Anise: A Dolls Story (Book 1) A Short Story Set In a Doll-Makers Garret in Paris
The fresh air completed the effect of the alcohol on Monsieur Sauvage. He stopped suddenly, saying:. The French outposts are close to Colombes. I know Colonel Dumoulin, and we shall easily get leave to pass.
Anise: A Doll's Story (Book 1) A Short Story Set In a Doll-Maker's Garret in Paris
An hour later they were walking side by side on the highroad. Presently they reached the villa occupied by the colonel. He smiled at their request, and granted it. They resumed their walk, furnished with a password. Soon they left the outposts behind them, made their way through deserted Colombes, and found themselves on the outskirts of the small vineyards which border the Seine. Before them lay the village of Argenteuil, apparently lifeless. The heights of Orgement and Sannois dominated the landscape. The great plain, extending as far as Nanterre, was empty, quite empty-a waste of dun-colored soil and bare cherry trees.
The Prussians! They had never seen them as yet, but they had felt their presence in the neighborhood of Paris for months past — ruining France, pillaging, massacring, starving them. And a kind of superstitious terror mingled with the hatred they already felt toward this unknown, victorious nation. Still, they hesitated to show themselves in the open country, overawed by the utter silence which reigned around them.
And they made their way through one of the vineyards, bent double, creeping along beneath the cover afforded by the vines, with eye and ear alert. A strip of bare ground remained to be crossed before they could gain the river bank. Morissot placed his ear to the ground, to ascertain, if possible, whether footsteps were coming their way. He heard nothing.
They seemed to be utterly alone. Before them the deserted Ile Marante hid them from the farther shore. The little restaurant was closed, and looked as if it had been deserted for years. Monsieur Sauvage caught the first gudgeon, Monsieur Morissot the second, and almost every moment one or other raised his line with a little, glittering, silvery fish wriggling at the end; they were having excellent sport. They slipped their catch gently into a close-meshed bag lying at their feet; they were filled with joy — the joy of once more indulging in a pastime of which they had long been deprived.
The sun poured its rays on their backs; they no longer heard anything or thought of anything. They ignored the rest of the world; they were fishing.
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But suddenly a rumbling sound, which seemed to come from the bowels of the earth, shook the ground beneath them: the cannon were resuming their thunder. Morissot turned his head and could see toward the left, beyond the banks of the river, the formidable outline of Mont-Valerien, from whose summit arose a white puff of smoke. The next instant a second puff followed the first, and in a few moments a fresh detonation made the earth tremble.
Others followed, and minute by minute the mountain gave forth its deadly breath and a white puff of smoke, which rose slowly into the peaceful heaven and floated above the summit of the cliff. Morissot, who was anxiously watching his float bobbing up and down, was suddenly seized with the angry impatience of a peaceful man toward the madmen who were firing thus, and remarked indignantly:.
And the two began placidly discussing political problems with the sound common sense of peaceful, matter-of-fact citizens — agreeing on one point: that they would never be free. And Mont-Valerien thundered ceaselessly, demolishing the houses of the French with its cannon balls, grinding lives of men to powder, destroying many a dream, many a cherished hope, many a prospective happiness; ruthlessly causing endless woe and suffering in the hearts of wives, of daughters, of mothers, in other lands.
But they suddenly trembled with alarm at the sound of footsteps behind them, and, turning round, they perceived close at hand four tall, bearded men, dressed after the manner of livery servants and wearing flat caps on their heads. They were covering the two anglers with their rifles. In the space of a few seconds they were seized, bound, thrown into a boat, and taken across to the Ile Marante.
A shaggy-looking giant, who was bestriding a chair and smoking a long clay pipe, addressed them in excellent French with the words:. The Prussian smiled. Naturally, I capture you and I shoot you. You pretended to be fishing, the better to disguise your real errand. You have fallen into my hands, and must take the consequences. Such is war. Tell me that password and I will let you go. The two friends, pale as death, stood silently side by side, a slight fluttering of the hands alone betraying their emotion. If you refuse, it means death-instant death.
In five minutes! You have relations, I presume? The two fishermen remained silent. The German turned and gave an order in his own language. Then he moved his chair a little way off, that he might not be so near the prisoners, and a dozen men stepped forward, rifle in hand, and took up a position, twenty paces off. Then he rose quickly, went over to the two Frenchmen, took Morissot by the arm, led him a short distance off, and said in a low voice:.
A ray of sunlight made the still quivering fish glisten like silver. Despite his efforts at self-control his eyes filled with tears. Monsieur Sauvage fell forward instantaneously. Morissot, being the taller, swayed slightly and fell across his friend with face turned skyward and blood oozing from a rent in the breast of his coat. His men dispersed, and presently returned with ropes and large stones, which they attached to the feet of the two friends; then they carried them to the river bank. Two soldiers took Morissot by the head and the feet; two others did the same with Sauvage.
The bodies, swung lustily by strong hands, were cast to a distance, and, describing a curve, fell feet foremost into the stream. Suddenly he caught sight of the net full of gudgeons, lying forgotten in the grass. He picked it up, examined it, smiled, and called:. A white-aproned soldier responded to the summons, and the Prussian, tossing him the catch of the two murdered men, said:. The army, broken up, decimated, and worn out, had been obliged to retreat into Switzerland after that terrible campaign, and it was only its short duration that saved a hundred and fifty thousand men from certain death.
Of our little band that had numbered twelve hundred men on the first of January, there remained only twenty-two pale, thin, ragged wretches, when we at length succeeded in reaching Swiss territory. There we were safe, and could rest. Everybody knows what sympathy was shown to the unfortunate French army, and how well it was cared for.
We all gained fresh life, and those who had been rich and happy before the war declared that they had never experienced a greater feeling of comfort than they did then. We actually had something to eat every day, and could sleep every night. Meanwhile, the war continued in the east of France, which had been excluded from the armistice. Besancon still kept the enemy in check, and the latter had their revenge by ravaging Franche Comte.
Sometimes we heard that they had approached quite close to the frontier, and we saw Swiss troops, who were to form a line of observation between us and them, set out on their march. That pained us in the end, and, as we regained health and strength, the longing to fight took possession of us.
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It was disgraceful and irritating to know that within two or three leagues of us the Germans were victorious and insolent, to feel that we were protected by our captivity, and to feel that on that account we were powerless against them. One day our captain took five or six of us aside, and spoke to us about it, long and furiously. He was a fine fellow, that captain.
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He had been a sublieutenant in the Zouaves, was tall and thin and as hard as steel, and during the whole campaign he had cut out their work for the Germans. He fretted in inactivity, and could not accustom himself to the idea of being a prisoner and of doing nothing.
Does it not almost drive you mad to know that those beggarly wretches are walking about as masters in our mountains, when six determined men might kill a whole spitful any day? I cannot endure it any longer, and I must go there. It is not very difficult! Just as if we had not done a thing or two within the last six months, and got out of woods that were guarded by very different men from the Swiss. The day that you wish to cross over into France, I will undertake to get you there. I mean to go and kill some Prussians; that is all I care about.
What is phishing?
If you do not wish to do as I do, well and good; only say so at once. Naturally we all protested, and, as it was quite impossible to make the captain alter his mind, we felt obliged to promise to go with him. We liked him too much to leave him in the lurch, as he never failed us in any extremity; and so the expedition was decided on. The captain had a plan of his own, that he had been cogitating over for some time.
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We could hide under some straw at the bottom of the wagon, which would be loaded with Gruyere cheese, which he was supposed to be going to sell in France. The captain told the sentinels that he was taking two friends with him to protect his goods, in case any one should try to rob him, which did not seem an extraordinary precaution. A Swiss officer seemed to look at the wagon in a knowing manner, but that was in order to impress his soldiers. In a word, neither officers nor men could make it out.