페이지 이미지

never raised themselves from that white, unmoved face, even when Frau Plater put her kind heavy hand on her shoulder and tried to draw her away.

Not long after there was a stir at the door. Other boats appeared on the lake as the storm subsided, and the news of the disaster which had overwhelmed the little village began to spread. Some of them rowed about outside, trying to pick up those portions of the universal wreck which had been swept into the lake. They came laden with odd jumbles of things— pathetically inappropriate; but one at last dragged in a heavier burden, with which they rowed directly to the church. This it was which caused the stir, this Something—reverently covered, solemnly lifted out, brought into the church, with the Cure walking before it. Lisa Sturm rose from her knees, and went to meet it, putting out her hand, and trembling violently. Some one tried to stop her.

"Take off the cloth," she said, in a hoarse, strained voice. "That is Thomas."

At a sign from the priest, the men obeyed. Her instinct was true—there, clam and still, lay her husband, and there, too, clasped tight to his breast, lay little golden-haired Marie. That embrace had never been broken ; his arms were round her, the fair little head pillowed against him, when quick, sudden death came leaping down and riveted it. There was something so tender, so peaceful, so holy in the attitude, in the faces, that it hushed all mourning; the wail died away on the mother's lips, the priest crossed himself, and knelt down beside these still, passionless figures ; Lisa glanced at him, trembled, bent down and kissed each face— husband and child—covered the faces, and knelt down also. Death is a very beautiful angel sometimes.

About an hour aftenvards one of the boats came back with a doctor. There were a great many trifling hurts, such as cuts and bruises, and Heinrich Lenz suffered more seriously; but first of all the women who were watching brought him where Johann and Christian lay a little apart from each other. They knew that Johann was gone beyond the reach of all skill, only his wife was away, and it seemed more fitting to these simple folk that the doctor should say in plain words that no more could be clone by any of them. And then he turned to where Else still

kept her faithful watch, with the yellow sunlight shining upon her hair, her hand under the dear head, her eyes upon those closed eyes that had looked so sadly at her when last she met their gaze. Would they ever open again? Was it life or death that was veiled by this long unconsciousness.

"He is alive—that is all," said the young doctor, gravely. He gave them rapid directions, and went off to Heinrich Lenz, promising to return immediately. After all he could not do much, and the women looked at little Else, poor child, and shook their heads as the minutes came and went, and brought no change. The waters subsided fast, men were wading about, their wives begged to be taken in the boats to see the mins from which they were pulling up such poor sodden muddy treasures. By-and-by, too, they managed to carry Heinrich Lenz to one of the standing houses, and so no one was left in the quiet church except the silent dead with their watchers, and the one who yet lingered on the border land, silent as they. Silent—yes—but the border-land was not passed—there came a slight fluttering movement, a gasp; the doctor, who was profoundly interested in these two, was at his head in a moment—another painful breath, then the wondering eyes opened and fixed themselves on Else, wandered away, returned ; the lips parted: "Heart's beloved," breathed Christian in the faintest, feeblest sigh; her arms were around him, and the doctor, half scolding, half laughing, became peremptory at once.

There is so much sorrow in the world, and yet, thank heaven, so much happiness! Now that my little story is at an end, one would like to leave it with a pleasant bright glow resting upon it, and to say and think no more about the tragedies. After the crash of the storm, the beautiful vox humana making its perfect music. But life will not let us do so ; here, as always, we must turn away and leave weeping and smiling, sunshine and shade. For this one's husband was saved, and that one's taken from her; Else's lover was given back, but her mother slept under the bluegreen water; Liza Sturm's other children played at her side, but her little Marie's golden head lay quiet upon her father's breast; the village was full of sad ruin, of great cracks and holes and depths scooped out, huge stones and rocks brought down by the flood, sheets of yellow mud, and trees overthrown, and yet—the warm sun shone down healingly, green things began to shoot with strange, quick life, everywhere was the work of repair and renovation. Nay, in places it seemed as if the very scars had revealed a new beauty, the delicacy of veined stone, the loveliness of flowers clothing them. Does

this seem insufficient? Do we ask for more? Is the story incomplete? Ah, yes—like other stories, like other longings. For the completion is not here: time a not eternity, earth is not heaven ; although sometimes there comes a waft of sweetness inexpressible from the land which is not very far oft".

Macmillfln'H Magazine.


Wandering about among the avantpostes of a besieging army, or, indeed, of an army in the field at all, is not a particularly safe or prudent amusement. If the army in question happens to be a semidisloyal French army engaged in a furious civil war, such a proceeding approaches to the bounds of madness. Let it not be supposed, then, that the following pages are meant as an appeal to the sympathy or condolence of Britannic readers, or that the writer, having gone in for so insensate an amusement, looks for any such consolation. On the contrary, he neither deserves nor expects any other comment upon its consequences than the true verdict of " served him right." But that need not prevent him from relating a few of his experiences of the amenities of prison life, as it existed a few days back among the "Versaillais." In return from the board and lodging so kindly furnished by these "loyalists," he owes them a small debt of gratitude; and it is by the publication of the following true story that he hopes to pay it off.

There is a sort of fascination in the feeling of being under fire—only known to those who have been in that situation —which naturally keeps a man from turning back, and urges him on open-eyed to his destruction. Curiosity, no doubt, is the motive power, and a ridiculous motive enough it is; but, laugh at it as you will, it constitutes a vague impulse which prompts one with an almost irresistible force to get nearer and nearer to the scene of action. Thus, during the bombardment of Paris, have I seen an old gentleman and his wife tottering along with white faces and trembling limbs towards a dangerous barricade. Their fear was inordinate; but their curiosity was paramount. A wound, or the sight of a

nasty "accident," will check the feeling or keep it within bounds, but it will not eradicate it; inhabitants of a bombarded city will tell you that one of their keenest trials was the necessity of stifling their curiosity to go out and see what was going on.

This feeling, and the assurance of soldiers and peasants, that nothing but the shells and bullets were to be feared, encouraged me to set forth rashly to investigate the lines of the besieging army. Having explored on the other side of the river the line of defences manned by the Federals, it was doubly interesting to get an idea of the assailant works and operations going on in the other camp. Then the delightful liberty in which one wandered round the insurgent ar-anipastes, without any other obstacle than a warning to be careful of one's precious life, lulled one into a dangerous want of caution as to the perils to be met with on the other side. Thus, in fatal secuity, did I prolong my rather objectless walk far into the black country, where shells fell thick around, and the cottages stood or lay in unsightly ruins along die path. On the right hand rolled the omnibuses on the high road to Versailles; on the left cracked the rifles and the exploding shells, and bellowed the iron voice of the batteries. But the sights and scenes of that devastated country are not to be told here, nor the stories recounted by the peasants and soldiers collected in the several villages. Everywhere one met with French politeness, and as it turned out French insincerity. "Ah, a stranger may go on, without doubt; only take care you do not 'catch' a piece of shell or 'essuyer' a volley of Chassepot bullets." And so—chatting and fraternizing along the left bank of the Seine to

wards the great, grim, noisy fortress of the west—past Colombes, with its garrison of swallow-tailed, goat-bearded gendarmes—now dignified with the title of marching regiments, and fighting for the cause of the Republic with Imperialism in their hearts; past Asnieres, with its ruined bridges and unburied corpses, where the ChassepSts cracked merrily from the loopholed walls of the park; right on to Becpn, where the shells fell half-a-dozen to the minute round and upon the twice-pillaged, twice-bombarded chateau. It was beyond Be^on, between there and the great battery of Courbevoie, that imprudence met its fate. There was a smaller battery established right across the road just to the westward of the park. Beside it was a piquet of line soldiers and a couple of officers, young, foppish, and consequentially bumptious. An undisguised Britannic accent, and Granville passport perfectly en regie, were wholly ineffectual against the suspicion of these veterans. They had had their spell of prison life very lately in Germany, and they thought it was their turn to play the other game: "Seulement il faut regulariser la chose; on vous amenera devant le maire pour etre plus sur."

A private soldier was commissioned to conduct me before the mayor of Courbevoie. As he walked me across a ploughed field on the road to the headquarters of the "place," I had a happy thought of leaving him to drag his short legs solus to the office of the worthy official. He had no weapon but his side arms, and ten minutes would have put me out of his sight, safe on the high road to Versailles. But a false reliance on his assurance that the mayor would be gentil and provide a pass, made me abandon the design. Of course the natural consequence followed in due form. The mayor took the opportunity to insult perjute Albion and the rest of the cursed stranger nations. It remained to appeal to the commanding officer of the place. He was very sorry; it was tres-ennuyant, but he could not interfere with the orders of the civil power. Then to the commander of the Gendarmerie. He was desole, but what was he to do? He had not authority. "Would he send to the ambassador? Would he telegraph?" "Alas! there are no wires." A French army has no means of communication between its staff offi

cers and its commander-in-chief. But he would send me on to Versailles at the first opportunity. In the meantime, there would be no maltreatment; it was only a matter of form. "One sees very well that you are not a spy." A few hours in a barrack prison did not seem a very formidable affair. I was hardly prepared for the sequel, less still for its opening scene.

Passing across the courtyard of the barracks, the bang of exploding obus sounded pretty thick all round. The prison consisted of a stone hut facing towards Paris and the east. In it were half a dozen peasants of the regular French type. Communicative as Frenchmen only are, they had soon divulged their different stories. I was anxious to know among what sort of criminals fate had cast in my unexpected lot. But their cases failed to impress me with an idea of the heinousness of their guilt, or to inspire me with any great horror of the accused, as rebels, conspirators, and enemies of the State. Two of them—ragged, ignorant old ouvriers of the lowest class —had been seized for the crime of collecting eclats d obus about the fields; another for collecting something even still more dangerous and suspicious—common snails for the subsistence of his family. The same hunger which had driven this unfortunate into the fields to gather up this rather primitive kind of food, had persuaded another peasant to leave the safe shelter of his cottage, and to bring back from the next baker's shop, some distance away, a store of loaves for himself and his children during the coming hostilities. The suspicious circumstance of carrying loaves was to the Versaillist officer a convincing proof of guilt; and the wretched peasant, for attempting to save his family from starvation, was condemned to long days of misery in a worse than felon's prison, and may not improbably be languishing there to this very day. Another man was imprisoned for having walked out of Paris, and two others, who came in subsequently, for wearing the uniform of the National Guard. Although they had the clearest proof that they belonged to the party of order, and had escaped with difficulty and danger from the Communists, the fact of their being clad in the obnoxious garb was amply sufficient to convict them of being

spies. It never seemed to occur to these clever officials and officers that a real spy or guilty person would choose any costume rather than the suspected uniform in which to carry out his plans. But the French, with all their cry and fuss and spy-hunting mania, rarely arrest the real offenders. A very little caution enables a clever spy to throw them off the scent, and in this case the innocent most commonly suffer for the guilty, and fools pay the penalty for knaves. The poor creatures amongst whom I found myself came so clearly within the former category, that it was impossible to doubt their story. They were much too stupid to have invented or maintained a clever lie, and a few minutes' cross-examination would have utterly demolished their attempts to "stick to it." The plain, unvarnished tale of their offences amused me heartily; I should not have laughed so loud had I known the sequel to their arrest and summary imprisonment.

The big door was open towards the court; round it were several of the gendarmes quartered in the barracks. On my arrival, the captain and lieutenant in command of the depSt came up to the door to see the newly captured spy. Surprised at not being answered in a cringing tone of supplication, they resorted to insolent menaces, and, ordering the gendarme in charge to keep a special eye on "that tall insurgent," were about to leave the spot, when their course was arrested by a strange and effectual intrusion. The few seconds which succeeded are not very easy to describe. There was a tremendous noise, a great shock, asmoke, a strong smell, and a considerable loss of breath, and I found myself against the wall, looking down upon a number of writhing bodies. They were the mutilated forms of men, or what had been men, a moment before. Of the whole group collected just outside the door, hardly one was left standing upright. As for the captain and lieutenant, who had been standing close to the threshold, they presented an awful sight indeed. The former, as pale as death, was bleeding in torrents from his foot, a great part of which had been blown to atoms, and had disappeared utterly. The latter lay like a heap, against a litter of rags and scraps of flesh. One of his legs, with the scarlet trouser that once belonged to it, was literally cut to pieces. The stump,

torn and jagged by the cruel iron, quivered with a sickening agony. Pools of blood began to trickle on to the gravel soil, while the other victims, struggling and crawling about like reptiles over the ground, marked it with ghastly trails of crimson in the agonies of their pain. Meanwhile the groans and yells of pain alarmed the whole barrack yard. The soldiers rushing to the spot found the ground strewed with horrid fragments. Pieces of boot with their hideous red contents lay here and there—almost all the victims had been hit in the feet or legs ;" fragrants of iron and stone were scattered around, with rags of red uniform. It was some seconds before we had the heart to examine the real cause of the "accident." A percussion shell had fallen against the very door post of the building. It had blown away part of the stone doorway, and its fragments had distributed themselves with awful effect both inside and outside the prison. Of the prisoners one only was badly hit; a large piece of iron entered and left itself within his thigh. Two more were slightly wounded,—one with an eclat, the other with a piece ot masonry. Of course the officers and gendarmes were carried off straight to the hospital. Their comrades silently cleared away the ghastly evidences of the "accident." As for our wounded fellow prisoner, he was only an insurgent. He lay there feebly moaning without sympathy. The soldiers were rather inclined to curse him and us as the cause of the occurrence than waste any assistance or sympathy upon us. It was impossible to bind up the wound of this unfortunate: he could not bear a hand near the wounded place. He lay with the, blood drying on his drenched clothes, and with his wound stiffening in the raw air, till some one of the gaolers, more merciful than his race, happened to bestow a thought upon him. It was deemed advisable to shift his quarters to the hospital, and he was rather roughly lifted on to a rumble down litter with no head-rest on it, and carried off out of our sight. I shall not forget the look with which he stretched out a feeble hand and grasped gratefully those of his fellow prisoners. Probably he thought, poor wretch, that it was his last chance of exchanging a kindly greeting, and that he was saying farewell to the last person from whom in this world he would receive the little kindnesses that the dying prize so much.

We were removed into an adjoining cell, as I supposed for greater safety's sake, but, as it turned out, merely that the debris caused by the explosion and the blood of the wounded man might be cleared away for our accommodation. We were restored before nightfall to the scene of the little incident which had disturbed us, and which had attended so promptly my introduction to the delights of prison life. Our warder, a surly but not bad-hearted Corsican, enabled me to procure some food, a rough sort of galantine of meat and two bottles of vin ordinaire, with which we all did our best to restore our spirits and keep up an attempt at conversation. The bronze wealth of the wretched French prisoners had been confiscated when they were searched. I don't know why my more precious metals had escaped, but this piece of good luck materially acquired me huge popularity. More fortunately still, the officials had missed finding my return ticket from St. Denis to Paris, which would have been a conclusive proof of guilt. I saved also a good store of cigarette papers; and a supply of tobacco, furnished by the good offices of our friend the Corsican, set us in a fair state to spend the night without overgreat ennui. Meanwhile, fresh captives kept arriving, almost all of them victims to the zeal of the same youthful captain who had arrested me "for greater certainty." One of the late arrivals was a young peasant farmer who had fought in the chasseurs a pied during the Prussian siege, a man "of an excellent wit," who enlivened marvellously our long hours of durance vile. He had been arrested for being a Frenchman, and though well known in the neighborhood, where he had a little propriite, could not succeed in proving his innocence. Even his brother, who came to visit him, and the priests of a neighboring village, who sent him a certificate, were unsuccessful in procuring his release. These gentlemen refreshed us with some new and admirable anecdotes of the siege, and confessed ,to an accusation which I fear in this country will utterly deprive him of the sympathy of my readers, that of being a cannibal "Ah, it's all very well," said he to a real or pretending squeamish hearer, "you have not tried what it was at the outposts during the

siege. If you had had nothing to eat for a day or two, with the frost gnawing into your bones, you wouldn't be so particular. What harm does it do any one, I should like to know?"

The provision made at the Courbevoie prison for passing the night was not sumptuous or expensive. Our bed consisted of a row of rough planks very much covered with a sort of whitish brickdust There was no straw, far less a pillow or a bench; we were lucky not to be condemned to the cold earth. But then, as there was a great hole in the doorway where the fragments of the shell had entered, and the glass of the tiny windows had been all blown out by the shock, we had nearly enough draughts to keep us wide awake; and if that did not suffice, there was the music of the obus exploding all around, one of which would very possibly pay us a visit before morning. The wretched cowardly peasants cowered and shivered at every loud discharge; and as those great hummingtops, the 48-pounders, went growling and whizzing over our heads, one could feel in the darkness the flinching of these poor terrified boors, as they crept closer beneath the shelter of the wall. One of them, the oldest, ugliest, and perhaps most innocent, walked up and down almost incessantly, smoking uninterruptedly the supplies of caporal which I was able to afford for his consolation, and muttering about his wife, who was at that moment hunting dismally for his corpse. It was not a comfortable night, and when we arose in the morning, very brickdusty and rather sore in the bones, we did not feel much refreshed or inclined to dispense with performing a toilette. But this was a luxury far too great to expect. It was a great boon that we got some fresh water to drink,—wine was no longer obtainable.

Late in the morning I thought it might be worth while to try the effect of an epistle to the commanding officer, reminding him of the orders, which to my knowledge he had received, to forward one prisoner at least immediately; and suggesting that a safer place might possibly be found if we were to be retained indefinitely in his custody. The result was a removal to a loathsome dungeon somewhere deep down beneath the barracks. Two of our number were told off

« 이전계속 »