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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesThe Downfall (la Debacle) - Part Second - Chapter 6
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The Downfall (la Debacle) - Part Second - Chapter 6 Post by :Zed075 Category :Long Stories Author :Emile Zola Date :May 2012 Read :3611

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The Downfall (la Debacle) - Part Second - Chapter 6


Up on his lofty terrace, whither he had betaken himself to watch how affairs were shaping, Delaherche at last became impatient and was seized with an uncontrollable desire for news. He could see that the enemy's shells were passing over the city and that the few projectiles which had fallen on the houses in the vicinity were only responses, made at long intervals, to the irregular and harmless fire from Fort Palatinat, but he could discern nothing of the battle, and his agitation was rising to fever heat; he experienced an imperious longing for intelligence, which was constantly stimulated by the reflection that his life and fortune would be in danger should the army be defeated. He found it impossible to remain there longer, and went downstairs, leaving behind him the telescope on its tripod, turned on the German batteries.

When he had descended, however, he lingered a moment, detained by the aspect of the central garden of the factory. It was near one o'clock, and the ambulance was crowded with wounded men; the wagons kept driving up to the entrance in an unbroken stream. The regular ambulance wagons of the medical department, two-wheeled and four-wheeled, were too few in number to meet the demand, and vehicles of every description from the artillery and other trains, _prolonges_, provision vans, everything on wheels that could be picked up on the battlefield, came rolling up with their ghastly loads; and later in the day even carrioles and market-gardeners' carts were pressed into the service and harnessed to horses that were found straying along the roads. Into these motley conveyances were huddled the men collected from the flying ambulances, where their hurts had received such hasty attention as could be afforded. It was a sight to move the most callous to behold the unloading of those poor wretches, some with a greenish pallor on their face, others suffused with the purple hue that denotes congestion; many were in a state of coma, others uttered piercing cries of anguish; some there were who, in their semi-conscious condition, yielded themselves to the arms of the attendants with a look of deepest terror in their eyes, while a few, the minute a hand was laid on them, died of the consequent shock. They continued to arrive in such numbers that soon every bed in the vast apartment would have its occupant, and Major Bouroche had given orders to make use of the straw that had been spread thickly upon the floor at one end. He and his assistants had thus far been able to attend to all the cases with reasonable promptness; he had requested Mme. Delaherche to furnish him with another table, with mattress and oilcloth cover, for the shed where he had established his operating room. The assistant would thrust a napkin saturated with chloroform to the patient's nostrils, the keen knife flashed in the air, there was the faint rasping of the saw, barely audible, the blood spurted in short, sharp jets that were checked immediately. As soon as one subject had been operated on another was brought in, and they followed one another in such quick succession that there was barely time to pass a sponge over the protecting oilcloth. At the extremity of the grass plot, screened from sight by a clump of lilac bushes, they had set up a kind of morgue whither they carried the bodies of the dead, which were removed from the beds without a moment's delay in order to make room for the living, and this receptacle also served to receive the amputated legs, and arms, whatever debris of flesh and bone remained upon the table.

Mme. Delaherche and Gilberte, seated at the foot of one of the great trees, found it hard work to keep pace with the demand for bandages. Bouroche, who happened to be passing, his face very red, his apron white no longer, threw a bundle of linen to Delaherche and shouted:

"Here! be doing something; make yourself useful!"

But the manufacturer objected. "Oh! excuse me; I must go and try to pick up some news. One can't tell whether his neck is safe or not." Then, touching his lips to his wife's hair: "My poor Gilberte, to think that a shell may burn us out of house and home at any moment! It is horrible."

She was very pale; she raised her head and glanced about her, shuddering as she did so. Then, involuntarily, her unextinguishable smile returned to her lips.

"Oh, horrible, indeed! and all those poor men that they are cutting and carving. I don't see how it is that I stay here without fainting."

Mme. Delaherche had watched her son as he kissed the young woman's hair. She made a movement as if to part them, thinking of that other man who must have kissed those tresses so short a time ago; then her old hands trembled, she murmured beneath her breath:

"What suffering all about us, _mon Dieu! It makes one forget his own."

Delaherche left them, with the assurance that he would be away no longer than was necessary to ascertain the true condition of affairs. In the Rue Maqua he was surprised to observe the crowds of soldiers that were streaming into the city, without arms and in torn, dust-stained uniforms. It was in vain, however, that he endeavored to slake his thirst for news by questioning them; some answered with vacant, stupid looks that they knew nothing, while others told long rambling stories, with the maniacal gestures and whirling words of one bereft of reason. He therefore mechanically turned his steps again toward the Sous Prefecture as the likeliest quarter in which to look for information. As he was passing along the Place du College two guns, probably all that remained of some battery, came dashing up to the curb on a gallop, and were abandoned there. When at last he turned into the Grande Rue he had further evidence that the advanced guards of the fugitives were beginning to take possession, of the city; three dismounted hussars had seated themselves in a doorway and were sharing a loaf of bread; two others were walking their mounts up and down, leading them by the bridle, not knowing where to look for stabling for them; officers were hurrying to and fro distractedly, seemingly without any distinct purpose. On the Place Turenne a lieutenant counseled him not to loiter unnecessarily, for the shells had an unpleasant way of dropping there every now and then; indeed, a splinter had just demolished the railing about the statue of the great commander who overran the Palatinate. And as if to emphasize the officer's advice, while he was making fast time down the Rue de la Sous Prefecture he saw two projectiles explode, with a terrible crash, on the Pont de Meuse.

He was standing in front of the janitor's lodge, debating with himself whether it would be best to send in his card and try to interview one of the aides-de-camp, when he heard a girlish voice calling him by name.

"M. Delaherche! Come in here, quick; it is not safe out there."

It was Rose, his little operative, whose existence he had quite forgotten. She might be a useful ally in assisting him to gain access to headquarters; he entered the lodge and accepted her invitation to be seated.

"Just think, mamma is down sick with the worry and confusion; she can't leave her bed, so, you see, I have to attend to everything, for papa is with the National Guards up in the citadel. A little while ago the Emperor left the building--I suppose he wanted to let people see he is not a coward--and succeeded in getting as far as the bridge down at the end of the street. A shell alighted right in front of him; one of his equerries had his horse killed under him. And then he came back--he couldn't do anything else, could he, now?"

"You must have heard some talk of how the battle is going. What do they say, those gentlemen upstairs?"

She looked at him in surprise. Her pretty face was bright and smiling, with its fluffy golden hair and the clear, childish eyes of one who bestirred herself among her multifarious duties, in the midst of all those horrors, which she did not well understand.

"No, I know nothing. About midday I sent up a letter for Marshal MacMahon, but it could not be given him right away, because the Emperor was in the room. They were together nearly an hour, the Marshal lying on his bed, the Emperor close beside him seated on a chair. That much I know for certain, because I saw them when the door was opened."

"And then, what did they say to each other?"

She looked at him again, and could not help laughing.

"Why, I don't know; how could you expect me to? There's not a living soul knows what they said to each other."

She was right; he made an apologetic gesture in recognition of the stupidity of his question. But the thought of that fateful conversation haunted him; the interest there was in it for him who could have heard it! What decision had they arrived at?

"And now," Rose added, "the Emperor is back in his cabinet again, where he is having a conference with two generals who have just come in from the battlefield." She checked herself, casting a glance at the main entrance of the building. "See! there is one of them, now--and there comes the other."

He hurried from the room, and in the two generals recognized Ducrot and Douay, whose horses were standing before the door. He watched them climb into their saddles and gallop away. They had hastened into the city, each independently of the other, after the plateau of Illy had been captured by the enemy, to notify the Emperor that the battle was lost. They placed the entire situation distinctly before him; the army and Sedan were even then surrounded on every side; the result could not help but be disastrous.

For some minutes the Emperor continued silently to pace the floor of his cabinet, with the feeble, uncertain step of an invalid. There was none with him save an aide-de-camp, who stood by the door, erect and mute. And ever, to and fro, from the window to the fireplace, from the fireplace to the window, the sovereign tramped wearily, the inscrutable face now drawn and twitching spasmodically with a nervous tic. The back was bent, the shoulders bowed, as if the weight of his falling empire pressed on them more heavily, and the lifeless eyes, veiled by their heavy lids, told of the anguish of the fatalist who has played his last card against destiny and lost. Each time, however, that his walk brought him to the half-open window he gave a start and lingered there a second. And during one of those brief stoppages he faltered with trembling lips:

"Oh! those guns, those guns, that have been going since the morning!"

The thunder of the batteries on la Marfee and at Frenois seemed, indeed, to resound with more terrific violence there than elsewhere. It was one continuous, uninterrupted crash, that shook the windows, nay, the very walls themselves; an incessant uproar that exasperated the nerves by its persistency. And he could not banish the reflection from his mind that, as the struggle was now hopeless, further resistance would be criminal. What would avail more bloodshed, more maiming and mangling; why add more corpses to the dead that were already piled high upon that bloody field? They were vanquished, it was all ended; then why not stop the slaughter? The abomination of desolation raised its voice to heaven: let it cease.

The Emperor, again before the window, trembled and raised his hands to his ears, as if to shut out those reproachful voices.

"Oh, those guns, those guns! Will they never be silent!"

Perhaps the dreadful thought of his responsibilities arose before him, with the vision of all those thousands of bleeding forms with which his errors had cumbered the earth; perhaps, again, it was but the compassionate impulse of the tender-hearted dreamer, of the well-meaning man whose mind was stocked with humanitarian theories. At the moment when he beheld utter ruin staring him in the face, in that frightful whirlwind of destruction that broke him like a reed and scattered his fortunes in the dust, he could yet find tears for others. Almost crazed at the thought of the slaughter that was mercilessly going on so near him, he felt he had not strength to endure it longer; each report of that accursed cannonade seemed to pierce his heart and intensified a thousandfold his own private suffering.

"Oh, those guns, those guns! they must be silenced at once, at once!"

And that monarch who no longer had a throne, for he had delegated all his functions to the Empress regent, that chief without an army, since he had turned over the supreme command to Marshal Bazaine, now felt that he must once more take the reins in his hand and be the master. Since they left Chalons he had kept himself in the background, had issued no orders, content to be a nameless nullity without recognized position, a cumbrous burden carried about from place to place among the baggage of his troops, and it was only in their hour of defeat that the Emperor reasserted itself in him; the one order that he was yet to give, out of the pity of his sorrowing heart, was to raise the white flag on the citadel to request an armistice.

"Those guns, oh! those guns! Take a sheet, someone, a tablecloth, it matters not what! only hasten, hasten, and see that it is done!"

The aide-de-camp hurried from the room, and with unsteady steps the Emperor continued to pace his beat, back and forth, between the window and the fireplace, while still the batteries kept thundering, shaking the house from garret to foundation.

Delaherche was still chatting with Rose in the room below when a non-commissioned officer of the guard came running in and interrupted them.

"Mademoiselle, the house is in confusion, I cannot find a servant. Can you let me have something from your linen closet, a white cloth of some kind?"

"Will a napkin answer?"

"No, no, it would not be large enough. Half of a sheet, say."

Rose, eager to oblige, was already fumbling in her closet.

"I don't think I have any half-sheets. No, I don't see anything that looks as if it would serve your purpose. Oh, here is something; could you use a tablecloth?"

"A tablecloth! just the thing. Nothing could be better." And he added as he left the room: "It is to be used as a flag of truce, and hoisted on the citadel to let the enemy know we want to stop the fighting. Much obliged, mademoiselle."

Delaherche gave a little involuntary start of delight; they were to have a respite at last, then! Then he thought it might be unpatriotic to be joyful at such a time, and put on a long face again; but none the less his heart was very glad and he contemplated with much interest a colonel and captain, followed by the sergeant, as they hurriedly left the Sous-Prefecture. The colonel had the tablecloth, rolled in a bundle, beneath his arm. He thought he should like to follow them, and took leave of Rose, who was very proud that her napery was to be put to such use. It was then just striking two o'clock.

In front of the Hotel de Ville Delaherche was jostled by a disorderly mob of half-crazed soldiers who were pushing their way down from the Faubourg de la Cassine; he lost sight of the colonel, and abandoned his design of going to witness the raising of the white flag. He certainly would not be allowed to enter the citadel, and then again he had heard it reported that shells were falling on the college, and a new terror filled his mind; his factory might have been burned since he left it. All his feverish agitation returned to him and he started off on a run; the rapid motion was a relief to him. But the streets were blocked by groups of men, at every crossing he was delayed by some new obstacle. It was only when he reached the Rue Maqua and beheld the monumental facade of his house intact, no smoke or sign of fire about it, that his anxiety was allayed, and he heaved a deep sigh of satisfaction. He entered, and from the doorway shouted to his mother and wife:

"It is all right! they are hoisting the white flag; the cannonade won't last much longer."

He said nothing more, for the appearance presented by the ambulance was truly horrifying.

In the vast drying-room, the wide door of which was standing open, not only was every bed occupied, but there was no more room upon the litter that had been shaken down on the floor at the end of the apartment. They were commencing to strew straw in the spaces between the beds, the wounded were crowded together so closely that they were in contact. Already there were more than two hundred patients there, and more were arriving constantly; through the lofty windows the pitiless white daylight streamed in upon that aggregation of suffering humanity. Now and then an unguarded movement elicited an involuntary cry of anguish. The death-rattle rose on the warm, damp air. Down the room a low, mournful wail, almost a lullaby, went on and ceased not. And all about was silence, intense, profound, the stolid resignation of despair, the solemn stillness of the death-chamber, broken only by the tread and whispers of the attendants. Rents in tattered, shell-torn uniforms disclosed gaping wounds, some of which had received a hasty dressing on the battlefield, while others were still raw and bleeding. There were feet, still incased in their coarse shoes, crushed into a mass like jelly; from knees and elbows, that were as if they had been smashed by a hammer, depended inert limbs. There were broken hands, and fingers almost severed, ready to drop, retained only by a strip of skin. Most numerous among the casualties were the fractures; the poor arms and legs, red and swollen, throbbed intolerably and were heavy as lead. But the most dangerous hurts were those in the abdomen, chest, and head. There were yawning fissures that laid open the entire flank, the knotted viscera were drawn into great hard lumps beneath the tight-drawn skin, while as the effect of certain wounds the patient frothed at the mouth and writhed like an epileptic. Here and there were cases where the lungs had been penetrated, the puncture now so minute as to permit no escape of blood, again a wide, deep orifice through which the red tide of life escaped in torrents; and the internal hemorrhages, those that were hid from sight, were the most terrible in their effects, prostrating their victim like a flash, making him black in the face and delirious. And finally the head, more than any other portion of the frame, gave evidence of hard treatment; a broken jaw, the mouth a pulp of teeth and bleeding tongue, an eye torn from its socket and exposed upon the cheek, a cloven skull that showed the palpitating brain beneath. Those in whose case the bullet had touched the brain or spinal marrow were already as dead men, sunk in the lethargy of coma, while the fractures and other less serious cases tossed restlessly on their pallets and beseechingly called for water to quench their thirst.

Leaving the large room and passing out into the courtyard, the shed where the operations were going on presented another scene of horror. In the rush and hurry that had continued unabated since morning it was impossible to operate on every case that was brought in, so their attention had been confined to those urgent cases that imperatively demanded it. Whenever Bouroche's rapid judgment told him that amputation was necessary, he proceeded at once to perform it. In the same way he lost not a moment's time in probing the wound and extracting the projectile whenever it had lodged in some locality where it might do further mischief, as in the muscles of the neck, the region of the arm pit, the thigh joint, the ligaments of the knee and elbow. Severed arteries, too, had to be tied without delay. Other wounds were merely dressed by one of the hospital stewards under his direction and left to await developments. He had already with his own hand performed four amputations, the only rest that he allowed himself being to attend to some minor cases in the intervals between them, and was beginning to feel fatigue. There were but two tables, his own and another, presided over by one of his assistants; a sheet had been hung between them, to isolate the patients from each other. Although the sponge was kept constantly at work the tables were always red, and the buckets that were emptied over a bed of daisies a few steps away, the clear water in which a single tumbler of blood sufficed to redden, seemed to be buckets of unmixed blood, torrents of blood, inundating the gentle flowers of the parterre. Although the room was thoroughly ventilated a nauseating smell arose from the tables and their horrid burdens, mingled with the sweetly insipid odor of chloroform.

Delaherche, naturally a soft-hearted man, was in a quiver of compassionate emotion at the spectacle that lay before his eyes, when his attention was attracted by a landau that drove up to the door. It was a private carriage, but doubtless the ambulance attendants had found none other ready to their hand and had crowded their patients into it. There were eight of them, sitting on one another's knees, and as the last man alighted the manufacturer recognized Captain Beaudoin, and gave utterance to a cry of terror and surprise.

"Ah, my poor friend! Wait, I will call my mother and my wife."

They came running up, leaving the bandages to be rolled by servants. The attendants had already raised the captain and brought him into the room, and were about to lay him down upon a pile of straw when Delaherche noticed, lying on a bed, a soldier whose ashy face and staring eyes exhibited no sign of life.

"Look, is he not dead, that man?"

"That's so!" replied the attendant. "He may as well make room for someone else!"

He and one of his mates took the body by the arms and legs and carried it off to the morgue that had been extemporized behind the lilac bushes. A dozen corpses were already there in a row, stiff and stark, some drawn out to their full length as if in an attempt to rid themselves of the agony that racked them, others curled and twisted in every attitude of suffering. Some seemed to have left the world with a sneer on their faces, their eyes retroverted till naught was visible but the whites, the grinning lips parted over the glistening teeth, while in others, with faces unspeakably sorrowful, big tears still stood on the cheeks. One, a mere boy, short and slight, half whose face had been shot away by a cannon-ball, had his two hands clasped convulsively above his heart, and in them a woman's photograph, one of those pale, blurred pictures that are made in the quarters of the poor, bedabbled with his blood. And at the feet of the dead had been thrown in a promiscuous pile the amputated arms and legs, the refuse of the knife and saw of the operating table, just as the butcher sweeps into a corner of his shop the offal, the worthless odds and ends of flesh and bone.

Gilberte shuddered as she looked on Captain Beaudoin. Good God! how pale he was, stretched out on his mattress, his face so white beneath the encrusting grime! And the thought that but a few short hours before he had held her in his arms, radiant in all his manly strength and beauty, sent a chill of terror to her heart. She kneeled beside him.

"What a terrible misfortune, my friend! But it won't amount to anything, will it?" And she drew her handkerchief from her pocket and began mechanically to wipe his face, for she could not bear to look at it thus soiled with powder, sweat, and clay. It seemed to her, too, that she would be helping him by cleansing him a little. "Will it? it is only your leg that is hurt; it won't amount to anything."

The captain made an effort to rouse himself from his semi-conscious state, and opened his eyes. He recognized his friends and greeted them with a faint smile.

"Yes, it is only the leg. I was not even aware of being hit; I thought I had made a misstep and fallen--" He spoke with great difficulty. "Oh! I am so thirsty!"

Mme. Delaherche, who was standing at the other side of the mattress, looking down compassionately on the young man, hastily left the room. She returned with a glass and a carafe of water into which a little cognac had been poured, and when the captain had greedily swallowed the contents of the glass, she distributed what remained in the carafe among the occupants of the adjacent beds, who begged with trembling outstretched hands and tearful voices for a drop. A zouave, for whom there was none left, sobbed like a child in his disappointment.

Delaherche was meantime trying to gain the major's ear to see if he could not prevail on him to take up the captain's case out of its regular turn. Bouroche came into the room just then, with his blood-stained apron and lion's mane hanging in confusion about his perspiring face, and the men raised their heads as he passed and endeavored to stop him, all clamoring at once for recognition and immediate attention: "This way, major! It's my turn, major!" Faltering words of entreaty went up to him, trembling hands clutched at his garments, but he, wrapped up in the work that lay before him and puffing with his laborious exertions, continued to plan and calculate and listened to none of them. He communed with himself aloud, counting them over with his finger and classifying them, assigning them their numbers; this one first, then that one, then that other fellow; one, two, three; the jaw, the arm, then the thigh; while the assistant who accompanied him on his round made himself all ears in his effort to memorize his directions.

"Major," said Delaherche, plucking him by the sleeve, "there is an officer over here, Captain Beaudoin--"

Bouroche interrupted him. "What, Beaudoin here! Ah, the poor devil!" And he crossed over at once to the side of the wounded man. A single glance, however, must have sufficed to show him that the case was a bad one, for he added in the same breath, without even stooping to examine the injured member: "Good! I will have them bring him to me at once, just as soon as I am through with the operation that is now in hand."

And he went back to the shed, followed by Delaherche, who would not lose sight of him for fear lest he might forget his promise.

The business that lay before him now was the rescision of a shoulder-joint in accordance with Lisfranc's method, which surgeons never fail to speak of as a "very pretty" operation, something neat and expeditious, barely occupying forty seconds in the performance. The patient was subjected to the influence of chloroform, while an assistant grasped the shoulder with both hands, the fingers under the armpit, the thumbs on top. Bouroche, brandishing the long, keen knife, cried: "Raise him!" seized the deltoid with his left hand and with a swift movement of the right cut through the flesh of the arm and severed the muscle; then, with a deft rearward cut, he disarticulated the joint at a single stroke, and presto! the arm fell on the table, taken off in three motions. The assistant slipped his thumbs over the brachial artery in such manner as to close it. "Let him down!" Bouroche could not restrain a little pleased laugh as he proceeded to secure the artery, for he had done it in thirty-five seconds. All that was left to do now was to bring a flap of skin down over the wound and stitch it, in appearance something like a flat epaulette. It was not only "pretty," but exciting, on account of the danger, for a man will pump all the blood out of his body in two minutes through the brachial, to say nothing of the risk there is in bringing a patient to a sitting posture when under the influence of anaesthetics.

Delaherche was white as a ghost; a thrill of horror ran down his back. He would have turned and fled, but time was not given him; the arm was already off. The soldier was a new recruit, a sturdy peasant lad; on emerging from his state of coma he beheld a hospital attendant carrying away the amputated limb to conceal it behind the lilacs. Giving a quick downward glance at his shoulder, he saw the bleeding stump and knew what had been done, whereon he became furiously angry.

"Ah, _nom de Dieu! what have you been doing to me? It is a shame!"

Bouroche was too done up to make him an immediate answer, but presently, in his fatherly way:

"I acted for the best; I didn't want to see you kick the bucket, my boy. Besides, I asked you, and you told me to go ahead."

"I told you to go ahead! I did? How could I know what I was saying!" His anger subsided and he began to weep scalding tears. "What is going to become of me now?"

They carried him away and laid him on the straw, and gave the table and its covering a thorough cleansing; and the buckets of blood-red water that they threw out across the grass plot gave to the pale daisies a still deeper hue of crimson.

When Delaherche had in some degree recovered his equanimity he was astonished to notice that the bombardment was still going on. Why had it not been silenced? Rose's tablecloth must have been hoisted over the citadel by that time, and yet it seemed as if the fire of the Prussian batteries was more rapid and furious than ever. The uproar was such that one could not hear his own voice; the sustained vibration tried the stoutest nerves. On both operators and patients the effect could not but be most unfavorable of those incessant detonations that seemed to penetrate the inmost recesses of one's being. The entire hospital was in a state of feverish alarm and apprehension.

"I supposed it was all over; what can they mean by keeping it up?" exclaimed Delaherche, who was nervously listening, expecting each shot would be the last.

Returning to Bouroche to remind him of his promise and conduct him to the captain, he was astonished to find him seated on a bundle of straw before two pails of iced water, into which he had plunged both his arms, bared to the shoulder. The major, weary and disheartened, overwhelmed by a sensation of deepest melancholy and dejection, had reached one of those terrible moments when the practitioner becomes conscious of his own impotency; he had exhausted his strength, physical and moral, and taken this means to restore it. And yet he was not a weakling; he was steady of hand and firm of heart; but the inexorable question had presented itself to him: "What is the use?" The feeling that he could accomplish so little, that so much must be left undone, had suddenly paralyzed him. What was the use? since Death, in spite of his utmost effort, would always be victorious. Two attendants came in, bearing Captain Beaudoin on a stretcher.

"Major," Delaherche ventured to say, "here is the captain."

Bouroche opened his eyes, withdrew his arms from their cold bath, shook and dried them on the straw. Then, rising to his feet:

"Ah, yes; the next one-- Well, well, the day's work is not yet done." And he shook the tawny locks upon his lion's head, rejuvenated and refreshed, restored to himself once more by the invincible habit of duty and the stern discipline of his profession.

"Good! just above the right ankle," said Bouroche, with unusual garrulity, intended to quiet the nerves of the patient. "You displayed wisdom in selecting the location of your wound; one is not much the worse for a hurt in that quarter. Now we'll just take a little look at it."

But Beaudoin's persistently lethargic condition evidently alarmed him. He inspected the contrivance that had been applied by the field attendant to check the flow of blood, which was simply a cord passed around the leg outside the trousers and twisted tight with the assistance of a bayonet sheath, with a growling request to be informed what infernal ignoramus had done that. Then suddenly he saw how matters were and was silent; while they were bringing him in from the field in the overcrowded landau the improvised tourniquet had become loosened and slipped down, thus giving rise to an extensive hemorrhage. He relieved his feelings by storming at the hospital steward who was assisting him.

"You confounded snail, cut! Are you going to keep me here all day?"

The attendant cut away the trousers and drawers, then the shoe and sock, disclosing to view the leg and foot in their pale nudity, stained with blood. Just over the ankle was a frightful laceration, into which the splinter of the bursting shell had driven a piece of the red cloth of the trousers. The muscle protruded from the lips of the gaping orifice, a roll of whitish, mangled tissue.

Gilberte had to support herself against one of the uprights of the shed. Ah! that flesh, that poor flesh that was so white; now all torn and maimed and bleeding! Despite the horror and terror of the sight she could not turn away her eyes.

"Confound it!" Bouroche exclaimed, "they have made a nice mess here!"

He felt the foot and found it cold; the pulse, if any, was so feeble as to be undistinguishable. His face was very grave, and he pursed his lips in a way that was habitual with him when he had a more than usually serious case to deal with.

"Confound it," he repeated, "I don't like the looks of that foot!"

The captain, whom his anxiety had finally aroused from his semi-somnolent state, asked:

"What were you saying, major?"

Bouroche's tactics, whenever an amputation became necessary, were never to appeal directly to the patient for the customary authorization. He preferred to have the patient accede to it voluntarily.

"I was saying that I don't like the looks of that foot," he murmured, as if thinking aloud. "I am afraid we shan't be able to save it."

In a tone of alarm Beaudoin rejoined: "Come, major, there is no use beating about the bush. What is your opinion?"

"My opinion is that you are a brave man, captain, and that you are going to let me do what the necessity of the case demands."

To Captain Beaudoin it seemed as if a sort of reddish vapor arose before his eyes through which he saw things obscurely. He understood. But notwithstanding the intolerable fear that appeared to be clutching at his throat, he replied, unaffectedly and bravely:

"Do as you think best, major."

The preparations did not consume much time. The assistant had saturated a cloth with chloroform and was holding it in readiness; it was at once applied to the patient's nostrils. Then, just at the moment that the brief struggle set in that precedes anaesthesia, two attendants raised the captain and placed him on the mattress upon his back, in such a position that the legs should be free; one of them retained his grasp on the left limb, holding it flexed, while an assistant, seizing the right, clasped it tightly with both his hands in the region of the groin in order to compress the arteries.

Gilberte, when she saw Bouroche approach the victim with the glittering steel, could endure no more.

"Oh, don't! oh, don't! it is too horrible!"

And she would have fallen had it not been that Mme. Delaherche put forth her arm to sustain her.

"But why do you stay here?"

Both the women remained, however. They averted their eyes, not wishing to see the rest; motionless and trembling they stood locked in each other's arms, notwithstanding the little love there was between them.

At no time during the day had the artillery thundered more loudly than now. It was three o'clock, and Delaherche declared angrily that he gave it up--he could not understand it. There could be no doubt about it now, the Prussian batteries, instead of slackening their fire, were extending it. Why? What had happened? It was as if all the forces of the nether regions had been unchained; the earth shook, the heavens were on fire. The ring of flame-belching mouths of bronze that encircled Sedan, the eight hundred guns of the German armies, that were served with such activity and raised such an uproar, were expending their thunders on the adjacent fields; had that concentric fire been focused upon the city, had the batteries on those commanding heights once begun to play upon Sedan, it would have been reduced to ashes and pulverized into dust in less than fifteen minutes. But now the projectiles were again commencing to fall upon the houses, the crash that told of ruin and destruction was heard more frequently. One exploded in the Rue des Voyards, another grazed the tall chimney of the factory, and the bricks and mortar came tumbling to the ground directly in front of the shed where the surgeons were at work. Bouroche looked up and grumbled:

"Are they trying to finish our wounded for us? Really, this racket is intolerable."

In the meantime an attendant had seized the captain's leg, and the major, with a swift circular motion of his hand, made an incision in the skin below the knee and some two inches below the spot where he intended to saw the bone; then, still employing the same thin-bladed knife, that he did not change in order to get on more rapidly, he loosened the skin on the superior side of the incision and turned it back, much as one would peel an orange. But just as he was on the point of dividing the muscles a hospital steward came up and whispered in his ear:

"Number two has just slipped his cable."

The major did not hear, owing to the fearful uproar.

"Speak up, can't you! My ear drums are broken with their d-----d cannon."

"Number two has just slipped his cable."

"Who is that, number two?"

"The arm, you know."

"Ah, very good! Well, then, you can bring me number three, the jaw."

And with wonderful dexterity, never changing his position, he cut through the muscles clean down to the bone with a single motion of his wrist. He laid bare the tibia and fibula, introduced between them an implement to keep them in position, drew the saw across them once, and they were sundered. And the foot remained in the hands of the attendant who was holding it.

The flow of blood had been small, thanks to the pressure maintained by the assistant higher up the leg, at the thigh. The ligature of the three arteries was quickly accomplished, but the major shook his head, and when the assistant had removed his fingers he examined the stump, murmuring, certain that the patient could not hear as yet:

"It looks bad; there's no blood coming from the arterioles."

And he completed his diagnosis of the case by an expressive gesture: Another poor fellow who was soon to answer the great roll-call! while on his perspiring face was again seen that expression of weariness and utter dejection, that hopeless, unanswerable: "What is the use?" since out of every ten cases that they assumed the terrible responsibility of operating on they did not succeed in saving four. He wiped his forehead, and set to work to draw down the flap of skin and put in the three sutures that were to hold it in place.

Delaherche having told Gilberte that the operation was completed, she turned her gaze once more upon the table; she caught a glimpse of the captain's foot, however, as the attendant was carrying it away to the place behind the lilacs. The charnel house there continued to receive fresh occupants; two more corpses had recently been brought in and added to the ghastly array, one with blackened lips still parted wide as if rending the air with shrieks of anguish, the other, his form so contorted and contracted in the convulsions of the last agony that he was like a stunted, malformed boy. Unfortunately, there was beginning to be a scarcity of room in the little secluded corner, and the human debris had commenced to overflow and invade the adjacent alley. The attendant hesitated a moment, in doubt what to do with the captain's foot, then finally concluded to throw it on the general pile.

"Well, captain, that's over with," the major said to Beaudoin when he regained consciousness. "You'll be all right now."

But the captain did not show the cheeriness that follows a successful operation. He opened his eyes and made an attempt to raise himself, then fell back on his pillow, murmuring wearily, in a faint voice:

"Thanks, major. I'm glad it's over."

He was conscious of the pain, however, when the alcohol of the dressing touched the raw flesh. He flinched a little, complaining that they were burning him. And just as they were bringing up the stretcher preparatory to carrying him back into the other room the factory was shaken to its foundations by a most terrific explosion; a shell had burst directly in the rear of the shed, in the small courtyard where the pump was situated. The glass in the windows was shattered into fragments, and a dense cloud of smoke came pouring into the ambulance. The wounded men, stricken with panic terror, arose from their bed of straw; all were clamoring with affright; all wished to fly at once.

Delaherche rushed from the building in consternation to see what damage had been done. Did they mean to burn his house down over his head? What did it all mean? Why did they open fire again when the Emperor had ordered that it should cease?

"Thunder and lightning! Stir yourselves, will you!" Bouroche shouted to his staff, who were standing about with pallid faces, transfixed by terror. "Wash off the table; go and bring me in number three!"

They cleansed the table; and once more the crimson contents of the buckets were hurled across the grass plot upon the bed of daisies, which was now a sodden, blood-soaked mat of flowers and verdure. And Bouroche, to relieve the tedium until the attendants should bring him "number three," applied himself to probing for a musket-ball, which, having first broken the patient's lower jaw, had lodged in the root of the tongue. The blood flowed freely and collected on his fingers in glutinous masses.

Captain Beaudoin was again resting on his mattress in the large room. Gilberte and Mme. Delaherche had followed the stretcher when he was carried from the operating table, and even Delaherche, notwithstanding his anxiety, came in for a moment's chat.

"Lie here and rest a few minutes, Captain. We will have a room prepared for you, and you shall be our guest."

But the wounded man shook off his lethargy and for a moment had command of his faculties.

"No, it is not worth while; I feel that I am going to die."

And he looked at them with wide eyes, filled with the horror of death.

"Oh, Captain! why do you talk like that?" murmured Gilberte, with a shiver, while she forced a smile to her lips. "You will be quite well a month hence."

He shook his head mournfully, and in the room was conscious of no presence save hers; on all his face was expressed his unutterable yearning for life, his bitter, almost craven regret that he was to be snatched away so young, leaving so many joys behind untasted.

"I am going to die, I am going to die. Oh! 'tis horrible--"

Then suddenly he became conscious of his torn, soiled uniform and the grime upon his hands, and it made him feel uncomfortable to be in the company of women in such a state. It shamed him to show such weakness, and his desire to look and be the gentleman to the last restored to him his manhood. When he spoke again it was in a tone almost of cheerfulness.

"If I have got to die, though, I would rather it should be with clean hands. I should count it a great kindness, madame, if you would moisten a napkin and let me have it."

Gilberte sped away and quickly returned with the napkin, with which she herself cleansed the hands of the dying man. Thenceforth, desirous of quitting the scene with dignity, he displayed much firmness. Delaherche did what he could to cheer him, and assisted his wife in the small attentions she offered for his comfort. Old Mme. Delaherche, too, in presence of the man whose hours were numbered, felt her enmity subsiding. She would be silent, she who knew all and had sworn to impart her knowledge to her son. What would it avail to excite discord in the household, since death would soon obliterate all trace of the wrong?

The end came very soon. Captain Beaudoin, whose strength was ebbing rapidly, relapsed into his comatose condition, and a cold sweat broke out and stood in beads upon his neck and forehead. He opened his eyes again, and began to feebly grope about him with his stiffening fingers, as if feeling for a covering that was not there, pulling at it with a gentle, continuous movement, as if to draw it up around his shoulders.

"It is cold-- Oh! it is so cold."

And so he passed from life, peacefully, without a struggle; and on his wasted, tranquil face rested an expression of unspeakable melancholy.

Delaherche saw to it that the remains, instead of being borne away and placed among the common dead, were deposited in one of the outbuildings of the factory. He endeavored to prevail on Gilberte, who was tearful and disconsolate, to retire to her apartment, but she declared that to be alone now would be more than her nerves could stand, and begged to be allowed to remain with her mother-in-law in the ambulance, where the noise and movement would be a distraction to her. She was seen presently running to carry a drink of water to a chasseur d'Afrique whom his fever had made delirious, and she assisted a hospital steward to dress the hand of a little recruit, a lad of twenty, who had had his thumb shot away and come in on foot from the battlefield; and as he was jolly and amusing, treating his wound with all the levity and nonchalance of the Parisian rollicker, she was soon laughing and joking as merrily as he.

While the captain lay dying the cannonade seemed, if that were possible, to have increased in violence; another shell had landed in the garden, shattering one of the old elms. Terror-stricken men came running in to say that all Sedan was in danger of destruction; a great fire had broken out in the Faubourg de la Cassine. If the bombardment should continue with such fury for any length of time there would be nothing left of the city.

"It can't be; I am going to see about it!" Delaherche exclaimed, violently excited.

"Where are you going, pray?" asked Bouroche.

"Why, to the Sous-Prefecture, to see what the Emperor means by fooling us in this way, with his talk of hoisting the white flag."

For some few seconds the major stood as if petrified at the idea of defeat and capitulation, which presented itself to him then for the first time in the midst of his impotent efforts to save the lives of the poor maimed creatures they were bringing in to him from the field. Rage and grief were in his voice as he shouted:

"Go to the devil, if you will! All you can do won't keep us from being soundly whipped!"

On leaving the factory Delaherche found it no easy task to squeeze his way through the throng; at every instant the crowd of straggling soldiers that filled the streets received fresh accessions. He questioned several of the officers whom he encountered; not one of them had seen the white flag on the citadel. Finally he met a colonel, who declared that he had caught a momentary glimpse of it: that it had been run up and then immediately hauled down. That explained matters; either the Germans had not seen it, or seeing it appear and disappear so quickly, had inferred the distressed condition of the French and redoubled their fire in consequence. There was a story in circulation how a general officer, enraged beyond control at the sight of the flag, had wrested it from its bearer, broken the staff, and trampled it in the mud. And still the Prussian batteries continued to play upon the city, shells were falling upon the roofs and in the streets, houses were in flames; a woman had just been killed at the corner of the Rue Pont de Meuse and the Place Turenne.

At the Sous-Prefecture Delaherche failed to find Rose at her usual station in the janitor's lodge. Everywhere were evidences of disorder; all the doors were standing open; the reign of terror had commenced. As there was no sentry or anyone to prevent, he went upstairs, encountering on the way only a few scared-looking men, none of whom made any offer to stop him. He had reached the first story and was hesitating what to do next when he saw the young girl approaching him.

"Oh, M. Delaherche! isn't this dreadful! Here, quick! this way, if you would like to see the Emperor."

On the left of the corridor a door stood ajar, and through the narrow opening a glimpse could be had of the sovereign, who had resumed his weary, anguished tramp between the fireplace and the window. Back and forth he shuffled with heavy, dragging steps, and ceased not, despite his unendurable suffering. An aide-de-camp had just entered the room --it was he who had failed to close the door behind him--and Delaherche heard the Emperor ask him in a sorrowfully reproachful voice:

"What is the reason of this continued firing, sir, after I gave orders to hoist the white flag?"

The torture to him had become greater than he could bear, that never-ceasing cannonade, that seemed to grow more furious with every minute. Every time he approached the window it pierced him to the heart. More spilling of blood, more useless squandering of human life! At every moment the piles of corpses were rising higher on the battlefield, and his was the responsibility. The compassionate instincts that entered so largely into his nature revolted at it, and more than ten times already he had asked that question of those who approached him.

"I gave orders to raise the white flag; tell me, why do they continue firing?"

The aide-de-camp made answer in a voice so low that Delaherche failed to catch its purport. The Emperor, moreover, seemed not to pause to listen, drawn by some irresistible attraction to that window at which, each time he approached it, he was greeted by that terrible salvo of artillery that rent and tore his being. His pallor was greater even than it had been before; his poor, pinched, wan face, on which were still visible traces of the rouge that had been applied that morning, bore witness to his anguish.

At that moment a short, quick-motioned man in dust-soiled uniform, whom Delaherche recognized as General Lebrun, hurriedly crossed the corridor and pushed open the door, without waiting to be announced. And scarcely was he in the room when again was heard the Emperor's so oft repeated question.

"Why do they continue to fire, General, when I have given orders to hoist the white flag?"

The aide-de-camp left the apartment, shutting the door behind him, and Delaherche never knew what was the general's answer. The vision had faded from his sight.

"Ah!" said Rose, "things are going badly; I can see that clearly enough by all those gentlemen's faces. It is bad for my tablecloth, too; I am afraid I shall never see it again; somebody told me it had been torn in pieces. But it is for the Emperor that I feel most sorry in all this business, for he is in a great deal worse condition than the marshal; he would be much better off in his bed than in that room, where he is wearing himself out with his everlasting walking."

She spoke with much feeling, and on her pretty pink and white face there was an expression of sincere pity, but Delaherche, whose Bonapartist ardor had somehow cooled considerably during the last two days, said to himself that she was a little fool. He nevertheless remained chatting with her a moment in the hall below while waiting for General Lebrun to take his departure, and when that officer appeared and left the building he followed him.

General Lebrun had explained to the Emperor that if it was thought best to apply for an armistice, etiquette demanded that a letter to that effect, signed by the commander-in-chief of the French forces, should be dispatched to the German commander-in-chief. He had also offered to write the letter, go in search of General de Wimpffen, and obtain his signature to it. He left the Sous-Prefecture with the letter in his pocket, but apprehensive he might not succeed in finding de Wimpffen, entirely ignorant as he was of the general's whereabouts on the field of battle. Within the ramparts of Sedan, moreover, the crowd was so dense that he was compelled to walk his horse, which enabled Delaherche to keep him in sight until he reached the Minil gate.

Once outside upon the road, however, General Lebrun struck into a gallop, and when near Balan had the good fortune to fall in with the chief. Only a few minutes previous to this the latter had written to the Emperor: "Sire, come and put yourself at the head of your troops; they will force a passage through the enemy's lines for you, or perish in the attempt;" therefore he flew into a furious passion at the mere mention of the word armistice. No, no! he would sign nothing, he would fight it out! This was about half-past three o'clock, and it was shortly afterward that occurred the gallant, but mad attempt, the last serious effort of the day, to pierce the Bavarian lines and regain possession of Bazeilles. In order to put heart into the troops a ruse was resorted to: in the streets of Sedan and in the fields outside the walls the shout was raised: "Bazaine is coming up! Bazaine is at hand!" Ever since morning many had allowed themselves to be deluded by that hope; each time that the Germans opened fire with a fresh battery it was confidently asserted to be the guns of the army of Metz. In the neighborhood of twelve hundred men were collected, soldiers of all arms, from every corps, and the little column bravely advanced into the storm of missiles that swept the road, at double time. It was a splendid spectacle of heroism and endurance while it lasted; the numerous casualties did not check the ardor of the survivors, nearly five hundred yards were traversed with a courage and nerve that seemed almost like madness; but soon there were great gaps in the ranks, the bravest began to fall back. What could they do against overwhelming numbers? It was a mad attempt, anyway; the desperate effort of a commander who could not bring himself to acknowledge that he was defeated. And it ended by General de Wimpffen finding himself and General Lebrun alone together on the Bazeilles road, which they had to make up their mind to abandon to the enemy, for good and all. All that remained for them to do was to retreat and seek security under the walls of Sedan.

Upon losing sight of the general at the Minil gate Delaherche had hurried back to the factory at the best speed he was capable of, impelled by an irresistible longing to have another look from his observatory at what was going on in the distance. Just as he reached his door, however, his progress was arrested a moment by encountering Colonel de Vineuil, who, with his blood-stained boot, was being brought in for treatment in a condition of semi-consciousness, upon a bed of straw that had been prepared for him on the floor of a market-gardener's wagon. The colonel had persisted in his efforts to collect the scattered fragments of his regiment until he dropped from his horse. He was immediately carried upstairs and put to bed in a room on the first floor, and Bouroche, who was summoned at once, finding the injury not of a serious character, had only to apply a dressing to the wound, from which he first extracted some bits of the leather of the boot. The worthy doctor was wrought up to a high pitch of excitement; he exclaimed, as he went downstairs, that he would rather cut off one of his own legs than continue working in that unsatisfactory, slovenly way, without a tithe of either the assistants or the appliances that he ought to have. Below in the ambulance, indeed, they no longer knew where to bestow the cases that were brought them, and had been obliged to have recourse to the lawn, where they laid them on the grass. There were already two long rows of them, exposed beneath the shrieking shells, filling the air with their dismal plaints while waiting for his ministrations. The number of cases brought in since noon exceeded four hundred, and in response to Bouroche's repeated appeals for assistance he had been sent one young doctor from the city. Good as was his will, he was unequal to the task; he probed, sliced, sawed, sewed like a man frantic, and was reduced to despair to see his work continually accumulating before him. Gilberte, satiated with sights of horror, unable longer to endure the sad spectacle of blood and tears, remained upstairs with her uncle, the colonel, leaving to Mme. Delaherche the care of moistening fevered lips and wiping the cold sweat from the brow of the dying.

Rapidly climbing the stairs to his terrace, Delaherche endeavored to form some idea for himself of how matters stood. The city had suffered less injury than was generally supposed; there was one great conflagration, however, over in the Faubourg de la Cassine, from which dense volumes of smoke were rising. Fort Palatinat had discontinued its fire, doubtless because the ammunition was all expended; the guns mounted on the Porte de Paris alone continued to make themselves heard at infrequent intervals. But something that he beheld presently had greater interest for his eyes than all beside; they had run up the white flag on the citadel again, but it must be that it was invisible from the battlefield, for there was no perceptible slackening of the fire. The Balan road was concealed from his vision by the neighboring roofs; he was unable to make out what the troops were doing in that direction. Applying his eye to the telescope, however, which remained as he had left it, directed on la Marfee, he again beheld the cluster of officers that he had seen in that same place about midday. The master of them all, that miniature toy-soldier in lead, half finger high, in whom he had thought to recognize the King of Prussia, was there still, erect in his plain, dark uniform before the other officers, who, in their showy trappings, were for the most part reclining carelessly on the grass. Among them were officers from foreign lands, aides-de-camp, generals, high officials, princes; all of them with field glasses in their hands, with which, since early morning, they had been watching every phase of the death-struggle of the army of Chalons, as if they were at the play. And the direful drama was drawing to its end.

From among the trees that clothed the summit of la Marfee King William had just witnessed the junction of his armies. It was an accomplished fact; the third army, under the leadership of his son, the Crown Prince, advancing by the way of Saint-Menges and Fleigneux, had secured possession of the plateau of Illy, while the fourth, commanded by the Crown Prince of Saxony, turning the wood of la Garenne and, coming up through Givonne and Daigny, had also reached its appointed rendezvous. There, too, the XIth and Vth corps had joined hands with the XIIth corps and the Guards. The gallant but ineffectual charge of Margueritte's division in its supreme effort to break through the hostile lines at the very moment when the circle was being rounded out had elicited from the king the exclamation: "Ah, the brave fellows!" Now the great movement, inexorable as fate, the details of which had been arranged with such mathematical precision, was complete, the jaws of the vise had closed, and stretching on his either hand far in the distance, a mighty wall of adamant surrounding the army of the French, were the countless men and guns that called him master. At the north the contracting lines maintained a constantly increasing pressure on the vanquished, forcing them back upon Sedan under the merciless fire of the batteries that lined the horizon in an array without a break. Toward the south, at Bazeilles, where the conflict had ceased to rage and the scene was one of mournful desolation, great clouds of smoke were rising from the ruins of what had once been happy homes, while the Bavarians, now masters of Balan, had advanced their batteries to within three hundred yards of the city gates. And the other batteries, those posted on the left bank at Pont Maugis, Noyers, Frenois, Wadelincourt, completing the impenetrable rampart of flame and bringing it around to the sovereign's feet on his right, that had been spouting fire uninterruptedly for nearly twelve hours, now thundered more loudly still.

But King William, to give his tired eyes a moment's rest, dropped his glass to his side and continued his observations with unassisted vision. The sun was slanting downward to the woods on his left, about to set in a sky where there was not a cloud, and the golden light that lay upon the landscape was so transcendently clear and limpid that the most insignificant objects stood out with startling distinctness. He could almost count the houses in Sedan, whose windows flashed back the level rays of the departing day-star, and the ramparts and fortifications, outlined in black against the eastern sky, had an unwonted aspect of frowning massiveness. Then, scattered among the fields to right and left, were the pretty, smiling villages, reminding one of the toy villages that come packed in boxes for the little ones; to the west Donchery, seated at the border of her broad plain; Douzy and Carignan to the east, among the meadows. Shutting in the picture to the north was the forest of the Ardennes, an ocean of sunlit verdure, while the Meuse, loitering with sluggish current through the plain with many a bend and curve, was like a stream of purest molten gold in that caressing light. And seen from that height, with the sun's parting kiss resting on it, the horrible battlefield, with its blood and smoke, became an exquisite and highly finished miniature; the dead horsemen and disemboweled steeds on the plateau of Floing were so many splashes of bright color; on the right, in the direction of Givonne, those minute black specks that whirled and eddied with such apparent lack of aim, like motes dancing in the sunshine, were the retreating fragments of the beaten army; while on the left a Bavarian battery on the peninsula of Iges, its guns the size of matches, might have been taken for some mechanical toy as it performed its evolutions with clockwork regularity. The victory was crushing, exceeding all that the victor could have desired or hoped, and the King felt no remorse in presence of all those corpses, of those thousands of men that were as the dust upon the roads of that broad valley where, notwithstanding the burning of Bazeilles, the slaughter of Illy, the anguish of Sedan, impassive nature yet could don her gayest robe and put on her brightest smile as the perfect day faded into the tranquil evening.

But suddenly Delaherche descried a French officer climbing the steep path up the flank of la Marfee; he was a general, wearing a blue tunic, mounted on a black horse, and preceded by a hussar bearing a white flag. It was General Reille, whom the Emperor had entrusted with this communication for the King of Prussia: "My brother, as it has been denied me to die at the head of my army, all that is left me is to surrender my sword to Your Majesty. I am Your Majesty's affectionate brother, Napoleon." Desiring to arrest the butchery and being no longer master, the Emperor yielded himself a prisoner, in the hope to placate the conqueror by the sacrifice. And Delaherche saw General Reille rein up his charger and dismount at ten paces from the King, then advance and deliver his letter; he was unarmed and merely carried a riding whip. The sun was setting in a flood of rosy light; the King seated himself on a chair in the midst of a grassy open space, and resting his hand on the back of another chair that was held in place by a secretary, replied that he accepted the sword and would await the appearance of an officer empowered to settle the terms of the capitulation.

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The Downfall (la Debacle) - Part Second - Chapter 7 The Downfall (la Debacle) - Part Second - Chapter 7

The Downfall (la Debacle) - Part Second - Chapter 7
PART SECOND. CHAPTER VIIAs when the ice breaks up and the great cakes come crashing, grinding down upon the bosom of the swollen stream, carrying away all before them, so now, from every position about Sedan that had been wrested from the French, from Floing and the plateau of Illy, from the wood of la Garenne, the valley of la Givonne and the Bazeilles road, the stampede commenced; a mad torrent of horses, guns, and affrighted men came pouring toward the city. It was a most unfortunate inspiration that brought the army under the walls of that fortified place. There was

The Downfall (la Debacle) - Part Second - Chapter 2 The Downfall (la Debacle) - Part Second - Chapter 2

The Downfall (la Debacle) - Part Second - Chapter 2
PART SECOND. CHAPTER IIIn the dense fog up on the plateau of Floing Gaude, the bugler, sounded reveille at peep of day with all the lung-power he was possessed of, but the inspiring strain died away and was lost in the damp, heavy air, and the men, who had not had courage even to erect their tents and had thrown themselves, wrapped in their blankets, upon the muddy ground, did not awake or stir, but lay like corpses, their ashen features set and rigid in the slumber of utter exhaustion. To arouse them from their trance-like sleep they had to be