The Massacre of the Innocents part 6


    Therehad been a kermesse in this house: relatives had come to feast on waffles,hams, and custards. At the sound of the smashing of windows they crouchedtogether behind the table, still laden with jugs and dishes.

    Thesoldiers went to the kitchen and after a savage fight in which many werewounded, they seized all the small boys and girls, and a little servant who hadbitten the thumb of one soldier, left the house and closed the door behind themto prevent their being followed.

    Thosewho had no children cautiously came forth from their houses and followed thesoldiers at a distance. They could see them throw down their victims on theground before the old man, and cold-bloodedly massacre them with lances orswords.

    Meanwhilemen and women crowded the windows of the blue farmhouse and the barn, cursingand raising their arms to heaven as they contemplated the pink, red, and whiteclothes of their motionless children on the ground among the trees. Then thesoldiers hanged the servant from the Half Moon Inn on the other side of thestreet. There was a long silence in the village.

    Ithad now become a general massacre. Mothers escaped from their houses, trying toflee through vegetable and flower gardens out into the open country, butmounted soldiers pursued them and drove them back into the street. Peasants,with caps held tight between their hands, fell to their knees before thesoldiers who dragged off” their little ones, and dogs barked joyously amidthe disorder.

    Thecurl, his hands raised heavenward, rushed back and forth from house to houseand out among the trees, praying in desperation like a martyr. The soldiers,trembling from the cold, whistled in their fingers as they moved about, orstood idly with their hands in their pockets, their swords under their arms, infront of houses that were being entered.

    Market-Gardener`s Wife

    Smallgroups in all directions, seeing the fear of the peasants, were entering thefarmhouses, and in every street similar scenes were enacted. Themarket-gardener`s wife, who lived in an old hut with pink tiles near thechurch, pursued with a chair two soldiers who were carrying off her children ina wheelbarrow. She was terribly sick when she saw her children die, and made tosit on a chair against a tree.

    Othersoldiers climbed into the lime trees in front of a farmhouse painted the colorof lilacs, and made their way in by taking off the tiles. When they reappearedon the roof, the parents with extended arms followed them until the soldiersforced them back, finding it necessary finally to strike them over the headwith their swords before they could shake themselves free and return again tothe street below.

    Read More about War with the Normans part 19