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The Man With The Broken Ear by Edmond About

Replied Fougas in a most supercilious tone


"With

a thousand machines like this, two thousand rifled cannon, and two hundred thousand such chaps as I am, Napoleon would have conquered the world in six weeks. Why doesn't this young fellow on the throne make some use of the resources he has under his control? Perhaps he hasn't thought of it. Very well, I'll go to see him. If he looks like a man of capacity, I'll give him my idea; he'll make me minister of war, and then--Forward, march!"

He had explained to him the use of the great iron wires running on poles all along the road.

"The very thing!" said he. "Here are aides-de-camp both fleet and judicious. Get them all into the hands of a chief-of-staff like Berthier, and the universe would be held in a thread by the mere will of a man!"

His meditations were interrupted, a couple of miles from Melun, by the sounds of a foreign language. He pricked up his ears, and then bounded from his corner as if he had sat on a pile of thorns. Horror! it was English! One of those monsters who had assassinated Napoleon at St. Helena for the sake of insuring to themselves the cotton monopoly, had entered the compartment with a very pretty woman and two lovely children.

"Conductor, stop!" cried Fougas, thrusting his body halfway out of the window.

"Monsieur," said the Englishman in good French, "I advise you to have patience

until we get to the next station. The conductor doesn't hear you, and you're in danger of falling out on the track. If I can be of any service to you, I have a flask of brandy with me, and a medicine chest."

"No, sir," replied Fougas in a most supercilious tone, "I'm in want of nothing, and I'd rather die than accept anything from an Englishman! If I'm calling the conductor, it's only because I want to get into a different car, and cleanse my eyes from the sight of an enemy of the Emperor."

"I assure you, monsieur," responded the Englishman, "that I am not an enemy of the Emperor. I had the honor of being received by him while he was in London. He even deigned to pass a few days at my little country-seat in Lancashire."

"So much the better for you, if this young man is good enough to forget what you have done against his family; but Fougas will never forgive your crimes against his country."

As soon as they arrived at the station at Melun, he opened the door and rushed into another saloon. There he found himself alone in the presence of two young gentlemen, whose physiognomies were far from English, and who spoke French with the purest accent of Touraine. Both had coats of arms on their seal-rings, so that no one might be ignorant of their rank as nobles. Fougas was too plebeian to fancy the nobility much; but as he had left a compartment full of Britons, he was happy to meet a couple of Frenchmen.

"Friends," said he, inclining toward them with a cordial smile, "we are children of the same mother. Long life to you! Your appearance revives me."

The two young gentlemen opened their eyes very wide, half bowed, and resumed their conversation, without making any other response to Fougas' advance.

"Well, then, my dear Astophe," said one, "you saw the king at Froshdorf?"

"Yes, my good Americ; and he received me with the most affecting condescension. 'Vicomte,' said he to me, 'you come of a house well known for its fidelity. We will remember you when God replaces us on the throne of our ancestors. Tell our brave nobility of Touraine that we hope to be remembered in their prayers, and that we never forget them in ours.'"


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