THE DYNASTS ACT m
It is nearly midnight The fugitives who remain in the cellar having slept off the effects of the wine, are awakened by a new tramping of cavalry, which becomes more and more persistent. It is the French, who now fill the road. The advance-guard paving passed by, DELABORDE'S division, LORGE'S division, MERLE'S division, and others, successively cross the gloom.
Presently come the outlines of the Imperial Guard, and then, with a start, those in hiding realize their situation, and are wide awake. NAPOLEON enters with his staff. He has just been overtaken by a courier, and orders those round him to halt.
Let there a fire be lit: ay, here and now. The lines within these letters brook no pause In mastering their purport.
Some of the French approach the ruined house and, appropriating what wood is still left there, heap it by the roadside and set it alight A mixed rain and snow falls, and the sputtering flames throw a glare all round.
SECOND DESERTER (under his voice)
We be shot corpses! Ay, faith, we be! Why didn't I stick to England, and true doxology, and leave foreign doxies and their wine alone! . . . Mate, can ye squeeze another shardful from the cask there, for I feel my time is come! . . . O that I had but the barrel of that firelock I throwed away, and that wasted powder to prime and load! This bullet I chaw to squench my hunger would do the rest! . . . Yes, I could pick him off now!