THE THIRD DAY—THE MASSACRE : CHAPTER I.
THOSE WHO SLEEP AND HE WHO DOES NOT SLEEP
During this night of the 3d and 4th
of December, while we who were overcome with fatigue
and betrothed to calamity slept an honest slumber,
not an eye was closed at the Elysee. An infamous
sleeplessness reigned there. Towards two o’clock
in the morning the Comte Roguet, after Morny the most
intimate of the confidants of the Elysee, an ex-peer
of France and a lieutenant-general, came out of Louis
Bonaparte’s private room; Roguet was accompanied
by Saint-Arnaud. Saint-Arnaud, it may be remembered,
was at that time Minister of War.
Two colonels were waiting in the little ante-room.
Saint-Arnaud was a general who had
been a supernumerary at the Ambigu Theatre.
He had made his first appearance as a comedian in the
suburbs. A tragedian later on. He may be
described as follows: tall, bony, thin,
angular, with gray moustaches, lank air, a mean countenance.
He was a cut-throat, and badly educated. Morny
laughed at him for his pronunciation of the “Sovereign
People.” “He pronounces the word no
better than he understands the thing,” said
he. The Elysee, which prides itself upon its
refinement, only half-accepted Saint-Arnaud. His
bloody side had caused his vulgar side to be condoned.
Saint-Arnaud was brave, violent, and yet timid; he
had the audacity of a gold-laced veteran and the awkwardness
of a man who had formerly been “down upon his
luck.” We saw him one day in the tribune,
pale, stammering, but daring. He had a long bony
face, and a distrust-inspiring jaw. His theatrical
name was Florivan. He was a strolling player
transformed into a trooper. He died Marshal of
France. An ill-omened figure.
The two colonels who awaited Saint-Arnaud
in the anteroom were two business-like men, both leaders
of those decisive regiments which at critical times
carry the other regiments with them, according to their
instructions, into glory, as at Austerlitz, or into
crime, as on the Eighteenth Brumaire. These
two officers belonged to what Morny called “the
cream of indebted and free-living colonels.”
We will not mention their names here; one is dead,
the other is still living; he will recognize himself.
Besides, we have caught a glimpse of them in the first
pages of this book.
One, a man of thirty-eight, was cunning,
dauntless, ungrateful, three qualifications for success.
The Duc d’Aumale had saved his life in the
Aures. He was then a young captain. A ball
had pierced his body; he fell into a thicket; the
Kabyles rushed up to cut off and carry away his
head, when the Duc d’Aumale arriving with
two officers, a soldier, and a bugler, charged the
Kabyles and saved this captain. Having saved
him, he loved him. One was grateful, the other
was not. The one who was grateful was the deliverer.
The Duc d’Aumale was pleased with this young
captain for having given him an opportunity for a
deed of gallantry. He made him a major; in 1849
this major became lieutenant-colonel, and commanded
a storming column at the siege of Rome; he then came
back to Africa, where Fleury bought him over at the
same time as Saint-Arnaud. Louis Bonaparte made
him colonel in July, 1851, and reckoned upon him.
In November this colonel of Louis Bonaparte wrote
to the Duc d’Aumale, “Nothing need
be apprehended from this miserable adventurer.”
In December he commanded one of the massacring regiments.
Later on, in the Dobrudscha, an ill-used horse turned
upon him and bit off his cheek, so that there was
only room on his face for one slap.
The other man was growing gray, and
was about forty-eight. He also was a man of pleasure
and of murder. Despicable as a citizen; brave
as a soldier. He was one of the first who had
sprung into the breach at Constantine. Plenty
of bravery and plenty of baseness. No chivalry
but that of the green cloth. Louis Bonaparte
had made him colonel in 1851. His debts had been
twice paid by two Princes; the first time by the Duc
d’Orléans, the second time by the Duc de
Such were these colonels.
Saint-Arnaud spoke to them for some time in a low