The dragoon looked confounded. He muttered something, turned on his heel, said something to his companions below, and we presently saw them run out of the house. I went and shut the door. On returning I saw my uncle was not dead. Their thinking him so was a mercy, since it gave him a little respite. He was too weak to be moved, but he begged me to return home and tell what had happened to my parents: adding, as I left him, “Do not make the affair worse than it is.” I thought it would be difficult to do that.
When I reached home it was some hours after sunrise. The dragoons, just recalled from the Spanish frontier, where they were no longer wanted, were spreading themselves over the country with the express commission to harass the Huguenot inhabitants as much as possible, short of death, but had not yet reached Nismes.
I entered my father’s house. Contrary to custom, he was not at the factory, but awaiting my return. He rose when I appeared, and stood silently looking at me, while my mother put her hands on my shoulders, and looked piteously in my face.
“Son, thou hast been out all night.”
“At my uncle’s, mother. He was ill in bed; the dragoons were there; and my aunt begged me to stay as a safeguard.”
“You did quite right to comply, my boy,” said my father, heartily. “I trust the dragoons did not misuse thy good uncle.”
“I know not what you call misusing,” replied I, “if beating their drums round his bed all night did not deserve that term. They almost killed him with their clamor—ate everything in the house—called for more—reviled my aunt—scrambled for her money—broke open the cellar, and drank every drop it contained.”