“There is only one thing worth doing—to die greatly!” thought the aching heart of the child-soldier, unconsciously returning to the only end that the genius and the greatness of Greece could find as issue to the terrible jest, the mysterious despair, of all existence.
The desert hawk and the paradise-bird.
Some way distant, parted by a broad strip of unoccupied ground from the camp, were the grand marquees set aside for the Marshal and for his guests. They were twelve in number, gayly decorated—as far as decoration could be obtained in the southern provinces of Algeria—and had, Arab-like, in front of each the standard of the Tricolor. Before one were two other standards also: the flags of England and of Spain. Cigarette, looking on from afar, saw the alien colors wave in the torchlight flickering on them. “That is hers,” thought the Little One, with the mournful and noble emotions of the previous moments swiftly changing into the violent, reasonless, tumultuous hatred at once of a rival and of an Order.
Cigarette was a thorough democrat; when she was two years old she had sat on the topmost pile of a Parisian barricade, with the red bonnet on her curls, and had clapped her tiny hands for delight when the bullets flew, and the “Marseillaise” rose above the cannonading; and the spirit of the musketry and of the “Marseillaise” had together passed into her and made her what she was. She was a genuine democrat; and nothing short of the pure isonomy of the Greeks was tolerated in her political philosophy, though she could not have told what such a word had meant for her life. She had all the furious prejudices and all the instinctive truths in her of an uncompromising Rouge; and the sight alone of those lofty standards, signalizing the place of rest of the “aristocrats,” while her “children’s” lowly tents wore in her sight all the dignity and all the distinction of the true field, would have aroused her ire at any time. But now a hate tenfold keener moved her; she had a jealousy of the one in whose honor those two foreign ensigns floated, that was the most bitter thing which had ever entered her short and sunny life—a hate the hotter because tinged with that sickening sense of self-humiliation, because mingled with that wondering emotion at beholding something so utterly unlike to all that she had known or dreamed.
She had it in her, could she have had the power, to mercilessly and brutally destroy this woman’s beauty, which was so far above her reach, as she had once destroyed the ivory wreath; yet, as that of the snow-white carving had done, so did this fair and regal beauty touch her, even in the midst of her fury, with a certain reverent awe, with a certain dim sense of something her own life had missed. She had trodden the ivory in pieces with all the violence of childish,