look everywhere for yourselves.” So the
National Guards spread through the house, opened the
rooms, searched the cupboards and chests, and came
at last, without having found anything, to the dormitories,
where the Little Sisters’ old nurselings were
lying. Every head was upraised in astonishment
and fear, and all, stammering and trembling, began
jabbering out at once, “What are you doing here?
You are not going to hurt the good Sisters? It’s
a shame! It’s infamous! Go away!
It’s cowardly! My good monsieur, what will
become of us if you take them away?” The old
women were furious, and the old men in lamentations.
Officer and men scarcely expected such a scene, and
began to hesitate in their search. “Well,
well, my good people,” said the officer, who
had been the most violent, and had now softened down,
“we won’t take the Little Sisters away,
and we won’t hurt them either. There, there—are
you satisfied?”—and the men began
to go downstairs again.—“My sister,
you have not shut your drawer,” said the captain,
as he passed the cupboard.—“That
is true, monsieur; I am not in the habit of doing it.
In our house, you see, it is quite useless.”—“Never
mind, shut it to-day at any rate. How can I know
all the men I have about me?” And as he spoke,
the captain turned back, shut the drawer himself, without
touching the contents, and gave the key to the superior.
He seemed quite ill at ease, and got out at last,
“We didn’t know ... if we had known it
was like this ... you see we had been told ... yes,
yes, it is very good of you to take care of those
poor old folks upstairs.” Now that the man
seemed embarrassed and showed some kindliness in his
manner, a Little Sister who had quite got over her
fear, went up to him and told him how frightened they
had been for a whole month past; that they had been
told that the Reds wanted to take their house.
Ah! it was horrible! But monsieur would protect
them, would he not?
“That I will,” bravely answered the captain;
“give me your hand. And now, if any one
wants to harm you, he will have me to deal with first.”
A few minutes later, the National Guards were gone,
the Little Sisters and the old nurslings were at rest
again, and the house was just as silent and peaceful
as if it were no abominable resort of plotters and
But if I had been the Commune of Paris, would I not
have shot that captain!
The people of the Hotel de Ville said to themselves,
“All our fine doings and talking come to nothing,
the delegate Cluseret and the commandant Dombrowski
send us the most encouraging despatches in vain, we
shall never succeed in persuading the Parisian population,
that our struggle against the army of Versailles is
a long string of decisive victories; whatever we may
do, they will finish by finding out that the federate
battalions gave way strangely in face of the iron-plated
mitrailleuses the day before yesterday at Asnieres,