BLTC Press Titles

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Through the Looking Glass

Lewis Carroll

Some Experiences of an Irish R. M.

Edith Somerville and Martin Ross

Leaves of Grass

Walt Whitman

The Souls of Black Folk

W. E. B. DuBois


by Victor Hugo


The regiments dispatched from Paris into Vendee counted nine hundred and twelve men. Each regiment took with it three pieces of cannon. They had been quickly put on foot. On the 25th of April, Gohier being minister of justice and Bouchotte minister of war, the section of the Bon Conseil .proposed sending battalions of volunteers into Vendee. Lubin, member of the commune, made the report. On the 1st of May, Santerre was ready to marshal twelve thousand soldiers, thirty field-pieces, and a troop of gunners. These battalions, formed so quickly, were formed so well that they serve as models to-day; regiments of the line are constructed after their model; they changed the old proportion bet ween the number of soldiers and non-commissioned officers.

On the 28th of April the commune of Paris gave this password to the volunteers of Santerre: No mercy.; no quarter.

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At the end of May, of the twelve thousand who left P eight thousand were dead.

The regiment engaged in the wood of La Saudraie hel self on the watch. There was no appearance of haste. 1 man looked at once to the right and to the left, before behind. Kleber has said, "A soldier has an eye in his ba They had been on foot for a long while. What time c< it be? What period of the day was it? It would have I fcjuf\ difficult to say, for there is always a sort of dusk in such :a>) age thickets, and it was never light in that wood.

The forest of La Saudraie was tragic. It was in its coj that, from the month of November, 1792, civil war commen its crimes. Mousqueton, the ferocious cripple, came out its fatal shades. The list of-the murders that had been C' (3^ mitted there was enough to make one's hair stand on e There was no place more to be dreaded. The soldiers mo/e<& cautiously forward. The depths were full of flowers; on each side was a trembling wall of branches and dew-1*^ leaves. Here and there rays of sunlight pierced the gn y shadows. The gladiola, that flame of the marshes, the mc >l<^ ow narcissus, the little wood daisy, harbinger of spring, tyifi the vernal crocus,* embroidered the thick carpet of vegetati *C\ crowded with every form of moss, from that resembling i vet (chenille) to that which looks like a star. The soldi advanced in silence, step by step, pushing the brushwCd& softly aside. The birds twittered above the bayonets.

In former peaceable times La Saudraie was a favorite pli c -Q. for the ITouiche-ba, the bunting of birds by night; now tl; thunted men there.

The thicket was one of birch-trees, beeches, and oaks; 1 ground flat; the thick moss and grass deadened the sou <\<Y of the men's steps; there were no paths, or only blind on tS which quickly disappeared among the holly, wild sloes, fer' hedges of rest-harrow, and high brambles. It would haVi-Q been impossible to distinguish a man ten steps off.

Now and then a heron or a moor-hen flew through t branches, indicating the neighbor' 1 of marshes.

They pushed forward. They w at random, with une:' iness, fearing to find that which they sought.

* The gladiola is with us an autumnal, the crocus a spring flower. — Trt

From time to time they came upon traces of encampments; burned spots, trampled grass, sticks arranged crosswise, branches stained with blood. Here soup had been made— there, mass had been said—yonder, they had dressed wounds. But all human beings had disappeared. Where were they? Very far off, perhaps; perhaps quite near, hidden, blunderbuss in hand. The wood seemed deserted. The regiment redoubled its prudence. Solitude—hence distrust. They saw no one: so much more reason for fearing some one. They had to do with a forest with a bad name. An ambush was probable. •

Thirty grenadiers, detached as scouts, and commanded by a sergeant, marched at a considerable distance in front of the main body; the vivandiere of the battalion accompanied them. The vivandieres willingly join the vanguard; they run risks, but they have the chance of seeing whatever happens. Curiosity is one of the forms of feminine bravery.

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