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The Blockade of Phalsburg An Episode of the End of the Empire   By:

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[Frontispiece: ALL WERE DEAD, AS IT WERE ONE LONG CEMETERY.]

HISTORICAL ROMANCES OF FRANCE

THE BLOCKADE OF PHALSBURG

AN EPISODE OF THE END OF THE EMPIRE

TRANSLATED FROM THE FRENCH OF

ERCKMANN CHATRIAN

ILLUSTRATED

CHARLES SCRIBNER'S SONS

NEW YORK::::::::::::::::::::::1911

COPYRIGHT, 1871, BY CHARLES SCRIBNER & CO.

COPYRIGHT, 1889, 1898 CHARLES SCRIBNER'S SONS

ILLUSTRATIONS

All were dead, as it were one long cemetery . . . . . Frontispiece

" Be so good as to come in, Mr. Sergeant "

I shuddered in my very soul and my hair bristled

Winter took him by the collar, and said: " I have you now! "

The sortie from the Tile kiln

INTRODUCTORY NOTE

"The Blockade of Phalsburg" contains one of the happiest portraits in the Erckmann Chatrian gallery that of the Jew Moses who tells the story and who is always in character, however great the patriotic or romantic temptation to idealize him, and whose character is nevertheless portrayed with an almost affectionate appreciation of the sterling qualities underlying its somewhat usurious exterior.

The time is 1814, during the invasion of France by the allies after the disastrous battle of Leipsic and the campaign described in "The Conscript." The dwellers in Phalsburg a little walled town of two or three thousand inhabitants in Lorraine defend themselves with great intrepidity and determination during the siege which lasts until the capitulation of Paris. The daily life of the citizens and garrison, the various incidents of the blockade, the bombardment by night, the scarcity of food, the occasional sortie for foraging, all pass before the reader depicted with the authors' customary fidelity and life likeness, and form as perfect a picture of a siege as "The Conscript" does of a campaign.

THE BLOCKADE:

AN EPISODE OF

THE END OF THE EMPIRE

I

FATHER MOSES AND HIS FAMILY

Since you wish to know about the blockade of Phalsburg in 1814, I will tell you all about it, said Father Moses of the Jews' street.

I lived then in the little house on the corner, at the right of the market. My business was selling iron by the pound, under the arch below, and I lived above with my wife Sorlé (Sarah) and my little Sâfel, the child of my old age.

My two other boys, Itzig and Frômel, had gone to America, and my daughter Zeffen was married to Baruch, the leather dealer, at Saverne.

Besides my iron business, I traded in old shoes, old linen, and all the articles of old clothing which conscripts sell on reaching the depot, where they receive their military outfit. Travelling pedlers bought the old linen of me for paper rags, and the other things I sold to the country people.

This was a profitable business, because thousands of conscripts passed through Phalsburg from week to week, and from month to month. They were measured at once at the mayoralty, clothed, and filed off to Mayence, Strasburg, or wherever it might be.

This lasted a long time; but at length people were tired of war, especially after the Russian campaign and the great recruiting of 1813.

You may well suppose, Fritz, that I did not wait till this time before sending my two boys beyond the reach of the recruiting officers' clutches. They were boys who did not lack sense. At twelve years old their heads were clear enough, and rather than go and fight for the King of Prussia, they would see themselves safe at the ends of the earth.

At evening, when we sat at supper around the lamp with its seven burners, their mother would sometimes cover her face and say:

"My poor children! My poor children! When I think that the time is near when you will go in the midst of musket and bayonet fire in the midst of thunder and lightning! oh, how dreadful!"

And I saw them turn pale. I smiled at myself and thought: "You are no fools. You will hold on to your life... Continue reading book >>




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