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قراءة كتاب Won By the Sword : a tale of the Thirty Years' War

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‏اللغة: English
Won By the Sword : a tale of the Thirty Years' War

Won By the Sword : a tale of the Thirty Years' War

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دار النشر: Project Gutenberg
الصفحة رقم: 5

shall find this in you. But you must remember, lad, that you are now no longer a civilian, but a soldier, that you must be not only obedient but respectful to those above you in rank, that discretion as well as courage is necessary for success, that you must be thoughtful for the comfort of the soldiers, ready to expose your life in battle to encourage them, and also to set them an example of endurance, cheerfulness, and good spirits in times of hardship and distress. Remember that, to the soldier, there is no such thing as party; he fights for France and for France only, and should hold himself aloof from even the smallest expression of opinion on political matters. Then, at two o'clock."

Hector bowed deeply and left the room. When he returned to the hotel at two o'clock, six grooms were standing with the horses before the entrance; he waited outside until the viscount, followed by four officers, came out.

"Oh, here you are, lieutenant!" he said, as his eye fell on Hector; "I was afraid that punctuality was not among your virtues. Gentlemen, this is Lieutenant Hector Campbell, son of a brave officer of the Scottish regiment who fell at La Rochelle; he is, for the present, attached to my household, and will ride with us for Italy the day after tomorrow. Campbell, this gentleman is Colonel d'Estampes, who is the head of my staff; this Major Mutton, who will have the control of all matters connected with the artillery; these are Messieurs de Lisle and Emile de Chavigny, who are my aides-de-camp. Now, gentlemen, let us mount."

As the Scottish regiment was a mounted one, Hector had had ample opportunities to learn to ride well, and he now fell in with the two aides-de-camp, who were both young men of eighteen or nineteen years of age, members of good families, and together they followed the Viscount Turenne, who rode on ahead with the two staff officers. While they were making their way through the narrow streets of Paris they rode but slowly, but as soon as they passed through the gates they went on at a brisk pace.

"You are fortunate," de Lisle said, "in having obtained a commission so young, although I do not say that there are not many of similar age in the army."

"I am fortunate indeed," Hector replied, "fortunate beyond anything that I could have believed possible, thanks to the goodness of Viscount Turenne."

"You could not enter the army under better patronage," de Chavigny said. "We have both served under him for two years on the Rhine, and had we been his brothers he could not have been more kind; but the work, ma foi, was tremendous. The soldiers may well say that the general is sleepless. Happily he does not expect us to go altogether without rest. Frequently he is away all night by himself in the saddle, sometimes he takes one or other of us with him, but at any rate we get a night's sleep by turns. Much as he has to worry him—what with the ignorance of some and the carelessness of others—I have never seen him out of temper; but then a reproof, however mildly spoken, by him, is more dreaded than a volley of abuse from any other general. He was telling us before he came out that you are already well up in drill, and in the use of arms."

"Yes; I have been brought up, I may say, in the Scottish regiment, and after my father's death the officers and men were all very kind to me, and I learnt my drill both as a soldier and an officer, to fence, use my pistols, and ride. The officers lent me books on military history and tactics."

"The viscount said you were wonderfully well read in such matters," de Lisle said. "I own that beyond the campaigns that I have taken part in I have a very vague idea of such things. My time before I joined was taken up with learning the use of arms, equitation, and certain dry studies under an abbe. I wish now that instead of Latin I had learned something of military history; it seems to me that when one is intended for the army it is a good deal more important than Latin or theology."

"I fancy, de Lisle," his companion said laughing, "that from what I know of you your objection was not so much to the course of study as to study altogether. I know that that was my case."

"Well, perhaps so; still, I might as well have been whipped into learning something useful, instead of something that, so far as I can see, will never be of any value whatever. Were you born over here, lieutenant?"

"No, I was born in Scotland; but my father, who was a younger son, saw no chance of making his way by his sword at home. It was certain that James would never go to war, and as there was no regular army, there seemed no opening for a penniless cadet in England or Scotland, so he came over here and obtained a commission, and as soon as he did so sent for my mother and myself. She died two years later; he kept me with him. When he went on service I was left in the charge of a Huguenot family, and it was well that it was so, for otherwise I might have grown up unable to read or write. The last time that I saw him was before he rode to La Rochelle. After his death I was adopted by the regiment, for the good people I was with left Paris to join their friends in the south. Had it been otherwise I should have stayed with them. The good man would probably have brought me up to be, like himself, a minister, and I am afraid I should have made a very poor one."

The two young men laughed. "Just at present," de Lisle said, "the two religions get on quietly together. The cardinal, churchman as he is, knows that if France is to be great religious enmities must cease, and that the wars of the last reign cost tens of thousands of lives, and drove great numbers of men to take refuge in Holland or England, to the benefit of those countries and our loss. Still, his successor, whoever he may be, may think more of party and less of France, and in that case you might have found your vocation of a Huguenot minister as full of danger as that of a soldier."

"It would have been much worse," Hector said, "for it would not have been a question of fighting, but of being massacred. I know nothing of either religious disputes or of politics. In the regiment these things were never talked about, either among the men or the officers; all were for the king. But at the same time, as it seemed to them that it was the cardinal who had stopped the persecution of the Huguenots, and who had now gone to war with the Austrians to prevent the Protestant princes of Germany being altogether subjugated by the Imperialists, they felt grateful to him; for of course Scotchmen are all on the side of the princes, and nigh half the army of Gustavus Adolphus was composed of my countrymen."

"I do not suppose," Chavigny laughed, "that the cardinal would have cared very much for the destruction of all the Protestant princes of Germany, had it not been that their ruin would make Austria more formidable than ever. As long as Gustavus lived and the Swedes were able to hold their own against the Imperialists, France troubled herself in no way in the matter; but when the Swedes were finally routed at Nordlingen, and it seemed that the Imperialists would triumph everywhere—for most of the Protestant princes were leaving the Confederacy and trying to make the best terms they could for themselves—Richelieu stepped in; and now we see France, which for the past hundred years has been trying to stamp out Protestantism, uniting with Protestant Holland and Sweden to uphold the Protestant princes of Germany, and this under the direction of a cardinal of the Church of Rome. And here are we riding behind a Huguenot general, who perhaps more than any other possesses the cardinal's confidence."

"It seems strange," de Lisle said, "but it is assuredly good policy. While fighting Austria we are fighting Spain, for Austria and Spain are but two branches of one empire. Spain is our eternal enemy. True, she is not as formidable as she was. Henry of Navarre's triumph over the Guises half emancipated us from her influence. The English destroyed her naval power. Holland well nigh exhausted her