Even later, when I saw battles fought among villages, artillery galloping through a cornfield, garden walls breached for rifle fire, and farm-houses in flames, it always seemed as though the generals had elected to fight in such surroundings through an inexcusable striving after theatrical effect as though they wished to furnish the war correspondents with a chance for descriptive writing.
Then, as the ketch heaved and heaved again in the light of the flames that ran up the tarry rigging, at one stride the dawn was on us; with no flush of sunshine, but with a grey, steel-coloured ray that cut the darkness like a sword. I had managed to hoist myself again to the bowsprit, and, straddling it, had time in one glance aft to take in the scene of ruin.
Four other men, bound hand and foot, lay close to the fire. By its flames Malcolm saw the green scarves that told they were Scotchmen of his own brigade, and he determined at once to rescue them or die in the attempt. He crept forward until he reached the edge of the road; then he raised a pistol and with a steady aim fired at one of the natives, who fell dead across the fire.
In fact, a dark form on horseback halted by the roadside; the flames of the burning village rose higher, and shed a light on the stranger. It was a man dressed in the uniform of a hussar; a white, blood-stained handkerchief was wrapped around his head and half his face; his right arm was also bandaged, and in his mouth was a clay pipe. "It is the pipe-master!" cried Blucher, quickly galloping up.
The forests were again set on fire by the bursting shells and they were not able to rescue many of the wounded from the flames. Vast clouds again floated over the whole region, drawing a veil of dusk between the soldiers and the sun. But neither army was willing to attack the other in full force. Grant commanding all the armies of the East was moving meanwhile.
On the ninth the army commenced its return to Vincennes, having broken up or committed to the flames all their unnecessary baggage, in order that the wagons might be used for the transportation of the wounded.
The crystals, perfectly transparent, were solitary, and often three or four toises distant from each other. We reposed at the foot of the cavern whence those flames were seen to issue, which of late years have become more frequent.
That's a sharp and searching wind, and the sight of flames makes one feel warm even if they are far away." It would not be long until day now, and the axes ceased to ring in the forest. A long and formidable line of abattis had been made, but the men were compelled to seek some rest.
And writing of the Pallas in the Pitti he most eloquently said: "As to the hair imagine shapes having the supreme life of line you may see in the contours of licking flames and yet possessed of all the plasticity of something which caresses the hand that models it to its own desire!"
The day's march was nearly over when he saw some flames rise from a village a short distance away. Hurrying forward with his men he found a party of ten of the Swedish soldiers who had stolen away from the baggage guard engaged in plundering. Two peasants lay dead in the street, and a house was in flames.
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