Retreat continues, with infantry in good order. Hearing the singing, one of the officers looks around, and detaching a patrol enters the ruined house with the file of men, the body of soldiers marching on. The inmates of the cellar bury themselves in the straw. ^ The officer peers about, and seeing no one prods the straw with his sword.
VOICES (under the straw)
Oh! Hell! Stop it! Well come out! Mercy! Quarter! [The lurkers are uncovered.
If you are well enough to sing bawdy songs, you are well enough to marcH. So out of it—or you'll be shot, here and now!
You may shoot us, captain, or the French may shoot us, or the devil may take us; we don't care which! Only we can't stir. Pity the women, captain, but do what you will with us!
The searchers pass over the wounded, and stir out those capable of marching, both men and women, so far as they discover them. They are pricked on by the patrol Exeunt patrol and deserters in its charge,
Those who remain look stolidly at the highway. The English Rear-guard of cavalry crosses the scene and passes out. An interval. It grow* dusk.
SPIRIT IRONIC Quaint poesy, and real romance of war /
SPIRIT OF THE PITIES
Mock &n, Shade, iftkou wilt! But others find Pot$y ever lurk where pit-pats poor mankind !
The scene is cloaked in darkness.