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31st May, Fleeing the French

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31st May, Fleeing the French

Post  sans nom on Mon Sep 20, 2010 2:56 pm

It was a chaotic scene in the baggage and wagons of the 15th hussars as everyone rushed to retreat. After days of pursuing the French, they were now turning to flee from them. Young Marie-Eve Bellot with her baby in arms was moving from one man to another, trying to find out what was happening. She sighted the veterinary surgeon and rushed to him. He surely would be able to explain it.

"Monsieur! Monsieur vétérinaire!" she cried, grabbing his arm as he hurried past.

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Re: 31st May, Fleeing the French

Post  Matthew Broderick on Mon Sep 20, 2010 2:57 pm

It hadn't taken long for Matthew to put his wagon in order; it was in order most of the time regardless, and once he'd sworn at Goad when the fellow bumbled in hitching up the horses, things had gone more smoothly. They were nearly ready to go. Around him, the baggage of the camp was roiling, but he was pleased that his own wagon presented an isolated patch of organization.

A hand on his arm stopped him as he was about to put away the iron cook-pot from breakfast, and he turned to look. It was the young Frenchwoman they had come by a few days ago. "Madame Bellot?" he inquired. Unfortunately, Matthew still didn't speak a word of French. It was clear enough without words that she was alarmed, however. "Easy now; nothing's the matter," he said, the same way he'd have talked to a restive horse. She wouldn't understand him either, but the tone was probably more important.
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Re: 31st May, Fleeing the French

Post  sans nom on Mon Sep 20, 2010 3:01 pm

She babbled a question at him, a long stream of gibberish that he could not understand of course, but she finished by pointing back in the direction they had been heading before they had stopped to turn around. "Les Français?" she asked anxiously.

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Re: 31st May, Fleeing the French

Post  Matthew Broderick on Mon Sep 20, 2010 3:10 pm

He didn't have the least idea what she'd just said to him. But the question she asked as she pointed in the way that, at least as far as Matthew understood, the French army lay, was clear enough. He nodded. "Yes, the French."
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Re: 31st May, Fleeing the French

Post  sans nom on Mon Sep 20, 2010 3:17 pm

So they were coming back, as she had known they would. They would not run from the English for long. Now the tables were reversed and the English were running from them. If she stayed here, the French army would soon catch her up, and she would be among her own people again. Nothing so simple. She could sit on that rock and watch everyone go by, then join in with her friends in the baggage.

The horseleech had been kind, both to her and her baby. She stood up on her tiptoes and kissed the man on his cheek. "Au revoir, monsieur. Merci. Sank you."

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Re: 31st May, Fleeing the French

Post  Matthew Broderick on Mon Sep 20, 2010 3:33 pm

Startled, Matthew blinked down at the woman, who had apparently just kissed him on the cheek. That was a French sort of thing to do, wasn't it? He did not think it quite right for him to respond in kind, however, so he touched his hat instead, "Madame."

Au revoir? Where was she planning to go? Did she intend to go back and try to find the French lines? He was not entirely certain what her status was, but he remembered that Gaines had said she wasn't to go far. That might be simply because of the Portuguese irregulars, but also she had seen a fair bit of the camp. "Here, now," he said, kindly enough, "you can't go running off like that." Where he was going to put her if he didn't allow her to go where she pleased was a problem he didn't have a solution to at the moment.

He had to make his meaning clear to her, however. Matthew shook his head at her, pointing back in the direction of the French. "Non. You can't."
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Re: 31st May, Fleeing the French

Post  sans nom on Mon Sep 20, 2010 3:41 pm

"Les Français. French," she repeated, pointing her arm in that direction again. "Je les resterai et attendrai. Je reste. Je reste ici," she explained as simply as she could, pointing at herself and at the ground for emphasis. She sat on her rock and repeated, "Je reste ici. Pour les Français, French."

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Re: 31st May, Fleeing the French

Post  Matthew Broderick on Mon Sep 20, 2010 3:45 pm

He had no idea what she was saying, but the gist of it was clear; she apparently meant to wait until the French caught up to her. The finality in the way she sat down on the rock seemed to suggest she meant to sit right there. "And what about the Portuguese?" he inquired. "No, madam, it's not possible. Come. You can't stay there." He reached out one hand to draw her up to her feet, and wished that young Willoughby was there to translate. A helpful young trooper, that one.
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Re: 31st May, Fleeing the French

Post  sans nom on Mon Sep 20, 2010 3:50 pm

She understood his meaning, and understood the word "Portuguese," a look of anxiety flitting over her face. But still she protested. Surely the French would be along soon enough? The Portuguese would not dare show themselves in the face of the whole army swarming down upon the English.

"Non!" she snapped as he tried to pull her away. "Je - reste - ici!"

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Re: 31st May, Fleeing the French

Post  Matthew Broderick on Mon Sep 20, 2010 3:55 pm

Matthew was in a fix. He didn't feel that it was right to drag a lady about like a brute, but they were going to be moving along any minute now - Goad had taken the iron kettle and put it away for him, and just about everything else was loaded. And he couldn't leave her here. "Madame Bellot, s'il vous plait," and he knew nothing further to say that would convey his meaning. "It is impossible. You must come with me."

It was clear that that was all he could do; he couldn't very well send her off to someone else. There was nobody conveniently nearby to put in charge of her. "Please, don't make this difficult." It was already difficult.
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Re: 31st May, Fleeing the French

Post  sans nom on Mon Sep 20, 2010 4:02 pm

Please was a word that she had learned, just as he had learned it in French. "Please, Monsieur Broderique," she begged, looking sadly up at him from her rock.

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Re: 31st May, Fleeing the French

Post  Matthew Broderick on Mon Sep 20, 2010 4:13 pm

She looked up at him, and Matthew could not help feeling like a blackguard for insisting, but he shook his head, resolved. "You must come with me, Madame." He pointed at the wagon. "Please understand."
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Re: 31st May, Fleeing the French

Post  sans nom on Mon Sep 20, 2010 4:18 pm

Someone was calling to them from the wagons. She glanced at them and it seemed they were preparing to depart. She shook her head again, looking up at him sadly. "Je reste ici. Au revoir et merci, Monsieur Broderique."

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Re: 31st May, Fleeing the French

Post  Matthew Broderick on Mon Sep 20, 2010 4:24 pm

She was still looking at him with eyes that forcibly reminded him of Lavinia's, in the attitude she would adopt at times when she wanted something. He wasn't certain if she was as conscious of the effect as the spaniel was. But he was still determined. "I am certain there will be a prisoner exchange soon, and then you will be returned," he said. Not that it would help. She wouldn't understand one word in ten. But perhaps the tone would help to be a little less upset.

He took her by her arm, the one which was not supporting the infant, and drew upwards on it. "I'm sorry," he said. "Je suis desolé."
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Re: 31st May, Fleeing the French

Post  sans nom on Mon Sep 20, 2010 4:29 pm

"No, please!" she cried, "Please, please, please!" But she knew it was pointless to argue or resist. She was effectively a prisoner and could not excercise her own will in this matter. She hung her head to hide the fact that she was fighting back tears as she allowed him to lead her to the wagon.

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Re: 31st May, Fleeing the French

Post  Matthew Broderick on Mon Sep 20, 2010 4:40 pm

At least she let him draw her after him; he steered her as kindly as he could, but he still felt like a brute for doing it. Particularly when he realized that she was crying over it. He handed her up to sit next to Goad on the cart, the orderly clearly extremely uncomfortable about the arrangement. "Je suis desolé," he said again, rather helplessly.

Matthew would ride Aristotle, a rangy chestnut gelding, next to them, while the cart went trundling along after the army.

Lavinia sat up from her perch on one of the boxes, behind Marie-Eve, and decided to do her part; she pressed a wet nose into the woman's ear from behind, and then licked it.
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Re: 31st May, Fleeing the French

Post  sans nom on Tue Sep 21, 2010 6:20 am

She absently pushed the dog's muzzle away and looked back, as if she were expecting a glimpse of her countrymen following them. But all she could see was more of the baggage train and supply wagons, much the same as always apart from the added haste.

But the veterinarian did not intend to keep her forever. He had said something that sounded hopeful, if she had understood his words correctly. After riding in silence for some time, she called to him on his horse nearby. "Monsieur Broderique. Vous avez dit l'échange des prisonniers?"

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Re: 31st May, Fleeing the French

Post  Matthew Broderick on Tue Sep 21, 2010 2:38 pm

Matthew looked up at the Frenchwoman when she finally spoke; she had been quiet for a while; fortunately she did not seem to be crying any longer. "I'm sure there will be an exchange of prisoners very soon, madame," he said, as soothingly as he could. "And then you and your child will be returned to your own army."
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Re: 31st May, Fleeing the French

Post  sans nom on Fri Sep 24, 2010 2:14 am



There were only a few words that she thought she understood, but they were encouraging - exchange of prisoners, return and army. She had been with the English nearly a week, but hopefully she would go home to her own people soon.

"Me promettez-vous? Une promesse, un jurement?" she asked, demonstrating the action of crossing herself to help him understand the solemnity of what she was asking.

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