The château of Durbellière, the family seat of the Larochejacquelins, was situated in the very centre of the Bocage, between the small towns of Chatillon and Vihiers — in the province of Poitou, and about twelve leagues from St. Florent.
It was a large mansion, surrounded by extensive gardens, and a considerable domain. There were few residences of more importance as betokening greater wealth in the province of Poitou; but it was neither magnificent nor picturesque. The landlords of the country were not men of extensive property or expensive habits — they built no costly castles, and gave no sumptuous banquets; but they lived at home, on their incomes, and had always something to spare for the poorer of their neighbours. Farming was their business — the chase their amusement — loyalty their strongest passion, and the prosperity of their tenantry their chief ambition.
The château of Durbellière was a large square building, three stories high, with seven front windows to each of the upper stories, and three on each side of the large door on the ground floor. Eight stone steps of great width led up to the front door; but between the top step and the door there was a square flagged area of considerable space; and on the right hand, and on the left, two large whitewashed lions reclined on brick and mortar pedestals. An enormous range of kitchens, offices and cellars, ran under the whole house; the windows opened into a low area, or rather trench, which ran along the front and back of the house, and to which there were no rails or palings of any kind. The servants’ door was at the side of the house, and the servants and people coming to them, to save themselves the trouble of walking round to this door, were in the habit of jumping into the area and entering the kitchen by the window. Doubtless some lady of the house, when the mansion was first built, had protested strongly against this unsightly practice; but habit had now accustomed the family to this mode of ingress and egress, and the servants of Durbèlliere consequently never used any other.
The back of the château was just the same as the front, the same windows, the same broad steps, the same pedestals and the same whitewashed lions, only the steps, instead of leading on to a large gravelled square, led into a trim garden. There were no windows, whatsoever, on one side of the house, and on the other only those necessary to light the huge staircase of the mansion.
The rooms were square, very large, and extremely lofty; the salon alone was carpetted, and none of them were papered, the drawing-room, the dining-room and the grand salon were ornamented with painted panels, which displayed light-coloured shepherds and shepherdesses in almost every possible attitude. In these rooms, also, there were highly ornamented stoves, which stood out about four feet from the wall, topped with marble slabs, on which were sculptured all the gods and demi-gods of the heathen mythology — that in the drawing-room exhibited Vulcan catching Mars and Venus in his marble net; and the unhappy position of the god of war was certainly calculated to read a useful lesson to any Parisian rover, who might attempt to disturb the domestic felicity of any family in the Bocage.
The house was not above a hundred yards from the high road, from which there were two entrances about two hundred yards apart. There were large wooden, gates at each, which were usually left open, but each of which was guarded by two white-washed lions — not quite so much at ease as those on the pedestals, for they were fixed a-top of pillars hardly broad enough to support them. But this doubtless only increased their watchfulness.
But the glory of the château was the large garden behind the house. It was completely enclosed by a very high wall, and, like the house, was nearly square in its proportions. It contained miles of walks, and each walk so like the others, that a stranger might wander there for a week without knowing that he had retraversed the same ground, were it not that he could not fail to recognize the quaint groups of figures which met him at every turn. A few of these were of stone, rudely sculptured, but by far the greater number were of painted wood, and, like the shepherds and shepherdesses in the drawing-room, displayed every action of rural life. You would suddenly come upon a rosy-coloured gentleman, with a gun to his shoulder, in the act of shooting game — then a girl with a basket of huge cabbages — an old man in a fit of the cholic; the same rosy gentleman violently kissing a violet-coloured young lady; and, at the next turn, you would find the violet-coloured young lady fast asleep upon a bank. You would meet a fat curé a dozen times in half-an-hour, and always well employed. He would be saying his prayers — drinking beer — blessing a young maiden, and cudgelling a mule that wouldn’t stir a step for him, till the large yellow drops of sweat were falling from his face. It was inconceivable how so many painted figures, in such a variety of attitudes, could have been designed and executed; but there they were, the great glory of the old gardener, and the endless amusement of the peasants of the neighbourhood, who were allowed to walk there on the summer Sunday evenings.
The gardens of Durbellière were also wonderful in another respect. It was supposed to be impossible to consume, or even to gather, all the cherries which they produced in the early summer. The trees between the walks were all cherry-trees — old standard trees of a variety of sorts; but they all bore fruit of some description or another, some sweet and some bitter; some large, some small, and some perfectly diminutive; some black, some red, and some white. Every species of known cherry was in that garden in abundance; but even the gardener himself did not know the extent of the produce. Birds of all kinds flocked there in enormous numbers, and banqueted gloriously during the summer. No one disturbed them except the painted sportsman; and the song of the linnet and the thrush was heard all day, and that of the nightingale during the night.
The old Marquis de Larochejaquelin had been crossed in love early in life, and he had not recovered from his sorrow till he was above fifty, when he married, and outlived his young wife, who left him different children. Henri and Agatha were the only two now living with him. As has already been said, the old man was very infirm, and had lost the use of his limbs.
When the weather was cold or wet, he sat with his daughter, Agatha, near his bright wood fire, and watched her needle, or listened to her songs; but, if the sun appeared at all, he was dragged out in his garden chair among the birds and the painted figures, and was happy in spite of his infirmities.
He was most affectionate to his children, and indulgent to a fault. He was kind to every one, and, unless the birds were disturbed, the cherry-trees injured, or the figures upset, he was never angry even with a servant. Everybody loved and venerated the old Marquis, and even in his foibles, he was thoroughly respected. He had a vast collection of stuffed birds of every description, and the peasants round him were so anxious to gratify him by adding to his stock, that there began to be a doubt whether room in the château could be found for the presents which were continually brought. The upper story of the house had never been required by the family, and the rooms had not even been roofed or plastered. One great partition wall ran across the space, and the only ceiling was the bare high-pointed roof of the house. This place was called the granary, and was used for a drying ground. And here the superfluous birds were brought, much to the old man’s grief, for he knew that he should never see them again; but he could not refuse them when they were given to him, and the room which he inhabited would conveniently hold no more.
The happiness of the last years of the old man’s life was much disturbed by the events of the French revolution. He had been very anxious when he saw his young son join a club, which was sure to incur the ill-will of the ruling power in Paris; and yet he could not dissuade him from doing so; and, though he had rejoiced when his son returned to Poitou still safe, the imprisonment of the King had woefully afflicted him, and his death had nearly killed him. He had now expressed his opposition to the levies of a conscription with a degree of energy which had astonished his family. He knew the names and persons of every man and woman living on his estate, indeed, of every child above the age of ten; and, when he was told the names of those who were drawn as conscripts, he desired that they might all be told in his name that he hoped they would not obey.
Henri de Larochejacquelin has already been introduced to the reader. He returned to Poitou as soon as the Republic was proclaimed, together with de Lescure and Adolphe Denot. Adolphe had been staying a great portion of the winter at Durbellière, but he had since gone to his own place, and was now at Clisson, the seat of M. de Lescure.
Marie de Lescure, the sister of Henri’s friend, was staying at Durbellière with Agatha Larochejaquelin; and her visit, which had been prolonged from before Christmas, had certainly not been made less agreeable by the fact of Henri’s having been at home the whole time. She and Agatha were both pretty, but they were very different. Marie had dark hair, nearly black, very dark eyes, and a beautiful rich complexion; her skin was dark, but never sallow; her colour was not bright, but always clear and transparent; her hair curled naturally round her head, and the heavy curls fell upon her neck and shoulders; she was rather under the middle height, but the symmetry of her figure was so perfect, that no one would have called her too short. She had high animal spirits, and was always happy and good humoured; was very fond of amusement of every kind, and able to extract amusement out of everything. She was the great favourite of the old Marquis, not that he loved her so well as his own daughter, but her habits and manners suited him better than Agatha’s; she could better sympathize with the old man’s wishes and fancies; she would smooth the plumage of his birds for him; arrange and re-arrange his shells; feed his cats, his dogs, his tame deer, and his white peacock — for the old Marquis had live pets as well as dead favourites. Then she would sing merry little songs to him, and laugh at him, and quiz his painted figures, and help to wheel his chair, or pretend to do so.
She did all these things more readily than Agatha did, for her spirits were lighter. Not that Agatha was unhappy, or inattentive to her father; but she was quieter than Marie and of a more contemplative mood. She also had dark hair, but it was a dark brown, and she wore it braided close to her forehead. Her complexion was clear and bright, her forehead was white, and the colour in her cheeks, when she had colour there, was that of the clearest carnation. She was considerably taller than Marie, but her figure was exquisitely perfect, and her gait was that of a queen. She was the Rose of Poitou, the beauty and queen of the whole district. She was all but worshipped by the peasantry around her; if they admired her beauty much, they much more strongly appreciated her virtues, her charity, her considerate kindness, her want of selfishness, her devotion to her friends and neighbours, and lastly, her strong feeling of loyalty, her love for the king while he lived, and her passionate regret for him since he had perished on the scaffold. In this she inherited all the feelings of her father, and it was greatly her attachment to the throne and to the name of the King, which led to so high a pitch the enthusiasm of the peasantry in behalf of the royalists.
Many wishes, surmises and anticipations had arisen as to who was to carry off this rich prize; who should be the happy husband of Agatha Larochejaquelin; but her friends had hitherto been anxious in vain; she still went “in maiden meditation fancy free.” Not that she was without professed admirers; but they had none of them yet touched her heart. Many thought that she would be the bride of her brother’s friend, Adolphe Denot; for he was more at the château than any one else, was very handsome, and had a good property. Adolphe was moreover seen to be very attentive to Mademoiselle Agatha; and thrown so much with her as he was, how could he fail of being in love with her.
This belief much disturbed the comfort of Agatha’s humble friends, for Adolphe Denot was not popular among them: there was a haughtiness in his manner to the poor, to which their own lords and masters had never accustomed them. He was supercilious and proud in his bearing towards them, and had none of the cheering, frank look and tone of their own dear young M. Henri. They need not, however, have been alarmed, for Agatha Larochejaquelin was not at all disposed to take Adolphe Denot as her lord; she was passionately attached to her brother, and for his sake she had been kind, attentive, nay, almost affectionate to his friend; she and Adolphe had been much together since they were children. He had been absent from Durbellière for about a year, during which time, he had ceased to be a boy, and on his return to the château had taken on himself the airs, if not the manners of a man. Agatha’s manner to him was not altered, it was still friendly and affectionate, and Adolphe, with his usual vanity, misinterpreted it; he flattered himself that the beautiful girl loved him, and he soon persuaded himself that he was devotedly attached to her.
He had not yet positively declared his love, but Agatha felt from his manner that she had to expect a declaration, and she consequently altered her own; she became less familiar with him, she avoided all opportunities of being alone with him; she still called him by his Christian name, for she had always done so; she was still kind and attentive to him, for he was a guest in her father’s house; but Adolphe felt that she was altered, and he became angry and moody; he thought that she was coquetting and that he was slighted; and without much notice to any one, he left the house.
Agatha was glad that he was gone; she wished to spare him the humiliation of a refusal; she understood his character well, and felt that the wound inflicted on his self-love, by being rejected, would be more painful to him than his actual disappointment; she knew that Adolphe would not die for love, but she also knew that he would not quietly bear the fancied slight of unreturned affection. If, by her conduct, she could induce him to change his own, to drop the lover, and be to her again simply her brother’s friend, all might yet be well; but if he persevered and declared his love, she felt that there would be a quarrel, not only between him and her, but between him and Henri.
To tell the truth, Henri had rather fostered his friend’s passion for Agatha. He had wished to see them married; and, though he had not exactly told his friend as much, he had said so much that both Agatha and Denot knew what his wishes were. This, of course, gave great encouragement to the lover, but it greatly grieved poor Agatha; and now that Adolphe was gone, she made up her mind to open her heart to her brother.
A day or two before the revolt of St. Florent, they were sitting together in the drawing-room; it was late in the evening, the old Marquis had retired for the night, and Marie de Lescure was engaged elsewhere, so that Agatha and her brother were left alone together. He was reading, but she was sitting gazing at the fire. She could hardly summon up courage to say, even to her dear brother, what she wished to say.
“Henri,” she said at last, “does Adolphe return here from Fleury?” (Fleury was the name of Denot’s house).
“I hope he will,” said Henri; “but what makes you ask? the place is dull without him, isn’t it?”
“Dull! you don’t find Marie dull, do you, Henri?”
“Oh, Marie!” said he, laughing, “Marie amuses our father, and she charms me; but. you might find the house dull, in spite of Marie — eh, Agatha?”
“Indeed no, Henri; the house was not dull even when you were in Paris, and Marie was at Clisson, and papa and I were alone together here; it was not my being dull made me ask whether Adolphe was to return.”
“But you wouldn’t be sorry that he should come back, Agatha? You don’t want to banish poor Adolphe from Durbellière, I hope?”
“No,” said Agatha, doubtfully, “no, I don’t want to banish him — of course, Henri, I can’t want to banish your friend from the house; but —”
“But what?” said Henri, now perceiving that his sister had something on her mind — something that she wished to say to him; “but what, dearest Agatha?”
“I don’t want to banish him from the house, Henri; but I wish he would not return just at present; but you haven’t answered my question — you haven’t told me whether you expect him.”
“I think he will return; but he did not himself say exactly when. I am sorry to hear what you say, Agatha — very sorry — I thought you and Adolphe were great friends. I was even a little jealous,” added he, laughing, “at the close alliance between you, and I thought of getting up a little separate party of my own with Marie.”
“Don’t separate yourself from me, Henri!” said she; “don’t let us be separated in anything, even in thought; not but that I should be delighted to see a dearer friendship between you and Marie, even than that between Marie and myself; but don’t plan any separate alliance for me. I hope you have not been doing so — tell me, Henri, that you have not.” And then she added, blushing deeply up to her pale forehead, “You have not proposed to Adolphe that I should be his wife?”
“No, Agatha, I have not proposed it to him; I should not have dreamt of doing so, without knowing that it would not be disagreeable to you.”
“There’s my own dear brother! My own Henri!” said she, going over to him, caressing him, and kissing his forehead.
“I will never make an offer of your hand to any one Agatha; you shall choose for yourself; I will never cause you sorrow in that way: but I will own, dearest, that I have wished you should marry Adolphe, and I have also fancied that you loved him.”
“No, Henri, no, I do not love him — I can never love him — that is, as my husband. I do love him as your friend. I will continue to love him as such, as long as he remains your friend.”
“I fancied also,” continued he; “nay, I did more than fancy — I am sure he loves you — is it not so?”
“He has never told me so,” said she, again blushing; “it is that he may not tell me so, that I now say that I hope he is not returning. Oh, Henri, my own dearest brother, do not let him come to Durbellière; prevent him in some way; go to him for a while; make some plan with him; and give me warning when he is coming, and I will be at Clisson with Marie.”
“Will it not be better for both of you, Agatha, that you should understand each other? I know he loves you, though he has not told me so. You must tell him, kindly, that you cannot return his affection: you cannot always run away from him.”
“He will forget me soon. He will, at any rate, forget his love, when he finds that I avoid his company; but, Henri, if he formally asks my hand, and is refused, that he will neither forget nor forgive.”
“He must take his chance, dearest, like other men.”
“But he isn’t like other men, Henri. You know he is — he is rather impatient of refusal; he could not bear as well as some men any mortification to his pride.”
“I trust he has too much real pride to feel himself disgraced, because he is not loved. I grieve for him, for I love him myself; and I know his affections are strong; but I think it is better he should know the truth at once, and it must be from your own lips. I cannot tell him you will not accept him before he himself makes the offer.”
Agatha did not reply; she could not explain even to her brother all that she felt. She could not point out to him how very weak — how selfish his friend was. She could not tell him that his bosom friend would suffer ten times more from the wound to his pride in being rejected, than from the effects of disappointed love; but she rightly judged her lover’s character. Adolphe Denot loved her as warmly as he was capable of loving ought but himself; but were she to die, his grief would be very short lived; he would not, however, endure to see that she preferred any one to himself.
“I am sorry for this, Agatha — very sorry,” continued her brother; “I had fondly hoped to see you Adolphe’s wife, but it is over now. I will never press you against your will.”
“My own Henri — how good you are to your Agatha. I knew you would not torture me with a request that I should marry a man I did not love. I grieve that I interfere with your plans; but I will live with you, and be your old maid sister, and nurse and love your children, and they shall love their old maid aunt.”
“There are other men, Agatha, besides Adolphe. Perhaps your next request will be a very different one; perhaps, then, you will be singing the praises of some admirer, and asking me to give him a brother’s place in my heart.”
“And when I ask it, you will do so; but Henri,” and she put her hands upon his shoulder, as she stood close to his chair, “don’t let Adolphe come here immediately.”
“He must do so, dearest, now I think of it: we have other things to think of besides ladies’ hearts, and other matters to plan besides wedding favours; the troops will be in Clisson on Monday next, to collect the conscripts. I have promised to be with de Lescure, and Adolphe is to meet me there; they are both then to come here. Not a man shall be taken who does not choose to go; and there are not many who wish to go from choice. There will be warm work in Poitou next week, Agatha; few of us then can think of love or marriage. You and Marie will be making sword-knots and embroidering flags; that will be your work. A harder task will soon follow it — that of dressing wounds and staunching blood. We shall have hot work, and more than plenty of it. May God send us well through it.”
“Amen; with all my heart I say, amen,” said Agatha; “but will these poor men resist the soldiers, Henri?”
“Indeed they will, Agatha.”
“But can they? They have not arms, nor practice in the way of fighting — they have no leaders.”
“We will take arms from our enemies. We will be apt scholars in fighting for our wives, and our sisters, and our houses. As for leaders, the man who is most fit shall lead the others.”
“And you, Henri — merciful Heaven! what are you about to do — will you take up arms against the whole republic?”
“With God’s blessing I will — against the whole republic.”
“May the Lord, in his mercy, look on you and give you his assistance; and as your cause is just and holy, He will do so. Whatever women can do, we will do; you shall have our prayers for your success our tears for your reverses, and our praises for your courage; and when you require it, as some of you will too soon, our tenderest care in your sufferings.” At this moment Marie de Lescure entered the room. “Marie,” continued Agatha, you will help to succour those who are wounded in fighting for their King?”
“Indeed, and indeed I will,” said the bright-eyed girl, eagerly, and regret only that I cannot do more; that I cannot myself be in the battle. But, M. Larochejaquelin, will the people rise? will there really be fighting? will Charles be there?”
“Indeed he will, Marie; the first among the foremost. Agatha asked me but now, who would be our leaders? Is there a man in the Bocage — aye, in all Poitou, who will not follow Charles de Lescure?”
“May the blessed Saviour watch over him and protect him,” said Marie, shuddering.
“But tell me, Henri;” said Agatha, “where will it commence — where will they first resist the troops?”
“I cannot say exactly,” said he, “in many places at once I hope. In St. Florent, they say, not a man will join; in Clisson and Torfou they begin on Monday. Charles, and I, and Adolphe will be in Clisson. Father Jerome has the whole lists; he says that in St. Laud’s, in Echanbroignes, and Clisson, they are ready, to a man, to oppose the troops: he will go with me to Clisson on Sunday afternoon; on Monday, with God’s will, we will be in the thick of it”
“And will Father Jerome be there, among the soldiers “said Marie.
“Why not,” said Henri, “will the peasants fight worse when they see their priest before them?”
“And if he should fall?”
“He will fail in the service of his God and his King; Father Jerome will be here himself tomorrow.”
“The Curé of St Laud’s,” said Agatha, “is not the man to sit idle, when good work is to be done, but, oh! what awful times are these, when the priests themselves have to go out to fight for their altars and their crucifix.”
“I will return home with you, M Larochejaquelin, when you go to Clisson,” said Marie.
“And leave Agatha alone?” said Henri
“Don’t mind me, Henri,” said Agatha, “I shall be well here. Marie cannot leave Madame de Lescure alone, when her husband is, away and in such danger.”
“You will soon have company here enough,” said Henri. “De Lescure, and I, and Adolphe, and Heaven knows whom besides. Charette will be in arms, and d’Autachamps, the Prince de Talmont, and M. Bonchamps. At present their business is at a distance from us; but we shall probably be all brought together sooner or later, and they will all be welcome at Durbellière.”
“They shall be welcome if they are friends of yours, and friends of the King; but come, Marie, it is late, let us go to bed; next week, perhaps, we shall be wanting rest, and unable to take it.”
They met the next morning at breakfast, and the old Marquis was there also, and the priest, to whom they had alluded in their conversation on the preceding evening — Father Jerome, the Curé of St. Laud’s — such at least had he been, and so was he still called, though his parish had been taken away from him, and his place filled by a constitutional pastor; that is, by a priest who had taken the oath to the Constitution, required by the National Assembly Father Jerome was banished from his church, and deprived of the small emoluments of his office; but he was not silenced, for he still continued to perform the ceremonies of his religion, sometimes in some gentleman’s drawing-room, sometimes in a farmer’s house, or a peasant’s cottage, but oftener out in the open air, under the shadow of a spreading beech, on a rude altar hastily built for him with rocks and stones.
The church of St Laud’s was perfectly deserted — not a single person would attend there to hear mass said by the strange priest — the peasants would as soon have been present at some infernal rite, avowedly celebrated in honour of the devil — and yet the Curé newly sent there was not a bad man But he was a constitutional priest, and that was enough to recommend him to the ill-will of the peasantry In peaceable and happy times, prior to the revolution, the Curé of St Laud’s had been a remarkable person, he was a man of more activity, both of mind and body, than his brethren, he was more intimate with the gentry than the generality of clergymen in the neighbourhood, and at the same time more actively engaged in promoting the welfare of the poor. The country cures generally were men who knew little of the world and its ways — who were uneducated, save as regards their own profession — who had few ideas beyond their own duties and station, This was not so with Father Jerome; he had travelled and heard the ways of men in other countries; he had not read much but he had seen a good deal, and he was a man of quick apprehension — and above all a man of much energy. He had expressed great hostility to the revolution since its commencement; at a time when so few were hostile to it, he had foreseen that it would destroy the religion and the religious feeling of the country, and he had constantly besought his flock to remain true to their old customs. He was certainly a devout man in his own way, though he was somewhat unscrupulous in his devotions; the people were as superstitious as they were faithful, and he never hesitated in using their superstition to forward his own views. His whole anxiety was for their welfare; but he cherished their very faults, their ignorance and their follies, to enable himself to serve them in his own manner. He was unwilling that they should receive other education than that which they now had — he was jealous of any one’s interfering with them but their landlord and himself. He would not own that any change: could better their condition, or that anything more was desirable for them than that they should live contented and obedient, and die faithful in hope.
Durbellière had not been in his parish, but he had always been peculiarly intimate with the family of the Larochejaquelins, and had warmly welcomed the return of Henri to the Bocage, at a time when so many of the nobility were leaving the country. They were now about to join hand and heart in saving the people from the horrors of the conscription, and though the Curé‘s nominal mission was to be purely spiritual, he was quite prepared to give temporal aid to his allies, should it at any time appear expedient to himself to do so.
Father Jerome was a tall, well-made, brawny man; his face was not exactly handsome, but it was bold and intellectual; his eye was bright and clear, and his forehead high and open — he was a man of immense muscular power and capable of great physical exertion — he was above forty-five years of age but still apparently in the prime of his strength. He wore a long rusty black, or rather grey curé‘s frock, which fell from his shoulders down to his heels, and was fastened round his body with a black belt — this garment was much the worse for wear, for Father Jerome had now been deprived of his income for some twelve months; but he was no whit ashamed of his threadbare coat, he rather gloried in it, and could not be induced by the liberal offers of his more wealthy friends to lay it aside.
Father Jerome greeted them all as he entered the breakfast-room. He was received with great kindness by the old Marquis, who pressed his hand and made him sit beside himself; he blessed the two young girls fervently, and nodded affectionately to Henri, whom he had seen on the preceding day. It was evident that the Curé of St. Laud’s was quite at home at Durbellière.
“We have awful times coming on us now, Father Jerome,” said Agatha.
“Not so, Mademoiselle,” said the priest, “we have good times coming, we will have a King and our Church again, we poor cure will have our homes and our altars again; our own parishes and our old flocks.”
“Come what, come may,” said Henri, “we cannot be worse than the Convention would make us.”
“But we firmly trust that by God’s will and with God’s aid, we will soon be rid of all our troubles,” said the priest. “M le Marquis, we have your best wishes, I know; and your full approval. I hope we shall soon be able to lay our trophies at your feet.”
“The approval of an old man like me is but of little avail; but you shall have my prayers. I would, however, that God had spared me from these days; it is grievous for me to see my son going out to fight against his own countrymen, at his own door-sill; it would be more grievous still, where he now to hesitate in doing so.”
“No true son of Poitou hesitates now,” said the enthusiastic priest. “I yesterday saw every conscript in the parish of St. Laud’s, and not a single man hesitated — not one dreams of joining the republicans; and, moreover, there is not an able-bodied man who will not come forward to assist the conscripts in withstanding the soldiers; the women, too, Mademoiselle, are equally eager. Barère will find it difficult, I think, to raise a troop from Poitou.”
“Will the conscripts from hence be required to join at Chatillon or at Cholet?” said the old man.
“Those from St. Laud’s, at Chatillon,” said Henri; “but the men will not leave their homes, they will know how to receive the soldiers if they come amongst them.”
So saying, he got up and went out, and the priest followed him; they had much to do, and many things to arrange; to distribute arms and gunpowder, and make the most of their little means. It was not their present intention to lead the men from their homes, but they wished to prepare them to receive the republican troops, when they came into the country to enforce the collection of the republican levy.
Last updated Sunday, March 27, 2016 at 12:01