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La Vendee by Anthony Trollope

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The history of France in 1792 has been too fully written, and too
generally read to leave the novelist any excuse for describing the state
of Paris at the close of the summer of that year. It is known to every
one that the palace of Louis XVI was sacked on the 10th of August. That
he himself with his family took refuge in the National Assembly, and
that he was taken thence to the prison of the Temple.

The doings on the fatal 10th of August, and the few following days had,
however, various effects in Paris, all of which we do not clearly trace
in history. We well know how the Mountain became powerful from that day;
that from that day Marat ceased to shun the light, and Danton to curb
the licence of his tongue that then, patriotism in France began to
totter, and that, from that time, Paris ceased to be a fitting abode for
aught that was virtuous, innocent, or high-minded; but the steady march
of history cannot stop to let us see the various lights in which the
inhabitants of Paris regarded the loss of a King, and the commencement
of the first French Republic.

The Assembly, though it had not contemplated the dethronement of the
King, acquiesced in it; and acted as it would have done, had the
establishment of a republic been decreed by a majority of its members.
The municipality had determined that the King should fall, and, of
course, rejoiced in the success of its work; and history plainly marking
the acquiescence of the Assembly, and the activity of the city powers,
naturally passes over the various feelings excited in different circles
in Paris, by the overthrow of the monarchy.

Up to that period there was still in Paris much that was high, noble,
and delightful. The haute noblesse had generally left the country; but
the haute noblesse did not comprise the better educated, or most social
families in Paris. Never had there been more talent, more wit, or more
beauty in Paris than at the commencement of 1792; never had literary
acquirement been more fully appreciated in society, more absolutely
necessary in those who were ambitious of social popularity.

There were many of this class in Paris who had hitherto watched the
progress of the Revolution with a full reliance in the panacea it was
to afford for human woes; many who had sympathized with the early
demands of the Tiers État; who had rapturously applauded the Tennis
Court oath; who had taken an enthusiastic part in the fête of the Champ
de Mars; men who had taught themselves to believe that sin, and avarice,
and selfishness were about to be banished from the world by the lights
of philosophy; but whom the rancour of the Jacobins, and the furious
licence of the city authorities had now robbed of their golden hopes.
The dethronement of the King, totally severed many such from the
revolutionary party. They found that their high aspirations had been in
vain; that their trust in reason had been misplaced, and that the
experiment to which they had committed themselves had failed; disgusted,
broken-spirited, and betrayed they left the city in crowds, and with few
exceptions, the intellectual circles were broken up.

A few of the immediate friends of the King, a few ladies and gentlemen,
warmly devoted to the family of Louis XVI, remained in Paris. At the
time when the King was first subjected to actual personal restraint, a
few young noblemen and gentlemen had formed themselves into a private
club, and held their sittings in the Rue Vivienne. Their object was to
assist the King in the difficulties with which he was surrounded, and
their immediate aim was to withdraw him from the metropolis; Louis' own
oft-repeated indecision alone prevented them from being successful.
These royalists were chiefly from the province of Poitou, and as their
meetings gradually became known and talked of in Paris, they were called
the Poitevins.

They had among them one or two members of the Assembly, but the club
chiefly consisted of young noblemen attached to the Court, or of
officers in the body-guard of the King; their object, at first, had been
to maintain, undiminished, the power of the throne; but they had long
since forgotten their solicitude for the King's power, in their anxiety
for his safety and personal freedom.

The storming of the Tuilleries, and the imprisonment of Louis,
completely destroyed their body as a club; but the energy of each
separate member was raised to the highest pitch. The Poitevins no longer
met in the Rue Vivienne, but they separated with a determination on the
part of each individual royalist to use every effort to replace the

There were three young men in this club, who were destined to play a
conspicuous part in the great effort about to be made, in a portion of
France, for the restitution of the monarchy; their fathers had lived
within a few miles of each other, and though of different ages, and very
different dispositions, they had come to Paris together since the
commencement of the revolution.

M. de Lescure was a married man, about twenty-seven years of age, of
grave and studious habits, but nevertheless of an active temperament.
He was humane, charitable, and benevolent: his strongest passion was the
love of his fellow-creatures; his pure heart had glowed, at an early
age, with unutterable longings for the benefits promised to the human
race by the school of philosophy from which the revolution originated.
Liberty and fraternity had been with him principles, to have realized
which he would willingly have sacrificed his all; but at the
commencement of the revolution he had seen with horror the successive
encroachments of the lower classes, and from conscience had attached
himself to the Crown. Hitherto he had been without opportunity of
showing the courage for which he was afterwards so conspicuous; he did
not even himself know that he was a brave man; before, however, his
career was ended, he had displayed the chivalry of a Bayard, and
performed the feats of a Duguescin. A perfect man, we are told, would
be a monster; and a certain dry obstinacy of manner, rather than of
purpose, preserved de Lescure from the monstrosity of perfection.
Circumstances decreed that the latter years of his life should be spent
among scenes of bloodshed; that he should be concerned in all the
horrors of civil war; that instruments of death should be familiar to
his hands, and the groans of the dying continually in his ears. But
though the horrors of war were awfully familiar to him, the harshness
of war never became so; he spilt no blood that he could spare, he took
no life that he could save. The cruelty of his enemies was unable to
stifle the humanity of his heart; even a soldier and a servant of the
republic became his friend as soon as he was vanquished.

Two young friends had followed M. de Lescure to Paris--Henri de
Larochejaquelin and Adolphe Denot. The former was the son of the Marquis
de Larochejaquelin, and the heir of an extensive property in Poitou; M.
de Lescure and he were cousins, and the strictest friendship had long
existed between the families. Young Larochejaquelin was of a temperament
very different from that of his friend: he was eager, impetuous,
warm-tempered, and fond of society; but he had formed his principles on
those of M. de Lescure. The love of his fellow-creatures was not with
him the leading passion of his heart, as it was with the other; but
humanity had early been instilled into him as the virtue most necessary
to cultivate, and he consequently fully appreciated and endeavoured to
imitate the philanthropy of his friend.

At the time alluded to, Henri de Larochejaquelin was not quite twenty
years of age. He was a lieutenant in the body-guard immediately attached
to the King's person, and called the "Garde du Roi." At any other
period, he would hardly yet have finished his education, but the
revolution gave a precocious manhood to the rising generation. Henri's
father, moreover, was very old; he had not married till late in life;
and the young Marquis, when he was only seventeen, had to take on
himself the guardianship of his sister Agatha, and the management of the
paternal property. The old man was unable to leave his chair, and though
he still retained his senses, was well pleased to give up to the son of
his old age the rights and privileges which in the course of nature
would descend to him.

Without being absolutely handsome, young Larochejaquelin was of a very
prepossessing appearance. He was tall and robust, well made, and active.
Though he had not attained that breadth of shoulder, and expansion of
chest, which a few years would probably have given him, he had the
perfect use of his limbs, and was full of health and youthful energy;
his eyes were bright, and of a clear blue colour; his hair was light,
and his upper lip could already boast that ornament which the then age,
and his own position made allowable. He was a favourite with all who
knew him--more so even than his friend de Lescure; and it is saying much
in his favour to declare that a year's residence amongst all that was
beautiful and charming in Paris, had hitherto done but little to spoil

Adolphe Denot was an orphan, but also possessed of a fair property in
the province of Poitou. He had, when very young, been left to the
guardianship of the Marquis de La Rochejaquelin, and had at intervals,
during his holidays, and after he had left school, spent much of his
time at Durbellière, the family residence of the La Rochejaquelins.
Henri had of course contracted a close friendship with him; but this
arose more from the position in which they were placed together, than
a similarity of disposition. They were, indeed, very unlike; Adolphe was
somewhat older than the other, but he had neither his manliness of
manner nor strength of character; he was more ambitious to be popular,
without the same capacity of making himself so: he had as much romantic
love of poetical generosity, without the same forgetfulness of self to
enable him to emulate in practice the characters, which he admired in
description; he had much veneration for poetic virtue, though but little
strength to accomplish practical excellence. He had, on leaving school,
proclaimed himself to be an ardent admirer of Rousseau; he had been a
warm partizan of the revolution, and had displayed a most devoted
enthusiasm to his country at the fête of the Champ de Mars. Latterly,
however, the circles which he mostly frequented in Paris had voted
strong revolutionary ardour to be mauvais ton; a kind of modulated
royalism, or rather Louis Seizeism, had become fashionable; and Adolphe
Denot was not the man to remain wilfully out of the fashion. On the 10th
of August, he was a staunch supporter of the monarchy.

Adolphe Denot was a much handsomer man than his friend; his features
were better formed, and more regular; he had beautifully white teeth,
an almost feminine mouth, a straight Grecian nose, and delicately small
hands and feet; but he was vain of his person, and ostentatious; fond
of dress and of jewellery. He was, moreover, suspicious of neglect, and
vindictive when neglected; querulous of others, and intolerant of
reproof himself; exigeant among men, and more than politely flattering
among women. He was not, however, without talent, and a kind of poetic
fecundity of language, which occasionally made him brilliant in society;
it was, however, generally speaking, those who knew him least who liked
him best.

Larochejaquelin, however, was always true to him; he knew that he was
an orphan, without brother, sister, or relatives, and with the devotion
of a real friend, he overlooked all his faults, and greatly magnified
his talents. For Henri's sake, M. de Lescure tolerated him, and the
three were therefore much together; they came from the same country;
they belonged to the same club; they had the same political sympathies;
and were looked upon as dear and stedfast friends.

On the 10th of August, the King left the Tuilleries, and took refuge in
the National Assembly; during the greater part of the night he remained
there with his family. Early on the following morning, he was removed,
under a guard, to the Feuillants; and on the 12th it was decided that
he should be confined in the prison of the Temple.

It was on the morning of the 12th, that the last meeting of the little
club of the Poitevins took place.

They met with throbbing hearts and blank faces; they all felt that evil
days had come that the Revolution which had been so petted and caressed
by the best and fairest in France, had become a beast of prey, and that
war, anarchy, and misrule were at hand.

They sat waiting on the morning of the 12th, till they should learn the
decision of the Assembly with regard to the King. De Lescure was there
calm and grave, but with much melancholy in his countenance.

Larochejaquelin was there. Hot and eager, whispering plans for rescuing
the King, to which the less resolute hardly dared to listen. Charette,
the Prince de Talmont, d'Autachamps, Fleuriot, and others, all of whom
now detested the Revolution, though they could not but feel the danger
of proclaiming themselves royalists.

"Denot will be here directly," said La Rochejaquelin; "he is at the
Assembly--they are not apt to be very tedious in their decisions."

"Danton has openly declared," said Fleuriot, "that the armed sections
shall remain in revolt, unless the Assembly decree the abolition of the

"Lafayette," said the Prince, "is the only man now who could save the
country--if Lafayette will move, he might still save the throne."

"He could do nothing," said d'Autachamps, "but add himself to the
ruins--the regiments, to a man, would side with the populace."

"I don't know," said Larochejaquelin, "I don't think so. See how our
Swiss fought--could any men be more true to their officers or their
colours? and do you think there are not thousands in the French army as
true, as brave as they? If Lafayette would raise his hand, I for one
would join him."

"Wait, Henri, wait," said de Lescure, "wait till you know whether
Lafayette and the army will really be wanting to save the King. If
Roland be still firm, and Vergniaud true to his principles, they may
still quell the fury of the Jacobins----the moderate party has still a
large majority in the Assembly."

"Roland and Vergniaud are both true," said Fleuriot, "but you will find,
de Lescure, that they can do nothing but yield or go--they must vanish
out of the Assembly and become nothing--or else they must go with the

"The people! How I hate that phrase, in the sense in which it is now
used," said Larochejaquelin. "A mob of blood-thirsty ruffians wishes to
overturn the throne--but what evidence have we that the people wish it."

"The people, Henri, have been taught to wish it," said de Lescure.

"No, Charles, the people of France have not been taught to wish it--with
all the teaching they have had, they do not wish it--have they shewn any
favour to the new priests whom the Revolution has sent to them; do they
love much the Commissioners, who from time to time, come among them with
the orders of the Assembly. Do the people in the Bocage wish it?--do
they wish it in the Marais, Charette?--do they wish it in Anjou and
Brittany? Danton, Robespierre, and Tallien wish it--the mob of Paris
wishes it--but the people of France does not wish to depose their King."

"But unfortunately," said d'Autachamps, "it is Danton, Robespierre, and
the mob of Paris who have now the supreme power, and for a time will
have their way--they who are wise will lie by till the storm has blown

"And are we to remain quiet while we are robbed of every thing which we
esteem as holy?" said Larochejaquelin; "are we all to acquiesce in the
brutality of such men as Danton, for fear the mob of Paris should be too
strong for us?"

"I for one, will not!" said Charette.

"Nor I," said Larochejaquelin--not while I have a sword to draw, and an
arm to use it. You are silent, Charles--is a Republic so much to your
mind, that you have not a word, or even a wish for your King?"

"You are too talkative, Henri," replied the other; "will it not be well
to think a little first before we proclaim definitively what we mean to
do? We do not even know as yet in what position Louis XVI. may find
himself tomorrow--he may be more firmly seated on his throne than he has
been at any time since the Three Estates first met at Versailles."

As he ceased speaking, the door opened, and Adolphe Denot entered, hot
with walking fast, and with his whole dress disordered by pushing
through the dense masses of the crowd.

"Speak, Adolphe," said Henri, "have they decreed--has it come to the

"Are they still sitting?" said Fleuriot; "Danton, I am sure would not
have yielded so soon as this:--if the chamber be closed, he must have
been victorious."

"The King," said Denot, pausing for breath, "the King is to be taken to
the Temple!"

There was a momentary silence among them all--their worst fears had been
realized--the brute force of Paris had been triumphant. The firmness of
Roland, the eloquence of Vergniaud, the patriotism of Guadet had been
of no avail. The King of France--the heir of so long a line of
royalty--the King, who had discarded the vices of his predecessors, and
proved himself the friend of. the people, was to be incarcerated in the
worst prison in Paris by the vote of that very Assembly which he had
himself called into existence.

"He is to be confined in the Temple," continued Denot, "with the Queen
and the two children. The populace are mad; they would kill him, if they
could lay their hands on him."

"Where are your hopes now, Charles?" said Larochejaquelin. "Is it yet
time for us to proclaim what we are--is it yet time for us to move? or
are we to set still, until Danton enrolls us in his list of suspected

No one immediately answered the appeal of the hot young loyalist, and
after a moment or two de Lescure spoke.

"Adolphe, did you hear the words of the decree?"

"Again and again," said Denot. "I was at the door of the Assembly, and
the decree was known to the crowd the moment the votes had been taken."

"But did you hear the exact words?"

"That Louis and his family should be imprisoned in the Temple," answered

"Did they say the King, or did they call him by his name?" asked de
Lescure again. "Did they decree that the King should be imprisoned, or
Louis Capet?"

As he spoke, the door again opened, and another member, who had been
among the crowd, entered the room.

"Gentlemen," said he, "allow me the honour to congratulate you. Yon do
not know your own happiness. You are no longer the burdened slaves of
an effete monarchy; you are now the vigorous children of a young

"Vive le Roi, quand même," said Larochejaquelin, standing up in the
middle of the room. "I am glad they have so plainly declared themselves;
we are driven now to do the same. Prince, now is the time to stand by
our King. Charette, your hand; our dreams must now be accomplished. You
will doubt no longer, Charles. Prudence herself would now feel that we
have no longer aught to wait for."

"No--we must delay no longer," said Adolphe Denot. "A King is to be
saved; every hour of delay is an hour of treason, while the King is in
the hands of his enemies."

"A fine sentiment, Denot," said d'Autachamps; "but how will you avoid
the treason?--how do you purpose to rescue his Majesty?"

"With my sword," said Adolphe, turning round shortly. "Do you doubt my

"We only doubt your power, Adolphe," said de Lescure. "We only fear you
may not be able to raise the standard of revolt against the armed
sections of all Paris, backed by a decree of the Assembly."

"I can at any rate die in the attempt," replied Denot. "I cannot draw
the breath of life from the atmosphere of a Republic! I will not live
by the permission of Messieurs Danton and Robespierre."

"Whatever we do," said Fleuriot, "the club must be given up. We are
known to be friendly to the King, and we are too weak to stand our
ground; indeed, we should only incur useless danger by meeting here"

"And waste the time which we may well employ in the provinces," said

"You are right, Charette," said Rochejaquelin, whom the wildness of his
friend Denot had a little sobered. "You are quite right--Paris is no
longer a place for us. I will go back to the Bocage; there, at least,
I may own among my neighbours that I am not a republican; there,
perhaps, I may make some effort for my King--here I can make none. You
will not stay in Paris, Charles, to hear unwashed revolutionists clatter
of Louis Capet?"

"No, Henri, I also will return home. Charette is right. We should but
waste our time in Paris, and be in danger. We shall probably be in
safety in Poitou."

"Perhaps not in safety," said Henri. "We may, I trust, soon be in

"How in action?" said Fleuriot. "What do you intend to do?"

"To follow any one who will lead me to assist in restoring the King to
his throne," replied Henri. "Let us, at any rate, retire to our
provinces; and be assured that the National Assembly will soon hear of

The club was broken up; the young friends met no more in the Rue
Vivienne. Within a week from the 10th of August, the denizens of the
municipality had searched the rooms for any relics which might be
discovered there indicatory of a feeling inimical to the Republic; their
residences also were searched, and there were orders at the barriers
that they should not pass out; but the future Vendean leaders had too
quickly appreciated the signs of the time; they had gone before the
revolutionary tribunal had had time to form itself. They were gone, and
their names for a season were forgotten in Paris; but Henri
Rochejaquelin was right--before long, the National Assembly did hear of
them; before twelve months had passed, they were more feared by the
Republic, than the allied forces of England, Austria, and Prussia.



Nothing occurred in the provinces, subsequently called La Vendée, during
the autumn or winter of 1792 of sufficient notice to claim a place in
history, but during that time the feelings which afterwards occasioned
the revolt in that country, were every day becoming more ardent. The
people obstinately refused to attend the churches to which the
constitutional clergy had been appointed; indeed, these pastors had
found it all but impossible to live in the parishes assigned to them;
no one would take them as tenants; no servants would live with them; the
bakers and grocers would not deal with them; the tailors would not make
their clothes for them, nor the shoemakers shoes. During the week they
were debarred from all worldly commerce, and on Sundays they performed
their religious ceremonies between empty walls.

The banished priests, on the other hand, who were strictly forbidden to
perform any of the sacerdotal duties, continued among the trees and
rocks to collect their own congregations undiminished in number, and
much more than ordinarily zealous, in their religious duties; and with
the licence which such sylvan chapels were found to foster,
denunciations against the Republic, and prayers for the speedy
restoration of the monarchy, were mingled with the sacred observances.

The execution of Louis, in January, 1793, greatly increased the
attachment which was now felt in this locality to his family. In Nantes
and Angers, in Saumur, Thouars, and other towns in which the presence
of Republican forces commanded the adhesion of the inhabitants this
event was commemorated by illuminations, but this very show of joy at
so cruel a murder, more than the murder itself, acerbated the feelings
both of the gentry and the peasants. They were given to understand that
those who wished well to their country were now expected to show some
sign of gratitude for what the blessed revolution had done for
them--that those who desired to stand well with the Republic should
rejoice openly at their deliverance from thraldom. In fact, those who
lived in large towns, and who would not illuminate, were to be marked
men--marked as secret friends to the monarchy--as inveterate foes to the
Republic--and they were told that they were to be treated accordingly.
Men then began to congregate in numbers round the churches, and in the
village squares, and to ask each other whether they had better not act
as enemies, if they were to be considered as enemies; to complain of
their increasing poverty and diminished comfort; and to long for the
coming time, when the King should enjoy his own again.

The feeling with the country gentry was very generally the same as with
the peasantry, though hitherto they had openly expressed no opposition
to the ruling Government. They had, however, been always elected to
those situations which the leaders of the revolution had wished the
people to fill exclusively with persons from their own ranks. They were
chosen as mayors in the small towns, and were always requested to act
as officers in the corps of the National Guards, which were formed in
this, as in every other district of France. On this account the peculiar
ill-will of the Republican Government was directed against them. In
France, at that time, political inactivity was an impossibility. Revolt
against the Republic, or active participation in its measures, was the
only choice left to those who did not choose to fly their country, and
many of the seigneurs of Anjou and Poitou would not adopt the latter

In March, the Commissaries of the Republic entered these provinces to
collect from that district, its portion towards the levy of three
hundred thousand men which had been ordered by the Convention. This was
an intolerable grievance--it was not to be borne, that so many of their
youths should be forcibly dragged away to fight the battles of the
Republic--battles in which they would rather that the Republic should
be worsted. Besides, every one would lose a relative, a friend, or a
lover; the decree affected every individual in the district. The
peasants declared that they would not obey the orders of the
Convention--that they would not fight the battles of the Republic.

This was the commencement of the revolt. The troops of the Republic
were, of course, put in motion to assist the officers who were entrusted
with the carrying out of the conscription. There were garrisons in
Nantes, in Anjou, and in Saumur; and detachments from these places were
sent into the smaller towns and villages, into every mayoralty, to
enforce the collection of the levy, and to take off with them the
victims of the conscription. Among other places, an attempt was made to
carry out the new law at St. Florent, and at this place was made the
first successful resistance, by an armed force, to the troops of the

St. Florent is a small town on the south bank of the Loire, in the
province of Anjou, and at the northern extremity of that district, now
so well known by the name of La Vendée. It boasted of a weekly market,
a few granaries for the storing of corn, and four yearly fairs for the
sale of cattle. Its population and trade, at the commencement of the
war, was hardly sufficient to entitle it to the name of a town; but it
had early acquired some celebrity as a place in which the Republic was
known to be very unpopular, and in which the attachment of the people
to the throne was peculiarly warm.

Here the work of the conscription was commenced in silence. The lists
were filled, and the names were drawn. No opposition was shown to the
employé's in this portion of their unpopular work. Indeed, it appears
that no organized system of opposition had been planned; but the first
attempt that was made to collect the unfortunate recruits upon whom the
lots had fallen, was the signal for a general revolt. The first name on
the list was that of Peter Berrier; and had Peter Berrier intended to
prove himself a good citizen and a willing soldier, he should, without
further call, have attended that day at the temporary barracks which had
been established in St. Florent. But he had not done so, and there was
nothing wonderful or unusual in this; for on all occasions of the kind
many of the conscripts had to be sought out, and brought forth from the
bosoms of their families, to which they retired, with a bashful
diffidence as to their own peculiar fitness for martial glory. But in
this instance not one of the chosen warriors obeyed the summons of the
Convention, by attending at the barracks of St. Florent. Not one of the
three hundred thousand men was there; and it was soon apparent to the
colonel in command of the detachment, that he had before him the
unpleasant duty of collecting one by one, from their different
hiding-places, the whole contingent which the town of St. Florent was
bound to supply.

Peter Berrier was the first on the list, and as it was well known that
he was an ostler at a little auberge in the middle of the square, a
corporal and a couple of soldiers was despatched to the house of
entertainment to capture him; and the trio soon found that they would
not have far to search, for Peter was standing at the gate of the inn
yard, and with him three or four of his acquaintance--men equally
well-known in St. Florent.

There was a sturdy farmer there of the better sort--a man who not only
held a farm near the town, but had a small shop within it, for the sale
of seeds and tools for planting--his name was Foret--and it was said
that no man in St. Florent was more anxious for the restoration of the
King. There was the keeper of the auberge himself, who seemed but little
inclined to find fault with his servant, for the contumacious manner in
which he treated the commands of the Convention; and there was the
well-known postillion of St. Florent, the crack of whose whip was so
welcome from Angers to Nantes, the sound of whose cheery voice was so
warmly greeted at every hostelrie between those towns. The name of
Cathelineau was not then so well known as it was some six months
afterwards, but even then Cathelineau, the postillion, was the most
popular man in St. Florent. He was the merriest among the mirthful, the
friend of every child, the playmate of every lass in the town; but he
was the comforter of those poorer than himself, and the solace of the
aged and afflicted. He was the friend of the banished priest, and the
trusted messenger of the royalist seigneur; all classes adored him, save
those who sided with the Republic, and by them he had long been looked
on as an open and declared enemy. St. Florent was justly proud of its
postillion; and now that evil days were come upon the little town, that
their priests were banished, and these young men called for to swell the
armies of the hated Convention, many flocked to Cathelineau to ask from
whence he expected deliverance from all their troubles.

It was well known that Peter Berrier was the first whom the Colonel's
myrmidons would be sent to seize, and many eyes were resting on the
group collected at the gateway of the auberge, as the corporal and the
two soldiers, without their muskets, but with pistols at their belts,
marched across from the little barracks to the spot where they were
standing. At any rate, Cathelineau had not advised a retreat, for there
stood Peter Berrier--prominent in the front of the group--a little pale
to be sure, and perhaps rather uneasy in his attitude; but still
evidently prepared to bear the brunt of that day's proceeding. He was
not going to run away, or he would long since have started. He was not
going to obey the orders of the Convention, or he would not have stood
there so openly and firmly, waiting the approach of the corporal and the
two soldiers. It was very evident that there was to be a row in St.
Florent that day, and that the postillion approved of it.

As the military party drew near to the gate of the inn yard, the
corporal opened a small roll of paper, which he held in his hand, and
standing still about six paces distant from the spot where Peter was
maintaining his ground, read or pretended to read, the following words
from the piece of paper which he held in his hands:

"In the name of the French Republic, and by command of the Convention,
you, Peter Berrier, having been duly, legally, and specially drawn,
chosen, and selected by lot, to serve in the armies of the Republic for
one year, from the date of your first bearing arms, or for so long as
your services may be necessary to the security of the Republic, are
hereby required and desired to join the detachment of the Republican
army at present serving in St. Florent, without let, delay, or
hindrance, and thereby show yourself a friend to your country, and a
good citizen of the Republic."

The corporal pronounced this form of invitation in that tone of voice,
which proved that it was very familiar to him, and that he was much in
the habit of requesting good citizens to join the armies of the Republic
for such time as their services might be necessary; and, having finished
it, he rolled up the piece of paper, stuck it into his belt, as he might
soon require the use of his hands, and, walking quite close up to the
group, said--

"Come, Peter Berrier, you are not such a fool, I hope, as to intend
giving us any trouble. Come along."

Peter looked first into the farmer's face; then to his master's; and,
lastly, to the postillion's; and, seeing that they were all evidently
firm in their resolve, he plucked up spirit, and replied.--"Why, Mr
Corporal, I have no inclination just at present to go to fight for the
Republic. You see I have no quarrel yet with my master here, M. Debedin,
and he cannot well spare me. I am afraid, Mr Corporal, I must decline."

"That's nonsense, you know," growled the corporal; "you must come, you
know; and as well first as last. I don't want to be uncivil to a
comrade, and I'd be sorry to have to lay a hand on you."

"Then you'd better keep your hands off," said Cathelineau, "we quiet
people in St. Florent don't bear handling well."

The corporal looked up at the postillion, but he soon saw that he wasn't

"Take my word for it, my friend," continued Cathelineau, "Peter Berrier
does not wish to be a soldier, and, if you force him to become one, it
is not on the side of the Republic that he will be found fighting."

"We'll take chances for that," replied the corporal, not exactly
understanding what the other meant; "at any rate, back without him we
won't go; and if you're determined for a riot, Messieurs, why I'm sorry;
but I can't help it," and, appealing to Peter as a last hope, he said,
"Come, Berrier, will you come with us quietly, or must we three drag you
across the square to the barracks."

"At any rate, Mr Corporal," said Peter, "I will not go with you quietly;
as to the being dragged, I can say nothing about that yet."

The corporal looked round towards the barracks, as he felt that it was
possible that he might want more assistance, and he saw that a body of
men under arms was standing immediately in front of the building, and
that a couple of the officers were with them. The corporal saw at a
glance that they were ready for immediate action, if their services
should be requisite. In fact, the colonel of the detachment well knew
the feeling in the place with reference to the levies of the
conscription. He was sure, from the fact of not a single man having
attended at the barracks, as directed, that there existed some general
determination to resist the demands of the Convention, and he had
consequently closely watched the proceedings of the corporal.

"Take your answer, Mr Corporal," said Cathelineau: "had Peter Berrier
intended to have joined you. he would not have troubled you to come
across the square to fetch him. In one word, he will not go with you;
if as you say, you intend to drag him across the market-place, you will
find that you have enough to do. Peter Berrier has many friends in St.

The corporal again looked round, and he saw that the men under arms now
stretched from the front of the barracks, nearly into the square; but
he also saw that the inhabitants of the town were standing clustering
at all the doors, and that men were crowding towards the square from the
different inlets. Four or five of the more respectable inhabitants had
also joined the group in the gateway, from the hands of one of whom the
postillion quietly took a stout ash stick. The corporal, however, was
not a coward, and he saw that, if he intended to return with Peter
Berrier, he should not delay his work with any further parley, so he
took his pistol from his belt and cocked it, and, stepping quite close
to Berrier, said,

"Come men--forward, and bring him off; one man to each shoulder," and
he himself seized hold of the breast of Peter's coat with his left hand
and pulled him forward a step or two.

Peter was a little afraid of the pistol, but still he resisted manfully:
from the corporal's position, Cathelineau was unable to reach with his
stick the arm which had laid hold of Berrier, but it descended heavily
on the first soldier, who came to the corporal's assistance. The blow
fell directly across the man's wrist, and his arm dropt powerless to his
side. The corporal immediately released his hold of Peter's coat, and
turning on Cathelineau raised his pistol and fired; the shot missed the
postillion, but it struck M. Debedin, the keeper of the auberge, and
wounded him severely in the jaw. He was taken at once into the house,
and the report was instantaneously spread through the town, that M.
Debedin had been shot dead by the soldiery.

The ash stick of the postillion was again raised, and this time the
corporal's head was the sufferer; the man's shako protected his skull,
which, if uncovered, would have probably been fractured; but he was
half-stunned, at any rate stupified by the blow, and was pulled about
and pushed from one to another by the crowd who had now collected in the
archway, without making any further attempt to carry off his prisoner.

The other soldier, when he saw his two comrades struck, fired his pistol
also, and wounded some other person in the crowd. He then attempted to
make his escape back towards the barracks, but he was tripped up
violently as he attempted to run, and fell on his face on the pavement.
The unfortunate trio were finally made prisoners of; they were disarmed,
their hands bound together, and then left under a strong guard in the
cow-house attached to the auberge.

This skirmish, in which Berrier was so successfully rescued, occurred
with greater rapidity than it has been recounted; for, as soon as the
colonel heard the first shot fired, he ordered his men to advance in a
trot across the square. It took some little time for him to give his
orders to the lieutenants, and for the lieutenants to put the men into
motion; but within five minutes from the time that the first shot was
fired, about forty men had been commanded to halt in front of the hotel;
they all had their muskets in their hands and their bayonets fixed, and
as soon as they halted a portion of them were wheeled round, so that the
whole body formed a square. By this time, however, the corporal and the
two soldiers were out of sight, and so was also Peter Berrier, for
Cathelineau considered that now as the man had withstood the first
shock, and had resolutely and manfully refused to comply with the order
of the Convention, it was better that he should be out of the way, and
that the brunt of the battle should be borne by his friends. Peter was
consequently placed in the cow-house with the captives, and had the
gratification of acting as guard over the three first prisoners taken
in the Vendean war.

Cathelineau and Foret, however, stood out prominently before the men who
were collected before the auberge, and had already taken on themselves
the dangerous honour of leading the revolt.

"Men of St. Florent," said the colonel addressing the crowd, "I am most
reluctant to order the soldiers to fire upon the inhabitants of the
town; but unless you at once restore the three men who were sent over
here on duty, and give up the man, Peter Berrier, who has been drawn as
a conscript, I will do so at once."

"Peter Berrier is a free man," said Foret, "and declines going with you;
and as for your three soldiers, they have fired at and killed or wounded
two inhabitants of the town--they at any rate shall be brought before
the mayor, before they are given up."

"Sergeant," said the colonel, "take out six men and make prisoner that
man; if a rescue be attempted, the soldiers shall at once fire on the
people, and on your own heads be your own blood."

The sergeant and the six men instantly stepped out, but Foret was
surrounded by a dense crowd of friends, and the soldiers found it
utterly impossible to lay hold of him.

"Your pistols, sergeant; use your pistols," roared the colonel, as he
himself drew one of his own from his holsters, and at the same time gave
orders to the men in the ranks to present their pieces.

The sergeant followed by his six men, made a desperate dash into the
crowd with the object of getting hold of Foret; but in spite of the
butt-end of their pistols, with which the soldiers laid about them, they
found themselves overpowered, and were barely able to make good their
retreat to the main body of the detachment; at the same time, a volley
of stones, brickbats and rough missiles of all kinds, descended on the
soldiers from every side, for they were now nearly surrounded; a stone
struck the Colonel's horse and made him rear: immediately afterwards,
another stone struck himself on the side of the face, and nearly
dismounted him.

"Fire," roared the Colonel, and the whole detachment fired at the same
moment; the soldiers fronting the auberge could not fire into the mob
directly before them, or they would have run the risk of killing their
own comrades, who were still struggling there with the townspeople; and
in this way, Cathelineau and Foret were saved, but the carnage all
around them was horrid; the soldiers had fired point blank into the
dense crowd, and not a bullet had fallen idle to the ground. A terrible
scream followed the discharge of musketry; the dying and the wounded
literally covered the space round the soldiers, but they were quickly
dragged into the back ground, and their places filled by men who were
evidently determined that they would not easily be conquered.

Another volley of stones was soon showered on the soldiers, and this was
kept up with wonderful activity--the women and children supplied the men
with the materials--the stones in the streets were at once picked
up--old walls were pulled down--every article that would answer for a
missile was brought into use; an iron pot, which had been flung with
immense violence by the handle, struck the second officer in command in
the face, and dashed his brains out. Immediately that either part of the
square battalion was in any confusion, the people dashed in, and
attempted to force the muskets from the hands of the soldiers; in some
cases they were successful, and before the body had commenced a retreat,
Foret and Cathelineau were both armed with a musket and bayonet.

The colonel now saw that he could not maintain his position where he
was; he had not brought out with him the whole force of the garrison,
though in all he had not above seventy or eighty men; but he had behind
the barrack a gun of very large calibre, properly mounted, with all the
necessary equipments and ready for service. Such a piece of artillery
accompanied every detachment, and was kept in preparation for immediate
use at every military station; it had already been ascertained that this
afforded the readiest means of putting down revolt. He resolved,
therefore, on retreating while he had the power for doing so, and gave
the necessary orders to the men.

With great difficulty, but slowly and steadily, his men executed them:
amidst showers of stones, and the now determined attack of the people
the soldiers returned to the barracks, leaving one of their officers,
and one other man dead in the crowd; many of them were severely wounded;
few, if any, had escaped some bruise or cut. The people now conceived
that they were going to take refuge in the barrack, and determined to
drive them utterly out of the town; but, as soon as the soldiers had
filed into the barrack yard, another murderous fire was discharged by
those who had been left at the station. Then Cathelineau, who was still
in front of the crowd, and who was now armed with the bayonet, which he
had taken from the point of the musket, remembered the cannon, and he
became for a moment pale as he thought of the dreadful slaughter which
would take place, if the colonel were able to effect his purpose of
playing it upon the town.

"The cannon!" whispered he to Foret, who was still at his side; "they
will fall like leaves in autumn, if we don't prevent it."

"Have they it ready?" said Foret.

"Always," said the other, "they have nothing to do but wheel it into the
street; and they are at it, you hear the noise of the wheels this
moment. We must bear one discharge from it, and the next, if there be
a second, shall fall upon the soldiers."

Others, beside Cathelineau, recognized the sound of the moving
wheels--and, the cannon, the cannon, they will fire the cannon on us,"
was heard from side to side among the crowd; but none attempted to run,
not one of the whole mass attempted to fly, and when the barrack gates
flew open, and the deadly mouth of the huge instrument was close upon
them, they rushed upon it, determined at any rate, to preserve their
houses, their wives, and their children from the awful destruction of
a prolonged firing.

"They must have one shot at us," said a man in a trembling whisper to
his neighbour. "God send it were over!" replied the other, as the gates
of the barrack-yard were thrown back.

The greater number of the soldiers and the two officers who had returned
with them, made good their retreat into the barracks, under the fire of
their comrades, who had been left there. Some three or four had been
pulled and hustled into the crowd, and their arms were quickly taken
from them and they were sent back to the auberge as prisoners. The
colonel, as soon as he found himself in his own quarters, gave immediate
orders that the gun should be wheeled round to the barrack-yard gate,
which had hitherto been kept closed, and that the moment the gates could
be got open it should be fired on the crowd. These gates faced directly
into the square, and the destruction caused by one shot would have been
tremendous. The colonel, moreover, calculated that in the confusion he
would have been able to reload. The gun, in its original position, was
pointed on the town, but it was immediately seen, that without moving
it, it could not be brought to bear upon the crowd congregated round the

The first attack of the crowd had been at the barrack door, through
which the soldiers had retreated; but this was soon changed to the yard
gates. The people, however, were unable to knock them down before the
wheels of the cannon were heard, as they had been considerably checked
by the fire of the reserved party. Both soldiers and towns-people were
now anxious to face each other, and the gates soon fell inwards towards
the military. Had the men at the gun had their wits about them they
would have fired through the gates; but they did not, they waited till
they fell inwards across the cannon's mouth, and in his confusion the
artillery-sergeant even then hesitated before he put the light to the

He had never time to do more than hesitate. Cathelineau had been close
up to the wooden gates, against which he was so closely pressed that he
was hardly able to change his bayonet from his right to his left-hand,
and to cock the pistol which he had taken from the corporal, who had
commenced the day's work. However, he contrived to do so, and when the
wood-work fell, he sprang forward, and though he stumbled over the
fragments of the timber, he fired as he did so, and the artillery
sergeant fell dead beside the cannon; the unextinguished light was
immediately seized by his comrade, but he had not time to use it; it was
knocked from his hand before it was well raised from the ground, and the
harmless piece of cannon was soon entirely surrounded by crowds of the
townspeople. They were not content with spiking it in such a way as to
make it utterly impossible that it should be discharged; but they
succeeded in turning it entirely round, so that the back of the carriage
faced towards the town.

The soldiers still continued the fight within the barrack-yard, and from
the barrack windows; but they were so completely mixed with the
townspeople, that the officers were afraid to order the men to fire from
the windows, least they should kill their own comrades. At last the
colonel himself was taken prisoner; he was literally dragged out of one
of the windows by the people, and soon afterwards the remainder of the
troops gave up. One of the three officers and six men were killed; the
rest were nearly all more or less wounded, and were all, without
exception, made prisoners of war.

Cathelineau and Foret had been in front of the battle all through; but
neither of them were wounded. It was to Foret that the colonel had given
up his sword, after he had been dragged headforemost through a window,
had had his head cut open with a brick-bat, and his sheath and
sword-belt literally torn from his side. He had certainly not
capitulated before he was obliged to do, and the people did not like him
the worse for it.

And now the unarmed soldiery, maimed and lame, with broken heads and
bloody faces, were led down in triumph into the square; and after them
was brought the great trophy of the day, the cannon, with its awful
mouth still turned away from the town. Cathelineau and Foret led the
procession, the former still carrying his bayonet, for he had given up
both the musket and pistols to some one else, and Foret armed with the
Colonel's sword: they were fully recognized as the victorious leaders
of the day.

At the bottom of the square they met a whole concourse of women, the
wives and sisters of the champions--among whom the sister and sweetheart
of Peter Berrier were conspicuous; they had come out to thank the
townspeople for what they had done for them. With the women were two of
the old curés of that and a neighbouring parish--pastors whom the decree
of the Convention had banished from their own churches, but whom all the
powers of the Convention had been unable to silence. To them this day's
battle was a most acceptable sign of better days coming; they foresaw
a succession of future victories on behalf of the people, which would
surely end in the restoration of the Bourbons to the throne, and of the
clergy to their churches. The curés shook hands warmly with those in the
front ranks of the people, gave their blessing to Cathelineau and Foret,
and then invited the people, with one accord, to give thanks to God for
the great success which He had given them.

In one moment the whole crowd were on their knees in the market-place,
while the two priests stood among them with their arms raised, uttering
thanksgiving to the Lord for his mercy, and praying for the eternal
welfare of those who had fallen in the affray. The soldiers of the
republic found themselves standing alone as prisoners in the midst of
the kneeling crowd; they looked awkward and confused enough, but they
could not help themselves; they could not have escaped, even if they had
been unanimous in attempting to do so; for they were unarmed, and the
people knelt so closely round them, that they could hardly move. It was
out of the question that they should also kneel, and join in the
thanksgiving for having been so utterly beaten; so there they stood,
their wounds stiffening and their blood running, till the priests had
finished, and the people had risen.

And then another ceremony was performed; the priests were besought to
come and bless the cannon, the first great trophy of the Royalist
insurrection; and they did so. The cannon was a lucky cannon, a kind
cannon, and a good cannon--a bon enfant, and worthy to be blessed; it
had refused to pour forth its murderous fire against the inhabitants of
a town that was so friendly to the King. It was decidedly a royalist
cannon; it had very plainly declared the side it meant to take; nothing
but miraculous interference on its own part could have prevented its
having been discharged on he people, when it stood ready pointed on the
town, with the torch absolutely glimmering at the touch-hole. It had
been brought to St. Florent by republican soldiers, dragged by
republican horses, and loaded with republican gunpowder; but it should
never be used except in the service of the King, and against the enemies
of the throne.

And so the priests blessed the cannon, and the people baptized it, and
called it Marie-Jeanne, and the women brought out their little children,
and sat them straddle-legged across it, whole rows of them at the same
time, till the cannon looked like a huge bunch of grapes on which the
fruit clustered thickly. By this time it was dark, and the people
lighted huge bonfires through the town, and the children remained up,
and as many as could cling on it still sat upon the cannon, and ropes
were got and fastened to it, and all the girls of St. Florent dragged
Marie-Jeanne round the town, and at last she was dragged into the yard
of the auberge, in front of which the fight had commenced, and there she
was left for the night, under a strong guard.

While these rejoicings were going on out of doors, Cathelineau and
Forte, the two priests, and a few others--the wise men of the town--were
collected together within the auberge, and were consulting as to their
future proceedings.

"We have done much," said Cathelineau, "and I rejoice at it. Too much,
a great deal, for us now to remain idle. We cannot go back. We are now
the enemies of the Republic, and we must attack our enemies elsewhere,
or they will attack and overwhelm us in our little town."

They then determined that Cathelineau, on the next morning, should
address the people from the window of the market-place, and that
afterwards he and Forte should go through the neighbouring country and
implore the assistance of the people, of the gentry, the priests, the
farmers, and the peasants, in opposing the hated levy of the Republican
forces; but first they would go to the gentry, and the names of many
were mentioned whom it was thought would be sure to join them. The first
was that of Henri de Larochejaquelin, and the next that of his friend
M. de Lescure. Who loved the people so well as they, and whom did the
people love so truly? Yes, they would call on young Larochejaquelin and
his friend to be their leaders.

Early on the morrow, the postillion addressed the people from the
market-place. He did not seek to himself the honour of doing so, nor,
when he was asked to come forward as the leader of the people, did he
refuse to do so. He was not covetous of the honour, but he would not
refuse the danger. During the whole of the combat every one had looked
to him as to the leader. He had not constituted himself the people's
general, he had not for a moment thought of assuming the position; but
he as little thought of refusing the danger or the responsibility, when
the duties of a general seemed, by the will of all, to fall to his lot.

"Friends," said he, addressing them from the market-house, "we have
saved ourselves for a while from the grasp of the Republic. But for the
battle of yesterday, every one here would have a brother, a son, or a
cousin, now enrolled as a conscript in the army of the Convention. Many
of yourselves would have been conscripts, and would have this morning
waked to the loss of your liberty. We did much yesterday when we bound
the hands of the soldiers; but we have much more to do than we have yet
done. Already in Nantes and in Angers are they talking of what we
yesterday performed. We shall doubtless have many friends in Nantes and
Angers, but the Republic also has many friends in those towns, and the
soldiers of the Republic are strong there. It will not be long before
they hurry to St. Florent to avenge the disgrace of their comrades; and
bitter will be their revenge if they take you unprepared. You have
declared war against the Republic, and you must be prepared to fight it
out to the end."

"We will, we will," shouted the people. "Down with the Republic--down
with the Convention. Long live the King--our own King once again."

"Very well, my friends," continued Cathelineau, "so be it. We will fight
it out then. We will combat with the Republic, sooner than be carried
away from our wives, our children, and our sweethearts. We will fight
for our own curés and our own churches; but our battle will be no
holiday-work, it will be a different affair from that of yesterday. We
must learn to carry arms, and to stand under them. You showed yesterday
that you had courage--you must now show that you can join patience and
perseverance to your courage."

"We will, Cathelineau, we will," shouted they "Tell us what we must do,
Cathelineau, and we will do it.

"We must see," continued he, "who will be our friends and our allies.
St. Florent cannot fight single-handed against the Republic. There are
others in Anjou, and Poitou also, besides ourselves, who do not wish to
leave their homes and their fields. There are noblemen and gentlemen,
our friends and masters, who will lead you better than I can."

"No, no, Cathelineau is our general; we will follow no one but

"You will, my friends, you will; but we need not quarrel about that.
Forte and I, with Peter Berrier, will visit those who we think will join
us; but you must at once prepare yourselves. You must arm yourselves.
We will distribute the muskets of the soldiers as far as they will go.
You must prepare yourselves. If we do not at once attack the Republicans
elsewhere, they will soon overwhelm us in St. Florent. We will go to
Cholet--the men of Cholet will surely second us--they are as fond of
their sons and their brethren as we are. Cholet will join us, and
Beaupréau, and Coron, and Torfou. We will go and ask them whether they
prefer the Republic to their homes--whether the leaders of the
Convention are dearer to them than their own lords--whether their new
priests love them, as the old ones did? And I know what will be their

He ceased speaking, and his audience crowded around him to shake hands
with him, and to bless him; and before the sun was in the middle of the
sky he had left St. Florent on his mission, in company with Forte and
Peter Berrier.



The château of Durbellière, the family seat of the Larochejacquelins,
was situated in the very centre of the Bocage, between the small towns
of Chatillon and Vihiers--in the province of Poitou, and about twelve
leagues from St. Florent.

It was a large mansion, surrounded by extensive gardens, and a
considerable domain. There were few residences of more importance as
betokening greater wealth in the province of Poitou; but it was neither
magnificent nor picturesque. The landlords of the country were not men
of extensive property or expensive habits--they built no costly castles,
and gave no sumptuous banquets; but they lived at home, on their
incomes, and had always something to spare for the poorer of their
neighbours. Farming was their business--the chase their
amusement--loyalty their strongest passion, and the prosperity of their
tenantry their chief ambition.

The château of Durbellière was a large square building, three stories
high, with seven front windows to each of the upper stories, and three
on each side of the large door on the ground floor. Eight stone steps
of great width led up to the front door; but between the top step and
the door there was a square flagged area of considerable space; and on
the right hand, and on the left, two large whitewashed lions reclined
on brick and mortar pedestals. An enormous range of kitchens, offices
and cellars, ran under the whole house; the windows opened into a low
area, or rather trench, which ran along the front and back of the house,
and to which there were no rails or palings of any kind. The servants'
door was at the side of the house, and the servants and people coming
to them, to save themselves the trouble of walking round to this door,
were in the habit of jumping into the area and entering the kitchen by
the window. Doubtless some lady of the house, when the mansion was first
built, had protested strongly against this unsightly practice; but habit
had now accustomed the family to this mode of ingress and egress, and
the servants of Durbèlliere consequently never used any other.

The back of the château was just the same as the front, the same
windows, the same broad steps, the same pedestals and the same
whitewashed lions, only the steps, instead of leading on to a large
gravelled square, led into a trim garden. There were no windows,
whatsoever, on one side of the house, and on the other only those
necessary to light the huge staircase of the mansion.

The rooms were square, very large, and extremely lofty; the salon alone
was carpetted, and none of them were papered, the drawing-room, the
dining-room and the grand salon were ornamented with painted panels,
which displayed light-coloured shepherds and shepherdesses in almost
every possible attitude. In these rooms, also, there were highly
ornamented stoves, which stood out about four feet from the wall, topped
with marble slabs, on which were sculptured all the gods and demi-gods
of the heathen mythology--that in the drawing-room exhibited Vulcan
catching Mars and Venus in his marble net; and the unhappy position of
the god of war was certainly calculated to read a useful lesson to any
Parisian rover, who might attempt to disturb the domestic felicity of
any family in the Bocage.

The house was not above a hundred yards from the high road, from which
there were two entrances about two hundred yards apart. There were large
wooden, gates at each, which were usually left open, but each of which
was guarded by two white-washed lions--not quite so much at ease as
those on the pedestals, for they were fixed a-top of pillars hardly
broad enough to support them. But this doubtless only increased their

But the glory of the château was the large garden behind the house. It
was completely enclosed by a very high wall, and, like the house, was
nearly square in its proportions. It contained miles of walks, and each
walk so like the others, that a stranger might wander there for a week
without knowing that he had retraversed the same ground, were it not
that he could not fail to recognize the quaint groups of figures which
met him at every turn. A few of these were of stone, rudely sculptured,
but by far the greater number were of painted wood, and, like the
shepherds and shepherdesses in the drawing-room, displayed every action
of rural life. You would suddenly come upon a rosy-coloured gentleman,
with a gun to his shoulder, in the act of shooting game--then a girl
with a basket of huge cabbages--an old man in a fit of the cholic; the
same rosy gentleman violently kissing a violet-coloured young lady; and,
at the next turn, you would find the violet-coloured young lady fast
asleep upon a bank. You would meet a fat curé a dozen times in
half-an-hour, and always well employed. He would be saying his
prayers--drinking beer--blessing a young maiden, and cudgelling a mule
that wouldn't stir a step for him, till the large yellow drops of sweat
were falling from his face. It was inconceivable how so many painted
figures, in such a variety of attitudes, could have been designed and
executed; but there they were, the great glory of the old gardener, and
the endless amusement of the peasants of the neighbourhood, who were
allowed to walk there on the summer Sunday evenings.

The gardens of Durbellière were also wonderful in another respect. It
was supposed to be impossible to consume, or even to gather, all the
cherries which they produced in the early summer. The trees between the
walks were all cherry-trees--old standard trees of a variety of sorts;
but they all bore fruit of some description or another, some sweet and
some bitter; some large, some small, and some perfectly diminutive; some
black, some red, and some white. Every species of known cherry was in
that garden in abundance; but even the gardener himself did not know the
extent of the produce. Birds of all kinds flocked there in enormous
numbers, and banqueted gloriously during the summer. No one disturbed
them except the painted sportsman; and the song of the linnet and the
thrush was heard all day, and that of the nightingale during the night.

The old Marquis de Larochejaquelin had been crossed in love early in
life, and he had not recovered from his sorrow till he was above fifty,
when he married, and outlived his young wife, who left him different
children. Henri and Agatha were the only two now living with him. As has
already been said, the old man was very infirm, and had lost the use of
his limbs.

When the weather was cold or wet, he sat with his daughter, Agatha, near
his bright wood fire, and watched her needle, or listened to her songs;
but, if the sun appeared at all, he was dragged out in his garden chair
among the birds and the painted figures, and was happy in spite of his

He was most affectionate to his children, and indulgent to a fault. He
was kind to every one, and, unless the birds were disturbed, the
cherry-trees injured, or the figures upset, he was never angry even with
a servant. Everybody loved and venerated the old Marquis, and even in
his foibles, he was thoroughly respected. He had a vast collection of
stuffed birds of every description, and the peasants round him were so
anxious to gratify him by adding to his stock, that there began to be
a doubt whether room in the château could be found for the presents
which were continually brought. The upper story of the house had never
been required by the family, and the rooms had not even been roofed or
plastered. One great partition wall ran across the space, and the only
ceiling was the bare high-pointed roof of the house. This place was
called the granary, and was used for a drying ground. And here the
superfluous birds were brought, much to the old man's grief, for he knew
that he should never see them again; but he could not refuse them when
they were given to him, and the room which he inhabited would
conveniently hold no more.

The happiness of the last years of the old man's life was much disturbed
by the events of the French revolution. He had been very anxious when
he saw his young son join a club, which was sure to incur the ill-will
of the ruling power in Paris; and yet he could not dissuade him from
doing so; and, though he had rejoiced when his son returned to Poitou
still safe, the imprisonment of the King had woefully afflicted him, and
his death had nearly killed him. He had now expressed his opposition to
the levies of a conscription with a degree of energy which had
astonished his family. He knew the names and persons of every man and
woman living on his estate, indeed, of every child above the age of ten;
and, when he was told the names of those who were drawn as conscripts,
he desired that they might all be told in his name that he hoped they
would not obey.

Henri de Larochejacquelin has already been introduced to the reader. He
returned to Poitou as soon as the Republic was proclaimed, together with
de Lescure and Adolphe Denot. Adolphe had been staying a great portion
of the winter at Durbellière, but he had since gone to his own place,
and was now at Clisson, the seat of M. de Lescure.

Marie de Lescure, the sister of Henri's friend, was staying at
Durbellière with Agatha Larochejaquelin; and her visit, which had been
prolonged from before Christmas, had certainly not been made less
agreeable by the fact of Henri's having been at home the whole time. She
and Agatha were both pretty, but they were very different. Marie had
dark hair, nearly black, very dark eyes, and a beautiful rich
complexion; her skin was dark, but never sallow; her colour was not
bright, but always clear and transparent; her hair curled naturally
round her head, and the heavy curls fell upon her neck and shoulders;
she was rather under the middle height, but the symmetry of her figure
was so perfect, that no one would have called her too short. She had
high animal spirits, and was always happy and good humoured; was very
fond of amusement of every kind, and able to extract amusement out of
everything. She was the great favourite of the old Marquis, not that he
loved her so well as his own daughter, but her habits and manners suited
him better than Agatha's; she could better sympathize with the old man's
wishes and fancies; she would smooth the plumage of his birds for him;
arrange and re-arrange his shells; feed his cats, his dogs, his tame
deer, and his white peacock--for the old Marquis had live pets as well
as dead favourites. Then she would sing merry little songs to him, and
laugh at him, and quiz his painted figures, and help to wheel his chair,
or pretend to do so.

She did all these things more readily than Agatha did, for her spirits
were lighter. Not that Agatha was unhappy, or inattentive to her father;
but she was quieter than Marie and of a more contemplative mood. She
also had dark hair, but it was a dark brown, and she wore it braided
close to her forehead. Her complexion was clear and bright, her forehead
was white, and the colour in her cheeks, when she had colour there, was
that of the clearest carnation. She was considerably taller than Marie,
but her figure was exquisitely perfect, and her gait was that of a
queen. She was the Rose of Poitou, the beauty and queen of the whole
district. She was all but worshipped by the peasantry around her; if
they admired her beauty much, they much more strongly appreciated her
virtues, her charity, her considerate kindness, her want of selfishness,
her devotion to her friends and neighbours, and lastly, her strong
feeling of loyalty, her love for the king while he lived, and her
passionate regret for him since he had perished on the scaffold. In this
she inherited all the feelings of her father, and it was greatly her
attachment to the throne and to the name of the King, which led to so
high a pitch the enthusiasm of the peasantry in behalf of the royalists.

Many wishes, surmises and anticipations had arisen as to who was to
carry off this rich prize; who should be the happy husband of Agatha
Larochejaquelin; but her friends had hitherto been anxious in vain; she
still went "in maiden meditation fancy free." Not that she was without
professed admirers; but they had none of them yet touched her heart.
Many thought that she would be the bride of her brother's friend,
Adolphe Denot; for he was more at the château than any one else, was
very handsome, and had a good property. Adolphe was moreover seen to be
very attentive to Mademoiselle Agatha; and thrown so much with her as
he was, how could he fail of being in love with her.

This belief much disturbed the comfort of Agatha's humble friends, for
Adolphe Denot was not popular among them: there was a haughtiness in his
manner to the poor, to which their own lords and masters had never
accustomed them. He was supercilious and proud in his bearing towards
them, and had none of the cheering, frank look and tone of their own
dear young M. Henri. They need not, however, have been alarmed, for
Agatha Larochejaquelin was not at all disposed to take Adolphe Denot as
her lord; she was passionately attached to her brother, and for his sake
she had been kind, attentive, nay, almost affectionate to his friend;
she and Adolphe had been much together since they were children. He had
been absent from Durbellière for about a year, during which time, he had
ceased to be a boy, and on his return to the château had taken on
himself the airs, if not the manners of a man. Agatha's manner to him
was not altered, it was still friendly and affectionate, and Adolphe,
with his usual vanity, misinterpreted it; he flattered himself that the
beautiful girl loved him, and he soon persuaded himself that he was
devotedly attached to her.

He had not yet positively declared his love, but Agatha felt from his
manner that she had to expect a declaration, and she consequently
altered her own; she became less familiar with him, she avoided all
opportunities of being alone with him; she still called him by his
Christian name, for she had always done so; she was still kind and
attentive to him, for he was a guest in her father's house; but Adolphe
felt that she was altered, and he became angry and moody; he thought
that she was coquetting and that he was slighted; and without much
notice to any one, he left the house.

Agatha was glad that he was gone; she wished to spare him the
humiliation of a refusal; she understood his character well, and felt
that the wound inflicted on his self-love, by being rejected, would be
more painful to him than his actual disappointment; she knew that
Adolphe would not die for love, but she also knew that he would not
quietly bear the fancied slight of unreturned affection. If, by her
conduct, she could induce him to change his own, to drop the lover, and
be to her again simply her brother's friend, all might yet be well; but
if he persevered and declared his love, she felt that there would be a
quarrel, not only between him and her, but between him and Henri.

To tell the truth, Henri had rather fostered his friend's passion for
Agatha. He had wished to see them married; and, though he had not
exactly told his friend as much, he had said so much that both Agatha
and Denot knew what his wishes were. This, of course, gave great
encouragement to the lover, but it greatly grieved poor Agatha; and now
that Adolphe was gone, she made up her mind to open her heart to her

A day or two before the revolt of St. Florent, they were sitting
together in the drawing-room; it was late in the evening, the old
Marquis had retired for the night, and Marie de Lescure was engaged
elsewhere, so that Agatha and her brother were left alone together. He
was reading, but she was sitting gazing at the fire. She could hardly
summon up courage to say, even to her dear brother, what she wished to

"Henri," she said at last, "does Adolphe return here from Fleury?"
(Fleury was the name of Denot's house).

"I hope he will," said Henri; "but what makes you ask? the place is dull
without him, isn't it?"

"Dull! you don't find Marie dull, do you, Henri?"

"Oh, Marie!" said he, laughing, "Marie amuses our father, and she charms
me; but. you might find the house dull, in spite of Marie--eh, Agatha?"

"Indeed no, Henri; the house was not dull even when you were in Paris,
and Marie was at Clisson, and papa and I were alone together here; it
was not my being dull made me ask whether Adolphe was to return."

"But you wouldn't be sorry that he should come back, Agatha? You don't
want to banish poor Adolphe from Durbellière, I hope?"

"No," said Agatha, doubtfully, "no, I don't want to banish him--of
course, Henri, I can't want to banish your friend from the house; but--"

"But what?" said Henri, now perceiving that his sister had something on
her mind--something that she wished to say to him; "but what, dearest

"I don't want to banish him from the house, Henri; but I wish he would
not return just at present; but you haven't answered my question--you
haven't told me whether you expect him."

"I think he will return; but he did not himself say exactly when. I am
sorry to hear what you say, Agatha--very sorry--I thought you and
Adolphe were great friends. I was even a little jealous," added he,
laughing, "at the close alliance between you, and I thought of getting
up a little separate party of my own with Marie."

"Don't separate yourself from me, Henri!" said she; "don't let us be
separated in anything, even in thought; not but that I should be
delighted to see a dearer friendship between you and Marie, even than
that between Marie and myself; but don't plan any separate alliance for
me. I hope you have not been doing so--tell me, Henri, that you have
not." And then she added, blushing deeply up to her pale forehead, "You
have not proposed to Adolphe that I should be his wife?"

"No, Agatha, I have not proposed it to him; I should not have dreamt of
doing so, without knowing that it would not be disagreeable to you."

"There's my own dear brother! My own Henri!" said she, going over to
him, caressing him, and kissing his forehead.

"I will never make an offer of your hand to any one Agatha; you shall
choose for yourself; I will never cause you sorrow in that way: but I
will own, dearest, that I have wished you should marry Adolphe, and I
have also fancied that you loved him."

"No, Henri, no, I do not love him--I can never love him--that is, as my
husband. I do love him as your friend. I will continue to love him as
such, as long as he remains your friend."

"I fancied also," continued he; "nay, I did more than fancy--I am sure
he loves you--is it not so?"

"He has never told me so," said she, again blushing; "it is that he may
not tell me so, that I now say that I hope he is not returning. Oh,
Henri, my own dearest brother, do not let him come to Durbellière;
prevent him in some way; go to him for a while; make some plan with him;
and give me warning when he is coming, and I will be at Clisson with

"Will it not be better for both of you, Agatha, that you should
understand each other? I know he loves you, though he has not told me
so. You must tell him, kindly, that you cannot return his affection: you
cannot always run away from him."

"He will forget me soon. He will, at any rate, forget his love, when he
finds that I avoid his company; but, Henri, if he formally asks my hand,
and is refused, that he will neither forget nor forgive."

"He must take his chance, dearest, like other men."

"But he isn't like other men, Henri. You know he is--he is rather
impatient of refusal; he could not bear as well as some men any
mortification to his pride."

"I trust he has too much real pride to feel himself disgraced, because
he is not loved. I grieve for him, for I love him myself; and I know his
affections are strong; but I think it is better he should know the truth
at once, and it must be from your own lips. I cannot tell him you will
not accept him before he himself makes the offer."

Agatha did not reply; she could not explain even to her brother all that
she felt. She could not point out to him how very weak--how selfish his
friend was. She could not tell him that his bosom friend would suffer
ten times more from the wound to his pride in being rejected, than from
the effects of disappointed love; but she rightly judged her lover's
character. Adolphe Denot loved her as warmly as he was capable of loving
ought but himself; but were she to die, his grief would be very short
lived; he would not, however, endure to see that she preferred any one
to himself.

"I am sorry for this, Agatha--very sorry," continued her brother; "I had
fondly hoped to see you Adolphe's wife, but it is over now. I will never
press you against your will."

"My own Henri--how good you are to your Agatha. I knew you would not
torture me with a request that I should marry a man I did not love. I
grieve that I interfere with your plans; but I will live with you, and
be your old maid sister, and nurse and love your children, and they
shall love their old maid aunt."

"There are other men, Agatha, besides Adolphe. Perhaps your next request
will be a very different one; perhaps, then, you will be singing the
praises of some admirer, and asking me to give him a brother's place in
my heart."

"And when I ask it, you will do so; but Henri," and she put her hands
upon his shoulder, as she stood close to his chair, "don't let Adolphe
come here immediately."

"He must do so, dearest, now I think of it: we have other things to
think of besides ladies' hearts, and other matters to plan besides
wedding favours; the troops will be in Clisson on Monday next, to
collect the conscripts. I have promised to be with de Lescure, and
Adolphe is to meet me there; they are both then to come here. Not a man
shall be taken who does not choose to go; and there are not many who
wish to go from choice. There will be warm work in Poitou next week,
Agatha; few of us then can think of love or marriage. You and Marie will
be making sword-knots and embroidering flags; that will be your work.
A harder task will soon follow it--that of dressing wounds and
staunching blood. We shall have hot work, and more than plenty of it.
May God send us well through it."

"Amen; with all my heart I say, amen," said Agatha; "but will these poor
men resist the soldiers, Henri?"

"Indeed they will, Agatha."

"But can they? They have not arms, nor practice in the way of
fighting--they have no leaders."

"We will take arms from our enemies. We will be apt scholars in fighting
for our wives, and our sisters, and our houses. As for leaders, the man
who is most fit shall lead the others."

"And you, Henri--merciful Heaven! what are you about to do--will you
take up arms against the whole republic?"

"With God's blessing I will--against the whole republic."

"May the Lord, in his mercy, look on you and give you his assistance;
and as your cause is just and holy, He will do so. Whatever women can
do, we will do; you shall have our prayers for your success our tears
for your reverses, and our praises for your courage; and when you
require it, as some of you will too soon, our tenderest care in your
sufferings." At this moment Marie de Lescure entered the room. "Marie,"
continued Agatha, you will help to succour those who are wounded in
fighting for their King?"

"Indeed, and indeed I will," said the bright-eyed girl, eagerly, and
regret only that I cannot do more; that I cannot myself be in the
battle. But, M. Larochejaquelin, will the people rise? will there really
be fighting? will Charles be there?"

"Indeed he will, Marie; the first among the foremost. Agatha asked me
but now, who would be our leaders? Is there a man in the Bocage--aye,
in all Poitou, who will not follow Charles de Lescure?"

"May the blessed Saviour watch over him and protect him," said Marie,

"But tell me, Henri;" said Agatha, "where will it commence--where will
they first resist the troops?"

"I cannot say exactly," said he, "in many places at once I hope. In St.
Florent, they say, not a man will join; in Clisson and Torfou they begin
on Monday. Charles, and I, and Adolphe will be in Clisson. Father Jerome
has the whole lists; he says that in St. Laud's, in Echanbroignes, and
Clisson, they are ready, to a man, to oppose the troops: he will go with
me to Clisson on Sunday afternoon; on Monday, with God's will, we will
be in the thick of it"

"And will Father Jerome be there, among the soldiers "said Marie.

"Why not," said Henri, "will the peasants fight worse when they see
their priest before them?"

"And if he should fall?"

"He will fail in the service of his God and his King; Father Jerome will
be here himself tomorrow."

"The Curé of St Laud's," said Agatha, "is not the man to sit idle, when
good work is to be done, but, oh! what awful times are these, when the
priests themselves have to go out to fight for their altars and their

"I will return home with you, M Larochejaquelin, when you go to
Clisson," said Marie.

"And leave Agatha alone?" said Henri

"Don't mind me, Henri," said Agatha, "I shall be well here. Marie cannot
leave Madame de Lescure alone, when her husband is, away and in such

"You will soon have company here enough," said Henri. "De Lescure, and
I, and Adolphe, and Heaven knows whom besides. Charette will be in arms,
and d'Autachamps, the Prince de Talmont, and M. Bonchamps. At present
their business is at a distance from us; but we shall probably be all
brought together sooner or later, and they will all be welcome at

"They shall be welcome if they are friends of yours, and friends of the
King; but come, Marie, it is late, let us go to bed; next week, perhaps,
we shall be wanting rest, and unable to take it."

They met the next morning at breakfast, and the old Marquis was there
also, and the priest, to whom they had alluded in their conversation on
the preceding evening--Father Jerome, the Curé of St. Laud's--such at
least had he been, and so was he still called, though his parish had
been taken away from him, and his place filled by a constitutional
pastor; that is, by a priest who had taken the oath to the Constitution,
required by the National Assembly Father Jerome was banished from his
church, and deprived of the small emoluments of his office; but he was
not silenced, for he still continued to perform the ceremonies of his
religion, sometimes in some gentleman's drawing-room, sometimes in a
farmer's house, or a peasant's cottage, but oftener out in the open air,
under the shadow of a spreading beech, on a rude altar hastily built for
him with rocks and stones.

The church of St Laud's was perfectly deserted--not a single person
would attend there to hear mass said by the strange priest--the peasants
would as soon have been present at some infernal rite, avowedly
celebrated in honour of the devil--and yet the Curé newly sent there was
not a bad man But he was a constitutional priest, and that was enough
to recommend him to the ill-will of the peasantry In peaceable and happy
times, prior to the revolution, the Curé of St Laud's had been a
remarkable person, he was a man of more activity, both of mind and body,
than his brethren, he was more intimate with the gentry than the
generality of clergymen in the neighbourhood, and at the same time more
actively engaged in promoting the welfare of the poor. The country cures
generally were men who knew little of the world and its ways--who were
uneducated, save as regards their own profession--who had few ideas
beyond their own duties and station, This was not so with Father Jerome;
he had travelled and heard the ways of men in other countries; he had
not read much but he had seen a good deal, and he was a man of quick
apprehension--and above all a man of much energy. He had expressed great
hostility to the revolution since its commencement; at a time when so
few were hostile to it, he had foreseen that it would destroy the
religion and the religious feeling of the country, and he had constantly
besought his flock to remain true to their old customs. He was certainly
a devout man in his own way, though he was somewhat unscrupulous in his
devotions; the people were as superstitious as they were faithful, and
he never hesitated in using their superstition to forward his own views.
His whole anxiety was for their welfare; but he cherished their very
faults, their ignorance and their follies, to enable himself to serve
them in his own manner. He was unwilling that they should receive other
education than that which they now had--he was jealous of any one's
interfering with them but their landlord and himself. He would not own
that any change: could better their condition, or that anything more was
desirable for them than that they should live contented and obedient,
and die faithful in hope.

Durbellière had not been in his parish, but he had always been
peculiarly intimate with the family of the Larochejaquelins, and had
warmly welcomed the return of Henri to the Bocage, at a time when so
many of the nobility were leaving the country. They were now about to
join hand and heart in saving the people from the horrors of the
conscription, and though the Curé's nominal mission was to be purely
spiritual, he was quite prepared to give temporal aid to his allies,
should it at any time appear expedient to himself to do so.

Father Jerome was a tall, well-made, brawny man; his face was not
exactly handsome, but it was bold and intellectual; his eye was bright
and clear, and his forehead high and open--he was a man of immense
muscular power and capable of great physical exertion--he was above
forty-five years of age but still apparently in the prime of his
strength. He wore a long rusty black, or rather grey curé's frock, which
fell from his shoulders down to his heels, and was fastened round his
body with a black belt--this garment was much the worse for wear, for
Father Jerome had now been deprived of his income for some twelve
months; but he was no whit ashamed of his threadbare coat, he rather
gloried in it, and could not be induced by the liberal offers of his
more wealthy friends to lay it aside.

Father Jerome greeted them all as he entered the breakfast-room. He was
received with great kindness by the old Marquis, who pressed his hand
and made him sit beside himself; he blessed the two young girls
fervently, and nodded affectionately to Henri, whom he had seen on the
preceding day. It was evident that the Curé of St. Laud's was quite at
home at Durbellière.

"We have awful times coming on us now, Father Jerome," said Agatha.

"Not so, Mademoiselle," said the priest, "we have good times coming, we
will have a King and our Church again, we poor cure will have our homes
and our altars again; our own parishes and our old flocks."

"Come what, come may," said Henri, "we cannot be worse than the
Convention would make us."

"But we firmly trust that by God's will and with God's aid, we will soon
be rid of all our troubles," said the priest. "M le Marquis, we have
your best wishes, I know; and your full approval. I hope we shall soon
be able to lay our trophies at your feet."

"The approval of an old man like me is but of little avail; but you
shall have my prayers. I would, however, that God had spared me from
these days; it is grievous for me to see my son going out to fight
against his own countrymen, at his own door-sill; it would be more
grievous still, where he now to hesitate in doing so."

"No true son of Poitou hesitates now," said the enthusiastic priest.
"I yesterday saw every conscript in the parish of St. Laud's, and not
a single man hesitated--not one dreams of joining the republicans; and,
moreover, there is not an able-bodied man who will not come forward to
assist the conscripts in withstanding the soldiers; the women, too,
Mademoiselle, are equally eager. Barère will find it difficult, I think,
to raise a troop from Poitou."

"Will the conscripts from hence be required to join at Chatillon or at
Cholet?" said the old man.

"Those from St. Laud's, at Chatillon," said Henri; "but the men will not
leave their homes, they will know how to receive the soldiers if they
come amongst them."

So saying, he got up and went out, and the priest followed him; they had
much to do, and many things to arrange; to distribute arms and
gunpowder, and make the most of their little means. It was not their
present intention to lead the men from their homes, but they wished to
prepare them to receive the republican troops, when they came into the
country to enforce the collection of the republican levy.



The revolt of St. Florent took place on the day after that on which the
priest had breakfasted at Durbellière, and the rumours of it went
quickly through the country. As Cathelineau had said, the news was soon
known in Nantes and Angers, and the commander of the republican troops
determined most thoroughly to avenge the insolence and rebellion of the
vain people of St. Florent. He was not, however, able to accomplish his
threat on the instant, for he also was collecting conscripts in the
neighbourhood of Nantes, and the peasantry had heard of the doings of
St. Florent as well as the soldiers, and the men of Brittany seemed
inclined to follow the example of the men of Anjou.

He had, therefore, for a time enough to occupy his own troops, without
destroying the rebels of St. Florent--and it was well for St. Florent
that it was so. Had he at once marched five hundred men, with four
pieces of cannon against the town, he might have reduced the place to
ashes, and taken a bloody revenge for their victory The men of St
Florent would have had no means of opposing such a force, and the
peasantry generally were not armed, the tactics of the royalists were
not settled, and the revolt through the province was not general. The
destruction of St Florent was postponed for a month, and at the
expiration of that time, the troops of the republic had too much to do,
to return to the little town where the war had commenced.

The rumour of what had been done at St. Florent, was also soon known in
Coron, in Torfou, and in Clisson. The battle was fought on Thursday, and
early on Saturday morning, M. de Lescure had heard some indistinct
rumour of the occurrence; indistinct at least it seemed to him, for he
could not believe that the success of the townspeople was so complete,
as it was represented to him to be; he heard at the same time that the
revolt had been headed by Cathelineau and Foret, and that as soon as the
battle was over, they had started for Durbellière to engage the
assistance of Henri Larochejaquelin. De Lescure, therefore, determined
to go at once to Durbellière; and Adolphe Denot, who was with him,
accompanied him.

They found Henri in the midst of his preparations, weighing out
gunpowder with the assistance of the priest and the two girls. There was
a large quarry on the Marquis' estate, and a considerable supply of
gunpowder for blasting had been lately brought to Durbellière from
Nantes, as it could not be purchased in the neighbouring towns. As the
priest remarked, blasting powder was not the best, but it was good
enough to treat republicans with--at any rate they could get no better,
and it was lucky that they chanced to have that.

Charles de Lescure shuddered, as he. saw the dangerous employment on
which his sister was engaged; but Henri's sister was doing the same
thing, and he knew that dangerous times for all of them were coming.
Adolphe was disgusted that Agatha's white hands should be employed in
so vile a service, but he thought ittle of the danger to which she was

"You are well employed, ladies," said de Lescure, "but not an hour too
soon. I am rejoiced to see you so well supplied, Henri; this is indeed
a Godsend. Father Jerome, is this strictly canonical; gunpowder I fear
is altogether a temporal affair".

"But rebellion and hell-fire are synonomous," said the priest, "and
loyalty is the road to Paradise. I am strictly within my calling, M. de
Lescure. Mademoiselle, these packets are too large. You are giving too
good measure. Remember how many are the claimants for our bounty."

"You have, of course, all heard what occurred at St. Florent the day
before yesterday," said de Lescure.

"Not a word," said Henri. "What happened there? we hear nothing here
till a week after it is known in the towns."

They all left off what they were doing, and listened anxiously for M.
de Lescure's tidings. "Good news, I trust," said the Curé, whose face
showed a fearful degree of anxiety. "Good news, I trust in God; the men
of St. Florent, I am sure, have not disgraced themselves."

"Indeed, they have not, Father Jerome. If. the half of what I hear be
true, they have already played a grand part. What I hear is this--not
a conscript was to be seen at the barracks when they were summoned.
Three or four soldiers were sent to commence the collection in the town,
and they were at once taken prisoners by a party headed by Cathelineau,
the postillion. The Colonel then turned out, and fired on the crowd; but
he could not stand his ground before the people, who drove him back to
the barracks; half his men were killed in retreating. The people then
attacked the barracks, and regularly carried them by storm; took the
cannon which was with the detachment, and made prisoners of every
soldier that was not killed in the fray. If the half of it be true, St.
Florent has made a fine beginning for us."

"Glorious fellows!" said Adolphe. "What would I not give to have been
with them?"

"You will have plenty of opportunity, M. Denot," said the priest, who
held Adolphe in great aversion.

"But, Charles, the carnage of the people must have been dreadful," said
Henri; "they had nothing but their hands and nails to fight with,
against the muskets and bayonets of the soldiers--against artillery

"The Lord supplied them with weapons, my son," said the priest,
solemnly. "Cannot He, who has given them courage and good hearts to
stand against the enemies of their country, also give them weapons to
fight his battles?"

"They say, too, that by some miracle the cannon could not be got to fire
on the town. They say it was loaded and ready, but that the powder
would not ignite when the torch was put to it," said de Lescure.

"They say," added Denot, "that the Colonel himself repeatedly tried to
fire it, but could not; and that when he found that Providence,
interfered for the people, he laid down his sword, and gave himself up."

"The man who came to me from the town," continued de Lescure, "had a
thousand wonderful stories. He says, that twenty times in the day
Cathelineau stood, unharmed before the bayonets of the soldiers; that
twenty times he was shot at, but it was impossible to wound him. They
say that God has interfered for the protection of St. Florent."

"Most probable," said the priest, "most probable; for who, my children,
shall attempt to judge the ways of God? Why should He not put out his
right hand to assist his own?"

"And were there not many of the townspeople killed?" asked Agatha.

"We did not hear," replied de Lescure; "but the news of their triumph
would travel faster than the account of their misfortunes; there could
not but have been much bloodshed."

"After all," said Henri, "we do not know how much of this is true. We
must not believe it all; it is too glorious to be true."

"Do not say so, M. Larochejaquelin," said the priest, "do not say so;
we will do greater things than that with the assistance of God and the
blessed Virgin; but we will not envy the men of St. Florent the honour
they have won."

"You believe it all, then, Father Jerome," said Marie. "You believe that
the republicans have been beaten."

"Every word, Mademoiselle, every word religiously. I should be a heathen
else, or worse than that, a republican."

The group who were discussing the probability of the victory said to
have been gained at St. Florent, were standing at the window of one of
the front rooms of the château, which looked immediately on one of the
whitewashed recumbent lions, and from it they could see the wooden
gates, the lodge, and the paved road which ran from Chatillon to Vihiers
in front of the château. As the priest finished speaking, three men rode
through the gates, into the avenue, directly up to the house-door: one
was tolerably well mounted on a large horse, the second was on a shaggy
pony, and the third, who was rather behind the others, was seated on a
mule of most unprepossessing appearance, whose sides he did not for a
moment cease to lacerate with his heels, to enable himself to keep up
with his companions.

"That is Foret, from St. Florent himself!" shouted the priest, rushing
out towards the door, as soon as he saw the first horseman turn in at
the gate; "a good man, and true as any living, and one who hates a
skulking republican as he does the devil."

"And that is the postillion himself, on the pony!" shouted Henri,
running after him. "I could swear to him, by his hat, among a thousand."

"Who is the man on the mule, Adolphe?" said de Lescure, remaining at the
window. "By the bye," he added, turning to the two girls who remained
with him, and who were trembling in every joint, at they knew not what,
"I forgot, in my hurry, or rather I hadn't time as yet to tell Henri
that I had heard that these men were coming here."

"Are those the very men who gained the victory at St. Florent?" asked

"So we heard," replied de Lescure, "and now, and not till now, I believe
it; their coming here is strong confirmation; the Curé is right, it

"And is that man the good postillion of whom the people talk?"

"He is--at least he is no longer a postillion. He will cease to be a
postillion now; from henceforth he will be only a soldier."

The Curé and Larochejaquelin had rushed down the steps, and seized the
hands of Foret and Cathelineau, as they got off their horses. It was
soon evident to them that the noise of their deeds had gone before them.
Foret at once returned the greeting of Father Jerome, for they had long
known each other, and the difference between their stations was not so
very great; but Cathelineau hardly knew how to accept, or how to refuse,
the unwonted mark of friendship shewn him by a wealthy seigneur; it had
not been his lot to shake hands with gentlemen, and he had no wish to
step beyond his proper sphere, because he had been put prominently
forward in the affair of St. Florent; but he had no help for it; before
he knew where he was, Larochejaquelin had got him by the hand, and was
dragging him into the salon of Durbellière. It appeared to the
postillion that the room was full; there were ladies there too--young,
beautiful, and modest--such as he was in the habit of seeing through the
windows of the carriages which he drove; the old Marquis was there too
now; the butler had just wheeled in his chair, and Cathelineau perceived
that he was expected to join the group at once. A vista was opened for
him up to the old man's chair; his eyes swam, and he hardly recollected
the faces of the different people round him. He wished that he had
waited at the gate, and sent in for M. Henri; he could have talked to
him alone. Why had he ridden up so boldly to the château gate? He had
never trembled, for a moment, during the hot work at St. Florent, but
now he felt that circumstances could almost make him a coward.

On a sudden he remembered that his hat was still on his head, and he
snatched his hand out of Henri's to remove it, and then, when it was
off, he wanted to go back to the hall to put it down.

Henri saw his confusion, and, taking it from him, put it on a chair, and
then they all shook hands with him. He first found his hand in that of
the Marquis, and heard the old man bless him, and then the Priest
blessed him, and then he felt the soft, sweet hands of those bright
angels within his own horny palm; he heard them speaking to him, though
he knew not what they said; and then he could restrain himself no
longer, for tears forced themselves into his eyes, and, in the midst of
them all, he cried like a child.

There was infection in his tears, for Agatha and Marie, when they saw
them, cried too, and the eyes of some of the men also were not dry; they
all knew what the feelings of the man were, and they fully sympathised
with him. It was strange how little they said about St. Florent at
first; the moment the men had been seen, they were most anxious for the
tidings of what had been done; but now they all seemed satisfied as to
the truth of what they had heard--there was no longer any doubt. The
heroes of St. Florent were there, and, though neither of them had yet
spoken a word about the battle which had been fought, the presence of
the victors was sufficient evidence of the victory.

The Curé, however, and M. de Lescure soon took Foret apart, and learnt
from him the details of what had been done, while the father and son,
and the two girls, endeavoured to put the postillion at his ease in his
new position.

Cathelineau was a very good-looking man, about thirty-five years of age;
his hair was very dark, and curled in short, thick clusters; his
whiskers were large and bushy, and met beneath his face; his upper lip
was short, his mouth was beautifully formed, and there was a deep dimple
on his chin; but the charm of his face was in the soft benignant
expression of his eyes; he looked as though he loved his
fellow-creatures--he looked as though he could not hear, unmoved, a tale
of woe or oppression--of injuries inflicted on the weak, or of unfair
advantages assumed by the strong. It was this which had made him so much
beloved; and it was not only the expression of his countenance, but of
his heart also.

"And were you not wounded, Cathelineau?" asked the old gentleman.

"No, M. le Marquis, thank God! I was not."

"Nor Foret?"

"No, M. le Marquis."

"But were there many wounded?" said Agatha.

"Ah! Mademoiselle, there were--many, very many!"

"I knew there must have been," said Marie, shuddering.

"We cannot have war without the horrors of war," said Henri. "It is
better, is it not, Cathelineau, that some of us should fall, than that
all of us should be slaves?"

"A thousand times, M. Larochejaquelin ten thousand times!" said he, with
a return of that determined vigour with which he had addressed his
fellow-townsmen the day before.

"Yes, you are right, ten thousand times better! and, Marie, you would
not be your brother's sister if you did not think so," said Henri; "but
you do think so, and so does Agatha, though she cries so fast."

"I am not crying, Henri," said Agatha, removing her handkerchief from
her eyes, which belied her assertion; "but one cannot but think of all
the misery which is coming on us: were there--were there any women
wounded in the battle?"

There were, Mademoiselle; but those who were so, never complained; and
those who were killed will never have need to complain again."

"Were there women killed?"

"There were two, Mademoiselle; one a young girl; the other has left
children to avenge her death."

"That is the worst of all," said Henri, shuddering. "Cathelineau, we
must keep the women in the houses; our men will not fight if they see
their wives and sweethearts bleeding beside them; such a sight would
make me throw my sword away myself."

"It would make you throw away the scabbard, M. Larochejaquelin; but I
fear we shall see enough of such sights," and then he blushed deeply,
as he reflected that what he had said would frighten the fair girls
sitting near him; "but I beg pardon, ladies--I--"

"Don't mind us, Cathelineau," said Agatha; "you will not frighten us;
our brothers will fight by your side; and you will find that we are
worthy of our brothers. Marie and I will take our chance without

"And what is to come next, Cathelineau?" said Henri; "we have thrown
down the gauntlet now, and we must be ready for all the consequences.
You see, we were preparing for the same work," and he pointed to the
open packets of gunpowder which were lying scattered on the table. "What
are we to do now? we shall soon have swarms of republican soldiers upon
us, and it will be well to be prepared. We look to you for counsel now,
you know."

"Not so, M. Larochejaquelin; it was to seek council that I and Foret
came hither; it was to throw ourselves at the feet of my Lord the
Marquis, and at yours, and at those of M. de Lescure; and to implore you
to join us, to fight with us, and to save us; to lead us against the
republicans, and to help us to save our homes."

"They will, Cathelineau; they will, my excellent friend," said the old
man. "Henri shall fight with you--he would not be my son else; and
Charles de Lescure there will fight with you for his King as long as the
breath is in his body. The Curé there--Father Jerome--will pray for you,
and bless your arms; and I believe you'll find he'll fight for you too;
the whole country are your friends."

"Yes," said Henri. "The whole province, down to the sea, will be with
us. Charette is in the Marais ready to take up arms, the moment the
collection of the conscripts is commenced, or before, if it be
necessary. M. Bonchamps, who is now at Angers, will join us at once, and
give us what we so much want--military skill. The Prince de Talmont is
with us, M. Fleuriot, and M. d'Autachamps, every gentleman of standing
in the country will help the good cause; my friend here, Adolphe Denot,
will fight for us to the last drop of his blood."

Cathelineau bowed graciously, as he was in this way introduced by
Larochejaquelin to his friend. Denot also bowed, but he did it anything
but graciously: two things were disagreeable to him, he felt himself at
the present moment to be in the back-ground, and the hero of the day,
the fêted person, was no better than a postillion. When the rest of the
party had all given their hands to Cathelineau he had remained behind,
he did not like to put himself on an equality with such a person; he
fancied even then his dignity was hurt by having to remain in his

"And what step shall we first take, M. Larochejaquelin?" said

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