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While he spoke, he looked inquiringly from the arbour in which they conversed, and his eyes seemed to rest on a man with a wooden leg, wearing a cocked hat, with a sword by his side, who was slowly ascending the lower slopes of the garden.
“Who is this man?” Philip inquired: “ he looks at us as if we were known to him. He seems to make signs to us.”
“He does,” replied Monsieur Le Blanc. “You have met some of your school-fellows in Boulogne, and I have most unexpectedly stumbled on one of mine. Louis Fitz-James, who has fixed your attention, is an old soldier, a sergeant; and, as you dream of nothing but war and victory, I have asked him to attend and recount, for your entertainment, some of the scenes in which he has acted a part.”
By this time the sergeant had joined them.
“I ought,” said Monsieur Le Blanc, “ to have come down to you, instead of allowing you to climb up to me.”.
“ A soldier must not complain of a fatiguing march,” was the veteran's answer; “but I should not be sorry if I had another leg to perform it with.”
Invited by Monsieur Le Blanc, he took his seat between the father and son. Friendly greetings were exchanged, and Fitz-James wanted little pressing to enter on that narrative which the senior Le Blanc wished his son to hear. With brief preface, the veteran commenced his story.
“ My father was a respectable tradesman at Abbeville ; and when I was a boy, he brought me to see the camp at Boulogne. The great Napoleon was then about to invade England; and I only lamented that I was too young to enter the ranks with those who expected shortly to be quartered at Dover. In a few years, however, I became tall enough to make one of a regiment of grenadiers; and it was in vain that my parent laboured to turn my thoughts to business. I sighed for fame : in comparison with the pursuit of that, a tranquil home had no charms for me.
“My regiment went to Spain. That was a proud day on which we started for the Peninsula. Several companies were forwarded by the diligences; and never shall I forget how joyously we passed along, pleased with our situation at the moment, and anticipating that we should soon feast our eyes on scenes of higher interest beyond the Pyrenees. I shared in several of the victories which threw new lustre on the French name. I will not go over the details of these, which are similar to many others of which you have read, but will offer some account of the far-famed siege of Badajos, where, though the result disappointed our just hopes, the daring and heroism of the French commanded universal admiration.
“ Ciudad Rodrigo having fallen, the English general, Wellington, declared that Badajos should share the same fate. Now, our commander, Philippon, was determined to foil him. The English speedily commenced their work, and, to own the truth, with great spirit. We kept up a constant fire upon them in their trenches; and the weather so far favoured us, that, owing to the continual heavy rains, the besiegers were obliged to labour day and night, up to their knees in water. We made several sallies, and killed a good many, but still the works advanced. Batteries were established; and at length a practicable breach was made—that is, a portion of the wall was beaten down by the enemy's shot—and