No sensation is lacking among us. -- Luella Miner
THE truce of 17 July seemed a little surreal to the besieged of the Peking Legations, who felt as if they had been plunged into "a state of amazed suspense." The sudden silence was disconcerting rather than comforting, so that some found it difficult to sleep. The Chinese began replacing their brilliant-colored war banners with white flags, and hundreds of heads could be seen cautiously peeping over the barricades. Then they began to climb up on to their barricades, waving white cloths and shouting. Warily, the defenders scrambled onto their own fortifications and gazed at the desolate landscape around them. The ground beyond the defensive perimeter was littered with human bones -- all that remained of corpses devoured by gaunt wolflike pariah dogs. Once familiar buildings had been reduced to heaps of rubble and ashes.
As their confidence grew, the Chinese soldiers began to surge toward the defenders' positions and there was some bizarre fraternization. At one of the French barricades, the ever-hospitable hotelier Monsieur Chamot found himself offering cups of tea to yesterday's attackers. One of Sir Robert Hart's former bandsmen appeared with his ear partially severed. In some embarrassment he explained that he was now a regimental bugler in the Imperial army and that his officer had struck him with his sword "because he did not blow his horn loud enough to suit him." He had come