“Ah, he does not recognize marriages among the clergy,” said my uncle, calmly. “Never mind him, my good Dorothee; he’d be glad enough to have a wife of his own, and seeing me so much better off than he is, makes him captious and querulous. Come and shake up my pillow, for my poor head aches sadly. I will try to get a little sleep.”
At that instant, a loud trampling of horses’ feet was heard, together with the jingling of spurs and the clanking of armor.
“What’s that?” cried Aunt Dorothee, running from the bed to the window, and pulling back the little curtain, “Ah, le beau spectacle! Look out, Jacques!”
It was indeed a fine spectacle, as far as mere outward splendor went, to see a troup of cavalry in blue and burnished steel, on powerful black horses, ride proudly by, making the very earth shake under them; and many children, attracted by the sight, ran towards them, shouting and throwing up their caps; but when I looked at the ferocious faces of these men, seamed with many an ugly scar—their lowering brows, their terrible eyes, their sour aspect—I felt they might be as dreadful to face in peace as in war. I watched them out of sight, and then placed myself beside my uncle, who, with closed eyes and folded hands, was endeavoring to sleep. My aunt went below to baste the poulet for his dinner. The house was very still; nothing was to be heard but the ticking of the clock.
All at once I heard heavy feet tramping towards the house, and a confused medley of rough voices. The next instant, the house door was battered as if to break it in, which, being of solid oak, was no easy matter. The door being opened, I heard a faint cry of terror from my aunt, and a brawling and trampling impossible to describe. I looked down from the stair-head and counted forty-two dragoons, trampling in one after another, till, the house being of moderate size, there was hardly room for them to stand. Yet they continued to pour in, jostling, pushing, and elbowing one another, each trying to shout louder than his comrades, “Hola! hola! House! house!—Give us to eat! Give us to drink!” with frightful oaths and curses.
“Good sirs, a moment’s patience, and you shall be waited on,” cried my terrified aunt.
“To Jericho with your patience! We wait for nobody. I decide for this poulet,” said one, taking it up hot in his hands, and bawling because they were burnt; “dress two dozen more—cook all you have in the poultry-yard, or we will cook you.”
“I claim my share of that poulet,” says one.
“Why not have one apiece?” said another. “Who would make two bites of a cherry? He has gnawn off all the best mouthfuls already. Come, be quick, mistress housewife! Where are the cellar keys?”
“I’ve mislaid them, good sirs,” said the poor terrified woman.
“We’ll kick the door open, then. Here’s a ham! here are two hams! Ha! ha! ham is good—we will heat the copper and boil them.”