Pierre Barlot was a gunner in the fort of Mont Valerin during the Prussian siege of Paris. One day he was standing by his gun when General Noel, the commander, came up and leveled his glass at the Sevres bridge. “Gunner,” he said, “do you see the Sevres bridge over there?”
“And that little shanty in a thicket of shrubs to the left?”
“I see it, sir,” said Pierre, turning pale.
“It’s a nest of Prussians; try it with a shell, my man.”
Pierre turned paler still. He sighted his piece deliberately, carefully, then fired it. “Well hit, my man, well hit!” exclaimed the general. But as he looked at Pierre he was surprised to see a great tear running down the gunner’s cheek. “What’s the matter, man?”
“Pardon me, General,” said Pierre, “it was my house—everything I had in the world.”