In the meantime, the Commune is in its death throes. Like the dragon of fairy lore, it dies, vomiting flames. La Villette is on fire, houses are burning at Belleville and on the Buttes-Chaumont. The resistance is concentrated on one side at Pere la Chaise, and on the other at the Mont-Parnasse cemetery. The insurrection was mistress of the whole of Paris, and then the army came stretching its long arms from the Arc de Triomphe to Belleville, from the Champ-de-Mars to the Pantheon. Trying hard to burst these bonds, tightly surrounded, now resisting, now flying, the emeute has at last retreated. It is over there now, in two cemeteries; it watches from behind tombstones; it rests the barrels of its rifles on marble crosses, and erects a battery on a sepulchre. The shells of the Versaillais fall in the sacred enclosure, plough up the earth, and unbury the dead. Something round rolled along a pathway, the combatants thought it was a shell; it was a skull! What must these men feel who are killing and being killed in the cemetery! To die among the dead seems horrible. But they never give it a thought; the bloody thirst for destruction which possesses them allows them only to think of one thing, of killing! Some of them are gay, they are brave, these men. That makes it only the more dreadful; these wretches are heroic! Behind the barricades there have been instances of the most splendid valour. A man at the Porte Saint-Martin, holding a red flag in his hand, was standing, heedless of danger, on a pile of stones. The balls showered around him, while he leant carelessly against an empty barrel which stood behind.—“Lazy fellow,” cried a comrade—“No,” said he, “I am only leaning that I may not fall when I die.” Such are these men; they are robbers, incendiaries, assassins, but they are fearless of death. They have only that one good quality. They smile and they die. The vivandieres allow themselves to be kissed behind the tombstones; the wounded men drink with their comrades, and throw wine on their wounds, saying, “Let us drink to the last.” And yet, in an hour perhaps, the soldiers will fight their way into the cemeteries, which their balls reach already, they too mad with rage; then the horrible bayonet fighting will commence, man against man among the tombs, flying over the mounds, desecrating the monuments, everything that imagination can conjure up of most profane and terrible—a battle in a cemetery!
[Illustration: MY NEIGHBOUR ’EN FACE’—BUSINESS CARRIED ON AS USUAL—]
[Illustration: MY NEIGHBOUR NEXT DOOR—WHO THINKS HIMSELF FORTUNATE.]