Page:Memoirs of Vidocq, Volume 1.djvu/43

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retained in value nine-tenths of the sum. This little supply was not useless during the remainder of our journey, which we finished with much glee. Arrived at our place of destination, we had still enough left to keep the pot boiling. A short time afterwards we were sufficiently skilled in horsemanship to be appointed to one of the squadrons on service, and we reached the army two days before the battle of Jemmappes. It was not the first time that I had smelt powder, and I was no coward; indeed I had reason to know that I had found favour in the eyes of my officers, when my captain informed me, that having been discovered to be a deserter, I should be most certainly arrested. The danger was imminent, and that same evening I saddled my horse, intending to go over to the Austrians. I soon reached their out-posts; and on asking to be admitted, was incorporated at once with the cuirassiers of Kinski. What I most feared was lest I should be compelled next day to cross swords with the French, and I hastened to avoid any such necessity. A pretended illness enabled me to be left at Louvain, where after passing some days in the hospital, I offered to give the officers of the garrison lessons in fencing. They were delighted with the proposal, and supplied me with masks, gloves, and foils; and an assault, in which I disarmed two or three pretended German masters was enough to give them the highest opinion of my skill. I soon had many pupils, and reaped a good harvest of florins.

I was too much elated with my success, when at the end of a brisk attack on a brigadier, I was condemned to undergo twenty stripes of the cat, which, according to custom, were given to me on parade. This transported me with rage, and I refused to give another lesson. I was ordered to continue, with a choice of giving lessons or a fresh flogging. I decided on the former; but the cat annoyed me, and I resolved to dare all to escape from it. Being informed that a lieutenant was about to join the army under general