Paris under the Commune eBook

John Leighton Stuart
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 389 pages of information about Paris under the Commune.

A trumpeter, a mere lad of seventeen, was marching at the head of his detachment, which had been ordered to take possession of a barricade that the Versailles troops were supposed to have abandoned.  When I say, “he marched,” I am making a most incorrect statement, for he turned somersets and executed flying leaps on the road, far in advance of his comrades, until his progress was arrested by the barricade; this he greeted with a mocking gesture, and then, with a bound or two, was on the other side.  There had been some mistake, the barricade had not been abandoned.  Our young trumpeter was immediately surrounded by a pretty large number of troops of the line, who had lain hidden among the sacks of earth and piles of stones, in the hope of surprising the company which was advancing towards them.  Several rifles were pointed at the poor boy, and a sergeant said:  “If you move a foot, if you utter a sound, you die!” The lad’s reply was to leap to the highest part of the barricade and cry out, with all the strength of his young voice, “Don’t come on!  They are here!” Then he fell backwards, pierced by four balls, but his comrades were saved!

LXI.

Another, and a sadder scene happened in the Avenue des Ternes.  A funeral procession was passing along.  The coffin, borne by two men, was very small, the coffin of a young child.  The father, a workman in a blouse, walked behind with a little knot of other mourners.  A sad sight, but the catastrophe was horrible.  Suddenly a shell from Mont Valerien fell on the tiny coffin, and, bursting, scattered the remains of the dead child upon the living father.  The corpse was entirely destroyed, with the trappings that had surrounded it.  Massacring the dead!  Truly those cannons are a wonderful, a refined invention!

LXII.

At last the unhappy inhabitants of Neuilly are able to leave their cellars.  For three weeks, they have been hourly expecting the roofs of their houses to fall in and crush them; and with much difficulty have managed during the quieter moments of the day to procure enough to keep them from dying of starvation.  For three weeks they have endured all the terrors, all the dangers of battle and bombardment.  Many are dead—­they all thought themselves sure to die.  Horrible details are told.  A little past Gilet’s restaurant, where the omnibus office used to be, lived an old couple, man and wife.  At the beginning of the civil war, two shells burst, one after another, in their poor lodging, destroying every article of furniture.  Utterly destitute, they took refuge in the cellar, where after a few hours of horrible suspense, the old man died.  He was seventy, and the fright killed him; his wife was younger and stronger, and survived.  In the rare intervals between the firing she went out and spoke to her neighbours through the cellar gratings—­“My husband is dead.  He must be buried; what am I

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Paris under the Commune from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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