Page:A French Volunteer of the War of Independence.djvu/34

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my uncle's house, and he was supposed to watch over me. As a matter of fact no one troubled his head about me. To the outside world I appeared to be in the bosom of my own family, and under the watchful eyes of affectionate relatives, but in reality I was left to my own devices, and at sixteen was under no control whatever.

At this critical period of my existence, no one had said what they wanted me to be, nor had I been consulted on the subject. For my own part I neither knew, nor cared. I was sixteen years old, was in Paris, and my own master. I was youthful, vigorous, warm-hearted, inquisitive, and inexperienced, and was fated, like everyone else, to acquire experience at my own expense. With no friends, and no one to guide me, it would have been a miracle indeed if idleness and want of occupation had not led me into mischief. But the watchful eyes of persons who bore me no good-will followed my every movement. They did not have to wait long to detect me in some act of thoughtlessness, quickly followed by other and graver ones,