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at me, if you like, but the thought mourning figure, when a cannon-ball came like a whisper from heaven. boomed through the air, and struck • Perhaps it is the last wish you will her and her horse to the ground. A see fulfilled,' said I to myself. And cry of horror escaped the bystanders. as if some invisible guide had led me, The unhappy woman had disappeared. I made my way to your very carriage, One could not see her for the throng. just as the twelve-pounder played you Bernard, Ludwig, and Regnard forced the trick. Only see now how hearty a passage through the mob of men and the child is ; it grows like its mother! horses, but with all their efforts their Ah! if I only had something for you, progress was slow. Bianca followed poor darling! Were we but in Paris, them, led partly by pity and partly by that I might give you a pocketful of fear of separation from her protectors. bonbons !
“Silent and uncomplaining, the lady "And in fondling and chattering with sat upon the ensanguined snow, her the infant, he forgot both his crushed tall, dignified form supported against arm and the destruction that raged an overturned cart, her child clasped so actively around. The storm of in her arms. The shot had shattered shot had no terrors for him ; twenty both her feet, but her infant appeared battles had accustomed him to it. unhurt, and anxiously clasped its But the sweet emotions of paternal mother's neck with its little hands. love were new to him, and a secret None thought of succouring the poor voice seemed to warn him that he creatures; all were too engrossed with would not long enjoy them.
their own selfish misery, and few “Ludwig now came up and greeted vouchsafed her more than a passing the colonel. Bianca gave the child glance as they struggled onwards. to Jeannette, for Regnard, with only She would hardly have escaped being one arm, could not hold it, and she trampled under foot, had not her felt that her strength was giving way wounded horse, lashing out convulamidst this complication of horrors. sively in the agonies of death, cleared She leaned against the wheel of the a space around her. Whilst Bernard carriage. Bernard observed her fal- supported his trembling sister, Ludwig tering, and encircling her tenderly and Regnard attempted to climb over with his arm, he kissed her pale cheek. the cart which intervened between
" See yonder woman,' he said; them and the wounded lady. But at "take pattern by ber; see, dearest that moment the noble sufferer took a sister! how calm she is amidst the strong hair-chain from her neck, twistravages of death.'
ed it, before any could stay her hand, About twenty paces off, a tall fe- around her infant's throat, and with a male figure sat upon a horse, a child sudden exertion of strength drew it of three years old in her arms, and tight. The little creature drooped its gazed steadily at the tumult. A black head and fell strangled on its mother's veil was twined round her head, but knees. In a last frantic convulsion, left her noble and striking countenance the unhappy parent clasped her child exposed. She could but just have to her bosom, gave an agonised sigh, arrived, otherwise her appearance was a glance to heaven, and fell back, too remarkable not to have attracted dead. At that moment Ludwig and attention, even in that hour of con- Regnard reached her, but it was too fusion when few thought of any thing late. Bianca hid her face in her but their danger.
brother's bosom." €“ Calm?' said Bianca, after a long A fragment of a shell knocks over look, calm, say you ? Petrified, you the faithful Willhofen. The fire from should say. See you not the tears the Russian batteries becomes more that roll over her rigid countenance, terrible than ever, the crowd more and the despairing gaze she directs to agitated and frantic. heaven? Alas, poor woman!
" " Let us keep together!' cried 'She is the widow of Colonel La Regnard-once separated, we shall vagnac,' said Regnard; her husband never meet again.' And he stretched fell three weeks ago at Wiazma; the out his hand to grasp that of Ludwig, child in her lap is her daughter.'' when a ball passed between them,
“All eyes were fixed in pity on the overthrowing the colonel.
" " Regnard !! cried Ludwig, mob of desperate fugitives, Bianca springing to his assistance, are you and her two companions take their badly hit?'
course up stream, still bearing with “ Bernard raised the wounded man them Regnard's orphan daughter, and by the shoulders, and bent over him. hoping to find rest and shelter by
" I have got my allowance,' said passing themselves off as Russians. Regnard, faintly. Where is my At last, seeing no signs of house or little daughter ?!,
village, they sit down in despair upon “Shuddering, but with resolute step, the snow and await their fate; when, Bianca came forward, the child in her in accordance with Mr Rellstab's arms. She kneeled beside the dying practice of bringing about opportune soldier and held it out to him. Reg. meetings, Rasinski and his handful of nard looked mournfully at the little lancers ride up to them, and after creature so soon to be an orphan. the due amount of kisses and tears,
66. Farewell !' he said, kissing it a Lithuanian peasant guides them to for the last time. You have no a ford, and they get through the river longer a father—but a mother-has in safety. At Zembin they procure she not?' added he, imploringly to a small sledge, and Bernard and Bianca. Greetings to Rasinski, if he Ludwig urge Bianca to hurry forward still lives to receive them. Long live to Wilna. Neither of them offer to the Emperor!
accompany her, which they might " Upon this last exclamation, with great propriety have done, seeing uttered in a hoarse soldier-like tone, that they are dismounted and useless, the final breath of the dying man was but propose confiding her to a wounded expended. The next instant his soul dragoon, a proposal which she natuhad fled."
rally enough declines, and declares From the heights of Studianka the she will stick to the ship-in other beaten French now pour down, and words to the regiment—and rough it Bianca loses her female attendant, with the rest. After which plucky who perishes miserably, crushed by decision there is no more talk of a gun-carriage. It will be seen that parting company till they reach Wilna. there is a considerable accumulation Before getting there, however, there of horrors at this part of the romance; is much to be gone through. For but tender-hearted persons, whom winter sets in, and the tortures of narratives of human suffering too cutting cold are added to those prepainfully affect, will naturally avoid viously endured, slaying the sick and a book founded on such a campaign wounded by hundreds of a night. as that of 1812. The passage of the Overpowered by the fatigues of the Beresina has been too often described day, they lie down to sleep beside to be worth dwelling upon bere; and their watchfires, and in the mornthe more so as Mr Rellstab very ing are stiff and cold. The northjudiciously has not attempted to alter west wind suddenly surrounds the or improve upon the reality, of itself harassed Frenchmen with the terrible sufficiently extraordinary and har atmosphere of the north pole, the rowing. He makes Rasinski execute air is filled with an icy dust, lips and the famous 'feat of Jacqueminot, cheeks crack and blister, the eyes are Oudinot's aide-de-camp, who, after inflamed by the glittering whiteness swimming the Beresina in spite of the of the snow. The horses die from piercing cold and of the floating blocks extreme cold, and it is just as well of ice that bruised and cut his horse's for their riders, who would otherwise chest and flanks, galloped after the be frozen in their saddles. Thus stragglers from Tchaplitz's retreating Rasinski and his comrades find themcolumn, caught one, disarmed him, selves dismounted, and Bianca's sledge put him before him on his horse and becomes useless. They pursue their swam back with him to Napoleon, way on foot, amidst scenes of inconwho had expressed a wish for a pri- ceivable suffering and woe. Few of soner from whom to get information. those around them show fortitude in
Hopeless of crossing the crowded this extremity of misery. In some bridge, where a fearful struggle for instances despair and madness lead to precedence now goes on amongst the violence and shameful excesses.
367 Bianca, whose courage rises with the yours, but let my brother live !' And, necessity for exertion, is walking sup- with the quickness of thought, she tore ported by Ludwig's arm, and Bernard the rich chain from her neck and the follows at a short distance, carry- furs from her shoulders, leaving her ing the infant, who, unconscious of arms and delicate frame exposed with the danger, smiles cheerily in his face, slight covering to the rigour of that when the following incident occurs. horrible climate. The soldier gazed
" At this moment a boarse firm at her for a moment with fixed and voice was heard in rear of Bernard. straining eyes, then his arms slowly
46. Stop, dog !' it exclaimed. sank; letting the musket fall to the "Your cloak, or I shoot you dead ! ground, he pressed both hands to his
“ Bernard stopped and looked face, and broke out in loud weeping round. A soldier, scantily attired in and whimpering. By this time Ludwig wretched rags, his features distorted, came up, and he and Bernard lifted his beard long and tangled, his face up Bianca, who was still kneeling on black with earth and smoke, his eyes, the frozen ground, and extending her frightfully inflamed, rolling wildly in arms with the proffered gifts. their orbits, stood before him and “Wild beast that I am!' suddenly covered him with his musket.
exclaimed the stranger; 'no, I cannot " . What would you, wretched survive this shame. Forgive me; you man?' cried Bernard, horror-struck knew me once a better man, before and stepping backwards. The child suffering drove me mad! But no screamed with terror, clasped its arms matter; I know my duty. around him, and hid its little head in “He stooped to pick up his musket. his breast.
Bernard kept his eyes fixed upon him, ".Your warm cloak, or I shoot you and racked his memory for the features, down !' shouted the frantic soldier which, wild and distorted though they
No more comrades here; I've as now were, still seemed familiar to him. good a right to save myself as you.' "" Where have I known you?' he
“Bernard saw himself almost alone asked, as the man resumed his erect with the assassin ; although thou- position. sands were within hail, the bullet "I don't wonder you've forgotten would be quicker than their aid, sup- me,' was the gloomy reply; I have posing even that one amongst them forgotten myself. Alive, I am no had sufficient pity for another's peril longer worthy of the Order !' cried he to turn aside for a moment, and thus wildly, tearing from his rags the lengthen his journey and sufferings ribbon of the Legion of Honour and by a few painful paces. There was throwing it upon the snow. 'I will nothing for it but to yield to the try to earn it again, that you may lay menace and give up his warm wrapper, it upon my body. I am my own judge, although he well knew that with it he and I show no favour.' gave up his life.
"Setting the butt of his musket 66. You would murder a comrade to firmly on the earth, he pressed his prolong your own life?' said Bernard, breast against the muzzle and touched in a tone of dignified determination; the trigger with his foot. The piece
be it so, but you will profit little by went off, and its unfortunate owner the deed. Your hour will overtake fell heavily to the ground. you the sooner.'
"Gracious God!' exclaimed Bianca, "Quick, death gripes me already!' sinking senseless into Ludwig's arms. cried the madman, his musket still “ Bernard was at the side of the levelled and his bloodshot eyes wildly fallen man, supporting his head. A rolling.
last spark of life still remained. If “ Bernard stooped to put down the you get to France,' gasped the suicide, child, which impeded him in pulling a word to my wife and childrenoff his coat; as he did so, he heard a Sergeant Ferrand-of Laon,' and the loud cry, and turning, he beheld Bianca, spirit departed. As he closed his who threw herself weeping at the feet eyes, Bernard remembered him. It of the furious soldier.
was the same Sergeant Ferrand whose " Take this gold, these jewels!' humanity saved him and Ludwig from she exclaimed; this warm cloak is perishing during their imprisonment at Smolensko. Military honour was into a frightful grin, and gnashed the condition of the veteran's exis- his teeth like some infuriated tence; he thought himself degraded beast. beyond redemption by the murderous ". Ha, ha, ha!' he laughed, or aggression to which misery, pain, and rather yelled; "Sleep you then so despair, had driven him; a woman sound, ye idlers?' And as he spoke had surpassed him in courage, and he stamped with his foot on a frozen that was more than he could bear. corpse upon which he stood. "Awake, A rigorous judge, he had pronounced awake!' he cried, and come with his own doom, and executed it with me!' his own hand.
“For a moment he stood as if lis" Deeply moved, Bernard knelt tening to some distant sound, then beside the body; he gathered up the tottered painfully forward to the scrap of tarnished ribbon which the fire. departed soldier had prized above all " Back!' cried Jaromir, ‘Back, earthly goods, and laid it upon the or I shoot you on the spot!' And he breast of the corpse.
drew a pistol; but his hand, trembling 166 Who shall deprive you of it?' with fever, had not strength to level he said. "May it adorn you beyond it. the grave, amidst the throng of the “The lunatic stared at him with valiant who have preceded you !' stupified indifference, his sunken fea
“And they continued their journey, tures varying in their expression from for the times admitted not of delay." a ghastly smile to the deepest misery.
That night they have to fight for Jaromir gazed at him in silent horror. their quarters in the village of Malo. The huge figure stretched its lean arms deczno, and use their artillery for the out from under the cloak, and made last time, being compelled to abandon strange and unintelligible gestures. it for the want of horses. Boleslaw "Ho! I am frozen !' howled the is killed in the action. Soon after- human spectre at last, and shook himwards, the Emperor leaves the army, self. Then he clutched at the flames and his departure dispirits even those with his fingers, like an infant, and who admit its propriety. Things get staggered nearer and nearer till worse and worse. Often, after a he stood close to the circle of sleepers, fatiguing day's march, no shelter is far within which he extended his obtainable, and Bianca and her tender arms. For the first time he now charge are fain to brave the incle- seemed to feel the warmth of the fire. mency of the bivouac, whilst the men A low whining noise escaped him, watch by turns to keep off wolves and then he suddenly exclaimed, in tones marauders. One night, when per between laughing and crying, 'To forming this duty, Jaromir is startled bed! to my warm bed!' tossed his by a loud laugh, sounding strangely fir-tree staff far from him, stumbled horrible in that scene of misery and forwards over the sleeping soldiers, and desolation.
threw himself, in his raging madness, “From out of the surrounding into the centre of the glowing pile. darkness a grim figure stalked into ". Help, help!' cried Jaromir, his the circle of fire-light. It was a gi- hair erect with horror, and seizing gantic cuirassier, wrapped in a tat- Rasinski, he shook him with all his tered cloak, a bloody cloth bound remaining strength. round his head beneath his helmet. 66. What is it?' cried Rasinski, In his hand he carried a young fir raising himself. tree, as a staff to support his steps. 66. There, there !' stammered his
"• Good evening,' he said, in a hol. friend, pointing to the flames, in which low voice to Jaromir. "Good even the unhappy cuirassier lay writhing ing, comrade. You seem merry here.' and bellowing with agony. Rather
"• What seek you?' demanded conjecturing than comprehending what Jaromir, amazed at this hideous ap. had occurred, Rasinski started up to parition! There is no place for you rescue the sufferer. But it was too here. Begone!!
late. The heat had already stified “The cuirassier stared at him with him; he lay motionless, the flamo his hollow eyes, twisted his mouth licking greedily round his limbs, and a thick nauseous smoke ascending in meet his foe. Adroitly seizing the clouds from his funeral faggots. soldier by the wrist of his uplifted arm, Rasinski stepped shudderingly back- so that he could not use his weapon, ward, and turned away his face to he struck him over the head with the conceal his emotion; then he observed burning branch so violently, that the that all around him lay buried in a charred wood shivered, and a cloud of deathlike sleep. Not one had been sparks flew out. But the blow, heavy aroused by the terrible catastrophe as it was, was deadened by the thick that had occurred in the midst of so bearskin cap, and served only to conmany living men."
vert the angry determination of the After those long days of hunger and grenadier into foaming fury. Of fatigue, the bonds of slumber were of herculean build, and at least half the iron strength, and difficult to loosen. head taller than his opponent, he let And it was even more dangerous than his sabre fall, and grappled Rasinski difficult to rob the survivors of the with the intention of throwing him Grand Army of that brief repose, into the flames. The struggle lasted often their sole solace and refreshment but for a moment before Rasinski during the twenty-four hours. In his tottered and fell upon his knees. To turn overtaken by delirium, Jaromir's all appearance his doom was sealed, cries and complaints at last awoke the the hero succumbed before the overwhole party round the fire. A low powering strength of the brute, when murmur arose amongst the soldiers, Ludwig flew to his assistance, dragged and rapidly increased. Soon they the soldier backwards, and fell with cast ominous and threatening glances him to the ground. Rasinski picked at the young Pole, and at last their up the sabre, with his left hand dashed discontent found a voice.
the bearskin from the head of the 6. Who is the madman, and what fallen grenadier, and with the right ails him?' savagely exclaimed a dealt him a blow that clove bis skull bearded grenadier. He robs us of in twain. Then, erecting his princely our precious sleep! Thrust him from form, he advanced, with the calm the fire-let him freeze if he cannot dignity that characterised bim, into be still !!
the midst of the astounded bystanders. " Ay, thrust him out!' was the Throw the corpse into the snow,' universal cry; and several sprang to commanded he: lie down again and accomplish the barbarous deed. sleep. It matters no more than if I Bianca uttered a cry of terror ; Lud- knocked a wolf upon the head.' wig caught her in his right arm, and "As if he had no longer occasion for with his left kept off the assailants. it, he threw the sabre contemptuRasinski, who at once saw the great- ously from him. None dared to ness of the peril, left Jaromir in Ber- murmur, but two soldiers obediently nard's care, and leaped with flashing raised the bloody corpse of the fallen eyes into the midst of the circle. man, carried it a few paces, and Ever prompt and decided, he snatched threw it upon the snow-covered a half consumed branch from the fire, ground." waved it above his head, and shouted The following evening the little with that lion's voice so often heard band of friends reached Wilna, but above the thunder of the battle, without Jaromir, who had expired on • Back, knaves! The first step for- the road. Wilna, the first inhabited ward costs one of you his life.'
town the French army had seen since "The angry soldiers hesitated and their entrance into Russia, had been hung back, yielding to Rasinski's moral looked forward to by the fugitives ascendency as much as to his threat who escaped from the terrible passage of punishment. But then the grena. of the Beresina, as a refuge and a dier drew his sabre and furiously resting-place. There they fondly exexclaimed:
pected shelter from the cold, food for 56 • What, dastards, are ye all afraid the famishing, bandages and medicine of one man? Forward! Down with for the wounded and the sick. But the Polish dogs !'
their arrival took the Lithuanian "' Down thyself, inhuman ruffian!' capital by surprise. The inhabitants thundered Rasinski, and sprang to were still without any certain accounts