Page:Stories by Foreign Authors (French III).djvu/131

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LAURETTE OR THE RED SEAL

By Alfred De Vigny

I. The Meeting on the Highway.

THE road from Artois to Flanders is a long and dreary one. It extends in a straight line, with neither trees nor ditches along its sides, over flat plains, covered at all seasons with a yellow clay. It was in the month of March, 1815, that, as I was passing along this road, I met with an adventure I have never forgotten.

I was alone; I rode on horseback; I had a good cloak, a black casque, pistols, and a heavy sabre. It had been raining in torrents during four days and four nights of my journey, and I remember that I was singing the "Joconde" at the top of my voice—I was so young. The bodyguard of the king, in 1814, was filled up with old men and boys; the empire seemed to have seized and killed off all the men.

My comrades were on the road, somewhat in advance of me, escorting Louis XVIII.; I saw their white cloaks and red coats on the very edge of the northern horizon. The Lancers of Bona-

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