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La Vendee by Anthony Trollope

Part 9 out of 10

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"There's something more besides that," said the second, "for he's always
fearful that people should take him for a coward. He's always asking us
whether we ever saw him turn his back to the enemy; and bidding us be
sure, whenever he falls in battle, to tell the Vendeans how well he
fought. That's what makes us all so sure that he came from the other
side of the water."

"Then, when he's in the middle of the hottest of the fight," said the
first, "he halloos out 'Now for Saumur--here's for Saumur--now for the
bridge of Saumur!' To be sure he talks a deal about Saumur, and I think
myself he must have been wounded there badly, somewhere near the brain."

Though Henri did not quite understand why Denot should especially allude
to Saumur in his mad moments, yet he understood enough of what the men
told him about their Captain, to be sure that Adolphe was the man; and
though he could not but be shocked to hear him spoken of as a madman,
yet he rejoiced in his heart to find that he had done something to
redeem his character as a loyal soldier. He learnt that Denot had been
above two months in Brittany; that he had first appeared in the
neighbourhood of Laval with about two hundred men, who had followed him
thither out of that province, and that he had there been joined by as
many more belonging to Maine, and that since that time he had been
backwards and forwards from one town to another, chiefly in the
Morbihan; and that he had succeeded in almost every case in driving the
republican garrison from the towns which he attacked.

After Henri had remained a couple of hours in the guard-house, and when
it was near midnight, Chapeau returned. He had found out the lodgings
of the journeyman baker, had gone thither, and had learnt, after many
inquiries, which were very nearly proving ineffectual, that the Mad
Captain, whoever he was, occupied a little bed-room at the top of the
same house, and that he was, at the very moment at which these inquiries
were being made, fast asleep in his bed, having given his Lieutenant,
the journeyman baker, strict orders to call him at three o'clock in the

Henri and Chapeau again started on their search; and making their way,
for the second time, through the dark, crowded streets, reached a small
miserable looking house, in a narrow lane, at one of the lower windows
of which Chapeau knocked with his knuckles.

'I told M. Plume that I should call again tonight,' said he, "and he'll
know its me."

"And is M. Plume the baker?" asked Henri.

"He was a baker till two months since," answered Chapeau, "but now he's
a soldier and an officer; and I can assure you, M. Henri, he doesn't
think a little of himself. He's fully able to take the command-in-chief
of the Breton army, when any accident of war shall have cut off his
present Captain; at least, so he told me."

"You must have had a deal of conversation with him in a very short time,

"Oh, he talks very quick, M. Henri; but he wouldn't let himself down to
speak a word to me till I told him I was aide-de-camp-in-chief to the
generalissimo of the Vendean army; and then he took off the greasy
little cap he wears, told me that his name was Auguste Emile Septimus
Plume, and said he was most desirous to drink a cup of wine with me in
the next estaminet. Then I ran off to you, telling him I would return
again as soon as I had seen that all was right at the guard-house."

"Knock again, Chapeau," said Henri, "for I think your military friend
must have turned in for the night."

Chapeau did knock, and as he did so, he put his mouth close to the door,
and called out "M. Plume--Captain Plume--Captain Auguste Plume, a
message--an important message from the Commander-in-Chief of the Vendean
army. You'll get nothing from him, M. Henri, unless you talk about
Generals, aide-de-camps, and despatches; advanced guards, flank
movements, and light battalions."

M. Plume, or Captain Plume, as he preferred being called, now opened the
door, and poking his head out, welcomed Chapeau, and assured him that
if he would step round to the wine shop he would be with him in a

"But, my dear friend Captain Plume, stop a moment," said Chapeau, fixing
his foot in the open doorway, so as to prevent it being closed, "here
is a gentleman--one of our officers--in fact, my friend," and he
whispered very confidentially as he gave the important information,
"here is the Commander-in-Chief, and he must see your General tonight;
to arrange--to arrange the tactics of the united army for tomorrow."

Auguste Emile Septimus Plume, in spite of his own high standing, in what
he was pleased to call the army of Brittany, felt himself rather
confused at hearing that a General-in-Chief was standing at the door of
his humble dwelling; and, as he again took off his cap, and putting his
hand to his heart made a very low bow, he hesitated much as to what
answer he should make; for he reflected within himself that the present
quarters of his General, were hardly fitting for such an interview.

"The General upstairs," said he, "is snatching a short repose after the
labours of the day. Would not tomorrow morning--early tomorrow

"No," said Henri, advancing, and thrusting himself in at the open door,
"tomorrow morning will be too late; and I am sure your General is too
good a soldier to care for having his rest broken; tell me which is his
room, and I'll step up to him. You needn't mind introducing me." And as
he spoke he managed to pass by the baker, and ran up a few steps of the
creaking, tottering stairs.

The poor baker was very much annoyed at this proceeding; for, in the
first place, he had strict orders from his Commander to let no one up
into his room; and, in the next place, his own wife and three children
were in the opposite garret to that occupied by the Captain, and he was
very unwilling that their poverty should be exposed. He could not,
however, turn a Commander-in-Chief out of the house, nor could he
positively refuse to give him the information required; so he hallooed
out, "The top chamber to the right, General; the top chamber to the
right. It's a poor place," he added, speaking to Chapeau; "but the truth
is, he don't choose to have more comforts about him than what are
enjoyed by the poorest soldier in his army."

"We won't think any the worse of him for that," said Chapeau. "We're
badly enough off ourselves, sometimes--besides, your Captain is a very
old friend of M. Henri."

"An old friend of whose?" said Plume.

"Of M. Henri Larochejaquelin--that gentleman who has now gone upstairs:
they have known each other all their lives."

Auguste Plume became the picture of astonishment. "Known each other all
their lives!" said he; "and what's his name, then?"

"Why, I told you: M. Henri Larochejaquelin."

"No, but the other," and he pointed with his thumb over his shoulder up
the stairs. "My Captain, you know; if he's the friend of your Captain,
I suppose you know what his name is?"

"And do you mean to say, you don't know yourself, your own Captain's

Plume felt the impropriety, in a military point of view, of the fact.
He felt that, as second in command, he ought to have been made
acquainted with his General's name, and that it would have been
difficult to find, in the history of all past wars, a parallel to his
own ignorance. He also reflected, that if Chapeau knew that the two
Generals had been friends all their lives, he must probably know both
their names, and that therefore the information so very necessary might
now be obtained.

"Well then, M. Chapeau," (he had learnt Chapeau's name), "I cannot say
that I do exactly know how he was generally called before he joined us
in Brittany. You know so many people have different names for different
places. What used you to call him now when you knew him?"

"But you have some name for him, haven't you?" said the other, not
answering the question.

"We call him General, or Captain, mostly," said Plume. "Those are the
sort of names which come readiest to a soldier's mouth. In the same way,
they don't call me Plume, or M. Plume, or Captain Plume, but just simply
Lieutenant; and, do you know, I like it better."

The Lieutenant was a tall, lanky, bony man, from whose body the heat of
the oven, at which he had always worked, seemed to have drawn every
ounce of flesh. He was about forty, or forty-five, years of age. He was
nearly bald, but a few light, long, straggling locks of hair stood out
on each side of his head. He still wore most of the dress in which he
had been accustomed to work, for proper military accoutrements had not
yet come within his reach. He had, however, over his shoulder an old
bawdrick, from which usually hung a huge sabre, with which he gallantly
performed the duties of his present profession. It cannot be said the
Lieutenant had none of the qualities of a soldier, for he was courageous
enough; but, beyond that, his aptitude for military duties was not
pre-eminent. He always marched, or rather shuffled along, with a stoop
in his back, which made his shoulders as high as his head. He had not
the slightest idea of moving in time; but this was of little
consequence, for none of his men could have moved with him if he had.
When on active duty, he rushed about with the point of his drawn sword
on a level with his breast, as though he were searching for "blues" in
every corner, with a fixed determination of instantly immolating any
that he might find. He had large saucer eyes, with which he glared about
him, and which gave him a peculiar look of insane enthusiasm, very
fitted for the Lieutenant, first in command, under a mad Captain. Such
was Auguste Plume, and such like were the men who so long held their own
ground, not only against the military weakness of the Directory, but
even against the military strength of Napoleon.

We will leave Chapeau and his new friend still standing in the passage,
for Plume could not invite him in, as none of the rooms were his own
except the little garret upstairs; and we will follow Henri as he went
in search of the Mad Captain, merely premising that all Plume's efforts
to find out the name of his superior officer were unavailing. Without
any farther invitation, Henri hurried up the stairs, snatching as he
went a glimmering rush-light out of the çi-devant baker's hands; and
when he got to the top he knocked boldly at the right-hand door. No one
answered him, however, and he repeated his knocks over and over again,
and even kicked and hallooed at the door, but still without effect. He
then tried to open it, but it was fastened on the inside: and then he
kicked and hallooed again. He distinctly heard the hard breathing within
of some one, as though in a heavy sleep; and be the sleeper who he
might, he was determined not to leave the stairs without waking him;
and, therefore, diligently sat to work to kick again.

"Is that you, Auguste?" said a hoarse, sickly woman's voice, proceeding
from the door of the opposite chamber. "Why don't you bring me the

"No, Madame," said Henri, "the gentleman is now downstairs. He lent me
your candle for a minute or two, while I call upon my friend here. I
hope you'll excuse the noise I make, but I find it very difficult to
wake him."

"And why should you want to wake him?" said the woman. "It's three
nights now since he stretched himself on a bed, and he'll be up again
long before daylight. Give me the candle, and go away, and tell that
unfortunate poor man below to come to his bed."

There was a tone of utter misery in the poor woman's voice, which
touched Henri to the heart. She had uttered no complaint of her own
sufferings; but the few words she had spoken made him feel all the
wretchedness and the desolation of homes, which he and his friends had
brought upon the people by the war; and he almost began to doubt whether
even the cause of the King should have been supported at so terrible a
cost. He could not, however, now go back, nor was he willing to abandon
his present object, so he again shook and kicked the door.

"That'll never rouse him, though you should go on all night," said a
little urchin about twelve years old, the eldest hope of M. and Madame
Plume, who rushed out on the landing in his ragged shirt. "If Monsieur
will give me a sou, I'll wake him." Henri engaged him at the price, and
the boy, putting his mouth down to the key-hole, said, or rather
whispered loudly, "Captain--Captain--Captain--the blues--the blues."

This shibboleth had the desired effect, for the man within was instantly
heard to start from his bed, and to step out upon the floor.

"Yes, yes; I'm ready, I'm up," said he, in the confused voice of a man
suddenly awoke from a sound sleep. "Where's Plume? send Plume to me at

Henri immediately recognized the voice of Adolphe Denot, and all doubt
was at an end. Denot came to the door, and undid the wooden bolt within,
to admit, as he thought, the poor zealous creature who had attached
himself to him in his new career; and when the door opened, the friend
of his youth--the man whom he had so deeply injured--stood before him.
Henri, in his anxiety to find out the truth of Chapeau's surmise, had
energetically and, as it turned out, successfully pursued the object of
his search; but he had not for a moment turned over in his mind, what
he would say to Denot if he found him; how he would contrive to tell him
that he forgave him all his faults; how he would explain to him that he
was willing again to receive him into his arms as a friend and a
brother. The moment was now come, when he must find words to say all
this; and as the awkward bolt was being drawn, Henri felt that he was
hardly equal to the difficulties of his position.

If Henri found it difficult to speak, with Denot the difficulty was much
greater. The injuries which he had inflicted on his friend, the insults
which he had heaped on his sister, rushed to his mind. He thought of his
own deep treachery, his black ingratitude; and his disordered
imagination could only conceive that Henri had chosen the present moment
to secure a bloody vengeance. He forgot that he had already been
forgiven for what he had done: that his life had been in the hands of
those he bad injured, and had then been spared by them, when their
resentment was fresh and hot, and when he had done nothing to redeem his
treason. He had, he thought, reconciled himself to the cause of La
Vendée; but still he felt that he could not dare to look on
Larochejaquelin as other than an enemy.

Denot started back as he recognized his visitor, and Henri's first
object was to close and re-bolt the door, so that their interview might
not be interrupted. "Adolphe," he said, in a voice intended to express
all the tenderness which he felt, "I am delighted to have found you."

Denot had rushed to a miserable deal table which stood near his bed, and
seized his sword, which stood upon it; and now stood armed and ready for
assault, opposite to the man who loved him so dearly. His figure and
appearance had always been singular, but now it was more so than ever.
He had been sleeping in his clothes, and he had that peculiar look of
discomfort which always accompanies such rest. His black, elfish,
uncombed locks, had not been cut since he left Durbellière, and his
beard for many days had not been shorn. He was wretchedly thin and
gaunt; indeed, his hollow, yellow cheeks, and cadaverous jaws, almost
told a tale of utter starvation. Across his face he had an ugly
cicatrice, not the relic of any honourable wound, but given him by the
Chevalier's stick, when he struck him in the parlour at Durbellière.
Nothing could be more wretched than his appearance; but the most
lamentable thing of all, was the wild wandering of his eyes, which too
plainly told that the mind was not master of itself.

Henri was awe-stricken, and cut to the heart. What was he to say to the
poor wretch, who stood there upon his guard, glaring at him with those
wild eyes from behind his sword! Besides, how was he to defend himself
if he were attacked?

"Adolphe," he said, "why do you raise your sword against your friend?
Don't you see that I have come as your friend: don't you see that I have
no sword?"

The other hesitated for a moment, with the weapon still raised as though
for defence; and then flinging it behind him on the floor, exclaimed:
"There, there--you may kill me, if you will," and having said so, he
threw himself on the bed, and sobbed aloud, and wailed like an infant.

Henri knelt down on the floor, by the side of the low wooden stretcher,
and putting his arm over Adolphe's shoulder, thought for a while what
he could say to comfort the crushed spirit of the poor wretch, whose
insanity had not the usual effect of protecting him from misery. It
occurred to him that his late achievements, as leader of the Breton
peasants, in which, at any rate, he had been successful, would be the
subject at present most agreeable to him, and he determined, therefore,
to question him as to what he had done.

"Come, Adolphe," he said, "get up; we have much to say to each other,
my friend. I have heard much of what you have done here, in Laval and
in Brittany. You have been of great service to us; but we must act
together for the future. Of course you know that there are 80,000
Vendeans on this side of the river: men, women, and children together."

For some minutes Denot still lay with his face buried in the bed,
without answering, and Henri knelt beside him in silence, trying to
comfort him rather by the pressure of his hand, Than by the sound of his
voice; but then he raised himself up, and sitting erect, with his face
turned away from his friend, he said:

"It's no use for you to try to speak of what I have done in Brittany,
when we both know that your heart is full of what I did in Poitou."

"By the God of heaven, from whom I hope for mercy," said Henri,
solemnly, "I have freely, entirely forgiven you all cause of anger I
ever had against you."

Denot still sat with his face averted, and he withdrew his hand from
Henri's grasp, as he muttered between his teeth: "I have not asked for
forgiveness; I do not want forgiveness;" and then starting up on his
feet, he exclaimed almost with a shriek: "How dare you to talk to me,
Sir, of forgiveness? Forgiveness! I suppose you think I have nothing to
forgive! I suppose you think I have no injuries which rankle in my
breast! A broken heart is nothing! Shattered ambition is nothing! A
tortured, lingering, wretched life is nothing! I suppose you will offer
me your pity next; but know, Sir, that I despise both your forgiveness
and your pity."

"I will offer you nothing but my friendship, Adolphe," said Henri. "You
will not refuse my friendship, will you? We were brothers always, you
know; at least in affection."

"Brothers always! No, we were never brothers: we never, never can be
brothers," screamed the poor madman through his closed teeth. "Oh! if
we could have been brothers; if--if we could be brothers!" and the long
cherished idea, which, in his frenzy, he even yet had hardly quite
abandoned, flashed across his brain, and softened his temper.

"We can at any rate be friends," said Henri, approaching him, and again
taking his hand. "Come, Adolphe, sit down by me, and let us talk quietly
of these things."

"There are some things," said he, in a more composed manner, "of which
a man can't very well talk quietly. A man can't very well talk quietly
of hell-fire, when he's in the middle of it. Now, I'm in the very
hottest of hell-fire at this moment. How do you think I can bear to look
at you, without sinking into cinders at your feet?"

Henri was again silent for a time, for he did not know what to say to
comfort the afflicted man; but, after a while, Denot himself continued

"I know that I have been a traitor--a base, ignoble, wretched traitor.
I know it; you know it; she knows it"; and as he confessed his
wretchedness, he put his bony hand to his forehead, and pushing back his
long matted hair, showed more clearly than he had yet done the ineffable
marks of bitter sadness, which a few months had graven on his face. "All
La Vendée knows it," continued he; "but no one knows the grief, the
sorrow, the wretched sorrow, which drove me to madness, and made me
become the thing I am. I know it though, and feel it here," and he put
his hand on his heart, and looked into his companion's face with a
melancholy gaze, which would have softened the anger of a sterner man
than Henri Larochejaquelin.

"My poor, poor Adolphe," said Henri, moving himself close to Denot's
side, and putting his arm round his neck and embracing him. "We all know
how you have suffered. We know--we always knew, it wasn't your proper
self that turned against the cause you loved so well; but, Adolphe, we
won't talk of these things now."

"You just now said we must talk of them, and you were quite right. After
what has passed, you and I cannot meet without having much to say," and
again the madman jumped to his feet; and as he paced up and down the
room, his fiercer humour again came upon him. "Henri," he exclaimed; and
as he spoke he stood still, close to the other, "Henri, why don't you
avenge your sister's honour? Why don't you punish the dishonour which
I brought on your father's hoary head? Henri, I say, why don't you seize
by the throat the wretched traitor who brought desolation and
destruction into your family?" and he stretched out his long gaunt neck,
as though he expected that Larochejaquelin would rise from his bed, and
take him at his word.

Henri felt that it was useless to endeavour to reason with him, or to
answer the raving of his madness, but he still hoped, that by a mixture
of firmness and gentleness, he might yet take him away from his present
miserable dwelling, and by degrees bring him back to a happier state of
mind. The difficulties in his way, however, were very great; for he knew
how serious would be the danger and folly of leading him again into
Agatha's presence.

"Nonsense, Adolphe," said he. "Why do you talk to your friend of
vengeance? Come, take up your sword, and come away. This is a cold, damp
place; and besides, we both want refreshment before our next day's work.
Before six hours are gone, the republican army will be near Laval, and
you and I must be prepared to meet them," and he picked up Denot's
sword, and handed him his cap, and took his arm within his own, as
though to lead him at once out of the room.

"And where are you going to?" said Denot, hesitating, but not refusing
to go.

"Why, first, we'll go to the guard-house, and I'll show you a few of our
picked men, who are there on duty; real dare-devils, who care no more
for a blue than they do for a black-beetle; and then we'll go to the
Angers gate. It's there that Lechelle will show himself; and then--and
then--why, then we'll go home, and get some breakfast, for it will be
nearly time for us to go to horse."

"Go home!" said Denot; "where's home?"

"Do you know the big stone house, with the square windows, near the

"Yes, I know it: but tell me, Henri: who are there? I mean of your own
people, you know--the Durbellière people?"

"Why, we're all there, Adolphe--Marie, and Victorine, and Charles, and
Agatha, and my father and all. Poor Charles! You've heard of his state,

"Yes, yes, I heard. I wish it had been me--I wish, with all my heart,
it had been me," and then he paused a while; and again laying down his
sword and cap, he said "Henri, you're an angel; I'm sure you are an
angel; but all are not like you. I will not go with you now; but if
you'll let me, I'll fight close by your side this day."

"You shall, Adolphe, you shall; up or down we'll not leave each other
for a moment; but you must come with me, indeed you must. We should be
sure to miss each other if we parted."

"I'll meet you at the gate, Henri, but I will not go with you. All men
are not like you. Do you think that I could show myself to your father,
and to de Lescure? Don't I know how their eyes would look on me? Don't
I feel it now?" and again it seemed as though he were about to relapse
into his frenzy; and then he continued speaking very gently, almost in
a whisper: "Does de Lescure ever talk about the bridge of Saumur?"

Now Henri, to this day, had never heard a word of the want of courage
which Denot had shown in the passage of the bridge of Saumur. No one but
de Lescure had noticed it; and though he certainly had never forgotten
it, he had been too generous to speak of it to any one. Henri merely
knew that his two friends, Charles and Adolphe, had been together at the

He had heard from others of de Lescure's gallant conduct. It had
oftentimes been spoken of in the army, and Henri had never remarked that
an equal tribute of praise was not given to the two, for their deeds on
that occasion. He now answered quite at cross purposes, but merely with
the object of flattering the vanity of his friend:

"He will never forget it, Adolphe. No Vendean will ever forget the
bridge of Saumur. We will all remember that glorious day, when we have
forgotten many things that have happened since."

Poor Denot winced dreadfully under the blow, which Henri so innocently
inflicted; but ho merely said "No--I will not go with you--you needn't
ask me, for my mind is made up. Do you know, Henri, I and de Lescure
never loved each other? never--never--never, even when we were seemingly
such good friends, we never loved each other. He loved you so well,
that, for your sake, he bore with a man he despised. Yes: he always
despised me, since the time you and I came home from school together.
I do not blame him, for he tried hard to conceal what he felt; and he
thought that I did not know it; but from the first day that we passed
together I found him out, and I was never happy in his company."

All this was perfectly unintelligible to Henri, and was attributed by
him to the frenzy of madness; but, in fact, there was truth in it.
Denot's irregular spirit had been cowed by de Lescure's cold reasoning
propriety, and he now felt it impossible to submit himself to the pardon
of a man who, he thought, would forgive and abhor him. It was to no
purpose Henri threatened, implored, and almost strove to drag him from
the room. Denot was obstinate in his resolve, and Henri was at last
obliged to leave him, with the agreement that they should both meet on
horseback an hour before daybreak, at the gate of the town, which led
towards Angers.

When Henri returned downstairs he found Chapeau still seated on the
lower step, and Plume standing by, discoursing as to the tactics and
probable success of the war.

"You found I was right, M. Henri?" said Chapeau, as he followed his
master out into the street.

"Yes, Chapeau, you were quite right."

"And is he very bad, M. Henri?" said he, touching his forehead with his
finger. "I suppose he cannot be all right there."

"He has suffered dreadfully since we saw him, and his sufferings have
certainly told upon him; but there is every reason to hope, that, with
kind treatment, he will soon be himself again; but, remember, till after
today we will say nothing to any of them about his being here."

It was now three o'clock, and Henri had to be on horseback before six;
he had but little time, therefore, either for rest or conversation.
Henri and Chapeau hurried home, after having given orders at the
guard-house that all the men on whom they could depend should be under
arms before day-break; and, having done so, they laid down and slept for
the one short hour which was left to them of the night.



When Henri arose from his sleep, the whole house was up and stirring,
and men and women were moving about through the dark rooms with candles
in their hands. They all knew that this would be an eventful day for
their cause; that much must depend on the success of that day's battle.
If they were beaten now, their only hope would be to run farther from
their homes, towards the coast, from which they expected English aid;
but if fortune would once more visit their arms, they might hope to hold
their position in Laval, and in other towns in the neighbouring and
friendly province of Brittany. The gallant and cordial assistance which
the Vendeans had received from the strangers among whom they were now
thrown, had greatly tended to give them new hopes; and the yesterday's
victory, which had been gained by the men called La Petite Vendée, over
the advanced troops of the republicans, had made the Poitevins
peculiarly anxious to exhibit their own prowess to their gallant

Henri, Arthur, and one or two other Vendean officers, sat down to a
hurried breakfast, while Marie and Agatha moved about the room, behind
their chairs, attending to their wants. Chapeau had now too many of a
soldier's duties to give his time to those of a serving-man, and the
sisters and wives of the Vendean officers had long since learnt to wait
on the heroes whom they loved and admired. De Lescure was already seated
on his sofa, by the window, and his wife was, as usual, close to his
side. He had wonderfully improved since he reached Laval; and though it
was the firm conviction, both of himself and of his surgeon, that his
wound must ultimately prove mortal, he was again alive to all that was
done, and heart and soul intent on the interests of the war.

"Oh! what would I give to be but one hour today on horseback!" said he.
"To lie pinioned here, and hear the sounds of brave men fighting! To
know that the enemy are in the very street beneath me, and yet to be
unable to strike a blow! Oh! it is fearfully tormenting."

Henri said something intended to comfort him.

"It is well for you to talk," continued de Lescure. "How would you have
borne it yourself? You would have fretted and fumed, and dashed yourself
like a bird against its cage, till either your senses or your breath had
left you. Henri," he then added, in a calmer tone, "I feel that you will
be successful today."

"That's a most glorious omen," said Henri, jumping up; "I look on
success as certain when predicted by Charles, for he is the least
sanguine among us all."

"But, Henri," said he, "take my advice, and don't attack them till they
are close to the town. You may be sure they will be ready enough to give
you an opportunity. After having driven us across the Loire like wild
geese, Lechelle will not doubt his power to drive us also from the
streets of Laval."

It was agreed among them that de Lescure's advice should be taken, and
that none of the Vendeans should advance above a league on the road
towards Antrâmes. It was already known that General Lechelle, and his
whole army, were in the neighbourhood of that town; and it was not
likely that, as he had pursued the Vendeans so far, he would remain
there long without giving them the opportunity they now desired, of
again trying their strength with them.

As Henri prepared to leave the room, the little Chevalier rose to
accompany him: "No," said Henri, stopping him. "Do you remain with
Chapeau today. Wherever you are, I know you will do well, but today we
must not ride together." As the boy looked woefully disappointed, he
added, "I will explain to you why, this evening, if we both live through
the day to meet again."

He then kissed his sister, and Madame de Lescure and his cousin. They
all of them knew that he was going into the midst of the hottest danger,
where the visits of death would be thick and frequent; and they felt how
probable it was that, before many hours were over, he might be brought
back to them dead or dying. He either made some sign to her, or else
from a feeling that she was dearer than the others to him, Marie
followed him from the room. He said but a few words to her, as he held
her in his close embrace, and she answered him with but one; but with
that one she promised him, that if he returned safe and victorious from
this day's contest, she would no longer object to join her hand and fate
to his.

Henri immediately went to the gate, where he had promised to meet
Adolphe, and there he found him on horseback, surrounded by his Breton
followers, on foot. He had still the same wild, gaunt look about him,
which had so startled his friend when he first saw him; but there was
more of hope and spirit in his countenance, and he spoke, if he did not
look, like a soldier.

We will now leave the warriors of La Vendée to obtain what success they
can against the experienced troops of the republican army--the men so
well known in many a bloody battle as the soldiers of Mayence, and will
return and stay a while with the women and wounded man, who were left
to all the horrors of a long day's suspense.

For a considerable time they said nothing to each other as to the
probable events of the day, for they knew well that they could hear no
news for some few hours to come. By degrees the cold grey dawn of an
October morning broke into the room, and the candles were put out. Any
ordinary employment at such a time was utterly out of the question, so
they clustered together at the window and waited for such news as chance
might bring them from time to time. Annot Stein, who was now living with
them in the house, came in and joined them, and after a while the old
Marquis was brought into the room, and took his station at the opposite
window to that occupied by de Lescure.

The noises in the street were incessant. Soldiers on horseback and on
foot; cannons and waggons passed on without a moment's pause: the men
shouted as they went by, eager for revenge against the enemy who had
driven them from their homes; and women mixed themselves in the crowd,
shrieking and screaming as they parted from their husbands or their

The morning air was cold and chill, but still de Lescure insisted on
having the windows open, that he might cheer with his voice the men as
they passed below him, and that he might call to those by name whom he
might chance to know. His wife was astonished to find how many he
remembered, and to perceive that every soldier, as he passed, recognized
the wan face of his General, and expressed his sincere delight at again
seeing his features.

"Well done, Forestier! well done, my gallant friend!" he exclaimed, as
a tall, handsome man rode by, who, from his garb and arms, was evidently
an officer. He had, however, like many of the officers, belonged to a
lowly rank, and still looked up with reverence to those of his fellow-
soldiers, whose blood was more noble than his own. "You are never
missing when strong arms are wanted."

The man took off his cap, and bowed low to the saddle bow. Had he been
born to the manner, he could not have done it with more grace. "God
bless you, General," he said, "God grant that we may soon see you here
among us again;" and a thousand loud clamorous voices echoed the wish.
A tear rose to de Lescure's eye, which none but his wife could mark: he
knew that his friend's kind wishes were vain; that he had now,
personally, no hope except in death; and he could not entirely repress
a vain regret that he might live to witness the success of his party,
of which, since his sojourn in Laval, he had taught himself to be

It was but a moment before the tear was gone, and his eyes were again
on fire with enthusiasm. "Ah, de Bauge--good de Bauge!" he exclaimed,
as a friend of his early youth passed by, using at the moment every
effort to repress the wild clamouring hurry of his followers. "God
prosper thee, dear friend! Oh, that we now had but a score or two such
soldiers as thou art!"

"We have many hundreds here as good," said de Bauge, pausing a moment
from his work to salute the friends whom he recognized at the window.

"Thousands perhaps as brave, thousands as eager, if they did but know
how to use their courage," answered de Lescure.

After this there was a lull for a few moments, and then a troop of
cuirassiers trotted down the street, jingling their bridles, swords, and
spurs as they moved. This small body of cavalry had been, for some time,
the pride and strongest hope of the Vendeans. They had been gradually
armed, horsed, and trained during the war, by the greatest exertions of
the wealthiest among their officers, and they had certainly proved to
be worth all the trouble they had cost. They were now, alas! reduced to
half the number, which had ridden out of Chatillon before the battle of
Cholet; but the remnant were still full of spirit, and anxious to avenge
their fallen brethren. Their bright trappings and complete
accoutrements, afforded a strange contrast to the medley appearance of
the footmen, who retreated back to the houses, to make way for the
horses; and told more plainly than any words could do, the difference
between an army of trained soldiers, and a band of brave, but tumultuous

It was now nine o'clock; and shortly after the horsemen had all passed
through the street, the little Chevalier came in with the news, that
they were immediately about to attack the blues; the republican army
being already within a mile of the town; and that Henri was at that
moment leaving the guard-house, and preparing to lead the attack; and
when he had told so much aloud to them all, he stooped down to whisper
to de Lescure, that Adolphe Denot was riding everywhere through the town
at Henri's right hand, and that he was the redoubtable Mad Captain, the
leader of La Petite Vendée.

De Lescure had not time to question the Chevalier, or to express his
surprise, before Henri was seen coming down the street on horseback,
almost at full gallop, and at his right hand rode a man, whom they did
not all immediately recognize. Agatha, however, knew at the first glance
who the stranger was, and with an instinctive feeling that the sight of
her would be painful to him, she retreated behind her father's couch,
so that he could not well see her from the street. When Chapeau had
first whispered into his master's ear the name of Adolphe Denot as the
leader of the Bretons, Agatha had truly guessed the purport of his
whisper; and it cannot, therefore, be said that she was startled to see
Adolphe once more by her brother's side; but still she could not but
shudder as she remembered the circumstances under which she had last
seen him, and the inhuman crime of which he had been guilty.

Henri rode a little in advance, and as he passed, he merely turned his
laughing face towards his friends, and kissed his hand to the window.
Denot, till he was nearly close to the house, had not thought of the
neighbourhood he was in; nor had he the least idea that any but the
usual inhabitants of the town were looking down on him, till his
wandering eyes fell full upon the faces of Marie and Madame de Lescure,
who were standing close to the open window. Immediately the blood rushed
to his face, and suffused it almost with a purple red: he checked his
horse suddenly, and, for a moment, looked full up at the window, where
he met the cold gaze of de Lescure fixed full upon him. The pause was
but for a moment; he could not bear the ordeal of that look, but fixing
his eyes to the ground, he struck his spurs into his horse, and hurried
out of the sight of those on whom he did not dare to turn his face.

"Agatha, my love, in the name of the Blessed Virgin, who was that?" said
the Marquis, rubbing his eyes, before which an Unearthly apparition
seemed to have appeared. "Who was that that rode by with Henri? only
that I know it is impossible, I should have said that it was Adolphe

"It is Adolphe, Sir," said Arthur Mondyon; "it is he that is the Mad
Captain, who has been knocking the blues about in such a wonderful
manner. I suppose he got tired of Santerre, or Santerre of him. I
thought they wouldn't agree long together."

"Arthur!" said Agatha, "you should speak kindly of him now; don't you
see that Henri has forgiven him; if he can forgive him, surely you ought
to do so."

"And is it really true that Henri and Adolphe Denot are again friends?"
said the Marquis, speaking rather to himself than to any one else.
"Well, I should have thought that would have been impossible. If Henri
can forgive him, we all ought to do so too; but--but--but I do not think
that I could feel at ease if he were in the room with me."

"I do not think he will come to us, father," said Agatha. "Did you not
observe his face as he passed? the very sight of us seemed to cut him
to the heart."

Adolphe had been quite right, when he said that they were not at all
like Henri. There was not one of the whole party who did not strive,
heartily and truly, to forgive the treason and iniquity of which he had
been guilty; but there was not one there who did not, at the same time,
feel a secret wish that he or she might never again be under the same
roof with the man who had been a traitor, both to his friends and to his

Arthur Mondyon soon left them, and hurried out to bear his part in the
contest which was just commencing. He was a little jealous to think that
his accustomed place near Henri should have been taken from him by one
who had proved himself so faithless as Denot, but still he was not
inclined to pass such a day as this in-doors, with sick men and
trembling women. He promised, however, to come to them himself from time
to time, or if that were impossible, to send them news of what was going
on; and as it was probable that the thickest of the fight would be
either in the town, or immediately on the skirts of it, there was no
reason why he should not keep his promise.

For a couple of hours they remained in dreadful suspense, hearing
nothing and fearing everything. It seemed to them as though whole days
must have passed in those two hours. De Lescure became dreadfully
impatient, and even irritable; declaring at one moment that he was quite
equal to mount his horse, and that he would go out and see what they
were about; and then again almost fainting, with the exhaustion
occasioned by his intense excitement. Then he would lament the
inexperience of Henri, expressing his dread that his indiscretion this
day would ruin all their hopes: and, again, when he saw how painful
these surmises were to Agatha and Marie, he would begin to praise his
courage and indomitable good spirits, and declare that their strongest
safeguard lay in the affection to his person, which was shared by every
peasant of La Vendée.

Their suspense was at length broken; not by any visit or message from
their own party, but by a most unexpected and unwelcome sight. On a
sudden, they again heard the tumultuous noise of troops coming down the
street; but, on this occasion, they were entering, instead of leaving
the town; and as the rushing body of men turned a corner in the street,
it was seen that they all wore the well-known blue uniform of the
republican regiments. Yes, there in truth were the blues, now
immediately under the house they were occupying: file after file of
sturdy, grizzled veteran soldiers, hurried through the streets in quick,
but regular time. Men quite unlike their own dear peasant soldiers; men
with muskets in their hands, shakos on their heads, and cartouche boxes
slung behind their backs. The three ladies, before whose sight this
horrid reality of a danger, so long apprehended, suddenly appeared, had
never been so near a scene of absolute battle. Agatha, it is true, had
had to endure through one long and dreadful night the presence of
Santerre and his men in the château of Durbellière; but then she had no
active part to play; she had only to sit in quiet, and wait for her
doom: now they all felt that something should be done, some means should
be tried to escape from the danger which was so close to them.

The women immediately withdrew from the window, and wheeled away the
couch on which the Marquis was lying, but nothing would induce de
Lescure to allow himself to be stirred; in fixed silence, with his head
resting low on the window sill, he gazed on the crowded soldiers, as
they poured thick and numerous into the town.

"Oh, where is Henri now?" said Madame de Lescure. "What shall we
do--where are we to go? Speak, Charles, for heaven's sake, speak!"

Marie had opened the door, and now stood with it in her hands, wishing
to run, and yet not choosing to leave her companions in misfortune;
while Agatha vainly endeavoured with her unassisted strength to remove
her father from the room.

"Henri is just where he ought to be," said de Lescure.
"There--there--now they come--now they come. By heavens, there's Denot
leading--and see, there's de Bauge and Arthur--dear boy, gallant boy.
Well done, Henri Larochejaquelin: had you been grey it could not have
been better done; he has got the blues as it were into a wine-press;
poor devils, not one can escape alive."

De Lescure, when he first saw the republicans coming down the street,
had for a moment thought that the town was in their hands; but a
minute's reflection served to show him, that were such really the case,
they would have driven before them hundreds of the retreating Vendeans.
The peasants had never yet so utterly forgotten their courage, as to
throw down their weapons at the first sight of their enemy, and fly
without making an effort for victory, and de Lescure was sure that such
could not now have been the case. It immediately occurred to him, that
the passage of the gate must have been purposely left free to the
devoted blues, and that Henri and his men would fail upon them in the
town, where their discipline and superior arms, would be but of
comparatively little use to them.

He was right; for while the women were yet trembling, panic-struck at
the first sight of their enemies, Henri and his party had entered the
long street from the market-place, and with a fierce yell of defiance,
the Vendean cavalry rushed upon the astonished blues, meeting them
almost beneath the very window from which de Lescure was looking.

The three women crouched round the aged Marquis in the farthest corner
of the room, comforted to find that he whom they so trusted still
expected victory; but nearly fainting with fear, and deafened with the
sounds of the conflict. To de Lescure the sight was pleasure itself; as
he could not be in the fight, the next thing was to see the combatants
and cheer his friends. The foremost of the republican soldiers soon gave
way beneath the weight of the attack; though they fought sturdily, and
did their best to keep their ground. They could not, however, retreat
far; their own men still advancing behind blocked up the way; and after
a while, that which De Lescure had predicted took place: another party
of Vendeans had attacked them in the rear, and occupied the only gate
through which they could leave the city.

And now the slaughter in the street was dreadful, and the blues hemmed
in on every side fought desperately for their lives, like beasts at bay.
Every now and again the Vendeans retreated a step or two, driven back
by the fury of their foes, and then again regained their ground,
advancing over the bodies of the slain. No one in the strange medley on
which he was looking, was more conspicuous to de Lescure's eyes than
Adolphe Denot; he had lost his cap in the confusion of the fight, and
his thin, wan face, disfigured by the wound which the Chevalier had
given him, was plainly to be seen; and de Lescure was shocked by the
change which he saw there: the only weapon he bore was a huge sabre,
which he swung round his head with a strength which could not have been
expected from his attenuated frame; he was often the most forward,
always among the first of the assailants; and frequently became
surrounded by the blues, who were prevented by the closeness of the
crowd from using their arms. He had caught de Lescure's eye, and from
time to time turned his face up toward the window, as though anxious to
discover whether he who had before witnessed his cowardice was now
looking upon his prowess.

"By heavens! he fights well," said de Lescure to his wife, who was
gradually creeping somewhat nearer to her husband, but still unable to
face the horrors of that open window. "He is greatly changed--look--look
at him now; well done, Adolphe--well done: there, there; he's down! Poor
fellow, I fear he has struck his last blow: gallant Henri, brave
Henri--there, they are up again together; but Denot's face is covered
with blood. He still has his sword, however--well done, Denot: bravely
done Denot: no man of those living or dead, ever struck a better blow
than that."

These last words were distinctly heard by him to whom they were
addressed, and as he again turned up his face, a ray of triumph
illumined his sunken eyes; he did not, however, or he could not speak,
for the heat of the battle was carried back again towards the gate, and
the tumultuous sea of fighting men was hurried away from the spot where
they had been contending.

While this scene was going on in the street, another set of combatants
were engaged near the gate; and here two men of very different natures,
but of similar station in life, found themselves together during a
temporary pause, after a protracted struggle. These were Michael Stein,
and Auguste Emile Septimus Plume. In spite of all that he had himself
said against the trade, Michael had, in his old age, turned soldier, and
had been fighting sturdily with a huge woodman's axe, a weapon which he
had chanced to meet with, and the use of which came readily to his hand:
he was now sitting on the step of the gate-house, wiping with the sleeve
of his coat the perspiration which the unaccustomed work had brought to
his forehead, and listening to the praises of M. Plume, who was standing
over him, leaning on his sword.

"That axe of yours," said Auguste, "is a singular weapon, and perhaps
not entirely fitted for military purposes; but I must own you have used
it well--it fell with decided effect this morning on many a poor
fellow's head and shoulders. You have probably, my friend, fought many
a battle with these fellows of Mayence?"

"Not a battle I ever fought before, Monsieur," said Michael; "nor do
I ever wish to fight another; it's horrid weary work, this of knocking
men's brains out, not to talk of the chance a man runs of losing his

"But ain't you one of the Vendeans, my gallant comrade?" asked Auguste.

"If you mean, did I come over from Poitou with them, I certainly did;
but I only came because I could not help it, and because I could not
live to see a little girl I have fall into the hands of the butchers;
it was not for any love of fighting that I came."

"But yet you take to it kindly, my friend. I am considered to know
something of the sword exercise, and I thought you wielded that axe, as
though your arm had been used to a sabre this many a year."

"I am a blacksmith," said Michael, shortly; "and I have been fifty years
ringing hammers on an anvil: that makes a man's arm lusty."

"Indeed," said the other, "a blacksmith--well, you may be a blacksmith,
and yet a good soldier. Now you wouldn't believe it, but I'm a
baker--you wouldn't take me to be a baker by my trade, would you now?"

Michael Stein looked at him, and told him he couldn't well give an
opinion, as he knew nothing about bakers.

"I knew you wouldn't," said the other; "no one on earth would take me
to be a tradesman--that's what they all say; I have that kind of manner
about me, that I look like a soldier--I did when I hadn't been at it
above a week. Every one used to say, Plume, you were born to be an
officer; Plume, you will live to be a General: and if I don't get killed
in the wars, I think I shall. Now it's only three months since I joined,
and I am already second in command in the whole army."

Michael Stein stared at him, as he repeated his words, "Second in
command in the whole army!"

"Indeed I am, my friend, the second in command. You wouldn't believe it,
now, but I was sticking loaves of bread into an oven three or four
months ago."

"The second in command!" said Michael, still regarding his companion
with a look in which incredulous surprise and involuntary reverence were
blended. "I suppose you're a great way above Jacques Chapeau, then?"

"Oh, my friend Chapeau--and do you know my friend Chapeau? No, I'm not
above him; he's not in our army; he's second in command himself in the
Vendean army. You know I belong to La Petite Vendée."

At this moment, the very man of whom they were speaking, the redoubtable
Chapeau, came up with a large party of straggling Vendeans, out of
breath with running; they were in full pursuit of the blues, who were
now said to be flying towards Antrâmes and Château-Gonthier.

"Come, my friends," said Chapeau, "no idling now; come to Antrâmes, and
we'll get plenty of arms, if we get nothing else. What, is it you,
Captain Plume. I'm told you did as well as the best today; and what--my
dear old friend Michael: a soldier at last, eh, Michael Stein! Come,
man, don't be ashamed to give us your hand; you've joined us in very
good time, for the Vendeans never gained such a victory as they have
today. Come on, old friend, we'll get another sight of these running
devils at Antrârnes."

"They may run for me, M. Chapeau, and run far enough, before I try to
stop them; do you know I'm nearly ashamed of what I've been doing as it

"Ashamed!--ashamed of what?" said Chapeau.

"Why look there," said Michael; and as he spoke, he pointed with his
foot to the body of a republican soldier, who lay calmly at his ease,
in the sleep of death, not three yards from the spot where the old man
was now standing.

"Not an hour since, that poor fellow ran this way, and as he passed, he
had no thought of hurting me; he was thinking too much of himself, for
half-a-dozen hungry devils were after him. Well, I don't know what
possessed me, but the smell of blood had made me wild, and I lifted up
my axe and struck him to the ground. I wish, with all my heart, the poor
man were safe at Antrâmes."

It was in vain that Chapeau tried to persuade the smith that he had only
done his duty in killing a republican, who would certainly have lived
to have done an injury to the cause, had he been suffered to escape.
Michael Stein would not, or could not, understand the arguments he used;
and decidedly declared that if he found it possible to avoid fighting
for the future he would do so.

"Do you know, M. Chapeau," he said at last, "when I first took this axe
in my hand, this morning, I had hardly made up my mind on which side I
should use it. It was only when I thought of the boys and of Annot, that
I determined to go with the Vendeans. It wasn't possible for a man not
to fight on one side or the other--that's the only reason I had for
fighting at all."

Chapeau became rather ashamed of his friend's irregular doctrines, and
hurried on; explaining to Plume, who accompanied him, that Michael Stein
was a queer eccentric old man, but a thorough good royalist at heart.
"Why he has two sons among the red scarfs," he added, to settle the

"Has he, indeed?" said Plume, who had never heard who the red scarfs



Nothing could be more complete than the success of the Vendeans, not
only in the town of Laval, but also outside the gate; nor could any
error be more fatal than that committed by the republican General,
Lechelle. Previous to this day he had never been worsted since he had
been sent from Paris with orders to exterminate the Vendeans; he had
driven them from Chatillon, their own chosen position in the centre of
their own territory across the Loire; and he had rashly conceived that
he had only to show himself before Laval again, to scare them from their
resting-place, and scatter them farther from their own homes. He had
marched his army up to Laval early on the morning of the fight; and his
best men, the redoubtable Mayençais, indignant at the treatment which
a few of their brethren had received from Denot's followers on the
previous day, marched boldly into the town, conceiving that they had
only to show themselves to take possession of it. The result has been
told. One half of these veteran troops fell in the streets of
Laval--many of the remainder were taken alive; a few only escaped to
consummate their disgrace by flying towards Antrâmes at their quickest
speed, spreading panic among the republican troops who had not yet come
up close to the town.

The news of defeat soon communicated itself; and the whole army, before
long, was flying to Antrâmes. The unfortunate Lechelle himself had been
one of the first to leave the town, and had made no attempt to stop his
men until he had entered Antrâmes. Nor did he long remain there: as the
straggling fugitives came up, they told how close and fast upon their
track the victorious brigands were coming; and that the conduct of the
peasants now was not what it had been when the war commenced, when they
were fighting in their own country, and near their own homes. Then they
had spared the conquered, then they had shed no blood, except in the
heat of battle; now they spared none; they had learnt a bloody lesson
from their enemies, and massacred, without pity, the wretches who fell
into their hands. Antrâmes was not a place of any strength; it could not
be defended against the Vendeans; and Lechelle had hardly drawn his
breath in the town, before he again left it, on the road to

Henri and Denot were among the first of the pursuers; indeed, of so
desultory a nature was the battle, that the contest was still continued
near the gate of the town, while they were far on their road towards
Antrâmes. They passed almost in a gallop through that place, and did not
stop until they found themselves, towards evening, close to the bridge,
leading into Château-Gonthier. Here they perceived that Lechelle had
made some little attempt to defend his position. He had drawn out two
cannons to the head of the bridge; had stayed the course of a few
fugitives, with whom he attempted to defend the entrance into the town;
and had again taken upon himself the duties of a General.

The pursuers now amounted to about three hundred horsemen, the very men
who had made the first attack on the blues in the streets of Laval, and
Henri knew that so soon after their complete and signal success nothing
could daunt them, and that, in all probability, no effort of the beaten
republicans could turn them back.

"Come," said he, speaking to those who were nearest to him, "only a few
yards farther, and we shall be far enough. It shall never be said that
the vanquished slept in the town while their conquerors lay in the
fields"; and again he put spurs to his horse, and with a yell of
triumph, his men followed him over the bridge.

It would be difficult to say who was first, for Henri, Adolphe, and
nearly a dozen others, galloped across the bridge together, and the
whole troop followed them pell-mell into the town. The two cannons were
soon taken; the irresolute blues, who, with only half a heart, had
attempted to defend themselves, were driven from their positions, and
Henri at once found himself master of the place.

A few of his gallant followers had fallen on the bridge. It could not
be expected but what. this should be the case, for they made their
attack in the face of two field-pieces and a discharge of musketry, from
a body of men quite as numerous as their own; but Henri had not
perceived till he reached the square in the middle of the town, that
Adolphe Denot was no longer by his side.

"Did you see M. Denot?" said he to a soldier, who was now standing on
the ground at his horse's head.

"You mean the gentleman who was riding with you all the day, General--he
who had lost his cap?"

"Yes, yes, did you see him? he passed over the bridge with me."

"General," said the man, "he never passed the bridge. He fell on the
very centre of it. I saw him fall, and his horse galloped into the town
without a rider."

Arthur Mondyon soon brought him confirmation of the news. He had been
struck by a musket ball on the breast, while they were crossing the
bridge, and the whole troop of horsemen, who were behind, had passed
over his body. He had, however, been taken up, and brought into the
town; whether or no his life was extinct, Arthur could not say, but he
had been told that the wound would certainly prove mortal.

Henri's first duty, even before attending to his friend, was to
endeavour to save the lives of such of the blues as were yet in the
town, and, if possible, to get the person of Lechelle. It was well known
that he had entered the place with the fugitives, and it was believed
that he had not since escaped from it. Some few of the republican
soldiers had made their way out of the town, on the road towards Ségré,
but there was every reason to believe that the General had not been
among them. The inhabitants of Château-Gonthier were very favourable to
the Vendean cause; Henri received every information which the people
could give him, and at last succeeded in tracing Lechelle into a large
half-ruined house, in the lower portion of which, a wine shop, for the
accommodation of the poorer classes, was kept open. Here they learnt,
from the neighbours, that he had been seen to enter the house, and an
old woman, who alone kept her position behind the counter, confessed
with some hesitation, that a man, answering the description of him they
sought, bad entered the shop about an hour since; that he had hastily
swallowed a large quantity of brandy, and then, instead of leaving the
shop, had rushed through the inner door and gone upstairs.

"He wasn't here a minute in all," said she; "and he said nothing about
paying for what he took--and, when I saw him going in there, I thought
it best to let him have his own way."

"And he is there still," said Chapeau, who had now again joined his

"Unless he went out through the window, he is; there is no other way out
than what you see there."

"Go up, Chapeau," said Henri, "and take two or three with you; if he be
there, he must come down; but remember that he is an officer, and in

"I will remember," said Chapeau, "that he sent us word to Chatillon,
that he would not leave alive in La Vendée a father or mother to lament
their children, or a child to lament its parents: those were bitter
words; maybe he will be sorry to have them brought to his memory just at

"Remember what I tell you, Chapeau," said his master; "whatever he may
have said, it is not now your duty to sit in judgment on him."

"For God's sake, gentlemen, don't do him a harm here," said the old
woman; "for mercy's sake, Monsieur," and she turned to Henri, "don't let
them take his life; to tell you the truth, when he begged for some hole
to hide in, I bid him to go upstairs; I could do no less. I should have
done the same if it had been one of you."

Henri said what he could to tranquillize her, assuring her that the man
should, at any rate, not be killed before her eyes; and this seemed to
be sufficient to reassure her. Chapeau and four others had gone
upstairs; and those below were not kept waiting long, before the heavy
tread of the men descending was heard on the stairs, as though they were
carrying down a weight among them. Such was the case: Henri stepped
forward and opened the door; and as he did so, the men staggered into
the room with their burden, and then gently dropped upon the floor the
dead body of the republican General. The unfortunate man had shot

Henri turned out of the shop without saying a word; and as the others
prepared to follow him, one of the men knelt down beside the body, and
wrenched from the hand, which still held it fast, the fatal pistol which
had so lately done its work. "At any rate," said he," there is no use
in leaving this behind us; I doubt not but I can make a better use of
it than General Lechelle has done."

The Chevalier had said but the truth, in declaring that Adolphe Denot's
wound was mortal; the musket ball had passed right through his lungs,
passing out between his shoulders; and his limbs had been dreadfully
torn and bruised by the feet of the horses which had passed over him.
Still, however, he had been carried alive into the town, had been laid
in a settle-bed in the little inn, and had his wounds dressed with such
surgical skill as the town afforded. He had spoken once since he fell,
and had then begged, in an almost inarticulate whisper, that Henri
Larochejaquelin would come to him, and this message had been delivered,
and was attended to.

There were not many to watch and attend his bed-side, for many others
beside him in the town were in the same position; and though it was
known to a few that the Mad Captain of La Petite Vendée had been seen
during the whole day riding by the side of their own General, Denot had
not yet been recognized by many of the Vendeans, and most of those
around him were indifferent to his fate. When Henri reached the room in
which he lay, no one was with him, but the poor baker of Laval, who had
entered the town with Chapeau, and having heard that his Captain was
mortally wounded, had lost not a moment in tendering him his services.
The poor man was sitting on a low stool, close by Denot's head, and in
his lap he held a wooden bowl of water, with which, from time to time,
he moistened the mouth of the wounded man, dipping his hand into the
water, and letting the drops fall from his fingers on to his lips.

"Hush! hush!" he said, as Henri entered the room; "for mercy's sake,
don't shake him; the black blood gushes out of his mouth with every move
he gets."

The two men did not recognize each other, for they had only met for a
moment, and that by the faint light of a rush candle. Plume, therefore,
had no idea of giving up his place or his duty to a man whom he
conceived was a stranger; and Henri was at a loss to conceive who could
be the singular looking creature that seemed to take so tender an
interest in his friend.

Henri advanced up to the bed on tiptoe, and gazed into Denot's face; he
had been shocked before, but he now thought that never in his life had
he seen so sad a sight: the colour of his skin was no longer pale, but
livid; his thin, dry lips were partially open, and his teeth, close set
together, were distinctly visible; his eyes were at the moment closed,
as though he were in a stupor, and his long black matted hair hung back
over the folded cloak on which his head rested: his sallow, bony hands
lay by his side, firmly clenched, as though he had been struggling, and
his neck and breast, which had been opened for the inspection of the
surgeon, was merely covered with a ragged bloody towel.

"Is he asleep?" asked Henri, in a whisper, such as seems to come
naturally to every one, when speaking by the bed-side of those who are
in great danger, but which is generally much more painfully audible to
a sick man than the natural voice.

Denot opened his eyes, and showed, by the slight motion of his head,
that he had heard his friend's voice, but he was at the moment unable
to speak.

Plume made a signal to Henri to be quiet, and he therefore sat himself
down at the other side of the bed, to watch till Adolphe should gain
strength to speak to him, or till the breath should have passed from his
body. Plume, in the meantime, continued his occupation, causing a few
drops of water to fall from time to time between those thin shrivelled
lips; and in this way a long half-hour passed over them.

At last Henri heard his name scarcely pronounced by the dying man, and
the dull eyes opened, though it was evident that the film of death had
nearly hidden all objects from their view; still it was evident that he
knew who it was that sat by his bed-side, and he faintly returned the
pressure of the hand which grasped his own. Henri stooped down his ear
to catch the words which might fall from his lips; but for a while he
made no farther attempt to speak--an inexpressible look of confused
trouble passed across his face and forehead, as he attempted to collect
his disordered thoughts, and again he closed his eyes, as though the
struggle was useless; at last he again muttered something, and Henri
caught the words 'de Lescure,' and 'bridge of Saumur.'

"Yes, yes, he shall," said Henri, trying to comfort him, but still not
understanding what it was that weighed so heavily on his breast; he
felt, however, that a promise of compliance would give him comfort. "He
shall, indeed; I will tell him, and I know he will."

Again the eyes were closed, and the struggle to speak was discontinued.
Plume gave over his task, for it was evident that no care of his could
any longer be of avail, and he walked away from the bed, that he might
not overhear the words which his Captain strove to speak to his friend;
but Henri remained, still holding Denot's hand: then a thought struck
him, which had not earlier occurred to him, and beckoning to Plume to
come to him, he dismissed him, in a whisper, to endeavour to find a
priest, without the loss of another moment, and bring him to the aid of
the dying man.

Though Denot's sight and speech were almost gone, the sense of hearing
was still left to him, and he understood what Henri said. He again moved
his head in token of dissent; again pulled his friend towards him by the
hand, and again muttered out a word, the last that he ever attempted to
utter; that one word Henri heard as plainly as though it had been spoken
with the full breath of a strong man--it was his sister's name.

Adolphe Denot survived this last effort of his troubled spirit, but a
few moments; the sepulchral rattle in his throat soon told the sad tale
of his dissolution; and Plume hurrying up to the bed-head, assisted
Henri in composing the limbs of the dead man.

For three months Denot and Plume had consorted together; they had been
a strange fantastic pair of comrades, but yet not altogether
ill-matched: nothing could be more dissimilar than they had been in age,
in birth, and previous habits, but they had met together with the same
wishes, the same ambition, the same want of common sense, and above all
the same overweening vanity; they had flattered each other from the
moment of their first meeting to the present day, and thus these two
poor zealous maniacs, for in point of sanity the Lieutenant was but
little better than his Captain, had learnt to love each other.

And now Plume, having carefully completed what the exigencies of the
moment required, gave way to his sincere grief, and bewailed his friend
with no silent sorrow. Henri, who had totally forgotten the little that
he had heard of the martial baker, was at a loss to conceive who could
be the man, a stranger to himself who found cause for so much sorrow in
the death of Adolphe Denot. As for himself, he had tenderly loved Denot
as a brother; he had truly forgiven him his gross treachery; and he had
determined to watch over him, and if possible protect him from farther
sorrow: but after the interview he had had with him, he could not
conceal from himself that Adolphe was still insane; and he felt that
death had come to him in an honourable way, atoning for past faults, and
relieving him from future sufferings. He could not grieve that his
friend had fallen in battle, bravely doing his duty in the cause to
which he was bound by so many ties.

"He was the bravest man, and the best soldier, and the most honourable
gentleman in the whole army," said Plume, sobbing; "and now there's no
one left but myself," and then recovering himself he made to the manes
of the departed warrior a loyal promise, which he fully determined to
keep. "Thou art gone, my brave commander, my gallant commander," he
said, standing suddenly upright, and stretching his long arms over the
corpse, "thou art gone, and I doubt not I shall follow thee: but till
that moment shall come, till a death, as honourable as thine own, shall
release me from my promise, I swear that I will not disgrace the high
station which thy departure obliges me to fill. It was thou who first
tutored my unaccustomed arm to wield the sword; it was thou who badest
me hear unmoved the thunder of an enemy's artillery; it was thou who
taughtest me all I know of military tactics, and the art of war. Rest
in peace, dear friend, dearest of instructors, I will not disgrace thy
precepts." And so finishing, he stooped down, kissed the face of the
dead body which he apostrophized, made a cross on the bosom, and
muttered a fervent prayer for the welfare of the departed soul.

If Henri was surprised before, he was now perfectly astounded; nothing
could be less poetical, less imposing, or have less of military grandeur
about it than the figure of poor Auguste Plume. What could he mean by
saying that he was now called on to fill a high station? Who could it
be that confessed to owe so deep a debt of gratitude to the dead man?

"Had you known M. Denot long?" asked Henri, when he conceived that Plume
was sufficiently composed to. hear and answer a question.

"What's that you say his name was?" said Plume, eagerly, pricking up his
ears. "I beg your pardon, Sir, I didn't exactly catch the word."

"And didn't you know the name of the friend, whom you seem to have
valued so highly?"

"Indeed, to tell you the truth, Sir, I did not. We two used to have a
good deal of talk together: for hours and hours we've sat and talked
over this war, and he has told me much of what he used to do in Poitou,
when he served with the Vendeans; but I could never get him to tell me
his name. It was a question he didn't like to be asked; and yet I am
sure he never did anything to disgrace it."

"His name was Adolphe Denot," said Henri.

"Adolphe Denot--Adolphe Denot! well, I am very glad I know at last. One
doesn't like not to know the name of the dearest friend one ever had;
especially after he's dead. But wasn't he Count Denot, or Baron Denot,
or something of that sort?"

"No, he had no title; but yet he was of noble blood."

"I suppose then we must call him General Denot--simple General; it
sounds as well as Count or Marquis in these days. Was he a General when
you knew him in La Vendee?"

"I have known him all my life," replied Henri.

"Indeed!" said Plume: and then gazing at his companion, from head to
foot, he continued, "An't you the gentleman that came with Chapeau to
see him last night? An't you the Commander-in-Chief of the Vendeans?"

Henri gave him to understand that he was.

"Then this meeting is very lucky," said Plume, "most exceedingly
fortunate! I am now the Commander-in-Chief of La Petite Vendée. We must
unite our forces. I am not ambitious--at least not too ambitious; you
shall be the chief, I will be next to you. Chapeau, I am sure, will be
contented to be third. here, over the body of our friend, let us concert
our measures for utterly exterminating the republicans. We have now been
victorious, proudly, grandly victorious; my voice shall be for a march
to Paris. Come, General, give me your hand. Hand in hand, like true
comrades, let us march to Paris, and thunder at the doors of the

As he spoke, Auguste Emile Septimus held out his hand to the young
Commander; and Henri could not refuse the proffered grasp. He now
remembered Chapeau's description of the martial baker; and as he
underwent the merciless squeeze which Plume inflicted on him, the young
Marquis meditated, with something like vexation, on the ridiculous
figure and language of him who now claimed his friendship and
confidence. He had before been on terms of perfect equality with men
equally low in station with poor Plume. Cathelineau had been a
postillion; Stofflet, a game-keeper; but he had admired the enthusiastic
genius of Cathelineau, he had respected the practical iron energy of
Stofflet--he could neither admire nor respect Auguste Plume--and yet he
could not reject him.

He endeavoured, in as few words as he could, to make his companion
understand, that highly as he appreciated his disinterested offer, he
could not, at the present moment, accede to it. That many officers, high
in the confidence of the whole army, must be consulted before any
important step was taken; that, as for himself his duty required him to
hurry back to Laval as quick as he could. That, as regarded him, Plume,
he advised him to return to his own men, and endeavour to organize them
into a regular corps, in doing which he promised him that practical
assistance should not be wanting; and that, as regarded the body of
their mutual friend, he, Henri, would give orders for its immediate
burial; and having said so much as quickly as he could speak, Henri
Larochejaquelin hurried from the room, leaving the unfortunate Plume to
renew his lamentations over his friend. He had cause to lament; the only
man likely to flatter his vanity was gone. He would never again be told
that he was born for great achievements--never again promised that
bravery, fidelity to his commander, and gallant demeanour among his
comrades, would surely lead him to exalted duties. Such were the
precepts with which the insanity of Denot had inflamed the mad ambition
of his poor follower. He now felt--not his own unfitness, for that he
could not suspect--but the difficulty, the impossibility to get his
talents and services acknowledged; and he again sat down to weep, partly
for his friend, and partly for himself.

Henri passed the remainder of the night in Château-Gonthier, and early
on the next morning he returned towards Laval. The road was covered with
swarms of Vendeans, now returning from the pursuit in which they had
nearly exterminated the unfortunate army which had followed them across
the Loire. They had crossed that river panic-stricken and hopeless; now
they were shouting with triumph, and exulting with joy, confident of
success. None of those who returned were without some token of success;
some carried back with them the muskets of the republican infantry;
others, the sabres of the cavalry; and others, more joyful in their
success than any, were mounted on their horses. They all loudly greeted
Henri as he passed, and declared that nothing should ever conquer them,
now that they had the General over them, whom they themselves had

Henri, though he well knew the difficulties which were before him, could
not but be triumphant as he listened to the cheers of his followers; he
had certainly been pre-eminently successful in the first attempts which
had been made under his own sole command; and it is not surprising that
this, joined to the confidence of youth, should have made him feel
himself equal almost to any enterprise. Then another subject of joy
filled his heart; Marie had promised that if the Vendeans were now
successful, if they could look forward to spending one quiet week in
Laval, she would no longer refuse to join her hand to his and become
bone of his bone, and flesh of his flesh--that promise she would now
realize; and therefore as he rode back through the gate of Laval, Henri
felt happier than he had done for many a long, weary, tedious day.



The young General's good news had preceded him, and when he entered the
room where his friends were assembled, they were one and all ready to
embrace and congratulate their successful soldier; he received the
blessing of his father, the praises of de Lescure, the thanks and
admiration of Madame de Lescure, and what he valued more than all,
Marie's acknowledgments of the promise she gave him, when last he left
her side.

During his absence, three unexpected visitors had reached Laval; the
first was Father Jerome, who had followed the army, and now brought them
news from the side of Nantes, that Charette was still at the head of a
large body of royalists, and was ready to join himself with the main
army, somewhere to the north of the Loire, if any plan could be struck
out for their future proceedings, to which both he and Henri could
agree; and the others were perfect strangers. Two gentlemen had called
at the guard-house, and asked for M. de Larochejaquelin: on hearing that
he was not in Laval, they had desired to see M. de Lescure, and had,
when alone with him, declared that they came from England, with offers
of assistance, both in men and money; one of these gentlemen had with
him a stick, and after having carefully looked round the room to see
that no one but de Lescure could observe him, he had broken the stick
in two, and taken from the hollow space within it, a letter addressed
to the Commander-in-Chief of the Vendean army.

These two gentlemen were both Vendeans, but early in the contest they
had passed over into England; they had now returned, habited like
peasants, and in this disguise had come over on their dangerous mission,
passing first into Jersey and thence to the coast of Normandy; they had
walked the whole distance, through the province of Brittany, passing
themselves off, in one place as good republicans, and in another as true
loyalists; they had, however, through all their dangers, managed to keep
the important stick, the promises contained in which could not have
arrived at a moment when they would have been more welcome.

Granville was the point at which it was decided that the English troops
should land, and de Lescure was strongly of opinion that the Vendean
army, relieved of its intolerable load of women and children, should
proceed thither to meet their allies; and this plan, though with some
dissentient voices, was agreed to. They could not, however, start quite
immediately; nor was it necessary for them to do so; and the few days
of secure rest which so many of them anxiously desired, was given to the

At length Henri found leisure to tell them all the sad, but still
pleasing story of Denot's conduct and fate--of the gallantry by which
he had redeemed so many sins, and of the death by which he had set a
seal to the forgiveness of them all. Each of them had already learnt
that Adolphe was the mysterious leader, the Mad Captain of La Petite
Vendée, and they listened with deep attention to the story which they
now heard of the way in which he had been living, and of the manner of
his death.

"Poor fellow," said Henri, "I understand it all, except about the bridge
of Saumur; from the time when I found him in his wretched chamber, to
the moment of his death, he was talking of that, and connecting your
name, Charles, with everything he said; I do not at all know what was
in his thoughts, but something connected with the bridge of Saumur was
either a great trouble to him, or a great triumph."

And then de Lescure told him what had happened; how the poor fellow's
heart had failed him, at the moment when courage was so necessary; how
he had feared to advance at the decisive moment, and had shrunk back,
appalled, conquered, and disgraced. Henri now understood why de Lescure
had not allowed Denot to be chosen at Saumur, as one of the twelve
leaders of the army; why he had subsequently so generally distrusted
him; and expressed so little surprise of the conduct of which he had
been guilty at Durbellière.

"His history," said de Lescure, "gives us a singular insight into the
intricacies of a man's character; Adolphe was not naturally a coward,
for madness aggravates the foibles of our nature, and no one can have
shown himself more capable of gallantry than he did yesterday; but he
wanted that sustained courage which is only given by principle, and
trust in God. May He forgive his sins, mercifully remembering his

Some time after this, preparations were made for the marriage of Henri
and Marie--such preparations as the time and place allowed. There was
now neither inclination nor opportunity for a fête, such as would have
graced the nuptials of Marie de Lescure at a happier time; she now
neither desired, nor could have endured it. Father Jerome had promised
to perform the ceremony; Agatha would be her bridesmaid; and her brother
and her father-in-law, both on their sick couches, would be her
wedding-guests. Still she was happy and cheerful; she loved Henri
Larochejaquelin with her whole heart, the more probably on account of
the dangers through which they had already passed together, and she had
firmly resolved to endure, without complaining, those which were still
before them.

Two days before the ceremony was to take place, Chapeau came up to his
master, as they were together leaving the quarters of some of the
troops, and with a very serious face, begged permission to speak to him.
Now, as it usually happened that Chapeau passed a considerable portion
of the day talking to his master in a most unconstrained way, on every
conceivable subject, Henri felt sure that something very much out of the
common way was going to be said; however, he at once gave the desired

"And Monsieur is positively going to be married on Wednesday morning?"
commenced Chapeau.

"Why you know as well as myself that I am," said Henri.

"Oh, of course, yes--of course I know it, as Monsieur has been
condescending enough to tell me; and will Madame, that is Mademoiselle
as she is at present, go with Monsieur to Granville."

"What the deuce are you about, Chapeau, with all this rhodomontade?
didn't I tell you that she would go with me."

"And the other ladies, Mademoiselle Agatha and Madame de Lescure, they
will remain in Laval?"

"Yes, they will remain in Laval with my father and M. de Lescure: but
you know all that already, as well as I do."

"But Madame de Larochejaquelin, that is, when she is Madame, she will
want some young woman to attend her. Madame, of course, cannot go to
Granville without some decent female to be near her; of course it will
be quite impossible, will it not, Monsieur?"

"Now, Chapeau, tell me at once what you are coming to, and don't pretend
to be so considerate and modest. You know that it is arranged that your
own fiancée, Annot Stein, should accompany my wife."

"Yes--but, M. Henri, Annot Stein has some scruples; or rather--"

"Scruples! Oh, by all means, let her stay behind then. I'll have no one
with me who has any scruples; tell her to stay with her father. I'll
speak to Mademoiselle de Lescure."

"But Monsieur is in such a hurry," said Chapeau, who had not the
slightest intention to have the matter arranged in this way. "I was
wrong to say that Annot has scruples; indeed she hasn't got any--not one
at all--it is I that have them."

"You! Now, Chapeau, may I ask the particular favour of you, to let me
know at once, what you mean to ask of me?"

"Why, you see, M. Henri, Annot is a poor lone girl, quite unprotected
as any one may say, though, of course, she will not be unprotected, when
she will have the protection of Monsieur and Madame; but still she is
a poor lone girl, and as such, she won't have the--the--the what d'ye
call it, you know, which she would have as a married woman--the
confidence and station, you know: she wouldn't be half so useful to
Madame; and, therefore, perhaps, Monsieur will think that she and I had
better be married at the same time as Madame."

Chapeau had it all his own way; his arguments were unanswerable; and as
no good reason could be given, why a wife would not be as serviceable
to the man as it was to the master, it was agreed that they both should
be married on the same day, at the same hour, in the same room, and by
the same priest. The honour of this was almost too much for poor Annot,
and quite upset her father, Michael Stein, who did not at all like the
idea of not having his own way, after his own fashion, at hi own only
daughter's wedding. However, he was ultimately reconciled to the
melancholy grandeur of the ceremony, by arrangements which were made for
some substantial evening comfort below stairs; and although no banquet
was prepared for the wedding of the master and the mistress, the valet
and the lady's maid were as well provided, as though they had been
united in peaceful times, and in a quiet church.

And now the sun had risen brightly on the morning which was to add
another care to those which already burthened the shoulders of Henri
Larochejaquelin. They all sat down together and eat their quiet
breakfast in the parlour, to which a fortnight's habitation had now
accustomed them. Henri wore no bridal dress. He had on the uniform of
a Vendean officer, and round his waist was fastened a white scarf with
a black knot, the distinguishing mark which he now bore of his rank in
the army as Commander-in-Chief. Marie de Lescure was dressed in white,
but her dress was as simple and unadorned as it could be well made; no
bride, young, beautiful, and noble was ever prepared for the altar with
less costly care, with less attention to the generally acknowledged
proprieties of hymeneal decoration. Agatha and Madame de Lescure had in
no respect altered their usual attire. It may easily be understood that
leaving their homes in the manner they had done, they had not brought
with them a full wardrobe; and since their arrival in Laval, they had
had more pressing cares than that of supplying it.

De Lescure was daily getting weaker; but still the weaker he got the
less he suffered, and the more capable he became of assuming his
accustomed benevolent demeanour and anxious care for others. Both he and
his wife knew that he was approaching the term of his mortal sufferings;
but others, and among them Henri was the most sanguine, still hoped that
he would recover; and there certainly was nothing in his cheery manner
On the morning of the wedding, to make any one think that such hopes
were misplaced. The old Marquis was more sad and melancholy than he had
used to be among his beloved birds and cherry trees at Durbellière; and,
on this occasion, he was probably the saddest of the party, for he was
the one who would have rejoiced the most that the wedding of his son
should be an occasion of joy to relatives, servants, tenants, and the
numerous neighbours among whom he had always lived with so much mutual

The most singular figure of the whole party was Father Jerome, the Curé
of St. Laud's. He still wore the same long grey coat in which he was
first introduced to the reader at Durbellière; which had since that time
figured at Saumur and many another scene of blood and violence, and
which we last saw when he was found by Madame de Lescure in the chapel
at Genet. It had now been so patched and darned, that its oldest friends
could not have recognized it. But Father Jerome still maintained that
it was good enough for the ordinary run of his present daily duties,
though he jocosely apologized to Marie for appearing, on such an
occasion, in so mean a garment.

As soon as the breakfast was over, the table on which it had been eaten,
was converted into a rude altar, and the ceremony was commenced. Jacques
Chapeau and Annot, whose turn was immediately to follow, stood close up
to the table, opposite to their master and mistress; but Michael Stein
and his two sons, who of course were to be present at Annot's marriage,
and who had prepared to seat themselves on the stairs till their
presence should be required, had also been invited to attend; and they
now sat but very ill at their ease, on three chairs, in the very
farthest corner of the room. Michael Stein, though chance had thrown him
among the loyal Vendeans, had in his heart but little of that love and
veneration for his immediate superiors, which was the strong and
attractive point in the character of the people of Poitou. Though he had
lived all his life in the now famous village of Echanbroignes, he had
in his disposition, much of the stubborn self-dependence of the early
republicans; and he did not relish his position, sitting in the back-
ground as a humble hanger-on in the family of a nobleman and an
aristocrat. He was, however, unable to help himself; his sons were
Vendeans; his daughter was just going to marry the confidential follower
of the Vendean Commander-in-Chief; and he himself had been seen fighting
for La Vendée: there he sat, therefore, quiet, though hardly happy,
between his two stalwart sons, with his thin hair brushed over his
forehead, and his huge swarthy hands crossed on his knees before him.

The marriage ceremonies were soon performed: and then Henri and Chapeau,
each in their turn, led their brides from the altar; and all went on as
quietly in the one room which they occupied, as though nothing beyond
their daily occupations had occurred.

"God bless you, my children!" said the old Marquis, "this is but a sad
wedding; but it is useless to regret the happy times which are gone, it
seems for ever."

"Not for ever, father," said Marie, kissing the old man's face, "Henri
and I still look forward to having our wedding fete; perhaps in
Paris--perhaps in dear La Vendée, when we shall once more be able to
call our old homes our own; then we will make you, and Agatha, and
Victorine, make up fivefold for all that has been omitted now. Will we
not, Henri?"

Below stairs, Chapeau and Annot, wisely thinking that no time was like
the present, endeavoured to be as gay as they would have been had they
enjoyed their marriage-feast in the smith's own cottage; one or two of
Chapeau's friends were asked on the occasion, and among them, Plume
condescended to regale himself though the cheer was spread in the
kitchen instead of in the parlour. Michael, now relieved from the
presence of aristocracy, eat and drank himself into good humour; and
even received, with grim complacency, the jokes of his Sons, who
insisted on drinking to his health as a new recruit to the famous
regiment which was drawn from the parish of Echanbroignes.

"Well, my girl, may heaven take care of you!" said he, kissing his
daughter, "and of you too, Jacques," and he extended the caress to his
son-in-law. "I won't say but what I wish you were a decent shoe-maker,

"Oh, laws, father," said Annot, "I'm sure I should never have had him,
if he had been."

"The more fool you, Annot; but I wish it all the same; and that Annot
had had a couple of cows to mind, and half-a-dozen pigs to look after;
but it's too late to think of that now; they'll soon have neither a cow
nor a pig in La Vendée; and they'll want neither smiths nor shoemakers;
however, my boy, God bless you! God bless you! ladies and gentlemen, God
bless you all!" and then the smith completed the work he had commenced,
and got as tipsy as he could have done, had his daughter been married
in Poitou.



We have told our tale of La Vendée; we have married our hero and our
heroine; and, as is usual in such cases, we must now bid them adieu. We
cannot congratulate ourselves on leaving them in a state of happy
prosperity, as we would have wished to have done; but we leave them with
high hopes and glorious aspirations. We cannot follow the Vendeans
farther in their gallant struggle, but we part from them, while they
still confidently expect that success which they certainly deserved, and
are determined to deserve that glory, which has since been so fully
accorded to them.

In the foregoing pages much fiction has been blended with history, but
still the outline of historical facts has been too closely followed to
allow us now to indulge the humanity of our readers by ascribing to the
friends we are quitting success which they did not achieve, or a state
of happiness which they never were allowed to enjoy. It would be easy
to speak of the curly haired darlings, two of course, who blessed the
union of Henri Larochejaquelin and Marie de Lescure; and the joy with
which they restored their aged father to the rural delights of his
château at Durbellière. We might tell of the recovery of that modern
Paladine, Charles de Lescure, and of the glorious rebuilding of the
house of Clisson, of the ecclesiastical honours of Father Jerome, and
of the happy marriage, or with more probability, the happier celibacy
of the divine Agatha. But we cannot do so with propriety: facts, stern,
untoward, cruel facts, stare us in the face, and would make even the
novelist blush, were he, in total disregard of well-thumbed history, to
attempt so very false a fiction.

Still it is necessary that something should be said of the subsequent
adventures of those with whom we have for a while been so intimate, some
short word spoken of the manner in which they adhered to the cause which
was so dear to them. We cannot leave them in their temporary sojourn at
Laval, as though a residence there was the goal of their wishes, the end
of their struggle, the natural and appropriate term of their story; but
as, unfortunately, their future career was not a happy one, we will beg
the reader to advance with us at once over many years; and then, as he
looks back upon La Vendée, through the softening vista of time, the
melancholy termination of its glorious history will be lees painful.

On the 7th July, 1815, the united English and Prussian armies marched
into Paris, after the battle of Waterloo, and took military possession
of the city. It was a remarkable but grievous day for Paris; the
citizens generally stayed within their houses, and left the streets to
the armed multitude, whom they could not regard as friends, and with
whom they were no longer able to contend as enemies. In spite of the
enthusiasm with which Napoleon was greeted in Paris on his return from
Elba, there were very many royalists resident in the city; men, who
longed to welcome back to France the family of the Bourbons, and to live
again beneath the shelter and shade of an ancient throne. But even these
could not greet with a welcome foreigners, who by force had taken
possession. of their capital. It was a sad and gloomy day in Paris, for
no man knew what would be the fate, either of himself or of his country:
shops were closed, and trade was silenced; the clanking of arms and the
jingling of spurs was heard instead of the busy hum of busy men.

On the evening of this day, a stout, fresh-coloured, good-looking woman,
of about forty years of age, was sitting in a perruquier's shop, at the
corner of the Rue St. Honoré and the Rue St. Denis, waiting for the
return of her husband, who had been called upon to exercise his skill
on the person of some of the warriors with whom Paris was now crowded.
The shutters of the little shop were up, as were those of all the houses
in the street, and the place was therefore dark and triste; and the
stout, good-looking woman within was melancholy and somewhat querulous.
A daughter, of about twenty years of age, the exact likeness of her
mother, only twenty years less stout, and twenty years more pretty, sat
with her in the shop, and patiently listened to her complaints.

"Well, Annot," she said, "I wonder at your father. He had a little
spirit once, but it has all left him now. Had he been said by me, he
wouldn't have raised a bit of steel over an English chin for the best
day's hire that ever a man was paid--unless, indeed, it was to cut the
fellow's throat!"

"If he didn't, mother, another would; and what's the good of throwing
away their money?"

"No matter--it's a coward's work to go and shave one's country's
enemies. Do you think he'd have shaved any of the blues' officers in La
Vendée twenty years ago, for all the money they could have offered him?
He'd have done it with a sword, if he had done it at all. Well, I
suppose it's all right! I suppose he's only fit to use a razor now."

"But you always say those were horrid days in La Vendée; that you had
nothing to eat, and no bed to sleep in, nor shoes to your feet; and that
you and father couldn't get married for ever so long, because of the

"So they were horrid days. I don't think any one will live to see the
like again. But still, one don't like to see a man, who once had a
little spirit, become jacky to every one who has a dirty chin to be
scraped. Oh, Annot, if you'd seen the men there were in La Vendée, in
those days; if you'd seen the great Cathelineau, you would have seen a

After having read this conversation, no one will be surprised to hear
that on the board over the shop window, the following words, in yellow
letters, were decently conspicuous:



Madame Chapeau was now disturbed in her unreasonable grumbling by a
knock at the closed door, and on her opening it, an officer in undress
uniform, about fifty years of age, politely greeted her, and asked her
if that was not the house of M. Jacques Chapeau. From his language, the
visitor might at first have been taken for a Frenchman; his dress,
however, plainly told that he belonged to the English army.

"Yes, Monsieur, this is the humble shop of Chapeau, perruquier," said
our old friend, the elder Annot, who, in spite of her feelings of
hostility to the English, was somewhat mollified by the politeness and
handsome figure of her visitor: she then informed him that Chapeau was
not at home; that she expected him in immediately; and that his
assistant, who was, in some respects, almost as talented as his master,
was below, and would wait upon Monsieur immediately; and she rang a
little bell, which was quickly responded to by some one ascending from
a lower region.

The visitor informed Madame Chapeau that he had not called at present
as a customer, but that he had taken the liberty to intrude himself upon
her for the purpose of learning some facts of which, he was informed,
her husband could speak with more accuracy than any other person in

"It is respecting the battles of La Vendée," said he, "that I wish to
speak to him. I believe that he saw more of them than any person now

Madame Chapeau was considering within herself whether there would be any
imprudence in confessing to the English officer the important part her
husband had played in La Vendee, when the officer's question was
answered by another person, whose head and shoulders now dimly appeared
upon the scene.

These were the head and shoulders of Chapeau's assistant, who had been
summoned from his own region by the sound of his mistress's bell; the
stairs from this subterraneous recess did not open on to any passage,
but ascended at once abruptly into the shop, so that the assistant, when
called on, found himself able to answer, and to make even a personal
appearance, as far as his head was concerned, without troubling himself
to mount the three or four last stairs. From this spot he was in the
habit of holding long conversations with his master and mistress; and
now perceiving that neither the head nor chin of the strange gentleman
were to be submitted to his skill, he arrested his steps, and astonished
the visitor by a voice which seemed to come out of the earth.

Indeed he did, Monsieur, more than any one now alive--more even than
myself, and that is saying a great deal. Jacques Chapeau was an officer
high in command through the whole Vendean war; and I, even I, humble as
I am now, I also was thought not unworthy to lead brave men into battle.
I, Monsieur, am Auguste Plume; and though now merely a perruquier's poor
assistant, I was once the officer second in command in the army of La
Petite Vendée.

The gentleman turned round and gazed at the singular apparition, which
the obscurity of the shop only just permitted him to distinguish.
Auguste Flume was now above sixty years old, and completely bald; his
face was thin, lanternjawed, and cadaverous; and his eyes, which were
weak with age, were red and bleared; still he had not that ghastly, sick
appearance, which want both of food and rest had given him in the
glorious days to which he alluded: after the struggle in La Vendée, he
had lived for some time a wretched life, more like that of a beast than
a man; hiding in woods, living on roots, and hunting with the appetite
of a tiger after the blood of stray republicans; his wife and children
had perished in Carrier's noyades in the Loire; he himself had existed
through two years of continued suffering, with a tenacity of life which
almost reached to a miracle. He had joined the Chouans, and had taken
an active part in the fiercest of their fierce acts of vengeance. But
he had lived through it all; and now, in his old age, he had plenty and
comfort; yet he looked back with a fond regret to the days of his
imagined glory and power; he spoke with continual rapture of his own
brave achievements, and regretted that he had not been allowed to
continue a life, the miseries of which it would be impossible to

"Bah, Auguste," said his mistress; "the gentleman does not care to hear
of your La Petite Vendée; it is of M. Henri--that is, of the young
Marquis de Larochejaquelin, and of Madame and of Mademoiselle Agatha,
and of M. de Lescure, and of Charette, and the Prince de Talmont, that
Monsieur will want to hear!"

The stranger was in the act of explaining that the hostess was right in
her surmise, when the master of the house himself returned. In spite of
what he had suffered, years had sat lightly on Chapeau, as they had done
on his wife. He was now a fat, good-humoured, middle-aged, comfortable
man, who made the most, in his trade, of the éclat which attended him,
as having been the faithful servant of the most popular among the
Vendean leaders. He never wearied his customers with long tales of his
own gallantry; he even had the unusual tact to be able to sink himself,
in speaking, as he was often invited to do, of the civil war: he was
known to have been brave, faithful, and loyal, and he was accordingly
very popular among the royalists of Paris, who generally preferred his
scissors and razors to those of any other artist in the city.

The officer, who was now seated in the shop, his wife and daughter, and
his assistant, began at once to explain to him the service which he was
required to perform; and Chapeau, bowing low to the compliments which
the stranger paid to him, declared with his accustomed mixture of
politeness and frank good nature, that he would be happy to tell
anything that he knew.

The gentleman explained, that in his early years he had known de Lescure
intimately; that he had met Larochejaquelin in Paris, and that he had
made one of a party of Englishmen, who had done their best to send arms,
money, and men from his own country into La Vendée. Chapeau was too well
bred to allude to the disappointment which they had all so keenly felt,
from the want of that very aid; he merely bowed again, and said that he
would tell Monsieur all he knew.

And so he did. From the time when Henri Larochejaquelin left Laval for
Granville, nothing prospered with the Vendeans; the army, as it was
agreed, had left that place for Granville, and their first misfortune
had been the death of de Lescure.

"He died in Laval?" asked the officer.

"No," said Chapeau. "When the moment for starting came, he insisted on
being carried with the army; he followed us in a carriage, but the
jolting of the road was too much for him--the journey killed him. He
died at Fougères, on the third day after we left Laval."

"And Madame?" asked the stranger.

"It is impossible for me now," said Chapeau, "to tell you all the
dangers through which she passed, all the disguises which she had to
use, and the strange adventures which for a long time threatened almost
daily to throw her in the hands of those who would have been delighted
to murder her; but of course you know that she escaped at last."

"I am told that she still lives in Poitou, and I think I heard that,
some years after M. de Lescure's death, she married M. Louis

"She did so--the younger brother of my own dear lord. He was a boy in
England during our hot work in La Vendée."

"Yes; and he served in an English regiment."

"So I had heard, Monsieur; but you know, don't you, that he also has now

"Indeed no!--for years and years I have heard nothing of the family."

"It was only two months since: he fell last May at the head of the
Vendeans, leading them against the troops which the Emperor sent down
there. The Vendeans could not endure the thoughts of the Emperor's
return from Elba. M. Louis was the first to lift his sword, and Madame
is, a second time, a widow. Poor lady, none have suffered as she has
done!" He then paused a while in his narrative, but as the stranger did
not speak, he continued: "but of M. Henri, of course, Monsieur, you
heard the fate of our dear General?"

"I only know that he perished, as did so many hundred others, who were
also so true and brave."

"I will tell you then," said Chapeau, "for I was by him when he died;
he fell, when he was shot, close at my feet: he never spoke one word,
or gave one groan, but his eyes, as they closed for the last time,
looked up into the face of one--one who, at any rate, loved him very
well," and Chapeau took a handkerchief from a little pocket in his
wife's apron, and applied it to his eyes.

"Yes," he continued," when the bullet struck him, I was as near to him
as I am to her," and he put his hand to his wife's head. "It might have
been me as well as him, only for the chance. I'll tell you how the
manner of it was. You know bow we all strove to cross back into La
Vendée, first at Angers and afterwards at Ancenis; and how M. Henri got
divided from the army at Ancenis. Well, after that, the Vendean army was
no more; the army was gone, it had melted away; the most of those who
were still alive were left in Brittany, and they joined the Chouans.
Here is my friend, Auguste, he was one of them."

"Indeed I was, Monsieur, for a year and eight months."

"Never mind now, Auguste, you can tell the gentleman by and bye; but,
as I was saying, M. Henri was left all but alone on the southern bank
of the river--there were, perhaps, twenty with him altogether--not more;
and there were as many hundreds hunting those twenty from day to day."

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