Full Text Archive logoFull Text Archive — Free Classic E-books

The Chouans by Honore de Balzac

Part 7 out of 7

Adobe PDF icon
Download this document as a .pdf
File size: 0.7 MB
What's this? light bulb idea Many people prefer to read off-line or to print out text and read from the real printed page. Others want to carry documents around with them on their mobile phones and read while they are on the move. We have created .pdf files of all out documents to accommodate all these groups of people. We recommend that you download .pdfs onto your mobile phone when it is connected to a WiFi connection for reading off-line.

still, his arms crossed, his nose in the air, his lips curling,
watchful and displeased.

"Come, Marie, leave them and come back to me."

"Why do you smile? I placed them there."

"You are dreaming."


They looked at each other for a moment. The marquis divined the whole
truth, and he took her in his arms. "No matter!" he said, "I love you

"All is not lost!" cried Marie, "it cannot be! Alphonse," she said
after a pause, "there is hope."

At this moment they distinctly heard the owl's cry, and Francine
entered from the dressing-room.

"Pierre has come!" she said with a joy that was like delirium.

The marquise and Francine dressed Montauran in Chouan clothes with
that amazing rapidity that belongs only to women. As soon as Marie saw
her husband loading the gun Francine had brought in she slipped
hastily from the room with a sign to her faithful maid. Francine then
took the marquis to the dressing-room adjoining the bed-chamber. The
young man seeing a large number of sheets knotted firmly together,
perceived the means by which the girl expected him to escape the
vigilance of the soldiers.

"I can't get through there," he said, examining the bull's-eye window.

At that instant it was darkened by a thickset figure, and a hoarse
voice, known to Francine, said in a whisper, "Make haste, general,
those rascally Blues are stirring."

"Oh! one more kiss," said a trembling voice beside him.

The marquis, whose feet were already on the liberating ladder, though
he was not wholly through the window, felt his neck clasped with a
despairing pressure. Seeing that his wife had put on his clothes, he
tried to detain her; but she tore herself roughly from his arms and he
was forced to descend. In his hand he held a fragment of some stuff
which the moonlight showed him was a piece of the waistcoat he had
worn the night before.

"Halt! fire!"

These words uttered by Hulot in the midst of a silence that was almost
horrible broke the spell which seemed to hold the men and their
surroundings. A volley of balls coming from the valley and reaching to
the foot of the tower succeeded the discharges of the Blues posted on
the Promenade. Not a cry came from the Chouans. Between each discharge
the silence was frightful.

But Corentin had heard a fall from the ladder on the precipice side of
the tower, and he suspected some ruse.

"None of those animals are growling," he said to Hulot; "our lovers
are capable of fooling us on this side, and escaping themselves on the

The spy, to clear up the mystery, sent for torches; Hulot,
understanding the force of Corentin's supposition, and hearing the
noise of a serious struggle in the direction of the Porte
Saint-Leonard, rushed to the guard-house exclaiming: "That's true,
they won't separate."

"His head is well-riddled, commandant," said Beau-Pied, who was the
first to meet him, "but he killed Gudin, and wounded two men. Ha! the
savage; he got through three ranks of our best men and would have
reached the fields if it hadn't been for the sentry at the gate who
spitted him on his bayonet."

The commandant rushed into the guard-room and saw on a camp bedstead a
bloody body which had just been laid there. He went up to the supposed
marquis, raised the hat which covered the face, and fell into a chair.

"I suspected it!" he cried, crossing his arms violently; "she kept
him, cursed thunder! too long."

The soldiers stood about, motionless. The commandant himself
unfastened the long black hair of a woman. Suddenly the silence was
broken by the tramp of men and Corentin entered the guardroom,
preceding four soldiers who bore on their guns, crossed to make a
litter, the body of Montauran, who was shot in the thighs and arms.
They laid him on the bedstead beside his wife. He saw her, and found
strength to clasp her hand with a convulsive gesture. The dying woman
turned her head, recognized her husband, and shuddered with a spasm
that was horrible to see, murmuring in a voice almost extinct: "A day
without a morrow! God heard me too well!"

"Commandant," said the marquis, collecting all his strength, and still
holding Marie's hand, "I count on your honor to send the news of my
death to my young brother, who is now in London. Write him that if he
wishes to obey my last injunction he will never bear arms against his
country--neither must he abandon the king's service."

"It shall be done," said Hulot, pressing the hand of the dying man.

"Take them to the nearest hospital," cried Corentin.

Hulot took the spy by the arm with a grip that left the imprint of his
fingers on the flesh.

"Out of this camp!" he cried; "your business is done here. Look well
at the face of Commander Hulot, and never find yourself again in his
way if you don't want your belly to be the scabbard of his blade--"

And the older soldier flourished his sabre.

"That's another of the honest men who will never make their way," said
Corentin to himself when he was some distance from the guard-room.

The marquis was still able to thank his gallant adversary by a look
marking the respect which all soldiers feel for loyal enemies.

* * * * *

In 1827 an old man accompanied by his wife was buying cattle in the
market-place of Fougeres. Few persons remembered that he had killed a
hundred or more men, and that his former name was Marche-a-Terre. A
person to whom we owe important information about all the personages
of this drama saw him there, leading a cow, and was struck by his
simple, ingenuous air, which led her to remark, "That must be a worthy

As for Cibot, otherwise called Pille-Miche, we already know his end.
It is likely that Marche-a-Terre made some attempt to save his comrade
from the scaffold; possibly he was in the square at Alencon on the
occasion of the frightful tumult which was one of the events of the
famous trial of Rifoel, Briond, and la Chanterie.


The following personages appear in other stories of the Human Comedy.

Berthier, Alexandre
The Gondreville Mystery

Brigaut, Major

Casteran, De
The Seamy Side of History
Jealousies of a Country Town
The Peasantry

Cibot, Jean (alias Pille-Miche)
The Seamy Side of History

The Gondreville Mystery
Scenes from a Courtesan's Life
The Middle Classes

Esgrignon, Charles-Marie-Victor-Ange-Carol, Marquis d' (or Des Grignons)
Jealousies of a Country Town

Falcon, Jean (alias Beaupied or Beau-Pied)
The Muse of the Department
Cousin Betty


Fontaine, Comte de
Modeste Mignon
The Ball at Sceaux
Cesar Birotteau
The Government Clerks

Fouche, Joseph
The Gondreville Mystery
Scenes from a Courtesan's Life

Guenic, Gaudebert-Calyste-Charles, Baron du

Hulot (Marshal)
The Muse of the Department
Cousin Betty

La Billardiere, Athanase-Jean-Francois-Michel, Baron Flamet de
Cesar Birotteau
The Government Clerks

Leroi, Pierre
The Seamy Side of History
Jealousies of a Country Town

Loudon, Prince de
Modeste Mignon

Louis XVIII., Louis-Stanislas-Xavier
The Seamy Side of History
The Gondreville Mystery
Scenes from a Courtesan's Life
The Ball at Sceaux
The Lily of the Valley
Colonel Chabert
The Government Clerks

Montauran, Marquis Alphonse de
Cesar Birotteau

Montauran, Marquis de (younger brother of Alphonse de)
The Seamy Side of History
Cousin Betty

Stael-Holstein (Anne-Louise-Germaine Necker) Baronne de
Louis Lambert
Letters of Two Brides

Talleyrand-Perigord, Charles-Maurice de
The Gondreville Mystery
The Thirteen
Letters of Two Brides
Gaudissart II.

Troisville, Guibelin, Vicomte de
The Seamy Side of History
Jealousies of a Country Town
The Peasantry

Valois, Chevalier de
Jealousies of a Country Town

Verneuil, Duc de
Jealousies of a Country Town

Vissard, Charles-Amedee-Louis-Joseph Rifoel, Chevalier du
The Seamy Side of History

Book of the day: