Page:Memoirs of Vidocq, Volume 1.djvu/42

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MEMOIRS OF VIDOCQ.

drinking booth, when I know not how or why, I quarrelled with the serjeant-major of the regiment which I had just left. An honourable meeting, which I proposed, was agreed upon, but when on the ground my adversary pretended that the difference from rank would not allow of his measuring weapons with me. I sought to compel him by violence, he went to make complaint of me, and the same evening I was, together with my second, placed under arrest. Two days afterwards we were informed that we were to be tried by court-martial, and thereupon determined to desert. My comrade in his waistcoat only, with a cap on his head, like a soldier about to undergo punishment, walked before me, who had on a hairy cap, my knapsack, and musket, at the end of which was a large packet sealed with red wax, and inscribed "To the citizen commandant of the quarters at Vitry-le-Français." This was our passport, and we reached Vitry in safety, and procured citizens' habits from a Jew. At this period the walls of every city were covered with placards, in which all Frenchmen were invited to fly to the defence of their country. At such a juncture the first comers were enrolled: a quarter-master of the 11th chasseurs received us, gave us our route, and we immediately started for the depôt at Philippeville.

My companion and self had but little cash, when fortunately a lucky windfall was in waiting for us at Châlons. In the same inn with us was a soldier of Beaujolais, who invited us to drink. He was an open-hearted countryman of Picardy, and as I conversed with him in the provincial dialect of his country, whilst the glass was circulating we grew such great friends, that he shewed us a portfolio filled with assignats, which he said he had found near Chateau-l'Abbaye. "Comrades," said he, "I cannot read, but if you will tell me what these papers are worth, I will give you a share." The Picard could not have asked any one better able to inform him, and in bulk he had much the greater quantity; but he had no suspicion that we had