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La Vendee by Anthony Trollope

Part 3 out of 10

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other brave men, would you?"

"Is that all I am to get from you, after all? is that all the regard you
have for me? very well, Annot--it is well at any rate we should
understand each other. They were right, I find, when they told me that
you were such a coquette, you would have a dozen lovers at the same

"And they were right, I find, when they told me you were too fond of
yourself ever to love any girl truly."

"Oh, Annot! and is it come to this? I'm sorry I ever came to
Echanbroignes. I'm sorry I ever saw you."

"And if you are, M. Chapeau, I'm sure I'm sorry enough I ever saw you;"
and Annot again increased the distance between her and her lover.

They walked on from hence in silence till they came to the little mill,
and each stood gazing on the stream, which ran gurgling down beneath the
ash and willow-trees, which dipped their boughs in its waters.

"How kind you were, the last time we were here together," said Jacques;
"how kind and generous you were then; you are very different now."

"And you are very different, too, M. Chapeau; much more different than
I am; it's all your own fault; you choose to give yourself airs, and I
won't put up with it, and I believe we may as well part."

"Give myself airs! No; but it's you give yourself airs, and say things
which cut me to the heart--things which I can't bear; and, therefore,
perhaps, we may as well part :" and Jacques assumed a most melancholy
aspect, as he added, "So, good bye, Annot; there's my hand. I wouldn't,
at any rate, part anything but friends after all."

"Good bye," said poor Annot, putting out her hand to her lover, and
sobbing violently. "Good bye; I'm sure I never thought it would come to
this. I'm sure I gave up everybody and everything for your sake."

"Well; and didn't I give up everybody, too. Haven't I come all the way
over here week after week, when people wondered what made me leave
Durbellière so much; and wasn't it all for love of you? Oh, Annot!
Annot!" and even the manly dignity of M. Chapeau succumbed to tears.

"It's no good talking," said she, greatly softened; "for you can't have
loved me, and treated me as you did this day, letting me walk all alone
from St. Laud, without so much as a word or a look; and that before all
the people: and I that went merely to walk back with you. Oh! I could
have died on the roadside to find myself treated in such a way."

"And what must I have felt to hear you talking as you did before them
all? Do you think I felt nothing?"

"Talking, Jacques; what talk?"

"Why; saying that you loved Cathelineau better than any one. That he was
the only man you admired; that you dreamed of him always, and I don't
know how much more about his eyes and whiskers."

"Why now, Jacques; you don't mean to be jealous?"

"Jealous; no I'm not jealous."

"Jealous of a man you know I never saw," said Annot, smiling through her

"Jealous. No, I tell you I'm not jealous; but still, one doesn't like
to hear one's mistress talking of another man's eyes, and whiskers, and
those sort of things; no man would like it, Annot; though I care about
it as little myself as any man."

"But don't you know Cathelineau is a saint, Jacques?"

"Oh! but you said saints might marry, and have a lot of children, and
so they may."

"But I never saw Cathelineau, Jacques," and she put her hand upon his

And you are not in love with him, Annot?"

"How can I be in love with a man I never put eyes on?"

"And you won't say again, that you'd like to have him for a lover?"

"That was only my little joke, Jacques. Surely, a girl may joke

"And you do love me, don't you?" and Jacques now got very close to his

"Ah! but why did you let me walk home all the way by myself? You know
I love you dearly; but you must beg my pardon for that, before I'll ever
tell you so again."

And Jacques did beg her pardon in a manner of his own twenty times,
sitting by the gurgling mill-stream, and to tell the truth Annot seemed
well pleased with the way in which he did it; and then when the fountain
of her love was opened, and the sluice gate of her displeasure removed,
she told him how she would pray for him till he came back safe from the
wars; how she would never speak a word to mortal man in the way of
courting, till he came back to make her his wife; how she would grieve,
should he be wounded; how she would die, should he be killed in battle:
and then she gave him a little charm, which she had worked for him, and
put it round his neck, and told him she had taken it with her to St.
Laud, to give it him there beneath the cross, only he had gone away from
her, so that she couldn't do so: and then Jacques begged pardon again
and again in his own queer way; and then, having sat there by the
mill-stream till the last red streak of sunlight was gone, they returned
home to the village, and Annot told her father that Dame Rouel had been
so very pressing, she had made them stay there to eat bread and cheese.
And so Annot, at last, went to bed without her supper, and dreamed not
of Cathelineau, but of her own lover, Jacques Chapeau.



As Chapeau had said, great preparations were made at Durbellière for the
coming campaign. The old Marquis had joined with his son in furnishing
everything which their limited means would admit of, for the wants of
the royalists. Durbellière had become quite a depôt; the large granaries
at the top of the house were no longer empty; they were stored with
sacks of meal, with pikes and muskets, and with shoes for the soldiers.
Agatha's own room looked like an apartment in a hospital; it was filled
with lint, salves, and ointments, to give ease to those whom the wars
should send home wounded; all the contents of the cellars were
sacrificed; wine, beer, and brandy, were alike given up to aid the
spirits of the combatants; the cattle were drawn in from the farms, and
kept round the house in out-houses and barns, ready to be slaughtered,
as occasion might require, an abattoir was formed in the stable yard,
and a butcher kept in regular employment; a huge oven was built in an
outhouse attached to the stables, and here bakers, from neighbouring
parishes, were continually kept at work: they neither expected, or
received wages; they, and all the others employed got their meals in the
large kitchen of the château, and were content to give their work to the
cause without fee or reward. Provisions, cattle, and implements, were
also sent from M. de Lescure's house to Durbellière, as it was
considered to be more central, and as it was supposed that there were
still some republicans in the neighbourhood of Bressuire, whereas, it
was well known that there were none in the rural districts; the more
respectable of the farmers also, and other country gentlemen sent
something; and oxen, sheep, and loads of meal; jars of oil, and casks
of wine were coming in during the whole week before the siege of Saumur,
and the same horses took them out again in the shape of bread, meat, and
rations, to the different points where they would be required.

As soon as M. de Lescure had left home, on his recruiting service in the
south of La Vendée, the ladies of his house went over to Durbellière,
to remain there till Henri Larochejaquelin should start for Saumur, and
give their aid to Agatha in all her work. Adolphe Denot was also there:
he, too, had been diligently employed in collecting the different sinews
of wars; and as far as his own means went had certainly not begrudged
them. There was still an unhappy air of dissatisfaction about him, which
was not to be observed with any one else: his position did not content
his vanity; the people did not talk of him as they did of Cathelineau,
and Henri Larochejaquelin; he heard nothing of La Vendée relying on his
efforts; the nanes of various men were mentioned as trustworthy leaders,
but his own was never among them. De Lescure, Charette, d'Elbée,
Stofflet, were all talked of; and what had they done more than he had;
or what, indeed, so much: the two latter were men of low origin, who had
merely shown courage in the time of need: indeed, what more had
Cathelineau done; whereas, he had never failed in courage, and had
given, moreover, his money, and his property; yet he felt that he was
looked on as a nobody. Jacques Chapeau was almost of more importance.

And then, again, his love for Agatha tormented him. He had thought to
pique her by a show of indifference himself, but he found that this plan
did not answer: it was evident, even to him, that Agatha was not vexed
by his silence, his altered demeanour, and sudden departure. He had
miscalculated her character, and now found that he must use other means
to rouse the affection in her heart, without which he felt, at present,
that he could not live happily. He thought that she could not have seen
with indifference the efforts he was making in the cause which she loved
so well; and he determined to throw himself at her feet before he
started for Saumur, and implore her to give him a place in her
affections, while her heart was softened by the emotions, which the
departure of so many of her friends, on the eve of battle, would

Agatha had had but little conversation with him since his last arrival
at Durbellière, but still she felt that he was about to propose to her.
She shunned him as much as she could; she scrupulously avoided the
opportunity which he anxiously sought; she never allowed herself to be
alone with him; but she was nevertheless sure the evil hour would come;
she saw it in his eye as they sat together at their meals--she heard it
in the tones of his voice every time he spoke. She knew from his manner
that he was preparing himself for the interview, and she also knew that
he would not submit tamely to the only answer she could bring herself
to give him.

"Marie," said she to her cousin, on the Saturday evening, "I am in the
greatest distress, pray help me, dearest. I am sure you know what ails

"In distress, Agatha, and wanting help from me!--you that are wont to
help all the world yourself! But I know, from your face, you are only
half in earnest."

"Indeed, and indeed, I never was much more so. I never was more truly
in want of council. Can you not guess what my sorrow is?"

"Not unless it is, that you have a lover too much?--or perhaps you find
the baker's yeast runs short?"

"Ah, Marie, will you always joke when I am serious!"

"Well then, Agatha, now I am serious--is it that you have a lover too

"Can any trouble be more grievous?"

"Oh, dear, yes! ten times worse. My case is ten times worse: and alas,
alas! there is no cure for that."

"Your case, Marie?"

"Yes, my case, Agatha--a lover too few!"

"Ah, Marie, do not joke with me tonight. I want your common sense, and
not your wit, just now. Be a good, dear girl, and tell me what I shall
say to him. I know he will not go to Saumur before--before he has
proposed to me."

"Then, in the name of common sense, dear Agatha, tell him the truth,
whatever it may be."

"You know I do not--cannot love him."

"Nay, I know nothing. You have not said yet who 'him' is--but I own I
can give a guess. I suppose poor Adolphe Denot is the man you cannot
love? Poor Adolphe! he must be told so, that is all."

"But how shall I tell him, Marie? He is so unlike other men. Henri is
his friend, and yet he has never spoken to him about me, nor to my
father. If he would ask my hand from Henri, as another would, Henri
would talk to him, and explain to him that it could not be-that my heart
is too much occupied with other cares, to care for loving or being

"That means, Agatha, till the right lover comes."

"No, Marie; but till these wars are over. Not that I could ever love
Adolphe Denot; but now, at present, methinks love should be banished
from the country, and not allowed to return till the King is on his
throne again."

"Well, Agatha, I don't know. That would be somewhat hard upon us poor
girls, whose lovers are more to our taste, than M. Denot is to yours.
I know not that our knights will fight the worse for a few stray smiles,
though the times be so frightful."

"Do you smile on yours then, Marie; and I will smile to see you happy.
But tell me, dearest, what shall I say to Adolphe? You would not have
me give him hope, when I feel I can never love him?"

"God forbid!--why should you? But has he never spoken to Henri on the
subject, or to the Marquis?"

"Never a word. I'm sure he never spoke of it to my father, and Henri
told me that he had never said a word to him."

"Then you have spoken to your brother on the subject? And what did he

"He said just what a dear, good brother should have said. He said he was
sorry for his friend, but that on no account whatever would he sacrifice
his sister's happiness."

"M. Larochejaquelin always does just what he ought to do. He is as good
and kind to you as Charles is to me."

"Henri and I are so nearly of an age; we were always companions
together. I do not think any lover will be agreeable to me as long as
he is with me."

"But if he should take a love of his own, Agatha? It wont do, you know,
for sisters to monopolize their brothers; or what shall we spinters do?"

"He shall bring his love here, and she shall be my own sister. If he
makes the choice I think he will, I shall not have to open a new place
in my heart for her, shall I, Marie?"

"Nay, I know not. Now it is you that wander from the subject."

"And it is cruel in you to bring me back to it. If he proposes to me
tomorrow, Marie, what shall I say to him?"

"Keep out of his way tomorrow. He goes on Monday morning."

"It is very well to say, 'Keep out of his way;' but if he formally
demands an interview, I cannot refuse it."

"If he formally desires an interview, do you give him a formal
reception: if he formally offers you his hand, do you formally decline
the honour."

"I would it were you, Marie, that he loved."

"A thousand thanks to you, Mademoiselle Larochejaquelin. I appreciate
your generosity, but really I have no vacancy for M. Denot, just at

"Ah! but you would reject him with so much more ease, than I can do it."

"Practice, my dear, is everything: this time you may feel a little
awkward, but you will find you will dispose of your second lover without
much difficulty, and you will give his congé to your third with as much
ease, as though you were merely dismissing a disobedient kitchen-maid."

"I cannot bear to give pain; and Adolphe will be pained; his self-love
will be wounded at the idea of being rejected."

"Then spare his self-love, and accept him."

"No; that I will not do."

"Then wound his self-love, and reject him."

"Would I could do the one without the other; would I could persuade him
I was not worthy of him."

"Nay, do not attempt that; that will be direct encouragement."

"I will tell him that I am averse to marriage; in truth, that will be
no falsehood. I do not think that my heart is capable of more love than
it feels at present."

"That may be true now, Agatha; but suppose your heart should enlarge
before the autumn, at the touch of some gallant wizard--take my advice,
dear girl, make no rash promises."

"I will tell him that I cannot think of love till the King is on the
throne once more."

"If you say so, he will promise valiantly to restore His Majesty, and
then to return to you to look for his reward. Shall I tell you, Agatha,
what I should say?"

"Do, dearest Marie: tell me in sober earnest; and if there be ought of
sobriety mixed with your wit, I will take your advice."

"I would say to him thus: 'M. Denot,' or 'Adolphe,' just as your custom
is to address him--but mind, mark you, make him speak out firmly and
formally first, that your answer may be equally firm and formal. 'M.
Denot, you have paid me the greatest honour which a gentleman can pay
a lady, and I am most grateful for the good opinion which you have
expressed. I should be ungrateful were I to leave you for one moment in
doubt as to my real sentiments: I cannot love you as I ought to love my
husband. I hope you will never doubt my true friendship for you; but
more than sincere friendship I cannot give you.' There, Agatha, not a
word more, nor a word less than that; sit quite straight on your chair,
as though you were nailed to it; do not look to the right or to the
left; do not frown or smile."

"There will not be the least danger of my smiling, Marie."

"But do not frown neither; fancy that you are the district judge, giving
sentence on a knotty piece of law; show neither sentiment, pride, nor
anger. Be quite cold, inflexible and determined; and, above all things,
do not move from your seat; and I think you will find your lover will
take his answer: but if he do not--repeat it all over again, with a
little more emphasis, and rather slower than before. If it be necessary,
you may repeat it a third time, or indeed till he goes away, but never
vary the words. He must be a most determined man if he requires the
third dose. I never heard of but one who wasn't satisfied with the
second, and he was an Irishman."

"If I could only insist on his sitting still and silent to hear me make
my formidable speech, your advice might be very good."

"That, my dear, is your own strong point: if he attempts to interrupt
you, hear what he says, and then begin again. By the time you have got
to your 'real sentiments,' I doubt not he will be in his tantrums: but
do you not get into tantrums too, or else you are as good as lost; let
nothing tempt you to put in an unpremeditated word; one word might be
fatal; but, above all, do not move; nothing but an awful degree of calm
on your part will frighten him into quiescence: if you once but move,
you will find M. Denot at your feet, and your hand pressed to his lips.
You might as well have surrendered at once, if anything like that

"Well, Marie, let what will happen, at any rate I will not surrender,
as you call it. As to sitting like the district judge, and pronouncing
sentence on my lover as you advise--I fear I lack the nerve for it."

Agatha was quite right in her forebodings. Adolphe Denot had firmly made
up his mind to learn his fate before he started for Saumur, and
immediately on rising from breakfast, he whispered to Agatha that he
wished to speak to her alone for a moment. In her despair she proposed
that he should wait till after mass, and Adolphe consented; but during
the whole morning she felt how weak she had been in postponing the evil
hour; she had a thousand last things to do for her brother, a thousand
last words to say to him; but she was fit neither to do nor to say
anything; even her prayers were disturbed; in spite of herself her
thoughts clung to the interview which she had to go through.

Since the constitutional priests had been sent into the country, and the
old Curés silenced, a little temporary chapel had been fitted up in the
château at Durbellière, and here the former parish priest officiated
every Sunday; the peasants of the parish of St. Aubin were allowed to
come to this little chapel; at first a few only had attended, but the
number had increased by degrees, and at the time when the revolt
commenced, the greater portion of the pastor's old flock crowded into
or round the château every Sunday; so that the Sabbath morning at
Durbellière was rather a noisy time. This was especially the case on the
6th of June, as the people had so much to talk about, and most of the
men wished to see either the old or the young master, and most of the
women wanted to speak to one of the ladies; by degrees, however, the
château was cleared, and Agatha with a trembling heart retreated to her
own little sitting-room upstairs to keep her appointment with Adolphe

She had not been long there, when Adolphe knocked at the door: he had
been there scores of times before, and had never knocked; but, although
he was going to propose to make Agatha his wife, he felt that he could
no longer treat her, with his accustomed familiarity.

He entered the room and found Agatha seated; so far she had taken her
friend's advice; she was very pale, but still she looked calm and
dignified, and was certainly much less confused than her lover.

"Agatha," said he, having walked up to the fire-place, and leaning with
his arm upon the mantle-piece, "Agatha, tomorrow I start for Saumur."

He was dressed very point-de-vice; the frills of his shirt were most
accurately starched; his long black hair was most scrupulously brushed;
his hands were most delicately white; his boots most brilliantly
polished; he appeared more fit to adorn the salon of an ambassador, than
to take a place as a warrior beneath the walls of a besieged town.
Adolphe was always particular in his dress, but he now exceeded himself;
and he appeared to be the more singular in this respect at Durbellière
just at present, as the whole of the party except himself women
included, had forgotten or laid aside, as unimportant, the usual cares
of the toilet.

"You, at any rate, go in good company, Adolphe," said Agatha, attempting
to smile. "May you all be successful, and return as heroes--heroes,
indeed, you are already; but may you gather fresh laurels at Saumur. I
am sure you will. I, for one, am not in the least despondent."

"Yes, Agatha, I shall go to Saumur, determined at any rate not to lose
there any little honour I may yet have won. If I cannot place the white
flag of La Vendée on the citadel of Saumur, I will at any rate fall in
attempting it."

"I am very sure, that if you fail, it will not be for lack of courage,
or of resolution. You and Henri, and M. de Lescure and our good friend
Cathelineau, have taught us to expect victory as the sure result of your

"Ah! Agatha, one word from your lips, such as I long to hear, would make
me feel that I could chain victory to my sword, and rush into the midst
of battle panoplied against every harm."

"Your duty to your King should be your best assurance of victory; your
trust in your Saviour, your panoply against harm; if these did not avail
you, as I know they do, the vain word of a woman would be of little

"You speak coldly, Agatha, and you look coldly on me. I trust your
feelings are not cold also."

"I should have hoped that many years of very intimate acquaintance
between us, of friendship commenced in childhood, and now cemented by
common sympathies and common dangers, would have made you aware that my
feelings are not cold towards you."

"Oh no! not cold in the ordinary sense. You wish me well, I doubt not,
and your kind heart would grieve, if you heard that I had fallen beneath
the swords of the republicans; but you would do the same for Cathelineau
or M. de Bonchamps. If I cannot wake a warmer interest in your heart
than that, I should prefer that you should forget me altogether."

Agatha began to fear that at this rate the interview would have no end.
If Adolphe remained with his arm on the marble slab, and his head on one
side, making sentimental speeches, till she should give him
encouragement to fall at her feet, it certainly would not be ended by
bed-time. She, therefore, summoned all her courage, and said,

"When you asked me to meet you here, your purpose was not to reproach
me with coldness--was it Adolphe? Perhaps it will be better for both of
us that this interview should terminate now. We shall part friends, dear
friends; and I will rejoice at your triumphs, when you are victorious;
and will lament at your reverses, should you be unlucky. I shall do the
same for my own dear Henri, and I know that you two will not be
separated. There is my hand," she added, thinking that he appeared to
hesitate; "and now let us go down to our friends, who are expecting us."

"Are you so soon weary of hearing the few words I wish to say to you?"
said Adolphe, who had taken her hand, and who seemed inclined to keep

"No, I am not weary. I will hear anything you wish to say." And Agatha
having withdrawn her hand, sat down, and again found herself in a
position to take advantage of Marie's good advice.

Adolphe remained silent for a minute or two, with his head supported on
his hand, and gazing on the lady of his love with a look that was
intended to fascinate her. Agatha sat perfectly still; she was evidently
mindful of the lesson she had received: at last, Adolphe started up from
his position, walked a step or two into the middle of the room, thrust
his right hand into his bosom; and said abruptly, "Agatha, this is
child's play; we are deceiving each other; we are deceiving ourselves;
we would appear to be calm when there is no calm within us."

"Do not say we. I am not deceiving myself; I trust I am not deceiving

"And is your heart really so tranquil?" said he. "Does that fair bosom
control no emotion? Is that lovely face, so exquisitely pale, a true
index of the spirit within? Oh! Agatha! it cannot be; while my own heart
is so torn with love; while I feel my own pulses beat so strongly; while
my own brain burns so fiercely, I cannot believe that your bosom is a
stranger to all emotion! Some passion akin to humanity must make you
feel that you are not all divine! Speak, Agatha; if that lovely form has
within it ought that partakes of the weakness of a woman, tell me, that
at some future time you will accept the love I offer you; tell me, that
I may live in hope. Oh, Agatha! bid me not despair," and M. Denot in
bodily reality fell prostrate at her feet.

When Agatha had gone up to her room, she had prepared herself for a most
disagreeable interview, but she had not expected anything so really
dreadful as this. Adolphe had not contented himself with kneeling at her
feet on one knee, and keeping his head erect in the method usual in such
cases; but he had gone down upon both knees, had thrown his head upon
her feet, and was now embracing her shoes and stockings in a very
vehement manner; her legs were literally caught in a trap; she couldn't
move them; and Adolphe was sobbing so loudly that it was difficult to
make him hear anything.

"Adolphe, Adolphe, get up!" she almost screamed, "this is ridiculous in
the extreme; if you will not get up, I must really call for some one. I
cannot allow you to remain there!"

"Oh, Agatha, Agatha!" sobbed Adolphe.

"Nonsense, Adolphe," said Agatha. "Are you a man, to lie grovelling on
the floor like that? Rise up, or you will lose my esteem for ever, if
that be of any value to you."

"Give me one gleam of hope, and I will rise," said he, still remaining
on his knees, but now looking up into her face; "tell me not to despair,
and I will then accomplish any feat of manhood. Give me one look of
comfort, and I will again be the warrior ready for the battle; it is you
only who can give me back my courage; it is you only who can restore to
me the privilege of standing erect before all mankind."

"I can tell you nothing, Adolphe, but this--that, if you continue on
your knees, I shall despise you; if you will rise, I will give you at
any rate a reasonable answer."

"Despise me, Agatha! no, you cannot despise me; the unutterable burning
love of a true heart is not despicable; the character which I bear
before mankind is not despicable. Man is not despicable when he kneels
before the object which he worships; and, Agatha, with all my heart, I
worship you!"

"Now you are profane as well as contemptible, and I shall leave you,"
and she walked towards the door.

"Stay then," said he, "stay, and I will rise," and, suiting the action
to the. word, he got up. "Now speak to me in earnest, Agatha; and, since
you will have it so, I also, if possible, will be calm. Speak to me;
but, unless you would have the misery of a disturbed spirit on your
conscience, bid me not despair!"

"Is that your calmness, Adolphe?"

"Can a man, rushing towards the brink of a precipice, be calm? Can a man
be calm on the verge of the grave? I love you, Agatha, with a true and
holy love; but still with a love fierce and untameable. You reviled me
when I said I worshipped you, but I adore the ground you tread on, and
the air you breathe. I would shed my last drop of blood to bring you
ease; but I could not live and see you give that fair hand to another.
My joy would be to remain ever as your slave; but then the heart that
beats beneath your bosom must be my own. Agatha, I await your answer;
one word from your lips can transport me to paradise!"

"If I am to understand that you are asking me for love--for a warmer
love than that which always accompanies true friendship--I am obliged
to say that I cannot give it you." Adolphe remained standing in the
middle of the room, with his hand still fixed in his bosom, and with a
look intended to represent both thunder and lightning. He had really
thought that the little scene which he had gone through, very much to
his own satisfaction, would have a strong effect on Agatha, and he was
somewhat staggered by the cool and positive tone of her reply. "It
grieves me that I should give you pain," she continued, "if my answer
does pain you; but I should never forgive myself, were I not to speak
the truth to you plainly, and at once."

"And do you mean that for your final, and only answer to me?"

"Certainly, my only answer; for I can give you no other. I know you will
be too kind, too sensible, to make it necessary that I should repeat

"This is dreadful," said Denot, putting his hand to his brow, "this is
very dreadful!" and he commenced pacing up and down the room.

"Come," said she, good naturedly, "let us go down--let us forget this
little episode--you have so much of happiness, and of glory before you,
that I should grieve to see you mar your career by a hopeless passion.
Take the true advice of a devoted friend," and she put her hand kindly
on his arm, "let us both forget this morning's scene--let us only
remember our childhood's friendship; think, Adolphe, how much you have
to do for your King and your country, and do hot damp your glorious
exertion by fostering a silly passion. Am not I the same to you as a
sister? Wait till these wars are over, and then I will gather flowers
for you to present to some mistress who shall truly love you."

"No, Agatha, the flowers you gather for me shall never leave my own
bosom. If it be the myrtle, I will wear it with joy to my dying day,
next my heart: if it is to be a cyprus branch, it shall soon be laid
with me in the tomb."

"You will think less sadly in a short time," said Agatha; "your spirits
will recover their proper tone amid the excitement of battle. We had
better part now, Adolphe;" and she essayed to leave the room, but he was
now leaning against the door, and did not seem inclined to let her
depart so easily.

"You will not, I hope, begrudge me a few moments," said he, speaking
between his teeth.

"You may reject me with scorn, but you can hardly refuse me the courtesy
which any gentleman would have a right to expect from your hands."

"You know that I will refuse you nothing which, either in courtesy or
kindness, I can do for you," said she, again sitting down. He, however,
seeing her once more seated, did not appear much inclined to conclude
what he had to say to her, for he continued walking up and down the
room, in a rather disturbed manner; "but you should remember," she
added, "how soon Henri is going to leave me, and how much we have all
to think and to talk of."

"I see my presence is unwelcome, and it shall not trouble you long. I
would soon rid your eyes of my hated form, but I must first say a few
words, though my throat be choked with speaking them. My passion for you
is no idle boyish love; it has grown with my growth, and matured itself
with my manhood. I cannot now say to myself that it shall cease to be.
I cannot restore calmness to my heart or rest to my bosom. My love is
a fire which cannot now be quenched; it must be nourished, or it will
destroy the heart which is unable to restrain it. Think, Agatha, of all
the misery you are inflicting; think also of the celestial joy one word
of yours is capable of giving."

"I have said before that I grieve to pain you; but I cannot speak a
falsehood. Were it to save us both from instant death, I could not say
that I love you in the sense you mean."

"Oh, Agatha! I do not ask you to love me--that is not to love me now;
if you will only say that your heart is not for ever closed against my
prayers, I will leave you contented."

"I can say nothing which would give you any hope of that which can never

"And that is all I am to expect from you in return for as true a love
as man ever bore to woman?"

"I cannot make you the return you wish. I can give you no other answer."

"Well, Agatha, so be it. You shall find now that I can be calm, when my
unalterable resolve requires it. You shall find that I am a man; at any
rate, you shall not again have to tell me that I am despicable," and he
curled his upper lip, and showed his teeth in a very ferocious manner.
"You shall never repeat that word in regard to Adolphe Denot. Should
kind fortune favour my now dearest wish, you will soon hear that my
bones are whitening under the walls of Saumur. You will hear that your
des-pi-ca-ble lover," and he hissed out the offending word, syllable by
syllable, between his closed teeth, "has perished in his attempt to be
the first to place the white flag of La Vendée above the tri-colour. If
some friendly bullet will send me to my quiet home, Adolphe Denot shall
trouble you no longer," and as he spoke the last few words, he softened
his voice, and re-assumed his sentimental look; but he did not remain
long in his quiet mood, for he again became furious, as he added: "But
if fortune should deny me this boon, if I cannot find the death I go to
seek, I swear by your own surpassing beauty, by your glorious unequalled
form, that I will not live without you. Death shall be welcome to me,"
and he raised his hands to heaven, and then dashed them against his
breast. "Oh! how dearly welcome! Yes, heroic death upon the battlefield
shall calm this beating heart--shall quell these agonized pangs. Yes,
Agatha, if fortune be but kind, death, cold death, shall soon relieve
us both; shall leave you free to bestow upon a colder suitor the prize
you have refused to my hot, impatient love; but if," (and here he
glanced very wildly round him), "my prayers are not heard, if after
Saumur's field, life be still left within my body's sanctuary, I will
return to seize you as my own, though hosts in armour try to stop my
way. I will not live without you. I will not endure to see another man
aspire to the hand which has been refused to me. Adieu, Agatha, adieu!
I trust we shall meet no more; in thinking of me, at any rate, your
memory shall not call me despicable," and he rushed out of the door and
down stairs, without waiting to hear whether Agatha intended making any
answer to this poetical expression of his fixed resolution.

In the commencement of his final harangue, Agatha had determined to hear
him quietly to the end; but she had not expected anything so very mad
as the exhibition he made. However, she sat quietly through the whole
of it, and was glad that she was spared the necessity of a reply.

Nothing more was seen of Adolphe Denot that night. Henri asked his
sister whether she had seen him, and she told him that he had made a
declaration of love to her, and had expressed himself ill-satisfied with
the only answer she had been able to give him. She did not tell her
brother how like a demoniac his friend had behaved. To Marie she was
more explicit; to her she repeated as nearly as possible the whole scene
as it had occurred; and although Agatha was almost weeping with sorrow,
there was so much that was ludicrous in the affair, that Marie could not
keep herself from laughing.

"He will trouble you no more," said she. "You will find that he will not
return to Durbellière to carry you off through the armed hosts. He will
go to England or emigrate; and in a few years' time, when you meet him
again, you will find him settled down, and as quiet as his neighbours.
He is like new-made wine, my dear--he only wants age."

On the following morning, by break of day, the party left Durbellière,
and Adolphe Denot joined his friend on the gravelled ring before the
house; and Agatha, who had been with her brother in his room, looking
from the widow saw her unmanageable lover mount his horse in a quiet,
decent way, like the rest of the party.



Nothing interfered to oppose the advance of the royalist troops towards
Saumur. At Coron, as had been proposed, Larochejaquelin and Denot joined
Father Jerome; and Cathelineau also, and M. d'Elbée joined them there.
Every house in the town was open to them, and the provisions, which by
the care of M. de Larochejaquelin had been sent there, were almost
unneeded. If there was any remnant of republican feeling in Coron, at
any rate it did not dare to shew itself. The road which the royalists
intended to take ran from Cholet, through Coron, Vihiers, and Doué, to
Saumur. The republicans, who were now in great force at Saumur, under
Generals Coustard and Quetineau, had sent small parties of soldiers into
the town of Vihiers and Doué, the inhabitants of which were mostly
republican. Before the arrival of M. de Larochejaquelin, the blues, as
the republican troops were called by the Vendeans, had been driven out
of Vihiers by a party of royalists under the direction of Stofflet, who
had raised himself to distinction soon after the commencement of the
revolt. This man was a gamekeeper in the employment of an emigrant
nobleman, and though he was a rough, harsh, uneducated, quarrelsome man,
nevertheless, by his zeal and courage, he had acquired great influence
among the people, and was now at the head of a numerous, and, for La
Vendée, well-armed body of men.

Our friends accordingly found the road open for them as far as Doué.
After their junction with Stofflet, their army amounted to about 7,500
men; and at Done they were to meet M. Bonchamps and M. de Lescure, who,
it was supposed, would bring with them as many more. They marched out
of Vihiers early on the Tuesday morning, having remained there only
about a couple of hours, and before nightfall they saw the spire of Doué
church. They then rested, intending to force their way into the town
early on the following morning; but they had barely commenced their
preparations for the evening, when a party of royalists came out to them
from the town, inviting them in. M. de Lescure and M. Bonchamps were
already there. The republican soldiers had been attacked and utterly
routed; most of them were now prisoners in the town; those who had
escaped had retreated to Saumur, and even they had left their arms
behind them.

All this good fortune greatly inspirited the Vendeans. The men talked
with the utmost certainty of what they would do when they were masters
of Saumur. Cathelineau had brought with him the celebrated cannon of St.
Florent, 'Marie Jeanne,' and she now stood in the market place of Done,
covered with ribbons and flowers. Many of the men had never hitherto
seen this wonderful piece of artillery, and they hastened to look at it.
'Marie Jeanne' that night was patted, kissed, and caressed by thousands.
Cathelineau was equally the object of their admiration; every peasant
who had not yet seen him, hurried to gaze on him; and after his arrival
in Doué, he was two hours employed in a military operation, hitherto
undertaken, I believe, by no other general: he was endeavouring to shake
hands with every man in the army. Chapeau here was again of great use,
for he stood at Cathelineau's elbow, and hurried the men away as soon
as they touched his hand. But for this precaution, the work could never
have been done; and as it was, some of the men were discontented, and
declared their intention of returning home, for Cathelineau was called
away before he had completed his task: he was obliged to go the Town
Hall to attend a council that was held there of the different Vendean

The arms which they had taken in Vihiers and Doué, were of the greatest
use to them; in both places they had found a cannon; they had taken nine
or ten from Fontenay, and others from Thouars. Most of the men among
them now had muskets, and they were able to take to Saumur with them
twenty-four pieces of heavy artillery. What could the infamous blues
expect to do against a force so numerous, so well armed, and so well

That evening a council of war was held by the different chiefs of the
Vendeans in the Town Hall of Doué. Lescure, Larochejaquelin,
Cathelineau, d'Elbée, and Stofflet were there. M. Bonchamps, who had
been very severely wounded at Fontenay, but who had insisted on being
carried along with his own men, was brought in on a litter. Father
Jerome was there, and another priest who had come with M. Bonchamps.
There were a couple of old royalist noblemen, not sufficiently active to
take a part in the actual fighting, but sufficiently zealous in the
cause to leave their homes for the purpose of giving the young
commanders the benefit of their experience. Foret also, Cathelineau's
friend, was present, and Adolphe Denot: indeed many others, from time to
time, crowded into the room, for the door was not well kept, nor were
the councils of the generals in any way a secret. Jacques Chapeau, as a
matter of course, managed to make his way into the room, and took upon
himself the duties of doorkeeper.

The Mayor's arm-chair stood at the head of the table, as the leaders
dropped into the room one after another, but no one appeared willing to
occupy it. Hitherto there had been no chief among the Vendeans; this was
the first meeting which had been held with anything approaching to the
solemnity of a general assembly, and it occurred to each of them that
whoever should then seat himself in the Mayor's chair, would be assuming
that he was the chief leader of the revolt.

"Come, M. de Lescure," said Stofflet, "we have much to do, and but
little time; let us make the most of it: do you take the President's
seat. Gentlemen, I am sure we could have no better President than M. de

They all agreed, with the exception of the chosen leader. "By no means,"
said he. "I was the last here who joined the cause, and I certainly will
not place myself first among those who have led the way in the work we
have taken up. No; here is the man who shall be our President." And as
he spoke he caught hold of Cathelineau, who was immediately behind him,
and absolutely forced him into the chair.

"Indeed, indeed, M. de Lescure--" said Cathelineau, endeavouring to
extricate himself from the seat; but both his voice and his exertions
were stopped, for three or four of them united to hold him where he was,
and declared that he should be the President for the evening.

"Indeed, and indeed you will not stir," said Henri, who stood behind his
chair, and placed his hands heavily on the postillion's shoulders.

"It was you that brought us here," said de Lescure, "and you must not
now avoid the responsibility."

"Ah! M. de Lescure," said he, "there are so many more fitting than me."

"Not one in all La Vendée," said M. Bonchamps: "sit where you are,

"You must do it, Cathelineau;" whispered his friend Foret; "the peasants
would not endure to see any man put above you."

"Cathelineau will not shrink from the burden which the Lord has called
upon him to bear," said Father Jerome.

"Providence," said d'Elbée, "has summoned the good Cathelineau to this
high duty; he will not, I am sure, oppose its decrees."

And thus Cathelineau found himself seated in the Mayor's chair at the
head of the table, whilst the highest noblemen and gentry of the country
took their places around it, and from that moment Cathelineau became the
General-in-Chief of the Vendeans.

Each leader then gave in the numbers of the men who had come with him,
and it was found that the army consisted of above fifteen thousand men.
Lists were then made out of the arms and accoutrements which they
possessed, and the men in a rude way were drafted into regiments under
the command of the leaders who had brought them. There was a small body
of cavalry equipped in most various manners, and mounted on horses,
which resembled anything rather than a regular squadron of troopers:
these were under the immediate command of Henri Larochejaquelin.

"Gentlemen," said Cathelineau, "we have, you know, three different
attacks to make, three positions to carry, before we can be masters of

"Yes," said Bonchamps, "there in the camp at Varin on the right, and the
redoubts of Bournan on the left; the fortifications of the town itself
lie between them, and a little to the rear of both."

"Exactly, M. Bonchamps; the town itself, I take, is the easiest task of
the three; but as we are situated it must be the last."

"I think you will find that Varin is their strongest point," said de

"M. de Lescure is right," said Cathelineau. "We shall find them very
strong in their camp. I had with me, yesterday, two men from Saumur;
they knew nothing of General Quetineau's intentions, but they had seen
detachments of men constantly going to and fro between Saumur and the
camp; they calculate that we shall think that the weaker side."

"Bournan is right on our way," said Bonchamps; "but the ground lies so
advantageously for them, that they will cut us to pieces if we attempt
to push our way up the hill against the heavy artillery they will have

"M. Bonchamps is quite right there," said Cathelineau. "I think we
should not attack Bournan, till we can do so from the side of the town.
I think Bournan should not be our first object; but nevertheless, we
must be prepared to meet at Varin the great body of the army; we must
drive them from thence back into the town."

"Yes," said Henri, "and follow them in, as we are driving them. The
sight of their comrades in disorder will itself conquer the men in the
citadel; it is always so with the blues."

"We must remember, Henri," said de Lescure, "these are not conscripts,
nor yet merely the Marsellaise, we have to deal with: the men who fought
at Jemappes and at Valmy are here; the old cuirassiers of the French

"They are cowards, Charles," said Henri, "or they would not have
deserted their King."

"They are good soldiers, nevertheless," said Bonchamps. "I have fought
among them, and know it."

"They are the better worth our fighting then," said Henri.

"Providence can give us the victory over tried veterans as well as over
untried conscripts; it were a sin to doubt it," said M. d'Elbée.

"That would be a good subject for a sermon to the soldiers, but a bad
argument in a council chamber," said Bonchamps. "We shall find the
cuirassiers tough fellows to deal with."

"We must take our enemies as we find them," said Cathelineau; "but if
you will allow me, gentlemen, and as you have placed me here, I will
tell you what I would propose?'

"Do, Cathelineau, do!" said Henri; "let us have one plan, and then make
the best we can of it; we can at any rate do our duty like men."

"I think we should leave this early tomorrow morning, and move across
the country as though we were going to Montreuil; we shall so come on
the Montreuil road about a league from Saumur, and not very far, that
is about half a league, from the camp at Varin."

"And then, Cathelineau, will you attack the camp tomorrow evening?" said
de Lescure.

"I think not, M. de Lescure; but I would make a feint to do so, and I
would thus keep the republicans on the alert all night; a small body of
our men may, I think, in that way fatigue the masses of the republicans
in the camp--we might harass them the whole night, which will be dark
from eleven till near three; and then with the earliest sunrise our real
attack should be made."

"Bravo, Cathelineau!" said Henri; "and then fall on them when they are
in want of sleep."

"Yes," said de Lescure, "and they will have learnt to think that our
attacks in that quarter are only feints."

"Such may be our good luck, M. de Lescure; at any rate, if you think of
nothing better, we may try it."

It was thus decided, and arranged that Larochejquelin should, on the
following evening, leave the main body of the army with all the mounted
men belonging to it, and advance near enough to the camp at Varin to
allow of his being seen and heard by the republicans, and that he should
almost immediately retreat: that a body of infantry should then move on,
and take up a position near to the camp, which should also return after
a while, and that as soon as darkness had come on, a third advance
should be made by a larger body of men, who should, if possible,
approach within musket shot o the trenches, and endeavour to throw the
republicans into disorder. At four o'clock in the morning, the real
attack was to be made by the combined Vendean forces, of which
Cathelineau was to lead the centre, de Lescure the left, consisting of
the men brought by himself and Larochejaquelin from the centre of the
Bocage; and d'Elbée the right, which was formed of men chiefly brought
by M. Bonchamps from the province of Anjou. M. Bonchamps was himself too
ill from the effects of his wounds to accompany the army beyond Doué.

Early on the following morning the whole army, with the exception of the
men left with Foret, defiled out of Doué, and crossed over to the
Montreuil road, dragging with them their cannons, baggage-waggons, and
ammunition; their movements were not made with very great order, nor
with much celerity; but, about six o'clock in the evening, on the 10th
of June, Cathelineau took up his position about a league from Saumur.
They got possession of one or two farm-houses, and were not long in
making their arrangements for the night; the men were accustomed to
sleep out in the open air since the war commenced, and were well content
to remain in clusters round the cannons and the waggons.

At eight o'clock, Larochejaquelin had his little troop of cavalry ready
mounted, and started with them for the camp of Varin. As he and his
companions dashed along through the waggons and by the cannons the
peasants who were preparing to lay down for the night, and who knew
nothing of the plans of their Generals, rose up one after another

"There goes 'le Mouchoir Rouge,'" said one, alluding to Henri's costume;
for when in action he always wore a red handkerchief round his waist,
and another round his neck.

"Yes; that is 'le Mouchoir Rouge,'" said another, "he is off for Saumur;
the horsemen are already starting for Saumur."

"Come, then; they shall not go alone," said another. "We will start for
Saumur. We will not lie here while others are in the battle."

These were men from the neighbourhood of Durbellière, who were now
placed under the orders of M. de Lescure; but who conceived that, as
their lord and master was gone before them, it must be their duty to
follow. The word was passed from one to another, and the whole body of
them was soon in motion. It must be remembered that they were, in no
respect, similar to disciplined troops; they had received no military
instruction, and did not therefore, know, that they were doing wrong in
following their own master; they were in receipt of no pay; amenable to
no authority, and consequently afraid of no penalties; their only idea
was to do the best they could for the cause, to fight with courage and
perseverance, and to trust to God for the result: it was not, therefore,
wondering that, in the present instance, they so completely mistook
their duty.

Cathelineau's men, who were intended to form the centre of the attack
on the next morning, were placed just to the right of the road, but
their baggage and cannons had not been moved from it; in fact, they were
nearly mixed with M. de Lescure's men; whereas M. d'Elbée's portion of
the army was removed a good deal further to the right, and was placed
immediately on the banks of the river Thoué. The camp at Varin, which
was to be attacked, was situated between the river and the road to
Saumur. In Cathelineau's division there were some few who understood the
plan which had been decided on, and some others who knew that they
should not move without orders, and they did what they could to prevent
their companions from joining the rush made by M. de Lescure's party;
but their efforts were nearly in vain. Every man learnt in the confusion
that the attack was to be made on Saumur that night, and no man wished
to be left behind.

"Come friends, let us follow 'le Mouchoir Rouge;' he never meant, I am
sure, to leave us here," said the spokesman of one party.

"The Saint of Angers is on before us," said the others; "he would let
no man see the enemy before himself. The good Cathelineau is gone to
Saumur, let us follow him!"

In this way they soon learnt to believe that both Cathelineau and
Larochejaquelin were on before them, and they were not long in hurrying
after them. Within twenty minutes, about six thousand men started off
without a leader or any defined object, to besiege the walls of Saumur;
they did not even know that a vast entrenched encampment of the enemy's
troops lay directly in their way. The men had, most of them, muskets
with three or four rounds of powder and ball each; many of them also had
bayonets. They were better armed than they had hitherto ever been, and
they consequently conceived themselves invincible. Cathelineau's men,
however, would not stir without 'Marie Jeanne,' and that devoted,
hard-worked cannon was seized by scores, and hurried off with them
towards Saumur.

De Lescure and Cathelineau were together in a farm-house, within five
hundred yards of the place where the baggage had been left, and within
half a mile of the most distant of the men who had thus taken upon
themselves to march, or rather to rush, away without orders; and some
of those who still had their senses about them, soon let their Generals
know what was going forward.

They were seated together, planning the attack for the next morning.
Denot was with Larochejaquelin, and d'Elbée and Stofflet were together
with the detachment on the banks of the river: they were, therefore,
alone when Father Jerome rushed into the room.

"The men are off, M. de Lescure," said he: "do you not hear them? For
Heaven's sake go down to them, Cathelineau; some one has told them that
you and Larochejaquelin were gone to Saumur; and they are all preparing
to follow you."

"Heaven and earth I" said de Lescure, "they will be destroyed."

"Unless you stop them they will," said Father Jerome, "they will all
fall upon the camp just as the republicans are under arms, and prepared
to receive them. Hurry, Cathelineau; you alone can stop them."

Cathelineau without uttering a word, seized his sword, and rushed out
of the room without his cap; and followed by M. de Lescure, hurried
through the farm-yard, leapt a little gate, and got upon the road a few
yards from the place where the waggons had been left. The whole place
was in the utmost confusion: the men were hurrying to and fro, hardly
knowing what they were doing or going to do: the most ardent of them
were already a quarter of a mile advanced on the road to Saumur; others
were still following them; those who knew that they should have stayed
quiet during the night, were in the utmost distress; they did not know
whether to support their comrades, or to remain where they were.

"'What ails them, Peter?" said Cathelineau, catching hold of the arm of
a man who had followed him from St. Florent, "if they advance they will
be destroyed at Varin;" and as he spoke, he leapt upon the top of one
of the waggons laden with provisions, which had come from Durbellière.

It was a beautiful warm evening in June, and the air was heavy with the
sweet scent of the flowering hedges; it was now nearly nine o'clock, and
the sun had set; but the whole western horizon was gorgeous with the
crimson streaks which accompanied its setting. Standing in the waggon,
Cathelineau could see the crowds of hurrying royalists rushing along the
road, wherever the thick foliage of trees was sufficiently broken to
leave any portion of it visible, and he could hear the eager hum of
their voices both near him and at a distance.

"No power on earth could bring them back," said he. "Now, Peter, run to
the stable for your life; my horse is there and M. de Lescure's--bring
them both. They are both saddled. Run my friend; a moment lost now will
cost a hundred lives."

It was Peter Berrier to whom he spoke, and in spite of his evil
treatment at Durbellière, Peter ran for the horses, as though he was
running for the King's crown.

"It is impossible to stop them," said Cathelineau, still standing on the
waggon, and speaking to de Lescure, whom he had outran. "All La Vendée
could not stop them; but we may head them, M. de Lescure, and lead them
on; we must attack the camp tonight."

"Our loss will be terrible if we do," said de Lescure.

"It will, it will be terrible, and we shall be repulsed; but that will
be better than letting them rush into positive destruction. In an hour's
time they will be between the camp, the town, and the heights of
Bournan, and nothing then could save them."

"Let us go, then," said de Lescure; "but will you not send to d'Elbée?"

"Yes; but do not desire him to follow us. In two hours time he will have
enough to do to cover our retreat."

"We shall, at any rate, have the darkness in our favour," said de

"We shall; but we have two dreadful hours of light before that time
comes: here are our horses--let us mount; there is nothing for us now
but a hard ride, a good drubbing--and then, the best face we can put
upon it tomorrow."

Orders were then given to Peter Berrier to make the best of his way
across to M. d'Elbée, and to explain to him what had occurred, and bid
him keep his men in reserve under arms, and as near to the waggons as
he could. "And be sure," said Catheineau, "be sure, Peter, to make him
understand, that he is at once to leave the river and come across to the
road, to keep his men, you know, immediately close to the waggons."

"I understand," said Peter, "I understand," and he at once started off
on his important errand.

"It is a bad messenger, I fear," said Cathelineau; "but we have no
better; indeed we are lucky even to find him."

"I wonder," said Peter Berrier to himself, as he ran across the fields,
"I wonder whether they'll make nothing of this job, too, as they did of
that day at St. Florent. I suppose they will; some men haven't the luck
ever to be thought much of."

Notwithstanding his gloomy presentiments, Peter made the best of his way
to M. d'Elbée, and having found him, told him how the men had started
by themselves for Saumur; how de Lescure and Cathelineau had followed
them; how they intended to attack the camp at Varin that night, and he
ended by saying, "And you, M. d'Elbe--"

"Of course we must follow them," said d'Elbée.

"Not a foot," said Peter; "that is just why they sent me, instead of any
common messenger; that I might explain it all to you properly. You are
not to stir a foot after them; but are to remain here, just where you
are, till they return."

"That is impossible," said d'Elbée. "What good on earth can I do,
remaining here?"

"Why, Cathelineau will know where to find you, when he wants you."

"You are mistaken, Peter Berrier," said d'Elbée. "You must be mistaken.
Perhaps he meant that I should go over to the road, to cover their
retreat. God knows they will want some one to do so."

"That is just it," said Peter. "They mean to retreat down the river, and
you are to remain just where you are."

As might be expected, M. d'Elbée was completely puzzled, and he sent off
three or four men, to endeavour to get fresh orders, either from
Cathelineau or from de Lescure; and while waiting to receive them, he
kept his useless position by the river side.

In the mean time, Cathelineau and de Lescure had hurried off, at the top
of their horses' speed, to endeavour to head the column of madmen who
were rushing towards almost certain destruction. They will, at any rate,
meet Larochejaquelin on his return, and he will stop them. This thought
occurred to both of them, but neither of them spoke; indeed, they were
moving too quickly, and with too much trouble to be able to speak. There
object now was not to stop the men who thronged the roads; they only
wanted to head them before they came to the portion of the road which
passed close by the trenches of the camp at Varin.

They were so far successful, that they found themselves nearly at the
head of the column by the time they came within sight of the great banks
which the royalists had thrown up. It was still light enough for them
to see the arms of the republican troops, and they were near enough to
the camp to hear the movements of the men within it, in spite of the
increasing noise of their own troops.

"They are ready to receive us," said de Lescure to himself, "and a warm
reception they are likely to give us."

He now separated himself from Cathelineau, and galloped before the
trenches to an open space where Larochejaquelin had stationed himself
with the cavalry. Henri had completely surprised the sentinels on duty
in the camps; he and about twenty others had dismounted, had shot four
or five sentries at their post, and had again retreated to their horses
before the republicans were able to return his fire. But what was his
surprise on preparing to remount his horse, to hear the rush of his own
men coming along the road, and to see the cloud of dust which enveloped
them. Henri tried to speak to them, and to learn what new plan brought
them there; but the foremost men were too much out of breath to speak
to him: however, they shouted and hurraed at seeing him, and slackened
their pace a little. They were then almost within musket shot of the
republicans, and the balls from the trenches began to drop very near
them. Henri was still in an agony of suspense, not knowing what to do
or to propose, when de Lescure emerged from out of the cloud of dust,
and galloped up to him.

"What on earth has brought you here, Charles?" said Henri. "Why have the
men come on in this way? Every man within the camp will have a musket
in his hand in five minutes time."

"It is too late now to help it," said de Lescure; "if we both live over
this night, I will explain it to you. Cathelineau is behind there; we
must lead the men to the attack; he will be in the trenches

"Lead on," said Henri, jumping off his horse, "or rather I will go
first; but stop, the men must have five minutes to get their breath;
they are all choked with running. Come, my men," said he, turning to the
crowds who were clustering round them, "we will disturb the dreams of
these republicans; the blues are not fond of fighting by night, but if
they are asleep I think we will soon wake them," and accompanied by his
friend, he rushed down into the trenches, and the men followed him by
hundreds, covered with dust, choked with thirst, breathless with their
long run, and utterly ignorant what they were going to do, or how they
were to for an entrance into the camp.

At the same moment, Cathelineau leapt into the trench at the point
nearest to the road by which he had come, and his men followed him
enthusiastically, shouting at the top of their voices "Vive le roi!" "A
bas la république." Hitherto they had been successful in every effort
they had made. The republican troops had fled from every point which had
been attacked; the Vendeans had, as yet, met no disasters, and they
thought themselves, by the special favour of the Almighty, invincible
when fighting against the enemies of the King.

The camp at Varin was not a regularly fortified position; but it was
surrounded by a deep trench, with steep earth-works thrown up inside it.
These were high enough to afford great protection to those within, and
steep enough to offer a considerable obstacle to any attacking party:
but the earth was still soft, and the foremost among the Vendeans were
not long in finding themselves within the entrenchment; but when there
they met a terribly hot reception.

The feigned attack made by Larochejaquelin had just served to warn the
republicans, and by the time the real attack was made, every man was
under arms. As de Lescure had said, the old soldiers of Valmy and of
Jemappes were there. Men accustomed to arms, who well knew the smell of
powder, and who were prepared to contest every inch of ground before
they gave it up. These men, too, wore defensive armour, and the
Vendeans, unaccustomed to meet enemies so well prepared, were dismayed,
when they perceived that their enemies did not as usual give way before

The slaughter in the trenches was tremendous: the first attack had been
made with great spirit, and about four hundred of the Vendeans were in
the camp before the murderous fire of the republicans commenced, among
these were de Lescure, Larochejaquelin, and Cathelineau; and they made
their way even to the centre of the camp; but those who had not made a
portion of the first assault, fell back by twenties and thirties under
the fire of the republicans; twice Larochejaquelin returned and nearly
cleared the top of the trenches, in order to make way for the men below
to come up; but they were frightened and intimidated; their powder was
all gone, and they perceived that their first attempt had failed; their
friends and comrades were falling on every side of them; and, after a
while, they retreated from the trenches beyond reach of musket shot.
Cathelineau had expected that this would be the case, and though he had
been one of the first within the camp, he was prepared to leave it again
as soon as he could make the men, who were with him, understand that it
was necessary they should do so. It was now dusk, and the uncertain
light favoured his intention.

"'Where is your master?" said he to Jacques, whom he chanced to find
close to him; "tell him to lead his men down the trenches again, back
to the road, at once, at once; beg him to be the first to leap down
himself; they will not go unless he leads them."

Jacques did as he was bid, and Larochejaquelin led the men back to the

"Come, my friends," said he, "we have given them enough for tonight--we
have broken their sleep; come, we will visit them again tomorrow." And
he dashed through a body of republicans who were now firing from the
trenches, and about one hundred of his own men followed him.

The republicans had stuck huge pine-wood torches into the green sods
a-top of the trenches, which gave a ghastly glaring light immediately
in their own vicinity, though they did not relieve the darkness at a few
paces distant. As Henri rushed through them, some of the soldiers
observed his peculiar costume and hallaoed out, "fire upon the red
scarf," (tirez sur le mouchoir rouge,) but the confusion was too great
to allow of this friendly piece of advice being followed, or else the
musketeers were bad marksmen, for Henri went safely through the trench,
though many of his men were wounded in following him..

Cathelineau's men soon followed, as did also Cathelineau himself; the
last man who leapt into the trenches was de Lescure; but he also got
safely through them--not above twenty-five or thirty of those who had
forced their way into the camp, fell; but above three hundred of those
who had only attempted it, were left dead or wounded in the trenches.
And now the retreat commenced, and Cathelineau found it impossible to
accomplish it with anything like order; the three leaders endeavoured
to make the men conceive that they had been entirely successful in all
which it had been thought desirable to accomplish, but they had seen too
much bloodshed to be deceived--they were completely dismayed and
disheartened, and returned back towards Montreuil, almost quicker than
they had come.

The men had brought 'Marie Jeanne' with them; but in the species of
attack which they had made, the cannon was not of the slightest use; it
had not been once discharged. A great effort was now made to take it
back with them, but the attempt was unsuccessful: they had not dragged
it above five hundred yards, when they heard that the republicans were
following them; and then, as every man was obliged to think of himself,
poor 'Marie Jeanne' was left to her fate.

It was soon evident to Cathelineau and de Lescure, that they were
pursued; but the night was dark, and they calculated that M. d'Elbée's
men would be drawn up at the waggons; it was more than probable that
they would then be able, not only to stop the pursuit, but to avenge
themselves on their pursuers. What then was their surprise on reaching
the waggons, to find them utterly deserted--there was not a single man
with them.

This was a great aggravation to the misery of their predicament. They
had no resource but to fly on to Montreuil, which was still above two
leagues distant from them; and should the republican troops persevere
in the pursuit, their loss upon the road would be terrific. The darkness
was their only friend, and on they went towards Montreuil.

The republican soldiers were stopped by the waggons and cannons; it was
then as dark as a night in June ever is; it was well known also that the
Republic had no friends in Montreull; the troops had been driven from
the place by M. de Lescure, on his road to Doué, and the royalists would
be able to make a very strong stand in the streets of the town; the
pursuit was, therefore, given up, and the blues returned to the camp at
Varin, with all the artillery and the baggage belonging to the

M. d'Elbée remained all the while in his position by the river; he heard
the firing--he also heard the confused noise of the retreat, but he felt
that it was impossible for him, at that hour of night, to take any steps
without knowing what had been done, or what he had better do: at about
four in the morning, he learnt exactly what had occurred, and then he
rejoined Cathelineau at Montreuil.

The Vendeans, during the night, lost every cannon they possessed; all
their baggage, consisting of provisions, wearing apparel, and
ammunition; they lost also about five hundred men, in killed, wounded
and prisoners; but all this was not of so much injury as the loss of the
prestige of victory. The peasants had conceived themselves invincible,
and they were struck with consternation to find they were liable to
repulse and defeat. Early on the following morning, another council of
war was held, but the spirits and hopes of the Generals had been greatly



On this occasion the meeting of the leaders was kept strictly secret;
none were admitted but those who were known to be the chosen chiefs of
the Vendeans; it consisted of Cathelineau, de Lescure, Larochejaquelin,
d'Elbée, Stofflet, and Father Jerome. They had been closeted together
about an hour and a half, when Father Jerome left the room, and rode off
towards Thouars, on the best horse which could be found for him; no one
seemed to know where or for what he was going, though much anxiety was
expressed on the subject. Those who knew him, were well aware that he
was not about to desert the cause in its first reverse. In the meantime,
the Generals tried to reassure the men. Cathelineau explained to them
that they had brought on themselves the evils which they now suffered
by their absurd attempt to act without orders; and de Lescure and
Larochejaquelin endeavoured to rouse their energies by pointing out to
them the necessity of recovering their favourite cannon.

"Ah! M. Henri," said one of the men from Durbellière, "how can we get
her again when we have lost our guns, and have got no powder?"

"How!" said Henri, "with your sticks and your hands, my friends--as your
neighbours in St. Florent took her, at first, from the blues; we all
think much of the men of St. Florent, because it was they first took
'Marie Jeanne;' let us be the men who rescue her from these traitors,
and these people will think much of us."

About two o'clock in the day a closed carriage was driven into Montreuil
very fast, by the road from Thouars; the blinds were kept so completely
down, that no one could see who was within it; it was driven up to the
door of the house in which the council had been held; the doors of the
carriage and of the house were opened, and two persons alighted and ran
into the house so quickly that their persons could hardly be recognized,
even by those who were looking at them.

"That last is Father Jerome, at any rate," said a townsman.

"Who on earth had he with him?" said another; "he must be some giant,"
said a third, "did you see how he stooped going into the door."

"A giant, stupid;" said a fourth, "how could a giant get out of such a
carriage as that; besides, where could Father Jerome find giants in
these days."

"Well, I don't know," said the other, "but I am sure he was eight feet
high; didn't you see his back as he ran into the house."

Soon after the mysterious entry into the house, Henri left it, and went
out to the fields beyond the town, where most of the men were still
resting after the long fatigue of the night; much discontentment had
been expressed by them, and many had already declared their intention
of returning home. Every measure had been taken to comfort them; they
had been supplied with provisions and tobacco from the town, and every
effort had been used to renew their hopes and courage. Cathelineau had
passed the greater portion of the morning among them, going from one
quarter to another, assuring the men that their loss was most trifling,
that their future victory was certain--it was nearly in vain; they
declared that they could do nothing without 'Marie Jeanne.'

Henri now went among them, and as he did so, Jacques Chapeau proceeded
through the town, imploring all the men who were in it, to go out and
join the rest of the army, as a holy man had been sent direct from Rome
by the Pope, to tell the people of La Vendée what it was their duty to

Henri did not say quite so much as this, but he told the men that a
friend of theirs--a bishop of the Church--one especially appointed by
the King before he died, to provide for the spiritual comfort of his
poor people in the west of France, was now among them, and would soon
address them. He directed them to stay where they were till this man of
God should be among them, and he besought them strictly to follow any
advice which he might give them.

Every one in the town flocked out to the army--men, women and children
were soon in the fields, and the report was spread abroad through them
all, that the mysterious carriage which had rattled through the streets
of Montreuil, had brought to that favoured town a holy bishop, sent
expressly by their father the Pope to give good advice to his dear
children in La Vendée.

About four o'clock in the afternoon the stranger walked among them.
Father Jerome walked on his right hand, and Cathelineau on his left. M.
de Lescure followed immediately behind them. He was a very tall
man--nearly seven feet high; and his peculiar costume added in
appearance to his real height--he was dressed in the gorgeous robes of
a bishop of the Church of Rome as he would appear at the altar of his
cathedral when about to celebrate high mass; he had his mitre on his
head and his crozier in his hand; and as he walked through the crowd,
the men and women everywhere kneeled down and bowed their heads to the
earth; the people were delighted to have so holy a man among them--to
see a bishop in La Vendée. The bells were all rung, and every sign of
joy was shewn; the peasants were already beginning to forget their
defeat of the previous night.

As he walked through the kneeling crowd, he stood still a moment or two,
from time to time, and blessed the people; his voice was full and deep,
but very musical; his face was supremely handsome, but devoid of all
traces of passion. As he lifted his hands to heaven, and implored the
Almighty to protect the righteous arms of his poor children in La
Vendée, he certainly looked every inch a bishop; the peasants
congregated round him, and kissed his garments--if they could even touch
the shoes on his feet, they thought themselves happy.

It took the little procession two hours to move in this way through the
whole of the army, during which time the bishop's companions did not
speak a word; they merely moved on, with their eyes turned towards the
ground. At length they reached a temporary altar, standing on a platform
raised five steps above the ground, which had been erected under the
care of M. d'Elbe since the arrival of the bishop in Montreuil. Here
were collected M. d'Elbée, Stofflet, Larochejaquelin, Adolphe Denot, and
the other principal leaders of the army, and as the little procession
drew near, they knelt upon the top step of the platform, and
Cathelineau, de Lescure and Father Jerome knelt with them. The bishop
then blessed them each separately, commencing with Cathelineau; he
placed his crozier on the altar, and putting both his hands on the head
of the kneeling General, he said in a loud and solemn voice:

"May the Lord bless you, my son! may he enable you to direct the arms
of his faithful people, so as to show forth His glory, and magnify His
name; may he help your endeavours to restore to a suffering people their
Church and their King; may His dear Son preserve you in danger, comfort
you in affliction, be near you in the hour of death, and reward you in
heaven." He then went round to them all, and blessed them each, though
in a somewhat shorter form; and, at last, standing on the top step, in
the front of the whole army, so that every one could see him, he uttered
a general benediction on the people, and a prayer for their success; and
while he did so, boys dressed in surplices made their way through the
crowd, swinging censers filled with burning frankincense, and loading
the air with that peculiar scent, which always fills the mind with
devotional ideas.

As soon as this was over, and the people had risen from their knees,
Cathelineau spoke to them, and told them that the Bishop of Agra had
been especially appointed by their King to watch over and protect their
spiritual interest; that Monseigneur had heard with great grief of the
misfortune which had happened to them the preceding evening, and that
he would now tell them how, with God's assistance, they might hope in
future to avoid such calamities.

The bishop then addressed them, and said:

"My children, I rejoice that Providence has given me the privilege of
seeing so many of you collected here today. You have been brought
together for a great and holy purpose; the enemies of the Almighty God
are in your country--enemies who can never prevail to the breath of one
hair against His omnipotence; but who may, and who will prevail to the
destruction of your families here, and the perdition of your souls
hereafter, if you fail in performing the duties which are before you.
You are now called, my children--called especially from on high, to
deliver your land from these enemies; to go out to the battle, and to
fight in God's name, till you have restored the King to his throne, and
your pastors to their churches; and I rejoice to learn that you have so
readily undertaken the task which is before you. Till yesterday your
success was most wonderful; your career has been glorious. You
unhesitatingly obeyed the leaders who commanded you, and they led you
from one victory to another: but yesterday you were beaten
back--yesterday evening, for the first time, you found your enemy too
strong for you; they did not fall beneath your bullets; they did not
feel your swords! Why was this, my children? Why was it that on
yesterday evening the protecting hand of heaven was withdrawn from you?"
Here the bishop paused in his address, as though expecting a reply, and
then, after waiting a minute, during which the whole army remained in
most perfect quiet, answered the question himself "Because, my children,
you yesterday followed no accustomed leader; you obeyed no order; you
went out to the battle with self-proud hearts, and a vain confidence in
yourselves, rather than in the Almighty. It is not by such efforts as
that, that the chosen soldiers of La Vendée can expect to conquer the
enemies of France. You were vain in your own conceits; you trusted in
your own strength; you were puffed up with worldly glory: and your
strength has proved weakness, and your glory has been turned to
disgrace. I trust, my children, you will not require another such a
lesson; I trust you will not again forget your God and your Saviour, as
you did on yesterday evening. Tomorrow morning the General, under whom
the hand of Providence has placed you, the good Cathelineau, shall again
lead you against your enemies; and, if you confidently trust in God for
the result, he shall assuredly lead you to victory."

The bishop then again blessed the army, and walked off the field,
surrounded by the different leaders of the army, and left the town
without being again seen by the multitude.

The effect which this singular visit had upon the people was almost
miraculous. Their faith was so perfect, that it never occurred to them
to doubt the truth of anything which fell from consecrated lips. The
word of a priest with them was never doubted, but the promises of a
bishop were assurances direct from heaven: they would consider it gross
impiety to have any doubt of victory, when victory had been promised
them by so holy a man as he who had just addressed them. After the
Bishop of Agra had left the town, Larochejaquelin and de Lescure went
through the army, talking to the men, and they found them eager to renew
the attack on the camp of Varin. Though Varin was nearly three leagues
from them, and though they had been up nearly the whole previous night,
they would willingly have returned to the attack that evening, had they
been allowed to do so.

This was not considered expedient: but it was resolved that the attack
on the camp should be renewed as early as possible on the following
morning, as it was considered that the republicans would not expect so
quick a return of an army which had been completely routed; and might,
therefore, to a certain extent, be taken by surprise.

"We must run fast, friends," said Chapeau to his allies from Durbellière
and Echanbroignes, "for the first men who reach Varin, will retake
'Marie Jeanne;' we will have a share in her, as well as the men of St.

With sunrise the next morning, the army was again on the move towards
Saumur: it was arranged that Cathelineau, de Lescure, Denot, and
Larochejaquelin should lead the men through the trenches and into the
camp; and that d'Elbe should remain on the road, prepared, if necessary,
to second the attack, but ready should the first attempt be successful,
to fall on the republicans as they retreated from the camp to the town,
and, if possible, to follow them within the walls. Stofflet was to lead
a division of fifteen hundred men past the camp, between the heights of
Bournan and the town, so as to intercept the republicans, should they
attempt from that position, to relieve their comrades when retreating
from the camp. There was a bridge over the Thoué, close to the town of
Saumur, called the bridge of Fouchard. This bridge was between Bournan
and the town, as also between the camp and the town, and the possession
of this bridge would be of great advantage to the royalist army.
Stofflet was charged to obtain this advantage, if he did not find that
the cannons from the town prevented him.

About four o'clock the army was on the move from Montreuil, and by eight
they were again in front of the camp at Varin; the portion of the road
which they had passed in such confusion the night but one before, and
where they had left their cannon and their waggons, was now stripped of
all signs of the encampment, which had been made there, nothing but the
deep ruts, made by the cannon wheels, were to be seen; everything which
they had brought with them, the trophies of all their victories, the
white flags which the ladies of La Vende had worked for them; the
provisions, the wine and meat, which the kindness of their landlords had
sent with them, were all gone--were in the hands of the republicans;
these reflections served to rouse the anger of the peasants, and made
them determined to get back what they had lost, though they pulled down
the walls of Saumur with their nails.

At a few moments after eight, the attack commenced; the first assault
was headed by Cathelineau, who rushed into the trenches, accompanied by
the Curé of St. Laud. Father Jerome held a large crucifix in his hands,
and as he followed Cathelineau, he lifted it high above his head, to
encourage the men who were about to make the assault; hundreds of them
were on the verge of the trench as he did so; others were following them
closely; they were already within fire of the republican batteries, the
balls from which were falling among them; but, regardless of the firing,
they all fell on their knees, with their faces towards the earth, as
soon as they saw the crucifix in the hands of their priest; and there,
on the very field of battle, offered up a prayer that they might that
day be victorious.

"They will be cut down like grass, simpletons that they are," said
Stofflet; "besides, the first moment is everything; two hundred should
by this time have been within the camp."

"Let them alone," said M. d'Elbée, "they are quite right as they are;
they will not fight the worse for saying their prayers."

As he finished speaking, the men rose again, and rushed against the

Their attempt of the preceding evening had had one good effect--it had
taught the peasants that those who hesitated were in five times more
imminent danger than those who at once got into the trench; and that the
men climbing up the embankment, or at the top of it, were not nearly so
liable to be struck, as the men at the bottom of the trench, or as those
beyond it; they therefore eagerly stuck their hands and feet into the
earth, and made the best of their way into the encampment.

It had been expected by the republicans that the next attack of the
royalists would probably be made at Bournan, and they had consequently
moved most of the cuirassiers from Varin to strengthen that important
place; the men left in the encampment, consisted chiefly of those tribes
of republicans who were enrolled into the French army under the name of
Marseillaise--men who were as ferocious in the hour of victory, as they
were prone to fly at the first suspicion of defeat--men who delighted
in bloodshed, but who preferred finding their victims ready bound for
the slaughter. It was the abject cowardice of these troops, which gave
so wonderful a career of success to the Vendeans; it was their
diabolical cruelty which has made the sufferings of the royalists more
notorious even than their bravery.

De Lescure, Larochejaquelin, and Adolphe Denot led their men further
along the road to the point at which Henri had been standing when he
first saw the crowd of royalists coming towards him on the former
evening, and from thence they also got into the encampment. As has been
said, they had no powder; the men who commenced the assault were armed
with muskets and bayonets, but the greater number of the assailants had
no bayonets at all, and many of them nothing but sticks; still they
forced their way into the centre of the camp; here a very strong
opposition was made to them; the republicans were so well armed, that
the royalists were unable to disperse them when any number of them made
a stand together; when they moved from their ground, however, the
Vendeans uniformly succeeded in driving them before them.

Cathelineau's men also made their way through the camp, and there
Cathelineau and Larochejaquelin met each other.

"Well done, my friend; well done," said Henri, seizing the postillion
by the hand, "this is a glorious meeting; the blues are beaten; we have
only now to drive them into the river."

"Or into the road," said Jacques, who as usual was close to his master,
"when once there, M. d'Elbée will not be long in handing them over to

"Once more, my children, once more said the priest, "drive them out,
drive them out, vive le roi quand même!" and as he spoke, he brandished
the crucifix over his head like a tomahawk; the sacred symbol was
covered with gore, which appeared to have come from the head of some
unfortunate republican.

"Ah, my friends!" hallaoed Cathelineau, advancing on before the others,
"look--look there; there is our 'Marie Jeanne;' hurry then, hurry;" and
there, immediately before them, was their own sacred trophy; their
favourite cannon: they wanted no further incentive; the men who had
followed Larochejaquelin, and the men of St. Florent who had come with
Cathelineau, saw it at the same time, and vieing with each other, rushed
onwards to gain the prize.

The republicans were amazed at the impetuosity of their enemies, and at
last fled before them; when once these newly-levied troops were turned,
their officers found it impossible to recover them; it was then sauve
qui peut, and the devil take the hindmost. The passage from the camp
towards the town was still open; no attack having been made from that
quarter; and through the wooden gate, which had been erected there, the
valiant Marseillaise rushed out as quick as their legs could carry them;
the officers of the Vendeans offered quarter to all who would throw down
their arms, and many of them did so, but most of them attempted to gain
the town; they knew that if once they could cross the bridge at Fouchard
they would be within the protection afforded by the castle guns--but not
one of them reached the bridge.

M. d'Elbée had found that he could not himself take the position which
had been pointed out to him, as, had he done so, his men would have been
cut to pieces by the cannons from the castle, but he effectually
prevented any one else from doing so; not thirty men from the whole
encampment got into the town of Saumur, and those who did so, made their
way through the river Thoué.

The success of the Vendeans, as far as it went, was most complete; they
recovered their baggage and their cannons--above all, their favourite
'Marie Jeanne;' they took more prisoners than they knew how to keep;
they armed themselves again, and again acquired unmeasured confidence
in their own invincibility; they wanted immediately to be led out to
attack the walls of Saumur, but Cathelineau and de Lescure knew that
this would be running into useless danger. They had now once more plenty
of ammunition; they had artillery, and were in a position to bombard the
town; they would at any rate make a breech in the walls before they
attempted to enter the streets; it was therefore decided that they would
that evening remain where they were, and commence the attack on the
citadel itself with daylight on the following morning.

"It grieved me to think," said Jacques Chapeau, as he pulled the huge
baskets down from the carts, from which the republicans had not yet had
time to move them, "it grieved my very heart to think, M. Henri, that
this good wine from the cellars of Durbellière should have gone down
republican throats; the thoughts of it lay heavy on my heart last night,
so that I could not sleep. Thank heaven, I am spared that disgrace."

It was with the utmost difficulty that Cathelineau and de Lescure were
able to get sentries to remain at the necessary positions during the
night; the peasants had gained the battle, and were determined to enjoy
themselves that evening; they would be ready they said to fight again,
when the sun rose the next morning. The officers themselves had to act
as sentinels; and after having been the first during the day to rush
into every danger, and after having led the attack and the pursuit, and
having then arranged the operations for the morrow, they had to remain
on the watch during the night, lest the camp should be sacrificed by an
attack from the republican forces, stationed at Bournan, or in the
town--such is the lot of those who take upon themselves the management
of men, without any power to ensure obedience to their orders.




In the next three days the Vendeans bombarded the town, and during that
time fired against it everything they could cram into their cannons, in
the shape of warlike missiles; and they did not do so in vain, for the
walls, in portions, began to give way and to crumble into the moat,
which ran round the town, and communicated with the river Loire on each
side of it. The town is built on the Loire, and between the Loire and
the Thoué. After passing over the latter river at the bridge of
Fouchard, the road in a few yards came to the draw-bridge over the moat;
and from the close vicinity of the two rivers, no difficulty was found
in keeping the moat supplied with water in the driest weather. About a
mile below the town, the Thoue runs into the Loire.

Cathelineau found the men very impatient during the bombardment; they
did not now dream of going home till the work was over, and Saumur
taken; but they were very anxious to make a dash at the walls of the
town; they could not understand why they should not clamber into the
citadel, as they had done, over the green sods into the camp at Varin.
On the fourth morning they were destined to have their wish. A temporary
bridge over the Thoué had been made near Varin, over which a great
portion of the cannon had been taken to a point near the Loire, from
which the royalists had been able to do great damage to the walls; they
had succeeded in making a complete breach of some yards, through which
an easy entrance might be made, were it not for the moat; much of the
rubbish from the walls had fallen into it, so as considerably to lessen
the breadth; but there was still about twenty feet of water to be
passed, and it was impossible, under the immediate guns of the castle,
to contrive anything in the shape of a bridge.

Notwithstanding the difficulties of the place, it was decided that
Larochejaquelin should take two hundred of his men and endeavour to make
his way through the water, and while he was doing this, de Lescure was
to force his passage over the bridge at Fouchard, and if possible, carry
the gate of the town; in doing this he would pass under the heights of
Bournan, and to this point M. d'Elbée was to accompany him with the
great bulk of the army, so as to secure his flank from any attack from
the republican force, which still retained their position there, and
which had hitherto kept up an intercourse with the town across the
bridge of Fouchard.

At five o'clock the greater portion of the army left the camp with
d'Elbée and de Lescure. When they came within two furlongs of the
bridge, the army separated, the chief body remaining with M. d'Elbée and
the remainder going on with M. de Lescure towards the town.. The road
turns a little before it reaches the bridge over the Thoué, and up to
this point, the Vendeans, in their progress, were tolerably protected
from the guns of the town; but immediately they turned upon the bridge,
they became exposed to a tremendous fire. The men at once perceived this
and hesitated to cross the river; two of the foremost of their men fell
as they put their feet upon the bridge.

De Lescure had marched from the camp at the head of his men. Father
Jerome was on his right hand, and Stofflet and Adolphe Denot at his
left. Henri had asked his friend to accompany him in the attack which
he was to make near the river, but Adolphe had excused himself, alleging
that he had a great dislike to the water, and that he would in
preference accompany Charles de Lescure. Henri had not thought much
about it, and certainly had imputed no blame to his friend, as there
would be full as much scope for gallantry with his cousin as with
himself. When de Lescure saw that his men hesitated, he said, "Come my
men, forward with 'Marie Jeanne,' we will soon pick their locks for
them," and rushed on the bridge alone; seeing that no one followed him
he returned, and said to Denot:

"We must shew them an example, Adolphe; we will run to the other side
of the bridge and return; after that, they will follow us."

De Lescure did not in the least doubt the courage of his friend, and
again ran on to the bridge. Stofflet and Father Jerome immediately
followed him, but Adolphe Denot did not stir. He was armed with a heavy
sabre, and when de Lescure spoke to him, he raised his arm as though
attempting to follow him, but the effort was too much for him, his whole
body shook, his face turned crimson, and he remained standing where he
was. As soon as de Lescure found that Adolphe did not follow him, he
immediately came back, and taking him by the arm, shook him slightly,
and whispered in his ear:

"Adolphe, what ails you? remember yourself, this is not the time to be
asleep," but still Denot did not follow him; he again raised his arm,
he put out his foot to spring forward, but he found he could not do it;
he slunk back, and leant against the wall at the corner of the bridge,
as though he were fainting.

De Lescure could not wait a moment longer. He would have risked anything
but his own reputation to save that of his friend; but his brave
companions were still on the bridge, and there he returned for the third
time; his cap was shot away, his boot was cut, his clothes were pierced
in different places, but still he was not himself wounded.

"See, my friends," said he aloud to the men behind him, "the blues do
not know how to fire," and he pointed to his shoulder, from which, as
he spoke, a ball had cut the epaulette.

He then crossed completely over the bridge, together with Stofflet and
the priest; the people with one tremendous rush followed him, and
Adolphe Denot was carried along with the crowd.

As soon as they found themselves immediately beneath the walls of the
town, they were not exposed to so murderous a fire as they had been on
the bridge itself, but still the work was hot enough. 'Marie Jeanne' had
been carried across with them, and was soon brought into play; they had
still enough ammunition left to enable their favourite to show her
puissance in battering against the chief gates of Saumur. The men made
various attempts to get into the town, but they were not successful,
though the gates were shattered to pieces, and the passage was almost
free; the republican troops within were too strong, and their firing too
hot. At last the blues made a sortie from the town, and drove the
Vendeans back towards the bridge; M. de Lescure still kept his place in
the front, and was endeavouring to encourage his men to recover their
position, when a ball struck his arm and broke it, and he fell with his
knee upon the ground. As soon as the peasants saw him fall, and found
that he was wounded, they wanted to take him in their arms, and carry
him at once back across the bridge, but he would not allow them.

"What ails you, friends?" said he; "did you never never see a man
stumble before? Come, the passage is free; now at length we will quench
our thirst in Saumur," and taking his sword in his left hand, he again
attempted to make good his ground.

M. d'Elbée had seen the Vendeans retreating back towards the bridge, and
knowing that victory with them must be now or never (for it would have
been impossible to have induced the peasants to remain longer from their
homes, had they been repulsed), he determined to quit his post and to
second de Lescure at the bridge. The firing from the town had ceased,
for the republicans and royalists were so mixed together, that the men
on the walls would have been as likely to kill their friends as their
enemies; and as the first company, fatigued, discouraged and
overpowered, were beginning to give way, d'Elbée, with about two
thousand men, pushed across the bridge, and the whole mass of the
contending forces, blues and Vendeans together, were hurried back
through the gateway into the town; and de Lescure, as he entered it,
found that it was already in the hands of his own party--the white flag
was at that moment rising above the tricolour on the ramparts.

Adolphe Denot was one of the first of the Vendeans who entered the town
through the gate. This shewed no great merit in him, for, as has been
said, the men who had made the first attack, and the republicans who
opposed it, were carried into the town by the impulse of the men behind
them; but still he had endeavoured to do what he could to efface the
ineffable disgrace which he felt must now attach to him in the opinion
of M. de Lescure. As they were making their way up the principal street,
still striking down the republicans wherever they continued to make
resistance, but more often giving quarter, and promising protection, de
Lescure with a pistol held by the barrel in his left hand, and with his
right arm hastily tied up in the red handkerchief taken from a peasant's
neck, said to the man who was next to him, but whom he did not at the
moment perceive to be Denot:

"Look at Larochejaquelin, the gallant fellow; look at the red scarf on
the castle wall. I could swear to him among a thousand."

"Yes," said Adolphe, unwilling not to reply when spoken to, and yet
ashamed to speak to de Lescure, "yes, that is Henri. I wish I were with

"Oh, that is you, is it?" said de Lescure, just turning to look at him,
and then hurrying away. But before he had moved on five paces, he
returned, and putting his pistol into his girdle, gave Adolphe his left
hand, and whispered to him:

"No one shall ever hear of it, Adolphe," said he, "and I will forget it.
Think of your Saviour in such moments, Adolphe, and your heart will not
fail you again."

The tears came into Denot's eyes as de Lescure left him. He felt that
he must be despised; he felt grateful for the promise which had been
given him, and yet he felt a kind of hatred for the man to whom he had
afforded an opportunity of forgiving him. He felt that he never could
like de Lescure again, never be happy in his company; he knew that de
Lescure would religiously keep his word, that he would never mention to
human being that horrid passage at the bridge; but he knew also that it
could never be forgotten. Adolphe Denot was not absolutely a coward; he
had not bragged that he would do anything which he knew it was contrary
to his nature to do, when he told Agatha that he would be the first to
place the white flag on the citadel of Saumur: he felt then all the
aspirations of a brave man; he felt a desire even to hurry into the
thick of the battle; but he had not the assured, sustained courage to
support him in the moment of extreme danger. As de Lescure said, his
heart failed him.

We must now return to Henri Larochejaquelin. He had taken with him two
hundred of the best men from the parishes of St. Aubin, St. Laud and
Echanbroignes; four or five officers accompanied him, among whom was a
young lad, just fourteen years of age; his name was Arthur Mondyon, and
he was a cadet from a noble family in Poitou; in the army he had at
first been always called Le Petit Chevalier. His family had all
emigrated, and he had been left at school in Paris; but on the breaking
out of the wars he had run away from school, had forged himself a false
passport into La Vendée, and declared his determination of fighting for
his King. De Lescure had tried much to persuade him to stay at Clisson,
but in vain; he had afterwards been attached to a garrison that was kept
in the town of Chatillon, as he would then be in comparative safety; but
the little Chevalier had a will of his own; he would not remain within
walls while fighting was going on, and he had insisted on accompanying
Larochejaquelin to Saumur. He was now installed as Henri's aide-de-camp.

Jacques Chapeau also accompanied the party who were to make their way
into the town through the water. The men were all armed with muskets and
bayonets, but their muskets were not loaded, nor did they carry any
powder with them; it would have been useless in the attack they were
about to make, and was much wanted elsewhere.

Henri was at his post about the time at which de Lescure was preparing
to cross the bridge at Fouchard. It was an awful looking place at which
ha had to make his entrance there was certainly a considerable breach
in the wall, and the fragments of it had fallen into the fosse, so as
to lessen its width; but, nevertheless, there was full twenty feet of
running water to cross, which had more the appearance of a branch of the
river Loire, than of a moat round a town.

Henri saw that his men looked a little alarmed at what they had to go
through; he had a light straw hat on his head, and taking it off, he
threw it into the water, a little above the point he had to pass, and
as the running water carried it down he said:

"Whoever gives me that on the other side will be my friend for life."
And as he spoke he himself leapt into the water, and swam across.

Jacques made a plunge for the hat: had it been in the middle of the
Loire he would have gone after it under similar circumstances, though
he couldn't swim a stroke; he did not go near the hat however, but went
head over heels into the water; the impetus carried him through, and he
was the second to scramble upon the broken mortar on the other side. The
Chevalier was more active; he leapt in and seized the hat as it was
going down the stream, and swimming like a young duck, brought it back
to its owner.

"Ah! Chevalier," said Henri, reproaching him playfully, and helping him
up out of the water, "you have robbed some poor fellow of a chance; you,
you know, cannot be more my friend, than you already are."

The men quickly followed: they all got a ducking; some few lost their
arms, one or two were slightly wounded by their comrades, but none of
them were drowned. Henri soon made his way over the ruins into the town,
and carried everything before him. The greater part of the garrison of
the town were endeavouring to repulse the attack made by de Lescure;
others had retired into the castle, in which the republican General
thought that he might still hold out against the Vendeans. Many were
already escaping out of the town by the bridge over the Loire, and
throwing down their arms, were hurrying along the road to Tours.

It was in this manner, and almost without opposition, that
Larochejaquelin found himself, together with his brave followers, in the
middle of Saumur; their own success astonished them; hardly a shot was
fired at them in their passage; they went through the town without
losing a man; the republican soldiers whom they did see threw down their
arms and fled; the very sight of the Vendeans in the centre of the town
overwhelmed them with panic. The appearance of Henri's troop was very
singular; every man wore round his neck and round his waist a red cotton

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