[Footnote 19: Lieutenant-Colonel de Beaugrand had improvised staff-quarters at the Grand Hotel, and the nomination of Admiral Saisset, together with M. Schoelcher and Langlois, had strengthened the enmity of the two parties. The Central Committee, seeing the danger which threatened, announced that the Communal elections were adjourned to Sunday the 26th March.]
It is two in the morning. Tired of doing nothing I take out my note-book, seat myself on a doorstep opposite the Restaurant Catelain, and jet down my memoranda by the light of a street lamp.
As soon as night came on, every measure of precaution was taken. We have no idea by whom we are commanded, but it would appear that a serious defence is contemplated, and is being executed with prudence. Is it Admiral Saisset who is at our head? We hope so. Although we have been so often disappointed in our chiefs, we have not yet lost the desire to place confidence in some one. To-night we believe in the admiral. Ever and anon our superior officers retire to the mairies, and receive strict orders concerning their duty. We are quite an army in ourselves; our centre is in the Place de la Bourse, our wings extend into the adjoining streets. Lines of Nationals guard all the openings; sentinels are posted sixty feet in front to give the alarm. Within the enclosed space there is no one to be seen, but the houses are inhabited as usual. The doors have been left open by order, and also all the windows on the first floors. Each company, divided under the command of sergeants, has taken possession of three or four houses. At the first signal of alarm the street-doors are to be closed, the men to rush to the windows, and from there to fire on the assailants. “Hold yourselves in readiness; it is very possible you may be attacked. On the approach of the enemy the guards in the streets are to fall back under fire towards the houses, and take shelter there. Those posted at the windows are to keep up an unceasing fire on the insurgents. In the meantime the bulk of our forces will come to our aid, and clear the streets with their mitrailleuses.”
So we waited, resolved on obedience, calm, with a silent but fervent prayer that we might not be obliged to turn our arms against our fellow-townsmen.
The night is beautiful. Some of our men are talking in groups on the thresholds of the doors, others, rolled in their blankets, are lying on the ground asleep. In the upper storeys of some of the houses lights are still twinkling through the muslin curtains; lower down all is darkness. Scarcely a sound is to be heard, only now and then the rumble of a heavy cart, or perhaps a cannon in the distance; and nearer to us the sudden noise of a musket that slips from its resting-place on to the pavement. Every hour the dull sound of many feet is heard; it is the patrol