Page:Ninety-three.djvu/19

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15
NINETY-THREE

train! Our feet are nearly the same size, I will give you some of my shoes. I was in Paris the tenth of August. I gave Westermann a drink. He was walking. I saw Louis XVI., Louis Capet they call him, guillotined. He didn't like it. Why, just listen. They say that the thirteenth of January he was having chestnuts cooked, and laughing with his family! When they forced him to lie down on the bascule, as they call it, he had on neither coat nor shoe; he wore only his shirt, a quilted vest, gray cloth breeches, and gray silk stockings. I saw that myself. The carriage he was brought in was painted green. You see, come with us, we have good boys in the battalion; you shall be vivandière number two; I will teach you the profession. Oh! it is very simple! You have your can and your little bell, you go about in the tumult, in the midst of the firing of the platoons, among the cannon shots, in the uproar, shouting: "Who wants a drink, children?" It is no more difficult than that. I give everybody a drink. Yes, indeed. The Whites as well as the Blues; although I am a Blue, and a good Blue too. But I give everybody a drink. The wounded are thirsty. People die without regard for opinions. When people are dying you ought to press their hands. How silly it is to fight! Come with us. If I am killed you will be my successor. You see, that is the way I seem; but I am a good woman and a brave man. Don't have any fear."

When the vivandière had stopped speaking, the woman murmured: " Our neighbor's name was Marie-Jean, and our servant's Maria-Claude."

In the meantime the Sergeant Kadoub was reprimanding the grenadier,—

"Hold your tongue. You have frightened the woman. You mustn't swear before ladies."

"All the same, as far as an honest man can understand it, it is a genuine massacre," replied the grenadier. "The idea of these Chinese peasants having their father-in-law crippled by the seigneur, their grandfather sent to the galleys by the priest, and their father hung by the king, and then insist on fighting. In the name of common sense! And they thrust themselves into a revolt and let themselves be crushed for the seigneur the priest and the king!"