Out of all the houses, or rather from what was once the houses, emerge the inhabitants carrying different articles of furniture, tables, mattresses, boxes. They come out as it were from their graves. Relations meet and embrace, after having suffered almost the bitterness of death. Thousands run backwards and forwards; the carts are heaped up to overflowing, everything that is not destroyed must be carried away. A large van filled with orphan children moves on towards the barrier; a sister of charity is seated beside the driver. The most impatient of the refugees are already through the Porte Maillot; who will give them hospitality there? No one seems to think of that. The excitement caused by all this movement is almost joyous under the brilliant rays of the sun. But time presses, in a few minutes the short truce will have expired. Stragglers hurry along with heavy loads. At the gates, the crowding and confusion are greater than in the morning. Carts heavily laden, move slowly and with difficulty; the contents of several are spilled on the highway. More shouting, crowding, and pushing, until the gates are passed at last, and the emigrant crowd disperses along the different streets and avenues into the heart of Paris. A happy release from bondage, but what a dismal promised land!
Then the cannonading and musketry on either side recommences. Destroy, kill, this horrible quarrel can only end with the annihilation of one of the two parties engaged. Go on killing each other if you will have it so, combatants, fellow-countrymen. Some wretched women and children will at least sleep in safety to-night, in spite of you!
[Illustration: Federal Officer. Pardon, Monsieur, but we cannot allow civilians to remain here.
Monsieur. I wait for Valerien to open upon us.]
Yes, my good friends and idlers, the sad scene would not have been complete without your presence to relieve its sadness. If respect for your persons kept you away from danger, it at least gives zest to the place, a locality that in a few short minutes will be dangerous again. At five the armistice was over, but for all that, the National Guard had great difficulty in clearing the ground, until real danger, the excitement sought for, arrived, and sent the spectators much further up the Avenue de la Grande Armee.
[Illustration: MDLLE, ET SES COUSINES. 5.30. Great guns of Valerien, why do you not begin! Know you that tubes charged with bright eyes are directed against you!]
I had almost made up my mind not to continue these notes. Tired and weary, I remained two days at home, wishing to see nothing, hear nothing, trying to absorb myself in my books, and to take up the lost thread of my interrupted studies, but all to no purpose.
It is ten in the morning, and I am out again in search of news. How many things may have happened in two days! Not far from the Hotel de Ville excited groups are assembled at the corners of the streets that lead out of the Rue de Rivoli. They seem waiting for something—what are they waiting for? Vague rumours, principally of a peaceful and conciliatory nature, circulate from group to group, where women decidedly predominate.