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Breton Peasants

Anecdotes Home




At the conclusion of the war in 1814, three hundred
British sailors, who had been prisoners, were assembled on the coast of
Britanny to embark for England. Being severally billetted on the
inhabitants for some days before they embarked, one of them requested
permission to see the superintendant, Monsieur Kearnie, which being
granted, the British tar thus addressed him: "An please your honour, I
don't come to trouble you with any bother about ourselves: we are all as
well treated as Christians can be; but there is one thing that makes my
food sit heavy on my stomach, and that of my two messmates." "What is it,
my brave fellow?" replied the superintendent;--"the persons on whom you are
quartered don't grudge it you?" "No, your honour;--if they did, that would
not vex us." "What, then, do you complain of?" "Only this, your
honour--that the poor folk cheerfully lay their scanty allowance before us
for our mess, and we have just found out that they have hardly touched a
mouthful themselves, or their six babes, for the last two days; and this we
take to be a greater hardship than any we found in prison." M. Kearnie told
them that from this hardship they should all be relieved. He instantly
ordered the billets to be withdrawn, and rewarded all parties for their
kindness, so compassionately exercised and interchanged.





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