« PreviousContinue »
lieve, called the Place du Trocadéro). There ble, could belong to the beaten and panicwas a dense fog, which circumscribed my sphere stricken army of the Commune. No; that could of vision, and I knew only that I was standing not be. They were, for sure, Versaillist troops on sward in an utter solitude. A few steps coming to take possession of the Trocadéro. brought me into the rear of a battery facing Indeed, had there been no other evidence, westward, from which all the guns had been car- their method of announcing themselves by half ried off except one which had been dismounted, a dozen chassepot bullets fired at the lone man evidently by a hostile shell, and lay among the standing by the battery was conclusive. I took shattered fragments of its carriage. Close by, the hint to quit, and started off abruptly in the no doubt killed by the explosion of the same direction of the Champs Elysées. I came out shell which had wrecked the gun, were two or on the beautiful avenue by the Rue des Chailthree dead Communists. As it became lighter, lots, about midway between the Arc de Triand the fog was slowly dispersing, the slopes omphe and the Rond Point; and lo! round of the Trocadéro disclosed themselves on my the noble pile which commemorates French left, and I realized that I must be standing in valor stood in close order several battalions the Trocadéro battery of which I had heard of soldiers in red breeches. Thus far then, at Dombrowski speak on the previous afternoon. all events, had penetrated the Versaillist invaLooking westward along the Avenue de l'Em- sion of Paris in the young hours of the 22d. péreur (now the Avenue Henri Martin), I saw The French regulars were packed in the Place a battery of artillery advancing up it at a walk, de l'Étoile as densely as were the Bavarians with detachments of sailors abreast of it on each on the day of the German entry three months sidewalk. I had not to ask myself whether these before. No cannon-fire was directed on them troops, advancing with a deliberation so equa- from the great Federal barricade at the Place
1. Marie Menan, condemned to death for murder and incendiarism; 2. Marguet, life imprisonment for rob-
further. They had a field-battery in action
Versaillists. Occupying in strong force, and with numerous artillery, certain central points, from each of which radiated several straight thoroughfares in different directions, their design was to cut Paris up into sections, isolating the sections one from another by sweeping with fire the bounding streets. From this position, at the Pépinière, for instance, they had complete command of the Boulevard Haussmann down to its foot at the Rue Taitbout, and of the Boulevard Malesherbes down to the Madeleine, thus securing access to the great boulevards and to the Rue Royale, by descending which could be taken in reverse the Communist barricade at its foot, facing the Place de la Concorde. Desirous of seeing anything that might be passing in other parts of the city, I made my way by devious paths in the direction of the Palais-Royal. Shells seemed to be bursting all over Paris. They
up across the Boulevard de la Madeleine a barricade of trees and casks. The Communists, on their side, had a barricade composed chiefly of provision-wagons across the boulevard at the head of the Rue de la Paix. For the moment no firing was going on, and as it was getting toward noon I determined to try to reach my hotel in the Cité d'Antin and to obtain some breakfast.
Leaving the boulevard by the Rue Taitbout, I found my progress hampered by a crowd of people as I approached the bottom of the Boulevard Haussmann. By a strenuous pushing and shoving I got to the front of this throng, to witness a curious spectacle. There was a crowd behind me. Opposite to me, on the further side of the Boulevard Haussmann, another crowd faced me. Between the two crowds was the broad boulevard, actually alive with the rifle-bullets sped by the Versaillists from their position about 1000 yards higher up. On the iron shutters of the shops closing it at the bottom-shops in the Rue Taitbout — the bullets were pattering like hailstones, some dropping back flattened, others penetrating. This obstacle of rifle-fire it was which had massed the crowds on each side. Nor were the wayfarers thus given pause without reason, for in the space dividing the one crowd from the other lay not a few dead and wounded who had dared and suffered. My hunger overcame my prudence, and I ran across without damage except to a coat-tail, through which a bullet had passed, making a hole in my tobacco-pouch. A lad who followed me was not so fortunate; he got across indeed, but with a bullet-wound in the thigh.
were time-fuse shells; and I could see many of them explode in white puffs high in air. Several fell on and about the Bourse as I was passing it, and the boulevards and their vicinity were silent and deserted save for small detachments of national guards hurrying backward and forward. It was difficult to tell whether the Communists meant to stand or fall back, but certainly everywhere barricades were being hastily thrown up. All these I evaded until I reached the Place du Palais-Royal. Here two barricades were being constructed, one across the throat of the Rue St. Honoré, the other across the Rue de Rivoli between the Louvre and the hotel of the same name. For the latter material was chiefly furnished by a great number of mattresses of Sommier-Tucker manufacture, which were being hurriedly pitched out of the windows of the warehouse, and by mattresses from the barracks of the Place du Carrousel. The Rue St. Honoré barricade was formed of furniture, omnibuses, and cabs, and in the construction of it I was compelled to assist. I had been placidly standing in front of the Palais-Royal when a soldier approached me, and ordered me to lend a hand. I declined, and turned to walk away, whereupon he brought his bayonet down to the charge in close proximity to my person. That was an argument which, in the circumstances, I could not resist, and I accompanied him to where a red-sashed member of the Committee of the Commune was strutting to and fro superintending the operations. To him I addressed strong remonstrances, explaining that I was a neutral, and exhibiting to him the pass I had received from the War Department the day before. He bluntly refused to recognize the pass, and offered me the alternative of being shot or going to work. I was fain to accept the latter. Even if you are forced to do a thing, it is pleasant to try to do it in a satisfactory manner; and observing that an embrasure had been neglected in the construction of the barricade, notwithstanding that there was a gun in its rear, I devoted my energies to remedying this defect. The committeeman was good enough to express such approbation of this amendment that when the embrasure was completed he allowed me to go away. Looking up the Rue Rivoli, I noticed that the Communists had erected a great battery across its junction with the Place de la Concorde, armed with cannon which were in action, firing apparently up the Champs Elysées. Leaving the vicinity of the Palais-Royal, I went in the direction of the new opera-house. Reaching the boulevard, I discovered that the Versaillists must have gained the Madeleine, between which and their position at the Pépinière Barracks no obstacle intervened; for they had thrown
Having ordered breakfast at my hotel in the Cité d'Antin, a recessed space close to the foot of the Rue de Lafayette, I ran to the junction of that street with the Boulevard Haussmann just in time to witness a fierce fight for the barricade across the latter about the intersection of the Rue Tronchet. The Communists stood their ground resolutely, although falling fast under the overwhelming fire, until a battalion of Versaillist marines made a rush and carried the barricade. It was with all the old French élan that they leaped on and over the obstacle and lunged with their sword-bayonets at the few defenders who would not give ground. Those who had not waited for the end fell back toward me, dodging behind lamp-posts and in doorways, and firing wildly as they retreated. They were pursued by a brisk fusillade from the captured barricade, which was fatal to a large proportion of them. Two lads standing near me were shot down. A bullet struck the lamppost which constituted my shelter, and fell flattened on the asphalt. A woman ran out
from the corner of the Rue Chaussée d'Antin, picked up the bullet, and walked coolly back, clapping her hands with glee!
After eating and writing for a couple of hours, I determined to go to the North of France railway terminus, and attempt to get a letter to my paper sent out. One saw strange things on the way. What, for instance, was this curious fetish-like ceremony going on in the Rue Lafayette at the corner of the Rue Lafitte? There was a wagon, a mounted Spahi as black as night, and an officer with his sword drawn. A crowd stood around, and the center of the strange scene was a blazing fire of papers. Were they burning the ledgers of the adjacent bank, or the title-deeds of the surrounding property? No. The papers of a Communist battalion it was which were being thus formally destroyed, no doubt that they should not bear witness against its members. The episode was a significant indication of the beginning of the end; nor were other tokens wanting, for English passports were being anxiously sought. At the terminus the unpleasant report was current that the Prussians had shunted at St. Denis all the trains leaving Paris, and were preventing everybody from passing their lines. There was one chance. I suborned a railway employee of acute aspect to get out of Paris by walking through the railway tunnel, and should he reach St. Denis, to give my letter to a person there whom I could trust to forward it. My emissary put the missive cheerfully in
FROM A PHOTOGRAPH BY LECADRE.
his boot and departed, having promised to come to my hotel at 8 P. M., and to report his success or failure. I never saw him or heard of him any more.
On my way back from the Gare du Nord, I met with an experience which was near being tragical. Hearing firing in the direction of the Church of Notre Dame de Lorette, I left the Rue Lafayette for the Rue Chateaudun. When I reached the Place, in the center of which the church stands, I found myself inside an extraordinary triangle of barricades. There was a barricade across the end of the Rue St. Lazare, another across the end of the Rue Lorette, and a third between the church and in front of the Place, looking into the Rue Chateaudun. The peculiarity of the arrangement consisted in this, that each of these barricades could be either enfiladed or taken in reverse by fire directed against the others, so that the defenders were exposing themselves to fire from flank and rear, as well as from front. I took a protected position in the church porch, to watch the outcome of this curious state of things. But the officer in command happened to notice me, approached, and ordered me to pick up the musket of a man who had just been bowled over, and to take a hand in the defense of the position. I refused, urging that I was a foreigner and a neutral. He would by no means accept the excuse, and gave me the choice of the cheerful alternative of complying or being forthwith shot. I did not believe
him serious, and laughed at him; whereupon he called to four of his men to come and stick me up against the church wall, and then constitute themselves a firing-party. They had duly posted me, and were proceeding to carry out the program, when suddenly a rush of Versaillists came upon and over the Rue St. Lazare barricade, whereupon the defenders precipitately evacuated the triangle, the firing-party accompanying their comrades. I remained, not caring for the society I should accompany if I fled; but I presently came to regard my fastidiousness as folly. For several shots from Versaillist rifles came too near to be pleasant, and in a twinkling I was in Versaillist grips, and instantly charged with being a Communard. The people in the red breeches set about sticking me up against the church wall again, when fortunately I saw a superior officer, and appealed to him. I was bidden to hold up my hands. They were not particularly clean, but there were no gunpowder stains on the thumb and forefinger. Those stains were, it seemed, the brand marking the militant Communard, and my freedom from them just pulled me through. It was a "close call," but then a miss is as good as a mile.
Late in the afternoon the drift of the retreating Communists seemed to be in the direction of Montmartre, whence their guns were firing over the city at the Versaillist artillery, now on the Trocadéro. The Versaillists, for their
part, were also moving deliberately in the Montmartre direction, and before dusk had reached the Place de l'Europe at the back of the St. Lazare terminus. From this point on the north they held with their advanced forces a definite line down the Rue Tronchet to the Madeleine. They were maintaining their fire along the Boulevard Haussmann, and from their battery at the Madeleine they had shattered the Communist barricade on the Boulevard des Capucines at the head of the Rue de la Paix. The Communists were undoubtedly partly demoralized, yet they were working hard everywhere at the construction of barricades.
About 8 P. M. the firing died out everywhere, and for an interval there was a dead calm. What strange people were those Parisians! It was a lovely evening, and the scene in the narrow streets off the Rue Lafayette reminded me of the aspect of the down-town residential streets of New York on a summer Sunday evening. Men and women were placidly sitting by their street doors, gossiping easily about the events and the rumors of the day. The children played around the barricades; their mothers scarcely looked up at the far-off sound of the générale, or when the distant report of the bursting of a shell came on the soft night wind. Yet on that light wind was borne the smell of blood, and corpses were littering the pavements not three hundred yards away.
HEY play whist, the beaus in their powdered wigs and velvet coats, the ladies in their brocade petticoatsand fine stomachers. The west windows are open; a fountain plashes in the garden; the flower-beds are bordered with box, and the scent of the box comes in at the open windows.
They play whist. A beau shakes back the lace frill from his hand as he deals. A red jewel gleams on his finger. The ladies' brocades rustle; they frown softly at their cards. An hour-glass stands on a table inlaid with mother
of-pearl; the sand in the hour-glass fiows silently; the pungent smell of the box comes in at the open windows.
They play whist. A lady leads from her long suit; a beau takes the trick with a king. His black eyes flash under his white wig like eternal youth.
The fountain plashes in the garden; the pungent smell of the box comes in at the open windows; the sand in the hour-glass flows as silently as the lives of the players.
They play whist. A beau leads an ace; his partner trumps. A trick is lost, but he looks at her, and smiles. A trick is lost- but love is immortal.
Mary E. Wilkins.