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Read The Dynasts: An Epic-Drama of the War with Napoleon Part 154

The Dynasts: An Epic-Drama of the War with Napoleon is a web novel created by Thomas Hardy.
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Read WebNovel The Dynasts: An Epic-Drama of the War with Napoleon Part 154



[The foreground is an elevated stretch of land, dotted over in rows with the tents of the peninsular army. On a parade immediately beyond the tents the infantry are drawn up, awaiting something.

Still farther back, behind a brook, are the French soldiery, also ranked in the same manner of reposeful expectation. In the middle- distance we see the town of Bayonne, standing within its zigzag fortifications at the junction of the river Adour with the Nive.

On the other side of the Adour rises the citadel, a fortified angular structure standing detached. A large and brilliant tricolor flag is waving indolently from a staff on the summit.

The Bay of Biscay, into which the Adour flows, is seen on the left horizon as a level line.

The stillness observed by the soldiery of both armies, and by everything else in the scene except the flag, is at last broken by the firing of a signal-gun from a battery in the town-wall.

The eyes of the thousands present rivet themselves on the citadel.

Its waving tricolor moves down the flagstaff and disappears.]

THE REGIMENTS [unconsciously]


[In a few seconds there shoots up the same staff another flag–one intended to be white; but having apparently been folded away a long time, it is mildewed and dingy.

From all the guns on the city fortifications a salute peals out.

This is responded to by the English infantry and artillery with a feu-de-joie.]



[The various battalions are then marched away in their respective directions and dismissed to their tents. The Bourbon standard is hoisted everywhere beside those of England, Spain, and Portugal.

The scene shuts.]



[The Rhone, the old city walls, the Rocher des Doms and its edifices, appear at the back plane of the scene under the grey light of dawn. In the foreground several postillions and ostlers with relays of horses are waiting by the roadside, gazing northward and listening for sounds. A few loungers have a.s.sembled.]


He ought to be nigh by this time. I should say he’d be very glad to get this here Isle of Elba, wherever it may be, if words be true that he’s treated to such ghastly compliments on’s way!


Blast-me-blue, I don’t care what happens to him! Look at Joachim Murat, him that’s made King of Naples; a man who was only in the same line of life as ourselves, born and bred in Cahors, out in Perigord, a poor little whindling place not half as good as our own. Why should he have been lifted up to king’s anointment, and we not even have had a rise in wages? That’s what I say.


But now, I don’t find fault with that dispensation in particular.

It was one of our calling that the Emperor so honoured, after all, when he might have anointed a tinker, or a ragman, or a street woman’s pensioner even. Who knows but that we should have been king’s too, but for my crooked legs and your running pole-wound?


We kings? Kings of the underground country, then, by this time, if we hadn’t been too rotten-fleshed to follow the drum. However, I’ll think over your defence, and I don’t mind riding a stage with him, for that matter, to save him from them that mean mischief here.

I’ve lost no sons by his battles, like some others we know.

[Enter a TRAVELLER on horseback.]

Any tidings along the road, sir of the Emperor Napoleon that was?


Tidings verily! He and his escort are threatened by the mob at every place they come to. A returning courier I have met tells me that at an inn a little way beyond here they have strung up his effigy to the sign-post, smeared it with blood, and placarded it “The Doom that awaits Thee!” He is much delayed by such humorous insults. I have hastened ahead to escape the uproar.


I don’t know that you have escaped it. The mob has been waiting up all night for him here.

MARKET-WOMAN [coming up]

I hope by the Virgin, as ‘a called herself, that there’ll be no riots here! Though I have not much pity for a man who could treat his wife as he did, and that’s my real feeling. He might at least have kept them both on, for half a husband is better than none for poor women. But I’d show mercy to him, that’s true, rather than have my stall upset, and messes in the streets wi’ folks’ brains, and stabbings, and I don’t know what all!


If we can do the horsing quietly out here, there will be none of that. He’ll dash past the town without stopping at the inn where they expect to waylay him.–Hark, what’s this coming?

[An approaching cortege is heard. Two couriers enter; then a carriage with NAPOLEON and BERTRAND; then others with the Commissioners of the Powers,–all on the way to Elba.

The carriages halt, and the change of horses is set about instantly.

But before it is half completed BONAPARTE’S arrival gets known, and throngs of men and women armed with sticks and hammers rush out of Avignon and surround the carriages.]


Ogre of Corsica! Odious tyrant! Down with Nicholas!


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