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The Light That Lures by Percy Brebner

Part 6 out of 6

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"Even then?"

"Yes," he answered, "and ever since and forever-more."

A few minutes later Sabatier entered the room.

"It is time," he said. "We must start at once. Citizen Mercier goes no
farther. You are now three men under my command. Your names are as
before Roche and Pinot. Mademoiselle is called Morel, a desperate young
patriot, Monsieur Barrington. Do not forget that; only forget that she
is a woman."

They rode far that day, and after a few hours' rest, journeyed through
part of the night. The spirits of the fugitives rose as Paris was left
farther behind them, yet they were destined to be many days on the
journey, and to encounter dangers. Although they traveled as officers of
the Convention, Sabatier was careful to avoid the towns, and even
villages, as much as possible. If the suspicion of only one patriot were
aroused, their journey might end in disaster. Jeanne St. Clair rode as a
man, looked a man, but she looked very young for such work as they were
supposed to be engaged in, and there was a soft light in her eyes
sometimes which might set a keen observer wondering. Then, too, there
might be pursuit upon the road behind them. Some swift messenger,
keeping the direct road, which they could not always do, might pass
them, and carry a warning before them. There were many dangers, many

One dawn--they had ridden through the greater part of the night--a
climb which the horses took at walking pace brought them to the top of a
down. The world seemed stretched out before them in the light of the new

"That way lies Bordeaux," said Sabatier, reining in his horse, and
pointing to the left. "Below us is the mouth of the Gironde, yonder the
open sea."

"Our journey is nearly at an end, then," said Jeanne.

"I trust so. A day or two's delay, perhaps; I cannot tell."

Toward evening they were lodged at an inn close to the shore, a deserted
spot where they were unlikely to be disturbed.

"After dark, Monsieur Barrington, I propose to leave you, and take your
man with me," said Sabatier. "I must get into communication with the
vessel that should be lying farther up the river. Your man will be able
to help me to explain, and guarantee my statement. You are not likely to
be disturbed here, but should any one come, say boldly that you are
watching for two refugees who are expected here hoping to be taken off
by a boat. Order them to leave you to fulfill your duties. Here are
papers which prove you to be Citizen Roche. Watch for the boat, and be

"Shall we not see you again?"


"Then, thank you, Citizen Sabatier, for what you have done," said
Barrington. "We owe you much and have nothing but words to pay the

"Monsieur, I told you once I had a liking for you; it was true."

"Is there no more danger?" said Jeanne.

"None, I think, mademoiselle. It is most improbable that your escape has
been discovered. Citizen Latour is powerful in Paris and in the
Convention. You have been under his care from the first. I am but the
lieutenant of a great man of whom the world will hear much in the days
to come. As he rises to greater heights, so may I."

"Will you carry back a message to him?" said Barrington. "Say that with
full hearts we thank him for all he has done for us."

"And tell him," said Jeanne, "tell him from me that there is one woman
in the world who will always pray for him."

Prayer and Jacques Sabatier had little in common; prayer was a thing to
laugh at, so much at least had the Revolution done for France and old
superstitions; but he did not laugh now. "He shall have the message," he
said, holding Jeanne's hand for a moment, and then suddenly bending down
and touching it with his lips. "He shall certainly have both your
messages," he went on loudly; and, with a swaggering gait, as though he
were ashamed of his momentary weakness, he passed out of the room
reluctantly followed by Seth, who was apprehensive at having to leave
his master again.

The night fell and passed. Dawn came and the stronger light of morning,
a morning of sunshine and blue sky. The sunlight touched the white sails
of a vessel, and a boat, with its oars flashing, came quickly toward the
shore where a man and a maid waited hand in hand.

Jacques Sabatier rode back toward Paris. From high ground he looked and
saw a white sail far out to sea, then he rode on. But the message he
carried was never to be delivered.

Citizen Latour, feared in Paris, powerful in the Convention, greater
than Robespierre so some had declared, was a traitor. Justice demanded
quick punishment, and the mob, more powerful than Justice, clamored for
it. There was proof enough against him; a score of witnesses if
necessary. Why hear them all? There was no need for a long trial, and
what advocate would have courage sufficient to speak for this prisoner?

Raymond Latour faced his enemies alone, his face still set, full of
purpose. No man uttered a word in his favor, no single expression of
pity met him. Justice might be tempered with mercy if the prisoner would
say where this emigre and this American were to be found. The prisoner
did not know. A storm of howls and hisses met the answer, barely
silenced by the ringing of the president's bell. Had the prisoner
anything to say in his defense? A great silence, unbroken even by the
prisoner himself. He had been eloquent for Lucien Bruslart, for himself
he had nothing to say. Again a storm of hisses; heads thrust forward,
hands flung out that would tear him in pieces could they reach him.
Uproar and confusion, a yelled demand for condemnation. Nothing else was

Still with set face, with firm purpose, Raymond Latour waited in the
Conciergerie. No friend would come to see him, he knew that. Some of
those he had made use of and trusted were not in Paris, some had already
proved his enemies, and none dared show sympathy even if they would. He
was alone, quite alone, without a single friend.

This day his name was not in the list, nor the next. He wondered a
little at the delay, but waited patiently, knowing that there was no
uncertainty about the end.

"Raymond Latour."

It was the first on the list to-day. Without a word he walked into the
dark passage, noticing none of the others who waited there, some pale
and afraid, some as though they were starting upon a journey of

"One, two, three tumbrils! The guillotine was hungry this morning.
Raymond Latour was in the last tumbril.

"I was promised life--I told all I knew--there is a mistake. Ask! Let me
wait until to-morrow--for God's sake let me wait until to-morrow!"

Latour looked at the frightened wretch who was literally thrown into the
tumbril after him, but the expression on his face did not change; he did
not speak.

The man continued to cry out until the tumbrils started, then with a
wail of despair he fell on his knees, shaking in every limb, chattering
to himself, whether oaths or prayers who shall say?

The tumbrils moved forward slowly.

The wretch upon his knees seemed to realize suddenly that he was not
alone. He looked up into the face of the man beside him. Then rose
slowly and touched him.


There was no answer, no turning of the head even.

"Latour. So this is how we meet at last."

There were crowds in the streets, yelling crowds. He spoke clearly so
that the man might hear him, but there was no answer.

"Raymond Latour--Latour--this is how we meet, both damned and betrayed
for the sake of a woman."

No words answered him, but Latour turned and looked full into the eyes
of Lucien Bruslart.

The tumbrils went forward slowly, a yelling mob on every side.

"Lucien! Lucien! Look at me!"

It was a woman's cry, shrill, sounding above the uproar.

Shaking with fear, yet perhaps with a glimmer of hope still in his
heart, Bruslart looked. There was a woman held high above the crowd,
supported and steadied by strong men's arms.

"I said you should see me laugh. Look, Lucien! I laugh at you."

"It is a mistake. Save me, Pauline, save me!"

"I laugh, Lucien," and a shriek of laughter, mad, riotous, fiendish, cut
like a sharp knife through all that yelling confusion.

With a cry of rage, despair, and terror, Bruslart sank trembling in a
heap to the floor of the tumbril. Latour did not move. He had not turned
to look at Pauline Vaison. The thought of another woman was in his soul.
Was she safe?

There was a pause, the crowd was so dense at this corner; then the
tumbril moved on again. The corner was turned. Straight before him
looked Raymond Latour, over the multitude of heads, over the waving arms
and red caps, straight before him across the Place de la Revolution to
the guillotine, to the blue sky, sunlit, against which it rose--and



A green hummock and the blue waters of Chesapeake Bay. Sunlight over the
grass, sunlight over the sea, touching white sails there. A woman sat on
the hummock, a man lay at her feet.

"Jeanne, you are sitting there almost exactly as I have often sat for
hours when I was a youngster, with my chin in my hands, and my elbows on
my knees."

"Am I, dear?"

"Little wife, what are you thinking of?"

"Just my happiness and you. When you used to sit here you never thought
of me."

"No, dear."

"And yonder, all the time, I was waiting for you."

"There came a time, Jeanne, when I believed this spot could never be
dear to me again, when I thought it could never again be home."

"And now, Richard?"

"Now, my darling, I am as a man who is almost too richly blessed. In
this world I have found paradise."

"Of course that isn't really true," she answered, "but I like to hear
you say it."

"Jeanne dear, there is only one regret. I wish my mother could be here
to see you."

"She knows, Richard, never doubt that," Jeanne answered. "When I think
of you, I often think of her too. I am here, in her place. Her boy has
become my husband. I am very thankful to her for my good, brave

He rose to his knees, put his arm round her, and kissed her.

"You have no regret, Jeanne?"


"No disappointment in me, in Broadmead, in this land of Virginia?"

"None. But sometimes, Richard, when I see a sail, like that one yonder,
fading into the horizon, going, it may be, toward France, I wonder what
has become of some of those we knew."

"I often wonder, too," said Richard. "Perhaps we shall never know,

News traveled slowly, and there was little detail in it. The Reign of
Terror had come and gone, its high priests swallowed in the fury which
they had created. Danton had died like a man, Robespierre like a cur;
and then the end--cannon clearing the mob from the streets of Paris. A
new era had dawned for France, but the future was yet on the knees of
the gods. Had Raymond Latour escaped the final catastrophe? Were
Sabatier, and Mercier, and Dubois still in Paris, more honestly employed
than formerly perchance? Or had they all sunk in the final storm, gone
down into night with their sins red upon them? No news of them reached
Broadmead, only a rumor that the Marquis de Lafayette had fallen into
the hands of Austria, and certain news that the Terror was at an end.

"Probably we shall never hear of them," said Richard.

"Always I think of Latour in my prayers," Jeanne said.

"Yes, you promised that. I wonder whether he ever had your message?"

"I cannot decide," said Jeanne, thoughtfully. "At first I felt that he
had not, and then, quite suddenly, Richard, it seemed to me that he knew
and was glad. I cannot help thinking that Raymond Latour did something
for us, some great thing of which we have no idea, which we shall never

"He helped to give you to me, Jeanne. I know that, and in my heart thank
him every day of my life. Listen! Wheels! That must be Seth back from
Richmond. He may have news."

Hand in hand they went toward the house, and there Seth met them. He was
full of the news he had heard in Richmond, but there was nothing new
from France.


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