The Bugler of Algiers (1916)
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"The Bugler of Algiers"
Screen Version of the Novel, "We Are Friench", from the All-Story
Vol. 1 No. 22 Short Story of the Play
GABRIELLE PICARD sat in the vine-clad window of her little home one morning, dreaming of the future. Surely no girl in Europe was happier than she.
"Pierre is so manly and good," she was whispering half-aloud to herself. "And I know he loves me; because he is so kind to Anatole."
It might have been only her imagination, or it might have been the wind stirring the leaves; but she thought there was a rustling among the vines that half-covered the window as it swung back upon its hinges.
"If Pierre was here now, I'd tell him something he wants to knwo if he should ask me," Gabrielle said, speaking this time in the full tones of her clear, sweet voice.
She waited a moment, listening for the rustling leaves to answer. She felt sure that she was not alone. There was mischief in the very air.
"And if he doesn't come soon I'll never tell him," she continued after another sentence. Her great blue eyes were sparkling, her face was lit by the sweetest of smiles.
Quite still she remained, without turning her head, waiting for the leaves, the wind -- whoever or whatever it was stirring the veins -- to answer. Then she looked out of the window.
Half turning, she glanced over her shoulder. Sure enough, it was not the wind amoung the vines -- it was Pierre, leaning there, peering through the window, his face aglow with the light of love.
"Mischief maker," Gabrielle cried haughtily, "Listeners never hear good of themselves; don't you know that?"
"But I was not listening," said Pierre, "I was looking!"
With a joyous laugh, he ran
to the door, flung it wide open and bounced into the quaint old room where Gabrielle now stood waiting for him. In an instant he had folded her close in his arms -- and they were silent in their perfect happiness.
Presently they were disturbed by Anatole, the brother to whom Gabrielle had been a mother since his infancy. Their mother had died when Anatole was born and soon their father followed her to the great uncertainty. And Gabrielle, left alone with the boy, had been both father and mother to him.
Anatole burst into the room with a wild shout:
Gabrielle! Pierre! The soldiers are coming. The village is wild with the news. We must be off to war!" -- and with one leap he sprang to where his bugle hung upon the wall and, rushing to the door, blew loud blasts to awaken the echos in the in the quiet street.
For a moment Pierre's face blanched as he looked down into Gabrielle's beautiful face. Tears dimmed her big blue eyes; and she clung to him, and in a tremble.
"Courage, child," said Pierre. "Our country calls and we must go. And as in all these horrible wars, you women must stay behind -- and wait."
Anatole had again entered the room and stood before them, manly and erect; resting his bugle on his hip, and looking every inch a man.
Pierre stepped back a single pace, and holding his hand above his head, met Gabrielle's encouraging, steady gaze.
"Our country calls. We must obey," he declared.
The three passed arm in arm from the room. Outside of the door Gabrielle mounted a rustic chair that stood in the tiny yard. The men clasped hands, during a moment's silence and then the brave girl said:
"Go, dear Anatole. Go, my beloved Pierre; and if you will bring Anatole safely home to me, I will marry you when your regiment is discharged."
Far down the village street the men and boys were rushing along in cheering crowds. As by magic flags were swung from the quaint windows of the ancient little homes. War had come, as if on the breath of a sudden gale.
For every boy who departed that day there was a fond mother waiting. For every husband who followed the colors there remained behind a wife to suffer her share. For every lover that tramped down the dusty road, a fond heart was left behind to mourn -- and mothers, wives and sweethears all were at once blended into a community of aching hearts and lingering hopes.
The days ran into weeks; months passed. It was the good Cure of the village who got the news -- and Gabrielle was one of the many hearts he was called upon to sadden with the dreaded information.
"Both have given their lives for their flag," the kind, old Priest told the sobbing Gabrielle. "You must be comforted by their sacrifice. You must be blessed by their devotion to our dear country."
And Gabrielle was left alone to weep; to see the future through
tear-dimmed eyes, and to go on, with heavy heart, until the end.
"Bring the prisoners before me," was the general's haughty command. "We shall see if their spirits remain unbroken."
Over the wind-swept desert the air whirled in furnace-hot blasts. The sun glared upon the scene like a ball of molten fire.
The enemy had captured Pierre and Anatole when by a sharp attack they had cut through a columnof loyal soldiers. Pierre could not do much for the enemy -- but Anatole was a bugler and blow his army's calls.
The boy had refused to obey the under officers, and they had reported him to the commanding head of the forces. And when they brough Anatole to headquarters, Pierre was stalking bravely by his side.
"Separate us by a bullet, if you will -- but never in life, while I can resist," Pierre had declared. And the soldiers, touched by his devotion, had not tried to part them.
While the general spoke to Anatole the battle lines were clashing. Above the din of the brutal strife could be heard the bugle calls that moved the troops, line upon line, in various manoeuvers.
"You can save the life of yourself and your friend," said the General to Anatole.
"Tell me how, and I will consider," was Anatole's brave reply.
"Blow the retreat; loud, hard, and strong. You will then be free.
"Without a moment's hesitation Anatole placed his bugle to his lips. He filled his lungs to capacity and -- blew the command to charge!
In the instant the tide turned. In that moment the foe was overwhelmed
by the onrushing host - and Anatole and Pierre were soon among their
comrades joining the chase of the enemy.
The legend is still repeated from father to son -- and it will be handed down to the end of time. Anatole Picard, hero of Algiers, is to this day glorified in song and story as the bravest heart that ever fought for his country's flag.
Old men repeat the legend to each other, that it may remain fresh in their feeble memories. Strong men tell the
story to keep their pride of country fired within them. Boys tell it to each other, boasting that they, too, would have done exactly as Anatole did.
"Blow the retreat!" is a slogan of glory in every home, where the flag hangs -- and Anatole Picard's bugle is the dearest treasure in the nation's archives.
See this stirring military narrative pictured in beautiful Bluebird photoplays at
Cast of Characters
with Ella Hall, Kingsley Benedict and Rupert Julian. Directed by Rupert Julian. Bluebird/Universal.
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Last Modified July 12, 2012.