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Franco-Ger- ing when the Commune broke out. Promptly man war was over. the manager of the “ Daily News” dashed to I had witnessed the me in a swift hansom, and urged me with all great Kaiser's parade his force to start for Paris that same night. I re
the Longchamps fused; I was under contract to the publishers, race-course on the istof and I burned to see my first book in print. March, 1871, and then For two months that peremptory manager gave
had accom- me innumerable bad quarters of an hour, for panied the Ger- he was not being served to his liking by the man troops who persons whom, in my default, he had commismarched down sioned to “ do" the Commune for him. At the Champs length, on the afternoon of May 19, I finished
I Elysées into the the last revise of my book, and the same evenPlace de la Con- ing—to the great reliefof my managerial friend, corde and the for a desperate crisis in Paris was clearly imwrecked gar- minent- I left London by the Continental dens of the Tui- Mail. leries. A week In those troubled times the train service of
later I had rid- the North of France railway was greatly disden behind the old Emperor and the Crown located, and it was nearly midday of the 20th Prince of Saxony as the former reviewed the when we halted in the St. Denis station. I fore“ Maas Armee," which the latter commanded, boded no difficulty, since the halt at St. Denis drawn up on the plateau between Champigny was normal for ticket-collecting purposes; and and Brie, among the grave-mounds beneath I was chatting with a German officer of my which lay the Germans and the Frenchmen who acquaintance who commanded the detachhad fallen in the stubborn fighting of Ducrot's ment of the Kaiser Alexander Prussian Guard great sortie on the east side of Paris. Then my regiment in occupation of the St. Denis station. field-work was done, and I had hurried home The collector serenely took up my ticket. to London to begin the task I had set myself There followed him to the carriage door two of writing a book describing what I had seen French gendarmes, who with all the official of the great conflict.
consequentialness of their species demanded I was toiling ten hours a day at this undertak- to be informed of my nationality. I enlight
Copyright, 1892, by THE CENTURY Co. All rights reserved.
DRAWN BY VIERGE
ened them on that point, and turned to renew then we shall have coffee, and you will smoke the conversation with Von Brockdorff. But the one of those long corkscrew cigars which you gendarmes were not done with me. They per- may remember; and in the evening you will emptorily ordered me to alight. I requested take the "cocotte train' here in Enghien. If an explanation, and was told that no foreigners the gendarmes at the St. Denis fetch you out were now allowed to enter Paris, as the fight- a second time, make them a polite bow, and ing force of the Commune was understood to walk into Paris by the chaussée ; or, for that be directed chiefly by foreigners. “But," said matter, you can take the bus from St. Denis." I, “I am a newspaper correspondent, not a It was already dusk when I boarded the fighting man.” “N'importe," replied the se- “cocotte train," and ensconced myself benior gendarme; "you look, too, not unlike a tween two young ladies of gay and affable military man. Anyhow, you must alight.” manners, who promised so to cover me with
“What does this mean, Brockdorff?"I asked, their skirts, when we should reach St. Denis, when I had obeyed. “Surely you can do some that the gendarmes would not discover me. thing for me, in charge as you and your fellows The train was full of the frail sisterhood of are of the station !” “No, my dear fellow," an- Paris, who were wont to pay afternoon visits swered the Prussian; we are here only to to the German officers of the still environing maintain order. Two days ago these swallow- army, and were now returning to town. Fairly tailed gentlemen came from Versailles, and our concealed as the ladies and I thought myself, orders are not to interfere with them.” The the lynx-eyed gendarme detected me, and I train went on, leaving me behind; the senior again had to alight. A commissary of police in gendarme came up to me, and told me that I the station courteously offered me quarters for should have to return to Calais by the next out- the night, but assured me that my entrance into going train. A thought struck me, and I pleaded Paris was impossible. I declined his offer, and hard to be allowed to take instead a local train went into the street, where I found the Gerto Enghien-les-Bains, a few miles away, near man soldiers enforcing the old curfew laws. the forest of Montmorency, where Brockdorff“ Everybody must be indoors by nine,” said told me was still residing the Crown Prince of the grizzled sergeant, “else I take them prisSaxony, to whose staff I had been attached oners, and they are kept for the night, and fined during the siege of Paris. Brockdorff added his five francs in the morning.” He did not interpersuasions to my solicitations, and finally the fere with me, because I spoke German to him; gendarme thus far mitigated my sentence. and I found a hay-loft where I slept. The
The Crown Prince of Saxony was at lun- charge for sitting in a room in St. Denis was cheon when I reached the château in which ten francs; beds were luxuries impossible to he had his quarters. He roared with laughter casual strangers. when I told him how the gendarme had served On the morning of the 21st I left St. Denis by me. “These people at Versailles," he explained, road, and walked straight into Paris without hin“have been leaving the mouth of the trap open drance. The national guards of La Chapelle all these weeks, and pretty near all the turbu- were turning out for service as I passed through, lent blackguards of Europe have walked into and there seemed nothing to find fault with in it. Now they think all the blackguards are either their appearance or conduct. Certainly inside, and since they are just about to begin there was no unwillingness apparent, but the business, they have stopped both ingress and reverse. Paris I found very somber, but perfectly egress. Still," he continued musingly, “ I am quiet and orderly. It was the Sabbath morning, surprised that they did n't let you in!” The but no church-bells filled the air with their muPrince has something of a sardonic humor, sic. It was with a far different and more discorand he made his point; and I for my part made dant sound that the air throbbed on this bright him my bow in acknowledgment of his com- spring morning—the distant roar of the Versailpliment. Presently he added : “ Mr. Forbes, list batteries on the west and southwest of the when you were with us in the winter, we used enceinte. “ That is Issy which gives," quietly to think you rather a rusé and ingenious man; remarked to me the old lady in the kiosk at the but I fear now, since you are no longer with us, corner of the Place de l'Opéra, as she sold me that you have become dull. Have n't you ever a rag dated the 22d and printed the 20th. heard the proverb that there are more ways of I asked her how she could distinguish the sound killing a pig than by cutting its throat? There of the Issy cannon from those in the batteries is a railway to Paris, my friend, and there is also of the Bois de Boulogne. “Remember,” she a chaussée to Paris. On the railway there are replied, “ I have been listening now for many these French gendarmes; on the chaussée there days to that delectable bicker, and have become is only a picket of your friends of the Kaiser a connoisseur. The Issy gun-fire comes sharper Alexander regiment, who have no orders to and clearer, because the fort stands high and stop any one. Now, you join us at luncheon; nothing intervenes. The reports from the can
non in the Bois get broken up for one thing told him I wanted an order that would allow by the tree-trunks, and then the sound has to me to go anywhere and see everything. The climb over the enceinte, the railway viaduct, sous-chef signed it with the signature “Leand the hill of Passy.” She spoke as calmly as fèbre Toncier,” told me if ever I wanted any if she had been talking of the weather; and it favor or any information to come to him, and seemed to me, indeed, that all the few people made me a civil bow. I think I may reckon who were about shared the good lady's noncha- that this was the last permit signed by Comlance. Certainly there seemed nowhere any munist authority. indication of apprehension that the Versaillist General Dombrowski was the last of the hand was to be on the Communist throat before many generalissimos of the Commune; he had the going down of that Sabbath sun.
held the command for about a day and a half. I had a horse in Paris, which I had left there His headquarters, I was told, were away out to since the days of the armistice. It was the same the west in the Château de la Muette, just benoble steed on which I had ridden in by the hind the enceinte and close to the railway stagate of St. Ouen, the first “outsider" into Paris tion of Passy. I went to the cab-stand in the after the capitulation, on which occasion the Place de la Concorde, and told the first calhungry Bellevillites had gazed upon the plump man to drive me to the château. “No, monbeast with greedy eyes. My first quest was sieur; I have children!” was the reply. I got after this animal. I found it, but there was a a cocher less timid, who agreed to drive me to sentry on the stable. The Commune had re- the beginning of the Grande Rue de Passy. As quisitioned the horse, and the stable-keeper we passed the Pont de Jéna the Communist had resisted the requisition on the ground that battery on the Trocadéro began to fire. Mont it belonged to a foreigner. The matter had been Valérien replied. One, two, three shells from it compromised by the posting of a sentry over fell on the grassy slope where I had seen the the animal until the authorities should have German soldiers on their entry into Paris lie maturely weighed the grave question. The down and drink their fill of its beauties. One sentry declined to depart when I civilly en- shell felled a lamp-post on the steps close by, treated him, nor would he allow me to take out and burst on the flags. My cabman struck, and the horse; so I had in the mean time to leave very nearly carried me back with him in his the matter as it stood. From the stable I went hurry to be out of what he evidently considered to the War Ministry of the Commune, on the an unpleasant neighborhood. There was nosouth side of the river. The utter absence of thing for me but to alight, and to go on foot red tape and bureaucracy there was a shock to up the Grande Rue. Here there was hardly the system of the Briton. I remember being any resident population, but a large colony of pervaded by the same sensation when years lat- shell-holes. National guards, sailors, and francer I went to see General Sherman in the War tireurs had quartered themselves in the houses, Department at Washington. Ascending a stair- and lounged idly about the pavements. There case (not in Washington, but in Paris), I entered were no symptoms of fear anywhere, and the a big room full of sergeants and private soldiers shells were coming into the vicinity pretty freebustling to and fro. Unheeded, I passed into an ly. At the further end of the street I turned to inner room, where I found the man whom I the right through a large gateway into a short wanted writing among a number of other men avenue offine trees, at the end of which I entered in uniform, and a constantly changing throng the Château de la Muette. Dombrowski gave of comers and goers. “Can I see the chief me a most hearty and cordial greeting, and at of staff ? ” I asked. “Of course you can; once offered me permission to attach myself to come with me.” We went into a third room, his staff permanently, if I could accept the posia fine apartment, with furniture in the style of tion as it disclosed itself. “We are in a deplorthe First Empire; officers swarmed here, from ably comic situation here,” said he, with a smile commandants to lieutenants. Privates came and a shrug, “for the fire is both hot and conin and had a word, and went away. Amid the tinuous.” bustle there was a certain order and also, seem- Dombrowski was a neat, dapper little felingly, a certain thoroughness. Without delay low of some five feet four inches, dressed in a I was presented to a gentleman who, I was plain, dark uniform with very little gold lace. told, was the sous-chef of the staff. I said I His face was shrewd — acuteness itself; he desired a pass to witness the military operations looked as keen as a file, and there was a fine, in the capacity of a correspondent. With a bow frank, honest manner with him, and a genial he turned to a staff-lieutenant, and bade him heartiness in the grip of his hand. He was the write me the order. The lieutenant set to work at sort of man you take to instinctively, and yet once. He asked me whether I wanted an order there were ugly stories about him. He wore a for the exterior as well as for the interior opera- slight mustache and rather a long chin-tuft, tions, and said, “ Bon," approvingly when I which he was given to pulling as he talked. He
spoke no English, but talked German fluently. gate of Billancourt. Dombrowski waited until His staff consisted of eight or ten officers, chiefly the gasping officer had exhausted himself, then plain young fellows who seemed thoroughly up handed him a glass of wine with a smile, and to their work, and with whom, not to be too with a serene nod turned to his salad, and went pointed, soap and water seemed not so plenti- on eating it composedly and reflectively. At ful as was their consummate coolness. Dom- length he raised his head: browski ate, read, and talked all at once, while “Send to the Ministry of Marine for a batone could hardly hear his voice for the din of tery of seven-pounders; call out the cavalry, the cannonade and the whistle of the shells. the tirailleurs (of some place or other, I did He showed great anxiety to know whether I not catch where), and send such and such batcould tell him anything as to the likelihood of talions of national guards. Let them be ready German intervention, and it struck me that by seven o'clock. I shall attack with them, he would be very glad to see such a solution and lead the attack myself.” of the strange problem. We had got to the The Ministry of Marine, I may remark, had
Ι salad when a battalion commandant, powder- been turned into an arsenal. It was a sign of grimed and flushed, rushed into the room and the times that the officer to whom Dombrowexclaimed in great agitation that the Versail- ski dictated this order, like himself a Pole, did list troops were streaming inside the enceinte not know where to find the Ministry of Marine. at the gate of Billancourt, which his command Directions having been given him as to its lohad been holding. The cannonade from Issy cality, the lieutenant suggested that he might had been so fierce that his men had been all not be able to get a whole battery. under shelter, and when the Versaillists came * Bring what you can, then," said Dombrowsuddenly on, and they had to expose themselves ski; “two, three, or four guns, as many as you and deliver musketry-fire, the shells fell so thick can, and see that the tumbrils are in order. and deadly that they bolted, and then the Ver- Go and obey !” saillists had carried the gate, and now held it. “Go and obey” was the formula of this perHis men had gone back in a panic. He had emptory, dictatorial, and yet genial little man. beaten them — sacré nom, etc.— with the flat of He had a splendid commanding voice, and one his sword till his arm ached, but he had not might have judged him accustomed to dictat
FROM COMPOSITION PHOTOGRAPH OF THE TIME, BY APPERT, PARIS.
ENGRAVED BY P. AITKIN. ASSASSINATION OF GENERALS CLEMENT THOMAS AND JULES LECOMTE, AT MONTMARTRE, MARCH 18, 1871.
succeeded in arresting the panic, and his bat- ing, for he would break off to converse and talion had now definitely forsaken the enceinte. take up the thread again, as if he had been The Versaillists were massing in large numbers the chief clerk of a department. to strengthen the force that had carried the While Dombrowski was eating his prunes