“Well, madame, was it beautiful?”
“No, Victoria,” replied Mme. General, “it was too mixed. But do hurry up! tear it off if it won’t come. I know where to find others at the same price.”
And I was thrown like a rag on a heap of pieces. The heap of pieces was composed of ball-dresses of the little baroness.
One morning, three or four days later, the aide-de-camp rushed in, crying, “The Versaillists! The Versaillists are in Paris!”
Thereupon Mme. General put on a sort of military costume, took two revolvers, filled them with cartridges, and hung them on a black leather belt which she wore around her waist. “Where is the General?” she said to the aide-de-camp.
“At the Tuileries.”
“Very well, I shall go there with you.” And on that she departed, with her little gray felt hat jauntily tilted over her ear.
The cannonade and firing redoubled and came nearer. Evidently there was fighting very near us, quite close to us. The next day towards noon we saw them both come back, the General and Mme. General. And in what a condition! Panting, frightened, forbidding, with clothes white with dust, and hands and faces black with powder. The General was wounded in the left hand, he had twisted around his wrist a handkerchief bathed in blood.
“Does your arm hurt you?” Mme. General said to him.
“It stings a little, that’s all.”
“Are they following us?”
“Yes, I think so.”
“Listen! There are noises, shouts.”
“Look out of the window without showing yourself.”
“The red trousers! They are here!”
“Lock and bolt the door. Get the revolvers and load them. I can’t on account of my arm. This wound is a bore.”
“You are so pale!”
“Yes; I am losing blood—a good deal of blood.”
“They are coming up the stairs!”
“Into the alcove—let us go into the alcove, on the dresses.”
“Here they are!”
“Give me the revolver.”
The door gave way violently under the hammering of the butts of the guns. A shower of bullets fell on us and around us. The General, with a single movement, fell heavily at full length on the bed of silk, muslin, and laces that we made for him. Three or four men with red trousers threw themselves on Mme. General, who fought, bit, and screamed, “Assassins! assassins!”
A soldier tore away the bell-cord, firmly tied her hands, and carried her away like a bundle. She continued to repeat, in a strangled voice, “Assassins! assassins!” The soldiers approached the alcove and looked at the General. “As to him,” they said, “he’s done for; he doesn’t need anything more. Let’s be off.”
They left us, and we remained there for two days, crushed beneath that corpse and covered with blood. Finally, at the end of those two days, a man arrived who was called a Commissioner, and who wore a tricolored scarf around his waist. “This corpse has been forgotten,” he said. “Take it away.”