A Beleaguered City eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 173 pages of information about A Beleaguered City.
years keeping quiet himself—­keeping out of tumult, religious or political—­and make no discovery of the general current of feeling; but when you are forced to serve your country in any official capacity, and when your eyes are opened to the state of affairs around you, then I allow that an inexperienced observer might well cry out, as my wife did, ’What will become of the world?’ I am not prejudiced myself—­unnecessary to say that the foolish scruples of the women do not move me.  But the devotion of the community at large to this pursuit of gain-money without any grandeur, and pleasure without any refinement—­that is a thing which cannot fail to wound all who believe in human nature.  To be a millionaire—­that, I grant, would be pleasant.  A man as rich as Monte Christo, able to do whatever he would, with the equipage of an English duke, the palace of an Italian prince, the retinue of a Russian noble—­he, indeed, might be excused if his money seemed to him a kind of god.  But Gros-Jean, who lays up two sous at a time, and lives on black bread and an onion; and Jacques, whose grosse piece but secures him the headache of a drunkard next morning—­what to them could be this miserable deity?  As for myself, however, it was my business, as Maire of the commune, to take as little notice as possible of the follies these people might say, and to hold the middle course between the prejudices of the respectable and the levities of the foolish.  With this, without more, to think of, I had enough to keep all my faculties employed.


I do not attempt to make out any distinct connection between the simple incidents above recorded, and the extraordinary events that followed.  I have related them as they happened; chiefly by way of showing the state of feeling in the city, and the sentiment which pervaded the community—­a sentiment, I fear, too common in my country.  I need not say that to encourage superstition is far from my wish.  I am a man of my century, and proud of being so; very little disposed to yield to the domination of the clerical party, though desirous of showing all just tolerance for conscientious faith, and every respect for the prejudices of the ladies of my family.  I am, moreover, all the more inclined to be careful of giving in my adhesion to any prodigy, in consequence of a consciousness that the faculty of imagination has always been one of my characteristics.  It usually is so, I am aware, in superior minds, and it has procured me many pleasures unknown to the common herd.  Had it been possible for me to believe that I had been misled by this faculty, I should have carefully refrained from putting upon record any account of my individual impressions; but my attitude here is not that of a man recording his personal experiences only, but of one who is the official mouthpiece and representative of the commune, and whose duty it is to render to government and to the human race a true narrative of the very wonderful facts to which every citizen of Semur can bear witness.  In this capacity it has become my duty so to arrange and edit the different accounts of the mystery, as to present one coherent and trustworthy chronicle to the world.

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A Beleaguered City from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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