"Not there to-night," said the man, holding up a thick forefinger and shaking it sideways. "Then where?" "Nowhere to-night," was the answer. "He has come you know that?" "Yes," answered Sebastian slowly, "for I saw him." "He is at supper now with Rapp and the others. The town is full of his people. His spies are everywhere. There are two in the Weissen Ross'l who pretend to be Bavarians. See!
He was not only disobeyed but, with shouts of "Treason!" they rushed upon him and, with difficulty, he escaped with his life. The Vendeans seized the bridge, and established a battery for its defence. Coustard saw that it must be recaptured, as the town was now open to the enemy; and ordered a detachment of cuirassiers, commanded by Colonel Weissen, to carry the bridge.
We made directly for the inn, which was recommended as the best; and, except that the house was full of workmen, our chamber small, and our beds detestable, we have no right to put down the Gasthof zum Weissen Ross, as one of the bad places of call on the march to Schnee-Koppee.
So, with the sticky, thick ink of the Weissen Ross'l, Sebastian wrote the letter, and Barlasch, forgetting his scholarly acquirements, took the pen and made a mark beneath his own name written at the foot of it. Then he went out, and left Sebastian to pay for the beer. They that are above Have ends in everything.
"It seems," he said, "that a woman can love anything." Which is true; and a very good thing for some of us. For without that Heaven-sent capacity the world could not go on at all. It was later in the day when Barlasch made his way into the low and smoke-grimed Bier Halle of the Weissen Ross'l.
Summed it up thus: Wir weissen nichts: wir essen nichts: immer laufen, laufen, laufen. In bright sunshine we pushed on towards Gandeln. On the way we had a bit of lunch, and I left a pipe behind.
The two battalions of infantry now promised to follow. Although he saw that to charge the battery with a handful of cavalry was to ride to almost certain death, Weissen gallantly led his men forward. The infantry followed for a short distance but, being taken in flank by a volley from a party of Vendeans, they broke and fled.
Thus the battle of Borodino crashed into the lives of Desiree and Mathilde, and their father, living quietly on the sunny side of the Frauengasse in Dantzig. Antoine Sebastian was the first to hear the news. He had, it seemed, special facilities for learning news at the Weissen Ross'l, whither he went again now in the evening.
These were not yet alight, though the day was fading fast, and the western light could scarcely find its way between the high gables which hung over the road and seemed to lean confidentially towards each other. Sebastian was going towards the door of the Weissen Ross'l when some one came out of the hostelry, as if he had been awaiting him within the porch.
A quick observer would have noticed that his spurs made no noise, and that he carried his sword instead of allowing it to clatter after him. It was not clear whence he had come. It must have been from a doorway nearly opposite to the Weissen Ross'l. "I know that man," said Sebastian. "So do I," was the reply. "It is Colonel de Casimir."