exterminated at Herbe-en-Pail, and Radoub had the good luck not to form a part of it.
A forage wagon was near; Gauvain pointed it out to the sergeant.
"Sergeant, liave your men make ropes of straw and twist them around their guns to prevent any sound if they knock against each other."
In a moment's time the order had been executed, in silence and darkness.
"It is done," said the sergeant.
"Soldiers, take off your shoes," added Gauvain.
"We haven't any," said the sergeant.
That made, with the seven drummers, nineteen men; Gauvain was the twentieth.
"Follow me in single file. The drummers behind me, the battalion next. Sergeant, you will command the battalion."
He took the head of the column, and, while the cannonading continued on both sides, these twenty men, gliding along like ghosts, plunged into the deserted lanes.
They marched some time in this way, winding along by the houses. Everything seemed dead in the town; the citizens were crouching in the cellars. There was not a door which was not barred, not a blind which was not closed. No light anywhere.
The great street was making a furious din in the midst of this silence; the cannonadmg still continued; the Republician battery and the Royalist barricade were angrily spitting out all their volleys.
After twenty minutes of winding about, Gauvain, who led the way with certainty in the darkness, reached the end of a lane running into the principal street; only it was on the other side of the market.
The position was reversed. On this side there was no intrenchment,—such is the everlasting imprudence of those who build barricades,—the market was open and they could enter under the arches, where some baggage wagons were harnessed ready for departure. Gauvain and his nineteen men had before them the five thousand Vendéans, but they were behind the Vendéans' backs and not in front of them.
Gauvain spoke in a low voice to the sergeant; they re-