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La Vendee by Anthony Trollope

Part 6 out of 10

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saw it was a jaded donkey, ridden by a peasant girl.

"Fly, for the sake of God!" said the girl, even before she dismounted
from the donkey; "fly for the sake of the blessed Virgin. Take the
ladies from the château, or they will be burnt--be burnt--be burnt!"

As she screamed the last words she slipped from the donkey, and almost
fainted with the exertion she had undergone. She was the daughter of one
of M. de Lescure's servants, and had been sent from Clisson into service
at the château, from whence Westerman started on his expedition. When
the republicans made their appearance there, she had fled with the other
servants, but she had hung about the house, and about an hour and a half
before Westerman left the place she learnt, through some of the
soldiers, his intention of attacking Clisson that night.

"Who is coming to burn us, Marian?" said de Lescure, endeavouring by his
own assumed coolness to enable her to collect her thoughts and power of

"The blues--the blues!" screamed the girl. "They had all but overtaken
me when I got to the short cut through the wood. There they are, there
they are," and the noise of the advancing troop was distinctly audible
through the stillness of the night.

The poor girl was quite exhausted, and fell to the ground fainting. De
Lescure and Henri had both stood still for a moment, after having been
made to comprehend that an immediate attack was about to be made on the
château, but it was only for a moment.

"We must carry them through the wood, Charles," said Henri, whispering.
"It is our only chance."

"True--true," said de Lescure. "Turn the oxen, Francois, turn them back
through the yard into the farm-road, and then keep to the left into the
wood. We will meet you at the seven limes."

"Take Victorine out through the garden," said Henri to his cousin, who
was now hurrying into the house, "and through the iron gate. I saw the
other day that the key was in it, and we can turn it. I tried it myself.
I will bring Marie after you."

Henri stayed a moment to assist in turning the cumbrous waggon, and ran
back to open the farm gates.

"Close the gates after you, Francois," said he, "and put the tressels
close against them. If you lose a minute in doing it, you will gain five
in delaying these devils. If you hear them following you in the
wood-road, draw the waggon across the track and leave it."

He was only delayed two minutes by going back to the yard gates, but
those two minutes were nearly fatal to him and Marie. Marian also
delayed him again as he returned to the house.

"Where am I to go, M. Henri," said she; "what am I to do? they will be
sure to kill me, for they saw me at Amaillou, and will know that I gave
the warning."

"Hide yourself, my girl," said Henri: "hide yourself, but not in the
house, for that will soon be a mass of ruins. Hide yourself in the
woods; there cannot be many of these devils here, and they will not
remain long."

He hurried into the house as he ceased speaking, and at the moment he
did so Westerman and his thirty men turned the corner of the avenue. He
rushed from the back door through the passages of the château into the
hall, where he seized hold of a large cloak belonging to de Lescure,
which he threw over his shoulder as he ran up stairs. On the stairs he
met his cousin, with Madame de Lescure and the nurse and child.

"Haste, Henri, for God's sake, haste," said she; "I heard the tramp of
their horses through my open window."

De Lescure had opened the summer door leading into the garden as he came
up stairs, to have it ready for his exit, and he, and those under his
care, escaped through it into the garden.

"Shut the garden door," roared Henri to him from the top of the
staircase. "Shut the door, whatever you do." De Lescure could not
understand his object, but he trusted his cousin, and closed the door
as he passed through it. Henri had perceived that it would be impossible
for him to regain the hall, and had resolved to jump from the window of
the staircase into the garden, with his precious burden in his arms. He
foresaw that if the door were left open, pursuit through it would be
both inevitable and fatal.

Marie's room was close to the top of the stairs, and her lover did not
use much ceremony in opening the door. In going to and from his wife's
chamber, de Lescure had not passed it, and therefore the innocent girl
slept soundly till Henri's sudden entrance roused her from her dreams.

"Who's that--who's that," said she, raising her head upon her pillow.
The window curtains of the room were hardly closed, and she recognised
immediately Henri's tall figure, and singular costume. "Oh! Henri, what
has happened? what brings you here?"

"Rise, dearest, we must fly," said he: "we have not a moment--we fear
the blues are coming." He dreaded that she would have lost all power of
motion, had he told her that they were already beneath the windows.

"Haven't I time to dress?" said she; "I won't be a moment--not one

"No, darling," answered he, raising her from the bed, as though she were
an infant, and folding her in her brother's cloak. "We haven't one
instant to throw away. Remember who has you in his arms: remember that
it is I, your own Henri, who am pressing you to my heart." He took her
up from the bed in his left arm, and with his right hand arraigned the
cloak around her person, and carrying her out into the passage, hurried
to the window which he had left open.

This window looked from the opposite end of the house to that at which
Westerman found the open door. It was on the first landing of the
staircase, and was therefore distant from the ground but little more
than half the height of the ground floor, but a hard gravel path ran
immediately under it; and though the leap was one which few young men
might much hesitate to take with empty arms, it was perilous with such
a burden as Henri had to carry. He however did not think twice about it,
and would have considered himself and his charge nearly safe could he
have reached the window unmolested, but that he was not allowed to do.

As he began to descend the stairs the loud noise of the troopers' boots,
and the quick voice of Westerman giving his commands in the hall, told
him at once that the house was already occupied by the blues. Even then,
at that awful moment, he rejoiced at his precaution in having desired
de Lescure to close the garden door. He took a large horse pistol from
his belt, and holding it by the barrel, jumped down three stairs at a
time, and already had his foot on the sill of the open window, when
serjeant Craucher, who had been the first of the blues to enter the
house, rushing up the stairs, succeeded in getting hold of the cloak
which covered Marie. He pulled it from off her neck and shoulders, and
her beautiful dark clustering curls fell down over Henri's shoulder. Her
pale face, and white neck and bosom were exposed: her eyes were fast
closed, as though she expected instant death, but both her arms were
tightly fastened round her lover.

Craucher stumbled in his hurry in rushing up the stairs, but he still
held fast to the collar of the cloak.

"I must stop your further journey, my pretty dear," said he: "the night
air is not good for you--by heavens it's the red--"

He never finished his speech, or attempted to make another. On entering
the back door he had struck his brazen head-piece against the lintel;
the shock had broken the clasp, and his head was consequently bare. As
he pulled at the cloak, Henri raised his right arm powerfully, and drove
the butt-end of the pistol which he held, right through his skull, and
scattered his brains upon the staircase. The grasp of the dying man was
so firm that he could not extricate the cloak from his fingers. He saw
that his only chance of escape was to relinquish it; he did so, and as
he leapt from the window to the ground, poor Marie had nothing round her
but her slight night dress.

Henri stumbled as he came to the hard gravel, but still he allowed no
portion of Marie's body to touch the ground. He recovered himself in a
moment, and made for the iron gate leading from the garden to the wood,
through which de Lescure and his wife had escaped.

As Henri leapt from the window Westerman's eye had caught sight of the
red scarf, and he knew that it was Larochejaquelin who was escaping. He
rushed himself to the window, though, had he known it, he might have
gone into the garden through the door, which was close at his hand. He
leapt on the path, and was immediately on Henri's track. It was about
three hundred yards from the house to the iron gate, and when Westerman
was again on his feet, Henri had covered two thirds of the distance.

Run now, Henri, run your best, for the load you carry is heavy, and the
German is strong and light of foot; his pistols, too, are loaded, and
he well knows how to use them; but yours are empty, and you will not
find another bare skull opposed to your heavy right hand; run, dear
friend, and loving cousin; run faster with that precious trembling
burden of yours, or all you have yet done, will have been done in vain.

But what avails his running: he did run fast and well, laden as he was,
and fatigued with no ordinary day's work: he gained the gate, while as
yet his pursuer was above a hundred yards behind him; but of what avail
would that be, if he were obliged to leave the passage free for his
enemy: it was impossible that he should continue to hold his ground,
while he carried the fainting girl in his arms. It was then that that
wonderful presence of mind, in the midst of the most urgent danger, of
which Henri Larochejaquelin showed so many instances during war, stood
him in stead, and saved two lives, when salvation seemed impossible.

In wandering about the place some days before, he had passed through
this gate, and observing that the key stood in the lock, he had idly
turned it backwards and forwards, locking and relocking the gate without
an object; he had then observed that though the key worked easily, there
was something wrong about the wards which prevented him from drawing it
out after the lock was turned. The gate was made of iron bars, which
were far enough asunder to allow of his hand and arm being passed
through, so that when outside the gate he could then turn the key which
was on the inside.

All these particulars he remembered in that moment of agony, and
resolved what he would do to overcome the difficulties which they threw
in his way. Having passed through the gate, he dropped his now senseless
companion beneath the shelter of the wall, and passing his hands through
the bars, turned the key and locked it. He then took out a short
hunting-knife which he wore, and passing that also through the bars of
the gate, he inserted it in the handle of the key, and then wrenching
it round with all his force, broke the key in the wards: all the smiths
in Poitou could not have locked the gate closer, or made it more
impossible to open it.

Though the feat is tedious to explain, it did not take half a minute in
performance; but still it allowed Westerman to come within pistol shot
of him before he could get beneath the shelter of the wall. The German,
however, in his anxiety to get through the gate, omitted to fire, though
he had the pistol in his hand; he seized hold of the iron bars and shook
them impotently: strong as he was, the gate was much too firm to be
moved by his strength; the wall was twelve feet high, and utterly beyond
his power to scale without a ladder.

He felt that he was foiled, and returned to the château to wreak his
vengeance upon the inhabitants who might be left there, and on the
furniture and walls of the house itself.

Henri pursued his way unopposed, and at the appointed spot, a little
greensward surrounded by seven lime trees, he found his cousin and the
rest of the party waiting for him, as well as François with the waggon.

"Is she safe--is she alive?" asked Madame de Lescure, almost frantic
with grief and fear.

"She is alive, and I believe unhurt," said Henri; "but I fear she is
senseless. She is quite undressed, too, as I was obliged to leave the
cloak in which I had covered her, in the dying grasp of a trooper whom
I killed." He gently laid her down, with her head in the lap of her kind
sister, and then turned his back upon the party, that he might not gaze
on the fair bosom, which was all exposed, and the naked limbs, which her
dishevelled night dress did not suffice to cover.

Madame de Lescure and her nurse hastened to strip themselves of a
portion of their clothes; it had been lucky that neither of them were
undressed at the time of the attack, and though they were ill-prepared
for a long journey, having neither caps nor strong shoes, nor shawls of
any kind, yet they contrived between them to dress poor Marie decently.
The nurse gave her shoes and stockings, declaring that going barefoot
would not trouble her the least, and before many minutes had been
wasted, they were again ready to proceed.

De Lescure and Henri had not lost these precious moments: the waggon was
again put into motion: the three men carefully armed themselves: they
loaded their pistols, for among the goods they were taking away, was the
little remnant of gunpowder which was left among them: they decided that
on hearing the first sound of pursuit, they would leave the waggon, and
betake themselves to the thickest part of the woods; but both de Lescure
and Henri were of opinion that they would not be followed.

"There cannot be many of them," said Henri, "and what there are, are all
mounted. They are the German hussars; I know them by their brazen
helmets. They won't attempt to follow us through the woods."

"They would have been after us before now had they intended doing so,"
said de Lescure. "The way was clear for them through the farm-yard,
François, was it not?"

"No, Monseigneur," said François. "It was anything but clear. I turned
the big bull out of his stall into the yard as I came out, and closed
the gate behind me: he would gore a dozen of them before they could make
their way through."

Whether the pursuit was arrested by the bull, or prevented by any other
cause, the fugitives were not interrupted. They walked wearily and
painfully, but yet patiently, and without a complaint above a league,
before the women ventured to get upon the waggon. They then got out upon
the road to Bressuire, at no great distance from that town, and on
reaching Bressuire they got refreshment and proper clothes, and hired
a voiture for the remainder of their journey.

Marie had hardly spoken from the moment when Henri dragged her from her
bed, to that in which he helped her in the waggon; but after she had
been sitting for a while, she indulged in a flood of tears, which she
had restrained as long as she felt that her life depended on her
exertions, and then calling Henri to her side, she thanked him, as she
so well knew how to do, for all he had done for her.

"You have saved my life, dearest, now," said she, "and ten times more
than my life; but I will not say that I love you better than I did
before. Had I not known that it was your arms which were around me, I
must have died when that horrid countenance glared over me on the
stairs. Have I dreamt since, or was I really looking upon that face,
when the agony of death came across it?" And as she asked the question,
she closed her eyes, and her whole body trembled violently.

"I will tell you all that happened another time, love," said he; "we
will not talk of these things now. A day or two at Durbellière will
restore you to your spirits, and then we will rejoice over our escape."

They got into a voiture at Bressuire, and from thence continued their
journey in something more like comfort, while Francois with the waggon
followed them; but the two ladies were not destined to reach Durbellière
that night. When they were about half-way between Bressuire and the
château, they were met by a man on horseback, who was already on his way
to Clisson. It was Jean Stein, who was hurrying as fast as his beast
could carry him from Durbellière to M. Larochejaquelin; but instead of
explaining now what was the purport of his errand, we will return to
Clisson, and see how Westerman finished there the task he had

When he found himself foiled at the gate, he returned as quickly as
possible to the house. His men had already ransacked every room, and in
their anxiety to find the more distinguished inhabitants of the château,
allowed the domestics to escape; but few of them had been in bed, and
even they were overlooked in the anxiety of the troopers to find M. de
Lescure. They did not dream that any warning could have been given to
the château, nor could they conceive it possible that at three o'clock
in the morning the royalists should have been up, and ready for instant
flight. It was not till nearly five that they satisfied themselves that
neither de Lescure nor his wife, nor any of his family were in the
house; and then, at the command of their General, they commenced the
work of destruction.

The troopers got hay and straw from the farm-yard (not without some
opposition from the loose bull,) and piled them in every room in the
château; they then took the furniture, beds, curtains, wearing apparel,
and every article of value they could find, and placed them in heaps,
in such a way as to render them an immediate prey to the flames. They
did the same to the barns and granaries, in which there were large
stores of corn, and also to the stables, in which stood the horses and
cattle; the bull, which François had loosened, was the only animal about
the place that did not perish. Having systematically prepared the
château and out-houses for a huge bonfire, they put a light to the straw
in various places, and re-mounting their horses, stood around it till
they saw that no efforts which the peasants might use could extinguish
the flames. Westerman then gave the word of command for their return;
they started at a sharp trot, and he did not allow them to slacken their
pace till he had again passed the ruins of the little village of

While the troopers were thus preparing to set the château in a blaze,
the General himself was not idle; he seated himself in the salon, and
having had pen, ink, and paper brought to him, he wrote the following
despatch to the President of the Convention, in which, it will be
observed, he studiously omitted all mention of the defeat which he had
incurred between Amaillou and Clisson, and the retreat which his army
had been forced to make. The date is given in the denomination which
will be intelligible to the reader, as the Fructidors and the Messidors,
Brumaires and Nivoses, which had then been adopted by the republicans,
now convey no very defined idea to people, who have not yet scrupled to
call the months by their old aristocratic names, or to count the year
from their Saviour's birth.

"Château of Clisson,

July 1798.

Citizen President,

I have the honour to acquaint you that I have already succeeded in
carrying the arms of the Convention as far as the residence of the most
powerful of the rebel leaders. As I am writing, my men are preparing to
set fire to this den of aristocratic infamy, and within an hour the
stronghold of the redoubted de Lescure will be level with the ground.

This wretched country is so crowded with ravines and rocks, and the
roads are so narrow, so deep, and so bad, that I have been forced to
make my way hither with a small detachment of thirty men only, but I
have found that sufficient to drive the tiger from his lair. He, and the
other rebel leader, Larochejaquelin, have fled into the woods, without
either money, arms, or even clothing; and I doubt not soon to be able
to inform the Convention that, at any rate, they can never again put
themselves at the head of a rebellious army.

Citizen President, deign to receive from my hands the only trophies
which I have deemed myself justified in rescuing from the flames which
are about to consume this accursed château. I enclose the will and a
miniature portrait of the aristocrat, de Lescure.

I pray you to receive, and to make acceptable to the Convention, the
most distinguished,

&c. &c. &c.




Santerre and Adolphe Denot left the main army at Thouars, and made their
way to Argenton with about four thousand men. From thence, Durbellière
was distant about four leagues; and Santerre lost no time in making his
preparations for destroying that château, as Westerman was at the same
moment doing at Clisson. Generally speaking, the people of the towns,
even in La Vendée sided with the republicans; but the people of Argenton
were supposed to be royalists, and Santerre therefore gave positive
orders that every house in it should be destroyed. He did not, however,
himself want to see the horrid work done, but hurried on to Durbellière,
that he might, if possible, surprise the Vendean chiefs, whom he
believed to be staying there. About one hundred and fifty men followed
him, and the remainder of the army was to march on to Bressuire, as soon
as Argenton was in ashes.

Santerre, since he had left the company of the other Generals at
Thouars, had become more familiar and confidential with Denot, and rode
side by side with him from Argenton, talking freely about the manners
of the country, and the hopes of the royalists, till he succeeded in
getting the traitor into good humour, and obtaining from him something
like a correct idea of the state of the country.

"And this is the parish of St. Aubin?" said Santerre, as they drew near
to Durbellière.

"Yes," said Denot, "this is the parish of St. Aubin; and the estate of
the Larochejaquelins."

"And they are popular with the people?" said Santerre. "They must have
been well loved, or they would not have been so truly followed."

Denot blushed at the heavy accusation against himself which these words
conveyed; but he made no answer.

"And this old man, my friend?" said Santerre, "this ancient cripple that
you tell me of? he is too old, too infirm, I suppose, to care much about
this revolt?"

"Not at all," said Denot; "no one in the country is more anxious for
success than the old Marquis."

"There you are again, friend," said Santerre, "I know you'll get your
neck into danger. Have I not told you that the Republic knows nothing
of Marquises?"

"I only called him by the name he goes by, as you'd call a man Peter,
if his name were Peter. I didn't mean to say he was a Marquis," said
Denot, excusing himself.

"But you mustn't say so at all, unless you speak of him as a criminal,
as you would speak of a perjurer, or a parricide. But as to this foolish
old man; is he not doting? If I thought that, I might perhaps he excused
in sparing him."

"Doting!" said Denot; "not at all; he has all his faculties as much as
you or I."

Santerre gave a look of disgust at the wretch, who would not even follow
his hint by giving such an account as might spare the life of the old
man, who had been his host, his guardian, and his friend. He said
nothing further, however, but trotted on quickly, till the cherry groves
of Durbellière were in sight, and then he halted to give his final
orders to his men, and make arrangements that the house should be

"You remember our bargain, citizen General?" said Denot.

"What bargain?" asked the brewer.

"Why, about the young lady; the girl, you know," replied the other. "No
one is to interfere between me and Agatha Larochejaquelin. She is to be
my prize and my reward."

"I will be as good as my word," said Santerre, "as long as you are true
to yours; but I own I pity the young lady the treatment she is likely
to receive from her lover," and as he spoke, he rode up to the front
door of the house, accompanied by Denot and a company of men on

The immediate arrival of republican soldiers in the neighbourhood of
Durbellière was neither expected, or even feared by the inhabitants of
the château, or it would not have been left by Henri, as it had been,
perfectly undefended. The truth was this: the royalists had hitherto
been so very generally successful against the republicans; and that,
when every odds of number, arms, and position had been in favour of
their enemies, that they had learnt to look with contempt upon the
blues, as they called them. Hitherto the royalists had always been the
attacking party; the republicans had contented themselves with
endeavouring to keep their position within the towns; and when driven
from thence, had retreated altogether out of the revolted district.
Except lately at Nantes, the Vendeans had as yet incurred no great
reverse; they had not, therefore, learnt to fear that their houses would
be attacked and burnt; their corn and cattle destroyed; and even their
wives and children massacred. The troops which had now been dispatched
by the Convention for the subjection of the country, were of a very
different character from those with whom the Vendeans had as yet
contended, and the royalists were not long before they experienced all
the horrors of a civil war, in which quarter was refused them by their
enemies, and mercy even to children was considered as a crime.

When Santerre rode up to the door of the château, ten men might have
taken possession of Durbellière. It was a fine July evening, about seven
o'clock. The old Marquis had been wheeled in his easy chair out of the
house, to the top of the broad steps which led from the back of the
château into the garden. Agatha was sitting at his feet on the top step,
reading to him, and the little Chevalier Mondyon, who retained no
semblance of the soldier about his person, except the red scarf round
his waist, was seated straddle-legged atop of one of the huge white
lions which guarded the entrance.

"Agatha, I hear horsemen," said the boy, jumping off his seat.
"There--there---quite plain!"

"It is Henri and Charles coming from Clisson," said Agatha.

"If it be, they have a troop of cavalry with them," said the Chevalier.
"Perhaps it's the Prince de Talmont, for I think they have not so many
horsemen with them in the south," and the little Chevalier ran out to
greet, as he thought, his gallant friends.

"Whoever they be, Agatha," said the old Marquis, "give them a warm
welcome if they come in the King's name. They will know that I cannot
rise to meet them, but make them welcome to everything in and about the

Agatha had closed her book, and was rising to execute her father's
wishes, when Momont, the grey-haired butler, hurrying round from the
kitchen-door as fast his old legs would carry him, screamed out: "The
blues! the blues!"

Agatha, who was in the act of entering the house as she heard the
fearful cry, turned instantly back to her father's side. She was deadly
pale, but she spoke not a word. She grasped her father's hand, and fixed
herself close to his chair, determined in that position to await the
worst that her enemies could do her.

"Run, Agatha, run," said the Marquis, "into the garden, my dear love.
The gate will be open at the back. Run, Agatha, for your life!" Agatha,
however, did not stir.

"Do you hear me, Agatha?" continued the old man, wildly supplicating her
to go from him. "Do you hear me, my daughter? If you would have my
blessing before I die, do as I bid you now. What are my grey hairs to
your young life, that you should sacrifice yourself for me?"

It was of no avail, for the daughter stood fast by her disabled father's
side, grasping his right hand so that nothing should tear her from him,
and turning her beautiful face towards the house, watching for the
approach of her enemies. Nor had she to watch long; before the Chevalier
had been gone five minutes, Santerre, with his sword drawn, tramped
heavily through the house, followed by Denot, and a score of his men.
The door from the salon to the garden steps was open, and without
waiting a moment in the house, he marched through and confronted Agatha
and her father.

"Here is your damsel safe, at any rate, friend Denot," said Santerre,
"and a pretty girl she is too, but a bitter royalist, no doubt, by the
proud turn of her white neck."

Denot did not immediately follow Santerre on to the steps. He had firmly
resolved to thrust himself upon Agatha as a conqueror; to rush upon her
as an eagle upon its prey, and to carry her off with a strong hand,
disregarding her cries, as the eagle disregards the bleating of the
lamb; but the first glance he had got of his victim somehow startled his
resolve, and scared the blood from his cheek, and almost from his heart.
When Santerre, however, called to him, he was obliged to follow; and
then, making fearful grimaces with his lips, and scowling with his eyes,
he stalked out before the astonished father and daughter.

"Yes, Agatha," he said, looking full upon her, but not daring to turn
an eye upon the countenance of her much more indignant father, "yes,
Agatha, I have come, as I told you I would come--I have come to claim
you, and no power shall now gainsay me. I have come to seize you as my
own; to take you with a strong hand, and an out-stretched arm. My
prayers were of no avail; you shall find that my sword is more powerful.
When last I sought you, it was as a suppliant, I now come for you as a
conqueror. Come, Agatha, you are now mine. All the powers of earth shall
not rescue you from my arms."

"You appear to me, Sir, to come as a traitor," said Agatha.

"A good republican, my dear," said Santerre: "he comes as a good

Agatha did not deign to make any further reply, but as Santerre and the
men had now left the steps and gone into the house, Denot put his hand
on her arm to lead her away from her father's side.

"Leave her alone," shouted the old man, now speaking for the first time
since his eyes had rested on the republican soldiers. "Leave her alone,
thou false wretch, thou basest of all miscreants. Touch her not,
or--or--," and the poor Marquis strove in vain to rise from his chair
to his daughter's help. "Momont, Chapeau, Arthur--Arthur," he halloed.
"My daughter--my daughter, oh! my daughter!"

No one, however, came to his aid, and Agatha, finding resistance to be
in vain, suffered Denot to lead her into the house, without uttering
another word.

Not the slightest resistance was made to Santerre and his men; he took
possession of the château without a word even being said to stop him.
The servant girls hid themselves in the garrets, but were soon brought
down again, and bade to set quiet in the hall, till their fate should
have been decided on. Momont attempted to conceal himself in the garden,
but he was soon found and brought back again, and stationed among the
women. Chapeau was not seen at all, and even the little Chevalier was
missing for a time, though he returned of his own accord before Santerre
had been long in possession of the place.

Santerre seated himself with two of his officers in the largest of the
salons, and ordered that the old Marquis should be brought before him.
He was rather perplexed as to what he should next do; his orders were
to destroy everything--houses, property, and life; to spare neither age,
sex, nor imbecility; and Santerre, undertaking the commission, had
thought, in his republican zeal, that he would find no weakness in
himself to militate against the execution of such orders. He was
mistaken in himself, however. He had led the fierce mobs of Paris to
acts of bloodshed and violence, but in doing so he had only assisted
with an eager hand in the overthrow of those who he thought were
tyrannizing over the people. He had stood by at the execution of a King,
and ordered the drums to beat to drown the last words of the dying
monarch; but the King had been condemned by those whom Santerre looked
on as the wisest and best of the nation; and in acting as he had done,
he had been carried on as well by ideas of duty as excitement. He found
his present a much more difficult task. Indeed, after sitting still for
some few minutes in that easy chair, meditating what he would do next,
he found that the work which he had undertaken was one which he
literally could not go through with.

"Is the old gentleman there?" said he; and as he asked, the Marquis,
with his eyes closed, and his hands crossed on his breast, was wheeled
into the room. Agatha was seated, or rather was crouching, on a sofa in
the corner, for Adolphe Denot was standing over her uttering threats and
words of love alternately, the latter of which, however, sounded by far
the most horrible in poor Agatha's ears.

"Give me a pen and paper," said Santerre, and having got them, he
continued writing for a minute or two. "Now, my old friend," said he,
addressing the Marquis, "I am given to understand that you yourself,
personally, have never lent a hand to this iniquitous revolt. Is it so?"

"I am too old and too infirm to carry a sword," said the Marquis, "but
what little I could do for my King, I--."

"Exactly--exactly," said Santerre, interrupting him, "you are a cripple
I see. There is no evidence wanting to show that you haven't taken up
arms. It is this pestilent son of yours has brought you into trouble."

"He would have been no son of mine had he not acted as he has done,"
said the old man indignantly.

"Will you hold your silly tongue, my friend," said Santerre. "He is
doting, quite doting, I see," and he turned round to his brother
officers, as though appealing to them to corroborate his opinion.

"Either that, or else he must be very fond of Mademoiselle Guillotine,"
said one of them.

"Well, now, old gentleman, answer me this question," said Santerre, "do
you want to die this evening?"

"If I could but think that my daughter was safe, and out of the power
of that viper, whom I have warmed in my bosom, death would not be
unwelcome to me."

"Viper!" said Denot, curling his lips, and speaking through his closed
teeth. "Warmed in your bosom! I have yet to learn, old man, that I owe
you ought; but if it be a comfort to you to know it, know that no worse
evil awaits your daughter than to become the wife of a true Frenchman."

"True!" said the Marquis. "Yes, as true as the Prince of Darkness."

"Come, old man," said Santerre," we know nothing about Princes, nor yet
about Marquises. You must be content now to call the devil by his plain
name, though I rather believe it has already been decided in Paris, that
the gentleman is nothing but a foul fiction of the aristocrats. Come,
if you wish to save your neck, put your signature to this little

"I will sign nothing that is put before me in such a manner," said the

"Why you have not even read it. Take the pen in your hand, I tell you;
it is only a proclamation of the truth, that you have not taken up arms
against the republic."

Agatha understood the object of the republican General, though her
father did not. She sprang from the corner in which Denot had placed
her, and coming close to her father, whispered to him.

"The gentleman means well to you, father, though his words are rough.
He wishes to save us. He will save both of us, father, if he can. Read
the paper, and if there be nothing absolutely untrue in it, put your
name to it."

"Read it yourself, Agatha," said he, "and if you then tell me to sign
it, I will do so."

Agatha took up the paper which Santerre had written, and read, but not
aloud, the following words:

"I hereby proclaim myself a true son of the Republic, and a citizen
brother of all free Frenchmen. I declare that I have never carried arms
against the Convention myself, and demand that I may not be accounted
responsible for any misguided members of my family, who may have done

Twice Agatha read the words, and as she did so, her father's eyes rested
anxiously on her face. "Well, my child," said he, "your father's honour
is in your hands; tell me what I am to do," and he mechanically held the
pen within his fingers, which Santerre had thrust into his hand.

"We will die, father," said she, "if these men please it," and she put
down the document on the table on which it had been written. "I cannot
ask you to denounce our dear, our gallant Henri. I cannot bid you to
deny your King. Death at any rate will not dishonour us. We will only
beg of this gentleman that in his mercy he will not separate us," and
putting her arm round her father's neck, she fastened her hand upon the
folds of his coat, as though determined that nothing should again
separate her from his side.

"Denounce Henri!" said the old man; "denounce my own dear, gallant son,
the most loyal of those who love their King--the bravest of the brave!
No, Sir! I give you no thanks for your mercy, if you intended any. I,
and my daughter, Sir, cannot bear arms for our King; she by reason of
her sex, and I from my infirmities; but, Sir, we can die for him; we can
die for him as readily as the bravest who falls in the first ranks of
the battle. Had I still so much power in my own house as to command a
cup of wine, I would drink my last pledge to my royal master--but it
matters not; the heart and the will are still the same," and taking off
the tasselled velvet cap which he wore, he waved it above his head,
exclaiming, "Vive le Roi! vive le Roi!"

"The accursed, pestilent old fanatic!" said Santerre, spurning the table
as he rose in his passion, and upsetting it into the middle of the room;
and then he walked up and down the salon with rapid strides, trying to
induce himself to give orders for the immediate execution of the staunch
old royalist.

"What is to be done next, General?" said one of his officers, who did
not quite admire the evident clemency of the brewer.

"The accursed, pestilent old fanatic!" he repeated between his teeth;
and then he said, after drawing a long breath: "they must go to Paris,
and let Fouquier Tinville deal with them. There may be secrets that I
know not of. I think it better that they should go to Paris." And he
felt relieved of a heavy load in having devised a scheme by which he
could avoid having himself to give the order for the execution. "Let him
be locked up, and well treated, mind you. He shall go to Saumur in his
own carriage, and Barrère may send him to Paris how he pleases, or to
the devil if he chooses."

"And the servants, General?"

"Oh! ah, yes, the servants!" said Santerre, walking out into the hall
to inspect them; "women, an't they? What, five, six, seven, nine women,
one old man, and a boy; well, I suppose we must have them out in a row,
and shoot them."

Down on their knees went the nine women and the boy, imploring that
their innocent lives might be spared to them. Momont, like his master,
had still some spirit in his bosom, and kept his seat, saying to
himself, but out loud, "I told him so--I told him so. I told him that
we who remained here needed as much courage as those who went to the
wars; but now, he that talked so much, he's the only one to run away."
The poor butler alluded to Chapeau, who had certainly been in the house
a few minutes before the arrival of the republicans, and who as
certainly had not been seen since.

"I suppose we must have them out before the house, and fire upon them?"

And he turned to the officer who was next to him, as though asking his

"If you ask my advice, General, I would make no difference between the
lot; ten minutes should see the last of the whole set of them--the old
man, his daughter, and the rest. If we are to send every master of a
family with his children up to Paris, or even to Saumur, the tribunals
can never do their work, nor can the guillotines fall half fast enough
for them."

"When I ask your advice on one subject, Captain, I do not expect you to
give it me on another," said Santerre. "Sergeant, take those women out,
and the old man, and the boy, stand them in a line upon the gravel plot
there, and bring a file of musketeers." And the republican General again
began pacing up and down the room, as though he did not at all like the
position in which his patriotic zeal had placed him.

The poor women were dragged by their limbs out before the door,
screeching as they went, and filling the air with their loud, agonizing
cries. Momont walked after them, with his head hanging down, his knees
shaking, and his back bent double; but still he was walking himself; he
was still able to save himself the disgrace of being dragged out like
the women. When he got to the front door, he attempted to totter back,
but a republican soldier stopped him.

"My master! my dear master!" said Momont, "let me but kiss his hand, and
I will come back."

The soldier let him pass in, and the old man in a moment was at his
master's feet. "God bless you, Monseigneur!" said he, "God bless you!
Say one word of kindness to your servant, before he is shot for loving
his master and his King."

The Marquis put his hand on the grey hairs of the old butler, and moved
his lips, but he said nothing: the power of speech for the time failed
him; the energy he had displayed, and the excitement he had felt, had
been too much for him, and he was unable to reply aloud to the blessing
of his faithful servant.

"God bless you, Momont" said Agatha, calmly, as she stood close to her
father, still holding to his coat, and supporting his head against her
body. "Let your last thoughts be of the Saviour who died for you, and
so shall your death be only the end of all your troubles."

He was not allowed to remain longer on his knees, but was hurried back
to the spot where the women were awaiting their doom. The soldiers could
not get them to stand; they were crouching down on the ground in all
positions, one or two with their heads almost buried in the earth, one
or two kneeling, and still screaming for mercy. The old housekeeper had
fallen on her haunches, and was looking up to heaven, while she wildly
struck the ground with her hands; the poor page had made a last, but
futile effort to escape with the aid of his heels, but he had been at
once caught, and was now bound by his waist to a tree, which grew close
to the road on which the wretched party were huddled; the poor boy had
quite forgotten his attempt at manhood and mingled his loud screams with
those of the women.

"General," said the sergeant, stepping up to him, "the men are ready;
will you give the word to fire?"

Two salons, one looking to the front of the house, and the other to the
back, communicated with each other by folding-doors, which were now wide
open. Santerre, the Marquis, Denot, Agatha, and the other republican
officer, were in the back room; the unfortunate wretches doomed to die
were collected on the gravel before the windows of the front room; the
carabineers who were to fire on them stood in a double file on the broad
area before the front door, and above the steps. Santerre, on being
addressed by the sergeant, stalked into the front room to give the
order; his altered face plainly shewed the strong passion which was at
work within his heart. As he passed from one room to the other, he threw
his cap upon the ground, and trampled on it; then clenched his fist, and
bit his lip till the blood ran. The fatal word "Fire" was on his tongue;
but, without intending it, he looked through the window, and his eyes
fell on the wretched creatures who were expecting death, and he was
unable to give the command. He sank back upon a chair, and hiding his
face in both his hands, he said to the sergeant, in a low voice:

"They must get some one else for this work, I am not the man I thought
I was." He then rose and said, in a voice he vainly attempted should
appear calm and dignified, "Sergeant, keep the prisoners in custody this
night: I have changed my mind. Be ready to march at four tomorrow
morning. We will have a bonfire to light us on our journey: see that
there are plenty of faggots ready before you let the men sleep."

The poor women were unable to raise themselves and walk away, when they
were made to understand that they were not to die that night. Some
prayed, others screamed almost louder than before: one or two of them
fainted, and continued fainting the greater part of the night: they were
all of them taken into the house, and kept together in the kitchen
surrounded by a guard.

"Citizen General!" said Denot to Santerre, stepping up to him after this
scene was over; "I have performed my part of my engagement I believe."

"Well, man, supposing you have; what do you want? Are you going to
grumble because I have not slaughtered the wretches you have betrayed
to me?"

"Not at all, General; you know your own duty, doubtless. I am going to
return to Saumur, to which place I desire an escort for myself and this
young lady."

"By heaven I pity her!" said Santerre. "I don't know what has come to
me tonight, that I should trouble myself with the cares of a swarm of
aristocrats." And then he said, addressing Agatha, "Are you ready and
willing, young woman, for a midnight ride with this hot young lover, who
seems so fond of you?"

"She must be ready, General Santerre," said Denot, taking hold of
Agatha's hand: "it is now my turn to command her: she must be ready,
whether she be willing or no."

"You will not force me to leave my father?" said Agatha, appealing to
Santerre. "You will not deliver a poor unprotected girl into the hands
of such a maniac as that."

"Maniac!" said Denot. "But I care not; your words are to me like the
empty wind: the time had gone by for words between you and me, when you
refused to listen to those I addressed to you upon my knees. Come,
Agatha, come; my heart's treasure--for still you are so; come, my love,
my captive, and my bride!" And Denot essayed to go, as though he
expected Agatha to follow him through the world like a tame dog.

"Oh, Sir, protect me from him!" said Agatha, still appealing to
Santerre. "He is mad--you see and hear he is mad! I have not asked you
for my life, nor do I so now; but I pray you, I beseech you, by the
remembrance of the females who are dear to yourself save me from the
power of that frantic man. Had he not been mad, had he not utterly lost
his senses, he would have been the last to have brought you hither."

"I have thought something like that myself pretty one," said Santerre.
"Come, Denot, you shall talk to the lady tomorrow; we will leave her
with her father tonight." "Your word, General!" said Denot, assuming his
furious look, "your plighted word and honour. Was she not to be my
prize, my captive, my reward. You dare not go back from the promise you
have made me."

"Nonsense, man alive," said Santerre. "You can't carry her off tonight.
I believe in my heart she's right, and that you're as mad a man as ever
roared in a hospital. Let go her arm, I tell you; you shall not drag her
about in that way."

The Marquis, during this scene, was endeavouring to throw his arms round
his daughter, so as to protect her; but his efforts were but of little
avail. Agatha herself still held to her father by one hand, but the
other she was unable to extricate from her persecutor's grasp. She did
not scream or cry, for there was something within her--a memory of
Cathelineau's last moments, of her brother's gallantry, and her father's
loyalty, which strongly urged her to repress her tears before a
republican; but her strength was almost gone, her nerves were all but
over strung, when she heard a sudden noise behind her of some one
rushing into the room, and Adolphe Denot quickly dropped her hand, and
gave a yell of pain. He had received a sharp blow of a cherry switch
across his face, and the blood was running from both his cheeks.

Santerre, and the other republican officers in the room, put their hands
to their pistols, and prepared to defend themselves, but the only person
who appeared was a young boy: to be sure he had the dreadful red scarf
round his waist; but he had no weapon but his cherry stick, after having
given Denot the blow across his face, he made no farther use of that.
It was the little Chevalier who had arrived so opportunely; he took
Agatha's hand in his, and pressed it closely, and took his place beside
her without speaking a word.

"And who the deuce is this young bantam cock?" said Santerre.

"I am the little Chevalier Mondyon," said Arthur; "a true royalist, and
sworn knight to Agatha Larochejaquelin. And that man there is a traitor
and a false knave; he is not fit to be punished with a sword like a

"Well crowed, my bantam," said Santerre; "and be good enough to tell me
where you come from. No, friend Denot, no, we'll have no dagger work
just at present." And putting his huge hand on the other's shoulder, he
dragged him back as he was about to plunge his knife into the little

"I came from the cherry wood there," said Arthur. "Maybe you think I
ought not to have run away, and deserted my lady love. Maybe I'm rather
ashamed of my own self, but at any rate when you speak of it, say that
I came back of my own accord. I'm not a bit afraid to die now," and as
he spoke he squeezed Agatha's hand. His heart was full of apprehension,
lest she should suspect for a moment that he had really fled from her
through fear, but Agatha understood well his ready wit, and appreciated
his more than boyish courage.

Santerre now made his arrangements for the night. All the inhabitants
of the château were kept under strict surveillance. The Marquis, his
daughter, and the Chevalier were allowed to remain together, and Denot
was prevented from annoying them. At day-break the following morning
Durbellière was to be burnt, and Santerre, with his prisoners, would
then proceed to join Westerman at Bressuire.

"Let him slaughter them, if he likes," said he to himself, "I don't care
what he says of me. I am at any rate too well known to be suspected. I
don't know what came over me today, but had the Republic depended on it,
I could not have done it," and he flung himself down on one of Agatha's
sofas, and slept not the less soundly for having began his career of
extermination in so vacillating a manner.



The little Chevalier had no intention of saving himself, and deserting
his friends, when, on Santerre's approach, he ran off, leaving Agatha
and the Marquis at the garden door of the château. He knew that Chapeau
was at the smith's forge, with his own pony. He had himself sent him
there; and as soon as he perceived, on running round the side of the
house, that the whole front was occupied by the blues, his first idea
was to go after his pony, and ride as fast as the animal could carry him
to Echanbroignes, and bring the royalists from thence to the rescue of
their friends at Durbellière. With this object he clambered over the
garden-wall, and well knowing every foot of the ground, reached the
forge in a few minutes. Chapeau and the smith were there, as was also
the pony, and a breathless countryman was already telling them that the
château was surrounded by the whole army of blues.

"Here's the Chevalier," said Chapeau, stopping the peasant in his story.
"In the name of Heaven, M. Arthur, what is all this?"

"That traitor, Denot, has brought a parcel of blues down upon the
château," said the Chevalier. "The Marquis and Mademoiselle Agatha are
already in their hands; they will be murdered before morning. What is
to be done? Oh! Chapeau, what are we to do to save them?"

"M. Denot!" said Chapeau. "You don't mean to say M. Denot has turned

"I saw him with my own eyes," said the boy; "he was one of the officers
commanding the men; but there was another over him, a big, clumsy, noisy
man; he it was I saw first of all, and Denot was behind him; and then
there was a crowd of horsemen following them. Both drawing-rooms were
full before we knew they were in the house at all."

"And how did you get through them, M. Arthur?" said Chapeau.

"I got over the wall behind the stables. I never went into the house at
all. But what on earth are we to do, Chapeau? Can't we get the men from
Echanbroignes to come to the rescue?"

The matter was then discussed between them, and it was decided that
Chapeau should take the pony, and collect the men at Echanbroignes and
on the road thither, and that he should return with them, if possible,
during the night; that the smith should go off to St. Laud, and get
Father Jerome to bring with him the men from thence, and that Arthur
should return to the château.

"No," said he, when Chapeau pressed him to undertake the mission to
Echanbroignes, "I will not leave Mademoiselle Agatha and the Marquis any
longer. They will think I have run away. Besides, maybe, I can be of
some service to them there. At any rate, I will go and see what is going
on; but, Chapeau, our lives depend on you. Don't lose one single minute
now, even though you should ride poor Bayard to death," and he put his
hand on the neck of the pony, whom he had named after the flower of

Chapeau and the smith started on their important missions, and the
Chevalier slowly, but manfully, walked back to the château. No one
stopped him as he walked through the open gates, and in at the back
door. On getting into the hall, he heard the sound of the Marquis's
voice, as he was praying Santerre to preserve his daughter from Denot,
and then, hurrying into the room, he made use of the little cherry stick
which he carried, in the manner which has been described.

None of the inhabitants of the château went to bed that night; indeed,
the beds were all occupied by the troopers, who threw themselves down
to sleep, without taking off their boots, wherever they could find any
convenient place to lie down. To do Santerre justice, he repeatedly
pressed the Marquis to go to his own room, assuring him that he should
not be further disturbed than by the presence of a sentinel; but the old
man insisted on remaining in the salon, and Agatha and the Chevalier sat
with him. Santerre, and Denot, and a cavalry sergeant, remained in the
same room, and a couple of sentinels were stationed on the top of the
steps at the back of the house, and four at the front. None of the party
in the salon slept, excepting Santerre; but they all sat silent; neither
Arthur nor Agatha dared to speak to each other on the subject which at
that time filled their thoughts. The night seemed dreadfully long to
Arthur, and yet hardly long enough. He discovered soon after his return,
that it was Santerre's purpose to burn the château early in the morning,
and then to take the inhabitants away with him as prisoners; and he
greatly feared that Chapeau would not be able to return in time to
prevent the conflagration. He anxiously watched the first break of day,
and listened intently, but for a long time in vain, for the noise of
coming feet. About half-past two, a soldier came and whispered to the
sergeant, who then woke Santerre, and whispered to him, but the General
was sleepy, and did not wish his dreams should be disturbed. He muttered
something to the sergeant, who again left him, and resumed the seat in
which he had sat since he first entered the room. Denot had risen two
or three times during the night, and paced rapidly and uneasily about.
Whenever he had done so, Agatha had firmly grasped both her father's
chair and the Chevalier's hand, as though she feared he was about to
renew his attempts to drag her away, but he did not either touch her or
speak to her. He was probably aware that the sergeant, who sat there
without once closing his eyes through the long hours, had orders to
prevent him from doing so.

The Chevalier had no watch, and could not see how the hours were going,
but it seemed to him as though it were broad day. He thought it must be
five, six, nay seven o'clock; and he could not understand why the lazy
republicans remained so passive and so quiet, nor could he imagine why
Chapeau was so long in coming. The whole affair seemed to him so strange
that he could hardly help fancying that he was dreaming. There sat close
to him his dear friend Agatha, with her eyes wide open, fixed on Denot,
and she had been gazing in this way for hours after hours, without
speaking a word. There was the Marquis close to her, equally silent, but
also wide awake, though his eyes were closed. Arthur was sure that he
was awake. There was Denot marching to and fro. Adolphe Denot, who but
the other day was in the house, not only as a friend, but as a comrade,
eager in the cause in which they were all embarked, as much at home in
the château as Henri Larochejaquelin himself: and now he was the worst
of traitors, and the most cruel of enemies--there was the sergeant of
the republican army, sitting as quiet and composed as though he were
merely idling his time away in his own barracks; and there was
Santerre--the much talked of republican brewer and General; the
sanguinary, remorseless, fanatic democrat; the sworn enemy of all that
was noble, loyal and gentle, the dreaded Santerre; for the Chevalier had
now learned the name of the big, clumsy, noisy man, whom he had seen
leading his troops into the salon where he was now sleeping--there he
was, sleeping fast: while care, anxiety, or a sense of duty banished
sleep from all the others, he, who had so much more need than others to
be watchful, was snoring loud, and dreaming of the denizens of the
faubourgs, who used to love him so well. All this seemed to Arthur like
a dream from which he could not awake--there were his enemies, his
deadly enemies, before and around him. He knew that it was the practice
of the republican soldiers to massacre all whom they took bearing arms
against the Republic he had even heard that it was now their horrid
purpose to go further than this, and to slaughter the inhabitants of the
whole district which had revolted; at any rate his own doom would be
death; he was certain that he had not many days, probably many hours,
to live, unless Chapeau should arrive in time, and with sufficient
force, to rescue the whole party. Yet he felt no fear; he could not
sufficiently realize the position in which he found himself, to feel the
full effects of its danger. The republican sergeant sat immediately in
front of him, and each kept his eye fixed on the other's face; not that
either of them had any object in doing so, any particular motive for
watching the other's countenance, but soon after day-break the gaze of
each had become fixed, and it seemed as though neither of them were able
to turn away his eyes.

Arthur occupied his mind in speculating on the character of the soldier,
in trying to guess from his features whether he were a cruel or a
kind-hearted man; whether he were a ferocious democrat, eager for the
blood of all who had been born in a rank above him, or merely a well-
trained soldier, obeying the behests of those under whose orders it was
his duty to act. The Chevalier had no idea that his own or his friends'
fate depended in any way on the man's disposition; but such thoughts
came across his brain unwittingly, and he could not restrain them. At
last, he felt that he had a kind of intimacy with the sergeant; that if
he should chance to meet him after three or four years had passed, he
should greet him as an old acquaintance, whom he had well known, and he
was sure that the sergeant had the same feeling respecting him.

The day dawned soon after two o'clock, and as by degrees the clear
sun-light streamed in at the uncurtained windows, Arthur, in his
impatience, thought that the day was advancing; but in reality it was
not yet five o'clock, when Santerre, waking with a tremendous yawn,
stretched his huge limbs, and then jumped up from the sofa on which he
had been lying.

"Now for a bonfire," said he, "and then for breakfast; or perhaps we had
better get our breakfast first, and have our bonfire afterwards. Old
gentleman, I have no doubt my men took strange liberties with your
cellar and larder last night. I hope they have left enough about the
place to furnish you with the last meal you will ever eat in this

"I know, Sir, what soldiers are in a house," said the old man. "I will
not say that your men are welcome here, for that would be falsehood; but
I begrudge them nothing that they eat and drink"

"Well, that's kind of you; but, considering that all which is not now
eaten and drunk, will be immediately wasted and spoilt, you would
certainly be foolish to allow the consumption of your provisions to make
you uneasy. Here, sergeant," and then Santerre spoke aside to the
sergeant, and gave him various orders, which the man departed to obey.

"And now, General Santerre," said Denot, marching close up to him, "are
you prepared to make good your promise to me? Are you prepared to give
me an escort for myself and this lady, and to allow us to commence our
journey from hence to Saumur?"

Denot's personal appearance had not been at all improved by the blow
which Arthur had given him across his face. Both his cheeks were much
swollen immediately beneath the eyes, and one of them was severely cut.
He felt that his looks were against him, and he endeavoured to make up
for the injury his countenance had sustained by the sternness of his
voice, and the determined rigour of his eye. "I presume," General
Santerre," added he, "that your plighted word is sufficient warrant to
me for your good faith."

"There is the lady," said Santerre, pointing to Agatha. "I did not
undertake to protect you from the wrath of any rivals you might have in
her affections. It seems to me that at present she prefers that young
dare-devil slip of aristocracy to your patriotic ardour. If she won't
go to Saumur with you, I can't make her."

"By all the powers of heaven and hell, she shall go with me!" said
Denot, advancing towards her.

"Beware the switch--beware the switch again, thou false knave!" said the
little Chevalier, jumping up, and standing immediately before Agatha,
with his cherry stick in his hand. Denot had no other arms about him but
his dagger, and that he drew, as he advanced towards the boy.

"No daggers--I will have no daggers," shouted Santerre. "Sergeant, take
the dagger from him, unless he puts it up."

"Beware the switch, thou traitor! beware the switch, thou knave!"
continued the Chevalier, shaking the stick at Denot, upon whose arm the
strong hand of the sergeant, who had returned to the room, was now laid

"I will choke the brat as I would an adder," said Denot, attempting to
shake off the sergeant's hand. "There, take the dagger," and he dropped
it on the ground, and rushing at the boy, got inside the swing of his
stick, and made a grasp at his throat. Arthur, however, was too quick
for him, and pushing away his hand, fastened his own arms round his
adversary. They were now close locked in each other's embrace, and
kicking, plunging, and striving, each did his best to throw the other
to the ground.

"Oh! Sir, kind Sir, for mercy's sake separate them!" said Agatha,
appealing to Santerre; "he is but a boy, a child, and that wretched man
is mad. He'll murder the boy before your eyes, if you do not separate

"He won't find it so easy though," said the Chevalier, panting, and out
of breath; but still holding his own, and, indeed, more than his own;
for he had fixed his left hand in Denot's hair, and was pulling his head
backwards with such force, that he nearly broke his neck.

"I think the young one has the best of it," said Santerre; "but come,
citizen Denot, your loves and your quarrels are troublesome to us; we
have other work to attend to. Get up, man, get up, I tell you."

Denot, by his superior weight and strength, had succeeded in getting the
Chevalier to the ground, but Arthur still kept his hold in his hair, and
though Adolphe was on the top of his foe, he did not find it very easy
to get up.

"Get up, I say," said Santerre. "You'll gain nothing by wrestling with
that fellow; he's more than a match for you. Well, Captain, what's the

The room in which the party had passed the night looked out into the
garden at the back of the house. The front room communicated with this
by folding-doors, which during the night had been closed. These doors
were now violently thrown open, and one of the officers, followed by
about a dozen men, rushed into the room.

"The road is crowded with men," said the officer; "thousands of these
brigands are on us. The château will be surrounded in five minutes."

"H--and the d--," said Santerre between his teeth. "This comes of
playing the fool here," and he hurried out of the room in company with
the officer.

"Hurrah!" said the Chevalier, jumping to his feet. "I knew they'd be
here soon--I knew they'd be here soon," and running to Agatha's side he
caught hold of her hand, and covered it with kisses.

Denot also arose. He had also heard the officer say that the peasants
were coming on them, and he felt that if he were taken, he could expect
no mercy from those who had so lately been his friends. He did not,
however, attempt to fly, but he stood still on the spot where he got up,
and after wiping his hot brow with his handkerchief, he said slowly and
mournfully--"Agatha Larochejaquelin, you now see to what your conduct
has reduced me; and with my last breath I tell you that I owe my
disgrace, my misery, and my death--ay, and the loss of my eternal soul,
to you, and to you only. Ay, shudder and shake, thou lovely monster of
cruelty. Shake and grieve with remorse and fear. You may well do so. My
living form shall trouble you no more, but dead and dying I will be with
you till the last trump sounds on the fearful day of judgment."

Agatha did not answer him. She felt assured that he was mad, and she
only pitied him. She had now too reason to hope that she and her father,
and their whole household, would be relieved from their horrible
position, and she no longer felt anything like anger against the
unfortunate wretch whom uncontrolled passions had absolutely maddened.
Arthur, in his anxiety to see what was going forward, was about to leave
the room, but Agatha laid her hand upon his arm to detain him, merely
looking towards Denot as she did so.

"And do you think," said Denot, "that puny boy could really stop my way,
if I chose to put out my right hand against him. Boy, I despise and
disregard you! would before I die that it might be allowed me to measure
arms with any man, who would dare to say that he would advocate your

"Beware the switch, traitor--beware the switch!" repeated the Chevalier.

"Be quiet, Arthur, do not anger him," whispered Agatha. "It is not
generous, you know, to insult a fallen foe."

"There are no terms to be kept with a traitor, Agatha. If we get the
better of this, Santerre, as I am sure we shall now, you shall see that
I know how to treat a generous foe generously."

When Santerre reached the front of the house, he at once saw that any
attempt on his part to oppose the crowd of armed peasants who were now
close upon him, would be futile. The only mode of escape which appeared
to him at all practicable, was to attempt to ride through them. He gave
the command "to horse," and got so far himself as to mount into his
saddle; but it was of no use, he was surrounded by a crowd of peasants
before he got to the gate, and he soon found himself on foot again, and
unarmed. Some ten or twenty of his men, who were ready to jump into the
saddle at the moment when they were first aware of the approach of the
royalists, escaped, but the remainder in a few minutes found themselves
prisoners in the château.

The peasants were headed by Father Jerome, the priest of St. Laud, and
it was he who first mounted the steps leading up to the front door of
the house. "Thank God," said he, speaking more to himself than to those
around him. "Thank God!" and he stood up against the pedestal of one of
the lions, the heavy wooden crucifix which he had carried in his hand
as he marched, or rather ran, to the succour of his friends at
Durbellière; and then he took off his cap, and with the sleeve of his
dusty grey coat he wiped the perspiration from off his brow. "And the
Marquis and Mademoiselle are unhurt? Thank God--thank God! we were just
in time, but we had a smart run for it."

Chapeau had already dived into the kitchen through the window, and had
learnt that at any rate the republicans had as yet shed no blood.

"And how did the Marquis bear it, Momont?" said he. "It was enough to
kill the old gentleman."

"'Why, yes," said Momont. "We had to bear a good deal, but we did bear
it manfully and well. We were all led out to be shot, you know."

"What, the Marquis and Mademoiselle and all?" said Chapeau.

"No, not the Marquis and Mademoiselle; they were to be beheaded after
us, but the rest of us were all taken out--the muskets loaded--the men
to shoot us all in a line."

"Oh! Chapeau, it was so awfully dreadful," said the cook. "If I live a
thousand years I shall never get over this night,"

"Oh, yes! most dreadfully awful," said the laundress. "I was carried in
from the spot, and have not been able to move a limb since. I doubt I
never shall put a foot to the ground again."

"The muskets were to their shoulders," continued Momont. "We heard them
cocked: each man took deliberate aim; the women here were screeching and

"Of course we were," said the confidential maid. "Hadn't we good cause
to scream, waiting to be killed every minute. I'm sure I wonder I ever
came to my senses again. I declare when they came to pick me up, I
thought it was all over, and that I'd been shot already."

"Well, I don't think anybody heard me scream," said Momont: "but there's
a difference I know between a man and a woman. 'It's all for my King and
my master,' said I to myself. Besides a man can die but once, and it's
a great thing to die honourably." The old man turned round to receive
the approbation, which he considered was due to the sentiment he had
expressed, and found that Chapeau was gone. The kitchen, however, was
filled with peasants, and in them Momont found ready listeners and warm

Both Chapeau and the priest had spent the greater portion of the night
in collecting what they considered would be a sufficient number of men
to enable them to attack, with any chance of success, the republican
soldiers who had taken possession of Durbellière. They had neither of
them the slightest idea what amount of force had been brought against
the château, and, consequently, wasted much time in procuring many more
men than were necessary for the purpose. The three hundred, who were
immediately got together on the sounding of the tocsin in the village
of Echanbroignes, would have been sufficient to have done the work
without further assistance, for they were all well armed, and, by this
time, tolerably well trained in the use of their arms.

There was ten times more confusion now in the château, than there had
been during the night: every room and passage was crowded with peasants,
who took up their positions there under the plea of guarding their
prisoners, and with the girls and women of the neighbourhood who flocked
to that place, as soon as they heard that the horrible blues were all
prisoners, and that the Marquis and Mademoiselle were once more at
liberty. Agatha's troubles were by no means ended. Provisions of some
kind were to be procured for the friends who had come so far and done
so much to relieve them; and she had no one on whom she could depend to
assist her in procuring them: the servants all considered themselves
utterly unfitted for anything, except talking of the events of the
evening; and though every one was burning with affection and zeal for
Monseigneur and Mademoiselle, no one appeared willing to make himself

The reaction on his feelings was too much for the poor Marquis. During
the long evening and night, in which he had been a prisoner and looking
forward to nothing but death; in which he had sat beside his
fondly-loved daughter, whose fate he feared would be so much more
horrible than death itself, he had patiently and manfully born his
sufferings; he had even displayed a spirit for which few gave him
credit, who were accustomed to his gentle temper and mild manners; but
the unexpected recovery of his own and his daughter's liberty upset him
entirely. As soon as he had pressed Father Jerome's hand, and thanked
Chapeau fur what he had done, he begged that he might be carried off to
his bed, and left there quietly till the return of his son, for whom,
he was told, a messenger had been sent.

Santerre and Denot were both kept under a strong guard in the saloon in
which they had passed the night; and there the priest, Chapeau, and the
young Chevalier passed the greater part of the day, anxiously waiting
the arrival of Henri Larochejaquelin.

"I never liked that man," said the priest, whispering to Arthur and
Chapeau, for the latter, from his exertion and zeal was looked upon
rather as an officer in the royalist army, than as a servant. "I never
liked Adolphe Denot, but I could never say why. The tone of his voice
was disagreeable to me, and the expression of his features aroused in
me both dislike and distrust. It is not long since M. Henri rebuked me
for being hard on him, and judging him harshly; and I was angry with
myself for having done so. I knew, however, there was something wrong
within him. He has turned out to be as base a creature as ever trod the

"It will be a desperate blow to M. Henri," said Chapeau, "for he loved
him as though he were his brother."

"I will be his brother now," said Arthur; "he shall love me in his

"Ah! M. Arthur," said Chapeau, "his heart is large enough to love us
both; but when he hears how nobly you behaved last night, how you stood
by Mademoiselle Agatha, and protected her, you will be his real brother

The little Chevalier's heart rose high within him, as he attempted to
speak slightingly of his own services. "Oh!" said he, "I couldn't do
much, you know, for I had only a stick; but of course we red scarfs will
always stick to each other. Denot, you know, never was a red scarf Well,
thank heaven for that; but I tell you what, Father Jerome, that Santerre
is not such a bad fellow; and so I shall tell Henri; he is not a bad
fellow at all, and he scorns Denot as he deserves to be scorned."



It will be remembered that the party escaping from the Château of
Clisson met Jean Stein, when they had come within four or five leagues
of Durbellière. He had been sent from Echanbroignes, by Chapeau, to tell
Henri what had happened, to assure him that every possible effort would
be made to rescue his father and sister from the republicans, and if
possible to save the château, and to beg him to return home as speedily
as he possibly could. Jean was spared the greatest portion of his
journey, and having told his tale, added that perhaps "Messieurs would
not think it prudent to take the ladies with them to Durbellière just
at present."

"Oh heavens! what are we to do?" said Madame de Lescure; "we are running
from one hostile army into the middle of another. Poor Agatha! my poor
Agatha! what will become of her?"

"Had we not better send them to Chatillon?" said Henri, speaking to de
Lescure. "They will, at any rate, be safe there for a time."

"We won't be sent any where--indeed we won't--will we, Marie?" said
Madame de Lescure. "Pray, Charles, pray do not send us away. Let us go
where you go. It cannot be worse for us than it is for you."

"You cannot go to the château, dearest, when we have every reason to
suppose it is in the hands of the republicans, and more than probably
burnt to the ground by this time."

"Oh! don't send me back to Chatillon," said Marie; "it would be hours
and hours before we should hear what happens to you, and what has
happened to Agatha."

"If the ladies wouldn't think ill of going to Echanbroignes," said Jean
Stein, "they would be safe there, and near at hand to learn all as it
goes on at Durbellière. I am sure father and Annot would do their best
to make the ladies comfortable, as long as they might be pleased to stay

After considerable discussion this plan was adopted. The party travelled
on together, till the roads to Durbellière and Echanbroignes separated;
and then, with many charges, the two ladies were entrusted to the care
of the smith's son.

"We will come to you, or send to you the moment we are able," said de
Lescure," whether our news be good or bad. I trust we shall find them
safe, and that we shall all be together tomorrow at Durbellière."

Marie and Madame de Lescure reached the village safely late in the
evening, and found no one in the smith's house but Annot. Even Michael
Stein himself had been moved by hearing that the republicans were
absolutely in possession of the château, and, old as he was, he had made
his way over to Durbellière, and had not yet returned. Annot, however,
received them with good news; she had heard different messages from the
château during the day, and was able to tell them not only that the
Marquis, Agatha, and the house were safe, but that the republican
soldiers were all prisoners, and that Santerre--that object of horror
to many Vendean royalists, had himself been captured by the strong hand
and bold heart of Jacques Chapeau.

Neither of the ladies knew Annot Stein, or had even heard of her; but
Annot, though at present she was rather doleful, was not long in making
herself known to them, and explaining to them her own particular
connexion with the château.

She made up her own bed for one of them, and her father's for the other.
They were not, she said, such as ladies like them were accustomed to
sleep on, but the sheets were clean, and perhaps for one night they
would excuse the want of better accommodation. Madame de Lescure and
Marie declared that they were only too happy in being able to rest
quietly, with the knowledge that their friends were in safety. Poor
ladies! they were destined before long to encounter worse hardships than
Annot Stein's little bed, and frugal supper.

"But, Madame," said Annot, as she sat demurely on the corner of her
chair, "this Santerre is not the sort of man at all we all took him to
be. Peter was over here, though he has gone back again now, and Peter
says he is quite a good fellow in his way."

"What, Santerre!" said Marie, shuddering. "Oh! he is a most horrid
monster! It was he that led out our dear sainted King to be murdered;
it was he that urged on the furious mob to spill so much blood. They say
that in all Paris there is not a greater wretch than this Santerre."

"I don't know, Mademoiselle," said Annot, "but he certainly wasn't so
bad last night, for he might have killed them all had he chosen: and
instead of that he didn't kill any one, or let any of his party kill
them either, only he frightened poor old Momont nearly to death."

"God may have softened his heart," said Madame de Lescure; "if he has
really spared our friends, we will not speak ill of him."

"If he has done so," said Marie, "he will have his reward; for I am sure
Charles and Henri will spare him now that he is in their power."

"That's just what the people say," said Annot; "they say that it's M.
Henri's turn to be generous now, and that they're sure he won't hurt a
hair of this Santerre. Only they're determined on one thing--and it was
all Chapeau and Father Jerome could do to stop them till M. Henri came
home--they are determined to hang that horrid wretch Denot, the
monster! I shouldn't wonder if he were swinging by this time."

"And is it really true," said Madame de Lescure, "that it was M. Denot
who led the republicans to Durbellière?"

"Oh! that's a positive fact," said Annot, "there's no doubt on earth
about that; and behaved most brutally to Mademoiselle Agatha. He would
have killed her with his own hand, before her father, only M. Santerre
wouldn't let him. He had his dagger out and all, and M. Santerre took
it from him with his own hand, and wouldn't let him speak another word.
Oh! indeed, ladies, M. Santerre is not half so bad as he looks to be."

"People say that the father of evil himself is painted blacker than he
really is," said Marie.

"I don't know about that, Mademoiselle, and I didn't hear that this
Santerre was painted black at all; and if he were so, I think Peter
would have told me. But then, ladies, the little Chevalier Mondyon came
in in the middle. It was he that sent Chapeau over here to bring the red
scarfs to the rescue. He is a little darling, is the Chevalier. I
suppose you know him, Mademoiselle?"

"Indeed I do, Annot, and love him dearly; he is an old sweetheart of

"He's too young to have a sweetheart yet, Mademoiselle; but you'll see
some of the ladies will be quarrelling for him yet, when he's a year or
two older. Well, after sending Jacques over here, he went back as bold
as possible into the middle of the republicans, before Santerre and all.
M. Denot was at his worst then. He had hold of Mademoiselle Agatha, and
was dragging her away from the Marquis, in spite of Santerre and the
whole of them, when the Chevalier raises his stick, and strikes him
across the face. I warrant you he let go Mademoiselle's hand when he
felt the sharp stick come across his eyes."

"It must have been a horrid sight for Agatha," said Madame de Lescure.

"Oh! indeed it was, Madame. Only fancy that traitor Denot going on in
that way, right before her eyes all night, and no one to protect her but
the little Chevalier; for when it got late M. Santerre threw himself on
the floor, and slept and snored like a hog. They say it was all for
love, Mademoiselle. They say this Denot was greatly in love with
Mademoiselle Agatha, and that she wouldn't look at him. Is it true, she
was so very scornful to him?"

"She was never scornful to any one," said Marie; "but if he ever asked
her for her love, I have no doubt she told him that she could not give
it to him."

"That's just what they say; and that then he asked her more and more,
and went down on his knees to her, and prayed her just as much as to
look at him; and kissed her feet, and cried dreadfully; and that all she
did was to turn aside her face, and bid him rise and leave her."

"What would you nave had her say, Annot, if she felt that she could not
love him?"

"Oh! I'm not presuming to find fault with her, Mademoiselle; heaven
forbid! Of course, if she couldn't love him, she could do nothing but
refuse him. But, heigho! it's a very dreadful thing to think of that a
nice young man like him--for I'm told that this Denot was a very nice
young man--should be so bewildered by love as he has been."

"Love couldn't make a man a traitor," said Marie, "nor yet a coward."

"I don't know, Mademoiselle, love is a very fearful thing when it
doesn't go right. Perhaps love never made you feel so angry that you'd
like to eat your lover's heart?"

"Gracious goodness, no," said Marie; "why, Annot, where did you get such
a horrid idea as that?"

"Ah! Mademoiselle, your lover's one in a hundred! So handsome, so noble,
so good, so grand, so amiable, so everything that a young lady could
wish to dream about: one, too, that never has vagaries and jealousies,
and nasty little aggravating ways. Oh! Mademoiselle, I look upon you as
the happiest young lady in the world.

"What on earth, Annot, do you know about my lover, or how on earth can
you know that I have a lover at all? Why, child, I and my cousin Agatha
are both going to be nuns at St. Laurent."

"The blessed Virgin forbid it," said Annot. "Not but what Mademoiselle
Agatha would look beautiful as a nun. She has the pale face, and the
long straight nose, and the calm melancholy eyes, just as a nun ought
to have; but then she should join the Carmelite ladies at the rich
convent of our Blessed Lady at St. Maxent, where they all wear beautiful
white dresses and white hoods, and have borders to their veils, and look
so beautiful that there need hardly be any change in them when they go
to heaven; and not become one of those dusty-musty black sisters of
mercy at St. Laurent."

"That's your idea of a nun, is it?" said Madame de Lescure.

"I'm sure, Madame, I don't know why any girl should try to make herself
look ugly, if God has made her as beautiful as Mademoiselle Agatha."

"And you think then Mademoiselle de Lescure is not fit for a nun at

"Oh, Madame, we all know she is going to be married immediately to the
finest, handsomest, most noble young nobleman in all Poitou. Oh! I'd
give all the world to have such a lover as M. Henri just for ten
minutes, to see him once kneeling at my feet."

"For ten minutes," said Marie. "What good would that do you? that would
only make you unhappy when the ten minutes were gone and past."

"Besides, what would you say to him in that short time?" said Madame de

"Say to him! I don't know what I'd say to him. I don't think I'd say one
word, but I'd give him such a look, so full of affection and gratitude,
and admiration, and--and--and downright real true love; that, if he had
any heart in him at all, I don't think he'd be so base as to go away
from me when the ten minutes were over."

"That's what you call borrowing a lover for ten minutes, is it?" said
Marie; "and if, as you say, this young gentleman is my property, what
am I to do for a lover the while?"

"I was only wishing, Mademoiselle, and you know there's no harm in
wishing. Besides, the finest lady in the world couldn't rob you of your
lover, let alone a poor girl like me. He is so true, and so noble, and
so good."

"And have not you a lover of your own, Annot?"

"Oh, indeed I have, and a very good one. For all my talking in that way,
I was never badly off for lovers, and now I've chosen one for good and
all; and I love him dearly, Madame; dote on him, and so does he on me,
but for all that there was a time when I really would have eaten his
heart, if I could have got at it."

"But that was before you had accepted each other."

"Not at all, Mademoiselle; not long since. I loved then as dearly as I
do now, but he let me walk home by myself three long leagues without
speaking a word to me, and all because I said that a man in a picture
had fine whiskers."

"A man in a picture! why this lover of yours must be a very jealous man,
or else he must be very badly off for whiskers himself?"

"No he's not, Mademoiselle; he's as nice a pair as you'd wish to see;
that is, begging your pardon, as nice a pair as I'd wish to see; and
he's not a jealous man either about other things."

"And when do you mean to marry him, Annot?"

"Oh, Mademoiselle, we are only waiting for you."

"Waiting for me, child! What on earth do you mean? who told you I was
going to be married at all?"

It was no wonder that Marie should be astonished at finding her wedding
so confidently spoken of by a stranger in Echanbroignes, considering
that it was not yet twenty-four hours since Henri had declared his love
for her at Clisson.

"But you are going to be married to M. Henri, are you not,

"Who told you all this? how is it you come to know so much about this
young lady and M. Henri?" said Madame de Lescure.

"Why, Jacques Chapeau told me. My own husband, that is, as is to be."

"Oh! that explains the mystery," said Marie; "and so Chapeau is your
lover is he? Chapeau is the man who couldn't bear the mention of the
fine pair of whiskers you saw in the picture? and did he tell you that
his master was going to be married immediately?" and Marie blushed as
she asked the question.

"Indeed he did, Mademoiselle, and he said besides--"

"Well, what did he say besides?"

"Why, I hardly like to say now, Mademoiselle; it will look like asking
a favour when I thought you could not well refuse it; and perhaps
Jacques was wrong to say anything at all about it."

Marie, however, was not long in inducing Annot to reveal to her
Chapeau's little plan of taking his own wife over to Durbellière to wait
upon his master's wife, and she, moreover, promised that, as far as she
herself was concerned, she would consent to the arrangement, if, which
she expressly inserted, she should ever marry M. Larochejaquelin.

"But an't you engaged to him, Mademoiselle?"

"Well, Annot," answered she, "as you have told me so much, I don't mind
telling you that I am. But it will be long, probably, before I am
married, if ever I am. Men have other things to think of now than
marriage, and, alas! women too. We must wait till the wars are over,

"But I thought the wars were over now, Mademoiselle. Haven't they got
that Santerre prisoner up at Durbellière?"

"There's much, very much, I fear to do yet, and to suffer, before the
wars will be really over," said Madame de Lescure. "Heaven help us, and
guide us, and protect us! Come, Marie, let us go to rest, for I trust
Charles will send for us early in the morning."

Annot gave such assistance to her two guests as they required, and was
within her power, and then seating herself in her father's large arm
chair in the kitchen, pondered over the misery of living in times when
men were so busy fighting with their enemies, that they had not even
leisure to get married.

"And what, after all, is the use of these wars?" said she to herself
"What do they get by taking so many towns, and getting so many guns, and
killing so many men? I don't know who's the better for it, but I know
very well who's the worse. Why can't they let the blues alone; and the
blues let them alone? I worked my poor fingers to the bone making a
white flag before they went to Saumur, and all they did was to leave it
in the streets of Nantes. There's not so much as a bottle of beer, and
hardly a bushel of flour left in Echanbroignes. There's the poor dear
lovely Cathelineau dead and gone. There's M. Henri engaged to the girl
of his heart, and he can't so much as stay a day from fighting to get
himself married; and there's Jacques just as bad. If Jacques cares a bit
for me, he must take himself off, and me with him, to some place where
there's not quite so much fighting, or else I'll be quit of him and go
without him. I've no idea of living in a place where girls are not, to
be married till the wars are over. Wars, wars, wars; I'm sick of the
wars with all my heart."



After parting with their companion, de Lescure and Henri were not long
in reaching Durbellière; and on the road thither they also learnt that
Santerre, and upwards of a hundred blue horsemen, were prisoners in the
château, or in the barns, out-houses, or stables belonging to it; and
that the whole place was crowded with peasants, guarding their captives.
As they entered the château gates, they met Chapeau, who was at the
bottom of the steps, waiting for them; and Henri immediately asked after
his father.

"Monseigneur is much fatigued," said Chapeau, "but apparently well; he
is, however, still in bed."

"And my sister?" said Henri.

"Mademoiselle has of course been much fatigued, but she is well; she is
with your father, M. Henri."

"And tell me, Chapeau, is it true, is it really true that M. Denot
brought the blues here, and that since he has been here he has treated
my sister in the manner they describe?"

"It is true as gospel, M. Henri. I knew that this would be the worst of
the whole affair to you. I knew you would sooner the château should have
been burnt than have heard this. We are only waiting for you and M. de
Lescure, to hang him as a traitor from the big chestnut out on the road-
side. You might have seen as you came in, that they have the ropes and
everything ready."

Henri shuddered as he followed his cousin into the house. The steps were
crowded with his own followers, who warmly welcomed him, and
congratulated him on the safety of his father, his sister, and his
property; but he said very little to them; he was thinking of the friend
whom he had loved so well, who had so vilely disgraced himself, and
whose life he now feared he should be unable to save.

"Where is he?" said he to Chapeau.


"No--M. Denot."

"He is in the great salon, with Santerre, and Father Jerome, and the
Chevalier, and three or four of the lads from Echanbroignes."

"Charles," said he, as he reached the door of the salon, "do you go in.
You are better able to say what should be said, and to do what must be
done, than I am. I will go up to my father. But, Charles," and he spoke
into his ear, so that no one else should hear him, "save his life--for
my sake, save his life. He is mad, and does not know what he has been
doing." De Lescure pressed his cousin's hand, and as Henri ran up stairs
to his father, he entered the room, where the party abovementioned were

The occupants of the room certainly formed a very remarkable group. The
first person whom de Lescure saw was Adolphe Denot; he was seated in a
large arm-chair, placed against the wall immediately opposite the door,
and between the stove and the folding-doors which opened into the other
room. His legs were stretched out to their full length before him his
hands were clasped together between his legs; his head was bent down,
so that his chin rested on his breast; he was scowling awfully, his
eyebrows nearly met above his eyes, and he continued constantly curling
and twisting his lips, sometimes shewing his teeth, and sometimes
completely covering his under with his upper lip. He had sat twelve
hours, since Agatha had left the room in the morning, without speaking
a word, or once changing his position. He had refused food when it had
been brought to him, with an indignant shake of the head; and when
Santerre had once half jocularly told him to keep up his spirits, and
prove himself a man, he had uttered a horrible sound, which he had meant
for a laugh of derision, such as is sometimes heard to proceed from
dark-haired, diabolical, provincial tragedians.

There were three men from Echanbroignes in the room, distinguished by
the notable red scarf, acting as guards, to prevent the escape of the
prisoners; but as the two objects of their care during the whole day had
made no attempt at escaping, the guards had by degrees laid aside the
eager watchfulness with which they had at first expressed their
readiness to pounce upon their captives, should they by any motion have
betrayed an intention to leave their seats, and were now resting on
three chairs in a row, each man having his musket between his legs, and
looking as though they were peculiarly tired of their long inactive
services. Santerre and Father Jerome were seated together on a sofa, and
the Chevalier occupied a chair on the other side of a table on which the
prisoner and the priest were leaning. When Santerre found that he and
his men were in the hands of the royalist peasants, he at first rather
lost both his temper and his presence of mind. He saw at once that
resistance was out of the question, and that there was very little
chance that he would be able to escape; he began to accuse himself of
rashness in having accepted from the Convention the very disagreeable
commission which had brought him into his present plight, and to wish
that he was once more among his legitimate adherents in the Quartier St.
Antoine. He soon, however, regained his equanimity. Those whom he had
in his rough manner treated well, returned the compliment; and he
perceived that, though he would probably be kept a prisoner, his life
would not be in danger, and that the royalists were not inclined to
treat him either with insult or severity.

He by degrees got into conversation with the Chevalier; and before the
day was over, even Father Jerome, much as he abhorred a republican, and
especially a leader of republicans, and an infidel, as he presumed
Santerre to be, forgot his disgust, and chatted freely with the captive
Commissioner. The three dined together in the afternoon, and when de
Lescure entered the room, wine and glasses were still on the table. A
crowd of the royalist peasants followed de Lescure to the door of the
salon, and would have entered it with him, had not Chapeau, with much
difficulty, restrained them. They were most anxious to hear sentence
pronounced on the traitor, who had betrayed their cause, and insulted
the sister of their favourite leader; and could not understand why the
punishment, which he had so richly merited, should be delayed. All that
Chapeau and Father Jerome had ventured to ask of them was to wait till
Henri himself should arrive; and now, that he had come, they conceived
that judgment should at once be passed, and sentence of death
immediately executed.

When de Lescure entered the room, they all, except Denot, rose from
their chairs; the three guards stood up, and shouldered their muskets,
the Chevalier ran up to him to shake hands with him, and Father Jerome
also came out into the middle of the room to meet him. He looked first
at Denot, who kept his eyes steadily fixed on the ground; and then at
Santerre, whom he had never, to his knowledge, seen before. Santerre,
however, knew him, for he immediately called him by his name.

"My soldiers have met with a reverse, General de Lescure," said he,
"which has thrown me and them into the power of your friends. I take the
earliest opportunity of thanking you for the kind treatment we have

"If, at some future time, when our soldiers may be in your power, you
will remember it; the Marquis de Larochejaquelin will feel himself amply
repaid for such attention as he has been able to shew you," said de

"You know we were in General Santerre's power last night," said the
Chevalier; "and he could have shot us all had he pleased it; indeed we
all expected it, when the blues came upon us."

"They shall not find that we will be less merciful, Arthur," said de
Lescure. "General Santerre knows that the Vendean royalists have never
disgraced themselves by shedding the blood of the prisoners whom the
chance of war may have thrown into their hands. He knows that they can
be brave without being cruel. I grieve to say that the republicans have
hitherto not often allowed us to repay mercy with mercy. We shall now
be glad to take advantage of the opportunity of doing so."

"What will you do with him, M. de Lescure," said Father Jerome in a
whisper, pointing to Denot. "I never before saw the people greedy for
blood; but now they declare that no mercy should be shown to a traitor."

"We must teach them, Father Jerome, that it is God's will that those who
wish to be pardoned themselves must pardon others. You have taught them
lessons more difficult to learn than this; and I do not doubt that in
this, as in other things, they will obey their priest." And as he spoke
de Lescure laid his hand on the Curé's shoulder.

"You won't hang him then?" whispered the Chevalier.

"You wouldn't have me do so, would you, Arthur?"

"Who--I?" said the boy. "No--that is, I don't know. I wouldn't like to
have to say that anybody should be hung; but if anybody ever did deserve
it, he does."

"And you, Father Jerome?" said de Lescure, "you agree with me? You would
not have us sully our pure cause with a cold-blooded execution?"

The three were now standing at an open window, looking into the garden.
Their backs were turned to Santerre and Denot, and they were speaking
in low whispers; but nevertheless Denot either guessed or overheard that
he was the subject of their conversation. The priest did not immediately
answer de Lescure's appeal. In his heart he thought that the
circumstances not only justified, but demanded the traitor's death; but,
remembering his profession, and the lessons of mercy it was his chief
business to teach, he hesitated to be the first to say that he thought
the young man should be doomed.

"Well, Father Jerome," said de Lescure, looking into the priest's face,
"surely you have no difficulty in answering me?"

The Curé was saved the necessity of answering the appeal; for while he
was still balancing between what he thought to be his duty, and that
which was certainly his inclination, Denot himself interrupted the

"M. de Lescure," said he, in the deep, hoarse, would-be solemn voice,
which he now always affected to use. De Lescure turned quickly round,
and so did his companions. The words of a man who thinks that he is
almost immediately about to die are always interesting.

"If you are talking about me," said the unfortunate wretch, "pray spare
yourself the trouble. I neither ask, nor wish for any mercy at your
hands. I am ready to die."

As de Lescure looked at him, and observed the alteration which a few
weeks had made in his appearance--his sunken, sallow cheeks; his wild
and bloodshot eyes; his ragged, uncombed hair, and soiled garments--as
he thought of his own recent intimacy with him--as he remembered how
often he had played with him as a child, and associated with him as a
man--that till a few days since he had been the bosom friend of his own
more than brother, Henri Larochejaquelin, the tears rushed to his eyes
and down his cheeks. In that moment the scene in the council-room at
Saumur came to his mind, and he remembered that there he had rebuked
Adolphe Denot for his false ambition, and had probably been the means
of driving him to the horrid crime which he had committed. Though he
knew that the traitor's iniquity admitted of no excuse, he sympathized
with the sufferings which had brought him to his present condition. He
turned away his head, as the tears rolled down his cheeks, and felt that
he was unable to speak to the miserable man.

Had de Lescure upbraided him, Denot's spirit, affected and unreal as it
was, would have enabled him to endure it without flinching. He would
have answered the anger of his former friend with bombast, and might
very probably have mustered courage enough to support the same character
till they led him out to death. But de Lescure's tears affected him. He
felt that he was pitied; and though his pride revolted against the
commiseration of those whom he had injured, his heart was touched, and
his voice faltered, as he again declared that he desired no mercy, and
that he was ready to die.

"Ready to die!" said the Curé, "and with such a weight of sin upon your
conscience; ready to be hurried before the eternal judgment seat,
without having acknowledged, even in your own heart, the iniquity of
your transgressions!"

"That, Sir, is my concern," said Denot. "I knew the dangers of the task
before I undertook it, and I can bear the penalties of failure without
flinching. I fear them not, either in this world or in any other world
to come."

De Lescure, overcome with distress, paced up and down the room tifi
Chapeau entered it, and whispered to him, that the peasants outside were
anxious to know what next they were to do, and that they were clamorous
for Denot's execution. "They are determined to hang him," continued
Chapeau, who had induced de Lescure to leave the room, and was now
speaking to him in the hall. "They say that you and M. Henri may do what
you please about Santerre and the soldiers, but that Adolphe Denot has
betrayed the cause, insulted Mademoiselle, and proved himself unfit to
live; and that they will not leave the château as long as a breath of
life remains in his body."

"And you, Chapeau, what did you say to them in reply?"

"Oh, M. de Lescure, of course I said that that must be as you and M.
Henri pleased."

"Well, Chapeau, now go and tell them this," said de Lescure: "tell them
that we will not consent that this poor wretch shall be killed, and that
his miserable life has already been granted to him. Tell them also, that
if they choose to forget their duty, their obedience, and their oaths,
and attempt to seize Denot's person, neither I nor M. Henri will ever
again accompany them to battle, and that they shall not lay a hand upon
him till they have passed over our bodies. Do you understand?"

Chapeau said that he did understand, and with a somewhat melancholy
face, he returned to the noisy crowd, who were waiting for their victim
in the front of the house. "Well, Jacques," said one of them, an elderly
man, who had for the time taken upon himself the duties of a leader
among them, and who was most loud in demanding that sentence should be
passed upon Denot. "We are ready, and the rope is ready, and the gallows
is ready, and we are only waiting for the traitor. We don't want to
hurry M. Henri or M. de Lescure, but we hope they will not keep us
waiting much longer."

"You need not wait any longer," said Chapeau, "for Adolphe Denot is not
to be hung at all. M. de Lescure has pardoned him. Yes, my friends, you
will be spared an unpleasant job, and the rope and the tree will not be

"Pardoned him--pardoned Adolphe Denot--pardoned the traitor who brought
Santerre and the republicans to Durbellière--pardoned the wretch who so
grossly insulted Mademoiselle Agatha, and nearly killed M. le Marquis,"
cried one after another immediately round the door. "If we pardon him,
there will be an end of honesty and good faith. We will pardon our
enemies, because M. de Lescure asks us. We will willingly pardon this
Santerre and all his men. We will pardon everything and anybody, if M.
Henri or M de Lescure asks it, except treason, and except a traitor. Go

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