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CHAPTER XIX

THE CASTLE OF CARTILLON

TWO days, four, passed. Serigny had departed for Dieppe to arm and equip Le Dauphin, yet still there was no official declaration of war. I was waiting, as he had ordered, for the formal declaration, on the publication of which I was to join him on board at once and we would set sail instantly for Biloxi.

Another anxious day, during which I vacillated between an ignoble love and a noble duty. Then, late in the evening, the whole court was fanned into a blaze destined to spread throughout Europe and America, by the announcement that the war had been formally decided upon.

Men may long look forward to a crushing calamity, and when it comes be surprised and unprepared. So, though I well knew I must leave France with all speed, and possibly never see her shores again, I put it from me as persistently as men do the certainty of death. Every day did I ride to Sceaux, by the old wall, and catch a glimpse of her I loved. When war was at last declared there was no time for parleying with duty. My path lay straight and clear before me; yet for once a soldier's duty and a soldier's adventure gave me no pleasure. All my thoughts were otherwhere.

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