A resident teacher of the household, attracted by the boy's steady, orderly habits, and most earnest attention during family prayers, had taken charge of his spiritual training, and had so well succeeded in her pleasing task, that, at the early age of ten and a half years, he was considered sufficiently prepared to go through that most beautiful and touching ceremony, in the Catholic Church, the children's First Communion.
The appointed day had arrived.
, his mother, his elder brother, and the teacher were seated in one of the front pews of the old St. Louis Cathedral, awaiting the solemn moment when the young communicant was to approach and kneel at the altar.
That moment at last came.
His mother touched him on the shoulder, to admonish him that it was time to walk up the aisle.
The child obediently rose, deeply imbued with the solemnity of the scene, and stepped reverently forward as directed.
Just then, and when he had already walked half-way to the altar, the roll of a drum, as a perverse fate would have it, resounded through the cathedral.
stopped, hesitated, looked toward the family pew, where anxious eyes kept urging him forward.
Again the roll of the drum was heard, more distinct and prolonged.
Hesitation vanished at once.
The little boy, fairly turning his back on the altar, dashed through the church and disappeared at the door, to the utter horror and dismay of his loving relatives.
No stronger proof than this could be given of the bent of his character.
His calling for a military career was there clearly manifested.
It may not be considered out of place to add that he made his First Communion two years later, no drum then beating to interrupt the ceremony.
At the age of eleven he was taken to the city of New York
, where he remained four years, under the firm and wise tuition of the Messieurs Peugnet
, retired officers of the French
army, who had both seen service under Napoleon I.—the elder as Captain
of Cavalry, the younger as Captain
They were exiles from France
, on account of the active part taken by them in the ‘Carbonari
’ trouble, so much commented upon at the time.
Then and there it was that, under quasi-military training, his taste for a soldier's career was confirmed, and that, living amidst an English-speaking population, he grew so thoroughly familiar with the English
language as to make of it, so to speak, his adopted mother-tongue.
Though he knows the French
language and speaks it perfectly,