She awoke and got dressed hurridly, heading out the door and into the street before her parents were awake. She could hear the bands and see the flags from a distance. She forced her way through the crowd lining the street to stand in the front so she could see him and he her. The soldiers were marching in columns of fours, equipment clinking as they stepped in time with each other. She caught sight of him and waved her handkerchief to him. He nodded his head to show he’d seen her. He couldn’t break ranks, not for anything.

She waited for him to come up even with her and began walking beside him down the street. “You are a fool for fighting for a country other than your own.” She shouted over the crowds and bands. He smiled. “But I can live with loving a fool!” She shouted into his ear. He mistepped but quickly recovered. She would have probably followed him all the way to Toulons if she’d been able to. But a soldier tasked with holding the crowd back stopped her. “Sorry, miss, can’t let you go any further.” He said, politeness in his voice. She watched him until he was out of sight. Then turned sadly to go home. She was almost there when she realized there were papers sticking out of her bag. She withdrew them and saw the handwriting was none she knew. she opened them and began to read.

My Dear,

I leave now to take part in driving the enemies of the Republic into the sea. I do not know for certain if I shall ever return, but know that I am always with you. No matter what occurs, I shall always be at your side. If I should be killed in battle then do not grieve, for that is not what a soldier deserves. Instead, be happy for me, for a Death with Glory and Honor is the very dream of all soldiers. I shall write to you every chance I find, and long for a day when we should meet again. I will become a man you can be proud of. A man you can say with the utmost pride is your husband. Until that day I am content to know that you are safe. My regiment is leaving for Toulons in a few hours. We will be marched in a grand parade for the whole town to see. If you should wish to come see us off I will be glad. I do not promise to come back, but I do promise to never stop loving you.

                                                                         Your Most Affectionate Soldier,

                                                                         Corporal Francois Couvrettes

                                                                         34th Regiment of Infantry

She felt the tears sting her eyes. Wishing they’d been able to speak before he left. “You fool, I would be proud to call you my husband if you were a beggar.” She said aloud. Then began again towards her home. “Young man, take a look at your life, is it what you want?” She asked of the air as she walked through the doorway. She loved him, he loved her, she knew she could do worse than that. She wondered what the war would do to change them.

He was a soldier, so war would not effect him so badly, even if it did, he wouldn’t show it. She wondered if it would come to her town, the fighting, and prayed as no “Good Catholic” would against all of it. She wept that night, the tears staining the pillow as she lay there. Until finally she fell asleep, his letters still in her hand. Her mother and father retrieved them from her hand, read them, argued, then put them back. As they quietly closed the door the father looked woefully at the mother. “Young man, take a look at your life, I was alot like you.” He said, his voice sad for both his daughter and this Corporal Francois Couvrettes. The distant thunder of cannon from Toulons was like thunder in the night. He shared a connection with the poor young fool sitting under that. He’d gone through it during the Seven Years War.

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