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.

XCI.

It is imprudent to go out; the night was almost peaceable, the morning is hideous.  The roar of musketry is intense and without interruption.  I suppose there must be fighting going on in the Rue du Faubourg Montmartre.  I start back, the noise is so fearful.  In the Cour Trevise not a person to be seen, the houses are closely shut and barred.  On a second floor I hear a great moving of furniture, and hear quite distinctly the sound of sobbing, of female sobbing.  I hear that the second floor of the house is inhabited by a member of the Commune and his family.  I am about to go up and see if I can be of any help to the women in case of danger, when I see a man precipitately enter the Court.  He wears a uniform of lieutenant; I recognise him, it is the porter.  He stops, looks around him, and seeing that he is alone, takes his rifle in both hands and throws it with all his strength over the high wall which is on the left hand of the Court.  That done, he rushes into the house.  There I distinctly hear him say to his wife, “The barricade is taken, give me a blouse, they are at Montmartre.  We are done for!” I think, the porter must have made a mistake, and that the battery is not taken yet, for I hear the whistling of a shell that, seems to come from Montmartre.  The deafening clamour on all sides redoubles, all the separate noises seem to confound themselves in one ceaseless roar, like the working of a million of hammers on a million of anvils.  I can scarcely bear it; my hands clutch the door-posts convulsively.  I lean out as far as I can, but see nothing but a company of soldiers preceded by two gendarmes, who are entering the Court.  They stop before the door of the house.  Several of them go in, and then I hear the sound of a door suddenly opened and shut, and heavy steps on the wooden floor.  I feel myself trembling; this man they have come to arrest—­are they going to shoot him here, in his own apartment, before his wife?  Thank God, no!  The two gendarmes reappear in the street holding the prisoner between them; his hands are bound; the soldiers surround them, and they are going to march away, when the man, lifting up his arms, cries fiercely, “I have but one regret, that I did not blow up the whole of the quarter.”  At this instant the window above is opened, and a woman with grey hair leans out, crying, “Die in peace, I will avenge you!” At these words the soldiers arrest their steps, and the two gendarmes re-enter the house.  They are going to take the wife prisoner after having taken the husband.  I fall back into a chair horrified; I shut my eyes not to see, and I press my hands on my ears, not to hear the dreadful sound of the musketry, but the horrible shrill noise is triumphant, and I hear it all the same.

XCII.

Oh! those that hear it not, how happy they must be; they will never understand how fearful this continuous, this dreadful noise is, and to feel that each ball is aimed at some breast, and each shell brings ruin in its train.  Fear and horror wrings one’s heart and maddens one’s brain.  Visions pass before one’s eyes of corpses, of houses crushing sleeping inmates, of men falling and crying out for mercy! and one feels quite strange to go on living among the crowds that die!

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Paris under the Commune from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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