Part 3 out of 8
More rapidly even than he had foreboded those changes had
occurred. In less time even than he had anticipated, the sad
emergency for which Rose's brother had prepared, as for a barely
possible calamity, overtook Trudaine, and called for all the
patience, the courage, the self-sacrifice which he had to give
for his sister's sake. By slow gradations downward, from bad to
worse, her husband's character manifested itself less and less
disguisedly almost day by day. Occasional slights, ending in
habitual neglect; careless estrangement, turning to cool enmity;
small insults, which ripened evilly to great injuries--these were
the pitiless signs which showed her that she had risked all and
lost all while still a young woman--these were the unmerited
afflictions which found her helpless, and would have left her
helpless, but for the ever-present comfort and support of her
brother's self-denying love. From the first, Trudaine had devoted
himself to meet such trials as now assailed him; and like a man
he met them, in defiance alike of persecution from the mother and
of insult from the son.
The hard task was only lightened when, as time advanced, public
trouble began to mingle itself with private grief. Then absorbing
political necessities came as a relief to domestic misery. Then
it grew to be the one purpose and pursuit of Danville's life
cunningly to shape his course so that he might move safely onward
with the advancing revolutionary tide--he cared not whither, as
long as he kept his possessions safe and his life out of danger.
His mother, inflexibly true to her Old-World convictions through
all peril, might entreat and upbraid, might talk of honor, and
courage, and sincerity--he heeded her not, or heeded only to
laugh. As he had taken the false way with his wife, so he was now
bent on taking it with the world.
The years passed on; destroying changes swept hurricane-like over
the old governing system of France; and still Danville shifted
successfully with the shifting times. The first days of the
Terror approached; in public and in private--in high places and
in low--each man now suspected his brother. Crafty as Danville
was, even he fell under suspicion at last, at headquarters in
Paris, principally on his mother's account. This was his first
political failure; and, in a moment of thoughtless rage and
disappointment, he wreaked the irritation caused by it on
Lomaque. Suspected himself, he in turn suspected the
land-steward. His mother fomented the suspicion--Lomaque was
In the old times the victim would have been ruined, in the new
times he was simply rendered eligible for a political vocation in
life. Lomaque was poor, quick-witted, secret, not scrupulous. He
was a good patriot; he had good patriot friends, plenty of
ambition, a subtle, cat-like courage, nothing to dread--and he
went to Paris. There were plenty of small chances there for men
of his caliber. He waited for one of them. It came; he made the
most of it; attracted favorably the notice of the terrible
Fouquier-Tinville; and won his way to a place in the office of
the Secret Police.
Meanwhile, Danville's anger cooled down; he recovered the use of
that cunning sense which had hitherto served him well, and sent
to recall the discarded servant. lt was too late. Lomaque was
already in a position to set him at defiance--nay, to put his
neck, perhaps, under the blade of the guillotine. Worse than
this, anonymous letters reached him, warning him to lose no time
in proving his patriotism by some indisputable sacrifice, and in
silencing his mother, whose imprudent sincerity was likely ere
long to cost her her life. Danville knew her well enough to know
that there was but one way of saving her, and thereby saving
himself. She had always refused to emigrate; but he now insisted
that she should seize the first opportunity he could procure for
her of quitting France until calmer times arrived.
Probably she would have risked her own life ten times over rather
than have obeyed him; but she had not the courage to risk her
son's too; and she yielded for his sake. Partly by secret
influence, partly by unblushing fraud, Danville procured for her
such papers and permits as would enable her to leave France by
way of Marseilles. Even then she refused to depart, until she
knew what her son's plans were for the future. He showed her a
letter which he was about to dispatch to Robespierre himself,
vindicating his suspected patriotism, and indignantly demanding
to be allowed to prove it by filling some office, no matter how
small, under the redoubtable triumvirate which then governed, or
more properly terrified, France. The sight of this document
reassured Madame Danville. She bade her son farewell, and
departed at last, with one trusty servant, for Marseilles.
Danville's intention, in sending his letter to Paris, had been
simply to save himself by patriotic bluster. He was thunderstruck
at receiving a reply, taking him at his word, and summoning him
to the capital to accept employment there under the then existing
Government. There was no choice but to obey. So to Paris he
journeyed, taking his wife with him into the very jaws of danger.
He was then at open enmity with Trudaine; and the more anxious
and alarmed he could make the brother feel on the sister's
account, the better he was pleased. True to his trust and his
love, through all dangers as through all persecutions, Trudaine
followed them; and the street of their sojourn at Paris, in the
perilous days of the Terror, was the street of his sojourn too.
Danville had been astonished at the acceptance of his proffered
services; he was still more amazed when he found that the post
selected for him was one of the superintendent's places in that
very office of Secret Police in which Lomaque was employed as
agent. Robespierre and his colleagues had taken the measure of
their man--he had money enough, and local importance enough to be
worth studying. They knew where he was to be distrusted, and how
he might be made useful. The affairs of the Secret Police were
the sort of affairs which an unscrupulously cunning man was
fitted to help on; and the faithful exercise of that cunning in
the service of the State was insured by the presence of Lomaque
in the office. The discarded servant was just the right sort of
spy to watch the suspected master. Thus it happened that, in the
office of the Secret Police at Paris, and under the Reign of
Terror, Lomaque's old master was, nominally, his master
still--the superintendent to whom he was ceremonially
accountable, in public--the suspected man, whose slightest words
and deeds he was officially set to watch, in private.
Ever sadder and darker grew the face of Lomaque as he now
pondered alone over the changes and misfortunes of the past five
years. A neighboring church-clock striking the hour of seven
aroused him from his meditations. He arranged the confused mass
of papers before him--looked toward the door, as if expecting
some one to enter--then, finding himself still alone, recurred to
the one special paper which had first suggested his long train of
gloomy thoughts. The few lines it contained were signed in
cipher, and ran thus:
"You are aware that your superintendent, Danville, obtained leave
of absence last week to attend to some affairs of his at Lyons,
and that he is not expected back just yet for a day or two. While
he is away, push on the affair of Trudaine. Collect all the
evidence, and hold yourself in readiness to act on it at a
moment's notice. Don't leave the office till you have heard from
me again. If you have a copy of the Private Instructions
respecting Danville, which you wrote for me, send it to my house.
wish to refresh my memory. Your original letter is burned."
Here the note abruptly terminated. As he folded it up and put it
in his pocket, Lomaque sighed. This was a very rare expression of
feeling with him. He leaned back in his chair, and beat his nails
impatiently on the table. Suddenly there was a faint little tap
at the room door, and eight or ten men--evidently familiars of
the new French Inquisition--quietly entered, and ranged
themselves against the wall.
Lomaque nodded to two of them. "Picard and Magloire, go and sit
down at that desk. I shall want you after the rest are gone."
Saying this, Lomaque handed certain sealed and docketed papers to
the other men waiting in the room, who received them in silence,
bowed, and went out. Innocent spectators might have thought them
clerks taking bills of lading from a merchant. Who could have
imagined that the giving and receiving of Dununciations,
Arrest-orders, and Death-warrants--the providing of its doomed
human meal for the all-devouring guillotine--could have been
managed so coolly and quietly, with such unruffled calmness of
"Now," said Lomaque, turning to the two men at the desk, as the
door closed, "have you got those notes about you?" (They answered
in the affirmative.) "Picard, you have the first particulars of
this affair of Trudaine; so you must begin reading. I have sent
in the reports; but we may as well go over the evidence again
from the commencement, to make sure that nothing has been left
out. If any corrections are to be made, now is the time to make
them. Read, Picard, and lose as little time as you possibly can."
Thus admonished, Picard drew some long slips of paper from his
pocket, and began reading from them as follows:
"Minutes of evidence collected concerning Louis Trudaine,
suspected, on the denunciation of Citizen Superintendent
Danville, of hostility to the sacred cause of liberty, and of
disaffection to the sovereignty of the people. (1.) The suspected
person is placed under secret observation, and these facts are
elicited: He is twice seen passing at night from his own house to
a house in the Rue de Clery. On the first night he carries with
him money--on the second, papers. He returns without either.
These particulars have been obtained through a citizen engaged to
help Trudaine in housekeeping (one of the sort called Servants in
the days of the Tyrants). This man is a good patriot, who can be
trusted to watch Trudaine's actions. (2.) The inmates of the
house in the Rue de Clery are numerous, and in some cases not so
well known to the Government as could be wished. It is found
difficult to gain certain information about the person or persons
visited by Trudaine without having recourse to an arrest. (3.) An
arrest is thought premature at this preliminary stage of the
proceedings, being likely to stop the development of conspiracy,
and give warning to the guilty to fly. Order thereupon given to
watch and wait for the present. (4.) Citizen Superintendent
Danville quits Paris for a short time. The office of watching
Trudaine is then taken out of the hands of the undersigned, and
is confided to his comrade, Magloire.--Signed, PICARD.
Having read so far, the police agent placed his papers on the
writing-table, waited a moment for orders, and, receiving none,
went out. No change came over the sadness and perplexity of
Lomaque's face. He still beat his nails anxiously on the
writing-table, and did not even look at the second agent as he
ordered the man to read his report. Magloire produced some slips
of paper precisely similar to Picard's and read from them in the
same rapid, business-like, unmodulated tones:
"Affair of Trudaine. Minutes continued. Citizen Agent Magloire
having been appointed to continue the surveillance of Trudaine,
reports the discovery of additional facts of importance. (1.)
Appearances make it probable that Trudaine meditates a third
secret visit to the house in the Rue de Clery. The proper
measures are taken for observing him closely, and the result is
the implication of another person discovered to be connected with
the supposed conspiracy. This person is the sister of Trudaine,
and the wife of Citizen Superintendent Danville."
"Poor, lost creature! ah, poor, lost creature!" muttered Lomaque
to himself, sighing again, and shifting uneasily from side to
side, in his mangy old leathern armchair. Apparently, Magloire
was not accustomed to sighs, interruptions, and expressions of
regret from the usually imperturbable chief agent. He looked up
from his papers with a stare of wonder. "Go on, Magloire!" cried
Lomaque, with a sudden outburst of irritability. " "Why the devil
don't you go on?"--"All ready, citizen," returned Magloire,
submissively, and proceeded:
"(2.) It is at Trudaine's house that the woman Danville's
connection with her brother's secret designs is ascertained,
through the vigilance of the before-mentioned patriot citizen.
The interview of the two suspected persons is private; their
conversation is carried on in whispers. Little can be overheard;
but that little suffices to prove that Trudaine's sister is
perfectly aware of his intention to proceed for the third time to
the house in the Rue de Clery. It is further discovered that she
awaits his return, and that she then goes back privately to her
own house. (3.) Meanwhile, the strictest measures are taken for
watching the house in the Rue de Clery. It is discovered that
Trudaine's visits are paid to a man and woman known to the
landlord and lodgers by the name of Dubois. They live on the
fourth floor. It is impossible, at the time of the discovery, to
enter this room, or to see the citizen and citoyenne Dubois,
without producing an undesirable disturbance in the house and
neighborhood. A police agent is left to watch the place, while
search and arrest orders are applied for. The granting of these
is accidentally delayed. When they are ultimately obtained, it is
discovered that the man and the woman are both missing. They have
not hitherto been traced. (4.) The landlord of the house is
immediately arrested, as well as the police agent appointed to
watch the premises. The landlord protests that he knows nothing
of his tenants. It is suspected, however, that he has been
tampered with, as also that Trudaine's papers, delivered to the
citizen and citoyenne Dubois, are forged passports. With these
and with money, it may not be impossible that they have already
succeeded in escaping from France. The proper measures have been
taken for stopping them, if they have not yet passed the
frontiers. No further report in relation to them has yet been
received (5.) Trudaine and his sister are under perpetual
surveillance, and the undersigned holds himself ready for further
orders.--Signed, MAGLOIRE. Countersigned, LOMAQUE."
Having finished reading his notes, Magloire placed them on the
writing-table. He was evidently a favored man in the office, and
he presumed upon his position; for he ventured to make a remark,
instead of leaving the room in silence, like his predecessor
"When Citizen Danville returns to Paris," he began, "he will be
rather astonished to find that in denouncing his wife's brother
he had also unconsciously denounced his wife."
Lomaque looked up quickly, with that old weakness in his eyes
which affected them in such a strangely irregular manner on
certain occasions. Magloire knew what this symptom meant, and
would have become confused if he had not been a police agent. As
it was, he quietly backed a step or two from the table, and held
"Friend Magloire," said Lomaque, winking mildly, "your last
remark looks to me like a question in disguise. I put questions
constantly to others; I never answer questions myself. You want
to know, citizen, what our superintendent's secret motive is for
denouncing his wife's brother? Suppose you try and find that out
for yourself. It will be famous practice for you, friend
Magloire--famous practice after office hours."
"Any further orders?" inquired Magloire, sulkily.
"None in relation to the reports," returned Lomaque. "I find
nothing to alter or add on a revised h earing. But I shall have a
little note ready for you immediately. Sit down at the other
desk, friend Magloire; I am very fond of you when you are not
inquisitive; pray sit down."
While addressing this polite invitation to the agent in his
softest voice, Lomaque produced his pocketbook, and drew from it
a little note, which he opened and read through attentively. It
was headed: "Private Instructions relative to Superintendent
Danville," and proceeded thus:
"The undersigned can confidently assert, from long domestic
experience in Danville's household that his motive for denouncing
his wife's brother is purely a personal one, and is not in the
most remote degree connected with politics. Briefly, the facts
are these: Louis Trudaine, from the first, opposed his sister's
marriage with Danville, distrusting the latter's temper and
disposition. The marriage, however, took place, and the brother
resigned himself to await results--taking the precaution of
living in the same neighborhood as his sister, to interpose, if
need be, between the crimes which the husband might commit and
the sufferings which the wife might endure. The results soon
exceeded his worst anticipations, and called for the
interposition for which he had prepared himself. He is a man of
inflexible firmness, patience, and integrity, and he makes the
protection and consolation of his sister the business of his
life. He gives his brother-in-law no pretext for openly
quarreling with him. He is neither to be deceived, irritated, nor
tired out, and he is Danville's superior every way--in conduct,
temper, and capacity. Under these circumstances, it is
unnecessary to say that his brother-in-law's enmity toward him is
of the most implacable kind, and equally unnecessary to hint at
the perfectly plain motive of the denuciation.
"As to the suspicious circumstances affecting not Trudaine only,
but his sister as well, the undersigned regrets his inability,
thus far, to offer either explanation or suggestion. At this
preliminary stage, the affair seems involved in impenetrable
Lomaque read these lines through, down to his own signature at
the end. They were the duplicate Secret Instructions demanded
from him in the paper which he had been looking over before the
entrance of the two police agents. Slowly, and, as it seemed,
unwillingly, he folded the note up in a fresh sheet of paper, and
was preparing to seal it when a tap at the door stopped him.
"Come in," he cried, irritably; and a man in traveling costume,
covered with dust, entered, quietly whispered a word or two in
his ear, and then went out. Lomaque started at the whisper, and,
opening his note again, hastily wrote under his signature: "I
have just heard that Danville has hastened his return to Paris,
and may be expected back to-night." Having traced these lines, he
closed, sealed, and directed the letter, and gave it to Magloire.
The police agent looked at the address as he left the room; it
was "To Citizen Robespierre, Rue Saint-Honore."
Left alone again, Lomaque rose, and walked restlessly backward
and forward, biting his nails,
"Danville comes back to-night," he said to himself, "and the
crisis comes with him. Trudaine a conspirator! Bah! conspiracy
can hardly be the answer to the riddle this time. What is?"
He took a turn or two in silence--then stopped at the open
window, looking out on what little glimpse the street afforded
him of the sunset sky. "This time five years," he said, "Trudaine
was talking to me on that bench overlooking the river; and Sister
Rose was keeping poor hatchet-faced old Lomaque's cup of coffee
hot for him! Now I am officially bound to suspect them both;
perhaps to arrest them; perhaps--I wish this job had fallen into
other hands. I don't want it--I don't want it at any price!"
He returned to the writing-table and sat down to his papers, with
the dogged air of a man determined to drive away vexing thoughts
by dint of sheer hard work. For more than an hour he labored on
resolutely, munching a bit of dry bread from time to time. Then
he paused a little, and began to think again. Gradually the
summer twilight faded, and the room grew dark.
"Perhaps we shall tide over to-night, after all--who knows?" said
Lomaque, ringing his handbell for lights. They were brought in,
and with them ominously returned the police agent Magloire with a
small sealed packet. It contained an arrest-order and a tiny
three-cornered note, looking more like a love-letter, or a lady's
invitation to a party, than anything else. Lomaque opened the
note eagerly and read these lines neatly written, and signed with
Robespierre's initials--M. R.--formed elegantly in cipher:
"Arrest Trudaine and his sister to-night. On second thoughts, I
am not sure, if Danville comes back in time to be present, that
it may not be all the better. He is unprepared for his wife's
arrest. Watch him closely when it takes place, and report
privately to me. I am afraid he is a vicious man; and of all
things I abhor Vice."
"Any more work for me to-night?" asked Magloire, with a yawn.
"Only an arrest," replied Lomaque. "Collect our men; and when
you're ready get a coach at the door."
"We were just going to supper," grumbled Magloire to himself, as
he went out. "The devil seize the Aristocrats! They're all in
such a hurry to get to the guillotine that they won't even give a
man time to eat his victuals in peace!"
"There's no choice now," muttered Lomaque, angrily thrusting the
arrest-order and the three-cornered note into his pocket. "His
father was the saving of me; he himself welcomed me like an
equal; his sister treated me like a gentleman, as the phrase went
in those days; and now--"
He stopped and wiped his forehead--then unlocked his desk,
produced a bottle of brandy, and poured himself out a glass of
the liquor, which he drank by sips, slowly.
"I wonder whether other men get softer-hearted as they grow
older!" he said. "I seem to do so, at any rate. Courage! courage!
what must be, must. If I risked my head to do it, I couldn't stop
this arrest. Not a man in the office but would be ready to
execute it, if I wasn't."
Here the rumble of carriage-wheels sounded outside.
"There's the coach! " exclaimed Lomaque, locking up the
brandy-bottle, and taking his hat. "After all, as this arrest is
to be made, it's as well for them that I should make it."
Consoling himself as he best could with this reflection, Chief
Police Agent Lomaque blew out the candles, and quitted the room.
IGNORANT of the change in her husband's plans, which was to bring
him back to Paris a day before the time that had been fixed for
his return, Sister Rose had left her solitary home to spend the
evening with her brother. They had sat talking together long
after sunset, and had let the darkness steal on them insensibly,
as people will who are only occupied with quiet, familiar
conversation. Thus it happened, by a curious coincidence, that
just as Lomaque was blowing out his candles at the office Rose
was lighting the reading-lamp at her brother's lodgings.
Five years of disappointment and sorrow had sadly changed her to
outward view. Her face looked thinner and longer; the once
delicate red and white of her complexion was gone; her figure had
wasted under the influence of some weakness, which had already
made her stoop a little when she walked. Her manner had lost its
maiden shyness, only to become unnaturally quiet and subdued. Of
all the charms which had so fatally, yet so innocently, allured
her heartless husband, but one remained--the winning gentleness
of her voice. It might be touched now and then with a note of
sadness, but the soft attraction of its even, natural tone still
remained. In the marring of all other harmonies, this one harmony
had been preserved unchanged. Her brother, though his face was
careworn, and his manner sadder than of old, looked less altered
from his former self. It is the most fragile material which
soonest shows the flaw. The world's idol, Beauty, holds its
frailest tenure of existence in the one Temple where we most love
to worship it.
"And so you think, Louis, that our perilous undertaking has
really ended well by this tim e?" said Rose, anxiously, as she
lighted the lamp and placed the glass shade over it. "What a
relief it is only to hear you say you think we have succeeded at
"I said I hope, Rose," replied her brother.
"Well, even hoped is a great word from you, Louis--a great word
from any one in this fearful city, and in these days of Terror."
She stopped suddenly, seeing her brother raise his hand in
warning. They looked at each other in silence and listened. The
sound of footsteps going slowly past the house--ceasing for a
moment just beyond it--then going on again--came through the open
window. There was nothing else, out-of-doors or in, to disturb
the silence of the night--the deadly silence of Terror which, for
months past, had hung over Paris. It was a significant sign of
the times, that even a passing footstep, sounding a little
strangely at night, was subject for suspicion, both to brother
and sister--so common a subject, that they suspended their
conversation as a matter of course, without exchanging a word of
explanation, until the tramp of the strange footsteps had died
"Louis," continued Rose, dropping her voice to a whisper, after
nothing more was audible, "when may I trust our secret to my
"Not yet!" rejoined Trudaine, earnestly. "Not a word, not a hint
of it, till I give you leave. Remember, Rose, you promised
silence from the first. Everything depends on your holding that
promise sacred till I release you from it."
"I will hold it sacred; I will indeed, at all hazards, under all
provocations," she answered.
"That is quite enough to reassure me--and now, love, let us
change the subject. Even these walls may have ears, and the
closed door yonder may be no protection." He looked toward it
uneasily while he spoke. "By-the-by, I have come round to your
way of thinking, Rose, about that new servant of mine--there is
something false in his face. I wish I had been as quick to detect
it as you were."
Rose glanced at him affrightedly. "Has he done anything
suspicious? Have you caught him watching you? Tell me the worst,
"Hush! hush! my dear, not so loud. Don't alarm yourself; he has
done nothing suspicious."
"Turn him off--pray, pray turn him off, before it is too late!"
"And be denounced by him, in revenge, the first night he goes to
his Section. You forget that servants and masters are equal now.
I am not supposed to keep a servant at all. I have a citizen
living with me who lays me under domestic obligations, for which
I make a pecuniary acknowledgment. No! no! if I do anything, I
must try if I can't entrap him into giving me warning. But we
have got to another unpleasant subject already--suppose I change
the topic again? You will find a little book on that table there,
in the corner--tell me what you think of it."
The book was a copy of Corneille's "Cid," prettily bound in blue
morocco. Rose was enthusiastic in her praises. "I found it in a
bookseller's shop, yesterday," said her brother, "and bought it
as a present for you. Corneille is not an author to compromise
any one, even in these times. Don't you remember saying the other
day that you felt ashamed of knowing but little of our greatest
dramatist?" Rose remembered well, and smiled almost as happily as
in the old times over her present. "There are some good
engravings at the beginning of each act," continued Trudaine,
directing her attention rather earnestly to the illustrations,
and then suddenly leaving her side when he saw that she became
interested in looking at them.
He went to the window--listened--then drew aside the curtain, and
looked up and down the street. No living soul was in sight. "I
must have been mistaken," he thought, returning hastily to his
sister; "but I certainly fancied I was followed in my walk to-day
by a spy."
"I wonder," asked Rose, still busy over her book, "I wonder,
Louis, whether my husband would let me go with you to see 'Le
Cid' the next time it is acted."
"No!" cried a voice at the door; "not if you went on your knees
to ask him."
Rose turned round with a scream. There stood her husband on the
threshold, scowling at her, with his hat on, and his hands thrust
doggedly into his pockets. Trudaine's servant announced him, with
an insolent smile, during the pause that followed the discovery.
"Citizen Superintendent Danville, to visit the citoyenne, his
wife," said the fellow, making a mock bow to his master.
Rose looked at her brother, then advanced a few paces toward the
door. "This is a surprise," she said, faintly; "has anything
happened? We--we didn't expect you." Her voice failed her as she
saw her husband advancing, pale to his very lips with suppressed
"How dare you come here, after what I told you?" he asked, in
quick, low tones.
She shrank at his voice almost as if he had struck her. The blood
flew into her brother's face as he noticed the action; but he
controlled himself, and, taking her hand, led her in silence to a
"I forbid you to sit down in his house," said Danville, advancing
still; "I order you to come back with me! Do you hear? I order
He was approaching nearer to her, when he caught Trudaine's eye
fixed on him, and stopped. Rose started up, and placed herself
"Oh, Charles, Charles!" she said to her husband, "be friends with
Louis to-night, and be kind again to me. I have a claim to ask
that much of you, though you may not think it!"
He turned away from her, and laughed contemptuously. She tried to
speak again, but Trudaine touched her on the arm, and gave her a
"Signals!" exclaimed Danville; "secret signals between you!"
His eye, as he glanced suspiciously at his wife, fell on
Trudaine's gift-book, which she still held unconsciously.
"What book is that?" he asked.
"Only a play of Corneille's," answered Rose; "Louis has just made
me a present of it."
At this avowal Danville's suppressed anger burst beyond all
"Give it him back!" he cried, in a voice of fury. "You shall take
no presents from him; the venom of the household spy soils
everything he touches. Give it him back!" She hesitated. "You
won't?" He tore the book from her with an oath, threw it on the
floor, and set his foot on it.
"Oh, Louis! Louis! for God's sake, remember."
Trudaine was stepping forward as the book fell to the floor. At
the same moment his sister threw her arms round him. He stopped,
turning from fiery red to ghastly pale.
"No, no, Louis!" she said, clasping him closer; "not after five
years' patience. No--no!"
He gently detached her arms.
"You are right, love. Don't be afraid; it is all over now."
Saying that, he put her from him, and in silence took up the book
from the floor.
"Won't _that_ offend you even?" said Danville, with an insolent
smile. "You have a wonderful temper--any other man would have
called me out!"
Trudaine looked back at him steadily; and taking out his
handkerchief, passed it over the soiled cover of the book.
"If I could wipe the stain of your blood off my conscience as
easily as I can wipe the stain of your boot off this book," he
said quietly, "you should not live another hour. Don't cry,
Rose," he continued, turning again to his sister: "I will take
care of your book for you until you can keep it yourself."
"You will do this! you will do that!" cried Danville, growing
more and more exasperated, and letting his anger got the better
even of his cunning now. "Talk less confidently of the
future--you don't know what it has in store for you. Govern your
tongue when you are in my presence; a day may come when you will
want my help--my help; do you hear that?"
Trudaine turned his face from his sister, as if he feared to let
her see it when those words were spoken.
"The man who followed me to-day was a spy--Danville's spy!" That
thought flashed across his mind, but he gave it no utterance.
There was an instant's pause of silence; and through it there
came heavily on the still night air the rumbling of distant
wheels. The sound advanced nearer and nearer--advanced and ceased
under the window.
Danville hurried to it, and looked out eagerly. "I have not
hastened my return without reason. I wouldn't have missed this
arrest for anything!" thought he, peering into the night.
The stars were out, but there was no moon. He could not recognize
either the coach or the persons who got out of it, and he turned
again into the interior of the room. His wife had sunk into a
chair, her brother was locking up in a cabinet the book which he
had promised to take care of for her. The dead silence made the
noise of slowly ascending footsteps on the stairs painfully
audible. At last the door opened softly.
"Citizen Danville, health and fraternity!" said Lomaque,
appearing in the doorway, followed by his agents. "Citizen Louis
Trudaine?" he continued, beginning with the usual form.
Rose started out of her chair; but her brother's hand was on her
lips before she could speak.
"My name is Louis Trudaine," he answered.
"Charles!" cried his sister, breaking from him and appealing to
her husband, "who are these men? What are they here for?"
He gave her no answer.
"Louis Trudaine," said Lomaque, slowly, drawing the order from
his pocket, "in the name of the Republic, I arrest you."
"Rose, come back," cried Trudaine.
It was too late; she had broken from him, and in the recklessness
of terror, had seized her husband by the arm.
"Save him!" she cried. "Save him, by all you hold dearest in the
world! You are that man's superior, Charles--order him from the
Danville roughly shook her hand off his arm.
"Lomaque is doing his duty. Yes," he added, with a glance of
malicious triumph at Trudaine, "yes, doing his duty. Look at me
as you please--your looks won't move me. I denounced you! I admit
it--I glory in it! I have rid myself of an enemy, and the State
of a bad citizen. Remember your secret visits to the house in the
Rue de Clery!"
His wife uttered a cry of horror. She seized his arm again with
both hands--frail, trembling hands--that seemed suddenly nerved
with all the strength of a man's.
"Come here--come here! I must and will speak to you!"
She dragged him by main force a few paces back, toward an
unoccupied corner of the room. With deathly cheeks and wild eyes
she raised herself on tiptoe, and put her lips to her husband's
ear. At that instant Trudaine called to her:
"Rose, if you speak I am lost!"
She stopped at the sound of his voice, dropped her hold on her
husband's arm, and faced her brother, shuddering.
"Rose," he continued, "you have promised, and your promise is
sacred. If you prize your honor, if you love me, come here--come
here, and be silent."
He held out his hand. She ran to him; and, laying her head on his
bosom, burst into a passion of tears.
Danville turned uneasily toward the police agents. "Remove your
prisoner," he said. "You have done your duty here."
"Only half of it," retorted Lomaque, eying him attentively. "Rose
"My wife!" exclaimed the other. "What about my wife?"
"Rose Danville," continued Lomaque, impassibly, "you are included
in the arrest of Louis Trudaine."
Rose raised her head quickly from her brother's breast. His
firmness had deserted him--he was trembling. She heard him
whispering to himself, "Rose, too! Oh, my God! I was not prepared
for that." She heard these words, and dashed the tears from her
eyes, and kissed him, saying:
"I am glad of it, Louis. We risked all together--we shall now
suffer together. I am glad of it!"
Danville looked incredulously at Lomaque, after the first shock
of astonishment was over.
"Impossible!" he exclaimed. "I never denounced my wife. There is
some mistake; you have exceeded your orders."
"Silence!" retorted Lomaque, imperiously. "Silence, citizen, and
respect to a decree of the Republic!"
"You blackguard! show me the arrest-order!" said Danville. "Who
has dared to denounce my wife?"
"You have!" said Lomaque, turning on him with a grin of contempt.
"You--and 'blackguard' back in your teeth! You, in denouncing her
brother! Aha! we work hard in our office; we don't waste time in
calling names--we make discoveries. If Trudaine is guilty, your
wife is implicated in his guilt. We know it; and we arrest her."
"I resist the arrest," cried Danville. "I am the authority here.
Who opposes me?"
The impassible chief agent made no answer. Some new noise in the
street struck his quick ear. He ran to the window and looked out
"Who opposes me?" reiterated Danville.
"Hark!" exclaimed Lomaque, raising his hand. "Silence, and
The heavy, dull tramp of men marching together became audible as
he spoke. Voices humming low and in unison the Marseillaise hymn,
joined solemnly with the heavy, regular footfalls. Soon the flare
of torch-light began to glimmer redder and redder under the dim,
"Do you hear that? Do you see the advancing torch-light?" cried
Lomaque, pointing exultingly into the street. "Respect to the
national hymn, and to the man who holds in the hollow of his hand
the destinies of all France! Hat off, Citizen Danville!
Robespierre is in the street. His bodyguard, the Hard-hitters,
are lighting him on his way to the Jacobin Club! Who shall oppose
you, did you say? Your master and mine; the man whose signature
is at the bottom of this order--the man who with a scratch of his
pen can send both our heads rolling together into the sack of the
guillotine! Shall I call to him as he passes the house? Shall I
tell him that Superintendent Danville resists me in making an
arrest? Shall I? Shall I?" And in the immensity of his contempt,
Lomaque seemed absolutely to rise in stature, as he thrust the
arrest order under Danville's eyes and pointed to the signature
with the head of his stick.
Rose looked round in terror, as Lomaque spoke his last
words--looked round, and saw her husband recoil before the
signature on the arrest order, as if the guillotine itself had
suddenly arisen before him. Her brother felt her shrinking back
in his arms, and trembled for the preservation of her
self-control if the terror and suspense of the arrest lasted any
"Courage, Rose, courage!" he said. "You have behaved nobly; you
must not fail now. No, no! Not a word more. Not a word till I am
able to think clearly again, and to decide what is best. Courage,
love; our lives depend on it. Citizen," he continued, addressing
himself to Lomaque, "proceed with your duty--we are ready."
The heavy marching footsteps outside were striking louder and
louder on the ground; the chanting voices were every moment
swelling in volume; the dark street was flaming again with the
brightening torch-light, as Lomaque, under pretext of giving
Trudaine his hat, came close to him, and, turning his back toward
Danville, whispered: "I have not forgotten the eve of the wedding
and the bench on the river bank."
Before Trudaine could answer, he had taken Rose's cloak and hood
from one of his assistants, and was helping her on with it.
Danville, still pale and trembling, advanced a step when he saw
these preparations for departure, and addressed a word or two to
his wife; but he spoke in low tones, and the fast-advancing march
of feet and sullen low roar of singing outside drowned his voice.
An oath burst from his lips, and he struck his fist, in impotent
fury, on a table near him.
"The seals are set on everything in this room and in the
bedroom," said Magloire, approaching Lomaque, who nodded and
signed to him to bring up the other police agents at the door.
"Ready," cried Magloire, coming forward immediately with his men,
and raising his voice to make himself heard. "Where to?"
Robespierre and his Hard-hitters were passing the house. The
smoke of the torch-light was rolling in at the window; the
tramping footsteps struck heavier and heavier on the ground; the
low sullen roar of the Marseillaise was swelling to its loudest,
as Lomaque referred for a moment to his arrest-order, and then
"To the prison of St. Lazare!"
THE head jailer of St. Lazare stood in the outer hall of the
prison, two days after the arrest at Trudaine's lodgings, smoking
his morning pipe. Looking toward the courtyard gate, he saw the
wicket opened, and a privileged man let in, whom he soon
recognized as the chief agent of the second section of Secret
Police. "Why, friend Lomaque," cried the jailer, a dvancing
toward the courtyard, "what brings you here this morning,
business or pleasure?"
"Pleasure, this time, citizen. I have an idle hour or two to
spare for a walk. I find myself passing the prison, and I can't
resist calling in to see how my friend the head jailer is getting
on." Lomaque spoke in a surprisingly brisk and airy manner. His
eyes were suffering under a violent fit of weakness and winking;
but he smiled, notwithstanding, with an air of the most
inveterate cheerfulness. Those old enemies of his, who always
distrusted him most when his eyes were most affected, would have
certainly disbelieved every word of the friendly speech he had
just made, and would have assumed it as a matter of fact that his
visit to the head jailer had some specially underhand business at
the bottom of it.
"How am I getting on?" said the jailer, shaking his head.
"Overworked, friend--overworked. No idle hours in our department.
Even the guilotine is getting too slow for us!"
"Sent off your batch of prisoners for trial this morning?" asked
Lomaque, with an appearance of perfect unconcern.
"No; they're just going," answered the other. "Come and have a
look at them." He spoke as if the prisoners were a collection of
pictures on view, or a set of dresses just made up. Lomaque
nodded his head, still with his air of happy, holiday
carelessness. The jailer led the way to an inner hall; and,
pointing lazily with his pipe-stem, said: "Our morning batch,
citizen, just ready for the baking."
In one comer of the hall were huddled together more than thirty
men and women of all ranks and ages; some staring round them with
looks of blank despair; some laughing and gossiping recklessly.
Near them lounged a guard of "Patriots," smoking, spitting, and
swearing. Between the patriots and the prisoners sat, on a
rickety stool, the second jailer--a humpbacked man, with an
immense red mustache--finishing his breakfast of broad beans,
which he scooped out of a basin with his knife, and washed down
with copious draughts of wine from a bottle. Carelessly as
Lomaque looked at the shocking scene before him, his quick eyes
contrived to take note of every prisoner's face, and to descry in
a few minutes Trudaine and his sister standing together at the
back of the group.
"Now then, Apollo!" cried the head jailer, addressing his
subordinate by a facetious prison nickname, "don't be all day
starting that trumpery batch of yours. And harkye, friend, I have
leave of absence, on business, at my Section this afternoon. So
it will be your duty to read the list for the guillotine, and
chalk the prisoners' doors before the cart comes to-morrow
morning. 'Ware the bottle, Apollo, to-day; 'ware the bottle, for
fear of accidents with the death-list tomorrow."
"Thirsty July weather, this--eh, citizen?" said Lomaque, leaving
the head jailer, and patting the hunchback in the friendliest
manner on the shoulder. "Why, how you have got your batch huddled
up together this morning! Shall I help you to shove them into
marching order? My time is quite at your disposal. This is a
holiday morning with me!"
"Ha, ha, ha! what a jolly dog he is on his holiday morning!"
exclaimed the head jailer, as Lomaque--apparently taking leave of
his natural character altogether in the exhilaration of an hour's
unexpected leisure--began pushing and pulling the prisoners into
rank, with humorous mock apologies, at which not the officials
only, but many of the victims themselves--reckless victims of a
reckless tyranny--laughed heartily. Persevering to the last in
his practical jest, Lomaque contrived to get close to Trudaine
for a minute, and to give him one significant look before he
seized him by the shoulders, like the rest. Now, then,
rear-guard," cried Lomaque, pushing Trudaine on, "close the line
of march, and mind you keep step with your young woman there.
Pluck up your spirits, citoyenne! one gets used to everything in
this world, even to the guillotine!"
While he was speaking and pushing at the same time, Trudaine felt
a piece of paper slip quickly between his neck and his cravat.
"Courage!" he whispered, pressing his sister's hand, as he saw
her shuddering under the assumed brutality of Lomaque's joke.
Surrounded by the guard of "Patriots," the procession of
prisoners moved slowly into the outer courtyard, on its way to
the revolutionary tribunal, the humpbacked jailer bringing up the
rear. Lomaque was about to follow at some little distance, but
the head jailer hospitably expostulated. "What a hurry you're
in!" said he. "Now that incorrigible drinker, my second in
command, has gone off with his batch, I don't mind asking you to
step in and have a drop of wine."
"Thank you," answered Lomaque; "but I have rather a fancy for
hearing the trial this morning. Suppose I come back afterward?
What time do you go to your Section? At two o'clock, eh? Good! I
shall try if I can't get here soon after one." With these words
he nodded and went out. The brilliant sunlight in the courtyard
made him wink faster than ever. Had any of his old enemies been
with him, they would have whispered within themselves, "If you
mean to come back at all, Citizen Lomaque, it will not be soon
On his way through the streets, the chief agent met one or two
police office friends, who delayed his progress; so that when he
arrived at the revolutionary tribunal the trials of the day were
just about to begin.
The principal article of furniture in the Hall of Justice was a
long, clumsy, deal table, covered with green baize. At the head
of this table sat the president and his court, with their hats
on, backed by a heterogeneous collection of patriots officially
connected in various ways with the proceedings that were to take
place. Below the front of the table, a railed-off space, with a
gallery beyond, was appropriated to the general public--mostly
represented, as to the gallery, on this occasion, by women, all
sitting together on forms, knitting, shirt-mending, and
baby-linen-making, as coolly as if they were at home. Parallel
with the side of the table furthest from the great door of
entrance was a low platform railed off, on which the prisoners,
surrounded by their guard, were now assembled to await their
trial. The sun shone in brightly from a high window, and a hum of
ceaseless talking pervaded the hall cheerfully as Lomaque entered
it. He was a privileged man here, as at the prison; and he made
his way in by a private door, so as to pass to the prisoners'
platform, and to walk round it, before he got to a place behind
the president's chair. Trudaine, standing with his sister on the
outermost limits of the group, nodded significantly as Lomaque
looked up at him for an instant. He had contrived, on his way to
the tribunal, to get an opportunity of reading the paper which
the chief agent had slipped into his cravat. It contained these
"I have just discovered who the citizen and citoyenne Dubois are.
There is no chance for you but to confess everything. By that
means you may inculpate a certain citizen holding authority, and
may make it his interest, if he loves his own life, to save yours
and your sister's."
Arrived at the back of the president's chair, Lomaque recognized
his two trusty subordinates, Magloire and Picard, waiting among
the assembled patriot officials, to give their evidence. Beyond
them, leaning against the wall, addressed by no one, and speaking
to no one, stood the superintendent, Danville. Doubt and suspense
were written in every line of his face; the fretfulness of an
uneasy mind expressed itself in his slightest gesture--even in
his manner of passing a handkerchief from time to time over his
face, on which the perspiration was gathering thick and fast
"Silence!" cried the usher of the court for the time being--a
hoarse-voiced man in top-boots with a huge saber buckled to his
side, and a bludgeon in his hand. "Silence for the Citizen
President!" he reiterated, striking his bludgeon on the table.
The president rose and proclaimed that the sitting for the day
had begun; then sat down again.
The momentary silence which followed was interrupted by a sudden
confusion among the prisoners on
the platform. Two of the guards sprang in among them. There was
the thump of a heavy fall--a scream of terror from some of the
female prisoners--then another dead silence, broken by one of the
guards, who walked across the hall with a bloody knife in his
hand, and laid it on the table. "Citizen President," he said, "I
have to report that one of the prisoners has just stabbed
himself." There was a murmuring exclamation, "Is that all?" among
the women spectators, as they resumed their work. Suicide at the
bar of justice was no uncommon occurrence, under the Reign of
"Name?" asked the president, quietly taking up his pen and
opening a book.
"Martigne," answered the humpbacked jailer, coming forward to the
"Ex-royalist coach-maker to the tyrant Capet."
"Conspiracy in prison."
The president nodded, and entered in the book: "Martigne,
coachmaker. Accused of conspiring in prison. Anticipated course
of law by suicide. Action accepted as sufficient confession of
guilt. Goods confiscated. 1st Thermidor, year two of the
"Silence!" cried the man with the bludgeon, as the president
dropped a little sand on the entry, and signing to the jailer
that he might remove the dead body, closed the book.
"Any special cases this morning?" resumed the president, looking
round at the group behind him.
"There is one," said Lomaque, making his way to the back of the
official chair. "Will it be convenient to you, citizen, to take
the case of Louis Trudaine and Rose Danville first? Two of my men
are detained here as witnesses, and their time is valuable to the
The president marked a list of names before him, and handed it to
the crier or usher, placing the figures one and two against Louis
Trudaine and Rose Danville.
While Lomaque was backing again to his former place behind the
chair, Danville approached and whispered to him, "There is a
rumor that secret information has reached you about the citizen
and citoyenne Dubois. Is it true? Do you know who they are?"
"Yes," answered Lomaque; "but I have superior orders to keep the
information to myself just at present."
The eagerness with which Danville put his question, and the
disappointment he showed on getting no satisfactory answer to it,
were of a nature to satisfy the observant chief agent that his
superintendent was really as ignorant as he appeared to be on the
subject of the man and woman Dubois. That one mystery, at any
rate was still, for Danville, a mystery unrevealed.
"Louis Trudaine! Rose Danville!" shouted the crier, with another
rap of his bludgeon.
The two came forward, at the appeal, to the front railing of the
platform. The first sight of her judges, the first shock on
confronting the pitiless curiosity of the audience, seemed to
overwhelm Rose. She turned from deadly pale to crimson, then to
pale again, and hid her face on her brother's shoulder. How fast
she heard his heart throbbing! How the tears filled her eyes as
she felt that his fear was all for her!
"Now," said the president, writing down their names. "Denounced
Magloire and Picard stepped forward to the table. The first
answered--"By Citizen Superintendent Danville."
The reply made a great stir and sensation among both prisoners
"Accused of what?" pursued the president.
"The male prisoner, of conspiracy against the Republic; the
female prisoner, of criminal knowledge of the same."
"Produce your proofs in answer to this order."
Picard and Magloire opened their minutes of evidence, and read to
the president the same particulars which they had formerly read
to Lomaque in the secret police office.
"Good," said the president, when they had done, "we need trouble
ourselves with nothing more than the identifying of the citizen
and citoyenne Dubois, which, of course, you are prepared for.
Have you heard the evidence?" he continued, turning to the
prisoners; while Picard and Magloire consulted together in
whispers, looking perplexedly toward the chief agent, who stood
silent behind them. "Have you heard the evidence, prisoners? Do
you wish to say anything? If you do, remember that the time of
this tribunal is precious, and that you will not be suffered to
"I demand permission to speak for myself and for my sister,"
answered Trudaine. "My object is to save the time of the tribunal
by making a confession."
The faint whispering, audible among the women spectators a moment
before, ceased instantaneously as he pronounced the word
confession. In the breathless silence, his low, quiet tones
penetrated to the remotest corners of the hall; while,
suppressing externally all evidences of the death-agony of hope
within him, he continued his address in these words:
"I confess my secret visits to the house in the Rue de Clery. I
confess that the persons whom I went to see are the persons
pointed at in the evidence. And, lastly, I confess that my object
in communicating with them as I did was to supply them with the
means of leaving France. If I had acted from political motives to
the political prejudice of the existing government, I admit that
I should be guilty of that conspiracy against the Republic with
which I am charged. But no political purpose animated, no
political necessity urged me, in performing the action which has
brought me to the bar of this tribunal. The persons whom I aided
in leaving France were without political influence or political
connections. I acted solely from private motives of humanity
toward them and toward others--motives which a good republican
may feel, and yet not turn traitor to the welfare of his
"Are you ready to inform the court, next, who the man and woman
Dubois really are?" inquired the president, impatiently.
"I am ready," answered Trudaine. "But first I desire to say one
word in reference to my sister, charged here at the bar with me."
His voice grew less steady, and, for the first time, his color
began to change, as Rose lifted her face from his shoulder and
looked up at him eagerly. I implore the tribunal to consider my
sister as innocent of all active participation in what is charged
against me as a crime--" He went on. "Having spoken with candor
about myself, I have some claim to be believed when I speak of
her; when I assert that she neither did help me nor could help
me. If there be blame, it is mine only; if punishment, it is I
alone who should suffer."
He stopped suddenly, and grew confused. It was easy to guard
himself from the peril of looking at Rose, but he could not
escape the hard trial to his self-possession of hearing her, if
she spoke. Just as he pronounced the last sentence, she raised
her face again from his shoulder, and eagerly whispered to him:
"No, no, Louis! Not that sacrifice, after all the others--not
that, though you should force me into speaking to them myself!"
She abruptly quitted her hold of him, and fronted the whole court
in an instant. The railing in front of her shook with the
quivering of her arms and hands as she held by it to support
herself! Her hair lay tangled on her shoulders; her face had
assumed a strange fixedness; her gentle blue eyes, so soft and
tender at all other times, were lit up wildly. A low hum of
murmured curiosity and admiration broke from the women of the
audience. Some rose eagerly from the benches; others cried:
"Listen, listen! she is going to speak!"
She did speak. Silvery and pure the sweet voice, sweeter than
ever in sadness, stole its way through the gross sounds--through
the coarse humming and the hissing whispers.
"My lord the president," began the poor girl firmly. Her next
words were drowned in a volley of hisses from the women.
"Ah! aristocrat, aristocrat! None of your accursed titles here!"
was their shrill cry at her. She fronted that cry, she fronted
the fierce gestures which accompanied it, with the steady light
still in her eyes, with the strange rigidity still fastened on
her face. She would have spoken again through the uproar and
execration, but her brother's voice overpowered her.
"Citizen president," he cried, "I have not concluded. I demand
leave to complete my confession. I implore the tribunal to
attach no importance to what my sister says. The trouble and
terror of this day have shaken her intellects. She is not
responsible for her words--I assert it solemnly, in the face of
the whole court!"
The blood flew up into his white face as he made the
asseveration. Even at that supreme moment the great heart of the
man reproached him for yielding himself to a deception, though
the motive of it was to save his sister's life.
"Let her speak! let her speak!" exclaimed the women, as Rose,
without moving, without looking at her brother, without seeming
even to have heard what he said, made a second attempt to address
her judges, in spite of Trudaine's interposition.
"Silence!" shouted the man with the bludgeon. "Silence, you
women! the citizen president is going to speak."
"The prisoner Trudaine has the ear of the court," said the
president, "and may continue his confession. If the female
prisoner wishes to speak, she may be heard afterward. I enjoin
both the accused persons to make short work of it with their
addresses to me, or they will make their case worse instead of
better. I command silence among the audience, and if I am not
obeyed, I will clear the hall. Now, prisoner Trudaine, I invite
you to proceed. No more about your sister; let her speak for
herself. Your business and ours is with the man and woman Dubois.
Are you, or are you not, ready to tell the court who they are?"
"I repeat that I am ready," answered Trudaine. "The citizen
Dubois is a servant. The woman Dubois is the mother of the man
who denounces me--Superintendent Danville."
A low, murmuring, rushing sound of hundreds of exclaiming voices,
all speaking, half-suppressedly, at the same moment, followed the
delivery of the answer. No officer of the court attempted to
control the outburst of astonishment. The infection of it spread
to the persons on the platform, to the crier himself, to the
judges of the tribunal, lounging, but the moment before, so
carelessly silent in their chairs. When the noise was at length
quelled, it was subdued in the most instantaneous manner by one
man, who shouted from the throng behind the president's chair:
"Clear the way there! Superintendent Danville is taken ill!"
A vehement whispering and contending of many voices interrupting
each other, followed; then a swaying among the assembly of
official people; then a great stillness; then the sudden
appearance of Danville, alone, at the table.
The look of him, as he turned his ghastly face toward the
audience, silenced and steadied them in an instant, just as they
were on the point of falling into fresh confusion. Every one
stretched forward eagerly to hear what he would say. His lips
moved; but the few words that fell from them were inaudible,
except to the persons who happened to be close by him. Having
spoken, he left the table supported by a police agent, who was
seen to lead him toward the private door of the court, and,
consequently, also toward the prisoners' platform. He stopped,
however, halfway, quickly turned his face from the prisoners, and
pointing toward the public door at the opposite side of the hall,
caused himself to be led out into the air by that direction. When
he had gone the president, addressing himself partly to Trudaine
and partly to the audience, said:
"The Citizen Superintendent Danville has been overcome by the
heat in the court. He has retired by my desire, under the care of
a police agent, to recover in the open air; pledging himself to
me to come back and throw a new light on the extraordinary and
suspicious statement which the prisoner has just made. Until the
return of Citizen Danville, I order the accused, Trudaine, to
suspend any further acknowledgment of complicity which he may
have to address to me. This matter must be cleared up before
other matters are entered on. Meanwhile, in order that the time
of the tribunal may not be wasted, I authorize the female
prisoner to take this opportunity of making any statement
concerning herself which she may wish to address to the judges."
"Silence him!" "Remove him out of court!" "Gag him!" "Guillotine
him!" These cries rose from the audience the moment the president
had done speaking. They were all directed at Trudaine, who had
made a last desperate effort to persuade his sister to keep
silence, and had been detected in the attempt by the spectators.
"If the prisoner speaks another word to his sister, remove him,"
said the president, addressing the guard round the platform.
"Good! we shall hear her at last. Silence! silence!" exclaimed
the women, settling themselves comfortably on their benches, and
preparing to resume their work.
"Rose Danville, the court is waiting to hear you," said the
president, crossing his legs and leaning back luxuriously in his
Amid all the noise and confusion of the last few minutes, Rose
had stood ever in the same attitude, with that strangely fixed
expression never altering on her face but once. When her husband
made his way to the side of the table and stood there prominently
alone, her lips trembled a little, and a faint shade of color
passed swiftly over her cheeks. Even that slight change had
vanished now--she was paler, stiller, more widely altered from
her former self than ever, as she faced the president and said
"I wish to follow my brother's example and make my confession, as
he has made his. I would rather he had spoken for me; but he is
too generous to say any words except such as he thinks may save
me from sharing his punishment. I refuse to be saved, unless he
is saved with me. Where he goes when he leaves this place, I will
go; what he suffers, I will suffer; if he is to die, I believe
God will grant me the strength to die resignedly with him!"
She paused for a moment, and half turned toward Trudaine--then
checked herself instantly and went on: "This is what I now wish
to say, as to my share in the offense charged against my brother.
Some time ago, he told me one day that he had seen my husband's
mother in Paris, disguised as a poor woman; that he had spoken to
her, and forced her to acknowledge herself. Up to this time we
had all felt certain that she had left France, because she held
old-fashioned opinions which it is dangerous for people to hold
now--had left France before we came to Paris. She told my brother
that she had indeed gone (with an old, tried servant of the
family to help and protect her) as far as Marseilles; and that,
finding unforeseen difficulty there in getting further, she had
taken it as a warning from Providence not to desert her son, of
whom she was very passionately fond, and from whom she had been
most unwilling to depart. Instead of waiting in exile for quieter
times, she determined to go and hide herself in Paris, knowing
her son was going there too. She assumed the name of her old and
faithful servant, who declined to the last to leave her
unprotected; and she proposed to live in the strictest secrecy
and retirement, watching, unknown, the career of her son, and
ready at a moment's notice to disclose herself to him, when the
settlement of pubic affairs might reunite her safely to her
beloved child. My brother thought this plan full of danger, both
for herself, for her son, and for the honest old man who was
risking his head for his mistress's sake. I thought so too; and
in an evil hour I said to Louis: 'Will you try in secret to get
my husband's mother away, and see that her faithful servant makes
her really leave France this time?' I wrongly asked my brother to
do this for a selfish reason of my own--a reason connected with
my married life, which has not been a happy one. I had not
succeeded in gaining my husband's affection, and was not treated
kindly by him. My brother--who has always loved me far more
dearly, I am afraid, than I have ever deserved--my brother
increased his kindness to me, seeing me treated unkindly by my
husband. This made ill-blood between them. My thought, when I
asked my brother to do for me what I have said, was, that if we
two in secret saved my husband's mother, without danger to him,
from imperiling herself and her son, we should, when the time
came for speaking of what we ha d done, appear to my husband in a
new and better light. I should have shown how well I deserved his
love, and Louis would have shown how well he deserved his
brother-in-law's gratitude; and so we should have made home happy
at last, and all three have lived together affectionately. This
was my thought; and when I told it to my brother, and asked him
if there would be much risk, out of his kindness and indulgence
toward me, he said 'No.' He had so used me to accept sacrifices
for my happiness that I let him endanger himself to help me in my
little household plan. I repent this bitterly now; I ask his
pardon with my whole heart. If he is acquitted, I will try to
show myself worthier of his love. If he is found guilty, I, too,
will go to the scaffold, and die with my brother, who risked his
life for my sake."
She ceased as quietly as she had begun, and turned once more to
As she looked away from the court and looked at him, a few tears
came into her eyes, and something of the old softness of form and
gentleness of expression seemed to return to her face. He let her
take his hand, but he seemed purposely to avoid meeting the
anxious gaze she fixed on him. His head sunk on his breast; he
drew his breath heavily, his countenance darkened and grew
distorted, as if he were suffering some sharp pang of physical
pain. He bent down a little, and, leaning his elbow on the rail
before him, covered his face with his hand; and so quelled the
rising agony, so forced back the scalding tears to his heart. The
audience had heard Rose in silence, and they preserved the same
tranquillity when she had done. This was a rare tribute to a
prisoner from the people of the Reign of Terror.
The president looked round at his colleagues, and shook his head
"This statement of the female prisoner's complicates the matter
very seriously," said he. "Is there anybody in court," he added,
looking at the persons behind his chair, "who knows where the
mother of Superintendent Danville and the servant are now?"
Lomaque came forward at the appeal, and placed himself by the
"Why, citizen agent!" continued the president, looking hard at
him, "are you overcome by the heat, too?"
"The fit seemed to take him, citizen president, when the female
prisoner had made an end of her statement," exclaimed Magloire,
pressing forward officiously.
Lomaque gave his subordinate a look which sent the man back
directly to the shelter of the official group; then said, in
lower tones than were customary with him:
"I have received information relative to the mother of
Superintendent Danville and the servant, and am ready to answer
any questions that may be put to me."
"Where are they now?" asked the president.
"She and the servant are known to have crossed the frontier, and
are supposed to be on their way to Cologne. But, since they have
entered Germany, their whereabouts is necessarily a matter of
uncertainty to the republican authorities."
"Have you any information relative to the conduct of the old
servant while he was in Paris?"
"I have information enough to prove that he was not an object for
political suspicion. He seems to have been simply animated by
servile zeal for the woman's interests; to have performed for her
all the menial offices of a servant in private; and to have
misled the neighbors by affected equality with her in public."
"Have you any reason to believe that Superintendent Danville was
privy to his mother's first attempt at escaping from France?"
"I infer it from what the female prisoner has said, and for other
reasons which it would be irregular to detail before the
tribunal. The proofs can no doubt be obtained if I am allowed
time to communicate with the authorities at Lyons and
At this moment Danville re-entered the court; and, advancing to
the table, placed himself close by the chief agent's side. They
looked each other steadily in the face for an instant.
"He has recovered from the shock of Trudaine's answer," thought
Lomaque, retiring. "His hand trembles, his face is pale, but I
can see regained self-possession in his eye, and I dread the
"Citizen president," began Danville, "I demand to know if
anything has transpired affecting my honor and patriotism in my
He spoke apparently with the most perfect calmness, but he looked
nobody in the face. His eyes were fixed steadily on the green
baize of the table beneath him.
"The female prisoner has made a statement, referring principally
to herself and her brother," answered the president, "but
incidentally mentioning a previous attempt on your mother's part
to break existing laws by emigrating from France. This portion of
the confession contains in it some elements of suspicion which
seriously affect you--"
"They shall be suspicions no longer--at my own peril I will
change them to certainties!" exclaimed Danville, extending his
arm theatrically, and looking up for the first time. "Citizen
president, I avow it with the fearless frankness of a good
patriot; I was privy to my mother's first attempt at escaping
Hisses and cries of execration followed this confession. He
winced under them at first; but recovered his self-possession
before silence was restored.
"Citizens, you have heard the confession of my fault," he
resumed, turning with desperate assurance toward the audience;
"now hear the atonement I have made for it at the altar of my
He waited at the end of that sentence, until the secretary to the
tribunal had done writing it down in the report book of the
"Transcribe faithfully to the letter!" cried Danville, pointing
solemnly to the open page of the volume. "Life and death hang on
The secretary took a fresh dip of ink, and nodded to show that he
was ready. Danville went on:
"In these times of glory and trial for France," he proceeded,
pitching his voice to a tone of deep emotion, "what are all good
citizens most sacredly bound to do? To immolate their dearest
private affections and interests before their public duties! On
the first attempt of my mother to violate the laws against
emigration, by escaping from France, I failed in making the
heroic sacrifice which inexorable patriotism demanded of me. My
situation was more terrible than the situation of Brutus sitting
in judgment on his own sons. I had not the Roman fortitude to
rise equal to it. I erred, citizens--erred as Coriolanus did,
when his august mother pleaded with him for the safety of Rome!
For that error I deserved to he purged out of the republican
community; but I escaped my merited punishment--nay, I even rose
to the honor of holding an office under the Government. Time
passed; and again my mother attempted an escape from France.
Again, inevitable fate brought my civic virtue to the test. How
did I meet this second supremest trial? By an atonement for past
weakness, terrible as the trial itself. Citizens, you will
shudder; but you will applaud while you tremble. Citizens, look!
and while you look, remember well the evidence given at the
opening of this case. Yonder stands the enemy of his country, who
intrigued to help my mother to escape; here stands the patriot
son, whose voice was the first, the only voice, to denounce him
for the crime!" As he spoke, he pointed to Trudaine, then struck
himself on the breast, then folded his arms, and looked sternly
at the benches occupied by the spectators.
"Do you assert," exclaimed the president, "that at the time when
you denounced Trudaine, you knew him to be intriguing to aid your
"I assert it," answered Danville.
The pen which the president held dropped from his hand at that
reply; his colleagues started, and looked at each other in blank
A murmur of "Monster! monster!" began with the prisoners on the
platform, and spread instantly to the audience, who echoed and
echoed it again; the fiercest woman-republican on the benches
joined cause at last with the haughtiest woman-aristocrat on the
platform. Even in that sphere of direst discords, in that age of
sharpest enmities, the one touch of Nature preserved its old
eternal virtue, and roused the mo ther-instinct which makes the
whole world kin.
Of the few persons in the court who at once foresaw the effect of
Danville's answer on the proceedings of the tribunal, Lomaque was
one. His sallow face whitened as he looked toward the prisoners'
"They are lost," he murmured to himself, moving out of the group
in which he had hitherto stood. "Lost! The lie which has saved
that villain's head leaves them without the shadow of a hope. No
need to stop for the sentence--Danville's infamous presence of
mind has given them up to the guillotine!" Pronouncing these
words, he went out hurriedly by a door near the platform, which
led to the prisoners' waiting-room.
Rose's head sank again on her brother's shoulder. She shuddered,
and leaned back faintly on the arm which he extended to support
her. One of the female prisoners tried to help Trudaine in
speaking consolingly to her; but the consummation of her
husband's perfidy seemed to have paralyzed her at heart. She
murmured once in her brother's ear, "Louis! I am resigned to
die--nothing but death is left for me after the degradation of
having loved that man." She said those words and closed her eyes
wearily, and spoke no more.
"One other question, and you may retire," resumed the president,
addressing Danville. "Were you cognizant of your wife's
connection with her brother's conspiracy?"
Danville reflected for a moment, remembered that there were
witnesses in court who could speak to his language and behavior
on the evening of his wife's arrest, and resolved this time to
tell the truth.
"I was not aware of it," he answered. "Testimony in my favor can
be called which will prove that when my wife's complicity was
discovered I was absent from Paris."
Heartlessly self-possessed as he was, the public reception of his
last reply had shaken his nerve. He now spoke in low tones,
turning his back on the spectators, and fixing his eyes again on
the green baize of the table at which he stood.
"Prisoners, have you any objection to make, any evidence to call,
invalidating the statement by which Citizen Danville has cleared
himself of suspicion?" inquired the president.
"He has cleared himself by the most execrable of all falsehoods,"
answered Trudaine. "If his mother could be traced and brought
here, her testimony would prove it."
"Can you produce any other evidence in support of your
allegation?" asked the president
"Citizen Superintendent Danville, you are at liberty to retire.
Your statement will be laid before the authority to whom you are
officially responsible. Either you merit a civic crown for more
than Roman virtue, or--" Having got thus far, the president
stopped abruptly, as if unwilling to commit himself too soon to
an opinion, and merely repeated, "You may retire."
Danville left the court immediately, going out again by the
public door. He was followed by murmurs from the women's benches,
which soon ceased, however, when the president was observed to
close his note-book, and turn round toward his colleagues. "The
sentence!" was the general whisper now. "Hush, hush--the
After a consultation of a few minutes with the persons behind
him, the president rose, and spoke the momentous words:
"Louis Trudaine and Rose Danville, the revolutionary tribunal,
having heard the charge against you, and having weighed the value
of what you have said in answer to it, decides that you are both
guilty, and condemns you to the penalty of death."
Having delivered the sentence in those terms, he sat down again,
and placed a mark against the two first condemned names on the
list of prisoners. Immediately afterward the next case was called
on, and the curiosity of the audience was stimulated by a new
THE waiting-room of the revolutionary tribunal was a grim, bare
place, with a dirty stone floor, and benches running round the
walls. The windows were high and barred; and at the outer door,
leading into the street, two sentinels kept watch. On entering
this comfortless retreat from the court, Lomaque found it
perfectly empty. Solitude was just then welcome to him. He
remained in the waiting-room, walking slowly from end to end over
the filthy pavement, talking eagerly and incessantly to himself.
After a while, the door communicating with the tribunal opened,
and the humpbacked jailer made his appearance, leading in
Trudaine and Rose.
"You will have to wait here," said the little man, "till the rest
of them have been tried and sentenced; and then you will all go
back to prison in a lump. Ha, citizen," he continued, observing
Lomaque at the other end of the hall, and bustling up to him.
"Here still, eh? If you were going to stop much longer, I should
ask a favor of you."
"I am in no hurry," said Lomaque, with a glance at the two
"Good!" cried the humpback, drawing his hand across his mouth; "I
am parched with thirst, and dying to moisten my throat at the
wine-shop over the way. Just mind that man and woman while I'm
gone, will you? It's the merest form--there's a guard outside,
the windows are barred, the tribunal is within hail. Do you mind
"On the contrary, I am glad of the opportunity."
"That's a good fellow--and, remember, if I am asked for, you must
say I was obliged to quit the court for a few minutes, and left
you in charge."
With these words, the humpbacked jailer ran off to the wineshop.
He had scarcely disappeared before Trudaine crossed the room, and
caught Lomaque by the arm.
"Save her," he whispered; "there is an opportunity--save her!"
His face was flushed--his eyes wandered--his breath on the chief
agent's cheek, while he spoke, felt scorching hot. "Save her!" he
repeated, shaking Lomaque by the arm, and dragging him toward the
door. "Remember all you owe to my father--remember our talk on
that bench by the river--remember what you said to me yourself on
the night of the arrest--don't wait to think--save her, and leave
me without a word! If I die alone, I can die as a man should; if
she goes to the scaffold by my side, my heart will fail me--I
shall die the death of a coward! I have lived for her life--let
me die for it, and I die happy!"
He tried to say more, but the violence of his agitation forbade
it. He could only shake the arm he held again and again, and
point to the bench on which Rose sat--her head sunk on her bosom,
her hands crossed listlessly on her lap.
"There are two armed sentinels outside--the windows are
barred--you are without weapons--and even if you had them, there
is a guard-house within hail on one side of you, and the tribunal
on the other. Escape from this room is impossible," answered
"Impossible!" repeated the other, furiously. "You traitor! you
coward! can you look at her sitting there helpless, her very life
ebbing away already with every minute that passes, and tell me
coolly that escape is impossible?"
In the frenzy of his grief and despair, he lifted his disengaged
hand threateningly while he spoke. Lomaque caught him by the
wrist, and drew him toward a window open at the top.
"You are not in your right senses," said the chief agent, firmly;
"anxiety and apprehension on your sister's account have shaken
your mind. Try to compose yourself, and listen to me. I have
something important to say--" (Trudaine looked at him
incredulously.) "Important," continued Lomaque, "as affecting
your sister's interests at this terrible crisis."
That last appeal had an instantaneous effect. Trudaine's
outstretched hand dropped to his side, and a sudden change passed
over his expression.
"Give me a moment," he said, faintly; and turning away, leaned
against the wall and pressed his burning forehead on the chill,
damp stone. He did not raise his head again till he had mastered
himself, and could say quietly, "Speak; I am fit to hear you, and
sufficiently in my senses to ask your forgiveness for what I said
"When I left the tribunal and entered this room," Lomaque began
in a whisper, "there was no thought in my mind that could be
turned to good account, either for your sister or for you. I was
fit for nothing but to deplore the failure of the confession
which I came to St. L azare to suggest to you as your best plan
of defense. Since then, an idea has struck me, which may be
useful--an idea so desperate, so uncertain--involving a proposal
so absolutely dependent, as to its successful execution, on the
merest chance, that I refuse to confide it to you except on one
"Mention the condition! I submit to it before hand."
"Give me your word of honor that you will not mention what I am
about to say to your sister until I grant you permission to
speak. Promise me that when you see her shrinking before the
terrors of death to-night, you will have self-restraint enough to
abstain from breathing a word of hope to her. I ask this, because
there are ten--twenty--fifty chances to one that there _is_ no
"I have no choice but to promise," answered Trudaine.
Lomaque produced his pocket-book and pencil before he spoke
"I will enter into particulars as soon as I have asked a strange
question of you," he said. "You have been a great experimenter in
chemistry in your time--is your mind calm enough, at such a
trying moment as this, to answer a question which is connected
with chemistry in a very humble way? You seem astonished. Let me
put the question at once. Is there any liquid or powder, or
combination of more than one ingredient known, which will remove
writing from paper, and leave no stain behind?"
"Certainly! But is that all the question? Is there no greater
"None. Write the prescription, whatever it may be, on that leaf,"
said the other, giving him the pocket-book. "Write it down, with
plain directions for use." Trudaine obeyed. "This is the first
step," continued Lomaque, putting the book in his pocket, "toward
the accomplishment of my purpose--my uncertain purpose, remember!
Now, listen; I am going to put my own head in danger for the
chance of saving yours and your sister's by tampering with the
death-list. Don't interrupt me! If I can save one, I can save the
other. Not a word about gratitude! Wait till you know the extent
of your obligation. I tell you plainly, at the outset, there is a
motive of despair, as well as a motive of pity, at the bottom of
the action in which I am now about to engage. Silence! I insist
on it. Our time is short; it is for me to speak, and for you to
listen. The president of the tribunal has put the deathmark
against your names on the prison list of today. That list, when
the trials are over and it is marked to the end, will be called
in this room before you are taken to St. Lazare. It will then be
sent to Robespierre, who will keep it, having a copy made of it
the moment it is delivered, for circulation among his
colleagues--St. Just, and the rest. It is my business to make a
duplicate of this copy in the first instance. The duplicate will
be compared with the original, and possibly with the copy, too,
either by Robespierre himself, or by some one in whom he can
place implicit trust, and will then be sent to St. Lazare without
passing through my hands again. It will be read in public the
moment it is received, at the grating of the prison, and will
afterward be kept by the jailer, who will refer to it, as he goes
round in the evening with a piece of chalk, to mark the cell
doors of the prisoners destined for the guillotine to-morrow.
That duty happens, to-day, to fall to the hunchback whom you saw
speaking to me. He is a confirmed drinker, and I mean to tempt
him with such wine as he rarely tastes. If--after the reading of
the list in public, and before the marking of the cell doors--I
can get him to sit down to the bottle, I will answer for making
him drunk, for getting the list out of his pocket, and for wiping
your names out of it with the prescription you have just written
for me. I shall write all the names, one under another, just
irregularly enough in my duplicate to prevent the interval left
by the erasure from being easily observed. If I succeed in this,
your door will not be marked, and your names will not be called
tomorrow morning when the tumbrils come for the guillotine. In
the present confusion of prisoners pouring in every day for
trial, and prisoners pouring out every day for execution, you
will have the best possible chance of security against awkward
inquiries, if you play your cards properly, for a good fortnight
or ten days at least. In that time--"
"Well! well!" cried Trudaine, eagerly.
Lomaque looked toward the tribunal door, and lowered his voice to
a fainter whisper before he continued, "In that time
Robespierre's own head may fall into the sack! France is
beginning to sicken under the Reign of Terror. Frenchmen of the
Moderate faction, who have lain hidden for months in cellars and
lofts, are beginning to steal out and deliberate by twos and
threes together, under cover of the night. Robespierre has not
ventured for weeks past to face the Convention Committee. He only
speaks among his own friends at the Jacobins. There are rumors of
a terrible discovery made by Carnot, of a desperate resolution
taken by Tallien. Men watching behind the scenes see that the
last days of the Terror are at hand. If Robespierre is beaten in
the approaching struggle, you are saved--for the new reign must
be a Reign of Mercy. If he conquers, I have only put off the date
of your death and your sister's, and have laid my own neck under
the axe. Those are your chances--this is all I can do."
He paused, and Trudaine again endeavored to speak such words as
might show that he was not unworthy of the deadly risk which
Lomaque was prepared to encounter. But once more the chief agent
peremptorily and irritably interposed:
"I tell you, for the third time," he said, "I will listen to no
expressions of gratitude from you till I know when I deserve
them. It is true that I recollect your father's timely kindness
to me--true that I have not forgotten what passed, five years
since at your house by the river-side. I remember everything,
down to what you would consider the veriest trifle--that cup of
coffee, for instance, which your sister kept hot for me. I told
you then that you would think better of me some day. I know that
you do now. But this is not all. You want to glorify me to my
face for risking my life for you. I won't hear you, because my
risk is of the paltriest kind. I am weary of my life. I can't
look back to it with pleasure. I am too old to look forward to
what is left of it with hope. There was something in that night
at your house before the wedding--something in what you said, in
what your sister did--which altered me. I have had my days of
gloom and self-reproach, from time to time, since then. I have
sickened at my slavery, and subjection, and duplicity, and
cringing, first under one master then under another. I have
longed to look back at my life, and comfort myself with the sight
of some good action, just as a frugal man comforts himself with
the sight of his little savings laid by in an old drawer. I can't
do this, and I want to do it. The want takes me like a fit, at
uncertain intervals--suddenly, under the most incomprehensible
influences. A glance up at the blue sky--starlight over the
houses of this great city, when I look out at the night from my
garret window--a child's voice coming suddenly, I don't know
where from--the piping of my neighbor's linnet in his little
cage--now one trifling thing, now another--wakes up that want in
me in a moment. Rascal as I am, those few simple words your
sister spoke to the judge went through and through me like a
knife. Strange, in a man like me, isn't it? I am amazed at it
myself. _My_ life? Bah! I've let it out for hire to be kicked
about by rascals from one dirty place to another, like a
football! It's my whim to give it a last kick myself, and throw
it away decently before it lodges on the dunghill forever. Your
sister kept a good cup of coffee hot for me, and I give her a bad
life in return for the compliment. You want to thank me for it?
What folly! Thank me when I have done something useful. Don't
thank me for that!"
He snapped his fingers contemptuously as he spoke, and walked
away to the outer door to receive the jailer, who returned at
"Well," inquired the hunchback, "has anybody asked for me?"
"No," answered Lomaque; "not a soul has entered the room. What
sort of wine did you get?"
"So-so! Good at a pinch, friend--good at a pinch."
"Ah! you should go to my shop and try a certain cask, filled with
a particular vintage."
"What shop? Which vintage?"
"I can't stop to tell you now; but we shall most likely meet
again today. I expect to be at the prison this afternoon. Shall I
ask for you? Good! I won't forget!" With those farewell words he
went out, and never so much as looked back at the prisoners
before he closed the door.
Trudaine returned to his sister, fearful lest his face should
betray what had passed during the extraordinary interview between
Lomaque and himself. But, whatever change there might be in his
expression, Rose did not seem to notice it. She was still
strangely inattentive to all outward things. That spirit of
resignation, which is the courage of women in all great
emergencies, seemed now to be the one animating spirit that fed
the flame of life within her.
When her brother sat down by her, she only took his hand gently
and said: "Let us stop together like this, Louis, till the time
comes. I am not afraid of it, for I have nothing but you to make
me love life, and you, too, are going to die. Do you remember the
time when I used to grieve that I had never had a child to be
some comfort to me? I was thinking, a moment ago, how terrible it
would have been now, if my wish had been granted. It is a
blessing for me, in this great misery, that I am childless. Let
us talk of old days, Louis, as long as we can--not of my husband;
or my marriage--only of the old times, before I was a burden and
a trouble to you."
THE day wore on. By ones and twos and threes at a time, the
condemned prisoners came from the tribunal, and collected in the
waiting-room. At two o'clock all was ready for the calling over
of the death-list. It was read and verified by an officer of the
court; and then the jailer took his prisoners back to St. Lazare.
Evening came. The prisoners' meal had been served; the duplicate
of the death-list had been read in public at the grate; the cell
doors were all locked. From the day of their arrest, Rose and her
brother, partly through the influence of a bribe, partly through
Lomaque's intercession, had been confined together in one cell;
and together they now awaited the dread event of the morrow.
To Rose that event was death--death, to the thought of which, at
least, she was now resigned. To Trudaine the fast-nearing future
was darkening hour by hour, with the uncertainty which is worse
than death; with the faint, fearful, unpartaken suspense, which
keeps the mind ever on the rack, and wears away the heart slowly.
Through the long unsolaced agony of that dreadful night, but one
relief came to him. The tension of every nerve, the crushing
weight of the one fatal oppression that clung to every thought,
relaxed a little when Rose's bodily powers began to sink under
her mental exhaustion--when her sad, dying talk of the happy
times that were passed ceased softly, and she laid her head on
his shoulder, and let the angel of slumber take her yet for a
little while, even though she lay already under the shadow of the
angel of death.
The morning came, and the hot summer sunrise. What life was left
in the terrorstruck city awoke for the day faintly; and still the
suspense of the long night remained unlightened. It was drawing
near the hour when the tumbrils were to come for the victims
doomed on the day before. Trudaine's ear could detect even the
faintest sound in the echoing prison region outside his cell.
Soon, listening near the door, he heard voices disputing on the
other side of it. Suddenly, the bolts were drawn back, the key
turned in the lock, and he found himself standing face to face
with the hunchback and one of the subordinate attendants on the
"Look!" muttered this last man sulkily, "there they are, safe in
their cell, just as I said; but I tell you again they are not
down in the list. What do you mean by bullying me about not
chalking their door, last night, along with the rest? Catch me
doing your work for you again, when you're too drunk to do it
"Hold your tongue, and let me have another look at the list!"
returned the hunchback, turning away from the cell door, and
snatching a slip of paper from the other's hand. "The devil take
me if I can make head or tail of it!" he exclaimed, scratching
his head, after a careful examination of the list. "I could swear
that I read over their names at the grate yesterday afternoon
with my own lips; and yet, look as long as I may, I certainly
can't find them written down here. Give us a pinch, friend. Am I
awake, or dreaming? drunk or sober this morning?"
"Sober, I hope," said a quiet voice at his elbow. "I have just
looked in to see how you are after yesterday."
"How I am, Citizen Lomaque? Petrified with astonishment. You
yourself took charge of that man and woman for me, in the
waiting-room, yesterday morning; and as for myself, I could swear
to having read their names at the grate yesterday afternoon. Yet
this morning here are no such things as these said names to be
found in the list! What do you think of that?"
"And what do you think," interrupted the aggrieved subordinate,
"of his having the impudence to bully me for being careless in
chalking the doors, when he was too drunk to do it himself? too
drunk to know his right hand from his left! If I wasn't the
best-natured man in the world, I should report him to the head
"Quite right of you to excuse him, and quite wrong of him to
bully you," said Lomaque, persuasively. "Take my advice," he
continued, confidentially, to the hunchback, "and don't trust too
implicitly to that slippery memory of yours, after our little
drinking bout yesterday. You could not really have read their
names at the grate, you know, or of course they would be down on
the list. As for the waiting-room at the tribunal, a word in your
ear: chief agents of police know strange secrets. The president
of the court condemns and pardons in public; but there is
somebody else, with the power of ten thousand presidents, who now
and then condemns and pardons in private. You can guess who. I
say no more, except that I recommend you to keep your head on
your shoulders, by troubling it about nothing but the list there
in your hand. Stick to that literally, and nobody can blame you.
Make a fuss about mysteries that don't concern you, and--"
Lomaque stopped, and holding his hand edgewise, let it drop
significantly over the hunchback's head. That action and the
hints which preceded it seemed to bewilder the little man more
than ever. He stared perplexedly at Lomaque; uttered a word or
two of rough apology to his subordinate, and rolling his
misshapen head portentously, walked away with the death-list
crumpled up nervously in his hand.
"I should like to have a sight of them, and see if they really
are the same man and woman whom I looked after yesterday morning
in the waiting-room," said Lomaque, putting his hand on the cell
door, just as the deputy-jailer was about to close it again.
"Look in, by all means," said the man. "No doubt you will find
that drunken booby as wrong in what he told you about them as he
is about everything else."
Lomaque made use of the privilege granted to him immediately. He
saw Trudaine sitting with his sister in the corner of the cell
furthest from the door, evidently for the purpose of preventing
her from overhearing the conversation outside. There was an