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La Vendee by Anthony Trollope

Part 5 out of 10

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"Well, ain't I a hard-working fellow?"

"Let me look at your hands, M. Chapeau; the inside of your hands. No,
you are not a hard-working fellow; your hand is as soft as a lady's."

"What signifies my hand? I shan't make a worse husband, shall I, because
my hand is not as horny as your own."

"No, but a hard-fisted fellow is the only man that will suit my

"But, Michael Stein, she herself thinks--"

"Who ever heard of asking a girl what she thinks herself? Of course
she'd sooner be a fine lady, and spend her time walking about a big
chateau than be milking cows and minding goats."

"But won't she be earning her living and her wages honestly?"

"Wages! I don't like those sort of wages, M. Chapeau. I don't mean to
say auything uncivil, and I hope you won't take it amiss, but there are
two trades I don't fancy for my children: the one is that of a soldier,
the other that of a great man's servant."

"Gracious me, Michael Stein! why I'm both," said Chapeau, rather

"I beg your pardon again and again, and I really mean no offence: clown
as I am, I hope I know better than to say anything to hurt my own guest
in my own house."

Chapeau assured him he was not offended, and begged to know why the old
man objected to see his children become soldiers or servants.

"They've no liberty," said Michael, "though they usually take a deal too
much licence. They never are allowed to call their time their own,
though they often misuse the time that ought to belong to other people."

For a long time Chapeau combatted such arguments as these, but without
avail; the smith declared that now, as his two sons had become soldiers,
it would break his heart if his daughter also were to marry one. He
assured Jacques, with tears running down his rough cheeks, that he could
not bring himself to give his daughter his blessing, if she left his
house without his leave to marry a soldier. He declared that he also
loved her better than all the world, and that he could not bear to part
with her; and his tears and kindly words had such an effect upon Annot,
that she could not restrain herself: she burst into tears herself and
running out of her little room, threw herself into her father's arms.

"Get up, thou simpleton; get up, thou little fool," said he. "Why,
Annot, what ails thee?"

"Oh, father! dear father!" said she.

"Get up then, Annot, and I'll speak to thee. I never saw thee in this
way before."

"Oh, father!" she said, sobbing violently, "do you love your poor
daughter so very, very much?"

"Love you, Annot! why yes, I do love you. If you'll be a good girl, that
is, I will love you."

"I will be a good girl, dear father; indeed I'll be a good girl; at any
rate I'll try. But then--" and she stood up, and commenced wiping her
eyes with her little apron.

"Well, what then, Annot?" said the smith.

"But then--I wouldn't anger you, father, for all the world; indeed I
wouldn't, for you always are so good to me, and I know I don't deserve
it," and poor Annot continued sobbing and rubbing her eyes with her

"Nonsense, girl, nonsense!" said Michael; "I don't find any fault with
you. Don't think of getting yourself married till these wars be over,
that's all," and he kissed her forehead, and patted her cheek as though
all the difficulty were over.

"But, father--?" continued Annot, with her apron still to her face.

"Well, child, what is it? By the blessed mass, M. Chapeau, I don't know
what the girl's crying for."

"Do you love your own little Annot so very, very much?" said she, and
she put her soft arm round his rough neck, and placed her cheek quite
close to his.

"There, Annot; why what nonsense, girl! Don't you know I love you?
didn't you hear me say so this minute? Leave off, will you, you little
slut! why, what will M. Chapeau think of us? Well, I declare she's
crying still!"

"But if you really, really love me, father--"

"Bother the girl! she knows I love her better than anything else; God
forgive me."

"If you really love me," repeated Annot, nestling her head in her
father's bosom, "you must, you must, you must--do something that I'll
ask you, father."

"And what is it, child? I doubt much it's nonsense."

"You must love Jacques Chapeau too, father," and having uttered these
important words, Annot clung fast to her father's arms, as if she feared
he was going to throw her off, and sobbed and cried as though her heart
were breaking.

The battle between the contending factions, namely, the father on one
side, and the daughter with her lover on the other, was prolonged for
a considerable time, but the success was altogether with Annot. Chapeau
would have had no chance himself against the hard, dry, common sense of
the smith; but Annot made her appearance just at the right moment,
before the father had irrevocably pledged himself, and the old man was
obliged to succumb; he couldn't bring himself to refuse his daughter
when she was lying on his bosom and appealing to his love; so at last
he gave way entirely, and promised that he would love Jacques Chapeau
also; and then Chapeau, he also cried; and, I shudder as I write it, he
also kissed the tough, bronzed, old wiry smith, and promised that he
would be a good husband and son-in-law.

As soon as Annot had got her wish, and had heard Jacques received as her
betrothed husband, she also was wonderfully dutiful and affectionate.
She declared that she didn't want to be married till the wars were
nearly over, and the country was a little more quiet; that she would
never go away and leave her father altogether, and that if ever she did
go and live at Durbellière, she would certainly make an agreement with
her master and mistress that she should be allowed to walk over to eat
her dinner with her father every Sunday.

As soon as the smith found himself completely conquered, he resigned
himself to his fate, and became exceedingly happy and good-humoured. He
shook Chapeau's hand fifty times, till he had nearly squeezed it off.
He sent to the inn for two bottles of the very best wine that was to be
had; he made Annot prepare a second supper, and that not of simple bread
and cheese, but of poached eggs and fried bacon, and then he did all
that he possibly could to make Chapeau tipsy, and in the attempt he got
very drunk himself, and so the day ended happily for them all.



De Lescure only remained three days at Durbellière, and then started
again for his own house at Clisson, and Henri accompanied him. They had
both been occupied during these three days in making such accommodation
as was in their power for the sick and wounded, who were brought back
into the Bocage in considerable numbers from Saumur. The safe and sound
and whole of limb travelled faster than those who had lost arms and legs
in the trenches at Varin, or who had received cuts and slashes and
broken ribs at the bridge of Fouchard, and therefore the good news was
first received in the Bocage; but those miserable accompaniments of
victory, low tumbrils, laden with groaning sufferers lying on straw,
slowly moving carts, every motion of which opened anew the wounds of
their wretched occupants, and every species of vehicle as could be
collected through the country, crammed with the wounded and the dying,
and some even with the dead, were not long in following the triumphal
return of the victorious peasants.

A kind of hospital was immediately opened at a little town called St.
Laurent sur Sèvre, about two leagues from Durbellière, at which a
convent of sisters of mercy had long been established. De Lescure and
Larochejaquelin between them supplied the means, and the sisters of the
establishment cheerfully gave their time, their skill, and tenderest
attention to assuage the miseries of their suffering countrymen. Agatha
knew the superior of the convent well, and assisted in all the necessary
preparations. She was there when the hospital was first opened, and for
a long time afterwards visited it once or twice a week, on which
occasions she stayed for the night in the convent; had it not been that
she could not bring herself to leave her father, she would have remained
there altogether, as long as the war continued to supply the little
wards with suffering patients. They were seldom, or rather never, empty
as long as the Vendeans kept their position in the country, the sick and
the wounded were nursed with the tenderest care at St. Laurent. The
sisters who had commenced the task never remitted their zeal, nor did
Agatha Larochejaquelin. The wards were by degrees increased in number,
the building was enlarged, surgical skill was procured, every necessary
for a hospital was obtained, whatever might be the cost, and whatever
the risk; till at last, in spite of the difficulties which had to be
encountered, the dangers which surrounded them, the slenderness of their
means, and the always increasing number of their patients, the hospital
of St. Laurent might have rivalled the cleanliness, care, and comfort
of the Hotel Dieu in its present perfection.

As soon as the first arrangements for the commencement of this hospital
had been made, de Lescure and Henri went to Clisson. It may easily be
supposed that de Lescure was anxious to see his wife, and that she was
more than anxious to see him. Henri also was not sorry to hear the
praises of his valour sung by the sweet lips of Marie. He stayed one
short happy week at Clisson, basking in the smiles of beauty, and they
were the last hours of tranquillity that any of the party were destined
to enjoy for many a long sad day. De Lescure's recovery was neither slow
nor painful, and before the week was over, he was able to sit out on the
lawn before the château, with one arm in a sling, and the other round
his wife's waist, watching the setting of the sun, and listening to the
thrushes and nightingales. Every now and again he would talk of the
future battles to be fought, and of the enemies to be conquered, and of
the dangers to be encountered; but he did not speak so sadly of the
prospects of his party as he did when he had only just determined to
take up arms with the Vendeans. The taking of Thouars, and Fontenay, of
Montreuil, and Saumur, had inspirited even him, and almost taught him
to believe that La Vendée would be ultimately successful in
re-establishing the throne.

De Lescure was delighted to see what he thought was a growing attachment
between his sister and his friend. Had he had the power of choosing a
husband for Marie out of all France, he would have chosen Henri
Larochejaquelin: he loved him already as he could only love a brother,
and he knew that he had all those qualities which would most tend to
make a woman happy.

"Oh, if these wars were but over," said he to his wife, "how I would
rejoice to give her to him, he is such a brave and gallant fellow--but
as tender-hearted and kind as he is brave!"

"These weary, weary wars!" said Madame de Lescure, with a sigh, "would
they were over: would, with all my heart, they had never been begun. How
well does the devil do his work on earth, when he is able to drive the
purest, the most high-minded, the best of God's creatures to war and
bloodshed as the only means of securing to themselves the liberty of
worshipping their Saviour and honouring their King!"

Henri himself, however, had not considered the propriety of waiting
until the wars were over before he took a wife for himself, or at any
rate before he asked the consent of the lady's friends: for the day
before he left Clisson, he determined to speak to Charles on the
subject; though he had long known Marie so well, and had now been
staying a week in the house, he had never yet told her that he loved
her. It was the custom of the age and the country for a lover first to
consult the friends of the young lady, and though the peculiar
circumstances of his position might have emboldened Henri to dispense
with such a practice, he was the last man in the world to take advantage
of his situation.

"Charles," said he, the evening before his departure, as he stood close
to the garden seat, on which his cousin was sitting, and amused himself
with pitching stones into the river, which ran beneath the lawn at
Clisson. "Charles, I shall be off tomorrow; I almost envy you the broken
arm which keeps you here."

"It won't keep me long now, Henri," said he; "I shall be at Chatillon
in a week's time, unless you and d'Elbée have moved to Parthenay before
that. Cathelineau will by that time be master of Nantes, that is, if he
is ever to be master of it."

"Don't doubt it, Charles. I do not the least: think of all Charette's
army. I would wager my sword to a case-dagger, that Nantes is in his
hands this minute."

"We cannot always have the luck we had at Saumur, Henri?"

"No," said Henri, "nor can we always have a de Lescure to knock down for
us the gates of the republicans."

"Nor yet a Larochejaquelin to force his way through the breach," said
the other.

"Now we are even," said Henri, laughing; "but really, without joking,
I feel confident that the white flag is floating at this moment on the
castle at Nantes; but it is not of that, Charles, that I wish to speak
now. You have always been an elder brother to me. We have always been
like brothers, have we not?"

"Thank God, we have, Henri! and I do not think it likely that we shall
ever be more distant to each other."

"No, that I'm sure we never shall. You are too good either to quarrel
yourself, or to let me quarrel with you; but though we never can be more
distant, we may yet be more near to each other. You know what I mean,

"I believe I do," said de Lescure; "but why do you not speak out? You
are not likely, I think, to say or to propose anything that we shall not
approve of--that is, Victorine and I."

"God bless you both!" said Henri. "You are too kind to me; but can you
consent to give me your own dear favourite sister--your sweet Marie? You
know what I mean in saying that I would be nearer to you."

De Lescure was in the act of answering his cousin, when. the quick fall
of a horse's foot was heard in the avenue close to the house, and then
there was a sudden pause as the brute was pulled up violently in the
yard of the château, and the eager voices of domestics answering the
rapid questions of the man who had alighted.

Interested as the two friends were in their conversation, the times were
too full of important matters to allow of their remaining quiet, after
having heard such tokens of a hurried messenger. Larochejaqnelin ran off
to the yard of the château, and de Lescure followed him as quickly as
his wounded arm would allow.

Henri had hardly got off the lawn, when he met a couple of servants
coming from the yard, and between them a man booted, spurred, and armed,
covered with dust and spattered with fuam, whom he at once recognized
as Foret, the friend and townsman of Cathelineau.

"What news, Foret, what news?" said Henri, rushing up to him, and
seizing him by the hand. "Pray God you bring with you good tidings."

"The worst news that ever weighed heavy on a poor man's tongue, M.
Henri," said Foret, sorrowfully.

"Cathelineau is not dead?" said Henri, but the tone of his inquiry
shewed plainly how much he feared what the reply would be.

"He was not dead," answered Foret, "when I left him five leagues on this
side Nantes, but he had not many days to live."

The two had turned back over the lawn, and now met de Lescure, as he
hastened to join them.

"Cathelineau," said Henri, "is mortally wounded! Victory will have been
bought too dear at such a price; but I know not yet even whether the
Vendeans have been victorious."

"They have not--they have not," said Foret. "How could they be
victorious when their great General had fallen?"

"Mortally wounded! Oh, Foret, you are indeed a messenger of evil," said
de Lescure, giving him his hand.

"Yes, mortally wounded," said Foret. "I fear before this he may have
ceased to breathe. I left him, gentlemen, a few leagues this side
Nantes, and at his own request hurried on to tell you these sad tidings.
Oh, M. de Lescure, our cause has had a heavy blow at Nantes, and yet at
one time we had almost beaten them; but when the peasants saw
Cathelineau fall, they would fight no longer."

"Where is he?" said Henri, "that is if he still lives."

"I crossed the river with him," answered Foret, "and brought him on as
far as Remouille. He wished to be carried to the hospital you have
opened at St. Laurent, and unless he has died since I left him, he is
there now. I hurried on by Montacué and Tiffauges to St. Laurent; and
there, M. Henri, I saw Mademoiselle Agatha, and told her what had
happened. If there be an angel upon earth she is one! When I told her
that the good Cathelineau was dying, every shade of colour left her
beautiful cheek; she became as pale as marble, and crossed her hands
upon her bosom; she spoke to me not a word, nor did I look for reply,
for I knew that in her heart she was praying that his soul might be
taken up to heaven."

Henri at that moment remembered the enthusiastic declaration of his
sister, that Cathelineau, despite his birth, was worthy of any woman's
love, and he did not begrudge her the only means which now remained to
her of proving her devotion to the character she had admired.

"I told her," continued Foret, "that if he lived so long, Cathelineau
would reach the hospital on the following day, and then I hurried on to
you. She told me I should find you here. It was then dark, but I reached
Chatillon that night, for they sent a guide with me from St. Laurent.
I left Chatillon again at the break of day, and have not lost much time
in arriving here."

"No, indeed, Foret; and surely you must need rest and refreshment," said
de Lescure. "Come into the château, and you shall have both."

"But tell us, Foret, of this reverse at Nantes," said Henri. "I will
at once start for St. Laurent; I will, if possible, see Cathelineau
before he dies; but let me know before I go to him how it has come to
pass that victory has at last escaped him."

"Victory did not escape him," said Foret: "he was victorious to the
last--victorious till he fell. You know, gentlemen, it had been arranged
that Nantes should be attacked at the same moment by Charette from the
southern banks of the Loire, and by Cathelineau from the northern, but
this we were not able to accomplish. Charette was at his post, and
entered the town gallantly over the Pont Rousseau, but we were unable
to be there at the appointed time. For ten hours we were detained by a
detachment of the blues at the little town of Nort, and though we
carried it at last, without losing many of our men, the loss of the
precious hours was very grievous. We pushed on to Nantes, however,
without losing another minute, and though we found the rebels ready to
receive us, they could not hold their ground against us at all. We drove
them from the town in every direction. We were already in the chief
square of Nantes, assured of our victory, and leading our men to one
last attack, when a musket ball struck Cathelineau on the arm, and
passing through the flesh entered his breast. He was on foot, in front
of the brave peasants whom he was leading, and they all saw him fall.
Oh, M. de Lescure, if you had heard the groan, the long wail of grief,
which his poor followers from St. Florent uttered, when they saw their
sainted leader fall before them, your ears would never forget the sound.
We raised him up between us, and carried him back to a part of the town
which was in our hands, and from thence over the Pont Rousseau to
Pirmil, where I left him for a while, and returned to the town, but I
could not get the peasants to follow me again--that is, his peasants;
and he was too weak to speak to them himself. It was not till two hours
after that he was able to speak a word."

"And you lost all the advantage you had gained?" asked de Lescure.

"We might still have been successful, for the blues would always rather
run than fight when they have the choice, but the Prince de Talmont, in
his eagerness, headed the fugitive rebels who were making for Savenay,
and drove them back into the town; when there, they had no choice but
to fight; indeed, their numbers were so much greater than our own, that
they surrounded us. Our hearts were nearly broken, and our arms were
weak; it ended in our retreating to Pirmil, and leaving the town in the
hands of the republicans."

"How truly spoke that General who said, 'build a bridge of gold for a
flying enemy!'" said de Lescure.

"And is Cathelineau's wound so surely mortal?" asked Henri.

"The surgeon who examined him in Pirmil said so; indeed, Cathelineau
never doubted it himself. He told me, as soon as he could speak, that
he should never live to see the Republic at an end. 'But,' added he,
'you, Foret, and others will; and it delights me to think that I have
given my life to so good a cause.'"

Henri's horse was now ready, and he made no longer delay than to say
adieu to his hostess, and to speak one or two last words to his cousin
Marie, and then he made the best of his way to Chatillon and St.
Laurent, hoping once more to see Cathelineau before he died. All his
spurring and his hurrying was in vain.

A few hours before Henri could reach the hospital, the Saint of Anjou
had breathed his last, and Agatha Larochejaquelin had soothed his dying

As Foret had related, Agatha, on hearing of Cathelineau's wound, had
turned deadly pale. It was not love that made her feel that the world
was darkened by his fall; that from henceforward nothing to her could
be bright and cheerful; at least not such love as that which usually
warms a woman's heart, for Agatha had never hoped, or even wished to be
more to Cathelineau than an admiring friend; nor yet was it grief for
the loss of services which she knew were invaluable to the cause she had
so warmly espoused. These two feelings were blended together in her
breast. She had taught herself to look to Cathelineau as the future
saviour of her country; she loved his virtue, his patriotism, and his
valour; and her heart was capable of no other love while that existed
in it so strongly. The idea of looking on Cathelineau as a lover, of
seeing him kneeling at her feet, or listening to him while he whispered
sweet praises of her beauty, had never occurred to her; had she dreamed
it possible that he could do so, half her admiration of him would have
vanished. No, there was nothing earthly, nothing mundane in Agatha's
love, for though she did love the fallen hero of La Vendée, the patriot
postillion of St. Florent, she did not shed a tear when she heard that
he was dragging his wounded body to St. Laurent, that he might have the
comfort of her tender care in his last moments; her hand did not shake
as she wrote a line to her father to say that she could not leave the
hospital that evening, or probably the next; nor did she for one half
hour neglect the duties which her less distinguished patients required
her to perform; but still she felt her heart was cold within her, and
that if God had so willed it, she could, without regret, take her place
in the grave beside the stricken idol of her admiration, who had fallen
at Nantes while fighting for his God and his King.

Early on the morning after Foret's departure for Clisson, the litter
which bore the wounded chief reached the hospital, and Agatha's arm
assisted him from the door-step to the death-bed, which she had prepared
for him. Agatha's feelings towards him have been imperfectly described;
but what were his feelings towards her? What was the nature of the
mysterious love, which no kind words had ever encouraged, which no look
had ever declared, which he had hardly dared to acknowledge to his own
heart, and which had yet induced the wounded man to make so painful a
journey, to travel over twenty long, long leagues, that he might once
more see the glorious face which had filled his breast with such an
unutterable passion? Not for a moment had he ever dreamt that Agatha
regarded him differently than she did the many others who had taken up
arms in the service of their country. His name he knew must be familiar
to her ears, for chance had made it prominent in the struggle; but
beyond that, it had never occurred to his humble mind that Agatha
Larochejaquelin had given one thought to the postillion of St. Florent.
For some time, Cathelineau had been unable to define to himself the
passion which he felt, but had gradually become aware that he loved
Agatha passionately, incurably, and hopelessly. Her image had been
present to him continually; it had been with him in the dead of night,
and in the heat of day; in the hour of battle, and at the council-table;
in the agony of defeat, and in the triumph of victory. When he found
himself falling in the square at Nantes, and all visible objects seemed
to swim before his eyes, still he saw Agatha's beautiful pale face, and
then she seemed to smile kindly on him, and to bid him hope. As soon as
his senses returned to him, he was made conscious that he was dying, and
then he felt that he should die more happily if he could see once more
the fair angel, who had illuminated and yet troubled the last few days
of his existence.

Cathelineau had heard that Agatha had taken under her own kind care the
hospital at St. Laurent, but he had not expected that she would be on
the step to meet him as he was lifted out of his litter; but hers was
the first face he saw on learning that his painful journey was at an
end. His wound had been pronounced to be inevitably mortal, and he had
been told that he might possibly live for two or three days, but that
in all probability his sufferings would not be protracted so long. The
fatal bullet had passed through his arm into his breast, had perforated
his lungs, and there, within the vitals of his body, the deadly missile
was still hidden. At some moments, his agony was extreme, but at others,
he was nearly free from pain; and as his life grew nearer to its close,
his intervals of ease became longer, and the periods of his suffering
were shortened. He had confessed, and received absolution and the
sacrament of his church at Remouille; and when he reached St. Laurent,
nothing was left for him but to die.

He tried to thank her, as Agatha assisted him to the little chamber
which she had prepared for him; but his own feelings, and his exertions
in moving were at first too much for him. The power of speech, however,
soon returned to him, and he said:

"How can I thank you, Mademoiselle, what am I to say to thank you for
such care as this?"

"You are not to thank us at all," said Agatha, (there was one of the
sisters of mercy with her in the room). "We are only doing what little
women can do for the cause, for which you have done so much."

Again he essayed to speak, but the sister stopped him with a kind yet
authoritative motion of her hand, and bade him rest tranquil a while,
and so he did. Sometimes Agatha sat by the window, and watched his bed,
and at others, she stole quietly out of the room to see her other
patients, and then she would return again, and take her place by the
window; and as long as she remained in the room, so that he could look
upon her face, Cathelineau felt that he was happy.

He had been at St. Laurent some few hours, and was aware that his
precious moments were fast ebbing. He hardly knew what it was that he
longed to say, but yet he felt that he could not die in peace without
expressing to the fair creature who sat beside him the gratitude he felt
for her tender care. Poor Cathelineau! he did not dream how difficult
he would find it to limit gratitude to its proper terms, when the heart
from which he spoke felt so much more than gratitude!

"Ah, Mademoiselle!" he began, but she interrupted him.

"Hush, hush, Cathelineau!" she said. "Did you not hear sister Anna say
that you should not speak."

"What avails it now for me to be silent?" said he. "I know,
Mademoiselle, that I am dying, and, believe me, I do not fear to die.
Your kind care can make my last few hours tranquil and easy, but it
cannot much prolong them. Let me have the pleasure of telling you that
I appreciate your kindness, and that I give you in return all that a
dying man can give--my prayers."

"And I will pray for you, Cathelineau," said Agatha. "But will not every
Vendean pray for the hero who first led them to victory, who first
raised his hand against the Republic?"

"How precious are the praises of such as you!" said he. "Pray for me
and for your other poor countrymen who have fallen in this contest; such
prayers as yours will assuredly find entrance into heaven."

He then again laid tranquil for a while, but his spirit was not quiet
within him; he felt that there was that which he longed to say before
he died, and that the only moments in which the power of speaking would
be left to him were fast passing from him.

"Do not bid me be silent," he said; "did I not know that no earthly
power could prolong my life, I would do nothing to defeat the object of
my kind nurses; but as it is, a few moments' speech are of value to me,
but an extra hour or so of torpid life can avail me nothing. Ah,
Mademoiselle, though I cannot but rejoice to see our cause assisted by
the nobility and excellence of the country, though I know that the
angelic aid of such as thou art--"

"Stop, stop," said Agatha, interrupting him, "if you will speak, at any
rate do not flatter; your last words are too precious to be wasted in
such idleness."

"It does not seem to be flattery in me to praise you, Mademoiselle;
heaven knows that I do not wish to flatter; but my rude tongue knows not
how to express what my heart feels. I would say, that valuable as is
your aid to our poor peasants, I almost regret to see you embarked in
a cause which will bathe the country in blood, and which, unless
speedily victorious, will bring death and desolation on the noble
spirits who have given to it all their energies and all their courage."

"Do you think so badly, Cathelineau, of the hopes of the royalists?"

"If we could make one great and glorious effort," said he, and his eyes
shone as brightly as ever while he spoke; "if we could concentrate all
our forces, and fill them with the zeal which, at different times, they
all have shewn, we might still place the King upon his throne, and the
white flag might still wave for ages from our churches, as a monument
of the courage of La Vendée. But if, as I fear, the war become one of
detached efforts, despite the wisdom of de Lescure, the skill of
Bonchamps, the piety of d'Elbée, the gallant enthusiasm of
Larochejaquelin, and the devoted courage of them all, the Republic by
degrees will devour their armies, will consume their strength, will
desolate the country, and put to the sword even their wives and
children: neither high nobility, nor illustrious worth, nor surpassing
beauty will shield the inhabitants of this devoted country from the
brutality of the conquerors, who have abjured religion, and proclaimed
that blood alone can satisfy their appetites."

"Surely God will not allow his enemies to prevail," said Agatha.

"God's ways are inscrutable," answered Cathelineau, "and his paths are
not plain to mortal eyes; but it is not the less our duty to struggle
on to do those things which appear to us to be acceptable to Him. But
should these sad days come, should atheism and the love of blood stride
without control through our villages; if it be doomed that our houses
are to be burnt and our women to be slaughtered, why should all remain
to be a prey to our enemies? Ah, Mademoiselle leave this devoted country
for a while, take your sweet cousin with you; bid M. de Lescure send
away his young wife: it is enough that men should have to fight with
demons; men can fight and die, and suffer comparatively but little, but
female beauty and female worth will be made to suffer ten thousand
deaths from the ruthless atrocities of republican foes."

Agatha shuddered at the picture which Cathelineau's words conjured up,
but her undaunted courage was not shaken.

"God will temper the wind to the shorn lamb," said she. "Neither I, nor
Marie will leave our brothers, nor will Madame de Lescure leave her
husband; it is little we can do to hasten victory, but we can lessen
suffering and administer comfort, when comfort is most required. Had
you, Cathelineau, loved some woman above all others, and been loved by
her; had you had with you in your struggle some dear sister, or perhaps
still dearer wife, would you have asked her to go from you, that you
might have battled on, and struggled, and at last have died alone?"

"By God's dear love, I would," said he, raising himself, as he spoke,
upon his bed. "My most earnest prayer to her should have been to leave

"And when she refused to do so; when she also swore by God's dear love,
that she would stay with you till the last; as she would have done,
Cathelineau, if she loved you as--as you should have been loved; would
you then have refused the comfort her love so longed to give you?"

"I know not then what I would have done," said he, after lying with his
eyes closed for a few moments without answering. "I have never known
such love. Our women love their husbands and their brothers, but it is
only angels love with such a love as that."

"Such is the love a man deserves who gives his all for his King and his
country. If our husbands, and our brothers, and our dear friends,
Cathelineau, are brave and noble, we will endeavour to imitate them; as
long as there is an abiding-place for them in the country, there are
duties for us. If God vouchsafed to spare you your life a while, that
you might live to be the instrument of restoring His worship, do you
think that I would run from your bedside, because I heard that the
rebels were near you? Oh, Cathelineau! you do not know the passive
courage of a woman's heart."

Cathelineau listened to her with all his ears, and gazed on her with all
his eyes, as she spoke to him. It seemed to him as though another world
had opened to his view even before his death; as though paradise could
give him no holier bliss than to gaze on that face, and to listen to
that voice.

"I never knew what a woman was till now," said he; "and how much better
is it that I should die this moment, with your image before me, than
return to a world, such as mine has been, where all henceforward would
be distasteful to me."

"Should you live, Cathelineau, you would live to be honoured and valued.
If it be God's pleasure that you should die, your memory will be
honoured--and loved," said Agatha.

He did not answer her for a while, but lay still, with his eyes fixed
upon her, as she sat with her elbow leaning on the window. Oh! what an
unspeakable joy it was to him to hear such heavenly words spoken by her,
whom he had almost worshipped; and yet her presence and her words turned
his thoughts back from heaven to the earth which he had all but left.
Could she really have loved him had it been his lot to survive these
wars? Could she really have descended from her high pinnacle of state
and fortune to bless so lowly a creature as him with her beauty and her
excellence? As these thoughts passed through his brain, he began for the
first time to long for life, to think that the promised blessings of
heaven hardly compensated for those which he was forced to leave on
earth; but his mind was under too strong control to be allowed to wander
long upon such reflections. He soon recovered his wayward thoughts, and
remembered that his one remaining earthly duty was to die.

"It is God's will that I should die," said he at last, "and I feel that
He will soon release me from all worldly cares and sufferings; but you,
Mademoiselle, have made the last moments of my life happy," and again
he was silent for a minute or two, while he strove to find both courage
and words to express that which he wished to say. "How different have
been the last few weeks of my existence since first I was allowed to
look upon your face!" A faint blush suffused Agatha's brow as
Cathelineau spoke. "Yes, Mademoiselle," he continued," I know you will
forgive, when coming from a dying man, words which would have been
insane had they been spoken at any other time--my life has been wholly
different since that day when your brother led me, unwilling as I was,
into your presence at Durbellière. Since that time I have had no other
thought than of you; it was you who gave me courage in battle, and, more
wonderful than that, enabled me to speak aloud, and with authority among
those who were all so infinitely my superiors. It was your beauty that
softened my rough heart, your spirit that made me dauntless, your
influence that raised me up so high. I have not dared to love you as
love is usually described, for they say that love without hope makes the
heart miserable, and my thoughts of you have made me more blessed than
I ever was before, and yet I hoped for nothing; but I have adored you
as I hardly dared to adore anything that was only human. I hardly know
why I should have had myself carried hither to tell you this, but I felt
that I should die more easily, when I had confessed to you the liberty
which my thoughts had taken with your image."

As he continued speaking, Agatha had risen from her seat, and she was
now kneeling at the foot of his bed, hiding her face between her hands,
and the tears were streaming fast down her cheeks.

"Tell me, Mademoiselle, that you forgive me," said he, "tell me that you
pardon my love, and above all, pardon me for speaking of it. I have now
but a few hours' breath, and in them I feel that I shall be but feeble;
but tell me that you forgive me, and, though dying, I shall be happy."

Agatha was too agitated to speak for a time, but she stretched her hand
out to him, and he grasped it in his own as forcibly as his strength
would allow.

"I know that you have pardoned my boldness," said he. "May God bless
you, and protect you in the dangers which are coming."

"May He bless you also, Cathelineau--dear Cathelineau," said Agatha,
still sobbing. "May He bless you, and receive you into His glory, and
seat you among His angels, and make you blessed and happy in His
presence for ever and ever through eternity." And she drew herself
nearer to him, and kissed the hand which she still held within her own,
and bathed it with her tears, and pressed it again and again to her
bosom. "The memory of the words you have spoken to me shall be dearer
to me than the love of man, shall be more precious to me than any homage
a living prince could lay at my feet--to remember that Cathelineau has
loved me--that the sainted Cathelineau has held my image in his heart,
shall be love enough for Agatha Larochejaquelin."

Cathelineau lingered on for the whole of that day, and the greater
portion of the night. Agatha did not leave his bed-side for a moment,
but sat during most of the time still holding his hand in hers. He spoke
no farther respecting the singular passion he had nursed in his heart,
nor did she allude to it; but when be spoke at all, he felt that he was
speaking to a dear, and tried, and valued friend, and he spoke,
therefore, without hesitation and without reserve. He desired her to
give various messages from him to the Vendean chiefs, but especially to
de Lescure, to whom he said he looked with most hope for a successful
issue to the struggle. He begged that they might be told that his last
breath was spent in advising that they should make one great, combined,
and final effort for the total overthrow of republicanism in France, and
not fritter away their strength in prolonged contests with an enemy so
infinitely their superior in numbers. Agatha promised faithfully to be
a true messenger of these last injunctions, and then she saw the Vendean
chief expire in perfect tranquillity, happy in an assured hope of
everlasting joy.

He died about three in the morning, and before five, Henri
Larochejaquelin arrived at St. Laurent from Clisson. He had ridden hard
through the previous day and the entire night, with the hope of once
more seeing the leader, whom he had followed with so much devotion, and
valued so truly; but he was too late.

He caught his sister in his arms as he ran up the hospital stairs.
"Where is he?" said he; "is he still alive? Is there any hope?"

"There is no hope for us," answered Agatha; "but there is perfect
certainty for him. The good Cathelineau has restored his spirit to Him
who gave it to avenge His glory."



The taking Saumur frightened the Convention much more than any of the
previous victories of the Vendeans. The republicans lost a vast quantity
of military stores, arms, gunpowder, cannons, and soldiers' clothing;
and, which was much worse than the loss itself these treasures had
fallen into the hands of an enemy, whose chief weakness consisted in the
want of such articles. The royalists since the beginning of the revolt
had always shewn courage and determination in action; but they had never
before been collected in such numbers, or combated with forces so fully
prepared for resistance, as those whom they had so signally conquered
at Saumur. The Convention began to be aware that some strong effort
would be necessary to quell the spirit of the Vendeans. France at the
time was surrounded by hostile troops. At the moment in which the
republicans were flying from the royalists at Saumur, the soldiers of
the Convention were marching out of Valenciennes, that fortified city
having been taken by the united arms of Austria and England. Condé also
had fallen, and on the Rhine, the French troops who had occupied Mayence
with so much triumph, were again on the point of being driven from it
by the Prussians.

The Committee of Public Safety, then the repository of the supreme power
in Paris, was aware that unless the loyalty of La Vendée was utterly
exterminated, the royalists of that district would sooner or later join
themselves to the allies, and become the nucleus of an overpowering
aristocratic party in France. There were at the time thousands, and tens
and hundreds of thousands in France who would gladly have welcomed the
extinction of the fearful Republic which domineered over them, had not
every man feared to express his opinion. The Republic had declared, that
opposition to its behests, in deed, or in word, or even in thought, as
far as thoughts could be surmised, should he punished with death; and
by adhering to the purport of this horrid decree, the voice of a nation
returning to its senses was subdued. Men feared to rise against the
incubus which oppressed them, lest others more cowardly than themselves
should not join them; and the Committee of Public Safety felt that their
prolonged existence depended on their being able to perpetuate this
fear. It determined, therefore, to strike terror into the nation by
exhibiting a fearful example in La Vendée. After full consideration, the
Committee absolutely resolved to exterminate the inhabitants of the
country--utterly to destroy them all, men, women, and children--to burn
every town, every village, and every house--to put an end to all life
in the doomed district, and to sweep from the face of the country man,
beast, and vegetable. The land was to be left without proprietors,
without a population, and without produce; it was to be converted into
a huge Golgotha, a burial-place for every thing that had life within it;
and then, when utterly purged by fire and massacre, it was to be given
up to new colonists, good children of the Republic, who should enjoy the
fertility of a land soaked with the blood of its former inhabitants.
Such was the deliberate resolution of the Committee of Public Safety,
and no time was lost in commencing the work of destruction.

Barrère, one of the members of the Committee, undertook to see the work
put in a proper train, and for this purpose he left Paris for the scene
of action. Westerman and Santerre accompanied him, and to them was
committed the task of accomplishing the wishes of the Committee. There
was already a republican army in La Vendée, under the command of General
Biron, but the troops of which it was composed were chiefly raw levies,
recruits lately collected by the conscription, without discipline, and,
in a great degree, without courage; but the men who were now brought to
carry on the war, were the best soldiers whom France could supply.
Westerman brought with him a legion of German mercenaries, on whom he
could rely for the perpetration of any atrocity, and Santerre was at the
head of the seven thousand men, whom the allied army had permitted to
march out of Valenciennes, and to return to Paris.

It was in the beginning of July that this worthy triumvirate met at
Angers, on their road to La Vendée. Cathelineau had driven the
republican garrison out of this town immediately after the victory at
Saumur, but the royalists made no attempt to keep possession of it, and
the troops who had evacuated it at their approach, returned to it almost
immediately. It was now thronged with republican soldiers of all
denominations, who exercised every species of tyranny over the
townspeople. Food, drink, forage, clothes, and even luxuries were
demanded, and taken in the name of the Convention from every shop, and
the slightest resistance to these requisitions, was punished as treason
to the Republic. The Vendeans, in possession of the same town only a
fortnight before, had injured no one, had taken nothing without paying
for it, aid had done everything to prevent the presence of their army
being felt as a curse; and yet Angers was a noted republican town; it
had shown no favours to the royalists, and received with open arms the
messengers of the Convention. Such was the way in which the republicans
rewarded their friends, and the royalists avenged themselves on their

One hot July evening, five men were seated in a parlour of the Mayor's
house in Angers, but the poor Mayor himself was not allowed, nor
probably did he wish, to be one of the party. Glasses were on the table
before them, and the empty bottles, which were there also, showed, that
however important the subjects might be which they were discussing, they
still considered that some degree of self-indulgence was compatible with
their duties. The air of the room was heavy with tobacco smoke, and one
or two of the number still had cigars between their lips. They were all
armed, though two of them were not in uniform, and the manner in which
they had their arms disposed, showed that they did not quite conceive
themselves to be in security in these their convivial moments. The men
were Barrère, Westerman, and Santerre, and two of the republican
Generals, Chouardin and Bourbotte.

Westerman and the two latter were in uniform, and the fact of their
having arms, was only in keeping with their general appearance: but the
other two were in plain clothes, and their pistols, which were lying
among the glasses on the table, and the huge swords which stood upright
against their chairs, gave a hideous aspect to the party, and made them
look as though they were suspicious of each other.

Barrère alone had no sword. His hand was constantly playing with a
little double-barrelled pistol, which he continually cocked and
uncocked, the fellow of which lay immediately before him. He was a tall,
well built, handsome man, about thirty years of age, with straight black
hair, brushed upright from his forehead; his countenance gave the idea
of eagerness and impetuosity, rather than cruelty or brutality. He was,
however, essentially egotistical and insincere; he was republican, not
from conviction, but from prudential motives; he adhered to the throne
a while, and deserted it only when he saw that it was tottering; for a
time he belonged to the moderate party in the Republic, and voted with
the Girondists; he gradually joined the Jacobins, as he saw that they
were triumphing over their rivals, and afterwards was one of those who
handed over the leaders of the Reign of Terror to the guillotine, and
assisted in denouncing Robespierre and St. Just. He was one of the very
few who managed to outlive the Revolution, which he did for nearly half
a century.

His face was hardly to be termed prepossessing, but it certainly did not
denote the ruthless ferocity which the nature of the task he had
undertaken would require, and which he exercised in its accomplishment.
Nature had not formed him to be a monster gloating in blood; the
Republic had altered the disposition which nature had given him, and he
learnt among those with whom he had associated, to delight in the work
which they required at his hands. Before the Reign of Terror was over,
he had become one of those who most loudly called for more blood, while
blood was running in torrents on every side; it was he who demanded the
murder of the Queen, when even Robespierre was willing to save her. It
was he who declared in the Convention that the dead were the only
enemies who never returned; and yet this same man lived to publish a
pamphlet, in which he advocated the doctrine, that under no
circumstances could one human being be justified in taking the life of

He was dressed in a blue dress-coat, which in spite of the heat of the
weather, was buttoned close round his body; he was rather a dandy in his
costume, for his tightly-fitted breeches were made to show the form of
his well-formed leg, and his cravat was without a wrinkle. Before the
Revolution, Barrère had been a wealthy aristocrat.

Santerre, who sat next to him, was in every respect unlike the ci-devant
nobleman. He was a large, rough, burly man, about forty years of age;
his brown hair was long and uncombed, his face was coarse and hot, and
the perspiration was even now running down it, though drinking and
smoking was at present his hardest work; his lips were thick and
sensual, and his face was surrounded by huge whiskers, which made him
look uncouth and savage; his cravat was thrown off, and his shirt was
open at the neck, so as to show his brown throat and brawny chest; a
huge horse pistol lay before him close to his glass, and a still huger
sword stood up against his chair. He was drinking hard and talking
loudly, and was evidently quite at ease with his company; he was as
completely at home in the Mayor's parlour at Angers, as when rushing
into the Tuilleries at the head of his fellow citizens from the faubourg
St. Antoine.

Santerre was of Flemish descent, and by trade a brewer. He was possessed
of considerable wealth, which he freely spent among the poor, while
famine pressed sore upon them; he was consequently loved, followed, and
obeyed. He was the King of the Faubourgs; and though the most ruthless
in his animosity to the royalists, he was not altogether a bad man,
neither was he by nature absolutely cruel. He had adopted the Revolution
from a belief that the great mass of the people would be better off in
the world without kings, nobility, or aristocrats; and having made
himself firm in this belief, he used to the utmost his coarse, huge,
burly power in upsetting these encumbrances on the nation. His love of
liberty had become a fanaticism. He had gone with the current, and he
had no fine feelings to be distressed at the horrid work which he had
to do, no humanity to be shocked; but he was not one of those who
delighted in bloodshed and revelled in the tortures which he inflicted
on others. He had been low in the world's esteem, and the Revolution had
raised him to a degree of eminence; this gratified his ambition, and
made him a ready tool in the hands of those who knew how to use his
well-known popularity, his wealth, his coarse courage and great physical

Westerman sat at the window a little away from the others. He was a man
of indomitable courage and undying perseverance. He was a German, who
had been banished from Prussia, and having entered the French army as
a private soldier had gradually risen to be an officer. A short time
before the storming of the Tuilleries he had foreseen that the
democratic party was prevailing, and he had joined it. Danton and
Santerre had discovered and appreciated his courage and energy, and he
soon found himself a leader of the people. It was he who directed the
movements of the populace on the 10th of August, when the Tuilleries was
sacked, and the Swiss guards were massacred on the steps of the King's
palace. Since that time Westerman had been a successful soldier in the
republican army, not that he was by any means a vehement democrat: his
object had been military success, and that only. He had neither
political theories or political ambition. Chance had thrown him in the
way of the Republic, and he had become a republican. He was then
attached to the army of Dumourier as aide-de-camp to that General, and
was in the confidence of him and of Danton, at the moment that Dumourier
was endeavouring to hand over the armies of the Republic to the power
of Prussia and of Austria. He again, however, was wise in time.
Dumourier calculated too entirely on the affection of the army to
himself and failed; but before he failed, Westerman had left him. He was
now again a trustworthy servant of the Republic, and as such was sent
to assist in the fearful work which the tyranny of the democrats

His unnatural ruthlessness and prompt obedience were of no avail to him.
Soon after his return from the western provinces he perished under the

"And so the good Cathelineau is dead," said Santerre. "The invincible,
the invulnerable, the saint! ha, ha! What sweet names these dear friends
of ours have given themselves."

"Yes," said General Bourbotte; "the messenger who told me had come
direct from their hospital; Cathelineau breathed his last the day before
yesterday at St. Laurent."

"Let us drink to his health, gentlemen; his spiritual health," said
Santerre; "and to his safe journey;" and the brewer raised his glass to
his lips, and drank the toast which he had proposed.

"Bon voyage, my dear Cathelineau," said Bourbotte, following his

"Cathelineau was a brave man," said Chouardin. "I am glad he died of his
wounds; I should have been sorry that so gallant a fellow should have
had to submit his neck to the sharp embraces of Mademoiselle

"That is hardly a patriotic sentiment, citizen General," said Barrère.
"Gallantry on the part of an insurgent royalist is an inspiration of
the devil, sent to induce man to perpetuate the degradation and misery
of his fellow-men. Such gallantry, or rather such frenzy, should give
rise to anything but admiration in the breast of a patriot."

"My fidelity to the Republic will not be doubted, I believe," said
Chouardin, "because, as a soldier, I admire high courage when I find it
in a soldier."

"If your fidelity be unimpeachable, your utility will be much
questioned, if you wish to spare a royalist because he is a brave man,"
said Barrère. "By the same argument, I presume, you would refrain from
knocking an adder on the head, because he rose boldly in your path."

"Who talked of sparing?" said Chouardin. "I only said that I would
sooner that a brave enemy should die in battle than be handled by an
executioner. Talk as you will, you cannot disgrace such a man as

"Cannot I, indeed, citizen General?" said Westerman, rising from his
seat and coming into the middle of the room. "I do then utterly despise,
scorn, and abominate him, and all such as him. I can conceive nothing
in human form more deplorably low, more pitiably degraded, than such a
poor subservient slave as he was."

"There, Westerman, you are grossly wrong," said Santerre. "Your cowardly
Marquis, run-fling from the throne which he pretends to reverence, but
does not dare to protect; whose grand robes and courtly language alone
have made him great; who has not heart enough even to love the gay
puppets who have always surrounded him, or courage enough to fight for
the unholy wealth he has amassed: this man I say is contemptible. Such
creatures are as noxious vermin, whom one loathes, and loathing them
destroys. You no less destroy the tiger, who ravages the green fields
which your labour has adorned; who laps the blood of your flocks, and
threatens the life of your children and servants, but you do not despise
the tiger; you keep his hide, as a monument of your victory over a brave
and powerful enemy. Cathelineau was the tiger, who was destroying,
before it had ripened, the precious fruit of the Revolution."

"The tiger is a noble beast," said Westerman. "He is hungry, and he
seeks his prey; he is satisfied, and he lays down and sleeps; but
Cathelineau was a mean jackal, who strove for others, not for himself.
I can understand the factious enmity of the born aristocrat, who is now
called upon to give up the titles, dignities, and so-called honours,
which, though stolen from the people, he has been taught to look upon
as his right. He contends for a palpable possession which his hand has
grasped, which he has tasted and long enjoyed. I know that he is a
robber and a spoiler of the poor; I know, in short, that he is an
aristocrat, and as such I would have him annihilated, abolished from the
face of the earth. I would that the aristocrats of France had but one
neck, that with a grasp of my own hand, I might at once choke out their
pernicious breath," and the republican laid upon the table his huge
hand, and tightly clenched his fingers as though he held between them
the imaginary throat of the aristocracy of France; "but," continued he,
"much as I hate a gentleman, ten times more strongly do I hate, despise,
and abhor the subservient crew of spiritless slaves who uphold the power
of the masters, who domineer over them, who will not accept the sweet
gift of liberty, who are kicked, and trodden on, and spat upon, and will
not turn again; who will not rise against their tyrants, even when the
means of doing so are brought to their hands; who willingly, nay,
enthusiastically, lay their necks in the dust, that their fellow-
creatures may put their feet upon them. Of such was this Cathelineau,
and of such I understand are most of those who hound on these wretched
peasants to sure destruction. For them I have no pity, and with them I
have no sympathy. They have not the spirit of men, and I would rejoice
that the dogs should lick their blood from off the walls, and that birds
of prey should consume their flesh."

"Westerman is right," said Barrère; "they are mean curs, these Vendeans,
and like curs they must be destroyed; the earth must be rid of men who
know not how to take possession of their property in that earth which
nature has given them. Believe me, citizen General, that any sympathy
with such a reptile as Cathelineau is not compatible with the feeling
which should animate the heart of a true republican, intending honestly
and zealously to do the work of the Republic."

General Chouardin made no reply to the rebuke which these words
conveyed; he did not dare to do so; he did not dare to repeat the
opinion that there was anything admirable in the courage of a royalist.
Much less than had now been said had before this been deemed sufficient
to mark as a victim for the revolutionary tribunal some servant of the
Republic, and few wished to experience the tender mercies of Fouquier
Tinville, the public accuser. Even Santerre was silenced; despite his
popularity, his well-known devotion to the cause, his hatred of the
aristocrats, and his aversion to royalty, so horridly displayed at the
execution of the King, even he felt that it might not be safe for him
to urge that the memory of Cathelineau was not despicable.

"His death must have much weakened them," said Bourbotte. "I know them
well, the miscreants! I doubt if they will follow any other leader, that
is, in great numbers. The fools looked on this man as a kind of god;
they now find that their god is dead. I doubt whether there is another
leader among them, who can induce them to leave their parishes."

"If they won't come to us," said Barrère, "we must go to them; they have
gone too far now to recede. Whether they return to their homes, or again
take up arms, matters little; they must all be destroyed, for blood
alone can establish the Republic on a basis which can never be

"The name of a royalist shall be as horrible in men's ears as that of
a parricide," said Santerre.

"But what will you do if you find no army to oppose you?" said
Bourbotte. "You cannot well fight without an enemy."

"Never fear," said Westerman, "your muskets shall not grow rusty for
want of use. We will go from parish to parish, and leave behind us dead
corpses, and burning houses."

"You will not ask soldiers to do the work of executioners?" said

"I expect the soldiers to do the work of the Convention," said Barrère;
"and I also expect the officers to do the same: these are not times in
which a man can be chary as to the work which he does."

"We must not leave a royalist alive in the west of France," said
Westerman. "You may be assured, Generals, that our soldiers will obey
us, however slow yours may be to obey you."

"Perhaps so," said Bourbotte; "my men have not yet been taught to
massacre unarmed crowds."

"It is difficult to know what they have been taught," said Westerman.
"Whenever they have encountered a few peasants with clubs in their
hands, your doughty heroes have invariably ran away."

Westerman as he spoke, stood leaning on the back of a chair, and
Bourbotte also rose as he answered him.

"I have yet to learn," aid he, "that you yourself ever were able to make
good soldiers out of country clowns in less than a month's time. When
you have done so, then you may speak to me on the subject without

"I give you my word, citizen General," answered Westerman, "I shall say
to you, then and now, whatever I, in the performance of my duty, may
think fits and if you deem me impertinent, you may settle that point
with the Convention, or, if you prefer it, with myself."

"Westerman, you are unfair to General Bourbotte," said Santerre; "he has
said nothing which need offend you."

"It is the General that is offended, not I," said Westerman; "I only beg
that he may not talk mawkish nonsense, and tell us that his fellows are
too valiant, and too noble to put to the sword unarmed royalists, when
everybody knows they are good for nothing else, and that they would run
and scatter from the fire of a few muskets, like a lot of plovers from
a volley of stones."

"I grant you," said Bourbotte, "that my soldiers are men and not
monsters. They are, as yet, French peasants, not German cut-throats."

"Now, by Heaven, Bourbotte," said the Prussian, "you shall swallow that
word," and he seized a pistol from off the table. "German cut-throat!
and that from you who have no other qualities of a soldier than what are
to be found in a light pair of heels. You shall, at any rate, have to
deal with one German, whether he be a cut-throat or not."

"In any way you please," said Bourbotte, "that is, in any open or honest
way." And as he spoke, he stepped back one step, and took his sword out
of the scabbard.

The pistol which Westerman had taken from the table belonged to
Santerre, and when he saw it in the hand of his friend, he leapt up and
seized hold of the German's arm.

"Are you mad Westerman," said he; "do you wish to fight here in the
Mayor's house? I tell you, you were wrong, in taunting him as you did;
sit quiet till I make peace between you."

"Taunting him! now, by Heaven, that is good. I will leave it to Barrère
to say who first taunted the other. Nonsense, Santerre, leave hold of
me I say: you do not think I am going to murder the man, do you?"

General Chouardin also got up and put himself between the two armed men.
"Put up your sword, Bourbotte," whispered he, leading him off to the
further window of the room; "you are no match for him here: if Barrère
chooses he will have you recalled to Paris, and your neck will then not
be worth a month's purchase."

"Gentlemen," said Barrère, "this will never do. You can neither of you
serve the nation well if you persist in quarrelling between yourselves.
General Bourbotte, you should apologize to our friend Westerman for the
insult which you offered to his countrymen."

"My country is the country of my adoption," said Westerman. "I ceased
to be a German when I took up the arms of France; but my soldiers are
my children, and an insult to them is an injury to myself."

"If your anger can wait till the revolt in La Vendée has been quelled,"
said Chouardin, "my friend Bourbotte will be ready enough to satisfy
your wishes as a citizen. Barrère truly says, this is no time for
private quarrels."

"So be it," said Westerman. "Let General Bourbotte remember that he owes
me an apology or redress."

"You shall have any redress, which any arms you may be pleased to name
can give you," said Bourbotte.

"By my honour then, you are two fools," said Santerre; "two egregious
fools, if you cannot at once forget the angry words which you each have
used. Have your own way, however, so long as you do not fight here."

As the brewer was yet speaking, a servant knocked at the door, and said
that a young man wished to say a few words to citizen Santerre on
especial business, and on the service of the Republic.

"On the service of the Republic?" said Santerre. "Show him in here then;
I have no official secrets from my colleagues."

The servant, however, stated that the young man would not make his
appearance in the room where the party were sitting, and he declared he
would go away if he could not see Santerre alone. The republican at
length yielded, and followed the servant into a small sitting-room,
where he found our friend, Adolphe Denot.



It will be remembered that Adolphe Denot left the council-room of the
royalist leaders at Saumur in anger; and that, after a few words with
Henri Larochejaquelin, departed no one knew whither, or for what
purpose. On leaving Henri in the street, he had himself no fixed resolve
as to his future conduct; he was only determined no longer to remain
leagued with men, among whom he felt himself to be disgraced. De Lescure
had seen him hesitate in the hour of danger, and had encouraged him in
vain; he knew that after this he could never again bear to meet the calm
grey eye of his friend's cousin; he had not only been not selected as
one of the Generals, but he had even been rejected, and that by the very
man who had seen his cowardice. His love, moreover, had been refused by
Agatha, and he deemed this refusal an injury which demanded vengeance
from his hands; from the moment in which he left her room in
Durbellière, schemes had floated across his half-bewildered brain for
the accomplishment of his object. He still loved Agatha, though his love
was, as it were, mingled with hatred; he still wished to possess her,
but he did not care how disagreeable, how horrible to herself might be
the means by which he accomplished his object. He entertained ideas of
seizing upon her person, taking her from Durbellière, and marrying her
during the confusion which the Revolution had caused in the country. At
first he had no distinct idea of treachery towards the royalists with
whom he had sided; though vague thoughts of bringing the soldiers of the
Convention to Durbellière, in the dead of night, had at different times
entered his mind, he had never reduced such thoughs to a palpable plan,
nor had he ever endeavoured to excuse to himself the iniquity of such
a scheme, as a man does when he resolves to sacrifice his honour and his
honesty to his passions.

It was in the council-room at Saumur that he first felt a desire to
betray the friends of his life; it was in the moment of his hot anger,
after leaving it, that he determined to put into effect the plan which
he had already conceived; it was then that insane ambition and selfish
love prompted him to forget every feeling which he had hitherto
recognized as honourable, and to commit himself to a deed which would
make it impossible that he should ever be reconciled with the companions
of his youth. He had no presentiment that he should ever rise to honour
or distinction in the army of the Republic; he never even thought of
what his future life would be: revenge was his object, and the sweet
delight of proving to Agatha Larochejaquelin that he was able to carry
out the bold threats, which he knew that she had scorned and derided.

It would be too much to say that Adolphe Denot was insane, for that
would imply that he was not responsible for his own actions; but there
certainly lacked something in his brain or mind, which is necessary to
perfect sanity. He was no fool; he had read, enjoyed, and perhaps
written poetry; he was, for the times, well educated; he could talk
fluently, and, occasionally, even persuasively; he understood rapidly,
and perceived correctly, the arguments and motives of others; but he
could not regulate his conduct, either from the lessons he had learnt
from books, or from the doings or misdoings of those around him. He
wished to be popular, powerful and distinguished, but he was utterly
ignorant of the means by which men gain the affection, respect, and
admiration of their fellow-men; he possessed talent without judgment,
and ambition without principle. As a precocious boy, he had been too
much admired; he had assumed at an early age the duty of a man, and had
at once been found miserably wanting.

On leaving Henri in the streets of Saumur, he went to his lodging, took
with him what money he had, got upon his horse, and rode out of the town
by the temporary bridge which had been put up for the transit of the
shaved prisoners. He had wandered about the country for three weeks,
remaining sometimes in one place, and sometimes in another, endeavouring
to mature his plans; and hearing of the arrival of Santerre in Augers,
had come thither to offer his services to the republicans, in the
invasion which he understood they contemplated making into the Bocage.

His appearance was not very attractive when first he introduced himself
to the republican, for he was lean with anxiety and worn with care; his
eyes were restless and bloodshot, and his limbs trembled beneath him.
Santerre was not a man who much regarded externals; but, as he
afterwards said, "he did not much like the hang-dog look of the royalist

Denot, in an awkward way, got through his story; he had been one of the
insurgent Vendeans, he said, but he now wished to serve the Republic.
He was intimately acquainted with the royalist leaders, especially the
two most popular of them, de Lescure and Larochejaquelin. He knew and
was willing to betray their plans. He would accompany Santerre to the
residences of these Vendean Generals, and undertake to give them, their
families, and possessions, into the power of the republicans, and for
these services he asked but one favour; that he should be present at the
contemplated burning of Durbellière, and be allowed to save the life of
one female who resided there. He represented that his animosity arose
entirely from the rejection of his love, and that his only object was
to carry off the sister of the Vendean chief from the burning ashes of
her father's château.

"Are you aware, young man," said Santerre, with something of generosity
in the warning which he gave--a generosity probably inspired by the wine
he had drunk: "are you aware, that should I agree to your proposal,
every other member of her family will be put to death before your eyes
--her brother, her old father, and every pestilent royalist we may find
about the place?"

"I suppose they will," said Denot moodily. "At any rate, they deserve
no protection at my hands."

"You have probably eaten their bread and drank their wine. You say,
indeed, you have lived long in this rambling château, and have fought
side by side with this hot-headed young brigand. Bethink you, my friend,
you are angry now, but it may turn your stomach, when you are cool, to
see the blood of those you know so well running like water; besides, you
are taking but an unlikely road to the heart of the girl you say you
love. No one has heard your plot but myself: I advise you to abandon it;
if you do so, I will forget that I have heard it. You are angry now; go
home and sleep on it."

"Sleep on it! I have slept on it these three weeks. No, I did not come
to you till I was fully resolved. As for these people, I owe them
nothing; they have scorned and rejected me; and as for the girl's heart,
it is not that I seek now. Let me gain her person, and her heart will
follow. A woman soon learns to love him whom she is forced to obey."

"Well, be it as you will," said Santerre. "It is all a matter of taste;
only remember, that before I accede to your proposal, I must consult
with my colleagues in the next room, and that when once I have spoken
to them it will be too late for me to go back."

Denot declared that he had formed his resolution after mature
consideration, and that he was ready and willing to carry through the
work he had proposed for himself; and Santerre, without making any
further objection, rejoined his friends in the next room, and explained
to them the offer which had been made to him. Barrère at first opposed
any treaty with Denot. He recommended that the young man should be kept
as a prisoner, and at once handed over to the revolutionary tribunal.

"What good can he do us?" said he; "we can find our way to this
Durbellière without his assistance; let him and the girl he wishes to
kidnap pay the penalty of their crimes against the Republic. She is, I
suppose, one of those modern Joans of Arc, who inspire the flagging
spirits of these peasants. Should she have beauty enough to make her
worth preserving, let her be the prize of some true republican. As for
him, let him stretch his neck beneath the guillotine."

Barrère, however, was overruled. The Generals who were with him knew too
well the nature of the country they were about to invade, not to
appreciate the value of such a guide as they might find in Denot: a
guide, who not only knew the nature of the country they had to traverse,
and the position of the places they wished to attack, but who was also
intimate with the insurgent chiefs, acquainted with their persons and
their plans, and who would probably disclose, under proper management,
every secret of the revolt. It was accordingly agreed that his offer
should be accepted, and he was introduced by Santerre to his four

"Sit down, my friend," said Barrère, "sit down. Our colleague here
informs us that you are sick of these mawkish royalists, and are willing
to serve the Republic. Is it so, young man?"

"I have told M. Santerre--" said Denot. "Citizen Santerre, if you
please," said Barrère; "or General Santerre, if you like it better.
Monsieur and Monseigneur are a little out of fashion just at present on
this side of the Loire."

"As they soon also shall be on the other," said Westerman.

"Well, I have told him," and Denot pointed to Santerre, "what it is I
propose to do for you, and the terms on which I will do it."

"Terms indeed!" said Barrère. "The Republic is not accustomed to make
terms with her servants. Come, tell us at once: are you a republican?"

Denot hesitated; not that he was ashamed to own himself a republican,
but his blood was boiling with passion at the language and tone in which
he was addressed, and yet he did not dare to shew his anger.

"Of course he is a republican," said Santerre, "or why would he come
here? Take a glass of wine, friend Denot, and pluck up your courage,"
and Santerre passed the wine-bottle to him. "If you are true to us, you
need not fear us."

"He must pronounce himself a republican," said Barrère, "or we cannot
deal with him. Come, young man, can you put your mouth to so much
inconvenience as to give us some slight inkling of your present
political principles? All we know of you as yet is, that three weeks
since you were a pestilent royalist, and a leader of royalists."

"I am a republican," said Denot.

"The Republic is made happy by your adhesion," said Barrère, bowing to
him with mock solemnity across the table.

"What surety do you mean to offer us, citizen Denot," said Westerman,
"that you are acting with us in good faith?"

"Do I not give you my life?" said Denot. "What other surety can I give,
or can you require? What am I, or what are the royalists to gain by my
proving false?"

"You say truly," answered Westerman; "you give us your life as a surety
for your good faith to us. You may be assured that we will exact the
penalty, if we have the slightest suspicion of foul play."

Denot made no answer, and he was questioned no further. The party soon
after broke up, and the young deserter was handed over to the care of
one of Santerre's sub-officers, with injunctions that he should be well
and civilly treated, but that he should not be allowed to go abroad by
himself; in fact, he was to be regarded as a prisoner.

"Do not be disheartened," said Santerre to him. "You can understand that
under the circumstances, such precautions must be necessary. The day
after tomorrow we start on our march, and you shall ride close to
myself. When Clisson and Durbellière are in ashes, you shall be free to
take your own course; in the meantime, no indignity shall be offered to

On the day named by Santerre, the whole republican army started from
Angers, and commenced their march towards the Bocage. They proceeded on
their route for several days without finding any enemy to contend with.
They kept on the northern shore of the Loire till they reached Saumur,
where they remained a couple of days, and employed themselves in
punishing the inhabitants in whose houses the leaders of the Vendeans
had been entertained. It was in vain that these poor men pleaded that
they had not even opened their doors to the royalists till after the
republican General had capitulated; that they had given nothing which
they had been able to refuse, and, in fact, that they had only sold
their goods and let their rooms to the Vendeans, when they could not
possibly have declined to do so. Their arguments were of no avail; they
were thrown into prison as criminals, and left for trial by the
revolutionary tribunal.

Although Saumur had so lately been besieged and taken by the royalists,
there was hardly a vestige of the conquerors left in it. Their attempt
to place a garrison in the town had proved entirely a failure; the
peasants who had undertaken the work had left the place by scores at a
time, and before a fortnight was over, the commandant found himself with
about twenty-five men, and consequently he marched back into La Vendée
after his army. The town was perfectly tranquil when the republicans
entered it, but the citizens were afflicted and out of spirits; their.
shops were closed, and their goods hidden; the bakers had no bread, the
butchers no meat, and the grocers had neither oil nor sugar. They knew
well what it was to sell their merchandise to the troops of the
Convention, and to be paid for them by the government in assignats.

Many of those who had formed the former garrison of Saumur, were now
with the army; men whom Chapeau and his assistants had shaven, men still
bald, and smarting from the indignity to which they had been subjected.
They wreaked their vengeance on the scene of their disgrace, and on all
those who had in any way lent, or were suspected to have lent, their aid
to its consummation. The furniture of the Town-hall was broken in
pieces; the barbers' shops were ransacked, and their razors, brushes,
and basins scattered through the street; nor was this the worst; one
poor wretch was recognized who had himself wielded a razor on the
occasion; he was dragged from his little shop by those on whom he had
operated, and was swung up by his neck from a lamp-iron in the sight of
his wife and children, who had followed his persecutors through the
street. The poor woman pleaded on her knees for the life of her husband,
as a wife can plead for the life of him whom she loves better than the
whole world. She offered all her little wealth and her prayers; she
supplicated them with tears and with blessings; she seized hold of the
knees of the wretch who held the rope, and implored him by his
remembrance of his father, by his regard for his own wife, his love for
his own children, to spare to her the father of her infants; but she
asked in vain; the man, feeling that his legs were encumbered, spurned
the woman from him with his foot, and kept his hand tight upon the
lamp-rope till the dying convulsions of the poor barber had ceased.

No notice was taken by the republican Generals of this murder; at any
rate no punishment followed it; the next morning the army resumed its
march, and left the town hated, cursed, feared, and yet obeyed. The
people were now royalists in their hearts, but they did not dare to
express their feelings even in whispers to each other, so frightful to
them was the vengeance of the Republic. There was much policy in the
fearful cruelty of the Jacobins; it was the only means by which they
could have retained their power for a month.

The republicans marched on from Saumur to Montreuil, and from Montreuil
to Thouars, and still found no one in arms to oppose them. Here they
separated; a small party, headed by Santerre and Denot, penetrated at
once from Thouars into the Bocage, and made for the château of
Durbellière. It was believed that both de Lescure and Larochejaquelin
were there, and Santerre expected that by hurrying across the country
with a small force, he would be able to take them both and burn the
château, and afterwards rejoin Westerman at Chatillon. Barrère, whose
duties were not strictly those of a soldier, had not accompanied the
army beyond Saumur. Westerman and the main body of the army still
continued southward till they reached Parthenay, from which place it was
his intention to proceed through the revolted district, burning every
village; utterly destroying the towns which had not proved themselves
devoted to the Republic, and slaughtering the peasants, their wives, and
children wherever he could find them.

The Vendeans had not yet sufficiently matured their plans to enable them
to encounter successfully the republican army. The death of Cathelineau
had had a great effect upon the peasants: those who were with him had
returned home in sorrow and despair, and this feeling was general, even
among those who had not been at Nantes. De Lescure and Henri, however,
had not despaired; after having seen the body of his General consigned
to the dust, Henri had returned to Clisson, and he and his cousin were
again busy in raising recruits, or rather in collecting their men, when
they heard that Westerman, with an enormous army, was marching into
Parthenay, and that it was his intention to proceed from thence into the
Bocage, by way of Amaillou and Bressuire.

They had hardly heard this report, when the little village of Amaillou
was on fire; it was the first place that was utterly burnt down, and
laid in ashes by the republicans; not a house was left standing, or
hardly the ruined wall of a house. The church itself was set on fire and
burnt, with its pictures, its altars, and all its sacred treasures; the
peasants ran from the ruins, carrying with them their wives and
children, the old, the crippled, and infirm: hundreds were left dead and
dying among the smoking ashes. This feat having been accomplished,
Westerman continued on towards Bressuire, intending to burn the château
at Clisson, as he passed it on his way.

The district between Amaillou and Bressuire is thickly studded with
trees. The roads, or rather lanes, are all lined by avenues of limes and
beeches. The fields are small, and surrounded by lofty hedges, which are
also, in a great measure, composed of large trees, and the whole country
in July, when the foliage is at the thickest, has almost the aspect of
one continued forest.

Westerman had obtained guides to show him the road to Clisson. It was
about six o'clock in the evening when the advanced portion of his army,
consisting of three thousand men, had proceeded about a league from
Amaillou. He was himself riding nearly at the front of the column,
talking to his aide-de-camp and one of the guides, when he was startled
by hearing a noise as of disturbed branches in the hedge, only a few
feet in advance of the spot in which he was standing; he had not,
however, time to give an order, or speak a word on the subject, before
a long sudden gleam of fire flashed before his eyes; it was so near to
him that it almost blinded him: a cannon had been fired off close to his
face, and it was easy to track the fatal course of the ball; it had been
directed right along the road, and was glutted with carnage before its
strength was spent.

Nor did the cannon shot come alone: a fearful fire from about five
hundred muskets was poured from the hedge on either side, directly into
the road: the assailants were within a few feet of their enemy at the
moment they were firing, and every shot took effect. Out of the four
hundred men who headed the column, above half were killed, or so badly
wounded as to be incapable of motion. The narrow lane, for it was no
more than a lane, was nearly blocked up with carcases. Westerman, who
was possessed of a courage that was never shaken, was nevertheless so
thunderstruck, that he knew not what orders to give. The republicans at
the head of the column, who had not themselves been struck, fired their
fusils into the hedges, but their fire did no injury; it was all lost
among the leaves, for the men who had attacked them were kneeling on
their knees or lying on their bellies, and in the confusion which they
had occasioned, were reloading their muskets.

The guide and the aide-de-camp to whom Westerman was speaking, had both
fallen, and the horse upon which he himself was riding was so badly
wounded, as to be unmanageable. He got off, and ran along under the
hedge till he met an officer. "Give me your horse, Gerard," said he;
"but no, stay where you are, gallop back, and tell Bourbotte to bring
up the men. Quick, mind--so quick, that they can neither see nor hear
what has happened. Bid him force his way through the hedge to the right,
when he gets to the corner."

The young officer turned quickly to obey the command of his General, and
had already put his spur to the horse's flank, when another broad flash
of light streamed through the hedge on the left, and the horseman and
horse fell to the ground, and were mingled with a heap of wounded and
dying. Young Gerard did not live long enough to be conscious of the blow
which killed him. Another volley of musketry followed the cannon shot,
and hardly left a man standing of those who had been the foremost. The
attack had taken place so quickly, that the Vendeans had not yet had
time to load again; but one of two cannons had been kept as a reserve,
and about a hundred muskets had not been fired till de Lescure gave the
word of command. The first attack was made under the direction of Henri

Westerman was standing between the hedge and the mounted officer, when
the latter fell with his horse, and the blood from the poor animal
nearly covered him from head to foot. "Into the field, my men," said he
to those who were near enough to hear him; "follow me through the
hedge," and with a considerable effort he forced his way through the
underwood, and he was followed and accompanied by all those who were
still standing near him; but when he got there, not one of the Vendeans
was to be seen; there were traces enough of them in the grass, and among
the broken boughs, but the men had retreated after the first fire, and
were now again lying in ambush behind the next hedge.

In about five minutes, there were two or three hundred republicans in
the fields to the right of the road, for the army was still advancing;
but they did not know where to go or what to do. They were looking about
for an enemy, and in dread of being fired on, not only from the hedges,
but even out of the trees. Westerman, however, got the men formed into
some kind of order, and bid them advance; they did so, and on coming
near to the second hedge, received another murderous fire, for every
royalist had now had time to reload.

The combat continued for some time, for the republicans contrived to
make their way into the second field; but the royalists again sheltered
themselves behind the further hedge, and repeated their fire from their
lurking-place. It was in vain that the republicans fired into the
hedges; their shot either passed over the heads of the Vendeans, or were
lost among the roots and trunks of the trees. Every one of the
royalists, on the other hand fired, with a clear aim, and almost
invariably with deadly effect. Westerman felt that it would be useless
to pursue them; his soldiers, moreover, were already flying without
orders. He had not the least idea what was the number of the enemy with
whom he was engaged, what was their means of carrying on the battle, or
on what side of him the greater number of them were situated; he
therefore determined to retreat, and led back the whole of his army over
the still burning ashes of the miserable village which he had destroyed
that morning. The greater portion of the men were forced to go back as
far as Parthenay, but he himself remained with a small detachment in the
neighbourhood of Amaillou. He was determined, if possible, to be
revenged that same night for the defeat which he had experienced.

The two cousins were at Clisson when they first heard that Westerman was
actually on his road towards Bressuire, and they had lost no time in
taking the best measures in their power to stop his progress, but they
had not even hoped that their effort would have been so successful as
it proved. The tocsin had been rung in the three neighbouring parishes,
and about seven hundred men had been collected. These men all possessed
muskets, but they themselves had no ammunition, and the whole supply
which could be found in the district, including the little depot at
Clisson, only sufficed to give the men some three and some four rounds
each. When Westerman, with his ten thousand men, retreated from about
seven hundred, the royalists had not one charge of powder to three
muskets among them.

About ten in the evening Henri and de Lescure returned on foot from the
battle to the château of Clisson. Henri still had the red scarf round
his neck and waist, and stuck in the latter he had three or four
pistols, of various sizes, all of which had been used in the recent
engagement. On his shoulder he held a rifle, which he carried like a
fowling-piece, and he walked home with the air and look of a man
returning from a day's sport, well contented with the execution he had

Not so de Lescure: he was thoughtful, if not sad; and though he would
not, either by a tone or a look, rebuke the gaiety of his companion, it
was very evident that he did not share it. The peasants returned along
the road, hurrying to their homes, shouting with glee and full of
triumph. As they passed their leaders, they cheered the darling heroes
who had led them to another victory, and would, had they been allowed
to do so, have carried them home upon their shoulders. They had no
thoughts of any further battle, or of future bloodshed and misery. They
had been victorious over the blues, and that was sufficient for the
present evening. They were able to return home and tell their wives and
sweethearts of their triumph, and that without any drawback from friends
lost or wounded. In all their contests, the Vendeans had never been
victorious with so few calamities to themselves.

"I saw Westerman himself" said Henri to his friend. "I am sure I did,
and what's more I was within pistol shot of him, but I hadn't a pistol
loaded at the moment, or I would have put an end to his career. I wonder
how he likes his reception in the Bocage."

"He is not the man to be easily daunted," said de Lescure. "You'll find
it will not be long before he advances again. If he were to march to
Bressuire tomorrow, what is to stop him?"

"Why not stop him tomorrow as we have done today?" said Henri.

"The men are all gone home," said the other.

"They will all assemble again tomorrow," said Henri; "we have only to
have the bells rung at seven o'clock, or six, or five, or when you will,
and you will find that every man will be ready for another day's work,
and that without a murmur."

"And will they bring powder with them, Henri?"

"Why, we are rather short off for powder," said he. "Our affair tonight
was all very well, for the enemy lost an immense number, and we lost
none; but yet it was unsatisfactory, for the fellows have left nothing
behind them. I'll tell you what, Charles, we ought to follow them to

"Impossible," said de Lescure.

"Why impossible, Charles? Why is Parthenay, which is not better
fortified than Clisson, be more unassailable than Saumur, where
everything appeared to be against us?"

"We were all together then, and now we are scattered. I'll tell you
what, Henri," he continued, after walking on silent for a few steps.
"I'll tell you what we must do: we must leave this district altogether;
we must leave it to be ravaged by fire and sword; we must leave it to
Westerman, to wreak his vengeance on it, and go to Chatillon, taking
with us every armed man that will follow us. We cannot stand an invasion
here in the south."

"Heavens, Charles! what do you mean? Will you not stay to protect the
poor wretches who are so ready to fight for us?"

"We can protect no one by staying here. We cannot hope to contend
single-handed with such an army as that which was but just now advancing
to Bressuire. We can have given them a check, but you know we cannot
repeat the effort of this evening. D'Elbée and Stofflet are at
Chatillon; your own followers are all in that vicinity. When there, we
can communicate with Bonchamps and Charette. We must go to Chatillon."

"And your wife, Charles, and Marie! you will not leave them in the

"If your father and Agatha will receive them, they shall go to

"There you are right," said Henri. "Whatever may be the danger, let us
have them together; we shall then at any rate be able to feel that we
know the point which is to be defended most closely."

"We will start tomorrow, Henri; tomorrow evening. May God grant that
that may be time enough. Westerman cannot collect his men so as to force
a march as far as Clisson tomorrow; but before a week is over, I know
that the château will be a ruin."

"Will you leave the furniture?" said Henri.

"Yes," answered de Lescure; "furniture, horses, cattle, corn--everything
but my wife and child. Let everything go: am I not giving it to my



De Lescure had calculated wrongly with regard to Westerman's return. It
was true that he could not have again put his ten thousand men in
marching order, and have returned with his whole force the next day from
Bressuire as far as Clisson, but Westerman himself did not go back
beyond Amaillou, and he detained there with him a small detachment of
mounted men, whom he had commanded at Valmy, and whom he well knew. He
kept no officers but one cornet and two sergeants, and with this small
force he determined, if possible, to effect that night what his army of
ten thousand men had so signally failed in accomplishing.

About half a mile from Amaillou there was a large château, the owner of
which had emigrated; it had been left to the care of two or three
servants, who had deserted it on the approach of the republican army,
and when Westerman and his small troop rode up to the front gate, they
found no one either to admit them or to dispute their entrance. Here he
bivouacked for an hour or two, and matured his project, which, as yet,
he had communicated to no one.

He had entrusted the retreat of the army to General Bourbotte, who, in
spite of their quarrel at Angers, was serving with him; and without
staying even to ascertain what was the amount of loss he had sustained,
or to see whether the enemy would harass the army as it retreated, he
had separated from it at Amaillou, and reached the château about ten
o'clock in the evening. He had with him a couple of guides, who knew the
country well, and accompanied by these, he resolved to attack Clisson
that night, to burn the château of M. de Lescure, and, if possible, to
carry back with him to Bressuire the next morning the two Vendean
chiefs, whom he knew were staying there.

Westerman understood enough of the tactics of the Vendeans to know that
this was practicable, and he had the quick wit and ready hand to
conceive the plan, and put it in practice: he knew that the peasants
would not remain in barracks, or even assembled together during the
night, if they were near enough to their own homes to reach them; he
knew that they would spend the remainder of their long summer evening
in drinking, dancing, and rejoicing, and that they would then sleep as
though no enemy were within a hundred miles of them; he knew that
nothing could induce them to take on themselves the duties of sentinels,
and that there would, in all probability, be but little to oppose him
in attacking Clisson that night.

Westerman first had the horses fed, and having then refreshed his men
with meat, wine, and brandy, he started at two o'clock. He was distant
from Clisson about three leagues, according to the measurement of the
country, or a little better than seven miles. There had hardly been any
darkness during the night, and as he and his troopers sallied out of the
château-yard, the dawn was just breaking in the East.

"Never mind," said he to the young cornet who rode by his side; "the
light will not hurt us, for we will make them hear us before they see
us. We will be back as far as this before thirty men in the parish are
awake. It will be best for them who sleep soundest."

"Except for those in the château, General," said the cornet: "those who
sleep there will wake to a warm breakfast."

"They will never eat breakfast more, I believe and trust," said
Westerman; "for I do not think that we shall be able to take the
brigands alive. Their women, however, may receive some of our rough
republican hospitality at Bressuire. You had better prepare your
prettiest bow and your softest words, for this sister of de Lescure is,
they say, a real beauty. She shall ride to Bressuire before you on your
saddle-cloth, if you choose to load your arms with such a burden; but
don't grow too fond of her kisses, for though she were a second Venus,
the guillotine must have the disposal of her."

The cornet made no answer, but his young heart turned sick at the
brutality of his companion. His breast had glowed with republican zeal
at the prospect of a night attack on the two most distinguished of the
royalist chiefs. The excitement of the quick ride through the night-air,
the smallness of the party, the importance of the undertaking, the
probable danger, and the uncertainty, had all seemed to him delightful;
and the idea of rescuing a beautiful girl from the flames was more
delightful than all; but the coarseness and cruelty of his General had
destroyed the romance, and dissipated the illusion. He felt that he
could not offer a woman his protection, that he might carry her to a

At about two, Westerman started on his expedition. His men carried their
sabres, still sheathed, in their hands, to prevent the noise which they
would have made rattling against their saddles; but still their journey
through the country was anything but quiet. They only rode two abreast,
as the roads were too narrow to admit of more. Westerman himself and one
of the guides headed the column, and the young cornet and veteran
sergeant closed the rear. They went at a fast trot, and the noise of
their horses' hoofs sounded loudly on the hard parched ground. In spite
of their precautions, their sabres rattled, and the curbs on their
bridles jingled; and the absence of all other noises made Westerman fear
that their approach must be audible, even through the soundness of a
peasant's sleep.

On they rode, and as they drew near to the château, Westerman put spurs
to his horse, and changed his trot into a gallop; his troop of course
followed his example, and as they.. came to the end of their journey
they abandoned all precautions; each man dropped his scabbard to his
side, and drew the blade; each man put his hand to his holster, and
transferred his pistol to his belt, for he did not know how soon he
might have to leave his saddle; each man drew the brazen clasps of his
helmet tight beneath his chin, and prepared himself for action.

"These are the Clisson woods," said the guide, almost out of breath with
the quickness of his motion.

"How infernally dark they make it," said Westerman, speaking to himself.
"We had light enough till we got here"

"And there are the gates," said the guide. "That first entrance which
is open, goes to the back of the house; a little beyond, there is
another, which leads to the front; there you will find a gate, but it
is merely closed with a latch."

"Craucher," said Westerman, speaking to the second sergeant, who was
riding immediately behind him, "stand at the corner, and bid the men
follow me at a quick trot--all of them, mind; tell Cornet Leroy that I
have changed my mind," and Westerman, followed by his troop, dashed up
the narrow avenue which led through the wood to the back of the house.

The château of Clisson was surrounded by large woods, through which
countless paths and little roads were made in every direction for the
convenience of the woodmen, and the small tumbrils which were used for
bringing out the timber and faggots. These woods came close up to the
farm-yard of the château, which was again divided from the house by
large walled gardens, into which the back windows opened. The road up
which Westerman had ridden led under the garden-wall to the farm-yard,
but another road from the front, running along the gable-end of the
house, communicated with it. The door used by the servants was at the
side of the château, and consequently the readiest way from the public
road to the servants' door, was that by which Westerman had, at the last
moment, determined to force an entrance into the château.

He trotted up till he faced the garden-wall, and then turned short round
to the house, and as he rode close up under the gable-end, he gave
Sergeant Craucher directions to take three men and force the door; but
he and the sergeant soon saw that this trouble was spared them, for the
door stood wide open before them.

We will now go back to the inhabitants of the château. De Lescure and
Henri had returned thither about eleven o'clock, and although their safe
return, and account of the evening's victorious engagement for a while
quieted the anxious fears of Marie and Madame de Lescure, those ladies
by no means felt inclined to rest quietly as though all danger were
removed from their pillows. They were in a dreadful alarm at the
nearness of the republicans; they knew well that their ruthless enemies
spared none that fell into their hands. I should belie these heroines
if I said that they feared more for themselves than for those they loved
so dearly, but they were not accustomed yet to the close vicinity of
danger; and when they learned that a battle had been lost and won that
evening, within a mile or two, in the very next parish to that in which
they lived, they looked at each other, and trembling asked what next was
to be done.

"You must not leave us, Charles, you must not leave us again," said
Madame de Lescure to her husband; "indeed you must not leave us here."
She paused a moment, and then added, with an accent of horror which she
could not control, "What would become of us if these men came upon us
when you were away?"

"Wherever you go, let us go with you," said Marie, forgetting in her
excitement her usual maidenly reserve, and laying her little hand as she
spoke upon her lover's arm; then blushing, she withdrew it, and turned
to her brother.

"Do not turn from him, Marie," said her sister-in-law. "You will soon
want his strong arm, and his kind, loving heart."

"Charles will not desert me, Victorine," said Marie, blushing now more
beautifully than ever, for though she knew that Henri loved her, he had
never absolutely told her so. "Though you are his dearest care, he will
always have a hand to stretch to his poor Marie."

Before she had finished speaking, Henri held her close in his embrace.
It was perhaps hardly a fitting time for him to make an avowal of his
love; but lovers cannot always choose the most proper season for their
confessions. He was still hot from the battle which he had fought; his
hands were still black with powder; the well-known red scarf was still
twisted round his belt, and held within its folds his armament of
pistols. His fair, long hair was uncombed, and even entangled with his
exertions. His large boots were covered with dust, and all his clothes
were stained and soiled with the grass and weeds through which he had
that night dragged himself more than once, in order to place himself
within pistol-shot of his enemies; and yet, soiled and hot as he was,
fatigued with one battle, and meditating preparations for another,
there, in the presence of de Lescure and his wife, he clasped Marie to
his manly heart, and swore to her that his chief anxiety as long as the
war lasted, should be to screen her from all harm, and that his fondest
care through his whole life should be to protect her and make her happy.

Unusual circumstances and extraordinary excitement often cause the
customary rules and practices of life to be abandoned; and so it was
now. Marie received the love that was offered her, frankly,
affectionately, and with her whole heart. She owned to her lover how
well and truly she had loved him, and there, before her brother and his
wife, plighted to him her troth, and promised to him then the obedience
and love, which she soon hoped to owe him as his wife. Such declarations
are usually made in private, but the friends now assembled had no
secrets from each other, and they all felt that strange times made
strange scenes necessary.

They then arranged their plans for the morrow. The day had already been
an eventful one, but they little dreamed how much more was to be done
before the morrow's sun was in the heavens; and yet even then they did
not separate for the night: luckily for them all, they determined that
too much was to be done to allow them yet to retire to rest.

It was resolved that on the following day they should leave Clisson for
Durbellière, and hand over the château and all it contained--the farm
and all its well-filled granaries, the cattle and agricultural wealth
of the estate, to the fire and plunder of the republicans. The plate,
however, they thought they could save, as well as the ladies' jewels and
clothes, and other precious things which might be quickly packed and
easily moved. They went to work at once to fill their trunks and
baskets; and as the means of conveyance were then slow, de Lescure went
out into the stables, and had the waggon prepared at once, and ordered
that the oxen which were to draw it should be ready to start at three
o'clock, in order that the load, if possible, might reach Durbellière
the same night.

Master and mistress, servants and guests, worked hard, and at about two
o'clock, the hour at which Westerman and his troop were starting for
their quick ride, they had completed their task.

"You have killed yourself, dearest love," said Henri, pressing his arm
round Marie's waist.

"Oh, no!" said she, smiling, but still so weary that she could hardly
have stood unless he had held her; "I have not fought and conquered ten
thousand republicans; but I don't know how you must feel."

Henri, however, insisted that she should go to bed and she, delighted
to show her first act of obedience to his will, did as he desired her.
She was soon undressed; she offered her prayers to heaven for her
brother and sister-in-law, but with a stronger fervour for the dear
companion and protector to whom she had sworn to devote her life, and
then she laid her head upon her pillow, intending to think over her
happiness; a few moments, however, were sufficient to change her half
fearful thoughts of love and danger into blessed dreams of love and
happiness. Poor girl! she did not long enjoy her happy rest.

De Lescure and Henri determined to remain up till the departure of the
waggon. Madame de Lescure went up to. her room, and the two gentlemen
went down towards the farmyard. The waggon stood at the kitchen-door
already packed, and the two servants were bringing the oxen down the
road to yoke them to it.

"Go out at the front gate, François, and by the church at Terves; it is
the better road. You will remain a couple of hours in Bressuire. We
shall overtake you before you reach Beaulieu."

The servant acknowledged his master's commands, and fastened the last
rope which bound the oxen to their burden. He spoke to his beasts, and
accompanied his word with a goad from a pointed stick he held in his
hand, when his farther progress was stopped by Henri's calling from a
little distance down the road.

"Stop, François, stop!" said he. "Charles, come here; some one is coming
hither at the top of his speed. Don't you hear the noise of hoofs upon
the road?"

De Lescure ran to him, and kneeling down, put his ear to the ground.
"It's a donkey or a mule," said he; "it is not a horse's foot."

"Come down the avenue," said Henri, "and let us see who it is. Whether
mule or horse, the beast is going at his full speed."

"Better stay where we are," said de Lescure. "If he be coming to us, his
news will reach the house quicker than by our going to meet him."

The rider grew nearer and nearer, and in a few moments turned up the
road leading to the back of the house. The steps of the tired brute
became slower as he trotted up the avenue, although the sound of a
cudgel on his ribs were plainly audible. Henri and de Lescure were
standing under the garden wall, and as the animal drew near them, they

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