A voice in the crowd exclaimed: "Poor devil!" Then another, a tremulous voice, choking with emotion, asked timidly: "Is it quite certain that he's dead?" Everybody looked at Planus and began to laugh. "Well, here's a greenhorn," said the officer. "Don't I tell you that he was all blue this morning, when we cut him down to take him to the chasseurs' barracks!"
With irresistible bounds they were springing over the wall, slipping through the yawning gaps, and darting out from the depths of the woods by invisible paths. They were little soldiers, husky, panting, perspiring, with torn cloaks; and mingled with them, in the disorder of the charge, African marksmen with devilish eyes and foaming mouths, Zouaves in wide breeches and chasseurs in blue uniforms.
Sourd, chief of the squadron, and fifty chasseurs of the 7th, each carrying a voltigeur en croupe, followed them, as well as two frail rafts which transported four hundred men in twenty trips.
He returned upon his own tracks, ordered the conductor to put on the boots thrown aside by the pretended postilion, mount the horse and take the coach to the next relay, namely Belleville. The sergeant of chasseurs and four of his men, who knew how to write, were to accompany the conductor and sign his report of what had occurred.
From time to time, the sad pedestrian met living bands of men platoons of cavalry, gendarmes, Zouaves and chasseurs encamped around the ruined farmsteads, exploring the country in pursuit of German fugitives. Don Marcelo had to explain his business there, showing the passport that Lacour had given him in order to make his trip on the military train. Only in this way, could he continue his journey.
He served in the Imperial Guards, took part in the Italian and Franco-German Wars and was promoted Chief of Squadron, Fifth Regiment, Chasseurs a Cheval, September 10, 1871. Having tendered his resignation from active service, he was appointed a lieutenant-colonel in the territorial army February 3, 1880. He has been decorated with the Legion of Honor.
In the opposite corner drunken soldiers chatted with the maids of the barracks. M. de Kératry, bent with his eighty years, was seated near the stove on an old worm-eaten chair; the chair tottered; the old man shivered. Towards four o'clock a regiment of Chasseurs de Vincennes arrived in the courtyard with their platters, and began to eat, singing, with loud bursts of merriment.
Suddenly, as we reached the market-place, we saw a group of three dismounted Chasseurs emerging from an alley that ran down steeply to the Marne. They belonged to F.'s troop. Two of them were supporting the third, whom we at once recognised. It was Laurent, a fine fellow, and a favourite with the whole squadron. It went to our hearts to see him.
To the left, on the other hand, the gun fire and rifle fire were incessant in the direction of the bridge of Steenstraate, defended by the Brigade of mounted Chasseurs. It seemed evident that the Germans, having failed in their attempt to cross the Yser canal near us, were making a fresh effort further to the north.
The three places, the one in the coupe and the two in the interior, are already engaged by three travellers who will join the coach, one at Sens, the other two at Tonnerre. The travellers are, in the coupe, one of citizen Fouche's best men: in the interior M. Roland de Montrevel and the colonel of the 7th Chasseurs, garrisoned at Macon.