to be the last!”

“You forget, De Beauvais—”

“No, sir; I forget nothing. Be assured, too, I never shall forget this night. With any other than yourself I should not despair of that atonement for an injury which alone can wash out such a stain; but you,—I know you well,—you will not give me this.”

“You are right, De Beauvais; I will not,” said I, calmly. “Sorry am I that even an accident should have brought us into collision. It is a mischance I feel deeply, and shall for many a day.”

“And I, sir,” cried he, as, starting up, his eyes flashed with passion and his cheek grew scarlet,—“and I, sir!—what are to be my feelings? Think you, that because I am an exile and an outcast,—forced by misfortune to wear the livery of one who is not my rightful sovereign,—that my sense of personal honor is the less, and that the mark of an insult is not as blood-stained on my conscience as ever it was?”

“Nothing but passion could blind you to the fact that there can be no insult where no intention could exist.”

“Spare me your casuistry, sir,” replied he, with an insolent wave of his hand, while he sank into a chair, and laid his head upon the table.

For an instant my temper, provoked beyond endurance, was about to give way, when I perceived that a handkerchief was bound tightly around his leg above the knee, where a great stain of blood marked his trouser. The thought of his being wounded banished every particle of resentment, and laying my hand on his shoulder, I said,—

“De Beauvais, I know not one but yourself to whom I would three times say, forgive me. But we were friends once, when we were both happier. For the sake of him who is no more,—poor Charles de Meudon—”

“A traitor, sir,—a base traitor to the king of his fathers!”

“This I will not endure!” said I, passionately. “No one shall dare—”


“Ay, dare, sir!—such was the word. To asperse the memory of one like him is to dare that which no man can, with truth and honor.”

“Come, sir, I'm ready,” said Be Beauvais, rising, and pointing to the door, “Sortons!”

No one who has not heard that one word pronounced by the lips of a Frenchman can conceive how much of savage enmity and deadly purpose it implies. It is the challenge which, if unaccepted, stamps cowardice forever on the man who declines it: from that hour all equality ceases between those whom a combat had placed on the same footing.

“Sortons!” The word rang in my ears, and tingled through my very heart, while a host of different impulses swayed me,—shame, sorrow, wounded pride, all struggling for the mastery: but above them all, a better and a higher spirit,—the firm resolve, come what would, to suffer no provocation De Beauvais could offer, to make me stand opposite to him as an enemy.

“What am I to think, sir?” said he, with a voice scarcely articulate from passion,—“what am I to think of your hesitation? or why do you stand inactive here? Is it that you are meditating what new insult can be added to those you have heaped on me?”

“No, sir,” I replied, firmly; “so far from thinking of offence, I am but too sorry for the words I have already spoken. I should have remembered, and remembering, should have made allowance for, the strength of partisan feelings, which have their origin in a noble, but, as I believe, a mistaken source.”

“Indeed!” interrupted he, in mockery. “Is it, then, come to this? Am I, a Frenchman born, to be lectured on my loyalty and allegiance by a foreign mercenary?”

“Not even that taunt, De Beauvais, shall avail you anything. I am firm in my resolve.”

Pardieu! then,” cried he, with savage energy, “there remains but this!”

As he spoke, he leaped from his chair, and sprang towards me. In so doing, however, his knee struck the table, and with a groan of agony, he reeled back and fell on the floor, while from his reopened wound a torrent of blood gushed out and deluged the room.

For a second or two he motioned me away with his hand; but as his weakness increased, he lay passive and unresisting, and suffered me to arrest the bleeding by such means as I was able to practise.

It was a long time ere I could stanch the gaping orifice, which had been inflicted by a sabre, and cut clean through the high boot and deep into the thigh. Fortunately for his recovery, he had himself succeeded in getting off the boot before, and the wound lay open to my surgical skill. Lifting him cautiously in my arms, I laid him on the bed, and moistened his lips with a little wine. Still the debility continued,—no signs of returning strength were there; but his features, pale and fallen, were glazed with a cold sweat that hung in heavy drops upon his brow and forehead.

Never was agony like mine. I saw his life was ebbing fast; the respiration was growing fainter and more irregular; his pulse could scarce be felt; yet dare I not leave my post to seek for assistance. A hundred thoughts whirled through my puzzled brain, and among the rest, the self-accusing one that I was the cause of his death. “Yes,” thought I, “better far to have stood before his pistol, at all the hazard of my life, than see him thus.”

In an instant all his angry speeches and his insulting gestures were forgotten. He looked so like what I once knew him, that my mind was wandering back again to former scenes and times, and all resentment was lost in the flood of memory. Poor fellow! what a sad destiny was his! fighting against the arms of his country,—a mourner over the triumphs of his native land! Alien that I was, this pang at least was spared me.

As these thoughts crossed my mind, I felt him press my hand. Overjoyed, I knelt down and whispered some words in his ear.

“No, no,” muttered he, in a low, plaintive tone; “not all lost,—not all! La Vendee yet remains!” He was dreaming.


As I sat thus watching with steadfast gaze the features of the sleeping man, I heard the clattering of a horse's hoofs on the pavement beneath, and the next moment the heavy step of some one ascending the stairs. Suddenly the door was flung wide open, and an officer in the handsome uniform of the Austrian Imperial Guard entered.

“Excuse this scant ceremony, Monsieur,” said he, bowing with much courtesy, “but I almost despaired of finding you out. I come from Holitsch with despatches for your Emperor; they are most pressing, as I believe this note will inform you.”

While I threw my eye over the few lines addressed by General Savary to the officer in waiting at Holitsch, and commanding the utmost speed in forwarding the despatch that accompanied them, the officer drew near the bed where De Beauvais was lying.

Mère de ciel, it is the count!” cried he, starting back with astonishment.

“Yes,” said I, interrupting him; “I found him here on my arrival. He is badly wounded, and should be removed at once. How can this be done?”

“Easily. I 'll despatch my orderly at once to Holitsch, and remain here till he return.”

“But if our troops advance?”

“No, no! we're all safe on that score; the armistice is signed. The very despatch in your hands, I believe, concludes the treaty.”

This warned me that I was delaying too long the important duty intrusted to me, and with a hurried entreaty to the Austrian not to leave De Beauvais, I hastened down the stairs, and proceeded to saddle for the road.

“One word, Monsieur,” said the officer, as I was in the act of mounting. “May I ask the name of him to whom my brother officers owe the life of a comrade much beloved?”

“My name is Burke; and yours, Monsieur?”

“Berghausen, chef d'escadron of the Imperial Guard. If ever you should come to Vienna—” But I lost the words that followed, as, spurring my horse to a gallop, I set out towards the headquarters of the Emperor.

As I rode forward, my eyes were ever anxiously bent in the direction of our camp, not knowing at what moment I might see the advance of a column along the road, and dreading lest, before the despatches should reach the Emperor's house, the advanced vedettes should capture the little party at Holitsch. At no period of his career was Napoleon more incensed against the adherents of the Bourbons; and if De Beauvais should fall into his hands, I was well aware that nothing could save him. The Emperor always connected in his mind—and with good reason, too—the machinations of the Royalists with the plans of the English Government. He knew that the land which afforded the asylum to their king was the refuge of the others also; and many of the heaviest denunciations against the “perfide Albion” had no other source than the dread, of which he could never divest himself, that the legitimate monarch would one day be restored to France.

While such were Napoleon's feelings, the death of the Duc d'Enghien had heightened the hatred of the Bourbonists to a pitch little short of madness. My own unhappy experience made me more than ever fearful of being in any way implicated with the members of this party, and I rode on as though life itself depended on my reaching the imperial headquarters some few minutes earlier.

As I approached the camp, I was overjoyed to find that no movement was in contemplation. The men were engaged in cleaning their arms and accoutrements, restoring the broken wagons and gun-carriages, and repairing, as far as might be, the disorders of the day of battle. The officers stood in groups here and there, chatting at their ease; while the only men under arms were the new conscript? just arrived from France,—a force of some thousands,—brought by forced marches from the banks of the Rhine.

The crowd of officers near the headquarters of the Emperor pressed closely about me as I descended from my horse, eager to learn what information I brought from Holitsch; for they were not aware that I had been stationed nearly half-way on the road.

“Well, Burke,” said General d'Auvergne, as he drew his arm within mine, “your coming has been anxiously looked for this morning. I trust the despatches you carry may, if not Contradict, at least explain what has occurred.”

“Is this the officer from Holitsch?” said the aide-decamp of the Emperor, coming hurriedly forward. “The despatch, sir!” cried he; and the next moment hastened to the little hut which Napoleon occupied as his bivouac.

The only other person in the open space where I stood was an officer of the lancers, whose splashed and travel-stained dress seemed to say he had been employed like myself.

“I fancy, Monsieur,” said he, bowing, “that you have had a sharp ride also this morning. I have just arrived from Göding—four leagues—in less than an hour; and with all that, too late, I believe, to remedy what has occurred.”

“What, then, has happened?”

“Davoust has been tricked into an armistice, and suffered the Russians to pass the bridge. The Emperor Alexander has taken advantage of the negotiations with Austria, and got his army clear through; so, at least, it would seem. I saw Napoleon tear the despatch into fragments, and stamp his foot upon them. But here he comes.”

The words were scarcely spoken when the Emperor came rapidly up, followed by his staff. He wore a gray surtout, trimmed with dark fur, and had his hands clasped within the cuffs of the coat. His face was pale as death, and save a slight contraction of his brows, there was nothing to show any appearance of displeasure.

“Who brought the despatch from Göding?”

“I did, Sire,” said the officer.

“How are the roads, sir?”

“Much cut up, and in one place a torrent has carried away part of a bridge.”

“I knew it,—I knew it,” said he, bitterly; “it is too late. Duroc,” cried he, while the words seemed to come forth with a hissing sound, “did I not tell you, 'Grattez le Russe, et vous trouverez le Tartare!'”

The words were graven in my memory from that hour; even yet, I can recall the very accents as when I heard them.

“And you, sir,” said he, turning suddenly towards me, “you came from General Savary. Return to him with this letter. Have you written, Duroc? Well, you'll deliver this to General Savary at Holitsch. He may require you to proceed to Göding. Are you well mounted?”

“Yes, Sire.”

“Come, then, sir. I made you a captain yesterday; let us see if you can win your spurs to-day.”

From the time I received the despatch to that in which I was in the saddle not more than five minutes elapsed. The idea of being chosen by the Emperor himself for a service was a proud one, and I resolved to acquit myself with credit. With what concert does one's heart beat to the free stride of a mettled charger! how does each bold plunge warm the blood and stir up the spirits! and as, careering free over hill and valley, we pass in our flight the clouds that drift above, how does the sense of freedom, realized as it is, impart a feeling of ecstasy to our minds! Our thoughts, revelling on the wayward liberty our course suggests, rise free and untrammelled from the doubts and cares of every-day life.

Onward I went, and soon the old mill came in sight, rearing its ruined head amid the black desolation of the plain. I could not resist the impulse to see what had become of De Beauvais; and leading my horse into the kitchen, I hastened up the stairs and through the rooms. But all were deserted; the little chamber lay open, the granary too; but no one was there.

With a mind relieved, in a great measure, from anxiety, I remounted and continued my way; and soon entered the dark woods of Holitsch. The château and demesne were a private estate of the Emperor Francis, and once formed a favorite resort of Joseph the Second in his hunting excursions. The château itself was a large, irregular mass of building, but still, with all its incongruity of architecture, not devoid of picturesque effect,—and the older portion of it was even handsome. While I stood in front of a long terrace, on which several windows opened from a gallery that ran along one side of the château, I was somewhat surprised that no guard was to be seen, nor even a single sentinel on duty. I dismounted, and leading my horse, approached the avenue that led up between a double range of statues to the door. An old man, dressed in the slouched hat and light blue jacket of a Bohemian peasant, was busily engaged in wrapping matting around some shrubs, to protect them from the frost. A little boy—his second self in costume—stood beside him with his pruning-knife, and stared at me with a kind of stupid wonder as I approached. With some difficulty I made out from the old man that the Emperor occupied a smaller building called the Kaiser-Lust, about half a league distant in the forest, having given strict orders that no one was to approach the château nor its immediate grounds. It was his favorite retreat, and perhaps he did not wish it should be associated in his mind with a period of such misfortune. The old peasant continued his occupation while he spoke, never lifting his head from his work, and seeming all absorbed in the necessity of what he was engaged in. As I inquired the nearest road to the imperial quarters, he employed me to assist him for a moment in his task by holding one end of the matting, with which he was now about to envelop a marble statue of Maria Theresa.

I could not refuse a request so naturally proffered; and while I did so, a little wicket opened at a short distance off, and a tall man, in a gray surtout and a plain cocked hat without a feather, came forward. He held a riding-whip in his hand, and seemed, from his splashed equipment, to have just descended from the saddle.

“Well, Fritz,” said he, “I hope the frost has done us no mischief?”

The old gardener turned round at the words, and, touching his hat respectfully, continued his work, while he replied,—

“No, Mein Herr; it was but a white hoar, and everything has escaped well.”

“And whom have you got here for an assistant, may I ask?” said he, pointing to me, whom he now saw for the first time.

As the question was asked in German, although I understood it I left the reply to the gardener.

“God knows!” said the old fellow, in a tone of easy indifference; “I think he must be a soldier of some sort.”

The other smiled at the remark, and, turning towards me, said, in French,—

“You are, perhaps, unaware, sir, being a stranger, that it is the Emperor of Austria's desire this château should not be intruded on.”

“My offending, sir,” interrupted I, “was purely accidental. I am the bearer of despatches for General Savary; and having stopped to inquire from this honest man—”

“The general has taken his departure for Göding,” he broke in, without paying further attention to my explanation.

“For Goding! and may I ask what distance that may be?”

“Scarcely a league, if you can hit upon the right path; the road lies yonder, where you see that dead fir-tree.”

“I thank you, sir,” said I, touching my hat; “and must now ask my friend here to release me,—my orders are of moment.”

“You may find some difficulty in the wood, after all,” said he; “I 'll send my groom part of the way with you.”

Before I could proffer my thanks suitably for such an unexpected politeness, he had disappeared in the garden through which he entered a few minutes before.

“I say, my worthy friend, tell me the name of that gentleman; he's one of the Emperor's staff, if I mistake not. I 'm certain I 've seen the face before.”

“If you had,” said the old fellow, laughing, “you could scarcely forget him; old Frantzerl is just the same these twenty years.”

“Whom did you say?”

Before he could reply, the other was at my side.

“Now, sir,” said he, “he will conduct you to the highroad. I wish you a good journey.”

These words were uttered in a tone somewhat more haughty than his previous ones; and contenting myself with a civil acknowledgment of his attention, I bowed and returned to my horse, which the little peasant child had been holding.

“This way, Monsieur,” said the groom, who, dressed in a plain dark brown livery, was mounted on a horse of great size and symmetry.

As he spoke, he dashed forward at a gallop which all my efforts could not succeed in overtaking. In less than ten minutes the man halted, and, waiting till I came up, he pointed to a gentle acclivity before me, across which the highroad led.

“There lies the road, sir; continue your speed, and in twenty minutes you reach Göding.”

“One word,” said I, drawing forth my purse as I spoke,—“one word. Tell me, who is your master?”

The groom smiled, slightly touched his hat, and without uttering a word, wheeled round his horse, and before I could repeat my question, was far on his road back to the château.

Before me lay the river, and the little bridge of Göding, across which now the Russian columns were marching in rapid but compact order. Their cavalry had nearly all passed, and was drawn with some field-guns along the bank; while at half-cannon-shot distance, the corps of Davoust were drawn up in order of battle, and standing spectators of the scene. On an eminence of the field a splendid staff were assembled, accompanied by a troop of Tartar horsemen, whose gay colors and strange equipment were a remarkable feature of the picture; and here, I learned, the Emperor Alexander then was, accompanied by General Savary.

As I drew near, my French uniform caught the eye of the latter, and he cantered forward to meet me. Tearing open the despatch with eagerness, he rapidly perused the few lines it contained; then, seizing me by the arm in his-strong grasp, he exclaimed,—

“Look yonder, sir! You see their columns extending to Serritz. Go back and tell his Majesty. But no; my own mission here is ended. You may return to Austerlitz.”

So saying, he rode back to the group around the Emperor, where I saw him a few minutes after addressing his Majesty; and then, after a formal leave-taking, turn his horse's head and set out towards Brunn.

As I retraced my steps towards the camp, I began to muse over the events which had just occurred; and even by the imperfect glimpses I could catch of the negotiations, could perceive that the Czar had out-manoeuvred Napoleon. It is true, I was not aware by what means the success had been obtained; nor was it for many a year after that I became cognizant of the few autograph lines by which Alexander induced Davoust to suspend his operations, under the pretence that the Austrian armistice included the Russian army. It was an unworthy act and ill befitting one whose high personal courage and chivalrous bearing gave promise of better things.


With whatever triumphant feelings the Emperor Napoleon may have witnessed the glorious termination of this brief campaign, to the young officers of the army it brought anything rather than satisfaction, and the news of the armistice was received in the camp with gloom and discontent. The brilliant action at Elchingen, and the great victory at Austerlitz, were hailed as a glorious presage of future successes, for which the high-sounding phrases of a bulletin were deemed but a poor requital. A great proportion of the army were new levies, who had not seen service, and felt proportionably desirous for opportunities of distinction; and to them the promise of a triumphant return to France was a miserable exchange for those battlefields on which they dreamed they should win honor and fame, and from whence they hoped to date their rise of fortune. Little did we guess, that while words of peace and avowals of moderation were on his lips, Napoleon was at that very moment meditating on the opening of that great campaign, which, beginning at Jena, was to end in the most bloody and long sustained of all his wars.

Nothing, however, was now talked of but the fêtes which awaited us on our return to Paris,—while liberal grants of money were made to all the wounded, and no effort was spared which should mark that feeling of the Emperor's, which so conspicuously opened his bulletin, in the emphatic words, “Soldiers, I am content with you!”

Napoleon well understood, and indeed appeared to have anticipated, the disappointment the army would experience at this sudden cessation of hostilities; and endeavored now to divert the torrent of their enthusiasm into another and a safer channel. The bulk of the army were cantoned around Brunn and Olmutz; some picked regiments were recalled to Vienna, where the Emperor was soon expected to establish his headquarters; while many of those who had suffered most severely from forced marches and fatigues were formed into corps of escort to accompany the Russian prisoners—sixteen thousand in number—on their way to France; and lastly, a compagnie d'élite, as it was called, was selected to carry to the Senate the glorious spoils of victory,—forty-five standards taken on the field of Austerlitz, and now destined to grace the Palace of the Luxembourg.

I had scarcely seated myself to the humble supper of my bivouac, when an orderly came to command me to General d'Auvergne's quarters. The little sitting-room he occupied, in a peasant hut, was so filled with officers that it was some time before I could approach him; and my impatience was not lessened by more than once hearing my name mentioned aloud,—a circumstance not a little trying to a young man in the presence of his superiors in station.

“But here he is,” said the general, beckoning to me to come forward. “Burke, his Majesty has most graciously permitted me to include your name in the compagnie d'élite,—a testimony of his satisfaction you've every reason to be proud of. And just at the moment I was about to communicate the fact to you, I have received a message from Marshal Murat, requesting that I may permit you to serve on his own staff.”

“Yes, Captain,” said an officer in the uniform of a colonel,—it was the first time I had been addressed by my new title, and I cannot express what a thrill of pleasure the word gave me,—“Marshal Murat witnessed with pleasure the alacrity and steadiness of your conduct on the 2d, and has sent me with an offer which I fancy few officers would not deem a flattering one.”

“Unquestionably it is, Colonel,” said General d'Auvergne; “nay, more, I will say I regard it as the making of a young man's fortune, thus early in his career to have attracted such high notice. But I must be passive here; Captain Burke shall decide for himself.”

“In that case, sir, I shall cause you but little delay, if you will still permit me to serve on your own staff.”

“But stay, my boy, do not be rash in this affair. I will not insult your better feeling by dwelling on the little power I possess, and the very great enjoyed by Marshal Murat, of serving your interests; but I must say, that with him, and on his personal staff, opportunities of distinction—”

“And here I must interpose,” said the colonel, smiling courteously: “with no officer in this army can a man expect to see service, in its boldest and most heroic colors, rather than with General d'Auvergne.”

“I know it,—I feel it, too; and with him, if he will allow me—”

“Enough, my dear boy,” said the old man, grasping my hand in his. “Colonel, you must explain to the marshal how stands this matter; and he is too kind of heart and too noble of soul to think the worse of any of us for our obstinacy. And now, my young friend, make your arrangements to join the compagnie d'élite; they march to-morrow afternoon,—and this is a service you cannot decline. Leave me to make your acknowledgments to the marshal, and lose no more time here.”

Short as had been my absence from my quarters, when I re-entered, I descried Tascher seated at the table, and busily employed in discussing the last fragments of my supper.

“You see, my dear friend,” said he, speaking with his mouth full,—“you see what it is to have a salmi for supper. I sat eating a confounded mess of black bread, and blacker veal, for fifteen minutes, when the breeze brought me the odor of your delicious plat. It was in vain I summoned all my virtue to resist it; if there ever was a dish made to seduce a subaltern on service, it is this. But, I say, won't you eat something?”

“I fear not,” said I, half angrily.

“And why?” replied he. “See what a capital wing that is,—a little bare, to be sure; and there's the back of a pigeon. Ma foi! you have no reason to complain. I say, is it true you are named among the compagnie d'élite?”

I nodded, and ate on.

Diable! there never was such fortune. What a glorious exchange for this confounded swamp, with its everlasting drill from morning to night,—shivering under arms for four hours, and shaking with the ague the rest of the day after,—marching, mid-leg in water, half frozen, and trying quick movements, when the very blood is in icicles! And then you 'll be enjoying Paris,—delightful Paris!—dining at the 'Rocher,' supping at the 'Cadran,' lounging into the salons, at the very time we shall be hiding ourselves amidst the straw of our bivouacs. I go mad to think of it. And, what's worse than all, there you sit, as little elated as if the whole thing were only the most natural in the world. I believe, on my word, you 'd not condescend to be surprised if you were gazetted Maréchal de France in to-morrow's gazette.”

“When I can bear, without testifying too much astonishment, to see my supper eaten by the man who does nothing but rate me into the bargain, perhaps I may plume myself on some equanimity of temper.”

“Confound your equanimity! It's very easy to be satisfied when one has everything his own way.”

“And so, Tascher, you deem me such a fortunate fellow?”

“That I do,” replied he, quickly. “You have had more good luck, and made less of it, than any one I ever knew. What a career you had before you when we met first! There was that pretty girl at the Tuileries quite ready to fall in love with you; I know it, because she rather took an air of coldness with me. Well, you let her be carried off by an old general, with a white head and a queue,—unquestionably a bit of pique on her part. Then, somehow or other, you contrived to pink the best swordsman of the army, little François there; and I never heard that the circumstance gained you a single conquest.”

“Quite true, my friend,” said I, laughing; “I confess it all. And, what is far worse, I acknowledge that until this moment I did not even know the advantages I was wilfully wasting.”

“And even now,” continued he, not minding my interruption,—“even now, you are about to return to Paris as one of the élite. Well, I 'll wager twenty Naps that the only civil speeches you 'll hear will be from some musty old senators at the Luxembourg. Oh dear! if my amiable aunt, the Empress, would only induce my most benevolent uncle, the Emperor, to put me on that same list, depend upon it you 'd hear of Lieutenant Tascher in the 'Faubourg St. Honoré.'”

“But you seem to forget,” said I, half piqued at last by the impertinence of his tone, “that I have neither friends nor acquaintances; that, although a Frenchman by service, I am not so by birth.”

“And I,—what am I?” interrupted he. “A Creole, come from Heaven knows what far-away place beyond seas; that there never was a man with more expensive tastes, and smaller means to supply them,—with worse prospects, and better connections; in short, a kind of live antithesis. And yet, with all that, exchange places with me now, and see if, before a fortnight elapse, I have not more dinner invitations than any officer of the same grade within the Boulevards; watch if the prettiest girl at Paris is not at my side in the Opera. But here comes your official appointment, I take it.”

As he said this, an orderly of the “Garde” delivered a sealed packet into my hands, which, on opening, I discovered was a letter from General Duroc, wherein I read, that “it was the wish of his Majesty, Emperor and King, that I, his well-beloved Thomas Burke, in conformity with certain instructions to be afterwards made known to me, should proceed with the compagnie d'élite to Paris, then and there—”

As I read thus far aloud, Tascher interrupted me, snatching the paper from my hands, and continued thus:—

“Then and there to mope, muse, and be ennuyé until such time as active service may again recall him to the army. My dear Burke, I am really sorry for you. Wars and campaigning may be—indeed they are—very fine things; but as the means, not the end. His Majesty, my uncle,—whom may Heaven preserve and soften his heart to his relations!—loves them for their own sake; but we,—you and I, for instance,—what possible reason can we have for risking our bones, and getting our flesh mangled, save the hope of promotion? And to what end that same promotion, if not for a wider sphere of pleasure and enjoyment? Think what a career a colonel, at our age, would have in Paris!”

“Come, Tascher, I will not believe you in all this. If there were not something higher to reward one for the fatigues and dangers of a campaign than the mere sensual delights you allude to, I, for one, would soon doff the epaulettes.”

“You are impracticable,” said he, half angrily; “but it is as much from the isolation in which you have lived as any conviction on the subject. You must let me introduce you to some relatives of mine in Paris. They will be delighted to know you; for, as one of the compagnie d'élite, you might figure as a very respectable 'lion' for two, nay, three entire evenings. And you will have the entrée to the pleasantest house in Paris; they receive every evening, and all the best people resort there. I only exact one condition.”

“And that is—”

“You must not make love to Pauline. That you will fall in love with her yourself is a fact I can't help,—nor you either. But no advance on your part; promise me that.”

“In such case, Tascher, it were best for all parties I should not know the lady. I have no fancy, believe me, for being smitten whether I will or no.”

“I see, Master Burke, there is a bit of impertinence in all this. You sneer at my warnings about la belle cousine; now, I am determined you shall see her at least. Besides, you must do me a service with the countess I have had the bad luck to be for some time out of favor with my aunt Josephine,—some trumpery debts of mine they make a work about at the Tuileries. Well, perhaps you could persuade Madame de Lacostellerie to take up my cause; she has great influence with the Empress, and can make her do what she pleases. And, if I must confess it, it was this brought me over to your quarters tonight; and I ate your supper just to pass away time till you came back again. You 'll not refuse me?”

“Certainly not. But reflect for a moment, Tascher, and you will see that no man was ever less intended for a diplomate. It is only a few minutes since you laughed at my solitary habits and hermit propensities.”

“I've thought of all that, Burke, and am not a whit discouraged. On the contrary, you are the more likely to think of my affairs because you have none of your own; and I don't know any one but yourself I should fancy to meet Pauline frequently and on terms of intimacy.”

“This, at least, is not a compliment,” said I, laughing.

He shrugged his shoulders, and threw up his eyebrows with a French expression, as though to say, it can't be helped; and then continued:—

“And now remember, Burke, I count on you. Get me out of this confounded place; I 'd rather be back at Toulon again, if need be. And as I shall not see you again before you leave, farewell. I 'll send the letter for the countess early to-morrow.”

We shook hands warmly and parted: he to return to his quarters; and I to sit down beside my fire, and muse over the events that had just occurred, and think of Tascher himself, whose character had never been so plainly exposed to me before.

If De Beauvais, with his hot-headed impetuosity, his mad devotion to the cause of the Legitimists, was a type of the followers of the Bourbons; so, in all the easy indifference and quiet selfishness of his nature, was Tascher a specimen of another class of his countrymen,—a class which, wrapped up in its own circle of egotistical enjoyments, believed Paris the only habitable spot of the whole globe. Without any striking traits of character, or any very decided vices, they led a life of pleasure and amusement, rendering every one and everything around them, so far as they were able, subservient to their own plane and wishes; and perfectly unconscious the while how glaring their selfishness had become, and how palpable, even to the least observant, was the self-indulgence they practised on every occasion. Without cleverness or tact enough to conceal their failings, they believed they imposed on others because they imposed on themselves,—just as the child deems himself unseen when he closes his eyes.

Josephine's followers were, many of them, like this, and formed a striking contrast to the young men of the Napoleonite party, who, infatuated by the glorious successes of their chief, deemed the career of arms alone honorable. St. Cyr and the Polytechnique were the nurseries of these,—the principles instilled there were perpetuated in after life; and however exaggerated their ideas of France and her destiny, their undoubted heroism and devotion might well have palliated even heavier errors.

It was in ruminating thus over the different characters of the few I had ever known intimately, that I came to think seriously on my own condition, which, for many a day before, I had rather avoided than sought to reflect on. I felt,—as how many must have done!—that the bond of a common country, the inborn patriotism of the native of the soil, is the great resource on which men fall back when they devote themselves to the career of arms; that the alien's position, disguise it how he will, is that of the mere mercenary. How can he identify himself with interests on which he is but half-informed, or feel attachment to a land wherein he has neither hearth nor home? In the very glory he wins he can scarce participate. In a word, his is a false position, which no events nor accidents of fortune can turn to good account, and he must rest satisfied with a life of isolation and estrangement.

I felt how readily, if I had been a Frenchman born, I could have excused and palliated to my conscience many things which now were matters of reproach. Aggressive war had lost its horrors in the glory of enlarged dominions; the greatness of France and the honor of her arms had made me readily forget the miseries entailed on other nations by her lust of conquest. But I—the stranger, the alien—had no part in the inheritance of glory; and personal ambition,—what means it, save to stand high amongst those we once looked up to as superiors? For me there were no traditions of a childhood passed amid great names, revered and worshipped; no early teachings of illustrious examples beside the paternal hearth. And yet there was one, although lost to me forever, before whose eyes I would gladly seem to hold a high place. Yes! could I but think that she had not forgotten me,—would hear my name with interest, or feel one throb of pleasure if I were spoken of with honor,—I asked no more!

“A letter, Monsieur le Capitaine,” said my servant, as he deposited a package on my table. Supposing it was the epistle of which Tascher spoke, I paid but slight attention to it, when by chance I remarked it was in General d'Auvergne's handwriting. I opened it at once, and read as follows:—

      Bivouac, 11 o'clock.

      My dear Burke,—No one ever set off for Paris without being
      troubled with commissions for his country friends, and you
      must not escape the ills of common humanity. Happily for
      you, however, the debt is easily acquitted; I have neither
      undiscovered shades of silk to be matched, nor impossible
      bargains to be effected. I shall simply beg of you to
      deliver with your own hand the enclosed letter to its
      address at the Tuileries; adding, if you think fit, the
      civil attentions of a visit.

      We shall both, in all likelihood, be much hurried when we
      meet to-morrow,—for I also have received orders to march,—
      so that I take the present opportunity to enclose you a
      check on Paris for a trifle in advance of your pay;
      remembering too well, in my own aide-de-camp days, the
      dilatory habits of the War Office with new captains.

      Yours ever, dear Burke,

      D'Auvergne, Lieut-General.

The letter of which he spoke had fallen on the table, where I now read the address,—“À Madame la Comtesse d'Auvergne, née Comtesse de Meudon, dame d'honneur de S. M. l'Impératrice.” As I read these lines, I felt my face grow burning hot, my cheeks flushed up, and I could scarcely have been more excited were I actually in her presence to whom the letter was destined. The poor general's kind note, his check for eight thousand francs, lay there: I forgot them both, and sat still, spelling over the letters of that name so woven in my destiny. I thought of the first night I had ever heard it, when, a mere boy, I wept over her sorrows, and grieved for her whose fate was so soon to throw its shadow over my own. But in a moment all gave way before the one thought,—I should see her again, speak to her and hear her voice. It is true, she was the wife of another: but as Marie de Meudon, our destinies were as wide apart; under no circumstances could she have been mine, nor did I ever dare to hope it. My love to her—for it was such, ardent and passionate—was more the devotion of some worshipper at a shrine than an affection that sought return. The friendless soldier of fortune, poor, unknown, uncared for,—how could he raise his thoughts to one for whose hand the noblest and the bravest were suitors in vain? Yet, with all this, how my heart throbbed to think that we should meet again! Nor was the thought less stirring that I felt, that even in the short interval of absence I had won praise from him for whom her admiration was equal to my own. With all the turmoil of my hopes and fears I felt a rush of pleasure at my heart; and when I slept, it was to dream of happy days to come, and a future far brighter than the past.

My first thought when morning broke was to ride over to Beygern, to learn the fate of my wounded friends. On my way thither I fell in with several officers bound on a similar errand, for already the convent had become the great hospital to which the sufferers were brought from every part of the camp. As we went along, I was much struck by the depression of spirit so remarkable everywhere. The battle over, all the martial enthusiasm seemed to have evaporated: many grumbled at the tiresome prospect of a winter in country quarters, or cantoned in the field; some regretted the briefness of the campaign; while others again complained that to return to France after so little of active service would only expose them to ridicule from their companions who had seen Italy and Egypt.

“Spare your sorrows on that score, my young friends,” said a colonel, who listened patiently to the complaints around him; “we shall not see the dome of the Invalides for some time yet. Except the compagnie d'élite, I fancy few of us will figure on the Boulevards.”

“There, again,” cried another: “I never heard anything so unfair as that compagnie d'élite; they have been, with two solitary exceptions, taken from the cavalry. Austerlitz was to be the day of honor for the infantry of France, said the bulletin.”

“And so it was,” interrupted a little dark-eyed major; “and I suppose his Majesty thought we had enough of it on the field, and did not wish to surfeit us with glory. But I ask pardon,” said he, turning towards me; “monsieur is, if I mistake not, named one of the élite?”

As I replied in the affirmative, I observed all eyes turned towards me; but not with any kindly expression,—far from it. I saw that there was a deliberate canvass of me, as though to see by my outward man how I could possibly deserve such a favor.

“Can you explain to us, Monsieur,” said the little major to me, “on what principle the élite were chosen? For we have a thousand contradictory reports in the camp: some say by ballot; some, that it was only those who never soiled their jackets in the affair of the other day, and looked fresh and smart.”

A burst of laughter from the rest interrupted the major's speech, for its impertinence was quite sufficient to secure it many admirers.

“I believe, sir,” said I, angrily, “I can show you some reasons against the selection of certain persons.”

As I got thus far, an officer whispered something into the major's ear, who, with a roar of laughing, exclaimed,—

“A thousand pardons! ten thousand, parbleu! I did n't know you. It was monsieur pinked François, the maître d'armes? Yes, yes; don't deny it,” said he, as I made no reply whatever to a question I believed quite irrelevant to the occasion,—“don't deny it. That lunge over the guard was a thing to be proud of; and, by Jove! you shall not practise it at my expense.”

This speech excited great amusement among the party, who seemed to coincide perfectly with the reasoning of the speaker; while I myself remained silent, unable to decide whether I ought to be annoyed or the reverse.

“Come, Monsieur,” resumed the major, addressing me with courtesy, “I ask-pardon for the liberty of my speech. By Saint Denis! if all the compagnie d'élite have the same skill of fence, I 'll not question their appointment.”

The candor of the avowal was too much for my gravity, and I now joined in the mirth of his companions.

If I have mentioned so trivial an incident as this here, it is because I wish to mark, even thus passingly, a trait of French military life. The singular confession of a man who regretted his impertinence because he discovered his adversary was a better swordsman, would, under any other code or in any other country, have argued poltroonery. Not so here; no one for a moment suspected his comrade's courage, nor could any circumstance arise to make it doubtful save an actual instance of cowardice. The inequality of the combat was reason enough for not engaging in it: the odds were unfair, because duelling was like a game where each party was to have an equal chance; and hence no shame was felt at declining a contest where this inequality existed.

Such a system, it is obvious, could not have prevailed in communities where duelling was only resorted to in extreme cases; but here it was an every-day occurrence, and often formed but a brief interval, scarce interrupting the current of an old friendship. Any resentful spirit, any long-continued dislike to the party with whom you once fought, would have been denounced as unofficer-like and ungenerous; and every day saw men walking arm-inarm in closest intimacy, who but the morning before stood opposed to each other's weapons. I now perceived the truth of what Minette had once said, and which at the time I but imperfectly comprehended. “Maître François will be less troublesome in future; and you, Lieutenant, will have an easier life also.”

“Halt there!” shouted a sentry, as we approached the narrow causeway that led up to the convent. We now discovered, that by a general order no one was permitted to approach the hospital save such as were provided with a leave from the medical staff. A bulletin of the deaths was daily published on the guard-house, except which no other information was afforded of the condition of the wounded; and to this we turned eagerly, and with anxious hearts, lest we might read the name of some friend lost forever. I ran over with a rapid glance the list, where neither St. Hilaire nor poor Pioche occurred; and then, setting spurs to my horse, hurried back to my quarters at the top of my speed. When I arrived, the preparations for the departure of the élite were already in progress, and I had but time to make my few arrangements for the road when the order came to join my comrades.


A portion of the Luxembourg was devoted to the reception of the compagnie d'élite for whom a household on the most liberal scale was provided, a splendid table maintained, and all that wealth and the taste of a voluptuous age could suggest, procured, to make their life one of daily magnificence and pleasure. Daru himself, the especial favorite of the Emperor, took the head of the table each day, to which generally some of the ministers were invited; while the “Moniteur” of every morning chronicled the festivities, giving éclat to the most minute circumstance, and making Paris re-echo to the glories of him of whose fame they were but the messengers. The most costly equipages, saddle-horses of great price, grooms in gorgeous liveries, all that could attract notice and admiration, were put in requisition; while ceremonies of pomp went forward day by day, and the deputation received in state the congratulatory visits of different departments of the Government.

While thus this homage was paid to the semblance of Napoleon's glory, his progress through Germany was one grand triumphal procession. One day we read of his arrival at Munich, whither the Empress had gone to meet him. There he was welcomed with the most frantic enthusiasm: he had restored to them their army almost without loss, and covered with laurels; he had elevated their elector to a throne; while he cemented the friendship between the two nations by the marriage of Eugène Beauharnais with the Princess of Bavaria. Another account would tell us of sixteen thousand Russian prisoners on their way to France, accompanied by two thousand cannon taken from the Austrians. All that could excite national enthusiasm and gratify national vanity was detailed by the Government press, and popular excitement raised to a higher pitch than in the wildest periods of the Revolution.

Hourly was his arrival looked forward to with anxiety and impatience. Fêtes on the most splendid scale of magnificence were in preparation, and the public bodies of Paris held meetings to concert measures for his triumphal reception. At last a telegraphic despatch announced his arrival at Strasburg. He crossed the Rhine at the very place where, exactly one hundred days before, he passed over on his march against the Austrians; one hundred days of such glory as not even his career had equalled,—Ulm and Austerlitz, vanquished Russia, and ruined Austria the trophies of this brief space! Never had his genius shone with greater splendor; never had Fortune shown herself 'more the companion of his destiny.

Each hour was now counted, and every thought turned to the day when he might be expected to arrive; and on the 24th came the intelligence that the Emperor was approaching Paris. He had halted part of a day at Nancy to review some regiments of cavalry, and now might be expected in less than twenty-four hours. The next morning all Paris awoke at an early hour; when what was the surprise and disappointment to see the great flag floating from the pavilion of the Tuileries! His Majesty had arrived during the night, when, at once sending for the Minister of Finance, he proceeded, without taking a moment's repose, to examine into the dreadful crisis which threatened the Bank of France and the very existence of the Government.

At eleven, the Council of State were assembled at the Tuileries; and at twelve, a proclamation, dispersed through Paris, announced that M. Molien was appointed minister, and M. Marbois was dismissed from his office. The rapidity of these changes, and the avoidance of all public homage by the Emperor, threw for several days a cast of gloom over the whole city; which was soon dissipated by the reappearance of Napoleon, and the publication of that celebrated report by M. Champagny in which the glories of France—her victories, her acquisitions in wealth, territory, and influence—were recited in terms whose adulation it would be now difficult to digest.

From that moment the festivities of Paris commenced, and with a splendor unsurpassed by any period of the Empire. It was the Augustan era of Napoleon's life in all that concerned the fine arts; for literature, unhappily, did not flourish at any time beneath his reign. Gérard and Gros, David, Ingres, and Isabey committed to canvas the glories of the German campaigns; and the capitulation of Ulm, the taking of Vienna, the passage of the Danube, and the field of Austerlitz still live in the genius of these great painters.

The Opera, too, under the direction of Gimerosa, had attained to an unwonted excellence; while Spontini and Boieldieu, in their separate walks, gave origin to the school so distinctly that of the Comic Opera. Still, the voluptuous tastes of the day prevailed above all; and the ballet, and the strange conceptions of Nicolo, a Maltese composer,—in which music, dancing, romance, and scenery all figured,—were the passion of the time.

Dancing was, indeed, the great art of the era. Vestris and Trénis were the great names in every salon; and all the extravagant graces and voluptuous groupings of the ballet were introduced into the amusements of society: even the taste in dress was made subordinate to this passion,—the light and floating materials, which mark the figure and display symmetry, replacing the heavier and more costly robes of former times. The reaction to the stern puritanism of the Republican age had set in, and secretly was favored by Napoleon himself; who saw in all this extravagance and abandonment to pleasure the basis of that new social state on which he purposed to found his dynasty.

Never were the entertainments at the Tuileries more costly; never was a greater magnificence displayed in all the ceremonial of state. The marshals of the Empire were enjoined to maintain a style corresponding to their exalted position; and the reports of the police were actually studied respecting such persons as lived in what was deemed a manner unbefitting their means of expense. Cambacérès and Fouché, Talleyrand and Murat, all maintained splendid establishments. Their dinners were given twice each week, and their receptions were almost every evening. If the Emperor conferred wealth with a liberal hand, so did he expect to see it freely expended. He knew well the importance of conciliating the affections of the bourgeoisie of Paris; and that by no other means could such an end be accomplished more readily than by a lavish expenditure of money throughout all classes of society. This was alone wanting to efface every trace of the old Republican spirit. The simple habits and uncostly tastes of the Jacobins were at once regarded as meannesses; their frugal and unpretending modes of life pronounced low and vulgar; and many, who could have opposed a stout heart against the current of popular feeling on stronger grounds, yielded to the insinuations and mockeries of their own class, and conformed to tastes which eventually engendered opinions and even principles.

I ask pardon of my reader for digressing from the immediate subject of my own career, to speak of topics which are rather the province of the historian than a mere story-teller like myself; still, I should not be able to present to his view the picture of manners I desired, without thus recalling some features of that time, so pregnant with the fate of Europe and the future destiny of France. And now to return.

Immediately on the Emperor's arrival, the Empress and her suite took their departure for Versailles; from whence it was understood they were not to return before the end of the month, for which time a splendid ball was announced at the Tuileries. Unwilling to detain General d'Auvergne's letter so long, and unable from the position I occupied to obtain leave of absence from Paris, I forwarded the letter to the comtesse, and abandoned the only hope of meeting her once more. The disappointment from this source; the novelty of the circumstances in which I found myself; the fascinations of a world altogether strange to me,—all conspired to confuse and excite me, and I entered into the dissipation of those around me, if not with all their zest, at least with as headlong a resolution to drown all reflection in a life of voluptuous enjoyment.

The only person of my own standing among the compagnie d'élite was a captain of the Chasseurs of the Guard, who, although but a few years my senior, had seen service in the Italian campaign. By family a Bour-bonist, he joined the revolutionary armies when his relatives fled from France, and slowly won his steps to his present rank. A certain hauteur in his manner with men—an air of distance he always wore—had made him as little liked by them as it usually succeeds in making a man popular with women, to whom the opposite seems at once a compliment. He was a man who had seen much of the world, and in the best society; gifted with the most fascinating address, whenever he pleased to exert it, and singularly good-looking, he was the beau idéal of the French officer of the highest class.

The Chevalier Duchesne and myself had travelled together for some days without exchanging more than the ordinary civilities of distant acquaintance, when some accident of the road threw us more closely together, and ended by forming an intimacy which, in our Paris life, brought us every hour into each other's society.

Stranger as I was in the capital, to me the acquaintance was a boon of great price. He knew it thoroughly: in the gorgeous and stately salons of the Faubourg; in the guingettes of the Rue St. Denis; in the costly mansion of the modern banker (the new aristocracy of the land); or in the homely ménage of the shopkeeper of the Rue St. Honoré,—he was equally at home, and by some strange charm had the entrée too.

The same “sesame” opened to him the coulisse of the Opera and the penetralia of the Français. In fact, he seemed one of those privileged people who are met with occasionally in life in places the most incongruous and with acquaintances the most opposite, yet never carrying the prestige of the one or the other an inch beyond the precincts it belongs to. Had he been wealthy I could have accounted for much of this, for never was there a period when riches more abounded nor when their power was more absolute: but he did not seem so; although in no want of money, his retinue and simple style of living betrayed nothing beyond fair competence. Neither, as far as I could perceive, did he incline to habits of extravagance; on the contrary, he was too apt to connect every display with vulgarity, and condemn in his fastidiousness the gorgeous splendor that characterized the period.

Such, without going further, did Duchesne appear to be, as we took up our quarters at the Luxembourg, and commenced an intimacy which each day served to increase.

“Well, thank Heaven, this vaudeville is over at last!” said he, as he threw himself into a large chair at my fire, and pitched his chapeau, all covered with gold and embroidery, into a far corner of the room.

We had just returned from Notre Dame, where the grand ceremonial of receiving the standards was held by the Senate with all the solemnity of a high mass and the most imposing observances.

“Vaudeville?” said I, turning round rapidly.

“Yes; what else can you call it? What, I ask you, had those poor decrepit senators, those effeminate priests in the costumes of béguines, to do with the eagles of a brave but unfortunate army? In what way can you connect that incense and that organ with the smoke of artillery and the crash of mitraille? And, lastly, was it like old Daru himself to stand there, half crouching, beside some wretched half-palsied priest? But I feel heartily ashamed of myself, though I played but the smallest part in the whole drama.”

“Is it thus you can speak of the triumph of our army? the glories—”

“You mistake me much. I only speak of that miserable mockery which converts our hard-won laurels into chap-lets of artificial flowers. These displays are far beneath us, and would only become the victories of some national guard.”

“So, then,” said I, half laughingly, “it is your Republican gorge that rises against all this useless ceremonial?”

“You are the very first ever detected me in that guise,” said he, bursting into a hearty laugh. “But come, I'd wager you agree with me all this while. This was a very contemptible exhibition; and, for my own part, I 'd rather see the colors back again with those poor fellows we chased at Austerlitz, than fluttering in the imbecile hands of dotage and bigotry.”

“Then I must say we differ totally. I like to think of the warlike spirit nourished in a nation by the contemplation of such glorious spoils. I am young enough to remember how the Invalides affected me—”

“When you took your Sunday walk there from the Poly-technique, two and two, with a blue ribbon round your neck for being a good boy during the week. Oh, I know it all; delicious times they were, with their souvenirs of wooden legs and plum-pudding. Happy fellow you must be, if the delusion can last this while!”

“You are determined it shall not continue much longer,” said I, laughing; “that is quite evident.”

“No; on the contrary, I shall be but too happy to be your convert, instead of making you mine. But unfortunately, Sa Majesté, Empereur et Roi, has taught me some smart lessons since I gave up mathematics; and I have acquired a smattering of his own policy, which is to look after the substance, and leave the shadow—or the drapeau, if you like it better—to whoever pleases.”

“I confess, however,” said I, “I don't well understand your enthusiasm about war and your indifference about its trophies. To me the associations they suggest are pleasurable beyond anything.”

“I think I remember something of that kind in myself formerly,” said he, musing. “There was a time when the blast of a trumpet, or even the clank of a sabre, used to set my heart thumping. Happily, however, the organ has grown steeled against even more stirring sounds; and I listened to the salute to-day, fired as it was by that imposing body, the artillery of the 'Garde Nationale,' with an equanimity truly wonderful. Apropos, my dear Burke; talk of heroism and self-devotion as you will, but show me anything to compare with the gallantry of those fellows we saw to-day on the Quai Voltaire,—a set of grocers, periwig-makers, umbrella and sausage men, with portly paunches and spectacles,—ramming down charges, sponging, loading, and firing real cannon. On my word of honor, it was fearful.”

“They say his Majesty is very proud indeed of the National Guard of Paris.”

“Of course he is. Look at them, and just think what must be the enthusiasm of men who will adopt a career so repugnant, not only to their fancy, but their very formation. Remember that he who runs yonder with a twenty-four pounder never handled anything heavier than a wig-block, and that the only charges of the little man beside him have been made in his day-book. By Saint Denis! the dromedary guard we had in Egypt were more at home in their saddles than the squadron who rode beside the archbishop's carriage.”

“It is scarcely fair, after all,” said I, half laughing, “to criticise them so severely; and the more, as I think you had some old acquaintances among them.”

“Ha! you saw that, did you?” said he, smiling. “No, by Jove! I never met them before. But that confrèrie of soldiers—you understand—soon made us acquainted; and I saw one old fellow speaking to a very pretty girl I guessed to be his daughter, and soon cemented a small friendship with him: here's his card.”

“His card! Why, are you to visit him?”

“Better again; I shall dine there on Monday next. Let us see how he calls himself: 'Hippolyte Pierrot, stay and corset-maker to her Majesty the Empress, No. 22 Rue du Bac,—third floor above the entresol.' Diable! we 're high up. Unfortunately, I am scarcely intimate enough to bring a friend.”

“Oh, make no excuses on that head,” said I, laughing; “I really have no desire to see Monsieur Hippolyte Pierrot's menage. And now, what are your engagements for this evening? Are you for the Opera?”

“I don't well know,” said he, pausing. “Madame Caulaincourt receives, and of course expects to see our gay jackets in her salon any time before or after supper. Then there's the Comtesse de Nevers: I never go there without meeting my tailor; the fellow's a spy of the police, and a confectioner to boot, and he serves the ices, and reports the conversations in the Place Vendôme and that side of the Rue St. Honoré,—I couldn't take a glass of lemonade without being dunned. Then, in the Faubourg I must go in plain clothes,—they would not let the 'livery of the Usurper' pass the porter's lodge; besides, they worry one with their enthusiastic joy or grief,—as the last letter from England mentions whether the Comte d'Artois has eaten too many oysters, or found London beer too strong for him.”

“From all which I guess that you are indisposed to stir.”

“I believe that is about the fact. Truth is, Burke, there is only one soirée in all Paris I 'd take the trouble to dress for this evening; and, strange enough, it's the only house where I don't know the people. He is a commissary-general, or a 'fournisseur' of some kind or other of the army; always from home, they say; with a wife who was once, and a daughter who is now, exceeding pretty; keeps a splendid house; and, like an honest man, makes restitution of all he can cheat in the campaign by giving good dinners in the capital. His Majesty, at the solicitation of the Empress, I believe, made him a count,—God's mercy it was not a king!—and as they come from Guadaloupe, or Otaheite, no one disputes their right. Besides, this is not a time for such punctilio. This is all I know of them, for unfortunately they settled here since I joined the army.”

“And the name?”

“Oh, a very plausible name, I assure you. Lacostellerie,—Madame la Comtesse de Lacostellerie.”

“By Jove! you remind me I have letters for her,—a circumstance I had totally forgotten, though it was coupled with a commission.”

“A letter! Why, nothing was ever so fortunate. Don't lose a moment; you have just time to leave it, with your card, before dinner. You'll have an invitation for this evening at once.”

“But I have not the slightest wish.”

“No matter, I have; and you shall bring me.”

“You forget,” said I, mimicking his own words, “I am unfortunately not intimate enough.”

“As to that,” replied he, “there is a vast difference between the etiquette Rue du Bac, No. 22, three floors above the entresol, and the gorgeous salons of the Hôtel Clichy, Rue Faubourg St. Honoré; ceremony has the advantage in the former by a height of three pair of stairs, not to speak of the entresol.”

“But I don't know the people.”

“Nor I.”

“But how am I to present you?”

“Easily enough,—'Captain Duchesne, Imperial Guard;' or, if you prefer it, I 'll do the honors for you.”

“With all my heart, then,” said I, laughing; and pre-pared to pay the visit in question.


Duchesne was correct in all his calculations. I had scarcely reached the Luxembourg when a valet brought me a card for the comtesse's soirée for that evening. It was accordingly agreed upon that we were to go together; I as the invited, he as my friend.

“All your finery, Burke, remember that,” said he, as we separated to dress. “The uniform of the compagnie d'élite is as much a decoration in a salon as a camellia or a geranium.”

When he re-entered my room half an hour later, I was struck by the blaze of orders and decorations with which his jacket was covered; while at his side there hung a magnificent sabre d'honneur, such as the Emperor was accustomed to confer on his most distinguished officers.

“You smile at all this bravery,” said he, wilfully misinterpreting my look of admiration; “but remember where we are going.”

“On the contrary,” interrupted I; “but it is the first time I knew you had the cross of the Legion.”

Parbleu!” said he, with an insolent shrug of his shoulders, “I had lent it to my hairdresser for a ball at the 'Cirque.' But here comes the carriage.”

While we drove along towards the Faubourg I had time to learn some further particulars of the people to whose house we were proceeding; and for my reader's information may as well impart them here, with such other facts as I subsequently collected myself.

Like most of the salons of the new aristocracy, Madame Lacostellerie received people of every section of party and every class of political opinion. Standing equally aloof from the old régime and the members of the Jacobin party, her receptions were a kind of neutral territory, where each could come without compromise of dignity: for already, except among the most starched adherents of the Bourbons, few of whom remained in France, there was a growing spirit to side with the Napoleonists in preference to the revolutionary section; while the latter, with all their pretensions to simplicity and primitive tastes, felt no little pride in mixing with the very aristocracy they so loudly inveighed against. Besides all this, wealth had its prestige. Never, in the palmiest days of the royalty, were entertainments of greater splendor; and the Legitimists, however disposed to be critical on the company, could afford to be just regarding the cuisine,—the luxury of these modern dinners eclipsing the most costly displays of former times, where hereditary rank and ancient nobility contributed to adorn the scene. And, lastly, the admixture of every grade and class extended the field of conversational agreeability, throwing in new elements and eliciting new features in a society where peers, actors, poets, bankers, painters, soldiers, speculators, journalists, and adventurers were confusedly mixed together; making, as it were, a common fund of their principles and their prejudices, and starting anew in life with what they could seize in the scramble.

After following the long line of carriages for above an hour, we at last turned into a large courtyard, lit up almost to the brightness of day. Here the equipages of many of the ministers were standing,—a privilege accorded to them above the other guests. I recognized among the number the splendid liveries of Decrès; and the stately carriage of Talleyrand, whose household always proclaimed itself as belonging to a “seigneur” of the oldest blood of France,—the most perfect type of a highbred gentleman. Our progress from the vestibule to the stairs was a slow one. The double current of those pressing upwards and downwards delayed us long; and at last we reached a spacious antechamber, where even greater numbers stood awaiting their turn, if happily it should come, to move forward.

While here, the names of those announced conveyed tous a fair impression of the whole company. Among the first was Le General Junot, Berthollet (the celebrated chemist), Lafayette, Monges, Daru, Comte de Mailles (a Legitimist noble), David (the regicide), the Ambassador of Prussia, M. Pasquier, Talma. Such were the names we heard following in quick succession; when suddenly an avenue was opened by a master of the ceremonies before me, who read from my card the words, “Le Capitaine Burke, officier d'élite; le Chevalier Duchesne, présenté par lui.” And advancing within the doorway, I found myself opposite a very handsome woman, whose brilliant dress and blaze of diamonds concealed any ravages time might have made upon her beauty.

She was conversing with the Arch-Chancellor, Cambacérès, when my name was announced; and turning rapidly round, touched my arm with her bouquet, as she said, with a most gracious smile,—

“I am but too much flattered to see you on so short an invitation; but M. de Tascher's note led me to hope I might presume so far. Your friend, I believe?”

“I have taken the great liberty—”

“Indeed, Madame la Comtesse,” said Duchesne, interrupting, “I must exculpate my friend here. This intrusion rests on my own head, and has no other apology than my long cherished wish to pay my homage to the most distinguished ornament of the Parisian world.”

As he spoke, the quiet flow of his words, and the low deferential bow with which he accompanied them, completely divested his speech of its tone of gross flattery, and merely made it seem a very fitting and appropriate expression.

“This would be a very high compliment, indeed,” replied Madame de Lacostellerie, with a flush of evident pleasure on her cheek, “had it even come from one less known than the Chevalier Duchesne. I hope the Duchesse de Montserrat is well,—your aunt, if I mistake not?” “Yes, Madame,” said he, “in excellent health; it will afford her great pleasure when I inform her of your polite inquiry.”

Another announcement now compelled us to follow the current in front, which I was well content to do, and escape from an interchange of fine speeches, of whose sincerity, on one side at least, I had very strong misgivings.

“So, then, the comtesse is acquainted with your family?” said I, in a whisper.

“Who said so?” replied he, laughing.

“Did she not ask after the Duchesse de Montserrat?”

“And then?”

“And didn't you promise to convey her very kind message?”

“To be sure I did. But are you simple enough to think that either of us were serious in what we said? Why, my dear friend, she never saw my aunt in her life; nor, if I were to hint at her inquiry for her to the duchesse, am I certain it would not cost me something like a half million of francs the old lady has left me in her will,—on my word, I firmly believe she'd never forgive it. You know little what these people of the vieille roche, as they call themselves, are like. Do you see that handsome fellow yonder, with a star on a blue cordon?”

“I don't know him; but I see he's a Marshal of France.”

“Well, I saw that same aunt of mine rise up and leave the room because he sat down in her presence!”

“Oh! that was intolerable.”

“So she deemed his insolence. Come, move on; they 're dancing in the next salon.” And without saying more, we pushed through the crowd in the direction of the music.

It is only by referring to the sensations experienced by those who see a ballet at the Opera for the first time that I can at all convey my own on entering the salle de danse. My first feeling was that of absolute shame. Never before had I seen that affectation of stage costume which then was the rage in society. The short and floating jupe—formed of some light and gauzy texture, which, even where it covered the figure, betrayed the form and proportions of the wearer—was worn low on the bosom and shoulders, and attached at the waist by a ribbon, whose knot hung negligently down in seeming disorder. The hair fell in long and floating masses loose upon the neck, waving in free tresses with every motion of the figure, and adding to that air of abandon which seemed so studiously aimed at. But more than anything in mere costume was the look and expression, in which a character of languid voluptuousness was written, and made to harmonize with the easy grace of floating movements, and sympathize with gestures full of passionate fascination.

The Dance 130

“Now, Burke,” said Duchesne, as he threw his eyes over the room, “shall I find a partner for you? for I believe I know most of the people here. That pretty blonde yonder, with the diamond buckles in her shoes, is Mademoiselle de Rancy, with a dowry of some millions of francs; what say you to pushing your fortune there? Don't forget the officier d'élite is a trump card just now; and there's no time to lose, for there will soon be a new deal.”

“Not if she had the throne of France in reversion,” said I; turning away in disgust from a figure which, though perfectly beautiful, outraged at every movement that greatest charm of womanhood,—her inborn modesty.

“Ah, then, you don't fancy a blonde!” said he, carelessly, whether wilfully misunderstanding me or not I could not say. “Nor I either,” added he. “There, now, is something far more to my taste; is she not a lovely girl?”

She to whom he now directed my attention was standing at the side of the room, and leaning on her partner's arm; her head slightly turned, so that we could not see her features, but her figure was actually faultless. Hers was not one of those gossamer shapes which flitted around and about us, balancing on tiptoe, or gracefully floating with extending arms. Rather strongly built than otherwise, she stood with the firm foot and the straight ankle of a marble statue; her arms, well rounded, hung easily from her full, wide shoulders; while her head, slightly thrown back, was balanced on her neck with an air at once dignified and easy. Her dress well suited the character of her figure: it was entirely of black, covered with a profusion of deep lace,—the jupe looped up in Andalusian fashion to display the leg, whose symmetry was perfect. Even her costume, however, had something about it too theatrical for my taste; but there was a stamp of firmness, fierté even, in her carriage and her attitude, that at once showed hers was no vulgar desire of being remarkable, but the womanly consciousness of being dressed as became her. She suddenly turned her head around, and we both exclaimed in the same breath, “How lovely!” Her features were of that brilliant character only seen in Southern blood: eyes large, black, and lustrous, fringed with lashes that threw their shadow on the very cheek; full lips, curled with an air of almost saucy expression; while the rich olive tint of her transparent skin was scarce colored with the pink flush of exercise, and harmonized perfectly with the proud repose of her countenance.

“She must be Spanish,—that's certain,” said Duchesne. “No one ever saw such an instep come from this side the Pyrenees; and those eyes have got their look of sleepy wickedness from Moorish blood. But here comes one will tell us all about her.”

This was the Baron de Trève,—a withered-looking, dried-up old man, rouged to the eyes, and dressed in the extravagance of the last fashion; the high collar of his coat rising nearly to the back of his head, as his deep cravat in front entirely concealed his mouth, and formed a kind of barrier around his features.

As Duchesne addressed him, he stopped short, and assuming an attitude of great intended grace, raised his glass slowly to his eye, and looked towards the lady.

“Ah! the señorina. Don't you know her? Why, where have you been, my dear chevalier? Oh! I forgot. You've been in Austria, or Russia, or some barbarous place or other. She is the belle, par excellence; nothing else is talked of in Paris.”

“But her name? Who is she?” said Duchesne, impatiently.

“Mademoiselle de Lacostellerie, the daughter of the house,” said the baron, completely overcome with astonishment at our ignorance. “And you not to know this!—you, of all men living! Why,” he continued, dropping his voice to a lower key, “there never was such a fortune. Mines of rubies and emeralds; continents of coffee, rice, and sandal-wood; spice islands and sugar plantations, to make one's mouth water.”

“By Jove, Baron! you seem somewhat susceptible yourself.”

“I had my thoughts on the subject,” said he, with a half sigh. “But, hélas! there are so many ties to be broken! so many tender chains one must snap asunder!”

“I understand,” said Duchesne, with an air of well-assumed seriousness; “the thing was impossible. Now, then, what say you to assist a friend?”

“You,—yourself, do you mean?”

“Of course, Baron; no other.”

“Come this way,” said the old man, taking him by the arm, and leading him along to another part of the room, while Duchesne, with a sly look at me, followed.

While I stood awaiting his return, my thoughts became fixed on Duchesne himself, of whose character I never felt free from my misgivings. The cold indifference he manifested on ordinary occasions to everything and everybody, I now saw could give way to strong impetuosity; but even this might be assumed also. As I pondered thus, I had not remarked that the dance was concluded; and already the dancers were proceeding towards their seats, when I heard my name uttered beside me,—“Capitaine Burke.” I turned; it was the countess herself, leaning on the arm of her daughter.

“I wish to present you to my daughter,” said she, with a courteous smile. “The college friend and brother officer of your cousin Tascher, Pauline.”

The young lady courtesied with an air of cold reserve; I bowed deeply before her; while the countess continued,—

“We hope to have the pleasure of seeing you frequently during your stay in Paris, when we shall have a better opportunity of making your acquaintance.”

As I expressed my sense of this politeness, I turned to address a few words to mademoiselle; and requesting to have the honor of dancing with her, she looked at me with an air of surprise, as though not understanding my words, when suddenly the countess interposed,—

“I fear that my daughter's engagements have been made long since; but another night—”

“I will hope—”

But before I could say more, the countess addressed another person near her, and mademoiselle, turning her head superciliously away, did not deign me any further attention; so that, abashed and awkward at so unfavorable a début in the gay world, I fell back, and mixed with the crowd.

As I did so, I found myself among a group of officers, one of whom was relating an anecdote just then current in Paris, and which I mention merely as illustrating in some measure the habits of the period.

At the levée of the Emperor on the morning before, an old general of brigade advanced to pay his respects, when Napoleon observed some drops of rain glistening on the embroidery of his uniform. He immediately turned towards one of his suite, and gave orders to ascertain by what carriage the general had arrived. The answer was, that he had come in a fiacre,—a hired vehicle, which by the rules of the Court was not admitted within the court of the Tuileries, and thus he was obliged to walk above one hundred yards before he could obtain shelter. The old officer, who knew nothing of the tender solicitude of the Emperor, was confounded with astonishment to observe at his departure a handsome calèche and two splendid horses at his service.

“Whose carriage is this?” said he.

“Yours, Monsieur le Général.”

“And the servant, and the horses?”

“Yours, also. His Majesty has graciously been pleased to order them for you; and desires you will remember that the sum of six thousand francs will be deducted from your pay to meet the cost of the equipage which the Emperor deems befitting your rank in the service.”

“It is thus,” said the narrator, “the Emperor would enforce that liberality on others he so eminently displays himself. The spoils of Italy and Austria are destined, not to found a new noblesse, but to enrich the bourgeoisie of this good city of Paris. I say, Edward, is not that Duchesne yonder? I thought he was above patronizing the salons of a mere commissary-general.”

“You don't know the chevalier,” replied the other; “no game flies too high or too low for his mark. Depend upon it, he's not here for nothing.”

“If mademoiselle be the object,” said a third, “I'll swear he shall have no rivalry on my side. By Jove I I 'd rather face a charge of Hulans than speak to her.”

“If thou wert a Marshal of France, Claude, thou wouldst think differently.”

“If I were a Marshal of France,” repeated he, with energy, “I'd rather marry Minette, the vivandière of ours.”

“And no bad choice either,” broke in a large! heavy-looking officer. “There is but one objection to such an arrangement.”

“And that, if I might ask—”

“Simple enough. She would n't have you.”

The young man endeavored to join in the laugh this speech excited among the rest, though it was evident he felt ill at ease from the ridicule.

“A thousand pardons, my dear Burke,” said Duchesne, at this moment, as he slipped his arm through mine; “but I thought I should have been in need of your services a few minutes ago.”

“Ah! how?”

“Move a little aside, and I 'll tell you. I wished to ask mademoiselle to dance, and approached her for the purpose. She was standing with a number of people, all strangers to me, at the doorway yonder,—Dobretski, that Russian prince, the only man I knew amongst them. A very chilling 'Engaged, sir,' was the answer of the lady to my first request. The same reply met my second and third; when the Russian, as if desirous to increase the awkwardness of my position, interposed with, 'And the fourth set mademoiselle dances with me.'

“'In that case,' said I, 'I may fairly claim the fifth.'

“'On what grounds, sir?' said she, with a look of easy impertinence.

“'The Emperor's orders, Mademoiselle,' said I, proudly.

“'Indeed, sir! May I ask how and when?'

“'Austerlitz, December 2. The order of four o'clock, dated from Reygern, says, “The Imperial Guard will follow closely on the track of the Russians.” (Signed) “Napoleon.”'

“'In that case, sir,' said she, 'I cannot dispute his Majesty's orders. I shall dance the fifth with you.'”

“And the Russian,—what said he?”

Ma foi! I paid no attention to him; for as mademoiselle moved off with her partner, I strolled away in search of you.”

If I was amused at this recital of the chevalier, I could not avoid feeling piqued at the greater success he had than myself; for still the chilling reception I had met with was rankling in my mind.

“Let us move away from this quarter,” said Duchesne. “Here we have got ourselves among a knot of old campaigners, with their stupid stories of Cairo and Acre, Alexandria and the Adige. By Jove! if anything would make me a Legitimist, it is my disgust at those confounded narratives about Kleber and Desaix; the Emperor himself does not despise the time of the Revolution more heartily than I do. Come, there's bouillotte yonder; let us go and win some pieces. I feel I'm in vein; and even to lose would be better than listen to these people. It was only a few minutes ago I was hunted, away from Madame de Muraire by old Berthollet, who is persuading her that her diamonds are but charcoal, and that a necklace is only fit to roast an ortolan. This comes of letting savants into society; decidedly, they had much better taste in the time of the Monarchy.”

It was with some difficulty we succeeded in approaching the bouillotte table, where, to judge from the stakes, very high play was going forward. Duchesne was quickly recognized among the players, who made place for him among them. I soon saw that he was not mistaken in supposing he was in luck; every coup was successful, and, while he continued to win time after time, the heap of gold grew greater, till it covered the part of the table before him.

“Most certainly, Burke,” said he, in a whisper, “this is a strong turn of Fortune, who, being a woman, won't long be of the same mind. Five thousand francs,” cried he, throwing the billet de banque carelessly before him, while he turned to resume what he was saying to me. “Were I in action now, I 'd win the bâton de maréchal. I feel it; there's an innate sense of luck when it means to be steady.”

“The Chevalier Duchesne! the Chevalier Duchesne!” was repeated from voice to voice, outside the circle; “Mademoiselle de Lacostellerie is waiting to waltz with you.”

“A thousand pardons,” said he, rising. “Burke, continue my game, while I try if I can't push fortune the whole way.” So saying, and without listening to my excuses about ignorance of play, he pressed me into his seat, and pushed his way through the crowd to join the dancers.

It was only when the players asked me if I intended to go on that I was aware of the position in which I found myself. I knew little more of the game than I had learned in looking over the table; but I was aware of the strict etiquette in all the play of society, which enjoins a revenge to every loser, so that I continued to bet and stake for Duchesne as I had seen him do already,—not, however, with such fortune. He had scarcely left the table when luck changed; and now I saw his riches decreasing even more rapidly than they had been accumulated. At last, after a long run of ill fortune, when I had staked a very large sum on the board, just as the banker was about to begin, I changed my mind and withdrew half of it.

“No, no,—let it stay,” whispered a voice in my ear; “the sooner this is over the better.”

I turned. It was Duchesne himself, who for some time had been seated behind my chair and looking on at the game.

Fleeting as was the glance I had of his features, I fancied they were somewhat paler than usual. Could this be from the turn of fortune? But no. I watched him now, and I perceived that he never even looked at the game. At last, I staked all that remained in one coup, and lost; when, drawing forth my own purse, I was about to make another bet,—

“No, no, Burke,” whispered he in my ear; “I was only waiting for this moment. Let us come away now. I rise as I sat down, Messieurs,” he said, gayly; while he added, in a lower tone, “Sauf l'honneur.”

“Have you had enough of gayety for one night?” said he, as he drew my arm within his. “Shall we turn home wards?”

“Willingly,” said I; for somehow I felt chagrined and vexed at my ill-luck, and was angry with myself for playing.

“Come along, then; this door will bring us to the stairs.”

As we passed along hastily through the crowd, I saw that a young officer in a hussar uniform whispered something in Duchesne's ear; to which he quickly replied, “Certainly.” And as he spoke again in the same low tone, Duchesne answered, “Agreed, sir,” with a courteous smile, and a look of much pleasure.

“Well, Burke,” said he, turning to me, “these are about the most splendid salons in Paris; I think I never saw more perfect taste. I certainly must thank you for being my chaperon here.”

“You forget, Duchesne, the Duchesse de Montserrat, it seems,” said I, laughing.

“By Jove, and so I had!” said he. “Yet the initiative lay with you; how the termination may be is another matter,” added he, in a mumbling voice, not intended to be heard.

“At all events,” said I, puzzled what to say, and feeling I should say something, “I am happy your Russian friend took no notice of your speech.”

“And why?” said he, with a peculiar smile,—“and why?”

“I abhor a duel, in the first place.”

“But, my dear boy, that speech smacks much more of the École de Jésuites than of St. Cyr. Don't let any one less your friend than I am hear you say so.”

“I care not who may hear it. Necessity may make me meet an adversary in single combat; but as to acting the cold-blooded part of a bystander—as to being the witness of my friend's crime, or his own death—”

“Come, come; when you exchange the dolman for an alb I 'll listen to this from you, if I can listen to it from any one. But happily, now we have no time for more morality, for here comes the carriage.”

Chatting pleasantly about the soirée and its company, we rolled along towards our quarters, and parted with a cordial shake of the hand for the night.


When I entered the breakfast-room the following morning, I found Duchesne stretched before the fire in an easy-chair, busily engaged in reading the “Moniteur” of that day, where a long list of imperial ordonnances filled nearly three columns.

“Here have I been,” said he, “conning over this catalogue of princely favor these twenty minutes, and yet cannot discern one word of our well-beloved cousins Captains Burke and Duchesne. And yet there seems to be a hailstorm of promotions. Some of them have got grand duchies; some principalities; some have the cross of the Legion; and here, by Jove! are some endowed with wives. Now that his Majesty has taken to christening and marrying, I suppose we shall soon see him administering all the succors of Holy Church. Have you much interest in hearing that Talleyrand is to be called Prince of Benevente, and Murat is now Grand-Duke of Berg,—that Sebastiani is to be married to Mademoiselle de Coigny, and Monsieur Decazes, fils de M. Decazes, has taken some one else to wife? Oh dear, oh dear! It's all very tiresome, and not even the fête of Saint Napoleon—”

“Of whom?” said I, laughing.

“Saint Napoleon, parbleu! It's no joking matter, I assure you. Here is the letter of the cardinal legate to the arch-bishops and bishops of France, commanding that the first Sunday in the August of each year should be set apart to celebrate his saintship, with an account of the processions to take place, and various plenary indulgences to the pious who shall present themselves on the occasion. Fouché could tell you the names of some people who bled freely to get rid of all this trumpery; and, in good sooth, it's rather hard, if we could not endure Saint Louis, to be obliged to tolerate Saint Napoleon,—saints, like Bordeaux wine, being all the more palatable when they have age to mellow them. I could forgive anything, however, but this system of forced marriages; it smacks too much of old Frederick for my taste. And one cannot always have the luck of your friend General d'Auvergne.”

I felt my cheek grow burning hot at the words. Duchesne did not notice my confusion, but continued,—

“And yet, of all the ill-assorted unions for which his sainted Majesty will have to account hereafter, that was unquestionably the most extraordinary.”

“But I have heard, and I believe too, that the marriage was not of the Emperor's making; it was purely a matter of liking.”

“Come, come, Burke,” said he, laughing, “you will not tell me that the handsomest girl at the Court, with a large dowry, an ancient name, and every advantage of position, marries an old weather-beaten soldier—the senior officer of her own father once—of her own free will and choice. The thing is absurd. No, no; these are the Imperial recompenses, when grand duchies are scarce and confiscations few. The Emperor does not travel for nothing. He brought back with him from Egypt something besides his Mameluke Guard: that clever trick the pachas have of providing a favorite with an ex-sultana. There, there! don't look so angrily. We shall both be marshals of France one of these days, and that may reconcile one to a great deal.”

“You are determined to owe nothing of your promotion to a blind devotion to Napoleon,—that's certain,” said I, annoyed at the tone of insolent disparagement in which he spoke.

“You are right,—perfectly right there,” replied he, in a quiet tone of voice. “No man would rather hug himself up in an illusion, if he could but make it minister to his pleasure or his enjoyment; but when it does neither,—when the material is so flimsy as to be seen through at every minute,—I throw it from me as a worthless garment, unfit to wear.”

“Can you, then, deem Napoleon's glory such?”

“Of course, to me it is. How am I a sharer in his triumphs, save as the charger that marches in the cavalcade? You don't perceive that I, as the descendant of an old Loyalist family, would have fared far better with the Bourbons, from reasons of blood and kindred; and a hundred times better with the Jacobins, from very recklessness.”

“How then came it—”

“I will spare you the question. I liked neither emigration nor the guillotine, and preferred the slow suffering of ennui to the quick death of the scaffold. There has been but one career in France for many a day past. I adopted it as much from necessity as choice; I followed it more from habit than either.”

“But you cannot be insensible to the greatness of your country, nor her success in arms.”

“Nor am I; but these things are a small ingredient in patriotism. You, the stranger, share with us all our triumphs in the field. But the inherent features of a nation,—the distinctive traits of which every son of the soil feels proud,—where are they now? What is France to me more than to you? One half my kindred are exiled; of those who remain, many regard me as a renegade. Their properties confiscated, themselves suspected, what tie binds them to this country? You are not more an alien here than I am.”

“And yet, Duchesne, you shed your blood freely for this same cause you condemn. You charged the Pratzen, some days ago, with four squadrons, against a whole column of Russian cavalry.”

“Ay, and would again to-morrow, boy. Had you been a gambler, I need n't have told you that it is the game, not the stake, that interests the real gamester. But come, do not fancy I want to make you a convert to these tiresome theories of mine. What say you to the pretty Mademoiselle Pauline? Did you admire her much?”

“She is unquestionably very handsome; but, if I must confess it, her manner towards me was too ungracious to make me loud in her praise.”

“I like that, I vow,” said Duchesne; “that saucy air has an indescribable charm for me. I don't know if it is not the very thing which pleases me most about her. She has been spoiled by flattery and admiration; for her beauty and her fortune are prizes in the great wheel. And that she is aware of the fact is nothing wonderful, considering that she hears it repeated every evening of her life, by every-rank in the service, from a marshal of France down to—a captain in the chasseurs à cheval,” said he, laughing.

“Who, probably, was one of the last to tell her so,” said I, looking at him slyly.

“What have we here?” said he, suddenly, without paying any attention to my remark, as he again took up the “Moniteur.” “'It is rumored that the Russian Prince, Drobretski, was dangerously wounded this morning in an affair of honor. The names of the other party and the seconds are still unknown; but the efforts of the police, stimulated by the express command of the Emperor, will, it is to be hoped, succeed in discovering them ere long.'”

“Is not that the name of your Russian friend of last night, Duchesne?”

“Yes. And the same person, too, formerly Russian minister at Madrid, and latterly residing on his parole at Paris,” continued he, reading from the paper. “'The very decided part his Majesty has taken against the practice of duelling is strengthened on this occasion by a recent order of council respecting the prisoners on parole.' Diable! Burke, what a scrupulous turn Napoleon seems to have taken in regard to these Cossacks! And here follows a long list of witnesses who have seen nothing, and suspicious circumstances that occur every morning in the week without remark. After all, I don't think the Empire has advanced us much on the score of police,—the same threadbare jests, the same old practical jokes, amused the bourgeoisie in the time of Louis the Fourteenth.”

“I don't clearly understand your meaning.”

“It is simply this,—that every Government of France, from Pepin downwards, has understood the value of throwing public interest, from time to time, on a false scent, and to this end has maintained a police. Now, if for any cause his Majesty thought proper to incarcerate that Russian prince in the Temple or La Force, the affair would cause a tremendous sensation in Paris, and soon would ring over the whole of Germany and the rest of Europe, with every variation of despotism, tyranny, and all that, attached to it, long before any advantages to be derived from the step could be realized. Whereas see the effect of an opposite policy. By this report of a duel, for instance,—I don't mean to assert it false, here,—the whole object is attained, and an admirable subject of Imperial praise obtained into the bargain. Governments have learned wisdom from the cuttlefish, and can muddy the water on their enemies at the moment of danger. I should not be surprised if the affairs of the Bank looked badly this morning.”

“It is evident, then, you disbelieve the whole statement about the duel.”

“My dear friend,” said he, smiling, “who is there in all Paris, from Montmartre to St. Denis, believes, or disbelieves, any one thing in the times we live in? Have we not trusted so implicitly for years past to the light of our reason that we have actually injured our eyesight with ils brilliancy. Little reproach, indeed, to our minds, when our very senses seem to mislead us; when one sees the people who enter the Tuileries now with embroidered coats, who in our father's days never came nearer to it than the Place de Carrousel. Hélas! it's no time for incredulity, that's certain. But to conclude,” said he, turning to the paper once more: “'The commissaires de police throughout Paris have received orders to spare no effort to unravel the mystery and detect the other parties in this unhappy affair.' Military tribunal; prisoners on parole; rights of hospitality; honor of France; and the old peroration,—the usual compliment on the wisdom which presides over every department of state. How weary I do become of all this! Let your barber puff his dye for the whiskers, or your bootmaker the incomparable effulgence of his blacking,—the thing is in keeping, no one objects to it. I don't find fault with my old friend, Pigault Lebrun, if he now and then plays the critic on himself, and shows the world the beauties they neglectfully slurred over. But, Burke, have you ever seen a bureau de police?

“Never; and I have the greatest curiosity to do so.”

“Come, then, I 'll be your guide. The commissaire of this quarter has a very extended jurisdiction, stretching away towards the Bois de Boulogne, and if there be anything in this report, he is certain to know it; and assuredly, no other topic will be talked of till to-morrow evening, for it's not Opera night, and Talma does not play either.”

I willingly accepted this proposition; and when our breakfast was over, we mounted our horses, and set out for the place in question.

“If the forms of justice where we are now going,” said Duchesne, “be divested of much of their pomp and ceremony, be assured of one thing,—it is not at the expense of the more material essence. Of all the police tribunals about Paris, this obscure den in the Bue de Dix Sous is the most effective. Situated in a quarter where crime is as rife as fever in the Pontine Marshes, it has become acquainted with the haunts and habits of the lowest class in Paris,—the lowest class, probably, in any city of Europe. Watching with parental solicitude, it tracks the criminal from his first step in vice to his last deed in crime; from his petty theft to his murder. Knowing the necessities to which poverty impels men, and studying with attention the impulses that grow up amid despair and hunger, it sees motives through a mist of intervening circumstances that would baffle less subtle observers, and can trace the tortuous windings of crime where no other sight could find the clew. Is it not strange to think with what ingenuity men will investigate the minute anatomy of vice, and how little they will do to apply this knowledge to its remedy? Like the surgeon, enamored of his operating skill, he would rather exhibit his dexterity in the amputation, than his science in the saving, of the limb. Such is the bureau of the police in the poorer quarters. In the more fashionable ones it takes a higher flight; amusing the world with its scenes, alternately humorous and pathetic, it forms a kind of feature in the literature of the period, and is the only reading of thousands. In these places the commissaire is usually a bon vivant and a wit; despising the miserable function of administering the law, he takes his seat upon the bench to cap jokes with the witnesses, puzzle the complainant, and embarrass the prisoner. To the reporters alone is he civil; and in return, his poor witticisms appear in the morning papers, with the usual 'loud laughter' that never existed save in type.”

As we thus chatted, we entered a quarter of dirty and narrow streets, inhabited by a poor-looking, squalid population. The women, with little to mark their sex in their coarse, heavy countenances, wore colored kerchiefs on their heads in lieu of a cap, and were for the most part without shoes or stockings. The men, a brutalized, stupid race, sat smoking in the doorways, scarcely lifting their eyes as we passed; or some were eating a coarse morsel of black rye bread, which, by their eagerness in devouring it, seemed an unusual delicacy.

“You scarcely believed there was such poverty in Paris,” said he; “but this is by no means the worst of the quarter. Though M. de Champagny, in his late report, makes no mention of these 'signs of prosperity,' we are now entering the region where, even in noonday, the passage is deemed perilous; but the number of police agents on duty to-day will make the journey a safe one.”

The street we entered at the moment consisted of a mass of tall houses, almost falling from decay and neglect,—scarcely a window remained in many of them; while in front, a row of miserable booths, formed of rude planks, narrowed the passage to a mere path, scarce wide enough for three people abreast. There, vice of every description, and drunkenness, waited not for the dark hours to shroud them, but came forth in the sunlight,—the ruffian shouts of intoxication mingling with the almost maniacal laugh of misery or the reckless chorus of some degrading song. Half-naked wretches leaned from the windows as we passed along,—some staring in stupid wonderment at our appearance; others saluting us with mockery and grimace, or even calling out to us in the slang dialect of the place.

“Yes,” said Duchesne, as he saw the expression of horror and disgust the scene impressed on me, “here are the rotting seeds of revolutions putrefying, to germinate at some future day. Starvation and vice, misery, even to despair, inhabit every den around you. The furious and bloodthirsty wretch of '92, the Chouan, the Jacobite, the escaped galley-slave, the untaken murderer, are here side by side,—crime their great bond of union. To this place men come for an assassin or a false witness, as to a market. Such are the wrecks the retiring waves of a Revolution have left us. So long as the trade of blood lasted, openly, like vultures, they fattened on it; but once the reign of order restored, they were driven to murder and outrage as a livelihood.”

While he was speaking, we approached a narrow arched passage, within which a flight of stone steps arose. “We dismount here,” said he.

At the same moment a group of ragged creatures, of every age, surrounded us to hold our horses, not noticing the orderly who rode at some distance behind us. I followed Duchesne up the steps, and along a gloomy corridor, to a little courtyard, where several dismounted gendarmes were standing in a circle, chatting. Passing through this, we entered a dirty, mean-looking house, around the door of which several people were collected, some of whom saluted the chevalier as he came up.

“Who are these fellows?” said I. “They seem to know you.”

“Oh! nothing but the common police spies,” said he, carelessly; “the fellows who lounge about the cabarets and the low gambling-houses. But here comes one of higher mark.”

As he spoke, he laid his hand on the arm of a tall, powerful-looking man, in a blouse; he wore immense whiskers, and a great beard, descending far below his chin. “Ah! Bocquin, what have we got going forward to-day? I came to show a young friend here the interior of your salle.”

“Monsieur le Capitaine, your most obedient,” said the man, in a deep voice, as he removed his casquette, and bowed ceremoniously to us; “and yours also, Monsieur,” added he, turning to me. “Why, there is nothing to speak of, save that duel, Capitaine.”

“Come, come, Bocquin; no nonsense with me. What was that story got up for?”

“Ah! you mistake there,” said Bocquin. “By Jove! there's a man badly wounded, shot through the neck, and no one to tell a word about it. No seconds present, the thing done quite privately; the wounded man left at his own door, and the other off,—Heaven knows where.”

“And you believe this tale, Bocquin?” said Duchesne, superciliously.

“Believe it!—that I do. I have been to see the place where the man lay; and by tracking the wheel marks, I have discovered they came from the Champs Élysées. The cabriolet, too, was a private one; no fiacre has got so narrow a tire to the wheel.”

“Closely followed up,—eh, Burke?” said the chevalier, turning towards me with a smile of admiration at his sagacity. “Go on, Bocquin.”

“Well, I followed the scent to the Barrière de l'Étoile, where I learned that one cabriolet passed towards the Bois de Boulogne, and returned in about half an hour. As the pace was a sharp one, I guessed they could not have gone far, and so I turned into the wood at the first road to the right, where there is least recourse of people; and, by Jove! I was all correct. There, in a small open space between the trees, I saw the marks of recent footsteps, and a little farther on found the grass all covered with blood.”

“Monsieur Bocquin! Monsieur Bocquin! the commissaire wants you,” cried a voice from the landing of the stair; and with an apology for leaving thus suddenly, he turned away.

We followed, however, curious to hear the remainder of this singular history; and, after some difficulty, succeeded in gaining admittance to a small room, now densely crowded with people, the most of whom were of the very lowest class. The commissaire speedily made place for us beside him on the bench; for, like every one else in a conspicuous position, he also was an acquaintance of Duchesne.

While the commissaire conversed with Bocquin in a low tone, we had time to observe the salle and its occupants. Except the witnesses, two or three of whom were respectable persons, they were the squalid-looking, ragged wretches of the quarter, listening with the greedy appetite of crime to any tale of bloodshed. The surgeon, who had just returned from visiting the wounded man, was waiting to be examined. To him now the commissaire directed his attention. It appeared that the wound was by no means of the dangerous character described, being merely through the fleshy portion of the neck, without injuring any part of importance. Having described circumstantially the extent of the injury and its probable cause, he replied to a question of the commissaire, that no entreaty could persuade the wounded man to give any explanation of the occurrence, nor mention the name of his adversary. Duchesne paid little apparent attention to the evidence, and before it was concluded, asked me if I were satisfied with my police experience, and disposed to move away.

Just at this moment there was a stir among the people round the door, and we heard the officers of the court cry out, “Room! make way there!” and the same moment General Duroc entered, accompanied by an aide-de-camp. He had been sent specially by the Emperor to ascertain what progress the investigation had made. His Majesty had determined to push the inquiry to its utmost limits. The general appeared dissatisfied with the little prospect there appeared of elucidation; and turning to Duchesne, remarked,—

“This is peculiarly ill-timed just now, as negotiations are pending with Russia, and the prince's family are about the person of the Czar.”

“But as the wound would seem of little consequence, in a few days perhaps the whole thing may blow over,” said Duchesne.

“It is for that very reason,” replied Duroc, earnestly, “that we are pressed for time. The object is to mark the sentiments of his Majesty now. Should the prince be once pronounced out of danger, it will be too late for sympathy.”

“Oh! I perceive,” said Duchesne, smiling; “your observation is most just. If my friend here, however, cannot put you on the track, I fear you have little to hope for elsewhere.”

“I am aware of that; and Monsieur Cauchois knows the great reliance his Majesty reposes in his skill and activity.”

Monsieur Cauchois, the commissaire, bowed with a most respectful air at the compliment, probably of all others the highest that could be paid him.

“A brilliant soirée we had last evening, Duchesne,” said the general. “I hope this unhappy affair will not close that house at present; you are aware the prince is the suitor of mademoiselle?”

“I only suspected as much,” said the chevalier, with a peculiar smile; “it was my first evening there.”

As General Duroc addressed a few words in a low tone to the commissaire, the man called Bocquin approached the bench, and handed up a small slip of paper to Duchesne. The chevalier opened it, and having thrown his eyes over it, passed it into my hand. All I could see were two words, written coarsely with the pencil,—“How much?”

The chevalier turned the back of the paper, and wrote, “Fifty napoleons.”

On reading which the large man tore the scrap, and nodding slightly with his head, sauntered from the room. We rose a few moments after, and having taken a formal leave of the general and the commissaire, proceeded towards the street, where we had left our horses. As we passed along the corridor, however, we found Bocquin awaiting us. He opened a door into a small, mean-looking apartment, of which he appeared the owner. Having ushered us in, and cautiously closed it behind him, he drew from his pocket a piece of cloth, to which a button and a piece of gold embroidery were attached.

“Your jacket would be spoiled without this morsel, Captain,” said he, laughing, in a low, dry laugh.

“So it would, Bocquin,” said Duchesne, examining his coat, which I now perceived was torn on the shoulder, and a small piece—the exact one in his hand—wanting, but which had escaped my attention from the mass of gold lace and embroidery with which it was covered.

“Do you know, Bocquin,” said Duchesne, in a tone much graver than he had used before, “I never noticed that?”

Parbleu! I believe you,” said he, laughing; “nor did I, till you sat on the bench, when I was so pleased with your coolness, I could not for the life of me interrupt you.”

“Have you got any money, Burke?” said the chevalier; “some twenty gold pieces—”

“No, no, Captain,” said Bocquin, “not now; another time. I must call upon you one of these mornings about another affair, and it will be time enough then.”

“As you please, Bocquin,” said the chevalier, putting up his purse again; “and so, till we meet.”

“Till we meet, gentlemen,” replied the other, as he bowed us respectfully to the door.

“You seem to have but a very faint comprehension of all this, Burke,” said Duchesne, as he took my arm; “you look confoundedly puzzled, I must say.”

“If I didn't, I should be an admirable actor, that's all,” said I.

“Why, I think the thing is plain enough, in all conscience; Bocquin found that piece of my jacket on the ground, and, of course, the affair was in his hands.”

“Why, do you mean to say—”

“That I shot Monsieur le Prince this morning, at a quarter past seven o'clock, and felt devilish uncomfortable about it till the last ten minutes, my boy. If I did not confide the matter to you before, it was because that until all chance of detection was passed, I could not expose you to the risk of an examination before the préfet de police. Happily, now these dangers are all over. Bocquin is too clever a fellow not to throw all the other spies on a wrong scent, so that we need have no fear of the result.”

I could scarcely credit the evidence of my senses at the coolness and duplicity of the chevalier throughout an affair of such imminent risk, nor was I less astonished at the account he gave of the whole proceeding.

One word, on leaving the soirée, had decided there should be a meeting the following day; and as the Russian well knew the danger of his adventure, from the law which was recently passed regarding prisoners on parole, he proposed they should meet without seconds on either side. Duchesne acceded; and it was arranged that the chevalier should drive along the Bue de Rivoli at seven the next morning, where the Russian would join him, and they should drive together to the Bois de Boulogne.

“To do my Cossack justice,” said Duchesne, “he behaved admirably throughout the whole affair; and on taking his place beside me in the cab, entered into conversation freely and easily on the topics of the day. We chatted of the campaign; of the cavalry; of the Russian service,—their size and equipment, only needing a higher organization to make them first-rate troops. We spoke of the Emperor Alexander, of whom he was evidently proud, and much pleased to hear the favorable opinion Napoleon entertained of his ability and capacity; and it was in the middle of an anecdote about Savary and the Czar we arrived at the Bois de Boulogne.

“I need not tell you the details of the affair, save that we loaded our own pistols, and stepped the ground ourselves. They were like other things of the same sort,—the first shot concluded the matter. I aimed at his shoulder, but the pistol threw high. As to his bullet, it was only awhile ago I knew it went so near me. It was nervous work passing the barrière; for had he not made an effort to sit up straight in the cab, the sentry might have detained and examined us. All that you heard about his being left at his own door, covered with blood and fainting, I need not tell you has no truth. I never left the spot till the door was opened, and I saw him in the hands of a servant. Of course I concealed my face, and then drove off at full speed.”

By this time we arrived at the Luxembourg, and Duchesne, with all the coolness in the world, joined a knot of persons engaged in discussing the duel, and endeavoring, by sundry clever and ingenious explanations, to account for the circumstance.

As I sauntered along to my quarters, I pondered over the adventure and the character of the chevalier; and however I might turn the matter in my mind, one thought was ever uppermost,—a sincere wish that I had not been made his confidant in the secret.


A few mornings after this occurrence, when, as Duchesne himself prophesied, all memory of it was completely forgotten, the ordre du jour from the Tuileries commanded all the troops then garrisoned in Paris to be under arms at an early hour in the Champs Élysées, when the Emperor would pass them in review. The spectacle had, however, another object, which was not generally known. The convoys of the wounded from Austerlitz were that same day to arrive at Paris, and the display of troops was intended at once to honor this entrée, and give to the sad procession of the maimed and dying the semblance of a triumph. Such were the artful devices which ever ministered to the deceit of the nation, and suffered them to look on but one side of their glory.

As I anticipated, the chevalier was greatly out of temper at the whole of this proceeding. He detested nothing more than those military displays which are got up for the populace; he despised the exhibition of troops to the vulgar and unmeaning criticism of tailors and barbers; and, more than all, he shrank from the companionship of the National Guard of Paris,—those shop-keeping soldiers, with their umbrellas and spectacles, who figured with such pride on these occasions.

“Another affair like this,” said he, passionately, “and I'd resign my commission. A procession at the Porte St. Martin,—the boeuf gras on Easter Monday,—I'm your man for either: but to sit bolt upright on your saddle for three, maybe four hours; to be stared at by every bourgeois from the Rue du Bac; to be pointed at with pink parasols and compared with some ribbon-vender of the Boulevards,—par Saint Louis! I can't even bear to think of it! Look yonder,” said he, pointing to the court of the Palace, where already a regiment was drawn up under arms, and passing in inspection before the colonel; “there begins the dress-rehearsal already. His Majesty says mid-day; the generals of division draw out their men at eleven o'clock; the colonels take a look at their corps at ten; the chefs de bataillon at nine; and, parbleu!the corporals are at work by daybreak. Then, what confounded drilling and dressing up, as if Napoleon could detect the slightest waving of the line over two leagues of ground; while you see the luckless adjutants flying hither and thither, cursing, imprecating, and threatening, and hastily reiterating at the head of each company, 'Remember, men, be sure to remember, that when the drums beat to arms, you shout “Vive l'Empereur!”' Rely upon it, Burke, if we had but one half of these preparations before a battle, we 'd not be the dangerous fellows those Russians and Austrians think us.”

“Come, come,” said I, “you shall not persuade me that the soldiers feel no pride on these occasions. The same men who fight so valiantly for their Emperor—”

“Stop there, I beg of you,” said he, bursting into a fit of laughter. “I must really cry halt now. So long as you live, my dear friend, let nothing induce you to repeat that worn cant, 'Fight for their Emperor!' Why, they fought as bravely for Turenne, and Villars, and Maréchal Saxe; they were as full of courage under Moreau, and Kleber, and Desaix, and Hoche; ay, and will be again when the Emperor is no more, and Heaven knows who stands in his place. The genius of a French army is fighting, not for gain, nor plunder, nor even for glory, so much as for fighting itself; and he is the best man who gives them most of it. What reduced the reckless hordes of the Revolution to habits of discipline and obedience but the warlike spirit of their leaders, whose bravery they respected? And think you Napoleon himself does not feel this in his heart, and know the necessity of continual war to feed the insatiable appetite of his followers? In a word, my friend,” added he, in a tone of mock solemnity, “we are a great people; and Nature intended us to be so by giving us a language in which Gloire rhymes with Victoire. And now for the march, for I fancy we are late enough already.”

There are few sources of annoyance more poignant than to discover any illusion we have long indulged in assailed by the sneers and sarcasms of another, who assumes a tone of superior wisdom on the faith of a difference of opinion. The mass of our likings and dislikings find their way into our heart more from impulse than reason, and when attacked are scarcely defensible by any effort of the understanding. This very fact renders us more painfully alive to their preservation, and we shrink instinctively from any discussion of them. While such is the case, we feel more bitterly the cruelty of him who, out of mere wantonness, can sport with the sources of our happiness, and assail the hidden stores of so many of our pleasures; for unhappily the mockery once listened to lies associated with the idea forever.

Already had Duchesne stripped me of more than one delusion, and made me feel that I was but indulging in a deceptive happiness in my dream of life; and often did I regret that I ever knew him. It is not enough to feel the sophistry of one's adversary, you should be able to detect and expose it, otherwise the triumphant tone he assumes gives him an air of victory which ends by imposing on yourself. And of this I now felt convinced in my own case.

These thoughts rendered me silent as we wended our way towards the Tuileries, where the various officers of the staff and the corps d'élite were assembled. Here we found several of the marshals in waiting for the Emperor, while the Mameluke Guard, in all the splendor of its gay equipments, stood around the great entrance to the Palace. Many handsome equipages were also there; one, conspicuous above the rest for its livery of white and gold, with four outriders, belonged to Madame Murat, the Grand-Duchess of Berg, whose taste for splendor and show extended to every department of her household.

At last there was a movement in those nearest the Palace; the drums beat to arms, the guard within the vestibule presented, and the Emperor appeared, followed by a brilliant staff. He stood for a few seconds on the steps, his hands clasped behind his back, and his head a little bent forwards as if in thought; then, drawing himself up, he looked with a gaze of proud composure on the crowd that filled the court of the Palace, and where now all was silent and still. Never before had I remarked the same imperious expression of his features; but as his eye ranged over the brilliant array, now I could read the innate consciousness of superiority in which he excelled. Ney, Murat, Victor, Bessières,—how little seemed they all before that mighty genius, whose glory they but reflected!

Oh, how lightly then did I deem the mocking jests of Duchesne, or all that his sarcasm could invent! There stood the conqueror of Italy and Egypt, the victor of Marengo and Austerlitz, looking every inch a monarch and a soldier. Whether from thoughtless inattention or studied affectation I cannot say, but at that moment, when all stood in respectful silence before the Emperor, Duchesne had approached the grille of the Palace, next to the Place du Carrousel, and was busily chatting with a pretty-looking girl, who, with a number of others, sat in a hired calèche. A hearty burst of laughter at something he said rang through the court, and turned every eye in that direction. In an instant the Emperor's eagle glance pierced the distance, and fastened on the chevalier, who, seated carelessly on one side of his saddle, paid no attention to what was going forward; when suddenly an aide-de-camp touched him on the arm, and said,—

“Monsieur le Capitaine Duchesne, his Majesty the Emperor would speak with you.”

Duchesne turned; a faint, a very faint flush, covered his cheek, and putting spurs to his horse, he galloped up to the front of the terrace, where the Emperor was standing. From the distance at which I stood, to hear what passed was impossible; but I watched with a most painful interest the scene before me.

The Emperor's attitude was unchanged as the chevalier rode up; and when Duchesne himself seemed to listen with a respectful manner to the words of his Majesty, I could see by his easy bearing that his self-possession had never deserted him. The interview lasted not many minutes, when the Emperor waved his hand haughtily; and the chevalier, saluting with his sabre, backed his horse some paces, and then, wheeling round, rapidly galloped towards the gate, through which he passed.

“This evening, then, Mademoiselle,” said he, with a smile, “I hope to have the honor.” And, with a courteous bow, rode on towards the archway opening on the quay.

“What has happened?” said I, eagerly, to the officer at my side.

He shook his head as if doubtful, and half fearing even to whisper at the moment.

“His privilege of the élite is withdrawn, sir,” said an old general officer. “He must leave Paris to join his regiment in twenty-four hours.”

“Poor fellow!” muttered I, half aloud, when a savage frown from the veteran officer corrected my words.

“What, sir!” said he, in a low voice, where every word was thickened to a guttural sound—“what, sir! is the court of the Tuileries no more than a canteen or a bivouac? Pardieu! if it was not for his laced jacket he had been degraded to the ranks; ay, and deserved it too!”

The coarse accents and underbred tone of the speaker showed me at once that it was one of the old generals of the Republican army, who never could endure the descendants of aristocratic families in the service, and who were too willing always to attribute to insolence and premeditated affront even the slightest breaches of military etiquette.

Meanwhile the Emperor mounted, and accompanied by the officers of his staff, rode forward towards the Champs Élysées, while all of lesser note followed at a distance. From the garden of the Tuileries to the Barrière de l'Étoile the troops were ranged in four lines, the cavalry of the Guard and the artillery forming the ranks along the road by which the convoy must pass. It was a bright day, with a clear, frosty atmosphere and a blue sky, and well suited the brilliant spectacle.

Scarcely had the Emperor issued from the Tuileries, when ten thousand shouts of “Vive l'Empereur!” rent the air; the cannon of the Invalides thundered forth at the same moment; and the crash of the military bands added their clangor to the sounds of joy. He rode slowly along the line, stopping frequently to speak with some of the soldiers, and giving orders to his suite concerning them. Of the officers in his staff that day, the greater number had been wounded at Austerlitz, and still bore the traces of their injuries. Rapp displayed a tremendous scar from a sabre across his cheek; Sebastiani wore his sword-arm in a sling; and Friant, unable to mount his horse, followed the Emperor on foot, leaning on a stick, and walking with great difficulty. The sight of these brave men, whose devotion to Napoleon had been proved on so many battlefields, added to the interest of the scene, and tended to excite popular enthusiasm to its utmost. But on Napoleon still all eyes were bent. The general who led their armies to victory, the monarch who raised France to the proudest place among the nations, was there, within a few paces of them. Each word he spoke was sinking deeply into some heart, prouder of that moment than of rank or riches.

So slow was the Emperor's progress along the ranks that it was near three o'clock before he had arrived at the extremity of the line. The cavalry were now ordered to form in squadrons, and move past in close order. While this movement was effecting, a cannon-shot at the barrière announced the approach of the convoy. The cavalry were halted in line once more, and the same moment the first wagon of the train appeared above the summit of the hill. So secretly had the whole been managed that none, save the officers of the various staffs, knew what was coming. While each look was turned, then, towards the barrière in astonishment, gradually the wagon rolled on, another followed, and another: these were, however, but the ambulances of the hospitals. And now the wounded themselves came in sight,—a white flag, that well-known signal, waving in front of each wagon, while a guard of honor, consisting of picked men of the different regiments, rode at either side.

One loud cheer—a shout echoed back from the Tuileries itself—rang out, as the soldiers saw their brave companions restored to them once more. With that impulse which, even in discipline, French soldiers never forget, the men rushed forward to the wagons, and in a moment officers and men were in the arms of their comrades. What a scene it was to see the poor and wasted forms, mangled by shot and maimed of limb, brightening up again as home and friends surrounded them,—to hear their faint voices mingle with the questions for this one or for that, while the fate of some brave fellow met but one word in elegy!

On they passed,—a sad train, but full of glorious memories. There were the grenadiers of Oudinot, who carried the Russian centre; eleven wagons were filled with their wounded. Here come the voltigeurs of Bernadotte's brigade; see how the fellows preserve their ancient repute, cheering and laughing,—ever the same, whether roistering at midnight in the Faubourg St. Antoine or rushing madly upon the ranks of the enemy! There are the dragoons of Nansouty, who charged the Imperial Guard of Russia; see the proud line that floats on their banner, “All wounded by the sabre!” And here come the cuirassiers of the Guard, with a detachment of their own as escort; how splendidly they look in the bright sun, and how proudly they come!

As I looked, the Emperor rode forward, bareheaded, his whole staff uncovered. “Chapeau bas, Messieurs!” said he, in a loud voice. “Honor to the brave in misfortune!”

Just then the escort halted, and I heard a laugh in front, close to where the Emperor was standing; but from the crowded staff around him, could not see what was going forward.

“What is it?” said I, curious to learn the least incident of the scene.

“Advance a pace or two, Captain,” said the young officer I addressed; “you can see it all.”

I did so, and then beheld—oh, with what delight and surprise!—my poor friend, Pioche, seated on the driving-seat of a gun, with his hand in salute as the Emperor spoke to him.

“Thou wilt not have promotion, nor a pension. What, then, can I do for thee?” said Napoleon, smiling. “Hast any friend in the service whom I could advance for thy sake?»

“Yes, parbleu!” said Pioche, scratching his forehead, with a sort of puzzle and confusion even the Emperor smiled at, “I have a friend. But mayhap those wouldn't like—”

“Ask me for nothing thou thinkest I could not, ought not to grant,” said the Emperor, sternly. “What is't now?”

The poor corporal seemed thoroughly nonplussed, and for a second or two could not reply. At last, as if summoning all his courage for the effort, he said,—

“Well, thou canst but refuse, and then the fault will be all thine. She is a brave girl, and had she been a man—”

“Whom can he mean?” said Napoleon. “Is the man's head wandering?”

“No, mon général! all right there; that shell has turned many a sabre's edge. I was talking of Minette, the vivandière of ours. If thou art so bent on doing me a service, why, promote her, and thou'lt make the whole regiment proud of it.”

This speech was lost in the laugh which, beginning with the Emperor, extended to the staff, and at last to all the bystanders.

“Dost wish I should make her one of my aides-de-camp?” said Napoleon, still laughing.

Parbleu! thou hast more ill-favored ones among them,” said Pioche, with a significant look at the grim faces of Rapp and Dam, whose hard and weather-beaten features never deigned a smile, while every other face was moved in laughter.

“But thou hast not said yet what I am to do,” rejoined the Emperor.

“Thou used not to be so hard to understand,” grumbled out Pioche. “I have seen the time thou 'd have said, 'Is it Minette that was wounded at the Adige? Is that the girl stood in the square at Marengo? Parbleu! I 'll give her the cross of the Legion!'”

“And she shall have it, Corporal Pioche,” said Napoleon, as he detached the decoration he wore on the breast of his coat. “Give the order for the vivandière to advance.”

Scarce were the words spoken, when the sound of a horse pressed to his speed was heard, and mounted upon a small but showy Arab, a present from the regiment, Minette rode up, in the bloom of health, and flushed by exercise and the excitement of the moment. I never saw her look so handsome. Reining in her horse short, as she came in front of the Emperor, the animal reared up, almost straight, and pawed the air with his forelegs; while she, with all the composure in life, raised her hand to her cap, and saluted the Emperor with an action the most easy and graceful.

“Thou hast some yonder,” said Pioche, with a grim smile at the staff, “would be sore puzzled to keep their saddles as well.”

Minnette 170


“Minette,” said the Emperor, while he gazed on her handsome features with evident pleasure, “your name is well known to me for many actions of kindness and self-devotion. Wear this cross of the Legion of Honor; you will not value it the less that until now it has been only worn by me. Whenever you find one worthy to be your husband, Minette, I will charge myself with the dowry.”

“Oh, Sire!” said the trembling girl, as she pressed the Emperor's fingers to her lips,—“oh, Sire, is this real?”

“Yes, parbleu!” said Pioche, wiping a large tear from his eye as he spoke; “he can make thee be a man, and make me feel like a girl.”

As Duroc attached the cross to the buttonhole of the vivandière's frock, she sat pale as death, totally overcome by her sensations of pride, and unable to say more than “Oh, Sire!” which she repeated three or four times at intervals.

Again the procession moved on; other wagons followed with their brave fellows; but all the interest of the scene was now, for me at least, wrapped up in that one incident, and I took but little notice of the rest.

For full two hours the cortege continued to roll on,—wagon after wagon, filled with the shattered remnants of an army. Yet such was the indomitable spirit of the people, such the heartfelt passion for glory, all deemed that procession the proudest triumph of their arms. Nor was this feeling confined to the spectators; the wounded themselves leaned eagerly over the sides of the charrettes to gaze into the crowds on either side, seeking some old familiar face, and looking through all their sufferings proudly on the dense mob beneath them. Some tried to cheer, and waved their powerless hands; but others, faint and heart-sick, turned their glazed eyes towards the “Invalides,” whose lofty dome appeared above the trees, as though to say, that was now their resting-place,—the only one before the grave.

He who witnessed that day could have little doubt about the guiding spirit of the French nation; nor could he distrust their willingness to sacrifice anything—nay, all—to national glory. Suffering and misery, wounds, ghastly and dreadful, were on every side; and yet not one word of pity, not a look of compassion was there. These men were, in their eyes, far too highly placed for sympathy; theirs was that path to which all aspired, and their trophies were their own worn frames and mangled bodies. And then how they brightened up as the Emperor would draw near! how even the faintest would strive to catch his eye and gaze with parted lips on him as he spoke, as though drinking in his very words,—the balm to their bruised hearts,—and the faint cry of “l'Empereur! l'Empereur!” passed like a murmur along the line.

Not until the last wagon had defiled before him did the Emperor leave the ground. It was then nearly dark, and already the lamps were lighted along the quays, and the windows of the Palace displayed the brilliant lustre of the preparations for a grand dinner to the marshals.

As we moved slowly along in close order, I found myself among a group of officers of the Emperor's staffs eagerly discussing the day and its events.

“I am sorry for Duchesne,” said one; “with all his impertinences—and he had enough of them—he was a brave fellow, and a glorious leader at a moment of difficulty.”

“Well, well, the Emperor has perhaps forgiven him by this time; and it is not likely he would mar the happiness of a day like this by disgracing an officer of the élite.”

“You are wrong, my friend; his Majesty is not sorry for the occasion which can prove that he knows as well how to punish as to reward. Duchesne's fate is sealed. You are not old enough to remember, as I can, the morning at Lonado, where the same ardre du jour conferred a mark of honor on one brother, and condemned another to be shot.”

“And was this, indeed, the case?”

“Ay, was it. Many can tell you of it, as well as myself. They were both in the same regiment—the fifteenth demi-brigade of light infantry. They held a château at Salo against the enemy for eight hours, when at length the elder, who commanded at the front, capitulated and laid down his arms; the younger refused to comply, and continued to fight. They were reinforced an hour afterwards, and the Austrians beaten off. The day after they were both tried, and the result was as I have told you; the utmost favor the younger could obtain was, not to witness the execution of his brother.”

As I heard this story, my very blood curdled in my veins, and I looked with a kind of dread on him who now rode a few paces in front of me,—the stern and pitiless Napoleon.

At last we entered the court of the Tuileries, when the Emperor, dismissing his staff, entered the Palace, and we separated, to follow our own plans for the evening. For a moment or two I remained uncertain which way to turn. I wished much to see Duchesne, yet scarcely hoped to meet with him by returning to the Luxembourg. It was not the time to be away from him, at a moment like this, and I resolved to seek him out.

For above an hour I went from café to café, where he was in the habit of resorting, but to no purpose. He had not been seen in any of them during the day; so that at length I turned homeward with the faint hope that I should see him there on my arrival.

Somehow I never had felt more sad and depressed; and the events of the day, so far from making me participate in the general joy, had left me gloomy and desponding. My spirit was little in harmony with the gay and merry groups that passed along the streets, chanting their campaigning songs, and usually having some old soldier of the “Guard” amongst them; for they felt it as a fête, and were hurrying to the cabarets to celebrate the day of Austerlitz.


When men of high courage and proud hearts meet with reverses in life, our anxiety is rather to learn what new channel their thoughts and exertions will take in future, than to hear how they have borne up under misfortune. I knew Duchesne too well to suppose that any turn of fate would find him wholly unprepared; but still, a public reprimand, and from the lips of the Emperor, too, was of a nature to wound him to the quick, and I could not guess, nor picture to myself in what way he would bear it. The loss of grade itself was a thing of consequence, as the service of the élite was reckoned a certain promotion; not to speak of—what to him was far more important—the banishment from Paris and its salons to some gloomy and distant encampment. In speculations like these I returned to my quarters, where I was surprised to discover that the chevalier had not been since morning. I learned from his servant that he had dismissed him, with his horses, soon after leaving the Tuileries, and had not returned home from that time.

I dined alone that day, and sat moodily by myself, thinking over the events of the morning, and wondering what had become of my friend, and watching every sound that might tell of his coming. It is true there were many things I liked not in Duchesne: his cold, sardonic spirit, his moqueur temperament, chilled and repelled me; but I recognized, even through his own efforts at concealment, a manly tone of independence, a vigorous reliance on self, that raised him in my esteem, and made me regard him with a certain species of admiration. With his unsettled or unstable political opinions, I greatly dreaded the excess to which a spirit of revenge might carry him.

I knew that the Jacobin party, and the Bourbons themselves, lay in wait for every erring member of the Imperial side; and I felt no little anxiety at the temptations they might hold out to him, at a moment when his excitement might have the mastery over his cooler judgment.

Late in the evening a Government messenger arrived with a large letter addressed to him from the Minister of War; and even this caused me fresh uneasiness, since I connected the despatch in my mind with some detail of duty which his absence might leave unperformed.

It was long past midnight, as I sat, vainly endeavoring to occupy myself with a book, which each moment I laid down to listen, when suddenly I heard the roll of a fiacre in the court beneath, the great doors banged and closed, and the next moment the chevalier entered the room.

He was dressed in plain clothes, and looked somewhat paler than usual, but though evidently laboring under excitement, affected his wonted ease and carelessness of manner, as, taking a chair in front of me, he sat down.

“What a day of worry and trouble this has been, my dear friend!” he began. “From the moment I last saw you to the present one, I have not rested, and with four invitations to dinner, I have not dined anywhere.”

He paused as he said thus much, as if expecting me to say something; and I perceived that the embarrassment he felt rather increased than otherwise. I therefore endeavored to mumble out something about his hurried departure and the annoyance of such a sentence, when he stopped me suddenly.

“Oh, as to that, I fancy the matter is arranged already; I should have had a letter from the War Office.”

“Yes, there is one here; it came three hours ago.”

He turned at once to the table, and breaking the seal, perused the packet in silence, then handed it to me, as he said,—

“Bead that; it will save a world of explanation.”

It was dated five o'clock, and merely contained the following few words:—

      His Majesty I. and R. accepts the resignation of Senior
      Captain Duchesne, late of the Imperial Guard; who, from the
      date of the present, is no longer in the service of France.


      BERTHIER, Marshal of France.

A small sealed note dropped from the packet, which Duchesne took up, and broke open with eagerness.

“Ha! parbleu!” cried he, with energy; “I thought not. See here, Burke; it is Duroc who writes:—”

      My dear Duchesne,—I knew there was no use in making such a
      proposition, and told you as much. The moment I said the
      word 'England,' he shouted out 'No!' in such a tone you
      might have heard it at the Luxembourg. You will perceive,
      then, the thing is impracticable; and perhaps, after all,
      for your own sake, it is better it should be so.

      Yours ever,                                    D.

“This is all mystery to me, Duchesne; I cannot fathom it in the least.”

“Let me assist you; a few words will do it. I gave in my démission as Captain of the Guard, which, as you see, his Majesty has accepted; we shall leave it to the 'Moniteur' of to-morrow to announce whether graciously or not. I also addressed a formal letter to Duroc, to ask the Emperor's permission to visit England, on private business of my own.” His eyes sparkled with a malignant lustre as he said these last words, and his cheek grew deep scarlet. “This, however, his Majesty has not granted, doubtless from private reasons of his own; and thus we stand. Which of us, think you, has most spoiled the other's rest for this night?”

“But still I do not comprehend. What can take you to England? You have no friends there; you've never been in that country.”

“Do you know the very word is proscribed,—that the island is covered from his eyes in the map he looks upon, that perfide Albion is the demon that haunts his dark hours, and menaces with threatening gesture the downfall of all his present glory? Ah, by Saint Denis, boy! had I been you, it is not such an epaulette as this I had worn.”

“Enough, Duchesne; I will not hear more. Not to you, nor any one, am I answerable for the reasons that have guided my conduct; nor had I listened to so much, save that such excitement as yours may make that pardonable which in calmer moments is not so.”

“You say right, Burke,” said he, quickly, and with more seriousness of manner; “it is seldom I have been betrayed into such a passionate warmth as this. I hope I have not offended you. This change of circumstance will make none in our friendship. I knew it, my dear boy. And now let us turn from such tiresome topics. Where, think you, have I been spending the evening? But how could you ever guess? Well, at the Odéon, attending Mademoiselle Pierrot, and a very pretty friend of hers,—one of our vivandières, who happens to be in the brigade with mademoiselle's brother, and dined there to-day. She only arrived in Paris this morning; and, by Jove! there are some handsome faces in our gay salons would scarcely stand the rivalry with hers. I must show you the fair Minette.”

“Minette!” stammered I, while a sickly sensation—a fear of some unknown misfortune to the poor girl—almost stopped my utterance. “I know her; she belongs to the Fourth Cuirassiers.”

“Ah, you know her? Who would have suspected my quiet friend of such an acquaintance? And so, you never hinted this to me. Ma foi! I 'd have thought twice about throwing up my commission if I had seen her half an hour earlier. Come, tell me all you know of her. Where does she come from?”

“Of her history I am totally ignorant; I can only tell you that her character is without a stain or reproach, in circumstances where few, if any save herself, ever walked scathless; that on more than one occasion she has displayed heroism worthy of the best among us.”

“Oh dear, oh dear, how disappointed I am! Indeed, I half feared as much: she is a regular vivandière of the mélodrame,—virtuous, high-minded, and intrepid. You, of course, believe all this,—don't be angry, Burke,—but I don't; and the reason is I can't,—the gods have left me incredulous from the cradle. I have a rooted obstinacy about me, perfectly irreclaimable. Thus, I fancy Napoleon to be a Corsican; a modern marshal to be a promoted sergeant; a judge of the upper court to be a public prosecutor; and a vivandière of the grande armée—But I'll not offend,—don't be afraid, my poor fellow,—even at the risk of the rivalry. Upon my life, I 'm glad to see you have a heart susceptible of any little tenderness. But you cannot blame me if I 'm weary of this eternal travesty of character which goes on amongst us. Why will our Republican and sans culotte friends try courtly airs and graces, while our real aristocracy stoop to the affected coarseness of the canaille? Is it possible that they who wish to found a new order of things do not see that all these pantomime costumes and characters denote nothing but change,—that we are only performing a comedy after all? I scarcely expect it will be a five-act one. And, apropos of comedies,—when shall we pay our respects to Madame de Lacostellerie? It will require all my diplomacy to keep my ground there under my recent misfortune. Nothing short of a tender inquiry from the Duchesse de Montserrat will open the doors for me. Alas, and alas! I suppose I shall have to fall back on the Faubourg.”

“But is the step irrevocable, Duchesne? Can you really bring yourself to forego a career which opened with such promise?”

“And terminated with such disgrace,” added he, smiling placidly.

“Nay, nay; don't affect to take it thus. Your services would have placed you high, and won for you honors and rank.”

“And, ma foi! have they not done so? Am I not a very interesting individual at this moment,—more so than any other of my life? Are not half the powdered heads of the Faubourg plotting over my downfall, and wondering how they are to secure me to the 'true cause'? Are not the hot heads of the Jacobites speculating on my admission, by a unanimous vote, into their order? And has not Fouché gone to the special expense of a new police spy, solely destined to dine at the same café, play at the same salon, and sit in the same box of the Opera with me? Is this nothing? Well, it will be good fun, after all, to set their wise brains on the wrong track; not to speak of the happiness of weeding one's acquaintance, which a little turn of fortune always effects so instantaneously.”

“One would suppose from your manner, Duchesne, that some unlooked-for piece of good luck had befallen you; the event seems to have been the crowning one of your life.”

“Am I not at liberty, boy? have I not thrown the slavery behind me? Is that nothing? You may fancy your collar, because there is some gold upon it; but, trust me, it galls the neck as cursedly as the veriest brass. Come, Burke, I must have a glass of champagne, and you must pledge me in a creaming bumper. If you don't join in the sentiment now, the time will come later on. We may be many a mile apart,—ay, perhaps a whole world will divide us; but you'll remember my toast,—'To him that is free!' I am sick of most things; women, wine, war, play,—the game of life itself, with all its dashing and existing interests,—I have had them to satiety. But liberty has its charm; even to the palsied arm and the withered hand freedom is dear; and why not to him who yet can strike?”

His eyes flashed fire as he spoke, and he drained glass after glass of wine, without seeming aware of what he was doing.

“If you felt thus, Duchesne, why have you remained so long a soldier?”

“I 'll tell you. He who travels unwillingly along some dreary path stops often as he goes, and looks around to see if, in the sky above or the road beneath, some obstacle may not cross his way and bid him turn. The faintest sound of a brewing storm, the darkening shadow of a cloud, a swollen rivulet, is enough, and straightway he yields: so men seem swayed in life by trifles which never moved them, by accidents which came not near their hearts. These, which the world called their disappointments, were often but the pivots of their fortune. I have had enough, nay, more than enough, of all this. You must not ask the hackneyed actor of the melodrama to start at the blue lights, and feel real fear at burning forests and flaming châteaux. This mock passion of the Emperor—”

“Come, my friend, that is indeed too much; unquestionably there was no feigning there.”

Duchesne gave a bitter laugh, and laying his hand on my arm, said,—

“My good boy, I know him well. The knowledge has cost me something; but I have it. A soldier's enthusiasm!” said he, in irony,—“bah! Shall I tell you a little incident of my boyhood? I detest story-telling, but this you must hear. Fill my glass! listen, and I promise you not to be lengthy.”

It was the first time in our intimacy in which Duchesne referred distinctly to his past life; and I willingly accepted the offer he made, anticipating that any incident, no matter how trivial, might throw a light on the strange contrarieties of his character.

He sat for several minutes silent, his eyes turned towards the ground. A faint smile, more of sadness than aught else, played about his lips, as he muttered to himself some words I could not catch. Then rallying, with a slight effort, he began thus—But, short as his tale was, we must give him a chapter to himself.


“I believe I have already told you, Burke, that my family were most of them Royalists. Such as were engaged in trade followed the fortunes of the day, and cried 'Vive la République!' like their neighbors. Some deemed it better to emigrate, and wait in a foreign land for the happy hour of returning to their own,—a circumstance, by the way, which must have tried their patience ere this; and a few, trusting to their obscure position, living in out-of-the-way, remote spots, supposed that in the general uproar they might escape undetected; and, with one or two exceptions, they were right. Among these latter was an unmarried brother of my mother, who having held a military command for a great many years in the Ile de Bourbon, retired to spend the remainder of his days in a small but beautiful château on the seaside, about three leagues from Marseilles. The old viscount (we continued to call him so among ourselves, though the use of titles was proscribed long before) had met with some disappointment in love in early life, which had prevented his ever marrying, and turned all his affections towards the children of his brothers and sisters, who invariably passed a couple of months of each summer with him, arriving from different parts of France for the purpose.

“And truly it was a strange sight to see the mixture of look, expression, accent, and costume, that came to the rendezvous: the long-featured boy, with blue eyes and pointed chin,—cold, wary, and suspicious, brave but cautious,—that came from Normandy; the high-spirited, reckless youth from Brittany; the dark-eyed girl of Provence; the quick-tempered, warm-hearted Gascon and, stranger than all, from his contrast to the rest the little Parisian, with his airs of the capital and his contempt for his rustic brethren, nothing daunted that in all their boyish exercises he found himself so much their inferior. Our dear old uncle loved nothing so well as to have us around him; and even the little ones, of five and six years old, when not living too far off, were brought to these reunions, which were to us the great events of each year of our lives.

“It was in the June of the year 1794—I shall not easily forget the date—that we were all assembled as usual at 'Le Luc.' Our party was reinforced by some three or four new visitors, among whom was a little girl of about twelve years old,—Annette de Noailles, the prettiest creature I ever beheld. Every land has its own trait of birth distinctly marked. I don't know whether you have observed that the brow and the forehead are more indicative of class in Frenchmen than any other portion of the face: hers was perfect, and though a mere child, conveyed an impression of tempered decision and mildness that was most fascinating; the character of her features was thoughtful, and were it not for a certain vivacity in the eyes, would have been even sad. Forgive me, if I dwell—when I need not—on these traits: she is no more. Her father carried her with him in his exile, and your lowering skies and gloomy air soon laid her low.

“Annette was the child of Royalist parents. Both her father and mother had occupied places in the royal household; and she was accustomed from her earliest infancy to hear the praise of the Bourbons from lips which trembled when they spoke. Poor child! how well do I remember her little prayer for the martyred saint,—for so they styled the murdered king,—which she never missed saying each morning when the mass was over in the chapel of the château. It is a curious fact that the girls of a family were frequently attached to the fortunes of the Bourbons, while the boys declared for the Revolution; and these differences penetrated into the very core, and sapped the happiness of many whose affection had stood the test of every misfortune save the uprooting torrent of anarchy that poured in with the Revolution. These party differences entered into all the little quarrels of the schoolroom and the nursery; and the taunting epithets of either side were used in angry passion by those who neither guessed nor could understand their meaning. Need it be wondered at, if in after life these opinions took the tone of intense convictions, when even thus in infancy they were nurtured and fostered? Our little circle at Le Luc was, indeed, wonderfully free from such causes of contention; whatever paths in life fate had in store for us afterwards, then, at least, we were of one mind. A few of the boys, it is true, were struck by the successes of those great armies the Revolution poured over Europe; but even they were half ashamed to confess enthusiasm in a cause so constantly allied in their memory with everything mean and low-lived.

“Such, in a few words, was the little party assembled around the supper-table of the château, on one lovely evening in June. The windows, opening to the ground, let in the perfumed air from many a sweet and flowery shrub without; while already the nightingale had begun her lay in the deep grove hard by. The evening was so calm we could hear the plash of the making tide upon the shore, and the minute peals of the waves smote on the ear with a soft and melancholy cadence that made us silent and thoughtful. As we sat for some minutes thus, we suddenly heard the sound of feet coming up the little gravel walk towards the château, and on going to the window, perceived three men in uniform leading their horses slowly along. The dusky light prevented our being able to distinguish their rank or condition; but my uncle, whose fears were easily excited by such visitors, at once hastened to the door to receive them.

“His absence was not of many minutes' duration; but even now I can remember the strange sensations of dread that rendered us all speechless as we stood looking towards the door by which he was to enter. He came at last, and was followed by two officers; one, the elder, and the superior evidently, was a thin, slight man, of about thirty, with a pale but stern countenance, in which a certain haughty expression predominated; the other was a fine, soldierlike, frank-looking fellow, who saluted us all as he came in with a smile and a pleasant gesture of his hand.

“'You may leave us, children,' said my uncle, as he proceeded towards the bell.

“'You were at supper, if I mistake not?' said the elder of the two officers, with a degree of courtesy in his tone I scarcely expected.

“'Yes, General. But my little friends—'

“'Will, I hope, share with us,' said the general, interrupting; 'and I, at least, am determined, with your permission, that they shall remain. It is quite enough that we enjoy the hospitality of your château for the night, without interfering with the happiness of its inmates; and I beg that we may give you as little inconvenience as possible in providing for our accommodation.'

“Though these words were spoken with an easy and a kindly tone, there was a cold, distant manner in the speaker that chilled us all, and while we drew over to the table again, it was in silence and constraint. Indeed, our poor uncle looked the very picture of dismay, endeavoring to do the honors to his guests and seem at ease, while it was clear his fears were ever uppermost in his mind.

“The aide-de-camp—for such the young officer was—looked like one who could have been agreeable and amusing if the restraint of the general's presence was not over him. As it was, he spoke in a low, subdued voice, and seemed in great awe of his superior.

“Unlike our usual ones, the meal was eaten in mournful stillness, the very youngest amongst us feeling the presence of the stranger as a thing of gloom and sadness.

“Supper over, my uncle, perhaps hoping to relieve the embarrassment he labored under, asked permission of the general for us to remain, saying,—

“'My little people, sir, are great novelists, and they usually amuse me of an evening by their stories. Will this be too great an endurance for you?'

“'By no means,' said the general, gayly; 'there's nothing I like better, and I hope they will admit me as one of the party. I have something of a gift that way myself.'

“The circle was soon formed, the general and his aide-de-camp making part of it; but though they both exerted themselves to the utmost to win our confidence, I know not why or wherefore, we could not shake off the gloom we had felt at first, but sat awkward and ill at ease, unable to utter a word, and even ashamed to look at each other.

“'Come,' said the general, 'I see how it is. I have broken in upon a very happy party. I must make the only amende in my power,—I shall be the story-teller for this evening.'

“As he said this, he looked around the little circle, and by some seeming magic of his own, in an instant he had won us every one. We drew our chairs close towards him, and listened eagerly for his tale. Few people, save such as live much among children, or take the trouble to study their tone of feeling and thinking, are aware how far reality surpasses in interest the force of mere fiction. The fact is with them far more than all the art of the narrative; and if you cannot say 'this was true,' more than half of the pleasure your story confers is lost forever. Whether the general knew this, or that his memory supplied him more easily than his imagination, I cannot say; but his tale was a little incident of the siege of Toulon, where a drummer boy was killed,—having returned to the breach, after the attack was repulsed, to seek for a little cockade of ribbon his mother had fastened on his cap that morning. Simple as was the story, he told it with a subdued and tender pathos that made our hearts thrill and filled every eye around him.

“'It was a poor thing, it's true,' said he, 'that knot of ribbon, but it was glory to him to rescue it from the enemy. His heart was on the time when he should show it, blood-stained and torn, and say, “I took it from the ground amid the grapeshot and the musketry. I was the only living thing there that moment; and see, I bore it away triumphantly.”' As the general spoke, he unbuttoned the breast of his uniform, and took forth a small piece of crumpled ribbon, fastened in the shape of a cockade. 'Here it is,' said he, holding it up before on? eyes; 'it was for this he died.' We could scarce see it through our tears. Poor Annette held her hands upon her face, and sobbed violently. 'Keep it, my sweet child,' said the general, as he attached the cockade to her shoulder;' it is a glorious emblem, and well worthy to be worn by one so pure and so fair as you are.'

“Annette looked up, and as she did, her eyes fell upon the tricolor that hung from her shoulder,—the hated, the despised tricolor, the badge of that party whose cruelty she had thought of by day and dreamed of by night. She turned deadly pale, and sat, with lips compressed and clenched hands, unable to speak or stir.

“'What is it? Are you ill, child?' said the general, suddenly.

“'Annette, love! Annette, dearest!' said my uncle, trembling with anxiety, 'speak; what is the matter?'

“'It is that!' cried I, fiercely, pointing to the knot, on which her eyes were bent with a shrinking horror I well knew the meaning of,—' it is that!'

“The general bent on me a look of passionate meaning, as with a hissing tone he said, 'Do you mean this?'

“'Yes,' said I, tearing it away, and trampling it beneath my feet,—'yes! it is not a Noailles can wear the badge of infamy and crime; the blood-stained tricolor can find slight favor here.'

“'Hush, boy! hush, for Heaven's sake!' cried my uncle, trembling with fear.

“The caution came too late. The general, taking a note-book from his pocket, opened it leisurely, and then turning towards the viscount, said, 'This youth's name is—'

“'Duchesne; Henri Duchesne.'

“'And his age?'

“'Fourteen in March,' replied my uncle, as his eyes filled up; while he added, in a half whisper, 'if you mean the conscription, General, he has already supplied a substitute.'

“'No matter, sir, if he had sent twenty; such defect of education as his needs correction. He shall join the levies at Toulon in three days; in three days, mark me! Depend upon it, sir,' said he, turning to me, 'you shall learn a lesson beneath that tricolor you'll be somewhat long in forgetting. Dumolle, look to this.' With this direction to his aide-de-camp he arose, and before my poor unhappy uncle could recover his self-possession to reply, had left the room.

“'He will not do this, sir; surely, he will not,' said the viscount to the young officer.

“'General Bonaparte does not relent, sir; and if he did, he 'd never show it,' was the cold reply.

“That day week I carried a musket on the ramparts of Toulon. Here began a career I have followed ever since; with how much of enthusiasm I leave you to judge for yourself.”

As Duchesne concluded this little story he arose, and paced the room backwards and forwards with rapid steps, while his compressed lips and knitted brow showed he was lost in gloomy recollections of the past.

“He was right, after all, Burke,” said he, at length. “Personal honor will make the soldier; conviction may make the patriot. I fought as stoutly for this same cause as though I did not loathe it: how many others may be in the same position? You yourself, perhaps.”

“No, no; not I.”

“Well, be it so,” rejoined he, carelessly. “Goodnight” And with that he strolled negligently from the room, and I heard him humming a tune as he mounted the stairs towards his bedroom.


“I have come to bring you a card for the Court ball, Capitaine,” said General Daru, as he opened the door of my dressing-room the following morning. “See what a number of them I have here; but except your own, the addresses are not filled up. You are in favor at the Tuileries, it would seem.”

“I was not aware of my good fortune, General,” replied I.

“Be assured, however, it is such,” said he. “These things are not, as so many deem them, mere matters of chance; every name is well weighed and conned over: the officers of the household serve one who does not forgive mistakes. And now that I think of it, you were intimate—very intimate, I believe—with Duchesne?”

“Yes, sir; we were much together.”

“Well, then, after what has occurred, I need scarcely say your acquaintance with him had better cease. There is no middle course in these matters. Circumstances will not bring you, as formerly, into each other's company; and to continue your intimacy would be offensive to his Majesty.”

“But surely, sir, the friendship of persons so humble as we are can be a subject neither for the Emperor's satisfaction nor displeasure, if he even were to know of it?”

“You must take my word for that,” replied the general, somewhat sternly. “The counsel I have given to-day may come as a command to-morrow. The Chevalier Duchesne has given his Majesty great and grave offence; see that you are not led to follow his example.” With a marked emphasis on the last few words, and with a cold bow, he left the room.

“That I am not led to follow his example!” said I, repeating his words over slowly to myself. “Is that, then, the danger of which he would warn me?”

The remembrance of the misfortunes which opened my career in life came full before me,—the unhappy acquaintance with De Beauvais, and the long train of suspicious circumstances that followed; and I shuddered at the bare thought of being again involved in apparent criminality. And yet, what a state of slavery was this! The thought flashed suddenly across my mind, and I exclaimed aloud, “And this is the liberty for which I have perilled life and limb,—this the cause for which I have become an alien and an exile!”

“Most true, my dear friend,” said Duchesne, gayly, as he slipped into the room, and drew his Chair towards the fire. “A wise reflection, but most unwisely spoken. But there are men nothing can teach; not even the 'Temple' nor the 'Palais de Justice.'”

“How, then,—you know of my unhappy imprisonment?”

“Know of it? To be sure I do. Bless your sweet innocence! I have been told, a hundred times over, to make overtures to you from the Faubourg. There are at least a dozen old ladies there who believe firmly you are a true Legitimist, and wear the white cockade next your heart. I have had, over and over, the most tempting offers to make you. Faith, I 'm not quite certain if we are not believed to be, at this very moment, concocting how to smuggle over the frontier a brass carronade and a royal livery, two pounds of gunpowder and a court periwig, to restore the Bourbons!”

He burst into a fit of laughing as he concluded; and however little disposed to mirth at the moment, I could not refrain from joining in the emotion.

“But now for a moment of serious consideration, Burke; for I can be serious at times, at least when my friends are concerned. You and I must part here; it is all the better for you it should be so. I am what the world is pleased to call a 'dangerous companion;' and there's more truth in the epithet than they wot of who employ it. It is not because I am a man of pleasure, and occasionally a man of expensive habits and costly tastes, nor that I now and then play deep, or drink deep, or follow up with passionate determination any ruling propensity of the moment; but because I am a discontented and unsettled man, who has a vague ambition of being something he knows not what, by means he knows not how,—ever willing to throw himself into an enterprise where the prize is great and the risk greater, and yet never able to warm his wishes into enthusiasm nor his belief into a conviction: in a word, a Frenchman, born a Legitimist, reared a Democrat, educated an Imperialist, and turned adrift upon the world a scoffer. Such men as I am are dangerous companions; and when they increase, as they are likely to do in our state of society, will be still more dangerous citizens. But come, my good friend, don't look dismayed, nor distend your nostrils as if you were on the scent for a smell of brimstone,—'Satan s'en va!'”

With these words he arose and held out his hand to me. “Don't let your Napoleonite ardor ooze out too rapidly, Burke, and you 'll be a marshal of France yet. There are great prizes in the wheel, to be had by those who strive for them. Adieu!”

“But we shall meet, Duchesne?”

“I hope so. The time may come, perhaps, when we may be intimate without alarming the police of the department. But, for the present, I am about to leave Paris; some friends in the South have been kind enough to invite me to visit them, and I start this afternoon.”

We shook hands once more, and Duchesne moved towards the door; then, turning suddenly about, he said, “Apropos of another matter,—this Mademoiselle de Lacostellerie.

“What of her?” said I, with some curiosity in my tone.

“Why, I have a kind of half suspicion, ripening into something like an assurance, that when we meet again she may be Madame Burke.”

“What nonsense, my dear friend! the absurdity—”

“There is none whatever. An acquaintance begun like yours is very suggestive of such a termination. When the lady is saucy and the gentleman shy, the game stands usually thus: the one needs control and the other lacks courage. Let them change the cards, and see what comes of it.”

“You are wrong, Duchesne,—all wrong.”

“Be it so. I have been so often right, I can afford a false prediction without losing all my character as prophet. Adieu!”

No sooner was I alone than I sat down to think over what he had said. The improbability, nay, as it seemed to me, the all but impossibility, of such an event as he foretold, seemed not less now than when first I heard it; but somehow I felt a kind of internal satisfaction, a sense of gratified vanity, to think that to so acute an observer as Duchesne such a circumstance did not appear even unreasonable. How hard it is to call in reason against the assault of flattery! How difficult to resist the force of an illusion by any appeal to our good sense and calmer judgment!

It must not be supposed from this that I seriously contemplated such a possible turn of fortune,—far less wished for it. No; my satisfaction had a different source. It lay in the thought that I, the humble captain of hussars, should ever be thought of as the suitor of the greatest beauty and the richest dowry of the day: here was the mainspring of my flattered pride. As to any other feeling, I had none. I admired Mademoiselle de Lacostellerie greatly; she was, perhaps, the very handsomest girl I ever saw; there was not one in the whole range of Parisian society so much sought after; and there was a degree of distinction in being accounted even among the number of her admirers. Besides this, there lay a lurking desire in my heart that Marie de Meudon (for as such only could I think of her) should hear me thus spoken of. It seemed to me like a weak revenge on her own indifference to me; and I longed to make anything a cause of connecting my fate with the idea of her who yet held my whole heart.

Only men who live much to themselves and their own thoughts know the pleasure of thus linking their fortunes, by some imaginary chain, to that of those they love. They are the straws that drowning men catch at; but still, for the moment, they sustain the sinking courage, and nerve the heart where all is failing. I felt this acutely. I knew well that she was not, nor could be, anything to me; but I knew, also, that to divest my mind of her image was to live in darkness, and that the mere chance of being remembered by her was happiness itself. It was while hearing of her I first imbibed the soldier's ardor from her own brother. She herself had placed before me the glorious triumphs of that career in words that never ceased to ring in my ears. All my hopes of distinction, my aspirations for success, were associated with the half prediction she had uttered; and I burned for an occasion by which I could signalize myself,—that she might read my name, perchance might say, “And he loved me!”

In such a world of dreamy thought I passed day after day. Duchesne was gone, and I had no intimate companion to share my hours with, nor with whom I could expand in social freedom. Meanwhile, the gay life of the capital continued its onward course; fêtes and balls succeeded each other; and each night I found myself a guest at some splendid entertainment, but where I neither knew nor was known to any one.

It was on one morning, after a very magnificent fête at the Arch-Chancellor's, that I remembered, for the first time, I had not seen my poor friend Pioche since his arrival at Paris. A thrill of shame ran through me at the thought of having neglected to ask after my old comrade of the march, and I ordered my horse at once, to set out for the Hôtel-Dieu, which had now been in great part devoted to the wounded soldiers.

The day was a fine one for the season; and as I entered the large courtyard I perceived numbers of the invalids moving about in groups, to enjoy the air and the sun of a budding spring. Poor fellows! they were but the mere remnants of humanity. Several had lost both legs, and few were there without an empty sleeve to their loose blue coats. In a large hall, where three long tables were being laid for dinner, many were seated around the ample fireplaces; and at one of these a larger group than ordinary attracted my attention. They were not chatting and laughing, like the rest, but apparently in deep silence. I approached, curious to know the reason; and then perceived that they were all listening attentively to some one reading aloud. The tones of the voice were familiar to me; I stopped to hear them more plainly.

It was Minette herself—the vivandière—who sat there in the midst; beside her, half reclining in a deep, old-fashioned armchair, was “le gros Pioche,” his huge beard descending midway on his chest, and his great mustache curling below his upper lip. He had greatly rallied since I saw him last, but still showed signs of debility and feebleness by the very attitude in which he lay.


Mingling unperceived with the crowd, who were far too highly interested in the recital to pay any attention to my approach, I listened patiently, and soon perceived that mademoiselle was reading some incident of the Egyptian campaign from one of those innumerable volumes which then formed the sole literature of the garrison.

“The redoubt,” continued Minette, “was strongly defended in front by stockades and a ditch, while twelve pieces of artillery and a force of seven hundred Mamelukes were within the works. Suddenly an aide-de-camp arrived at full gallop, with orders for the Thirty-second to attack the redoubt with the bayonet, and carry it. The major of the regiment (the colonel had been killed that morning at the ford) cried out,—

“'Grenadiers, you hear the order,—Forward!' But the same instant a terrible discharge of grape tore through the ranks, killing three and wounding eight others. 'Forward, men! forward!' shouted the major. But no one stirred.”

Tête d'enfer,” growled out Pioche, “where was the tambour?”

“You shall hear,” said Minette, and resumed.

“'Do you hear me?' cried the major, 'or am I to be disgraced forever? Advance—quick time—march!'

“'But, Major,' said a sergeant, aloud, 'they are not roasted apples those fellows yonder are pelting.'

“'Silence!' called out the major; 'not a word! Tambour, beat the charge!'

“Suddenly a man sprang up to his knees from the ground where he had been lying, and began to beat the drum with all his might. Poor fellow! his leg was smashed with a shot, but he obeyed his orders in the midst of all his suffering.

“'Forward, men! forward!' cried the major, waving his cap above his head. 'Fix bayonets—charge!' And on they dashed after him.

“'Halloo, comrades!' shouted the tambour; 'don't leave me behind you.' And in an instant two grenadiers stooped down and hoisted him on their shoulders, and then rushed forward through the smoke and flame. Crashing and smashing went the shot through the leading files; but on they went, leaping over the dead and dying.”

“With the tambour still?” asked Pioche.

“To be sure,” said Minette; “there he was. But listen:—

“Just as they reached the breach a shot above their heads came whizzing past, and a terrible bang rang out as it went.

“'He is killed,' said one of the grenadiers, preparing to lower the body; 'I heard his cry.'


“'Not yet, Comrade,' cried the tambour; 'it is the drum-head they have carried away, that's all;' and he beat away on the wooden sides harder than ever. And thus they bore him over the glacis, and up the rampart, and never stopped till they placed him, sitting, on one of the guns on the wall.”

“Hurrah! well done!” cried Pioche; while every throat around him re-echoed the cry, “Hurrah!”

“What was his name, Mademoiselle?” cried several voices. “Tell us the name of the tambour!”

Ma foi, Messieurs!they have not given it.”

“Not given his name,” growled they out. “Ventrebleu! that is too bad!”

“An he had been an officer of the Guard they would have told us his whole birth and parentage,” said a wrinkled, sour-looking old fellow, with one eye.

“Or a lieutenant of hussars, Mademoiselle!” said Pioche, looking fixedly at the vivandière, who held the book close to her face to conceal a deep blush that covered it.

“But, halloo, there! Qui vive?” The cuirassier had just caught a glimpse of me at the moment, and every eye was turned at once to where I was standing. “Ah, Lieutenant, you here! Not invalided, I hope?”

“No, Pioche. My visit was intended for you; and I have had the good fortune to come in for the tale mademoiselle was reading.”

Before I had concluded these few words, the wounded soldiers, or such of them as could, had risen from their seats, and stood respectfully around me; while Minette, retreating behind the great chair where Pioche lay, seemed to wish to avoid recognition.

“Front rank, Mademoiselle! front rank!” said Pioche. “Parbleu!when one has the 'cross of the Legion' from the hands of the Emperor himself, one need not be ashamed of being seen. Besides,” added he, in a lower tone, but one I could well overhear, “thou art not dressed in thy uniform now; thou hast nothing to blush for!”

Still she hung down her head, and her confusion seemed only to increase; so that, unwilling to prolong her embarrassment, which I saw my presence had caused, I merely made a few inquiries from Pioche regarding his own health, and took my leave of the party.

As I rode homeward, I could not help turning over in my mind the words of Pioche, “Thou art not in thy uniform now; thou hast nothing to blush for!” Here, then, seemed the key to the changed manner of the poor girl when I met her at Austerlitz,—some feeling of womanly shame at being seen in the costume of the vivandière by one who had known her only in another guise. But could this be so? I asked myself,—a question a very little knowledge of a woman's heart might have spared me. And thus pondering, I returned to the Luxembourg.


They who took their tone in politics from the public journals of France must have been somewhat puzzled at the new and unexpected turn of the papers in Government influence at the period I now speak of. The tremendous attacks against the “perfide Albion,” which constituted the staple of the leading articles in the “Moniteur,” were gradually discontinued; the great body of the people were separated from the “tyrannical domination of an insolent aristocracy;” an occasional eulogy would appear, too, upon the “native good sense and right feeling of John Bull” when not led captive by appeals to his passions and prejudices; and at last a wish more boldly expressed that the two countries, whose mission it should be to disseminate civilization over the earth, could so far understand their real interest as to become “fast friends, instead of dangerous enemies.”

The accession of the Whigs to power in England was the cause of this sudden revolution. The Emperor, when First Consul, had learned to know and admire Charles Fox,—sentiments of mutual esteem had grown up between them,—and it seemed now as if his elevation to power were the only thing wanting to establish friendly relations between the two countries.

How far the French Emperor presumed on Fox's liberalism,—and the strong bias to party inducing him to adopt such a line of policy as would run directly counter to that of his predecessors in office, and thus dispose the nation to more amicable views towards France,—certain it is that he miscalculated considerably when he built upon any want of true English feeling on the part of that minister, or any tendency to weaken, by unjust concessions, the proud attitude England had assumed at the commencement and maintained throughout the entire Continental war.

A mere accident led to a renewal of negotiations between the two countries. A villain, calling himself Guillet de la Grevillière, had the audacity to propose to the English minister the assassination of Napoleon, and to offer himself for the deed. He had hired a house at Passy, and made every preparation for the execution of his foul scheme. To denounce this wretch to the French minister of foreign affairs, Talleyrand, was the first step of Fox. This led to a reply, in which Talleyrand reported, word for word, a conversation that passed between the Emperor and himself, and wherein expressions of the kindest nature were employed by Napoleon with regard to Fox, and many flattering allusions to the times of their former intimacy; the whole concluding with the expression of an ardent desire for a good understanding and a “lasting peace between two nations designed by nature to esteem each other.”

Although the whole scheme of the assassination was a police stratagem devised by Fouché to test the honor and good faith of the English minister, the result was eagerly seized on as a basis for new negotiations; and from that hour the temperate language of the French papers evinced a new policy towards England. The insolent allusions of journalists, the satirical squibs of party writers, the caricatures of the English eccentricity, were suppressed at once; and by that magic influence which Napoleon wielded, the whole tone of public feeling seemed altered as regarded England and Englishmen. From the leaders in the “Moniteur” to the shop windows of the Palace an Anglomania prevailed; and the idea was thrown out that the two nations had divided the world between them,—the sea being the empire of the British, the land that of Frenchmen. Commissioners were appointed on both sides: at first Lord Yarmouth, and then Lord Lauderdale, by England; General Clarke and M. Champagny, on the part of France. Lord Yarmouth, at that time a détenu at Verdun, was selected by Talleyrand to proceed to England, and learn the precise basis on which an amicable negotiation could be founded.

Scarcely was the interchange of correspondence made public, when the new tone of feeling and acting towards England displayed itself in every circle and every salon. If a proof were wanting how thoroughly the despotism of Napoleon had penetrated into the very core of society, here was a striking one: not only were many of the détenus liberated and sent back to England, but were fêted and entertained at the various towns they stopped at on their way, and every expedient practised to make them satisfied with the treatment they had received on the soil of France. An English guest was deemed an irresistible attraction at a dinner party, and the most absurd attempts at imitation of English habits, dress, and language were introduced into society as the last “mode,” and extolled as the very pinnacle of fashionable excellence.

It would be easy for me here to cite some strange instances of this new taste; but I already feel that I have wandered from my own path, and owe an apology to my reader for invading precincts which scarce become me. Yet may I observe here,—and the explanation will serve once for all,—I have been more anxious in this “true history” to preserve some passing record of the changeful features of an eventful period in Europe, than merely to chronicle personal adventures, which, although not devoid of vicissitudes, are still so insignificant in the great events by which they were surrounded. The Consulate, the Empire, and the Restoration were three great tableaux, differing in their groupings and color, but each part of one mighty whole,—links in the great chain, and evidencing the changeful aspect of a nation crouching beneath tyranny, or dwindling under imbecility and dotage.

I have said the English were the vogue in Paris; and so they were, but especially in those salons which reflected the influence of the Court, and where the tone of the Tuileries was revered as law. Every member of the Government, or all who were even remotely connected with it, at once adopted the reigning mode; and to be à l'Anglaise became now as much the type of fashion as ever it had been directly the opposite. Only such as were in the confidence of Fouché and his schemes knew how hollow all this display of friendly feeling was, or how ready the Government held themselves to assume their former attitude of defiance when circumstances should render it advisable.

Among those who speedily took up the tone of the Imperial counsels, the salons of the Hôtel Glichy were conspicuous. English habits, as regarded table equipage; English servants; even to English cookery did French politeness extend its complaisance; and many of the commonest habitudes and least cultivated tastes were imported as the daily observances of fashionable people outremer.

In this headlong Anglomania, my English birth and family (I say English, because abroad the petty distinctions of Irishman or Scotchman are not attended to) marked me out for peculiar attention in society; and although my education and residence in France had well-nigh rubbed off all or the greater part of my national peculiarities, yet the flatterers of the day found abundant traits to admire in what they recognized as my John Bull characteristics. And in this way, a blunder in French, a mistake in grammar, or a false accentuation became actually a succès de salon. Though I could not help smiling at the absurdity of a vogue whose violence alone indicated its unlikeliness to last, yet I had sufficient of the spirit of my adopted country to benefit by it while it did exist, and never spent a single day out of company.

At the Hôtel Clichy I was a constant guest; and while with Mademoiselle de Lacostellerie my acquaintance made little progress, with the countess I became a special favorite,—she honoring me so far as to take me into her secret counsels, and tell me all the little nothings which Fouché usually disseminated as state secrets, and circulated twice or thrice a week throughout Paris. From him, too, she learned the names of the various English who each day arrived in Paris from Verdun, and thus contrived to have a succession of those favored guests at her dinner and evening parties.

During all this time, as I have said, my intimacy with mademoiselle advanced but slowly, and certainly showed slight prospect of verifying the prophecy of Duchesne at parting. Her manner had, indeed, lost its cold and haughty tone; but in lieu of it there was a flippant, half impertinent, moqueur spirit, which, however easily turned to advantage by a man of the world like the chevalier, was terribly disconcerting to a less forward and less enterprising person like myself. Dobretski still continued an invalid; and although she never mentioned his name nor alluded to him in any instance, I could see that she suspected I knew something more of his illness and the cause of it than I had ever confessed. It matters little what the subject of it be, let a secret once exist between a young man and a young woman,—let there be the tacit understanding that they mutually know of something of which others are in ignorance,—and from that moment a species of intelligence is established between them of the most dangerous kind. They may not be disposed to like each other; there may be attachments elsewhere; there may be a hundred reasons why love should not enter into the case; yet will there be a conscious sense of this hidden link which binds them; strangely at variance with their ordinary regard for each other, eternally mingling in all their intercourse, and suggesting modes of acting and thinking at variance with the true tenor of the acquaintanceship.

Such, then, was my position at the Hôtel Clichy, at which I was almost daily a visitor or a guest, in the morning, to hear the chit-chat of the day,—the changes talked of in the administration, the intended plans of the Emperor, or the last modes in dress introduced by the Empress, whose taste in costume and extravagant habits were much more popular with the tradespeople than with Napoleon.

An illness of a few days' duration had confined me to the Luxembourg, and unhappily deprived me of the Court ball, for which I had received my invitation several weeks before. It seemed as if my fate forbade any chance of my ever seeing her once more whose presence in Paris was the great hope I held out to myself when coming. Already a rumor was afloat that several officers had received orders to join their regiments; and now I began to fear lest I should leave the capital without meeting her, and was thinking of some plan by which I could attain that object, when a note arrived from Mademoiselle de Lacostellerie, written with more than her usual cordiality, and inviting me to dinner on the following day with a very small party, but when I should meet one of my oldest friends.

I thought of every one in turn who could be meant under the designation, but without ever satisfying my mind that I had hit upon the right one. Tascher it could not be, for the very last accounts I had seen from Germany spoke of him as with his regiment. My curiosity was sufficiently excited to make me accept the invitation; and, true to time, I found myself at the Hôtel Clichy at the hour appointed.

On entering the salon, I discovered that I was alone. None of the guests had as yet arrived, nor had the ladies of the house made their appearance; and I lounged about the splendid drawing-room, where every appliance of luxury was multiplied: pictures, vases, statues, and bronzes abounded,—for the apartment had all the ample proportions of a gallery,—battle scenes from the great «vents of the Italian and Egyptian campaigns; busts of celebrated generals and portraits of several of the marshals, from the pencils of Gerard and David. But more than all was I struck by one picture: it was a likeness of Pauline herself, in the costume of a Spanish peasant. Never had artist caught more of the character of his subject than in that brilliant sketch,—for it was no more. The proud tone of the expression; the large, full eye, beaming a bright defiance; the haughty curl of the lip; the determined air of the figure, as she stood one foot in advance, and the arms hanging easily on either side,—all conveyed an impression of high resolve and proud determination quite her own.

I was leaning over the back of a chair, my eye steadfastly fixed on the painting, when I heard a slight rustling of a dress near me. I turned about: it was mademoiselle herself. Although the light of the apartment was tempered by the closed jalousies, and scarcely more than a mere twilight admitted, I could perceive that she colored and seemed confused as she said,—

“I hope you don't think that picture is a likeness?”

“And yet,” said I, hesitatingly, “there is much that reminds me of you; I mean, I can discover—”

“Say it frankly, sir; you think that saucy look is not from mere fancy. I deemed you a closer observer; but no matter. You have been ill; I trust you are recovered again.”

“Oh, a mere passing indisposition, which unfortunately came at the moment of the Court ball. You were there, of course?”

“Yes; it was there we had the pleasure to meet your friend, the general: but perhaps this is indiscreet on my part; I believe, indeed, I promised to say nothing of him.”

“The general! Do you mean General d'Auvergne?”

“That much I will answer you,—I do not. But ask me no more questions. Your patience will not be submitted to a long trial; he dines with us to-day.”

I made no reply, but began to ponder over in my mind who the general in question could be.

“There! pray do not worry yourself about what a few moments will reveal for you, without any guessing. How strange it is, the intense feeling of curiosity people are afflicted with who themselves have secrets.”

“But I have none, Mademoiselle; at least, none worth the telling.”

“Perhaps,” replied she, saucily. “But here come our guests.”

Several persons entered the salon at this moment, with each of whom I was slightly acquainted; they were either members of the Government or generals on the staff. The countess herself soon after made her appearance; and now we only waited for the individual so distinctively termed “my friend” to complete the party.

“Pauline has kept our secret, I hope,” said the countess to me. “I shall be sadly disappointed if anything mars this surprise.”

“Who can it be?” thought I. “Or is the whole thing some piece of badinage got up at my expense?”

Scarcely had the notion struck me, when a servant flung wide the folding-doors, and announced “le Général” somebody, but so mumbled was the word, the nearest thing I could make of it was “Bulletin.” This time, however, my curiosity suffered no long delay; for quickly after the announcement a portly personage in an English uniform entered hastily, and approaching madame, kissed her hand with a most gallant air; then turning to mademoiselle, he performed a similar ceremony. All this time my eyes were riveted upon him, without my being able to make the most remote guess as to who he was.

“Must I introduce you, gentlemen?” said the countess: “Captain Burke.”

“Eh, what! my old friend, my boy Tom! This you, with all that mustache? Delighted to see you,” cried the large unknown, grasping me by the hands, and shaking them with a cordiality I had not known for many a year.

“Really, sir,” said I, “I am but too happy to be recognized; but a most unfortunate memory—”

“Memory, lad! I never forgot anything in life. I remember the doctor shaking the snow off his boots the night I was born; a devilish cold December. We lived at Benhungeramud, in the Himalaya.”

“What!” cried I; “is this Captain Bubbleton, my old and kind friend?”

“General, Tom,—Lieutenant-General Bubbleton, with your leave,” said he, correcting me. “How the boy has grown! I remember him when he was scarce so high.”

“But, my dear captain—”

“General, lieutenant-general—”

“Well, Lieutenant-General,—to what happy chance do we owe the pleasure of seeing you here?”

“War, boy,—the old story. But we shall have time enough to talk over these things; and I see we are detaining the countess.”

So saying, the general gave his arm to madame, and led the way towards the dinner; whither we followed,—I in a state of surprise and astonishment that left me unable to collect my faculties for a considerable time after.

Although the party, with the exception of Bubbleton, were French, he himself, as was his wont, supported nearly the whole of the conversation; and if his French was none of the most accurate, he amply made up in volubility for all accidents of grammar. It appeared that he had been three years at Verdun, a prisoner; though how he came there, whence, and at what exact period, there was no discovering. And now his arrival at Paris was an event equally shrouded in mystery, for no negotiations had been opened for his exchange whatsoever; but he had had the eloquence to persuade the préfet that the omission was a mere accident,—some blunder of the War-Office people, which he would rectify on his arrival at Paris. And there he was, though with what prospect of reaching England none but one of his inventive genius could possibly guess. He was brimful of politics, ministerial secrets, state news, and Government intentions, not only as regarded England, but Austria and Russia: and communicated in deep confidence a grand scheme by which the Fox ministry were to immortalize themselves,—which was by giving up Malta to the Bourbons, Louis the Eighteenth to be king, Goza to be a kind of dependency to be governed by a lieutenant-general whom “he would not name;” finishing his glass with an ominous look as he spoke. Thence he wandered on to his repugnance to state, and dislike to any government, function,—illustrating his quiet tastes and simple habits by recounting a career of Oriental luxury in which he described himself as living for years past; every word he spoke, whatever the impression on others, bringing me back most forcibly to my boyish days in the old barrack, where first I met him. Years had but cultivated his talents; his visions were bolder and more daring than ever; while he had chastened down his hurried and excited tone of narrative to a quiet flow of unexaggerated description, which, taking his age and appearance into account, it was difficult to discredit.

Whether the Frenchmen really gave credit to his revelations, or only from politeness affected to do it at first, I cannot say, but assuredly he put all their courtesy to a rude test by a little anecdote before he left the dinner-room.

While speaking of the memorable siege of Valenciennes in '93, at which one of the French officers was present and in a high command, Bubbleton at once launched forth into some very singular anecdotes of the campaign, where, as he alleged, he also had served.

“We took an officer of one of your infantry regiments prisoner in a sortie one evening,” said the Frenchman. “I commanded the party, and shall never forget the daring intrepidity of his escape. He leaped from the wall into the fosse, a height of thirty feet and upwards. Parbleu! we had not the heart to fire after him, though we saw that after the shock he crawled out upon his hands and feet, and soon afterwards gained strength enough to run. He gave me his pocket-book with his name; I shall not forget it readily,—it was Stopford.”

“Ah, poor Billy! He was my junior lieutenant,” said Bubbleton; “an active fellow, but he never could jump with me. Confound him! he has left me a souvenir also, though a very different kind from yours,—a cramp in the stomach I shall never get rid of.”

As this seemed a somewhat curious legacy from one brother officer to another, we could not help calling on the general for an explanation,—a demand Bubbleton never refused to gratify.

“It happened in this wise,” said he, pushing back his chair as he spoke, and seating himself with the easy attitude of your true story-teller. “The night before the assault—the 24th of July, if my memory serves me right—the sappers were pushing forward the mines with all despatch. Three immense globes were in readiness beneath the walls, and some minor details were only necessary to complete the preparations. The stormers consisted of four British and three German regiments,—my own, the Welsh Fusiliers, being one of the former. We occupied the lines stretching from L'Hérault to Damies.”

The French officer nodded assent, and Bubbleton resumed.

“The Fusiliers were on the right, and divided into two parties,—an assaulting column and a supporting one; the advanced companies at half cannon-shot from the walls, the others a little farther off. Thus we were, when, about half-past ten, or it might be even eleven o'clock (we were drinking some mulled claret in my quarters), a low, swooping kind of a noise came stealing along the ground. We listened,—it grew stronger and stronger; and then we could hear musket-shot and shouting, and the tramp of men as if running. Out we went; and, by Jove! there we saw the first battalion in full retreat towards the camp. It was a sortie in force from the garrison, which drove in our advanced posts, and took several prisoners. The drums now soon beat to quarters; the men fell in rapidly, and we advanced to meet them,—no pleasant affair, either, let me remark, for the night was pitch dark, and we could not even guess the strength of your force. It was just then that I was running with all my speed to come up with the flank companies, that my cover-sergeant, a cool, old Scotch fellow, shouted out,—

“'Take care, sir! Stoop there, sir! stoop there!'

“But the advice came too late. I could just discern through the gloom something black, hopping and bounding along towards me; now striking the ground, and then rebounding again several feet in the air.

“'Stoop, sir! down!' cried he.

“But before I could throw myself flat, plump it took me here. Over I went, breathless, and deeming all was finished; but, miraculous to say, in a few minutes after I found myself coming to, and except the shock, nothing the worse for the injury.

“'Was that a shell, Sergeant?' said I; 'a spent shell?'

“'Na, sir,' said he, in his own broad way, 'it was naething o' the kind; it was only Lieutenant Stopford's head that was snapped aff up there.'”

“His head!” exclaimed we all of a breath,—“his head!»

“Yes, poor fellow, so it was; a damned hard kind of a bullet-head, too! The blow has left a weakness of the stomach I suppose I shall never recover from; and the occurrence being so singular, I have actually never asked for a pension,—there are people, by Jove! would throw discredit on it.”

This latter observation seemed so perfectly to sum up our own thoughts on the matter that we really had nothing to remark on it; and after a silence of a few seconds, politely relieved by the countess hinting at coffee in the drawing-room, we arose and followed her.


Before I parted with Bubbleton that evening be promised to breakfast with me on the following morning; and true to his word, entered my quarters soon after ten o'clock. I longed to have an opportunity of talking to him alone, and learning some intelligence of that country, which, young as I had left it, was still hallowed in memory as my own.

“Eh, by Jupiter! this is something like a quarter,—gilded mouldings, frescos, silk hangings, and Persian rugs. I say, Tom, are you sure you haven't made a mistake, my boy, and just imagined that you were somebody else,—Murat or Bernadotte, for example? The thing is far easier than you may think; it happened to me before now.”

“Be tranquil on that score,” said I, “we are both at home; though these quarters are, as you remark, far beyond the mark of a captain of hussars.”

“A captain! Why, hang it, you're not captain already?”

“Yes, to be sure. What signifies it? Only think of your own rapid rise since we parted; you were but a captain then, and to be now a lieutenant-general!”

“Ah, true, very true,” said he, hurriedly, while he bustled about the room, examining the furniture, and inspecting the decorations most narrowly. “Capital service this must be,” muttered he, between his teeth; “not much pay, I fancy, but a deal of plunder and private robbery.”

“I cannot say much on that head,” said I, laughing outright at what he intended for a soliloquy; “but I must confess I have no reason to complain of my lot.”

“Egad! I should think not,” rejoined he; “better than Old George's Street. Well, well, I wish I were but back there,—that's all.”

“Come, sit down to your breakfast; and perhaps when we talk it over some plan may present itself for your exchange.”

How thoroughly had I forgotten my friend when I uttered the sentiment; for scarcely was he seated at table, when he launched out, as of old, into one of his visionary harangues,—throwing forth dark hints of his own political importance, and the keen watch the Emperor had set upon his movements.

“No, my friend, the thing is impossible,” said he, ominously. “Nap. knows me; he knows my influence with the Tories. To let me escape would be to blow all his schemes to the winds. I am destined for the 'Temple,' if not for the guillotine.”

The solemnity of his voice and manner at this moment was too much for me, and I laughed outright.

“Ay, you may laugh; so does Anna Maria.”

“And is Miss Bubbleton here, too?”

“Yes; we are both here,” ejaculated he, with a deep sigh. “Rue Neuve des Capucines, No. 46, four flights above the entresol! Ay, and in that entresol they have two spies of Fouché's police; I know them well, though they pretend to be hairdressers. I'm too much for old Fouché yet; depend upon it, Tom.”

It was in vain I endeavored to ascertain what circumstances led him to believe himself suspected by the Government; neither was I more fortunate in discovering how he first became a détenu. The mist of imaginary events, places, and people which he had conjured up around him, prevented his ever being able to see his way, or know clearly any one fact connected with his present position. Dark hints about spies, suspicious innuendoes of concealed enemies, plotting préfets and opened letters, had actually filled his brain to the exclusion of everything rational and reasonable, and I began seriously to fear for my poor friend's intellect.

Hoping by a change of topic to induce a more equable tone of thinking, I asked about Ireland.

“All right there! they've hanged 'em all,” said he. Then, as if suddenly remembering himself, he added, with a slight confusion, “You were well out of that scrape, Tom. Your old friend Barton had a warrant for you the morning you left, and there was a reward of five hundred pounds for your apprehension; and something, too, for a confounded old piper,—old Blast-the-Bellows, I think they called him.”

“Darby! What of him, Bubbleton? they did not take him, I trust?”

“No, by Jove! They hanged two fellows, each of whom they believed to be him, and he was in the crowd looking on, they say. But he's at large still; and the report goes, Barton does not stir out at night for fear of meeting him, as the fellow has an old score to settle with him.”

“And so, all hopes of liberty would seem extinguished now,” said I, gloomily.

“That is as you may take it, Tom. I'm a bad judge of these things; but I fancy that a man who can live here might contrive to eke out life under a British Government; though he might yearn now and then for a secret police, a cabinet noir, or perhaps a tight cravat in the Temple.”

“Hush! my friend.”

“Ay, there it is! Now, if we were in Dame Street, we might abuse the ministers and the army and the Lord-Lieutenant to our heart's content; and if Jemmy O'Brien was n't one of the company, I 'd not mind a hit at Barton himself.”

“But does England still maintain her proud tone of ascendency towards Ireland? Is the Saxon the hereditary lord, and the Celt the slave, still?”

“There again you puzzle me; for I never saw much of this same ascendency, or slavery either. Loyal people, some way or other, were usually in favor with the Government, and had what many thought a most unjust proportion of the good things to their share. But even the others got off in most cases easily too; a devilish deal better than you treated those luckless Austrians the other day. You killed some thirty thousand, and made bankrupts of the rest of the nation. But then, to be sure, it was the cause of liberty you were fighting for. And as for the Italians—”

“Yes! but you forget these were wars not of our seeking; the treachery of false-hearted allies led to these sad results.”

“I suppose so. But certain it is, nations, like individuals, that have a taste for fighting, usually have the good luck to find an adversary; and as your Emperor here seems to have learned the Donnybrook Fair trick of trailing his coat after him, it would be strange enough if nobody would gratify him by standing on it.”

Without being able to say why, I felt piqued and annoyed at the tone of Bubbleton's remarks, which, coming from one of his narrow intelligence on ordinary topics, worried me only the more. I had long since seen that the liberty with which in boyhood I was infatuated had no existence save in the dreams of ardent patriotism; that the great and the mighty felt ambition a goal, and power a birthright; that the watchwords of freedom were inscribed on banners when the sentiments had died out of men's hearts, while as a passion the more dazzling one of glory made every other pale before it; and that the calm head and moderate judgment could scarce survive contact with the intoxicating triumphs of a nation's successes.

Such was, indeed, the real change Napoleon had wrought in France. Their enthusiasm could not rest content with national liberty; glory alone could satisfy a nation drunk with victory. Against the stern followers of the Republican era—the soldiers of the Sambre and Meuse, the men of Jemmappes—he had arrayed the ardent, high-spirited youth of the Consulate and the Empire, the heroes of Areola, of Rivoli, of Cairo, and Austerlitz. How vain to discuss questions of social order or national freedom with the cordoned and glittering bands who saw monarchy and kingdoms among the prizes of their ambition! And even I, who had few ambitious hopes, how the ardor that once stimulated me and led me to the soldier's life,—how had it given way to the mere conventional aspirings of a class! The grade of colonel was far oftener in my thoughts than the cause of freedom; the cross of the Legion would have reconciled me to much that in my calmer judgment I might deem harsh and tyrannical.

“Believe me, Tom,” said Bubbleton, who saw in my silence that his observations had their weight with me, “believe me, my philosophy is the true one,—never to meddle where you cannot serve yourself or some of your friends. The world will always consist of two parties,—one governing, the other governed. We belong to the latter category, and shall only get into a scrape by poking our heads where they have no business to be.”

“Why, a few moments since you were full of state secrets, and plots, and secret treaties, and Heaven knows what besides!”

“To be sure I was. And for whose interest, man,—for whose sake? George Frederick Augustus Bubbleton's. Ay, no doubt of it. Here am I, a détenu,—and have been these two years and a half—wasting away existence at Verdun, while my property is going to the devil from sheer neglect. My West India estates, who can say how I shall find them? my Calcutta property, the same; then there's that fee-simple thing in Norfolk. But I can't even think of it. Well, I verily believe no single step has been taken for my release or exchange. The Whigs, you know, will do nothing for me. I may tell you in confidence,”—here he dropped his voice to a low whisper,—“I may tell you, Charles Fox hates me. But more of this another time. What was I to do in all this mess of trouble and misfortune? Stand still and bear it? No, faith; that's not Bubbleton policy. You 'd never guess what I did.”

“I fear not.”

“Well, it chanced that some little literary labors of mine—you know I dally sometimes with the muse—became known to the préfet at Verdun. I saw that they watched me; and consequently I made great efforts at secrecy, concealing my papers in the chimney, under the floor, sewing them in the linings of my coat, and so on. The bait took: they made a regular search, seizing my manuscripts, put great seals on all the packages, and sent them up to Paris. The day after, I made submission,—offered to reveal all to the Minister for Foreign Affairs. And accordingly they sent me up here with an escort. What would have come next I cannot tell you, if Anna Maria had not found out Lord Lauderdale, and trumped up some story to him, so that he interfered. And we are now living at the Rue Neuve des Capucines; but how long we shall be there, and where they may send us next, I wish I could only guess.”

A few minutes' consideration satisfied me that the police were concerned in Bubbleton's movements, and, knowing at once that no danger was to be apprehended from such a source, were merely holding him up for some occasion when they could make use of him to found some charge against the British Government,—a manoeuvre constantly employed, and always successful with the Parisians, wherever an explanation became necessary in the public papers.

It would have served no purpose to impart these suspicions of mine to Bubbleton himself; on the contrary, he would inevitably have destroyed all clew to their confirmation by some false move, had I done so. With this impression, then, I resolved to wait patiently, watch events, and when the time came, see what best could be done towards effecting his liberation.

As I was disposed to place more reliance on Miss Bubbleton's statements than those of her imaginative brother, I agreed to his proposal to pay her a visit; and accordingly we set out together for the Rue Neuve des Capucines.

Lieutenant-General Bubbleton's quarters were by no means of that imposing character which befitted his rank in the British army. Traversing a dirty courtyard strewed with firewood, we entered a little gloomy passage, from which a still gloomier stair ascended to the topmost regions of the house, where, unlocking a door, he pushed me before him into a small, meanly-furnished apartment, the centre of which was occupied by a little iron stove, whose funnel pierced the ceiling above, and gave the chamber somewhat the air of a ship's cabin. Bubbleton, however, either did not or would not perceive any want of comfort or propriety in the whole; on the contrary, he strode the floor with the step of an emperor, and placed the chair for me to sit on as though he were about to seat me on a throne. While exchanging his coat for a most ragged dressing-gown, he threw himself on an old sofa with such energy of ease that the venerable article of furniture creaked and groaned in every joint.

“She's out,” said he, with a toss of his thumb to a half-open door; “gone to take a stroll in the Tuileries for half an hour, so that we shall have a little chat before she comes. And now, what will ye take? A little sherry and water? a glass of maraschino, eh? or what say you to a nip of real Nantz?”

“Nothing, my dear friend; you forget the hour, not to speak of my French education.”

“Oh, very true,” said he. “When I was in the Forty-fifth—” When he had uttered these words, he stopped suddenly, hesitated, and stammered, and at last, fairly overcome with confusion, he unfolded a huge pocket-handkerchief, and blew his nose with the sound of a cavalry trumpet, while he resumed: “We had a habit in the old Forty-fifth—a deuced bad one, I confess—of a mess breakfast, that began after parade and always ran into luncheon—But hush! here she comes,” cried he, in evident delight at the interruption so opportunely arriving. Then, springing up, he threw open the door, and called out, “I say, Anna Maria, you 'll not guess who's here?”

Either the ascent of the steep stair called for all the lady's spare lungs, or the question had little interest for her, as she certainly made no reply whatever, but continued to mount, step by step, with that plodding, monosyllabic pace one falls into at the highest of six flights.

“No,” cried he aloud, “no, you're wrong; it is not Lauderdale.” Then, turning towards me, with a finger to his nose, he added, with pantomimic action, “She thinks you are Yarmouth. Wrong again, by Jove! What do you say to Tom Burke,—Burke of 'Ours.' as I used to call him long ago?”

By this time Miss Bubbleton had reached the door, and was holding the handle to recover her breath after the fatigue of the ascent. Even in that momentary glance, however, I recognized her. Nothing altered by time, she was the same crabbed, crossgrained-looking personage I remembered years before. She carried a little basket on her arm, of which her brother hastened to relieve her, and showed no little concern to remove out of sight. Being divested of this, she held out her hand, and saluted me with more cordiality than I looked for.

Scarcely had our greetings been exchanged, when Bubbleton broke in, “I 've told him everything, Anna Maria. He knows the whole affair; no use in boring him with any more. I say, isn't he grown prodigiously? And a captain already,—just think of that.”

“And so, sir, you've heard of the sad predicament his folly has brought us into?”

“Hush, hush, Anna Maria!” cried Bubbleton; “no nonsense, old girl. Burke will put all to rights; he's aide-de-camp to Murat, and dines with him every day,—eh, Tom?”

“What if he be?” interrupted the lady, without permitting me time to disclaim the honor. “How can he ever—”

“I tell you, it's all arranged between us; and don't make a fuss about nothing. You 'll only make bad worse, as you always do. Come, Tom; the secret is, I shall be ruined if I don't get back to England soon. Heaven knows who receives my dividends all this time. Then that confounded tin mine! they 've mismanaged the thing so much I haven't received five hundred pounds from Cornwall since this time twelve months.”

“That you haven't,” said the lady, as with clasped hands and eyes fixed she sat staring at the little stove with the stern stoicism of a martyr.

“She knows that,” said Bubbleton, with a nod, as if grateful for even so much testimony in his favor. “And as for that scoundrel, Thistlethwait, the West India agent, I've a notion he's broke; not a shilling from him either.”

“Not sixpence,” echoed the lady.

“You hear that,” cried he, overjoyed at the concurrence. “And the fact is,—you will smile when I tell you, but upon my honor it's true,—I am actually hard up for cash.”

The idea tickled him so much, and seemed so ludicrous withal, that he fell back on the sofa, and laughed till the tears ran down his face. Not so Miss Bubbleton: her grim face grew more fixed, every feature hardened as if becoming stone, while gradually a sneer curled her thin lip; but she never spoke a word.

“I'll not speak of the annoyance of being out of England, nor the loss of influence a man sustains after a long absence,” said Bubbleton, as he paced the room with his hands deep thrust in his dressing-gown pockets. “These are things one can feel; and as for me, they weigh more on my mind than mere money considerations.”

“But, General,” said I—

“General!” echoed the lady with a start round, and holding up both her hands,—“General! You have n't been such a fool,—it's not possible you could be such a fool—”

“Will you please to be quiet, old damsel?” said Bubbleton, with more of harshness than he had yet used in his manner. “Can you persuade yourself to mind your own household concerns, and leave George Frederick Augustus Bubbleton to manage his own matters as he deems best?”

Here he turned short round towards me, and throwing up his eyebrows to their full height, he touched his forehead knowingly with the tip of his forefinger, and uttered the words,—

“You understand! Poor thing!” concluding the pantomime with a deep sigh from the bottom of his chest, while he added something in a low whisper about “a fall from an elephant when she was a child!”

“Mr. Burke, will you listen to me?” said the lady, with an energy of voice and manner there was no gainsaying—“listen to me for five minutes; and probably, short as the time is, I may be able to put you in possession of a few plain facts concerning our position, and if you have the inclination and the power to serve us, you may then know how best it can be done.”

Bubbleton made me a sign to gratify her desire of loquaciousness, while with a most expressive shrug he intimated that I should probably hear a very incoherent statement. This done, he lighted his meerschaum, wrapped his ragged robe de chambre around him, and lay down full length on the sofa, with the air of a man who had fortified himself to undergo any sacrifices that might be demanded at his hands; taking care the while to assume his position in such a manner that he could exchange glances with me without his being observed by his sister.

“We came over, Mr. Burke, only a few months before the war broke out, and like the rest of our countrymen and women were made détenus. This was bad enough; but my wise brother made it far worse, for instead of giving his name, with his real rank and position, he would call himself a lieutenant-general, affect to have immense wealth and great political influence. The consequence was, when others were exchanged and sent home, his name not being discoverable in any English list, was passed over; while his assumed fortune involved us in every expense and extravagance, and his mock importance made us the object of the secret police, who never ceased to watch and spy after us.”

“Capital! excellent! by Jove!” cried Bubbleton, as he rolled forth a long curl of blue smoke from the angle of his mouth; “she 's admirable!”

“I ought to have told you before,” said the lady, not paying the least attention to his interruption, “that he was obliged to sell out of the Forty-fifth; a certain Mr. Montague Crofts, whom you may remember, having won every shilling he possessed, even to the sale of his commission. This was the cause of our coming abroad; so that at the very moment that he was giving himself these airs of pretended greatness, we were ruined.”

“Upon my life, she believes all that,” whispered Bubbleton, with a wink at me. “Poor old thing! I must get Larrey to look at her.”

“Happily, or unhappily—who shall say which?—there was a greater fool even than himself in the village; and he was the maire. This wise functionary became alarmed at the piles of papers and rolls of manuscripts that were seen about our rooms, and equally suspicious about the dark hints and mysterious innuendoes he threw out from time to time. The préfet was informed of it; and the result was, an order for our removal to Paris. Here, then, we are; with what destiny before us who shall tell? For, as he still persists in his atrocious nonsense, and calls himself major-general—”

“Lieutenant-general, my dear,” said Bubbleton, mildly; “I never was major-general.”

“Is it not too bad?” said she. “Could any patience endure this?”

“Don't be violent; take care, Anna Maria,” said he, rebukingly. “Potts said I should use restraint again, if you showed any return of the paroxysm. That's the way she takes it,” said he in a low whisper, “with a blinking about the eyes and a pattering of the feet. Bathe your temples, dear, and you'll be better presently.”

Anna Maria sat still, not uttering a word, and actually fearing by a gesture to encourage a commentary on her manner.

“Sometimes she 'll mope for hours,” muttered he in my ear; “at others, she's furious,—there's no saying how it will turn. You wouldn't like a pipe? I forgot to ask you.”

“And worse than all, sir,” said the lady, as if no longer able to restrain her temper, “he is supposed to be a spy of the police. I heard it myself this morning.”

“Eh, what!” exclaimed Bubbleton, jumping up in an ecstasy of delight. “A spy! By Jove! I knew it. Lord! what fellows they are, these French! not two days here yet, and they discovered I was no common man,—eh, Burke? Maybe I haven't frightened them, my boy. It's not every one would create such a sensation, let me tell you; I knew I'd do it.”

Miss Bubbleton looked at him for an instant with a sneer of the most withering contempt, and then rising abruptly, left the room. But the general little cared for such evidences of her censure; he danced about the room, snapping his fingers, and chuckling with self-satisfaction, the thought of being believed to be a police spy giving him the most intense and heartfelt pleasure.

“She has moments, Tom, when she's downright clear; you 'd not think it, but sometimes she's actually shrewd. You saw how she hit upon that.”

“Would that her brother was favored with some of these lucid intervals!” was the thought that ran through my head at the moment; for I knew better than he did how needful a clearer brain and sharper faculties than his would be to escape the snares his folly and vanity were spreading around him.

“Shall we make a morning call at our friend the countess's, Tom?” said Bubbleton. “She told me she received every day about this hour.”

I felt nowise disposed for the visit; and so, having engaged my friend to dine with me at the Luxembourg the next day, we parted.

As I sauntered homewards, I was surprised how difficult I found it to disabuse my mind of the absurd insinuations Bubbleton had thrown out against his sister's sanity; for, though well knowing his fondness for romance, and his taste for embellishment on every occasion, I. yet could not get rid of the impression that her oddity of manner might only be another feature of eccentricity, just as extravagant, but differing in its tendencies, as his own.

To assist him whose kindness to myself of old I never ceased to remember with gratitude, was my firm resolve; but to ascertain his exact position was all-essential for this purpose, and I could not help saying, half aloud, “If I had but Duchesne here now!”

“Speak of the devil, mon ami!” said he, drawing his arm within mine, while I was scarcely able to avoid a cry of astonishment. “Where do you dine to-day, Burke?” said he, in his quiet, easy tone.

“But where did you come from, Duchesne? Are you long here?”

“Answer my question first. Can you dine with me?”

“To be sure; with pleasure.”

“Then meet me at the corner of the Rue des Trois Têtes, at six o'clock, and I 'll be your guide afterwards. This is my way now. Au revoir.”


When I arrived at the rendezvous, I found Duchesne already awaiting me with a carriage, into which we stepped, and drove rapidly away.

“A man of your word, Burke; and, what is scarcely less valuable in the times we live in, a man of prudence too.”

“As how the latter, may I ask?”

“You have not come in uniform, which is all the better where we are going; besides, it gives me the hope of presenting you to my respected aunt, the Duchesse de Montserrât, who will take your black coat as a compliment to the whole Bourbon dynasty. You must come with me there, if it only be for half an hour. And now tell me, have you ever dined at the 'Moisson d'Or'?”

“Never; not even heard of the house.”

“Well, then, you shall to-day. And meanwhile I may tell you, that although in a remote and little-visited quarter of Paris, it stands unrivalled for the excellence of its fare and the rare delicacy of its wines,—a reputation not of yesterday, but of some years' standing. Nor is that the only thing remarkable about it, as I shall explain hereafter. But come! How are your friends at the Hôtel Clichy? and how fares your suit with mademoiselle?”

“My suit? It never was such. You know, to the full as well as I do, my pretensions aspired not half so high.”

“So much the better, and so much the worse. I mean the former for me, as I hate to have a friend for a rival; the latter for you, who ought to have learned by this time that a handsome girl and a million of francs are more easily won than a cross of the Legion or a colonel's epaulette.”

“And are you serious, Duchesne? Have you really intentions in that quarter?”

Morbleu! to be sure I have. It is for that I am here in Paris in the dog days; travelled one hundred and twenty leagues; ay, and more, too,—have brought with me my most aristocratic aunt, who never remembers in her life to have seen full-grown leaves in the Tuileries gardens. I knew what an ally she would be in the negotiation; and so I managed, through some friends in the bureau of the minister, to give her a rare fright about an estate of hers, which by some accident escaped confiscation in the Revolution, and which nothing but the greatest efforts on her part could now rescue from the fangs of the crown. You may be sure she is not particularly in love with the present Government on this score; but the trick secures her speaking more guardedly than she has the habit of doing, besides inducing her to make acquaintances nothing but such a threat would accomplish.”

“You intend, then, she should know Madame de Lacostellerie?”

“Of course. I have already persuaded her that the Hôtel Clichy is the pivot of all Paris, and that nothing but consummate tact and management on her part will succeed there.”

“But I scarcely thought you cared for mademoiselle; and never dreamed of your proposing to marry her.”

“Nor I, till about a week ago. However, my plans require money, and would not be encumbered by my having a wife. I see nothing better at the moment, and so my mind is soon made up. But here we are; this is our resting-place.”

The “Moisson d'Or,” although not known to me, was then the most celebrated place for dining in Paris. The habits of the house—for there was no table d'hôte—required that everything should be ordered beforehand, and the parties all dined separately. The expensive habits and extravagant prices secured its frequenters from meeting the class who usually dined at restaurants; and this gave it a vogue among the wealthy and titled, whose equipages now thronged the street, and filled the porte cochère. I had but time to recognize the face of one of the marshals and a minister of state, as we pushed our way through the court, and entered a small pavilion beyond it.

“I'll join you in an instant,” said Duchesne, as he left the room hastily after the waiter. In a couple of minutes he was back again. “Come along; it's all right,” said he. “I wish to show you a corner of the old house that only the privileged ever see, and we are fortunate in finding it unoccupied.”

We recrossed the court, and mounted a large oak stair to a corridor, which conducted us, by three sides of a quadrangle, to a smaller stair, nearly perpendicular. At the top of this, a strong door, barred and padlocked, stood, which, being opened, led into a large and lofty salon, opening by three spacious windows on a terrace that formed the roof of the building. Some citron and orange trees were disposed tastefully along this, and filled the room with their fragrance.

“Here, Antoine; let us be served here,” said Duchesne to the waiter; “I have already given orders about the dinner. And now, Burke, come out here. What think you of that view?”

Scarcely had I set foot on the terrace, when I started back in mingled admiration and amazement. Beneath us lay the great city, in the mellow light of an evening in September. Close—so close as actually to startle—was the large dome of the Invalides shining like a ball of molten gold, the great courtyard in front dotted with figures; beyond, again, was the Seine, the surface flashing and flickering in the sunlight,—I traced it along to the Pont Neuf; and then my eye rested on Notre-Dame, whose tall, dark towers stood out against the pinkish sky, while the deep-toned bell boomed through the still air. I turned towards the Tuileries, and could see the guard of honor in waiting for the Emperor's appearing. In the gardens, hundreds were passing and repassing, or standing around the band which played in front of the pavilion. A tide of population poured across the bridges and down the streets, along which equipages and horsemen dashed impetuously onward. There was all the life and stir of a mighty city, its sounds dulled by distance, but blended into one hoarse din, like the far-off sea at night.

“You don't know, Burke, that this was a favorite resort of the courtiers of the last reign. The gay young Gardes du Corps, the gallant youths of the royal household, constantly dined here. The terrace we now stand on once held a party who came at the invitation of no less a personage than him whom men call Louis the Eighteenth. It was a freak of the time to pronounce the Court dinners execrable: and they even go so far as to say that Marie Antoinette herself once planned a party here; but this I cannot vouch for.”

At this moment Duchesne was interrupted by the entrance of the waiters who came to serve the dinner. I had not a moment left to admire the beauty and richness of the antique silver dishes which covered the table, when a gentle tap at the door attracted my attention.

“Ha! Jacotot himself!” said Duchesne, as, rising hastily, he advanced to meet the new arrival. He was a tall, thin old man, much stooped by years, but with an air and carriage distinctly well bred; his white hair, brushed rigidly back, fastened into a queue behind, and his lace “jabot” and ruffles, bespoke him as the remnant of a date long past. His coat was blue, of a shade somewhat lighter than is usually worn. He also wore large buckles in his shoes, whose brilliancy left no doubt of their real value. Bowing with great ceremony, he advanced slowly into the room.

“You are come to dine with us,—is it not so, Jacotot?” said Duchesne, as he still held his hand.

“Excuse me, my dear chevalier; the Comte de Chambord and Edouard de Courcelles are below,—I have promised to join them.”

“And is Courcelles here?”

“Yes,” said the old man, with a timid glance towards where I sat, and a look as if imploring caution and reserve.

“Oh, fear nothing. And that reminds me I have not presented my friend and brother officer: Captain Burke,—Monsieur Jacotot. You may feel assured, Jacotot, I make no mistake in the friends I introduce here.”

The old man gave a smile of pleasure; while, turning to me, he said,—

“He is discretion itself; and I am but too happy to make your acquaintance. And now, Chevalier, one word with you.”

He retreated towards the door, holding Duchesne's arm, and whispering as he went. Duchesne's face, however, expressed his impatience as he spoke; and at last he said,—

“As you please, my worthy friend; I always submit to your wiser counsels. So farewell for the present.”

He looked after the old man as he slowly descended the stairs, and then closing the door and locking it, he exclaimed,—

Parbleu!I found it very hard to listen to his prosing with even a show of patience, and was half tempted to tell him that the Bourbons could wait, though the soup could not.”

“Then Monsieur Jacotot is a Royalist, I presume?”

“Ay, that he is; and so are all they who frequent this house. Don't start; the police know it well, and no one is more amused at their absurd plottings and conspirings than Fouché himself. Now and then, to be sure, some fool, more rash and brainless than the others, will come up from La Vendée and try to knock his head against the walls of the Temple,—like De Courcelles there, who has no other business in Paris except to be guillotined, if it were worth the trouble. Then the minister affects to stir himself and be on the alert, just to terrify them; but he well knows that danger lurks not in this quarter. Believe me, Burke, the present rulers of France have no greater security than in the contemptible character of all their opponents. There is no course for a man of energy and courage to adopt. But I ask your pardon, my dear friend, for this treasonable talk. What think you of the dinner? The Royalists would never have fallen if they had understood government as well as cuisine. Taste that suprême, and say if you don't regret the Capets,—a feeling you can indulge the more freely because you never knew them.”

“I cannot comprehend, Duchesne, what are the grievances you charge against the present Government of France. Had you been an old courtier of the last reign,—a hanger-on of Versailles or the Tuileries,—the thing were intelligible; but you, a soldier, a man of daring and enterprise—”

“Let me interrupt you. I am so only because it is the taste of the day; but I despise the parade of military glory we have got into the habit of. I prefer the period when a mot did as much and more than a discharge of mitraille, and men's esprit and talent succeeded better than a strong sword-arm or a seat on horseback. There were gentlemen in France once, my dear Burke. Ay, parbleu! and ladies too,—not marchionesses of the drum-head nor countesses of the bivouac, but women in whom birth heightened beauty, whose loveliness had the added charm of high descent beaming from their bright eyes and sitting throned on their lofty brows; before whom our mustached marshals had stood trembling and ashamed,—these men who lounge so much at ease in the salons of the Tuileries! Let me help you to this salmi; it is à la Louis Quinze, and worthy of the Regency itself. Well, then, a glass of Burgundy.”

“Your friend Monsieur Jacotot seems somewhat of an original,” said I, half desirous to change a topic which I always felt an unpleasant one.

“You are not wrong; he is so. Jacotot is a thorough Frenchman; at least, he has had the fortune to mix up in his destiny those extremes of elevated sentiment and absurdity which go very far to compose the life of my good countrymen. I must tell you a short anecdote—But shall we adjourn to the terrace? for, to prevent the interruption of servants, I have ordered our dessert there.”

This was a most agreeable proposal; and so, having seated ourselves in a little arbor of orange-shrubs, with a view of the river and the Palace gardens beneath us, Duchesne thus began:—

“I am going somewhat far back in history; but have no fears on that head, Burke,—my story is a very brief one. There was, once upon a time, in France, a monarch of some repute, called Louis the Fourteenth; a man, if fame be not unjust, who possessed the most kingly qualities of which we have any record in books. He was brave, munificent, high-minded, ardent, selfish, cruel, and ungrateful, beyond any other man in his own dominions; and, like people with such gifts, he had the good fortune to attach men to him just as firmly and devotedly as though he was not in his heart devoid of every principle of friendship and affection. I need not tell you what the ladies of his reign thought of him; my present business is with the ruder sex.

“Among the courtiers of the day was a certain Vicomte Arnoud de Gency, a young man who, at the age of eighteen, won his grade of colonel at the siege of Besançon by an act of coolness and courage worthy recording. He deliberately advanced into one of the breaches, and made a sketch of the interior works of the fortification while the enemy's shot was tearing up the ground around him. When the deed was reported to the king, he interrupted the relation, saying, 'Don't tell me who did this, for I have made De Gency a colonel for it;' so rapidly did Louis guess the author of so daring a feat.

“From that hour, the young colonel's fortune was made. He was appointed one of the gentlemen of the chamber to his Majesty, and distinguished by almost daily marks of royal intimacy. His qualities eminently fitted him for the tone of the society he lived in; he was a most witty converser, a good musician, and had, moreover, a very handsome person,—gifts not undervalued at Saint-Germain.

“Such were his social qualities; and so thoroughly did he understand the king's humor, that even La Vallière herself saw the necessity of retaining him at the Court, and, in fact, made a confidant of him on several occasions of difficulty. Still, with all these favors of fortune, when the object of envy to almost all the rest of the household, Arnoud de Gency was suffering in his heart one of the most trying afflictions that can befall a proud man so placed; he was in actual poverty,—in want so pressing that all the efforts he could make, all the contrivances he could practise, were barely sufficient to prevent his misery being public. The taste for splendor in dress and equipage which characterized the period had greatly injured his private fortune, while the habit of high play, which Louis encouraged and liked to see about him, completed his ruin. The salary of his appointments was merely enough to maintain his daily expenditure; and thus was he, with a breaking heart, obliged not only to mix in all the reckless gayety and frivolity of that voluptuous Court, but, still more, tax his talents and his energies for new themes of pleasure, fresh sources of amusement.

“Worn out at length by the long struggle between his secret sorrow and his pride, he resolved to appeal to the king, and in a few words tell his Majesty the straits to which he was reduced, and implore his protection. To this he was impelled not solely on his own account, but on that also of his only child, a boy of eight or nine years old, whose mother died in giving him birth.

“An occasion soon presented itself. The king had given orders for a hunting-party at St. Cloud; and at an early hour of the morning De Gency in his hunting-dress took up his position in one of the ante-chambers through which the king must pass: not alone, however; at his side there stood a lovely boy, also dressed in the costume of the chase. He wore a velvet doublet of green, slashed with gold, and ornamented by a broad belt, from which hung his couteau de chasse; even to the falcon feather in his cap, nothing was forgotten.

“He had not waited long when the folding-doors were thrown wide, and a moment after Louis appeared, accompanied by a single attendant, the Marquis de Verneuil, unhappily one of the very few enemies Arnoud possessed in the world.

“'Ah, De Gency! you here?' said the king, gayly. 'They told me “brelan” had been unfavorable lately, and that we should not see you.'

“'It is true, Sire,' said he, with a sad effort at a smile; 'it is only on your Majesty fortune always smiles.'

“'Pardieu! you must not say so; I lost a rouleau last night. But whom have we here?'

“'My son; so please you, Sire, my only son, who desires, at an earlier age than even his father did, to serve your Majesty.'


“'How like his mother!' said the king, pushing back the fair ringlets from the boy's forehead, and gazing almost fondly on his handsome features,—'how like her! She was a Courcelles?'

“'She was, Sire,' said Arnoud, as the tears fell on his cheek and coursed slowly along his face.

“'And you want something for him?' said the king, resuming his wonted tone, while he busied himself with his sword-knot; 'is it not so?'

“'If I might dare to ask—'

“'Assuredly you may. The thing is, what can we do? Eh, Verneuil, what say you? He is but an infant.'

“'True, Sire,' replied the marquis, with a look of respect, in which the most subtle could not discover a trait of his sarcastic nature; 'but there is a place vacant.'

“'Ah, indeed,' said the king, quickly. 'What is it? He shall have it.'

“'Monsieur Jacotot, your Majesty's head cook, stands in need of a turnspit,' said he, in a low whisper, only audible to the king.

“'A turnspit!' said the king. And scarcely was the word uttered when, as if the irony was his own, he burst into a most immoderate fit of laughter,—an emotion that seemed to increase as he endeavored to repress it; when at the instant the cor de chasse, then heard without, gave a new turn to his thoughts, and he hurried forward with De Yerneuil, leaving De Gency and his son rooted to the spot,—indignant passion in that heart which despair and sorrow had almost rendered callous.

“His Majesty was still laughing as he mounted his barb in the courtyard; and the courtiers, like well-bred gentlemen, laughed as became them, with that low, quiet laugh which is the meet chorus of a sovereign's mirth, when suddenly two loud reports, so rapidly following on each other as almost to seem one, startled the glittering cortege, and even made the Arab courser of the king plunge madly in the air.

“'Par Saint Denis!Messieurs,' said Louis, passionately, 'this pleasantry of yours is ill thought of. Who has dared to do this?'

“But none spoke. A terrified look around the circle was the only reply to the king's question, when a page rushed forward, his dress spotted and blood-stained, his face pale with horror,—

“'Your Majesty,—ah, Sire!' said he, kneeling. But sobs choked him, and he could not utter more.

“'What is this? Will no one tell?' cried the king, as a frown of dark omen shadowed his angry features.

“'Your Majesty has lost a brave, an honest, and a faithful follower, Sire,' said Monsieur de Coulanges. 'Arnoud de Gency is no more.'

“'Why, I saw him this instant,' said the king. 'He asked me some favor for his boy.'

“'True, Sire,' replied De Coulanges, mournfully. But he checked himself in time, for already the well-known and dreaded expression of passion had mounted to the king's face.

“'Dismiss the chasse, gentlemen,' said he, in a low thick voice. 'And do you, Monsieur de Verneuil, attend me.'

“The cortege was soon scattered; and the Marquis de Verneuil followed the king with an expression where fear and dread were not to be mistaken.

“Monsieur de Verneuil did indeed seem an altered man when he appeared among his friends that evening. Whatever the king had said to him assuredly had worked its due effect; for all his raillery was gone, and even the veriest trifler of the party might have dared an encounter with wits which then were subdued and broken.

“Next morning, however, the sun shone out brilliantly. The king was in high spirits; the game abounded; and his Majesty with his own hand brought down eight pheasants. The Marquis de Verneuil could hit nothing; for although the best marksman of the day, his hand shook and his sight failed him, and the king won fifty louis from him before they reached Saint-Germain.

“Never was there a happier day nor followed by a pleasanter evening. The king supped in Madame de la Vallière's apartment; the private band played the most delicious airs during the repast; and when at length the party retired to rest, not one bright dream was clouded by the memory of Arnoud de Gency.

“Here, now, were I merely recounting an anecdote, I should stop,” said the chevalier; “but must continue a little longer, though all the romance of my story is over. The Marquis de Verneuil was a good hater: even poor De Gency's fate did not move him, and he actually did do what he had only threatened in mockery,—he sent the orphan child to be a turnspit in the royal kitchen. Of course he changed his name,—the title of an old and honored family would soon have betrayed the foul deed,—and the boy was called Jacotot, after the chef himself. The king inquired no further on the subject; Arnoud's name recalled too unpleasant a topic for the lips of a courtier ever to mention; and the whole circumstance was soon entirely forgotten.

“This same Jacotot was the grandfather of my old friend, whom you saw a few minutes since. Fate, that seems to jest with men's destinies, made them as successful at the fire of the kitchen as ever their ancestors were at that of a battery; and Monsieur Jacotot, our present host, has not his equal in Paris. Here for years the younger members of the royal family used to sup; this room was their favorite apartment; and one evening, when at a later sitting than usual the ruler of the feast was carried beyond himself in the praise of an admirable plat, he sent for Jacotot, and told him, whatever favor he should ask, he himself would seek for him at the hands of the king.

“This was the long-wished-for moment of the poor fellow's life. He drew from his bosom the title-deeds of his ancient name and fortune, and placed them in the prince's hand without uttering a word.

“'What! and are you a De Gency?' said the prince.

“'Alas! I shame to say it, I am.'

“'Come, gentlemen,' said the gay young prince, 'a bumper to our worthy friend, whom, with God's blessing, I shall see restored right soon to his fitting rank and station. Yes, De Gency! my word upon it, the next evening I sup here I shall bring with me his Majesty's own signature to these title-deeds. Make place, gentlemen, and let him sit down!'

“But poor Jacotot was too much excited by his feelings of joy and gratitude, and he rushed from the room in a torrent of tears.

“The evening the prince spoke of never came. Soon after that commenced the troubles to the royal family; the dreadful events of Versailles; the flight to Varennes; the 10th August,—a horrible catalogue I cannot bear to trace. There, yonder, where now the groups are loitering, or sitting around in happy knots, there died Louis the Sixteenth. The prince I spoke of is an exile: they call him Louis the Eighteenth; but he is a king without a kingdom.

“But Jacotot lives on in hope. He has waded through all the terrors of the Revolution; he has seen the guillotine erected almost before his door and beheld his former friends led one by one to the slaughter. Twice was he himself brought forth, and twice was his life spared by some admirer of his cuisine. But perhaps all his trials were inferior to the heart-burning with which he saw the places once occupied by the blood of Saint Louis now occupied by the canaille of the Revolution. Marat and Robespierre frequented his house; and Barras seldom passed a week without dining there. This, I verily believe, was a heavier affliction than any of his personal sufferings; and I have often heard him recount, with no feigned horror, the scenes which took place among the incroyables, as they called themselves, whose orgies he contrasted so unfavorably with the more polished excesses of his regal visitors. Through all the anarchy of that fearful period; through the scarce less sanguinary time of the Directory; through the long, dreary oppression of the consulate; and now, in the more grinding tyranny of the Empire, he hopes, ay, still hopes on, that the day will come when from the hands of the king himself he shall receive his long-buried rank, and stand forth a De Gency. Poor fellow! there is something noble and manly in the long struggle with fortune,—in that long-sustained contest in which he would never admit defeat.

“Such are the followers of the Bourbons: their best traits, their highest daring, their most long-suffering endurance, only elicited in the pursuit of some paltry object of personal ambition. They have tasted the cup of adversity, ay, drained it to the very dregs; they have seen carnage and bloodshed such as no war ever surpassed: and all they have learned by experience is, to wish for the long past days of royal tyranny and frivolity back again; to see a glittering swarm of debauchees fluttering around a sensualist king; and to watch the famished faces of the multitude, without a thought that the tiger is only waiting for his spring. As to a thought of true liberty, one single high and noble aspiration after freedom, they never dreamed of it.

“You see, my friend, I have no desire to win you over to the Bourbon cause; neither, if I could, would I make you a Jacobin. But how is this? Can it really be so late? Come, we have no time to lose: it is not accounted good breeding to be late in a visit at the Faubourg.”


Duchesne's story had unfortunately driven all memory of Bubbleton out of my head; and it was only as we entered the street where the Duchesse de Montserrat lived that I remembered my friend, and thought of asking the chevalier's advice about him.

In a few words I explained so much of his character and situation as was necessary, and was going on to express my fears lest a temperament so unstable and uncertain should involve its possessor in much trouble, when Duchesne interrupted me by saying,—

“Be of courage on that head. Your friend, if the man you describe him, is the very person to baffle the police. They can see to any depth, if the water be only clear; muddy it, and it matters little how shallow it be. This Bubbleton might be of the greatest service just now; you must present me to him, Burke.”

“Most willingly. But first promise that you will not involve my poor friend in the snares of any plot. Heaven knows, his own faculties are quite sufficient for his mystification.”

“Plot! snares!—why, what are you thinking of? But come, this is our halting-place; and here we are, without my even having a moment to give you any account of my good aunt.”

As he spoke he turned the handle of a large door, which led into a gloomy porte cochère, dimly illuminated by a single old-fashioned lantern. A fat, unwieldy-looking porter peeped at us from his den in the conciergerie; and then, having announced our approach by ringing a bell, he closed the shutter, and left us to find the way ourselves.

Ascending the great spacious stair, the wall alongside which was covered with family portraits,—grim-looking heroes in mail, or prim dames with bouquets in their jewelled hands,—we reached a species of gallery, from which several doors led off. Here a servant, dressed in deep black, was standing to announce the visitors.

As the servant preceded us along the corridor, I could not help feeling the contrast of this gloomy mansion, where every footstep had its own sad echo, with the gorgeous splendor of the Hôtel Clichy. Here, all was dark, cold, and dreary; there, everything was lightsome, cheerful, and elegant. What an emblem, to my thinking, were they both of the dynasties they represented! But the reflection was only made as one half of the folding-door was thrown open,—the double-door was the prerogative of the blood-royal,—and we were announced.

The apartment—a large, sombre-looking one—was empty, however, and we traversed this, and a second similar to it, our names being repeated as before; when at length the low tones of voices indicated our approach to the salon where the visitors were assembled.

Dimly lighted by a few lamps, far apart from each other, the apartment as we entered seemed even larger than it really was. At one end, around a huge antique fireplace, sat a group of ladies, whom in a glance I recognized as of the class so distinctively called dowager. They were seated in deep-cushioned fauteuils, and were mostly employed in some embroidery work, which they laid down each time they spoke; and resumed, less to prosecute the labor, than, as it were, from mere habit.

With all the insinuating gracefulness of a well-bred Frenchman, Duchesne approached the seat next the chimney, and respectfully kissed the hand extended towards him.

“Permit me, my dear aunt, to present a very intimate friend,—Captain Burke,” said he, as he led me forward.

At the mention of the word “captain,” I could perceive that every hand dropped its embroidery-frame, while the group stared at me with no feigned astonishment. But already the duchess had vouchsafed a very polite speech, and motioned me to a seat beside her; while the chevalier insinuated himself among the rest, evidently bent on relieving the stiff and constrained reserve which pervaded the party. Not even his tact and worldly cleverness was equal to the task. The conversation, if such it could be called, was conducted almost in monosyllables,—some stray question for an absent “marquise,” or a muttered reply concerning a late “countess,” was the burden; not an allusion even being made to any topic of the day, nor any phrase dropped which could show that the speakers were aware of the year or the nation in which they lived and breathed.

It was an inexpressible relief to me when gradually some three or four other persons dropped in, some of them men, who, by their manner, seemed favorites of the party. And soon after the entrance of the servant with refreshments permitted a movement in the group, when I took the opportunity to stand up and approach Duchesne, as he bent over a table, listlessly turning over the leaves of a volume.

“Just think of the contradictions of human nature, Burke,” said he, in a low whisper. “These are the receptions for which the new noblesse would give half their wealth. These melancholy visits of worn-out acquaintances, these sapless twigs of humanity, are the envy of such houses as the Hôtel Clichy; and to be admitted to these gloomy, moth-eaten salons, is a greater honor than an invitation to the Tuileries. So long as this exists, depend upon it, there is rottenness in the core of society. But come, let us take our leave; I see you are well wearied of all this. And now for an hour at Madame de Lacostellerie's,—en revanche.”

As we came forward to make our adieux to the duchess, she rose from her seat, and in so doing her sleeve brushed against a small marble statue of Louis the Sixteenth, which, had I not opportunely caught it, would have fallen to the ground.

“Thank you, sir,” said she, graciously. “You have prevented what I should have deemed a sad accident.”

“Nay, more, Aunt,” said Duchesne, smiling; “he has shown his readiness to restore the Bourbon.”

This speech, evidently spoken in jest, was repeated from lip to lip in the circle; and certainly I never felt my awkwardness more oppressive than when bowing to the party, whose elated looks and pleased countenances now were turned towards me.

“My poor, bashful friend,” said Duchesne, as we descended the stair; “get rid of the habit of blushing with all convenient despatch. It has marred more fortunes than pharo or bouillotte.”

“This, assuredly, is well done!” said the chevalier, as he looked around him, while we slowly ascended the stairs of the Hôtel Glichy: the brilliant light, almost rivalling day; the servants in gorgeous liveries; the air of wealth around on every side, so different from the sad-colored mansion of the Faubourg; while, as the opening doors permitted it to be heard, the sound of delicious music came wafted to the ear.

“I say, Burke,” said he, stopping suddenly, and laying his hand on my arm, “this might content a man who has seen as much as I have. And the game is well worth the playing; so here goes!”

The first person I saw as we entered the ante-chamber was Bubbleton. He was the centre of a knot of foreigners, who, whatever the topic, seemed highly amused at his discourse.

“That is your friend, yonder,” said Duchesne. “He has the true type of John Bull about him; introduce me at once.”

Duchesne scarcely permitted me to finish the introduction, when he extended his hand, and saluted Bubbleton with great cordiality; while the “general” did not suffer the ceremony to interrupt the flow of his eloquence, but continued to explain, in the most minute and circumstantial manner, the conditions of the new peace secretly concluded between France and England. The incredulity of the listeners was, I could perceive, considerably lessened by observing the deferential attention with which Duchesne listened, only interrupting the speaker by an occasional assent, or a passing question as to the political relations of some of the great Powers.

“As to Prussia,” said Bubbleton, pompously—“as to Prussia—”

“Well, what of Prussia, General?”

“We have our doubts on that subject,” replied he, looking thoughtfully around him on the group, who, completely deceived by Duchesne's manner, now paid him marked attention.

“You'll not deprive her of Genoa, I trust,” said the chevalier, with a gravity almost inconceivable.

“That is done already,” said Bubbleton. “For my own part, I told Lauderdale we were nothing without the Bosphorus,—'the key of our house, as your Emperor called it.”

“He spoke of Russia, if I don't err,” said Duchesne, with an insinuating air of correction.

“Pardon me, you are wrong. I know Russia well. I travelled through the steppes of Metchezaromizce with Prince Drudeszitsch. We journeyed three hundred versts over his own estates, drawn on sledges by his serfs. You are aware they are always harnessed by the beard, which they wear long and plaited on purpose.”

“That is towards the Crimea,” interrupted the chevalier.

“Precisely. I remember a curious incident which occurred one night as we approached Chitepsk. (You know Chitepsk? It is where they confine the state prisoners,—a miserable, dreary tract, where the snow never melts, and the frost is so intense you often see a drove of wolves glued fast to the snow by the feet, and howling fearfully: a strange sight, to be sure!) Well, the night was falling, and a thin, cutting snowdrift beginning to drop, when Dru (I always call him so,—short) said to me,—

“'Bub' (he did the same to me) 'Bub,' said he, 'do you remark that off-side leader?'

“'I see him,' said I.

“'I have been watching the fellow since the last stage, and confound me if he has ever tightened a trace; and you see he is a right active one, notwithstanding. He capers along gayly enough. I 'll touch him up a bit.' And with that he gave a flourish of his knouted whip, and came down on him with a smarting cut. Lord, how he jumped! Five feet off the ground at one spring! And, hang me, if he didn't tear off his beard! There it was, hanging to the pole! A very shocking sight, I must confess; though Dru did n't seem to mind it. However, we were obliged to pull up, and get out the team. Well, you would not believe what we saw when we got down. You 'd never guess who was the off-leader. It was the Princess Odoznovskoi! Poor thing! the last time I saw her, before that, she was dancing in the Amber Palace with Prince Alexander. She and her husband had been banished to Chitepsk, and as he was ill, she had put on a false beard and was taking a short stage in his place.”

I did not venture to wait for more; but, leaving Duchesne to make the most of the general, passed onwards towards the salon, which already was rapidly filling with visitors.

The countess received me with more than wonted kindness of manner, and mademoiselle assumed a tone of actual cordiality I had never perceived before; while, as she exchanged greetings with me, she said, in a low voice,—

“Let me speak with you, in the picture-gallery, in half an hour.”

Before I could utter my assent she had passed on, and was speaking to another.

Somewhat curious to conceive what Mademoiselle de Lacostellerie might mean by her appointment in the gallery, I avoided the groups where I perceived my acquaintances were, and strolled negligently on towards the place of meeting. The gallery was but half lighted, as was customary on mere nights of visiting, and I found it quite deserted. I was sauntering slowly along, musing on the strange effects of the half-seen pictures, where all, save the most forcible and striking tints, were sombred down to blackness, when I heard a step behind me. I turned my head, and saw mademoiselle herself. She was alone, and, though she evidently had seen me, continued to walk onward, without speaking, towards a small boudoir, which occupied one angle of the gallery. I followed, and we entered it together.

There was something in the secret interview which, while it excited my curiosity, served at once to convince me that had I indulged in any hope of succeeding to her affections, nothing could be less promising,—this very proof of her confidence was the strongest earnest of her indifference. But, indeed, I had never any such expectation. My pride might have been flattered by such a supposition; my heart could never have sympathized in the emotion.

“We are alone here,” said she, hurriedly, “and we may be missed; so let me be brief. It will seem strange that I should ask you to meet me here, but I could not help it. You alone, of all who frequent this, have never paid me the least attention, nor seemed disposed to flatter me; this leads me to trust you. I have no other reason but that, and because I am friendless.” There was a tremulous sadness in the last word which went to my heart, and I could mark that her breathing was hurried and irregular for some few seconds after. “Will you promise me your friendship in what I ask? or, if that be too much, will you pledge yourself at least to secrecy? Enough, I am quite satisfied. Now, tell me, who is this Chevalier Duchesne?—what is he?”

I ran over in a few words all I knew of him, dwelling on whatever might most redound to his credit; his distinguished military career, his undoubted talent, and, lastly, alluding to his family, to which I conceived the question might most probably apply.

“Oh, it is not that,” said she, vehemently, “I wish to know. I care not for his bravery, nor his birth either. Tell me, what are the sources of his power? How is he admitted everywhere, intimate with every one, with influence over all? Why does Fouché fear, and Talleyrand admit him? I know they do this; and can you give me no clew, however faint, to guide me? The Comte de Lacostellerie was refused the Spanish contract; Duchesne interferes, and it is given him. There is a difficulty about a card for a private concert at St. Cloud; Duchesne sends it. Nor does it end here. You know”—here her voice assumed a forced distinctness, as though it cost her an effort to speak calmly—“of his duel with the Prince Dobretski; but perhaps you may not know how he has obtained an imperial order for his recall to St. Petersburg?”

“Of that I never heard. Can it be possible?”

“Have you, then, never tasted of his arbitrary power,” said she, smiling half superciliously, “that these things seem strange to you? or does he work so secretly that even those most intimate with him are in ignorance? But this must be so.” She paused for a second or two, and then went on: “And now, brief as our acquaintance with him has been, see what influence he already possesses over my mother! Even to her I dare not whisper my suspicions; while to you, a stranger,” added she, with emotion, “I must speak my fears.”

“But are they not groundless?” said I, endeavoring to calm the agitation she suffered from. “In all that you have mentioned, I can but trace the devotion of one seeking to serve, not injure; to be loved, not dreaded.”

Scarce had I said these words, when I heard a noise behind me, and before I could turn round, Duchesne stood beside us.

“I implore your pardon, Mademoiselle,” said he, in a voice of well-affected timidity, “nor should I venture to interrupt so interesting a conference, but that the Comtesse de Lacostellerie had sent me to look for you.”

“You could scarcely have come more apropos, sir. The conversation was entirely of yourself,” said she, haughtily, as if in defiance of him.

“How could I possibly have merited so great an honor, Mademoiselle?” replied he, bowing with the deepest respect; “or is it to the kindness of a friend I am indebted for such interest?”

There was an evident sneer in the way he uttered the word “friend,” while a sidelong glance he gave beneath his deep eyelashes was still more decisive of his feeling.

“Few probably owe more to their friends than the Chevalier Duchesne,” said mademoiselle, tauntingly, as she took my arm to return to the salon.

“True, most true!” replied he, with a low and deferential bow; “and I hope I am not the man to forget my debts to either friends or enemies.”

I turned round rapidly as he said this. Our eyes met, and we exchanged a short, brief glance of open defiance. His, however, as quickly changed; and an easy smile of careless indifference succeeded, as he lounged after us towards the salon, where now a considerable number of persons were assembled, and a more than usual excitement prevailed. Some generals of the imperial staff were also there; and the rumor ran that the negotiations with England had been suddenly interrupted, and that the negotiators had demanded their passports.

“That is not all, Madame,” said an old officer to the countess. “The accounts from Mayence are threatening. Large bodies of Prussian troops are reported on the march from the eastward. The telegraph has been actively at work since noon, and several couriers have been sent off from the War Office.”

“What is to come next?” said the countess, sighing, as she thought of Paris once more deserted by its gay Court and brilliant crowd of officers, the only society of the period.

“What next, Madame?” said Duchesne, taking up the word. “Parbleu! the thing is easily told. A conscription, a march, a bivouac, and a battle will form act the first. Then a victory; and a bulletin and an imperial edict, showing that Prussia, both by her language and geographical position, was intended by Providence to belong to France; that Prussians have no dearer wish than to be thrashed and taxed,—the honor of becoming a portion of the Grande Nation being an ample recompense for any misfortune.”

“And so it is, Monsieur,” broke in a bluff, hard-featured veteran, whose coarse and weather-beaten traits bespoke one risen from the ranks; “he is no Frenchman who says otherwise.”

“To your good health, Colonel,” said Duchesne, as he lifted a glass of champagne to his lips. “Such patriotism is really refreshing in our degenerate days. I wish you every success in your campaign; though what is to reward your valor in that miserable land of beer and Protestantism I cannot possibly conceive.”

“To-morrow; let me see you to-morrow, in the afternoon.” said mademoiselle, in a whisper, as she passed close to me.

As I nodded in acknowledgment, Duchesne turned slightly around, and I saw in his eyes he had overheard the words, though uttered in a mere whisper. Still he went on,—

“As for us who remain ingloriously behind you, we have nothing to do but to read your exploits in the 'Moniteur.' And would to Heaven the worthy editor would print his battles in better fashion! The whole page usually looks more like a beaten than a conquering army; wounded vowels and broken consonants at every step, and the capital letters awkward, hard-featured fellows, as though risen from the ranks.”

Tonnerre de Dieu, sir! do you mean an insult to me?” said the old colonel, in a voice which, though intended for a whisper, was heard over the whole circle.

“An insult, my dear colonel? nothing within a thousand leagues of such. I was only speaking of the 'type' of our army, which may be very efficient, but is scarcely too good-looking.”

No words can convey the sarcastic tone in which the speech was delivered, nor the mortification of the indignant colonel, who felt, but knew not how to reply to, such a taunt. Happily Madame de Lacostellerie interposed, and by skilfully changing the topic of conversation, averted further unpleasantness.

My desire to learn something accurately as to the state of events made me anxious to reach my quarters, and I took the first opportunity of quitting the salon. As I passed through the outer room, Duchesne was standing against a sideboard, holding a glass in his hand. It was necessary that I should pass him closely, and I was preparing to salute him with the distant courtesy of our present acquaintance, when he said, in his former tone of easy raillery,—

“Going so early? Won't you have a glass of wine before you leave?”

“No, I thank you,” said I, coldly, and going on towards the door.

“Nor wait for the concert; Grassini will be here in half an hour?”

I shook my head in negation; and as I passed out I heard him humming, with an emphasis which there was no mistaking, the couplet of a popular song of the day which concluded thus,—

“To-day for me; To-morrow for thee,—But will that to-morrow ever be?”

That Duchesne intended to challenge me seemed now almost certain; and I ran over in my mind the few names of those I could ask to be my friends on such an occasion, but without being able to satisfy myself on the subject. A moment's recollection might have taught me that it was a maxim with the chevalier never to send a message, but in every case to make the adversary the aggressor; he had told me so over and over himself. That, however, did not occur to me at the moment, and I walked onward, thinking of our meeting. Could I have known what was passing in his mind, I should have spared many serious and some sad thoughts to my own.


So firmly had I persuaded myself, on my way homeward, that Duchesne intended a duel with me, that I dreamed of it all night, and awoke in the morning perfectly convinced that the event was prearranged between us. Now, although the habits of the service I lived in had, in a great measure, blunted the feelings I once entertained towards duelling, still enough of detestation of the practice remained to make my anticipations far from satisfactory; besides, I knew that Duchesne had in reality no cause of quarrel with me, but from misapprehension alone could demand a meeting, which our military code of honor always decided should be accepted first, and inquired into afterwards. I regretted also, and deeply too, that I should appear to his eyes in an unworthy part, as though betraying the interests he had confided to me.

There were, as I have said, many things I liked not in the chevalier: the insatiable desire he felt for revenge where he had once been injured; the spirit of intrigue he cherished; and, perhaps more than either, I shunned the scoffing habit he had of depreciating what every one around him loved or respected,—of stripping off every illusion which made life valuable, and reducing to the miserable standard of mere selfish gratification all that was great, or noble, or venerable. Already had his evil influence done me injury in this way. Even now I felt, that of the few daydreams I once indulged in he had robbed me of the best, and reduced me to the sad reflection which haunted me throughout my whole career, and imbittered every passing enjoyment of my life: I mean, the sorrowful thought of being an alien, of having but the hireling's part in that career of glory which others followed; that I alone could have no thrill of patriotism, when all around me were exulting in its display; that I had neither home nor country! Oh! if they who feel, or fancy that they feel, the wrongs and oppressions of misgovernment at home,—who, with high aspirations after liberty and holy thoughts for the happiness of their fellow-men, war against the despotism which would repress the one or the cruelty which would despise the other; if they could only foresee, that in changing allegiance they did but shift the burden, not rid themselves of the load; that the service of a foreign land is no requital for the loss of every feeling which ties a man to kindred and to friends,—which links his manhood with his youth, his age with both,—which gives him, in the language of his forefathers, a sympathy with the land that bore them; if they could know and feel these things; if they could learn how, in surrendering them, they have made themselves such mere waifs and strays upon life's ocean that objects of purely selfish and personal advancement must be to them for evermore in place of the higher and more ennobling thoughts which mix with other men's ambitions: they might hesitate ere they left home and country to fight for the cause of the stranger.

If such thoughts found entrance into my heart, how must they have dwelt in many another's? I, who had neither family nor kindred,—who from earliest childhood had never tasted the sweets of affection nor known the blessings of a father's love; and yet scarce a day crept by without some thought of the far-away land of my birth,—some memory of its hills and valleys, of its green banks and changeful skies: and in my dreams, some long-forgotten air would bring me back in memory to the cottier's fireside, where around the red blazing turf were seated the poor but happy peasantry, beguiling the time with song or story,—now telling of the ancient greatness of their country, now breathing a hope of its one day prosperity.

“Captain Burke's quarters?” said a voice without. At the same instant, the jingling of spurs and the clank of a sabre bespoke the questioner as a soldier. My door opened, and an officer in the full dress of the staff entered. As I requested him to be seated, I already anticipated the object of his visit, which he seemed determined to open in most diplomatic fashion; for, the first salutations over, he began coolly to ransack his sabretasche, and search among a heap of papers which crowded it.

“Ah! here it is,” said he at length. “I ask your pardon for all this delay. But, of course, you guess the reason of my being here?”

“I must confess I suspect it,” said I, with a smile.

“Oh, that I am certain of. These things never are secrets very long; nor, for my part, do I think there is any need they should be. I conclude you are quite prepared?”

“You shall find me so.”

“So the minister said,” replied he; while, once more, his eyes were buried in the recesses of the sabretasche, leaving me in the most intense astonishment at the last few words. That the minister, whoever he might be, should know of, and, as it seemed, acquiesce in my fighting a duel, was a puzzle I could make nothing of.

“Here is the note I looked for,” said he as he took forth a small slip of paper, written on both sides. “May I beg you will take down the details; they are brief, but important.”

“You may trust my memory with them,” said I, rather surprised at the circumstantial style of his conduct.

“As you please; so pay attention for one moment, while I read: 'Captain Burke of the Eighth, will proceed by extra post to Mayence, visiting the following garrisons en route '(here come the names, which you can copy), where his attention will be specially directed to the points marked A. B. and—'”

“Forgive my interrupting you; but really I am unaware of what you are alluding to. You are not here on the part of the Chevalier Duchesne?”

“The Chevalier Duchesne? Duchesne? No; this is a war despatch from the minister. You must set out in two hours. I thought you said you were prepared.”

“Hem! there has been a mistake here,” said I, endeavoring to remember how far I might have committed myself by any unguarded expression.

“All my fault, Captain Burke,” said he, frankly. “I should have been more explicit at first. But I really thought from something—I forget precisely what now—that you knew of the movement on the frontier, and were, in fact, prepared for your orders. Heaven knows how far our mystification might have gone on; for when you spoke of Duchesne—the ex-captain of the Imperial Guard, I suppose—

“Yes! what of him?”

“Why, it so chanced that he was closeted with the minister this morning, and only left five minutes before your orders were made out. But come, neither of us can well spare more time. This is your despatch for the commandant of the troops at Mayence, to whom you will report verbally on the equipment of the smaller bodies of men visited en route. I shall give you my note, which, though hurriedly written, will assist your memory. Above all things, get speedily on the road, and reach Mayence by Wednesday. Half an hour's speed in times like these is worth a whole year in one's way to promotion. And so, now, good-by!”

I stood for several minutes after he left the room so confused and astonished, that had not the huge envelope, with its great seal of office, confirmed the fact, I could have believed the whole a mere trick of my imagination.

The jingle of the postilion's equipment in the court beneath now informed me that a Government calèche stood awaiting me, and I speedily began my preparations for the road.

One thought filled my mind to the exclusion of all others. It was Duchesne's influence on which my fortune now rested. The last few words he uttered as I left the salon were ringing in my ears, and here was their explanation. This rapid journey was planned by him to remove me from Paris, where possibly he supposed my knowledge of him might be inconvenient, and where in my absence his designs might be prosecuted with more success. Happy as I felt to think that a personal rencontre was not to occur between us, my self-love was deeply wounded at the thought of how much I was in this man's power, and how arbitrarily he decided on the whole question of my destiny. If my pride were gratified on the one hand by my having excited the chevalier's vengeance, it was offended on the other by feeling how feeble would my efforts prove to oppose the will of an antagonist who worked with such secret and such powerful means. The same philosophy which so often stood my part in life here came to my aid,—to act well my own part, and leave the result to time. And so, with this patient resolve, I mentally bade defiance to my adversary, and set out from Paris.

The ardent feeling which filled my heart on the approach of my first campaign was now changed into a soldierly sense of duty, which, if less enthusiastic, was a steadier and more sustaining motive. I felt whatever distinctions it should be my lot to win must be gained in the camp, not in the Court-, that my place was rather where squadrons were charging and squares were kneeling, than among the intrigues of the capital, its wiles and its plottings. In the one, I might win an honorable name; in the other, I should be but the dupe of more designing heads and less scrupulous hearts than my own.

Early on the third morning from the time of my leaving Paris, I reached Mayence. The garrisons which I visited on the road seldom detained me above half an hour. The few questions which I had to ask respecting the troops were soon and easily answered; and in most instances the officers in command had been apprised that their reports would be required, and came ready at once to afford the information.

The disposable force at that time was not above eighty thousand new levies,—the conscripts of the past year,—who, although well drilled and equipped, had never undergone the fatigues of a campaign nor met an enemy in the field. But beyond the frontier were the veteran legions of the Austrian campaign, who, while advancing on their return to France, were suddenly halted, and now only awaited the Emperor's orders whither they should carry their victorious standards.

As at the outbreak of all Napoleon's wars, the greatest uncertainty prevailed regarding the direction of the army, and in what place and against what enemy the first blow was to be struck. The Russian army, defeated and routed at Austerlitz, was said to be once more in the field, reorganized and strengthened; Austria, it was rumored, was faltering in her fealty; but the military preparations of Prussia were no longer a secret, and to many it seemed as if, as in the days of the Republic, France was about to contend single-handed against the whole of Europe.

In Prussia the warlike enthusiasm of the people was carried to the very highest pitch. The Court, the aristocracy, but more powerful than either, the press, stimulated national courage by recalling to their minds the famous deeds of the Great Frederick, and bidding them remember that Rossbach was won against an army of Frenchmen. The students—a powerful and an organized class—stood foremost in this patriotic movement. Their excited imaginations warmed by the spirit-stirring songs of Kërner and Uhland, and glowing with the instincts of that chivalry which is a German's birthright, they spread over the country, calling upon their fellow-subjects to arise and defend the “Vaterland” against the aggression of the tyrant. So unequivocally was this feeling expressed, that even before the negotiations had lost their pacific character, the youthful aristocracy of Berlin used to go and sharpen their swords at the door-sill of the French ambassador at Berlin.

To the exalted tone of patriotic enthusiasm the beautiful Queen of Prussia most powerfully contributed. The crooked and tortuous windings of diplomatic intrigue found no sympathy in her frank and generous nature. Belying on the native energy of German character, she bade an open and a bold defiance to her country's enemy, and was content to stake all on the chances of a battle. The colder and less confident mind of the king was rather impelled by the current of popular opinion than induced by conviction to the adoption of this daring policy. But once engaged in it, he exhibited the rarest fortitude and the most unyielding courage.

Such, in brief, was the condition of that people, such the warlike spirit they breathed, when in the autumn of 1806 the cry of war resounded from the shores of the Baltic to the frontiers of Bohemia. Never was the effective strength of the Prussian army more conspicuous. Their cavalry, in number and equipment, was confessedly among the first, if not the very first, in Europe; while the artillery maintained a reputation which, since the days of Frederick, had proclaimed it the most perfect arm of the service.

The Emperor knew these things well, and did not undervalue them; and it was with a very different impression of his present enemy from that which filled his mind in the Austrian campaign, that he remarked to Soult, “We shall want the mattock in this war,”—thereby implying that, against such an adversary, fieldworks and intrenchments would be needed, as well as the dense array of squadrons and the bristling walls of infantry.


After a brief delay at Mayence, it was with sincere pleasure I received my orders to push forward to the advanced posts at Wetzlar, where General d'Auvergne was with his division. Already the battalions were crossing the Rhine, and directing their steps to different rendezvous along the Prussian frontier; some pressing on eastwards, where the Saxon territory joins the Prussian; others directly to the north, and taking up positions distant by a short day's march from each other. The same urgent haste which characterized the opening of the Austrian campaign a year before, was here conspicuous; many of the corps being obliged to march seven and eight leagues in the day, and frequently whole companies being forwarded in wagons drawn by six or eight horses, in order to come up with the main body of their regiments. Every road eastward was covered with some fragment of the army. Now an infantry corps of young conscripts, glowing with enthusiasm and eager for the fray, would cheer the calèche in which I travelled, and which, as indicating a staff-officer, was surmounted by a small flag with an eagle. Now it was the hoarse challenge of an outpost, some veteran of Bernadotte's army, which occupied the whole line of country from Dusseldorf to Nuremberg. Pickets of dragoons, with troops of led horses for remounts, hurried on, and long lines of wagons crammed the road.

At last I joined General d'Auvergne, who, with all the ardor of the youngest soldier, was preparing for the march. The hardy veteran, disdaining the use of a carriage, rode each day at the head of his column, and went through the most minute detail of regimental duty with the colonels under his command. From whatever cause proceeding I knew not, but it struck me as strange that he never alluded to my visit to Paris, nor once spoke to me of the countess; and while this reserve on his part slightly wounded me, I felt relieved from the embarrassment the mere mention of her name would cause me, and was glad when our conversation turned on the events of the war. Nor was he, save in this respect, less cordial than ever, manifesting the greatest pleasure at the prospect the war would open to my advancement, and kindly presaging for me a success I scarcely dared to hope for.

“Nor is the hour distant,” said he to me one morning in the latter end of September, as we rode side by side; “the grand movement is begun.”

Augereau, with his powerful corps d'armée of twenty thousand, pressed on from Frankfort and Mayence; Bernadotte moved up on his flank from Nuremberg and Bamberg; Davoust hastened by forced marches from the Danube; while Soult and Ney with a strong force remained in the south, and in observation on the Austrian frontier. Farther to the north, again, were the new levies and the whole Imperial Guard, strengthened by four thousand additional men, which, together with Murat's cavalry, formed a vast line embracing the Prussian frontier on the west and south, and converging with giant strides towards the very heart of the kingdom. Still, mid all the thunders of marching squadrons and the din of advancing legions, diplomatists interchanged their respective assurances of a peaceful issue to their differences, and politely conveyed the most satisfactory sentiments of mutual esteem.

On the 1st of September the Emperor left Paris; but, even then, covering his designs by an affected hope of peace, he was accompanied by the Empress and her suite to Mayence, where all the splendor of a Court was suddenly displayed amid the pomp and preparation of war. On the 6th he started by daybreak; relays of horses were in waiting along the road to Wetzlar, and with all speed he hastened forward to Bamberg, where he issued his grand proclamation to the army.

With all his accustomed eloquence he represented to the army the insulting demands of Prussia, and called on them, as at Austerlitz, to reply to such a menace by one tremendous blow of victory, which should close the campaign. “Soldiers!” said he, “you were about to return to France to enjoy the well-won repose after all your victories. But an enemy is in the field; the road to Paris is no longer open to you: neither you nor I can tread it save under an arch of triumph.”

The day which succeeded the issue of this proclamation, a cavalry affair occurred at the advanced posts, in which the Prussians were somewhat the victors. Two days later, a courier arrived at the imperial headquarters with the account of another and more important action, between the grenadiers of Lannes and a part of Suchet's corps, against the advanced guard of Prince Hohenlohe, commanded by the most daring general in the Prussian service,—Prince Louis. A cavalry combat, which lasted for near an hour, closed this brief but bloody encounter with the death of the brave prince, who, refusing to surrender, was run through the body by the sabre of a quartermaster of the Tenth Hussars.

General d'Auvergne's brigade had no share in this memorable action, for on the 9th we were marched to Rudolstadt, some miles to the left of the scene of the encounter; but having made a demonstration in that quarter, were speedily recalled, and ordered with all haste to cross the Saale, and move on to the eastward.

It was now that Napoleon's manoeuvres became apparent. The same intrigue which succeeded at Ulm was again to be employed here: the enemy's flank was to be turned, the communication with his reinforcements cut off, and a battle engaged, in which defeat must prove annihilation. Such, then, was the complete success of the Emperor's movements, that on the 12th the French army was posted with the rear upon the Elbe, while the Prussians occupied a line between them and the Rhine. This masterly movement at once compelled the enemy to fall back and concentrate his troops around Jena and Weimar, which, from that instant, Napoleon pronounced must be the scene of a great battle.

All this detail I have been obliged to force on my reader, and now again return to my story.

On the morning of the 13th, Murat appeared for the first time at our headquarters, below Jena; and after a short consultation with the staff, our squadrons were formed and ordered to push on with haste towards Jena.

Everything now showed that the decisive hour could not be distant: couriers passed and repassed; messengers and orderlies met us at every step; while, as is ever the case, the most contradictory rumors were circulated about the number and position of the enemy. As we neared Lausnitz, however, we learned that the whole Prussian army occupied the plateau of Jena, save a corps of twenty thousand men which were stationed at Auerstadt. From the elevated spot we occupied, the columns of Marshal Berna-dotte's division could be seen marching to the eastward. A halt was now commanded, and the troops prepared their bivouacs; when, as night was falling, a staff-officer rode up, with orders from the Emperor himself to push on without delay for Jena.

The road was much cut up by the passage of cavalry and wagons, and as the night was dark, our pace was occasionally impeded. I was riding with one of the leading squadrons, when General d'Auvergne directed me to take an orderly with me, and proceed in advance to make arrangements for the quarters of the men at Jena. Selecting a German soldier as my guide, I dashed forwards, and soon left the squadron out of hearing. We had not gone far, when I remarked, from the tramp of the horses, that we were upon an earthen road, and not on the pavement. I questioned my orderly, but he was positive there had been no turning since we started. I paid no more attention to the circumstance, but rode on, hard as ever. At last the clay became deeper and heavier, the sides of the way closer, and all the appearance, as well as the gloom would allow us to guess, rather those of a byroad than the regular chaussée. To return would have been hopeless; the darkness gave no prospect of detecting at what precise spot we had left the main road, and so I determined to make my way straight onwards at all hazards.

After about an hour's fast trotting, the orderly, who rode some paces in advance, called out, “A light!” and then, the moment after, he cried, “There are several lights yonder!”

I reined in my horse at once, for the thought struck me that we had come down upon the Prussian lines. Giving my horse to the soldier, with orders to follow me noiselessly at a little distance, I walked on for above a mile, my eyes steadily fixed upon the lights, which moved from place to place, and showed, by their taper glare, that they were not watchfires. At length I gained a little ridge of the ground, and could distinctly see that it was a line of guns and artillery wagons, endeavoring to force their way through a narrow ravine; a few minutes after, I heard the sounds of French, and relieved of all apprehensions, I mounted my horse and soon came up with them.

They were four troops of Lannes's artillery, which, by a mistake similar to my own, had left the highroad and entered one of the field-tracks, which thus led them astray; and here they were, jammed up in a narrow gorge, unable to get back or forward. The officer in command was a young colonel, who was completely overwhelmed by his misfortune; for he informed me that the whole artillery of the division was following him, and would inevitably be involved in the same mishap. The poor fellow, who doubtless would have faced the enemy without a particle of fear, was now so horrified by the event, that he ran wildly from place to place, ordering and counter-ordering every instant, and actually increasing the confusion by his own excitement. Some of the leading trains were unharnessed, and efforts made to withdraw the guns from their position; but the axles were, on both sides, embedded in the rock, and seemed to defy every effort to disengage them.

At this moment, when the confusion had reached its height, and the horses were unharnessed from the guns, the men standing in groups around or shouting wildly to one another, a sullen silence spread itself over the whole, and a loud, stern voice called out,—

“Who commands this division?”

“General Latour,” was the answer.

“Where is he?” said the first speaker, so close to my ear that I started round, and saw the short square figure of a man in a great coat, holding a heavy whip in his hand.

“With the main body at the rear.”

“Cannoneers, dismount!” said the other. “Bring the torches to the front.”

Scarcely was the order obeyed, when the light of the firewood fell upon his features, and I saw it was the Emperor himself. In an instant the whole scene was changed. The park tools were taken out, working parties formed, and the ravine began to echo to the strong blows of the brawny arms; while Napoleon, with a blazing torch in his hand, stood by to light their labors. Giving directions to the under-officers and the men, he never deigned a word to the officers, who now stood trembling around him, and were gradually joined by several more, who came up with the remainder of the train.

I think still I can see that pale, unmoved face, which, as the light flickered upon it, gazed steadily at the working party. Not a syllable escaped him, save once, when he muttered half to himself, “And this was the first battery to open its fire to-morrow!”

General Savary stood at his side, but never dared to address him. Too well he knew that his deepest anger showed itself by silence. By degrees the granite wall gave way, the axles once more became free, and the horses were again harnessed; the gun-carriages moved slowly through the ravine. Nor did the Emperor quit the spot before the greater part of the train passed; then mounting his horse, he turned towards Jena, and notwithstanding the utter darkness of the night he rode at full speed. Following the clatter of the horse's hoofs, I rode on, and in less than an hour reached a small cluster of houses, where a cavalry picket was placed, and several large fires were lighted, beside which, at small tables, sat above a dozen staff-officers busily writing despatches. The Emperor halted but for a second or two, and then dashed forward again; and I soon perceived we were ascending a steep hill, covered with ferns and brushwood. We had not gone far, when a single aide-de-camp who accompanied him turned his horse's head and rode rapidly down the mountain again.

Napoleon was now alone, some fifty paces in front. I could see the faint outline through the darkness, my sight guided by my hearing to the spot. His pace, wherever the ground permitted, was rapid; but constantly he was obliged to hold in, and pick his steps among the stones and dwarf wood that covered the mountain. Never shall I cease to remember the strange sensations I felt as I followed him up that steep ascent. There was he, the greatest monarch of the universe, alone, wending his solitary way in darkness, his thoughts bent on the great event before him,—the tremendous conflict in which thousands must fall. There was a sense of awe in the thought of being so near to one on whose slightest word the destiny of nations seemed to hang; and I could not look on the dark object before me without a superstitious feeling, deeper than fear itself, for that mightiest of men.

My thoughts permitted my taking no note of time, and I know not how long it was before we reached the crest of the hill, over whose bleak surface a cold, cutting wind was blowing. It seemed as if a great tableland extended now for some distance on every side, over which the Emperor took his way, as though accustomed to the ground. While I was wondering at the certainty with which he appeared to determine on his road, I remarked the feeble flickering of a light far away towards the horizon, and by which it was evident he guided his steps. As we rode on, several watchfires could be seen towards the northwest, stretching away to a great distance, and throwing a yellowish glare in the dark sky above them. Suddenly I perceived the Emperor halt and dismount, and as speedily again he was in the saddle; but now his path took a different direction, and diverged considerably to the southward. Curious to learn what might have caused his change of direction, I rode up to the spot, and got off. It was the embers of a watchfire; they were almost extinguished, but still, as the horse's hoof struck the wood, a few sparks were emitted. It was this, then, which altered his course; and once more he pressed his horse to speed.

A steep ascent of some hundred yards lay before us now. But on gaining the top, a brilliant spectacle of a thousand watchfires met the eye: so close did they seem, it looked like one great volcanic crater blazing on the mountain top; while above, the lurid glow reddened the black sky, and melted away into the darkness in clouds of faint yellowish hue. Far, very far away, and to the north, stretched another much longer line of fires, but at great intervals apart, and occupying, as well as I might guess, about two leagues in extent. Several smaller fires dotted the plain, marking the outpost positions; and it was not difficult to trace the different lines of either army even by these indications.

While I yet looked, the Emperor had gained a short distance in advance of me; and suddenly I heard the hoarse challenge of a sentry, calling out, “Qui vive?” Buried in his own thoughts,—perhaps far too deeply lost in meditation to hear the cry,—Napoleon never replied nor slackened his speed. “Qui vive?” shouted the voice again: and before I could advance, the sharp bang of a musket-shot rang out; another and another followed; and then a roll of fire swept along the plain, happily not in the direction of the Emperor. But already he had thrown himself from his horse, and lay flat upon the ground.


Not a moment was now to be lost. I dashed my spurs into my jaded horse, and rode forwards, calling aloud, at the top of my voice, “The Emperor! the Emperor!” Still, the panic overbore my words, and another discharge was given: with one bullet I was struck in the shoulder, another killed my horse; but springing to my legs in an instant, I rushed on, repeating my cry. Before I could do more than point to the spot, Napoleon came forward, leading his horse by the bridle. His step was slow and measured, and his face—for many a torchlight was now gathered to the place—was calm and tranquil.

“Ye are well upon the alert, mes enfant!” said he, with a smile; “see that ye be as ready with your fire to-morrow!” A wild cheer answered these words, while he continued: “These are the new levies, Lieutenant; the Guards would have had more patience. Where is the officer who followed me?”

“Here, Sire,” said I, endeavoring to conceal the appearance of being wounded.

“Mount, sir, and accompany me to headquarters.”

“My horse is killed, Sire.”

“Yes, parbleu!” said a young soldier, who had not learned much respect before his superiors; “and he has a ball in his neck himself.”

“Are you wounded?” said the Emperor, with a quickness in his manner.

“A mere flesh-wound in the arm,—of no consequence, Sire.”

“Let the surgeon of the detachment see to this at once, Lieutenant,” said he to the officer of the party; “and do you come to headquarters when you are able.”

With this, the Emperor mounted again, and in a few seconds more was lost to our sight.

Ventrebleu!” said the old lieutenant, who had served without promotion from the first battles of the Republic, “you'll be a colonel for that scratch on your epaulette, if we only beat the Prussians to-morrow; and here am I, with eight wounds from lead and steel, and the Petit Caporal never bade me visit him at his bivouac. Come, come! I don't wish to be unfriendly; it's not your fault, it's only my bad fortune. And here comes the surgeon.”

The lieutenant was right,—the epaulette had the worst of the adventure; and, in half an hour I proceeded on my way to headquarters.


On my way to the imperial quarters, I fell in with some squadrons of our dragoons, from whom I learned that General d'Auvergne had just received orders to repair to the Emperor's bivouac, to which several officers in command were also summoned. As I saw, therefore, that I could have no prospect of meeting the Emperor, I resolved merely to hold myself in readiness, should he, which seemed little likely, think of me; and accordingly I took up my post with some young under-officers of our brigade, at a huge fire, where a species of canteen had been established, and coffee and corn-brandy were served out to all comers.

The recent escape of Napoleon at the outposts was already known far and near, and formed the great topic of conversation, in which, I felt hurt to remark, no mention of the part I took was ever made, although there were at least a dozen different versions of the accident. In one, his Majesty was represented to have rode down upon and sabred the advanced picket; in another, it was the Prussians who fired, he having penetrated within their lines to reconnoitre,—each agreeing in the one great fact, that the feat was something which no one save himself could have done or thought of. As for me, I felt it was not my part to speak of the incident at all until his Majesty should first do so. I listened, therefore, with due patience and some amusement to the various narratives about me; which served to show me, by one slight instance, the measure of that exaggeration with which the Emperor's name was ever treated, and convinced me that it required not time nor distance to color every incident of his life with the strongest hues of romance. The topic was a fruitful and favorite one; and certainly few subjects could with more propriety season the hours around a bivouac fire than the exploits of the Emperor Napoleon.

Among those whose reminiscences went farthest back was an old sergeant-major of infantry,—a seared and seamed and weather-beaten little fellow, who, from fatigues and privations, was dried up to a mass of tendons and fibres. This little man presented one of those strange mixtures with which the army abounded,—the shrewdest common sense on all ordinary topics, with a most credulous faith in any story where Napoleon's name occurred. It seemed, indeed, as though that one element, occurring in any tale, dispensed at once with the rules which govern belief in common cases.

The invulnerability of the Emperor was with him a fruitful theme; and he teemed with anecdotes of the Egyptian and Italian campaigns, in which it was incontestably shown that neither shot nor shell had any effect upon him. But of all the superstitions regarding Napoleon, none had such complete hold on his imagination, nor was more implicitly believed by him, than the story of that little “Red Man,” who, it was asserted, visited the Emperor the night before each great battle, and arranged with him the manoeuvres of the succeeding day.

“L'Homme Bouge,” as he was called, was an article of faith in the French army that few of the soldiers ever thought of disputing. Some from pure credulity, some from the force of example, and some again from indolence, believed in this famed personage; but even the veriest scoffer on more solemn subjects would have hesitated ere he ventured to assail the almost universal belief in this supernatural agency. The Emperor's well-known habit of going out alone to visit pickets and outposts on the eve of a battle was a circumstance too favorable to this superstition not to be employed in its defence. Besides, it was well known that he spent hours by himself, when none even of the marshals had access to him; and on these occasions it was said “L'Homme Bouge” was with him. Sentinels had been heard to declare that they could overhear angry words passing between the Emperor and his guest; that threats had been interchanged between them; and on one occasion it was said that the “Red Man” went so 'far as to declare, that if his advice were neglected Napoleon should lose the battle, see his artillery fall into the hands of the enemy, and behold the Guard capitulate.

Mille tonnerres! what are you saying?” broke in the little man, to the grim old soldier who was relating this. “You know nothing of 'L'Homme Rouge,'—not a word; how should you? But I served in the Twenty-second of the Line, old Mongoton's corps; the 'Faubourg Devils,' as they were called. He knew him well; it was 'L'Homme Rouge' had him shot for treason at Cairo. I was one of the company drawn for his execution; and when he knelt down on the grass, he held up his hand this way, and cried out,—

“'Voltigeurs of the Line, hear me! You have all known me many years; you have seen whether I could face the enemy like a man; and you can tell whether I cared for the heaviest charge that ever shook a square. You know, also, whether I was true to our general. Well, it is “L'Homme Rouge” who has brought me to this. And now: Carry arms!—all together! Come, mes enfants! try it again: Carry arms! (ay, that's better) present arms! fire!'

Morbleu! the word was not well out when he was dead; and there, through the smoke, as plain as I see you now, I saw the figure of a little fellow, dressed in scarlet,—feather and boots all the same! He was standing over the corpse, and threatening it with his hands. And that,” said he, in a solemn voice, “that was 'L'Homme Rouge!'”

This anecdote was conclusive. There was no gainsaying the assertions of a man who had, with his own eyes, seen the celebrated “Red Man;” and from that instant he enjoyed a decided monopoly of everything that concerned his private history.

According to the sergeant-major's version,—and who could venture to contradict him?—“L'Homme Rouge” was not the confidential adviser and friendly counsellor of the Emperor; but, on the contrary, his evil genius, perpetually employed in thwarting his plans and opposing his views. Each seemed to have his hour of triumph alternately. Now it was the Bed Man, now Napoleon, who stood in the ascendant. Fortune for a long period had been constant to the Emperor, and victory crowned every battle. This had, it seemed, greatly chagrined “L'Homme Bouge,” who for years past had not been seen nor heard of. The last tradition of him was a story told by one of the sentinels on guard at the general's quarters at Mont Tabor.

It was midnight: all was still and silent in the camp. The soldiers slept as men sleep before a battle, when the old grenadier who walked his short post before General Bonaparte's tent heard a quick tread approaching him. “Qui vive?” cried he; but there was no reply. “Qui vive?” called the sentry once more; but as he did so he leaped backwards and brought his musket to the charge, for just then something brushed close by him and entered the tent.

For a moment or two he doubted what should be done. Should he turn out the guard? It was only to be laughed at; that would never do. But what if it really were somebody who had penetrated to the general's quarters? As this thought struck him, he crept up close to the tent; and there, true enough, he heard the voices of two persons speaking.

“Ah! thou here?” said Bonaparte. “I scarce expected to see thee so far from France!”

“Alas!” said the other, with a deep sigh, “what land is now open to me, or whither shall I fly to? I took refuge in Brussels; well, what should I see one morning, but the tall shakos of your grenadiers coming up the steep street. I fled to Holland; you were there the day after. 'Come,' thought I, 'he's moving northwards; I'll try the other extreme.' So I started for the Swiss. Sacrebleu! the roll of your confounded drums resounded through every valley. I reached the banks of the Po; your troops were there the same evening. I pushed for Rome; they were preparing your quarters, which you occupied that night. Away, then, I start once more; I cross mountains and rivers and seas, and gain the desert at last. I thank my fortune that there are a thousand leagues between us; and here you are now. For pity's sake, show me, on that map of the world, one little spot you don't want to conquer, and let me live there in peace, and be sure never to meet you more.”

Bonaparte did not speak for some minutes, and it seemed as though he were intently considering the request of “L'Homme Rouge.”

“There,” said he at length, “there! You see that island in the great sea, with nothing near it; thou mayest go there.”

“How is it called?” said “L'Homme Rouge.”

“St. Helena,” said the general. “It is not very large; but I promise thee to be undisturbed there.”

“You 'll never come there, then? Is that a pledge?”

“Never; I promise it. At least, if I do, thou shalt be the master, and I the slave.”

“Enough! I go now. Adieu!” said the little man. And the same instant the sentinel felt his arm brushed by some one passing close beside him; and then all was silent in the tent once more.

“Thus, you see,” said the sergeant-major, “from that hour it was agreed on the Emperor should conquer the whole world, and leave that one little spot for 'L'Homme Rouge.' Parbleu! he might well spare him that much.”

“How big might it be, that island?” said an old grenadier, who listened with the deepest attention to the tale.

“Nothing to speak of; about the size of one battalion drawn up in square.”

Pardieu! a small kingdom too!”

“Ah! it would not do for the Emperor,” said the sergeant-major, laughing,—an emotion the others joined in at once; and many a jest went round at the absurdity of such a thought.

I sat beside the watchfire, listening to the old campaigning stories, till one by one the speakers dropped off to sleep. The bronzed veteran and the boy conscript, the old soldier of the Sambre and the beardless youth, lay side by side: to some of these it was the last time they should slumber on earth. As the night wore on, the sounds became hushed in the camp, and through the thin frosty air I could hear from a long distance off the tramp of the patrols and the challenge of the reliefs as the outposts were visited. The Prussian sentries were quite close to our advanced posts, and when the wind came from that quarter, I often heard the voices as they exchanged their signals.

Through the entire night, officers came and went to and from the tent of the Emperor. To him, at least, it seemed no season of repose. At length, when nigh morning, wearied with watching and tired out with expectancy, I leaned my head on my knees, and dropped into a half-sleep. Some vague sense of disappointment at being forgotten by the Emperor, was the last thought I had as I fell off, and in its sadness it colored all my dreams. I remembered, with all the freshness of a recent event, the curse of the old hag on the morning I had quitted my home forever,—her prayer that bad luck should track me every step through life; and in the shadowy uncertainty of my sleeping thoughts I believed I was predestined to misfortune.

Almost every man has experienced the fact, that there are times in life when impressions, the slightest in their origin, will have an undue weight on the mind; when, as it were, the clay of our natures become softened, and we take the impress of passing events more easily. Some vague and shadowy conception—a doubt, a dream—is enough at moments like these to attain the whole force of a conviction; and it is wonderful with what ingenuity we wind to our purpose every circumstance around us, and what pains we take to increase the toils of our self-deception. It would be a curious thing to trace out how much of our good or evil fortune in life had its source in these superstitions; how far the frame of mind fashioned the events before it; and to what extent our hopes and fears were but the forerunners of destiny.

My sleeping thoughts were of the saddest; and when I awoke, I could not shake them off. A heavy, dense fog clothed every object around, through which only the watchfires were visible, as they flared with a yellow, hazy light of unnatural size. The position of these signals was only to mark the inequality of the ground: and I now could perceive that we occupied the crest of a long and steep hill, down the sides and at the bottom of which fires were also burning; while in front another mountain arose, whose summit for a great distance was marked out by watchfires. This I conjectured, from its extent and position, to be the Prussian line.

At the front of the Emperor's quarters several led horses were standing, whose caparison bespoke them as belonging to the staff; and although not yet five o'clock, there was an appearance of movement which indicated preparation. The troops, however, were motionless; the dense columns covered the ground like a garment, and stirred not. As I stood, uncertain what course to take, I heard the noise of voices and the heavy tramp of many feet near, and on turning perceived it was the Emperor, who came forth from his tent, followed by several of his staff. A large fire blazed in front of his bivouac, which threw its long light on the group; where, even in a fleeting glance, I recognized General Gazan, and Nansouty, the commander of the Cuirassiers of the Guard.

“What hour is it?” said the Emperor to Duroc, who stood near him.

“Almost five o'clock, Sire.”

“It is darker than it was an hour ago. Maison, where is Bernadotte by this?—at Domberg, think you?”

“Not yet, Sire; he is no laggard if he reach it in three hours hence.”

“Ney would have been there now,” was the quick reply of Napoleon. “Come, gentlemen, into the saddle, and let us move towards the front. Gazan, put your division under arms.”

The general waited not a second bidding, but wheeled his horse suddenly round, and followed by his aide-decamp, rode at full speed down the mountain.

“There is the first streak of day,” said the Emperor, pointing to a faint gray light above the distant forest; “it breaks like Austerlitz.”

“May it set as gloriously!” said old Nansouty, in his deep low voice.

“And it will,” said Napoleon. “What sayest thou, grognard?” continued he, turning with an affected severity of manner to the grenadier who stood sentinel on the spot, and who, with a French soldier's easy indifference, leaned on the cross of his musket to listen to the conversation; “what sayest thou? Art eager to be made corporal?”

Parbleu!” growled out the rough soldier, “the grade is little to boast of; were I even a general of division, there might be something to hope for.”

“What then?” said Napoleon, sharply, “what then?”

“King of Prussia, to be sure; thou 'lt give away the title before this hour to-morrow.”

The Emperor laughed aloud at the conceit. Its flattery had a charm for him no courtier's well-turned compliment could vie with; and I could hear him still continuing to enjoy it as he rode slowly forward and disappeared in the gloom.


“He has forgotten me!” said I, half aloud, as I watched the retiring figures of the Emperor and his staff till they were concealed by the mist; “he has forgotten me! Now to find out my brigade. A great battle is before us, and there may still be a way to refresh his memory.” With such thoughts I set forward in the direction of the picket-fires, full sure that I should meet some skirmishers of our cavalry there.

As I went, the drums were beating towards the distant left, and gradually the sounds crept nearer and nearer, as the infantry battalions began to form and collect their stragglers. A dense fog seemed to shut out the dawn, and with a thin and misty rain, the heavy vapor settled down upon the earth, wrapping all things in a darkness deep as night itself. From none could I learn any intelligence of the cavalry quarter, nor had any of those I questioned seen horsemen pass near them.

“The voltigeurs in the valley yonder may perhaps tell you something,” said an officer to me, pointing to some fires in a deep glen beneath us. And thither I now bent my steps.

The dull rolling of the drums gradually swelled into one continued roar, through which the clank of steel and the tremulous tramp of marching columns could be heard. Spirit-stirring echoes were they, these awakening sounds of coming conflict! and how they nerved my heart, and set it bounding again with a soldier's ardor! As I descended the hill, the noise became gradually fainter, till at length I found myself in a narrow ravine, still and silent as the grave itself. The transition was so sudden and unexpected, that for a moment I felt a sense of loneliness and depression; and the thought struck me, “What if I have pushed on too far? Can it be that I have passed our lines? But the officer spoke of the voltigeurs in front; I had seen the fires myself; there could be no doubt about it.” I now increased my speed, and in less than half an hour gained a spot where the ground became more open and extended in front, and not more than a few hundred paces in advance were the watchfires; and as I looked I heard the swell of a number of voices singing in chorus on different sides of me. The effect was most singular, for the sounds came from various quarters at the same instant, and, as they all chanted the same air, the refrain rang out and filled the valley; beating time with their feet, they stepped to the tune, and formed themselves to the melody, as though it were the band of the regiment. I had often heard that this was a voltigeur habit, but never was witness to it before. The air was one well known in that suburb of Paris whence the wildest and most reckless of our soldiers came, and which they all joined in celebrating in this rude verse:—

      “Picardy first, and then Champagne,—
            France to the battle! on boys, on!
            Anjou, Brittany, and Maine,—
            Hurrah for the Faubourg of St. Antoine I

     “How pleasant the life of a voltigeur!
           In the van of the fight he must ever be;
           Of roughing and rations he 's always sure,—
           With a comrade's share he may well make free.

     “Picardy first, and then Champagne,—
           France to the battle I on boys, on!
           Anjou, Brittany, and Maine,—
           Hurrah for the Faubourg of St. Antoine!

     “The great guns thunder on yonder hill,—
           Closer than that they durst not go;
           But the voltigeur comes nearer still,—
           With his bayonet fixed he meets the foe.

    “The hussar's coat is slashed with gold;
         He rides an Arab courser fleet:
         But is the voltigeur less bold
         Who meets his enemy on his feet?

    “The cuirassier is clad in steel;
         His massive sword is straight and strong:
         But the voltigeur can charge and wheel
         With a step,—his bayonet is just as long.

    “The artillery-driver must halt his team
         If the current be fast or the water deep:
         But the voltigeur can swim the stream,
         And climb the bank, be it e'er so steep.

    “The voltigeur needs no trumpet sound,—
         No bugle has he to cheer him on:
         Where the fire is hottest, that 's his ground,—
         Hurrah for the Faubourg of St. Antoine!”

As they came to the conclusion of this song, they kept up the air without words, imitating by their voices the roll of the drum in marching time. Joining the first party I came up with, I asked the officer in what direction of the field I should find the cuirassier brigade.

“That I can't tell you, Comrade,” said he. “No cavalry have appeared in our neighborhood, nor are they likely; for all the ground is cut up and intersected so much they could not act. But our maître d'armes is the fellow to tell you. Halloo, François! come up here for a moment.”

Before I could ask whether this was not my old antagonist at Elchingen, the individual himself appeared.

“Eh, what?” cried he, as he lifted a piece of firewood from the ground, and stared me in the face by its light. “Not my friend Burke, eh? By Jove! so it is.”

Our cordial greetings being over, I asked Maître François if he could give me any intelligence of D'Auvergne's division, or put me in the way to reach them.

“They're some miles off by this time,” said he, coolly. “When I was below the Plateau de Jena last night, that brigade you speak of got their orders to push forward to Auerstadt, to support Davoust's infantry. I mind it well, for they were sorely tired, and had just picketed their horses, when the orderly came down with the despatch.”

“And where does Auerstadt lie?”

“About four leagues to the other side of that tall mountain yonder.”

“What, then, shall I do? I am dismounted, to begin with.”

“And if you were not, if you had the best horse in the whole brigade, what would it serve you now, except to pass the day riding between two battle-fields, and see nothing of either? for we shall have hot work here, depend upon it. No, no; stay with us. Be a voltigeur for to-day, and we 'll show you something you 'll not see from your bearskin saddle.”

“But I shall be in a sad scrape on account of my absence.”

“Never mind that; the man that takes his turn with the voltigeurs of the Twenty-second won't be suspected of skulking. And here comes the major; report yourself to him at once.”

Without waiting for any reply, Maître Francois accosted the officer in question, and in a very few words explained my position.

“Nothing could come better timed,” said the major. “One of ours has been sent with despatches to the rear, and we may not see him for some hours. Again, a light cavalryman must know how to skirmish, and we 'll try your skill that way. Come along with me.”

“To our next meeting, then,” cried Francois, as I hurried on after the major; whilst once more the voltigeur ranks burst forth in full chorus, and the merry sounds filled the valley.

I followed the major down a somewhat steep and rugged path, at the foot of which, and concealed by a low copse-wood, was a party consisting of two companies of the regiment, who formed the most advanced pickets, and were destined to exchange the first shots with the enemy.

Before us lay a defile, partly overgrown with trees on either side, which ascended by a gradual slope to the foot of the hill on which the Prussian infantry was stationed, and whose lines were tracked out by a long train of watch-fires. A farmhouse and its out-buildings occupied the side of the hill about half-way up; and this was garrisoned by the enemy, and defended by two guns in position in the defile. To surprise the post and hold it until the main columns came up, was the object of the voltigeur attack; and for this purpose small bodies of men were assembling secretly and stealthily under cover of the brushwood, to burst forth on the word being given.

There was something which surprised me not a little in the way all these movements were effected. Officers and men were mixed up, as it seemed, in perfect confusion; not approaching in regular order, or taking up a position like disciplined troops, they came in twos and threes, crouching and creeping, and suddenly concealing themselves at every opportunity of cover the ground afforded.

Their noiseless and cautious gestures brought to my mind all that I had ever read of Indian warfare; and in their eager faces, and quick, piercing looks, I thought I could recognize the very traits of the red men. The commands were given by signals; and so rapidly interchanged were they from party to party, that the different groups seemed to move forward by one impulse, though the officer who led them was full a mile distant from where we were.

“Can you use a firelock, comrade?” said the major, as he placed in my hand a short musket, such as the voltigeurs carried. “Sling it at your back; you may find it useful up yonder. And now I must leave you; keep to this party. But what is this? You mustn't wear that shako; you'd soon be picked off with that tower of black fur on your head. Corporal, have you no spare foraging-cap in your kit? Ah! that's something more becoming a tirailleur; and, by Jove! I think it improves you wonderfully.”

The circumstance of becomingness was not exactly uppermost in my mind at the moment; but certainly I felt no small gratification at being provided with the equipment both of cap and firearms which placed me on an equality with those about me.

Scarcely had the major left us, when the corporal crept closely to my side, and with that mingled respect and familiarity a French sous-officier assumes so naturally, said,—

“You wished to see something of a skirmish, Captain, I suppose? Well, you're like enough to be gratified; we're closing up rapidly now.”

“What may be the strength of your battalion, Corporal?”

“Twelve hundred men, sir; and they're every one at this instant in the valley, though I'll wager you don't see a bough move nor a leaf stirring to show where they lie hid. You see that low copse yonder; well, there's a company of ours beneath its shelter. But there goes the word to move on.”

A motion with his sword, the only command he gave, communicated the order; and the men, creeping stealthily on, obeyed the mandate, till at another signal they were halted.

From the little copse of brushwood where we now lay, to the farmhouse, the ground was completely open,—not a shrub nor a bush grew; a slight ascent of the road led up to the gate, which could not be more than three hundred paces in front of us. We were stationed at some distance to the right of the road, but the field presented no obstacle or impediment to our attack; and thither now were our looks turned,—the short road which would lead to victory or the grave.

From my ambush I could see the two fieldpieces which commanded the road, and beside which the artillerymen stood in patient attention. With what a strange thrill I watched one of the party, as from time to time he stooped down to blow the fuse beside the gun, and then seemed endeavoring to peer into the valley, where all was still and noiseless! As well as I could judge, our little party was nearest to the front; and although a small clump to the left of the road offered a safe shelter still nearer the enemy, I could not ascertain if it were occupied.

Not a word was now spoken. All save the corporal looked eagerly towards the enemy; he was watching for the signal, and knelt down with his drawn sword at his side. The deathlike stillness of the moment, so unlike the prelude to every movement in cavalry combat; the painful expectation which made minutes like years themselves; the small number of the party, so dissimilar to the closely crowded squadrons I was used to; but, more than all, the want of a horse,—that most stirring of all the excitements to heroism and daring,—unnerved me; and if my heart were to have been interrogated, I sadly fear it would have brought little corroboration to the song of the voltigeurs, which attributed so many features of superiority to their arm of the service above the rest of the army.

A thousand and thousand times did I wish to be at the head of a cavalry charge up that narrow road in face of those guns; ay, though the mitraille should sweep the earth, there was that in the onward torrent of the horseman's course that left no room for fear. But this cold and stealthy approach, this weary watching, I could not bear.

“See, see,” whispered the corporal, as he pointed with his finger towards the clump to the left of the road, “how beautifully done! there goes another.”

As he spoke, I could perceive the dark shadow of something moving close to the ground, and finally concealing itself in the brushwood, beneath which now above twenty men lay hid. At the same instant a deep rolling sound like far-off thunder was heard; and then louder still, but less deep in volume, the rattling crash of musketry. At first the discharges were more prolonged, and succeeded one another more rapidly; but gradually the firing became less regular; then after an interval swelled more fully again, and once more relaxed.

“Listen!” said the corporal; “can't you hear the cheering? There again; the skirmishers are falling back,—the fire is too heavy for them.”

“Which, the Prussians?”

“To be sure, the Prussians. Hark! there was a volley; that was no tirailleur discharge; the columns are advancing. Down, men, down!” whispered he, as, excited by the sounds of musketry, some three or four popped up their heads to listen. At the same instant a noise in front drew our attention to that quarter; and we now saw that a party of horse artillerymen were descending the road with a light eight-pounder gun, which they were proceeding to place in position on a small knoll of ground about eighty yards from the coppice I have mentioned.

“How I could pick off that fellow on the gray horse,” whispered a soldier beside me to his comrade.

“And bring the whole fire on us afterwards,” said the other.

“What can we be waiting for?” said the corporal, impatiently. “They are making that place as strong as a fortress; and there, see if that is not a reinforcement!”

While he spoke, the heavy tramp of men marching announced the approach of fresh troops; and by the bustle and noise within the farmhouse it was clear the preparations for its defence were making with all the activity the exigency demanded.

It was past seven o'clock; but as the day broke more out, the heavy fog increased, and soon grew so dense as to shut out from our view the Prussian picket and the guns upon the road. Meanwhile the firing continued at a distance, but, as it seemed, fainter than before.

“Ha! there it comes now,” said the corporal, as a shrill whistle was heard to our left. “Look to your pieces, men! steady.” There was a pause; every ear was bent to listen, every breath drawn short, when again he spoke. “That 's it. En avant, lads! en avant!

With the word he sprang forward, but still crouching, he went as if the thick mist were not enough to conceal him. The men followed their leader with cautious steps, their carbines in hand and bayonets fixed. For some minutes we ascended the hill, gradually nearing the road, along which a low bank offered a slight protection against fire.

The corporal halted here for a second or two, when another whistle, so faint as to be scarcely audible, was borne on the air. With a motion of his hand forwards he gave the order to advance, and led the way along the roadside.

As we followed in single file, I found myself next the corporal, whose every motion I watched with an intensity of interest I cannot convey. At last he stopped and wheeled round; then, kneeling down, he levelled his piece upon the low bank,—a movement quickly followed by all the rest who in silence obeyed his signal.

Directly in front of us now, and as it seemed not above a dozen yards distant, the yellow glare of the artillery fuse could be dimly discerned through the mist; thither every eye was bent and every musket pointed. Thus we knelt with beating hearts, when suddenly several shots rang out from the valley and the opposite side of the road; as quickly replied to by the enemy, and a smart but irregular clattering of musketry followed.

“Now,” cried the corporal, aloud, “now, and all together!”

And then with one long, stunning report, every gun was discharged, and a wild cry of the wounded blended with the sounds as we cleared the fence and dashed at the guns.

“Down, men, down!” called our leader, as we jumped into the road. The word was scarce uttered when a bright flash gleamed forth, a loud bang succeeded, and we heard the grapeshot crushing down the valley and tearing its way through the leaves and branches of the brushwood.

En avant, lads! now's your time!” cried the corporal, as he sprang to his feet and led towards the gun.

With one vigorous dash we pushed up the height, just as the cannoneers were preparing to load. The gunners fell back, and a party of infantry as quickly presented themselves.

The mist happily concealed the smallness of our force, otherwise the Prussians might have crushed us at once. For a second there was a pause; then both sides fired, an irregular volley was discharged, and the muskets were lowered to the charge. What must have been the fate of our little party now there could be no doubt; when suddenly, through the blue smoke which yet lingered near the guns, the bright gleaming of bayonets was seen to flash, while the loud vivas of our own soldiers rent the air.

So rapid was the rush, and so thronging did they come, it seemed as if the very ground had given them up. With a cry of “Forward!” on we went; the enemy retired and fell back behind the cover of the road, where they kept up a tremendous fire upon the gun, to which now all our efforts were directed, to turn against the walls of the farmhouse.

The mist by this was cleared away, and we were exposed to the shattering fire which was maintained not only along the road, but from every window and crevice in the walls of the farmhouse. Our men fell fast,—several badly wounded; for the distance was less than half musket-range, even to the farthest.

“The bayonet, men! the bayonet! Leave the gun, and sweep the road of those fellows yonder!” said the major, as, vaulting over the fence, he led the way himself.

We were now reinforced, and numbered fully four companies; so that our attack soon drove in the enemy, who retreated, still firing, within the courtyard around the farmhouse.

“Bring up the gun, lads, and we 'll soon breach them,” said the major. But, unhappily, the party to whom it was committed, being annoyed at the service which kept them back when their companions were advancing, had hurled the piece off its carriage, and rolled it down the mountain.

With a muttered sacré on their stupidity, the officer cried out to scale the walls. If honor and rank and wealth had lain on the opposite side, and not death and agony, they could not have obeyed with more alacrity. Raised on one another's shoulders, the brave fellows mounted the wall; but it was only to fall back again into their comrades' arms, dead or mortally wounded. Still they pressed on: a reckless defiance of danger had shut out every other thought; and their cheers grew wilder and fiercer as the fire told upon them, while the shouts of triumph from those within stimulated them to the verge of madness.

“Stand back, men! stand back!” called the major; “down! I say.”

As he spoke, a dead silence followed; the men retreated behind the cover of the fence, and lay down flat with their faces to the ground. A low, hissing noise was then heard; and then, with a clap like thunder, the strong gate was rent into fragments and scattered in blazing pieces about the field. The crash of the petard was answered by a cheer wild as a war-whoop, and onward the infuriated soldiers poured through the still burning timbers. And now began a scene of carnage which only a hand-to-hand encounter can ever produce. From every door and window the Prussians maintained a deadly fire: but the onward tide of victory was with us, and we poured down upon them with the bayonet; and as none gave, none asked for, quarter, the work of death was speedy. To the wild shouts of battle, the crash, the din, the tumult of the fight, a dropping irregular fire succeeded; and then came the low, wailing cries of the wounded, the groans of the dying, and all was over! We were the victors; but what a victory! The garden was strewn with our dead; the hall, the stairs, every room was covered with bodies of our brave fellows, their rugged faces even sterner than in life.

For some minutes it seemed as though our emotions had unnerved us all, as we stood speechless, gazing on the fearful scene of bloodshed; when the low rolling of drums, heard from the mountain side, startled every listener.

“The Prussians! the Prussians!” called out three or four voices together.

“No, no!” shouted François; “I was too long a tambour not to know that beat; they 're our fellows.”

The drums rolled fuller and louder; and soon the head of a column appeared peering over the ascent of the road. The sun shone brightly on their gay uniforms and glancing arms, and the tall and showily-dressed tambour-major stepped in advance with the proud bearing of a conqueror.

“Form, men, and to the front!” said the major of the voltigeurs, who knew that his place was in the advance, and felt a noble pride that he had won it bravely.

As the column came up the road, the voltigeurs, scattered along the road on either side, advanced at a run. But no longer was there any obstacle to their course; no enemy presented themselves in sight, and we mounted the ascent without a single shot being fired.

As I stopped for time to recover breath, I could not help turning to behold the valley, which, now filled with armed men, was a grand and a gorgeous sight. In long columns of attack they came, the artillery filling the interspaces between them. A brilliant sunlight shone out; and I could distinguish the different brigades, with whose colors I was now familiar. Still my eye ranged over the field in search of cavalry, the arm I loved above all others,—that which, more than all the rest, revived the heroic spirit of the chivalrous ages, and made the horseman feel the ancient ardor of the belted knight. But none were within sight. Indeed, the very nature of the ground offered an obstacle to their movement, and I saw that here, as at Austerlitz, the day was for the infantry.

Meanwhile we toiled up the height, and at length reached the crest of the ridge. And then burst forth a sight such as all the grandeur I had ever beheld of war had never presented the equal to. On a vast tableland, slightly undulating on the surface, was drawn up the whole Prussian army in battle array,—a splendid force of nigh thirty thousand infantry, flanked by ten thousand sabres, the finest cavalry in Europe. By some inconceivable error of tactics, they had offered no other resistance to the French ascent of the mountain than the skirmishing troops, which fell back as we came on; and even now they seemed to wait patiently for the enemy to form before the conflict should begin. As our columns crowned the hill they instantly deployed, to cover the advance of those who followed: but the precaution seemed needless; for, except at the extreme left, where we heard the firing before, the Prussian army never moved a man, nor showed any disposition to attack.

It was now nine o'clock; the sky clear and cloudless, and a bright autumnal day permitted the eye to range for miles on every side. The Prussian army, but forty thousand strong, was drawn up in the form of an arch, presenting the convexity to our front; while our troops, ninety thousand in number, overlapped them on either flank, and extended far beyond them.

The battle began by the advance of the French columns and the retreat of the enemy,—both movements being accomplished without a shot being fired, and the whole seeming the manoeuvres of a field-day.

At length, as the Prussians took up the position they intended to hold, their guns were seen moving to the front; squadrons of cavalry disengaged themselves from behind the infantry masses; and then a tremendous tire opened from the whole line. Our troops advanced en tirailleurs,—that is, whole regiments thrown out in skirmishing order,—which, when pressed, fell back, and permitted the columns to appear.

The division to which I found myself attached received orders to move obliquely across the plain, in the direction of some cottages, which I soon heard was the village of Vierzehn Heiligen, and the centre of the Prussian position. A galling fire of artillery played upon the column as it went; and before we accomplished half the distance, our loss was considerable. More than once, too, the cry of “cavalry!” was heard; and quick as the warning itself, we were thrown into square, to receive the impetuous horsemen, who came madly on to the charge. Ney himself stood in the squares, animating the men by his presence, and cheering them at every volley they poured in.

“Yonder, men! yonder is the centre of their position,” said he, pointing to the village, which now bristled with armed men, several guns upon a height beyond it commanding the approach, and a cloud of cavalry hovering near, to pounce down upon those who might be daring enough to assail it. A wild cheer answered his words: both general and soldiers understood each other well.

In two columns of attack the division was formed; and then the word “Forward!” was given. “Orderly time, men!” said General Dorsenne, who commanded that with which I was; and, obedient to the order, the ranks moved as if on parade.

And now let me mention a circumstance, which, though trivial in itself, presents a feature of the peculiar character of courage which distinguished the French officer in battle. As the line advanced, the fire of the Prussian battery, which by this had found out our range most accurately, opened severely on us, but more particularly on the left; and as the men fell fast, and the grapeshot tore through the ranks, a wavering of the line took place, and in several places a broken front was presented. Dorsenne saw it at once, and placing himself in front of the advance, with his back towards the enemy, he called out, as if on parade, “Close order—close order! Move up there—left, right—left, right!” And so did he retire step by step, marking the time with his sword, while the shot flew past and about him, and the earth was scattered by the torrent of the grapeshot. Courage like this would seem to give a charmed life, for while death was dealing fast around him, he never received a wound.

The village was attacked at the bayonet point, and at the charge the enemy received us. So long as their artillery could continue its fire, our loss was fearful; but once within shelter of the walls and close in with the Prussian ranks, the firing ceased, and the struggle was hand to hand. Twice did we win our way up the ascent; twice were we beaten back. Strong reinforcements were coming up to the enemy's aid; when a loud rolling of the drums and a hoarse cheer from behind revived our spirits,—it was Lannes's division advancing at a run. They opened to permit our retiring masses to re-form behind them, and then rushed on. A crash of musketry rang out, and through the smoke the glancing bayonets flashed and the red flame danced wildly.

“En avant! en avant!” burst from every man, as, maddened with excitement, we plunged into the fray. Like a vast torrent tumbling from some mountain gorge, the column poured on, overwhelming all before it,—now struggling for a moment, as some obstacle delayed, but could not arrest, its march; now rushing headlong, it swept along. The village was won; the Prussians fell back. Their guns opened fiercely on us, and cavalry tore past, sabring all who sought not shelter within the walls: but the post was ours, the key of their position was in our hands; and Ney sent three messengers one after the other to the Emperor to let him know the result, and enable him to push forward and attack the Prussian centre.

Suddenly a wild cry was heard from the little street of the village: the houses were in flames. The Prussians had thrown in heated shells, and the wooden roofs of the cottages caught up the fire. For an instant all became, as it were, panic-struck, and a confused movement of retreat was begun: but the next moment order was restored; the sappers scaled the walls of the burning houses, and with their axes severed the timbers, and suffered the blazing mass to fall within the buildings.

But by this time the Prussians had re-formed their columns, and once more advanced to the attack. The moment was in their favor: the disorder of our ranks, and the sudden fear inspired by an unlooked-for danger still continued, when they came on. Then, indeed, began a scene of bloodshed the most horrible to witness: through the narrow streets, within the gardens, the houses themselves, the combatants fought hand to hand; neither would give way; neither knew on which side lay their supporting columns. It was the terrible carnage of deadly animosity on both sides.

Meanwhile the flames burst forth anew, and amid the crackling of the burning timbers and the dense smoke of the lighted thatch, the fight went on.

“Vandamme! Vandamme!” cried several voices, in ecstasy; “here come the grenadiers!” And, true enough, the tall shakos peered through the blue cloud.

“Hurrah for the Faubourg!” shouted a wild voltigeur, as he waved his cap and sprang forward. “Let us not lose the glory now, boys!”

The appeal was not made in vain. From every window and doorway the men leaped down into the street, and rushed at the Prussian column, which was advancing at the charge. Suddenly the column opened, a rushing sound was heard, and down with the speed of lightning rode a squadron of cuirassiers. Over us they tore, sabring as they went, nor halted till the head of Vandamme's column poured in a volley. Then wheeling, they galloped back, trampling on our wounded, and dealing death with their broadswords.

As for me, a sabre-cut in the head had stunned me; and while I leaned for support against the wall of a house, a horseman tore past, and with one vigorous cut he cleft open my shoulder. I staggered back and fell, covered with bloody upon the door-sill. I saw our column pass on, cheering, and heard the wild cry, “En avant I en avant!” swelling from a thousand voices; and then, faint and exhausted, my senses reeled, and the rest was like an indistinct dream.


Stunned, and like one but half awake, I followed the tide of marching men which swept past like a mighty river, the roar of the artillery and the crash of battle increasing the confusion of my brain. All distinct memory of the remainder of the day is lost to me. I can recollect the explosion of several wagons of the ammunition train, and how the splinters wounded several of those around me; I also have a vague, dreamy sense of being hurried along at intervals, and then seeing masses of cavalry dash past. But the great prevailing thought above all others is, of leaning over the edge of a charrette, where I lay with some wounded soldiers, to watch the retreat of the Prussians, as they were pursued by Murat's cavalry. François was at my side, and described to me the great events of the battle; but though I seemed to listen, the sounds fell unregarded on my ear. Even now, it seems to me like a dream; and the only palpable idea before me is the heated air, the dark and lowering sky, And the deafening thunder of the guns.

It is well known how the victory of Jena was crowned by the glorious issue of the battle of Auerstadt, where the main body of the Prussians, under the command of the king himself, was completely beaten by Davoust with a force not half their number. The two routed armies crossed in their flight, while the headlong fury of the French cavalry pressed down on them; nor did the terrible slaughter cease till night gave respite to the beaten.

The victors and the vanquished entered Weimar together, a distance of full six leagues from the field of battle. All struggle had long ceased. An unresisting massacre it was; and such was the disappointment and anger of the people of the country, that the Prussian officers were frequently attacked and slain by the peasantry, whose passionate indignation made them suspect treachery in the result of the battle.

All whose wounds were but slight, and whose health promised speedy restoration, were mounted into wagons taken from the enemy, and sent forward with the army. Among this number I found myself, and that same night slept soundly and peacefully in the straw of the charrette in which I travelled from Jena.

The Emperor's headquarters were established at Weimar, and thither all the ambulances were conveyed; while the marshals, with their several divisions, were sent in pursuit of the enemy. As for myself, before the week elapsed, I was sufficiently recovered to move about; for happily the stunning effects which immediately followed the injury were its worst consequences, and my wound in the shoulder proved but trifling.

“And so you are determined to join the cavalry again?” said François, as he sat by my side under a tree, where a cheerful fire of blazing wood had drawn several to enjoy its comfort. “That is what I cannot comprehend by any stretch of ingenuity,—how a man who has once seen something of voltigeur life can go back to the dull routine of dragoon service.”

“Perhaps I have had enough of skirmishing, François,” said I, smiling.

“Is it of that knock on the pate you speak?” said he, contemptuously. “Bah! the heavy shako you wear would give a worse headache. Come, come; think better on 't. I can tell you”—here he lowered his voice to a whisper—“I can tell you, Burke, the major noticed the manner you held your ground in the old farmhouse. I heard him refuse to send a reinforcement when the Prussians made their second attack. 'No, no,' said he; 'that hussar fellow yonder does his work so well, he wants no help from us.' When he said that, my friend, be assured your promotion is safe enough. You were made for a voltigeur.”

“Come, François, it's no use; all your flattery won't make me desert. I 'll try and join my brigade to-morrow; that is, if I can find them.”

“You never told me in what way you first became separated from your corps. How was it?”

“There's something of a secret there, François; you mustn't ask me.”

“Ah, I understand,” said he, with a knowing look, and a gesture of his hand, as if making a pass with his sword. “Did you kill him?”

“No, not exactly,” said I, laughing.

“Merely gave him that pretty lunge en tierce you favored me with,” said he, putting his hand on his side.

“Nor even that.”

Diable! then how was it?”

“I have told you it was a secret.”

“Secret! Confound it, man, there are no secrets in a campaign, except when the military chest is empty or the commissary falls short of grub; these are the only things one ever thinks of hushing up. Come, out with it!”

“Well, if it must be, I may as well have the benefit of your advice. So draw closer, for I don't wish the rest to hear it.”

In as few words as I was able, I explained to François the circumstances of the night march, and the manner of my meeting with the Emperor at the ravine, where the artillery train was stopped. But when I came to the incident of the picket, and mentioned how, in rescuing the Emperor, my horse had been killed under me, he could no longer restrain himself, but turned to the rest, who, to the number of fifteen or sixteen, sat around the fire, and burst forth,—

Mille tonnerres! but the boy is a fool!” And then, before I could interpose a word, blurted out the whole adventure to the company.

There was no use now to attempt any concealment at all; neither was there to feel anger at his conduct. One would have been as absurd as the other; and so I had to endure, as best I could, the various comments that were passed on my behavior, on the prudence of which certainly no second opinion existed.

“You must be right certain of promotion, Captain,” said an old sergeant, with a gray beard and mustache, “or you wouldn't refuse such a chance as that.”

Diable!” cried François; “don't you see he wouldn't accept of it. He is too proud to wait on the Petit Caporal, though he asked him to do so.”

“He 'd have given you the cross of the Legion anyhow,” said another.

“Ay, by Jove!” exclaimed the riding-master of a dragoon regiment, “and sent him a remount from his own stud.”

“And you think that modesty!” said Francois, whose indignation at my folly knew no bounds. “Par Saint Joseph! if I'd been as modest, it's not maître d'armes of a voltigeur battalion I 'd be to-day; though I may say, without boasting, I'm not afraid to cross a rapier with any man in the army. No, no; that's not the way I managed.”

“How was that, Maître Francois?” said a young officer, who felt curious to learn the circumstance to which he seemed to attach a story.

“If the honorable society cares to hear it,” said François, uncovering, and bowing courteously to all around, “I shall have great pleasure in recounting a little incident of my life.”

A general cry of acclamation and “bravo” met the polite proposal; while Francois, accepting a goutte from a canteen presented to him, began thus:—

“I began my soldier's life at the first step of the ladder. I was a drummer-boy at Jemappes; and, when I grew old enough to exchange the drumstick for the sword, I was attached to the chasseurs à cheval, and went with them to Egypt. I could tell you some strange stories of our doings there,—I don't mean with the Turks, mark you, but amongst ourselves,—for we had little affairs with the sword almost every day; and I soon showed them I was their master. But that is not to the purpose; what I am about to speak of happened in this wise.

“At break of day, one morning, the picket to which I was joined received orders to mount, and accompany the general along the bank of the Nile to the village of Chebrheis, where we heard that a Mameluke force were assembling, whose strength and equipment it was important to ascertain. Our horses were far from fresh when we started; the day previous had been spent in a fatiguing march from Rhemanieh, crossing a dreary desert, with hot sands and no water. But General Bonaparte always expected us to turn out, as if we had got a general remount; and so we made the best of it, and set out in as good style as we could. We had not gone above a league and a half, however, when we found that the slapping pace of the general had left the greater part of the escort out of sight; and of a score of four squadrons, not above twenty horsemen were present.

“The Emperor—you know he was only general then, but it 's all the same—laughed heartily when he found he had outridden the rest; indeed, for that matter, he laughed at our poor blown beasts, that shook on every limb, and seemed like to push their spare, gaunt bones through the trappings with which, for shame's sake, we endeavored to cover them. But his joke was but shortlived; for just then, from behind the wall of an old ruined temple—whiz!—there came a shattering volley of musketry in the midst of us; the only miracle is how one escaped. The next moment there was a wild hurrah, and we beheld some fifty Mameluke fellows, all glittering with gold, coming down full speed on us, on their Arab chargers. Mille cadavres! what was to be done? Nothing, you'd say, but run for it. And so we should have done, if the beasts were able: but not a bit of it; they couldn't have raised a gallop if Mourad Bey had been there with his whole army. And so we put a good face on it, and drew up across the way, and looked as if going to charge. Egad! the Turks were amazed. They halted up short, and stared about them to see what infantry or artillery there might be coming up to our assistance, so boldly did we hold our ground.

“'We'll keep them in check, General,' said the officer of the picket. 'Lose no time now, but make a dash for it, and you'll get away.' And so, without more ado, Bonaparte turned his horse's head round, and, driving his spurs into him, set out at top speed.

“This was the signal for the Mameluke charge; and down they came. Sacristi! how the infidels rode us down! Over and over our fellows rolled, men and horses together, while they slashed with their keen cimeters on every side; few needed a second cut, I warrant you.


“By some good fortune, my beast kept his legs in the mêlée, and, with even better luck, got so frightened that he started off, and struck out in full gallop after the general, who, about two hundred paces in front of me, was dashing along, pursued by a Mameluke, with a cimeter held over his head. The Turk's horse, however, was wounded, and could not gain even on the tired animal before him, while mine was at every stride overtaking him.

“The Mameluke, hearing the clatter behind, turned his head. I seized the moment, and discharged my only remaining pistol at him,—alas! without effect. With a wild war-cry the fellow swerved round and came down upon me, intending to take my horse in flank, and hurl me over. But the good beast plunged forward, and my enemy passed behind, and only grazed the haunches as he went; the moment after he was at my side. Parbleu! I did n't like the companionship. I knew every turn of a broadsword or a rapier well; but a curved cimeter, keen as a razor, of Damascus steel, glittering and glistening over my head, was a different thing: the great dark eyes of the fellow, too, glared like balls of fire, and his white teeth were clenched. With a swing of his blade over his head, so loosely done I thought he had almost flung the weapon from his hand, he aimed a cut at my neck; but, quick as lightning, I dropped upon the mane, and the sharp blade shaved the red feather from my shako, and sent it floating in the air, while, with a straight point, I ran him through the body, and heard his death-shout as he fell bathed in blood upon the sands. The general saw him fall, and cried out something; but I could not hear the words, nor, to say truth, did I care much at the time: my happiest thought just then was to see the remainder of the escort, which we had left behind, coming up at a smart canter.

“The Turks no sooner perceived them than they wheeled and fled; and so we returned to the camp, with a loss of some twenty brave fellows, and none the wiser for all our trouble.

“'What shall I do for you, friend?' said the general to me, as I stood by his orders at the door of his tent, 'what shall I do for you?'

Ma foi! said I, with a shrug of my shoulders, 'I can't well say at a moment; perhaps the best thing would be to promise you 'd never take me as one of your escort when you make such an expedition as this morning's.'

“'No, no, I 'll not say that. Who are you? What's your grade?'

“'François, maître d'armes of the Fourth Chasseurs of the Guard,' said I, proudly. And, indeed, I thought he might have known me without the question.

“'Ah, indeed!' replied he, gravely. 'Promotion is then of no use here; a maître d'armes, like a general of division, is at the top of the tree. Come, I have it; a fellow of your sort is never out of scrapes,—always duelling and quarrelling, under arrest three days in every week; I know you well. Now, Maître François, I 'll forgive you the first time you ask me for any offence within my power to pardon. Go; you are satisfied with that promise,—is it not so?'

“'Yes, General; and I'll soon jog your memory about it,' said I, saluting and retiring from the tent.

“I see some old 'braves' of the Pyramids about me now,” continued François, “and so I need not dwell on the events of the campaign. You all know how General Bonaparte left the army to Kléber, and went back to France; and somehow we never had much luck after that. But so it was, I came back with the regiment, and was at the battle of Marengo when our brigade captured four guns of Skal's battery, and carried off eleven of their officers our prisoners. You'd wonder now, Comrades, how that piece of good fortune should turn out so ill for me; but such was the case. After the battle was gained, General Bonaparte retired to Gerofola with his staff, and I was ordered to proceed after him, with the Hauptmann Klingenswert of the Austrian army,—one of our prisoners who had served on Melas's staff, and knew everything about the effective strength of the army and all their plans.

“We set off at daybreak. It was in June, and a lovely morning too; and as my prisoner was an officer and a man of honor, I took no escort, but rode along at his side. We halted at noon to dine in a little grove of cedars, where I opened my canteen and spread the contents on the grass: and after regaling ourselves pleasantly, we lighted our meerschaums and chatted away like old comrades over the war and its chances. A more agreeable fellow than the Austrian I never met. He told me his whole history, and I told him mine; and we drank Brüderschaft together, and swore I don't know how many eternal friendships. The devil was just amusing himself with us all this time though, as you 'll see presently; for we soon got into an argument about the charge in which our brigade captured the guns. He said that if the ammunition had not failed we never would have dared the attack; and I swore that the discharges were pouring in while we rode down on the battery.

“We grew warm with the dispute, and drank deeper to cool us; and, what between the wine and our own passion, we became downright angry, and went so far as to interchange something not like Brüderschaft.

“'Ah, how unfortunate I always am!' said I, sighing. 'If I had only the good luck to be the prisoner now, and you the escort—'

“'What then?' said he.

“'How easily, and how pleasantly too, could we settle this little affair. The ground is smooth as velvet; there is no sun; all still, and quiet, and peaceful.'

“'No, no,' said the Austrian; 'I couldn't do what you propose,—I should be dishonored forever if I took such an advantage of you. You must know, François,' for he called me so, recurring at once to his tone of kindliness, 'I am the first swordsman of my brigade.'

“I could scarcely avoid throwing myself into his arms as he spoke; never was there such a piece of fortune. 'And I,' cried I, in ecstasy, 'I the first of the whole French army!' You know, Comrades, I only said that en gascon, and to afford him the greater pleasure in our rencontre.

“We soon measured our swords and threw off our jackets. 'François,' said he, 'I ought to mention to you that my lunge en tierce is my famous stroke; I rarely miss running my adversary through the chest with it.'

“'I know the trick well,' said I; 'take care of my “pass” outside the guard.'

“'Oh! if that's your game,' said he, laughing, 'I'll make short work of it. Now, to begin.'

“'All ready,' said I; 'en garde!' And we crossed our weapons. For a German he was a capital swordsman, and had a very pretty trick of putting in his point over the hilt, and wounding the sword-arm; but if it had not been for all the wine I drank the affair would have been over in a second or two. As it was, we both fenced loose, and without any judgment whatever.

“'Ah! you got that,' said I, 'at last!' as I pierced him in the back, outside the guard.

“'No, no!' cried he, passionately; for his temper was up, and he would not confess a touch.

“'Well, then, that's home!' said I, thrusting beneath his hilt, till the blood spurted out along my blade and even in my eyes.

“'Yes, that's home,' said he, staggering back, while one of his legs crossed over the other, and he fell heavily on the grass. I stooped down to feel his heart; and as I did so my senses failed, my limbs tottered, and I rolled headlong over him. Truth was, I was badly wounded, though I never knew when; for his sword had entered my chest, beneath a rib, and cut some large vessels in the lungs.

“The end of it all was, the Austrian was buried, and I was broke the service without pay or pension, my wound being declared by the doctors an incapacity to serve in future.

“Comrades, we often hear men talk of the happy day before them when they shall leave the army and throw off the knapsack, and give up the musket for the mattock. Well, trust me, it's no such pleasure as they deem it, after all. There was I, turned loose upon the world, with nothing but a suit of ragged clothes my comrades made up amongst them, my old rapier, and a bad asthma. Such was my stock-in-trade, to begin life anew, at the age of forty-seven. And so, I set out on my weary way back to Paris.”

“Didn't you try your chance with the Petit Caporal first?” asked one of the listeners.

“To be sure I did. I sent him a long petition, setting forth the whole circumstance, and detailing every minute particular of the duel; but I received it back, unopened,—with Duroc's name, and the word 'Rejected,' on the back.

“It is strange-how unfit we old soldiers are for any occupation in a civil way, when we 've spent half a lifetime campaigning. When I reached Paris, I could almost have wedged myself into the scabbard of my sword. Long marches and short rations had told heavily on me; and the custom-house officer at the barrier told me to pass on, without ever stopping to see that I carried no contraband goods about me.

“I had a miserable time enough of it for twelve or fourteen months. The only way of support I could find was teaching recruits the sword exercise; and you know they could n't be very liberal in their rewards for the service. But even this poor trade was soon interdicted, as the police reported that I encouraged the young soldiers to fight duels,—a great offence, truly! But you see everything went unluckily with me at that time.

“What was to become of me now I couldn't tell; when an old comrade, pensioned off from Moreau's army, had interest to get me appointed supernumerary, as they call it, in the Grand Opera, where I used to perform as a Roman soldier, or a friar, or a peasant, or some such thing, for five francs a week. Not a sou more had I, and the duty was heavier than on active service.

“After two years, the 'big drum' died of a rheumatic fever, from beating a great solo in a new German Opera, and I was promoted to his place; for by this time I was quite recovered from the effects of my wound, and could use my arms as well as ever.

“Some of the honorable company may remember the first night that Napoleon visited the Grand Opera after he was named Emperor. It was a glorious sight, and one can never forget it. The whole house was filled with generals and field-marshals: it was a grand field-day, by the glare of ten thousand wax-lights. And the Empress was there, and her whole suite, and all the prettiest women in France. Little time had I to look at them, though; for there was I, in the corner of the orchestra, with my big drum before me, on which I was to play the confounded thing that killed the other fellow.

“It was a strange performance, sure enough: for in the midst of a great din and crash, came a dead pause; and then I was to strike three solemn bangs on the drum,—to be followed by a succession of blows, fast as lightning, for five minutes. This was the composer's notion of a battle,—distant firing! Heaven bless his heart! I was wishing he 'd seen some of it. This was to come on in the second act, up to which time I had nothing to do.

“Why do I say nothing? I had to gaze at the Petit Caporal, who sat there in the box over my head, looking as stern and as thoughtful as ever, and not minding much what the Empress said, though she kept prattling into his ear all the time, and trying to attract his attention. Parbleu! he was not thinking of all the nonsense before him,—his mind was on real battles: he had seen real smoke,—that he had! He was fatter and paler than he used to be; and I thought, too, his frown was darker than when I saw him last: but, to be sure, that was at Marengo, and he ever looked pleased on the field of battle. I could n't take my eyes from him: his fine thoughtful face, so full of determination and energy, reminded me of my old days of campaigning. I thought of Areola and Rivoli, of Cairo and the Pyramids, and the great charge at Marengo when Desaix's division came up,—and my heart was nigh bursting when I remembered that I wore the epaulette no longer. I forgot, too, where I was; and expected every instant to hear him call for one of the marshals, or see him stretch out his hand to point to a distant part of the field. And so absorbed was I in my reveries, that I had neither eyes nor ears for anything around me; when suddenly all the din of the orchestra ceased,—not a sound was heard; and a hand rudely shook me by the arm, while a voice whispered, 'Now! now!'


“Mechanically I seized the drumsticks. But my eyes still were riveted in the Emperor,—my whole heart and soul were centred in him. Again the voice called to me to begin; and a low murmur of angry meaning ran through the orchestra.

“I sprang to my legs, and in the excitement of the moment, losing all memory of time and place, I rolled out the pas de charge!

“Scarce had the first roulade of the well-known sounds reverberated through the house, when one cry of 'Vive l'Empereur!' burst forth. It was not a cheer; it was the heart-given outbreak of ten thousand devoted followers. Marshals, generals, colonels, ambassadors, ministers, all joined; and the vast assembly rocked to and fro like the sea in a storm, while Napoleon himself, slowly rising, bent his proud head in acknowledgment, and then sat down again amid the thundering shouts of acclamation. It was full twenty minutes before the piece could proceed; and even then momentary outbreaks of enthusiasm would occur to interrupt it, and continued to burst forth till the curtain fell.

“Just then an aide-de-camp appeared beside the orchestra, and ordered me to the Emperor's box. Satristi!how I trembled! I did n't know what might come of it.

“'Ah, coquin! said he, as I stood ready to drop with fear at the door of the box, 'this has been one of thy doings, eh?'

“'Yes, Sire,' muttered I in a half whisper.

“'And how hast thou dared to spoil an opera in this fashion?' said he, frowning fiercely. 'Answer me, sirrah!'

“'It was your Majesty's fault,' said I, becoming reckless of all consequences. 'You did n't seem to care much for all their scraping and blowing, and so I thought the old roulade might raise you a bit. You used to like it once; and might still, if the times be not altered.'

“'And they are not,' said he, sternly. 'Who art thou, that seem'st to know me thus well?'

“'Old François, that was maître d'armes of the Fourth in Egypt, and who saved you from the stroke of a Mameluke sabre at Chebrheis.'

“'What! the fellow who killed an Austrian prisoner after Marengo? Why, I thought thee dead.'

“'Better for me I had been!' said I. 'You would n't read my petition. ('Yes, you may frown away, General,' said I to Duroc, who kept glowering at me like a tiger.) I began life at the tambour; I have come down to it again. You can't bring me lower, parbleu!

“The Emperor whispered something to the Empress, who turned round towards me and laughed; and then he made a sign for me to withdraw. Before I had got a dozen paces from the box, an aide-de-camp overtook me.

“'François,' said he, 'you are to appear before the medical commission to-morrow; and if their report be favorable, you are to have your old grade of maître d'armes.'

“And so it was. Not only was I restored, but they even placed me in the same regiment I served in during the campaigns of Egypt and Italy. The corps, however, was greatly changed since I knew it before; and so I asked the Emperor to appoint me to a voltigeur battalion, where discipline is not so rigid, and pleasant comrades are somewhat more plentiful. I had my wish, gentlemen. And now, with your permission, we'll drink the 'Faubourg St. Antoine,' the cradle of our arm of the service.”

In repeating Maître Francois's tale, I could only wish it might have one half the success with my reader it met with from his comrades of the bivouac. This, however, I cannot look for, and must leave it and him to their fortunes, and now turn to follow the course of my own.

François was not the only one who felt surprised at my being able to resist the pleasures of a voltigeurs life; and my companion the corporal looked upon my determination to join the hussar brigade as one of those extraordinary instances of duty predominating over inclination. “Not,” said he, “but there may be brave fellows and good soldiers among the dragoons; though having a horse to ride is a sore drawback on a man's courage. And when one has felt the confidence of standing face to face, and foot to foot, with the enemy, I cannot see how he can ever bring himself to fight in any other fashion.”

“A man can accustom himself to anything, Corporal,” said an old, hardy-looking soldier, who sat smoking with the most profound air of thoughtful reflection. “I remember being in the 'dromedary brigade' at Cairo. Few of us could keep our seats at first; and when we fell off, it was often hard enough to resist the Mamelukes and hold the beasts besides; but even that we learned with time.”

This explanation, little flattering as it was to the cavalry, seemed to convince the listeners that time, which smoothes so many difficulties, will even make a man content to be a dragoon.

“Well, since you will not be 'of ours,'” said François, “let us drink a parting cup, and say good-by, for I hear the bugle sounding the call.”

“A health to the 'Faubourg St. Antoine,' boys!” cried I, and a hearty cheer re-echoed the toast; and with many a shake-hands, and many a promise of welcome whenever I saw the error of my ways sufficiently to doff the dolman for the voltigeur's jacket, I took leave of the gallant Twenty-second, and set out towards Weimar.


As the battle of Austerlitz was the deathblow to the empire of Austria, so with the defeat at Jena did Prussia fall, and that great kingdom became a prey to the conquering Napoleon. Were this a fitting place, it might be curious to inquire into the causes which involved a ruin so sudden and so complete; and how a vast and highly organized army seemed at one fell stroke annihilated and destroyed.

The victories of Jena and Auerstadt, great and decisive as they were, were nevertheless inadequate to such results; and if the genius of the Emperor had not been as prompt to follow up as to gain a battle, they never would have occurred. But scarcely had the terrible contest ceased, when he sent for the Saxon officers who were taken prisoners, and addressing them in a tone of kindness, declared at once that they were at liberty and might return to their homes, first pledging their words not to carry arms against France or her allies. One hundred and twenty officers of different grades, from lieutenant-general downwards, gave this promise and retired to their own country, extolling the generosity of Napoleon. This first step was soon followed up by another and more important one; negotiations were opened with the Elector of Saxony, and the title of king offered to him on condition of his joining the Confederacy of the Rhine; and thus once more the artful policy already pursued with regard to Bavaria in the south, was here renewed in the north of Germany, and with equal success.

This deep-laid scheme deprived the Prussian army of eighteen thousand men, and that on the very moment when defeat and disaster had spread their demoralizing influences through the entire army. Several of their greatest generals were killed, many more dreadfully or fatally wounded: Prince Louis, Ruchel, Schmettau, among the former; the Duke of Brunswick and Prince Henry both severely wounded. The Duke survived but a few days, and these in the greatest suffering; Marshal Möllendorf, the veteran of nigh eighty years, had his chest pierced by a lance. Here was misfortune enough to cause dismay and despair; for unhappily the nation itself was but an army in feeling and organization, and with defeat every hope died out and every arm was paralyzed. The patriotism of the people had taken its place beneath a standard, which when once lowered before a conqueror, nothing more remained. Such is the destiny of a military monarchy: its only vitality is victory; the hour of disaster is its deathblow.

The system of a whole corps capitulating, which the Prussians had not scrupled to sneer at when occurring in Austria, now took place here with even greater rapidity. Scarcely a day passed that some regiment did not lay down their arms, and surrender sur parole. A panic spread through the whole length and breadth of the land; places of undoubted strength were surrendered as insecure and untenable. No rest nor respite was allowed the vanquished: the gay plumes of the lancers fluttered over the vast plains in pursuit; columns of infantry poured in every direction through the kingdom; and the eagles glittered in every town and every village of conquered Prussia.

Never did the spirit of Napoleon display itself more pitiless than in this campaign; for while in his every act he evinced a determination to break down and destroy the nation, the “Moniteur” at Paris teemed with articles in derision of the army whose bravery he should never have questioned. Even the gallant leaders themselves—old and scarred warriors—were contemptuously described as blind and infatuated fanatics, undeserving of clemency or consideration. Not thus should he have spoken of the noble Prince Louis and the brave Duke of Brunswick; they fought in a good cause, and they met the death of gallant soldiers. “I will make their nobles beg their bread upon the highways!” was the dreadful sentence he uttered at Weimar. And the words were never forgotten.

The conduct and bearing of the Emperor was the more insulting from its contrast with that of his marshals and generals, many of whom could not help acknowledging in their acts the devotion and patriotism of their vanquished foes. Murat lost no occasion to evince this feeling; and sent eight colonels of his own division to carry the pall at General Schmettau's funeral, who was interred with all the honors due to one who had been the companion of the Great Frederick himself.

Soult, Bernadotte, Augereau, Ney, and Davoust, with the several corps under their command, pursued the routed forces with untiring hostility. In vain did the King of Prussia address a supplicating letter asking for a suspension of arms. Napoleon scarcely deigned a reply, and ordered the advanced guard to march on Berlin.

But a year before and he had issued his royal mandates from the palace of the Caesars; and he burned now to date his bulletins from the palace of the Great Frederick. And on the tenth day after the battle of Jena the troops of Lannes's division bivouacked in the plain around Potsdam. I had joined my brigade the day previous, and entered Berlin with them on the morning of the 23d of October.

The preparations for a triumphal entry were made on the day before; and by noon the troops approached the capital in all the splendor of full equipment. First came the grenadiers of Oudinot's brigade,—one of the finest corps in the French army; their bright yellow facings and shoulder-knots had given them the sobriquet of the Grenadiers jaunes: they formed part of Davonst's force at Auerstadt, and were opposed to the Prussian guard in the greatest shock of the entire day. After them came two battalions of the Chasseurs à pied,—a splendid body of infantry, the remnant of four thousand who went into battle on the morning of the 15th. Then followed a brigade of artillery, each gun-carriage surmounted by a Prussian standard. These again were succeeded by the red lancers of Berg, with Murat himself at their head; for they were his own regiment, and he felt justly proud of such followers: the grand duke was in all the splendor of his full dress, and wore a Spanish hat, looped up, with an immense brilliant in front, and a plume of ostrich feathers floated over his neck and shoulders. Two hundred and forty chosen men of the Imperial Guard marched two and two after these, each carrying a color taken from the enemy in battle. Nansouty's cuirassiers came next; they had suffered severely at Jena, and were obliged to muster several of their wounded men to fill up the gaps in their squadrons. Then there were the horse artillery brigade, whose uniforms and equipments, notwithstanding every effort to conceal it, showed the terrible effects of the great battle. General d'Auvergne's division, with the hussars and the light cavalry attached, followed. These were succeeded by the voltigeurs, and eight battalions of the Imperial Guard,—whose ranks were closed up with the Grenadiers à cheval, and more artillery,—in all, a force of eighteen thousand, the élite of the French army.

Advancing in orderly time, they came,—no sound heard save the dull reverberation of the earth as it trembled beneath the columns, when the hoarse challenge to “halt” was called from rank to rank as often as those in the rear pressed on the leading files; but as they reached the Brandenburg gate, the band of each regiment burst forth, and the wide Platz resounded with the clang of martial music.

In front of the palace stood the Emperor, surrounded by his staff, which was joined in succession by each general of brigade as his corps moved by. A simple acknowledgment of the military salute was all Napoleon gave as each battalion passed,—until the small party of the Imperial Guard appeared, bearing the captured colors. Then his proud features relaxed, his eye flashed and sparkled, and he lifted his chapeau straight above his head, and remained uncovered the whole time they were marching past. This was the moment when enthusiasm could no longer be restrained, and a cry of “Vive l'Empereur!” burst forth, that, caught up by those behind, rose in ten thousand echoes along the distant suburbs of Berlin.

To look upon that glorious and glittering band, bronzed with battle, their proud faces lit up with all the pride of victory, was indeed a triumph; and one instinctively turned to see the looks of wondering and admiration such a sight must have inspired. But with what sense of sadness came the sudden thought: this is the proud exultation of the conqueror over the conquered; here come no happy faces and bright looks to welcome those who have rescued them from slavery; here are no voices calling welcome to the deliverer. No: it was a people crushed and trodden down; their hard-won laurels tarnished and dishonored; their country enslaved; their monarch a wanderer, no one knew where. Little thought they who raised the statue of brass to the memory of the Great Frederick, that the clank of French musketry would be heard around it. Rossbach was, indeed, avenged,—and cruelly avenged.

Never did a people behave with more dignity under misfortune than the Prussians on the entrance of the French into their capital. The streets were deserted; the houses closed; the city was in mourning; and none stooped to the slavish adulation which might win favor with the conqueror. It was a triumph; but there were none to witness it. Of the nobles, scarce one remained in Berlin. They had fallen in battle, or followed the fortunes of their beaten army, now scattered and dispersed through the kingdom. Their wives and daughters, in deepest mourning, bewailed their ruined country as they would the death of a dearest friend. They cut off their blonde locks, and sorrowed like those without a hope. Their great country was to be reduced to the rank of a mere German province; their army disbanded; their king dethroned. Such was the contrast to our hour of triumph; such the sad reverse to the gorgeous display of our armed squadrons.

Scarcely had the Emperor established his headquarters at Potsdam than the whole administration of the kingdom was begun to be placed under French rule. Prefects were appointed to different departments of the kingdom; a heavy contribution was imposed upon the nation; and all the offices of the state were subjected to the control of persons named by the Emperor.

Among these, the first in importance was the post-office; for, while every precaution was taken that no interruption should occur in the transmission of the mails as usual, a cabinet noir was established here, as at Paris, whose function it was to open the letters of suspected persons, and make copies of them; the latter, indeed, were often so skilfully executed as to be forwarded to the address, while the originals were preserved as “proofs” against parties, if it were found necessary to accuse them afterwards. (And here I might mention that the art of depositing metals in a mould by galvanic process was known and used in imitating and fabricating the seals of various writers, many years before the discovery became generally known in Europe.)

The invasion of private right involved in this breach of trust gave, as might be supposed, the greatest offence throughout the kingdom. But the severity with which every case of suspicious meaning was followed up and punished converted the feelings of indignation and anger into those of fear and trepidation. For this was ever part of Napoleon's policy: the penalty of any offence was made to exclude the sense of ridicule its own littleness might have created, and men felt indisposed to jest where their mirth might end in melancholy.

The most remarkable case, and that which more than any other impressed the public mind of the period, was that of the Prince de Hatzfeld, whose letter to the King of Prussia was opened at the post-office, and made the subject of a capital charge against him. Its contents were, as might be imagined from the channel of transmission, not such as could substantiate any treasonable intention on his part. A respectful homage to his dethroned sovereign; a detail of the mournful feeling experienced throughout his capital; and some few particulars of the localities occupied by the French troops, was the entire. And for this he was tried and condemned to death,—a sentence which the Emperor commanded to be executed before sunset that same day. Happily for the fate of the noble prince, as for the fair fame of Napoleon, both Duroc and Rapp were ardently attached to him, and at their earnest entreaties his life was spared. But the impression which the circumstances made upon the minds of the inhabitants was deep and lasting; and there was a day to come when all these insults were to be remembered and avenged. If I advert to the occurrence here, it is because I have but too good reason to bear memory of it, influencing, as it did, my own future fortunes.

It chanced that one evening, when sitting in a café with some of my brother officers, the subject of the Prince de Hatzfeld's offence was mooted; and in the unguarded freedom with which one talks to his comrades, I expressed myself delighted at the clemency of the Emperor, and conceived that he could have no part in the breach of confidence which led to the accusation, nor countenance in any way his prosecution. My companions, who had little sympathy for Prussians, and none for aristocracy whatever, took a different view of the matter, and scrupled not to regret that the sentence of the court-martial had not been executed. The discussion grew warm between us; the more, as I was alone in my opinion, and assailed by several who overbore me with loud speaking. Once or twice, too, an obscure taunt was thrown out against aliens and foreigners, who, it was alleged, never could at heart forgive the ascendency of France and Frenchmen.

To this I replied hotly, for while not taking to myself an insult which my conduct in the service palpably refuted, I was hurt and offended. Alas! I knew too well in my heart what sacrifices I had made in changing my country; how I had bartered all the hopes which attach to one's fatherland for a career of mere selfish ambition. Long since had I seen that the cause I fought in was not that of liberty, but despotism. Napoleon's glory was the dazzling light which blinded my true vision; and my following had something of infatuation, against which reason was powerless. I say that I answered these taunts with hasty temper; and carried away by a momentary excitement, I told them, that they it was, not I, who would detract from the fair renown of the Emperor.

“The traits you would attribute to him,” said I, “are not those of strength, but weakness. Is it the conqueror of Egypt, of Austria, and now of Prussia, who need stoop to this? We cannot be judges of his policy, or the great events which agitate Europe. We would pronounce most ignorantly on the greatness of his plans regarding the destinies of nations; but, on a mere question of high and honorable feeling, of manly honesty, why should we not speak? And here I say this act was never his.”

A smile of sardonic meaning was the only reply this speech met with; and one by one the officers rose and dropped off, leaving me to ponder over the discussion, in which I now remembered I had been betrayed into a warmth beyond discretion.

This took place early in November; and as it was not referred to in any way afterwards by my comrades, I soon forgot it. My duties occupied me from morning till night; for General d'Auvergne, being in attendance on the Emperor, had handed me over for the time to the department of the adjutant-general of the army, where my knowledge of German was found useful.

On the 17th of the month a general order was issued, containing the names of the various officers selected for promotion, as well as of those on whom the cross of the “Legion” was to be conferred. Need I say with what a thrill of exultation I read my own name among the latter, nor my delight at finding it followed by the words, “By order of his Majesty the Emperor, for a special service on the 13th October, 1806.” This was the night before the battle; and now I saw that I had not been forgotten, as I feared,—here was proof of the Emperor's remembrance of me. Perhaps the delay was intended to test my prudence as to secrecy; and perhaps it was deemed fitting that my name should not appear except in the general list: in any case, the long-wished reward was mine,—the proud distinction I had desired for so many a day and night.

The distribution of the “cordons” was always made the occasion of a grand military spectacle, and the Emperor determined that the present one should convey a powerful impression of the effective strength of his army, as well as of its perfect equipment; and accordingly orders were despatched to the different generals of division within twelve or fifteen leagues of Berlin, to march their corps to the capital. The 28th of November was the day fixed for this grand display, and all was bustle and preparation for the event.

On the morning of the 22d, I received an official note from the bureau of the adjutant-general desiring me to wait on him before noon that same day. Concluding it referred to my promised promotion to the “Legion,” it was with somewhat of a fluttered and excited feeling I found myself, at some few minutes after eleven o'clock, in the antechamber, which already was crowded with officers, some seeking, some summoned to an interview.

In the midst of the buzz of conversation, which, despite the reserve of the place, still prevailed, I heard my name called, and followed an aide-de-camp along a passage into a large room, which opened into a smaller apartment, where, standing with his back to the fire, I perceived Marshal Berthier, his only companion being an officer in a staff uniform, busily engaged writing at a table.

“You are Captain Burke, of the Eighth Hussars, I believe, sir?” said the marshal, reading slowly from a slip of paper he held twisted round one finger.

“Yes, sir.”

“By birth an Irishman,” continued the marshal; “entered at the Polytechnique in August, 1801. Am I correct?” I bowed. “Subsequently accused of being concerned in the conspiracy of Georges and Pichegru,” resumed he, as he raised his eyes slightly from the paper, and fixed them searchingly upon me.

“Falsely so, sir,” was my only reply.

“You were acquitted,—that's enough: a reprimand for imprudence, and a slight punishment of arrest, was all. Since that time, you have conducted yourself, as the report of your commanding officer attests, with zeal and steadiness.”

He paused here, and seemed as if he expected me to say something; but as I thought the whole a most strange commencement to the ceremony of investing me with a cross of the Legion, I remained silent.

“At Paris, when attached to the élite, you appear to have visited the Duchess of Montserrat, and frequented her soirées.”

“Once, sir; but once I was in the house of the duchess. My visit could scarcely have occupied as many minutes as I have spent here this morning.”

“Dined occasionally at the 'Moisson d'Or,” continued the marshal, not noticing in any way my reply. “Well, as I believe you are now aware that there are no secrets with his Majesty's Government, perhaps you will inform me what are your relations with the Chevalier Duchesne?”

For some minutes previous my mind was dwelling on that personage; and I answered the question in a few words, by stating the origin of our acquaintance, and briefly adverting to its course.

“You correspond with the chevalier?” said he, interrupting.

“I have never done so; nor is it likely, from the manner in which we parted last, that I ever shall.”

“This scarcely confirms that impression, sir,” said the marshal, taking an open letter from the table and holding it up before me. “You know his handwriting; is that it?”

“Yes; I have no doubt it is.”

“Well, sir, that letter belongs to you; you may take and read it. There is enough there, sir, to make your conduct the matter of a court-martial; but I am satisfied that a warning will be sufficient. Let this be such then. Learn, sir, that the plottings of a poor and mischievous party harmonize ill with the duties of a brave soldier; and that a captain of the Guards might choose more suitable associates than the dupes and double-dealers of the Faubourg St. Germain. There is your brevet to the 'Legion,' signed by the Emperor. I shall return it to his Majesty; mayhap at some future period your conduct may merit differently. I need hardly say that a gentleman so very little particular in the choice of his friends would be a most misplaced subject for the honor of the 'Legion.'”

He waved his hand in sign for me to withdraw, and overwhelmed with confusion, I bowed and left the room. Nor was it till the door closed behind me that I felt how cruelly and unjustly I had been treated; then suddenly the blood rushed to my face and temples, my head seemed as if it would burst at either side, and forgetting every circumstance of place and condition, I seized the handle of the door and wrenched it open.

“Marshal,” said I, with the fearlessness of one resolved at any risk to vindicate his character, “I know nothing of this letter; I have not read one line of it. I have no further intimacy with the writer than an officer has with his comrade; but if I am to be the subject of espionage to the police,—if my chance acquaintances in the world are to be matter of charges against my fealty and honor,—if I, who have nothing but my sword and my epaulette—”

When I had got thus far I saw the marshal's face turn deadly pale, while the officer at the table made a hurried sign to me with his finger to be silent. The door closed nearly at the same instant, and I turned my head round, and there stood the Emperor. The figure is still before me; he was standing still, his hands behind his back, and his low chapeau deeply pressed upon his brows. His gray frock was open, and looked as if disordered from haste.

“What is this?” said he, in that hissing tone he always assumed when in moments of passion,—“what is this? Are we in the bureau of a minister? or is it the salle de police? Who are you, sir?”

It was not until the question had been repeated that I found courage to reply. But he waited not for my answer, as, snatching the open letter from my fingers, he resumed,—

“It is not thus, sir, you should come here. Your petition or memorial— Ha! parbleu! what is this?”

At the instant his eyes fell upon the writing, and as suddenly his face grew almost livid. With the rapidity of lightning he seemed to peruse the lines. Then waving his hand, he motioned towards the door, and muttered,—“Wait without!”

Like one awaking from a dreadful dream, I stood, endeavoring to recall my faculties, and assure myself how much there might be of reality in my wandering fancies, when I perceived that a portion of the letter remained between my fingers as the Emperor snatched it from my hand.

A half-finished sentence was all I could make out; but its tone made me tremble for what the rest of the epistle might contain:—

“Surpassed themselves, of course, my dear Burke; and so has the Emperor too. It remained for the campaign in Prussia to prove that one hundred and eighty-five thousand prisoners can be taken from an army numbering one hundred and fifty-four thousand men. As to Davoust, who really had all the fighting, though he wrote no bulletin, all Paris feels—”

Such was the morsel I had saved; such a specimen of the insolence of the entire.

The dreadful fact then broke suddenly upon me that this letter had been written by Duchesne to effect my ruin; and as I stood stupefied with terror, the door was suddenly opened, and the Emperor passed, out. His eyes were turned on me as he went, and I shrank back from their expression of withering anger.

“Captain Burke!” said a voice from within the room, for the door continued open.

I entered slowly, but with a firm step. My mind was made up; and in the force of a resolute determination, I found strength for whatever might happen.

“It would appear, sir,” said the marshal, addressing me with a stern and severe expression of features, “it would appear that you permit yourself the widest liberty in canvassing the acts of his Majesty the Emperor; for I find you here mentioned “—he took a paper from the table as he spoke—“as declaiming, in a public café, on the subject of the Prince de Hatzfeld, and expressing, in no measured terms, your disapproval of his imprisonment.”

“All that I said upon the subject, sir, so far as I can recollect, was in praise of the Emperor for clemency so well bestowed.”

“There was no high-flown sentiment on the breach of honorable confidence effected in opening private letters?” said the marshal, sarcastically.

“Yes, sir; I do remember expressing myself strongly on that head.”

“I am not surprised, sir,” interrupted he, “at your indignation; your own conscience must have prompted you on the occasion. When a gentleman has such correspondents as the Chevalier Duchesne, he may well feel on a point like this. But enough of this. I have his Majesty's orders regarding you, which are as follows—”

“Forgive me, I beg you, sir, the liberty of interrupting you for one moment. I am an alien, and therefore little versed in the habits and usages of the land for whose service I have shed my blood; but I am sure a marshal of France will not refuse a kindness to an officer of the army, however humble his station. I merely ask the answer to one question.”

“What is it?” said the marshal, quickly.

“Am I, as an officer, at liberty to resign my grade, and quit the service?”

“Yes, parbleu!” said he, reddening, “yes, that you are.”

“Then here I do so,” rejoined I, drawing my sword from its scabbard. “The career I can no longer follow honorably and independently, I shall follow no more.”

“Your corps, sir?” said the marshal.

“The Eighth Hussars of the Guard.”

“Take a note of that, Gardanne. I shall spare you all unnecessary delay in tendering a written resignation of your rank; I accept it now. You leave Berlin in twenty-four hours.”

I bowed, and was silent.

“Your passport shall be made out for Paris; you shall receive it to-morrow morning.” He motioned with his hand towards the door as he concluded, and I left the room.

The moment I felt myself alone, the courage which had sustained me throughout at once gave way, and I leaned against the wall, and covered my face with my hands. Yes, I knew it in my heart,—the whole dream of life was over; the path of glory was closed to me forever; all the hopes on which, in sanguine hours, I used to feed my heart, were scattered. And to the miseries of my exiled lot were now added the sorrows of an unfriended, companionless existence. The thought that no career was open to me came last; for at first I only remembered all I was leaving, not the dark future before me. Yet, when I called to mind the injustice with which I had been treated,—the system of espionage to which, as an alien more particularly, I was exposed,—I felt I had done right, and that to have remained in the service at such a sacrifice of my personal independence would have been base and unworthy.

With a half-broken heart and faltering step I regained my quarters, where again my grief burst forth with more violence than at first. Every object about recalled to me the career I was leaving forever; and wherever my eye rested, some emblem lay to open fresh stores of sorrow. The pistols I carried at Elchingen, a gift from General d'Auvergne; an Austrian sabre I had taken from its owner, still ornamented with a little knot of ribbon Minette had fastened to the hilt,—hung above the chimney; and I could scarce look on them without tears. On the table still lay open the ordre du jour which named me to the Legion of Honor; and now the humblest soldier that carried his musket in the ranks was my superior. Not all the principle on which I founded my resolve was proof against this first outburst of my sorrow.

The chivalrous ardor of a soldier's life had long supplied to me the place of those appliances to happiness which other men possess. Each day I followed it the path grew dearer to me. Every bold and daring feat, every deed of enterprise or danger, seemed to bring me, in thought at least, nearer to him whose greatness was my idolatry. And now, all this was to be as a mere dream,—a thing which had been, and was to be no more.

While I revolved such sad reflections, a single knock came to my door. I opened it, and saw a soldier of my own regiment. His dress was travel-stained and splashed, and he looked like one off a long journey. He knew me at once, and accosted me by name, as he presented a letter from General d'Auvergne.

“You've had a smart ride,” said I, as I surveyed his flushed face and disordered uniform.

“Yes, Captain,—from the Oder. Our division is full twelve leagues from this. I left on yesterday morning; for the general was particular that the charger should not suffer on the way,—as if a beast like that would mind double the distance.”

By this time I had opened the letter, which merely contained the following few lines:—

      Encampment on the Oder, Nov. 21, 1806.

      My dear Burke,—Every new arrival here has brought me some
      fresh intelligence of you, and of your conduct at Jena; nor
      can I say with what pride I have heard that the Emperor has
      included you among the list of the décorés. This is the
      day I often prophesied for you, and the true and only
      refutation against the calumnies of the false-hearted and
      the envious. I send you a Polish charger for your gala
      review. Accept him from me; and believe that you have no
      warmer friend, nor more affectionate, than yours,

      D'Auvergne, Lieut-General.

Before I had finished reading the letter, my eyes grew so dimmed I could scarcely trace the letters. Each word of kindness, every token of praise, now cut me to the heart. How agonizing are the congratulations of friends on those events in life where our own conscience bears reproach against us! how poignant the self-accusation that is elicited by undeserved eulogy! How would he think of my conduct? By what means should I convince him that no alternative remained to me? I turned away, lest the honest soldier should witness my trouble; and as I approached the window, I beheld in the courtyard beneath the beautiful charger which, with the full trappings of a hussar saddle, stood proudly flapping his deep flanks with his long silken tail. With what a thrill I surveyed him! How my heart leaped, as I fancied myself borne along on the full tide of battle, each plunge he gave responsive to the stroke of my sword-arm! For an instant I forgot all that had happened, and gazed on his magnificent crest and splendid shape with an ecstasy of delight.

“Ay,” said the dragoon, whose eyes were riveted in the same quarter, “there's not a marshal of France so well mounted; and he knows the trumpet-call like the oldest soldier of the troop.”

“You will return to-morrow,” said I, recovering myself suddenly, and endeavoring to appear composed and at ease. “Well, then, to-night I shall give you an answer for the general; be here at eight o'clock.”

I saw that my troubled air and broken voice had not escaped the soldier's notice, and was glad when the door closed, and I was again alone.

My first care was to write to the general; nor was it till after many efforts I succeeded to my satisfaction in conveying, in a few and simple words, the reasons of that step which must imbitter my future life. I explained how deeply continued mistrust had wounded me; how my spirit, as a soldier and a gentleman, revolted at the espionage established over my actions; that it was in weighing these insults against the wreck of all my hopes, I had chosen that path which had neither fame nor rank nor honor, but still left me an untrammelled spirit and a mind at peace with itself. “I have now,” said I, “to begin the world anew, without one clew to guide me. Every illusion with which I had invested life has left me; I must choose both a career and a country, and bear with me from this nothing but the heartfelt gratitude I shall ever retain for one who befriended me through weal and woe, and whose memory I shall bless while I live.”

I felt relieved and more at ease when I finished this letter; the endeavor to set my conduct in its true light to another had also its effect upon my own convictions. I knew, besides, that I had sacrificed to my determination all my worldly prospects, and believed that where self-interest warred with principle, the right course could scarcely be doubtful.

All this time, not one thought ever occurred to me of how I was to meet the future. It was strange; but so perfectly had the present crisis filled my mind, there was not room for even a glance at what was to come.

My passport was made out for Paris, and thither I must go. So much was decided for me without intervention on my part; and now it only remained for me to dispose of the little trappings of my former estate, and take the road.

The Jews who always accompanied the army, offered a speedy resource in this emergency. My anxiety to leave Berlin by daybreak, and thus avoid a meeting of any acquaintances there, made me accept of the sums they offered. To them such negotiations were of daily occurrence, and they well knew how to profit by them. My whole worldly wealth consisted of two hundred napoleons; and with this small pittance to begin life, I sat myself down to think whither I should turn, or what course adopt.

The night passed over thus, and when day dawned, I had not closed my eyes. About four o'clock the diligence in which I had secured a place for Weimar drew up at my door. I hurried down, and mounting to a seat beside the conducteur, I buried my face in the folds of my cloak, nor dared to look up until we had passed beyond the precincts of the city, and were travelling along on the vast plain of sand which surrounds Berlin.

The conducteur was a Prussian, and divining my military capacity in my appearance, he maintained a cold and distant civility; never speaking, except when spoken to, and even then in as few words as possible. This was itself a relief to me; my heart was too full of its own sufferings to find pleasure in conversation, and I dreamed away the hours till nightfall.


When I reached Wiemar I quitted the diligence, resolved to make the remainder of the journey on foot; for thus I should both economize the little means I possessed, and escape many of the questionings and inquiries to which as a traveller by public conveyance I was exposed. Knapsack on shoulder, then, and staff in hand, I plodded onward, and although frequently coming up with others on their way homeward, I avoided all companionship with those whom I could no longer think of as comrades.

The two tides of population which met upon that great highway told the whole history of war. Here came the young soldiers, fresh enrolled in the conscription, glowing with ardor, and bounding with life and buoyancy, and mingling their village songs with warlike chants. There, footsore and weary, with tattered uniform and weather-beaten look, toiled along the tired veteran, turning as he went a glance of compassionate contempt on those whose wild vivas burst forth in greeting. As for me, I could neither partake of the high hopes of the one, nor sympathize with the war-worn nature of the other. Disappointment, bitter disappointment, in every cherished expectation, had thrown a chill over me, and I wanted even the energy to become reckless. In this state, I did not dare to face the future, but in moody despondency reflected on the past. Was this the destiny Marie de Meudon predicted for me? was the ever-present thought of my mind. Is it thus I should appear before her?

A hundred times came the thought to join the new levies as a soldier, to carry a musket in the ranks. But then came back in all its force the memory of the distrust and suspicion my services had met with: the conviction hourly became clearer to me, that I fought not for liberty, but despotism; that it was not freedom, but slavery, in whose cause I shed my blood.

To avoid meeting with the detachments which each day occupied the road, I turned from the chaussée on passing Eisenach, and took a forest path that led through Murbach to Fulda. My path led through the Creutz Mountains,—a wild and unfrequented tract of country, where few cottages were to be seen, and scarcely a village existed. Vast forests of dark pines, or bleak and barren mountains, stretched away on either side; a few patches of miserable tillage here and there met the view; but the scene was one of saddening influence, and harmonized but too nearly with my own despondency.

To reach a place of shelter for the night, I was more than once obliged to walk twelve leagues during the day, and had thus to set out before daylight. This exertion, however, brought its own reward: the stimulant of labor, the necessity of a task, gradually allayed the mental irritation I suffered under; a healthier and more manly tone of thinking succeeded to my former regrets; and with a heart elevated, if not cheered, I continued my way.

The third day of my toilsome journey was drawing to a close. A mass of heavy and lowering clouds, dark and thunder-charged, slowly moved along the sky; and a low, moaning sound, that seemed to sigh along the ground, boded the approach of a storm. I was still three leagues from my halting-place, and began to deliberate within myself whether the dense pine-wood, which came down to the side of the road, might not afford a safer refuge from the hurricane than the chances of reaching a house before it broke forth.

The shepherds who frequented these dreary tracts often erected little huts of bark as a shelter against the cold and severity of the wintry days, and to find out one of these now was my great endeavor. Scarcely had I formed the resolve, when I perceived a small path opening into the wood, at the entrance to which a piece of board nailed against the trunk of a tree, gave tidings that such a place of security was not far distant. These signs of forest life I had learned in my wanderings, and now strode forward with renewed vigor.

The path led gradually upwards, along the mountain-side, which soon became so encumbered with brushwood that I had much difficulty in pushing my way, and at last began to doubt whether I might not have wandered from the track. The darkness was now complete; night had fallen, and a heavy crashing rain poured down upon the tree-tops, but could not penetrate through their tangled shelter. The wind, too, swept in loud gusts above, and the long threatened storm began. A loud, deafening roar, like that of the sea itself, arose, as the leafy branches bent before the blast, or snapped with sudden shock beneath the hurricane; clap after clap of thunder resounded, and then the rain descended in torrents,—the heavy drops at last, trickling from leaf to leaf, reaching me as I stood. Once more I pushed forward, and had not gone many paces when the red glare of a fire caught my eye. Steadfastly fastening my gaze upon the flame, I hurried on, and at length perceived with ecstasy that the light issued from the window of a small hovel, such as I have already mentioned. To gain the entrance of the hut I was obliged to pass the window, and could not resist the temptation to give a glance at the interior, whose cheerful blaze betokened habitation.

It was not without surprise that, instead of the figure of a shepherd reposing beside his fire, I beheld that of an old man, whose dress bespoke the priest, kneeling in deep devotion at the foot of a small crucifix attached to the wall. Not all the wild sounds of the raging storm seemed to turn his attention from the object of his worship; his eyes were closed, but the head thrown backwards showed his face upturned, when the lips moved rapidly in prayer. Never had I beheld so perfect a picture of intense devotional feeling; every line in his marked countenance indicated the tension of a mind filled with one engrossing thought, while his tremulous hands, clasped before him, shook with the tremor of strong emotion.

What a contrast to the loud warring of the elements, that peaceful figure, raised above earth and its troubles, in the spirit of his holy communing! how deeply touching the calm serenity of his holy brow, with the rolling crash of falling branches, and the deep baying of the storm! I did not dare to interrupt him; and when I did approach the door it was with silent step and noiseless gesture. As I stood, the old priest—for now I saw that he was such—concluded his prayer, and detaching his crucifix from the wall, he kissed it reverently, and placed it in his bosom; then, rising slowly from his knees, he turned towards me. A slight start of surprise, as quickly followed by a smile of kindly greeting, escaped him, while he said in French,—

“You are welcome, my son; come in and share with me the shelter, for it is a wild night.”

“A wild night, indeed, Father,” said I, casting my eyes around the little hut, where nothing indicated the appearance of habitation. “I could have wished you a better home than this against the storms of winter.”

“I am a traveller like yourself,” said he, smiling at my mistake; “and a countryman, too, if I mistake not.”

The accents in which these words were spoken pronounced him a Frenchman, and a very little sufficed to ratify the terms of our companionship; and having thrown a fresh billet on the fire, we both seated ourselves before it My wallet was, fortunately, better stored than the good father's; and having produced its contents, we supped cheerfully, and like men who were not eating their first bivouac meal.

“I perceive, Father,” said I, as I remarked the manner in which he disposed his viands, “I perceive you have campaigned ere now; the habits of the service are not easily mistaken.”

“I did not need that observation of yours,” replied he, laughing slightly, “to convince me you were a soldier; for, as you truly say, the camp leaves its indelible traces behind it. You are hastening on to Berlin, I suppose?”

I blushed deeply at the question; the shame of my changed condition had been hitherto confined to my own heart, but now it was to be confessed before a stranger.

“I ask your pardon, my son, for a question I had no right to ask; and even there, again, I but showed my soldier education. I am returning to France; and in seeking a short path from Eisenach, found myself where you see; as night was falling, well content to be so well lodged,—all the more, if I am to have your companionship.”

Few and simple as these words were, there was a tone of frankness in them, not less than the evidence of a certain good breeding, by which he apologized for his own curiosity in speaking thus freely of himself, that satisfied me at once; and I hastened to inform him that circumstances had induced me to leave the service, in which I had been a captain, and that I was now, like himself, returning to France.

“You must not think, Father,” added I, with some eagerness, “you must not think that other reasons than my own free will have made me cease to be a soldier.”

“It would ill become me to have borne such a suspicion,” interrupted he, quickly. “When one so young and full of life as you are leaves the path where lie honor and rank and fame, he must have cause to make the sacrifice; for I can scarce think, that at your age, these things seem nought to your eyes.”

“You are right, Father, they are not so. They have been my guiding stars for many a day; alas, that they can be such no longer!”

“There are higher hopes to cherish than these,” said he, solemnly,—“higher than the loftiest longings of ambition; but we all of us cling to the things of life, till in their perishable nature they wean us off with disappointment and sorrow. From such a trial am I now suffering,” added he, in a low voice, while the tears rose to his eyes and slowly coursed along his pale cheeks.

There was a pause neither of us felt inclined to break, when at length the priest said,—

“What was your corps in the service?”

“The Eighth Hussars of the Guard,” said I, trembling at every word.

“Ah, he was in the Guides,” repeated he, mournfully, to himself; “you knew the regiment?”

“Yes, they belonged to the Guard also; they wore no epaulettes, but a small gold arrow on the collar.”

“Like this,” said he, unfastening the breast of his cassock, and taking out a small package, which, among other things, contained the designation of the Corps des Guides in an arrow of gold embroidery. “Had he not beautiful hair, long and silky as a girl's?” said he, as he produced a lock of light and sunny brown. “Poor Alphonse! thou wouldst have been twenty hadst thou lived till yesterday. If I shed tears, young man, it is because I have lost the great earthly solace of my solitary life. Others have kindred and friends, have happy homes, which, even when bereavements come, with time will heal up the wound; I had but him!”

“He was your nephew, perhaps?” said I, half fearing to interfere with his sorrow.

The old man shook his head in token of dissent, while he muttered to himself,—

“Auerstadt may be a proud memory to some; to me it is a word of sorrow and mourning. The story is but a short one; alas! it has but one color throughout:—

“Count Louis de Meringues—of whom you have doubtless heard that he rode as postilion to the carriage of his sovereign in the celebrated flight to Varennes—fell by the guillotine the week after the king's trial; the countess was executed on the same scaffold as her husband. I was the priest who accompanied her at the moment; and in my arms she placed her only child,—an infant boy of two years. There was a cry among the crowd to have the child executed also, and many called out that the spawn would be a serpent one day, and it were better to crush it while it was time; but the little fellow was so handsome, and looked so winningly around him on the armed ranks and the glancing weapons, that even their cruel hearts relented, and he was spared. It is to me like yesterday, as I remember every minute circumstance; I can recall even the very faces of that troubled and excited assemblage, that at one moment screamed aloud for blood, and at the next were convulsed with savage laughter.

“As I forced my way through the dense array, a rude arm was stretched out from the mass, and a finger dripping with the gore of the scaffold was drawn across the boy's face, while a ruffian voice exclaimed, 'The Meringues were ever proud of their blood; let us see if it be redder than other people's.' The child laughed; and the mob, with horrid mockery, laughed too.

“I took him home with me to my presbytère at Sèvres,—for that was my parish,—and we lived together in peace until the terrible decree was issued which proclaimed all France atheist. Then we wandered southwards, towards that good land which, through every vicissitude, was true to its faith and its king,—La Vendée. At Lyons we were met by a party of the revolutionary soldiers, who, with a commissary of the Government, were engaged in raising young men for the conscription. Alphonse, who was twelve years old, felt all a boy's enthusiasm at the warlike display before him, and persuaded me to follow the crowd into the Place des Terreaux, where the numbers were read out.

“'Paul Ducos,' cried a voice aloud, as we approached the stage on which the commissary and his staff were standing; 'where is this Paul Ducos?'

“'I am here,' replied a fine, frank-looking youth, of some fifteen years; 'but my father is blind, and I cannot leave him.'

“'We shall soon see that,' called out the commissary. 'Clerk, read out his signalement.'

“'Paul Ducos, son of Eugène Ducos, formerly calling himself Count Ducos de la Brèche—'

“'Down with the Royalists! à bas the tyrants!' screamed the mob, not suffering the remainder to be heard.

“'Approach, Paul Ducos!' said the commissary.

“'Wait here, Father,' whispered the youth; 'I will come back presently.'

“But the old man, a fine and venerable figure, the remnant of a noble race, held him fast, and, as his lips trembled, said, 'Do not leave me, Paul; my child, my comforter, stay near me.'

“The boy looked round him for one face of kindly pity in this emergency, when, turning towards me, he said rapidly, 'Stand near him!' He broke from the old man's embrace, and rushing through the crowd, mounted the scaffold.

“'You are drawn for the conscription, young man,' said the commissary; 'but in consideration of your father's infirmity, a substitute will be accepted. Have you such?'

“The boy shook his head mournfully and in silence.

“'Have you any friend who would assist you here? Bethink you awhile,' rejoined the commissary, who, for his station and duties, was a kind and benevolent man.

“'I have none. They have left us nothing, neither home nor friends,' said the youth, bitterly; 'and if it were not for his sake, I care not what they do with me.'

“'Down with the tyrants!' yelled the mob, as they heard these haughty words.

“'Then your fate is decreed,' resumed the commissary.

“'No, not yet!' cried out Alphonse, as, breaking from my side, he gained the steps and mounted the platform; 'I will be his substitute!'

“Oh! how shall I tell the bitter anguish of that moment, which at once dispelled the last remaining hope I cherished, and left me destitute forever. As I dashed the tears from my eyes and looked up, the two boys were locked in each other's arms. It was a sight to have melted any heart, save those around them; but bloodshed and crime had choked up every avenue of feeling, and left them, not men, but tigers.

“'Alphonse de Meringues,' cried out the boy, in answer to a question regarding his name.

“There is no such designation in France,' said a grim-looking, hard-featured man, who, wearing the tri-colored scarf, sat at the table beside the clerk.

“'I was never called by any other,' rejoined the youth, proudly.

“'Citizen Meringues,' interposed the commissary, mildly, 'what is your age?'

“'I know not the years,' replied he; 'but I have heard that I was but an infant when they slew my father.'

“A fierce roar of passion broke from the mob below the scaffold as they heard this; and again the cry broke forth, 'Down with the tyrants!'

“'Art thou, then, the son of that base sycophant who rode courier to the Capet to Varennes?' said the hard-featured man at the table.

“'Of the truest gentleman of France,' called out a loud voice from below the platform; 'Vive le roi!' It was the blind man who spoke, and waved his cap above his head.

“'To the guillotine! to the guillotine!' screamed a hundred voices, in tones wilde than the cries of famished wolves, as, seizing the aged man, they tore his clothes to very rags.

“In an instant all attention was turned from the platform to the scene below it, where, with shouts and screams of fury, the terrible mob yelled aloud for blood. In vain the guards endeavored to keep back the people, who twice rescued their victim from the hands of the soldiery; and already a confused murmur arose that the commissary himself was a traitor to the public, and favored the tyrants, when a dull, clanking sound rose above the tumult, and a cheer of triumph proclaimed the approach of the instrument of torture.

“In their impetuous torrent of vengeance they had dragged the guillotine from the distant end of the 'Place,' where it usually stood; and there now still knelt the figure of a condemned man, lashed with his arms behind him, on the platform, awaiting the moment of his doom. Oh, that terrible face, whereon death had already set its seal! With glazed, lack-lustre eye, and cheek leaden and quivering, he gazed around on the fiendish countenances like one awakening from a dream, his lips parted as though to speak; but no sound came forth.

“'Place! place for Monsieur le Marquis!' shouted a ruffian, as he assisted to raise the figure of the blind man up the steps; and a ribald yell of fiendish laughter followed the brutal jest.

“'Thou art to make thy journey in most noble company,' said another to the culprit on the platform.

“'An he see not his way in the next world better than in this, thou must lend him a hand, friend,' said a third. And with many a ruffian joke they taunted their victims, who stood on the last threshold of life.

“Among the crowd upon the scaffold of the guillotine I could see the figure of the blind man as it leaned and fell on either side, as the movement of the mob bore it.

“'Parbleu! these Royalists would rather kneel than stand,” said a voice, as they in vain essayed to make the old man place his feet under him; and ere the laughter which this rude jest excited ceased, a cry broke forth of—'He is dead! he is dead!' And with a heavy sumph, the body fell from their hands; for when their power of cruelty ended, they cared not for the corpse.

“It was true: life was extinct, none knew how,—whether from the violence of the mob in its first outbreak, or that a long-suffering heart had burst at last; but the chord was snapped, and he whose proud soul lately defied the countless thousands around, now slept with the dead.

“In a few seconds it seemed as though they felt that a power stronger than their own had interposed between them and their vengeance, and they stood almost aghast before the corpse, where no trace of blood proclaimed it to be their own; then, rallying from this stupor, with one voice they demanded that the son should atone for the crimes of the father.

“'I am ready,' cried the youth, in a voice above the tumult. 'I did not deem I could be grateful to ye for aught, but I am for this.'

“To no purpose did the commissary propose a delay in the sentence; he was unsupported by his colleagues. The passions of the mob rose higher and higher; the thirst for blood, unslaked, became intense and maddening; and they danced in frantic glee around the guillotine, while they chanted one of the demoniac songs of the scaffold.

“In this moment, when the torrent ran in one direction, Alphonse might have escaped all notice, but that the condemned youth turned to embrace him once more before he descended from the people.

“'They are so sorry to separate, it is a shame to part them,' cried a ruffian in the crowd.

“'You forget, Citizen, that this boy is his substitute,' said the commissary, mildly; 'the Republic most not be cheated of its defenders.'

“'Vive la République!' cried the soldiers; and the cry was re-echoed by thousands, while amid their cheers there rose the last faint sigh of an expiring victim.

“The scene was over; the crowd dispersed; and the soldiers marched back to quarters, accompanied by some hundred conscripts, among whom was Alphonse,—a vague, troubled expression betokening that he scarce knew what had happened around him.

“The regiment to which he was appointed was at Toulon, and there I followed him. They were ordered to the north of Italy soon after, and thence to Egypt. Through the battlefields of Mount Tabor and the Pyramids I was ever beside him; on the heights of Austerlitz I stanched his wounds; and I laid him beneath the earth on the field of Auerstadt.”

The old man's voice trembled and became feeble as he finished speaking, and a settled expression of grief clothed his features, which were pale as death.

“I must see Sèvres once more,” said he, after a pause. “I must look on the old houses of the village, and the little gardens, and the venerable church; they will be the only things to greet me there now, but I must gaze on them ere I close my eyes to this world and its cares.”

“Come, come, Father,” said I; “to one who has acted so noble a part as yours, life is never without its own means of happiness.”

“I spoke not of death,” replied he, mildly; “but the holy calm of a convent will better suit my seared and worn heart than all that the world calls its joys and pleasures. You, who are young and full of hope—”

“Alas! Father, speak not thus. One can better endure the lowering skies of misfortune as the evening of life draws near than when the morn of existence is breaking. To me, with youth and health, there is no future,—no hope.”

“I will not hear you speak thus,” said the priest; “fatigue and weariness are on you now. Wait until to-morrow,—we shall be fellow-travellers together; and then, if you will reveal to me your story, mayhap my long experience of the world may suggest comfort and consolation where you can see neither.”

The storm by this time had abated much of its violence, and across the moon the large clouds were wafted speedily, disclosing bright patches of light at every moment.

“Such is our life here,” said the father,—“alternating with its days of happiness and sorrow. Let us learn, in the dark hour of our destiny, to bear the glare of our better fortunes; for, believe me, that when our joys are greatest, so are our trials also.”

He ceased speaking, and I saw that soon afterwards his lips moved as if in prayer. I now laid myself down in my cloak beside the fire, and was soon buried in a sleep too sound even for a dream.


With the good priest of Sèvres I journeyed along towards the frontier of France, ever selecting the least frequented paths, and such as were not likely to be taken by the troops of soldiery which daily moved towards Berlin. The frankness of my companion had made me soon at ease with him; and I told him, without reserve, the story of my life, down to the decisive moment of my leaving the army.

“You see, Father,” said I, “how completely my career has failed; how, with all the ardor of a soldier, with all the devotion of a follower, I have adhered to the Emperor's fortunes; and yet—”

“Your ambition, however great it was, could not stifle conscience. I can believe it well. They who go forth to the wars with high hopes and bounding hearts, who picture to their minds the glorious rewards of great achievements, should blind their eyes to the horrors and injustice of the cause they bleed for. Any sympathy with misfortune would sap the very principle of that heroism whose essence is success. Men cannot play the double game, even in matters of worldly ambition. Had you not listened to the promptings of your heart, you had been greater; had you not followed the dazzling glare of your hopes, you had been happier: both you could scarcely be. Be assured of this, my son, the triumphs of a country can only be enjoyed by the child of the soil; the brave soldier, who lends his arm to the cause, feels he has little part in the glory.”

“True, indeed,—most true; I feel it.”

“And were it otherwise, how unsatisfying is the thirst for that same glory! how endless the path that leads to it! how many regrets accompany it! how many ties broken! how many friendships forfeited! No, no; return to your own land,—to the country of your birth; some honorable career will always present itself to him who seeks but independence and the integrity of his own heart. Beneath the conquering eagles of the Emperor there are men of every shade of political opinion; for the conscription is pitiless. There are Royalists, who love their king and hate the usurper; there are Jacobins, who worship freedom and detest the tyrant; there are stern Republicans—Vendéens, and followers of Moreau: but yet all are Frenchmen. 'La belle France' is the watchword that speaks to every heart, and patriotism is the bond between thousands. You have no share in this; the delusion of national glory can never throw its deception around you. Return, then, to your country; and be assured, that in her cause your least efforts will be more ennobling to yourself than the boldest deeds the hand of a mercenary ever achieved.”

The inborn desire to revisit my native land needed but the counsels of the priest to make it all-powerful; and as, day by day, I plodded onward, my whole thoughts turned to the chances of my escape, and the means by which I could accomplish my freedom; for the war still continued between France and England, and the blockade of the French ports was strictly maintained by a powerful fleet. The difficulty of the step only increased my desire to effect it; and a hundred projects did I revolve in my mind, without ever being able to fix on one where success seemed likely. The very resolve, however, had cheered my spirits, and given new courage to my heart; and an object suggested a hope,—and with a hope, life was no longer burdensome.

Each morning now I set forward with a mind more at ease, and more open to receive pleasure from the varied objects which met me as I went. Not so my poor companion; the fatigue of the journey, added to great mental suffering, began to prey upon his health, and brought back an ague he had contracted in Egypt, from the effect of which his constitution had never perfectly recovered. At first the malady showed itself only in great depression of spirits, which made him silent for hours of the way. But soon it grew worse; he walked with much difficulty, took but little nourishment, and seemed impressed with a sad foreboding that the disease must be fatal.

“I wanted to reach my village; my own quiet churchyard should have been my resting-place,” said he, as he sank wearied and exhausted on a little bank at the roadside. “But this was only a sick man's fancy. Poor Alphonse lies far away in the dreary plain of Auerstadt.”

The sun was just setting of a clear day in December as we halted on a little eminence, which commanded a distant view on every side. Behind lay the dark forest of Germany, the tree-tops presenting their massive wavy surface, over which the passing clouds threw momentary shadows; before, but still some miles away, we could trace the Rhine, its bright silver current sparkling in the sun; beyond lay the great plains of France, and upon these the sick man's eyes rested with a steadfast gaze.

“Yes!” said he, after a long silence on both sides, “the fields and the mountains, the sunshine and the shade, are like those of other lands; but the feeling which attaches the heart to country is an inborn sense, and the very word 'home' brings with it the whole history of our affections. Even to look thus at his native country is a blessing to an exile's heart.”

I scarcely dared to interrupt the reverie which succeeded these few words; but when I perceived that he still remained seated, his head between his hands and lost in meditation, I ventured to remind him that we were still above a league from Heimbach, the little village where we should pass the night, and that on a road so wild and unfrequented there was little hope of finding shelter any nearer.

“You must lean on me, Father; the night air is fresh and bracing, and after a little it will revive you.”

The old man rose without speaking, and taking my arm, began the descent of the mountain. His steps, however, were tottering and uncertain, his breathing hurried and difficult, and his carriage indicated the very greatest debility.

“I cannot do it, my son,” said he, sinking upon the grassy bench which skirted the way; “you must leave me. It matters little now where this frail body rests; a few hours more, and the rank grass will wave above it and the rain beat over it unfelt. Let us part here: an old man's blessing for all your kindness will follow you through life, and may cheer you to think on hereafter.”

“Do you then suppose I could leave you thus?” said I, reproachfully. “Is it so you think of me?”

“My minutes are few now, my child,” replied he, more solemnly, “and I would pass the last moments of my life alone. Well, then, if you will not,—leave me now for a little, and return to me; by that time my mind will be calmer, and mayhap, too, my strength greater, and I may be able to accompany you to the village.”

I acceded to this proposal the more willingly, because it afforded me the hope of finding some means to convey him to Heimbach; and so, having wrapped him carefully in my cloak, I hastened down the mountain at the top of my speed.

The zigzag path by which I went discovered to me from time to time the lights of the little hamlet, which twinkled star-like in the valley; and as I drew nearer, the confused hum of voices reached me. I listened, and to my amazement heard the deep, hoarse bray of a trumpet. How well I knew that sound! it was the night-call to gather in the stragglers. I stopped to listen; and now, in the stillness, could mark the tramp of horsemen and the clank of their equipments: again the trumpet sounded, and was answered by another at some distance. The road lay straight below me at some hundred yards off, and leaving the path, I dashed directly downwards just as the leading horsemen of a small detachment came slowly up. To their loud Qui vive? I answered by giving an account of the sick man, and entreating the sergeant who commanded the party to lend assistance to convey him to the village.

“Yes, parbleu! that we will,” said the honest soldier; “a priest who has made the campaign of Egypt and Austria is worthy of all our care. Where is he?”

“About a mile from this; but the road is not practicable for a horseman.”

“Well, you shall have two of my men; they will soon bring him hither.” And as he spoke, he ordered two troopers to dismount, who, quickly disencumbering themselves of their sabres, prepared to follow me.

“We shall expect you at the bivouac,” cried the sergeant, as he resumed his way; while I, eager to return, breasted the mountain with renewed energy.

“You belong to the Guard, my friends,” said I, as I paused for breath at a turn of the path.

“The Fourth Cuirassiers of the Guard,” replied the soldier I addressed; “Milhaud's brigade.”

How my heart leaped as he said these words! They were part of the division General d'Auvergne once commanded; it was the regiment of poor Pioche, too, before the dreadful day of Austerlitz.

“You know the Fourth, then?” rejoined the man, as he witnessed the agitation of my manner.

“Know the Fourth?” echoed his comrade, in a voice of half-indignant meaning. “Sacrebleu!who does not know them? Does not all the world know them by this time?”

“It is the Fourth who wear the motto 'Dix contre un' on their caps,” said I, desirous to flatter the natural vanity of my companions.

“Yes, Monsieur; I see you have served also.”

I answered by a nod, for already every word, every gesture, recalled to me the career I had quitted; and my regrets, so late subdued by reason and reflection, came thronging back, and filled ray heart to bursting.

Hurrying onward now, I mounted the steep path, and soon regained the spot I sought. The poor father was sleeping; overcome by fatigue and weariness, he had fallen on the mossy bank, and lay in a deep, soft slumber. Lifting him gently, the strong troopers crossed their hands beneath, and bore him along between them. For an instant he looked up; but seeing me at his side, he merely pressed my hand, and closed his eyes again.

Ma foi!” said one of the dragoons, in a low voice, “I should not be surprised if this were the Père Arsène, who served with the army in Italy. We used to call him 'old Scapulaire'. He was the only priest I ever saw in the van of a brigade. You knew him too, Auguste.”

“Yes, that I did,” replied the other soldier. “I saw him at Elkankah, where one of ours was unhorsed by a Mameluke, spring forward, and seizing a pistol at the holster, shoot the Turk through the head, and then kneel down beside the dying man he was with before, and go on with his prayers. Ventrebleu! that's what I call discipline.”

“Where was that, Comrade?”

“At Elkankah.”

“At Quoreyn, rather, my friend, two leagues to the southward,” whispered a low voice.

Tonnerre de ciel!” cried the two soldiers in a breath, “it is himself;” for the words were spoken by the priest, who was no other than the Père Arsène they spoke of.

The effort of speech and memory was, however, a mere passing one; for to all their questions he was now deaf, and lay apparently unconscious between them. On me, therefore, they turned their inquiries, but with little more of success; and thus we descended the mountain, eager to reach some place of succor for the good father.

As we approached the village, I was soon made aware of the objects of the party who occupied it. The little street was crowded with cattle, bullocks, and sheep, fast wedged up amid huge wagons of forage and carts of corn; mounted dragoons urging on the jaded animals, regardless of the angry menaces or the impatient appeals incessantly making by the peasantry, who in great numbers had followed their stock from their farms.


The soldiers, who were detachments of different corps, were also quarrelling among themselves for their share of the spoil; and these altercations, in which more than once I saw a sabre flash, added to the discord. It was, indeed, a scene of tumult and confusion almost inconceivable. Here were a party of cuirassiers, carbine in hand, protecting a drove of sheep; around which the country people were standing, seemingly irresolute whether they should essay an attack,—a movement often prompted by the other soldiers, who hoped in the mêlée to seize a part of the prey. Many of the oxen were bestrode by hussars or lancers, whose gay trappings formed a strange contrast with the beasts they rode on; while more than one stately horseman held a sheep before him on the saddle, for whose protection a cocked pistol seemed no ineffectual guarantee.

The task of penetrating this dense and turbulent mob seemed to me almost impossible, and I expressed my fears to the soldiers. But they replied that there were too many braves of Egypt there not to remember the Père Arsène; saying which, one of the soldiers, whispering a word to his companion, laid the priest gently upon the ground, and then mounting rapidly on a forage-cart, he shouted, in a voice heard above the din,—

“Comrades of the Fourth, we have found an old companion; the Père Scapulaire is here. Place for the good father! place there!”

A hundred loud vivas welcomed this announcement; for the name was well known to many who never had seen the priest, and cheer after cheer for the bon père now rang through this motley assemblage.

To the wild confusion of a moment before the regularity of discipline at once succeeded, and a lane was quickly formed for the soldiers to advance with the priest between them, each horseman saluting as he passed as if to his general on parade.

“To the Trauben,—the Trauben!” cried several voices, as we went along; and this I learned was the little inn of the village, where the non-commissioned officers in charge of the several parties were seated in council to arrange the subdivision of the booty.

Had not a feeling stronger than mere personal consideration occupied me, I would have now left the good priest among his old comrades, with whom he was certain to meet kindness and protection. But I could not so readily part with one whom, even in the few hours of our intercourse, I had learned to like; and therefore, enduring as well as I was able the rugged insubordination of a soldiery free from the restraint of discipline, I followed on, and soon found myself at the door of the Trauben.

A dismounted dragoon, with drawn sword, guarded the entrance, around which a group of angry peasants were gathered, loudly protesting against the robbery of their flocks and farmyards. It was with great difficulty I could persuade the sentry to suffer me to enter; and when I at last succeeded, I found none willing to pay any attention to my request regarding a billet for the priest, for unhappily his name and character were unknown to those to whom I addressed myself. In this dilemma I was deliberating what step to take, when one of the soldiers, who with such zealous devotion had never left us, came up to say that his corporal had just given up his own quarters for the good father's use; and this, happily, was a small summer-house in the garden at the back of the inn.

“He cannot come with us himself,” said the soldier, “for he is engaged with the forage rations, but I have got his leave to take the quarters.”

A small wicket beside the inn led us into a large, wildly-grown orchard, through which a broad path led to the summer-house in question; at least such we guessed to be the little building from whose windows there gleamed the bright glare of a cheerful fire.

The door lay open into a little hall, from which two doors led into different chambers. Over one of these was marked in chalk “quartier-général,” in imitation of the title assigned to a general's quarters, and this the soldiers pronounced must belong to the corporal. I opened it accordingly and entered. The room was small and neatly furnished, and with the blazing wood upon the hearth, looked most comfortable and inviting.

“Yes, we are all right here; I know his helmet,—this is it,” said the dragoon. “So here we must leave you. You'll tell the good father it was two troopers of the Fourth who carried him hither, won't ye? Ay, and say Auguste Prévôt was one of them; he 'll know the name,—he nursed me in a fever I had in Italy.”

“I wish he were able to give me his blessing again,” said the other; “I had it before that affair at Brescia, and there were four of my comrades killed about me, and never a shot touched me. But good-night, Comrade; goodnight.” And so saying, having left the father at his length upon a couch, they made their military salute and departed.

A rude-looking flagon of beer which stood on the table was the only thing I could discover in the chamber, save a canvas bag of tobacco and some pipes. I filled a goblet with the liquor and placed it to the priest's lips. He swallowed a little of it, and then opening his eyes, slowly looked around him, while he murmured to my question a faint sound of “Better,—much better.” I knew enough of such matters to be aware that perfect rest and repose were the greatest aids to his recovery; and so, replenishing the fire, I threw myself down on the large dragoon cloak which lay on the floor, and prepared to pass my night where I was.

The long-drawn breathings of the sleeping man, the perfect quiet and stillness of all around,—for though not far distant from the village, the thick wood of trees intercepted every sound from that quarter,—and my fatigue combined, soon brought on drowsiness.

I struggled, so long as I was able, against the tendency; but a humming sound filled my ears, the objects grew fainter before my vision, and I sank into that half-dreamy state when consciousness remains, but clouded and indistinct in all its perceptions. Twice the door was opened and some persons entered; but though they spoke loudly, I heard not their words, nor could I recognize their appearance. To this succeeded a deep, sound sleep, the recompense of great fatigue.

The falling of a piece of firewood on the hearth awoke me. I opened my eyes and looked about. The room had no other light than from the embers of the wood fire and the piece of blazing pine which had just fallen; but even by that uncertain glare I could see enough to amaze and confuse me.

On the couch where I had left the priest sleeping, the old man was now seated, his head uncovered, and a scarf of light blue silk across his shoulders and falling to his feet. Before him, and kneeling, was a figure, of which for some minutes I in vain endeavored to ascertain the traits; for while in the military air of the dress there was something to mark the soldier, a waving mass of hair loosely falling on the back bespoke another sex. While I yet doubted, the flickering flame burst forth and showed me the small and beautiful shaped foot which from beneath a loose trouser peeped forth, and in the neat boot and tastefully ornamented spur I recognized in an instant it was a vivandière of the army,—one of those who, amid all the reckless abandon of the life of camps and battlefields, can yet preserve some vestige of coquetry and feminine grace.

So strange the sight, so complete the heavy stupor of my faculties, that again and again I doubted whether the whole might not be the creation of a dream; but the well-known tones of the old man's voice soon reassured me, as I heard him say,—

“I know it too, my child; I have followed too long the fortunes of an army not to feel and to sorrow for these things. But be comforted.”

A passionate burst of tears from her who knelt at his feet interrupted him here; nor did it seem that all he could speak of consolation was able to assuage the deep sorrow of the poor girl, whose trembling frame bespoke her agony.

By degrees, however, she grew calmer. A deep sob or a long-drawn sigh alone would be heard, as the venerable father, with impassioned eloquence, depicted the happiness of those who sought the blessings of religion, and could tear themselves from the world and its ambitions. Warming with his theme, he descanted on the lives of those saints on earth whose every minute was an offering of heavenly love; and contrasted the holy calm of a convent with the wild revelry of the camp, or the more revolting carnage of the battlefield.

“Speak not of these things, Father; your own voice trembles with proud emotion at the mention of glorious war. Tell me, oh! tell me that I may have hope, and yet leave not all that makes life endurable.”

The old man spoke again; but his tones were low, and his words seemed a reproof, for she bowed her head between her hands and sobbed heavily.

To the long and impassioned appeal of the priest there now succeeded a silence, only broken by the deep-drawn sighs of her who knelt in sadness and penitence before him.

“And his name?” said the father; “you have not told his name.”

A pause followed, in which not even a breathing was heard; then a low, murmuring sound came, and it seemed to meas though I heard my own name uttered. I started at the sound, and with the noise the vivandière sprang to her feet.

“I heard a noise there,” said she, resolutely.

“It is my companion of the journey,” said the priest. “Poor fellow! he is tired and weary; he sleeps soundly.”

“I did not know you had a fellow-traveller, Father.”

“Yes; we met in the Creutz Mountains, and since that» have wended our way together. A soldier—”

“A soldier! Is he wounded, then?”

“No, my child; he is leaving the army.”

“Leaving the army, and not wounded! He is old and disabled, perhaps.”

“Neither; he is both young and vigorous.”

“Shame on him, then, that he turn his back on fame and fortune, and leave the path that brave men tread! He never was a soldier! No, Father; he in whose heart the noble passion once has lived can never forget it.”

“Hush, child, hush!” said the priest, motioning with his hand to her to be silent.

“Let me look on him!” said the vivandière, as she stooped down and took from the hearth a piece of lighted wood; “let me see this man, and learn the features of one who can be so craven of spirit, so poor of heart, as to fly the field, while thousands are flocking towards it.”

Burning with shame and indignation, I arose, just as she approached me. The pine-branch threw its red gleam over her bright uniform, and then upon her face.

“Minette! Minette!” I exclaimed. But with a wild shriek she let fall the burning wood, and fell senseless to the ground.

It was some time before, with all our care, she recovered consciousness; and even then, in her wild, excited glance, one might read the struggles of her mind to credit what had occurred. A few broken, unconnected phrases would escape her at intervals; and she seemed laboring to regain the lost clew to her recollections, when again she turned her eyes towards me. At the same instant, the trumpet sounded without for the réveil, and was answered by many a call from other parties around. With a steadfast gaze of wonderment she fixed her look on me; and twice passed her hands across her eyes, as though she doubted the evidence of her senses.


“Minette, hear me! let me speak but one word.” “There it is again,” cried she, as the blast rang out a second time, and the clatter of horsemen resounded from the street. “Adieu, sir; our roads lie not together. Father, your blessing; if your good counsel this night has not made its way to my heart, the lesson has come elsewhere. Good-by! good-by!” She pressed the old man's hand to her lips, and darted from the room.

Stunned, and like one spell-bound, I could not move for a few seconds; and then, with a wild cry, I bounded after her through the garden. The wicket, however, was fastened on the outside, and it was some time before I could scale the wall and reach the street.

The day was just breaking, but already the village was thronged with soldiers, who were preparing for the march, and arranging their parties to conduct the wagons. Hurrying on through the crowded and confused mass, I looked on every side for the vivandière; but in vain. Groups of different regiments passed and repassed me; but to my questions they returned either a jeering reply, or a mere laugh of derision. “But a few days ago,” thought I, “and these fellows had scarce dared to address me; and now—” Oh, the blighting misery of that thought! I was no longer a soldier; the meanest horseman of his troop was my superior.

I passed through the village, and reached the highroad. Before me was a party of dragoons, escorting a drove of cattle; I hastened after them, but on coming near, discovered they were a light cavalry detachment. Sick at heart, I leaned against a tree at the wayside, when again I heard the tramp of horses approaching. I looked, and saw the tall helmets of the Fourth, who were coming slowly along, conducting some large wagons, drawn by eight or ten horses. In front of the detachment rode a man, whose enormous stature made him at once remarkable, as well as the air of soldierly bearing he displayed. Beside him was Minette; the reins had fallen on her horse's neck, and her face was buried in her hands.

“Ah! if I had thought that priest would have made thee so sad, Mademoiselle, I'd have let him spend his night beneath a wagon rather than in my quarters,” said a deep, hollow voice I at once recognized as that of Pioche. “But the morning air will revive thee; so let us forward: by threes—open order—trot.”

The word was obeyed; the heavy tramp of the horses, with the dull roll of the wagons, drowned all other sounds The cortège moved on, and I was alone.



When I returned to the garden, I found that the Père Arsène was seized by an access of that dreadful malady, whose intervals of comparative release are but periods of dread or despondence. The tertian of Egypt, so fatal among the French troops, now numbered him among its victims, and he looked worn and exhausted, like one after weeks of illness.

My first care was to present myself to the official whose business it was to inspect the passports, and by explaining the condition of my poor friend, to entreat permission to delay my journey,—at least until he should be somewhat recovered. The gruff old sergeant, however, deliberately examined my passport, and as rigidly decided that I could not remain. The words of the minister were clear and definite,—“Day by day, without halt, to the nearest frontier of France,” was the direction; and with this I must comply. In vain I assured him that no personal convenience, no wish of my own, urged the request, but the duty of humanity towards a fellow-traveller, and one who had strong claims on every soldier of the Empire.

“Leave him to me, Monsieur,” was the only reply I could obtain; and the utmost favor he would grant was the permission to take leave of my poor friend before I started.

Amid all the sufferings of his malady, I found the good priest dwelling in his mind on the scene with the vivandière,—which, perhaps, from the impressionable character of a sick man's temperament, had entirely filled his thoughts; and thus he wandered from the subject of his sorrows to hers, with scarcely a transition between them.

When I mentioned the necessity of our parting, he seemed to feel it more on my account than his own.

“I wished to have reached Paris with you,” he repeated over and over. “It was not impossible I could have arranged your return home. But you must go down to Sèvres,—the priest there, whoever he may be, will know of me; tell him everything without reserve. I am too ill to write, but if I get better soon—Well, well; that poor girl is an orphan too; and Alphonse was an orphan. With what misery have we struggled in France since this man has ruled our destinies! how have the crimes of a people brought their retribution to every heart and every home!—none too low, none too humble, to feel them. Leave this land; no blessing can rest upon it now. Poor thing! how worthy of a better lot she is! If this same officer should know,—it is not impossible. But, why do I say this? No, no; you'll never meet him now.”

He continued to mutter thus some broken and disjointed sentences, half-aloud, for some minutes, apparently unconscious of my presence.

“He was in a regiment of the Guard. Alas! she told me which, but I forget it now; but his name, surely I remember his name! Well, well, it is a sad story. Adieu, my dear child! good-by! We have each a weary road before us; but my journey, although the longest, will be soonest accomplished. Do not forget my words to you. Your own country, and your country's cause, above every other; all else is the hireling's part. The sense of duty alone can sustain a man in the trials which fit him for this world, or that better one which is to follow. Adieu!” He threw his arm around me as he said this, and leaned exhausted and faint upon my shoulder.

The few who journey through life with little sympathy or friendship from their fellow-men, may know how it rent my heart to part with one to whom I clung every hour closer; my throat swelled and throbbed, and I could only articulate a faint good-by as we parted. As the door was closing, I heard his voice again.

“Yes, I have it now; I remember it well,—'Le Capitaine Burke.'”

I started in amazement, for during all our intercourse he had never asked nor had I told my name, and I stood unable to speak; when he continued,—“You 'll think of the name,—she said, too, he was on the staff,—'Burke!' Poor girl!”

I did not wait for more, but like one flying from some dreaded enemy I rushed through the garden, and gained the road, my heart torn with many a conflicting thought; the bitterest of all being the memory of Minette, the orphan girl, who alone of all the world cared for me. Oh! if strong, deep-rooted affection, the love of a whole heart, can raise the spirit above the every-day contentions of the world,—can ennoble thought, refine sentiments, and divest life of all its meaner traits, making a path of flowers among the rocks and briers of our worldly pilgrimage; so does the possession of affection for which we cannot give requital throw a gloom over the soul, for which there is no remedy. Better, a thousand times better, had I borne all the solitary condition of my lot, unrelieved by one token of regard, than think of her who had wrecked her fortunes on my own.

With many a sad thought I plodded onward. The miles passed over seemed like the events in some troubled dream; and of my journey I have not a recollection remaining. It was late in the evening when I reached the Barrière de l'Étoile, and entered Paris. The long lines of lamps along the quays, the glittering reflection in the calm river, the subdued but continual hum of a great city, awoke me from my reverie, and I bethought me that my career of life must now begin anew, and all my energies must be called on to fashion out my destiny.

On the morning after my arrival I presented myself, in compliance with the requisite form, before the minister of police. Little information of mine was necessary to explain the circumstances under which I was placed. He was already thoroughly acquainted with the whole, and seemed in nowise disposed to evince any undue lenity towards one who had voluntarily quitted the service of the Emperor.

“Where do you purpose to remain, sir?” said the préfet, as he concluded a lengthened and searching scrutiny of my appearance.

“In Paris,” I replied, briefly.

“In Paris, I suppose,” said he, with a slight derisive curl of the lip,—“of that I should think there can be little doubt; but I wished to ascertain more accurately your address,—in what part of the city.”

“As yet I cannot tell; I am almost a stranger here. A day or two will, however, enable me to choose, and then I shall return here with the intelligence.”

“That is sufficient, sir; I shall expect to see you soon.”

He waved his hand in sign to me to withdraw, and I was but too happy to follow the indication. As I hastened down the stairs, and forced my way through the crowd of persons who awaited an audience with the préfet, I heard a voice close to my ear whisper, “A word; one word with you, Monsieur.” Conceiving, however, it could not have been intended for me, to whom no face there was familiar, I passed on, and reached the court.

The noise of footsteps rapidly moving on the grave behind me induced me to turn; and I beheld a small, miserably-dressed man, whose spare and wasted form bespoke the sorest trials of poverty, advancing towards me, hat in hand.

“Will you deign me one word, Monsieur?” said he, in a voice whose tone, although that of entreaty, was yet remote from the habitual accent of one asking alms.

“You must mistake me,” said I, desirous to pass on; “I am unknown to you.”

“True, sir; but it is as a stranger I take the liberty of addressing you. I heard you say just now that you had not fixed on any place of abode in Paris; now, if I might venture to entreat your preference for this establishment, it would be too much honor for me, its poor master.”

Here he placed in my hands a small card, inscribed with the words, “Pension Bourgeoise, Rue de Mi-Carême, Boulevard Mont Parnasse, No. 46,” at top; and beneath was a paragraph, setting forth the economical fact that a man might eat, drink, and sleep for the sum of twelve francs a week, enjoying the delights of “agreeable society, pleasant environs, and all the advantages of a country residence.”

It was with difficulty I could avoid a smile at the shivering figure who ventured to present himself as an inducement to try the fare of his house. Whether my eyes did wander from the card to his countenance, or any other gesture of mine betrayed my thoughts, the old man seemed to divine what was passing in my mind, and said,—

“Monsieur will not pronounce on the 'pension' from the humble guise of its master. Let him but try it; and I promise that these poor rags, this miserable figure, has no type within the walls.”

There was a tone of deep dejection, mingled with a sense of conscious pride, in which he said these few words, that at once decided me not to grieve him by a refusal.

“You may count on me, then, Monsieur,” said I. “My stay here is so far uncertain, that it depends not altogether on myself; but for the present I am your guest.”

I took my purse from my pocket as I spoke, knowing the custom in these humbler boarding-houses was to pay in advance; but the old man reddened slightly, and motioned with his hand a refusal.

“Monsieur is a captain in the Guards,” said he, proudly; “no more is necessary.”

“You mistake, friend, I am no longer so; I have left the army.”

“Left it, en retraite?” said he, inquiringly.

“Not so; left it at my own free will and choice. And now, perhaps, I had better tell you, that as I may not enjoy any considerable share of goodwill from the police authorities here, my presence might be less acceptable to your other guests, or to yourself.”

The old man's eyes sparkled as I spoke, and his lips moved rapidly, as though he were speaking to himself; then, taking my hand, he pressed it to his lips, and said,—

“Monsieur could not be more welcome than at present. Shall we expect you to-day at dinner?”

“Be it so. Your hour?”

“Four o'clock, to the moment. Do not forget the number, 46 Monsieur Rubichon; the house with a large garden in front.”

“Till then,” said I, bowing to my host, whose ceremonious politeness made me feel my own salute an act of rudeness in comparison.

As I parted from the old man, I was glad at the relief to my own thoughts which even thus much of speculation afforded, and sauntered on, fancying many a strange conceit about the “pension” and its inhabitants. At last the hour drew near; and having placed my few effects in a cabriolet, I set out for the distant boulevard of Mont Parnasse.

I remarked with pleasure, that as we went along the streets and thoroughfares became gradually less and less crowded; scarcely a carriage of any kind was to be met with. The shops were, for the most part, the quiet, unpretending-looking places one sees in a provincial town; and an air of peacefulness and retirement prevailed, strongly at variance with the clamor and din of the heart of the capital. This was more than ever so as we emerged upon the boulevard itself: on one side of which houses, at long straggling intervals, alone were to be seen; at the other, the country lay open to the view, with its orchards and gardens, for miles away.

Saprelotte!” said the driver, who, like so many of his calling, was a blunt son of Alsace,—“saprelotte! we have come to the end of the world here. How do you call the strange street you are looking for?”

“The Rue de Mi-Carême.”

“Mi-Carême? I 'd rather you lived there than me; that name does not promise much in regard to good feeding. Can this be it?”

As he spoke he pointed with his whip to a narrow, deserted-looking street, which opened from the boulevard. The houses were old and dilapidated, but stood in small gardens, and seemed like the remains of the villa residences of the Parisians in times long past. A few more modern edifices, flaring with red brick fronts, were here and there scattered amongst them; but for all the decay and dismantlement of the others, they seemed like persons of rank and condition in the company of their inferiors.

Few of the larger houses were inhabited. Large placards, “à louer,” on the gateways or the broken railings of the garden, set forth the advantages of a handsome residence, situated between court and garden; but the falling roofs and broken windows were in sad discordance with the eulogy.

The unaccustomed noise of wheels, as we went along, drew many to the doors to stare at us, and in the gathering groups I could mark the astonishment so rare a spectacle as a cabriolet afforded in these secluded parts.

“Is this the Rue Mi-Carême?” said the driver to a boy, who stood gazing in perfect wonderment at our equipage.

“Yes,” muttered the child,—“yes. Who are you come for now?”

“Come for, my little man? Not for any one. What do you mean by that?”

“I thought it was the commissary,” said the boy.

“Ah, sapperment! I knew we were in a droll neighborhood,” murmured the driver. “It would seem they never see a cabriolet here except when it brings the commissaire de police to look after some one.”

If this reflection did not tend to allay my previous doubts upon the nature of the locality, it certainly aided to excite my curiosity, and I was determined to persist in my resolution of at least seeing the interior of the “pension.”

“Here we are at last,” cried the driver, throwing down his whip on the horse's back, as he sprang to the ground, and read aloud from a board fastened to a tree, “'Pension Bourgeoise. M. Rubichon, propriétaire.' Shall I wait for monsieur?”

“No. Take out that portmanteau and cloak; I'm not going back now.”

A stare of most undisguised astonishment was the only reply he made, as he took forth my baggage, and placed it at the little gate.

“You 'll be coming home at night,” said he, at length; “shall I come to fetch you? Not to-night,” repeated he, in amazement. “Well, adieu, Monsieur,—you know best; but I 'd not come a-pleasuring up here, if I was a young fellow like you.”

As he drove away, I turned to look at the building before me, which up to this time I had not sufficiently noted. It was a long, two-storied house, which evidently at an early period had been a mansion of no mean pretension. The pilasters which ornamented the windows, the balustrades of the parapet, and the pediment above the entrance, were still remaining, though in a dilapidated condition. The garden in front showed also some signs of that quaint taste originally borrowed from the Dutch, and the yew-trees still preserved some faint resemblance to the beasts and animals after which they had once been fashioned, though time and growth had altered the outlines, and given to many a goodly lion or stag the bristly coat of a porcupine. A little fountain, which spouted from a sea-monster's nostrils, was grass-grown and choked with weeds. Everything betokened neglect and ruin; even the sundial had fallen across the walk, and lay moss-grown and forgotten; as though to say that Time had no need of a record there. The jalousies, which were closed in every window, permitted no view of the interior; nor did anything, save a faint curl of light blue smoke from one chimney, give token of habitation.

I could not help smiling to myself at the absurd fancy which had suffered me to feel that this deserted quarter, this lonesome dwelling, contained anything either adventurous or strange about it, or that I should find either in the “pension” or its guests wherewithal to interest or amuse me. With this thought I opened the wicket, and, crossing the garden, pulled the bell-rope that hung beside the door.

The deep clanging echoed again and again to my summons, and ere it ceased the door was opened, and M. Rubichon himself stood before me: no longer, however, the M. Rubichon of the morning, in garments of worn and tattered poverty, but attired in a suit which, if threadbare, was at least clean and respectable-looking,—a white vest, and ruffles also, added to the air of neatness of his costume; and whether from his own deserts, or my surprise at the transformation, he seemed to me to possess the look and bearing of a true gentleman.

Having welcomed me with the well-bred and easy politeness of one who knew the habits of society, he gave orders to a servant girl to conduct me to a room, adding, “May I beg of monsieur to make a rapid toilet, for the dinner will be served in less than ten minutes?”

The M. Rubichon of the morning no more prepared me for that gentleman at evening than did the ruinous exterior of the dwelling for the neat and comely chamber into which I was now installed. The articles of furniture were few, but scrupulously clean; and the white curtains of the little bed, the cherry-wood chairs, the table, with its gray marble top,—all were the perfection of that propriety which gives even to humble things a look of elegance.

I had but time to make a slight change in my dress when the bell sounded for dinner, and at the same instant a gentle knock came to my door. It was M. Rubichon, come to conduct me to the salle, and anxious to know if I were satisfied with my chamber.

“In summer, Monsieur, if we shall have the happiness of possessing you here at that season, the view of the garden is delightful from this window; and,—you have not noticed it, of course, but there is a little stair, which descends from the window into the garden, which you will find a great convenience when you wish to walk. This way, now. We are a small party to-day, and indeed shall be for a few weeks. What name shall I have the honor to announce?”

“Mr. Burke.”

“Ah! an Irish name,” said he, smiling, as he threw open the door of a spacious but simply furnished apartment, in which about a dozen persons were standing or sitting around the stove.

I could not help remarking, that as Monsieur Rubichon presented me to his other guests, my name seemed to meet a kind of recognition from each in turn. My host perceived this, and explained it at once by saying,—

“We have a namesake of yours amongst us; not exactly at this moment, for he is in Normandy, but he will be back in a week or so. Madame de Langeac, let me present Mr. Burke.”

Monsieur Rubichon's guests were all persons somewhat advanced in life; and though in their dress evincing a most unvarying simplicity and economy, had yet a look of habitual good tone and breeding which could not be mistaken. Among these, the lady to whom I was now introduced was conspicuous, and in her easy and graceful reception of me, showed the polished manners of one accustomed to the best society.

After some half-jesting observations, expressive of surprise that a young man—and consequently, as she deemed, a gay one—should have selected as his residence an unvisited quarter and a very retired house, she took my arm, and proceeded to the dinner-room.

The dinner itself, and the table equipage, were in keeping with the simplicity of the whole establishment; but if the fare was humble and the wine of the very cheapest, all the habitudes of the very highest society presided at the meal, and the polished ease and elegance, so eminently the gift of ancient French manners, were conspicuous.

There prevailed among the guests all the intimacy of a large family; at the same time a most courteous deference was remarkable, which never approached familiarity. And thus they talked lightly and pleasantly together of mutual friends and places they had visited; no allusion ever being made to the popular topics of the day,—to me a most inexplicable circumstance, and one which I could not avoid slightly expressing my astonishment at to the lady beside me. She smiled significantly at my remark, and merely said,—

“It is so agreeable to discuss matters where there can be no great difference of opinion,—at least, no more than sharpens the wit of the speakers,—that you will rarely hear other subjects talked of here.”

“But have the great events which are yet passing no interest?”

“Perhaps they interest too deeply to admit of much discussion,” said she, with some earnestness of manner.

“But I am myself transgressing; and, what is still worse, losing you the observations of Monsieur de Saint George on Madame de Sévigné.”

The remark was evidently made to change the current of our conversation; and so I accepted it,—listening to the chit-chat around me, which, from its novelty alone, possessed a most uncommon charm to my ears. It was so strange to hear the allusions to the courtiers and the beauties of bygone days made with all the freshness of yesterday acquaintance; and the stores of anecdotes about the court of Louis the Fifteenth and the Regency told with a piquancy that made the event seem like an occurrence of the morning.

Before we retired to the drawing-room for coffee, I saw that the “pension” was a Royalist establishment, and wondered how it happened that I should have been selected by the host to make one of his guests. Yet unquestionably there seemed no reserve towards me; on the contrary, each evinced a tone of frankness and cordiality which made me perfectly at ease, and well satisfied at the fortune which led me to the Rue Mi-Carême.

The little parties of dominoes and piquet scattered through the salon; some formed groups to converse; the ladies resumed their embroidery; and all the occupations of indoor life were assumed with a readiness that betokened habit, and gave to the “pension” the comfortable air of a home.

Thus passed the first evening. The next morning the party assembled at an early hour to breakfast; after which the gentlemen went out, and did not appear until dinnertime,—day succeeding day in unvarying but to me not unpleasing monotony. I rarely wandered from the large wilderness of a garden near the house, and saw weeks pass over without a thought ever occurring to me that life must not thus be suffered to ebb.


About a month after I came to live in the “pension,” I was sitting one evening at the window, watching, with the interest an idle man will ever attach to slight things,—the budding leaves of an early spring,—when I heard a step approach my chair, and on turning my head perceived Madame de Langeac. She carried her taboret in her hand, and came slowly towards me.

“I am come to steal some of your sunshine, Monsieur Burke,” said the old lady, smiling good-naturedly, as I rose to present a chair, “but not to drive you away, if you will be generous enough to keep me company.”

I stammered out some commonplace civility in reply, and was silent, for my thoughts were bent upon my future, and I was ill disposed to interruption.

“You are fond of flowers, I have remarked,” continued she, as if perceiving my preoccupation, and willing to relieve it by taking the burden of the conversation. “And it is a taste I love to witness; it seems to me like the evidence of a homely habit. It is only in childhood we learn this love; we may cultivate it in after life as we will.”

“My mother was passionately fond of them,” said I, calling up a long-buried memory of home and kindred.

“I thought so. These simple tastes are the inheritance a mother gives her child; and happily they survive every change of fortune.”

I sighed heavily as she spoke, for thus accidentally was touched the weakest chord of my heart.

“And, better still,” resumed she, “they are the links that unite us to the past, that bind the heart of manhood to infancy, that can bring down pride and haughtiness, and call forth guileless affection and childlike faith.”

“They are happy,”' said I, musing, “who can mingle such early memories with the present.”

“And who cannot?” interrupted she, rapidly. “Who has not felt the love of parents,—the halo of a home? Old as I am, even I can recall the little walks I trod in infancy, and the hand that used to guide me. I can bring up the very tones of that voice which vibrated on my heart as they spoke my name. But how much happier they to whom these memories are linked with tokens of present affection, and who, in their manhood's joys, can feel a father's or a mother's love!”

“I was left an orphan when a mere child,” said I, as though the observation had been specially addressed to me.

“But you have brothers,—sisters, perhaps.”

I shook my head. “A brother, indeed; but we have never met since we were children.”

“And yet your country has not suffered the dreadful convulsion of ours; no social wreck has scattered those who once lived in close affection together. It is sad when such ties are broken. You came early to France, I think you told me?”

“Yes, Madame. When a mere child my heart conceived a kind of devotion to the Emperor: his fame, his great exploits, seemed something more than human,—filled every thought of my brain; and to be a soldier,his soldier, was the limit of my ambition. I fancied, too, that the cause he asserted was that of freedom; that liberty, universal liberty, was the watchword that led to victory.”

“And you have discovered your error,” interrupted she. “Alas! it were better to have followed the illusion. A faith once shaken leaves an unsettled spirit, and with such there is little energy.”

“And less of hope,” said I, despondingly.

“Not so, if there be youth. Come, you must tell me your story. It is from no mere curiosity I ask you; but that I have seen much of the world, and am better able than you to offer counsel and advice. I have remarked, for some time past, that you appear to have no acquaintance in Paris,—no friend. Let me be such. If the confidence have no other result, it will relieve your heart of some portion of its burden; besides, the others here will learn to regard you with less distrust.”

“And is such their feeling towards me?”

“Forgive me; I did not exactly use the word I sought for. But now that I have ventured so far, I may as well confess that you are an object of the greatest interest in their eyes; nor can they divest themselves of the impression that some deep-laid plot had led you hither.”

“Had I known this before—”

“You had left us. I guessed as much: I have remarked it in your character already, that a morbid dread of being suspected is ever uppermost in your thoughts; and accounted for it by supposing that you might have been thrown at too early an age into life. But you must not feel angry with us here. As for me, I have no merit in my right appreciation of you: Monsieur Rubichon told me how you met,—a mere accident, at the bureau of the préfet.”

“It was so; nor have I been able to divine why he addressed himself to me, nor what circumstance could have led him to believe my sentiments in accordance with those of his guests.”

“Simple enough the reason. He heard from your own lips you were a stranger, without any acquaintance in Paris. The police for a time have been somewhat frequent in their visits here, when the exclusively Royalist feature of the 'pension' excited some dissatisfaction. To overcome the impression, M. Rubichon determined to wait each day at the bureau of the préfet, and solicit at hazard among the persons there to patronize his house. We all here consented to the plan, feeling its necessity. Our good fortune sent us you. Still, you must not be surprised if long sorrows and much suffering have engendered suspicion, nor that the old followers of a king look distrustfully on the soldier of”—she hesitated and blushed slightly, then added, in a low voice—“of the Emperor.”

The word seemed to have cost a pang in its utterance; for she did not speak for several minutes after.

“And these gentlemen,—am I to conclude that they cherish disaffection to the present Government, or harbor a hope of its downfall?”

Whether some accidental expression of disdain escaped me as I said this, I cannot say; but Madame de Langeao quickly replied,—

“They are good Frenchmen, sir, and loyal gentlemen; what they hope must be a matter for their own hearts.”

“I entreat your pardon, Madame, if I have said one syllable which could reflect upon their motives.”

“I forgive you readily,” said she, smiling courteously; “he who has worn a sabre so long, may well deem its influence all-powerful. But believe me, young man, there is that within the heart of a nation against which mere force is nothing; opposed to it, armed squadrons and dense ranks are powerless. Devotion to a sovereign, whose claim comes hallowed by a long line of kings, is a faith to which religion lends its sanction and tradition its hope. Look on these very persons here; see, has adversity chilled their affection, or poverty damped their ardor? You know them not; but I will tell you who they are.

“There, at the fire, that venerable old man with the high, bold forehead, he is Monsieur de Plessis (Comte Plessis de Riancourt). His grandfather entertained Louis the Fourteenth and his suite within his château; he himself was grand falconer to the king. And what is he now? I shame to speak it,—a fencing-master at an humble school of the Faubourg.

“And the other opposite to him (he is stooping to pick something from the floor), I myself saw him kneel at the levée of his Majesty, and beheld the king assist him to rise, as he said, 'Monsieur de Maurepas, I would make you a duke, but that no title could be so dear to a Maurepas as that his ancestors have borne for six hundred years.' And he, whose signature was but inferior to the royal command, copies pleadings of a lawyer to earn his support.

“And that tall man yonder, who has just risen from the table,—neither years nor poverty have erased the stamp of nobility from his graceful figure,—Comte Felix d'Ancelot, captain of the Gardes du Corps; the same who was left for dead on the stairs at Versailles pierced by eleven wounds. He gives lessons in drawing! two leagues from this, at the other extremity of Paris.

“You ask me if they hope; what else than hope, what other comforter, could make such men as these live on in want and indigence, declining every proffer of advancement, refusing every temptation that should warp their allegiance? I have read of great deeds of your Emperor,—I have heard traits of heroism of his generals, compared to which the famed actions of the Crusaders paled away; but tell me if you think that all the glory ever won by gallant soldier, tried the courage or tested the stout heart like the long struggle of such men as these? And here, if I mistake not, comes another, not inferior to any.”

As she spoke, the steps of a calèche at the door were suddenly lowered, and a tall and powerfully built man stepped lightly out. In an instant we heard his footstep in the hall, and in another moment the door of the salon opened, and M. Rubichon announced “Le Général Count Burke.”

The general had just time to divest himself of his travelling pelisse as he entered, and was immediately surrounded by the others, who welcomed him with the greatest enthusiasm.

“Madame la Marquise de Langeac,” said he, approaching the old lady, as she sat in the recess of the window, and lifted her hand to his lips, “I am overjoyed to see you in such health. I passed three days with your amiable cousin, Arnold de Rambuteau; who, like yourself, enjoys the happiest temperament and the most gifted mind.”

“If you flatter thus, General,” said Madame de Langeac, “my young friend here will scarcely recognize in you a countryman,—a kinsman, perhaps. Let me present Mr. Burke.”

The general's face flushed, and his eyes sparkled, as taking my hand in both of his own, he said,—

“Are you indeed from Ireland? Is your name Burke? Alas! that I cannot speak one word of English to you. I left my country thirty-eight years since, and have never revisited it.”

The general overwhelmed me with questions: first about my family, of which I could tell him little; and then of my own adventures, at which, to my astonishment, he never evinced those symptoms of displeasure I so confidently expected from an old follower of the Bourbons. This he continued to do, as he ate a hurried meal which was laid out for him in the salon; all the rest standing in a circle around, and pressing him with questions for this friend or that at every pause he made.

“You see, gentlemen,” cried he, as I replied to some inquiry about my campaign, “this is an instance of what I have so often spoken to you. Here is a youth who leaves his country solely for fighting sake; he does not care much for the epaulette, he cares less for the cause. Come, come, don't interrupt me; I know you better than you know yourself. You longed for the conflict and the struggle and the victory; and, parbleu! we may say as we will, but you could have scarcely made a better selection than with his Majesty, Emperor and King, as they style him.”

This speech met with a sorry reception from the bystanders, and in the dissatisfied expression of their faces, a less confident speaker might have read his condemnation; but the general felt not this, or, if he did, he effectually concealed it.

“You have not inquired for Gustave de Me is in,” said he, looking round at the circle.

“You have not seen him, surely?” cried several together; “we heard he was at Vienna.”

“No, parbleu! he lives about a league from his old home,—the very house we spent our Christmas at eighteen years ago. They have made a barrack of his château, and thrown his park into a royal chasse; but he has built a hut on the river-side, and walks every day through his own ground, which he says he never saw so well stocked for many a year. He is as happy as ever, and loves to look out on the Seine before his door when the bright stream is rippling through many a broad leaf; ay, Messieurs, of good augury, too,—the lilies of France.” He lifted a bumper to his lips as he spoke, and drank the toast with enthusiasm.

This sudden return to loyalty, so boldly announced, served to reinstate him in their estimation; and once again all their former pleasure at his appearance came back, and again the questions poured in from every quarter.

“And the abbé,” said one; “what of him? Has he made up his mind yet?”

“To be sure he has, and changed it too, at least twice every twenty-four hours. He is ever full of confidence and brimming with hope when the wind is from the eastward; but let it only come a point west, his spirits fall at once, and he dreams of frigates and gunboats, and the hulks in the Thames; and though they offered him a cardinal's hat, he 'd not venture out to sea.”

The warning looks of the bystanders, and even some signals to be cautious, here interrupted the speaker, who paused for a few seconds, and then fixed his eyes on me.

“I have no fears, gentlemen, on that score. I know my countrymen well, though I have lived little among them. My namesake here may like the service of the Emperor better than that of a king,—he may prefer the glitter of the eagle to the war-cry of Saint Louis,—but he 'll never betray the private conversations nor expose the opinions expressed before him in all the confidence of social intercourse.

“We are speaking, Mr. Burke, of an abbé who is about to visit Ireland, and whose fears of the English cruisers seem little reasonable to some of my friends here, though you can explain, perhaps, that they are not groundless. I forgot,—you were but a boy when you crossed that sea.”

“But he will go at last,” said Madame de Langeac; “I suppose we may rely on that?”

“We hope,” said the general, shrugging his shoulders with an air of doubt, “because, when we can do nothing else, we can always hope.” And so saying he arose from the table, and taking a courteous leave of each person in turn, pleading the fatigue of his journey, he retired for the night.

I left the saloon soon after, and went to my room full of all I had heard, and pondering many thoughts about the abbé and his intended voyage. I spent a sleepless night. Thoughts of home, long lost in the excitement of my career, came flocking to my brain, and a desire to revisit my country—stronger, perhaps, because undefined in its object—made me restless and feverish. It was with delight I perceived the day dawning, and dressing myself hastily, I descended into the garden. To my surprise, I found General Burke already there. He was sauntering along slowly by himself, and seemed wrapped in meditation. The noise of my approach startled him, and he looked up.

“Ah! my countryman,—so early astir?” said he, saluting me courteously. “Is this a habit of yours?”

“No, sir; I cannot claim the merit of such wakefulness. But last night I never closed my eyes. A few words you dropped in conversation in the drawing-room kept possession of my heart, and even yet I cannot expel them.”

“I saw it at the time I spoke,” replied the general, with a keen, quick glance; “you changed color twice as I mentioned the Abbé Gernon. Do you know him?”

“No, sir; it was his intended journey, not himself, for which I felt interested.”

“You would wish to accompany him, perhaps. Well, the matter is not impossible; but as time presses, and we have little leisure for mysteries, tell me frankly why are you here?”

In few words, and without a comment on any portion of my conduct, I told him the principal circumstances of my life, down to the decisive moment of my leaving the army.

“After that step,” said I, “feeling that no career can open to me here, I wish to regain my own country.”

“You are right,” said the general, slowly; “it is your only course now. The venture is not without risk,—less from the English cruisers than the French, for the abbé is well known in England, and Ireland too; but his Royalist character would find slight favor with Fouché. You are willing to run the risk, I suppose?”

“I am.”

“And to travel as the abbe's servant, at least to Falaise? there the disguise will end.”

“Perfectly so.”

“And for this service, are you also ready to render us one in return?” said he, peering at me beneath his eyelashes.

“If it involve the good faith I once swore to preserve towards the Emperor Napoleon, I refuse it at once. On such a condition, I cannot accept your aid.”

“And does your heart still linger where your pride has been so insulted?”

“It does, it does; to be his soldier once more, I would submit to everything but dishonor.”

“In that case,” said he, smiling good-naturedly, “my conscience is a clear one; and I may forward your escape with the satisfying reflection that I have diminished the enemies of his Majesty Louis the Eighteenth by one most inveterate follower of Napoleon. I shall ask no conditions of you. When are you ready?”


“Let me see; to-morrow will be the 8th,—to-morrow will do. I will write about it at once. Meanwhile, it is as well you should not drop any hint of your intended departure, except to Madame de Langeac, whose secrecy may be relied on.”

“May I ask,” said I, “if you run any risk in thus befriending me? It is an office, believe me, of little promise.”

“None whatever. Rarely a month passes over without some one or other leaving this for England. The intercourse between Rome and Ireland is uninterrupted, and has been so during the hottest period of the war.”

“This seems most unaccountable to me; I cannot understand it.”

“There is a key to the mystery, however,” said he, smiling. “The English Government have confidence in the peaceful efforts of the priesthood as regards Ireland, and permit them to hold unlimited intercourse with the Holy See, which fears France and the spirit of her Emperor. The Bourbons look to the Church as the last hope of the Restoration. It is in the Catholic religion of this country, and its traditions, that monarchy has its root. Sap one, and you undermine the other. Legitimacy is a holy relic,—like any other, the priests are the guardians of it; and as for the present ruler of France, he trusts in the spirit of the Church to increase its converts, and believes that Ireland is ripening to revolt through the agency of the priests. Fouché alone is not deceived. Between him and the Church the war is to the knife; and but for him the high seas would be more open than the road to Strasburg,—at least, to all with a shaven crown and a silk frock. Here, then, is the simple explanation of what seemed so difficult; and I believe you will find it the true one.”

“But two out of the three parties must be deceived,” said I.

“Perhaps all three are,” replied he, smiling sarcastically. “There are some, at least, who deem the return of the rightful sovereign is more to be hoped from the sabre than the crosier, and think that Rome never was true except to Rome. As to your journey, however, its only difficulty or danger is the transit through France; once at the coast, and all is safe. Your passport shall be made out as a retired sous-officier returning to his home. You will take Marboeuf in the route, and I will give you the necessary directions for discovering the abbé.”

“Is it not possible,” said I, “that he may feel no inclination to encumber himself with a fellow-traveller, and particularly one a stranger to him?”

“Have no fear on that head. Your presence, on the contrary, will give him courage, and we must let him suppose you accompany him at our suggestion.”

“Not with any implied knowledge or any connection with your views, however,” said I. “This is well understood between us?”

“Perfectly so. And now meet me here this evening, after coffee, and I will give you your final instructions, Adieu, for the present.”

He waved his hand and left me. Then, after walking a few paces, turned quickly round, and said,—

“You will remember, a blouse and knapsack are indispensable for your equipment. Adieu!”


No circumstance of any interest occurred on my journey to Marboeuf; my passport, made out in my own name as a sous-officier on leave, secured me against any interruption or delay; and on the third evening I reached the little wayside cabaret, about a league beyond the town, where I was informed by the count that the abbé would await me.

To my surprise, however, I discovered that the house was occupied by a detachment of the Marines of the Guard, proceeding from Marboeuf to the coast; with these, assuming the “camaraderie” of the service, I soon made acquaintance, and being possessed of some information about the army, my company was at once coveted by the sailors, who had no opportunity of learning the events of the campaign.

The flurried manner and the over-solicitous desire of the landlord to please, did not escape me; and taking the first opportunity that offered, I followed him into his room, and closed the door behind me.

“Has he arrived?” said I, assuming at once the tone of one with whom there need be no secrecy.

“Ha! you are the captain, then, and I was right?” said he, not replying to my question, but showing that he was aware who I was. But in an instant he resumed, “Alas! no, sir; the orders to have quarters ready for ten men reached me yesterday; and though I told his messenger that he might come in safety,—the marines never noticing any traveller,—he has evidently been afraid to venture. This is the 10th; on the 12th the vessel is to be off the coast; after that it will be too late.”

“But he may come yet.”

The man shook his head and sighed; then muttered half aloud, “It was a foolish choice to take a coward for a hazardous enterprise. The Comte de Chambord has been here twice to-day to see him, but in vain.”

“Where is he, then? at what distance from here?”

“No one knows. It must be some leagues away, however, for his messenger seems tired and weary when he comes, and never returns the same day.”

“Is it not possible he may have pushed on to the coast, finding this place occupied?”

“Ah, sir, it is plain you know him not; he has no daring like this, and would never seek a new path if the old were closed against him. But after all, it would be useless here.”

“How so?”

“The letters have not come yet, and without them he could not leave the coast. Meanwhile, be cautious: take care lest your absence should be remarked by the men; return to them now, and if anything occur, I will make a signal for you.”

The landlord's advice was well timed, for I found that the party were already becoming impatient at my delay, and wondering what had caused it.

“They say, Comrade,” said a short-set, dark-featured Breton, whose black beard and mustache left little vestige of a human face visible,—“they say that the cavalry of the Guard give themselves airs with us marines, and that our company is not good enough for them. Is this the case?”

“It is the first time I have heard the remark,” replied I, “and I hope it may be the last; with us of the Eighth I know such a feeling never existed; and yet we thought ourselves not inferior to our neighbors.”

“Then why did you leave us just now?” grumbled out two or three in a breath.

“You shall know that presently,” said I, smiling; at the same time I arose and opened the door. “You may bring in the Burgundy now, Master Joseph; we are all ready for it.”

A hearty cheer welcomed this speech, and many a rude hand was stretched forth to grasp mine; at the same instant the host, accurately divining the necessity of the moment, entered with a basket containing six bottles, whose cobwebbed necks and crusted surface bespoke the choicest bin of his cellar.

Macon! gentlemen,” said he, drawing the cork of a flask with all the steadiness of hand of one accustomed to treat Burgundy properly.

“Ah, parbleu! a generous grape, too,” said the short sailor, who spoke first, as he drained his glass and refilled it. “Allons, Comrades, 'The Emperor! '”

“The Emperor!” repeated each voice in turn, even to the poor landlord, whose caution was stronger than his loyalty.

“The Emperor, and may Heaven preserve him!” said the dark-whiskered fellow.

“The Emperor, and may Heaven forgive him!” said the host, who this time uttered the true sentiments of his heart, without knowing it.

“Forgive him!” roared three or four together,—“forgive him what?”

“For not making thee an admiral of the fleet,” said the landlord, slapping the stout sailor familiarly on the shoulder.

A burst of rude laughter acknowledged the success of this speech, and by common consent the host was elected One of the company. As the wine began to work upon the party, the dark fellow, whose grade of sergeant was merely marked by a gold cord on his cuff, and which had hitherto escaped my notice, assumed the leadership, and recounted some stories of his life; which, treating of a service so novel to me in all its details, were sufficiently interesting, though the materials themselves were slight and unimportant.

One feature struck me in particular through all he said, and gave a character most distinctive to the service he belonged to, and totally unlike what I had observed among the soldiers of the army. With them the armies of all Europe were accounted the enemy,—the Austrian, the Russian, the Italian, and the Prussian were the foes he had met and conquered in so many fields of glory. The pride he felt in his triumphs was a great but natural sentiment; involving, however, no hatred of his enemy, nor any desire to disparage his courage or his skill. With the sailor of the Empire, however, there was but one antagonist, and that one he detested with his whole heart: England was a word which stirred his passion from its very inmost recesses, and made his blood boil with intense excitement. The gay insolence of the soldier, treating his conquest as a thing of ease and certainty, had no resemblance to the collected and impassioned hate of the sailor, who felt that his victories were not such as proclaimed his superiority by evidence incontestable. The victories on land contrasted, too, so strongly with even what were claimed as such at sea, that the sailors could not control their detestation of those who had robbed them of a share of their country's praise, and made the hazardous career they followed one of mere secondary interest in the eyes of France.

A more perfect representative of this mingled jealousy and hate could not be found than Paul Dupont, the sous-officier in command of this little party. He was a Breton, and carried the ruling trait of his province into the most minute feature of his conduct. Bold, blunt, courageous, open-hearted, and fearless, but passionate to the verge of madness when thwarted, and unforgiving in his vengeance when insulted, he only believed in Brittany, and for the rest of France he cared as little as for Switzerland. His whole life had been spent at sea, until about two years previous, when from boatswain he was promoted to be a sergeant of the Marines of the Guard,—a step he regretted every day, and was now actually petitioning to be restored to his old grade, even at the sacrifice of pay and rank; such was the impression a short life ashore had made on him, and so complete his contempt for any service save that in blue water.

“Come, old 'sea-wolf,'”—such was the sobriquet Paul went by among his comrades,—“thou art dull to-night,” said an old sailor with a head as white as snow. “I haven't seen thee so low of heart this many a day.”

“What wonder, Comrade, if I am so?” retorted Paul, gruffly. “This shore service is bad enough, not to make it worse by listening to such yarns as these we have been hearing, about platoons and squadrons; of charges here and counter-marches there. Ventre d'enfer! that may amuse those who never saw a broadside or a boarding; but as for me, look ye, Comrade!”—here he addressed himself to me, laying his great hand upon my shoulder as he spoke,—“until ye can bring your mounted lines to charge up to the mouth of a battery vomiting grape and roundshot, ye must not tell your stories before old sailors, ay, though they be only Marines' of the Guard, some of them.”

“Don't be angry with old Paul, Comrade,” said the man who spoke before; “he does not mean to offend you.”

“Who told you that?” said Paul, sternly. “Why can't you sheer off, and leave me to' lay alongside of my enemy my own way?”

“You must not call me by such a name,” said I; “we all serve the Emperor, and have no enemies save his. Come, Paul, let us have a cup of wine together.”

“Agreed! an ye promise to tell no more tales of dragoons and hussars, and such like cattle, I'll drink with you. Bah! it's not Christianlike to fight a-horse-back,—it's only fit for Turks and Arabs; but for men that are made to stand fast on their own stout timbers, they have no need of four-footed beasts to carry them against an enemy. Here's my hand, Comrade; is it a bargain?”

“Willingly,” said I, laughing. “If you consent, instead, to tell us some of your own adventures, I promise faithfully not to trouble you with one of mine.”

“That's like a man,” said Paul, evidently flattered by the successful assertion of his own superiority. “And now, if the host will let us have some more wine, I'm ready.”

“Ay, ay,” cried several together; “replenish the basket once more.”

“This time, gentlemen, you must permit me to treat you. It is not every day such guests assemble under my poor roof,” said the landlord, bowing courteously, “nor am I likely soon to pass so pleasant an evening.”

“That's as you please it,” said Paul, carelessly. “If you are too good a fellow to care for money, there's three naps for the poor of the village; mayhap there may be an old sailor amongst them.”

A murmur of satisfaction at their comrade's conduct ran round the circle, as the host disappeared for the fresh supply of wine. In an instant he was back again, carrying a second basket under his arm, which he placed carefully on the table, saying, “Pomard of '87, gentlemen; I wish it were Chambertin for your sakes.”

Tête bleue!that's what I call wine,” said one, smacking his lips, as he tasted the generous liquor.

“Yes,” said Paul, “that's better than drinking the pink water they serve us out on service. Morbleu! how we 'd fight, if they'd tap an aume of that when they beat to quarters.”

The bottle now passed freely from hand to hand; and Paul, leaning back in his chair, crossed his arms before him, as, with his eyes half closed, he seemed to be occupied in remembering some long passed occurrence.

“Ay, Comrades,” said he, after a long pause, “the landlord was not so far out as you may think him. I might have been, if not an admiral of the fleet, at least a captain or a commodore by this time, if I only wished it, but I wouldn't.”

“You wouldn't, Paul?” cried three or four in a breath. “How do you mean, you wouldn't? Is it that you didn't like it?”

“That's it: I didn't like it,” replied he, glaring around him as he spoke, with a look which had repressed any tendency to mirth, if such an inclination existed in the party. “Mayhap there are some here don't believe this,” he continued, as if anxious to extort a contradiction from any one bold enough to adventure it; but none seemed disposed to meet his wishes. He resumed. “The way of it was this:—

“We sailed from Brest, seven sail and two frigates, on a cruise, in the Messidor of the year '13, (it was the time of the Republic then), and our orders were to keep together, and afford protection to all vessels of our flag; and wherever an opportunity offered to engage the enemy, to do so, if we had a fair chance of success. There was one heavy sailer of the fleet, the 'Old Torch,' and by good luck I was in her; and so, before we were eight days out, it came on to blow a hurricane from the northeast, with a great sea that threatened to poop us at every stroke. How the others weathered it I can't say; we rolled so badly that we carried away our mainmast and half our bulwarks, and when day broke we could see nothing of the rest. We were lying floundering there in the trough of the sea, with nothing left but a storm-jib to keep her head straight, and all hands at the pumps; for in working she had opened her old seams, and leaked like a basket. Well, we cut away the wreck of the mast, and we threw twelve of our guns over,—short eighteens they were, and all heavy metal,—and that lightened her a bit, and we began to have hopes of weathering out the gale, when the word was passed of a strange sail to windward.

“We looked, and there saw a great vessel looming, as large as a three-decker, coming down towards us with close-reefed topsails, but going through the water like a swordfish. At first we hoped it was one of our own; but that hope did not last long, for as she neared us we saw floating from the peak that confounded flag that never boded us good fortune. She was an English eighty-gun ship; the 'Blanche' they called her. Ventrebleu! I didn't know how they ever got so handsome a model; but, I learned after, she was a French ship, and built at Toulon,—for you see, Comrades, they never had such craft as ours. Well, down they came, as if they were about to come right over us, and never once made a signal, nor took any notice of us whatever, till quite close; when a fellow from the poop-deck shouted out in French,—bad enough it was, too,—desiring us to keep close till the sea went down a bit, and then to send a boat to them. Sacristi!there was no more about it than that; and they made a prize of us at once.

“But our captain was not one of that mould, and he answered by beating to quarters; and just as the 'Blanche' swept past, up flew our ports, and eight carronades threw in a fire of grape along her deck that made them dance to the music. Diable! the fun was short, though. Round she came in stays like a pinnace, down helm, and passed us again; when, as if her sides slit open, forty guns flashed forth their flame, and sent us a broadside that made the craft tremble again, and left our deck one mass of dead and wounded. There was no help for it now. The clear water came gushing up the hatchways from many a shothole; the craft was settling fast, and so we hauled down the ensign and made the signal of distress. The answer was, 'Keep her afloat if you can.' But, faith, our fellows didn't care much to save a prize for the English, and they would n't lend a hand to the pumps, but crossed their arms and stood still, waiting for her to go down; when what did we see but two boats lowered from the 'Blanche' and dropped into the sea, which was then running mountains high. Feu d'enfer! they don't know where there is danger and where not, these English; and that's the reason they seem so brave! For a minute or two we thought they were swamped, for they were hidden entirely; then we saw them on the top of a wave, balancing, as it might be; and again they disappeared, and the huge dark swell seemed to have swallowed them. And so we strained eyes after them, just as if our own danger was not as great as theirs; when suddenly a fearful cry for'ed was heard, and a voice called out. 'She is sinking by the head!'

“And so it was. A crash like falling timber was heard above the storm and the sea, and the 'Torch' rolled heavily from side to side, and then plunged bowsprit down, and the boiling surf met over her. There was a wild yell; some said it was a cheer; I thought it like a drowning cry,—and I remember no more. That is, I have a kind of horrid dreamy remembrance of buffeting in the waves, and shaking off a hand that grasped me by the shoulder, and then feeling the water gathering over me as I grew more and more exhausted. But the end of it was, I came to my senses some hours after, and found myself in a hammock on board the 'Blanche,' with twenty-eight of my comrades. All the rest—above two hundred and fifty—had perished, the captain and the officers among them.

“The 'Blanche' was under orders for St. Domingo, and was in no way anxious to have our company; and before a week was over we were drafted into a small sloop of war, carrying eight guns, and called the 'Fawn,' She was bound for England with despatches from Nelson,—one of their English admirals they 're always talking about. This little craft could sail like the wind, but she was crowded with sick and invalided men from some foreign station, and there was not a place the size of a dog-kennel on board of her that was not occupied. As for us, we were only prisoners, and you may think they were n't very particular about our comforts; and so they ranged us along under the bulwarks to leeward,—for they would n't spoil her sailing trim by suffering us to sit to windward; and there we were, drenched to the skin, and shivering from day to dark.

“Four days went over in this way, when, on the fifth, about eight o'clock in the morning, the lookout announced several strange sail in sight; and the same instant we perceived the officers setting the glasses to observe them. We could remark that the sight did not seem to please them much; but more we knew not, for we were not allowed to stand up nor look over the bulwarks. The lieutenant of the watch called up the commander; and when he came on deck he ordered the men to cram on more sail, and hold her head a point or so off the wind; and as soon as it was done, the rushing noise at the cutwater told the speed she was making through the sea. It was a fine day, with a fresh breeze and a nice curl from the water; and it was a handsome thing to see how the sloop bent to the gale and rose again, her canvas white as snow and steady as a board; and we soon knew, from the manner of the officers and the anxious looks they 'd give to leeward from time to time, that another vessel was in chase of the 'Fawn.' Not a man stirred on the deck save the lieutenant of the watch, who walked the quarterdeck with his glass in his hand; now lifting it to his eye, and now throwing a glance aloft to see how the sails were drawing.

“'She's gaining on us, sir,' cried the boatswain, as he went aloft, to the lieutenant. 'Shall we ease her off a little more?'

“'No, no,' said he, impatiently. 'She's coming handover-hand now. Clear the deck, and prepare for action.'

“My heart jumped to my throat as I heard the words; and waiting until the lieutenant's back was turned, I stole my eyes above the bulwark, and beheld the tall masts and taper spars of a frigate, all covered with canvas, about two miles astern of us. She was a good-sized craft, apparently of thirty-eight guns; but what I liked best about her was the broad tricolor that fluttered from her masthead. Every curl that floated on the breeze whispered liberty to my heart.

“'You know her?' said the lieutenant, laying his hand on my shoulder, before I was aware he was behind me. 'What is she?'

“'Lend me your glass, Lieutenant, and perhaps I can tell you,' said I; and with that he gave the telescope into my hand, and leaned on the bulwark beside me. 'Ha!' said I, as soon as I caught the side of her hull, 'I ought to know her well; I sailed in her for two years and a half. She's the “Créole,” of thirty-eight guns, the fastest frigate in our navy; she has six carronades on her quarterdeck, and never goes to sea without three hundred and twenty men.'

“'If she had three tiers of them we 'd not flinch from her,' said a voice behind. It was the commander himself, who was now in full uniform, and wore a belt with four pistols stuck around it.

“There is no use in denying it,—the English prepared for action like brave fellows, and soon cleared the deck of everything in the way of the guns. But what use was it? In less than an hour the 'Créole' worked to windward, and opened a fire from her long guns to which the other could make no reply. There they came plumping in,—some into the hull, some splintering through the bulwarks, and some crashing away through the rigging; and all the crew could do was to repair the mischief the distant cannonade was making.

“'It's a cowardly way your countrymen come into action, after all,' said the lieutenant, as he watched the shot hopping and skipping along the water to leeward. 'With four times our strength, they don't bear down and encourage us.'

“As he spoke, a shot cut the peak halyards in two, and down came the spar with a crash, carrying with it in its fall that ensign they 're so proud of. It was all we could do, prisoners as we were, not to cheer at this; but the faces around us did not encourage us to such a course, and we sat silently watching them.

“The moment the accident happened, twenty stout fellows were clambering up the rigging, and as many more engaged to repair the mischief. But suddenly the commander whispered something to the lieutenant; the men were called down again, and the craft was let fall off the wind, trailing the sails and the tangled rigging over her sides.

“'And the prisoners, sir?' said the lieutenant, at the close of something I could not hear.

“'Send them below,' was the short reply.

“'We cannot; the space between decks is crowded to suffocation. But here she comes.' And, as he spoke, the frigate came bearing down in gallant style, her whole deck swarming with men.

“'Down, men, down!' whispered the lieutenant, and he dropped on his knee behind the bulwark, and motioned to the rest to kneel. And I now perceived that every sailor had a drawn cutlass in his hand and pistols in his belt, as he lay crouching on the deck.

“The frigate was now so close, I could hear the commands of the officers on the quarterdeck, and the words 'Bas les branles'—the signal to board—passed from mouth to mouth. The next instant, she closed on us, and showed her tall sides towering above us.

“'Now, men!' cried the commander of the 'Fawn,' 'now, forward! 'All who care to live, there's your ground,' said he, pointing to the frigate. 'Such as like to die on a British deck, remain with me.' The boarders sprang up the side of the 'Créole' before the crew could fasten the grapples. Tonnerre de Dieu! what a moment it was! The fellows cheered like madmen, as they poured in to certain death; the lieutenant himself was one of the first on board, and fell back the same instant, dead upon his own deck. The struggle was a bloody but brief one; for a few minutes the English pressed our men back, and gained a footing on the quarterdeck, but a murderous fire from the tops cut them down in numbers, and they now fought, not for victory, but vengeance.

“'Now, Captain, now!' screamed a youth, in a lieutenant's uniform, but all covered with blood, and his face gashed with a cutlass-wound, as he leaned over the bulwark of the 'Créole,' and waved his cap in the air.

“'I'm ready,' replied the English commander, and sprang down the main hatchway as he spoke, with a pistol in his hand. At the same instant, a fearful cry burst forth from the prisoners; for, with the instinct of despair, they guessed his desperate resolve was to blow up the vessel. We were tied, wrist to wrist, and the rope run through the blocks at our back in such a way as to prevent our moving more than a few inches. But what will not the fear of a dreadful death do? With one unanimous effort we tore the lashings in pieces, and got free. I was myself the first at liberty, and sprang towards the 'Creole.' Alas! they had divined the awful doom awaiting us, and were endeavoring to shove off at once. Already there were some ten or twelve feet between the vessels. I rushed forward to gain the bowsprit, a vague hope of escape suggesting the effort. As I did so, my eyes caught sight of a book, which, with his hat, the captain threw from him as he hastened below. I stooped down and put it in my bosom,—why, I know not. Life, and life only, was my thought at that moment. Then, with lightning's speed, I ran along the deck, and out on the bowsprit.

“At this instant, the frigate shot ahead of us; I made a leap, the last effort of despair, and caught the fluke of the anchor; a friendly hand threw me a rope and dragged me on the deck. As I gained it, a thunderclap, louder than ten broadsides, broke forth, and the frigate fell over on one side as if sinking; while over her rigging and her masts flew spars and timbers, blazing and burning, amid a black smoke that filled the air on every side. Every man about dropped wounded or terrified on the deck, where they lay amid the falling fire of the wreck, and the terrible carnage. I wiped the blood from my eyes, for I was bleeding profusely from a splinter cut, and looked about me. The deck was a mass of dead and dying; their piercing cries and groans were maddening to hear. The frigate, however, was flying fast through the water; the 'Fawn' was gone!”

Tête-bleue! he blew her up?” said three or four in a breath.

Paul nodded, and resumed:—

“Ay, Comrades, and the half-dozen of her crew who stood alive on our quarterdeck cheered the explosion as if it was a victory; and one fellow, as he lay bleeding on the planks, cried out, 'See, there; look, if our gay flag is not high above yours, as it always will be! 'And that time he was right, for the spar that bore it was nigh the clouds.

“Well, to finish my story: In eight days we made Brest, and all of us who were wounded were sent on shore to the naval hospital. A sorry set we were; most of us disabled by splinter-wounds, and many obliged to suffer amputation. I was about again sooner than the rest, and was sent for one morning on board the admiral's ship, to give some account of the 'Fawn,' of which they never could hear enough; and when I came to that part where I made my escape, they all began a-laughing at my stopping to take up a book at such a moment. And one of the lieutenants said, jokingly,—

“'Well, Paul, I suppose it was the Englishman's breviary saved your life, was n't it?'

“'No, Lieutenant,' said I; 'but you 'd be mighty proud this day to have that same breviary in your possession.'

“'How so, good fellow?' said the admiral himself, old Villaret Joyeuse, who always talked like one of ourselves. 'What is this book, then, that is so precious?'

“'I 'll show it you, sir, because I 've no fear of foul play at your hands; but there's not another man of the fleet I 'd let see it,' And with that I took it out of my breast, where I always carried it, and gave it to him. Ah! if you'd seen his face,—how it flushed up as he turned over the leaves, and how his eyes sparkled with fire!

“'Paul Dupont,' said he, 'are you aware what this is?'

“'Yes, Admiral,' said I, 'as well as you are.'

“'Your fortune's made, then, my brave fellow,' said he, slapping me on the shoulder. 'The finest frigate in the English navy is a less prize than this.'

Mille tonnerres! how the others stared at me then. But I stood without minding how they looked, for I was the same Paul Dupont they laughed at a few minutes before.

“Meanwhile the admiral laid down the book on the table, and covered it with his cocked hat; and then taking a pen he wrote some lines on a piece of paper before him.

“'Will that do, Paul?' said he, handing it towards me.

“It was just this: 'Bureau of the Marine, Brest. Pay Paul Dupont the sum of ten thousand francs, for service rendered to his Imperial Majesty, and attested in a note by me Villaret Joyeuse, Admiral of France.'

“I could scarce read the lines, Comrades, for pure passion.

“'Ten thousand francs!' said I at last, as soon as I found breath,—'ten thousand francs!'

“'What!' cried the admiral, 'not content? Well, then, thou shalt have more; but I have rarely met one of your cloth with so mercenary a spirit.'

“'Stay, Admiral,' said I, as I saw him about to write a new order; 'we both are in an error here. You mistake me, and I you. An old admiral of the fleet ought to know his sailors better than to think that money is their highest reward; it never was so at least with Paul Dupont Let me have my book again.'

“'Come, come, Paul; I believe I understand you now,' laid he. 'Your warrant shall be made out this day.'

“'No, Admiral, it's too late,' said I. 'If that had come first, and from yourself, all well; but it looks like a bargain now, and I 'll not have promotion that way.'

“'Mort du diable!' said he, stamping with passion. 'But they 're all the same; these Bretons are as brutal in their obstinacy as their own cattle.'

“'You say true, Admiral,' said I; 'but if they're obstinate in wrong, they're resolute in right. You are a Breton gentleman; give me back my book.'

“'Take it,' said he, flinging it at me, 'and let me never see your face again.' And with that he left the cabin, and banged the door after him in a rage.

“And so, I went my way, Comrades, back to my ship, and served for many a long year after, carrying that book always in my breast, and thinking to myself, 'Well, what if thou art only a boatswain, Paul; thou hast wherewithal in thy keeping to make thee a commodore any day.'”

“And what can it be, then, this book?” said the party, in a breath.

“You shall see,” said Paul, solemnly; “for though I have never shown it since, nor have I ever told the story before, here it is.”

With these words he drew from his bosom a small square volume, bound in vellum, and fastened by a clasp; lettered on the cover, “Signals of the Channel Fleet.”

This was the secret of honest Paul's life; and as he turned over the leaves, he expatiated with eloquent delight on the various British emblems which were represented there, in all their brilliant coloring.

“That double streak of yellow on the black is to make all sail, Comrades,” said he. “Whenever they see us standing out to sea you may remark that signal flying.”

“And what is this large blue flag here, with all the colored bars across it?” said one.

“Ay,” cried another, “they're very fond of that ensign; what can it be?”

“Close action,” growled out Paul, sullenly, who didn't fancy even the reflective praise this question implied to the hated rival.

Sacrebleu!” said a third, “they've no other to announce a victory. Look here; it is the same flag for both.”

Paul shut up the book at this, with a muttered curse, which might have been intended either for his comrades or the English, or both together, and the whole party became suddenly silent.

It was now that the landlord's tact became conspicuous; for instead of any condoling expressions on what might have been deemed the unsuccessful result of Paul's career, he affected to think that the brave seaman was more to be envied for the possession of that volume than if he walked the deck an admiral of France.

This flattery, aided by a fresh supply of Burgundy, had full success; and from story-telling the party fell to singing,—the songs being only a more boastful detail of their prowess at sea than their prose narratives; and even here Paul maintained his supremacy.

Sleep, however, stronger than self-glorification and pride, fell on the party one by one, and they lay down at last on the tables and benches, and slumbered heavily.


I sat on my bed in the little chamber allotted me, and as the bright moonlight streamed along the floor, and lit up the wide landscape without, I hesitated within myself whether I should await the morning, or at once set forth on my way to the coast. It was true the abbé had not arrived; and without him I knew nothing of the vessel, nor where she lay, much less by what means I should induce the crew to receive me as a passenger. But my heart was fixed on gaining the coast; once there, I felt that the sea alone rolled between me and my country, and I had little doubt some means of escape would present itself.

The desire to return to Ireland, long stilled, was now become a passion. I thought some new career must there open for me, and in its active vicissitudes I should make amends for the wearisome languor of my late life. What this novel path was to be, and where to lead, I cannot say; nor am I able now, in looking back, to guess by what sophistry I persuaded myself into this belief. It was the last ray of hope within me, however, and I cherished it only the more fondly for its very uncertainty.

As I sat thus deliberating with myself what course to take, the door was cautiously opened, and the landlord entered.

“He is come,” whispered he; “and, thank Heaven! not too late.”

“The abbé?” inquired I.

“No, not the abbé; but the Comte de Chambord. The abbé will not venture; but it matters not, if you will. The letters are all ready; the sloop is off the coast; the wind is fair—”

“And not a moment to be lost,” added a deep, low voice, as the figure of a tall man, wrapped in a travelling cloak, darkened the doorway. “Leave us, Pierre; this is the gentleman, I suppose?”

“Yes, sir,” said the landlord. “Should you need a light, I 'll bring one.”

“Thank you, friend; we can dispense with any, save what the moon affords us.”

As the door closed on the retiring figure of the host, the stranger took his place beside me on the bed, and in a low voice thus began:—

“I only know, sir, that you have the full confidence of one of my stanchest and best friends, who tells me that you are willing to incur great risk, provided you gain the chance of reaching your native land. That chance—nay, I will call it that certainty—lies in my power; and, in return for the assistance, are you willing to do me a service?”

“I served the Emperor, sir; ask me not anything unworthy of one who wore his epaulette. Aught else, if it be but honorable and fair, I 'll do.”

“I have no leisure for casuistry, nor is it my humor, sir,” replied he angrily. “Neither do I seek any wondrous devotion at your hands. The service is an easy one: costs nothing at the present; involves nothing for the future.”

“The slight value you place upon it may detract but little from my objection,” said I.

Sacré ciel!” exclaimed he, in a louder voice, as he sprang from the bed and clasped his hands before him. “Is it to be ever thus? Is every step we take to be marred by some unlooked for casualty? Is the stamp of fear and vacillation to be on every act of our lives? This abbé, the creature we have made, the man whose fortune is our handiwork, could render but one service to our cause; and he fails us in our need. And now, you—”

“Beware, sir, how you speak to one who has never been accustomed to hear his name slightingly used nor his honor impugned. With your cause, whatever it be, I have no sympathy. Remember that; and remember, also, we are strangers to each other.”

“No, par Saint Denis! that we are not!” said he, seizing me by the arm, as he turned his head round, and stared me steadfastly in the face. “It was but this instant I deemed my fortune at the worst; and now I find myself mistaken. Do you know me now?” said he, throwing off his travelling cap, and letting his cloak fall from his shoulders to the ground.

“De Beauvais!” exclaimed I, thunderstruck at the sight.

“Yes, sir; the same De Beauvais whose fortunes you have blighted, whose honor you have tarnished—Interrupt me not. The mill at Hôlbrun witnessed the latter, if even the former were an error; and now we meet once more.”

“Not as enemies, however; at least on my side. You may persist, if you will, in attributing to me wrongs I never inflicted. I can better bear the imputation, unjust though it be, than involve myself in any quarrel with one I feel no anger towards. I was in hopes a few hours hence might have seen me on my way from France forever; but here, or elsewhere, I will not reply to your enmity.”

De Beauvais made no reply as I concluded, but with his arms crossed, and head bent down, seemed lost in thought.

“And so,” said he, at length, in a slow, sad voice, “you have not found the service of the Usurper as full of promise as you hoped; you have followed his banner long enough to learn how mean a thing even ambition may be, and how miserably selfish is the highest aspiration of an adventurer!”

“The Emperor was my good master,” said I, sternly; “it would ill become me to vent my disappointment on aught save my own demerits.”

“I have seen as slight deservings bring a high reward, notwithstanding,” replied he; “ay, and win their meed of praise from lips whose eulogy was honor. There was a service, Burke—”

“Stay, no more of this!” said I. “You are unjust to your own cause and to me, if you deem that the hour of baffled hopes is that in which I could see its justice. You are true and faithful to one whose fortunes look darkly. I respect the fidelity, while I will not follow its dictates. I leave the path where fame and riches abound; I only ask you to believe that I do so with honor. Let us part, then.”

“Where do you mean to go, hence?”

“I know not; a prospect of escape had led me hither. I must now bethink me of some other course.”

“Burke, I am your debtor for one kindness, at least,” said De Beauvais, after a brief pause. “You saved my life at the risk of your own. The night at the Château d'Ancre should never be forgotten by me; nor had it been, if I did not revenge my own disappointed hopes, in not seducing you to our cause, upon yourself. It may be that I wrong you in everything as in this.”

“Believe me, that you do, De Beauvais.”

“Be it as it may, I am your debtor. I came here to-night to meet one who had pledged himself to perform a service. He has failed in his promise; will you take his place? The same means of escape shall be yours. All the precautions for his safety and sure conduct shall be taken in your behalf. I ask no pledge for the honorable discharge of what I seek at your hands, save your mere assent.”

“What is it you require of me?”

“That you deliver these letters to their several addresses; that you do so with your own hands; that when questioned, as you may be, on the state of France, you will not answer as the partisan of the Usurper.”

“I understand you. Enough: I refuse your offer. Your zeal for the cause you serve must indeed be great when it blinds you to all consideration for one placed as I am.”

“It has made me forget more, sir, far more than that, as I might prove to you, were I to tell what my life has been for two years past. But for such forgetfulness there is an ample recompense, a glorious one,—the memory of our king.” He paused at these words, and in his tremulous voice and excited gesture I could read the passion that worked within him. “Come, then; there shall be no more question of a compact between us. I ask no conditions, I seek for no benefits: you shall escape. Take my horse; my servant, who is also mounted, will accompany you to Beudron, where you will find fresh horses in readiness. This passport will prevent all interruption or delay; it is countersigned by Fouché himself. At Lisieux, which you will reach by sunset, you can leave the cattle, and the boy of the cabaret will be your guide to the Falaise de Biville. The tide will ebb at eleven o'clock, and a rocket from the sloop will be your signal to embark.”

“And for this I can render nothing in return?” said I, sadly.

“Yes. It may be that in your own country you will hear the followers of our king scoffed at and derided,—called fools or fanatics, perhaps worse. I would only ask of you to bear witness that they are at least ardent in the cause they have sworn to uphold, and firm to the faith to which they have pledged themselves. This is the only service you can render us, but it is no mean one. And now, farewell!”

“Farewell, De Beauvais! But ere we separate forever, let me hear from your lips that you bear me no enmity; that we are friends, as we used to be.”

“Here is my hand. I care not if you injured me once; we can be friends now, for we are little likely to meet again as enemies. Adieu!”

While De Beauvais left the room to order the horses to be in readiness, the landlord entered it, and seemed to busy himself most eagerly in preparing my knapsack for the road.

“I trust you will be many a mile hence ere the day breaks,” said he, with an anxiety I could ill comprehend, but which at the time I attributed to his desire for the safety of one intrusted with an important mission. “And now, here come the horses.'”

A moment more, and I was seated in the saddle. A brief word at parting was all De Beauvais spoke, and turned away; and the minute after I was hurrying onward towards Beudron.


Everything occurred as De Beauvais had predicted. The authorities in the little villages we passed glanced at my passport, and as instantaneously handed it back, and we journeyed like couriers of the Emperor, without halt or impediment.

We reached Lisieux early in the evening, where, having dismissed the servant and horses, I took my way on foot towards a small fishing village, called La Hupe, where at a certain cabaret I was to find my guide to Biville.

The address of the sailor written on a card, and marked with a peculiar cipher by De Beauvais, was at once recognized by the old Norman, who welcomed me with a rude but kindly hospitality.

“Thou art more like a man to make this venture than the last three who came down here,” said he, as he slowly measured me with his eye from head to foot. “These priests they sent us never dared even to look at the coast, much less to descend the cliffs; but thou hast a look about thee of another fashion. And now, the first thing is to have something to eat, and I promise thee a goutte of brandy will not be amiss to prepare thee for what is before thee.”

“Is there, then, so much of danger in the descent?”

“Not if a man's head be steady and his hand firm; but he must have both, and a stout heart to guide them, or the journey is not over-pleasant. Art thou cool enough in time of peril to remember what has been told thee for thy guidance?”

“Yes; I hope I can promise so much.”

“Then thou art all safe; so eat away, and leave the rest to me.”

Although the sailor's words had stimulated my curiosity in the highest degree, I repressed every semblance of the feeling, and ate my supper with a well-feigned appearance of easy indifference; while he questioned me about the hopes of the Bourbon party in their secret machinations, with a searching inquisitiveness that often nearly baffled all my ingenuity in reply.

“Ah! par Saint Denis!” said he, with a deep sigh, “I see well thou hast small hope now; and, in truth, I feel as thou dost. When George Cadoudal and his brave fellows failed, where are we to look for success? I mind well the night he supped here.”

“Here, said you?”

“Ay, where you sit now,—on the same seat. There was an English officer with him. He wore a blue uniform, and sat yonder, beneath that fishing-net; the others were hid along the shore.”

“Was it here they landed, then?”

“Yes, to be sure, at the Falaise; there is not another spot to land on for miles along the coast.”

The old sailor then began a circumstantial account of the arrival of George and his accomplices from England; and told how they had one by one scaled the cliffs by means of a cord, well known in these parts, called the “smuggler's rope.” “Thou shalt see the spot now,” added he, “for there's the signal yonder.”

He pointed as he spoke to an old ruined tower, which crowned a cliff about half a mile distant, and from a loophole in which I could see a branch of ivy waving, as though moved by the wind.

“And what may that mean?”

“The cutter is in sight; as the wind is off shore, she 'll be able to come in close to-night. Indeed, if it blew from the westward, she dared not venture nearer, nor thou, either, go down to meet her. So, now let's be moving.”

About twenty minutes' walking brought us to the old signal-tower, on looking from the window of which I beheld the sea plashing full three hundred feet beneath. The dark rocks, fissured by time and weather, were abrupt as a wall, and in some places even overhung the waves that rolled heavily below. Masses of tangled seaweed and shells, which lay in the crevices of the cliffs, showed where in times of storm the wild waters were thrown; while lower down, amid fragments of rocks, the heavy beams and planks of shipwrecked vessels surged with every motion of the tide.

“You cannot see the cutter now,” said the old sailor,—“the setting sun leaves a haze over the sea; but in a few minutes more we shall see her.”

“I am rather looking for the pathway down this bold cliff,” replied I, as I strained my eyes to catch something like a way to descend by.

“Then throw thine eyes in this direction,” said the sailor, as he pointed straight down beneath the window of the tower. “Seest thou that chain there? Well, follow it a little farther, and thou may'st mark a piece of timber jutting from the rock.”

“Yes, I see it plainly.”

“Well, the path thou asketh for is beneath that spar. It is a good rope of stout hemp, and has carried the weight of many a brave fellow before now.”

“The smuggler's rope?”

“The same. Art afraid to venture, now thou seest the place?”

“You'll not find me so, friend. I have seen danger as close before now, and did not blink it.”

“Mark me well, then,” said he, laying his hand on my arm. “When thou readiest that rope, thou wilt let thyself cautiously down to a small projecting point of rock; we cannot see it here, but thou wilt soon discern it in the descent. The rope from this goes no farther, for that spot is nigh sixty fathom below us. From thence the cliff slopes sharply down about thirty or forty feet. Here thou must creep cautiously,—for the moss is dry and slippery at this season,—till thou nearest the edge. Mark me well, now: near the edge thou'lt find a large stone fast-rooted in the ground; and around that another rope is fastened, by which thou may'st reach the bottom of the precipice. There is but one place of peril in the whole.”

“The sloping bank, you mean?”

“Yes; that bit will try thy nerve. Remember, if thy foot slip, there's nothing to stop thy fall; the cliff is rounded over the edge, and the blue sea beats two hundred feet below it. And see! look yonder, far away there! Seest thou the twinkling, as of a small star, on the water?”

“The cutter will throw up a rocket, will she not?”

“A rocket!” repeated he, contemptuously; “that's some landsman's story thou hast been listening to. A rocket would bring the whole fleet of boats from Tréport on her. No, no; they know better than that: the faintest glimmer of a fishing-craft is all they 'll dare to show. But see how steadily it burns now! we must make the signal seawards.”

“Halloo, Joseph! a light there.”

A boy's voice answered from the upper part of the tower,—the same figure who made the signal towards the shore, and whose presence there I had altogether forgotten; and in a few minutes a red glare on the rocks below showed that the old man's command was obeyed, and the beacon lighted.

“Ah! they see it already,” cried he, triumphantly, pointing seawards; “they've extinguished the light now, but will show it again, from time to time.”

“But tell me, friend, how happens it that the marines of the Guard, who line this coast, do not perceive these signals?”

“And who tells thee that they do not? They may be looking, as we are now, at that same craft, and watching Her as she beats in shore; but they know better than to betray us. Ah, ma foi! the 'contrebande' is better than the Government. Enough for them if they catch some poor English prisoner now and then, and have him shot; that contents the Emperor, as they call him, and he thinks the service all that is brave and vigilant. But as to us, it is our own fault if we fall in with them; it would need the rocket you spoke of a while ago to shame them into it. There, look again,—thou seest how far in shore they've made already; the cutter is stealing fast along the water. Answer the signal, Joseph.”

The boy replenished the fire with some dry wood, and it blazed up brilliantly, illuminating the gray cliffs and dark rocks, on which the night was fast falling, but leaving all beyond its immediate sphere in deepest blackness.

“I see not, friend, by what means I am to discover this sloping cliff, much less guide my way along it,” said I, as I gazed over the precipice, and tried to penetrate the gloomy abyss below me.

“Thou 'lt have the moon at full in less than two hours; and if thou 'lt take a friend's counsel, thou 'lt have a sleep ere that time. Lay thee down yonder on those rushes; I 'll awake thee when time comes for it.”

The rather that I resolved to obey my old guide in his every direction, than from any desire for slumber at such a time, I followed his advice, and threw myself full length in a corner of the tower. In the perfect stillness of the hour, the sea alone was heard, surging in slow, minute peals through many a deep cavern below; and then, gathering for fresh efforts, it swelled and beat against the stern rocks in passionate fury. Such sounds, heard in the silence of the night, are of the saddest; nor was their influence lightened by the low, monotonous chant of the old sailor, who, seated in a corner, began to repair a fishing-net, as he sang to himself some ditty of the sea.

How strangely came the thought to my mind, that all the peril I once incurred to reach France, the hoped-for, wished-for land, I should again brave to escape from its shores! Every dream of boyish ambition dissipated, every high hope flown, I was returning to my country as poor and humble as I left it, but with a heart shorn of all the enthusiasm that gave life its coloring. In what way I could shape my future career I was not able even to guess; a vague leaning to some of England's distant colonies, some new world beyond the seas, being all my imagination could frame of my destiny. A sudden flash of light, illuminating the whole interior of the tower, startled me from my musings, while the sailor called out,—

“Come, wake up, friend! The cutter is standing in close, and a signal to make haste flying from her mast.”

I sprang to my legs, and looked out. The sea was all freckled with the moonlight, and the little craft shone like silver, as the bright beams glanced on her white sails. The tall cliffs alone preserved their gloom, and threw a dark and frowning shadow over the waves beneath them.

“I can see nothing close to shore,” said I, pointing to the dark rocks beneath the window.

“Thou'lt have the moon presently; she's rising above the crest of the hill, and then the cliffs are clear as at noonday. So, make haste! strap on that knapsack on your shoulder; high up, mind; and give thine arms full play,—that's it. Now fasten thy shoes over all; thou wert not about to wear them, surely?” said he in a tone almost derisive. “Take care, in keeping from the face of the rock, not to sway the rope; it wears the cordage. And, above all, mind well when thou reachest the cliff below; let not thy hold go before thou hast well felt thy footing. See, the moon is up already!”

As he spoke, a vast sheet of yellow light seemed to creep over the whole face of the precipice, displaying every crag and projection, and making every spot of verdure or rock brilliant in color; while, many a fathom down below, the heavy waves were seen,—now rising in all their majestic swell, now pouring back in their thousand cataracts from every fissure in the precipice. So terribly distinct did each object show, so dreadfully was each distance marked, I felt that all its former gloom and darkness were not one half so thrilling as that moonlight splendor.

“La bonne Marie guard thee now!” said the old seaman, as he wrung my hand in his strong fingers. “Be steady and cool of head, and there is no danger; and look not downwards till thou hast got accustomed to the cliff.”

As he said this, he opened a small door at the foot of the tower stair, and passing through himself, desired me to follow. I did so, and now found myself on a narrow ledge of rock, directly over the crag; below, at about ten feet, lay the chain to which the rope was attached, and to reach it was not the least perilous part of the undertaking. But in this I was assisted by the old man, who, passing a rope through a massive iron staple, gradually lowered me till my hand came opposite the chain.

“Thou hast it now,” cried he, as he saw me disengage one hand and grasp the iron links firmly.

“Yes, all safe! Good-by, friend; good-by!”

“Wait yet,” cried he again. “Let not go the cord before thou thinkest a minute or so; I have known more than one change his mind when he felt himself where thou art.”

“Mine is made up. Farewell!”

“Stay, stay!” shouted he rapidly. “See, thou hast forgotten this purse on the rock here; wait, and I will lower it with a cord.”

By this time I had grasped the chain firmly with both hands, and with the resolve of one who felt life depend on his own firmness, I began the descent. The old man's voice, as he muttered a prayer for my safety, grew fainter and fainter, till at length it ceased to reach my ears altogether.

Then, for the first time, did my heart sink within me. The words of one human being, faint and broken by distance, suggested a sense of sympathy which nerved my courage and braced my arm; but the dreary silence that followed, only broken by the booming of the sea below, was awful beyond measure.

Hand below hand I went, the space seeming never to lessen, as I strained my eyes to catch the cliff where the first rope ended. Time, as in some fearful dream, seemed protracted to years long; and I already anticipated the moment when, my strength failing, my hands would relinquish their hold, and I should be dashed upon the dark rocks below. The very sea-birds, which I startled in my descent, wheeled round my head, piercing the air with their shrill cries, and as if impatient for a prey. Above my head the frowning cliff beetled darkly; below, a depth unfathomable seemed to stretch, from whose black abyss arose the wild sounds of beating waves. More than once, too, I thought that the rope had given way above, and that I was actually falling through the air,—and held my breath in horror; then, again, the idea flashed upon me that death inevitable awaited me, and I fancied in the singing billows I could hear the wild shouts of demons rejoicing over my doom.

Through all these maddening visions, the instinct to preserve my life held its strong sway, and I clutched the knotted rope with the eager grasp of a drowning man; when suddenly I felt my foot strike a rock beneath, and then discovered I was on the cliff of which the sailor had told me. In a few seconds the sense of security imparted a thrill of pleasure to my heart, and I uttered a prayer of thankfulness for my safety.

But the fearful conviction of greater danger as suddenly succeeded. The rope I had so long trusted terminated here; the end hung listlessly on the rock, and from thence to the brow of the cliff nothing remained to afford a grip save the short moss and the dried ferns withered with the sun. The surface of this frightful ledge sloped rapidly towards the edge where was the rock around which the rope was tied.

Fatigued by my previous exertion I sat down on that moss-grown cliff and gazed out upon the sea, along which the cutter came, proudly dashing the spray from her bows, and bending gracefully with every wave. She was standing fearlessly in, for the wind was off the land, and, as she swept along, I could have fancied her directly beneath my very feet.

Arousing myself from the momentary stupor of my faculties, I began to creep down the cliff; but so slippery had the verdure become by heat, that I could barely sustain myself by grasping the very earth with my fingers. Aloud “Halloo!” was shouted from the craft, and arose in many an echo around me; I tried to reply, but could not. A second cheer saluted me, but I did not endeavor to answer it. The moment was full of peril. I had come to the last spot which offered a hold, and below me, at some feet, lay the rock, hanging, as it were, over the precipice; it seemed to me as though a sea-bird's weight might have sent it thundering into the depth beneath. The moon was on it, and I could see the rope coiled twice around it, and knotted carefully. What would I have given in that terrible minute for one tuft of grass, one slender bough, even enough to have sustained my weight for a second or two, until I should grasp the cord! But none was there.

A louder cry from the cutter now rang in my ears, and the dreadful thought of destruction now flashed on me. I fixed my eyes on the rock to measure the place; and then, turning with my face towards the cliff, I suffered myself to slip downwards. At first I went slowly; then faster and faster. At last my legs passed over the brow of the precipice. I was falling! My head reeled. I uttered a cry, and in an agony of despair threw out my hands. They caught the rope. Knot after knot slipped past my fingers in the descent ere my senses became sufficiently clear to know what was occurring. But even then the instinct of self-preservation was stronger than reason; for I afterwards learned from the boat's crew with what skill I guided myself along the face of the cliff, avoiding every difficulty of the jagged rocks, and tracking my way like the most experienced climber.

I stood upon a broad fiat rock, over which white sheets of foam were dashing. Oh, how I loved to see them curling on my feet t I could have kissed the bright water on which the moonbeams sported, for the moment of danger was passed; the shadow of a dreadful death had moved from my soul. What cared I now for the boiling surf that toiled and fretted about me? The dangers of the deep were as nothing to that I escaped from; and when the cutter's boat came bounding towards me, I minded not the oft-repeated warnings of the sailors, but plunging in, I dashed towards her on a retreating wave, and was dragged on board almost lifeless from my struggles.

The red glare of the signal-fire was blazing from the old tower as we got under weigh. I felt my eyes riveted on it as I lay on the deck of the little vessel, which now stood out to sea in gallant style. It was my last look of France, and so I felt it.


With the crew of the cutter I had little intercourse. They were Jerseymen,—that hybrid race, neither French nor English,—who followed the trade of spies and smugglers, and were true to nothing save their own interests. The skipper, a coarse, ill-featured fellow, in no respect superior to the others, leisurely perused the letter De Beauvais gave me on my departure; then, tearing it slowly, threw the pieces into the fire.

“What, then, is this?” said he, taking up a sealed packet, which I now for the first time perceived was fastened to my knapsack. “It seems meant for me; look at the address, 'Jacques Oloquette, on board the “Rouge Galant."'” And so saying, he broke the seal, and bent over the contents.

“Oh,” cried he, in a voice of triumphant delight, “this is a prize worth having,—the English signal-book!” And he held up the little volume which Paul Dupont had rescued from the “Fawn.”

“How came it here?” said I, horror-struck at the loss the poor sailor had sustained.

“Old Martin, of the 'Star,' tells me he stole it from a marine of the Guard, and that it cost him twenty-four flasks of his best Pomard before the fellow and his companions were drunk enough to make the theft practicable.”

I remembered at once the eagerness of the landlord for my departure, and the hurried anxiety of his wish that morning might find me miles off on my journey, as well as the care he bestowed on strapping my knapsack, and saw how all had occurred.

“I knew most of them already,” continued the skipper. “But here is one will serve our turn well now,—the very thing we wanted, for it saves all delay and stoppage. That flag is the signal for Admiralty despatches, which are often brought by small craft like ours when they can't spare cruisers. We 'll soon rig it out, you 'll see, and run down Channel with all our canvas set.”

He went aft as he spoke; and in a few seconds the cutter's head was directed straight towards the English coast, while, crowding on more sail, she seemed to fly through the water.

The cheering freshness of the sea-breeze, the sense of danger past, the hope of escape, all combining, raised my spirits and elevated my courage; but through all, I felt grieved beyond measure at the loss of poor Paul Dupont,—the prize the honest fellow valued next to life itself, if not above it, taken from him in the very moment of his exultation! Besides, I could not help feeling that suspicion must light on me from my sudden disappearance; and my indignation was deep, to think how such an imputation would tarnish the honor of that service I gloried in so much. “How far may such a calumny spread?” thought I. “How many lips may repeat the tale, and none be able to deny it?” Deep as was my regret at the brave Breton's loss, my anger for its consequences was still deeper; and I would willingly have perilled all my hope of reaching England to have been able to restore the book into Paul's own hand.

These feelings did not tend to draw me closer in intimacy with the skipper; whose pleasure at the acquisition was only heightened by the subtlety of its accomplishment, and who seemed never so happy as when repeating some fragment of the landlord's letter, and rejoicing at the discomfiture the brave sailor must have experienced on discovering his loss. To witness the gratification a coarse nature feels in some unworthy but successful action, is the heaviest penalty an honorable mind can experience when unhappily its possessor has been in any way accessory to the result. With these reflections I fell off to sleep, and never woke till the bright sun was shining over the white-crested water, and the craft breasting the waves with a strong breeze upon her canvas.

As we held on down Channel, we passed several ships of war beating up for Spithead; but our blue bunting, curiously streaked with white, was a signal which all acknowledged, and none ventured to retard. Thus passed the first day: as night was falling, we beheld the Needles on our lee, and with a freshening breeze, held on our course.

A second morning broke. And now the sea was covered with the white sails of a magnificent fleet, bound for the West Indies; at least, so the skipper pronounced it. It was indeed a glorious sight to see the mighty vessels obeying the signals of the flag-ship, and shaping their course through the blue water as if instinct with life and reason. They were far seaward of us, however; for now we hugged the land, as the skipper was only desirous of an opportunity to land me unobserved before he proceeded on his own more immediate enterprise,—the smuggling of some hogsheads of brandy on the coasts of Ireland.

Left to my own thoughts,—the memories of my past life,—I dreamed away the hours unconsciously, and as the time sped on, I knew not of its flight. Some strange sail, seen from afar off, would for an instant arouse my attention; but it was a mere momentary effect, and I fell back into my musings, as though they had never been interrupted. As I look back upon that voyage now, and think of the dreamy listlessness in which its hours were passed, I can half fancy that certain periods of our lives are destined to sustain the part which night performs in our daily existence, and by their monotony contribute to that renewal of energy and vigor so essential after times of labor and exertion. It seemed to me as though, the period of exertion past, I was regaining in rest and repose the power for future action; and I canvassed every act of the past to teach me more of my own heart, and to instruct me for my guidance in life after.

“You can land now, whenever you please,” said the skipper to me, as by a faint moonlight we moved along the waveless sea. “We can put you ashore at any moment here.”

I started with as much surprise as though the thought had never occurred to me; and without replying, I leaned over the bulwark, and gazed at the faint shadows of tall headlands about three miles distant.

“How do you call that bluff yonder?” said I, carelessly.

“Wicklow Head.”

“Wicklow Head! Ireland!” cried I, with a thrill of ecstasy my heart had never felt for many a day before. “Yes, yes; land me there,—now, at once!” said I, as a thousand thoughts came rushing to my mind, and hopes too vague for utterance, but palpable enough to cherish.

With the speed their calling teaches, the crew lowered the boat, and as I took my place in the stern, pulled vigorously towards the shore. As the swift bark glided along the shallow sea, I could scarce restrain my impatience from springing out and rushing on land. Without family or friend, without one to welcome or meet me, still it was home,—the only home I ever had.

The sharp keel grated on the beach; its sound vibrated within my heart. I jumped on shore; a few words of parting, and the men backed their oars; the boat slipped fast through the water. The cutter, too, got speedily under weigh again, and I was alone. Then the full torrent of my feelings found their channel, and I burst into tears. Oh! they were not tears of sorrow; neither were they the outpourings of excessive joy. They were the utterance of a heart loaded with its own unrelieved griefs, who now found sympathy on touching the very soil of home. I felt I was no longer friendless. Ireland, my own dear native country, would be to me a place of kindred and family, and I fell upon my knees, and blessed it.

Following a little path, which led slantingly up the cliff, I reached the top as day was beginning to break, and gained a view of the country. The range of swelling hills, dotted with cottages and waving with wood; the fields of that emerald green one sees not in other lands; the hedge-rows bounding the little farms,—all so unlike the spreading plains of France,—struck me with delight, and it was with a rapture of happiness I called the land my country.

Directing my steps towards Dublin, I set out at a good pace, but following a path which led near the cliffs, in preference to the highroad; for I was well aware that my appearance and dress would expose me to curiosity, and perhaps subject me to more serious annoyance. My first object was to learn some news of my brother; for although the ties of affection had been long since severed between us, those of blood still remained, and I wished to hear of, and it might be to see him, once more. For some miles I had kept my eyes directed towards a little cabin which crowned a cliff that hung over the sea; and this I reached at last, somewhat wearied and hungry.

As I followed a little footpath which conducted to the door, a fierce terrier rushed out as if to attack me, but was immediately restrained by the voice of a man within, calling, “Down, Vicksey! down, you baste!” and the same moment a stout, middle-aged man appeared at the door.

“Don't be afeard, sir; she's not wicked, but we're unused to strangers down here.”

“I should think so, friend, from my path,” said I, throwing a glance at the narrow footway I had followed for some miles, over hill and precipice; “but I am unacquainted with the country, and was looking out for some house where I might obtain a breakfast.”

“There's a town about three miles down yonder, and a fine inn, I 'm tould, sir,” replied he, as he scrutinized my appearance with a shrewd eye; “but if I might make so bould, maybe you 'd as lief not go there, and perhaps you 'd take share of what we have here?”

“Willingly,” said I, accepting the hospitable offer as freely as it was made, and entered the cabin at once.

A good-featured countrywoman and some young children were seated at the table, where a large dish of potatoes and some fresh fish were smoking, a huge jug of milk occupying the middle of the board. The woman blushed as she heard that her husband had invited a gentleman to partake of his humble meal; but the honest fellow cared little for the simple fare he offered with so good a grace, and placed my chair beside his own with the air of one who was more anxious for his guest's comfort than caring what impression he himself might make upon him.

After some passing words about the season and the state of the tides,—for my host was a fisherman,—I turned the conversation on the political condition of the country, avowing frankly that I had been for some years absent, and was ignorant of what had occurred meantime.

“'Twas that same I was thinking, sir,” said he, replying to the first and not the latter part of my remark. “When I saw your honor's face, and the beard you wore, I said to myself you wor a Frenchman.”

“You mistook there, then; I am your countryman, but have passed a good many years in France.”

“Fighting for Boney?” said he, as his eyes opened wide with surprise to behold one actually before him who might have served under Napoleon.

“Yes, my good friend, even so; I was in the army of the Emperor.”

“Tare an ages! then, are they coming over here now?” cried he, almost gasping in his eagerness.

“No, no,” replied I, gravely; “and be thankful, too, for it, for your own and your children's sakes, that you see not a war raging in the fields and cities of your native land. Be assured, whatever wrongs you suffer,—I will not dispute their existence, for, as I told you, I am ignorant of the condition of the country,—but whatever they may be, you can pay too dearly for their remedy.”

“But sure they 'd be on our side, would n't they?”

“Of course they would; but think you that they 'd fight your battles without their price? Do you believe that Frenchmen so love you here that they would come to shed their blood in your cause without their own prospect of advantage?”

“They hate the English, I'm tould, as bad as we do ourselves.”

“They do so, and with more of justice for their hate. But that dislike might suffice to cause a war; it never would reward it. No, no; I know something of the spirit of French conquest. I glory in the bravery and the heroism that accomplished it; but I never wish to see my own country at the mercy of France. Whose soldier would you become if the Emperor Napoleon landed here to-morrow?—his. Whose uniform would you wear, whose musket carry, whose pay receive, whose orders obey?—his, and his only. And how long, think you, would your services be limited to home? What should prevent your being sent away to Egypt, to Poland, or to Russia? How much favor would an Irish deserter receive from a French court-martial, think you? No, good friend; while you have this warm roof to shelter you, and that broad sea is open for your industry and toil, never wish for foreign aid to assist you.”

I saw that the poor fellow was discouraged by my words, and gradually led him to speak of those evils for whose alleviation he looked to France. To my surprise, however, he descanted less on political grievances than those which affect the well-being of the country socially. It was not the severity of a Government, but the absence of encouragement to industry,—the neglect of the poor,—which afflicted him. England was no longer the tyrant; the landlord had taken her place. Still, with the pertinacity of ignorance, he visited all the wrongs on that land from which originally his first misfortunes came, and with perverse ingenuity would endeavor to trace out every hardship he suffered as arising from the ill-will and hatred the Saxon bore him.

It was easy to perceive that the arguments he used were not of his own devising; they had been supplied by others, in whose opinion he had confidence; and though valueless and weak in reality, to him they were all-convincing and unanswerable,—not the less, perhaps, that they offered that value to self-love which comes from attributing any evils we endure to causes outside and independent of ourselves. These, confronted with extravagant hopes of what would ensue should national independence be established, formed his code; and however refuted on each point, a certain conviction, too deeply laid to be disturbed by any opposing force, remained; and in his “Well, well, God knows best! and maybe we'll have better luck yet,” you could perceive that he was inaccessible to any appeal except from the quarter which ministered to his discontent and disaffection.

One thing was clear to me from all he said, that if the spirit of open resistance no longer existed towards England, it was replaced by as determined and as rancorous hatred,—a brooding, ill-omened dislike had succeeded, to the full as hostile, and far less easily subdued. How it would end,—whether in the long-lingering fear which wastes the energies and saps the strength of a people, or in the conflict of a civil war, the prospect was equally ruinous.

Sadly pondering on these things, I parted with my humble host, and set out towards the capital. If my conversation with the Irishman had taught me somewhat of the state of feeling then current in Ireland, it also conveyed another and very different lesson; it enabled me to take some account of the change years had effected in my own sentiments. As a boy, high-flown, vague, and unsettled ideas of national liberty and independence had made me look to France as the emancipator of Europe. As a man, I knew that the lust of conquest had extinguished the love of freedom in Frenchmen; that they who trusted to her did but exchange the dominion of their old masters for the tyranny of a new one; while such as boldly stepped forward in defence of their liberties, found that there was neither mercy nor compassion for the conquered.

I had seen the Austrian prisoners and the Russian led captive through the streets of Paris; I had witnessed the great capital of Prussia in its day of mourning after Jena; and all my idolatry for the General scarce balanced my horror of the Emperor, whose vengeance had smitten two nations thus heavily: and I said within my heart, “May my countrymen, whatever be their day of need, never seek alliance with despotic France!”


It was about nine o'clock of a calm summer evening as I entered Dublin,—nearly the same hour at which, some ten years before, I had approached that city, poor, houseless, friendless; and still was I the same. In that great capital of my country I had not one to welcome me; not one who would rejoice at my coming, or feel any interest in my fortunes. This indeed was loneliness,—utter solitude. Still, if there be something which weighs heavily on the heart in the isolation of one like me, there is a proportionate sense of independence of his fellow-man that sustains the courage and gives energy to the will. I felt this as I mixed with the crowds that thronged the streets, and shrank not from the inquisitive glances which my questionable appearance excited as I passed.

Though considerable changes had taken place in the outskirts of the capital since I had seen it last, the leading thoroughfares were just as I remembered them; and as I walked along Dame Street, and one by one each familiar object caught my eye, I could almost have fancied the long interval since I had been there before like a mere dream. National physiognomy, too, has a strange effect on him who has been long absent from his country. Each face you meet seems well known. The traits of features, to which the eye was once so well accustomed, awake a memory of individuals, and it is sometimes a moat difficult task to distinguish between the acquaintance and the passing stranger.

This I experienced at every moment; and at length, as I stood gazing on the space before the Bank, and calling to mind the last scene I witnessed there, a tall, strongly-built man brushed close past me, and then turning round, fixed a steady and searching look on me. As I returned his stare, a sudden thought flashed upon me that I had seen the face before; but where, how, and when, I could not call to mind. And thus we stood silently confronting each other for some minutes.

“I see you are a stranger here, sir,” said he, touching his hat courteously; “can I be of service to you with any information as to the city?”

“I was curious to know, sir,” said I, still more puzzled by the voice than I had been by the features of the stranger, “if Miley's Hotel, which was somewhere in the neighborhood, exists still?”

“It does, sir; but it has changed proprietors several times since you knew it,” replied he, significantly. “The house is yonder, where you see that large lamp. I perceive, sir, I was mistaken in supposing you a foreigner. I wish you good-evening.” And again saluting me, he resumed his way.

As I crossed the street towards the hotel, I remarked that he turned as if to watch me, and became more than ever embarrassed as to who he might be.

The doorway of the hotel was crowded with loungers and idlers of every class, from the loitering man about town to the ragged newsvendor, between whom, whatever disparity of condition existed, a tone of the most free-and-easy condition prevailed; the newsmen interpolating, amid the loud announcements of the latest intelligence, the reply to the observation beside him.

One figure was conspicuous in the group. He was a short, dwarfish creature, with an enormous head, covered with a fell of black hair, falling in masses down his back and on his shoulders. A pair of fierce, fiery black eyes glared beneath his heavy brows; and a large, thick-lipped mouth moved with all the glib eloquence of his class and calling. Fearfully distorted legs and club feet gave to his gait a rolling motion, which added to the singularity of his whole appearance.

Terry Regan was then at the head of his walk in Dublin; and to his capacious lungs and voluble tongue were committed the announcement of those great events which, from time to time, were given to the Irish public through the columns of the “Correspondent” and the “Dublin Journal.”

I soon found myself in the crowd around this celebrated character, who was, as usual, extolling the great value of that night's paper by certain brief suggestions regarding its contents.


“Here's the whole, full, and true account (bad luck to the less!) of the great and sanguinary battle between Boney and the Roosians; with all the particklars about the killed, wounded, and missing; with what Boney said when it was over.”

“What was that, Terry?”

“Hould yer peace, ye spalpeen! Is it to the likes of yez I 'd be telling cabinet sacrets? (Here, yer honor),—'Falkner,' is it, or 'The Saunders'. With the report of Mr. O'Gogorman's grand speech in Ennis on the Catholic claims. There's, yer sowl, there's fippence worth any day ay the week. More be token, the letter from Jemmy O'Brien to his wife, wid an elegant epic poem called 'The Gauger.' Bloody news, gentlemen! bloody news! Won't yez sport a tester for a sight of a real battle, and ten thousand kilt; with 'The Whole Duty of an Informer, in two easy lessons.' The price of stocks and shares—Ay, Mr. O'Hara, and what boroughs is bringing in the market.”

This last sally was directed towards a large, red-faced man, who good-humoredly joined in the laugh against himself.

“And who's this, boys?” cried the fellow, turning suddenly his piercing eyes on me, as I endeavored, step by step, to reach the door of the hotel. “Hurrool look at his beard, acushla! On my conscience, I wouldn't wonder if it was General Hoche himself. 'Tis late yer come, sir,” said he, addressing me directly; “there's no fun here now at all, barrin' what Beresford has in the riding-house.”

“Get away, you ruffian!” said a well-dressed and respectable-looking man, somewhat past the middle of life; “how dare you permit your tongue to take liberties with a stranger? Allow me to make room for you, sir,” continued he, as he politely made an opening in the crowd, and suffered me to enter the house.

“Ah, counsellor, dear, don't be cross,” whined out the newsvendor; “sure, isn't it wid the bad tongue we both make our bread. And here,” vociferated he once more,—“and here ye have the grand dinner at the Lord Mayor's, wid all the speeches and toasts; wid the glorious, pious, and immortial memory of King William, who delivered us from Popery (by pitched caps), from slavery (by whipping), from brass money (by bad ha'pence), and from wooden shoes (by bare feet). Haven't we reason to bless his—? Ay, the heavens be his bed! 'Tis like Molly Crownahon's husband he was.”

“How was that, Terry?” asked a gentleman near.

“Take a 'Saunders,' yer honor, and I 'll tell you.”

“Here, then, here's fippence; and now for the explanation.”

“Molly Crownahon, yer honor, was, like us poor craytures, always grateful and contented wid the Lord's goodness to us, even in taking away our chief comfort and blessing,—the darling up there on the horse! (Ah, 'tis an elegant sate ye have, without stirrups!) And she went one day to say a handful of prayers oyer his grave,—the husband's, ye mind,—and sure if she did, when she knelt down on the grass she sprung up again as quick as she went down, for the nettles was all over the place entirely. 'Bad scran to ye, Peter!' says she, as she rubbed her legs,—'bad scran to ye! living or dead, there was always a sting in ye.'”


As the latter part of this speech was addressed in a tone of apostrophe to the statue of King William, it was received by the assembled crowd with a roar of laughter.

By this time I had entered the house, and only bethought me how little suited was the great hotel of the city to pretensions as humble as mine. It was now, however, too late to retreat, and I entered the coffee-room, carrying my knapsack in my hand. As I passed up the room in search of a vacant table, the looks of astonishment my appearance excited on each side were most palpable evidences that the company considered me as an interloper. While some contented themselves with a stare of steady surprise, others, less guarded in their impertinence, whispered with, and even winked at their neighbors, to attract attention towards me.

Offensive as this unquestionably was, it amazed even more than it annoyed me. In France, such a display of feeling would have been impossible; and the humblest soldier of the army would not have been so received had he deemed fit to enter Beauvilliers' or Véry's.

Whether hurt at this conduct, and consequently more alive to affront from any quarter, or that the waiters participated in the sentiments of their betters, I cannot exactly say; but I certainly thought their manner even less equivocally betrayed the same desire of impertinence. This was not long a mere suspicion on my part; for on inquiring whether I could have a room for the night, the waiter, touching my knapsack, which lay on the ground beside me, with his foot, replied,—

“Is this your luggage, sir?”

Amazement so completely mastered my indignation at this insolence, that I could make no answer but by a look. This had its effect, however; and the fellow, without further delay, bustled off to make the inquiry. He returned in a few minutes with a civil message, that I could be accommodated, and having placed before me the simple meal I ordered, retired.

As I sat over my supper, I could not help feeling that unless memory played me false, the company were little like the former frequenters of this house. I remembered it of old, when Bubbleton and his brother officers came there; and when the rooms were thronged with members of both Houses of Parliament,—when peers and gentlemen of the first families were grouped about the windows and fireplaces, and the highest names of the land were heard in the din of recognition; handsome equipages and led horses stood before the doors. But now the ragged mob without was scarce a less worthy successor to the brilliant display than were the company within to the former visitants. A tone of pretentious impertinence, an air of swagger and mock defiance,—the most opposite to the polished urbanity which once prevailed,—was now conspicuous; and in their loud speech and violent gesticulation, it was easy to mark how they had degenerated from that high standard which made the Irish gentleman of his day the most polished man of Europe.

If in appearance and manner they fell far short of those my memory recalled, their conversation more markedly still displayed the long interval between them. Here, of old, were retailed the latest news of the debate,—the last brilliant thing of Grattan, or the last biting retort of Flood; here came, hot from debate, the great champions of either party to relax and recruit for fresh efforts; and in the groups that gathered around them you might learn how great genius can diffuse its influence and scatter intelligence around it,—as the Nile waters spread plenty and abundance wherever they flow: high and noble sentiments, holy aspirations and eloquent thoughts, made an atmosphere, to breathe which was to feel an altered nature. But now a vapid mixture of conceit and slang had usurped the place of these, and a tone of vulgar self-sufficiency unhappily too much in keeping with the externals of those who displayed it: the miserable contentions of different factions had replaced the bolder strife of opposite parties, and provincialism had put its stamp on everything. The nation, too, if I might trust my ears with what fell around me, had lost all memory of its once great names, and new candidates for popular favor figured in their places.

Such were some of the changes I could mark, even as I sat. But my attention was speedily drawn from them by a circumstance more nearly concerning myself. This was the appearance in the coffee-room of the gentleman who first addressed me in the street.

As he passed round the room, followed by a person whose inferiority was evident, he was recognized by most of those present, many of whom shook him warmly by the hand, and pressed him to join their parties. But this he declined, as he continued to walk slowly on, scrutinizing each face as he went. At last I saw his eyes turn towards me. It was scarcely a glance, so rapid was it, and so quickly were his looks directed to a different quarter; but I could mark that he whispered something to a person who followed, and then, after carelessly turning over a newspaper on the table, sauntered from the room. As he did so, the shaggy head of the dwarf newsvendor peeped in, and the great black eyes took a survey of the coffee-room, till finally they settled on me.

“Ah!” cried the fellow, with a strange blending of irony and compassion in his voice; “be gorra, I knew how it would be,—the major has ye!” At this a general laugh broke out from all present, and every eye was fixed on me.

Meanwhile the follower had taken his place nearly opposite me at the table, and was busily engaged examining a paper which he had taken from his pocket.

“May I ask, sir, if your name be Burke?” said he, in a low voice, across the table.

I started with amazement to hear my name pronounced where I believed myself so completely a stranger, and in my astonishment, forgot to answer.

“I was asking, sir—” repeated he.

“Yes, you are quite correct,” interrupted I; “that is my name. May I beg to know, in return, for what purpose you make the inquiry?”

“Thomas Burke, sir?” continued he, inattentive to my observation, and apparently about to write the name on the paper before him.

I nodded, and he wrote down the words.

“That saves a deal of trouble to all of us, sir,” said he, as he finished writing. “This is a warrant for your arrest; but the major is quite satisfied if you can give bail for your appearance.”

“Arrest!” repeated I; “on what charge am I arrested?”

“You'll hear in the morning, I suppose,” said he, quietly. “What shall we say about the bail? Have you any acquaintance or friend in town?”

“Neither; I am a perfect stranger here. But if you are authorized to arrest me, I here surrender myself at once.”

By this time, several persons of the coffee-room had approached the table, and among the rest the gentleman who so politely made way for me in the crowd to reach the door.

“What is it, Roche?” said he, addressing the man at the table; “a warrant?”

“Yes, sir; for this gentleman here. But we can take bail, if he has it.”

“I have told you already that I am a stranger, and know no one here.”

The gentleman threw his eyes over the warrant, and then looking me steadily in the face, muttered in a whisper to the officer, “Why, he must have been a boy, a mere child, at the time.”

“Very true, sir; but the major says it must be done. Maybe you'd bail him yourself.”

These words were added in a tone of half irony, as the fellow gave a sly look beneath his eyelashes.

“I tell you, again,” said I, impatient at the whole scene, “I am quite ready to accompany you.”

“Is this your name, sir?” said the strange gentleman, addressing me, as he pointed to the warrant.

“Yes,” interposed the officer, “there's no doubt about that; he gave it himself.”

“Come, come, then, Roche,” said he, cajolingly; “these are not times for undue strictness. Let the gentleman remain where he is to-night, and to-morrow he will attend you. You can remain here, if you like, with him.”

“If you say so, I suppose we may do it,” replied the officer, as he folded up the paper, and arose from the table.

“Yes, yes; that's the proper course. And now,” said he, addressing me, “will you permit me to join you while I finish this bottle of claret?”

I could have no objection to so pleasant a proposal; and thus, for the time at least, ended this disagreeable affair.


“I perceive, sir,” said the stranger, seating himself at my table, “they are desirous to restore an antiquated custom in regard to you. I thought the day of indemnities was past and gone forever.”

“I am ignorant to what you allude.”

“The authorities would make you out an emissary of France, sir,—as if France had not enough on her hands already, without embroiling herself in a quarrel from which no benefit could accrue; not to speak of the little likelihood that any one on such an errand would take up his abode, as you have, in the most public hotel of Dublin.”

“I have no apprehensions as to any charges they may bring against me. I am conscious of no crime, saving having left my country a boy, and returning to it a man.”

“You were in the service of France, then?”

“Yes; since 1801 I have been a soldier.”

“So long? You must have been but a mere boy when you quitted Ireland. How have they connected you with the troubles of that period?”

I hesitated for a second or two, uncertain what answer, if any, I should return to this abrupt question. A glance at the manly and frank expression of the stranger's face soon satisfied me that no unworthy curiosity had prompted the inquiry; and I told him in a few words, how, as a child, the opinions of the patriotic party had won me over to embark in a cause I could neither fathom nor understand. I traced out rapidly the few leading events of my early career down to the last evening I spent in Ireland. When I came to this part of my story, the stranger became unusually attentive, and more than once questioned me respecting the origin of my quarrel with Crofts, and the timely appearance of Darby; of whose name and character, however, I gave him no information, merely speaking of him as an old and attached follower of my family.

“Since that period, then, you have not been in Ireland?” said he, as I concluded.

“Never: nor had I any intention of returning until lately, when circumstances induced me to leave the Emperor's service; and from very uncertainty I came back here, without well knowing why.”

“Of course, then, you have never heard the catastrophe of your adventure with Crofts. It was a lucky hit for him.”

“How so? I don't understand you.”

“Simply this: Crofts was discovered in the morning, severely wounded, where you left him; his account being, that he had been waylaid by a party of rebels, who had obtained the countersign of the night, and passed the sentry in various disguises. You yourself—for so, at least, I surmise it must have been—were designated the prime mover of the scheme, and a Government reward was offered for your apprehension. Crofts was knighted, and appointed to the staff,—the reward of his loyalty and courage; of the exact details of which my memory is unfortunately little tenacious.”

“And the truth of the occurrence was never known?”

“What I have told you is the only version current. I have reason to remember so much of it, for I was then, and am still, one of the legal advisers of the Crown, and was consulted on the case; of which, I confess, I always had my misgivings. There was a rage, however, for rewarding loyalty, as it was termed at the period, and the story went the round of the papers. Now, I fancy Crofts would just as soon not see you back again; he has made all he can of the adventure, and would as lief have it quietly forgotten.”

“But can I suffer it to rest here? Is such an imputation to lie on my character as he would cast on me?”

“Take no steps in the matter on that score: vindication is time enough when the attack is made directly; besides, where should you find your witness? where is the third party who could prove your innocence, and that all you did was in self-defence? Without his testimony, your story would go for nothing. No, no; be well satisfied if the charge is suffered to sleep, which is not unlikely. Crofts would scarcely like to confess that his antagonist was little more than a child; his prowess would gain nothing by the avowal. Besides, the world goes well with him latterly; it is but a month ago, I think, he succeeded unexpectedly to a large landed property.”

The stranger, whose name was M'Dougall, continued to talk for some time longer; most kindly volunteered to advise me in the difficult position I found myself; and having given me his address in town, wished me a goodnight and departed.

It was to no purpose I laid my head on my pillow. Tired and fatigued as I was, I could not sleep; the prospect of fresh troubles awaiting me made me restless and feverish, and I longed for day to break, that I might manfully confront whatever danger was before me, and oppose a stout heart to the arrows of adverse fortune. My accidental meeting with the stranger also reassured my courage; and I felt gratified to think that such rencontres in life are the sunny spots which illumine our career in the world, the harbingers of bright days to come.

This feeling was still more strongly impressed on me as I entered the small room on the ground-floor at the Castle, where was the secretary's office, and beheld M'Dougall seated in an armchair, reading the newspaper of the day. I could not help connecting his presence there with some kindly intention towards me, and already regarded him as my friend. Major Barton stood at the secretary's side, and whispered from time to time in his ear.

“I have before me certain information, sir,” said the secretary, addressing me, “that you were connected with parties who took an active part in the late rebellion in this country, and by them sent over to France to negotiate co-operation and assistance from that quarter,” (Barton here whispered something, and the secretary resumed), “and in continuance of this scheme are at present here.”

“I have only to observe, sir, that I left Ireland a mere boy, when, whatever my opinions might have been, they were, I suspect, of small moment to his Majesty's Government; that I have served some years in the French army, during which period I neither corresponded with any one here, nor had intercourse with any from Ireland; and lastly, that I have come back unaccredited by any party, not having, as I believe, a single acquaintance in the island.”

“Do you still hold a commission in the French service?”

“No, sir; I resigned my grade as captain some time since.”

“What were your reasons for that step?”

“They were of a purely personal nature, having no concern with politics of any sort; I should, therefore, ask of you not to demand them. I can only say, they reflect neither on my honor nor my loyalty.”

“His loyalty! Would you ask him, sir, how he applies the term, and to what sovereign and what government the obedience is rendered?” said Barton, with a half smile of malicious meaning.

“Very true, Barton; the question is most pertinent.”

“When I said loyalty, sir,” said I, in answer, “I confess I did not express myself as clearly as I intended. I meant, however, that as an Irishman, and a subject of his Majesty George the Third, as I now am, no act of mine in the French service ever compromised me.”

“Why, surely you fought against the allies of your own country?”.

“True, sir. I speak only with reference to the direct interests of England. I was the soldier of the Emperor, but never a spy under his Government.”

“Your name is amongst those who never claimed the indemnity? How is this?”

“I never heard of it; I never knew such an act was necessary. I am not guilty of any crime, nor do I see any reason to seek a favor.”

“Well, well; the gracious intentions of the Crown lead us to look leniently on the past. A moderate bail for your appearance when called on, and your own recognizances for the same object, will suffice.”

“I am quite willing to do the latter; but as to bail, I repeat it, I have not one I could ask for such a service.”

“No relative? no friend?”

“Come, come, young gentleman,” said M'Dougall, speaking for the first time; “recollect yourself. Try if you can't remember some one who would assist you at this conjuncture.”

Basset was the only name I could think of; and however absurd the idea of a service from such a quarter, I deemed that, as my brother's agent, he would scarce refuse me. I thought that Barton gave a very peculiar grin as I mentioned the name; but my own securities being entered into, and a few formal questions answered, I was told I was at liberty to seek out the bail required.

Once more in the streets, I turned my steps towards Basset's house, where I hoped, at all events, to learn some tidings of my brother. I was not long in arriving at the street, and speedily recognized the old house, whose cobwebbed windows and unwashed look reminded me of former times. The very sound of the heavy iron knocker awoke its train of recollections; and when the door was opened, and I saw the narrow hall, with its cracked lamp and damp, discolored walls, the whole heart-sinking with which they once inspired me came back again, and I thought of Tony Basset when his very name was a thing of terror to me.

Mr. Basset, I was told, was at court, and I was shown into the office to await his return. The gloomy little den,—I knew it well, with its dirty shelves of dirtier papers, its old tin boxes, and its rickety desk, at which two meanly-dressed starveling youths were busy writing. They turned a rapid glance towards me as I entered; and as they resumed their occupation, I could hear a muttered remark upon my dress and appearance, the purport of which I did not catch.

I sat for some time patiently, expecting Basset's arrival, but as the time stole by, I grew wearied with waiting, and determined on ascertaining, if I might, from the clerks, some intelligence concerning my brother.

“Have you any business with Mr. Burke?” said the youth I addressed, while his features assumed an expression of vulgar jocularity.

“Yes,” was my brief reply.

“Wouldn't a letter do as well as a personal interview?” said the other, with an air of affected courtesy.

“Perhaps so,” I replied, too deeply engaged in my own thoughts to mind their flippant impertinence.

“Then mind you direct your letter 'Churchyard, Loughrea;' or, if you want to be particular, say 'Family vault.'”


“Is he dead? Is George dead?”

“That's hard to say,” interposed the other; “but they've buried him, that's certain.”

Like a stunning blow, the shock of this news left me unable to speak or hear. A maze of confused thoughts crossed and jostled each other in my brain, and I could neither collect myself nor listen to what was said around me. My first clear memory was of a thousand little childish traits of love which had passed between us. Tokens of affection long forgotten now rushed freshly to my mind; and he whom a moment before I had condemned as wanting in all brotherly feeling, I now sorrowed for with true grief. The low and vulgar insolence of the speakers made no impression on me; and when, in answer to my questions, they narrated the manner of his death,—a fever contracted after some debauch at Oxford,—I only heard the tidings, but did not notice the unfeeling tone it was conveyed in.

My brother dead! the only one of kith or kindred belonging to me. How slight the tie seemed but a few moments back! what would I not give for it now? Then, for the first time, did I know how the heart can heap up its stores of consolation in secrecy, and how unconsciously the mind can dwell on hopes it has never confessed even to itself. How I fancied to myself our meeting, and thought over the long pent-up affection years of absence had accumulated, now flowing in a gushing stream from heart to heart I The grave is indeed hallowed when the grass of the churchyard can cover all memory save that of love. We dwell on every good gift of the lost one, as though no unworthy thought could cross that little mound of earth, the barrier between two worlds. Sad and sorrow-struck, I covered my face with my hands, and did not notice that Mr. Basset had entered, and taken his place at the desk.

His voice, every harsh tone of which I well remembered, first made me aware of his presence. I lifted my eyes, and there he stood, little changed indeed since I had seen him last. The hard lines about the mouth had grown deeper, the brow more furrowed, and the hair more mixed with gray, but in other respects he was the same. As I gazed at him I could not help fancying that time makes less impression on men of coarse, unfeeling mould, than on natures of a finer temper. The world's changes leave no trace on the stern surface of the one, while they are wearing deep tracks of sorrow in the other.

“Insert the advertisement again, Simms,” said he, addressing one of the clerks, “and let it appear in some paper of the seaport towns. Among the Flemish or French smugglers who frequent them, there might be some one to give the information. They must be able to show that though Thomas Burke—”

I started at the sound of my name. The motion surprised him; he looked round and perceived me. Quick and piercing as his glance was, I could not trace any sign of recognition; although, as he scanned my features, and suffered his eyes to wander over my dress, I perceived that his was no mere chance or cursory observation.

“Well, sir,” said he, at length, “is your business here with me?”

“Yes; but I would speak with you in private.”

“Come in here, then. Meanwhile, Sam, make out that deed; for we may go on without the proof of demise.”

Few and vague as the words were, their real meaning flashed on me, and I perceived that Mr. Basset was engaged in the search of some evidence of my death, doubtless to enable the heir-at-law to succeed to the estates of my brother. The moment the idea struck me, I felt assured of its certainty, and at once determined on the plan I should adopt.

“You have inserted an advertisement regarding a Mr. Burke,” said I, as soon as the door was closed, and we were alone together. “What are the particular circumstances of which you desire proof?”

“The place, date, and manner of his death,” replied he, slowly; “for though informed that such occurred abroad, an authentic evidence of the fact will save some trouble. Circumstances to identify the individual with the person we mean, of course, must be offered; showing whence he came, his probable age, and so on. For this intelligence I am prepared to pay liberally; at least a hundred pounds may be thought so.”

“It is a question of succession to some property, I have heard.”

“Yes; but the information is not of such moment as you may suppose,” replied he, quickly, and with the wariness of his calling anticipating the value I might be disposed to place on my intelligence. “We are satisfied with the fact of the death; and even were it otherwise, the individual most concerned is little likely to disprove the belief, his own reasons will probably keep him from visiting Ireland.”

“Indeed!” I exclaimed, the word escaping my lips ere I could check its utterance.

“Even so,” resumed he. “But this, of course, has no interest for you. Your accent bespeaks you a foreigner. Have you any information to offer on this matter?”

“Yes; if we speak of the same individual, who may have left this country about 1800 as a boy of some fourteen years of age, and entered the 'École Polytechnique' of Paris.”

“Like enough. Continue, if you please; what became of him afterwards?”

“He joined the French service, attained the rank of captain, and then left the army; came back to Ireland, and now, sir, stands before you.”

Mr. Basset never changed a muscle of his face as I made this declaration. So unmoved, so stolid was his look, that for a moment or two I believed him incredulous of my story. But this impression soon gave way, as with his eyes bent on me he said,—

“I knew you, sir, I knew you the moment I passed you in the office without; but it might have fared ill with you to have let my recognition appear.”

“As how? I do not understand you.”

“My clerks there might have given information for the sake of the reward; and once in Newgate, there was an end to all negotiation.”

“You must speak more intelligibly, sir, if you wish me to comprehend you. I am unaware of any circumstance which should threaten me with such a fate.”

“Have you forgotten Captain Crofts,—Montague Crofts?” said Basset, in a low whisper, while a smile of insulting malice crossed his features.

“No; I remember him well. What of him?”

“What of him! He charges you with a capital felony,—a crime for which the laws have little pity here, whatever your French habits may have taught you to regard it. Yes; the attempt to assassinate an officer in his Majesty's service, when foiled by him in an effort to seduce the soldiery, is an offence which might have a place in your memory.”

“Can the man be base enough to make such a charge as this against me,—a boy, as I then was?”

“You were not alone; remember that fact.”

“True; and most thankful am I for it. There is one, at least, can prove my innocence, if I can but discover him.”

“You will find that a matter of some difficulty. Your worthy friend and early preceptor was transported five years since.”

“Poor fellow! I could better bear to hear that he was dead.”

“There are many of your opinion on that head,” said Basset, with a savage grin. “But the fellow was too cunning for all the lawyers, and his conviction at last was only effected by a stratagem.”

“A stratagem!” exclaimed I, in amazement.

“It was neither more nor less. Darby was arraigned four several times, but always acquitted. Now it was defective evidence; now a lenient jury; now an informal indictment: but so was it, he escaped the meshes of the law, though every one knew him guilty of a hundred offences. At last Major Barton resolved on another expedient. Darby was arrested in Ennis; thrown into jail; kept four weeks in a dark cell, on prison fare; and at the end, one morning the hangman appeared to say his hour was come, and that the warrant for his execution had arrived. It was to take place, without judge or jury, within the four walls of the jail. The scheme succeeded; his courage fell, and he offered, if his life was spared, to plead guilty to any transportable felony for which the grand Jury would send up true bills. He did so, and was then undergoing the sentence.”

“Great heavens! and can such iniquity be tolerated in a land where men call themselves Christians?” exclaimed I, as I heard this to the end.

“Iniquity!” repeated he, in mockery; “to rid the country of a ruffian, stained with every crime,—a fellow mixed up in every outrage in the land? Is this your notion of iniquity? Not so do I reckon it. And if I have told you of it now, it is that you may learn that when loyal and well-affected men are trusted with the execution of the laws, the principle of justice is of more moment than the nice distinction of legal subtleties. You may learn a lesson from it worth acquiring.”

“I! how can it affect me or my fortunes?”

“More nearly than you think. I have told you of the accusation which hangs over your head; weigh it well, and deliberate what are your chances of escape. We must not waste time in discussing your innocence. The jury who will try the cause will be more difficult of belief than you suspect; neither the opinions you are charged with, your subsequent escape, nor your career in France, will contribute to your exculpation, even had you evidence to adduce in your favor. But you have not; your only witness is equally removed as by death itself. On what do you depend, then? Conscious innocence! Nine out of every ten who mount the scaffold proclaim the same; but I never heard that the voice that cried it stifled the word 'guilty.' No, sir; I tell you solemnly, you will be condemned!”

The tone of his voice as he spoke the last few words made my very blood run cold. The death of a soldier on the field of battle had no terrors for me; but the execrated fate of a felon I could not confront. The pallor of my cheek, the trembling of my limbs, must have betrayed my emotion; for even Basset seemed to pity me, and pressed me down into a chair.

“There is one way, however, to avoid all the danger,” said he, after a pause; “an easy and a certain way both. You have heard of the advertisements for information respecting your death, which it was surmised had occurred abroad. Now you are unknown here,—without a single acquaintance to recognize or remember you; why should not you, under another name, come forward with these proofs? By so doing, you secure your own escape and can claim the reward.”

“What! perjure myself that I may forfeit my inheritance!”

“As to the inheritance,” said he, sneeringly, “your tenure does not promise a very long enjoyment of it.”

“Were it but a day,—an hour!” exclaimed I, passionately; “I will make no compromise with my honor. On their own heads be it who sentence an innocent man to death; better such, even on a scaffold, than a life of ignominy and vain regret.”

“The dark hours of a jail change men's sentiments wonderfully,” said he, slowly. “I have known some who faced death in its wildest and most appalling shape, shrink from it like cowards when it came in the guise of a common executioner. Come, sir, be advised by me; reflect at least on what I have said, and if there be any path in life where a moderate sum may assist you—”

“Peace, sir! I beg of you to be silent. It may be that your counsel is prompted by kindly feeling towards me; but if you would have me think so, say no more of this,—my mind is made up.”

“Wait until to-morrow, in any case; perhaps some other plan may suggest itself. What say you to America? Have you any objection to go there?”

“Had you asked me the question an hour since, I had replied, 'None whatever.' Now it is different; my departure would be like the flight of a guilty man. I cannot do it.”

“Better the flight than the fate of one,” muttered Basset between his teeth, while at the same instant the sound of voices talking loudly together was heard in the hall without.

“Think again, before it is too late. Remember what I have told you. Your opinions, your career, your associates, are not such as to recommend you to the favorable consideration of a jury. Is your case strong enough to oppose all these? Sir Montague will make liberal terms; he has no desire to expose the calamities of a family.”

“Sir Montague!—of whom do you speak?”

“Sir Montague Crofts,” said Basset, reddening, for he had unwittingly suffered the name to escape his lips. “Are you ignorant that he is your relative? a distant one, it is true, but your nearest of kin notwithstanding.”

“And the heir to the estate?” said I, suddenly, as anew light flashed on my mind; “the heir, in the event of my life lapsing?”

Basset nodded an assent.

“You played a deep game, sir,” said I, drawing a long breath; “but you never were near winning it.”

“Nor you either,” said he, throwing wide the door between the two rooms; “I hear a voice without there, that settles the question forever.”

At the same instant, Major Barton entered, followed by two men.

“I suspected I should find you here, sir,” said he, addressing me. “You need scarcely trouble my worthy friend for his bail; I arrest you now under a warrant of felony.”

“A felony!” exclaimed Basset, with a counterfeited astonishment in his look. “Mr. Burke accused of such a crime!”

I could not utter a word; indignation and shame overpowered me, and merely motioning with my hand that I was ready to accompany him, I followed to the door, at which a carriage was standing, getting into which we drove towards Newgate.


If I have dwelt with unnecessary prolixity on this dark portion of my story, it is because the only lesson my life teaches has lain in similar passages. The train of evils which flows from one misdirection in early life,—the misfortunes which ensue from a single false and inconsiderate step,—frequently darken the whole subsequent career. This I now thought over in the solitude of my cell. However I could acquit myself of the crime laid to my charge, I could not so easily absolve my heart of the early folly which made me suppose that the regeneration of a land should be accomplished by the efforts of a sanguinary and bigoted rabble. To this error could I trace every false step I made in life,—to this cause attribute the long struggle I endured between my love of liberty and my detestation of mob rule; and yet how many years did it cost me to learn, that to alleviate the burdens of the oppressed may demand a greater exercise of tyranny than ever their rulers practised towards them. Like many others, I looked to France as the land of freedom; but where was despotism so unbounded! where the sway of one great mind so unlimited! They had bartered liberty for equality, and because the pressure was equal on all, they deemed themselves free; while the privileges of class with us suggested the sense of bondage to the poor man, whose actual freedom was yet unencumbered.

Of all the daydreams of my boyhood, the ambition of military glory alone survived; and that lived on amid the dreary solitude of my prison, comforting many a lonely hour by memories of the past. The glittering ranks of the mounted squadrons; the deep-toned thunder of the artillery; the solid masses of the infantry, immovable beneath the rush of cavalry,—were pictures I could dwell on for hours and days, and my dearest wish could point to no higher destiny than to be once more a soldier in the ranks of France.

During all this time my mind seldom reverted to the circumstances of my imprisonment, nor did I feel the anxiety for the result my position might well have suggested. The conscious sense of my innocence kept the flame of hope alive, without suffering it either to flicker or vary. It burned like a steady fire within me, and made even the dark cells of a jail a place of repose and tranquillity. And thus time rolled on: the hours of pleasure and happiness to thousands, too short and flitting for the enjoyments they brought. They went by also to the prisoner, as to one who waits on the bank of the stream, nor knows what fortune may await him on his voyage.

A stubborn feeling of conscious right had prevented my taking even the ordinary steps for my defence, and the day of trial was now drawing nigh without any preparation on my part. I was ignorant how essential the habits and skill of an advocate are in the conduct of every case, however simple; and implicitly relied on my guiltlessness, as though men can read the heart of a prisoner and know its workings. M'Dougall, the only member of the bar I knew even by name, had accepted a judicial appointment in India, and was already on his way thither, so that I had neither friend nor adviser in my difficulty. Were it otherwise, I felt I could scarcely have bent my pride to that detail of petty circumstances which an advocate might deem essential to my vindication; and was actually glad to think that I should owe the assertion of my innocence to nothing less than the pure fact.

When November at length arrived, I learned that the trial had been deferred to the following February; and so listless and indifferent had imprisonment made me, that I heard the intelligence without impatience or regret. The publicity of a court of justice, its exposure to the gaze and observation of the crowd who throng there, were subjects of more shrinking dread to my heart than the weight of an accusation which, though false, might peril my life; and for the first time I rejoiced that I was friendless. Yes! it brought balm and comfort to me to think that none would need to blush at my relationship nor weep over my fate. Sorrow has surely eaten deeply into our natures, when we derive pleasure and peace from what in happier circumstances are the sources of regret.

Let me now hasten on. My reader will readily forgive me if I pass with rapid steps over a portion of my story, the memory of which has not yet lost its bitterness. The day at last came; and amid all the ceremonies of a prison I was marched from my cell to the dock. How strange the sudden revolution of feeling,—from the solitude and silence of a jail to the crowded court, teeming with looks of eager curiosity, dread, or perhaps compassion, all turned towards him, who himself, half forgetful of his condition, gazes on the great mass in equal astonishment and surprise!

My thoughts at once recurred to a former moment of my life, when I stood accused among the Chouan prisoners before the tribunal of Paris. But though the proceedings were less marked by excitement and passion, the stern gravity of the English procedure was far more appalling; and in the absence of all which could stir the spirit to any effort of its own, it pressed with a more solemn dread on the mind of the prisoner.

I have said I would not linger over this part of my life. I could not do so if I would. Real events, and the impressions they made upon me,—facts, and the passing emotions of my mind,—are strangely confused and commingled in my memory; and although certain minute and trivial things are graven in my recollection, others of moment have escaped me unrecorded.

The usual ceremonial went forward: the jury were impanelled, and the clerk of the Crown read aloud the indictment, to which my plea of “Not guilty” was at once recorded; then the judge asked if I were provided with counsel, and hearing that I was not, appointed a junior barrister to act for me, and the trial began.

I was not the first person who, accused of a crime of which he felt innocent, yet was so overwhelmed by the statements of imputed guilt,—so confused by the inextricable web of truth and falsehood, artfully entangled.—that he actually doubted his own convictions when opposed to views so strongly at variance with them.

The first emotion of the prisoner is a feeling of surprise to discover, that one utterly a stranger—the lawyer he has perhaps never seen, whose name he never so much as heard of—is perfectly conversant with his own history, and as it were by intuition seems acquainted with his very thoughts and motives. Tracing out not only a line of acting but of devising, he conceives a story of which the accused is the hero, and invests his narrative with all the appliances to belief which result from time and place and circumstance. No wonder that the very accusation should strike terror into the soul; no wonder that the statement of guilt should cause heart-sinking to him who, conscious that all is not untrue, may feel that his actions can be viewed in another and very different light to that which conscience sheds over them.

Such, so far as I remember, was the channel of my thoughts. At first mere astonishment at the accuracy of detail regarding my name, age, and condition in life, was uppermost; and then succeeded a sense of indignant anger at the charges laid against me; which yielded gradually to a feeling of confusion as the advocate continued; which again merged into a sort of dubious fear as I heard many trivial facts repeated, some of which my refreshed memory acknowledged as true, but of which my puzzled brain could not detect the inapplicability to sustain the accusation,—all ending in a chaos of bewilderment, where conscience itself was lost, and nothing left to guide or direct the reason.

The counsel informed the jury that, although they were not placed in the box to try me on any charge of a political offence, they must bear in mind, that the murderous assault of which I was accused was merely part of a system organized to overthrow the Government; that, young as I then was, I was in intimate connection with the disaffected party which the mistaken leniency of the Crown had not thoroughly eradicated on the termination of the late rebellion, my constant companion being one whose crimes were already undergoing their but too merciful punishment in transportation for life; that, to tamper with the military, I had succeeded in introducing myself into the barrack, where I obtained the confidence of a weak-minded but good-natured officer of the regiment.

“These schemes,” continued he, “were but partially successful. My distinguished client was then an officer of the corps; and with that ever-watchful loyalty which has distinguished him, he determined to keep a vigilant eye on this intruder, who, from circumstances of youth and apparent innocence, already had won upon the confidence of the majority of the regiment. Nor was this impression a false one. An event, apparently little likely to unveil a treasonable intention, soon unmasked the true character of the prisoner and the nature of his mission.”

He then proceeded to narrate with circumstantial accuracy the night in the George's Street barracks, when Hilliard, Crofts, and some others came with Bubbleton to his quarters to decide a wager between two of the parties. Calling the attention of the jury to this part of the case, he detailed the scene which occurred; and, if I could trust my memory, not a phrase, not a word escaped him which had been said.

“It was then, gentlemen,” said he, “at that instant, that the prisoner's habitual caution failed him, and in an unguarded moment developed the full story of his guilt. Captain Bubbleton lost his wager, of which my client was the winner. The habits of the service are peremptory in these matters; it was necessary that payment should be made at once. Bubbleton had not the means of discharging his debt, and while he looked around among his comrades for assistance, the prisoner steps forward and supplies the sum. Mark what followed.

“A sudden call of service now summoned the officers beneath; all save Crofts, who, not being on duty, had no necessity for accompanying them. The bank-note so opportunely furnished by the prisoner lay on the table; and this Crofts proceeded leisurely to open and examine before he left the room. Slowly unfolding the paper, he spread it out before him; and what, think you, gentlemen, did the paper display? A Bank of England bill for twenty pounds, you'll say, of course. Far from it, indeed! The paper was a French assignat, bearing the words, 'Payez au porteur la somme de deux mille livres.' Yes; the sum so carelessly thrown on the table by this youth was an order for eighty pounds, issued by the French Government.

“Remember the period, gentlemen, when this occurred. We had just passed the threshold of a most fearful and sanguinary rebellion,—the tranquillity of the land scarce restored after a convulsion that shook the very constitution and the throne to their centres. The interference of France in the affairs of the country had not been a mere threat; her ships had sailed, her armies had landed, and though the bravery and the loyalty of our troops had made the expedition result in utter defeat and overthrow, the emissaries of the land of anarchy yet lingered on our shores, and disseminated that treason in secret which openly they dared not proclaim. If they were sparing of their blood, they were lavish of their gold; what they failed in courage they supplied in assignats. Large promises of gain, rich offers of booty, were rife throughout the land; and wherever disaffection lurked or rebellion lingered, the enemy of England found congenial allies. Nothing too base, nothing too low, for this confederacy of crime; neither was anything too lowly in condition or too humble in efficiency. Treason cannot choose its agents; it must take the tools which chance and circumstances offer: they may be the refuse of mankind, but if inefficient for good, they are not the less active for evil. Such a one was the youth who now stands a prisoner before you, and here was the price of his disloyalty.”

At these words he held up triumphantly the French assignat, and waved it before the eyes of the court. However little the circumstances weighed within me, such was the impression manifestly produced upon the jury by this piece of corroborative evidence, that a thrill of anxiety for the result ran suddenly through me.

Until that moment I believed Darby had repossessed himself of the assignat when Crofts lay insensible on the ground; at least I remembered well that he stooped over him and appeared to take something from him. While I was puzzling my mind on this point, I did not remark that the lawyer was proceeding to impress on the jury the full force of conviction such a circumstance implied.

The offer I had made to Crofts to barter the assignat for an English note; my urgent entreaty to have it restored to me; the arguments I had employed to persuade him that no suspicion could attach to my possession of it,—were all narrated with so little of exaggeration that I was actually unable to say what assertion I could object to, while I was conscious that the inferences sought to be drawn from them were false and unjust.

Having displayed with consummate skill the critical position this paper had involved me in, he took the opportunity of contrasting the anxiety I evinced for my escape from my difficulty, with the temperate conduct of my antagonist, whose loyalty left him no other course than to retain possession of the note, and inquire into the circumstances by which it reached my hands.

Irritated by the steady determination of Crofts, it was said that I endeavored by opprobrious epithets and insulting language to provoke a quarrel, which a sense of my inferiority as an antagonist rendered a thing impossible to be thought of. Baffled in every way, I was said to have rushed from the room, double-locking it on the outside, and hurried down the stairs and out of the barrack; not to escape, however, but with a purpose very different,—to return in a few moments accompanied by three fellows, whom I passed with the guard as men wishing to recruit. To ascend the stairs, unlock the door, and fall on the imprisoned officer, was the work of an instant. His defence, although courageous and resolute, was but brief. His sword being broken, he was felled by a blow of a bludgeon, and thus believed dead. The ruffians ransacked his pockets, and departed.

The same countersign which admitted, passed them out as they went; and when morning broke the wounded man was found weltering in his blood, but with life still remaining, and strength enough to recount what had occurred. By a mere accident, it was stated, the French bank-note had not been consigned to his pocket, but fell during the struggle, and was discovered the next day on the floor.

These were the leading features of an accusation, which, however improbable while thus briefly and boldly narrated, hung together with a wonderful coherence in the speech of the lawyer, supported as they were by the number of small circumstances corroboratory of certain immaterial portions of the story. Thus, the political opinions I professed; the doubtful—nay, equivocal—position I occupied; the intercourse with France or Frenchmen, as proved by the billet de banque; my sudden disappearance after the event, and my escape thither, where I continued to live until, as it was alleged, I believed that years had eradicated all trace of, if not my crime, myself,—such were the statements displayed with all the specious inferences of habitual plausibility, and to confirm which by evidence Sir Montague Crofts was called to give his testimony.

There was a murmur of expectancy through the court as this well-known individual's name was pronounced; and in a few moments the throng around the inner bar opened, and a tall figure appeared upon the witness table. The same instant that I caught sight of his features he had turned his glance on me, and we stood for some seconds confronting each other. Mutual defiance seemed the gage between us; and I saw, with a thrill of savage pleasure, that after a minute or so his cheek flushed, and he averted his face and appeared ill at ease and uncomfortable.

To the first questions of the lawyer he answered with evident constraint, and in a low, subdued voice; but soon recovering his self-possession, gave his testimony freely and boldly, corroborating by his words all the statements of his advocate. By both the court and the jury he was heard with attention and deference; and when he took a passing occasion to allude to his loyalty and attachment to the constitution, the senior judge interrupted him by saying,—

“On that point, Sir Montague, no second opinion can exist. Your character for unimpeachable honor is well known to the court.”

The examination was brief, lasting scarcely half an hour; and when the young lawyer came forward to put some questions as cross-examination, his want of instruction and ignorance were at once seen, and the witness was dismissed almost immediately.

Sir Montague's advocate declined calling any other witness. The regiment to which his client then belonged was on foreign service; but he felt satisfied that the case required nothing in addition to the evidence the jury had heard.

A few moments of deliberation ensued among the members of the bench; and then the senior judge called on my lawyer to proceed with the defence.

The young barrister rose with diffidence, and expressed in few words his inability to rebut the statements that had been made by any evidence in his power to produce. “The prisoner, my lord,” said he, “has confided nothing to me of his case. I am ignorant of everything, save what has taken place in open court.”

“It is true, my lord,” said I, interrupting. “The facts of this unhappy circumstance are known but to three individuals. You have already heard the version which one of them has given; you shall now hear mine. The third, whose testimony might incline the balance in my favor, is, I am told, no longer in this country; and I have only to discharge the debt I feel due to myself and to my own honor, by narrating the real occurrence, and leave the issue in your hands, to deal with as your consciences may dictate.”

With the steadiness of purpose truth inspires, and in few words, I narrated the whole of my adventure with Crofts, down to the moment of Darby's sudden appearance. I told of what passed between us; and how the altercation, that began in angry words, terminated in a personal struggle, where, as the weaker, I was overcome, and lay beneath the weapon of my antagonist, by which already I had received a severe and dangerous wound.

“I should hesitate here, my lords,” said I, “before I spoke of one who then came to my aid, if I did not know that he is already removed by a heavy sentence, both from the penalty his gallant conduct might call down on him, and the enmity which the prosecutor would as certainly pursue him with. But he is beyond the reach of either, and I may speak of him freely.”

I then told of Darby's appearance that night in the barrack, disguised as a ballad-singer; how in this capacity he passed the sentry, and was present in the room when the officers entered to decide the wager; that he had quitted it soon after their arrival, and only returned on hearing the noise of the scuffle between Crofts and myself. The struggle itself I remembered but imperfectly, but so far as my memory bore me out, recapitulated to the court.

“I will relate, my lords,” said I, “the few events which followed,—not that they can in any wise corroborate the plain statement I have made, nor indeed that they bear, save remotely, on the events mentioned; but I will do so in the hope,—a faint hope it is,—that in this court there might be found some one person who could add his testimony to mine, and say, 'This is true; to that I can myself bear witness.'”

With this brief preface, I told how Darby had brought me to a house in an obscure street, in which a man, apparently dying, was stretched upon a miserable bed; that while my wound was being dressed, a car came to the door with the intention of conveying the sick man away somewhere. This, however, was deemed impossible, so near did his last hour appear; and in his place I was taken off, and placed on board the vessel bound for France.

“Of my career in that country it is needless that I should speak; it can neither throw light upon the events which preceded it, nor have any interest for the court My commission as a captain of the Imperial Hussars may, however, testify the position that I occupied; while the certificate of the minister of war on the back will show that I quitted the service voluntarily, and with honor.”

“The court would advise you, sir,” said the judge, “not to advert to circumstances which, while they contribute nothing to your exculpation, may have a very serious effect on the minds of the jury against you. Have you any witnesses to call?”

“None, my lord.”

A pause of some minutes ensued, when the only sounds in the court were the whispering tones of Crofts's voice, as he said something into his counsel's ear. The lawyer rose.

“My task, my lords,” said he, “is a short one. Indeed, in all probability, I need not trouble either your lordships or the jury with an additional word on a case where the evidence so conclusively establishes the guilt of the accused, and where attempt to contradict it has been so abortive. Never, perhaps, was a story narrated within the walls of a court so full of improbable—might I not almost say impossible—events, as that of the prisoner.”

He then recapitulated, with rapid but accurate detail, the principal circumstances of my story, bestowing some brief comment on each as he went. He sneered at the account of the struggle, and turned the whole description of the contest with Crofts into ridicule,—calling on the jury to bestow a glance on the manly strength and vigorous proportions of his client, and then remember the age of his antagonist,—a boy of fourteen.

“I forgot, gentlemen (I ask your pardon), he confesses to one ally,—this famous piper. I really did hope that was a name we had done with forever. I indulged the dream, that among the memories of an awful period this was never to recur; but unhappily the expectation was delusive. The fellow is brought once more before us; and perhaps, for the first time in his long life of iniquity, charged with a crime he did not commit.” In a few sentences he explained that a large reward was at that very moment offered for the apprehension of Darby, who never would have ventured under any disguise to approach the capital, much less trust himself within the walls of a barrack.

“The tissue of wild and inconsistent events which the prisoner has detailed as following the assault, deserves no attention at my hands. Where was this house? What was the street? Who was this doctor of which he speaks? And the sick man, how was he called?”

“I remember his name well; it is the only one I remember among all I heard,” said I, from the dock.

“Let us hear it, then,” said the lawyer, half contemptuously.

“Daniel Fortescue was the name he was called by.”

Scarcely was the name uttered by me, when Crofts leaned back in his seat and became pale as death; while, stretching out his hand, he took hold of the lawyer's gown and drew him towards him. For a second or two he continued to speak with rapid utterance in the advocate's ear; and then covering his face with his handkerchief, leaned his head on the rail before him.

“It is necessary, my lords,” said the lawyer, “that I should explain the reason of my client's emotion, and at the same time unveil the baseness which has dictated this last effort of the prisoner, if not to injure the reputation, to wound the feelings, of my client. The individual whose name has been mentioned was the half brother of my client; and whose unhappy connection with the disastrous events of the year '98 involved him in a series of calamities which ended in his death, which took place in the year 1800, but some months earlier than the circumstance which we now are investigating. The introduction of this unhappy man's name was, then, a malignant effort of the prisoner to insult the feelings of my client, on which your lordships and the jury will place its true value.”

A murmur of disapprobation ran through the crowded court as these words were spoken; but whether directed against me or against the comment of the lawyer I could not determine; nor, such was the confusion I then felt, could I follow the remainder of the advocate's address with anything like clearness. At last he concluded; and the chief justice, after a whispered conversation with his brethren of the bench, thus began:—

“Gentlemen of the jury, the case which you have this day to try, to my mind presents but one feature of doubt and difficulty. The great fact for your consideration is, to determine to which of two opposite and conflicting testimonies you will accord your credence. On the one side you have the story of the prosecutor, a man of position and character, high in the confidence of honorable men, and invested with all the attributes of rank and station; on the other, you have a narrative strongly coherent in some parts, equally difficult to account for in others, given by the prisoner, whose life, even by his own showing, has none of those recommendations to your good opinions which are based on loyalty and attachment to the constitution of these realms. Both testimonies are unsupported by any collateral evidence. The prosecutor's regiment is in India, and the only witnesses he could adduce are many thousand miles off. The prisoner appeals also to the absent, but with less of reason; for if we could call this man, M'Keown, before us,—if, I say, we had this same Darby M'Keown in court—”

A tremendous uproar in the hall without drowned the remainder of the sentence; and although the crier loudly proclaimed silence, and the bench twice interposed its authority to enforce it, the tumult continued, and eventually extended within the court itself, where all semblance of respect seemed suddenly annihilated.

“If this continues one moment longer,” exclaimed the chief justice, “I will commit to Newgate the very first disorderly person I can discover.”

The threat, however, did but partially calm the disturbance, which, in a confused murmur, prevailed from the benches of the counsel to the very galleries of the court.

“What means this?” said the judge, in a voice of anger. “Who is it that dares to interfere with the administration of justice here?”

“A witness,—a witness, my lord,” called out several voices from the passage of the court; while a crowd pushed violently forward, and came struggling onwards till the leading figures were pressed over the inner bar.

Again the judge repeated his question, while he made a signal for the officer of the court to approach him.

“'Tis me, my lord,” shouted a deep-toned voice from the middle of the crowd. “Your lordship was asking for Darby M'Keown, and it isn't himself's ashamed of the name!”

A perfect yell of approval broke from the ragged mob, which now filled every avenue and passage of the court, and even jammed up the stairs and the entrance halls. And now, raised upon the shoulders of the crowd, Darby appeared, borne aloft in triumph; his broad and daring face, bronzed with sun and weather, glowed with a look of reckless effrontery, which no awe of the court nor any fear for himself was able to repress.

Of my own sensations while this scene was enacting I need not speak; and as I gazed at the weather-beaten features of the hardy piper, it demanded every effort of my reason to believe in the testimony of my eyesight. Had he come back from death itself the surprise would scarcely have been greater. Meanwhile the tumult was allayed; and the lawyers on either side—for, now that a glimmer of hope appeared, my advocate had entered with spirit on his duties—were discussing the admissibility of evidence at the present stage of the proceedings. This point being speedily established in my favor, another and a graver question arose: how far the testimony of a convicted felon—for such the lawyer at once called Darby—could be received as evidence.

Cases were quoted and authorities shown to prove that such cannot be heard as witnesses,—that they are among those whom the law pronounces infamous and unworthy of credit; and while the lawyer continued to pour forth on this topic a perfect ocean of arguments, he was interrupted by the court, who affirmed the opinion, and concurred in his view of the case.

“It only remains, then, my lord,” said my counsel, “for the Crown to establish the identity of the individual—”

“Nothing easier,” interposed the other.

“I beg pardon; I was about to add,—and produce the record of his conviction.”

This last seemed a felling blow; for although the old lawyer never evinced here or at any other time the slightest appearance of discomfiture at any opposition, I could see by the puckering of the deep lines around his mouth that he felt vexed and annoyed by this new suggestion.

An eager and animated discussion ensued, in which my advocate was assisted by the advice of some senior counsel; and again the point was ruled in my favor, and Darby M'Keown was desired to mount the table.

It required all the efforts of the various officers of the court to repress another outbreak of mob enthusiasm at the decision; for already the trial had assumed a feature perfectly distinct from any common infraction of the law. Its political bearing had long since imparted a character of party warfare to the whole proceeding; and while Sir Montague Crofts found his well-wishers among the better dressed and more respectable persons present, a much more numerous body of supporters claimed me as their own, and in defiance of all the usages and solemnity of the place, did not scruple to bestow on me looks and even words of encouragement at every stage of the trial. Darby's appearance was the climax of this popular enthusiasm. There were few who had not seen, or at least heard of, the celebrated piper in times past. His daring infraction of the law; his reputed skill in evading detection; his acquaintance with every clew and circumstance of the late rebellion; the confidence he enjoyed among all the leaders—had made him a hero in a land where such qualities are certain of obtaining their due estimation. And now, the reckless effrontery of his presence as a witness in a court of justice while the sentence of transportation still hung over him, was a claim to admiration none refused to acknowledge.

His air and demeanor as he took his seat on the table seemed an acknowledgment of the homage rendered him: for though, as he placed his worn and ragged hat beside his feet, and stroked down his short black hair on his forehead, a careless observer might have suspected him of feeling awed and abashed by the presence in which he sat, one more conversant with his countrymen would have detected in the quiet leer of his roguish black eye, and a certain protrusion of his thick under lip, that Darby was as perfectly at his ease there as the eminent judge was who now fixed his eyes upon him. A short, but not disrespectful nod was the only notice he bestowed on me; and then concealing his joined hands within his sleeves, and drawing his legs back beneath the chair, he assumed that attitude of mock humility your least bashful Irishman is so commonly fond of.

The veteran barrister was meanwhile surveying the witness with the peculiar scrutiny of his caste: he looked at him through his spectacles, and then he stared at him above them; he measured him from head to foot, his eye dwelling on every little circumstance of his dress or demeanor, as though to catch some clew to his habits of thinking or acting. Never did a matador survey the brawny animal with which he was about to contend in skill or strength with more critical acumen than did the lawyer regard Darby the Blast. Nor was the object of this examination unaware of it; very far from this, indeed. He seemed pleased by the degree of attention bestowed on him, and felt all the flattery such notice conveyed; but while doing so, you could only detect his satisfaction in an occasional sidelong look of drollery, which, brief and fleeting as it was, had still a numerous body of admirers through the court, whose muttered expressions of “Divil fear ye, Darby! but ye 're up to them any day;” or “Faix! 't is himself cares little about them!” showed they had no lack of confidence in the piper.


“Your name is M'Keown, sir?” said the lawyer, with that abruptness which so often succeeds in oversetting the balance of a witness's self-possession. “Yes, sir; Darby M'Keown.” “Did you ever go by any other than this?” “They do call me 'Darby the Blast' betimes, av that 'a a name.”

“Is that the only other name you have been called by?” “I misremember rightly, it's so long since I was among friends and acquaintances; but if yer honor would remind me a little, maybe I could tell.” “Well, were you ever called 'Larry the Flail?'” “Faix, I was,” replied he, laughing; “divil a doubt of it.”

“How did you come by the name of 'Larry the Flail'?”

“They gave me the name up at Mulhuldad there, for bating one M'Clancy with a flail.”

“A very good reason. So you got the name because you beat a certain M'Clancy with a flail?”

“I didn't say that; I only said they gave me the name because they said I bate him.”

“Were you ever called 'Fire-the-Haggard'?”

“I was, often.”

“For no reason, of course?”

“Divil a may son. The boys said it in sport, just as they talk of yer honor out there in the hall.”

“How do you mean,—talk of me?”

“Sure I heard them say myself, as I was coming in, that you wor a clever man and a 'cute lawyer. They do be always humbugging that way.”

A titter ran round the benches of the barristers at this speech, which was delivered with a naïve simplicity that would deceive many.

“You were a United Irishman, Mr. M'Keown, I believe?” rejoined the counsel, with a frown of stern intimidation.

“Yes, sir; and a White Boy, and a Defender, and a Thrasher besides. I was in all the fun them times.”

“The Thrashers are the fellows, I believe, who must beat any man they are appointed to attack; isn't that so?”

“Yes, sir.”

“So that, if I was mentioned to you as a person to be assaulted, although I had never done you any injury, you 'd not hesitate to waylay me?”

“No, sir, I wouldn't do that. I'd not touch yer honor.”

“Come, come; what do you mean? Why wouldn't you touch me?”

“I' d rather not tell, av it was plazing to ye.”

“You must tell, sir; speak out! Why wouldn't you attack me?”

“They say, sir,” said Darby,—and as he spoke, his voice assumed a peculiar lisp, meant to express great modesty,—“they say, sir, that when a man has a big wart on his nose there, like yer honor, it's not lucky to bate him, for that's the way the divil marks his own.”

This time the decorum of the court gave way entirely, and the unwashed faces which filled the avenues and passages were all expanded in open laughter; nor was it easy to restore order again amid the many marks of approval and encouragement bestowed on Darby by his numerous admirers.

“Remember where you are, sir,” said the judge, severely.

“Yes, my lord,” said Darby, with an air of submission. “'T is the first time I was ever in sich a situation as this. I 'm much more at my ease when I 'm down in the dock there; it's what I 'm most used to, God help me.”

The whining tone in which he delivered this mock lament on his misfortunes occasioned another outbreak of the mob, who were threatened with expulsion from the court if any future interruption took place.

“You were, then, a member of every illegal society of the time, Mr. Darby?” said the lawyer, returning to the examination. “Is it not so?”

“Most of them, anyhow,” was the cool reply.

“You took an active part in the doings of the year '98 also?”

“Throth I did,—mighty active. I walked from beyant Castlecomer one day to Dublin to see a trial here. Be the same token, it was Mr. Curran made a hare of yer honor that day. Begorrah I wonder ye ever held up yer head after.”

Here a burst of laughter at the recollection seemed to escape Darby so naturally, that its contagious effects were felt throughout the assembly.

“You are a wit, Mr. M'Keown, I fancy, eh?”

“Bedad I 'm not, sir; very little of that same would have kept out of this to-day.”

“But you came here to serve a friend,—a very old friend, he calls you.”

“Does he?” said Darby, with an energy of tone and manner very different from what he had hitherto used. “Does Master Tom say that?”

As the poor fellow's cheek flushed, and his eyes sparkled with proud emotion, I could perceive that the lawyer's face underwent a change equally rapid. A look of triumph at having at length discovered the assailable point of the witness's temperament now passed over his pale features, and gave them an expression of astonishing intelligence.

“A very natural thing it is, Darby, that he should call you so. You were companions at an early period,—at least of his life; fellow-travellers, too, if I don't mistake?”

Although these words were spoken in a tone of careless freedom, and intended to encourage Darby to some expansion on the same theme, the cunning fellow had recovered all his habitual self-possession, and merely answered, if answer it could be called,—

“I was a poor man, sir, and lived by the pipes.”

The advocate and the witness exchanged looks at this moment, in which their relative positions were palpably conveyed. Each seemed to say it was a drawn battle; but the lawyer returned with vigor to the charge; desiring Darby to mention the manner in which our first acquaintance began, and how the intimacy was originally formed.

He narrated with clearness and accuracy every step of our early wanderings; and while never misstating a single fact, contrived to exhibit my career as totally devoid of any participation in the treasonable doings of the period. Indeed, he laid great stress on the fact that my acquaintance with Charles de Meudon had withdrawn me from all relations with the insurgent party, between whom and the French allies feelings of open dislike and distrust existed. Of the scene at the barrack his account varied in nothing from that I had already given; nor was all the ingenuity of a long and intricate cross-examination able to shake his testimony in the most minute particular.

“Of course, then, you know Sir Montague Crofts? It is quite clear that you cannot mistake a person with whom you had a struggle such as you speak of.”

“Faix, I'd know his skin upon a bush,” said Darby, “av he was like what I remember him; but sure he may be changed since that. They tell me I'm looking ould myself; and no wonder. Hunting kangaroos wears the constitution terribly.”

“Look around the court, now, and say if he be here.”

Darby rose from his seat, and shading his eyes with his hand, took a deliberate survey of the court. Though well knowing, from past experience, in what part of the assembly the person he sought would probably be, he seized the occasion to scrutinize the features of the various persons, whom under no other pretence could he have examined.

“It's not on the bench, sir, you need look for him,” said the lawyer, as M'Keown remained for a considerable time with his eyes bent in that direction.

“Bedad there's no knowing,” rejoined Darby, doubtfully; “av he was dressed up that way, I wouldn't know him from an old ram.”

He turned round as he said this, and gazed steadfastly towards the bar. It was an anxious moment for me: should Darby make any mistake in the identity of Crofts, his whole testimony would be so weakened in the opinion of the jury as to be nearly valueless. I watched his eyes, therefore, as they ranged over the crowded mass, with a palpitating heart; and when at last his glance settled on a far part of the court, very distant from that occupied by Crofts, I grew almost sick with apprehension lest he should mistake another for him.

“Well, sir,” said the lawyer; “do you see him now?”

“Arrah, it's humbugging me yez are,” said Darby, roughly, while he threw himself down into his chair in apparent ill temper.

A loud burst of laughter broke from the bar at this sudden ebullition of passion, so admirably feigned that none suspected its reality; and while the sounds of mirth were subsiding, Darby dropped his head, and placed his hand above his ear. “There it is, by gorra; there's no mistaking that laugh, anyhow,” cried he; “there's a screech in it might plaze an owl.” And with that he turned abruptly round and faced the bench where Crofts was seated. “I heard it a while ago, but I couldn't say where. That's the man,” said he, pointing with his finger to Crofts, who seemed actually to cower beneath his piercing glance.

“Remember, sir, you are on your solemn oath. Will you swear that the gentleman there is Sir Montague Crofts?”

“I know nothing about Sir Montague,” said Darby, composedly, while rising he walked over towards the edge of the table where Crofts was sitting, “but I'll swear that's the same Captain Crofts that I knocked down while he was shortening his sword to run it through Master Burke; and by the same token, he has a cut in the skull where he fell on the fender.” And before the other could prevent it, he stretched out his hand, and placed it on the back of the crown of Crofts's head. “There it is, just as I tould you.”

The sensation these words created in the court was most striking, and even the old lawyer appeared overwhelmed at the united craft and consistency of the piper. The examination was resumed; but Darby's evidence tallied so accurately with my statement that its continuance only weakened the case for the prosecution.

As the sudden flash of the lightning will sometimes disclose what in the long blaze of noonday has escaped the beholder, so will conviction break unexpectedly upon the human mind from some slight but striking circumstance which comes with the irresistible force of unpremeditated truthfulness. From that moment it was clear the jury to a man were with Darby. They paid implicit attention to all he said, and made notes of every trivial fact he mentioned; while he, as if divining the impression he had made, became rigorously cautious that not a particle of his evidence could be shaken, nor the effect of his testimony weakened by even a passing phrase of exaggeration. It was, indeed, a phenomenon worth studying, to see this fellow, whose natural disposition was the irrepressible love of drollery and recklessness,—whose whole heart seemed bent on the indulgence of his wayward, careless humor,—suddenly throw off every eccentricity of his character, and become a steady and accurate witness, delivering his evidence carefully and cautiously, and never suffering his own leanings to repartee, nor the badgering allusions of his questioner, to draw him for a moment away from the great object he had set before him; resisting every line, every bait, the cunning lawyer threw out to seduce him into that land of fancy so congenial to an Irishman's temperament, he was firm against all temptation, and even endured that severest of all tests to the forbearance of his country,—he suffered the laugh more than once to be raised at his expense, without an effort to retort on his adversary.

The examination lasted three hours; and at its conclusion, every fact I stated had received confirmation from Darby's testimony, down to the moment when we left the barrack together.

“Now, M'Keown,” said the lawyer, “I am about to call your recollection, which is so wonderfully accurate that it can give you no trouble in remembering, to a circumstance which immediately followed the affair.”

As he got thus far, Crofts leaned over and drew the counsel towards him while he whispered some words rapidly in his ear. A brief dialogue ensued between them; at the conclusion of which the lawyer turned round, and addressing Darby, said,—

“You may go down, sir; I 've done with you.” “Wait a moment,” said the young barrister on my side, who quickly perceived that the interruption had its secret object. “My learned friend was about to ask you concerning something which happened after you left the barrack; and although he has changed his mind on the subject, we on this side would be glad to hear what you have to say.”

Darby's eyes flashed with unwonted brilliancy; and I thought I caught a glance of triumphant meaning towards Crofts, as he began his recital, which was in substance nothing more than what the reader already knows. When he came to the mention of Fortescue's name, however, Crofts, whose excitement was increasing at each moment, lost all command over himself, and cried out,—

“It's false! every word untrue! The man was dead at the time.”

The court rebuked the interruption, and Darby went on.

“No, my lord; he was alive. But Mr. Crofts is not to blame, for he believed he was dead; and, more than that, he thought he took the sure way to make him so.”

These words produced the greatest excitement throughout the court; and an animated discussion ensued, how far the testimony could go to inculpate a party not accused. It was ruled, at last, the evidence should be heard, as touching the case on trial, and not immediately as regarded Crofts. And then Darby began a recital, of which I had never heard a syllable before, nor had I conceived the slightest suspicion.

The story, partly told in narrative form, partly elicited by questioning, was briefly this.

Daniel Fortescue was the son of a Roscommon gentleman of large fortune, of whom also Crofts was the illegitimate child. The father, a man of high Tory politics, had taken a most determined part against the patriotic party in Ireland, to which his son Daniel had shown himself, on more than one occasion, favorable. The consequence was, a breach of affection between them; widened into an actual rupture, by the old man, who was a widower, taking home to his house the illegitimate son, and announcing to his household that he would leave him everything he could in the world.

To Daniel, the blow was all that he needed to precipitate his ruin. He abandoned the university, where already he had distinguished himself, and threw himself heart and soul into the movement of the “United Irish” party. At first, high hopes of an independent nation,—a separate kingdom, with its own train of interests, and its own sphere of power and influence,—was the dream of those with whom he associated. But as events rolled on it was found, that to mature their plans it was necessary to connect themselves with the masses, by whose agency the insurrectionary movement was to be effected; and in doing so, they discovered, that although theories of liberty and independence, high notions of pure government, may have charms for men of intellect and intelligence, to the mob the price of a rebellion must be paid down in the sterling coin of pillage and plunder,—or even, worse, the triumphant dominion of the depraved and the base over the educated and the worthy.

Many who favored the patriotic cause, as it was called, became so disgusted at the low associates and base intercourse the game of party required, that they abandoned the field at once, leaving to others, less scrupulous or more ardent, the path they could not stoop to follow. It was probable that young Fortescue might have been among these, had he been left to the guidance of his own judgment and inclination; for, as a man of honor and intelligence, he could not help feeling shocked at the demands made by those who were the spokesmen of the people. But this course he was not permitted to take, owing to the influence of a man who had succeeded in obtaining the most absolute power over him.

This was a certain Maurice Mulcahy, a well-known member of the various illegal clubs of the day, and originally a country schoolmaster. Mulcahy it was who first infected Fortescue's mind with the poison of this party,—now lending him volumes of the incendiary trash with which the press teemed; now newspapers, whose articles were headed, “Orange outrage on a harmless and unresisting peasantry!” or, “Another sacrifice of the people to the bloody vengeance of the Saxon!” By these, his youthful mind became interested in the fate of those he believed to be treated with reckless cruelty and oppression; while, as he advanced in years, his reason was appealed to by those great and spirit-stirring addresses which Grattan and Curran were continually delivering, either in the senate or at the bar, and wherein the most noble aspirations after liberty were united with sentiments breathing love of country and devoted patriotism. To connect the garbled and lying statements of a debased newspaper press with the honorable hopes and noble conceptions of men of mind and genius, was the fatal process of his political education; and never was there a time when such a delusion was more easy.

Mulcahy, now stimulating the boyish ardor of a high-spirited youth, now flattering his vanity by promises of the position one of his ancient name and honored lineage must assume in the great national movement, gradually became his directing genius, swaying every resolution and ruling every determination of his mind. He never left his victim for a moment; and while thus insuring the unbounded influence he exercised, he gave proof of a seeming attachment, which Fortescue confidently believed in. Mulcahy, too, never wanted for money; alleging that the leaders of the plot knew the value of Fortescue's alliance, and were willing to advance him any sums he needed, he supplied the means of every extravagance a wild and careless youth indulged in, and thus riveted the chain of his bondage to him.

When the rebellion broke out, Fortescue, like many more, was horror-struck at the conduct of his party. He witnessed hourly scenes of cruelty and bloodshed at which his heart revolted, but to avow his compassion for which would have cost him his life on the spot. He was in the stream, however, and must go with the torrent; and what will not stern necessity compel? Daily intimacy with the base-hearted and the low, hourly association with crime, and perhaps more than either, despair of success, broke him down completely, and with the blind fatuity of one predestined to evil, he became careless what happened to him, and indifferent to whatever fate was before him.

Still, between him and his associates there lay a wide gulf. The tree, withered and blighted as it was, still preserved some semblance of its once beauty; and among that mass of bigotry and bloodshed, his nature shone forth conspicuously as something of a different order of being. To none was this superiority more insulting than to the parties themselves. So long as the period of devising and planning the movement of an insurrection lasts, the presence of a gentleman, or a man of birth or rank, will be hailed with acclamation and delight. Let the hour of acting arrive, however, and the scruples of an honorable mind, or the repugnance of a high-spirited nature, will be treated as cowardice by those who only recognized bravery in deeds of blood, and know no heroism save when allied to cruelty.

Fortescue became suspected by his party. Hints were circulated, and rumors reached him, that he was watched; that it was no time for hanging back. He who sacrificed everything for the cause to be thus accused! He consulted Mulcahy; and to his utter discomfiture discovered that even his old ally and adviser was not devoid of doubt regarding him. Something must be done, and that speedily,—he cared not what. Life had long ceased to interest him either by hope or fear. The only tie that bound him to existence was the strange desire to be respected by those his heart sickened at the thought of.

An attack was at that time planned against the house and family of a Wexford gentleman, whose determined opposition to the rebel movement had excited all their hatred. Fortescue demanded to be the leader of that expedition; and was immediately named to the post by those who were glad to have the opportunity of testing his conduct by such an emergency.

The attack took place at night,—a scene of the most fearful and appalling cruelty, such as the historian yet records among the most dreadful of that dreadful period. The house was burned to the ground, and its inmates butchered, regardless of age or sex. In the effort to save a female from the flames, Fortescue was struck down by one of his party; while another nearly cleft his chest across with a cut of a large knife. He fell, covered with blood, and lay seemingly dead. When his party retreated, however, he summoned strength to creep under shelter of a ditch, and lay there till near daybreak, when he was found by another gang of the rebel faction, who knew nothing of the circumstances of his wound, and carried him away to a place of safety.

For some months he lay dangerously ill. Hectic fever, consequent on long suffering, brought him to the very brink of the grave; and at last he managed by stealth to reach Dublin, where a doctor well known to the party resided, and under whose care he ultimately recovered, and succeeded at last in taking a passage to America. Meanwhile his death was currently believed, and Crofts was everywhere recognized as the heir to the fortune.

Mulcahy, of whom it is necessary to speak a few words, was soon after apprehended on a charge of rebellion, and sentenced to transportation. He appealed to many who had known him, as he said, in better times, to speak to his character. Among others, Captain Crofts—so he then was—was summoned. His evidence, however, was rather injurious than favorable to the prisoner; and although not in any way influencing the sentence, was believed by the populace to have mainly contributed to its severity.

Such was, in substance, the singular story which was now told before the court,—told without any effort at concealment or reserve; and to the proof of which M'Keown was willing to proceed at once.

“This, my lord,” said Darby, as he concluded, “is a good time and place to give back to Mr. Crofts a trifling article I took from him the night at the barracks. I thought it was the bank-notes I was getting; but it turned out better, after all.”

With that he produced a strong black leather pocket-book, fastened by a steel clasp. No sooner did Crofts behold it, than, with the spring of a tiger, he leaped forward and endeavored to clutch it. But Darby was on his guard, and immediately drew back his hand, calling out,—

“No, no, sir! I didn't keep it by me eight long years to give it up that way. There, my lords,” said he, as he handed it to the bench, “there's his pocket-book, with plenty of notes in it from many a one well known,—Maurice Mulcahy among the rest,—and you'll soon see who it was first tempted Fortescue to ruin, and who paid the money for doing it.”

A burst of horror and astonishment broke from the assembled crowd as Darby spoke.

Then, in a loud, determined tone, “He is a perjurer!” screamed Crofts. “I repeat it, my lord; Fortescue is dead.”

“Faix! and for a dead man he has a remarkable appetite,” said Darby, “and an elegant color in his face besides; for there he stands.”

And as he spoke, he pointed with his finger to a man who was leaning with folded arms against one of the pillars that supported the gallery.

Every eye was now turned in the direction towards him; while the young barrister called out, “Is your name Daniel Fortescue?”

But before any answer could follow, several among the lawyers, who had known him in his college days, and felt attachment to him, had surrounded and recognized him.

“I am Daniel Fortescue, my lord,” said the stranger. “Whatever may be the consequences of the avowal, I say it here, before this court, that every statement the witness has made regarding me is true to the letter.”

A low, faint sound, heard throughout the stillness that followed these words, now echoed throughout the court; and Crofts had fallen, fainting, over the bench behind him.

A scene of tumultuous excitement now ensued, for while Crofts's friends, many of whom were present, assisted to carry him into the air, others pressed eagerly forward to catch a sight of Fortescue, who had already rivalled Darby himself in the estimation of the spectators.

He was a tall, powerfully-built man, of about thirty-five or thirty-six, dressed in the blue jacket and trousers of a sailor; but neither the habitude of his profession nor the humble dress he wore could conceal the striking evidence his air and bearing indicated of condition and birth. As he mounted the witness table,—for it was finally agreed that his testimony in disproof or corroboration of M'Keown should be heard,—a murmur of approbation went round, partly at the daring step he had thus ventured on taking, and partly excited by those personal gifts which are ever certain to have their effect upon any crowded assembly.

I need not enter into the details of his evidence, which was given in a frank, straightforward manner, well suited to his appearance; never concealing for a moment the cause he had himself embarked in, nor assuming any favorable coloring for actions which ingenuity and the zeal of party would have found subjects for encomium rather than censure.

His narrative not only confirmed all that Darby asserted, but also disclosed the atrocious scheme by which he had been first induced to join the ranks of the disaffected party. This was the work of Crofts, who knew and felt that Fortescue was the great barrier between himself and a large fortune. For this purpose Mulcahy was hired; to this end the whole long train of perfidy laid, which eventuated in his ruin: for so artfully had the plot been devised, each day's occurrence rendered retreat more difficult, until at last it became impossible.

The reader is already aware of the catastrophe which concluded his career in the rebel army. It only remains now to be told that he escaped to America, where he entered as a sailor on board a merchantman; and although his superior acquirements and conduct might have easily bettered his fortune in his new walk in life, the dread of detection never left his mind, and he preferred the hardships before the mast to the vacillation of hope and fear a more conspicuous position would have exposed him to.

The vessel in which he served was wrecked off the coast of New Holland, and he and a few others of the crew were taken up by an English ship on her voyage outward. In a party sent on shore for water, Fortescue came up with Darby, who had made his escape from the convict settlement, and was wandering about the woods, almost dead of starvation, and scarcely covered with clothing. His pitiful condition, but perhaps more still, his native drollery, which even then was unextinguished, induced the sailors to yield to Fortescue's proposal, and they smuggled him on board in a water cask; and thus concealed, he made the entire voyage to England, where he landed about a fortnight before the trial. Fearful of being apprehended before the day, and determined at all hazards to give his evidence, he lay hid till the time we have already seen, when he suddenly came forward to my rescue.

Mulcahy, who worked in the same gang with Darby, or, to use the piper's grandiloquent expression,—for he burst out in this occasionally,—was “in concatenated proximity to him,” told the whole story of his own baseness, and loudly inveighed against Crofts for deserting him in his misfortunes. The pocket-book taken from Crofts by Darby amply corroborated this statement. It contained, besides various memoranda in the owner's handwriting, several letters from Mulcahy, detailing the progress of the conspiracy: some were in acknowledgment of considerable sums of money; others asking for supplies; but all confirmatory of the black scheme by which Fortescue's destruction was compassed.

Whatever might have been the sentiments of the crowded court regarding the former life and opinions of Fortescue and the piper, it was clear that now only one impression prevailed,—a general feeling of horror at the complicated villany of Crofts, whose whole existence had been one tissue of the basest treachery.

The testimony was heard with attention throughout; no cross-examination was entered on; and the judge, briefly adverting to the case which was before the jury, and from whose immediate consideration subsequent events had in a great measure withdrawn their minds, directed them to deliver a verdict of “Not guilty.”

The words were re-echoed by the jury, who, man for man, exclaimed these words aloud, amid the most deafening cheers from every side.

As I walked from the dock, fatigued, worn out, and exhausted, a dozen hands were stretched out to seize mine; but one powerful grasp caught my arm, and a well-known voice called in my ear,—

“An' ye wor with Boney, Master Tom? Tare and 'ounds, didn't I know you'd be a great man yet.”

At the same instant Fortescue came through the crowd towards me, with his hands outstretched.

“We should be friends, sir,” said he, “for we both have suffered from a common enemy. If I am at liberty to leave this—”

“You are not, sir,” interposed a deep voice behind. We turned and beheld Major Barton. “The massacre at Kil-macshogue has yet to be atoned for.”

Fortescue's face grew actually livid at the mention of the word, and his breathing became thick and short.

“Here,” continued Barton, “is the warrant for your committal. And you also, Darby,” said he, turning round; “we want your company once more in Newgate.”

“Bedad, I suppose there's no use in sending an apology when friends is so pressing,” said he, buttoning his coat as coolly as possible; “but I hope you 'll let the master come in to see me.”

“Mr. Burke shall be admitted at all times,” said Barton, with an obsequious civility I had never witnessed in him previously.

“Faix, maybe you 'll not be for letting him out so aisy,” said Darby, dryly, for his notions of justice were tempered by a considerable dash of suspicion.

I had only time left to press my purse into the honest fellow's hand, and salute Fortescue hastily, as they both were removed, under the custody of Barton. And I now made my way through the crowd into the hall, which opened a line for me as I went; a thousand welcomes meeting me from those who felt as anxious about the result of the trial as if a brother or a dear friend had been in peril.

One face caught my eye as I passed; and partly from my own excitement, partly from its expression being so different from its habitual character, I could not recognize it as speedily as I ought to have done. Again and again it appeared; and at last, as I approached the door into the street, it was beside me.

“If I might dare to express my congratulations,” said a voice, weak from the tremulous anxiety of the speaker, and the shame which, real or affected, seemed to bow him down.

“What,” cried I, “Mr. Basset!” for it was the worthy man himself.

“Yes, sir. Your father's old and confidential agent,—I might venture to say, friend,—come to see the son of his first patron occupy the station he has long merited.”

“A bad memory is the only touch of age I remark in you, sir,” said I, endeavoring to pass on, for I was unwilling at the moment of my escape from a great difficulty to lose temper with so unworthy an object.

“One moment, sir, just a moment,” said he, in a low whisper. “You'll want money, probably. The November rents are not paid up; but there's a considerable balance to your credit. Will you take a hundred or two for the present?”

“Take money!—money from you!” said I, shrinking back.

“Your own, sir; your own estate. Do you forget,” said he, with a miserable effort of a smile, “that you are Mr. Burke of Cromore, with a clear rental of four thousand a year? We gained the Cluan Bog lawsuit, sir,” continued he. “'Twas I, sir, found the satisfaction for the bond. Your brother said he owed it all to Tony Basset.”

The two last words were all that were needed to sum up the measure of my disgust and I once more tried to get forward.

“I know the property, sir, for thirty-eight years I was over it. Your father and your brother always trusted me—”

“Let me pass on, Mr. Basset,” said I, calmly. “I have no desire to become a greater object of mob curiosity. Pray let me pass on.”

“And for Darby M'Keown,” whispered he.

“What of him?” said I; for he had touched the most anxious chord of my heart at that instant.

“I'll have him free; he shall be at liberty in forty-eight hours for you. I have the whole papers by me; and a statement to the privy council will obtain his liberation.”

“Do this,” said I, “and I 'll forgive more of your treatment of me than I could on any other plea.”

“May I call on you this evening, or to-morrow morning, at your hotel? Where do you stop, sir?”

“This evening be it, if it hasten M'Keown's liberation. Remember, however, Mr. Basset, I'll hold no converse with you on any other subject till that be settled, and to my perfect satisfaction.”

“A bargain, sir,” said he, with a grin of satisfaction; and dropping back, he suffered me to proceed.

Along the quays I went, and down Dame Street, accompanied by a great mob of people, who thought in my acquittal they had gained a triumph. For so it was; every case had its political feature, and seemed to be intimately connected with the objects of one party or the other. Partisan cheers,—the watchwords of faction,—were uttered as I went, and I was made to suffer that least satisfactory of all conditions, which bestows notoriety without fame, and popularity without merit.

As I entered the hotel, I recognized many of the persons I had seen there before; but their looks were no longer thrown towards me with the impertinence they then assumed. On the contrary, a studied desire to evince courtesy and politeness was evident. “How strange is it!” thought I; “how differently does the whole world smile to the rich man and to the poor!” Here were many who could in nowise derive advantage from my altered condition,—as perfectly independent of me as I of them; and yet even they showed that degree of deference in their manner which the expectant bestows upon a patron. So it is, however. The position which wealth confers is recognized by all; the individual who fills it is but an attribute of the station.

Life had, indeed, opened on me with a new and very different aspect; and I felt, as I indulged in the daydreams which the sudden possession of fortune excites, that to enjoy thoroughly the blessings of independence, one must have experienced, as I had, the hard pressure of adversity. It seemed to me that the long road of gloomy fate had at length reached its turning point, and that I should now travel along a calmer and happier path. Thoughts of the new career that lay before me were blended with the memories of the past; hopes they were, but dashed with the shadows which a blighted affection will throw over the whole stream of life. Still that evening was one of happiness; not of that excited pleasure derived from the attainment of a long coveted object, but the calmer enjoyment felt in the safety of the haven by him who has experienced the hurricane and the storm.

With such thoughts I went to rest, and laid my head on my pillow in thoughtfulness and peace. In my dreams my troubles still lingered. But who regrets the anxious minutes of a vision which wakening thoughts dispel? Are they not rather the mountain shadows that serve to brighten the gleam of the sunlight in the plain?

It was thus the morning broke for me, with all the ecstasy of danger passed, and all the crowding hopes of a happy future. The hundred speculations which in poverty I had formed for the comfort of the poor and the humble might now be realized; and I fancied myself the centre of a happy peasantry, confiding and contented. It would be hard, indeed, to forget “the camp and the tented field” in the peaceful paths of a country life. But simple duties are often as engrossing as those of a higher order, and bring a reward not less grateful to the heart; and I flattered myself to think my ambition reached not above them.

The moments in which such daydreams are indulged are the very happiest of a lifetime. The hopes which are based on the benefits we may render to others are sources of elevation to ourselves; and such motives purify the soul, and exalt the mind to a pitch far above the petty ambitions of the world.

To myself, and to my own enjoyments, wealth could contribute less than to most men. The simple habits of a soldier's life satisfied every wish of my mind. The luxuries which custom makes necessary to others I never knew; and I formed my resolution not to wander from this path of humble, inexpensive tastes, so that the stream of charity might flow the wider.

These were my waking thoughts. Alas, how little do we ever realize of such speculations! and how few glide down the stream of life unswayed by the eddies and crosscurrents of fortune! The higher we build the temple of our hopes, the more surely will it topple to its fall. Who shall say that our greatest enjoyment is not in raising the pile, and our happiest hours the full abandonment to those hopes our calmer reason never ratified?

As yet it had not occurred to me to think what position the world might concede to one whose life had been passed like mine, nor did I bestow a care upon a matter whereon so much of future happiness depended. These, however, were considerations which could not be long averted. How they came, and in what manner they were met must remain for a future chapter of my history.


In my last chapter I brought my reader to that portion of my story which formed the turning-point of my destiny. And here I might, perhaps, conclude these brief memoirs of an early life, whose chief object was to point out the results of a hasty and rash judgment, which, formed in mere boyhood, exerted its influence throughout the entire of a lifetime. Only one incident remains still to be told; and I shall not trespass on the good-natured patience of my readers by any delay in the narrative.

From being poor, houseless, and unknown, a sudden turn of fortune had made me wealthy and conspicuous in station; the owner of a large estate,—almost a lead-ing man in my native county. My influence was sufficient to procure the liberation of M'Keown; and my interference in his behalf mainly contributed to procure for Fortescue the royal pardon. The world, as the phrase is, went with me; and the good luck which attended every step I took and every plan I engaged in was become a proverb among my neighbors.

Let not any one suppose I was unmindful or ungrateful, if I confess, that even with all these I was not happy. No: the tranquil mind, the spirit at ease with itself, cannot exist where the sense of duty is not. The impulse which swayed my boyish heart still moved the ambition of the man. The pursuits I should have deemed the noblest and the purest seemed to me uninteresting and ignoble; the associations I ought to have felt the happiest and the highest appeared to me vulgar, and low, and commonplace. I was disappointed in my early dream of liberty, and had found tyranny where I looked for freedom, and intolerance where I expected enlightenment; but if so, I recurred with tenfold enthusiasm to the career of the soldier, whose glories were ever before me. That noble path had not deceived me; far from it. Its wild and whirlwind excitement, its hazardous enterprise, its ever-present dangers, were stimulants I loved and gloried in. All the chances and changes of a peaceful life were poor and mean compared to the hourly vicissitudes of war. I knew not then, it is true, how much of enjoyment I derived from forgetful ness; how many of my springs of happiness flowed from that preoccupation which prevented my dwelling on the only passion that ever stirred my heart,—my love for one whose love was hopeless.

How thoroughly will the character of an early love tinge the whole of a life! Our affections are like flowers,—they derive their sweetness and their bloom from the soil in which they grow: some, budding in joy and gladness, amid the tinkling plash of a glittering fountain, live on ever bright and beautiful; others, struggling on amid thorns and wild weeds, overshadowed by gloom, preserve their early impressions to the last,—their very sweetness tells of sadness.

To conquer the memory of this hopeless passion, I tried a hundred ways. I endeavored, by giving myself up to the duties of a country gentleman, to become absorbed in all the cares and pursuits which had such interest for my neighbors. Failing in this, I became a sportsman; I kept horses and dogs, and entered, with all the zest mere determination can impart, upon that life of manly exertion, so full of pleasure to thousands. But here again without succeeding.

I went into society; but soon retired from it, on finding, that among the class of my equals the prestige of my early life had still tracked me. I was in their eyes a rebel, whose better fortune had saved him from the fate of his companions. My youth had given no guarantee for my manhood; and I was not trusted. Baffled in every endeavor to obliterate my secret grief, I recurred to it now, as though privileged by fate, to indulge a memory nothing could efface. I abandoned all the petty appliances by which I sought to shut out the past, and gave myself up in full abandonment to the luxury of my melancholy.

Living entirely within the walls of my demesne, never seen by my neighbors, not making nor receiving visits, I appeared to many a heartless recluse, whose misanthropy sought indulgence in solitude; others, less harshly, judged me as one whose unhappy entrance on life had unfitted him for the station to which fortune had elevated him. By both I was soon forgotten.

The peasantry were less ungenerous, and more just. They saw in me one who felt acutely for the privations they were suffering; yet never gave them that cheap, delusive hope, that legislative changes will touch social evils,—that the acts of a parliament will penetrate the thousand tortuous windings of a poor man's destiny. They found in me a friend and an adviser. They only-wondered at one thing,—how any man could feel for the poor, and not hate the rich. So long had the struggle lasted between affluence and misery, they could not understand a compromise.

Bitter as their poverty had been, it never extinguished the poetry of their lives. They were hungry and naked; but they held to their ancient traditions, and they built on them great hopes for the future. The old family names, the time-honored memories of place, the famous deeds of ancestors, made an ideal existence powerful enough to exclude the pressure of actual daily evils; and they argued from what had been to what might be, with a persistency of hope it seemed almost cruel to destroy. So deeply were these thoughts engrained into their natures, they felt him but half their friend who ventured to despise them. The relief of present poverty, the succor of actual suffering, became in their eyes an effort of mere passing kindness. They looked to some great amelioration of condition, some wondrous change, some restoration to an imaginary standard of independence and comfort, which all the efforts of common interference fell sadly short of; and thus they strained their gaze to a government, a ruling power, for a boon undefined, unknown, and illimitable.

To expectations like these advice and slight assistance are as the mere drop of water to the parched tongue of thirst; and so I found it. I could neither encourage them in their hopes of such legislative changes as would greatly ameliorate their condition, nor flatter them in the delusion that none of their misfortunes were of home origin; and thus, if they felt gratitude for many kindnesses, they reposed no confidence in my opinion. The trading patriot, who promised much while he pocketed their hard-earned savings; the rabid newspaper writer, who libelled the Government and denounced the landlord,—were their standards of sympathy; and he who fell short of either was not their friend.

In a word, the social state of the people was rotten to its very core. Their highest qualities, degraded by the combined force of poverty, misrule, and superstition, had become sources of crime and misery. They had suffered so long and so much, their patience was exhausted; and they preferred the prospect of any violent convulsion which might change the face of the land, whatever dangers it might come with, to a slow and gradual improvement of condition, however safe and certain.

To win their confidence at the only price they would accord it, I never could consent to; and without it I was almost powerless for good. Here again, therefore, did I find closed against me another avenue for exertion; and the only one of all I could have felt a fitting sphere for my labor. The violence of their own passionate natures, the headlong impulses by which they suffered themselves to be swayed, left them no power of judgment regarding those whose views were more moderate and temperate. They could understand the high Tory landlord, whom they invested with every attribute of tyranny, as their open, candid opponent; they could see a warm friend in the violent mob-orator of the day; but they recognized no trait of kindness in him who would rather see them fed than flattered, and behold them in the enjoyment of comfort sooner than in the ecstasy of triumph.

From “Darby the Blast”—for he was now a member of my household—I learned the light in which I was regarded by the people, and heard the dissatisfaction they expressed that one who “sarved Boney” should not be ready to head a rising, if need be. Thus was I in a false position on every side. Mistrusted by all, because I would neither enter into the exaggerations of party, nor become blind to the truth my senses revealed before me, my sphere of utility was narrowed to the discharge of the mere duties of common charity and benevolence, and my presence among my tenantry no more productive of benefit than if I had left my purse as my representative.

Years rolled on, and in the noiseless track of time I forgot its flight. I now had grown so wedded to the habits of my solitary life, that its very monotony was a source of pleasure. I had intrenched myself within a little circle of enjoyments, and among my books and in my walks my days went pleasantly over.

For a long time, I did not dare to read the daily papers, nor learn the great events which agitated Europe. I tried to think that an interval of repose would leave me indifferent to their mention; and so rigidly did I abstain from indulging my curiosity, that the burning of Moscow, and the commencement of the dreadful retreat which followed, was the first fact I read of.

From the moment I gave way, the passion for intelligence from France became a perfect mania. Where were the different corps of the “Grand Army”? where the Emperor himself? by what great stroke of genius would he emerge from the difficulties around him, and deal one of his fatal blows on the enemy?—were the questions which met me as I awoke, and tortured me during the day.

Each movement of that terrible retreat I followed in the gazettes with an anxiety verging on insanity. I tracked the long journey on the map, and as I counted towns and villages, dreary deserts of snow, and vast rivers to be traversed, my heart grew faint to think how many a brave soldier would never reach that fair France for whose glory he had shed his best blood. Disaster followed disaster; and as the news reached England, came accounts of those great defections which weakened the force of the “Grand Army,” and deranged the places formed for its retiring movements.

They who can recall to mind the time I speak of, will remember the effect produced in England by the daily accounts from the seat of war; how heavily fell the blows of that altered fortune which once rested on the eagles of France; how each new bulletin announced another feature of misfortune,—some shattered remnant of a great corps d'armée cut off by Cossacks,—some dreadful battle engaged against superior numbers, and fought with desperation, not for victory, but the liberty to retreat. Great names were mentioned among the slain, and the proudest chivalry of Gaul left to perish on the far-off steppes of Russia.

Such were the fearful tales men read of that terrible campaign; and the joy in England was great, to hear that the most powerful of her enemies had at length experienced the full bitterness of defeat. While men vied with one another in stories of the misfortunes of the Emperor,—when each post added another to the long catalogue of disasters to the “Grand Army,”—I sat in my lonely house, in a remote part of Ireland, brooding over the sad reverses of him who still formed my ideal of a hero.

I thought how, amid the crumbling ruins of his splendid force, his great soul would survive the crash that made all others despair; that each new evil would suggest its remedy as it arose, and the mind that never failed in expedient would shine out more brilliantly through the gloom of darkening fortune than even it had done in the noonday splendor of success. When all others could only see the tremendous energy of despair, I thought I could recognize those glorious outbursts of heroism by which a French army sought and won the favor of their Emperor. The routed and straggling bodies which hurried along in seeming disorder, I gloried to perceive could assume all the port and bearing of soldiers at the approach of danger, and form their ranks at the wild “houra” of the Cossack as steadily as in the proudest day of their prosperity.

The retreat continued: the horrible suffering of a Russian winter added to the carnage of a battle-tide, which flowed unceasingly from the ruined walls of the Kremlin to the banks of the Vistula: the battle of Borisow and the passage of the Berezina followed fast on each other. And now we heard that the Emperor had surrendered the chief command to Murat, and was hastening back to France with lightning speed; for already the day of his evil fortune had thrown its shadow over the capital. No longer reckoned by tens of thousands, that vast army had now dwindled down to divisions of a few hundred men. The Old Guard scarce exceeded one thousand; and of twenty entire regiments of cavalry, Murat mustered a single squadron as a bodyguard. Crowds of wounded and mutilated men dragged their weary limbs along over the hardened snow, or through dense pine forests where no villages were to be met with,—a fatuous determination to strive to reach France, the only impulse surviving amid all their sufferings.

With the defections of D'York and Massenbach, then began that new feature of disaster which was so soon to burst forth with all the fell fury of long pent-up hatred. The nationality of Germany—so long, so cruelly insulted—now saw the day of retribution arrive. Misfortune hastened misfortune, and defeat engendered treason in the ranks of the Emperor's allies. Murat, too, the favorite of Napoleon, the king of his creation, deserted him now, and fled ignominiously from the command of the army.

“The Elbe! the Elbe!” was now the cry amid the shattered ranks of that army which but a year before saw no limit to its glorious path. The Elbe was the only line remaining which promised a moment's repose from the fatigues and privations of months long. Along that road the army could halt, and stem the tide of pursuit, however hotly it pressed. The Prussians had already united with the Russians; the defection of Austria could not be long distant; Saxony was appealed to, as a member of the German family, to join in arms against the Tyrant; and the wild “houra” of the Cossack now blended with the loud “Vorwarts” of injured Prussia.

“Where shall he seek succor now? What remains to him in this last eventful struggle? How shall the Emperor call back to life the legions by whose valor his great victories were gained, and Europe made a vassal at the foot of his throne?” Such was the thought that never left me day or night. Ever present before me was his calm brow, and his face paler, but not less handsome, than its wont. I could recall his rapid glance; the quick and hurried motion of his hand; his short and thick utterance, as words of command fell from his lips; and his smile, as he heard some intelligence with pleasure.

I could not sleep,—scarcely could I eat. A feverish excitement burned through my frame, and my parched tongue and hot hand told how the very springs of health were dried up within me. I walked with hurried steps from place to place; now muttering the words of some despatch, now fancying that I was sent with orders for a movement of troops. As I rode, I spurred my horse to a gallop, and in my heated imagination believed I was in presence of the enemy, and preparing for the fray. Great as my exhaustion frequently was, weariness brought no rest. Often I returned home at evening, overcome by fatigue; but a sleepless night, tortured with anxieties and harassed with doubts and fears, followed, and I awoke to pursue the same path, till in my weakened frame and hectic cheek the signs of illness could no longer be mistaken.

Terrified at the ravages a few weeks had made in my health, and fearful what secret malady was preying upon me, Darby, without asking any leave from me, left the house one morning at daybreak, and returned with the physician of the neighboring town. I was about to mount my horse, when I saw them coming up the avenue, and immediately guessed the object of the visit. A moment was enough to decide me as to the course to pursue; for well knowing how disposed the world ever is to stamp the impress of wandering intellect on any habit of mere eccentricity, I resolved to receive the doctor as though I was glad of his coming, and consult with him regarding my state. This would at least refute such a scandal, by enlisting the physician among the allies of my cause.

By good fortune, Dr. Clibborn was a man of shrewd common sense, as well as a physician of no mean skill.

In the brief conversation we held together, I perceived, that while he paid all requisite attention to any detail which implied the existence of malady, his questions were more pointedly directed to the possibility of some mental cause of irritation,—the source of my ailment. I could see, however, that his opinion inclined to the belief that the events of the trial had left their indelible traces on my mind; which, inducing me to adopt a life of isolation and retirement, had now produced the effects he witnessed.

I was not sorry at this mistake on his part. By suffering him to indulge in this delusive impression, I saved myself all the trouble of concealing my real feelings, which I had no desire to expose before him. I permitted him, therefore, to reason with me on the groundless notions he supposed I had conceived of the world's feeling regarding me, and heard him patiently as he detailed the course of public duty, by fulfilling which I should occupy my fitting place in society, and best consult my own health and happiness.

“There are,” said he, “certain fixed impressions, which I would not so combat. It was but yesterday, for instance, I yielded to the wish of an old general officer, who has served upwards of half a century, and desires once more to put himself at the head of his regiment. His heart was bent on it. I saw that though he might consent to abandon his purpose, I was not so sure his mind might bear the disappointment; for the intellect will sometimes go astray in endeavoring to retrace its steps. So I thought it better to concede what might cost more in the refusal.”

The last words of the doctor remained in my head long after he took his leave, and I could not avoid applying them to my own case. Was not my impression of this nature? Were not my thoughts all centred on one theme as fixedly as the officer's of whom he spoke? Could I, by any effort of my reason or my will, control my wandering fancies, and call them back to the dull realities amongst which I lived?

These were ever recurring to me, and always with the same reply. It is in vain to struggle against an impulse which has swallowed up all other ambitions. My heart is among the glittering ranks and