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La Vendee by Anthony Trollope

Part 10 out of 10

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"And you were one of them, Chapeau?"

"I was, Monsieur. My wife here remained with her father in Laval; he was
a crafty man, and he made the blues believe he was a republican; but,
bless you, he was as true a royalist all the time as I was. Well, there
we were, hunted, like wolves, from one forest to another, till about the
middle of winter, we fixed ourselves for a while in the wood of Vesins,
about three leagues to the east of Cholet, a little to the south of the
great road from Saumur. From this place M. Henri harassed them most
effectually; about fifty of the old Vendeans had joined him, and with
these he stopped their provisions, interrupted their posts, and on one
occasion, succeeded in getting the despatches from Paris to the
republican General. We. were at this work for about six weeks; and he,
as he always did, exposed himself to every possible danger. One morning
we came upon two republican grenadiers; there were M. Henri, two others
and myself there, and we wanted immediately to fire upon them; but M.
Henri would not have it so; he said that he would save them, and rushed
forward to bid them lay down their arms; as he did so, the foremost of
them fired, and M. Henri fell dead without a groan."

"And the two men--did they escape?"

"No, neither of them," said Chapeau; and for a moment, a gleam of savage
satisfaction flashed across his face; "the man who fired the shot had
not one minute spared him for his triumph; I had followed close upon my
master, and I avenged him."

"And where was his young wife all this time?"

"She was with Madame de Lescure, in Brittany; and so was Mademoiselle
Agatha; they were living disguised almost as peasants, at an old château
called Dreneuf; after that they all escaped to Spain; they are both
still alive, and now in Poitou; and I am told, that though they have not
chosen absolutely to seclude themselves, they both pass the same holy
life, as though they were within the walls of a convent."

It was long before Chapeau discontinued his narrative, but it is
unnecessary for us to follow farther in the sad details which he had to
give of the loss of the brave Vendean leaders. The Prince de Talinont,
Charette, Stofflet, Marigny, all of them fell: "And yet," said Chapeau,
with a boast, which evidently gave him intense satisfaction, "La Vendée
was never conquered. Neither the fear of the Convention, nor the arms
of the Directory, nor the strength of the Consul, nor the flattery of
the Emperor could conquer La Vendée, or put down the passionate longing
for the return of the royal family, which has always burnt in the bosom
of the people. Revolt has never been put down in La Vendée, since
Cathelineau commenced the war in St. Florent. The people would serve
neither the republic nor the empire; the noblesse would not visit the
court; their sons have refused commissions in the army, and their
daughters have disdained to accept the hands of any, who had forgotten
their allegiance to the throne. Through more than twenty years of
suffering and bloodshed, La Vendée has been true to its colour, and now
it will receive its reward."

Chapeau himself, however, more fortunate, though not less faithful, than
his compatriots, had not been obliged to wait twenty years for his
reward; he owned, with something like a feeling of disgrace, that he had
been carrying on his business in Paris, for the last fifteen years, with
considerable success and comfort to himself; and he frankly confessed,
that he had by practice inured himself to the disagreeable task of
shaving, cutting and curling beards and heads, which were devoted to the
empire; "but then, Monsieur," said he apologizing for his conduct,
"there was a great difference you know between them and republicans."

Five-and-thirty years have now passed, since Chapeau was talking, and
the Vendeans triumphed in the restoration of Louis XVIII to the throne
of his ancestors. That throne has been again overturned; and, another
dynasty having intervened, France is again a Republic.

How long will it be before some second La Vendée shall successfully, but
bloodlessly, struggle for another re-establishment of the monarchy?
Surely before the expiration of half a century since the return of
Louis, France will congratulate herself on another restoration.


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