Part 5 out of 14
The minutes slowly passed, one after the other. Perhaps a cloud
was passing between earth and moon, for Roland fancied that the
shadows deepened. Then, as midnight approached, he seemed to
hear a thousand confused, imperceptible sounds, coming no doubt
from the nocturnal universe which wakes while the other sleeps.
Nature permits no suspension of life, even for repose. She created
her nocturnal world, even as she created her daily world, from
the gnat which buzzes about the sleeper's pillow to the lion
prowling around the Arab's bivouac.
But Roland, the camp watcher, the sentinel of the desert, Roland,
the hunter, the soldier, knew all those sounds; they were powerless
to disturb him.
Then, mingling with these sounds, the tones of the clock, chiming
the hour, vibrated above his head. This time it was midnight.
Roland counted the twelve strokes, one after the other. The last
hung, quivering upon the air, like a bird with iron wings, then
slowly expired, sad and mournful. Just then the young man, thought
he heard a moan. He listened in the direction whence it came.
Again he heard it, this time nearer at hand.
He rose, his hands resting upon the table, the butt-end of a
pistol beneath each palm. A rustle like that of a sheet or a
gown trailing along the grass was audible on his right, not ten
paces from him. He straightened up as if moved by a spring.
At the same moment a shade appeared on the threshold of the vast
hall. This shade resembled the ancient statues lying on the tombs.
It was wrapped in an immense winding-sheet which trailed behind it.
For an instant Roland doubted his own eyes. Had the preoccupation
of his mind made him see a thing which was not? Was he the dupe
of his senses, the sport of those hallucinations which physicians
assert, but cannot explain? A moan, uttered by the phantom, put
his doubts to flight.
"My faith!" he cried in a burst of laughter, "now for a tussle,
The spectre paused and extended a hand toward the, young officer.
"Roland! Roland!" said the spectre in a muffled voice, "it would
be a pity not to follow to the grave those you have sent there."
And the spectre, without hastening its step, continued on its way.
Roland, astounded for an instant, came down from the stage, and
resolutely followed the ghost. The path was difficult, encumbered
with stones, benches awry, and over-turned tables. And yet, through
all these obstacles, an invisible channel seemed open for the
spectre, which pursued its way unchecked.
Each time it passed before a window, the light from with out,
feeble as it was, shone upon the winding-sheet and the ghost,
outlining the figure, which passed into the obscurity to reappear
and vanish again at each succeeding one, Roland, his eyes fixed
upon the figure, fearing to lose sight of it if he diverted his
gaze from it, dared not look at the path, apparently so easy to
the spectre, yet bristling with obstacles for him. He stumbled
at every step. The ghost was gaining upon him. It reached the
door opposite to that by which it had entered. Roland saw the
entrance to a dark passage. Feeling that the ghost would escape
him, he cried: "Man or ghost, robber or monk, halt or I fire!"
"A dead body cannot be killed twice, and death has no power over
the spirit," replied the ghost in its muffled voice.
"Who are you?"
"The Shade of him you tore violently from the earth."
The young officer burst into that harsh, nervous laugh, made more
terrible by the darkness around him.
"Faith!" said he, "if you have no further indications to give
me, I shall not trouble myself to discover you."
"Remember the fountain at Vaucluse," said the Shade, in a voice
so faint the words seemed to escape his lips like a sigh rather
than articulate speech.
For an instant Roland felt, not his heart failing him, but the
sweat pouring from his forehead. Making an effort over himself,
he regained his voice and cried, menacingly: "For a last time,
apparition or reality, I warn you that, if you do not stop, I
The Shade did not heed him, but continued on its way.
Roland paused an instant to take aim. The spectre was not ten
paces from him. Roland was a sure shot; he had himself loaded
his pistols, and only a moment before he had looked to the charge
to see that it was intact.
As the spectre passed, tall and white, beneath the gloomy vault
of the passage, Roland fired. The flash illumined the corridor
like lightning, down which the spectre passed with unfaltering,
unhastening steps. Then all was blacker than before. The ghost
vanished in the darkness. Roland dashed after him, changing his
other pistol from the left hand to the right. But short as his
stop had been, the ghost had gained ground. Roland saw him at
the end of the passage, this time distinctly outlined against
the gray background of the night. He redoubled his pace, and
as he crossed the threshold of the passage, he fancied that the
ghost was plunging into the bowels of the earth. But the torso
still remained visible.
"Devil or not," cried Roland, "I follow you!"
He fired a second shot, which filled the cavernous space, into
which the ghost had disappeared, with flame and smoke.
When the smoke had cleared away, Roland looked vainly around.
He was alone. He sprang into the cistern howling with rage. He
sounded the walls with the butt-end of his pistol, he stamped
on the ground; but everywhere, earth and stone gave back the
sound of solid objects. He tried to pierce the darkness, but
it was impossible. The faint moonlight that filtered into the
cistern died out at the first steps.
"Oh!" cried Roland, "a torch! a torch!"
No one answered. The only sound to be heard was the spring bubbling
close at hand. Realizing that further search would be useless,
he emerged from the cavern. Drawing a powder-horn and two balls
from his pocket, he loaded his pistols hastily. Then he took
the path along which he had just come, found the dark passage,
then the vast refectory, and again took his place at the end
of the silent hall and waited.
But the hours of the night sounded successively, until the first
gleam of dawn cast its pallid light upon the walls of the cloister.
"Well," muttered Roland, "it's over for to-night. Perhaps I shall
be more fortunate the next time."
Twenty minutes later he re-entered the Château des Noires-Fontaines.
Two persons were waiting for Roland's return; one in anguish,
the other with impatience. These two persons were Amélie and Sir
John. Neither of them had slept for an instant. Amélie displayed
her anguish only by the sound of her door, which was furtively
closed as Roland came up the staircase. Roland heard the sound.
He had not the courage to pass before her door without reassuring
"Be easy, Amélie, I am here," he said. It did not occur to him
that his sister might be anxious for any one but him.
Amélie darted from her room in her night-dress. It was easy to
see from her pallor and the dark circles which spread nearly to
the middle of her cheeks that she had not closed her eyes all
"Has nothing happened to you, Roland?" she cried, clasping her
brother in her arms and feeling him over anxiously.
"Nor to any one else?"
"And you saw nothing?"
"I didn't say that," answered Roland.
"Good God! What did you see?"
"I'll tell that to you later. Meantime, there is no one either
killed or wounded."
"Ah! I breathe again!"
"Now, let me give you a bit of advice, little sister. Go to bed
and sleep, if you can, till breakfast. I am going to do the same
thing, and can assure yon I won't need any rocking. Good-night,
or rather good-morning."
Roland kissed his sister tenderly. Then affecting to whistle a
hunting-air carelessly, he ran up the next flight of steps. Sir
John was frankly waiting for him in the hall. He went straight
to the young man.
"Well?" he asked.
"Well, I didn't roll my stone entirely for nothing."
"Did you see any ghosts?"
"At any rate I saw something that resembled one very closely."
"Come, tell me all about it."
"I see you won't be able to sleep, or at best only fitfully, if
I don't. Here's what happened, in a nutshell."
And Roland gave him a minute account of the night's adventure.
"Excellent," said Sir John, when Roland had finished. "I hope
you have left something for me to do."
"I am even afraid," answered Roland, "that I have left you the
Then, as Sir John went over each detail, asking many questions
about the localities, he said:
"Listen, Sir John. We will pay the Chartreuse a visit in broad
daylight after breakfast, which will not interfere in the least
with your night-watch. On the contrary, it will acquaint you
with the localities. Only you must tell no one."
"Oh!" exclaimed Sir John, "do I look like a gabbler?"
"No, that's true," cried Roland laughing, "you are not a gabbler,
but I am a ninny." So saying, he entered his bedchamber.
After breakfast the two young men sauntered down the slopes of
the garden, as if to take a walk along the banks of the Reissouse.
Then they bore to the left, swung up the hill for about forty
paces, struck into the highroad, and crossed the woods, till
they reached the convent wall at the very place where Roland had
climbed over it on the preceding night.
"My lord," said Roland, "this is the way."
"Very well," replied Sir John, "let us take it."
Slowly, with a wonderful strength of wrist, which betokened a
man well trained in gymnastics, the Englishman seized the coping
of the wall, swung himself to the top, and dropped down on the
other side. Roland followed with the rapidity of one who is not
achieving a feat for the first time. They were both on the other
side, where the desertion and desolation were more visible by
night than by day. The grass was growing knee high in the paths;
the espaliers were tangled with vines so thick that the grapes
could not ripen in the shadow of the leaves. The wall had given
way in several places, and ivy, the parasite rather than the
friend of ruins, was spreading everywhere.
As for the trees in the open space, plums, peaches and apricots,
they had grown with the freedom of the oaks and beeches in the
forest, whose breadth and thickness they seemed to envy. The
sap, completely absorbed by the branches which were many and
vigorous, produced but little fruit, and that imperfect. By the
rustle of the tall grass, Sir John and Roland divined that the
lizards, those crawling offsprings of solitude, had established
their domicile there, from which they fled in amazement at this
Roland led his friend straight to the door between the orchard
and the cloister, but before entering he glanced at the clock.
That clock, which went at night, was stopped in the day time.
From the cloister he passed into the refectory. There the daylight
showed under their true aspect the various objects which the
darkness had clothed with such fantastic forms the night before.
Roland showed Sir John the overturned stools, the table marked
by the blow of the pistol, the door by which the phantom had
entered. Accompanied by the Englishman, he followed the path he
had taken in pursuit of the spectre. He recognized the obstacles
which had hindered him, and noted how easily one who knew the
locality might cross or avoid them.
At the spot where he had fired, he found the wad, but he looked
in vain for the bullet. The arrangement of the passage, which
ran slanting, made it impossible for the bullet, if its marks
were not on the walls, to have missed the ghost. And yet if the
ghost were hit, supposing it to be a solid body, how came it to
remain erect? How had it escaped being wounded, and if wounded,
why were there no bloodstains on the ground? And there was no
trace of either blood or ball.
Sir John was almost ready to admit that his friend had had to
do with a veritable ghost.
"Some one came after me," said Roland, "and picked up the ball."
"But if you fired at a man, why didn't the ball go into him?"
"Oh! that's easily explained. The man wore a coat of mail under
That was possible, but, nevertheless, Sir John shook his head
dubiously. He preferred to believe in a supernatural occurrence;
it gave him less trouble.
Roland and he continued their investigations. They reached the
end of the passage which opened on the furthest extremity of
the orchard. It was there that Roland had seen his spectre for
an instant as it glided into the dark vault. He made for the
cistern, and so little did he hesitate that he might still have
been following the ghost. There he understood how the darkness
of the night had seemed to deepen by the absence of all exterior
reflection. It was even difficult to see there by day.
Roland took two torches about a foot long from beneath his cloak,
took a flint, lighted the tinder, and a match from the tinder.
Both torches flared up.
The problem was now to discover the way by which the ghost had
disappeared. Roland and Sir John lowered their torches and examined
the ground. The cistern was paved with large squares of limestone,
which seemed to fit perfectly. Roland looked for his second ball
as persistently as for the first. A stone lay loose at his feet,
and, pushing it aside, he disclosed an iron ring screwed into
one of the limestone blocks.
Without a word Roland seized the ring, braced his feet and pulled.
The square turned on its pivot with an ease which proved that it
was frequently subjected to the same manipulation. As it turned,
it disclosed a subterranean passage.
"Ah!" exclaimed Roland, "this is the way my spectre went."
He entered the yawning cavern, followed by Sir John. They traversed
the same path that Morgan took when he returned to give an account
of his expedition. At the end of the passage they came upon an
iron gate opening into the mortuary vaults. Roland shook the
gate, which yielded to his touch. They crossed this subterranean
cemetery, and came to a second gate; like the first, it was open.
With Roland still in front, they went up several steps, and found
themselves in the choir of the chapel, where the scene we have
related between Morgan and the Company of Jehu took place. Only
now the stalls were empty, the choir was deserted, and the altar,
degraded by the abandonment of worship, was no longer covered
by the burning tapers or the sacred cloth.
It was evident to Roland that this was the goal of the false
ghost, which Sir John persisted in believing a real one. But,
real or false, Sir John admitted that its flight had brought it
to this particular spot. He reflected a moment and then remarked:
"As it is my turn to watch tonight, I have the right to choose
my ground; I shall watch here."
And he pointed to a sort of table formed in the centre of the
choir by an oaken pedestal which had formerly supported the eagle
"Indeed," said Roland, with the same heedlessness he showed in
his own affairs, "you'll do very well there, only as you may find
the gates locked and the stone fastened tonight, we had better
look for some more direct way to get here."
In less than five minutes they had found an outlet. The door of
the old sacristy opened into the choir, and from the sacristy a
broken window gave passage into the forest. The two men climbed
through the window and found themselves in the forest thicket
some twenty feet from the spot where they had killed the boar.
"That's what we want," said Roland; "only, my dear Sir John,
as you would never find your way by night in a forest which,
even by day, is so impenetrable, I shall accompany you as far
"Very well. But once I am inside, you are to leave me," said the
Englishman. "I remember what you told me about the susceptibility
of ghosts. If they know you are near, they may hesitate to appear,
and as you have seen one, I insist on seeing at least one myself."
"I'll leave you, don't be afraid," replied Roland, adding, with
a laugh, "Only I do fear one thing."
"What is that?"
"That in your double capacity of an Englishman and a heretic they
won't feel at ease with you."
"Oh," replied Sir John, gravely, "what a pity I shall not have
time to abjure before this evening."
The two friends, having seen all there was to see, returned to
the chateau. No one, not even Amélie, had suspected that their walk
was other than an ordinary one. The day passed without questions
and without apparent anxiety; besides, it was already late when
the two gentlemen returned.
At dinner, to Edouard's great delight, another hunt was proposed,
and it furnished a topic for conversation during dinner and part
of the evening. By ten o'clock, as usual, all had retired to
their rooms, except Roland, who was in that of Sir John.
The difference of character showed itself markedly in the
preparations of the two men. Roland had made them joyously, as
if for a pleasure trip; Sir John made his gravely, as if for a
duel. He loaded his pistols with the utmost care and put them
into his belt English fashion. And, instead of a cloak, which
might have impeded his movements, he wore a top-coat with a high
collar put on over his other coat.
At half-past ten the pair left the house with the same precautions
that Roland had observed when alone. It was five minutes before
eleven when they reached the broken window, where the fallen
stones served as a stepping-block. There, according to agreement,
they were to part. Sir John, reminded Roland of this agreement.
"Yes," said Roland, "an agreement is an agreement with me. Only,
let me give you a piece of advice."
"What is it?"
"I could not find the bullets because some one had been here
and carried them off; and that was done beyond doubt to prevent
me from seeing the dents on them."
"What sort of dent do you mean?"
"Those of the links of a coat of mail; my ghost was a man in armor."
"That's too bad!" said Sir John; "I hoped for a ghost." Then,
after a moment's silence and a sigh expressive of his deep regret
in resigning the ghost, he asked: "What was your advice?"
"Fire at his face!"
Sir John nodded assent, pressed the young officer's hand, clambered
through the window and disappeared in the sacristy.
"Good-night!" called Roland after him. Then with the indifference
to danger which a soldier generally feels for himself and his
companions, Roland took his way back to the Château des
Noires-Fontaines, as he had promised Sir John.
The next day Roland, who had been unable to sleep till about
two in the morning, woke about seven. Collecting his scattered
wits, he recalled what had passed between Sir John and himself
the night before, and was astonished that the Englishman had
not wakened him. He dressed hastily and went to Sir John's room
at the risk of rousing him from his first sleep.
He knocked at the door. Sir John made no answer. Roland knocked
again, louder this time. The same silence. This time some uneasiness
mingled with Roland's curiosity. The key was on the outside; the
young officer opened the door, and cast a rapid glance around
the room. Sir John was not there; he had not returned. The bed
was undisturbed. What had happened?
There was not an instant to lose, and we may be sure that, with
that rapidity of decision we know in Roland, he lost not an instant.
He rushed to his room, finished dressing, put his hunting knife
into his belt, slung his rifle over his shoulder and went out.
No one was yet awake except the chambermaid. Roland met her on
"Tell Madame de Montrevel," said he, "that I have gone into the
forest of Seillon with my gun. She must not worry if Sir John
and I are not on time for breakfast."
Then he darted rapidly away. Ten minutes later he reached the
window where he had left Sir John the night before. He listened,
not a sound came from within; the huntsman's ear could detect the
morning woodland sounds, but no others. Roland climbed through
the window with his customary agility, and rushed through the
choir into the sacristy.
One look sufficed to show him that not only the choir but the
entire chapel was empty. Had the spectres led the Englishman
along the reverse of the way he had come himself? Possibly. Roland
passed rapidly behind the altar, into the vaults, where he found
the gate open. He entered the subterranean cemetery. Darkness
hid its depths. He called Sir John three times. No one answered.
He reached the second gate; it was open like the first. He entered
the vaulted passage; only, as it would be impossible to use his
gun in such darkness, he slung it over his shoulder and drew
out his hunting-knife. Feeling his way, he continued to advance
without meeting anybody, but the further he went the deeper became
the darkness, which indicated that the stone in the cistern was
closed. He reached the steps, and mounted them until his head
touched the revolving stone; then he made an effort, and the
block turned. Roland saw daylight and leaped into the cistern.
The door into the orchard stood open. Roland passed through it,
crossed that portion of the orchard which lay between the cistern
and the corridor at the other end of which he had fired upon the
phantom. He passed along the corridor and entered the refectory.
The refectory was empty.
Again, as in the funereal passageway, Roland called three times.
The wondering echo, which seemed to have forgotten the tones of
the human voice, answered stammering. It was improbable that
Sir John had come this way; it was necessary to go back. Roland
retraced his steps, and found himself in the choir again. That
was where Sir John had intended to spend the night, and there
some trace of him must be found.
Roland advanced only a short distance, and then a cry escaped
him. A large spot of blood lay at his feet, staining the pavement.
On the other side of the choir, a dozen feet from the blood, was
another stain, not less large, nor less red, nor less recent.
It seemed to make a pendant for the first.
One of these stains was to the right, the other to the left of
that sort of pedestal intended, as we have said, to support the
eagle lectern--the pedestal which Sir John had selected for his
place of waiting. Roland went up to it. It was drenched with
blood! Evidently the drama had taken place on that spot; a drama
which, if all the signs were true, must have been terrible.
Roland, in his double capacity of huntsman and soldier, was keen
at a quest. He could calculate the amount of blood lost by a
man who was dead, or by one who was only wounded. That night
three men had fallen, either dead or wounded. What were the
The two stains in the choir to the right and left of the pedestal
were probably the blood of Sir John's two antagonists. That on
the pedestal was probably his own. Attacked on both sides, right
and left, he had fired with both hands, killing or wounding a
man with each shot. Hence these two bloodstains which reddened
the pavement. He himself must have been struck down beside the
pedestal, on which his blood had spurted.
After a few seconds of examination, Roland was as sure of this
as if he had witnessed the struggle with his own eyes. Now, what
had been done with the bodies? He cared little enough about two
of them; but he was determined to know what had become of that
of Sir John.
A track of blood started from the pedestal and led straight to
the door. Sir John's body had been carried outside. Roland shook
the massive door. It was only latched, and opened at the first
pressure. Outside the sill the tracks of blood still continued.
Roland could see through the underbrush the path by which the
body had been carried. The broken branches, the trampled grass,
led Roland to the edge of the wood on the road leading from Pont
d'Ain to Bourg. There the body, living or dead, seemed to have
been laid on the bank of the ditch. Beyond that no traces whatever.
A man passed just then, coming from the direction of the Château
des Noires-Fontaines. Roland went up to him.
"Have you seen anything on the road? Did you meet any one?" he
"Yes," replied the man, "I saw two peasants carrying a body on
"Ah!" cried Roland, "was it that of a living man?"
"The man was pale and motionless; he looked as if he were dead."
"Was the blood flowing?"
"I saw some drops on the road."
"In that case, he is living."
Then taking a louis from his pocket he said: "There's a louis
for you. Run for Dr. Milliet at Bourg; tell him to get a horse
and come at full speed to the Château des Noires-Fontaines. You
can add that there is a man there in danger of dying."
While the peasant, stimulated by the reward, made all haste to
Bourg, Roland, leaping along on his vigorous legs, was hurrying
to the château.
And now, as our readers are, in all probability, as curious as
Roland to know what had happened to Sir John, we shall give an
account of the events of the night.
A few minutes before eleven, Sir John, as we have seen, entered
what was usually known as La Correrie, or the pavilion of the
Chartreuse, which was nothing more than a chapel erected in the
woods. From the sacristy he entered the choir. It was empty and
seemed solitary. A rather brilliant moon, veiled from time to
time by a cloud, sent its bluish rays through the stained glass,
cracked and broken, of the pointed windows. Sir John advanced to
the middle of the choir, where he paused and remained standing
beside the pedestal.
The minutes slipped away. But this time it was not the convent
clock which marked the time, it was the church at Péronnaz; that
is to say, the nearest village to the chapel where Sir John was
Everything happened up to midnight just as it had to Roland.
Sir John heard only the vague rustling and passing noises of the
Midnight sounded; it was the moment he awaited with impatience,
for it was then that something would happen, if anything was to
happen. As the last stroke died away he thought he heard footsteps
underground, and saw a light appear behind the iron gate leading
to the mortuary vault. His whole attention was fixed on that
A monk emerged from the passage, his hood brought low over his
eyes, and carrying a torch in his hand. He wore the dress of a
Chartreux. A second one followed, then a third. Sir John counted
twelve. They separated before the altar. There were twelve stalls
in the choir; six to the right of Sir John, six to his left. The
twelve monks silently took their places in the twelve stalls.
Each one placed his torch in a hole made for that purpose in
the oaken desk, and waited.
A thirteenth monk appeared and took his stand before the altar.
None of the monks affected the fantastic behavior of ghosts or
shades; they all belonged undoubtedly to the earth, and were
Sir John, a pistol in each hand, stood leaning against the pedestal
in the middle of the choir, and watched with the utmost coolness this
manoeuvre which tended to surround him. The monks were standing,
like him, erect and silent.
The monk at the altar broke the silence.
"Brothers," he asked, "why are the Avengers assembled?"
"To judge a blasphemer!" replied the monks.
"What crime has this blasphemer committed?" continued the
"He has tried to discover the secrets of the Companions of Jehu."
"What penalty has he incurred?"
The monk at the altar waited, apparently, to give time for the
sentence which had just been pronounced to reach the heart of him
whom it concerned. Then turning to the Englishman, who continued
as calm as if he were at a comedy, he said: "Sir John Tanlay,
you are a foreigner and an Englishman--a double reason why you
should leave the Companions of Jehu to fight their own battles
with the government, whose downfall they have sworn. You failed
in wisdom, you yielded to idle curiosity; instead of keeping
away, you have entered the lion's den, and the lion will rend you."
Then after an instant's silence, during which he seemed to await
the Englishman's reply, he resumed, seeing that he remained silent:
"Sir John Tanlay, you are condemned to death. Prepare to die!"
"Ah! I see that I have fallen into the hands of a band of thieves.
If so, I can buy myself off with a ransom." Then turning to the
monk at the altar he asked, "How much do you demand, captain?"
A threatening murmur greeted these insolent words. The monk at
the altar stretched out his hand.
"You are mistaken, Sir John. We are not a band of thieves," said
he in a tone as calm and composed as Sir John's, "and the proof
is, that if you have money or jewels upon you, you need only
give me your instructions, and they will be remitted either to
your family or the person whom you designate."
"And what guarantee shall I have that my last wishes will be
"The word of the leader of assassins! I don't trust it."
"This time, as before, you are mistaken, Sir John. I am no more
the leader of assassins than I am a captain of thieves."
"Who are you, then?"
"The elect of celestial vengeance. I am the envoy of Jehu, King
of Israel, who was anointed by the prophet Elisha to destroy the
house of Ahab."
"If you are what you say, why do you veil your faces? Why do
you wear armor under your robes? The elect strike openly; they
risk death in giving death. Throw back your hoods, show me your
naked breasts, and I will admit that you are what you pretend
"Brothers, you have heard him," said the monk at the altar.
Then, stripping off his gown, he opened his coat, waistcoat and
even his shirt. Each monk did the same, and stood with face exposed
and bared breast. They were all handsome young men, of whom the
eldest was apparently not more than thirty-five. Their dress was
elegant, but, strange fact, none was armed. They were judges and
"Be satisfied, Sir John Tanlay," said the monk at the altar.
"You will die, but in dying, you can, as you wished just now,
recognize and kill your judges. Sir John, you have five minutes
to prepare your soul for death!"
Sir John, instead of profiting by this permission to think of
his eternal salvation, coolly cocked his pistols to see that the
triggers were all right, and passed a ramrod down the barrels
to make sure that the balls were there. Then, without waiting
for the five minutes to expire, he said: "Gentlemen, I am ready.
The young men looked at each other; then, on a sign from their
chief, they walked straight to Sir John, and surrounded him on
all sides. The monk at the altar stood immovable, commanding
with his eye the scene that was about to take place.
Sir John had only two pistols, consequently he could only kill
two men. He selected his victims and fired. Two Companions of
Jehu rolled upon the pavement, which they reddened with their
blood. The others, as if nothing had happened, still advanced
with outstretched hands upon Sir John. Sir John seized his pistols
by the muzzle, using them like hammers. He was vigorous and the
struggle was long. For ten minutes, a confused group tussled in
the centre of the choir; then this violent commotion ceased, and
the Companions of Jehu drew away to right and left, and regained
their stalls, leaving Sir John bound with their girdles and lying
upon the pedestal in the choir.
"Have you commended your soul to God?" asked the monk at the altar.
"Yes, assassin," answered Sir John; "you may strike."
The monk took a dagger from the altar, advanced with uplifted
arm, and, standing over Sir John, levelled the dagger at his
breast: "Sir John Tanlay," he said, "you are a brave man, and
doubtless a man of honor. Swear that you will never breathe a
syllable of what you have seen; swear that under no circumstances,
whatever they may be, you will recognize us, and we will spare
"As soon as I leave here," replied Sir John, "I shall denounce
you. The moment I am free I will trail you down."
"Swear," repeated the monk a second time.
"No," said Sir John.
"Swear," said the monk for the third time.
"Never," replied Sir John.
"Then die, since you will it!"
And he drove his dagger up to the hilt in Sir John's breast;
who, whether by force of will, or because the blow killed him
at once, did not even sigh. Then the monk in a loud sonorous
voice, like a man conscious of having done his duty, exclaimed:
"Justice is done!"
Then he returned to the altar, leaving the dagger in the wound
and said: "Brothers, you are invited to the ball of the Victims,
which takes place in Paris on the 21st of January next, at No.
35 Rue du Bac, in memory of the death of King Louis XVI."
So saying, he re-entered the subterranean passage, followed by
the remaining ten monks, each bearing his torch in his hand.
Two torches remained to light the three bodies.
A moment later four serving brothers entered, and raised first
the bodies of the two monks, which they carried into the vault.
Then they returned, lifted that of Sir John, placed it on a
stretcher, and carried it out of the chapel by the entrance door,
which they closed after them. Two of the monks walked in front
of the stretcher, carrying the two torches left in the chapel.
And now, if our readers ask why there was this difference between
the treatment received by Roland and that administered to Sir
John, why this mansuetude toward one and this rigor toward the
other, we reply: Remember that Morgan enjoined on his brethren
the safety of Amélie's brother, and thus safeguarded, under no
circumstances could Roland die by the hand of a Companion of
THE LITTLE HOUSE IN THE RUE DE LA VICTOIRE
While they are bearing Sir John Tanlay's body to the Château des
Noires-Fontaines; while Roland is hurrying in the same direction;
while the peasant, despatched by him, is hastening to Bourg to
notify Dr. Milliet of the catastrophe which necessitated his
immediate presence at Madame de Montrevel's home, let us jump over
the distance which separates Bourg from Paris, and the time which
elapsed between the 16th of October and the 7th of November; that
is to say, between the 24th of Vendemiaire and the 16th Brumaire,
and repair to that little house in the Rue de la Victoire rendered
historically famous by the conspiracy of the 18th Brumaire, which
issued from it fully armed.
It is the same house which stands there to-day on the right of
the street at No. 60, apparently astonished to present to the
eye, after so many successive changes of government, the consular
fasces which may still be seen on the panels of its double oaken
Let us follow the long, narrow alley of lindens that leads from
the gate on the street to the door of the house; let us enter
the antechamber, take the hall to the right, ascend the twenty
steps that lead to a study hung with green paper, and furnished
with curtains, easy chairs and couches of the same color. The
walls are covered with geographical charts and plans of cities.
Bookcases of maple are ranged on either side of the fireplace,
which they inclose. The chairs, sofas, tables and desks are piled
with books; there is scarcely any room on the chairs to sit down,
or on the desks and tables to write.
In the midst of this encumbering mass of reports, letters, pamphlets
and books, a man had cleared a space for himself where he was
now seated, clutching his hair impatiently from time to time,
as he endeavored to decipher a page of notes, compared to which
the hieroglyphics on the obelisk of Luxor, would have been
transparently intelligible. Just as the secretary's impatience
was approaching desperation, the door opened and a young officer
wearing an aide's uniform entered.
The secretary raised his head, and a lively expression of
satisfaction crossed his face.
"Oh! my dear Roland," said he; "you here at last! I am delighted
to see you, for three reasons. First, because I am wearying for
you; second, because the general is impatient for your return,
and keeps up a hullaballoo about it; and third, because you can
help me to read this, with which I have been struggling for the
last ten minutes. But first of all, kiss me."
And the secretary and the aide-de-camp embraced each other.
"Well," said the latter, "let us see this word that is troubling
you so, my dear Bourrienne!"
"Ah! my dear fellow, what writing! I get a white hair for every
page I decipher, and this is my third to-day! Here, read it if
Roland took the sheet from the secretary, and fixing his eyes
on the spot indicated, read quite fluently: "Paragraph XI. The
Nile, from Assouan to a distance of twelve miles north of Cairo,
flows in a single stream"--"Well," said he, interrupting himself,
"that's all plain sailing. What did you mean? The general, on
the contrary, took pains when he wrote that."
"Go on, go on," said Bourrienne.
The young man resumed: "'From that point, which is called'--ah!
"There you are! Now what do you say to that?"
Roland repeated: "'Which is called'--The devil! 'Which is called--'"
"Yes, 'Which is called'--after that?"
"What will you give me, Bourrienne," cried Roland, "if I guess
"The first colonel's commission I find signed in blank."
"By my faith, no! I don't want to leave the general; I'd rather
have a good father than five hundred naughty children. I'll give
you the three words for nothing."
"What! are there three words there?"
"They don't look as if they were quite three, I admit. Now listen,
and make obeisance to me: 'From the point called Ventre della
"Ha! Ventre de la Vache! Confound it! He's illegible enough in
French, but if he takes it into his head to go off in Italian,
and that Corsican patois to boot! I thought I only ran the risk
of going crazy, but then I should become stupid, too. Well, you've
got it," and he read the whole sentence consecutively: "'The Nile,
from Assouan to a distance of twelve miles north of Cairo, flows
in a single stream; from that point, which is called Ventre de la
Vache, it forms the branches of the Rosetta and the Damietta.'
Thank you, Roland," and he began to write the end of the paragraph,
of which the first lines were already committed to paper.
"Tell me," said Roland; "is he still got his hobby, the dear general,
of colonizing Egypt?"
"Yes; and then, as a sort of offset, a little governing in France;
we will colonize from a distance."
"Well, my dear Bourrienne, suppose you post me a little on matters
in this country, so that I won't seem to have just arrived from
"In the first place, did you come back of your own accord, or
were you recalled?"
"Recalled? I should think so!"
"The general himself."
"Written by himself; see!"
The young man drew a paper from his pocket containing two lines,
not signed, in the same handwriting as that which Bourrienne
had before him. These two lines said: "'Start. Be in Paris 16th
Brumaire. I need you."
"Yes," said Bourrienne, "I think it will be on the eighteenth."
"What will be on the eighteenth?"
"On my word, Roland, you ask more than I know. That man, as you
are aware, is not communicative. What will take place on the
18th Brumaire? I don't know as yet; but I'll answer for it that
something will happen."
"Oh! you must have a suspicion!"
"I think he means to make himself Director in place of Sièyes,
or perhaps president in Gohier's stead."
"Good! How about the Constitution of the year III.?"
"The Constitution of the year III. What about that?"
"Why, yes, a man must be forty years old to be a Director; and
the general lacks just ten of them."
"The deuce! so much the worse for the Constitution. They must
"It is rather young yet, Bourrienne; they don't, as a rule, violate
children of seven."
"My dear fellow, in Barras' hands everything grows old rapidly.
The little girl of seven is already an old prostitute."
Roland shook his head.
"Well, what is it?" asked Bourrienne.
"Why, I don't believe the general will make himself a simple
Director with four colleagues. Just imagine it--five kings of
France! It wouldn't be a Directory any longer, but a four-in-hand."
"Anyway, up to the present, that is all he has allowed any one
to perceive; but you know, my dear friend, if we want to know
the general's secrets we must guess them."
"Faith! I'm too lazy to take the trouble, Bourrienne. Besides,
I'm a regular Janissary--what is to be, will be. Why the devil
should I bother to form an opinion and battle for it. It's quite
wearisome enough to have to live." And the young man enforced
his favorite aphorism with a long yawn; then he added: "Do you
think there will be any sword play?"
"Then there will be a chance of getting killed; that's all I want.
Where is the general?"
"With Madame Bonaparte. He went to her about fifteen minutes ago.
Have you let him know you are here?"
"No, I wanted to see you first. But I hear his step now."
Just then the door was opened abruptly, and the same historical
personage whom we saw playing a silent part incognito at Avignon
appeared on the threshold, in the picturesque uniform of the
general-in-chief of the army of Egypt, except that, being in
his own house, he was bare-headed. Roland thought his eyes were
more hollow and his skin more leaden than usual. But the moment
he saw the young man, Bonaparte's gloomy, or rather meditative,
eye emitted a flash of joy.
"Ah, here you are, Roland!" he said. "True as steel! Called,
you come. Welcome, my dear fellow." And he offered Roland his
hand. Then he asked, with an imperceptible smile, "What were
you doing with Bourrienne?"
"Waiting for you, general."
"And in the meantime gossiping like two old women."
"I admit it, general. I was showing him my order to be here on
the 16th Brumaire."
"Did I write the 16th or the 17th?"
"Oh! the 16th, general. The 17th would have been too late."
"Why too late?"
"Why, hang it, Bourrienne says there are to be great doings here
on the 18th."
"Capital," muttered Bourrienne; "the scatter-brain will earn me
"Ah! So he told you I had planned great doings for the 18th?"
Then, approaching Bourrienne, Bonaparte pinched his ear, and
said, "Tell-tale!" Then to Roland he added: "Well, it is so,
my dear fellow, we have made great plans for the 18th. My wife
and I dine with President Gohier; an excellent man, who was very
polite to Josephine during my absence. You are to dine with us,
Roland looked at Bonaparte. "Was it for that you brought me here,
general?" he asked, laughing.
"For that, and something else, too, perhaps. Bourrienne, write--"
Bourrienne hastily seized his pen.
"Are you ready?"
"'My dear President, I write to let you know that my wife and I,
with one of my aides-de-camp, will dine with you the day after
to-morrow. This is merely to say that we shall be quite satisfied
with a family dinner.'"
"How do you mean?"
"Shall I put, 'Liberty, equality, fraternity'?"
"Or death," added Roland.
"No," said Bonaparte; "give me the pen."
He took the pen from Bourrienne's hands and wrote, "Ever yours,
Bonaparte." Then, pushing away the paper, he added: "Address
it, Bourrienne, and send an orderly with it."
Bourrienne wrote the address, sealed it, and rang the bell. An
officer on duty entered.
"Send an orderly with that," said Bourrienne.
"There is an answer," added Bonaparte.
The officer closed the door.
"Bourrienne," said Bonaparte, pointing to Roland, "look at your
"Well, general, I am looking at him."
"Do you know what he did at Avignon?"
"I hope he didn't make a pope."
"No, he threw a plate at a man's head."
"Oh, that was hasty!"
"That's not all."
"That I can well imagine."
"He fought a duel with that man."
"And, most naturally, he killed him."
"Exactly. Do you know why he did it?"
The general shrugged his shoulders, and said: "Because the man
said that I was a thief." Then looking at Roland with an indefinable
expression of raillery and affection, he added: "Ninny!" Then
suddenly he burst out: "Oh! by the way, and the Englishman?"
"Exactly, the Englishman, general. I was just going to speak to
you about him."
"Is he still in France?"
"Yes, and for awhile even I thought he would remain here till the
last trumpet blew its blast through the valley of Jehosaphat."
"Did you miss killing him?"
"Oh! no, not I. We are the best friends in the world. General,
he is a capital fellow, and so original to boot that I'm going
to ask a bit of a favor for him."
"The devil! For an Englishman?" said Bonaparte, shaking his head.
"I don't like the English."
"Good! As a people, but individually--"
"Well, what happened to your friend?"
"He was tried, condemned, and executed."
"What the devil are you telling us?"
"God's truth, general."
"What do you mean when you say, 'He was tried, condemned, and
"Oh! not exactly that. Tried and condemned, but not guillotined.
If he had been guillotined he would be more dangerously ill than
he is now."
"Now, what are you gabbling about? What court tried and condemned
"That of the Companions of Jehu!"
"And who are the Companions of Jehu?"
"Goodness! Have you forgotten our friend Morgan already, the
masked man who brought back the wine-merchant's two hundred louis?"
"No," replied Bonaparte, "I have not forgotten him. I told you
about the scamp's audacity, didn't I, Bourrienne?"
"Yes, general," said Bourrienne, "and I answered that, had I
been in your place, I should have tried to find out who he was."
"And the general would know, had he left me alone. I was just
going to spring at his throat and tear off his mask, when the
general said, in that tone you know so well: 'Friend Roland!'"
"Come back to your Englishman, chatterbox!" cried the general.
"Did Morgan murder him?"
"No, not he himself, but his Companions."
"But you were speaking of a court and a trial just now."
"General, you are always the same," said Roland, with their old
school familiarity; "you want to know, and you don't give me
time to tell you."
"Get elected to the Five Hundred, and you can talk as much as
"Good! In the Five Hundred I should have four hundred and ninety-nine
colleagues who would want to talk as much as I, and who would
take the words out of my mouth. I'd rather be interrupted by
you than by a lawyer."
"Will you go on?"
"I ask nothing better. Now imagine, general, there is a Chartreuse
"The Chartreuse of Seillon; I know it."
"What! You know the Chartreuse of Seillon?" demanded Roland.
"Doesn't the general know everything?" cried Bourrienne.
"Well, about the Chartreuse; are there any monks there now?"
"No; only ghosts--"
"Are you, perchance, going to tell me a ghost-story?"
"And a famous one at that!"
"The devil! Bourrienne knows I love them. Go on."
"Well, we were told at home that the Chartreuse was haunted by
ghosts. Of course, you understand that Sir John and I, or rather
I and Sir John, wanted to clear our minds about it. So we each
spent a night there."
"Why, at the Chartreuse."
Bonaparte made an imperceptible sign of the cross with his thumb,
a Corsican habit which he never lost.
"Ah!" he exclaimed, "did you see any ghosts?"
"And what did you do to it?"
"Shot at it."
"It walked away."
"And you allowed yourself to be baffled?"
"Good! How well yon know me! I followed it, and fired again.
But as he knew his way among the ruins better than I, he escaped
"The next day it was Sir John's turn; I mean our Englishman."
"Did he see your ghost?"
"He saw something better. He saw twelve monks enter the church,
who tried him for trying to find out their secrets, condemned
him to death, and who, on my word of honor, stabbed him."
"Didn't he defend himself?"
"Like a lion. He killed two."
"Is he dead?"
"Almost, but I hope he will recover. Just imagine, general; he
was found by the road, and brought home with a dagger in his
breast, like a prop in a vineyard."
"Why, it's like a scene of the Sainte-Vehme, neither more nor
"And on the blade of the dagger, that there might be no doubt
as to who did the deed, were graven the words: 'Companions of
"Why, it isn't possible that such things can happen in France, in
the last year of the eighteenth century. It might do for Germany
in the Middle Ages, in the days of the Henrys and the Ottos."
"Not possible, general? But here is the dagger. What do you say
to that? Attractive, isn't it?"
And the young man drew from under his coat a dagger made entirely
of steel, blade and handle. The handle was shaped like a cross,
and on the blade, sure enough, were engraved the words, "Companions
Bonaparte examined the weapon carefully.
"And you say they planted that plaything in your Englishman's
"Up to the hilt."
"And he's not dead?"
"Not yet, at any rate."
"Have you been listening, Bourrienne?"
"With the greatest interest."
"You must remind me of this, Roland."
"When?--when I am master. Come and say good-day to Josephine.
Come, Bourrienne, you will dine with us, and be careful what you
say, you two, for Moreau is coming to dinner. Ah! I will keep
the dagger as a curiosity."
He went out first, followed by Roland, who was, soon after, followed
by Bourrienne. On the stairs they met the orderly who had taken the
note to Gohier.
"Well?" asked the general.
"Here is the President's answer."
"Give it to me."
Bonaparte broke the seal, and read:
The President Gohier is enchanted the good fortune promised him
by General Bonaparte. He will expect him to dinner the day after
to-morrow, the 18th Brumaire, with his charming wife, and the
aide-de-camp, whoever he may be. Dinner will be served at five
If the hour does not suit General Bonaparte, will he kindly make
known the one he would prefer.
The President, GOHIER.
16th Brumaire, year VII.
With an indescribable smile, Bonaparte put the letter in his
pocket. Then turning to Roland, he asked: "Do you know President
"Ah! you'll see; he's an excellent man."
These words were pronounced in a tone no less indescribable than
THE GUESTS OF GENERAL BONAPARTE
Josephine, in spite of her thirty-four years, or possibly because
of them (that enchanting age when woman hovers between her passing
youth and her corning age), Josephine, always beautiful, more
graceful than ever, was still the charming woman we all know.
An imprudent remark of Junot's, at the time of her husband's
return, had produced a slight coolness between them. But three
days had sufficed to restore to the enchantress her full power
over the victor of Rivoli and the Pyramids.
She was doing the honors of her salon, when Roland entered the
room. Always incapable, like the true Creole she was, of controlling
her emotions, she gave a cry of joy, and held out her hand to
him. She knew that Roland was devoted to her husband; she knew
his reckless bravery, knew that if the young man had twenty lives
he would willingly have given them all for Bonaparte. Roland
eagerly took the hand she offered him, and kissed it respectfully.
Josephine had known Roland's mother in Martinique; and she never
failed, whenever she saw Roland, to speak to him of his maternal
grandfather, M. de la Clémencière, in whose magnificent garden
as a child she was wont to gather those wonderful fruits which
are unknown in our colder climates.
A subject of conversation was therefore ready at hand. She inquired
tenderly after Madame de Montrevel's health, and that of her
daughter and little Edouard. Then, the information given, she
said: "My dear Roland, I must now pay attention to my other guests;
but try to remain after the other guests, or else let me see you
alone to-morrow. I want to talk to you about _him_" (she
glanced at Bonaparte) "and have a thousand things to tell you."
Then, pressing the young man's hand with a sigh, she added, "No
matter what happens, you will never leave him, will you?"
"What do you mean?" asked Roland, amazed.
"I know what I mean," said Josephine, "and when you have talked
ten minutes with Bonaparte you will, I am sure, understand me.
In the meantime watch, and listen, and keep silence."
Roland bowed and drew aside, resolved, as Josephine had advised,
to play the part of observer.
But what was there to observe? Three principal groups occupied
the salon. The first, gathered around Madame Bonaparte, the only
woman present, was more a flux and reflux than a group. The second,
surrounding Talma, was composed of Arnault, Parseval-Grandmaison,
Monge, Berthollet, and two or three other members of the Institute.
The third, which Bonaparte had just joined, counted in its circle
Talleyrand, Barras, Lucien, Admiral Bruix, [Footnote: AUTHOR'S
NOTE.--Not to be confounded with Rear-Admiral de Brueys, who was
killed at Aboukir, August 1, 1798. Admiral Bruix, the negotiator
with Talleyrand of the 18th Brumaire, did not die until 1805.]
Roederer, Regnaud de Saint-Jean-d'Angely, Fouché, Réal, and two
or three generals, among whom was Lefebvre.
In the first group they talked of fashions, music, the theatre;
in the second, literature, science, dramatic art; in the third,
they talked of everything except that which was uppermost in
their minds. Doubtless this reserve was not in keeping with
Bonaparte's own feeling at the moment; for after sharing in this
commonplace conversation for a short time, he took the former
bishop of Autun by the arm and led him into the embrasure of
"Well?" he asked.
Talleyrand looked at Bonaparte with that air which belonged to
no one but him.
"What did I tell you of Sièyes, general?"
"You told me to secure the support of those who regarded the
friends of the Republic as Jacobins, and to rely, upon it that
Sièyes was at their head."
"I was not mistaken."
"Then he will yield?"
"Better, he has yielded."
"The man who wanted to shoot me at Fréjus for having landed without
"Oh, no; not for that."
"But what then?"
"For not having looked at him or spoken to him at Gohier's dinner."
"I must confess that I did it on purpose. I cannot endure that
Bonaparte perceived, too late, that the speech he had just made
was like the sword of the archangel, double-edged; if Sièyes
was unfrocked, Talleyrand was unmitred. He cast a rapid glance
at his companion's face; the ex-bishop of Autun was smiling his
"Then I can count upon him?"
"I will answer for him."
"And Cambacérès and Lebrun, have you seen them?"
"I took Sièyes in hand as the most recalcitrant. Bruix saw the
The admiral, from the midst of the group, had never taken his
eyes off of the general and the diplomatist. He suspected that
their conversation had a special importance. Bonaparte made him
a sign to join them. A less able man would have done so at once,
but Bruix avoided such a mistake. He walked about the room with
affected indifference, and then, as if he had just perceived
Talleyrand and Bonaparte talking together, he went up to them.
"Bruix is a very able man!" said Bonaparte, who judged men as
much by little as by great things.
"And above all very cautious, general!" said Talleyrand.
"Yes. We will need a corkscrew to pull anything out of him."
"Oh, no; on the contrary, now that he has joined us, he, will
broach the question frankly."
And, indeed, no sooner had Bruix joined them than he began in
words as clear as they were concise: "I have seen them; they
"They waver! Cambacérès and Lebrun waver? Lebrun I can understand--a
sort of man of letters, a moderate, a Puritan; but Cambacérès--"
"But it is so."
"But didn't you tell them that I intended to make them each a
"I didn't get as far as that," replied Bruix, laughing.
"And why not?" inquired Bonaparte.
"Because this is the first word you have told me about your
intentions, Citizen General."
"True," said Bonaparte, biting his lips.
"Am I to repair the omission?" asked Bruix.
"No, no," exclaimed Bonaparte hastily; "they might think I needed
them. I won't have any quibbling. They must decide to-day without
any other conditions than those you have offered them; to-morrow
it will be too late. I feel strong enough to stand alone; and
I now have Sièyes and Barras."
"Barras?" repeated the two negotiators astonished.
"Yes, Barras, who treated me like a little corporal, and wouldn't
send me back to Italy, because, he said, I had made my fortune
there, and it was useless to return. Well, Barras--"
"Nothing." Then, changing his mind, "Faith! I may as well tell
you. Do you know what Barras said at dinner yesterday before me?
That it was impossible to go on any longer with the Constitution
of the year III. He admitted the necessity of a dictatorship; said
he had decided to abandon the reins of government, and retire;
adding that he himself was looked upon as worn-out, and that
the Republic needed new men. Now, guess to whom he thinks of
transferring his power. I give it you, as Madame de Sévigné says,
in a hundred, thousand, ten thousand. No other than General
Hedouville, a worthy man, but I have only to look him in the face
to make him lower his eyes. My glance must have been blasting!
As the result, Barras came to my bedside at eight o'clock, to
excuse himself as best he could for the nonsense he talked the
night before, and admitted that I alone could save the Republic,
and placed himself at my disposal, to do what I wished, assume
any rôle I might assign him, begging me to promise that if I
had any plan in my head I would count on him--yes, on him; and
he would be true to the crack of doom."
"And yet," said Talleyrand, unable to resist a play upon words,
"doom is not a word with which to conjure liberty."
Bonaparte glanced at the ex-bishop.
"Yes, I know that Barras is your friend, the friend of Fouché
and Réal; but he is not mine, and I shall prove it to him. Go
back to Lebrun and Cambacérès, Bruix, and let them make their
own bargain." Then, looking at his watch and frowning, he added:
"It seems to me that Moreau keeps us waiting."
So saying, he turned to the group which surrounded Talma. The
two diplomatists watched him. Then Admiral Bruix asked in a low
voice: "What do you say, my dear Maurice, to such sentiments
toward the man who picked him out, a mere lieutenant, at the
siege of Toulon, who trusted him to defend the Convention on
the 13th Vendémiaire, and who named him, when only twenty-six,
General-in-Chief of the Army in Italy?"
"I say, my dear admiral," replied M. de Talleyrand, with his
pallid mocking smile, "that some services are so great that
ingratitude alone can repay them."
At that moment the door opened and General Moreau was announced.
At this announcement, which was more than a piece of news--it
was a surprise to most of those present--every eye was turned
toward the door. Moreau appeared.
At this period three men were in the eyes of France. Moreau was
one of these three men. The two others were Bonaparte and Pichegru.
Each had become a sort of symbol. Since the 18th Fructidor, Pichegru
had become the symbol of monarchy; Moreau, since he had been
christened Fabius, was the symbol of the Republic; Bonaparte,
symbol of war, dominated them both by the adventurous aspect
of his genius.
Moreau was at that time in the full strength of his age; we would
say the full strength of his genius, if decision were not one of
the characteristics of genius. But no one was ever more undecided
than the famous cunctator. He was thirty-six years old, tall,
with a sweet, calm, firm countenance, and must have resembled
Bonaparte had never seen him, nor had he, on his side, ever seen
Bonaparte. While the one was battling on the Adige and the Mincio,
the other fought beside the Danube and the Rhine. Bonaparte came
forward to greet him, saying: "You are welcome, general!"
"General," replied Moreau, smiling courteously, while all present
made a circle around them to see how this new Cæsar would meet
the new Pompey, "you come from Egypt, victorious, while I come,
defeated, from Italy."
"A defeat which was not yours, and for which you are not responsible,
general. It was Joubert's fault. If he had rejoined the Army of
Italy as soon as he had been made commander-in-chief, it is more
than probable that the Russians and Austrians, with the troops they
then had, could not have resisted him. But he remained in Paris
for his honeymoon! Poor Joubert paid with his life for that fatal
month which gave the enemy time to gather its reinforcements.
The surrender of Mantua gave them fifteen thousand men on the
eve of the battle. It was impossible that our poor army should
not have been overwhelmed by such united forces."
"Alas! yes," said Moreau; "it is always the greater number which
defeats the smaller."
"A great truth, general," exclaimed Bonaparte; "an indisputable
"And yet," said Arnault, joining in the conversation, "you yourself,
general, have defeated large armies with little ones."
"If you were Marius, instead of the author of 'Marius,' you would
not say that, my dear poet. Even when I beat great armies with
little ones--listen to this, you young men who obey to-day, and
will command to-morrow--it was always the larger number which
defeated the lesser."
"I don't understand," said Arnault and Lefebvre together.
But Moreau made a sign with his head to show that he understood.
Bonaparte continued: "Follow my theory, for it contains the whole
art of war. When with lesser forces I faced a large army, I gathered
mine together, with great rapidity, fell like a thunderbolt on
a wing of the great army, and overthrew it; then I profited by
the disorder into which this manoeuvre never failed to throw
the enemy to attack again, always with my whole army, on the
other side. I beat them, in this way, in detail; and the victory
which resulted was always, as you see, the triumph of the many
over the few."
As the able general concluded his definition of his own genius,
the door opened and the servant announced that dinner was served.
"General," said Bonaparte, leading Moreau to Josephine, "take
in my wife. Gentlemen, follow them."
On this invitation all present moved from the salon to the
After dinner, on pretence of showing him a magnificent sabre he
had brought from Egypt, Bonaparte took Moreau into his study.
There the two rivals remained closeted more than an hour. What
passed between them? What compact was signed? What promises were
made? No one has ever known. Only, when Bonaparte returned to
the salon alone, and Lucien asked him: "Well, what of Moreau?"
he answered: "Just as I foresaw; he prefers military power to
political power. I have promised him the command of an army."
Bonaparte smiled as he pronounced these words; then added, "In
"In the meantime?" questioned Lucien.
"He will have that of the Luxembourg. I am not sorry to make
him the jailer of the Directors, before I make him the conqueror
of the Austrians."
The next day the following appeared in the "Moniteur":
PARIS, 17th Brumaire. Bonaparte has presented Moreau with a
magnificent Damascus sword set with precious stones which he
brought from Egypt, the value of which is estimated at twelve
THE SCHEDULE OF THE DIRECTORY
We have said that Moreau, furnished no doubt with instructions,
left the little house in the Rue de la Victoire, while Bonaparte
returned alone to the salon. Everything furnished an object of
comment in such a company as was there assembled; the absence of
Moreau, the return of Bonaparte unaccompanied, and the visible
good humor which animated his countenance, were all remarked
The eyes which fastened upon him most ardently were those of
Josephine and Roland. Moreau for Bonaparte added twenty chances
to the success of the plot; Moreau against Bonaparte robbed him
of fifty. Josephine's eyes were so supplicating that, on leaving
Lucien, Bonaparte pushed his brother toward his wife. Lucien
understood, and approached Josephine, saying: "All is well."
"I thought he was a Republican."
"He has been made to see that we are acting for the good of the
"I should have thought him ambitious," said Roland.
Lucien started and looked at the young man.
"You are right," said he.
"Then," remarked Josephine, "if he is ambitious he will not let
Bonaparte seize the power."
"Because he will want it himself."
"Yes; but he will wait till it comes to him ready-made, inasmuch
as he doesn't know how to create it, and is afraid to seize it."
During this time Bonaparte had joined the group which had formed
around Talma after dinner, as well as before. Remarkable men
are always the centre of attraction.
"What are you saying, Talma?" demanded Bonaparte. "It seems to
me they are listening to you very attentively."
"Yes, but my reign is over," replied the artist.
"I do as citizen Barras has done; I abdicate?"
"So citizen Barras has abdicated?"
"So rumor says."
"Is it known who will take his place?"
"It is surmised."
"Is it one of your friends, Talma?"
"Time was," said Talma, bowing, "when he did me the honor to say
I was his."
"Well, in that case, Talma, I shall ask for your influence."
"Granted," said Talma, laughing; "it only remains to ask how it
can serve you."
"Get me sent back to Italy; Barras would not let me go."
"The deuce!" said Talma; "don't you know the song, general, 'We
won't go back to the woods when the laurels are clipped'?"
"Oh! Roscius, Roscius!" said Bonaparte, smiling, "have you grown
a flatterer during my absence?"
"Roscius was the friend of Cæsar, general, and when the conqueror
returned from Gaul he probably said to him about the same thing
I have said to you."
Bonaparte laid his band on Talma's shoulder.
"Would he have said the same words after crossing the Rubicon?"
Talma looked Bonaparte straight in the face.
"No," he replied; "he would have said, like the augur, 'Cæsar,
beware of the Ides of March!'"
Bonaparte slipped his hand into his breast as if in search of
something; finding the dagger of the Companions of Jehu, he grasped
it convulsively. Had he a presentiment of the conspiracies of
Arena, Saint-Regent, and Cadoudal?
Just then the door opened and a servant announced: "General
"Bernadotte," muttered Bonaparte, involuntarily. "What does he
Since Bonaparte's return, Bernadotte had held aloof from him,
refusing all the advances which the general-in-chief and his
friends had made him. The fact is, Bernadotte had long since
discerned the politician beneath the soldier's greatcoat, the
dictator beneath the general, and Bernadotte, for all that he
became king in later years, was at that time a very different
Republican from Moreau. Moreover, Bernadotte believed he had
reason to complain of Bonaparte. His military career had not
been less brilliant than that of the young general; his fortunes
were destined to run parallel with his to the end, only, more
fortunate than that other--Bernadotte was to die on his throne.
It is true, he did not conquer that throne; he was called to
Son of a lawyer at Pau, Bernadotte, born in 1764--that is to
say, five years before Bonaparte--was in the ranks as a private
soldier when only eighteen. In 1789 he was only a sergeant-major.
But those were the days of rapid promotion. In 1794, Kléber created
him brigadier-general on the field of battle, where he had decided
the fortunes of the day. Becoming a general of division, he played
a brilliant part at Fleurus and Juliers, forced Maestricht to
capitulate, took Altdorf, and protected, against an army twice as
numerous as his own, the retreat of Joubert. In 1797 the Directory
ordered him to take seventeen thousand men to Bonaparte. These
seventeen thousand men were his old soldiers, veterans of Kléber,
Marceau and Hoche, soldiers of the Sambre-et-Meuse; and yet
Bernadotte forgot all rivalry and seconded Bonaparte with all his
might, taking part in the passage of the Tagliamento, capturing
Gradiska, Trieste, Laybach, Idria, bringing back to the Directory,
after the campaign, the flags of the enemy, and accepting, possibly
with reluctance, an embassy to Vienna, while Bonaparte secured
the command of the army of Egypt.
At Vienna, a riot, excited by the tri-color flag hoisted above
the French embassy, for which the ambassador was unable to obtain
redress, forced him to demand his passports. On his return to
Paris, the Directory appointed him Minister of War. An underhand
proceeding of Sièyes, who was offended by Bernadotte's republicanism,
induced the latter to send in his resignation. It was accepted,
and when Bonaparte landed at Fréjus the late minister had been
three months out of office. Since Bonaparte's return, some of
Bernadotte's friends had sought to bring about his reinstatement;
but Bonaparte had opposed it. The result was a hostility between
the two generals, none the less real because not openly avowed.
Bernadotte's appearance in Bonaparte's salon was therefore an
event almost as extraordinary as the presence of Moreau. And
the entrance of the conqueror of Maestricht caused as many heads
to turn as had that of the conqueror of Rastadt. Only, instead
of going forward to meet him, as he had Moreau, Bonaparte merely
turned round and awaited him.
Bernadotte, from the threshold of the door, cast a rapid glance
around the salon. He divided and analyzed the groups, and although
he must have perceived Bonaparte in the midst of the principal
one, he went up to Josephine, who was reclining on a couch at
the corner of the fireplace, like the statue of Agrippina in
the Pitti, and, addressing her with chivalric courtesy, inquired
for her health; then only did he raise his head as if to look for
Bonaparte. At such a time everything was of too much importance
for those present not to remark this affectation of courtesy on
Bonaparte, with his rapid, comprehensive intellect, was not the
last to notice this; he was seized with impatience, and, instead
of awaiting Bernadotte in the midst of the group where he happened
to be, he turned abruptly to the embrasure of a window, as if
to challenge the ex-minister of war to follow him. Bernadotte
bowed graciously to right and left, and controlling his usually
mobile face to an expression of perfect calmness, he walked toward
Bonaparte, who awaited him as a wrestler awaits his antagonist,
the right foot forward and his lips compressed. The two men bowed,
but Bonaparte made no movement to extend his hand to Bernadotte,
nor did the latter offer to take it.
"Is it you?" asked Bonaparte. "I am glad to see you."
"Thank you, general," replied Bernadotte. "I have come because
I wish to give you a few explanations."
"I did not recognize you at first."
"Yet I think, general, that my name was announced by your servant
in a voice loud enough to prevent any doubt as to my identity."
"Yes, but he announced General Bernadotte."
"Well, I saw a man in civilian's dress, and though I recognized
you, I doubted if it were really you."
For some time past Bernadotte had affected to wear civilian's
dress in preference to his uniform.
"You know," said he, laughing, "that I am only half a soldier
now. I was retired by citizen Sièyes."
"It seems that it was lucky for me that you were no longer minister
of war when I landed at Fréjus."
"You said, so I was told, that had you received the order to arrest
me for violating quarantine you would have done so."
"I said it, and I repeat it, general. As a soldier I was always
a faithful observer of discipline. As a minister I was a slave
Bonaparte bit his lips. "And will you say, after that, that you
have not a personal enmity to me?"
"A personal enmity to you, general?" replied Bernadotte. "Why
should I have? We have always gone together, almost in the same
stride; I was even made general before you. While my campaigns
on the Rhine were less brilliant than yours on the Adige, they
were not less profitable for the Republic; and when I had the
honor to serve under you, you found in me, I hope, a subordinate
devoted, if not to the man, at least to the country which he
served. It is true that since your departure, general, I have
been more fortunate than you in not having the responsibility
of a great army, which, if one may believe Kléber's despatches,
you have left in a disastrous position."
"What do you mean? Kléber's last despatches? Has Kléber written?"
"Are you ignorant of that, general? Has the Directory not informed
you of the complaints of your successor? That would be a great
weakness on their part, and I congratulate myself to have come
here, not only to correct in your mind what has been said of
me, but to tell you what is being said of you."
Bonaparte fixed an eye, darkling as an eagle's, on Bernadotte.
"And what are they saying of me?" he asked.
"They say that, as you must come back, you should have brought
the army with you."
"Had I a fleet? Are you unaware that De Brueys allowed his to
"They also say, general, that, being unable to bring back the
army, it would have been better for your renown had you remained
"That is what I should have done, monsieur, if events had not
recalled me to France."
"What events, general?"
"Pardon me, general; you mean to say Schérer's defeats.
"Yours as well."
"I was not answerable for the generals commanding our armies
on the Rhine and in Italy until I was minister of war. If you
will enumerate the victories and defeats since that time you
will see on which side the scale turns."
"You certainly do not intend to tell me that matters are in a
"No, but I do say that they are not in so desperate state as you
affect to believe."
"As I affect!--Truly, general, to hear you one would think I
had some interest in lowering France in the eyes of foreigners.
"I don't say that; I say that I wish to settle the balance of
our victories and defeats for the last three months; and as I
came for that, and am now in your house, and in the position
of an accused person--"
"Or an accuser."
"As the accused, in the first instance--I begin."
"And I listen," said Bonaparte, visibly on thorns.
"My ministry dates from the 30th Prairial, the 8th of June if
you prefer; we will not quarrel over words."
"Which means that we shall quarrel about things."
Bernadotte continued without replying.
"I became minister, as I said, the 8th of June; that is, a short
time after the siege of Saint-Jean-d'Acre was raised."
Bonaparte bit his lips. "I did not raise the siege until after
I had ruined the fortifications," he replied.
"That is not what Kléber wrote; but that does not concern me."
Then he added, smiling: "It happened while Clark was minister."
There was a moment's silence, during which Bonaparte endeavored
to make Bernadotte lower his eyes. Not succeeding, he said: "Go on."
Bernadotte bowed and continued: "Perhaps no minister of war--and
the archives of the ministry are there for reference--ever received
the portfolio under more critical circumstances: civil war within,
a foreign enemy at our doors, discouragement rife among our veteran
armies, absolute destitution of means to equip new ones. That was
what I had to face on the 8th of June, when I entered upon my
duties. An active correspondence, dating from the 8th of June,
between the civil and military authorities, revived their courage
and their hopes. My addresses to the armies--this may have been a
mistake--were those, not of a minister to his soldiers, but of a
comrade among comrades, just as my addresses to the administrators
were those of a citizen to his fellow-citizens. I appealed to
the courage of the army, and the heart of the French people; I
obtained all that I had asked. The National Guard reorganized
with renewed zeal; legions were formed upon the Rhine, on the
Moselle. Battalions of veterans took the place of old regiments
to reinforce the troops that were guarding our frontiers; to-day
our cavalry is recruited by a remount of forty thousand horses,
and one hundred thousand conscripts, armed and equipped, have
received with cries of 'Vive la Republique!' the flags under
which they will fight and conquer--"
"But," interrupted Bonaparte bitterly, "this is an apology you
are making for yourself."
"Be it so. I will divide my discourse into two parts. The first
will be a contestable apology; the second an array of incontestable
facts. I will set aside the apology and proceed to facts. June
17 and 18, the battle of the Trebbia. Macdonald wished to fight
without Moreau; he crossed the Trebbia, attacked the enemy, was
defeated and retreated to Modena. June 20, battle of Tortona;
Moreau defeated the Austrian Bellegarde. July 22, surrender of
the citadel of Alexandria to the Austro-Russians. So far the
scale turns to defeat. July 30, surrender of Mantua, another
check. August 15, battle of Novi; this time it was more than a
check, it was a defeat. Take note of it, general, for it is the
last. At the very moment we were fighting at Novi, Masséna was
maintaining his position at Zug and Lucerne, and strengthening
himself on the Aar and on the Rhine; while Lecourbe, on August
14 and 15, took the Saint-Gothard. August 19, battle of Bergen;
Brune defeated the Anglo-Russian army, forty thousand strong,
and captured the Russian general, Hermann. On the 25th, 26th
and 27th of the same month, the battles of Zurich, where Masséna
defeated the Austro-Russians under Korsakoff. Hotze and three other
generals are taken prisoners. The enemy lost twelve thousand men,
a hundred cannon, and all its baggage; the Austrians, separated
from the Russians, could not rejoin them until after they were
driven beyond Lake Constance. That series of victories stopped
the progress the enemy had been making since the beginning of
the campaign; from the time Zurich was retaken, France was secure
from invasion. August 30, Molitor defeated the Austrian generals,
Jellachich and Luiken, and drove them back into the Grisons.
September 1, Molitor attacked and defeated General Rosenberg in the
Mutterthal. On the 2d, Molitor forced Souvaroff to evacuate Glarus,
to abandon his wounded, his cannon, and sixteen hundred prisoners.
The 6th, General Brune again defeated the Anglo-Russians, under
the command of the Duke of York. On the 7th, General Gazan took
possession of Constance. On the 8th you landed at Fréjus.--Well,
general," continued Bernadotte, "as France will probably pass
into your hands, it is well that you should know the state in
which you find her, and in place of receipt, our possessions
bear witness to what we are giving you. What we are now doing,
general, is history, and it is important that those who may some
day have an interest in falsifying history shall find in their
path the denial of Bernadotte."
"Is that said for my benefit, general?"
"I say that for flatterers. You have pretended, it is said, that
you returned to France because our armies were destroyed, because
France was threatened, the Republic at bay. You may have left