La Vendée, by Anthony Trollope

Cathelineau

The revolt of St. Florent took place on the day after that on which the priest had breakfasted at Durbellière, and the rumours of it went quickly through the country. As Cathelineau had said, the news was soon known in Nantes and Angers, and the commander of the republican troops determined most thoroughly to avenge the insolence and rebellion of the vain people of St. Florent. He was not, however, able to accomplish his threat on the instant, for he also was collecting conscripts in the neighbourhood of Nantes, and the peasantry had heard of the doings of St. Florent as well as the soldiers, and the men of Brittany seemed inclined to follow the example of the men of Anjou.

He had, therefore, for a time enough to occupy his own troops, without destroying the rebels of St. Florent — and it was well for St. Florent that it was so. Had he at once marched five hundred men, with four pieces of cannon against the town, he might have reduced the place to ashes, and taken a bloody revenge for their victory The men of St Florent would have had no means of opposing such a force, and the peasantry generally were not armed, the tactics of the royalists were not settled, and the revolt through the province was not general. The destruction of St Florent was postponed for a month, and at the expiration of that time, the troops of the republic had too much to do, to return to the little town where the war had commenced.

The rumour of what had been done at St. Florent, was also soon known in Coron, in Torfou, and in Clisson. The battle was fought on Thursday, and early on Saturday morning, M. de Lescure had heard some indistinct rumour of the occurrence; indistinct at least it seemed to him, for he could not believe that the success of the townspeople was so complete, as it was represented to him to be; he heard at the same time that the revolt had been headed by Cathelineau and Foret, and that as soon as the battle was over, they had started for Durbellière to engage the assistance of Henri Larochejaquelin. De Lescure, therefore, determined to go at once to Durbellière; and Adolphe Denot, who was with him, accompanied him.

They found Henri in the midst of his preparations, weighing out gunpowder with the assistance of the priest and the two girls. There was a large quarry on the Marquis’ estate, and a considerable supply of gunpowder for blasting had been lately brought to Durbellière from Nantes, as it could not be purchased in the neighbouring towns. As the priest remarked, blasting powder was not the best, but it was good enough to treat republicans with — at any rate they could get no better, and it was lucky that they chanced to have that.

Charles de Lescure shuddered, as he. saw the dangerous employment on which his sister was engaged; but Henri’s sister was doing the same thing, and he knew that dangerous times for all of them were coming. Adolphe was disgusted that Agatha’s white hands should be employed in so vile a service, but he thought ittle of the danger to which she was exposed.

“You are well employed, ladies,” said de Lescure, “but not an hour too soon. I am rejoiced to see you so well supplied, Henri; this is indeed a Godsend. Father Jerome, is this strictly canonical; gunpowder I fear is altogether a temporal affair”.

“But rebellion and hell-fire are synonomous,” said the priest, “and loyalty is the road to Paradise. I am strictly within my calling, M. de Lescure. Mademoiselle, these packets are too large. You are giving too good measure. Remember how many are the claimants for our bounty.”

“You have, of course, all heard what occurred at St. Florent the day before yesterday,” said de Lescure.

“Not a word,” said Henri. “What happened there? we hear nothing here till a week after it is known in the towns.”

They all left off what they were doing, and listened anxiously for M. de Lescure’s tidings. “Good news, I trust,” said the Curé, whose face showed a fearful degree of anxiety. “Good news, I trust in God; the men of St. Florent, I am sure, have not disgraced themselves.”

“Indeed, they have not, Father Jerome. If. the half of what I hear be true, they have already played a grand part. What I hear is this — not a conscript was to be seen at the barracks when they were summoned. Three or four soldiers were sent to commence the collection in the town, and they were at once taken prisoners by a party headed by Cathelineau, the postillion. The Colonel then turned out, and fired on the crowd; but he could not stand his ground before the people, who drove him back to the barracks; half his men were killed in retreating. The people then attacked the barracks, and regularly carried them by storm; took the cannon which was with the detachment, and made prisoners of every soldier that was not killed in the fray. If the half of it be true, St. Florent has made a fine beginning for us.”

“Glorious fellows!” said Adolphe. “What would I not give to have been with them?”

“You will have plenty of opportunity, M. Denot,” said the priest, who held Adolphe in great aversion.

“But, Charles, the carnage of the people must have been dreadful,” said Henri; “they had nothing but their hands and nails to fight with, against the muskets and bayonets of the soldiers — against artillery even.”

“The Lord supplied them with weapons, my son,” said the priest, solemnly. “Cannot He, who has given them courage and good hearts to stand against the enemies of their country, also give them weapons to fight his battles?”

“They say, too, that by some miracle the cannon could not be got to fire on the town. They say it was loaded and ready, but that the powder would not ignite when the torch was put to it,” said de Lescure.

“They say,” added Denot, “that the Colonel himself repeatedly tried to fire it, but could not; and that when he found that Providence, interfered for the people, he laid down his sword, and gave himself up.”

“The man who came to me from the town,” continued de Lescure, “had a thousand wonderful stories. He says, that twenty times in the day Cathelineau stood, unharmed before the bayonets of the soldiers; that twenty times he was shot at, but it was impossible to wound him. They say that God has interfered for the protection of St. Florent.”

“Most probable,” said the priest, “most probable; for who, my children, shall attempt to judge the ways of God? Why should He not put out his right hand to assist his own?”

“And were there not many of the townspeople killed?” asked Agatha.

“We did not hear,” replied de Lescure; “but the news of their triumph would travel faster than the account of their misfortunes; there could not but have been much bloodshed.”

“After all,” said Henri, “we do not know how much of this is true. We must not believe it all; it is too glorious to be true.”

“Do not say so, M. Larochejaquelin,” said the priest, “do not say so; we will do greater things than that with the assistance of God and the blessed Virgin; but we will not envy the men of St. Florent the honour they have won.”

“You believe it all, then, Father Jerome,” said Marie. “You believe that the republicans have been beaten.”

“Every word, Mademoiselle, every word religiously. I should be a heathen else, or worse than that, a republican.”

The group who were discussing the probability of the victory said to have been gained at St. Florent, were standing at the window of one of the front rooms of the château, which looked immediately on one of the whitewashed recumbent lions, and from it they could see the wooden gates, the lodge, and the paved road which ran from Chatillon to Vihiers in front of the château. As the priest finished speaking, three men rode through the gates, into the avenue, directly up to the house-door: one was tolerably well mounted on a large horse, the second was on a shaggy pony, and the third, who was rather behind the others, was seated on a mule of most unprepossessing appearance, whose sides he did not for a moment cease to lacerate with his heels, to enable himself to keep up with his companions.

“That is Foret, from St. Florent himself!” shouted the priest, rushing out towards the door, as soon as he saw the first horseman turn in at the gate; “a good man, and true as any living, and one who hates a skulking republican as he does the devil.”

“And that is the postillion himself, on the pony!” shouted Henri, running after him. “I could swear to him, by his hat, among a thousand.”

“Who is the man on the mule, Adolphe?” said de Lescure, remaining at the window. “By the bye,” he added, turning to the two girls who remained with him, and who were trembling in every joint, at they knew not what, “I forgot, in my hurry, or rather I hadn’t time as yet to tell Henri that I had heard that these men were coming here.”

“Are those the very men who gained the victory at St. Florent?” asked Marie.

“So we heard,” replied de Lescure, “and now, and not till now, I believe it; their coming here is strong confirmation; the Curé is right, it seems.”

“And is that man the good postillion of whom the people talk?”

“He is — at least he is no longer a postillion. He will cease to be a postillion now; from henceforth he will be only a soldier.”

The Curé and Larochejaquelin had rushed down the steps, and seized the hands of Foret and Cathelineau, as they got off their horses. It was soon evident to them that the noise of their deeds had gone before them. Foret at once returned the greeting of Father Jerome, for they had long known each other, and the difference between their stations was not so very great; but Cathelineau hardly knew how to accept, or how to refuse, the unwonted mark of friendship shewn him by a wealthy seigneur; it had not been his lot to shake hands with gentlemen, and he had no wish to step beyond his proper sphere, because he had been put prominently forward in the affair of St. Florent; but he had no help for it; before he knew where he was, Larochejaquelin had got him by the hand, and was dragging him into the salon of Durbellière. It appeared to the postillion that the room was full; there were ladies there too — young, beautiful, and modest — such as he was in the habit of seeing through the windows of the carriages which he drove; the old Marquis was there too now; the butler had just wheeled in his chair, and Cathelineau perceived that he was expected to join the group at once. A vista was opened for him up to the old man’s chair; his eyes swam, and he hardly recollected the faces of the different people round him. He wished that he had waited at the gate, and sent in for M. Henri; he could have talked to him alone. Why had he ridden up so boldly to the château gate? He had never trembled, for a moment, during the hot work at St. Florent, but now he felt that circumstances could almost make him a coward.

On a sudden he remembered that his hat was still on his head, and he snatched his hand out of Henri’s to remove it, and then, when it was off, he wanted to go back to the hall to put it down.

Henri saw his confusion, and, taking it from him, put it on a chair, and then they all shook hands with him. He first found his hand in that of the Marquis, and heard the old man bless him, and then the Priest blessed him, and then he felt the soft, sweet hands of those bright angels within his own horny palm; he heard them speaking to him, though he knew not what they said; and then he could restrain himself no longer, for tears forced themselves into his eyes, and, in the midst of them all, he cried like a child.

There was infection in his tears, for Agatha and Marie, when they saw them, cried too, and the eyes of some of the men also were not dry; they all knew what the feelings of the man were, and they fully sympathised with him. It was strange how little they said about St. Florent at first; the moment the men had been seen, they were most anxious for the tidings of what had been done; but now they all seemed satisfied as to the truth of what they had heard — there was no longer any doubt. The heroes of St. Florent were there, and, though neither of them had yet spoken a word about the battle which had been fought, the presence of the victors was sufficient evidence of the victory.

The Curé, however, and M. de Lescure soon took Foret apart, and learnt from him the details of what had been done, while the father and son, and the two girls, endeavoured to put the postillion at his ease in his new position.

Cathelineau was a very good-looking man, about thirty-five years of age; his hair was very dark, and curled in short, thick clusters; his whiskers were large and bushy, and met beneath his face; his upper lip was short, his mouth was beautifully formed, and there was a deep dimple on his chin; but the charm of his face was in the soft benignant expression of his eyes; he looked as though he loved his fellow-creatures — he looked as though he could not hear, unmoved, a tale of woe or oppression — of injuries inflicted on the weak, or of unfair advantages assumed by the strong. It was this which had made him so much beloved; and it was not only the expression of his countenance, but of his heart also.

“And were you not wounded, Cathelineau?” asked the old gentleman.

“No, M. le Marquis, thank God! I was not.”

“Nor Foret?”

“No, M. le Marquis.”

“But were there many wounded?” said Agatha.

“Ah! Mademoiselle, there were — many, very many!”

“I knew there must have been,” said Marie, shuddering.

“We cannot have war without the horrors of war,” said Henri. “It is better, is it not, Cathelineau, that some of us should fall, than that all of us should be slaves?”

“A thousand times, M. Larochejaquelin ten thousand times!” said he, with a return of that determined vigour with which he had addressed his fellow-townsmen the day before.

“Yes, you are right, ten thousand times better! and, Marie, you would not be your brother’s sister if you did not think so,” said Henri; “but you do think so, and so does Agatha, though she cries so fast.”

“I am not crying, Henri,” said Agatha, removing her handkerchief from her eyes, which belied her assertion; “but one cannot but think of all the misery which is coming on us: were there — were there any women wounded in the battle?”

There were, Mademoiselle; but those who were so, never complained; and those who were killed will never have need to complain again.”

“Were there women killed?”

“There were two, Mademoiselle; one a young girl; the other has left children to avenge her death.”

“That is the worst of all,” said Henri, shuddering. “Cathelineau, we must keep the women in the houses; our men will not fight if they see their wives and sweethearts bleeding beside them; such a sight would make me throw my sword away myself.”

“It would make you throw away the scabbard, M. Larochejaquelin; but I fear we shall see enough of such sights,” and then he blushed deeply, as he reflected that what he had said would frighten the fair girls sitting near him; “but I beg pardon, ladies — I—”

“Don’t mind us, Cathelineau,” said Agatha; “you will not frighten us; our brothers will fight by your side; and you will find that we are worthy of our brothers. Marie and I will take our chance without repining.”

“And what is to come next, Cathelineau?” said Henri; “we have thrown down the gauntlet now, and we must be ready for all the consequences. You see, we were preparing for the same work,” and he pointed to the open packets of gunpowder which were lying scattered on the table. “What are we to do now? we shall soon have swarms of republican soldiers upon us, and it will be well to be prepared. We look to you for counsel now, you know.”

“Not so, M. Larochejaquelin; it was to seek council that I and Foret came hither; it was to throw ourselves at the feet of my Lord the Marquis, and at yours, and at those of M. de Lescure; and to implore you to join us, to fight with us, and to save us; to lead us against the republicans, and to help us to save our homes.”

“They will, Cathelineau; they will, my excellent friend,” said the old man. “Henri shall fight with you — he would not be my son else; and Charles de Lescure there will fight with you for his King as long as the breath is in his body. The Curé there — Father Jerome — will pray for you, and bless your arms; and I believe you’ll find he’ll fight for you too; the whole country are your friends.”

“Yes,” said Henri. “The whole province, down to the sea, will be with us. Charette is in the Marais ready to take up arms, the moment the collection of the conscripts is commenced, or before, if it be necessary. M. Bonchamps, who is now at Angers, will join us at once, and give us what we so much want — military skill. The Prince de Talmont is with us, M. Fleuriot, and M. d’Autachamps, every gentleman of standing in the country will help the good cause; my friend here, Adolphe Denot, will fight for us to the last drop of his blood.”

Cathelineau bowed graciously, as he was in this way introduced by Larochejaquelin to his friend. Denot also bowed, but he did it anything but graciously: two things were disagreeable to him, he felt himself at the present moment to be in the back-ground, and the hero of the day, the fêted person, was no better than a postillion. When the rest of the party had all given their hands to Cathelineau he had remained behind, he did not like to put himself on an equality with such a person; he fancied even then his dignity was hurt by having to remain in his company.

“And what step shall we first take, M. Larochejaquelin?” said Cathelineau.

“What do you propose yourself?” said Henri.

“I think we should not wait for them to punish us for our first success. I think we should follow up our little victory, and attack the republicans, at Beauprieu, perhaps, or at Cholet; we should so teach our men to fight, teach them to garrison and protect their own towns, and then, perhaps, before very long, we might fly at higher game; we might endeavour to drive these wolves from their own strong places; from Angers perhaps, or Nantes, or better still, from Saumur.”

“Why Saumur, especially,” said Henri; “surely Nantes would be a better mark than Saumur; besides Saumur is a perfect fortress, walled on all sides, almost impregnable; whereas Nantes is not fortified at all. Saumur is reckoned the strongest town in the south of France; it is the only fortified town in Anjou, Poitou, Tourraine or Southern Britanny.”

“That is just the reason, my friend,” said Cathelineau, now reassured by his own enthusiasm, and by his intense anxiety on the subject, “that is the very reason why Saumur should be our aim. The republicans now fear nothing from us, and will take no more than ordinary precautions; if we should now attack other places, and commence our proceedings with some success, they would make Saumur utterly impregnable; and what could we do with such a place as that opposed to us on the borders of our country, and on the very road to Paris. But think what it would be in our favour; it commands the Loire, it commands the road from Paris, besides, it contains what we so much want, arms, ammunition, and artillery; it is from Saumur that the republican troops are supplied with gunpowder; believe me, Saumur should be our mark. I know it is difficult, there will be danger and difficulties enough, I know; but it is not impossible, and I believe it may be done,” and then he looked round, and saw where he was, and that every one in the room was listening to him, and he added, “but I am too bold to say so much before my Lord the Marquis, and M. Larochejaquelin, and M. de Lescure, and the other gentlemen, whose opinions are so much better than my own.”

“He is right, Henri,” said de Lescure; “take my word, he is right. We will do it, my friend,” and he put his hand on the postillion’s shoulder. “We will be masters of Saumur, and you shall lead us there; we will help you to plant the King’s standard on the citadel of the town.”

Cathelineau was still sitting, and he looked up into de Lescure’s face with thankful admiration. “Ah! M. de Lescure, with such guides as you, with such a heart, such courage as yours, no walls shall hinder us, no enemies prevent us.”

“You shall have many such friends, Cathelineau,” said he; “many as eager, and very many more useful.”

“None more useful,” said the postillion; “none could be more useful.”

“No; none more useful,” said the Marquis; “may you have many friends as good, and then you will succeed.”

“Saumur let it be, then,” said Henri. “I have no doubt you are right; and indeed I do not claim to be great in council; I only hope I may not be found backward in action.”

“That you never, never will,” said Agatha. “That he never will, Mademoiselle: a Larochejaquelin was never backward in the hour of need,” said Cathelineau.

“They know how to flatter in St. Florent, my friend,” said she smiling.

“If that be flattery, all the country flatters. I only speak as I hear others speaking; they say that beauty and courage were always to be found at Durbellière.”

“Nay, Agatha; but is he not Bayard complete?” said Marie laughing. “I am sure we should be obliged; it is an age since we received a compliment here in the Bocage.”

“The ladies are laughing at me,” said Cathelineau, rising, “and it is time that I and my friend should cease to trouble you.”

“But where would you go, Cathelineau?” said Henri.

“Back to St. Florent; we have gained our object; we can tell our townsmen that the gentlemen of Poitou will fight on their side.”

“We will tell them so together, tomorrow by sunset,” said Henri; “it is now late, you and Foret stay here tonight; not a word either of you, for your life. I command this garrison; do not you, Cathelineau, be the first to shew an example of disobedience. Father Jerome, lay hands on Foret, lest he fly. Why, my friend, have we so much time to spare, that we can afford to lose it in foolish ceremony? Have we not a thousand plans to mature — a thousand things to settle, which we must settle, and none but we, and which we must discuss together? Are there not here four, six of us, brothers in arms together? I count you one, Father Jerome; and are we not here with the benefit of our father’s advice? When shall we all meet again, or when could we meet that our meeting would be more desirable? Well, go if you will, Cathelineau,” added he, seeing that the postillion hesitated; “but every one here will tell you that you are wrong to do so.”

“Stay, my friend,” said the Marquis, who understood well the different feelings which perplexed the mind of the postillion; “stay, my friend, and take your supper with us; you have undertaken a great work, and have shewn yourself fit for it, do not let little things embarrass you. Agatha, darling, see that beds be got ready for our friends. Father Jerome also will remain here tonight, and Charles, and Adolphe; we may not have many merry suppers more, we will at any rate enjoy tonight.”

“And Cathelineau,” said Henri, “you will not, I trust, be less welcome in St. Florent tomorrow because I accompany you.”

It was then decided that they should all remain there that night, that de Lescure and Adolphe should return with Marie to Clisson on the following morning, and that Henri and the priest should accompany Foret and the postillion to St. Florent, there to make the best arrangement within their power for the immediate protection of the place.

They were not very merry that evening, but they were by no means unhappy; as Henri had said they had much to talk of, and they spent an anxious evening, but each satisfied the other. Cathelineau felt himself to be in a new world, sitting down at table to eat with such companions as those around him. The sweet, kind face of Agatha disturbed him most. It almost unmanned him; he thought that it would be happiness enough for a life to be allowed to remain unseen where he might gaze on her. He felt that such beauty, such ineffable loveliness as hers could almost make him forget his country and his countrymen; and then he shuddered and turned his eyes away from her. But there she sat close to him: and she would speak to him, and ask him questions; she asked after his friends in St. Florent, after the women who were wounded, and she gave him money for the children who were made orphans; and then her hand touched his again, and he thought that he was asleep and dreaming.

Much of importance to their future plans was arranged that night, and such a council of war was probably never before assembled. The old man joined in their contemplated designs with as much energy as the youngest among them; the words rash and imprudent never once crossed his lips; nothing seemed rash to him that was to be undertaken for the restoration of the King. The priest took a very prominent part in it, and his word was certainly not for peace; he was the most urgent of the party for decided measures. De Lescure, Larochejaquelin, and Denot, argued, debated, and considered, as though war had always been their profession; but they all submitted, or were willing to submit, to Cathelineau; he had already commenced the war, and had been successful; he had already shewn the ready wit to contrive, and the bold hand to execute; his fitness to lead was acknowledged, and though two days since he was only a postillion, he was tacitly acknowledged by this little band of royalists, to be their leader.

And there too among these confederates sat Agatha and Marie, if not talking themselves, yet listening with almost breathless attention to the plans of the party; sharing their anxiety, promising their women’s aid, enchanting them with their smiles, or encouraging them with their tears. Cathelineau had heard how knights of old, famed in song, had spent their lives among scenes of battle and danger, and all for the smiles of the lady of their love; and now he thought he understood it. He could do the same to be greeted with the smiles of Agatha Larochejaquelin, and he would not dream of any richer reward. She was as an angel to him, who had left her own bright place in heaven to illuminate the holy cause in which he had now engaged himself; under such protection he could not be other than successful.

When Foret and Cathelineau dismounted, and were taken into the house by Henri and the Curé, they left their steeds in the care of Peter Berrier; but Peter has not been left ever since leading them up and down in sight of the white-washed lions. The revolt of St. Florent had been heard of in the servants’ hall as well as in the salon upstairs, and it was soon known that the heroes of the revolt were in the house, and that their horses were before the door. A couple of men and two or three boys soon hurried round, and Peter was relieved from his charge, and courteously led into the servants’ hall by Momont, the grey-headed old butler and favourite servant of the Marquis, and Jacques Chapeau, the valet, groom, and confidential factotum of Larochejaquelin. Peter was soon encouraged to tell his tale, and to explain the mission which had brought him and his two companions to Durbellière, and under ordinary circumstances the having to tell so good a tale would have been a great joy to him; but at the present moment Peter was not quite satisfied with his own position; why was the postillion in the salon while he was in the kitchen? Peter usually was a modest man enough, and respectful to his superiors; the kitchen table in a nobleman’s house would generally be an elysium to him; he had no idea that he was good enough to consort with Marquises and their daughters; but he did think himself equal to Cathelineau, the postillion, and as Cathelineau was in the salon, why should he be in the kitchen? He quite understood that Cathelineau was thus welcomed, thus raised from his ordinary position in consequence of what he had done at St. Florent, but why shouldn’t he, Berrier, be welcomed, and raised also? He couldn’t see that Cathelineau had done more than he had himself. He was the first man to resist; he had been the first hero, and yet he was left for half an hour to lead about a horse, an ass, and an old mule, as though he were still the ostler at an auberge, and then he was merely taken into the servants’ hall, and asked to eat cold meat, while Cathelineau was brought into a grand room upstairs to talk to lords and ladies; this made Peter fidgety and uncomfortable; and when he heard, moreover, that Cathelineau was to sup upstairs at the same table with the Marquis and the ladies, all his pleasure in the revolt was destroyed, he had no taste for the wine before him, and he wished in his heart that he had joined the troops, and become a good republican. He could not bear the aristocratic foppery of that Cathelineau.

“And were you a conscript yourself, Peter Berrier?” said Jacques Chapeau.

“Of course I was,” said Peter. “Why, haven’t you heard what the revolt of St. Florent was about?”

“Well; we have heard something about it,” said Momont; “but we didn’t exactly hear your name mentioned.”

“You couldn’t have heard much of the truth then,” said Berrier.

“We heard,” said Chapeau, “how good Cathelineau began by taking three soldiers prisoners.”

“I had twice more to do with those three prisoners than ever he had,” said Peter.

“Well; we never heard that,” said Momont.

“But we heard,” said Chapeau, “how Cathelineau led a few of the townsmen against a whole regiment of soldiers, and scattered them through the town like chaff.”

“Scattered them like chaff!” said Peter.

“And we heard,” said Momont, “how he stormed the barracks, slaughtered all the soldiers, and dragged the Colonel with his own hand through the barrack window.”

“Through the barrack window!” repeated Peter, with an air intended to throw discredit on the whole story.

“And we heard,” said Gather’s confidential maid, “how he laid his hand upon the cannon and charmed it, so that it would not go off, though the fiery torch was absolutely laid upon the gunpowder.”

“That the cannon wouldn’t go off though the torch was laid upon the gunpowder!” said Peter.

“And we heard,” said the cook, “how all the girls in the town came and crowned him with bay leaves; and how the priest blessed him.”

“And how the young made him their captain and their general,” said the housekeeper.

“And how they christened him the Saviour of St. Florent,” said the laundress.

“And gave him all the money in the town, and the biggest sword they could find,” said the page.

“You heard all this, did you?” said Peter Berrier.

“Indeed we did” said Jacques Chapeau, “and a great deal more from M. de Lescure’s own man, who went back to Clisson only an hour since, and who had it all from one who came direct from St. Florent.”

“And you heard not a word of Peter Berrier?”

“Not a word, not a word,” said they all at once.

“Then, friends, let me tell you, you have not heard much of the truth, although M. de Lescure’s own man did see the man who came direct from St. Florent; I think I may say, without boasting, and I believe Monsieur the postillion upstairs will not be inclined to contradict me, that without me, there would have been no revolt.

“No revolt without you? No revolt without Peter Berrier? No revolt without M. Debedin’s ostler?” said they one after another.

“No — no revolt without M. Debedin’s ostler, Madame.” The last question had been asked by the cook. “M. Debedin’s ostler is as good, I suppose, as M. Gaspardieu’s postillion.”

“What, as good as Cathelineau?” asked Momont.

“As good as our good postillion!” shouted Chapeau.

“As good as the holy man who charmed the cannon!” said the confidential maid in a tone of angry amazement.

“Would all the girls in St. Florent crown you with bay leaves!” jeered the cook.

“Will they ever make you a great captain!” screamed the housekeeper.

“Or call you the Saviour of St. Florent!” added the laundress.

“Or trust you with all the money, I’d like to know!” suggested the page.

Peter Berrier felt that he was ill-used after all that he had gone through for his King and his country; he sat apart for the rest of the evening, and meditated whether he would go over to the republicans, and bring an army down upon Durbellière, or whether he would more nobly revenge himself by turning out a more enterprising royalist than even the postillion himself.

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Last updated Tuesday, March 4, 2014 at 18:43