Etienne Gerard, Hussar in the French Army during the Napoleonic Wars, is vain - he is utterly convinced he is the bravest soldier, the greatest swordsman, the most accomplished horseman, and the most gallant lover in all France. He is not entirely wrong, but his self-satisfaction and obsession with honour and glory undercut his brave acts again and again, providing a delightful satire of the stereotypical English view of the French, along with Gerard's baffled view of English manners and attitudes.
d has been living there these fourteen years past.'
'A Polish nobleman?' I asked.
'Nay, we breed no such men in Poland,' he answered.
'A Frenchman, then?' cried Duroc.
'They say that he came from France.'
'And with red hair?'
'As red as a fox.'
'Yes, yes, it is my man,' cried my companion, quivering all over in his excitement. 'It is the hand of Providence which has led me here. Who can say that there is not justice in this world? Come, Monsieur Gerard, for I must see the men safely quartered before I can attend to this private matter.'
He spurred on his horse, and ten minutes later we were at the door of the inn of Arensdorf, where his men were to find their quarters for the night.
Well, all this was no affair of mine, and I could not imagine what the meaning of it might be. Rossel was still far off, but I determined to ride on for a few hours and take my chance of some wayside barn in which I could find shelter for Rataplan and myself. I had mou