Under Two Flags eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 714 pages of information about Under Two Flags.

In the act her passion exhausted itself, as the evil of such warm, impetuous, tender natures will; she was very still, and looked at the ruin she had done with regret and a touch of contrition.

“It was very pretty—­and cost him weeks of labor, perhaps,” she thought.

Then she took all the rest up, one by one, and gazed at them.  Things of beauty had had but little place in her lawless young life; what she thought beautiful was a regiment sweeping out in full sunlight, with its eagles, and its colors, and its kettle-drums; what she held as music was the beat of the reveille and the mighty roll of the great artillery; what made her pulse throb and her heart leap was to see two fine opposing forces draw near for the onslaught and thunder of battle.  Of things of grace she had no heed, though she had so much grace herself; and her life, though full of color, pleasure, and mischief, was as rough a one in most respects as any of her comrades’.  These delicate artistic carvings were a revelation to her.

She touched them reverently one by one; all the carvings had their beauty for her, but those of the flowers had far the most.  She had never noted any flowers in her life before, save those she strung together for the Zephyrs.  Her youth was a military ballad, rhymed vivaciously to the rhythm of the Pas de Charge; but other or softer poetry had never by any chance touched her until now—­now that in her tiny, bronzed, war-hardened palms lay the while foliage, the delicate art-trifles of this Chasseur, who bartered his talent to get a touch of ice for the burning lips of his doomed comrade.

“He is an aristocrat—­he has such gifts as this—­and yet he must sell all this beauty to get a slice of melon for Leon Ramon!” she thought, while the silvery moon strayed in through a broken arch, and fell on an ivory coil of twisted leaves and river grasses.

And, lost in a musing pity, Cigarette forgot her vow of vengeance.

CHAPTER XIX.

The ivory squadrons.

The barracks of the Chasseurs was bright and clean in the morning light; in common with all Algerian barrack rooms as unlike the barrack rooms of the ordinary army as Cigarette, with her debonair devilry, smoking on a gun-wagon, was unlike a trim Normandy soubrette, sewing on a bench in the Tuileries gardens.

Disorder reigned supreme; but Disorder, although a disheveled goddess, is very often a picturesque one, and more of an artist than her better-trained sisters; and the disorder was brightened with a thousand vivid colors and careless touches that blent in confusion to enchant a painter’s eyes.  The room was crammed with every sort of spoil that the adventurous pillaging temper of the troopers could forage from Arab tents, or mountain caves, or river depths, or desert beasts and birds.  All things, from tiger skins to birds’ nests, from Bedouin weapons to

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Under Two Flags from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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