Click here to Download Adieu PDF Book by Honoré de Balzac English having PDF Size 1 MB and No of Pages 29.
“Come, deputy of the Centre, forward! Quick step! march! if we want to be in time to dine with the others. Jump, marquis! there, that’s right! why, you can skip across a stubble-field like a deer!” These words were said by a huntsman peacefully seated at the edge of the forest of Ile-Adam, who was finishing an Havana cigar while waiting for his companion, who had lost his way in the tangled underbrush of the wood.
Adieu PDF Book by Honoré de Balzac
|Name of Book||Adieu|
|Author||Honoré de Balzac|
|PDF Size||1 MB|
|No of Pages||29|
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At his side four panting dogs were watching, as he did, the personage he addressed. To understand how sarcastic were these exhortations, repeated at intervals, we should state that the approaching huntsman was a stout little man whose protuberant stomach was the evidence of a truly ministerial “embonpoint.”
He was struggling painfully across the furrows of a vast wheat-field recently harvested, the stubble of which considerably impeded him; while to add to his other miseries the sun’s rays, striking obliquely on his face, collected an abundance of drops of perspiration. Absorbed in the effort to maintain his equilibrium, he leaned, now forward, now back, in close imitation of the pitching of a carriage when violently jolted.
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The weather looked threatening. Though several spaces of blue sky still parted the thick black clouds toward the horizon, a flock of fleecy vapors were advancing with great rapidity and drawing a light gray curtain from east to west. As the wind was acting only on the upper region of the air, the atmosphere below it pressed down the hot vapors of the earth.
Surrounded by masses of tall trees, the valley through which the hunter struggled felt like a furnace. Parched and silent, the forest seemed thirsty. The birds, even the insects, were voiceless; the tree-tops scarcely waved. Those persons who may still remember the summer of 1819 can imagine the woes of the poor deputy, who was struggling along, drenched in sweat, to regain his mocking friend.
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The latter, while smoking his cigar, had calculated from the position of the sun that it must be about five in the afternoon. “Where the devil are we?” said the stout huntsman, mopping his forehead and leaning against the trunk of a tree nearly opposite to his companion, for he felt unequal to the effort of leaping the ditch between them.
“That’s for me to ask you,” said the other, laughing, as he lay among the tall brown brake which crowned the bank. Then, throwing the end of his cigar into the ditch, he cried out vehemently: “I swear by Saint Hubert that never again will I trust myself in unknown territory with a statesman, though he be, like you, my dear d’Albon, a college mate.”
“But, Philippe, have you forgotten your French? Or have you left your wits in Siberia?” replied the stout man, casting a sorrowfully comic look at a sign-post about a hundred feet away. “True, true,” cried Philippe, seizing his gun and springing with a bound into the field and thence to the post. Adieu PDF Book
“This way, d’Albon, this way,” he called back to his friend, pointing to a broad paved path and reading aloud the sign: “‘From Baillet to Ile-Adam.’ We shall certainly find the path to Cassan, which must branch from this one between here and Ile-Adam.” “You are right, colonel,” said Monsieur d’Albon, replacing upon his head the cap with which he had been fanning himself.
“Forward then, my respectable privy councillor,” replied Colonel Philippe, whistling to the dogs, who seemed more willing to obey him than the public functionary to whom they belonged. “Are you aware, marquis,” said the jeering soldier, “that we still have six miles to go? That village over there must be Baillet.” “Good heavens!” cried the marquis, “go to Cassan if you must, but you’ll go alone.
I prefer to stay here, in spite of the coming storm, and wait for the horse you can send me from the chateau. You’ve played me a trick, Sucy. We were to have had a nice little hunt not far from Cassan, and beaten the coverts I know. Instead of that, you have kept me running like a hare since four o’clock this morning, and all I’ve had for breakfast is a cup of milk. Adieu PDF Book
Now, if you ever have a petition before the Court, I’ll make you lose it, however just your claim.” The poor discouraged huntsman sat down on a stone that supported the signpost, relieved himself of his gun and his gamebag, and heaved a long sigh. “France! such are thy deputies!” exclaimed Colonel de Sucy, laughing.
“Ah! my poor d’Albon, if you had been like me six years in the wilds of Siberia—” He said no more, but he raised his eyes to heaven as if that anguish were between himself and God. “Come, march on!” he added. “If you sit still you are lost.” “How can I, Philippe? It is an old magisterial habit to sit still. On my honor! I’m tired out—If I had only killed a hare!”
The two men presented a rather rare contrast: the public functionary was forty-two years of age and seemed no more than thirty, whereas the soldier was thirty, and seemed forty at the least. Both wore the red rosette of the officers of the Legion of honor. A few spare locks of black hair mixed with white, like the wing of a magpie. Adieu PDF Book
Escaped from the colonel’s cap, while handsome brown curls adorned the brow of the statesman. One was tall, gallant, high-strung, and the lines of his pallid face showed terrible passions or frightful griefs. The other had a face that was brilliant with health, and jovially worth of an epicurean.
Both were deeply sun-burned, and their high gaiters of tanned leather showed signs of the bogs and the thickets they had just come through. “Come,” said Monsieur de Sucy, “let us get on. A short hour’s march, and we shall reach Cassan in time for a good dinner. At last there came a moment when a number, pursued by the Russians, found only snow on which to bivouac, and these lay down to rise no more.
Insensibly this mass of almost annihilated beings became so compact, so deaf, so torpid, so happy perhaps, that Marechal Victor, who had been their heroic defender by holding twenty thousand Russians under Wittgenstein at bay, was forced to open a passage by main force through this forest of men in order to cross the Beresina with five thousand gallant fellows whom he was taking to the emperor. Adieu PDF Book
The unfortunate malingerers allowed themselves to be crushed rather than stir; they perished in silence, smiling at their extinguished fires, without a thought of France. It was not until ten o’clock that night that Marechal Victor reached the bank of the river. Before crossing the bridge which led to Zembin.
He confided the fate of his own rear-guard now left in Studzianka to Eble, the savior of all those who survived the calamities of the Beresina. It was towards midnight when this great general, followed by one brave officer, left the cabin he occupied near the bridge, and studied the spectacle of that improvised camp placed between the bank of the river and Studzianka.
The Russian cannon had ceased to thunder. Innumerable fires, which, amid that trackless waste of snow, burned pale and scarcely sent out any gleams, illumined here and there by sudden flashes forms and faces that were barely human. Thirty thousand poor wretches, belonging to all nations, from whom Napoleon had recruited his Russian army, were trifling away their lives with brutish indifference. Adieu PDF Book
“Let us save them!” said General Eble to the officer who accompanied him. “To-morrow morning the Russians will be masters of Studzianka. We must burn the bridge the moment they appear. Therefore, my friend, take your courage in your hand! Go to the heights. Tell General Fournier he has barely time to evacuate his position, force a way through this crowd, and cross the bridge.
When you have seen him in motion follow him. Find men you can trust, and the moment Fournier had crossed the bridge, burn, without pity, huts, equipages, caissons, carriages,—EVERYTHING! Drive that mass of men to the bridge. Compel all that has two legs to get to the other side of the river.
The burning of everything— EVERYTHING—is now our last resource. If Berthier had let me destroy those damned camp equipages, this river would swallow only my poor pontoniers, those fifty heroes who will save the army, but who themselves will be forgotten.” The general laid his hand on his forehead and was silent. Adieu PDF Book Download
He felt that Poland would be his grave, and that no voice would rise to do justice to those noble men who stood in the water, the icy water of Beresina, to destroy the buttresses of the bridges. One alone of those heroes still lives—or, to speak more correctly, suffers—in a village, totally ignored.
Suddenly, he was seized by a last despairing thought. “To you,” he said, grasping the sound arm of his orderly, “I confide her for one hour. Remember that you must die sooner than let any one approach her.” The major then snatched up the countess’s diamonds, held them in one hand, drew his sabre with the other, and began to strike with the flat of its blade such of the sleepers as he thought the most intrepid.
He succeeded in awaking the colossal grenadier, and two other men whose rank it was impossible to tell. “We are done for!” he said. “I know it,” said the grenadier, “but I don’t care.” “Well, death for death, wouldn’t you rather sell your life for a pretty woman, and take your chances of seeing France?” Adieu PDF Book Download
“I’d rather sleep,” said a man, rolling over on the snow, “and if you trouble me again, I’ll stick my bayonet into your stomach.” “What is the business, my colonel?” said the grenadier. “That man is drunk; he’s a Parisian; he likes his ease.” “That is yours, my brave grenadier,” cried the major, offering him a string of diamonds, “if you will follow me and fight like a madman.
The Russians are ten minutes’ march from here; they have horses; we are going up to their first battery for a pair.” “But the sentinels?” “One of us three—” he interrupted himself, and turned to the aide-de-camp. “You will come, Hippolyte, won’t you?” Hippolyte nodded. “One of us,” continued the major, “will take care of the sentinel. Besides, perhaps they are asleep too, those cursed Russians.”
“Forward! major, you’re a brave one! But you’ll give me a lift on your carriage?” said the grenadier. “Yes, if you don’t leave your skin up there—If I fall, Hippolyte, and you, grenadier, promise me to do your utmost to save the countess.” “Agreed!” cried the grenadier. They started for the Russian lines, toward one of the batteries which had so decimated the hapless wretches lying on the banks of the river. Adieu PDF Book Download
A few moments later, the gallop of two horses echoed over the snow, and the wakened artillery men poured out a volley which ranged above the heads of the sleeping men. The pace of the horses was so fleet that their steps resounded like the blows of a blacksmith on his anvil. The generous aide-de-camp was killed. The athletic grenadier was safe and sound.
Philippe in defending Hippolyte had received a bayonet in his shoulder; but he clung to his horse’s mane, and clasped him so tightly with his knees that the animal was held as in a vice. “God be praised!” cried the major, finding his orderly untouched, and the carriage in its place. “If you are just, my officer, you will get me the cross for this,” said the man.
“We’ve played a fine game of guns and sabres here, I can tell you.” “We have done nothing yet—Harness the horses. Take these ropes.” “They are not long enough.” “Grenadier, turn over those sleepers, and take their shawls and linen, to eke out.” “Tiens! that’s one dead,” said the grenadier, stripping the first man he came to. “Bless me! what a joke, they are all dead!” “All?” Adieu PDF Book Free
“Yes, all; seems as if horse-meat must be indigestible if eaten with snow.” The words made Philippe tremble. The cold was increasing. “My God! to lose the woman I have saved a dozen times!” The major shook the countess. “Stephanie! Stephanie!” The young woman opened her eyes. “Madame! we are saved.” “Saved!” she repeated, sinking down again.
The horses were harnessed as best they could. The major, holding his sabre in his well hand, with his pistols in his belt, gathered up the reins with the other hand and mounted one horse while the grenadier mounted the other. The orderly, whose feet were frozen, was thrown inside the carriage, across the general and the countess.
Excited by pricks from a sabre, the horses drew the carriage rapidly, with a sort of fury, to the plain, where innumerable obstacles awaited it. It was impossible to force a way without danger of crushing the sleeping men, women, and even children, who refused to move when the grenadier awoke them. Adieu PDF Book Free
In vain did Monsieur de Sucy endeavor to find the swathe cut by the rearguard through the mass of human beings; it was already obliterated, like the wake of a vessel through the sea. They could only creep along, being often stopped by soldiers who threatened to kill their horses.