Page:Ninety-three.djvu/32

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28
NINETY-THREE.

"If he had obeyed the signal that Admiral d'Orvilliers gave him to keep to the windward, he would have hindered the English from passing."

"Certainly."

"Is it true that he hid himself in the hold?"

"No, but we must say so, all the same."

And la Vieuville burst out laughing.

Boisberthelot continued: "There are some fools yet. Take this Boulainvilliers, of whom you were speaking, M. Vieuville; I knew him, I have seen him near to. At first the peasants were armed with pikes; if he didn't get it into his head to make pikemen of them! He wanted to teach them the exercise de la pique-en-biais et de la pique-trainante-le-fer-devant! He dreamed of transforming these savages into soldiers of the line. He pretended to teach them how to mass battalions, and to form battalions into hollow squares. He jabbered to them in the old military language; for chief of a squad, he said 'cap d'escade,' a term applied to corporals under Louis XVI. He was determined to form a regiment with all these poachers; he had regular companies, the sergeants of which formed a circle every evening, receiving the countersign from the colonel's sergeant; he repeated it to the sergeant of the lieutenants, and he repeated it to his neighbor, who passed it to the one nearest, and so on from ear to ear, till the last. He cashiered an officer for not rising with head uncovered to receive the word of command from the mouth of the sergeant. You can judge how that succeeded. This booby couldn't understand that peasants like to be led in peasant-fashion, and that you can't make drilled soldiers out of backwoodsmen. Yes, I know that Boulainvilliers."

They walked on a few steps, each busied with his own thoughts.

Then the conversation continued,—

"By the way, is it true that Dampierre has been killed?"

"Yes, commander."

"Before Condé?"

"In the camp of Pamaro; by a cannon-ball."

Boisberthelot sighed.

"The Count de Dampierres. Another one of us, who was on their side!"