Part 3 out of 14
"Valence, the governor's nephew, struck me."
"Ah!" said Bonaparte, laughing, "and you have come to me to strike
The child shook his head.
"No," said he, "I have come to you because I want to fight him--"
"But Valence will beat you, child; he is four times as strong
"Therefore I don't want to fight him as children do, but like
"Does that surprise you?" asked the child.
"No," said Bonaparte; "what do you want to fight with?"
"But only the sergeants have swords, and they won't lend you
"Then we will do without swords."
"But what will you fight with?"
The child pointed to the compass with which the young mathematician
had made his equations.
"Oh! my child," said Bonaparte, "a compass makes a very bad wound."
"So much the better," replied Louis; "I can kill him."
"But suppose he kills you?"
"I'd rather that than bear his blow."
Bonaparte made no further objections; he loved courage, instinctively,
and his young comrade's pleased him.
"Well, so be it!" he replied; "I will tell Valence that you wish
to fight him, but not till to-morrow."
"You will have the night to reflect."
"And from now till to-morrow," replied the child, "Valence will
think me a coward." Then shaking his head, "It is too long till
to-morrow." And he walked away.
"Where are you going?" Bonaparte asked him.
"To ask some one else to be my friend."
"So I am no longer your friend?"
"No, since you think I am a coward."
"Very well," said the young man rising.
"You will go?"
"I am going."
"Ah!" exclaimed the child, "I beg your pardon; you are indeed
my friend." And he fell upon his neck weeping. They were the
first tears he had shed since he had received the blow.
Bonaparte went in search of Valence and gravely explained his
mission to him. Valence was a tall lad of seventeen, having already,
like certain precocious natures, a beard and mustache; he appeared
at least twenty. He was, moreover, a head taller than the boy
he had insulted.
Valence replied that Louis had pulled his queue as if it were
a bell-cord (queues were then in vogue)--that he had warned him
twice to desist, but that Louis had repeated the prank the third
time, whereupon, considering him a mischievous youngster, he had
treated him as such.
Valence's answer was reported to Louis, who retorted that pulling
a comrade's queue was only teasing him, whereas a blow was an
insult. Obstinacy endowed this child of thirteen with the logic
of a man of thirty.
The modern Popilius to Valence returned with his declaration
of war. The youth was greatly embarrassed; he could not fight
with a child without being ridiculous. If he fought and wounded
him, it would be a horrible thing; if he himself were wounded,
he would never get over it so long as he lived.
But Louis's unyielding obstinacy made the matter a serious one.
A council of the Grands (elder scholars) was called, as was usual
in serious cases. The Grands decided that one of their number
could not fight a child; but since this child persisted in
considering himself a young man, Valence must tell him before
all his schoolmates that he regretted having treated him as a
child, and would henceforth regard him as a young man.
Louis, who was waiting in his friend's room, was sent for. He
was introduced into the conclave assembled in the playground
of the younger pupils.
There Valence, to whom his comrades had dictated a speech carefully
debated among themselves to safeguard the honor of the Grands
toward the Petits, assured Louis that he deeply deplored the
occurrence; that he had treated him according to his age and
not according to his intelligence and courage, and begged him
to excuse his impatience and to shake hands in sign that all
But Louis shook his head.
"I heard my father, who is a colonel, say once," he replied,
"that he who receives a blow and does not fight is a coward.
The first time I see my father I shall ask him if he who strikes
the blow and then apologizes to avoid fighting is not more of
a coward than he who received it."
The young fellows looked at each other. Still the general opinion
was against a duel which would resemble murder, and all, Bonaparte
included, were unanimously agreed that the child must be satisfied
with what Valence had said, for it represented their common opinion.
Louis retired, pale with anger, and sulked with his great friend,
who, said he, with imperturbable gravity, had sacrificed his
The morrow, while the Grands were receiving their lesson in
mathematics, Louis slipped into the recitation-room, and while
Valence was making a demonstration on the blackboard, he approached
him unperceived, climbed on a stool to reach his face, and returned
the slap he had received the preceding day.
"There," said he, "now we are quits, and I have your apologies
to boot; as for me, I shan't make any, you may be quite sure
The scandal was great. The act occurring in the professor's presence,
he was obliged to report it to the governor of the school, the
Marquis Tiburce Valence. The latter, knowing nothing of the events
leading up to the blow his nephew had received, sent for the
delinquent and after a terrible lecture informed him that he was
no longer a member of the school, and must be ready to return
to his mother at Bourg that very day. Louis replied that his
things would be packed in ten minutes, and he out of the school
in fifteen. Of the blow he himself had received he said not a
The reply seemed more than disrespectful to the Marquis Tiburce
Valence. He was much inclined to send the insolent boy to the
dungeon for a week, but reflected that he could not confine him
and expel him at the same time.
The child was placed in charge of an attendant, who was not to
leave him until he had put him in the coach for Mâcon; Madame
de Montrevel was to be notified to meet him at the end of the
Bonaparte meeting the boy, followed by his keeper, asked an
explanation of the sort of constabulary guard attached to him.
"I'd tell you if you were still my friend," replied the child;
"but you are not. Why do you bother about what happens to me,
whether good or bad?"
Bonaparte made a sign to the attendant, who came to the door
while Louis was packing his little trunk. He learned then that the
child had been expelled. The step was serious; it would distress
the entire family, and perhaps ruin his young comrade's future.
With that rapidity of decision which was one of the distinctive
characteristics of his organization, he resolved to ask an audience
of the governor, meantime requesting the keeper not to hasten
Bonaparte was an excellent pupil, beloved in the school, and
highly esteemed by the Marquis Tiburce Valence. His request was
immediately complied with. Ushered into the governor's presence,
he related everything, and, without blaming Valence in the least,
he sought to exculpate Louis.
"Are you sure of what you are telling me, sir?" asked the governor.
"Question your nephew himself. I will abide by what he says."
Valence was sent for. He had already heard of Louis's expulsion,
and was on his way to tell his uncle what had happened. His account
tallied perfectly with what you Bonaparte had said.
"Very well," said the governor, "Louis shall not go, but you
will. You are old enough to leave school." Then ringing, "Bring
me the list of the vacant sub-lieutenancies," he said.
That same day an urgent request for a sub-lieutenancy was made
to the Ministry, and that same night Valence left to join his
regiment. He went to bid Louis farewell, embracing him half
willingly, half unwillingly, while Bonaparte held his hand. The
child received the embrace reluctantly.
"It's all right now," said he, "but if ever we meet with swords
by our sides--" A threatening gesture ended the sentence.
Valence left. Bonaparte received his own appointment as
sub-lieutenant October 10, 1785. His was one of fifty-eight
commissions which Louis XVI. signed for the Ecole Militaire. Eleven
years later, November 15, 1796, Bonaparte, commander-in-chief of
the army of Italy, at the Bridge of Arcola, which was defended
by two regiments of Croats and two pieces of cannon, seeing his
ranks disseminated by grapeshot and musket balls, feeling that
victory was slipping through his fingers, alarmed by the hesitation
of his bravest followers, wrenched the tri-color from the rigid
fingers of a dead color-bearer, and dashed toward the bridge,
shouting: "Soldiers! are you no longer the men of Lodi?" As
he did so he saw a young lieutenant spring past him who covered
him with his body.
This was far from what Bonaparte wanted. He wished to cross first.
Had it been possible he would have gone alone.
Seizing the young man by the flap of his coat, he drew him back,
saying: "Citizen, you are only a lieutenant, I a commander-in-chief!
The precedence belongs to me."
"Too true," replied the other; and he followed Bonaparte instead
of preceding him.
That evening, learning that two Austrian divisions had been cut
to pieces, and seeing the two thousand prisoners he had taken,
together with the captured cannons and flags, Bonaparte recalled
the young man who had sprung in front of him when death alone
seemed before him.
"Berthier," said he, "tell my aide-de-camp, Valence, to find
that young lieutenant of grenadiers with whom I had a controversy
this morning at the Bridge of Arcola."
"General," stammered Berthier, "Valence is wounded."
"Ah! I remember I have not seen him to-day. Wounded? Where? How?
On the battlefield?"
"No, general," said he, "he was dragged into a quarrel yesterday,
and received a sword thrust through his body."
Bonaparte frowned. "And yet they know very well I do not approve
of duels; a soldier's blood belongs not to himself, but to France.
Give Muiron the order then."
"He is killed, general."
"To Elliot, in that case."
Bonaparte drew his handkerchief from his pocket and passed it
over his brow, which was bathed with sweat.
"To whom you will, then; but I want to see that lieutenant."
He dared not name any others, fearing to hear again that fatal
A quarter of an hour later the young lieutenant was ushered into
his tent, which was lighted faintly by a single lamp.
"Come nearer, lieutenant," said Bonaparte.
The young man made three steps and came within the circle of light.
"So you are the man who wished to cross the bridge before me?"
"It was done on a wager, general," gayly answered the young
lieutenant, whose voice made the general start.
"Did I make you lose it?"
"Maybe, yes; maybe, no."
"What was the wager?"
"That I should be promoted captain to-day."
"You have won it."
"Thank you, general."
The young man moved hastily forward as if to press Bonaparte's
hand, but checked himself almost immediately. The light had fallen
full on his face for an instant; that instant sufficed to make
the general notice the face as he had the voice. Neither the
one nor the other was unknown to him. He searched his memory
for an instant, but finding it rebellious, said: "I know you!"
"I am certain; only I cannot recall your name."
"You managed that yours should not be forgotten, general."
"Who are you?"
"Ask Valence, general."
Bonaparte gave a cry of joy.
"Louis de Montrevel," he exclaimed, opening wide his arms. This
time the young lieutenant did not hesitate to fling himself into
"Very good," said Bonaparte; "you will serve eight days with the
regiment in your new rank, that they may accustom themselves to
your captain's epaulets, and then you will take my poor Muiron's
place as aide-de-camp. Go!"
"Once more!" cried the young man, opening his arms.
"Faith, yes!" said Bonaparte, joyfully. Then holding him close
after kissing him twice, "And so it was you who gave Valence
that sword thrust?"
"My word!" said the new captain and future aide-de-camp, "you
were there when I promised it to him. A soldier keeps his word."
Eight days later Captain Montrevel was doing duty as staff-officer
to the commander-in-chief, who changed his name of Louis, then
in ill-repute, to that of Roland. And the young man consoled
himself for ceasing to be a descendant of St. Louis by becoming
the nephew of Charlemagne.
Roland--no one would have dared to call Captain Montrevel Louis
after Bonaparte had baptized him Roland--made the campaign of
Italy with his general, and returned with him to Paris after
the peace of Campo Formio.
When the Egyptian expedition was decided upon, Roland, who had been
summoned to his mother's side by the death of the Brigadier-General
de Montrevel, killed on the Rhine while his son was fighting on
the Adige and the Mincio, was among the first appointed by the
commander-in-chief to accompany him in the useless but poetical
crusade which he was planning. He left his mother, his sister Amélie,
and his young brother Edouard at Bourg, General de Montrevel's
native town. They resided some three-quarters of a mile out of
the city, at Noires-Fontaines, a charming house, called a château,
which, together with the farm and several hundred acres of land
surrounding it, yielded an income of six or eight thousand livres
a year, and constituted the general's entire fortune. Roland's
departure on this adventurous expedition deeply afflicted the
poor widow. The death of the father seemed to presage that of
the son, and Madame de Montrevel, a sweet, gentle Creole, was far
from possessing the stern virtues of a Spartan or Lacedemonian
Bonaparte, who loved his old comrade of the Ecole Militaire with
all his heart, granted him permission to rejoin him at the very
last moment at Toulon. But the fear of arriving too late prevented
Roland from profiting by this permission to its full extent. He
left his mother, promising her--a promise he was careful not
to keep--that he would not expose himself unnecessarily, and
arrived at Marseilles eight days before the fleet set sail.
Our intention is no more to give the history of the campaign
of Egypt than we did that of Italy. We shall only mention that
which is absolutely necessary to understand this story and the
subsequent development of Roland's character. The 19th of May,
1798, Bonaparte and his entire staff set sail for the Orient;
the 15th of June the Knights of Malta gave up the keys of their
citadel. The 2d of July the army disembarked at Marabout, and
the same day took Alexandria; the 25th, Bonaparte entered Cairo,
after defeating the Mamelukes at Chebreïss and the Pyramids.
During this succession of marches and battles, Roland had been
the officer we know him, gay, courageous and witty, defying the
scorching heat of the day, the icy dew of the nights, dashing
like a hero or a fool among the Turkish sabres or the Bedouin
bullets. During the forty days of the voyage he had never left
the interpreter Ventura; so that with his admirable facility
he had learned, if not to speak Arabic fluently, at least to
make himself understood in that language. Therefore it often
happened that, when the general did not wish to use the native
interpreter, Roland was charged with certain communications to
the Muftis, the Ulemas, and the Sheiks.
During the night of October 20th and 21st Cairo revolted. At five
in the morning the death of General Dupey, killed by a lance, was
made known. At eight, just as the revolt was supposedly quelled,
an aide-de-camp of the dead general rode up, announcing that the
Bedouins from the plains were attacking Bab-el-Nasr, or the Gate
Bonaparte was breakfasting with his aide-de-camp Sulkowsky, so
severely wounded at Salahieh that he left his pallet of suffering
with the greatest difficulty only. Bonaparte, in his preoccupation
forgetting the young Pole's condition, said to him: "Sulkowsky,
take fifteen Guides and go see what that rabble wants."
"General," interposed Roland, "give me the commission. Don't you
see my comrade can hardly stand?"
"True," said Bonaparte; "do you go!"
Roland went out and took the fifteen Guides and started. But the
order had been given to Sulkowsky, and Sulkowsky was determined
to execute it. He set forth with five or six men whom he found
Whether by chance, or because he knew the streets of Cairo better
than Roland, he reached the Gate of Victory a few seconds before
him. When Roland arrived, he saw five or six dead men, and an
officer being led away by the Arabs, who, while massacring the
soldiers mercilessly, will sometimes spare the officers in hope
of a ransom. Roland recognized Sulkowsky; pointing him out with
his sabre to his fifteen men, he charged at a gallop.
Half an hour later, a Guide, returning alone to head-quarters,
announced the deaths of Sulkowsky, Roland and his twenty-one
Bonaparte, as we have said, loved Roland as a brother, as a son,
as he loved Eugene. He wished to know all the details of the
catastrophe, and questioned the Guide. The man had seen an Arab
cut off Sulkowsky's head and fasten it to his saddle-bow. As for
Roland, his horse had been killed. He had disengaged himself
from the stirrups and was seen fighting for a moment on foot; but
he had soon disappeared in a general volley at close quarters.
Bonaparte sighed, shed a tear and murmured: "Another!" and apparently
thought no more about it. But he did inquire to what tribe belonged
these Bedouins, who had just killed two of the men he loved best.
He was told that they were an independent tribe whose village
was situated some thirty miles off. Bonaparte left them a month,
that they might become convinced of their impunity; then, the
month elapsed, he ordered one of his aides-de-camp, named Crosier,
to surround the village, destroy the huts, behead the men, put
them in sacks, and bring the rest of the population, that is
to say, the women and children, to Cairo.
Crosier executed the order punctually; all the women and children
who could be captured were brought to Cairo, and also with them
one living Arab, gagged and bound to his horse's back.
"Why is this man still alive?" asked Bonaparte. "I ordered you
to behead every man who was able to bear arms."
"General," said Crosier, who also possessed a smattering of Arabian
words, "just as I was about to order his head cut off, I understood
him to offer to exchange a prisoner for his life. I thought there
would be time enough to cut off his head, and so brought him
with me. If I am mistaken, the ceremony can take place here as
well as there; what is postponed is not abandoned."
The interpreter Ventura was summoned to question the Bedouin.
He replied that he had saved the life of a French officer who
had been grievously wounded at the Gate of Victory, and that
this officer, who spoke a little Arabic, claimed to be one of
General Bonaparte's aides-de-camp. He had sent him to his brother
who was a physician in a neighboring tribe, of which this officer
was a captive; and if they would promise to spare his life, he
would write to his brother to send the prisoner to Cairo.
Perhaps this was a tale invented to gain time, but it might also
be true; nothing was lost by waiting.
The Arab was placed in safe keeping, a scribe was brought to
write at his dictation. He sealed the letter with his own seal,
and an Arab from Cairo was despatched to negotiate the exchange.
If the emissary succeeded, it meant the Bedouin's life and five
hundred piastres to the messenger.
Three days later he returned bringing Roland. Bonaparte had hoped
for but had not dared to expect this return.
This heart of iron, which had seemed insensible to grief, was
now melted with joy. He opened his arms to Roland, as on the
day when he had found him, and two tears, two pearls--the tears
of Bonaparte were rare--fell from his eyes.
But Roland, strange as it may seem, was sombre in the midst of the
joy caused by his return. He confirmed the Arab's tale, insisted
upon his liberation, but refused all personal details about his
capture by the Bedouins and the treatment he had received at
the hands of the doctor. As for Sulkowsky, he had been killed
and beheaded before his eyes, so it was useless to think more
of him. Roland resumed his duties, but it was noticeable his
native courage had become temerity, and his longing for glory,
desire for death.
On the other hand, as often happens with those who brave fire
and sword, fire and sword miraculously spared him. Before, behind
and around Roland men fell; he remained erect, invulnerable as
the demon of war. During the campaign in Syria two emissaries
were sent to demand the surrender of Saint Jean d'Acre of Djezzar
Pasha. Neither of the two returned; they had been beheaded. It
was necessary to send a third. Roland applied for the duty, and
so insistent was he, that he eventually obtained the general's
permission and returned in safety. He took part in each of the
nineteen assaults made upon the fortress; at each assault he was
seen entering the breach. He was one of the ten men who forced their
way into the Accursèd Tower; nine remained, but he returned without
a scratch. During the retreat, Bonaparte commanded his cavalry
to lend their horses to the wounded and sick. All endeavored to
avoid the contagion of the pest-ridden sick. To them Roland gave
his horse from preference. Three fell dead from the saddle; he
mounted his horse after them, and reached Cairo safe and sound.
At Aboukir he flung himself into the mélée, reached the Pasha
by forcing his way through the guard of blacks who surrounded
him; seized him by the beard and received the fire of his two
pistols. One burned the wadding only, the other ball passed under
his arm, killing a guard behind him.
When Bonaparte resolved to return to France, Roland was the first
to whom the general announced his intention. Another had been
overjoyed; but he remained sombre and melancholy, saying: "I
should prefer to remain here, general. There is more chance of
my being killed here."
But as it would have appeared ungrateful on his part to refuse
to follow the general, he returned with him. During the voyage
he remained sad and impenetrable, until the English fleet was
sighted near Corsica. Then only did he regain his wonted animation.
Bonaparte told Admiral Gantheaume that he would fight to the
death, and gave orders to sink the frigate sooner than haul down
the flag. He passed, however, unseen through the British fleet,
and disembarked at Frejus, October 8, 1799.
All were impatient to be the first to set foot on French soil.
Roland was the last. Although the general paid no apparent attention
to these details, none escaped him. He sent Eugène, Berthier,
Bourrienne, his aides-de-camp and his suite by way of Gap and
Draguignan, while he took the road to Aix strictly incognito,
accompanied only by Roland, to judge for himself of the state of
the Midi. Hoping that the joy of seeing his family again would
revive the love of life in his heart crushed by its hidden sorrow,
he informed Roland at Aix that they would part at Lyons, and
gave him three weeks' furlough to visit his mother and sister.
Roland replied: "Thank you, general. My sister and my mother
will be very happy to see me." Whereas formerly his words would
have been: "Thank you, general. I shall be very happy to see
my mother and sister again."
We know what occurred at Avignon; we have seen with what profound
contempt for danger, bitter disgust of life, Roland had provoked
that terrible duel. We heard the reason he gave Sir John for
this indifference to death. Was it true or false? Sir John at
all events was obliged to content himself with it, since Roland
was evidently not disposed to furnish any other.
And now, as we have said, they were sleeping or pretending to
sleep as they were drawn by two horses at full speed along the
road of Avignon to Orange.
Our readers must permit us for an instant to abandon Roland and
Sir John, who, thanks to the physical and moral conditions in
which we left them, need inspire no anxiety, while we direct
our attention seriously to a personage who has so far made but
a brief appearance in this history, though he is destined to
play an important part in it.
We are speaking of the man who, armed and masked, entered the
room of the table d'hôte at Avignon to return Jean Picot the two
hundred louis which had been stolen from him by mistake, stored
as it had been with the government money.
We speak of the highwayman, who called himself Morgan. He had
ridden into Avignon, masked, in broad daylight, entered the hotel
of the Palais-Egalité leaving his horse at the door. This horse
had enjoyed the same immunity in the pontifical and royalist town
as his master; he found it again at the horse post, unfastened its
bridle, sprang into the saddle, rode through the Porte d'Oulle,
skirting the walls, and disappeared at a gallop along the road
to Lyons. Only about three-quarters of a mile from Avignon, he
drew his mantle closer about him, to conceal his weapons from
the passers, and removing his mask he slipped it into one of
the holsters of his saddle.
The persons whom he had left at Avignon who were curious to know
if this could be the terrible Morgan, the terror of the Midi,
might have convinced themselves with their own eyes, had they
met him on the road between Avignon and Bédarides, whether the
bandit's appearance was as terrifying as his renown. We do not
hesitate to assert that the features now revealed would have
harmonized so little with the picture their prejudiced imagination
had conjured up that their amazement would have been extreme.
The removal of the mask, by a hand of perfect whiteness and delicacy,
revealed the face of a young man of twenty-four or five years
of age, a face that, by its regularity of feature and gentle
expression, had something of the character of a woman's. One
detail alone gave it or rather would give it at certain moments
a touch of singular firmness. Beneath the beautiful fair hair
waving on his brow and temples, as was the fashion at that period,
eyebrows, eyes and lashes were black as ebony. The rest of the
face was, as we have said, almost feminine. There were two little
ears of which only the tips could be seen beneath the tufts of
hair to which the Incroyables of the day had given the name of
"dog's-ears"; a straight, perfectly proportioned nose, a rather
large mouth, rosy and always smiling, and which, when smiling,
revealed a double row of brilliant teeth; a delicate refined
chin faintly tinged with blue, showing that, if the beard had
not been carefully and recently shaved, it would, protesting
against the golden hair, have followed the same color as the
brows, lashes and eyes, that is to say, a decided black. As for
the unknown's figure, it was seen, when he entered the dining-room,
to be tall, well-formed and flexible, denoting, if not great
muscular strength, at least much suppleness and agility.
The manner he sat his horse showed him to be a practiced rider.
With his cloak thrown back over his shoulders, his mask hidden in
the holster, his hat pulled low over his eyes, the rider resumed
his rapid pace, checked for an instant, passed through Bédarides
at a gallop, and reaching the first houses in Orange, entered
the gate of one which closed immediately behind him. A servant
in waiting sprang to the bit. The rider dismounted quickly.
"Is your master here?" he asked the domestic.
"No, Monsieur the Baron," replied the man; "he was obliged to
go away last night, but he left word that if Monsieur should
ask for him, to say that he had gone in the interests of the
"Very good, Baptiste. I have brought back his horse in good
condition, though somewhat tired. Rub him down with wine, and
give him for two or three days barley instead of oats. He has
covered something like one hundred miles since yesterday morning."
"Monsieur the Baron was satisfied with him?"
"Perfectly satisfied. Is the carriage ready?"
"Yes, Monsieur the Baron, all harnessed in the coach-house; the
postilion is drinking with Julien. Monsieur recommended that
he should be kept outside the house that he might not see him
"He thinks he is to take your master?"
"Yes, Monsieur the Baron. Here is my master's passport, which
we used to get the post-horses, and as my master has gone in
the direction of Bordeaux with Monsieur the Baron's passport,
and as Monsieur the Baron goes toward Geneva with my master's
passport, the skein will probably be so tangled that the police,
clever as their fingers are, can't easily unravel it."
"Unfasten the valise that is on the croup of my saddle, Baptiste,
and give it to me."
Baptiste obeyed dutifully, but the valise almost slipped from
his hands. "Ah!" said he laughing, "Monsieur the Baron did not
warn me! The devil! Monsieur the Baron has not wasted his time
"Just where you're mistaken, Baptiste! if I didn't waste all my
time, I at least lost a good deal, so I should like to be off
again as soon as possible."
"But Monsieur the Baron will breakfast?"
"I'll eat a bite, but quickly."
"Monsieur will not be delayed. It is now two, and breakfast has
been ready since ten this morning. Luckily it's a cold breakfast."
And Baptiste, in the absence of his master, did the honors of the
house to the visitor by showing him the way to the dining-room.
"Not necessary," said the visitor, "I know the way. Do you see
to the carriage; let it be close to the house with the door wide
open when I come out, so that the postilion can't see me. Here's
the money to pay him for the first relay."
And the stranger whom Baptiste had addressed as Baron handed him
a handful of notes.
"Why, Monsieur," said the servant, "you have given me enough to
pay all the way to Lyons!"
"Pay him as far as Valence, under pretext that I want to sleep,
and keep the rest for your trouble in settling the accounts."
"Shall I put the valise in the carriage-box?"
"I will do so myself."
And taking the valise from the servant's hands, without letting it
be seen that it weighed heavily, he turned toward the dining-room,
while Baptiste made his way toward the nearest inn, sorting his
notes as he went.
As the stranger had said, the way was familiar to him, for he
passed down a corridor, opened a first door without hesitation,
then a second, and found himself before a table elegantly served.
A cold fowl, two partridges, a ham, several kinds of cheese, a
dessert of magnificent fruit, and two decanters, the one containing
a ruby-colored wine, and the other a yellow-topaz, made a breakfast
which, though evidently intended for but one person, as only one
place was set, might in case of need have sufficed for three
The young man's first act on entering the dining-room was to go
straight to a mirror, remove his hat, arrange his hair with a
little comb which he took from his pocket; after which he went
to a porcelain basin with a reservoir above it, took a towel
which was there for the purpose, and bathed his face and hands.
Not until these ablutions were completed--characteristic of a man
of elegant habits--not until these ablutions had been minutely
performed did the stranger sit down to the table.
A few minutes sufficed to satisfy his appetite, to which youth
and fatigue had, however, given magnificent proportions; and when
Baptiste came in to inform the solitary guest that the carriage
was ready he found him already afoot and waiting.
The stranger drew his hat low over his eyes, wrapped his coat
about him, took the valise under his arm, and, as Baptiste had
taken pains to lower the carriage-steps as close as possible
to the door, he sprang into the post-chaise without being seen
by the postilion. Baptiste slammed the door after him; then,
addressing the man in the top-boots:
"Everything is paid to Valence, isn't it, relays and fees?" he
"Everything; do you want a receipt?" replied the postilion,
"No; but my master, the Marquise de Ribier, don't want to be
disturbed until he gets to Valence."
"All right," replied the postilion, in the same bantering tone,
"the citizen Marquis shan't be disturbed. Forward, hoop-la!"
And he started his horses, and cracked his whip with that noisy
eloquence which says to neighbors and passers-by: "'Ware here,
'ware there! I am driving a man who pays well and who has the
right to run over others."
Once in the carriage the pretended Marquis of Ribier opened the
window, lowered the blinds, raised the seat, put his valise in
the hollow, sat down on it, wrapped himself in his cloak, and,
certain of not being disturbed till he reached Valence, slept
as he had breakfasted, that is to say, with all the appetite
They went from Orange to Valence in eight hours. Our traveller
awakened shortly before entering the city. Raising one of the
blinds cautiously, he recognized the little suburb of Paillasse.
It was dark, so he struck his repeater and found it was eleven
at night. Thinking it useless to go to sleep again, he added up
the cost of the relays to Lyons and counted out the money. As
the postilion at Valence passed the comrade who replaced him,
the traveller heard him say:
"It seems he's a ci-devant; but he was recommended from Orange,
and, as he pays twenty sous fees, you must treat him as you would
"Very well," replied the other; "he shall be driven accordingly."
The traveller thought the time had come to intervene. He raised
the blind and said:
"And you'll only be doing me justice. A patriot? Deuce take it!
I pride myself upon being one, and of the first calibre, too!
And the proof is--Drink this to the health of the Republic."
And he handed a hundred-franc assignat to the postilion who had
recommended him to his comrade. Seeing the other looking eagerly
at this strip of paper, he continued: "And the same to you if
you will repeat the recommendation you've just received to the
"Oh! don't worry, citizen," said the postilion; "there'll be but
one order to Lyons--full speed!"
"And here is the money for the sixteen posts, including the double
post of entrance in advance. I pay twenty sous fees. Settle it
The postilion dug his spurs into his horse and they were off
at a gallop. The carriage relayed at Lyons about four in the
afternoon. While the horses were being changed, a man clad like
a porter, sitting with his stretcher beside him on a stone post,
rose, came to the carriage and said something in a low tone to
the young Companion of Jehu which seemed to astonish the latter
"Are you quite sure?" he asked the porter.
"I tell you that I saw him with my own eyes!" replied the latter.
"Then I can give the news to our friends as a positive fact?"
"You can. Only hurry."
"Have they been notified at Servas?"
"Yes; you will find a horse ready between Servas and Sue."
The postilion came up; the young man exchanged a last glance
with the porter, who walked away as if charged with a letter of
the utmost importance.
"What road, citizen?" asked the postilion.
"To Bourg. I must reach Servas by nine this evening; I pay thirty
"Forty-two miles in five hours! That's tough. Well, after all,
it can be done."
"Will you do it."
"We can try."
And the postilion started at full gallop. Nine o'clock was striking
as they entered Servas.
"A crown of six livres if you'll drive me half-way to Sue without
stopping here to change horses!" cried the young man through
the window to the postilion.
"Done!" replied the latter.
And the carriage dashed past the post house without stopping.
Morgan stopped the carriage at a half mile beyond Servas, put
his head out of the window, made a trumpet of his hands, and
gave the hoot of a screech-owl. The imitation was so perfect that
another owl answered from a neighboring woods.
"Here we are," cried Morgan.
The postilion pulled up, saying: "If we're there, we needn't go
The young man took his valise, opened the door, jumped out and
stepped up to the postilion.
"Here's the promised ecu."
The postilion took the coin and stuck it in his eye, as a fop of
our day holds his eye-glasses. Morgan divined that this pantomime
had a significance.
"Well," he asked, "what does that mean?"
"That means," said the postilion, "that, do what I will, I can't
help seeing with the other eye."
"I understand," said the young man, laughing; "and if I close
the other eye--"
"Damn it! I shan't see anything."
"Hey! you're a rogue who'd rather be blind than see with one eye!
Well, there's no disputing tastes. Here!"
And he gave him a second crown. The postilion stuck it up to
his other eye, wheeled the carriage round and took the road back
The Companion of Jehu waited till he vanished in the darkness.
Then putting the hollow of a key to his lips, he drew a long
trembling sound from it like a boatswain's whistle.
A similar call answered him, and immediately a horseman came out
of the woods at full gallop. As he caught sight of him Morgan
put on his mask.
"In whose name have you come?" asked the rider, whose face, hidden
as it was beneath the brim of an immense hat, could not be seen.
"In the name of the prophet Elisha," replied the young man with
"Then you are he whom I am waiting for." And he dismounted.
"Are you prophet or disciple?" asked Morgan.
"Disciple," replied the new-comer.
"Where is your master?"
"You will find him at the Chartreuse of Seillon."
"Do you know how many Companions are there this evening?"
"Very good; if you meet any others send them there."
He who had called himself a disciple bowed in sign of obedience,
assisted Morgan to fasten the valise to the croup of the saddle,
and respectfully held the bit while the young man mounted. Without
even waiting to thrust his other foot into the stirrup, Morgan
spurred his horse, which tore the bit from the groom's hand and
started off at a gallop.
On the right of the road stretched the forest of Seillon, like
a shadowy sea, its sombre billows undulating and moaning in the
night wind. Half a mile beyond Sue the rider turned his horse
across country toward the forest, which, as he rode on, seemed
to advance toward him. The horse, guided by an experienced hand,
plunged fearlessly into the woods. Ten minutes later he emerged
on the other side.
A gloomy mass, isolated in the middle of a plain, rose about
a hundred feet from the forest. It was a building of massive
architecture, shaded by five or six venerable trees. The horseman
paused before the portal, over which were placed three statues
in a triangle of the Virgin, our Lord, and St. John the Baptist.
The statue of the Virgin was at the apex of the triangle.
The mysterious traveller had reached his goal, for this was the
Chartreuse of Seillon. This monastery, the twenty-second of its
order, was founded in 1178. In 1672 a modern edifice had been
substituted for the old building; vestiges of its ruins can be
seen to this day. These ruins consist externally of the
above-mentioned portal with the three statues, before which our
mysterious traveller halted; internally, a small chapel, entered
from the right through the portal. A peasant, his wife and two
children are now living there, and the ancient monastery has
become a farm.
The monks were expelled from their convent in 1791; in 1792 the
Chartreuse and its dependencies were offered for sale as
ecclesiastical property. The dependencies consisted first of
the park, adjoining the buildings, and the noble forest which
still bears the name of Seillon. But at Bourg, a royalist and,
above all, religious town, no one dared risk his soul by purchasing
property belonging to the worthy monks whom all revered. The
result was that the convent, the park and the forest had become,
under the title of state property, the property of the republic;
that is to say, they belonged to nobody, or were at the best
neglected. The republic having, for the last seven years, other
things to think of than pointing walls, cultivating an orchard
and cutting timber.
For seven years, therefore, the Chartreuse had been completely
abandoned, and if by chance curious eyes peered through the keyhole,
they caught glimpses of grass-grown courtyards, brambles in the
orchard, and brush in the forest, which, except for one road
and two or three paths that crossed it, had become almost
impenetrable. The Correrie, a species of pavilion belonging to
the monastery and distant from it about three-quarters of a mile,
was mossgrown too in the tangle of the forest, which, profiting
by its liberty, grew at its own sweet will, and had long since
encircled it in a mantle of foliage which hid it from sight.
For the rest, the strangest rumors were current about these two
buildings. They were said to be haunted by guests invisible by
day, terrifying at night. The woodsmen and the belated peasants,
who went to the forest to exercise against the Republic the rights
which the town of Bourg had enjoyed in the days of the monks,
pretended that, through the cracks of the closed blinds, they had
seen flames of fire dancing along the corridors and stairways, and
had distinctly heard the noise of chains clanking over the cloister
tilings and the pavement of the courtyards. The strong-minded
denied these things; but two very opposite classes opposed the
unbelievers, confirming the rumors, attributing these terrifying
noises and nocturnal lights to two different causes according to
their beliefs. The patriots declared that they were the ghosts
of the poor monks buried alive by cloister tyranny in the In-pace,
who were now returned to earth, dragging after them their fetters
to call down the vengeance of Heaven upon their persecutors.
The royalists said that they were the imps of the devil, who,
finding an empty convent, and fearing no further danger from holy
water, were boldly holding their revels where once they had not
dared show a claw. One fact, however, left everything uncertain.
Not one of the believers or unbelievers--whether he elected for
the souls of the martyred monks or for the Witches' Sabbath of
Beelzebub--had ever had the courage to venture among the shadows,
and to seek during the solemn hours of night confirmation of the
truth, in order to tell on the morrow whether the Chartreuse
were haunted, and if haunted by whom.
But doubtless these tales, whether well founded or not, had no
influence over our mysterious horseman; for although, as we have
said, nine o'clock had chimed from the steeples of Bourg, and
night had fallen, he reined in his horse in front of the great
portal of the deserted monastery, and, without dismounting, drew
a pistol from his holster, striking three measured blows with
the butt on the gate, after the manner of the Freemasons. Then
he listened. For an instant he doubted if the meeting were really
there; for though he looked closely and listened attentively,
he could perceive no light, nor could he hear a sound. Still
he fancied he heard a cautious step approaching the portal from
within. He knocked a second time with the same weapon and in
the same manner.
"Who knocks?" demanded a voice.
"He who comes from Elisha," replied the traveller.
"What king do the sons of Isaac obey?"
"What house are they to exterminate?"
"That of Ahab."
"Are you prophet or disciple?"
"Welcome then to the House of the Lord!" said the voice.
Instantly the iron bars which secured the massive portal swung
back, the bolts grated in their sockets, half of the gate opened
silently, and the horse and his rider passed beneath the sombre
vault, which immediately closed behind them.
The person who had opened the gate, so slow to open, so quick to
close, was attired in the long white robe of a Chartreuse monk,
of which the hood, falling over his face, completely concealed
THE CHARTREUSE OF SEILLON
Beyond doubt, like the first affiliated member met on the road
to Sue by the man who styled himself prophet, the monk who opened
the gate was of secondary rank in the fraternity; for, grasping the
horse's bridle, he held it while the rider dismounted, rendering
the young man the service of a groom.
Morgan got off, unfastened the valise, pulled the pistols from
the holsters, and placed them in his belt, next to those already
there. Addressing the monk in a tone of command, he said: "I
thought I should find the brothers assembled in council."
"They are assembled," replied the monk.
"At La Correrie. Suspicious persons have been seen prowling around
the Chartreuse these last few days, and orders have been issued
to take the greatest precautions."
The young man shrugged his shoulders as if he considered such
precautions useless, and, always in the same tone of command,
said: "Have some one take my horse to the stable and conduct
me to the council."
The monk summoned another brother, to whom he flung the bridle.
He lighted a torch at a lamp, in the little chapel which can
still be seen to the right of the great portal, and walked before
the new-comer. Crossing the cloister, he took a few steps in the
garden, opened a door leading into a sort of cistern, invited
Morgan to enter, closed it as carefully as he had the outer door,
touched with his foot a stone which seemed to be accidentally
lying there, disclosed a ring and raised a slab, which concealed
a flight of steps leading down to a subterraneous passage. This
passage had a rounded roof and was wide enough to admit two men
The two men proceeded thus for five or six minutes, when they
reached a grated door. The monk, drawing a key from his frock,
opened it. Then, when both had passed through and the door was
locked again, he asked: "By what name shall I announce you?"
"As Brother Morgan."
"Wait here; I will return in five minutes."
The young man made a sign with his head which showed that he
was familiar with these precautions and this distrust. Then he
sat down upon a tomb--they were in the mortuary vaults of the
convent--and waited. Five minutes had scarcely elapsed before
the monk reappeared.
"Follow me," said he; "the brothers are glad you have come. They
feared you had met with some mishap."
A few seconds later Morgan was admitted into the council chamber.
Twelve monks awaited him, their hoods drawn low over their eyes.
But, once the door had closed and the serving brother had
disappeared, while Morgan was removing his mask, the hoods were
thrown back and each monk exposed his face.
No brotherhood had ever been graced by a more brilliant assemblage
of handsome and joyous young men. Two or three only of these
strange monks had reached the age of forty. All hands were held
out to Morgan and several warm kisses were imprinted upon the
"'Pon my word," said one who had welcomed him most tenderly,
"you have drawn a mighty thorn from my foot; we thought you dead,
or, at any rate, a prisoner."
"Dead, I grant you, Amiet; but prisoner, never! citizen--as they
still say sometimes, and I hope they'll not say it much longer.
It must be admitted that the whole affair was conducted on both
sides with touching amenity. As soon as the conductor saw us he
shouted to the postilion to stop; I even believe he added: 'I
know what it is.' 'Then,' said I, 'if you know what it is, my
dear friend, our explanations needn't be long.' 'The government
money?' he asked. 'Exactly,' I replied. Then as there was a great
commotion inside the carriage, I added: 'Wait! first come down
and assure these gentlemen, and especially the ladies, that we
are well-behaved folk and will not harm them--the ladies; you
understand--and nobody will even look at them unless they put
their heads out of the window.' One did risk it; my faith! but
she was charming. I threw her a kiss, and she gave a little cry
and retired into the carriage, for all the world like Galatea, and
as there were no willows about, I didn't pursue her. In the meantime
the guard was rummaging in his strong-box in all expedition, and
to such good purpose, indeed, that with the government money,
in his hurry, he passed over two hundred louis belonging to a
poor wine merchant of Bordeaux."
"Ah, the devil!" exclaimed the brother called Amiet--an assumed
name, probably, like that of Morgan--"that is annoying! You know
the Directory, which is most imaginative, has organized some
bands of chauffeurs, who operate in our name, to make people
believe that we rob private individuals. In other words, that
we are mere thieves."
"Wait an instant," resumed Morgan; "that is just what makes me
late. I heard something similar at Lyons. I was half-way to Valence
when I discovered this breach of etiquette. It was not difficult,
for, as if the good man had foreseen what happened, he had marked
his bag 'Jean Picot, Wine Merchant at Fronsac, Bordeaux.'"
"And you sent his money back to him?"
"I did better; I returned it to him."
"Ah! no, but at Avignon. I suspected that so careful a man would
stop at the first large town to inquire what chance he had to
recover his two hundred louis. I was not mistaken. I inquired at
the inn if they knew citizen Jean Picot. They replied that not
only did they know him, but in fact he was then dining at the
table d'hôte. I went in. You can imagine what they were talking
about--the stoppage of the diligence. Conceive the sensation my
apparition caused. The god of antiquity descending from the
machine produced a no more unexpected finale than I. I asked
which one of the guests was called Jean Picot. The owner of this
distinguished and melodious name stood forth. I placed the two
hundred louis before him, with many apologies, in the name of the
Company, for the inconvenience its followers had occasioned him.
I exchanged a friendly glance with Barjols and a polite nod with
the Abbé de Rians who were present, and, with a profound bow to
the assembled company, withdrew. It was only a little thing, but
it took me fifteen hours; hence the delay. I thought it preferable
to leaving a false conception of us in our wake. Have I done well,
The gathering burst into bravos.
"Only," said one of the participants, "I think you were somewhat
imprudent to return the money yourself to citizen Jean Picot."
"My dear colonel," replied the young man, "there's an Italian
proverb which says: 'Who wills, goes; who does not will, sends.'
I willed--I went."
"And there's a jolly buck who, if you ever have the misfortune
to fall into the hands of the Directory, will reward you by
recognizing you; a recognition which means cutting off your head!"
"Oh! I defy him to recognize me."
"What can prevent it?"
"Oh! You seem to think that I play such pranks with my face
uncovered? Truly, my dear colonel, you mistake me for some one
else. It is well enough to lay aside my mask among friends; but
among strangers--no, no! Are not these carnival times? I don't
see why I shouldn't disguise myself as Abellino or Karl Moor,
when Messieurs Gohier, Sieyès, Roger Ducos, Moulin and Barras
are masquerading as kings of France."
"And you entered the city masked?"
"The city, the hotel, the dining-room. It is true that if my
face was covered, my belt was not, and, as you see, it is well
The young man tossed aside his coat, displaying his belt, which
was furnished with four pistols and a short hunting-knife. Then,
with a gayety which seemed characteristic of his careless nature,
he added: "I ought to look ferocious, oughtn't I? They may have
taken me for the late Mandrin, descending from the mountains of
Savoy. By the bye, here are the sixty thousand francs of Her
Highness, the Directory." And the young man disdainfully kicked
the valise which he had placed on the ground, which emitted a
metallic sound indicating the presence of gold. Then he mingled
with the group of friends from whom he had been separated by
the natural distance between a narrator and his listeners.
One of the monks stooped and lifted the valise.
"Despise gold as much as you please, my dear Morgan, since that
doesn't prevent you from capturing it. But I know of some brave
fellows who are awaiting these sixty thousand francs, you so
disdainfully kick aside, with as much impatience and anxiety as
a caravan, lost in the desert, awaits the drop of water which
is to save it from dying of thirst."
"Our friends of the Vendée, I suppose?" replied Morgan. "Much
good may it do them! Egotists, they are fighting. These gentlemen
have chosen the roses and left us the thorns. Come! don't they
receive anything from England?"
"Oh, yes," said one of the monks, gayly; "at Quiberon they got
bullets and grapeshot."
"I did not say from the English," retorted Morgan; "I said from
"Not a penny."
"It seems to me, however," said one of those present, who apparently
possessed a more reflective head than his comrades, "it seems
to me that our princes might send a little gold to those who
are shedding their blood for the monarchy. Are they not afraid
the Vendée may weary some day or other of a devotion which up to
this time has not, to my knowledge, won her a word of thanks."
"The Vendée, dear friend," replied Morgan, "is a generous land
which will not weary, you may be sure. Besides, where is the
merit of fidelity unless it has to deal with ingratitude? From
the instant devotion meets recognition, it is no longer devotion.
It becomes an exchange which reaps its reward. Let us be always
faithful, and always devoted, gentlemen, praying Heaven that
those whom we serve may remain ungrateful, and then, believe
me, we shall bear the better part in the history of our civil
Morgan had scarcely formulated this chivalric axiom, expressive
of a desire which had every chance of accomplishment, than three
Masonic blows resounded upon the door through which he had entered.
"Gentlemen," said the monk who seemed to fill the rôle of president,
"quick, your hoods and masks. We do not know who may be coming
HOW THE MONEY OF THE DIRECTORY WAS USED
Every one hastened to obey. The monks lowered the hoods of their
long robes over their faces, Morgan replaced his mask.
"Enter!" said the superior.
The door opened and the serving-brother appeared.
"An emissary from General Georges Cadoudal asks to be admitted,"
"Did he reply to the three passwords?"
"Then let him in."
The lay brother retired to the subterranean passage, and reappeared
a couple of minutes later leading a man easily recognized by his
costume as a peasant, and by his square head with its shock of
red hair for a Breton. He advanced in the centre of the circle
without appearing in the least intimidated, fixing his eyes on
each of the monks in turn, and waiting until one of these twelve
granite statues should break silence. The president was the first
to speak to him.
"From whom do you come?" he asked him.
"He who sent me," replied the peasant, "ordered me to answer,
if I were asked that question, that I was sent by Jehu."
"Are you the bearer of a verbal or written message?"
"I am to reply to the questions which you ask me, and exchange
a slip of paper for some money."
"Very good; we will begin with the questions. What are our brothers
in the Vendée doing?"
"They have laid down their arms and are awaiting only a word from
you to take them up again."
"And why did they lay down their arms?"
"They received the order to do so from his Majesty Louis XVIII."
"There is talk of a proclamation written by the King's own hand.
Have they received it?"
"Here is a copy."
The peasant gave a paper to the person who was interrogating him.
The latter opened it and read:
The war has absolutely no result save that of making the monarchy
odious and threatening. Monarchs who return to their own through
its bloody succor are never loved; these sanguinary measures must
therefore be abandoned; confide in the empire of opinion which
returns of itself to its saving principles. "God and the King,"
will soon be the rallying cry of all Frenchmen. The scattered
elements of royalism must be gathered into one formidable sheaf;
militant Vendée must be abandoned to its unhappy fate and marched
within a more pacific and less erratic path. The royalists of the
West have fulfilled their duty; those of Paris, who have prepared
everything for the approaching Restoration, must now be relied
The president raised his head, and, seeking Morgan with a flash
of the eye which his hood could not entirely conceal, said: "Well,
brother, I think this is the fulfilment of your wish of a few
moments ago. The royalists of the Vendée and the Midi will have
the merit of pure devotion." Then, lowering his eyes to the
proclamation, of which there still remained a few lines to read,
The Jews crucified their King, and since that time they have
wandered over the face of the earth. The French guillotined
theirs, and they shall be dispersed throughout the land.
Given at Blankenbourg, this 25th of August, 1799, on the day
of St. Louis and the sixth year of our reign.
The young men looked at each other.
"'Quos vult perdere Jupiter dementat!'" said Morgan.
"Yes," said the president; "but when those whom Jupiter wishes
to destroy represent a principle, they must be sustained not
only against Jupiter but against themselves. Ajax, in the midst
of the bolts and lightning, clung to a rock, and, threatening
Heaven with his clinched hand, he cried, 'I will escape in spite
of the gods!'" Then turning toward Cadoudal's envoy, "And what
answer did he who sent you make to this proclamation?"
"About what you yourself have just answered. He told me to come
and inform myself whether you had decided to hold firm in spite
of all, in spite of the King himself."
"By Heavens! yes," said Morgan.
"We are determined," said the President.
"In that case," replied the peasant, "all is well. Here are the
real names of our new chiefs, and their assumed names. The general
recommends that you use only the latter as far as is possible
in your despatches. He observes that precaution when he, on his
side, speaks of you."
"Have you the list?" asked the President.
"No; I might have been stopped, and the list taken. Write yourself;
I will dictate them to you."
The president seated himself at the table, took a pen, and wrote
the following names under the dictation of the Breton peasant:
"Georges Cadoudal, Jehu or Roundhead; Joseph Cadoudal, Judas
Maccabeus; Lahaye Saint-Hilaire, David; Burban-Malabry,
Brave-la-Mort; Poulpiquez, Royal-Carnage; Bonfils, Brise-Barrière;
Dampherné, Piquevers; Duchayla, La Couronne; Duparc, Le Terrible;
La Roche, Mithridates; Puisaye, Jean le Blond."
"And these are the successors of Charette, Stoffiet, Cathelineau,
Bonchamp, d'Elbée, la Rochejaquelin, and Lescure!" cried a voice.
The Breton turned toward him who had just spoken.
"If they get themselves killed like their predecessors," said
he, "what more can you ask of them?"
"Well answered," said Morgan, "so that--"
"So that, as soon as our general has your reply," answered the
peasant, "he will take up arms again."
"And suppose our reply had been in the negative?" asked another
"So much the worse for you," replied the peasant; "in any case
the insurrection is fixed for October 20."
"Well," said the president, "thanks to us, the general will have
the wherewithal for his first month's pay. Where is your receipt?"
"Here," said the peasant, drawing a paper from his pocket on which
were written these words:
Received from our brothers of the Midi and the East, to be
employed for the good of the cause, the sum of....
General commanding the Royalist army of Brittany.
The sum was left blank.
"Do you know how to write?" asked the president.
"Enough to fill in the three or four missing words."
"Very well. Then write, 'one hundred thousand francs.'"
The Breton wrote; then extending the paper to the president, he
said: "Here is your receipt; where is the money?"
"Stoop and pick up the bag at your feet; it contains sixty thousand
francs." Then addressing one of the monks, he asked: "Montbard,
where are the remaining forty thousand?"
The monk thus interpellated opened a closet and brought forth a
bag somewhat smaller than the one Morgan had brought, but which,
nevertheless, contained the good round sum of forty thousand
"Here is the full amount," said the monk.
"Now, my friend," said the president, "get something to eat and
some rest; to-morrow you will start."
"They are waiting for me yonder," said the Breton. "I will eat
and sleep on horseback. Farewell, gentlemen. Heaven keep you!"
And he went toward the door by which he bad entered.
"Wait," said Morgan.
The messenger paused.
"News for news," said Morgan; "tell General Cadoudal that General
Bonaparte has left the army in Egypt, that he landed at Fréjus,
day before yesterday, and will be in Paris in three days. My
news is fully worth yours, don't you think so? What do you think
"Impossible!" exclaimed all the monks with one accord.
"Nevertheless nothing is more true, gentlemen. I have it from
our friend the Priest (Leprêtre), [Footnote: The name Leprêtre is
a contraction of the two words "le prêtre," meaning the priest;
hence the name under which this man died.] who saw him relay at
Lyons one hour before me, and recognized him."
"What has he come to France for?" demanded several voices.
"Faith," said Morgan, "we shall know some day. It is probable
that he has not returned to Paris to remain there incognito."
"Don't lose an instant in carrying this news to our brothers
in the West," said the president to the peasant. "A moment ago
I wished to detain you; now I say to you: 'Go!'"
The peasant bowed and withdrew. The president waited until the
door was closed.
"Gentlemen," said he, "the news which our brother Morgan has
just imparted to us is so grave that I wish to propose a special
"What is it?" asked the Companions of Jehu with one voice.
"It is that one of us, chosen by lot, shall go to Paris and keep
the rest informed, with the cipher agreed upon, of all that happens
"Agreed!" they replied.
"In that case," resumed the president, "let us write our thirteen
names, each on a slip of paper. We put them in a hat. He whose
name is first drawn shall start immediately."
The young men, one and all, approached the table, and wrote their
names on squares of paper which they rolled and dropped into
a hat. The youngest was told to draw the lots. He drew one of
the little rolls of paper and handed it to the president, who
"Morgan!" said he.
"What are my instructions?" asked the young man.
"Remember," replied the president, with a solemnity to which
the cloistral arches lent a supreme grandeur, "that you bear the
name and title of Baron de Sainte-Hermine, that your father was
guillotined on the Place de la Révolution and that your brother
was killed in Condé's army. Noblesse oblige! Those are your
"And what else?" asked the young man.
"As to the rest," said the president, "we rely on your royalist
principles and your loyalty."
"Then, my friends, permit me to bid you farewell at once. I would
like to be on the road to Paris before dawn, and I must pay a
visit before my departure."
"Go!" said the president, opening his arms to Morgan. "I embrace
you in the name of the Brotherhood. To another I should say, 'Be
brave, persevering and active'; to you I say, 'Be prudent.'"
The young man received the fraternal embrace, smiled to his other
friends, shook hands with two or three of them, wrapped himself
in his mantle, pulled his hat over his eyes and departed.
ROMEO AND JULIET
Under the possibility of immediate departure, Morgan's horse,
after being washed, rubbed down and dried, had been fed a double
ration of oats and been resaddled and bridled. The young man had
only to ask for it and spring upon its back. He was no sooner
in the saddle than the gate opened as if by magic; the horse
neighed and darted out swiftly, having forgotten its first trip,
and ready for another.
At the gate of the Chartreuse, Morgan paused an instant, undecided
whether to turn to the right or left. He finally turned to the
right, followed the road which leads from Bourg to Seillon for
a few moments, wheeled rapidly a second time to the right, cut
across country, plunged into an angle of the forest which was
on his way, reappeared before long on the other side, reached
the main road to Pont-d'Ain, followed it for about a mile and
a half, and halted near a group of houses now called the Maison
des Gardes. One of these houses bore for sign a cluster of holly,
which indicated one of those wayside halting places where the
pedestrians quench their thirst, and rest for an instant to recover
strength before continuing the long fatiguing voyage of life.
Morgan stopped at the door, drew a pistol from its holster and
rapped with the butt end as he had done at the Chartreuse. Only
as, in all probability, the good folks at the humble tavern were
far from being conspirators, the traveller was kept waiting longer
than he had been at the monastery. At last he heard the echo
of the stable boy's clumsy sabots. The gate creaked, but the
worthy man who opened it no sooner perceived the horseman with
his drawn pistol than he instinctively tried to, close it again.
"It is I, Patout," said the young man; "don't be afraid."
"Ah! sure enough," said the peasant, "it is really you, Monsieur
Charles. I'm not afraid now; but you know, as the curé used to
tell us, in the days when there was a good God, 'Caution is the
mother of safety.'"
"Yes, Patout, yes," said the young man, slipping a piece of silver
into the stable boy's hand, "but be easy; the good God will return,
and M. le Curé also."
"Oh, as for that," said the good man, "it is easy to see that
there is no one left on high by the way things go. Will this
last much longer, M. Charles?"
"Patout, I promise, in my honor, to do my best to be rid of all
that annoys you. I am no less impatient than you; so I'll ask
you not to go to bed, my good Patout."
"Ah! You know well, monsieur, that when you come I don't often
go to bed. As for the horse--Goodness! You change them every
day? The time before last it was a chestnut, the last time a
dapple-gray, now a black one."
"Yes, I'm somewhat capricious by nature. As to the horse, as
you say, my dear Patout, he wants nothing. You need only remove
his bridle; leave him saddled. Oh, wait; put this pistol back
in the holsters and take care of these other two for me." And
the young man removed the two from his belt and handed them to
"Well," exclaimed the latter, laughing, "any more barkers?"
"You know, Patout, they say the roads are unsafe."
"Ah! I should think they weren't safe! We're up to our necks
in regular highway robberies, M. Charles. Why, no later than
last week they stopped and robbed the diligence between Geneva
"Indeed!" exclaimed Morgan; "and whom do they accuse of the robbery?"
"Oh, it's such a farce! Just fancy; they say it was the Companions
of Jesus. I don't believe a word of it, of course. Who are the
Companions of Jesus if not the twelve apostles?"
"Of course," said Morgan, with his eternally joyous smile, "I
don't know of any others."
"Well!" continued Patout, "to accuse the twelve apostles of robbing
a diligence, that's the limit. Oh! I tell you, M. Charles, we're
living in times when nobody respects anything."
And shaking his head like a misanthrope, disgusted, if not with
life, at least with men, Patout led the horse to the stable.
As for Morgan, he watched Patout till he saw him disappear down
the courtyard and enter the dark stable; then, skirting the
hedge which bordered the garden, he went toward a large clump
of trees whose lofty tops were silhouetted against the darkness
of the night, with the majesty of things immovable, the while
their shadows fell upon a charming little country house known in
the neighborhood as the Château des Noires-Fontaines. As Morgan
reached the château wall, the hour chimed from the belfry of the
village of Montagnac. The young man counted the strokes vibrating
in the calm silent atmosphere of the autumn night. It was eleven
o'clock. Many things, as we have seen, had happened during the
last two hours.
Morgan advanced a few steps farther, examined the wall, apparently
in search of a familiar spot, then, having found it, inserted
the tip of his boot in a cleft between two stones. He sprang
up like a man mounting a horse, seized the top of the wall with
the left hand, and with a second spring seated himself astride
the wall, from which, with the rapidity of lightning, he lowered
himself on the other side. All this was done with such rapidity,
such dexterity and agility, that any one chancing to pass at that
instant would have thought himself the puppet of a vision. Morgan
stopped, as on the other side of the wall, to listen, while his
eyes tried to pierce the darkness made deeper by the foliage
of poplars and aspens, and the heavy shadows of the little wood.
All was silent and solitary. Morgan ventured on his path. We
say ventured, because the young man, since nearing the Château
des Noires-Fontaines, revealed in all his movement a timidity
and hesitation so foreign to his character that it was evident
that if he feared it was not for himself alone.
He gained the edge of the wood, still moving cautiously. Coming to
a lawn, at the end of which was the little château, he paused. Then
he examined the front of the house. Only one of the twelve windows
which dotted the three floors was lighted. This was on the second
floor at the corner of the house. A little balcony, covered with
virgin vines which climbed the walls, twining themselves around
the iron railing and falling thence in festoons from the window,
overhung the garden. On both sides of the windows, close to the
balcony, large-leafed trees met and formed above the cornice a
bower of verdure. A Venetian blind, which was raised and lowered
by cords, separated the balcony from the window, a separation
which disappeared at will. It was through the interstices of
this blind that Morgan had seen the light.
The young man's first impulse was to cross the lawn in a straight
line; but again, the fears of which we spoke restrained him. A
path shaded by lindens skirted the wall and led to the house.
He turned aside and entered its dark leafy covert. When he had
reached the end of the path, he crossed, like a frightened doe,
the open space which led to the house wall, and stood for a moment
in the deep shadow of the house. Then, when he had reached the
spot he had calculated upon, he clapped his hands three times.
At this call a shadow darted from the end of the apartment and
clung, lithe, graceful, almost transparent, to the window.
Morgan repeated the signal. The window was opened immediately,
the blind was raised, and a ravishing young girl, in a night
dress, her fair hair rippling over her shoulders, appeared in
the frame of verdure.
The young man stretched out his arms to her, whose arms were
stretched out to him, and two names, or rather two cries from
the heart, crossed from one to the other.
Then the young man sprang against the wall, caught at the vine
shoots, the jagged edges of the rock, the jutting cornice, and
in an instant was on the balcony.
What these two beautiful young beings said to each other was
only a murmur of love lost in an endless kiss. Then, by gentle
effort, the young man drew the girl with one hand to her chamber,
while with the other he loosened the cords of the blind, which
fell noisily behind them. The window closed behind the blind.
Then the lamp was extinguished, and the front of the Château
des Noires-Fontaines was again in darkness.
This darkness had lasted for about a quarter of an hour, when
the rolling of a carriage was heard along the road leading from
the highway of Pont-d'Ain to the entrance of the château. There
the sound ceased; it was evident that the carriage had stopped
before the gates.
THE FAMILY OF ROLAND
The carriage which had stopped before the gate was that which
brought Roland back to his family, accompanied by Sir John.
The family was so far from expecting him that, as we have said,
all the lights in the house were extinguished, all the windows
in darkness, even Amélie's. The postilion had cracked his whip
smartly for the last five hundred yards, but the noise was
insufficient to rouse these country people from their first sleep.
When the carriage had stopped, Roland opened the door, sprang
out without touching the steps, and tugged at the bell-handle.
Five minutes elapsed, and, after each peal, Roland turned to
the carriage, saying: "Don't be impatient, Sir John."
At last a window opened and a childish but firm voice cried out:
"Who is ringing that way?"
"Ah, is that you, little Edouard?" said Roland. "Make haste and
let us in."
The child leaped back with a shout of delight and disappeared.
But at the same time his voice was heard in the corridors, crying:
"Mother! wake up; it is Roland! Sister! wake up; it is the big
Then, clad only in his night robe and his little slippers, he
ran down the steps, crying: "Don't be impatient, Roland; here
An instant later the key grated in the lock, and the bolts slipped
back in their sockets. A white figure appeared in the portico, and
flew rather than ran to the gate, which an instant later turned
on its hinges and swung open. The child sprang upon Roland's
neck and hung there.
"Ah, brother! Brother!" he exclaimed, embracing the young man,
laughing and crying at the same time. "Ah, big brother Roland!
How happy mother will be; and Amélie, too! Every body is well.
I am the sickest--ah! except Michel, the gardener, you know,
who has sprained his leg. But why aren't you in uniform? Oh! how
ugly you are in citizen's clothes! Have you just come from Egypt?
Did you bring me the silver-mounted pistols and the beautiful
curved sword? No? Then you are not nice, and I won't kiss you any
more. Oh, no, no! Don't be afraid! I love you just the same!"
And the boy smothered the big brother with kisses while he showered
questions upon him. The Englishman, still seated in the carriage,
looked smilingly through the window at the scene.
In the midst of these fraternal embraces came the voice of a woman;
the voice of the mother.
"Where is he, my Roland, my darling son?" asked Madame de Montrevel,
in a voice fraught with such violent, joyous emotion that it
was almost painful. "Where is he? Can it be true that he has
returned; really true that he is not a prisoner, not dead? Is
he really living?"
The child, at her voice, slipped from his brother's arms like
an eel, dropped upon his feet on the grass, and, as if moved
by a spring, bounded toward his mother.
"This way, mother; this way!" said he, dragging his mother, half
dressed as she was, toward Roland. When he saw his mother Roland
could no longer contain himself. He felt the sort of icicle that
had petrified his breast melt, and his heart beat like that of
"Ah!" he exclaimed, "I was indeed ungrateful to God when life
still holds such joys for me."
And he fell sobbing upon Madame de Montrevel's neck without thinking
of Sir John, who felt his English phlegm disperse as he silently
wiped away the tears that flowed down his cheeks and moistened
his lips. The child, the mother, and Roland formed an adorable
group of tenderness and emotion.
Suddenly little Edouard, like a leaf tossed about by the wind,
flew from the group, exclaiming: "Sister Amélie! Why, where is
she?" and he rushed toward the house, repeating: "Sister Amélie,
wake up! Get up! Hurry up!"
And then the child could be heard kicking and rapping against
a door. Silence followed. Then little Edouard shouted: "Help,
mother! Help, brother Roland! Sister Amélie is ill!"
Madame de Montrevel and her son flew toward the house. Sir John,
consummate tourist that he was, always carried a lancet and a
smelling bottle in his pocket. He jumped from the carriage and,
obeying his first impulse, hurried up the portico. There he paused,
reflecting that he had not been introduced, an all-important
formality for an Englishman.
However, the fainting girl whom he sought came toward him at
that moment. The noise her brother had made at the door brought
Amélie to the landing; but, without doubt, the excitement which
Roland's return had occasioned was too much for her, for after
descending a few steps in an almost automatic manner, controlling
herself by a violent effort, she gave a sigh, and, like a flower
that bends, a branch that droops, like a scarf that floats, she
fell, or rather lay, upon the stairs. It was at that moment that
the child cried out.
But at his exclamation Amélie recovered, if not her strength, at
least her will. She rose, and, stammering, "Be quiet, Edouard!
Be quite, in Heaven's name! I'm all right," she clung to the
balustrade with one hand, and leaning with the other on the child,
she had continued to descend. On the last step she met her mother
and her brother. Then with a violent, almost despairing movement,
she threw both arms around Roland's neck, exclaiming: "My brother!
Roland, feeling the young girl's weight press heavily upon his
shoulder, exclaimed: "Air! Air! She is fainting!" and carried
her out upon the portico. It was this new group, so different
from the first, which met Sir John's eyes.
As soon as she felt the fresh air, Amélie revived and raised
her head. Just then the moon, in all her splendor, shook off a
cloud which had veiled her, and lighted Amélie's face, as pale
as her own. Sir John gave a cry of admiration. Never had he seen
a marble statue so perfect as this living marble before his eyes.
We must say that Amélie, seen thus, was marvelously beautiful.
Clad in a long cambric robe, which defined the outlines of her
body, molded on that of the Polyhymnia of antiquity, her pale
face gently inclined upon her brother's shoulder, her long golden
hair floating around her snowy shoulders, her arm thrown around
her mother's neck, its rose-tinted alabaster hand drooping upon
the red shawl in which Madame de Montrevel had wrapped herself;
such was Roland's sister as she appeared to Sir John.
At the Englishman's cry of admiration, Roland remembered that
he was there, and Madame de Montrevel perceived his presence.
As for the child, surprised to see this stranger in his mother's
home, he ran hastily down the steps of the portico, stopping on
the third one, not that he feared to go further, but in order
to be on a level with the person he proceeded to question.
"Who are you, sir!" he asked Sir John; "and what are you doing
"My little Edouard," said Sir John, "I am your brother's friend,
and I have brought you the silver-mounted pistols and the Damascus
blade which he promised you."
"Where are they?" asked the child.
"Ah!" said Sir John, "they are in England, and it will take some
time to send for them. But your big brother will answer for me
that I am a man of my word."
"Yes, Edouard, yes," said Roland. "If Sir John promises them
to you, you will get them." Then turning to Madame de Montrevel
and his sister, "Excuse me, my mother; excuse me, Amélie; or
rather, excuse yourselves as best you can to Sir John, for you
have made me abominably ungrateful." Then grasping Sir John's
hand, he continued: "Mother, Sir John took occasion the first
time he saw me to render me an inestimable service. I know that
you never forget such things. I trust, therefore, that you will
always remember that Sir John is one of our best friends; and
he will give you the proof of it by saying with me that he has
consented to be bored for a couple of weeks with us."
"Madame," said Sir John, "permit me, on the contrary, not to
repeat my friend Roland's words. I could wish to spend, not a
fortnight, nor three weeks, but a whole lifetime with you."
Madame de Montrevel came down the steps of the portico and offered
her hand to Sir John, who kissed it with a gallantry altogether
"My lord," said she, "this house is yours. The day you entered
it has been one of joy, the day you leave will be one of regret
Sir John turned toward Amélie, who, confused by the disorder
of her dress before this stranger, was gathering the folds of
her wrapper about her neck.
"I speak to you in my name and in my daughter's, who is still
too much overcome by her brother's unexpected return to greet
you herself as she will do in a moment," continued Madame de
Montrevel, coming to Amélie's relief.
"My sister," said Roland, "will permit my friend Sir John to kiss
her hand, and he will, I am sure, accept that form of welcome."
Amélie stammered a few words, slowly lifted her arm, and held
out her hand to Sir John with a smile that was almost painful.
The Englishman took it, but, feeling how icy and trembling it
was, instead of carrying it to his lips he said: "Roland, your
sister is seriously indisposed. Let us think only of her health
this evening. I am something of a doctor, and if she will deign
to permit me the favor of feeling her pulse I shall be grateful."
But Amélie, as if she feared that the cause of her weakness might
be surmised, withdrew her hand hastily, exclaiming: "Oh, no! Sir
John is mistaken. Joy never causes illness. It is only joy at
seeing my brother again which caused this slight indisposition, and
it has already passed over." Then turning to Madame de Montrevel,
she added with almost feverish haste: "Mother, we are forgetting
that these gentlemen have made a long voyage, and have probably
eaten nothing since Lyons. If Roland has his usual good appetite
he will not object to my leaving you to do the honors of the house,
while I attend to the unpoetical but much appreciated details
of the housekeeping."
Leaving her mother, as she said, to do the honors of the house,
Amélie went to waken the maids and the manservant, leaving on
the mind of Sir John that sort of fairy-like impression which
the tourist on the Rhine brings with him of the Lorelei on her
rock, a lyre in her hand, the liquid gold of her hair floating
in the evening breezes.
In the meantime, Morgan had remounted his horse, returning at
full gallop to the Chartreuse. He drew rein before the portal,
pulled out a note-book, and pencilling a few lines on one of the
leaves, rolled it up and slipped it through the keyhole without
taking time to dismount.
Then pressing in both his spurs, and bending low over the mane
of the noble animal, he disappeared in the forest, rapid and
mysterious as Faust on his way to the mountain of the witches'
sabbath. The three lines he had written were as follows:
"Louis de Montrevel, General Bonaparte's aide-de-camp, arrived
this evening at the Château des Noires-Fontaines. Be careful,
Companions of Jehu!"
But, while warning his comrades to be cautious about Louis de
Montrevel, Morgan had drawn a cross above his name, which signified
that no matter what happened the body of the young officer must
be considered as sacred by them.
The Companions of Jehu had the right to protect a friend in that
way without being obliged to explain the motives which actuated
them. Morgan used that privilege to protect the brother of his
CHÂTEAU DES NOIRES-FONTAINES
The Château of Noires-Fontaines, whither we have just conducted
two of the principal characters of our story, stood in one of
the most charming spots of the valley, where the city of Bourg
is built. The park, of five or six acres, covered with venerable
oaks, was inclosed on three sides by freestone walls, one of
which opened in front through a handsome gate of wrought-iron,
fashioned in the style of Louis XV.; the fourth side was bounded
by the little river called the Reissouse, a pretty stream that
takes its rise at Journaud, among the foothills of the Jura,
and flowing gently from south to north, joins the Saône at the
bridge of Fleurville, opposite Pont-de-Vaux, the birthplace of
Joubert, who, a month before the period of which we are writing,
was killed at the fatal battle of Novi.
Beyond the Reissouse, and along its banks, lay, to the right and
left of the Château des Noires-Fontaines, the village of Montagnac
and Saint-Just, dominated further on by that of Ceyzeriat. Behind
this latter hamlet stretched the graceful outlines of the hills
of the Jura, above the summits of which could be distinguished
the blue crests of the mountains of Bugey, which seemed to be
standing on tiptoe in order to peer curiously over their younger
sisters' shoulder at what was passing in the valley of the Ain.
It was in full view of this ravishing landscape that Sir John
awoke. For the first time in his life, perhaps, the morose and
taciturn Englishman smiled at nature. He fancied himself in one
of those beautiful valleys of Thessaly celebrated by Virgil,
beside the sweet slopes of Lignon sung by Urfé, whose birthplace,