Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

Rhine, in the neighbourhood of Kehl, poral, casting his quick glance with

to watch the enemy's movements. something of a sneer at the enthusiast; : On their march through the superb

s no doubt of it-all is as you say. country which borders the German But its good things are rather slow in

side of the Upper Rhine, Carlo was reaching corporals and privates of the i in continual admiration of every thing Hulans. It may all be very well for 2 round him—the country, the camp, and captains and colonels, dukes and : the regiment. The buoyancy of princes; but the sky may fall be

$ youth, and the natural spirit of one fore Germany drops a gold epaulet born to be a soldier, if ever man was on the shoulders of either of us." born to be any thing so preposterous, “ We must earn them, then, with kept him in a state of perpetual ex- our swords," replied Carlo citement, new and perfectly astonish- " No doubt!" observed the corporal, ing to the phlegmatic Austrians. But with a laugh. “ But, however we the Corporal could understand him. may earn them, others get them; and This little bearer of authority had a some prince or prince's valet, some story of his own; of which, however, baron or baron's dog, is always sure to he took good care not to develop step in between men of honour and more than the outlines, and even those their reward." The corporal took outlines tolerably broken. But the out a purse tolerably filled, and amused rumour among the troop was, that he himself with flinging it up and catchhad formerly flourished as a village ing it in the air. Carlo was astolawyer, where, having done something nished. beyond even the latitudinarian limits • You are rich, corporal,” said he; of the professional conscience, he had “ what is your secret? One rixdollar provided for his safety by leaving his comprehends the whole amount of my profession behind among the Vosges, pay from the regimental chest, since I leaving his character to take care of was robbed by your gallant comrades itself, and making a midnight voyage in the forest. across the Rhine. What he had done " Those who suffer themselves to subsequently, to bring him into the want money, deserve to want it. I hands of the Rhenish police, who had learned that maxim in Paris," said the transferred him into the hands of the corporal. 66 This purse, you may Austrian recruiting-officers, remained fairly believe, never came from the among the undiscovered facts of his. Emperor. The regimental chests tory. But he was evidently a person. have had more cobwebs than thalers age who, if the world had not seen in them those six months." The eyes him, had seen the world. He had at of Carlo were fixed on him sternly; least seen Paris, which in those days and the corporal adroitly changed the was to have seen every thing that was subject. “ Have you heard," said he, worth seeing under the sun, whether « what was the cause of the firing at for its oddity or its horror, desirable the other side this evening ?-it must or detestable-to one half of mankind be reported to the general immea paradise, to the other half a pande- diately." monium.

“ Yes; a fisherman whom I stopped One evening, as Carlo was en ve- on his landing, just before you came dette, gazing with a poetic eye at the up, told me that it was for the visit of rich expanse of islands which stud the the new commander-in-chief to the noble river opposite Strasburg, and French outposts.” wishing for the pen and pencil of his " And his name ?" asked the corquieter days, to transfer their splendid poral,eagerly. varieties of form and colour to his “ The man was not perfectly sure, portfolio, the little corporal rode up but he believed that it was Moreau.” to him, and, pointing to the steeples “ Bravo, bravissimo!" exclaimed the of the stately city, then glittering corporal, with involuntary emphasis. in the full radiance of eve, said, in a Why, what difference can it make tone sufficiently expressive, “ There is to us?” asked his hearer, in sure France !"

prise. “ Well,” said Carlo, “and hereis Ger

Why, none; except that, instead many; and, I think, a better country, of Pichegru, whom the Directory a better people, and a better cause. have always feared as a royalist, and

“ Ay, ay, friend," said the cor- therefore thwarted, we have now op

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

66

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

a

a

posite to us Moreau, whom they per- march before me to the grand guard," fectly 'trust, and whom, therefore, exclaimed the indignant hearer. they will support with all their means. “ Traitor! Ha, ha, ha!" burst out He has with him upwards of 80,000 the corporal.

you

think me in of the best infantry and cavalry of earnest. The ruse was capital. I France; and we shall have him on always take this way of trying my this side of the river within the next videttes. No harm can happen while twenty-four hours."

we are a hundred or two miles off in “ Indeed! Why, you are an extra- the interior ; let them be what they ordinary corporal; where did you get wiil. The nice point is, to know what all this information?” asked Carlo, al- they are when they come in sight of ready suspecting this overflow of French smoke, and I may say, too, knowledge.

French louis d'ors. Farewell: I see you The corporal was astonished at his are a first-rate fellow, and I shall be sure own candour; but he drew in dexter- to mention you to thecolonel." Heput ously. “They are the mere rumours of spurs to his horse, and ga lloped forward. a French newspaper, which I saw yes- The night was stormy, and Carlo

, terday in the coffeehouse at Kehl. when he returned to his picket, and But, though I am a German, that same threw his wearied limbs on his straw, Moreau was ny schoolfellow. See in the stables of one of the huge old the advantage of being in a service palaces which then lined the banks where a man's talents are thought of the Rhine, found himself unable to more of than his family parchments. rest. France, the corp oral, Moreau, I'll wager my last schelling, that it fields of battle, and sabres of honour, would puzzle Moreau to tell who was whirled round his mind with a feeling his grandfather. My father, the de- like that of giddiness.

But in the in scendant of a long line of honourable tervals of one of the gusts, he heard fools, had settled in Morlaix as a lawyer. something which left him undecided Young Moreau was bred to the bar of whether the noise was that of ove of Brittany.

The Revolution came. the small rivulets incessantly falling He volunteered into the National from the hills into the river, or the Guard-showed his talents in drilling trampling of human feet. It passed; them- was taken into the movable and he slept again, till in the dead of column of the department-rose from the night he was roused from his unthe ranks, and became a general of di- easy couch by the corporal, who came vision within three years; while I went to tell him that the regiment were oron, like a respectable citizen, earning dered instantly to mount, for the purhalf-a-dozen francs a-day by a profes- pose of a reconnoissance. sion not an atom more peaceable, though clearly less profitable.

He rose, took his place in his troop:

and the regiment, one of the finest in - And the end is, that now you are the service, moved forward on its pa; on different sides of the river, and on trol. The storm increased to tropical different sides of the question; and that violence, and nothing you are a corporal of Hulans, while he but the roar of the thunz der and the is the general-in-chief of thegrandarmy crashing of the wind through the foof France,” said Carlo, laughing. rest.

Suddenly the corps came to “ Exactly so," said the corporal ; a full stop, and the colo nel galloped “but though the cards are unlucky, the to the front to ascertain the cause. A game is not over yet. I may gain a large abatis of trees, apparently left

are empty.” He turned to Carlo. “Now,

in some former attempt to fortify the listen to a friend. You will never do

the general pause, the corporal voany thing in our service but get your- lunteered his knowledge self shot; nor gain any thing but a to lead them by a forest ticket for an hospital. On the other heard the offer, and the evening's con.

a will ; mention my name at the opposite side, , told

versation recurred to him. He in. and may I be sent into the air from him his suspicion that the the mouth of a twelve-pounder, but I landed troops in that direct i on, and that think you may yet be a general.” “ Traitor! surrender your sabre, and

could be heard

[ocr errors]

66

of the ground

ath. Carlo

р

had the enemy.

he had heard their movements an hour

or two before. The corporal scoffed at

the idea as poltronery, and repeated will be followed. Carlo, the private, his offer of guidance.

wasin that command Carlo the general. * Lead on, then," said the colonel; The Hulans put spurs to their horses, " and you, Hulan, leave your troop, and rushed after him. An open road and ride by me.”

through the depth of the thicket They moved forward, the corporal brought them in rear of the very spot taking the lead. The night grew

which had been just abandoned by the wilder, the defile more entangled, and French. The column was crowded to Carlo more dissatisfied with the route. the front, firing heavily as it advanced. “ The regiment will be lost," he whis- Carlo gave but one word—“Charge!" pered into the ear of the colonel. and the Hulans came like thunder on * The corporal is a villain.'

the bucks of the enemy. The French “ If he is, you are a fool to suppose are brave, but no soldiers on earth are that he can cheat me. Go, sir, to the more suddenly shaken by a surprise; the rear,” angrily said the colonel. column instantly burst asunder-every

“ Not till I have seen what that thicket man sought his own safety; they eviis made of," he murmured to himself; dently thought that the whole of the and in the act of wheeling round, made Austrian cavalry was upon thema plunge into a dense clump of forest muskets were flung away, and cannon copse, and fired his pistol. It was abandoned ; the dispersion was comanswered by a discharge of musketry plete. The Hulans had now only to which shook the whole regiment. revenge themselves for the treachery They had evidently been betrayed which had so nearly been their ruin; into the midst of a strong column of the Corporal was called for in every

The colonel, a gallant direction, but he had sensibly managed old man, was thrown under his wound- his own retreat in the beginning of the ed horse; the fire continued heavy, and affair. The pistol and sabre then all was confusion.

Of all confusions, played their part on the fugitives. War that of cavalry is the most tremendous; is a game, but one by no means to be horses galloping and plunging, men

played with foils.

The Hulans were flung under their feet, pistols and car- like wolf hunters, with their prey in bines discharging at random in the the trap. They lighted torches of the mêlée, and, in the present instance, all dry branches, and pricked the copse this passing under a night as dark as with their sabres. No operation could Erebus, or illuminated only by the be more effectual; ạnd prisoners made flashes of a rolling fire of musketry. their appearance at every push. At

If they had gone but a hundred length morning began to dawi!, andthe pards deeper into the defile, not a man old colonel, recovered from his bruises, could have returned. As it was, the set the regiment in motion towards leading squadrons were able only to

The column was now of keep up a feeble fire, while the guns of formidable length, for between its the French brigade were beginning to leading troop and its rear, marched throw their grape from front to rear the remnant of three French demiof the whole.

Carlo had been driven brigades--with all their losses, still back in the general crowd, and for a amounting to upwards of two thous while, like the rest, was nearly crushed sand men. They were received in the in the rout; but at length extrieating camp with acclamations by the troops his horse and himself, he had a mo

drawn out in line. The old colonel, ment to look back upon the horrible one of the Lichtensteins, was pro

But that moment was every nounced a hero worthy of the days of thing. He observed by the blaze of Maria Theresa, received an order, and the battalion that they had quitted the

was made a major-general. Carlo had ambuscade and were pushing forward here an illustration of the corporal's into the open road.

This decided scale of merit. His comrades, it is

or forty of the Hulans true, drank his health, and laughed were now all that were left in

any

kind at the colonel's victory; and all the He rode up to them.“Comrades!” exclaimed be,“let every

vivandières, especial judges of merit in man who feels for the sonour of the

every service, pronounced that he was

66 as brave as he was handsome.” regiment follow me!"!

What could man ask more?

It was In times of rea', danger, the man

well, at least, that he asked no more who never hesitates is the man who for he got nothing.

a

the camp:

scene.

him. Thirty

of order.

[ocr errors]

French army:

The French and Austrians are made bridge exhibited nothing more warto be at war with each other from the like than a few lounging soldiers cradle ; for they are opposites in smoking on its walls, and like themevery thing except in their mutual and selves gazing at the sunset. Carlo sincere love of tobacco. The Austrian stood contemplating it, while the would sit for ever; the Frenchman shades of evening were sweeping would never sit at all, if he could help round. - We shall be late," said one it. The Austrian thinks that a victory of his comrades. “ We shall be forced is of no use unless it saves further to bivouac ; for not an innkeeper will fighting; the Frenchman makes a open his doors after nightfall, while victory only the preliminary to a bat- the columns are in march.” tle, in which it is a hundred to one “ If I were a general,” said Carlo, that he gets beaten for his pains. The “ I should save you the trouble of the capture of the demi-brigades sounded march altogether. I should leave a prodigious achievement in Vienna ; Manheim to fight for itself, and watch court balls were given in commemo- the French here." ration of this grand piece of chivalry ; “ Why, there are none to watch!” and the Aulic Council narrowly esca- “ If not now, rely upon it there ped the mal-ápropos of putting the soon will be. Moreau has the chaarmy on the peace establishment.

racter of being the first tactician of But Moreau was of a different opin France. He will not deserve it, if

, ion. He determined to make the with this city to debouche from, and Austrians feel that a night skirmish this fortress alone to protect our side was not a pitched battle, and that three of the river, he does not make the demi-brigades were not the whole attempt. If he does, he must suc

He moved according. ceed.”. ly; and the first echo of his cannon- “ Pho! the thing is impossible. ade sounded in the ears of the honest Do you see troops, boats, pontoonsAustrians as if the world were come

any thing?" to an end. But the German, if tardy, Nothing in the world," said Caris brave; and if he has no actual taste lo; “ and for that reason I dread the for carnage, yet, when fairly warmed manæuvre the more. If he shows no to it, exhibits quite a sufficient share troops, we have none to show. He of the general wild-beast propensity wants to pass the Rhine ; and, take of mankind to tear each other. The my word for it, that he will pass it on camp was raised, soberly and slowly, the very spot where we stand.” but it was raised at last; and the co- The dispute continued, and the dislumns leisurely took their way towards putants were scarcely aware, in the Manheim, on whose walls the French dark, that an officer, wrapped in a large guns were already pouring out their cloak, and attended by an orderly, had shot and shells in unwelcome prodi- been listening to them for some mo. gality.

ments. On discovering him, the The Hulans were in the rearguard, group dispersed, and prepared to galand Carlo, with a few of his scattered lop after the regiment. “Stay, Hucompanions, lingered to give a last lan," said the officer to Carlo, in a tone look at the river, which every man of of authority ; “ I have been an acciGermany regards as a sort of family dental hearer of your opinion, and I favourite. Nothing could be less like am inclined to think that you are in war and the things of war.

The sum- the right. What makes you suppose mer was lying in all its colours on the that the French will attempt to cross hills on both sides. Strasburg was the river here?ringing its singularly beautiful chimes, “ The sagacity of the French gen. as if there were nothing but weddings eral," was the answer;

" and the and holidays in the world. Kehl, maxim which I learned at the military with all its bastions behind them, look- school, always to prepare for a Frenched like an enchanted hill, worked and man when he is most desirous to put carved by giants, and covered with a you off your guard." The officer thousand tissues from the loom of that seemed to be struck with the reason; most magnificent and least costly of put spurs to his horse, and taking his all artificers, Phoebus himself. All station on a rising ground, which comwas softness, serenity, and luxuriance. manded a wide reach of the river, conEven the fortified head of the Rhine- tinued sweeping the horizon with his

a

[ocr errors][ocr errors]

me.

66

telescope. Carlo had now time to the French that they evidently would contemplate his interrogator, and was not have time to cut off the communi. struck with the strong sense that char- cation. “ All is lost," said the Archacterised his physiognomy. The eye duke, with a degree of calmness singu. bold and powerful—the features, larly contrasted with his former tone. though heavy, yet noble--and the He now saw the full danger, and was frame, though broad, yet either thinned now prepared to look upon it with the by exertion, or rendered lighter to the composure of a soldier's mind. “ The glance by the springiness and muscu- Eshlar Rhin," murmured he to himlar activity of his movements.

self, “is in their hands. They have Twilight had now deepened into the bridge, and by daylight they will night, and the officer, with a sudden have ferried over their whole force. exclamation, started from his position, Well, so be it !” and rushed back to the spot where he The trampling of the fugitives, and had left his orderly. He wrote a few the shouts of the pursuing French now lines. " Take this to the commandant came near. Carlo, less absorbed in the of Kehl instantly," said he, to the or. consequences of "grand manœuvres," derly. “ And you, Hulan, follow now ventured to hint that the pursuit

Carlo professed his willingness, lay in their direction; and in proof if he should first obtain his colonel's pointed to a huge branch of an elm permission. 6 Tonnere !” exclaimed which had been just cut off by a canthe officer ; o will he hinder you non-shot. from following the Archduke?"- The Right,” said the Archduke; "we hero of Germany-the Archduke must not wait to be taken prisoners. Charles was before him! In the next Ride off and order Staringer to bring instant they were both at full speed down his Swabians instantly to this through the forest. As they approached spot. You can show them the way.” the camp of the Swabian brigade, “ But, your highness, will the genwhich had been left almost the only eral receive a verbal order from a troops in observation, they halted to private in the Hulans ?” hear the sounds from the left bank. True," observed his hearer;“ but The movement was no longer equivo- it is impossible to write now.

Who cal. The strokes of innumerable oars, are you? You say you have been at the hum of voices, and the cries of the the military school. When ? How boatmen, kept down as they were, long have you served ?” showed that a powerful force was al- Carlo gave his information as briefly ready on the water.

as the questions. They are coming!” exclaimed the 6. Ha ! the son of Colonel Sebasti. Archduke, at nervous intervals; “ Al- ani?” said the Archduke ; " excellent vinzi has made an irreparable blunder. officer-and you a private! I seeWe have not five thousand men within some escapade, some coup de jeunfive leagues. Hulan, you ought to have been the general ; but come on, Carlo explained matters; and the we must still do our best." At this short conference ended by the Archmoment a sudden thunder of artillery duke's bidding him consider himself rolled along the whole French front, as his aid-de-camp for the night, and and two vast embarkations of troops bring down the troops to meet the leadwere seen by the blaze rapidly press- ing column of the French ; while he ing to the shore. In the centre a himself rode to the main body of the smaller column headed both, and was army, to retrieve if possible the overalready landing on an island, connect- sight of their march to Manheim. ed with the German side by a bridge The new aid-de-camp flew on the of boats. The Archduke looked on wings of the wind. He was now an this scene with feverish anxiety. “Not officer; glory, power, wealth, and a shot is fired,” he exclaimed ; • not diamond epaulets filled his brain; it a vidette challenges. They will be was an intoxication, and before he all taken in their beds—poltrons !” had sobered it he was in the bivouac That they were not in their beds, how- of the Swabians. Staringer was, like ever, soon became apparent; for, after his countrymen, as brave as his own a sharp skirmish, the garrison of the sabre ; but he had all their deliberaisland were seen running in a mass to tion. While Carlo was frantic with the bridge, and followed so closely by impatience, the honest Swabian moved

[ocr errors]

66

)

esse!"

« AnteriorContinuar »