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´╗┐Title: No Surrender! - A Tale of the Rising in La Vendee
Author: Henty, G. A. (George Alfred), 1832-1902
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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No Surrender!
A Tale Of The Rising in La Vendee
by G. A. Henty.

Contents

Preface.
Chapter  1: A French Lugger.
Chapter  2: The Beginning Of Troubles.
Chapter  3: The First Successes.
Chapter  4: Cathelineau's Scouts.
Chapter  5: Checking The Enemy.
Chapter  6: The Assault Of Chemille.
Chapter  7: A Short Rest.
Chapter  8: The Capture Of Saumur.
Chapter  9: Bad News.
Chapter 10: Preparations For A Rescue.
Chapter 11: The Attack On Nantes.
Chapter 12: A Series Of Victories.
Chapter 13: Across The Loire.
Chapter 14: Le Mans.
Chapter 15: In Disguise.
Chapter 16: A Friend At Last:
Chapter 17: A Grave Risk.
Chapter 18: Home.

Illustrations

"Follow Me!" he shouted. "Make for the gun!"
At the first volley, the colonel of the dragoons and many of his men fell.
A scattered fire broke out from the defenders.
Leigh gave the word and, leaping up, they threw themselves on the traitor.
He was the bearer of terrible news.
Jean seized one of them by the throat.
Westermann's cavalry charged into the streets of Dol.
For two or three minutes, husband and wife stood together.



Preface.


In the world's history, there is no more striking example of heroic
bravery and firmness than that afforded by the people of the
province of Poitou, and more especially of that portion of it known
as La Vendee, in the defence of their religion and their rights as
free men. At the commencement of the struggle they were almost
unarmed, and the subsequent battles were fought by the aid of
muskets and cannon wrested from the enemy. With the exception of
its forests, La Vendee offered no natural advantages for defence.
It had no mountains, such as those which enabled the Swiss to
maintain their independence; no rivers which would bar the advance
of an enemy; and although the woods and thickets of the Bocage, as
it was called, favoured the action of the irregular troops, these
do not seem to have been utilized as they might have been, the
principal engagements of the war being fought on open ground. For
eighteen months the peasants of La Vendee, in spite of the fact
that they had no idea of submitting either to drill or discipline,
repulsed the efforts of forces commanded by the best generals
France could furnish; and which grew, after every defeat, until at
length armies numbering, in all, over two hundred thousand men were
collected to crush La Vendee.

The losses on both sides were enormous. La Vendee was almost
depopulated; and the Republicans paid dearly, indeed, for their
triumph, no fewer than one hundred thousand men having fallen, on
their side. La Vendee was crushed, but never surrendered. Had the
British government been properly informed, by its agents, of the
desperate nature of the struggle that was going on; they might, by
throwing twenty thousand troops, with supplies of stores and money
into La Vendee, have changed the whole course of events; have
crushed the Republic, given France a monarch, and thus spared
Europe over twenty years of devastating warfare, the expenditure of
enormous sums of money, and the loss of millions of lives.

G. A. Henty



Chapter 1: A French Lugger.


Some half a mile back from the sea, near the point where the low
line of sandy hill is broken by the entrance into Poole Harbour,
stood, in 1791, Netherstock; which, with a small estate around, was
the property of Squire Stansfield. The view was an extensive one,
when the weather was clear. Away to the left lay the pine forests
of Bournemouth and Christ Church and, still farther seaward, the
cliffs of the Isle of Wight, from Totland Bay as far as Saint
Catherine Point. Close at hand to the south was Studland Bay,
bounded by Handfast Point. Looking towards the right was a great
sheet of shallow water, for the most part dry at low tide, known as
Poole and Wareham Harbours, with its numerous creeks and bays.

Netherstock was an old house, with many nooks and corners. The
squire was a justice of the peace but, unless there was some
special business on, he seldom took his place on the bench. He was
a jovial man, who took life easily. He was popular among his
neighbours, especially among the poorer classes; for whom he had
always a pleasant word, as he rode along; and who, in case of
illness, knew that they could always be sure of a supply of soup,
or a gill of brandy at Netherstock.

Among those of his own class it was often a matter of wonder how
James Stansfield made both ends meet. The family had, for two or
three generations, been of a similar temperament to that of the
present holder; men who spent their money freely, and were sure to
be present whenever there was a horse race, or a main of cocks to
be fought, or a prizefight to come off, within a day's ride of
Netherstock. Gradually, farm after farm had been parted with; and
the estate now was smaller, by half, than it had been at the
beginning of the century.

James Stansfield had, however, done nothing further to diminish it.
He had a large family, but they could hardly be said to be an
expensive one, seeing that little was spent upon the fashion of
their clothes; and beyond the fact that the curate in charge of the
little church in the village of Netherstock came over, every
morning for two or three hours, to give the boys and girls the
elements of education, they went very much their own way. Mrs.
Stansfield had died, five years before this. Polly, the eldest
girl, aged twenty, acted as mistress of the house. Next to her, at
intervals of little more than a year, came Ralph and John; two
strongly built young fellows, both fearless riders and good at all
rustic games. What supervision the farm work got was given by them.

Patsey, the second girl, was generally admitted to be the flower of
the Stansfields. She was bright, pretty, and good tempered. She was
in charge of the dairy, and the Netherstock butter was famous
through the country round, and always fetched top prices at the
market. The youngest of the family was Leigh, who was now fourteen.
He was less heavily built than his brothers, but their tutor
declared that he was the quickest and most intelligent of his
pupils; and that, if he had but a chance, he would turn out a fine
young fellow.

The boys were all fond of boating and sailing, which was natural
enough, as the sea washed two sides of the estate. They had two
boats. One of these lay hauled up on the sands, a mile to the east
of the entrance to the harbour. She was a good sea boat and, when
work was slack about the place, which indeed was the normal state
of things, they would often sail to Weymouth to the west, or
eastward to Yarmouth or Lymington, sometimes even to Portsmouth.
The other boat, which was also large, but of very shallow draught
of water, lay inside the entrance to the harbour; and in her they
could go either north or south of Brownsea Island, and shoot or
fish in the many inlets and bays. There were few who knew every
foot of the great sheet of water as they did, and they could tell
the precise time of the tide at which the channels were deep enough
for boats drawing from two to three feet of water.

The most frequent visitor to Netherstock was Lieutenant, or, as he
was called in courtesy, Captain Whittier, the officer in command of
the coast guard station between Poole and Christ Church; his
principal station being opposite Brownsea Island, the narrowest
point of the entrance to the harbour. He was a somewhat fussy
little officer, with a great idea of the importance of his duties,
mingled with a regret that these duties did not afford him full
scope for proving his ability.

"Smuggling has almost ceased to exist, along here," he would say.
"I do not say that, across the harbour, something that way may not
still be done; for the facilities there are very much greater than
they are on this side. Still, my colleague there can have but
little trouble; for I keep a sharp lookout that no boat enters by
the passage south of the island without being searched. Of course,
one hears all sorts of absurd reports about cargoes being run; but
we know better, and I believe they are only set on foot to put our
officers from Swanage Westward, and beyond Christ Church down to
Hurst Castle, off their guard."

"No doubt, captain; no doubt," James Stansfield would agree.
"Still, I fancy that, although times are not what they were, it is
still possible to buy a keg of brandy, occasionally, or a few yards
of silk or lace, that have never paid duty."

"Yes, no doubt occasionally some small craft manages to run a few
kegs or bales; and unfortunately the gentry, instead of aiding his
majesty's representatives, keep the thing alive by purchasing
spirits, and so on, from those who have been concerned in their
landing."

"Well, you know, Captain Whittier, human nature is pretty strong.
If a pedlar comes along here with ribbons and fal-lals, and offers
them to the girls at half the price at which they could buy them
down at Poole, you can hardly expect them to take lofty ground, and
charge the man with having smuggled them."

"I do not think the young ladies are offenders that way," the
officer said, "for I have never yet seen them in foreign gear of
any sort. I should, if you will allow me to say so, be more
inclined, were you not a justice of the peace, to suspect you of
having dealings with these men; for your brandy is generally of the
best."

"I don't set up to be better than my neighbours, captain," the
squire said, with a laugh; "and if the chance comes my way, I will
not say that I should refuse to buy a good article, at the price I
should pay for a bad one in the town."

"Your tobacco is good, too, squire."

"Yes, I am particular about my tobacco, and I must say that I think
government lays too high a duty on it. If I had the making of the
laws, I would put a high duty on bad tobacco, and a low duty on a
good article; that would encourage the importation of good
wholesome stuff.

"I suppose you have heard no rumours of any suspicious looking
craft being heard of, off the coast?"

"No, I think that they carry on their business a good deal farther
to the west now. My post is becoming quite a sinecure. The
Henriette came into Poole this morning, but we never trouble about
her. She is a fair trader, and is well known at every port between
Portsmouth and Plymouth as such. She always comes in at daylight,
and lays her foresail aback till we board her, and send a couple of
men with her into Poole or Wareham. Her cargo is always consigned
to well-known merchants, at all the ports she enters; and consists
of wines, for the most part, though she does occasionally bring in
brandy.

"He is a fine young fellow, the skipper, Jean Martin. I believe his
father is a large wine merchant, at Nantes. I suppose you know him,
squire?"

"Yes, I have met him several times down in the town, and indeed
have bought many a barrel of wine of him. He has been up here more
than once, for I have told him, whenever he has anything
particularly good either in wine or spirits, to let me know. He
talks a little English, and my girls like to have a chat with him,
about what is going on on his side of the water. He offered, the
other day, to give Leigh a trip across to Nantes, if I was willing.

"Things seem to be going on very badly in Paris, by what he says;
but he does not anticipate any troubles in the west of France,
where there seems to be none of that ill feeling, between the
different classes, that there is in other parts."

The departure of Captain Whittier was always followed by a broad
smile on the faces of the elder boys, breaking occasionally into a
hearty laugh, in which the squire joined.

"I call him an insufferable ass," Ralph said, on this particular
evening. "It would be difficult, as father says, to find an officer
who is, as far as we are concerned, so admirably suited for his
position."

"That is so, Ralph. There is scarcely a man, woman, or child in
this part of Dorsetshire who does not know that there are more
goods run, on that piece of water over there, than on the whole
south coast of England. I sincerely trust that nothing will ever
bring about his recall. Personally, I would pay two or three
hundred a year, out of my own pocket, rather than lose him. There
is no such place anywhere for the work; why, there are some
fourteen or fifteen inlets where goods can be landed at high water
and, once past the island, I don't care how sharp the revenue men
may be, the betting is fifty to one against their being at the
right spot at the right time.

"If the passage between our point and the island were but a bit
wider, it would be perfect; but unfortunately it is so narrow that
it is only on the very darkest night one can hope to get through,
unnoticed. However, we can do very well with the southern channel
and, after all, it is safer. We can get any number of boats, and
the Henriette has only to anchor half a mile outside the entrance.
We know when she is coming, and have but to show a light, directly
she makes her signal, and the boats will put out from Radhorn
passage and Hamworth; while messengers start for Bushaw, and
Scopland, and Creach, and a dozen farmhouses, and the carts are
sure to be at the spot where they had been warned to assemble, by
the time the boats come along with the kegs; and everything is
miles away, in hiding, before morning.

"If it is a dark night the Henriette makes off again, and comes
boldly in the next afternoon. If one of the revenue boats, either
from here or Studland, happens to come across her before she gets
up anchor, there she is--the crew are all asleep, with the
exception of a man on watch; she is simply waiting to come in, when
there is light enough to enable her to make her way up the
passage."

James Stansfield was, in fact, the organizer of the smuggling
business carried on at Poole, and the adjacent harbours. There was
not a farmhouse, among the hills to the south of the great sheet of
water, with which he was not in communication. Winter was the
season at which the trade was most busy, for the short summer
nights were altogether unsuited for the work; and when the cold
weather drove the wildfowl in for shelter, there was splendid
shooting, and Ralph and John were able to combine amusement with
business, and to keep the larder well stocked.

The night signals were made from a cleft in the sand hills, half a
mile from the house; the light being so arranged that it could not
be seen from Brownsea Island, though visible to those on the south
side, from Studland right away over the hills to Corfe Castle, even
to Wareham. It was shown but for half a minute, just as the bells
of Poole Church struck nine. At that hour, when the lugger was
expected, there was a lookout at the door of every farmhouse and,
the moment the light was seen, preparations were made for the
landing at the spot of which notice had been given, by one or other
of the boys, on the previous day. Then, from quiet little inlets,
the boats would put off noiselessly, directly there was water to
float them; for it was only at high tides that the shallows were
covered. They would gather in the channel south of Brownsea, where
the boys and often their father would be in their boats in
readiness, until a momentary glimmer of a light, so placed on board
the lugger that it could only be seen from the spot where they were
awaiting it, showed the position of the craft and their readiness
to discharge cargo.

It was exciting work, and profitable; and so well was it managed
that, although it had been carried on for some years, no suspicion
had ever entered the minds of any of the revenue officers.
Sometimes many weeks would elapse between the visits of the lugger,
for she was obliged to make her appearance frequently at other
ports, to maintain her character as a trader; and was, as such,
well known all along the coast.

It was only a year since the Henriette had taken the place of
another lugger, that had previously carried on the work, but had
been wrecked on the French coast. She had been the property of the
same owner, or rather of the same firm; for Jean Martin, who had
been first mate on board the other craft, had invested some of his
own money in the Henriette, and assumed the command. It was
noticed, at Poole, that the Henriette used that port more
frequently than her predecessor had done; and indeed, she not
infrequently came in, in the daytime, with her hold as full as when
she had left Nantes.

It was on one of these occasions that Jean Martin, on coming up to
Netherstock, had a long talk with the squire.

"So you want my daughter Patsey?" the latter said, when his visitor
had told his story. "Well, it has certainly never entered my mind
that any of my girls should marry a Frenchman. I don't say that I
have not heard my boys making a sly joke, more than once, when the
Henriette was seen coming in, and I have seen the colour flying up
into the girl's face; but I only looked at it as boys' nonsense.
Still, I don't say that I am averse to your suit. We may be said to
be partners, in this trade of yours, and we both owe each other a
good deal. During the last eight years you must have run something
like forty cargoes, and never lost a keg or a bale; and I doubt if
as much could be said for any other craft in the trade.

"Still, one can't calculate on always being lucky. I don't think
anyone would turn traitor, when the whole countryside is interested
in the matter; and I wouldn't give much for the life of anyone who
whispered as much as a word to the revenue people. Still, accidents
will take place sometimes. Your father must have done well with the
trade, and so have I.

"At any rate, I will leave it in Patsey's hands. I have enough of
them, and to spare. And of course, you will be able to bring her
over, sometimes, to pay us a visit here.

"I think, too, that your offer of taking Leigh over with you helps
to decide me in your favour. They are all growing up and, if
anything were to put a stop to our business, this place would not
keep them all; and it would be a great thing, for Patsey, to have
her brother as a companion when you are away. The boy would learn
French, and in your father's business would get such a knowledge of
the trade with Nantes as should serve him in good stead. At any
rate, he will learn things that are a good deal more useful to him
than those he gets from the curate.

"Well, you know you will find her in the dairy, as usual. You had
better go and see what she says to it."

It is probable that Jean Martin had already a shrewd idea of what
Patsey's answer would be, and he presently returned to her father,
radiant. Patsey, indeed, had given her heart to the cheery young
sailor; and although it seemed to her a terrible thing, that she
should go to settle in France, she had the less objection to it,
inasmuch as the fear that the smuggling would be sooner or later
discovered, and that ruin might fall upon Netherstock, was ever
present in her mind, and in that of her elder sister.

To her brothers, engaged in the perilous business, it was regarded
as a pleasant excitement, without which their lives would be
intolerably dull. It was not that she or they regarded the matter
in the light of a crime, for almost everyone on that part of the
coast looked upon smuggling as a game, in which the wits of those
concerned in it were pitted against those of the revenue men. It
brought profit to all concerned, and although many of the gentry
found it convenient to express indignation, at the damage done to
the king's revenue by smuggling; there were none of them who
thought it necessary to mention, to the coast guard, when by some
accident a keg of brandy, or a parcel with a few pounds of prime
tobacco, was found in one of the outhouses.

Patsey had suffered more than her sister, being of a more lively
imagination, and being filled with alarm and anxiety whenever she
knew that her father and the boys were away at night. Then, too,
she was very fond of Leigh, and had built many castles in the air
as to his future; and the thought that, not only would he be with
her, but would be in the way of making his road to fortune, was
very pleasant to her. She knew that if he remained at Netherstock
he would grow up like his brothers. His father might, from time to
time, talk of putting him into some business; but she understood
his ways, and was certain that nothing would come of it.

Martin had, before, expressed to her his doubt as to whether her
father would consent to her going away with him; but she had no
fear on the subject. In his quiet, easygoing way he was fond of his
children; and would scarcely put himself out to oppose, vehemently,
anything on which they had set their hearts. He had, too, more than
once said that he wished some of them could be settled elsewhere;
for a time of trouble might come, and it would be well to have
other homes, where some of them could be received.

"Patsey has consented," Jean Martin said, joyously, as he rejoined
the squire.

"Well, that is all right. I think, myself, that it is for the best.
Of course, it must be understood that, in the matter of religion,
she is not to be forced or urged in any sort of way; but is to be
allowed to follow the religion in which she has been brought up."

"I would in no way press her, sir. We have Protestants in France,
just as there are Catholics here; though I must admit that there
are not many of them in La Vendee. Still, the days when people
quarrelled about religion are long since past; and certainly at
Nantes there is a Protestant congregation, though away in the
country they would be difficult to find. However, I promise you,
solemnly, that I will in no way try to influence her mind, nor that
of the boy. He will still, of course, look upon England as his
home, and I should even oppose any attempt being made to induce him
to join our church. You have plenty of Frenchmen in this country,
and no question as to their religion arises. It will be just the
same, with us."

Six weeks later, the Henriette returned. In her came Monsieur
Martin, whose presence as a witness of the ceremony was considered
advisable, if not absolutely necessary. He had, too, various
documents to sign in presence of the French consul, at Southampton,
giving his formal consent. The marriage was solemnized there at a
small Catholic chapel, and it was repeated at the parish church at
Poole, and the next day the party sailed for Nantes.

It was two months before the lugger again came in to Poole. When it
returned, it took with it the squire and Polly, to whom Monsieur
Martin had given a warm invitation to come over to see Patsey, in
her new home.

They found her well and happy. Monsieur Martin's house was in the
suburbs of Nantes. It had a large garden, at the end of which,
facing another street, stood a pretty little house that had been
generally used, either as the abode of aged mothers or unmarried
sisters of the family, or for an eldest son to take his wife to;
but which had now been handed over to Jean and his wife. This was
very pleasant for Patsey, as it united the privacy of a separate
abode with the cheerfulness of the family home. She had her own
servant, whose excellent cooking and, above all, whose scrupulous
cleanliness and tidiness, astonished her after the rough meals and
haphazard arrangements at Netherstock.

Whenever she felt dull during Jean's absences, she could run across
the garden for a talk with his mother and sister; at meals and in
the evening she had Leigh, who spent most of his time at the
cellars or in the counting house of Monsieur Martin; learning for
the first time habits of business, and applying himself eagerly to
acquiring the language.

The squire was put up at Monsieur Martin's, and Polly slept in the
one spare room at her sister's, all the party from the pavilion
going over to the house, to the midday meal and supper. The squire
and Polly were much pleased with their visit. It was evident that
Patsey had become a prime favourite with her husband's family.
Jean's sister Louise was assiduous in teaching her French, and she
had already begun to make some progress. Louise and her mother were
constantly running across to the little pavilion, on some errand or
other; and Patsey spent as much of her time with them as she did in
her own house.

Jean's absences seldom exceeded ten days, and he generally spent a
week at home before sailing again. He had driven her over to stay,
for three or four days, at a small estate of his own, some forty
miles to the southeast of Nantes, in the heart of what was called
the Bocage--a wild country, with thick woods, narrow lanes, high
hedges, and scattered villages and farms, much more English in
appearance than the country round Nantes. The estate had come to
him from an aunt. Everything here was very interesting to Patsey;
the costumes of the women and children, the instruments of
husbandry, the air of freedom and independence of the people, and
the absence of all ceremony, interested and pleased her. She did
not understand a single word of the patois spoken to her by the
peasants, and which even Jean had some difficulty in following,
although he had spent a good deal of his time at the little chateau
during the lifetime of his aunt.

"Should you like to live here, when not at sea, Jean?" asked
Patsey.

"Yes, I would rather live here than at Nantes. Next to a life at
sea, I should like one quite in the country. There is plenty to do
here. There is the work on the place to look after, there is
shooting, there is visiting, and visiting here means something
hearty, and not like the formal work in the town. Here no one
troubles his head over politics. They may quarrel as they like, in
Paris, but it does not concern La Vendee.

"Here the peasants love their masters, and the masters do all in
their power for the comfort and happiness of the peasants. It is
not as in many other parts of France, where the peasants hate the
nobles, and the nobles regard the peasants as dirt under their
feet. Here it is more like what I believe it was in England, when
you had your troubles, and the tenants followed their lords to
battle. At any rate, life here would be very preferable to being in
business with my father, in Nantes. I should never have settled
down to that; and as my elder brother seems specially made for that
sort of life, fortunately I was able to go my own way, to take to
the sea in the lugger, and become the carrier of the firm, while
taking my share in the general profits."

"How is it that your brother does not live at home? It would seem
natural that he should have had the pavilion, when he married."

"He likes going his own way," Jean said shortly. "As far as
business matters go, he and my father are as one; but in other
matters they differ widely. Jacques is always talking of reforms
and changes, while my father is quite content with things as they
are. Jacques has his own circle of friends, and would like to go to
Paris as a deputy, and to mix himself up in affairs.

"Though none of us cared for the lady that he chose as his wife,
she had money, and there was nothing to say against her,
personally. None of us ever took to her, and there was a general
feeling of relief when it was known that Jacques had taken a house
in the business quarter.

"He looks after the carrying business. Of course, my lugger does
but a very small proportion of it. We send up large quantities of
brandy to Tours, Orleans, and other towns on the Loire; and have
dealings with Brittany and Normandy, by sea, and with the Gironde.
He looks after that part of the business. My father does the buying
and directs the counting house. Though my art is a very inferior
one, I have no reason to complain of my share of the profits."

The first eighteen months of Patsey's married life passed quietly
and happily. She could now speak French fluently and, having made
several stays at the country chateau, could make herself understood
in the patois. Leigh spoke French as well as English. Fortunately
he had picked up a little before leaving home, partly from his
tutor, partly from endeavouring to talk with French fishermen and
sailors who came into Poole. He frequently made trips in the
Henriette, sometimes to Havre and Rouen, at others to Bordeaux. He
had grown much, and was now a very strong, active lad. He got on
very well with Monsieur Martin; but kept as much apart as he could
from his eldest son, for whom he felt a deep personal dislike, and
who had always disapproved of Jean's marriage to an Englishwoman.

Jacques Martin was the strongest contrast to his brother. He was
methodical and sententious, expressed his opinion on all subjects
with the air of a man whose judgment was infallible, and was an
ardent disciple of Voltaire and Rousseau. It was very seldom that
he entered his father's house, where his opinions on religious
subjects shocked and horrified his mother and sister. He lived with
an entirely different set, and spent most of his time at the clubs
which, in imitation of those of Paris, had sprung up all over the
country.

"What is all the excitement about, Jean?" Leigh asked his
brother-in-law, one evening. "There are always fellows standing on
casks or bales of timber along the wharf, shouting and waving their
arms about and, sometimes, reading letters or printed papers; and
then those who listen to them shout and throw up their caps, and
get into a tremendous state of excitement."

"They are telling the others what is being done at the Assembly."

"And what are they doing there, Jean?"

"They are turning things upside down."

"And is that good?"

"Well, there is no doubt that things are not as well managed as
they might be, and that there is a great deal of distress and
misery. In some parts of France the taxation has been very heavy,
and the extravagance of the court has excited an immense deal of
anger. It is not the fault of the present king, who is a quiet
fellow, and does not care for show or pageants; but it is rather
the fault of the kings who preceded him, especially of Louis the
Fourteenth--who was a great monarch, no doubt, but a very expensive
one to his subjects, and whose wars cost an enormous sum.

"You see it is not, in France, as it is with you. The nobles here
have great power. Their tenants and serfs--for they are still
nothing but serfs--are at the mercy of their lords, who may flog
them and throw them into prison, almost at their pleasure; and will
grind the last sou out of them, that they may cut a good figure at
court.

"In this part of France things are more as they are in England. The
nobles and seigneurs are like your country gentlemen. They live in
their chateaux, they mix with their people and take an interest in
them, they go to their fetes, and the ladies visit the sick, and in
all respects they live as do your country squires; paying a visit
for a few weeks each year to Paris, and spending the rest of their
time on their estates. But it is not from the country that the
members of the Assembly who are the most urgent for reforms and
violent in their speech come, but from the towns. There were two
writers, Voltaire and Rousseau, who have done enormous mischief.
Both of them perceived that the state of things was wrong; but they
went to extremes, made fun of the church, and attacked institutions
of all sorts. Their writings are read by everyone, and have shaken
people's faith in God, and in all things as they are.

"I do not say that much improvement could not be made, but it will
never be made by sudden and great changes, nor by men such as those
who are gradually gaining the upper hand in the Assembly. The
people ought to have a much stronger voice than they have in their
own taxation. They see that, in England, the ministers and
parliament manage everything; and that the king--although his
influence goes for a good deal, and he can change his ministers as
often as he likes--must yet bow to the voice of parliament. I think
that that is reasonable; but when it comes to a parliament composed
largely of mere agitators and spouters, I, for my part, would
rather be ruled by a king."

"But what is it that these people want, Jean?"

"I do not think they know in the least, themselves, beyond the fact
that they want all the power; that they want to destroy the
nobility, overthrow the church, and lay hands on the property of
all who are more wealthy than themselves. Naturally the lowest
classes of the towns, who are altogether ignorant, believe that by
supporting these men, and by pulling down all above them, it would
no longer be necessary to work. They want to divide the estates of
the nobles, take a share of the wealth of the traders, and of the
better class of all sorts; in fact they would turn everything
topsy-turvy, render the poor all powerful, and tread all that is
good and noble under their feet. The consequence is that the king
is virtually a prisoner in the hands of the mob of Paris, the
nobles and better classes are leaving the country, thousands of
these have already been massacred, and no one can say how matters
will end.

"Here in Nantes there is, as you see, a feeling of excitement and
unrest; and though as yet there has been no violence, no one could
venture to predict what may take place, if the moderate men in the
Assembly are outvoted by the extremists, and all power falls into
the hands of the latter. But I still hope that common sense will
prevail, in the long run. I regard the present as a temporary
madness, and trust that France will come to her senses, and that we
shall have the satisfaction of seeing the scoundrels, who are now
the leaders of the mob of Paris, receive the punishment they
deserve.

"However, as far as we are concerned I have no uneasiness for, if
troubles break out at Nantes, we can retire to my chateau, in the
thickest and most wooded part of La Vendee, where there is no fear
that the peasants will ever rise against their masters."



Chapter 2: The Beginning Of Troubles.


"Things are getting more and more serious, Patsey," said Jean one
evening. "I don't know what will come of it. The excitement is
spreading here, and there can be no doubt that there will be very
serious troubles, ere long. The greater portion of the people here
are with the Assembly, and approve of all these decrees against the
priests, and the persecution of the better classes. You know what
has taken place in Paris, and I fear that it will be repeated here.

"We are split up. My father, dear good man, thinks that he has only
to attend to his business, and to express no opinion whatever about
public affairs, and that the storm will pass quietly over his head.
My brother has thrown himself heart and soul--that is to say, as
far as he has a heart to throw--into what he calls the cause of the
people; and which I consider to be the cause of revolution, of
confiscation, of irreligion, and abomination generally.

"I am told that my name has freely been mentioned, in his club, as
that of a dangerous man, with opinions contrary to the public good.
I hear, too, that that brother of mine was there, at the time; and
that he got up and said that in a case like this his voice must be
silent, that true patriots place their country before all things;
and then affected to speak mildly in my favour, but at the same
time doing me as much harm as he could. I believe the fellow is
capable of denouncing his own father.

"From the Bocage I hear that the whole country is in confusion. The
people, of course, side with their priests. The nobles and land
owners are naturally royalists, and are furious that the king
should be held in what is practically subjection; by men of low
degree, and who, although they may have some virtuous men among
them, have also sanguinary scoundrels who gradually gain in power,
and will soon be supreme.

"They, however, can do nothing at present. The peasants know
nothing about the king, to them he is a mere name; but this
persecution of their priests angers them greatly; and if, as is
said, orders have been given to raise an army, and to drag men away
from their homes whether they like to go or not, you may be sure
that, ere long, there will be trouble there.

"Now you see, dear, I am a sort of double character. At sea I am
Captain Jean Martin, a peaceful trader with, as you know, but
little regard for the revenue laws of your country. On the other
hand, in La Vendee I am Monsieur Jean Martin, a landed proprietor,
and on friendly terms with all the nobles and gentry in my
neighbourhood. It is evident that I cannot continue to play this
double part. Already great numbers of arrests have been made here,
and the prisons are half full. I hear that a commissioner from the
Assembly is expected here shortly, to try these suspects, as they
are called; and from what we know already, we may be sure that
there will be little mercy shown.

"They are almost all people of substance; and the people, as they
call themselves, are on principle opposed to men of substance. Now,
if I remain here, I have no doubt that I shall be denounced in a
very short time; and to be denounced is to be thrown into prison,
and to be thrown into prison is equivalent to being murdered. I
have no doubt, Patsey, that you would share my fate. The fact that
you are an Englishwoman was among the accusations brought against
me, in the club; and although, so far as I can see, the majority of
these scoundrels have no religion whatever, they venture to make it
a matter of complaint that you are a Protestant.

"I have seen this coming on for some time, and must now make my
choice; either I must take you and the child over to England, and
leave you there with your father until these troubles are over,
while I must myself go down and look after my tenantry, and bear my
share in whatever comes; or you must go down there with me."

"Certainly I will go down with you, Jean. It is your home, and
whatever dangers may come I will share them with you. It would be
agony to be in England, and to know nothing of what is passing
here, and what danger might be threatening you. We took each other
for better or worse, Jean, and the greater danger you may be in,
the more it will be my duty to be by your side.

"I should be very happy down at the chateau. More happy than I have
been here with you, for some time past; for one cannot but be very
anxious, when one sees one's friends thrown into prison, and knows
that you are opposed to all these things, and that it may be your
turn next. Nothing would persuade me to leave you."

"Very well, wife, so be it. I am sure that there, at least, we
shall be safe. It is only in the towns that these rascals are
dangerous, and in a country like ours there is little fear that the
knaves will venture to interfere, when they see that they are
stirring up a nest of hornets. They have plenty of work to satisfy
even their taste for confiscation and murder, in the large towns.
There is an army gathering, on the frontier, and they will have
their hands full, ere long.

"And now, about Leigh. My brother has always shown a dislike for
him and, as it is certain that he cannot remain here, he must
either return to England or go with us."

"I am sure that he would choose to go with us, Jean. You say
yourself that he talks French like a native now, and although he
has often told me that he would never settle in France--for
naturally he is as horrified as I am with the doings in Paris, and
the other great towns--still I am sure that he would choose to
remain with us, now. You see, he is strong and active, and has made
so many trips with you, that he is almost a sailor. He is within a
few months of sixteen, and of late he has several times said to me
that he would like to go some long voyages, and have some
adventures, before settling down in business, in England, as an
agent of your house."

"I should like to have him with us," Jean said heartily. "In the
first place, he is a lad after my own heart, full of life and go,
and already strong enough to take his own part; in the next place,
although I hope for the best, a man can never say exactly what will
take place. I may be away at times, and should be glad to know that
you had a protector; and if he is willing to go, I shall be more
than willing to have him.

"Then, too, it would be useful to have someone whom one could trust
to carry messages. My idea is that I shall not leave the lugger
here for, if I am denounced, it would certainly be seized. Pierre
Lefaux, my mate, is a shrewd as well as a faithful fellow. I shall
appoint him captain. I shall tell him to leave here, at once, and
employ the lugger in coasting voyages; making Bordeaux his
headquarters, and taking what freights he can get between that town
and Rochelle, Brest, or other ports on this coast. So long as he
does not return here, he might even take wines across to England,
or brandy from Charente. He knows his business well and, as long as
we are at peace with England, trade will still go on.

"The best thing would be for him to be at Bordeaux once every
fortnight, or three weeks, so that we shall know where to find him.
I have a great friend at Bordeaux, and shall get him to have the
lugger registered in his name, and give him a receipt for her
purchase money; so that in case the people here learn that she is
trading at Bordeaux, he will be able to prove that she is his own
property. Then, if the very worst should come, which I cannot bring
myself to believe, there will be a means of escape for us all to
England.

"She will be sailing there in two or three days. I have fifty
thousand francs lying in my father's hands. I shall send that over
by Lefaux, and instruct him to ask your father to go with him to
the bank, at Poole, and pay the money in to my account. Then, if we
should have to leave France, we shall have that to fall back upon,
and the lugger. I should, of course, transfer her to the English
flag, and have no doubt that we should be able to get on very
fairly. So you see, I am preparing for all contingencies, Patsey."

"It seems very dreadful that the country should be in such a state,
Jean."

"It is dreadful, and I am afraid that things have by no means got
to the worst, yet.

"Ah, here comes Leigh! After supper I shall go in and have a talk
with my father. I have very little hope of having much success with
him; but at least, when he sees the steps that I am taking, it
cannot but make him think seriously of his own position, and that
of my mother and sisters."

Leigh was delighted when he heard Jean's proposal. His own position
had been unpleasant, of late. He had long since ceased to go to
Jacques Martin, for the dislike between them was mutual and, do
what he would, he failed to give satisfaction. And of late, even in
Monsieur Martin's cellars and storehouses, he had met with a good
deal of unpleasantness; and would have met with more, had it not
been that he had, on one occasion, knocked down one of the chief
clerks, who had sworn at him for some trifling act of carelessness.
As the clerk knew that the merchant would have been very angry at
the insult he had offered to Leigh, he had not ventured to make a
complaint; but in many ways he had been able to cause numberless
petty annoyances. Many of the others were inclined to follow his
lead, and would have done so more openly, were it not that they
held in respect Leigh's strength, and readiness in the science they
called le boxe.

The talk that there might be troubles in La Vendee heightened his
satisfaction at leaving Nantes, and going down to stay in the
country. The thought of a life spent at Poole, or Weymouth, as a
wine merchant and agent of the house of Martin had, for some time
past, been unpleasant to him. The feeling of general unrest that
prevailed in France had communicated itself to him, and he thought
possibly that something might occur which would change the current
of his life, and lead to one more suited to his natural activity
and energy.

"You had better pack up quietly, tomorrow," Jean said to his wife,
after his return from his father's. "If there were any suspicion
that I was thinking of going away, it might bring matters to a
head. I will get the lugger's boat down to the wharf, and four
sailors shall come up here and take the boxes down, in one of the
hand carts, with a tarpaulin thrown over them. I will arrange for a
cart and a carriage to be waiting for us, on the other side of the
river.

"There is no moving my father. He cannot persuade himself that a
man who takes no part in politics, and goes about his business
quietly, can be in any danger. He has, however, at my mother's
entreaty, agreed for the present to cease buying; and to diminish
his stock as far as possible, and send the money, as fast as he
realizes it, across to England. He says, too, that he will, if
things get worse, send her and my sister to England. I promised him
that your father would find them a house, and see that they were
settled comfortably there, for a time. He would not believe that
Jacques could have been at the club when I was denounced, without
defending me; for although himself greatly opposed to the doings in
Paris, and annoyed at the line Jacques has taken up, he thought
that there was at least this advantage in it--that in case of
troubles coming here, he would have sufficient influence to prevent
our being in any way molested. However, there can be no question
that I have, to some extent, alarmed him; and he agreed not only to
draw, tomorrow, my fifty thousand francs from his caisse, but to
send over with it a hundred thousand francs of his own. Fortunately
he can do this without Jacques knowing anything about it, for
although Jacques and I have both a share in the business, he has
always kept the management of the money matters in his own hands.

"So that is settled, as far as it can be settled. Fortunately the
club does not meet this evening, so there is no fear of a demand
being made, by it, for my arrest tomorrow. I have a friend who
belongs to it--not, I think, because he at all agrees with its
views; but because, like many others, he deems it prudent to appear
to do so. It was from him that I heard what had passed there, and
he promised to give me warning of anything that might be said, or
done, against me. I shall go down to the lugger early, and remain
on board all day, seeing to the stowage of the cargo we are taking
on board, so that no suspicion can arise that I am thinking of
leaving for the country."

The next evening the party started by unfrequented streets for the
quay, the nurse carrying the child, now three months old. The boxes
had gone half an hour before. It was nearly ten o'clock, and the
quays were deserted. Monsieur Martin had himself gone down, in the
afternoon, with the money to the lugger, and handed it over to
Jean, and had a long talk with him and Pierre Lefaux, to whom Jean
had also intrusted letters from himself and Patsey, to the squire.

As soon as the party had taken their seats in the boat, it was
rowed two miles up the river, to a point where there was a ferry
across to a road, leading into the heart of La Vendee. Here a light
waggon and a carriage were waiting. The luggage was transferred to
the former and, after a hearty farewell to Pierre Lefaux, who had
himself come in charge of the boat, they started on their journey;
and arrived at the chateau at nine o'clock in the morning, to the
surprise of the man and woman in charge of it.

"Here we are safe," Jean said, as they alighted from the carriage.
"It would take nothing short of an army to fight its way through
these woods and lanes and, if the Assembly try to interfere with
us, they will find it a much easier thing to pull down the throne
of France, than to subdue La Vendee."

The news that the master had come down, and that he was going for a
time to live among them, spread rapidly; and in the course of the
day some fifteen of the tenants came in to pay their respects, few
of them arriving without some little offering in the way of game,
poultry, butter, or other produce.

"Our larder is full enough for us to stand a siege," Patsey said,
laughing, "and I know that we have a good stock of wine in the
cellar, Jean."

"Yes, and of cider, too. When the tenants are in any difficulty
about paying their rents, I am always willing to take it out in
wine or cider; for my father deals in both, and therefore it is as
good as money. But I have not sent any to Nantes for the past two
or three years and, as you say, the cellars are as full as they can
hold.

"Tomorrow, Leigh, we will ride over and call upon some of our
neighbours to hear the last news, for the Bocage is as far away
from Nantes as if it were on the other side of France, and we hear
only vague rumours of what is going on here."

The ride was a delightful one to Leigh. He had only once visited
the chateau before, and then only for a day or two. The wild
country, with its deep lanes, its thick high hedges, its woods and
copses, was all new to him; for the country round his English home
was, for the most part, bare and open. Some of the peasants carried
guns over their shoulders, and looked as if accustomed to use them.

"Very few of them possess guns," Jean Martin remarked, "and that
they should carry them shows how disturbed a state of mind all
these people are in. They know that their priests may be arrested
and carried off, at any moment; and no doubt the report that an
order has been issued to raise thirty thousand men throughout
France, and that every town and village has to furnish its quota,
has stirred them up even more effectually. I don't suppose that
many of them think that the authorities will really try to drag men
off, against their will; but the possibility is quite enough to
inflame their minds."

At the very first house they visited they received, from the owner,
ample confirmation of Jean's views.

"There have been continual fracases between the peasants and the
military," he said, "over the attempts of the latter to arrest the
priests. They can scarcely be called fights, for it has not come to
that; but as soon as the peasants hear that the gendarmes are
coming, they send the priest into the wood, and gather in such
force that the gendarmes are glad enough to ride away, unharmed. Of
course, until we see that the peasants are really in earnest, and
intend to fight to the last, it would be madness for any of us to
take any part in the matter; for we should be risking not only life
but the fortunes of our families, and maybe their lives, too. You
must remember, moreover, that already a great number of the landed
proprietors have either been murdered or imprisoned in Paris, or
are fugitives beyond the frontier."

"If the peasants would fight," Jean Martin said, "it might not be a
bad thing that there are so few whom they could regard as their
natural leaders. If there are only a few leaders they may act
together harmoniously, or each operate in his own district; but
with a number of men of the same rank, or nearly of the same rank,
each would have his own ideas as to what should be done, and there
would be jealousy and discord."

"That is true," the other replied. "Of course, if this were an open
country it would be necessary, to give us a chance of success, that
some sort of discipline should be established; and none could
persuade the peasants to submit to discipline, except their own
lords. But in a country like this, discipline is of comparatively
little importance; and it is well that it is so, for though I
believe that the peasants would fight to the death, rather than
submit to be dragged away by force from their homes, they will
never keep together for any time."

"I am afraid that that will be the case. We must hope that it will
not come to fighting but, if it does, it will take a large force to
conquer La Vendee."

"What has brought you down here, Monsieur Martin?"

"It was not safe for me to stay longer in Nantes. If I think a
thing I say it, and as I don't think well of what is being done in
Paris, I have not been in the habit of saying flattering things
about the men there. In fact I have been denounced and, as there is
still room for a few more in the prisons, I should have had a cell
placed at my disposal, if I had remained there many more hours; so
I thought that I should be safer, down here, till there was some
change in the state of affairs."

"And you brought madame down with you?"

"Assuredly. I had only the choice open to me of sending her across
to England, and of making my home there, or of coming here. If
there had been no prospect of trouble here, I might have joined the
army of our countrymen who are in exile; but as, from all I heard,
La Vendee was ready to take up arms, I determined to come here;
partly because, had I left the country, my estates here would have
been confiscated; partly because I should like to strike a blow,
myself, at these tyrants of Paris, who seem bent on destroying the
whole of the aristocracy of France, of wiping out the middle
classes, and dividing the land and all else among the scum of the
towns."

Three or four months passed quietly. There were occasional
skirmishes between the peasants, and parties of troops in search of
priests who refused to obey the orders of the Assembly. At Nantes,
the work of carrying out mock trials, and executing those of the
better classes who had been swept into the prisons, went on
steadily. From time to time a message came to Jean, from his
father, saying that he had carried out his determination to lessen
his stocks, and that he had sent considerable sums of money across
the Channel. So far he had not been molested, but he saw that the
public madness was increasing, and the passion for blood ever
growing.

Then came the news of the execution of the king, which sent a
thrill of horror through the loyal province. Shortly afterwards it
was known that the decree for the raising of men was to be
enforced; and that commissioners had already arrived at Saumur with
a considerable force, that would be employed, if necessary; but
that the process of drawing the names of those who were to go was
to be carried out by the local authorities, assisted by the
national guards of the towns.

During the winter things had gone on quietly, at the chateau. There
had been but little visiting, for the terrible events passing in
Paris, and in all the large towns, and the uncertainty about the
future, had cast so deep a gloom over the country that none thought
of pleasure, or even of cheerful intercourse with their neighbours.
Many of the gentry, too, had given up all hope; and had made their
way down to the coast, and succeeded in obtaining a passage in
smuggling craft, or even in fishing boats, to England.

Jean Martin and Leigh had spent much of their time in shooting.
Game was abundant and, as so many of the chateaux were shut up,
they had a wide range of country open to them for sport. Once or
twice they succeeded in bringing home a wild boar. Wolves had
multiplied in the forests for, during the last three years, the
regular hunts in which all the gentry took part had been abandoned,
and the animals had grown fearless.

One day, soon after the news of the king's death had been received,
Jean, who had ridden over to Saumur on business, brought back the
news that war had been declared with England.

"It would have made a good deal of difference to me," he said, "if
I had still been on board the lugger; for of course there would be
an end to all legitimate trade. However, no doubt I should have
managed to run a cargo, sometimes; for they will want brandy and
tobacco all the more, when regular trade is at an end; and prices,
you may be sure, will go up. I have no doubt, too, that there will
be a brisk business in carrying emigrants over. Still, of course
the danger would be very much greater. Hitherto we have only had
the revenue cutters and the coast guards to be afraid of, now every
vessel of war would be an enemy."

As during their expeditions they were generally accompanied by half
a dozen peasants, who acted as beaters, Leigh had come to
understand the patois, and to some extent to speak it; and he often
paid visits to the houses of the principal tenants of the estate,
who not only welcomed him as the brother of their mistress, but
soon came to like him for himself, and were amused by his high
spirits, his readiness to be pleased with everything, and his talk
to them of the little known country across the water.

It was evident, from the manner in which the drawing for the
conscription was spoken of, that it would not be carried out
without a strong resistance. Sunday, the tenth of March, had been
fixed for the drawing and, as the day approached, the peasants
became more and more determined that they would not permit
themselves to be dragged away from their homes.

Three days before, a party of the tenants, together with some from
adjoining estates, had come up to the chateau. Jean Martin at once
came out to them.

"We have come, monsieur, to ask if you will lead us. We are
determined that we will not be carried off like sheep."

"There you are right," Jean said; "but although I shall be ready to
do my share of fighting, I do not wish to be a leader. In the first
place, there are many gentlemen of far larger possessions and of
higher rank than myself, who would naturally be your leaders. There
is the Marquis de Lescure at Clisson, and with him are several
other noble gentlemen, among them Henri de la Rochejaquelein--he is
a cavalry officer. His family have emigrated, but he has remained
here on his estates. Then, too, you have many other military
officers who have served. There is Monsieur de Bonchamp, Monsieur
d'Elbee, and Monsieur Dommaigne, all of whom have served in the
army. If the insurrection becomes general, I shall head my own
tenants, and join the force under some chosen commander; but I
shall not appear as a leader. Not only am I altogether ignorant of
military affairs but, were it known in Nantes that I was prominent
in the rising, they would undoubtedly avenge themselves upon my
relations there."

It was known that artillery and gendarmes had been gathered in all
the towns of La Vendee. Two days before that appointed for the
drawing, Jean said to Leigh:

"I shall ride tomorrow to the castle of Clisson. I know Monsieur de
Lescure. He has wide influence, and is known to be a devoted
royalist, and to have several royalist refugees now at his house. I
shall be able to learn, from him, whether his intention is to take
part in the insurrection. It is a long ride, and I shall not return
until tomorrow.

"If you like, you can ride north to Saint Florent. If there should
be any tumult, I charge you not to take any part in it. You had
better leave your horse at some cabaret on this side of the town,
and go in on foot. It is possible that there will be no trouble
there, for they are sure to have made preparations against it; and
it is more likely that there will be disturbances at smaller
places. Still, it will be interesting to mark the attitude of the
peasants.

"You see, if there is to be a war, it is their war. The gentlemen
here would have fought for the king, had there been a shadow of a
prospect of success, and had he given the smallest encouragement to
his friends to rally to his support. They might even have fought
against the disturbance of the clergy. But they would have had no
followers. The peasants cared but little for the king and, though
they did care enough for the priests to aid them to escape, they
did not care enough to give battle for them. They are now going to
fight for their own cause, and for their own liberty. They have to
show us that they are in earnest about it, before we join them. If
they are in earnest, we ought to be successful. We ought to be able
to put a hundred thousand men in arms and, in such a country as
this, we should be able to defy any force that the Convention can
send against us; and to maintain the right of La Vendee to hold
itself aloof from the doings of the rest of France.

"But, as I said, until we know that they are really in earnest, we
cannot afford to throw in our lot with them; so if you go to Saint
Florent, keep well away from the point where the drawing is to take
place. Watch affairs from a distance. I have little doubt that
those who go will go with the determination of defending
themselves, but whether they will do so will depend upon whether
there is one among them energetic enough to take the lead. That is
always the difficulty in such matters. If there is a fight we must,
as I say, simply watch it. It is, at present, no affair of ours. If
it begins, we shall all have our work before us, plenty of it, and
plenty of danger and excitement, but for the present we have to act
as spectators."

It was a ride of fifteen miles to Saint Florent and, although Leigh
had twice during the winter ridden there with Jean, he had some
difficulty in finding his way through the winding roads and
numerous lanes along which he had to pass. During the early part of
the ride he met with but few people on the way. The church bells
were ringing, as usual, and there was nothing to show that any
trouble was impending; but when he arrived within two or three
miles of the town, he overtook little groups of peasants walking in
that direction. Some of them, he saw, carried pitchforks. The rest
had stout cudgels.

Saint Florent stood on the Loire and, in an open space in the
centre of the town, the authorities were gathered. Behind them was
a force of gendarmes, and in the middle of their line stood a
cannon.

Leigh had, as Jean had told him, left his horse outside the town;
and now took up his place, with a number of townspeople, on one
side of the square. As the peasants arrived, they clustered
together at the end of the street, waiting for the hour to strike
at which the drawing was to begin. A few minutes before the clock
struck, some of the gendarmes left the group in the centre of the
square, and advanced to the peasants. They were headed by an
officer who, as he came up, exclaimed:

"What do you mean by coming here with pitchforks? Lay them down, at
once!"

There was a low murmur among the peasants.

"Follow me!" he said to his men and, walking up to one of the men
carrying a pitchfork, he said:

"I arrest you, in the name of the Republic."

In an instant a young man standing next to the one he had seized
sprang forward, and struck the officer to the ground with his
cudgel.

[Illustration: 'Follow Me!' he shouted. 'Make for the gun!']

"Follow me!" he shouted. "Make for the gun!"

With a cheer the peasants rushed forward, overthrowing the
gendarmes as they went. The municipal authorities, after hesitating
for a moment, took to their heels in the most undignified manner.
The gun had not been loaded. The gendarmes round it, seeing that
they were greatly outnumbered, followed their example; and the
peasants, with exultant shouts, seized the cannon and then,
scattering, chased the gendarmes out of the town.

Never was a more speedy and bloodless victory. Headed by their
leader, whose name was Rene Foret, the peasants went to the
municipality, broke open the doors, took possession of the arms
stored there, collected all the papers they could find, and made a
great bonfire with them in the centre of the square. Then without
harming anyone, or doing the slightest mischief, they left the town
and scattered to their homes in the Bocage.

Leigh waited until all was over, returned to the cabaret where he
had left his horse, and rode on. Passing through the little town of
Pin a powerful-looking man, some thirty-five years old, with a
quiet manner, broad forehead, and intelligent face, stepped up to
him.

"Pardon, monsieur," he said; "but you have come from Saint
Florent?"

"Yes," he replied.

"Has aught happened there?"

"Yes, the peasants attacked the gendarmes, who fled, leaving their
cannon behind them. The peasants took what arms there were in the
municipality, and made a bonfire of the papers. They then, without
doing any damage, dispersed to their homes."

"They have done well," the man said. "They have made a beginning.
My name, monsieur, is Cathelineau; my business, so far, has been
that of a hawker. I am well known in this part of the country.
Maybe, sir, you will hear my name again, for henceforth I am an
insurgent. We have borne this tyranny of the butchers in Paris too
long, and the time has come when we must either free ourselves of
it, or die. You belong to another class, but methinks that when you
see that we are in earnest, you will join."

"I doubt not that we shall," Leigh said. "I am but a lad yet; but I
hope that, when the time comes, I shall do my part."

The man lifted his hat and moved off, and Leigh rode forward again.
He was struck with the earnest manner of the man. He had spoken
calmly and without excitement, expressed himself well, and had the
air of a man who, having determined upon a thing, would carry it
through.

"I expect I shall hear of him again," he said to himself. "A man
like that, travelling round the country, no doubt has a deal of
influence. He is just the sort of man the peasants would follow;
indeed, as it seems to me, that anyone might follow."

It was late in the afternoon when he arrived home, and told his
sister what he had witnessed.

"I am not surprised, Leigh," she said. "If I were a man I would
take up arms, too. There must be an end to what is going on.
Thousands have been murdered in Paris, men and women; and at least
as many more in the other great towns. If this goes on, not only
the nobles and gentry, but the middle class of France will all
disappear; and these bloodstained monsters will, I suppose, set to
to kill each other. I feel half French now, Leigh, and it is almost
too awful to think of.

"It seems to me that the only hope is that the peasants, not only
of the Bocage, but of all Poitou, Anjou, and Brittany, may rise, be
joined by those of other parts, and march upon the towns; destroy
them altogether, and kill all who have been concerned in these
doings."

"That would be pretty sweeping, Patsey," Leigh laughed. "But you
know I hate them as much as you do and, though I don't feel a bit
French, I would certainly do all that I could against them, just as
one would kill wild beasts who go about tearing people to pieces.
It is no odds to me whether the men, women, and children they kill
are French, or English. One wants to put a stop to their killing."

"I wish, now, that I had not brought you out with me, Leigh."

"In the first place, Patsey, I deny altogether that you did bring
me out--Jean brought me out; and in the next place, I don't see why
you should be sorry. I would not miss all this excitement, for
anything. Besides, I have learned to talk French well, and
something of the business of a wine merchant. I can't be taken in
by having common spirit, a year or two old, passed off on me as the
finest from Charente; or a common claret for a choice brand. All
that is useful, even if I do not become a wine merchant. At any
rate, it is more useful than stopping at Netherstock, where I
should have learned nothing except a little more Latin and Greek."

"Yes, but you may be killed, Leigh."

"Well, I suppose if I had stayed at home, and got a commission in
the army or a midshipman's berth in the navy, I might have been
killed and, if I had my choice, I would much rather be killed in
fighting against people who murder women and children, who have
committed no crime whatever, than in fighting soldiers or sailors
of another nation, who may be just as honest fellows as we are.''

"I cannot argue with you, Leigh; but if anything happens to you I
shall blame myself, all my life."

"That would be foolish," Leigh said. "It is funny what foolish
ideas women have. You could not have foreseen what was coming, when
you came over here; and you thought that it would be a good thing
for me to accompany you, for a time. You did what you thought was
best, and which I think was best. Well, if it doesn't turn out just
what we expected, you cannot blame yourself for that. Why, if you
were to ask me to come for a walk, and a tree fell on me as we were
going along and killed me, you would hardly blame yourself because
you asked me to come; and this is just the same.

"At any rate, if I do get killed, which I don't mean to be if I can
help it, there is no one else who will take it very much to heart,
except yourself. There are plenty of them at home and, now that I
have been away nearly two years, they must almost have forgotten my
existence."

"I consider you a very foolish boy," Patsey said, gravely. "You
talk a great deal too much nonsense."

"Very well, Patsey; abuse is not argument, and almost every word
that you have said applies equally well to your folly, in leaving a
comfortable home in a quiet country to come to such a dangerous
place as this.

"Now, I hope that supper is ready, for I am as hungry as a hunter."



Chapter 3: The First Successes.


The next morning, at twelve o'clock, Jean Martin reached home.

"The war has begun," he said, as he leaped from his horse. "Henri
de la Rochejaquelein has accepted the leadership of the peasants,
at Clisson. Lescure would have joined also, but Henri pointed out
to him that it would be better not to compromise his family, until
it was certain that the insurrection would become general. The
young count was starting, just as I got to the chateau. He is a
splendid young fellow, full of enthusiasm, and burning to avenge
the misfortunes that have fallen upon his family. A peasant had
arrived the evening before, with a message from his aunt, who lives
farther to the south. He brought news that the chevalier de
Charette--formerly a lieutenant in the navy and a strong Royalist,
who had escaped the massacres at Paris, and was living quietly on
his estate near Machecoul--had been asked several times, by the
peasants in his neighbourhood, to take the command, and had
accepted it; and that the rising was so formidable, there, that it
was certain the authorities in that part of Poitou would not
succeed in enforcing the conscription.

"I have told Lescure that I shall be prepared to join, as soon as
there is a general movement here; but that I should attach myself
to whoever took the direction of affairs in this part, for that in
the first place I knew nothing of war, and in the second place I
have resided here so small a portion of my time that I am scarcely
known, save to my own tenants.

"After our meal, we will ride round and see how they are off for
arms and powder. That is our great weakness. I am afraid, taking
the whole country round, that not one man in twenty possesses a
gun."

This indeed was found to be the case, as far as those on the estate
were concerned. The men themselves, however, seemed to think little
of this.

"We will take them from the Blues," several of them said
confidently. "It does not matter a bit. They will only have time to
fire one volley, in these lanes of ours, and then we shall be among
them; and a pike or pitchfork are just as good, at close quarters,
as a bayonet."

That the whole country was astir was evident, from the fact that
the sound of the church bells rose from the woods, in all
directions. All work was suspended, and the peasants flocked into
the little villages to hear the news that was brought in, from
several directions.

Cathelineau had, in the course of the night, gathered a party of
twenty-seven men who, at daybreak, had started out from Pin,
setting the church bells ringing in the villages through which they
passed; until a hundred men, armed for the most part with
pitchforks and stakes, had gathered round him. Then he boldly
attacked the chateau of Tallais, garrisoned by a hundred and fifty
soldiers, having with them a cannon. This was fired, but the shot
passed over the peasants' heads, and with a shout they dashed
forward, and the soldiers of the republic threw away their arms and
fled. Thus Cathelineau's followers became possessed of firearms,
some horses and, to their great delight, a cannon.

Their leader did not waste a moment, but marched at once against
Chemille, his force increasing at every moment, as the men flocked
in from the villages. There were, at Chemille, two hundred soldiers
with three guns; but some of the fugitives from Tallais had already
arrived there, bringing news of the desperate fury with which the
peasants had attacked them and, at the sight of the throng
approaching, with their captured cannon, the garrison lost heart
altogether and bolted, leaving their three cannon, their
ammunition, and the greater portion of their muskets behind them.

The news spread with incredible rapidity. From each village they
passed through, boys were despatched as messengers, and their
tidings were taken on by fresh relays. By the afternoon all the
country, for thirty miles round, knew that Cathelineau had captured
Tallais and Chemille, and was in possession of a quantity of arms,
and four cannon.

From Saint Florent came the news that, early in the morning, a
party of Republican soldiers had endeavoured to arrest Foret, who
led the rising on the previous day; but that he had obtained word
of their approach and, setting the church bells ringing, had
collected a force and had beaten back those who came in search of
him.

Close by, a detachment of National Guards from Chollett had visited
the chateau of Maulevrier. The proprietor was absent, but they
carried off twelve cannon, which had been kept as family relics.
The gamekeeper, Nicholas Stofflet, who was in charge of the estate,
had served sixteen years in the army. He was a man of great
strength, courage, and sagacity and, furious at the theft of his
master's cannon, had gathered the peasantry round, and was already
at the head of two hundred men.

"Things go on apace, Patsey," Jean Martin said, as they sat by the
fire that evening. "We only know what is happening within some
twenty or thirty miles of us, but if the spirit shown here exists
throughout Poitou and Anjou, there can be no doubt that, in a very
short time, the insurrection will be general. This Cathelineau, by
their description, must be a man of no ordinary ability; and he has
lost no time in showing his energy. For myself, I care not in the
least what is the rank of my leader. Here in La Vendee there is no
broad line between the seigneurs, the tenants, and the peasantry;
at all rustic fetes they mix on equal terms. The seigneurs set the
example, by dancing with the peasant girls; and their wives and
daughters do not disdain to do the same with tenants, or peasantry.
They attend the marriages, and all holiday festivities, are
foremost in giving aid, and in showing kindness in cases of
distress or illness; and I feel sure that, if they found in a man
like Cathelineau a genius for command, they would follow him as
readily as one of their own rank."

On the fourteenth the news came that the bands of Stofflet and
Foret had, with others, joined that of Cathelineau. Jean Martin
hesitated no longer.

"The war has fairly begun," he said. "I shall be off tomorrow
morning. If Cathelineau is defeated, we shall have the Republicans
devastating the whole country, and massacring women and children;
as they did, last August, after a rising for the protection of the
priests. Therefore I shall be fighting, now, in defence of our
lives and home, wife."

"I would not keep you at home, Jean. I think it is the duty of
every man to join in the defence against these wretches. I know
that no mercy will be shown by them, if they conquer us. But you
will not take Leigh with you, surely?"

Leigh uttered an exclamation.

"Leigh must choose for himself," Jean said quietly. "He is not
French, and would have no concern in the matter, beyond that of
humanity, were it not that you are here; but at present our home is
his. Your life and his, also, are involved, if we are beaten. He is
young to fight, but there will doubtless be many others no older,
and probably much less strong than he is. Moreover, if I should be
killed, it is he who must bear you the news, and must arrange with
you your plans, and act as your protector.

"I do not say that I should advise your leaving the chateau
directly, but if the Republicans come this way, it will be no place
for you; and I should say that it would be vastly better that you
should, at once, endeavour to cross to England. There are five
thousand francs in gold in my bureau, which are worth three or four
times their value in assignats; and should, if you can gain the
coast, be amply sufficient to procure a passage for you to England.

"Do not weep, dear. It is necessary to leave you, on an undertaking
of this kind, prepared for whatever may happen. At present the risk
is very small. As we have heard, the fury of the peasants has
struck such consternation into the National Guards, and
newly-raised soldiers, that they will not await their onslaught;
and it will not be until the Convention becomes aware of the really
serious nature of the storm they have raised, that there will be
any hard fighting. Still, even in a petty skirmish men fall; and it
is right that, before I go, we should arrange as to what course you
had best pursue, in case of my death.

"From the first, when we came here we did so with our eyes open. If
we had merely sought safety, we should have gone to England. We
came here partly because it is my home, and therefore my proper
place; and partly because, in case La Vendee rose against these
executioners of Paris, every man of honour and loyalty should aid
in the good cause."

"I know, Jean, and I would not keep you back."

"The struggle has begun and, if the Republicans conquer La Vendee,
we know how awful will be the persecutions, what thousands of
victims will be slaughtered. Our only hope is in victory and, at
any rate, those who die on the battlefield will be happy, in
comparison with those who fall into the hands of the Blues."

"You wish to go, Leigh?"

"Certainly I do," the lad said. "I think that everyone strong
enough to carry arms, in La Vendee, ought to join and do his best.
I can shoot better than most of the peasantry, not one in twenty of
whom has ever had a gun in his hands; and I am sure that I am as
strong as most of them. Besides, if I had been at home I should,
now the war has begun, have tried to get a commission and to fight
the French--I mean the people who govern France at present--and in
fighting them, here, I am only doing what thousands of Englishmen
will be doing elsewhere."

"Very well, Leigh, then you shall go with Jean. I shall certainly
be glad to know you are together, so that if one is wounded or ill,
the other can look after him and bring him here. I shall do the
best I can, while you are away."

"I think that we shall soon be back again, and that we shall be
constantly seeing you," Jean said. "You may be sure that the
peasants will not keep the field. They will gather and fight and,
win or lose, they will then scatter to their homes again, until the
church bells call them out to repel a fresh attack of the enemy.
That is our real weakness. There will never be any discipline,
never any common aim.

"If all the peasants in the west would join in a great effort, and
march on Paris, I believe that the peasantry of the departments
through which they pass would join us. It would only be the
National Guards of the towns, and the new levies, that we should
have to meet; and I believe that we might take Paris, crush the
scum of the faubourgs, and hang every member of the Convention. But
they will never do it. It will be a war of defence, only; and a war
so carried out must, in the long run, be an unsuccessful one.

"However, the result will be that we shall never be very far away
from home, and shall often return for a few days. You must always
keep a change of clothes, and your trinkets and so on, packed up;
so that at an hour's notice you and Marthe can start with the
child, either on receiving a note from me telling you where to join
us, or if you get news that a force from Nantes is marching rapidly
in this direction. Two horses will always remain in the stables, in
readiness to put into the light cart. Henri will be your driver.
Francois you must send off to find us, and tell us the road that
you have taken. However, of course we shall make all these
arrangements later on, when affairs become more serious. I don't
think there is any chance, whatever, of the enemy making their way
into the country for weeks, perhaps for months, to come."

The next morning, Jean Martin and Leigh started early. Each carried
a rifle slung behind him, a brace of pistols in his holsters, and a
sword in his belt. Patsey had recovered from her depression of the
previous evening, and her natural good spirits enabled her to
maintain a cheerful face at parting; especially as her husband's
assurances, that there would be no serious fighting for some time,
had somewhat calmed her fears for their safety.

"The horses are useful to us, for carrying us about, Leigh," Jean
Martin said, as they rode along; "but unless there are enough
mounted men to act as cavalry, we shall have to do any fighting
that has to be done on foot. The peasants would not follow a
mounted officer as they would one who placed himself in front of
them, and fought as they fought.

"I hope that, later on, we may manage to get them to adopt some
sort of discipline; but I have great doubts about it. The peasantry
of La Vendee are an independent race. They are respectful to their
seigneurs, and are always ready to listen to their advice; but it
is respect, and not obedience. I fancy, from what I have read of
your Scottish Highlanders, that the feeling here closely resembles
that among the clans. They regard their seigneurs as their natural
heads, and would probably die for them in the field; but in other
matters each goes his own way, and the chiefs know better than to
strain their power beyond a certain point.

"As you see, they have already their own leaders--Stofflet the
gamekeeper, Foret the woodcutter, and Cathelineau, a small peddling
wool merchant. Doubtless many men of rank and family will join
them, and will naturally, from their superior knowledge, take their
place as officers; but I doubt whether they will displace the men
who have, from the beginning, taken the matter in hand. I am glad
that it should be so. The peasants understand men of their own
class, and will, I believe, follow them better than they would men
above them in rank. They will, at least, have no suspicion of them;
and the strength of the insurrection lies in the fact that it is a
peasant rising, and not an insurrection stirred up by men of
family."

At ten o'clock they arrived at Cathelineau's camp. Just as they
reached the spot, they encountered Monsieur Sapinaud de la Verrie.
He was riding at the head of about a hundred peasants, all of whom
were armed with muskets. They had, early that morning, attacked the
little town of Herbiers. It was defended by two companies of
soldiers, with four or five cannon; and the Republicans of the town
had ranged themselves with the Blues. Nevertheless the peasants,
led by their commander and his nephew, had fearlessly attacked them
and, with a loss of only two or three wounded, defeated the enemy
and captured the place, obtaining a sufficient supply of muskets to
arm themselves.

As Jean Martin was known to Monsieur Sapinaud, they saluted each
other cordially.

"So you are coming willingly, Monsieur Martin. There you have the
advantage of me, for these good fellows made me and my nephew come
with them, as their leaders, and would take no refusal. However,
they but drew us into the matter a few days earlier than we had
intended; for we had already made up our minds to join the
movement."

"I come willingly enough, Monsieur Sapinaud. If I had remained in
Nantes, I should have been guillotined by this time; and I made up
my mind when I left there that I would, on the first opportunity,
do a little fighting before I was put an end to.

"This is my brother-in-law. He has been out here now nearly two
years, and has seen enough of the doings of the murderers at Nantes
to hate them as much as I do."

The streets of the little village, which Cathelineau had made his
headquarters, were thronged with men. Through these the four
mounted gentlemen made their way slowly until, when they came to
the church, they saw three men standing apart from the others.

"That is Cathelineau, the one standing in the middle," Leigh said.

"We have come to place ourselves under your orders," Monsieur
Sapinaud said, as they rode up to him; and he named himself and his
companions.

"I am glad indeed to see you, sirs," Cathelineau said. "You are the
first gentlemen who have joined us here; though I hear that,
farther south, some have already declared themselves. We want you
badly.

"One of you I have seen already," and he smiled at Leigh. "I told
you that you would hear of me, young sir; and you see I have kept
my word.

"These with me are Stofflet who, as you may have heard, recaptured
the cannon the Blues took at Clisson; and Foret, who had the honour
of striking the first blow, at Saint Florent."

"Your names are all widely known in this part," Monsieur Sapinaud
said, courteously. "Well, sirs, we have come to fight under your
orders. I have brought a hundred men with me, and we have already
done something on our own account; for we last night captured
Herbiers, which was defended by two companies, with four cannon. We
have gained a sufficient number of muskets to arm all our party."

"If I do not offer to give up the leadership to you, Monsieur de la
Verrie," Cathelineau said gravely, "it is from no desire on my part
to be a commander; but I am widely known to the peasantry of many
parishes round Pin and, perhaps because I understand them better
than most, they have confidence in me; and would, I think, follow
me rather than a gentleman like yourself, of whom they know but
little."

"They are quite right," Monsieur Sapinaud said. "The peasantry
commenced this war. It is right that they should choose their own
leaders. You and your two companions have already their confidence,
and it is far better that you should be their leaders. I believe
all other gentlemen who join you will be as ready as we are to
follow you, and I am sure that the only rivalry will be as to who
shall most bravely expose himself, when he faces the enemy."

"I thank you, sir," Cathelineau said. "I believe earnestly that, in
many respects, it is best that the peasants should have their own
leaders. We can associate ourselves with their feelings, better
than the gentry could do. We shall have more patience with their
failings.

"You would want to make an army of them. We know that this cannot
be done. They will fight and die as bravely as men could do, but I
know that they will never submit to discipline. After a battle,
they will want to hurry off to their homes. They will obey the
order to fight, but that is the only order one can rely upon their
obeying.

"We are on the point of starting for Chollet. It is a town where
the people are devoted to the cause of the Convention. At the last
drawing for the militia they killed, without any pretext, a number
of young men who had come, unarmed, into the town. Many inhabitants
of adjoining parishes have been seized and thrown in prison,
charged only with being hostile to the Convention, and expressing
horror at the murder of the king.

"The capture will produce an impression throughout the country.
They have three or four hundred dragoons there, and yesterday, we
hear, they called in the National Guard from the villages round,
though scarce believing that we should venture to attack them. Your
reinforcement of a hundred men, all armed with muskets, will be a
very welcome one; for they will hardly suspect that many of us have
firearms. However we had, before your arrival, three hundred who
have so armed themselves, through captures at Saint Florent and
Chemille."

He now ordered the bell to be rung and, as soon as its notes pealed
out, started; followed at once by the crowd in the village, without
any sort of order or regularity. Jean and Leigh continued to ride
with Monsieur de la Verrie and his nephew.

After some hours' marching, at two o'clock in the afternoon they
approached Chollet. On the way they received considerable
reinforcements, from the villages they passed through. As soon as
they approached the town they saw the dragoons pouring out,
followed by three or four hundred National Guards.

The Vendeans now fell into some sort of order. A short council of
war was held. It was arranged that Monsieur de la Verrie with his
hundred musketeers, and Foret with as many more, should advance
against the dragoons; while Cathelineau and Stofflet, with a
hundred musketeers and the main body of peasants with their
pitchforks, should attack the National Guards.

[Illustration: At the first volley, the colonel of the dragoons and
many of his men fell.]

The dragoons had expected that the mere sight of them would be
sufficient to send the peasants flying, and they were amazed that
they should continue to advance. As soon as they were within easy
range, the peasants opened fire. At the first volley the colonel of
the dragoons and many of his men fell. Reloading, the peasants
advanced at a run, poured in a volley at close quarters; and then,
with loud cheers, charged the dragoons.

These, being but newly raised troops, were seized with a panic,
turned, and galloped off at full speed. Astounded at the defeat of
the cavalry, in whom they had confidently trusted, the National
Guard at once lost heart and as, with loud shouts, Cathelineau with
his peasants flung themselves upon them, they, too, broke, and fled
in all directions.

The peasants pursued them for a league, and then returned,
exultant, to Chollet. Here the leading revolutionists were thrown
in prison but, with the exception of the National Guards who
attempted resistance after reaching the town, no lives were taken.
A large quantity of arms, money, and ammunition fell into the hands
of the victors.

Scarcely had the peasants gathered in Chollet, than the news
arrived that the National Guard of Saumur were marching against
them; and Cathelineau requested Monsieur de la Verrie and Foret,
with their following, to go out to meet them. They marched away at
once, and met the enemy at Vihiers.

Unprepared for an attack, the National Guard at once broke and
fled, throwing away their arms and abandoning their cannon. Among
these was one taken from the Chateau de Richelieu. It had been
given by Louis the Thirteenth to the cardinal. On the engraving,
with which it was nearly covered, the peasants thought that they
could make out an image of the Virgin, and so called it by her
name. With these trophies the party returned to Chollet.

The next day being Saturday the little army dispersed, the peasants
making their way to their homes, in order to spend Easter there;
while Cathelineau, with only a small body, remained at Chollet.
From here messengers were sent to Messieurs Bonchamp, d'Elbee, and
Dommaigne--all officers who had served in the army, but had retired
when the revolution broke out. Cathelineau offered to share the
command with them, and entreated them to give their military
knowledge and experience to the cause.

All assented. Thus the force had the advantage, from this time
forward, of being commanded by men who knew the business of war.

Leigh had started for home as soon as the National Guards of Saumur
were defeated; Jean Martin, at Cathelineau's request, remaining
with him in order to join some other gentlemen, who had that day
arrived, in calling upon the three officers, and inviting them to
join Cathelineau in the command.

Leigh's sister ran out, as he rode up to the house. The news of the
capture of Chollet, almost without loss, had already spread and,
although surprised, she felt no alarm at seeing Leigh alone.

"I hear that you have taken Chollet, and defeated the dragoons and
National Guards."

"Yes; and this morning we put to flight the guards of Saumur,
without the loss of a single man. I don't know what it may come to,
presently; but just now it can hardly be called fighting. The sight
of peasants rushing on seems to strike these heroes with a panic,
at once; and they are off helter skelter, throwing away their guns
and ammunition."

"Have you come home only to tell me the news, Leigh?"

"I have come home because, at present, our army has evaporated into
thin air. Tomorrow being Easter Sunday, the peasants have all
scattered to their homes; so that it was of no use my staying at
Chollet. Cathelineau is there, and the other leaders; among them
Monsieur de la Verrie, a nephew of his, Jean, and several other
gentlemen, who have just arrived there. They are going as a sort of
deputation, tomorrow, to Bonchamp, d'Elbee, and another officer
whose name I forget, to ask them to join Cathelineau in the
command. I think that he will still remain as leader, and that they
will act as his councillors, and in command of columns."

"Then your impression of this man is confirmed?"

"More than confirmed. Jean said, this morning, that he was a born
leader of men. While all round him there is excitement and
confusion, he is as calm and serene as if he were alone. He is
evidently a man who has read a good deal, and thought a good deal;
and I can quite understand the influence he has gained over the
peasantry in his neighbourhood, and that it has long been their
custom to refer all disputes to him.

"Stofflet is a different sort of man. He is tall and powerful in
frame, stern and almost morose in manner. He has been sixteen years
a soldier; and was, I hear, distinguished for his bravery."

"And Foret?"

"He is an active young woodman, evidently a determined fellow and,
as he was the first to lead the peasants against the Blues, he is
sure to have a following. They are three very different characters,
but all of them well fitted to act as peasant leaders."

"And will Jean be a leader?"

"Not a leader, Patsey; that is to say, certainly not a general. He
does not want it, himself. But he will no doubt lead the peasants
on the estate, and perhaps those in the neighbourhood. You know
that he would not have the church bell rung, when he started,
because he did not wish the tenants to join until he had seen the
result of the first fight; but when he comes home he will summon
those who like to go with him."

"Yes, I have had to explain that, over and over again. Yesterday
and today almost all the men have been up here, to ask why Jean did
not take them. I told them that that was one reason; and another
was that, had they started on foot when you did, they would not
have arrived in time to take part in the fight at Chollet."

The conversation, begun as Leigh dismounted, had been continued in
the house, the groom having taken the horse round to the stable.

"So the peasants fought well, Leigh?"

"They would have fought well, if the Blues had given them a chance;
but these would not stop till they came up to them. If they had
done so, I am convinced that the peasants would have beaten them.
There was no mistaking the way they rushed forward and, upon my
word, I am not surprised that the enemy gave way; although well
armed, and not far inferior in numbers, they would have had no
chance with them."

"And did you rush forward, Leigh?"

"We were with the party that attacked the cavalry. Jean and I fired
our rifles twice, and after that we only saw the backs of the
cavalry. If they had been well-drilled troops they ought to have
scattered us like sheep; for everything must have gone down before
them, had they charged. There was no sort of order among us. The
men were not formed into companies. There was no attempt to direct
them. Each simply joined the leader he fancied and, when the word
was given, charged forward at the top of his speed. It is all very
well against the National Guards, and these young troops; but as
Jean said, it would be a different affair, altogether, if we were
to meet trained soldiers.

"But the peasants seem to be quick, and I expect they will adopt
tactics better suited to the country, when they come to fighting in
these lanes and woods. You see, so far a very small proportion have
been armed with guns, and their only chance was to rush at once to
close quarters; but we have captured so many muskets, at Chollet
and Vihiers, that in future a considerable proportion of the
peasants will have guns and, when they once learn to use the
hedges, they will be just as good as trained troops."

"Then I suppose Jean is more hopeful about the future than he was?"

"I don't say that, Patsey. He thinks that we shall make a hard
fight of it, but that the end must depend upon whether the people
in Paris, rather than keep fifty thousand men engaged in a
desperate conflict, here, when they are badly wanted on the
frontier, decide to suspend the conscription in La Vendee, and to
leave us to ourselves. There can be no doubt that that would be
their best plan. But as they care nothing for human life, even if
it cost them a hundred thousand men to crush us; they are likely to
raise any number of troops, and send them against us, rather than
allow their authority to be set at defiance.

"Do you know, Patsey, when I used to read about Guy Fawkes wanting
to blow up the Houses of Parliament, I thought that he must be a
villain, indeed, to try to destroy so many lives; but I have
changed my opinion now for, if I had a chance, I would certainly
blow up the place where the Convention meets, and destroy every
soul within its walls; including the spectators, who fill the
galleries and howl for blood."

"Well you see, Leigh, as Guy Fawkes and the other conspirators
failed in their attempt, I am afraid there is very small chance of
your being able to carry out the plan more successfully."

"I am afraid there is not," Leigh said regretfully. "I should never
be able to dig a way into the vaults, and certainly I should not be
able to get enough powder to blow a big building up, if I could.
No; I was only saying that, if Guy Fawkes hated the Parliament as
much as I hate the Convention, there is some excuse to be made for
him.

"Now, Patsey, I am as hungry as a hunter."

"I have a good supper ready for you," she said. "I thought it was
quite possible that you and Jean would both come home, this
evening; for I felt sure that most of the peasants would be coming
back, if possible, for Easter Sunday; and I had no doubt that, if
you did come, you would both be hungry."

"Have you any news from other districts?" he asked, after he had
finished his supper.

"There is a report that Captain Charette has gathered nearly twenty
thousand peasants, in lower Poitou; and that he has already gained
a success over the Blues. There are reports, too, of risings in
Brittany."

"There is no doubt that things are going on well, at present,
Patsey. You see, we are fighting on our own ground, and fifty
thousand men can be called to arms in the course of a few hours, by
the ringing of the church bells. We have no baggage, no waggons, no
train of provisions; we are ready to fight at once.

"On the other hand, the Blues have been taken completely by
surprise. They have no large force nearer than the frontier, or at
any rate nearer than Paris; and it will be weeks before they can
gather an army such as even they must see will be required for the
conquest of La Vendee. Up to that time it can be only a war of
skirmishes, unless our leaders can persuade the peasants to march
against Paris; and that, I fear, they will never be able to do.

"When the enemy are really ready, the fighting will be desperate.
'Tis true that the Vendeans have a good cause--they fight for their
religion and their freedom, while the enemy will fight only because
they are ordered to do so. There is another thing--every victory we
win will give us more arms, ammunition, and cannon; while a defeat
will mean simply that the peasants will scatter to their homes, and
be ready to answer the next call for their services. On the other
hand, if the Blues are defeated they will lose so heavily, both in
arms and stores; and will suffer such loss of life, from their
ignorance of our roads and lanes, that it will be a long time
before they will again be able to advance against us."

The next morning, after the service at the church was over, the
peasants came down in numbers to the chateau, to hear from Leigh a
full account of the fighting at Chollet and Vihiers, a report of
the latter event having arrived that morning. There were
exclamations of lively pleasure at the recital, mingled with regret
that they had not borne their share in the fighting.

"You will have plenty of opportunities," Leigh said. "Monsieur
Martin has told me that, when he next leaves home, all who are
willing to do so can go with him. But it may be some little time
before anything of importance takes place; and as, at present, what
fighting there is is a considerable distance away, he thinks it
best that you should reserve yourselves for some great occasion;
unless, indeed, the Blues endeavour to penetrate the Bocage, when,
I have no doubt, you will know how to deal with them, when they are
entangled in your lanes and woods."

"We will go, every man of us!" one of the peasants shouted, and the
cry was re-echoed, with enthusiasm, by the whole of the men.

It was nearly an hour before Leigh and his sister were able to
withdraw from the crowd, and make their way homeward.

"It is difficult to believe that men so ready and eager to fight
can be beaten," she said. "Did you notice, too, that their wives
all looked on approvingly? I believe that, even if any of the men
wished to stay away, they would be hounded to the front by the
women. I think that, with them, it would be regarded as a war for
their religion; while with the men it is the conscription that has
chiefly driven them to take up arms."



Chapter 4: Cathelineau's Scouts.


For some days nothing happened. The insurrection spread like
wildfire, in Poitou and Anjou; and everywhere the peasants were
successful, the authorities, soldiers, and gendarmes for the most
part flying without waiting for an attack.

The news that all La Vendee was in insurrection astonished and
infuriated the Convention, which at once took steps to suppress it.
On the second of April a military commission was appointed, with
power to execute all peasants taken with arms in their hands, and
all who should be denounced as suspicious persons. General Berruyer
was sent down to take the command. The large army that had been
raised, principally from the mob of Paris for the defence of that
city, marched down; and Berruyer, at the head of this force,
entered the Bocage on the tenth of April.

The time had passed quietly at the chateau. The peasants had
dispersed at once and, except that the principal leaders and a
small body of men remained together, watching the course of events,
all was as quiet as if profound peace reigned.

Jean Martin had returned home. Two days after arriving, he had
called all the tenants on the estate together, and had endeavoured
to rouse them to the necessity of acquiring a certain amount of
discipline. He had brought with him a waggon load of muskets and
ammunition, which had been discovered at Chollet after the main
bulk of the peasants had departed; and Cathelineau had allowed him
to carry them off, in order that the peasantry in the neighbourhood
of the chateau should be provided with a proportion of guns, when
the day of action arrived. The peasants gladly received the
firearms, but could not be persuaded to endeavour to fight in any
sort of order.

"They did not do it at Chollet, or elsewhere," they exclaimed, "and
yet they beat the Blues easily. What good did discipline do to the
enemy? None. Why, then, should we bother ourselves about it? When
the enemy comes, we will rush upon them when they are tangled in
our thickets."

Leigh was somewhat more successful. The fact that he had fought at
Chollet, and was their seigneur's brother-in-law, had established a
position for him in the eyes of peasants of his own age; and as he
went from house to house, talking with them, he succeeded in
getting some twenty boys to agree to follow him. He had been
nominated an officer by the three generals, who had picked out,
without reference to rank or age, those who they thought would,
either from position, energy, or determination, fill the posts
well. Thus one company was commanded by a noble, the next by a
peasant; and each would, on the day of battle, fight equally well.

Leigh's arguments were such as were suited to the lads he
addressed.

"You see, if you go with the bands of men, you will be lost in the
crowd. The men will rush forward in front, you will all be in the
rear. You want to serve your country. Well, you can serve it much
better by watching the movements of the enemy, and carrying word of
it to the commander. Then, sometimes, we can have a little
enterprise of our own--cut off a post of the enemy, or manage to
decoy them into lanes where we know their guns will stick fast.

"It is not size and strength that are most necessary in war; but
quickness, alertness, and watchfulness. You know that, already, the
leaders have found that nothing can persuade the men to keep guard,
or to carry out outpost duty. If we do this, even if we do nothing
else, we shall be serving the cause much better than if we were to
join in a general rush upon the enemy."

"But we shall have no muskets with us," one of the boys objected.

"Nor would you want them. You would have to move about quickly, and
guns would be terribly inconvenient, if you had to push your way
through a hedge or a close thicket. And besides, if you had guns
they would not be of much use to you, for none of you are
accustomed to their use, and it needs a great deal of training to
learn to shoot straight.

"I am quite sure that if I were to march with twenty of you to
Cathelineau's headquarters, and were to say to him, 'We have come
here, sir, to act as scouts for you, to bring you in news of the
movements of the enemy, and to do anything in our power to prevent
you from being surprised,' he would be more pleased than if I had
brought him a hundred men armed with muskets."

When twenty had expressed their willingness to go, Leigh asked
Jean, who had warmly entered into the plan, to speak to the fathers
of the lads and get them to consent to their going with him. He
accordingly called them together for that purpose.

"But do you mean that they will be away altogether, master?"

"Yes, while this goes on."

"But we shall lose their labour in the fields?"

"There will not be much labour in the fields, till this is over;
and by having scouts watching the enemy you will get early news of
their coming, and have time to drive off your beasts before they
arrive."

"But how will they live?"

"When they are in this neighbourhood, one or two can come back and
fetch bread. If they are too far off for that, my brother will buy
bread for them. In cases where they cannot well be spared, I will
remit a portion of your dues, as long as they are away; but this
will not be for long, for I can see that, ere many weeks are past,
the Blues will be swarming round in such numbers that there will be
little time for work on your land, and you will all have to make
great sacrifices.

"You must remember that the less there is in your barns, the more
difficult it will be for an enemy to invade you; for if they can
find nothing here, they will have to bring everything with them,
and every waggon will add to their difficulties. My brother tells
me that one of the things he means to do is to break up the roads,
when he finds out by which line the Blues are advancing; and for
that purpose I shall serve out, from my store, either a pick or an
axe to each of the band."

At last all difficulties were got over, and twenty lads were
enrolled. Another three weeks passed. The peasants of Poitou and
Anjou thought but little of the storm that was gathering round
them.

General Berruyer had arrived from Paris, with his army. A portion
of the army from Brest moved down to Nantes; and were in concert,
with the army of La Rochelle, to sweep that part of La Vendee
bordering on the coast. General Canclaus was at Nantes, with two
thousand troops. General Dayat was sent to Niort, with six thousand
men; and was to defend the line between Sables and Saint Gilles.
Bressuire was occupied by General Quetineau, with three thousand
men. Leigonyer, with from four to five thousand men, occupied
Vihiers; while Saint Lambert was held by Ladouce, with two thousand
five hundred. The right bank of the Loire, between Nantes and
Angers, was held by fifteen hundred men of the National Guard.

Thus that part of upper Poitou where the rising had been most
successful was surrounded by a cordon of troops; which the
Convention hoped, and believed, would easily stamp out the
insurrection, and take a terrible vengeance for what had passed.

When the storm would burst, none knew; but Jean one day said to
Leigh that it was certain that it must come soon; and that, if he
was still resolved to carry out his plan, it was time that he set
out.

"I am quite ready to carry out my plans, Jean, as you know; but
dangers seem to threaten from so many quarters that I don't like
going away from home. While my company are scattered near Chollet,
for instance, the Blues may be burning down your chateau."

"I don't think there is much danger of that, Leigh. It is quite
certain that, as soon as these divisions begin to move, they will
have their hands full. We may hope that in some cases they will be
defeated. In others they may drive off the peasants, and march to
the town that they intend to occupy, but they will only hold the
ground they stand upon. They will not be able to send out detached
parties to attack chateaux or destroy villages.

"For the present, I have no fear whatever of their coming here. We
are well away from any of the roads that they are likely to march
by. I don't say that any of the roads are good, but they will
assuredly keep on the principal lines, and not venture to entangle
themselves in our country lanes. There are no villages of any size
within miles of us, and this is one of the most thickly wooded parts
of the Bocage--which, as you know, means the thicket--therefore I
shall, when the time comes, leave your sister without uneasiness.
We may be quite sure that if, contrary to my anticipation, any
column should try to make its way through this neighbourhood, it
would be hotly opposed, and she will have ample time to take to the
woods, where she and the child will find shelter in any of the
foresters' cottages.

"She is going to have peasant dresses made for her and Marthe. She
will of course drive, as we intended; and the two men will take the
horse and vehicle to some place in the woods, at a considerable
distance from here, and keep it there until we join her and carry
out our original plan of making for the coast. Directly you are
gone, I shall make it my business to find out the most out of the
way spot among the woods; and ride over and make an arrangement,
with some woodman with a wife and family living there, to receive
her, if necessary; and I will let you know the spot fixed on, and
give you directions how to find it."

In order to add to Leigh's influence and authority, Martin
persuaded the village cure--who was a man of much intelligence, and
perceived that real good might be done by this party of lads--to
have a farewell service in the church. Accordingly, on the morning
on which they were to start, all attended the church, which was
filled by their friends; and here he addressed the boys, telling
them that the service in which they were about to engage was one
that would be of great importance to their country, and that it
would demand all their energy and strength. He then asked them to
take an oath to carry out all orders they might receive from their
leader, the seigneur's brother; who would himself share in their
work, and the many hardships they might have to undergo.

"Here," he said, "is a gentleman who is by birth a foreigner, but
who has come to love the land that his sister adopted as her own;
and to hate its enemies--these godless murderers of women and
children, these executioners of their king, these enemies of the
church--so much that he is ready to leave his home, and all his
comforts, and to risk his life in its cause. Remember that you have
voluntarily joined him, and accepted him as your leader. The work
once begun, there must be no drawing back. There is not a man in La
Vendee who is not prepared to give his life, if need be, to the
cause; and you, in your way, can do as much or more."

He then administered an oath to each lad and, as had been arranged,
Leigh also took an oath to care for them in every respect, and to
share their risks and dangers. Then the cure pronounced his
blessing upon them, and the service ended.

Very greatly impressed with what had taken place, the little band
marched out from the church, surrounded by their friends. Jean
Martin then presented hatchets or light picks to each, and a waist
belt in which the tools should be carried. As a rule, the peasants
carried leathern belts over the shoulders, in which a sword,
hatchet, or other weapon was slung; but Jean thought the waist belt
would be much more convenient for getting rapidly through hedges or
thickets, and it had also the advantage that a long knife,
constituting in itself a formidable weapon, could also be carried
in it.

Patsey presented them each with a hat, of which a supply had been
obtained from Saint Florent. These were of the kind ordinarily worn
by the peasants, in shape like the modern broad-brimmed wide-awake,
but made of much stiffer material. She had bought these to give a
certain uniformity to the band, of whom some already wore hats of
this kind, others long knitted stocking caps, while others again
were bare headed.

She added a piece of green ribbon round each hat. Leigh objected to
this, on the ground that they might sometimes have to enter towns,
and that any badge of this sort would be speedily noticed; but as
she said, they would only have to take them off, when engaged in
such service.

A quarter of an hour after leaving the church they marched away,
amid the acclamations of their friends; each boy feeling a
sensation of pride in the work that he had undertaken, and in the
ceremony of which he had been the centre.

"Now, lads," Leigh said, as soon as they were fairly away from the
village, "instead of walking along as a loose body, you had better
form four abreast, and endeavour to keep step. It is no more
difficult to walk that way than in a clump; and indeed, by keeping
step it makes the walking easy, and it has the advantage that you
can act much more quickly. If we heard an enemy approaching, and I
gave the order, 'Ten go to the right and ten go to the left!' you
would not know which were to go.

"Now each four of you will form a section, and the order into which
you fall now, you will always observe. Then if I say, 'First two
sections to the right, the other three sections to the left!' every
one of you knows what to do, instead of having to wait until I
mention all your names.

"This is nearly all the drill you will have to learn. You can
choose your places now, but afterwards you will have to keep to
them, so those of you who are brothers and special friends will,
naturally, fall in next to each other."

In a minute or two the arrangements were made, and the party
proceeded four abreast, with Leigh marching at their head. For the
first hour or so, he had some difficulty in getting them to keep
step; but they presently fell into it, time being kept by breaking
into one of the canticles of the church.

After a long day's march, they arrived at the village which
Cathelineau now occupied as his headquarters; as it had been
necessary, in view of the threatening circle of the various columns
of the enemy, to remove the headquarters from Chollet to a central
point, from which he could advance, at once, against whichever of
these columns might first move forward into the heart of the
country. The lads all straightened themselves up as they marched
through the streets, the unwonted spectacle of twenty peasant lads,
marching in order, exciting considerable surprise. Cathelineau was
standing at the door of the house he occupied, conversing with
Messieurs Bonchamp and d'Elbee.

"Ah, Monsieur Stansfield," he said, "is it you?" as Leigh halted
his party, and raised his hat. "You are the most military-looking
party I have yet seen. They are young, but none the worse for
that."

"There is nothing military about them, except that they march four
abreast," he said, with a smile, "but for the work we have come to
do, drill will not be necessary. I have raised this band on Jean
Martin's estate, sir, and with your permission I propose to call
them 'Cathelineau's scouts.' It seemed, to my brother and myself,
that you sorely need scouts to inform you of the movements of the
enemy, the roads by which they are approaching, their force and
order. I have therefore raised this little body of lads of my own
age. They will remain with me permanently, as long as the occasion
needs. They will go on any special mission with which you may
charge them; and will, at other times, watch all the roads by which
an enemy would be likely to advance."

"If they will do that, Monsieur Stansfield, they will be valuable,
indeed; that is just what I cannot get the peasants to do. When it
comes to fighting, they will obey orders; but at all other times
they regard themselves as their own masters, and neither entreaties
nor the offer of pay suffices to persuade them to undertake such
work as you are proposing to carry out. Consequently, it is only by
chance that we obtain any news of the enemy's movements. I wish we
had fifty such parties."

"They would be valuable, indeed," Monsieur d'Elbee said. "The
obstinacy of the peasantry is maddening.

"How do you propose to feed your men?"

"When we are within reach of their homes, two will go back to fetch
bread for the whole; when we are too far away, I shall buy it in
one of the villages."

"When you are within reach of my headquarters, wherever that may
be, you have only to send in; and they shall have the loaves served
out to them, the same as the band who remain here. We are not short
of money, thanks to the captures we have made.

"I see that none of your band have firearms."

"No, sir. Jean Martin would have let me have some of the muskets he
brought from here, but it seemed to me that they would be an
encumbrance. We may have to trust to our swiftness of foot to
escape and, at any rate, we shall want to carry messages to you as
quickly as possible. The weight of a gun and ammunition would make
a good deal of difference; and would, moreover, be in our way in
getting through the woods and hedges."

"But for all that, you ought to have some defence," Cathelineau
said; "and if you came upon a patrol of cavalry, though only three
or four in number, you would be in a bad case with only those
knives to defend yourselves.

"Do you know whether there are any pistols in the storehouse,
Monsieur Bonchamp?"

"Yes, there are some that were picked up from the cavalrymen we
killed. They have not been given out yet."

"Then I think we had better serve out a pistol, with a score of
cartridges, to each of these lads.

"If you let them fire three or four rounds at the trunk of a tree,
or some mark of that sort, Monsieur Stansfield, they will get to
know something about the use of the weapons."

"Thank you, sir. That would be excellent, and would certainly
enable us to face a small party of the enemy, if we happen to
encounter them."

"Please form the boys up two deep," Cathelineau said. "I will say a
word or two to them."

The manoeuvre was not executed in military style, but the boys were
presently arranged in order.

"I congratulate you, lads," Cathelineau went on, "in having devoted
yourselves to your country, and that in a direction that will be
most useful. I trust that you will strictly obey the orders of your
commander; and will remember that you will be of far more use, in
carrying them out, than in merely helping to swell the number in a
pitched battle. I have every confidence in Monsieur Stansfield. He
has set a noble example to the youths of this country, in thus
undertaking arduous and fatiguing work, which is not without its
dangers.

"I was glad to see that you marched in here, in order. I hope that
you will go a little further, and learn to form line quickly, and
to gather at his call. These things may seem to you to make very
little difference, but in fact will make a great deal. You saw that
you were at least a couple of minutes forming in line just now.
Supposing the enemy's cavalry had been charging down upon you, that
two minutes lost would have made all the difference between your
receiving them in order, or being in helpless confusion when they
came up.

"I have no doubt that one of my generals here has, among his
followers, someone who served in the army, and who will teach you
within the course of an hour, if you pay attention to his
instructions, how to form into line, and back again into fours."

"I will give them an hour myself," Monsieur Bonchamp said. "I have
nothing particular to do, and should be glad to instruct young
fellows who are so willing, and well disposed.

"Are you too tired to drill now? You have had a long march."

A general negative was the reply.

"Well, then, march to the open space, just outside the town, and we
will begin at once."

Feeling very proud of the honour of being drilled by a general, the
boys fell into their formation, and followed Monsieur Bonchamp and
Leigh. They were at a loss, at first, to comprehend the
instructions given them; but by the end of an hour, they had fairly
mastered the very simple movement.

"That will do," Monsieur Bonchamp said. "Of course you are not
perfect, yet; but with a quarter of an hour's drill by your
commander, every day, at the end of a week you will be able to do
it quickly and neatly; and you will certainly find it a great
advantage, if you come upon the enemy."

A large empty room was allotted to them and, as they sat down on
the floor and munched the bread that they had brought with them,
they felt quite enthusiastic over their work. It was a high honour,
indeed, to have been praised by Monsieur Cathelineau, and been
taught by one of his generals. They even felt the advantage that
the drill had given them, contrasting the quickness with which they
had finally formed into line, with their trouble in arranging
themselves before Monsieur Cathelineau. The fact, too, that they
were next morning to be furnished with pistols was a great
gratification to them and, over and over again, they said to each
other:

"What will the people at home say, when they hear that Monsieur
Cathelineau has praised us, that Monsieur Bonchamp himself has
drilled us, and that we are to be provided with pistols?"

In the morning, the pistols and ammunition were served out. Leigh
had, during the previous evening, seen Cathelineau and asked for
orders.

"I cannot say exactly the line the Blues are likely to take. I
should say that you had better make Chemille your headquarters.
Berruyer, who is their new commander, has arrived at Saint Lambert.
There is a strong force at Thouars, being a portion of the army
from Saint Lambert. The enemy are also in force at Vihiers, and at
Parthenay.

"It is from the forces at Thouars and Vihiers that danger is most
likely to come. Doubtless other columns will come from the north,
but we shall hear of their having crossed the Loire in time to
oppose them; and with so small a band as yours, you will be amply
employed in watching Thouars. There are many roads, all more or
less bad, by which they may march; as soon as you ascertain that
they are moving, and by which route, you will send a messenger to
me.

"Any others of your band that you may have with you, send off to
all the villages round. Give them warning, set the bells ringing,
promise that aid will soon arrive, and urge them to harass the
enemy, to fell trees across the road, and to impede their advance
in every possible way.

"I will give you half a dozen papers, for the use of yourself and
your messengers, saying that you are acting under my orders, and
are charged with raising the country, directly the enemy advance.
But above all, it is important that I should get the earliest
possible information as to the route by which they are moving; as
it will take us thirty-six hours before we can gather in anything
like our full strength.

"It will be useful that you should spread false news as to our
whereabouts. Your boys can say, in one village, that we are
marching towards Tours; in another, that we are massed in the
neighbourhood of Saint Florent; in a third that they hear that the
order is, that all able-bodied men are to go west to oppose the
force coming from Nantes, which has already taken Clisson, and
carried Monsieur de Lescure and his family, prisoners, to
Bressuire."

"We shall have to tell the villagers, sir, that we wish this news
to be given to the Blues, if they should come there or, if
questioned, they would tell them something else. I am sure that
even the women would suffer themselves to be killed, rather than
give any news that they thought would be useful to the enemy."

"You are right. Yes, you must tell them that this is what we want
the Blues to believe, and that it is my wish that these are the
answers to be given to any of them who may enter the village."

"The only thing, sir, is that they may find the villages empty, as
they come along. The women and children will, no doubt, take to the
woods. The men will, perhaps, offer some resistance; but when they
find how strong the Blues are, will probably hurry to join you."

"There will probably be a few old people remaining in each village.
However, we must trust much to chance. The great thing is for you
to let me know, as soon as their main body is in motion. Whichever
way they come, we must meet and attack them. It is in the woods and
lanes that we must defend ourselves."

"I will endeavour to carry out your orders, sir; and shall start
tomorrow morning, as soon as we get our pistols."

As soon as the little band was well away from the town, the pistols
were loaded; and each of the lads, in turn, fired three shots at
the trunk of a tree, at a distance of ten yards, under Leigh's
directions. The shooting was quite as good as he had expected, and
the boys themselves were well satisfied.

Then, the pistols being reloaded and placed in their belts, they
resumed their march. They halted at a tiny hamlet, consisting of
half a dozen houses, four miles from Thouars. The inhabitants were
greatly surprised at their appearance, and an old man, who was the
head of the little community, came out and asked Leigh who they
were.

"We are Cathelineau's scouts," he replied. "We have orders to watch
the movements of the enemy. We wish to be of no trouble. If there
is an empty shed, we should be glad of it; still more so if there
is a truss or two of straw."

"These you can have," the old man said. "If Cathelineau's orders
had been that we were to turn out of our houses for you, we should
have done so, willingly."

"A shed will do excellently for us. We shall be here but little.
Half our number will always be away. If you can supply us with
bread, I will pay you for it. If you cannot do so, I shall have to
send two of my party away, every day, to fetch bread from
Cathelineau's camp."

"I will see what can be done. It will not be for long?"

"No, it may possibly be only two or three days, and it may be a
week."

"Then I think that we can manage. If we have not flour enough here
to spare, I can take my horse and fetch half a sackful from some
other village."

"Thank you very much. However, I think that we shall only
occasionally want bread; for I shall be sending messengers, every
day, to Monsieur Cathelineau, and these can always bring bread back
with them."

The old man led them to a building which had served as a stable,
but which was then untenanted.

"I will get some straw taken in presently, lads.

"As for you, sir, I shall be glad if you will be my guest."

"I thank you," Leigh said, "but I prefer to be with my followers.
They come by my persuasion, and I wish to share their lot, in all
things; besides, my being with them will keep up their spirits."

There was half an hour's drill, and then Leigh led the party to the
shed, to which four or five bundles of straw had, by this time,
been brought.

"Now," he said, "before we do anything else, we must choose two
sub-officers. At times we may divide into two parties, and
therefore it is necessary that one should be responsible, to me,
for what is done in my absence.

"I will leave it to you to choose them. Remember it is not size and
strength that are of most importance, it is quickness and
intelligence. You know your comrades better than I do, and I shall
be quite content to abide by your choice. I will go outside for a
quarter of an hour, while you talk it over. I don't want to
influence you, at all."

In ten minutes, two of the lads came out.

"We have chosen Andre Favras and Pierre Landrin."

"I think that you have done very wisely," Leigh said. "Those are
the two whom I, myself, should have selected."

He had, indeed, noticed them as the two most intelligent of the
party. They had been his first recruits, and it was in no small
degree owing to their influence that the others had joined him. He
returned to the shed.

"I approve of your choice, lads," he said. "No doubt Andre and
Pierre will make very good sub-officers. When I am not present, you
must obey their orders as readily as you do mine; and I shall be
able to trust them to carry out my directions, implicitly.

"Now you will divide in two parties: the first two sections, and
two of the third section will form one party, and will be under
Andre's command, when acting in two parties; the other two of the
third section, and the fourth and fifth, will form the second
division, under Pierre. You will take it in turns to be on duty. We
shall not need to watch by night, for there is no chance of the
enemy venturing to enter our lanes, and thickets, after dark. The
party not out on scouting duty will remain here, and will furnish
messengers to carry news to Cathelineau, to fetch bread, or to
perform other duties."

The next morning Leigh set out with the whole band, except two. He
had gathered, from the people of the village, the position of the
various roads and lanes by which troops, going westward from
Thouars, would be likely to travel. When within two miles of the
town, he placed two boys on each of these roads. They were not to
show themselves, but were to lie behind the hedges and, if they saw
any body of troops coming along, were at once to bring news to him,
his own point being on the principal road.

Andre and Pierre were to leave their arms and belts behind them, to
make a long detour, and to enter the town from the other side. They
were to saunter about the place, listen to what was being said, and
gather as much news as possible. Each was provided with two francs
and, if questioned, they were to say that they had come in, from
some village near, to buy an axe.

"I should have gone in myself, Andre; but although I can get on
fairly enough in your patois, I cannot speak it well enough to pass
as a native. However, you are not likely to be questioned. In a
town crowded with troops, two lads can move about without
attracting the smallest attention from the military. It would be
only the civilian authorities that you would have to fear; but
these will be so much occupied, in attending to the wants of the
soldiers, that they will not have any time on their hands for
asking questions.

"Be sure, before you enter the town, that you find out the name of
some village, three or four miles on the other side; so as to have
an answer ready, if you are asked where you come from.

"It is probable that you will find troops quartered in all the
villages beyond the town, which could hardly accommodate so large a
number as are there. Remember, you must try to look absolutely
unconcerned as you go through them, and as you walk about the
streets of the town. The great object is to find out how many men
there are in and around Thouars, whether they are looking for more
troops to join them from Saumur, and when they are expecting to
move forward."

As soon as they had left he repeated, to the six lads who remained
with him, the orders that he had given to those posted on the other
roads.

"You are to remain in hiding," he said, "whatever the force may be.
It is likely enough that patrols of four or five men may come
along, to see that the roads are clear, and that there are no signs
of any bodies being gathered to oppose their advance. It is quite
true that we might shoot down and overpower any such patrols, but
we must not attempt to do so. If one of them escaped, he would
carry the news to Thouars that the roads were beset. This would put
them on their guard--doubtless they imagine that, with such a force
as they have gathered, they will march through La Vendee without
opposition--and they would adopt such precautions at to render it
far more difficult, than it otherwise would be, to check their
advance when it begins in earnest. We are here only to watch. We
shall have opportunities for fighting, later on.

"This is a good spot for watching, for we have a thick wood behind
us; and plenty of undergrowth along its edge, by the road, where we
can hide so closely that there will not be the slightest chance of
our being discovered, if we do but keep absolutely quiet."

Three or four times during the day, indeed, cavalry parties passed
along the road. They did not appear to have any fear of an attack,
but laughed and jested at the work they had come to do, scoffed at
the idea of the peasants venturing to oppose such forces as had
gathered against them, and discussed the chances of booty. One
party, of four men and an old sergeant, pulled up and dismounted,
close to the spot where the lads where hidden.

"It is all very well, comrades," their leader said, "but for my
part, I would rather be on the frontier fighting the Austrians.
That is work for soldiers. Here we are to fight Frenchmen, like
ourselves; poor chaps who have done no harm, except that they stick
to their clergy, and object to be dragged away from their homes. I
am no politician, and I don't care a snap for the doings of the
Assembly in Paris--I am a soldier, and have learned to obey orders,
whatever they are--but I don't like this job we have in hand;
which, mind you, is bound to be a good deal harder than most of you
expect. It is true that they say there are twenty thousand troops
round the province--but what sort of troops? There are not five
thousand soldiers among them. The others are either National
Guards, or newly-raised levies, or those blackguards from the slums
of Paris. Of the National Guards I should say half would desert, if
they only had the chance, and the new levies can't be counted on."



Chapter 5: Checking The Enemy.


"You see," Leigh said, when the patrol had ridden on, "the real
soldiers do not like the work they are called upon to do, and they
have no belief in the National Guards, or in the new levies. It
will make all the difference, in their own fighting, when they know
that they cannot rely upon some of the troops working with them. I
have no doubt that what they say of the National Guards is true.
They have had to come out because they are summoned, but they can
have no interest in the war against us and, doubtless, many of them
hate the government in Paris just as much as we do, and would give
a great deal to be back again with their homes and families. It is
just as hard for them to be obliged to fight us, as it is for us to
be obliged to fight them."

It was late in the afternoon before Andre and Pierre returned. By
the time they did so, the various cavalry patrols had all gone back
to Thouars. From time to time, boys had come in from the other
roads. One or two patrols, only, had gone out by each of the lanes
on which they were posted. It was evident that the main road was
considered of the most importance, and it was probable that the
greater portion of the enemy's force would move by it.

"Well, what is your news?" Leigh asked, as his two lieutenants came
down from the wood behind. "I hope all has gone well with you."

"Yes, captain," Andre replied; "we have had no difficulty. The
troops in the villages on the other side of the town did not even
glance at us, as we went through; supposing, no doubt, that we
belonged to the place. Thouars was crowded with soldiers, and we
heard that two thousand more are to arrive from Saumur, this
evening. We heard one of the officers say that orders were expected
for a forward movement, tomorrow; and that all the other columns
were to move at the same time, and three of them were to meet at
Chemille."

"That is enough for the present, Andre. You have both done very
well, to pick up so much news as that. We will be off, at once."

Messengers were at once sent off, to order in the other parties
and, as soon as these joined, they returned to the village, where
they passed the night. On arriving there, Leigh wrote a report of
the news that he had gathered; and sent off one of the band, who
had remained all day in the village, to Cathelineau, and the other
to Monsieur d'Elbee at Chollet.

The next day's watch passed like the first. Two or three officers,
however, trotted along the main road with a squadron of cavalry,
and rode to within a few miles of Chemille, and then returned to
Thouars.

The next morning Leigh and his band were out before daybreak and,
making their way to within a short distance of Thouars, heard drums
beating and trumpets sounding. There was no doubt that the force
there was getting into motion. The band at once dispersed, carrying
the news not only to every village along the road, warning the
women and children to take to the woods, and the men to prepare for
the passage of the enemy, but to all the villages within two or
three miles of the road, ordering the church bells to be sounded to
call the peasants to arms; while two lads started to carry the news
to Cathelineau and d'Elbee. When once the bells of the churches
near the road were set ringing, they were speedily echoed by those
of the villages beyond; until the entire district knew that the
enemy were advancing.

On the way from Chemille, Leigh had kept a sharp lookout for points
where an enemy might be checked; and had fixed upon one, about
halfway between the two towns. A stream some four feet in depth
passed under a bridge, where the road dipped into a hollow; beyond
this the ground rose steeply, and was covered with a thick wood, of
very considerable extent. As soon as he reached this point, he set
his band to work to destroy the bridge. As groups of peasants came
flocking along, and saw what was intended, they at once joined in
the work.

As soon at it was done, Leigh led them to the spot where the forest
began, some thirty yards up the hill, and set them to fell trees.
This was work to which all were accustomed and, as many of them
carried axes, the trees nearest to the road were felled to fall
across it; while on each side facing the stream, they were cut so
as to fall down the slope, and so form an abattis.

Before the work was finished, to a distance of two or three hundred
yards on each side of the road, several hundred peasants had come
up. Of these, about a third were armed with muskets. Seeing the
advantage of the position; and that, in case it was forced, the
forest offered them a means of retreat, all prepared for a
desperate resistance. The men with firearms were placed in the
front rank. Those with pitchforks, and other rural weapons, were to
keep at work till the last moment, cutting underwood, and filling
the interstices between the boughs of the fallen trees, so as to
make it extremely difficult to force. They were ordered to
withdraw, when the fight began, to a distance of two or three
hundred yards; and then to lie down, in any inequalities of the
ground, so as to be safe from cannon shot Only when the defenders
of the abattis were forced back, were they to prepare to charge.

A young fellow with a cow horn took his place by Leigh's side. When
he blew his horn, the front rank were to run back, and the reserve
to come forward to meet them; and then they were to rush down again
upon their assailants who had passed the abattis, and to hurl them
into the stream.

The peasants all recognized the advantages of these arrangements.
Those who had come first had found Leigh in command and, by the
readiness with which he was obeyed by his own followers, saw at
once that he was in authority. As others came up, he showed them
Cathelineau's circular. These recognized its order, and informed
the later arrivals that the young officer, who was giving orders,
was specially empowered by Cathelineau to take command; and Leigh
was as promptly obeyed as if he had been their favourite leader,
himself. They saw, too, that he knew exactly what he wanted done,
and gave every order with firmness and decision; and their
confidence in him became profound.

It was three hours after he arrived at the river when a party of
horse came down the opposite slope. Leigh had ordered that not a
shot was to be fired, until he gave the signal. He waited until the
enemy came to the severed bridge, when they halted suddenly; and as
they did so he gave the word and, from the long line of greenery,
fifty muskets flashed out. More than half the troop of horse fell;
and the rest, turning tail, galloped up the hill again, while a
shout of derision rose from the peasants.

[Illustration: A scattered fire broke out from the defenders.]

Half an hour passed, then the head of the column was seen
descending the road. It opened out as it came, forming into a thick
line of skirmishers, some two hundred yards wide. Moving along,
Leigh spread the musketeers to a similar length of front. At first,
the enemy were half hidden by the wood at the other side of the
slope; but as they issued from this, some twenty yards from the
stream, a scattered fire broke out from the defenders.

The Blues replied with a general discharge at their invisible foes,
but these were crouching behind the stumps or trunks of the felled
trees, and the fire was ineffectual. Leigh's own band were lying in
a little hollow, twenty yards behind the abattis; their pistols
would have been useless, until the enemy won their way up to the
trees, and until then they were to remain as a first reserve.

Exposed as they were to the steady fire of the peasants, the
assailants suffered heavily and, at the edge of the stream, paused
irresolutely. It was some fifteen yards wide, but they were
ignorant of the depth, and hesitated to enter it; urged, however,
by the shouts of their officers, who set the example by at once
entering the stream, and by seeing that the water did not rise
above their shoulders, the men followed. But as they gained the
opposite bank, they fell fast. At so short a distance, every shot
of the peasants told; and it was some time before a sufficient
number had crossed to make an assault against the wall of foliage
in their front.

Fresh troops were constantly arriving from behind and, encouraged
by this, they at last rushed forward. As they did so, Leigh called
up his own band; and these, crawling forward through the tangle as
far as they could, opened fire on the enemy, as they strove to push
their way through the obstacle.

For a quarter of an hour the fight went on. Then the assailants,
having with great loss succeeded in passing over or pulling aside
the brushwood, began to pour through. The moment they did so,
Leigh's horn sounded; and at once the defenders rushed up the hill,
pursued by the Blues, with exulting shouts. But few shots were
fired, for the assailants had emptied their muskets before striving
to pass through the obstacle.

Leigh and his men had run but a hundred yards into the wood when
they met the main body of the peasants, rushing down at full speed.
Turning at once, his party joined them, and fell upon the advancing
enemy. Taken wholly by surprise, when they believed that victory
was won, the two or three hundred men who had passed the abattis
were swept before the crowd of peasants like chaff. The latter,
pressing close upon their heels, followed them through the gaps
that had been made.

The panic of the fugitives spread at once to those who had crossed
the river, and were clustered round the openings, jostling in their
eagerness to get through and join, as they believed, in the
slaughter of those who had caused them such heavy loss; and all
fled together. The peasants were at their heels, making deadly use
of their pitchforks, axes, and knives, and drove the survivors
headlong into the river. The horn again sounded and, in accordance
with the strict orders that they had received, they ran back again
to their shelter; a few dropping from the scattered fire that the
troops on the other side of the stream opened against them, as soon
as the fugitives had cleared away from their front.

Scarcely had the peasants gained the shelter when six pieces of
cannon, that had been placed on the opposite slope while the fight
was going on, opened against them.

Leigh at once ordered the main body back to their former position,
scattering his hundred men with guns along the whole line of
abattis, whence they again opened fire on the troops on the
opposite side of the river. These replied with volleys of musketry;
but the defenders, stationed as they were five or six yards apart,
and sheltering behind the trees, suffered but little either from
the artillery or musketry fire; while men dropped fast in the ranks
of the Blues.

The cannon were principally directed against the trees blocking the
road. Gradually these were torn to pieces and, after an hour's
firing, were so far destroyed that a passage through them was
comparatively easy. Then the enemy again began to cross the stream.

As soon as they commenced to do so, Leigh called up the men with
muskets from each flank, and sent word to the main body to descend
the hill again, as the cannonade would cease as soon as the attack
began. Three times the assault was made and repulsed, the peasants
fighting with a fury that the Blues, already disheartened with
their heavy losses, could not withstand. As they fell back for the
third time, Leigh thought that enough had been done, and ordered
the peasants at once to make through the woods, and to proceed
by-lanes and byways to join Cathelineau; who, he doubted not, would
by this time have gathered a considerable force at Chemille.

By the time that the Blues were ready to advance again, this time
in overwhelming force, the peasants were well away. The wounded, as
fast as they fell, had been carried off to distant villages; and
when the enemy advanced they found, to their surprise, that their
foes had disappeared, and that only some thirty dead bodies
remained on the scene of battle.

Their own loss had exceeded three hundred, a large proportion of
whom were regular soldiers; and the National Guards, and the new
levies, were profoundly depressed at the result of the action.

"If," they said to themselves, "what must have been but a
comparatively small number of peasants have caused this loss, what
will it be when we meet Cathelineau's main body?"

There was no thought of pursuit. A regiment was thrown out in
skirmishing order, and advanced through the wood, the rest
following in column along the road. General Berruyer had joined
General Menou the evening before, with the force from Saumur and,
as they moved forward, the two generals rode together.

"This is a much more serious business than I had expected,"
Berruyer said. "I certainly imagined that, with such forces as we
have gathered round La Vendee, the campaign would be little more
than a military promenade. I see, however, that I was entirely
mistaken. These men have, today, shown themselves capable of taking
advantage of the wild character of their country; and as to their
courage, there can be no question, whatever. If this is a fair
sample of the resistance that we have to expect, throughout the
whole country, we shall need at least fifty thousand men to subdue
them."

"Fully that," Menou said, shortly. "There is no doubt that we blame
the National Guards, who were so easily routed by the peasants on
the tenth of March, more severely than they deserve. I rode forward
to encourage the men, at their last attack. I never saw soldiers
fight with such fury as did these peasants. They threw themselves
on the troops like tigers, in many cases wresting their arms from
them and braining them with their own muskets. Even our best
soldiers seemed cowed, by the fierceness with which they were
attacked; and as for the men of the new levies, they were worse
than useless, and their efforts to force their way to the rear
blocked the way of the reinforcements; who were trying, though I
must own not very vigorously, to get to the front.

"The peasants were well led, too, and acting on an excellent plan
of defence. They must have been sheltered altogether from our fire,
for among the dead I did not see one who had been killed by a
cannonball. The country must possess hundreds of points, equally
well adapted for defence; and if these are as well and obstinately
held as this has been, it will take even more than fifty thousand
men to suppress the insurrection."

"The Convention is going to work the wrong way," Berruyer said.
"The commissioners have orders to hang every peasant found in arms,
and every suspect; that is to say, virtually every one in La
Vendee. It would have been infinitely better for them to have
issued a general amnesty; to acknowledge that they themselves have
made a mistake; that the cures of Poitou and Brittany should be
excepted from the general law, and allowed to continue their work
in their respective parishes without interruption; and that for a
year, at least, this part of France should be exempt from
conscription. Why, if this campaign goes on, a far larger force
will be employed here than the number of troops which the district
was called upon to contribute, to say nothing of the enormous
expense and loss of men.

"It is a hideous business altogether, to my mind. I would give all
I possess to be recalled, and sent to fight on the frontier."

Two hours after the fight, Leigh with his band, of whom none had
been killed, although several had received wounds more or less
serious, arrived at Chemille. They had been preceded by many of the
peasants, who had already carried the news of the fight, and that
the column from Thouars had been delayed for three hours, and had
suffered very heavy losses.

"It was all owing, Monsieur Cathelineau," the head of one of the
peasant bands said, "to the officer you sent to command us. He was
splendid. It was to him that everything was due. He was cutting
down the bridge when we came up, and it was by his orders that we
felled the trees, and blocked the road, and made a sort of hedge
that took them so long to get through. We should have been greatly
damaged by the fire of their guns and muskets; but he kept us all
lying down, out of reach, till we were wanted, while the men with
the guns defended the line of fallen trees. When we were wanted, he
called us up by blowing a cow horn, and then we drove the Blues
back into the stream, and returned to our shelter until we were
wanted again.

"We did not lose more than thirty men, altogether; while more than
ten times that number of the Blues have fallen. We thought at first
that you had chosen rather a strange leader for us; but as always
you were right, for if you had been there, yourself, things could
not have gone better."

"But I sent no one as your commander," Cathelineau said in
surprise.

"He had a paper that he read out, saying that he was acting on your
orders. As I cannot read, I cannot say that it was written down as
he read it; but if you did not send him, God must have done so."

"It is strange, Bonchamp," Cathelineau said to that officer, "for I
certainly did not send anyone. I never thought of defending the
passage of that stream. However, whoever it is who has commanded
has done us great service, for that three hours which have been
gained will make all the difference. They cannot arrive, now, until
after dark, and will not attack before morning; and by that time,
our force will have doubled."

"Here comes our officer, monsieur!" the peasant exclaimed; as
Leigh, with his party, came down the street, loudly cheered by the
peasants who had fought under him.

"Why, it is Jean Martin's young brother-in-law!" Monsieur Bonchamp
exclaimed and, raising his voice, he called to Jean, who was
talking to a group of other officers near.

Jean ran up.

"Monsieur Martin, it is your young Englishman who has held Berruyer
in check, for three hours; see how the peasants are cheering him!"

Cathelineau advanced to meet Leigh, who halted his band and saluted
the general. The latter stepped forward, and returned the salute by
lifting his hat.

"Monsieur Stansfield," he said, "I salute you, as the saviour of
our position here. Had Berruyer arrived this afternoon, we must
have retired; for we are not yet in sufficient force to withstand
his attack. Tomorrow we shall, I hope, be strong enough to beat
him. I have been wondering who this officer could be who, with but
three or four hundred men, held the principal force of our foes,
led by their commander-in-chief, in check for three hours; and, as
I hear, killed three hundred of his best troops, with a loss of but
thirty of ours. I ought to have thought of you, when they said that
you read them an order, saying that you were acting in my name."

"It was great presumption on my part, general," Leigh said, "and I
know that I had no right to use it for such a purpose; but I felt
how important it was that you should have time to prepare for
defence, and I thought it my duty, as there was no one else to take
the matter in hand, to do so myself."

"You have done magnificently, sir, and the thanks of all La Vendee
are due to you.

"I see that several of your lads are wounded," for five of them
wore bandages, and a sixth was carried on a rough litter, by four
of his companions. "Lads," he said, "I salute you. You have done
well, indeed, and there is not a boy of your age in La Vendee but
will envy you, when he hears how you, under your brave young
commander, have today played the chief part in checking the advance
of an army of five thousand men. I shall publish an order, today,
saying that my scouts have rendered an inestimable service to their
country."

"Well, Leigh," Jean Martin said, after the little band had fallen
out, and one of the surgeons had taken charge of the wounded, "you
have indeed distinguished yourself. I certainly did not think, when
I persuaded your sister to let you go, that you were going to match
yourself against the French general, and to command a force which
should inflict a heavy check upon him. Cathelineau has asked me to
bring you round to his quarters, presently, so that you can give
him the full details of the affair; saying that a plan that had
succeeded so well might be tried again, with equal effect. I cannot
stay with you now, for I am going, with Bonchamp, to see to the
work of loopholing and fortifying the church."

"I am going to look after my boys, Jean. They have had nothing to
eat this morning, except a mouthful or two of bread each, and they
have been up since two hours before daylight. Do you feel sure that
the Blues will not attack tonight?"

"Yes, I think so. After the lesson you have given Berruyer of the
fighting qualities of the peasants, it is pretty certain that he
will not venture to attack us after a hard day's march, and a fight
that must have sorely discouraged his men."

That evening, news came in from several quarters. Leigonyer had
marched from Vihiers by three roads, directing his course towards
Coron. Two of the columns had been attacked by the peasants and,
being largely composed of new levies, had at once lost heart and
retreated; the central column, in which were the regular troops,
being obliged in consequence also to fall back. Another column had
crossed the Loire and taken Saint Florent, without any very heavy
fighting; and Quetineau had advanced from Bressuire to Aubiers,
without meeting with resistance.

The news was, on the whole, satisfactory. It had been feared that
the force at Vihiers would march north, and join that of Berruyer;
and that they would make a joint attack upon the town. The disaster
that had befallen them rendered this no longer possible. There was
disappointment that Saint Florent had been recaptured, but none
that Quetineau had advanced without opposition to Aubiers; for the
whole of the peasantry from that locality were with Cathelineau.

In point of fact, Berruyer had not ordered the force at Vihiers to
march to join him. On the contrary, he had intended, after
capturing Chemille, which he expected to do without serious
trouble, to march south and effect a junction with Leigonyer at
Coron. He halted four miles from Chemille, harangued the new
levies, reproaching those who had shown cowardice during the day's
fighting, and exhorting them to behave with courage on the
following day. No inconsiderable portion of them belonged to the
force that had marched down from Paris, and these heroes of the
slums, who had been foremost in the massacres in the prisons, and
in their demand for the blood of all hostile to them, behaved
throughout with abject cowardice, whenever they met a foe with arms
in their hands.

After having had an interview with Cathelineau, and relating to him
full particulars of the fight, Leigh, having nothing to do,
strolled about the town. Presently he came upon a group of three or
four peasants, who had been drinking more than was good for them.
One of them, whose bearing and appearance showed that he had served
in the army, was talking noisily to the others.

"You will see that I, Jacques Bruno, artilleryman, will be a great
man yet," he said. "I shall soon be rich. I have had enough poverty
since I left the army, but I shall have plenty of gold yet. You
will see what you will see."

"How can you be rich?" one of the others said, with an air of
drunken wisdom. "You are lazy, Jacques Bruno. We all know you. You
are too fond of the wine cup It is seldom that you do a day's
work."

"Never mind how I shall get rich. I tell you that it will be so,
and the word of Jacques Bruno is not to be doubted;" and he turned
away, saying, "I shall go for a few hours' sleep, now, to be in
readiness for tomorrow."

"Who is that man?" Leigh asked sharply, going up to the others.

The scarf that he wore showed him to be an officer, and the
peasants removed their hats.

"It is Jacques Bruno, monsieur. He is in charge of our guns. He is
an old artilleryman. Cathelineau has appointed him to the post, as
it needs an artilleryman to load and point the guns."

Leigh moved away. This fellow was half drunk, but not too drunk to
know what he was saying. What did he mean by declaring that he
would soon be rich? The peasants had said that he was lazy, and
fond of the wine cup He could hardly be likely to acquire wealth by
honest labour.

Perhaps he might be intending an act of treachery. Putting aside
other considerations, he, as an old soldier, would scarcely care to
mow down his former comrades, and his sympathies must be rather
with the army than with the peasants. He had no personal interest
in this revolt against conscription, nor was it likely that the
cause of the cures concerned him greatly. He might, however,
meditate some act of treachery, by which he would benefit his
former comrades and gain a rich reward.

At any rate, it would be worth while watching. He returned to the
room where his band were quartered.

"Andre," he said, "I want you and two others to keep watch with me
until midnight, then Pierre and two of his party will relieve you.
At that hour you will send one of your party, to guide Pierre to
the place where I shall be. You will bring your pistols and knives
with you, and if I come down and tell you to move forward, you will
do so as noiselessly as possible."

"Shall we come at once, captain?" Andre asked.

"No, you had better lie down, with the two who are to come with
you, and sleep till nine o'clock. I will come at that hour. We will
say one o'clock instead of twelve for the watch to be changed; that
will make a more even division for the night."

Going out again, Leigh inquired where the cannon had been placed.
They were on an eminence outside the town, and commanded the road
by which Berruyer's column would advance. Strolling up there, he
saw Bruno lying asleep between two of the guns, of which there were
five.

"It seems all right," he said to himself, "and as he cannot walk
off with them, I don't see what his plan can be--that is, if he has
a plan. However, there is no harm in keeping watch. The guns are
against the skyline and, lying down fifty yards away, we shall be
able to see if he does anything with them. Of course he might spike
them, but I don't suppose that he would risk that, for the spikes
might be noticed the first thing in the morning. I don't think that
it would do for him to try that. It seemed a stupid thing even to
doubt him but, half drunk as he was, he certainly was in earnest in
what he said, and does believe that he is going to be a rich man;
and I don't see how that can possibly come about, except by some
act of treachery. At any rate, we will keep an eye upon the fellow
tonight, and if we are not posted in any particular spot tomorrow,
I will be up here with my band when the firing begins, and keep my
eye on him."

He spent three or four hours with Jean Martin, and then went back
to his quarters. Andre and two of the lads were in readiness. They
moved out quietly, for the street was thick with sleeping peasants.
There were no sentries to be seen.

"If the enemy did but know," he muttered to himself, "they might
take the place without firing a shot."

Presently, however, he came upon an officer.

"Where are you going?" he asked sharply.

"I am Leigh Stansfield, and am going, with three of my party, to
keep watch near the guns."

"That is good," the officer said. "I am on duty here, and Jean
Martin has just ridden out. He is going a couple of miles along the
road, and will give the alarm if he hears any movement of the
enemy. When he gets within half a mile he is to fire off his
pistols, and I shall have time to get the men up, long before their
infantry can arrive. We have tried, in vain, to get some of the
peasants to do outpost duty. They all say that they will be ready
to fight, when the enemy comes; but they want a good sleep first,
and even Cathelineau could not move them. It is heartbreaking to
have to do with such men."

"I do not think that it is laziness. It is that they have a fixed
objection to doing what they consider any kind of soldier work.
Their idea of war is to wait till the enemy comes, and then to make
a rush upon them; and when they have done that, they think their
duty is ended. Some day, when the Blues have a sharp commander, and
have gained a little discipline, we shall suffer some terrible
disaster from the obstinacy of the peasantry."

With a word of adieu Leigh turned off the road, and made his way
halfway up the eminence. Here the guns could be plainly made out.
Leaving Andre and his two followers, he went quietly up the slope,
to assure himself that the artilleryman was still there. Had he
missed him, he was determined to go at once to Cathelineau, and
state his suspicions, and his belief that Bruno had gone off to
inform Berruyer that, if he advanced, he would find the place
wholly unguarded, and would have it at his mercy. He found,
however, that the artilleryman was still asleep, and returned to
Andre.

"Now," he said, "there is no occasion for us all to watch. I, with
one of the others, will keep a lookout for the next two hours and,
at the end of that time, will rouse you and the others."

Leigh's watch had passed off quietly. There was no movement among
the guns and, from the position in which Bruno was lying, his
figure would have been seen at once, had he risen to his feet.

"If the man up there stands up, you are to awaken me at once,
Andre," he said.

Overcome by the excitement and the heat of the day, Leigh dropped
off to sleep almost immediately. An hour later, he was roused by
being shaken by Andre.

"The man has got up, sir."

The artilleryman, after stretching himself two or three times, took
up something from the ground beside him, and then went some
distance down the side of the hill, but still in sight of the
watchers.

"He has got something on his shoulder, sir. I think it is a shovel,
and he has either a cloak or a sack on his arm."

"He is evidently up to something," Leigh replied, "but what it can
be, I cannot imagine."

Presently the man stopped, and began to work.

"He is digging," Andre said, in surprise.

"It looks like it certainly, but what he can be digging for I have
no idea."

Presently the man was seen to raise a heavy weight on to his
shoulders.

"It was a sack he had with him," Andre said, "and he has filled it
with earth and stones."

Leigh did not reply. The mystery seemed to thicken, and he was
unable to form any supposition, whatever, that would account for
the man's proceedings. The latter carried his burden up to the
cannon, then he laid it down, and took up some long tool and thrust
it into the mouth of one of the cannon.

A light suddenly burst upon Leigh.

"The scoundrel is going to draw the charges," he said, "and fill up
the cannon with the earth that he has brought up."

Andre would have leapt to his feet, as he uttered an exclamation of
rage.

"Keep quiet!" Leigh said, authoritatively. "We have no evidence
against him, yet. We must watch him a bit longer, before we
interrupt him."

After two or three movements, the man was seen to draw something
from the gun. This he laid on the ground, and then inserted the
tool again.

"That is the powder," Leigh whispered, as something else was
withdrawn from the gun; "there, you see, he is taking handfuls of
earth from the sack, and shoving it into the mouth."

This was continued for some time, and then a rammer was inserted,
and pushed home several times. Then he moved to the next cannon.

"Now follow very quietly, Andre. Busy as he is, we may get quite
close up to him, before he notices us. Mind, you are not to use
your knife. We can master him easily enough, and must then take him
down to Cathelineau, for his fate to be decided on."

[Illustration: Leigh gave the word and, leaping up, they threw
themselves on the traitor.]

Noiselessly they crept up the hill. When within five or six paces
of the gun at which Bruno was at work, Leigh gave the word and,
leaping up, they threw themselves on the traitor; who was taken so
completely by surprise that they were able to throw him, at once,
to the ground. Snatching up a rope that had been used for drawing
the guns, Leigh bound his arms securely to his side; and then,
putting a pistol to his head, ordered him to rise to his feet.

"Shoot me, if you like,"' the man growled. "I will not move."

"I will not shoot you," Leigh replied. "You must be tried and
condemned.

"Now, Andre, we must carry him."

The four boys had no difficulty in carrying the man down. As they
passed the officer on sentry, he said:

"Whom have you there, Monsieur Stansfield?"

"It is Bruno, the artilleryman. We have caught him drawing the
charges from the guns, and filling them with earth. We must take
him to the general."

"The villain!" the officer exclaimed. "Who would have thought of a
Vendean turning traitor?"

Cathelineau was still up, talking with some of his officers as to
the preparations for the battle. There was no sentry at his door.
Leigh entered and, tapping at the door of the room in which he saw
a light, went in. Cathelineau looked up in surprise, as the door
opened.

"I thought you were asleep hours ago, monsieur," he said.

"It is well that I have not been, sir."

And he related the conversation that he had overheard, and his own
suspicions that the man Bruno meditated treachery; the steps they
had taken to watch him, and the discovery they had made.
Exclamations of indignation and fury broke from the officers.

"Gentlemen," Cathelineau said, "we will at once proceed to try this
traitor. He shall be judged by men of his own class.

"Monsieur Pourcet, do you go out and awaken the first twelve
peasants you come to."

In a minute or two the officer returned with the peasants, who
looked surprised at having been thus roused from their sleep.

"My friends, do you take your places along that side of the room.
You are a jury, and are to decide upon the guilt or innocence of a
man who is accused of being a traitor."

The word roused them at once, and all repeated indignantly the word
"traitor!"

"Monsieur Stansfield," he said to Leigh, "will you order your men
to bring in the prisoner?"

The man was brought in and placed at the head of the table,
opposite to Cathelineau.

"Now, Monsieur Stansfield, will you tell the jury the story that
you have just told me?"

Leigh repeated his tale, interrupted occasionally by exclamations
of fury from the peasants. Andre and the other lads stepped
forward, one after the other, and confirmed Leigh's statement.

"Before you return a verdict, my friends," Cathelineau said
quietly, "it is but right that we should go up to the battery, and
examine the cannon ourselves; not, of course, that we doubt the
statement of Monsieur Stansfield and the other witnesses, but
because it is well that each of you should be able to see for
himself, and report to others that you have been eyewitnesses of
the traitor's plot."

Accordingly the whole party ascended to the battery. There lay the
spade and the sack of earth. The tool with which the work had been
done was still in the mouth of the second cannon and, on pulling it
out, the powder cartridge came with it. Then Leigh led them to the
next gun, and a man who had a bayonet thrust it in, and soon
brought some earth and stones to the mouth of the gun.

"We have now had the evidence of Monsieur Stansfield, and those
with him, tested by ourselves examining the guns. What do you say,
my friends--has this man been proved a traitor, or not?"

"He has!" the peasants exclaimed, in chorus.

"And what is your sentence?"

"Death!" was the unanimous reply.

"I approve of that sentence. March him down to the side of the
river, and shoot him."

Three minutes later, four musket shots rang out.

"Thus die all traitors!" Cathelineau said.

Bruno, however, was the sole Vendean who, during the course of the
war, turned traitor to his comrades and his country.



Chapter 6: The Assault Of Chemille.


Few words were spoken, as the group of officers returned to the
town. When they reached Cathelineau's quarters Leigh would have
gone on, but the general said, "Come in, if you please, Monsieur
Stansfield," and he followed the party in.

"This has been a trial, gentlemen, a heavy trial," the general
said. "When I entered upon this work, I knew that that there were
many things that I should have to endure. I knew the trouble of
forming soldiers from men who, like ours, prize their freedom and
independence above all other things; that we might have to suffer
defeat; that we must meet with hardships, and probably death; and
that, in the long run, all our efforts might be futile.

"But I had not reckoned on having to deal with treachery. I had
never dreamed that one of my first acts would have been to try and
to sentence a Vendean to death, for an act of the grossest
treachery. However, let us put that aside; it was, perhaps, in the
nature of things. In every community there must be a few scoundrels
and, if this turns out to be a solitary instance, we may
congratulate ourselves, especially as we have escaped without
injury.

"That we have done so, gentlemen, is due solely to Monsieur
Stansfield; who thus twice, in the course of a single day, has
performed an inestimable service to the cause. There are few indeed
who, on hearing the braggadocio of a drunken man, would have given
the matter a moment's thought; still less have undertaken a night
of watchfulness, after a day of the heaviest work, merely to test
the truth of a slightly-founded suspicion that might have occurred
to them. It is not too much to say that, had not this act of
treachery been discovered, our defeat tomorrow would have been
well-nigh certain. You know how much our people think of their
guns; and if, when the fight began, the cannon had been silent,
instead of pouring their contents into the ranks of the enemy, they
would have lost heart at once, and would have been beaten almost
before the fight began.

"We have no honours to bestow on you, Monsieur Stansfield, but in
the name of La Vendee I thank you, with all my heart. I shall add,
to my order respecting your fight of yesterday, a statement of what
has taken place tonight; and I shall beg that all officers read it
aloud to the parties that follow them."

"I agree most cordially with the general's words," Monsieur
Bonchamp said. "Your defence yesterday would have been a credit to
any military man, and this discovery has saved us from ruin
tomorrow, or rather today. I will venture to say that not one man
in five hundred would have taken the trouble to go out of his way
to ascertain whether the words of a drunken man rested on any
foundation."

There was, then, a short conversation as to the approaching fight.
The number of men who had arrived was much smaller than had been
anticipated, owing to the fact that the simultaneous invasion, at
so many points, had the effect of retaining the peasants of the
various localities for the defence of their own homes. Leigh
learned that a mounted messenger had been despatched, shortly
before he brought the prisoner down, to beg Monsieur d'Elbee to
bring the force he commanded, at Chollet, with all speed to aid in
the defence of Chemille; for if that town fell, he would be exposed
to the attack of the united forces of Generals Berruyer and
Leigonyer.

"Now, gentlemen, I think we had better get a few hours' sleep,"
Cathelineau said. "They will not be here very early, probably not
until noon; for they may wait for a time before starting, in hopes
of being joined either by Leigonyer or one of the other columns,
and it is not likely that any news of the sharp reverse that
Leigonyer has met with has reached them."

It was now two o'clock in the morning, and Leigh slept heavily,
till roused at eight.

"You should have called me before, Andre," he said reproachfully,
when he learnt how late it was.

"I thought it was better that you should have a good sleep,
captain. Of course, if there had been any message to say that you
were wanted, I should have woke you; but as no one came, and there
is still no news of the enemy, I thought that it was better to let
you sleep till now."

Pierre had started with his party, at five, to scout on the road by
which the enemy was advancing. Leigh first hurried down to the
river and had a bath, and then felt ready for any work that he
might have to do. He then went to the house where Jean was lodged.
The latter, who had not returned from his outpost work till day
broke, was just getting up.

"Well, Leigh," he said, "I called in at Cathelineau's quarters to
report. I found him already up. He told me the work that you had
been doing, and praised you up to the skies. It seems to me that
you are getting all the credit of the campaign. Really I feel quite
proud of you, and we shall be having you starting as a rival leader
to Cathelineau."

Leigh laughed.

"One does not often have two such opportunities in the course of a
day, and I don't suppose I am likely to have such luck again, if
the war goes on for a year. Where are you going to be today?"

"I am going to act as aide-de-camp to Bonchamp."

"And what shall we do, do you think?"

"Well, I should say you had best keep out of it altogether, Leigh.
You and your band did much more than your share of fighting
yesterday, and your pistols will be of no use in a fight such as
this will be. Seriously, unless Cathelineau assigns you some post,
I should keep out of it. Your little corps is specially formed to
act as scouts and, as we are so extremely badly off in that
respect, it will be far better for you to keep to your proper
duties, than to risk your lives."

"How do you think the fight is likely to go, Jean?"

"It depends, in the first place, upon how the Blues fight; if they
do well, they ought to beat us. In the next place, it depends on
whether d'Elbee comes up in time. If he does, I think that we shall
hold the place, but it will be stiff fighting."

It was not until noon that Berruyer's force was seen approaching.
As soon as it was in sight the Vendeans poured out, and took up
their station by the hill on which the guns were placed. In spite
of what Jean had said, Leigh would have placed his band with the
rest; had not Cathelineau sent for him, half an hour before, and
given him orders which were almost identical with the advice of
Jean.

"I wish you and your band to keep out of this battle, Monsieur
Stansfield. Your force is so small that it can make no possible
difference in the fortunes of the day and, whether we win or lose,
your lads may be wanted as messengers, after it is over. They have
done extremely well, at present, and need no further credit than
they have gained. I beg, therefore, that you will take post with
them somewhat in rear of the village, away on the right. I shall
then know where to find you, if I have any messages to send; and
moreover, I want you at once to send off one of your most active
lads with this note to d'Elbee, urging him to come on at full
speed, for the fight is likely to go hard with us, unless he comes
in time to our assistance; and telling him I wish him to know that,
even if I have to fall back, the church will be held till the last;
and that as soon as he arrives I shall, if possible, again take the
offensive, and beg that he will attack the enemy in flank or in
rear, as he sees an opportunity. Upon the belfry of the church,
half a mile on our right, you will be able to see how the battle
goes; and can send off news to d'Elbee, from time to time."

"Very well, sir. I will despatch your letter at once, and then
march out to the church, which I noticed yesterday."

"Here is a telescope," Cathelineau said. "We are well provided with
them, as we took all that we could find, at Chollet and Vihiers. I
think that, with its aid, you will be able to have a good view of
what is going on."

In twenty minutes, Leigh had taken up his post in the belfry of the
village church that Cathelineau had indicated. Andre and Pierre,
whose party had returned an hour before, were with him. The rest of
the band were in the story below them, from which a view was also
obtainable. The three most severely wounded had started for their
homes, early that morning. The others were fit for duty.

The fight began by a discharge of the guns of the assailants. Leigh
could see that the defenders' guns had been somewhat withdrawn from
their position on the top of the rising ground, where they would
have been too much exposed to the enemy's fire; and their muzzles
now only showed over the brow. During the course of the morning an
earthwork had been thrown up, to afford protection to the men
serving them. They did not return the fire until the enemy were
within a distance of a quarter of a mile, then they commenced, with
deadly effect.

The Blues halted, and Leigh could make out that a considerable
number of men in the rear at once turned and ran. In order to
encourage them they had been informed, just before they marched, of
the plot that had been arranged to silence the guns; and this
unexpected discharge caused the greatest consternation among the
young levies. A body of cavalry were at once sent off in pursuit,
and drove the fugitives back to their ranks, the troopers using the
flats of their swords unstintingly.

Then the advance was resumed, covered by the fire of the guns and
by volleys of musketry. These were answered but feebly by the
firearms in the peasants' hands, and the Blues pressed on until,
just before they reached the foot of the slope, the peasants
charged them with fury.

The regular troops and a regiment of gendarmes had been placed in
front. These stood firm, poured heavy volleys into the peasants as
they approached, and then received them with levelled bayonets.

In vain the Vendeans strove to break through the hedge of steel.
Cathelineau and his officers on one side, and the French generals
on the other, encouraged their men, and for a quarter of an hour a
desperate conflict reigned. Then the peasants fell back, and the
Blues resumed their advance.

Three times Cathelineau induced his followers to renew the attack,
but each time it was unsuccessful. The Blues mounted the hill, the
cannon were captured, and the Vendeans fell back into the town.
Here the ends of the streets had been barricaded and, in spite of
the artillery and the captured guns now turned against their former
owners, the assailants tried in vain to force their way into the
town.

From every window that commanded the approaches, the men with
muskets kept up an incessant fire. The mass of the peasants lay in
shelter behind the barricades, or in the houses, until the enemy's
infantry approached to within striking distance; and then, leaping
up from these barricades, and fighting with an absolute disregard
of their lives, they again and again repulsed the attacks of the
enemy.

Berruyer, seeing that in spite of his heavy losses he made no way,
called his troops from the assault and, forming them into two
columns, moved to the right and left, and attacked the town on both
sides. Here no barricades had been erected and, in spite of the
efforts of the peasants, an entrance was forced into the town.
Every street, lane, and house was defended with desperate energy;
but discipline gradually triumphed, and the Blues won their way
into the square in the centre of the town, where the principal
church stood. As they entered the open space, they were assailed
with a rain of bullets from the roof, tower, and windows.

As soon as the flanking movement began, Monsieur Bonchamp, seeing
that the town was now certain to be taken, had hurried, with the
greater portion of the men armed with muskets, to the church; which
had already been prepared by him, on the previous day, for the
defence. A great number of paving stones had been got up from the
roadway and piled inside the church and, as soon as he arrived
there with his men, the doors were closed, and blocked behind with
a deep wall of stones.

Berruyer saw that the position was a formidable one and, ignorant
of the number of the defenders, sent back for his guns, and
contented himself for the time by clearing the rest of the town of
its defenders. These, however, as they issued out, were rallied by
Cathelineau and his officers. They assured the peasants that the
day was not yet lost, that the church would hold out for hours, and
that d'Elbee would soon arrive, with his force from Chollet, to
their assistance.

Leigh, anxiously watching the progress of the fight, had sent
messenger after messenger along the road by which d'Elbee would
come. His heart sank, as he heard the guns open in the centre of
the town, and knew that they were directed against the church.
Still, there was no abatement of the fire of the defenders. An
incessant fire of musketry was maintained, not only from the church
itself, but from every window in the houses around it.

At last, he heard that d'Elbee's force was but a quarter of a mile
away and, running down from his lookout, he started to meet it. It
was coming at a run, the men panting and breathless, but holding on
desperately, half maddened with the sound of battle.

"All is not lost yet, then?" d'Elbee said, as he came up.

"No, sir. The church holds out, and I could see that the peasants
who have been driven out of the town have rallied, but a few
hundred yards away, and are evidently only waiting for your arrival
to renew the attack. I think, sir, that if you will run up to the
belfry of the church with this glass, you will be able to
understand the exact situation."

The officer ran up the tower, and returned in two or three minutes.
Then he led his men down towards the southeastern corner of the
town.

Leigh, on hearing that d'Elbee was close at hand, sent off two
messengers to Cathelineau to inform him of the fact; and he now
sent off another, stating the direction in which the reinforcement
was marching.

"I am going to attack at that corner, instead of in the rear,"
Monsieur d'Elbee said to him; for now that the duty assigned to him
had been performed, Leigh thought that he would be justified in
joining in the attack, with what remained of his band. "If I were
to get directly in their rear they would, on finding their retreat
cut off, fight so fiercely that I might be overpowered. Even the
most cowardly troops will fight, under those circumstances.
Therefore, while threatening their line of retreat, I still leave
it open to them. It is a maxim in war, you know, always to leave a
bridge open for a flying foe."

In a few minutes they reached the town. None had observed their
approach, the troops being assembled round the church. These were
at once thrown into confusion, when they found themselves attacked
with fury by a large force, of whose existence they had no previous
thought.

The Vendeans fought with desperate valour. The new levies for the
most part lost heart at once and, in spite of the efforts of
Berruyer and his officers, began to make for the line of retreat.
The movement was accelerated by an outburst of shouts from the
other side of the town, where Cathelineau's force poured in,
burning to avenge their former losses; and as they fell upon the
enemy, Bonchamp led out the defenders of the church, by a side
door, and joined in the fray.

Berruyer saw that all was lost. By great efforts he kept together
the gendarmes and regular troops, to cover the retreat; and fell
back, fighting fiercely. Bonchamp and his musketeers pressed hotly
upon them. The peasants made charge after charge and, as soon as
the force issued from the town, many of the peasantry set off at
full speed in pursuit of the fugitives, great numbers of whom were
overtaken and killed. Berruyer continued his retreat all night, and
entered Saint Lambert before morning; having lost the whole of his
cannon, and three thousand men, in this disastrous fight.

The joy of the Vendeans was unbounded. The stones were speedily
removed from the shattered doors of the church, mass was
celebrated, and the peasants returned thanks for their great
victory.

The gains were, indeed, considerable. Three thousand muskets had
fallen into their hands. They had recaptured the guns that they had
lost, and taken twelve others. Their own losses had been
heavy--eighteen hundred men had been killed, and a great number
wounded. But of this, at the time, they thought but little; those
who had died had died for their country and their God, as all of
them were ready to do, and how could men do more?

On the Republican side, General Duhaus had been very dangerously
wounded, and most of Berruyer's principal officers killed.

A council of war was held the next morning, at Chemille. For the
moment, the victory had secured their safety; but while the
peasants believed and hoped that the war was over, their leaders
saw that the position was scarcely improved. They had, indeed,
captured guns and muskets; but these were useless without
ammunition, and their stock of powder and ball was quite exhausted.
Already the peasantry were leaving in large numbers for their
homes. Berruyer might return reinforced at any time, and effect a
junction with Leigonyer; while the column that had captured Saint
Florent would doubtless advance. It was therefore decided that
Chemille must be abandoned, and that the officers should retire to
Tiffauges until, at any rate, the peasants were ready to leave
their homes again.

By evening that day the greater portion of the army had melted away
and, on the following morning, the leaders also left the town they
had so bravely defended. On the following day, indeed, Berruyer,
having learned the position of Leigonyer, returned to Chemille and,
two days later, was in communication with Leigonyer's force. The
latter had occupied Chollet, which had been left devoid of
defenders since the day they marched away.

On the other hand Quetineau had, on the thirteenth, been attacked
at Aubiers, and had been forced to evacuate the place, leaving
three guns behind him, retiring to Bressuire. The capture of
Aubiers was the work of Henri de la Rochejaquelein. He had ridden
to join Cathelineau, and met him and the other leaders retiring
from Chemille. They were gloomy and depressed. They had won a
battle, but they were without an army, without ammunition. Almost
all the towns were in the possession of the Blues. It seemed to
them that the struggle could not be much longer maintained.

The young count was too energetic and too enthusiastic to be
seriously moved, and rode back to the residence of an aunt, at
Saint Aubin. There he learned that Aubiers had been taken by the
enemy. The peasantry around were in a state of extreme excitement.
They had hoisted the white flag on their churches, and were ready
to fight, but they had no leader.

Hearing that Rochejaquelein was at his aunt's house, they came to
him, and begged him to take the command, promising him that in
twenty-four hours ten thousand men should be ready to follow him.
He agreed to the request. The church bells were set ringing and,
before morning, almost that number were assembled. Of these, only
two hundred had guns.

With this force he attacked Aubiers. The resistance of the enemy was
feeble, and they were chased almost to Bressuire.  Rochejaquelein
was very anxious to capture this town, as his friends, the Lescures,
had been brought from Clisson and imprisoned there; but he saw that
it was of primary importance to carry assistance to Cathelineau, and
he accordingly marched to Tiffauges.  The church bells again rang
out their summons; and Cathelineau, in twenty-four hours, found
himself at the head of an army of twenty thousand men.

"I told you at Clisson that I should soon meet you again, Monsieur
Martin," La Rochejaquelein said when, as he rode into Tiffauges at
the head of his newly raised force, he met Jean in the street, "and
here I am, you see. I am only sorry that I am too late to take part
in the brave fight at Chemille."

"Right glad are we to see you, count," Jean replied. "This is my
wife's brother, of whom I was speaking to you at Clisson.
Cathelineau will tell you that he has been distinguishing himself
rarely."

Henri held out his hand to Leigh, and said warmly, "I am glad to
know you. It would be a shame, indeed, were any Vendeans to remain
at home, when a young Englishman is fighting for their country. I
hope that we shall be great friends."

"I shall be glad, indeed, to be so," Leigh replied with equal
warmth, for he was greatly struck with the appearance of the young
soldier.

Henri de la Rochejaquelein was but twenty-one years old, tall, and
remarkably handsome. He had fair hair, and a noble bearing. His
father had been a colonel in the army, and he himself was a cavalry
officer in the king's guard. He was the beau ideal of a dashing
hussar, and his appearance was far more English than French. He was
immensely popular, his manner frank and pleasant, and he was
greatly beloved by the peasantry on his family estates.

At this moment Cathelineau with his two generals came up, and Leigh
retired from the circle. The arrival of the young count, with his
strong reinforcement, at once altered the position. The leaders who
had, since they fell back from Chemille, been depressed and almost
hopeless, beamed with satisfaction as they talked with Henri, whose
enthusiasm was infectious.

La Rochejaquelein accompanied them to his quarters. Hitherto he had
only heard rumours of the fighting at Chemille, and Cathelineau now
gave him a full account of the affair. Jean Martin had, at his
invitation, accompanied him; and when Cathelineau had finished,
Henri turned to him and said:

"Indeed you did not exaggerate, Monsieur Martin, when you said that
your brother-in-law had already distinguished himself. In fact,
there can be no doubt that the splendid defence he made at that
little river, where he held Berruyer's whole force in check for
upwards of three hours--and so forced him to halt for the night on
the way, instead of pushing forward and attacking Chemille at
once--saved the town, for it gave time to Monsieur d'Elbee to come
up. Scarcely less important was his detection of the treachery of
the man in charge of the artillery. I cannot but regret that so
gallant a young fellow is not my countryman, for I should have felt
proud of one so daring, and so thoughtful.

"When you do not want him for scouting work, Monsieur Cathelineau,
I shall get you to lend him to me. I should be really glad to have
him by my side. His face pleased me much. There was something so
frank and honest about it and, after what he has done, I am sure
that I shall always respect his opinion."

There was another consultation as to what should be their first
operation, and it was resolved that Leigonyer should be attacked at
once, before he could make a complete junction with Berruyer. The
next morning, at daybreak, the whole force moved off. They were
only just in time, for Berruyer had already ordered General
Gauvillier, who commanded the force that had captured Saint
Florent, to advance to Beaupreau. Berruyer was to march to Vezins,
and he himself to Jallais, and to join Leigonyer at May.

On the previous evening Henri had, after the termination of the
council, requested Jean Martin to take him to the house where Leigh
and his little party were quartered.

"I have been hearing of your doings," he said, "and feel quite
jealous that you, who are, I hear, four years younger than myself,
should have done so much; while I, with all my family influence and
connection, should as yet have done nothing but chase the enemy out
of Aubiers. How is it that you, who have had no training as a
soldier, should have conceived the idea of arresting the march of
Berruyer's army, with a force of only two or three hundred
peasants?"

"It was a mere matter of common sense," Leigh said, with a smile.
"I knew that it was of the utmost importance that Chemille should
not be attacked, until Cathelineau received reinforcements. At
first, I had no thought of doing more than breaking down the
bridge, and of perhaps checking the advanced cavalry; but when I
found that the peasants who came along were quite willing to aid,
it seemed to me that by cutting down the trees, so as to block the
road and make a shelter for us, we might be able to cause the enemy
considerable delay. I hardly hoped to succeed in holding out so
long, or in inflicting such loss upon him as we were able to do. It
did not require any military knowledge whatever, and I should not
have attempted it had I not seen that, thanks to the forest, we
should be able to retreat when we could no longer hold the
barricade of felled trees."

"Well, you could not have done better if you had been a general. I
have Cathelineau's permission to ask you to ride with me, when you
are not engaged in scouting."

"I should be delighted to do so, but at present I have no horse.
However, I can send one of my lads back to the chateau, to fetch
the one that I generally ride."

"I have brought a spare animal with me," the young count said. "I
brought it in case the other should be shot, and I shall be glad if
you will ride it tomorrow, and until yours arrives; but I would not
send for one until after tomorrow, for likely enough we may make
some captures before nightfall.

"We are to march at three in the morning, and to attack Leigonyer.
The great thing that we need is powder. Cathelineau says that there
is scarcely a charge left among his men. Mine are not much better
off. We should have had none with which to attack Aubiers; but I
sent off during the night to a quarry, a few miles from my aunt's,
and succeeded in getting forty pounds of blasting powder. It would
not have been of much use for the muskets, but the fact of its
being powder was sufficient to encourage the peasants; and the
Blues made such a feeble resistance that its quality made no
difference to us. It enabled those who had muskets to make a noise
with them, and was just as effectual in raising their spirits in
attacking the Blues as if it had been the finest quality. We got a
few hundred cartridges when we took the place, but that will not go
very far, and I hope that, tomorrow, we shall be able to obtain a
supply from the enemy."

Before the hour for starting, the force had swelled considerably.
The news that Monsieur de la Rochejaquelein had retaken Aubiers,
and had come with twelve thousand men to assist Cathelineau, spread
like wildfire. The peasants from all the country round flocked in
and, when they started in the morning, the united force had swollen
to over twenty thousand men.

As soon as the young count left him, Leigh sent all his band, under
his lieutenants, with orders to proceed towards Vezins; to
ascertain the progress Leigonyer had made, and the position of his
forces, and to send back news to him. Just as the army was starting
one of the boys returned, and said that a party of twelve cavalry,
and a detachment of infantry, had just entered the chateau of
Crilloire. Leigh at once informed Cathelineau, who sent off a
hundred and fifty men to capture the place. They were ordered to
travel at the top of their speed, and Jean Martin was in command of
them.

The expedition was crowned with success. The infantry, who had been
stationed outside the chateau, fled at once. Their commandant
Villemet, Leigonyer's best officer, charged the Vendeans with his
little body of cavalry. He was received with a volley. Two of his
men were killed, and he himself and nine of his men were wounded.
He managed, however, to burst through the Vendeans, and to overtake
his flying infantry. These he rallied and led back to the chateau,
which he found deserted; for Martin, as soon as he captured the
place and cleared it of the enemy, had gone off with his men to
join the main body.

Berruyer had also started early, and sent five hundred men to May,
where he expected Leigonyer to arrive in a few hours; but before he
reached the town the Vendeans attacked the advanced guard of the
latter general, which consisted of two companies of grenadiers.
These old soldiers fought well, and threw themselves into the
chateau of Bois-Groleau.

Leaving fifteen hundred men to surround and attack the chateau, the
main army pressed forward. Leigonyer, hearing of the disaster, sent
forward two thousand men to succour the besieged force; but the
Vendeans fell upon them and, after a short resistance, they broke
and fled into Vezins.

The arrival of the fugitives caused a panic among the whole of
Leigonyer's force assembled there, and they fled precipitately; two
hundred and fifty men of the regiment of Finisterre, alone,
remaining steady; and these, maintaining good order, covered the
retreat of the guns, repulsing the attacks of the peasantry who
pursued them. Fortunately for the Vendeans, a waggon laden with
barrels of powder was left behind, in the confusion caused by their
approach, and proved of inestimable value to them.

Had the Vendeans pursued the fugitives with vigour, the force would
have been almost annihilated; but Cathelineau, learning from
Leigh's scouts that Berruyer was already approaching Vezins, feared
to be taken in the rear by him, and therefore fell back to May and
Beaupreau.

The garrison that defended the chateau of Bois-Groleau repulsed the
repeated attacks made upon them, but surrendered on the approach of
the main army, their ammunition and the food they had brought with
them in their haversacks being entirely exhausted.

Berruyer, on his arrival at Jallais, heard of the defeat of
Leigonyer; and marched back in all haste to Chemille, where he had
left his magazines. On hearing however that Leigonyer, on his
arrival at Vihiers, had been deserted during the night by the whole
of his troops and, finding himself in the morning with but a
hundred and fifty men of the Finisterre regiment, had evacuated the
town and retreated to Doug, Berruyer wrote to him to endeavour to
gather his forces together again, and to return to Chemille.

But the news of another disaster convinced him that he could not
maintain himself there. The Vendeans had marched, without delay,
against Beaupreau, and attacked Gauvillier. That general had
already heard of the defeat of Leigonyer, and the retreat of
Berruyer. His force was greatly dispirited at the news, and offered
but a feeble resistance to the fierce assault. The Blues were
driven out of the town with the loss of their five cannon, and were
hotly pursued to Saint Florent, losing a large proportion of their
numbers on the way.

The news of this fresh disaster convinced Berruyer that he must
fall back without delay, and he accordingly retreated with his
whole force to Saint Lambert, whence he wrote to the Convention to
declare the impossibility of doing anything without large
reinforcements of regular troops, as no dependence whatever could
be placed upon the National Guards and volunteers and, if the
insurgents marched against him, he would be obliged to march to
Ponts-de-Ce in order to cover Angers, where the alarm of the
inhabitants was intense.

Thus the invasion that was to crush the Vendeans failed altogether,
except that some advantages had been gained by the Blues along the
line of coast, the troops being assisted by the fleet. At all other
points, misfortune had attended them. Quetineau had been driven
from Aubiers and, a great proportion of his force having deserted,
he held Bressuire with so feeble a grasp that he could not maintain
himself, if attacked. Leigonyer's army had practically ceased to
exist, as had that which had advanced from Saint Florent. Berruyer
had lost three thousand men, and was back again at the point from
which he had started. Chollet and Vihiers had been recovered
without a blow.

As the result of his failures, Berruyer was recalled to Paris,
tried for his conduct, and narrowly escaped the guillotine.

As soon as Berruyer retired, Cathelineau advanced against
Bressuire. News of his coming at once scared the Blues from the
town, and they retreated to Thouars. They did not even wait to take
their prisoners with them and, as soon as they had gone, the
Marquis de la Lescure with his family rode off to their chateau, at
Clisson. They had scarcely arrived there when la Rochejaquelein
arrived, and acquainted them with the general facts of the
insurrection.

"Cathelineau's army," he said, "consists of twenty thousand men
and, on any emergency, it would swell to nearly twice that number.
Twelve thousand Bretons had crossed the Loire, and were on their
way to join him. In lower Poitou, Charette had an army of twenty
thousand; and besides these, there were many scattered bands."

Lescure at once agreed to accompany la Rochejaquelein to Bressuire;
and the Marquis of Donnissan, Madame Lescure's father, arranged to
follow them, as soon as he had seen his wife and daughter safely
placed in the chateau of de la Boulais.



Chapter 7: A Short Rest.


Leigh Stansfield had ridden with Rochejaquelein during the march of
the army to Vezins, and from there to Bressuire. He was charmed
with his companion, who had been the first to dash, with a few
other mounted gentlemen, into the streets of Vezins; and who had
thrown himself, with reckless bravery, upon the retreating infantry
and, as the peasants came up, had led them to the attack several
times, until Cathelineau's orders, that the pursuit should be
pushed no farther, reached him.

"That sort of order is very hard to obey," he said to Leigh.
"However, I need not regret that these brave fellows should escape
us. We have won the battle, if one can call it a battle; and I
honour the men who, when all the others have fled like sheep, still
cling together and defend their guns. At least a hundred of them
have fallen, since they left the town; and we have lost double that
number, and should lose at least as many more, before we finally
overcame their opposition. If all the armies of the Republic were
composed of such stuff as this regiment, I fear that our chance of
defending La Vendee successfully would be small, indeed."

On rejoining Cathelineau, and hearing his reason for calling off
the pursuit, Henri at once admitted its wisdom.

"After the defeat of Leigonyer, you will see that Berruyer will not
long be able to maintain himself at Chemille," he said; "and when
he hears the news, I fancy that he will retire at once; for he will
know, well enough, that it will be useless for him to pursue us.
Still, if he were to come down on our rear as we advanced, it would
have a bad effect upon the peasants; and it is much better to avoid
fighting, unless under circumstances that are almost sure to give
us victory. We can almost always choose our own ground, which is an
enormous advantage in a country like this. It is very fortunate
that it is so, for we certainly could not raise a body of cavalry
that could stand against those of the line; but in these lanes and
thickets they have no superiority in that respect, for no general
would be fool enough to send cavalry into places where they would
be at the mercy of an unseen foe. At the same time, I must own that
I regretted today that we had no mounted force. With but a squadron
or two of my old regiment, not a man of Leigonyer's force would
have escaped; for the country here is open enough to use them, and
I should certainly have had no compunction in cutting down the
rascals who are always shouting for blood, and yet are such arrant
cowards that they fly without firing a shot."

The day after the capture of Bressuire the Vendeans marched against
Thouars, to which town Quetineau had retreated with his force.
Thouars was the only town in La Vendee which was still walled. The
fortifications were in a dilapidated condition, but nevertheless
offered a considerable advantage to a force determined upon a
desperate resistance. With the fugitives from Bressuire, and the
garrison already in Thouars, Quetineau was at the head of three
thousand five hundred troops; of these, however, comparatively few
could be depended upon. The successive defeats that had been
inflicted on the troops of the Republic, by the Vendeans, had
entirely destroyed their morale. They no longer felt any confidence
in their power to resist the onslaught of the peasants.

Quetineau himself had no hope of making a successful resistance. He
had repeatedly written urgent letters to the authorities at Paris,
saying that nothing could be done without large reinforcements of
disciplined troops; and that the National Guard and volunteers were
worse than useless, as they frequently ran at the first shot, and
excited the hostility of the people, generally, by their habits of
plundering. Nevertheless, the old soldier determined to resist to
the last, however hopeless the conflict; and when the Vendeans
approached, at six o'clock in the morning, they found that the
bridge of Viennes was barricaded and guarded.

As soon as they attacked, the general reinforced the defenders of
the bridge by his most trustworthy troops; a battalion, three
hundred and twenty-five strong, of Marseillais, and a battalion of
the National Guard of Nievre. So stoutly was the post held that the
Vendean general saw that the bridge could not be taken, without
terrible loss. He therefore contented himself with keeping up a
heavy fire all day, while preparing an attack from other quarters.

The first step was to destroy the bridge behind the castle, and to
make a breach in the wall near the Paris gate, thereby cutting off
the garrison's means of retreat. At five o'clock a large body of
peasantry was massed for an attack on the bridge at Viennes; and
its defenders, seeing the storm that was preparing, retired into
the town. The Vendeans crossed the bridge but, as they approached
the walls, they were attacked by a battalion of the National Guard
of Deux Sevres and a body of gendarmes and, taken by surprise, were
driven back some distance. Their leaders, however, speedily rallied
them; and in the meantime other bodies forced their way into the
town, at several points.

To avoid a massacre of his troops, Quetineau hoisted the white
flag. On this, as on all other occasions in the northern portion of
La Vendee, the prisoners were well treated. They were offered their
freedom, on condition of promising not to serve against La Vendee
again; and to ensure that this oath should be kept for some time,
at least, their heads were shaved before their release, a step that
was afterwards taken throughout the war.

Quetineau was treated with all honour, and was given his freedom,
without conditions. Although he knew well that neither his long
services, nor the efforts that he had made, would save him from the
fury of the Convention; he returned to Paris where, after the
mockery of a trial, he was sent to the guillotine--a fate which
awaited all those who failed, in the face of impossibilities, to
carry out the plans of the mob leaders. Instead of blame, the
general deserved a high amount of praise for the manner in which he
had defended the town against a force six times as strong as his
own.

Three thousand muskets, ten pieces of cannon, and a considerable amount
of ammunition fell into the hands of the victors. This success left it
open to the Vendeans either to march against Leigonyer--the remnant of
whose army was in a state of insubordination at Doug, and could have
offered no opposition, but must have retreated to Saumur--or to clear
the country south and west.

The former would unquestionably have been the wiser course, for the
capture of Saumur would have been a heavy blow, indeed, to the
Republicans; but the peasants, whose villages and property were
threatened by the presence of the Blues at Fontenay, Parthenay, and
Chataigneraie, were so strongly in favour of the other alternative
that it was adopted; and the force broke into two divisions, one
moving towards Chataigneraie, and the other against Fontenay.

Parthenay was evacuated at once by the Republicans, as soon as news
reached the authorities of the approach of the Vendeans. The
latter, however, made no stay, but continued their march towards
Chataigneraie. The town was held by General Chalbos, with three
thousand men. After two hours' fighting Chalbos, seeing that his
retreat was menaced, fell back.

He took up a position at Fontenay, where he was joined by General
Sandoz, from Niort. The country around the town was unfavourable
for the Vendeans, being a large plain, and the result was
disastrous to them. The Republicans were strong in cavalry, and a
portion of these fell on the flank of the Vendeans, while the
remainder charged them in rear. They fell into disorder at once,
and the cavalry captured a portion of their artillery.

The Republican infantry, seeing the success of their cavalry,
advanced stoutly and in good order. In vain the leaders of the
Vendeans strove to reanimate their men, and induce them to charge
the enemy. The panic that had begun spread rapidly and, in a few
minutes, they became a mob of fugitives scattering in all
directions, and leaving behind them sixteen cannon, and all the
munitions of war they had captured.

La Rochejaquelein who, after he had visited Lescure at Clisson, had
rejoined the army with a party of gentlemen, covered the retreat with
desperate valour; charging the enemy's cavalry again and again and,
before falling back, allowing time for the fugitives to gain the
shelter of the woods. The loss of men was therefore small, but the fact
that the peasants, who had come to be regarded as almost irresistible
by the troops, should have been so easily defeated, raised the Blues
from the depth of depression into which they had fallen; while the blow
inflicted upon the Vendeans was correspondingly great. It was some
little time before the peasants could be aroused again.

Small bodies, indeed, kept the field and, under their leaders,
showed so bold a face whenever reconnoitring parties of the Blues
went out from Fontenay, that the troops were not long before they
again began to lose heart; while the generals, who had thought that
the victory at Fontenay would bring the war to a conclusion, again
began to pour in letters to the authorities at Paris, calling for
reinforcements.

On the side of the Vendeans, the priests everywhere exerted
themselves to impress upon their flocks the necessity of again
joining the army. Cathelineau himself made a tour through the
Bocage, and the peasants, persuaded that the defeat was a
punishment for having committed some excesses at the capture of
Chataigneraie, responded to the call. In nine days after the
reverse they were again in force near Fontenay, and in much greater
numbers than before; for very many of them had returned to their
homes, as soon as Thouars had been captured, and their strength in
the first battle was but little greater than that of the
Republicans.

Burning with ardour to avenge their defeat, and rendered furious by
the pillage of all the houses of the patriots at Chataigneraie--to
which town Chalbos with seven thousand troops had marched--it was
against him that the Vendeans first moved. Chalbos, who had
occupied his time in issuing vainglorious proclamations, and in
writing assurances to the Convention that the Vendeans were so
panic stricken that the war was virtually over, only saved his army
by a long and painful night march back to Fontenay. Here the troops
lay down to sleep, feeling certain that there could be no attack
that day by the enemy.

At one o'clock, however, the Vendeans issued from the woods on to
the plain, and the troops were hastily called to arms.

The Royal Catholic Army, as it now called itself, advanced in three
columns. It was without cannon, but its enthusiasm more than
counterbalanced this deficiency. The Vendeans received unshaken the
discharge of the artillery of the Blues, pursuing their usual
tactics of throwing themselves to the ground when they saw the
flash of the cannon, and then leaping up again and rushing forward
with loud shouts. The cavalry were ordered to charge, but only
twenty men obeyed. The rest turned and fled. The infantry offered
but a feeble resistance and, in ten minutes after the first gun was
fired, the Republican army was a mob of fugitives. Fontenay was
taken and, what pleased the peasants even more, their beloved
cannon, Marie Jeanne, was recaptured, having been recovered by
young Foret who, with a handful of peasants, charged the cavalry
that were covering the retreat, and snatched it from their hands.
After this victory the peasants, as usual, returned for the most
part to their homes.

As there was no probability of further fighting at the moment, Jean
Martin and Leigh started for the chateau. They had first asked
Cathelineau if they could be spared.

"For the moment, yes. I hope that we shall be joined by the Count
de Lescure, in a day or two. He will, of course, be one of our
generals. He has great influence with the peasantry and, if he can
but persuade them to remain under arms for a time, we will attack
the enemy. Messieurs d'Elbee and Bonchamp, and I may say several of
the gentlemen with me, are of opinion that if we are to be
successful in the end, it can only be by taking the offensive, and
marching against Paris. They urge that we should get Monsieur
Charette to go with us with his army, cross the Loire, rouse all
Brittany, and then march, a hundred thousand strong, against Paris.

"They say that although we have been most successful this time, and
repulsed the invaders everywhere except on the coast, they will
come again and again, with larger forces, till they overpower us.
Possibly, if Monsieur de Lescure and Henri de la Rochejaquelein aid
us with their influence and authority, we might persuade the
peasants that it is better to make one great effort, and then to
have done with it, than to be constantly called from their homes
whenever the Blues are in sufficient strength to invade us. We
shall tell them, too, that after the two repulses they have
suffered, the Blues will grow more and more savage, and that
already orders have been sent for all villages to be destroyed, and
all hedges and woods to be cut down--a business that, by the way,
would employ the whole French army for some years.

"However, as soon as our plans are decided upon, I will send a
messenger to you. At present there is nothing requiring either you
or your scouts, Monsieur Stansfield, and after the good service
that they have rendered, it is but fair that they should have a
short rest."

Patsey was delighted when her husband and Leigh arrived. She was
under no uneasiness as to their safety as, after the repulse of
Berruyer's army at Chemille, and the rout of Leigonyer, Leigh had
sent one of the boys home, with the assurance that they were
unhurt.

"I don't quite know how much to believe," she said, as they sat
down to a meal, "of the reports that the boys have brought home.
The first came and told me that on your arrival at Cathelineau's,
he himself praised them all, and that Monsieur Bonchamp drilled
them for an hour. Then came home two wounded lads, with a story
about the great fight, in which they insisted that Leigh commanded,
and that they kept the army of the Blues at bay for three hours,
and killed hundreds of them. The next messenger told us a tale
about Leigh's having discovered some treachery, upon the part of
the man who was in charge of the artillery, and that he was in
consequence shot. He insisted that Cathelineau had declared that
Leigh had saved Chemille, because the enemy were so long delayed
that Monsieur d'Elbee, with his band, had time to come up from
Chollet and rout the Blues.

"Of course, I did not believe anything like all they said; but I
suppose there must be something in it, for I questioned the boys
myself; and though I had no doubt they would make as much as they
could of their own doings, among their neighbours and friends, they
would hardly venture to lie, though they might exaggerate greatly
to me."

"Strange as it may appear, Patsey," Jean said, "they told you the
simple truth and, as soon as we have finished supper, I will tell
you the whole story of what has taken place since we left; and you
will see that this brother of yours has cut a very conspicuous
figure in our affairs."

"You are not joking, Jean?"

"Not in the smallest degree. I can assure you that if Leigh chose
to set up as leader on his own account, a large proportion of the
peasants would follow him."

"Ridiculous, Jean!" Leigh exclaimed hotly.

"It may seem ridiculous, but it is a real fact.

"The peasants, you must know, Patsey, choose their own leaders.
There is no dividing or sorting them, no getting them to keep in
regular companies; they simply follow the leader in whom they have
the most confidence, or who appears to them the most fortunate. If
he does anything that they don't like, or they do not approve of
his plan, they tell him so. Leigh's defence of the stream against
Berruyer's army created a feeling of enthusiasm among them, and I
verily believe that his discovery of the plot to render the cannon
useless was regarded, by them, as almost supernatural.  Superstitious
and ignorant as they are, they are, as you know, always ready to
consider anything they can't understand, and which acts greatly in
their favour, as a special interposition of Providence. I am bound
to say that Leigh acted upon such very slender grounds that even
Cathelineau, who is enormously in advance of the peasantry in general,
was staggered by it; and told me he could not have believed it
possible that anyone should, on such a slight clue, have followed the
matter up, unless by a special inspiration."

"The thing was as simple as A B C," Leigh broke in.

"You will have to remain a silent listener, Leigh," his sister
said, "when Jean is telling me the story. I cannot have him
interrupted."

"Very well," Leigh said. "Then I will put on my hat, take a fresh
horse from the stable, and ride off to see how the two wounded boys
are going on."

"I can tell you that they are almost well; but still, if you don't
want to hear Jean's story of all your adventures, by all means go
round. I am sure that the tenants will be gratified at hearing that
you rode over to see them, the very first evening you came home."

The Vendean leaders had for some time felt the necessity of having
a generally recognized authority, and after the battle of Fontenay
they decided to appoint a council, who were to reside permanently
at some central place and administer the affairs of the whole
district, provide supplies for the armies, and make all other civil
arrangements; so that the generals would be able to attend only to
the actual fighting. A body of eighteen men was chosen, to
administer affairs under the title of the Superior Council; and a
priest who had joined them at Thouars, and who called himself,
though without a shadow of right, the Bishop of Agra, was appointed
president. He was an eloquent man, of commanding presence, and the
leaders had not thought it worth while to inquire too minutely into
his claim to the title of bishop; for the peasants had been full of
enthusiasm at having a prelate among them, and his influence and
exhortations had been largely instrumental in gathering the army
which had won the battle of Fontenay.

But although he was appointed president, the leading spirit of the
council was the Abbe Bernier, a man of great energy and intellect,
with a commanding person, ready pen, and a splendid voice; but who
was altogether without principle, and threw himself into the cause
for purely selfish and ambitious motives.

It was on the sixteenth of May that Fontenay was won, and on the
third of June the church bells again called the peasantry to arms.
The disaster at Fontenay had done more than all the representations
of their generals to rouse the Convention. Seven battalions of
regular troops arrived, and Biron, who had been appointed
commander-in-chief, reached Niort and assumed the command.

He wrote at once, to the minister of war, to say that he found the
confusion impossible to describe. There was an absence of any
organization, whatever. The town was crowded with fugitives who,
having distinguished themselves by the violence of their opinions
and the severity of their measures, before the insurrection broke
out, were forced to take refuge in the cities. The general reported
that he had caused the assembly to be sounded again and again,
without more than a tenth part of the troops paying the slightest
heed to the summons.

The army was without cavalry, without waggons for carrying
supplies, without an ambulance train--in fact, it was nothing but a
half-armed mob. Biron himself was at heart a Royalist, and when he
in turn had to meet his fate by the guillotine, openly declared
himself to be one; and the repugnance which he felt on assuming the
command against the Vendeans--which he had only accepted after a
long delay, and after petitioning in vain to be allowed to remain
at his former post--was heightened when he discovered the state of
affairs, and the utter confusion that prevailed everywhere.

When sending the order for the bells to ring on the first of June,
the superior council of the Vendeans issued a proclamation, which
was to be read in all the churches, to the effect that provisional
councils should be formed, in each parish, to provide for the
subsistence of the women and children of men with the army.
Receipts were to be given for all supplies of grain used for this
purpose, which were to be paid for by the superior council. Those
men who did not remain permanently with the army, as long as
necessary, would be called upon to pay the taxes to which they were
subject, prior to the rising.

The sales of the land belonging to the churches--which had been
sequestrated on the refusal of the clergy to comply with the orders
of the Convention--were declared null and void. As these had been
bought by the upholders of the Revolution, for no devout Vendean
would have taken part in the robbery of the church, the blow was a
heavy one to those who had so long been dominant in La Vendee.
These lands were, for the time, to be administered for the good of
the cause by the parish council.

It was hoped that this proclamation would act beneficially in
keeping the peasants in the field; as they would know that their
families were cared for, and that if they only went out at times,
they would subject themselves to taxation, and be regarded by the
families of those who remained with the army as being wanting in
zeal.

Upon rejoining the army, Leigh and his party of scouts learned, to
their satisfaction, that it was intended to march against Saumur.
They were now double their former strength, as the story of what
they had done had roused the spirit of emulation among lads in the
surrounding parishes; and Leigh could have had a hundred, had he
chosen. He was this time mounted, in order that he might at times
ride with Rochejaquelein, while at others he went out scouting with
his party.

"I am heartily glad to see you back again, my friend," the young
count said, shaking him warmly by the hand. "To be with you does me
good, for the generals, and even Lescure, are so serious and solemn
that I feel afraid to make a joke. You see, in the cavalry we have
little responsibility except in an actual battle. In an open
country we should scout ahead, and have affairs with the enemy's
outposts; but in this land of woods, where one can seldom see more
than twenty yards ahead, there is little use for us. Besides, with
the exception of a score or two of gentlemen, I have no troops to
command and, having health and good spirits, and enjoying life, I
cannot go about as if the cares of life were on my shoulders. Your
brother-in-law Martin is a capital fellow but, with a wife and
child, he cannot feel so lighthearted as I do; though next to
yourself he is the most ready to join me in a laugh. Sailors seem
always to be lighthearted, and he certainly is no exception."

"He is a splendid fellow, count."

"Yes, he is a fine fellow; but you see, he is seven or eight years
older than I am, while I feel with you that you are about my own
age. By the way, it is high time that we dropped calling each other
by our surnames, especially as mine is such a long one; so in
future let us be' Henri' and 'Leigh 'to each other. Most of the
peasants call me Henri."

"They generally speak of you as 'our Henri,'" Leigh said, "and
would follow you through fire and water. I think the Vendeans are,
as a whole, serious people; and they admire you all the more
because you are so unlike themselves. If you do not mind my saying
so, you remind me much more of the young English officers I used to
meet, at Poole, than of Frenchmen."

"Yes, I have often been told that I am more English than French in
appearance, and perhaps in manner; for in France most men have
forgotten, for the past four years, what it is to smile; and I
question whether a laugh would not be considered, in itself,
sufficient to ensure a man's condemnation as an enemy of the
Republic.

"Well, so we are going to Saumur! That is an enterprise worth
undertaking. It may be considered as the headquarters of the Blues
in these parts. There is a considerable body of troops there. If we
capture it, we shall give a rare fright to Poitiers, Tours, and the
other towns, and cause a scare even in Paris."

Leigh was requested to go forward at daybreak, with his band, to
discover the situation of the enemy, who might come out from their
situation to give battle before Doue. Leigonyer, who commanded
here, had with him four good regiments; and occupied several strong
positions on the right bank of the river Layon, and also a post
called Rochette on the left bank.

The fact that the Vendeans were advancing against them was already
known to Leigonyer for, confident as they now felt, the Vendeans
made no secret of their destination, and the news was speedily
carried by the adherents of the Convention, who everywhere acted as
spies. Three such men were captured by Leigh's party, making their
way to Leigonyer; and, being unable to give any account of
themselves, were immediately shot.

Leigh had no difficulty in ascertaining the position of the enemy
and, as the army was but two hours' march in the rear, he himself
rode back to carry the news.

At ten o'clock the Vendeans arrived, and at once attacked the
Blues; their main column throwing itself upon the centre of the
position, which it speedily forced. Leigonyer's troops at Rochette
and Verches were thereby threatened in flank; and Leigonyer, who
was himself present, ordered the whole force to fall back to a
position which he had before chosen as being favourable for giving
battle behind Doue.

But the Vendeans pressed forward with such eagerness that the
retreat speedily degenerated into a rout; and the troops, for the
most part throwing away their arms, fled precipitately, carrying
the reserve with them to Bourlan, a strong position in front of
Saumur, where General Menou was stationed, and where he succeeded
in rallying them.

Leigonyer, having from his previous experience great doubts as to
whether he should be successful in his stand against the Vendeans,
had taken the precaution to send back the waggons with the
munitions and stores, together with the artillery. As his men had
fled too rapidly to be overtaken, the numerical loss was not great.
He himself, in his report of the fight, ascribed it to a cause that
has been frequently used by the French to excuse their defeats;
namely that it was due to treachery, for many of the men broke and
fled, directly the action began; and these, he avowed, could have
been none other than Vendeans who had disguised themselves, and
enlisted for the purpose of causing discontent among the men, and
confusion in their ranks, the first time they met the enemy.

Since the commencement of the campaign he had several times begged
to be relieved of his command, and to return to the post that he
occupied previously. He now repeated the demand, saying that he had
lost the confidence of his men, and that a new commander would be
far more likely to succeed with them. This time the request was
granted, and General Menou was appointed to succeed him.

Fortunately for Leigonyer, the commissioners of the Convention
reported most favourably of the activity and energy that he had
personally shown and, although he was accused of treachery in the
Assembly, this report saved him from the guillotine.

As soon as the fight was over, Cathelineau sent for Leigh.

"It is of the greatest importance that we should know what is
passing at Saumur. We have learned, from one of the officers who is
a prisoner in our hands, that Biron is at Tours, and is
endeavouring to persuade the Paris battalions that have arrived
there to march, at once, to Saumur. They have absolutely refused to
do so, until the arrival of the cannon that were promised to them,
before they left Paris. They may, by this time, be marching towards
Saumur, with or without their cannon. General Salomon is at
Thouars, with a considerable force, and it is possible that he also
may march to aid in the defence of Saumur; and as he has, in
addition to the new levies, a fine battalion of gendarmes, his
arrival at Saumur would greatly increase the strength of the
defence.

"I should say that half your scouts had better go to Thouars and,
should there be any considerable movement of troops there, they
should bring me word at the greatest possible speed. We shall
tomorrow march forward and take post facing the enemy's positions,
and on the ninth shall attack. I tell you this in order that your
scouts may know where to find me.

"To you, with the other half of your party, I give the charge of
watching Saumur. If one or two of them could cross the Loire and
watch the road between Tours and Saumur, and bring me speedy word
if they see a large body of troops coming along, we should know
what force we have to encounter, and act accordingly."

"You shall have news, general," Leigh said and, saluting, at once
joined his band.

Jean, who had been talking with him when the message from
Cathelineau arrived, and had waited to hear what his orders were,
said as he came up:

"You and your regiment are off on an adventure again, Leigh?"

"Yes, we are going to watch Thouars and Saumur, and to find out, if
possible, if the battalions from Paris are on their way from
Tours."

"The first will be easy enough but, unless you swim the Loire, I
don't see how the second is to be managed."

"I should think that a boat might be obtained, at one of the
villages on the river bank. Anyhow, I shall get across somehow."

Andre was ordered to take his party to Thouars.

"Remember," Leigh said, "there is to be no fighting; not a shot
must be fired. I want you and another to enter the town, if
possible, from the other side; to see whether there is any unusual
excitement, and especially whether there is any stir among the
troops that would seem to show that they are on the point of
marching away. You are to remain there until you see some such
movement. The lad that you are taking in with you must go out,
every hour, to the spot where you have left the rest; and one of
these must at once start with your report to the general, who will
tomorrow be on his way to Saumur, and will halt not far from its
works of defence. Having delivered his message, he is to return to
you, for you must continue to send off messengers until you hear
that there is fighting at Saumur. If the commander of the Blues at
Thouars has not moved by that time, you need remain no longer, but
return with your party and join the army."

After Andre had left, Leigh marched with Pierre and the others to a
spot up the river, ten miles above Saumur.

"Can any of you swim?" he asked.

Three only of the party were able to reply in the affirmative.

"Do you think that you could swim across the Loire?"

All of them expressed great doubt of being able to do so.

"Well, at any rate, I must take you with me," he said. "To be able
to swim a little is a good deal better than not to be able to swim
at all, for by making a faggot you will gain such support as will
enable you to get across.

"Now, Pierre, you must for the present remain here. Tomorrow
morning you can go into the village, whose church tower you can see
over there, and find out whether the people there are for us or for
the Blues. If they are for us you can show them Cathelineau's
order, of which you have a copy, and they will certainly provide
you with a boat. In that case, cross the river with your party and
take post on the opposite bank, keeping the boat with you, and a
man who can row. Then, as soon as one of my messengers arrives
there, you will send on my report to the general who, tomorrow
evening, will be not far from Saumur. Do the same with each
messenger that arrives.

"If, on reaching the bank opposite the village, they do not find
you there, they will follow the opposite bank down until they are
opposite to you. Then they will call, and you, unless anything has
happened to drive you away, will reply. The messenger will then
swim across with my report, as in the other case. You will send it
forward at once, and he will return to the spot I shall appoint.

"I see there is another village, a mile below us. I shall go there
with my three followers, tonight. We will manage to steal a boat
and row across. I shall go to that village instead of the other,
because the loss of a boat may cause anger and, even if well
disposed to the cause, they might not receive you well. However, I
shall tie the boat up on the opposite bank when I leave it, so that
it will not drift away down the river; and when they see it in the
morning, they will only have to send another boat across to fetch
it over."

"I understand, captain, and will do my best to carry out your
instructions. Even if I find that, at the village above, they are
divided in opinion, I shall surely be able to discover, from their
talk, some who are on our side, and who will arrange to bring a
boat down to this spot; in which case your messenger, when he does
not find us opposite the village, will follow the bank down till he
does so."

"At any rate, Pierre, here are a couple of crowns, so that you can
arrange with a man for the hire of the boat, and his services, for
twenty-four hours, if necessary."



Chapter 8: The Capture Of Saumur.


The arrangements being now completed, Leigh and his band lay down
in a thicket near the bank of the river, and slept for some hours.
At one o'clock in the morning Leigh rose and, with his three
followers, started for the village. It was but twenty minutes'
walk. Not a soul was stirring, not a light visible in any window.

They found that three or four boats were lying by the bank. Leigh
chose the smallest of these and, loosening the head rope from the
post to which it was fastened, took his place in her with the
others. Accustomed as he was to rowing, from his childhood, he soon
reached the opposite bank. Here he fastened the boat up, and struck
across country until he reached the road. Then he sent one of his
followers westward.

"You will follow the road," he said, "until within a mile of Tours;
then you will conceal yourself, and watch who passes along. If you
see a large body of troops coming, you will at once strike across
country and make your way down to the village above that at which
we crossed. You heard the instructions that I gave to Pierre. If
you find him and the others there with the boat, you will report
what you have seen. He will send another messenger on with the news
to Cathelineau, and you will remain with him until I arrive.

"If he is not there, you will follow the bank of the river down to
the other village. You will give a shout as you pass the spot where
we halted. If no answer comes, you will probably find Pierre and
the boat somewhere below. You will not miss him, for I have ordered
him to post two of your comrades on the bank, so that you cannot
pass them unseen. As in the first case, you will remain with him
until I arrive, and your message will be carried to the general by
another of his party.

"In case you do not find him at all, you will know that I have
returned before you, and have taken him and the others on with me.
In that case, you must make a faggot sufficiently large to support
you in the water, and swim across. The river is low, and it will
not be many yards out of your depth."

"I could swim that without the faggot, sir."

"Yes; but it is better to have it. I don't suppose that you have
ever swum in your clothes, and you would find it heavy work;
therefore you had better rely upon the faggot to keep you up and,
with its aid, you will have no difficulty in crossing."

The morning now was breaking, for in June the nights are short and,
after waiting for an hour, Leigh and his two companions--all of
whom had divested themselves of their weapons and belts, which they
had left in Pierre's charge--started for Saumur. In the presence of
so large a number of troops, with scarcely any training and
discipline, and with the excitement that would have been caused by
the defeat of Leigonyer, and the prospect of an attack by the
Vendeans, Leigh felt confident that three country lads ran no risk
of being questioned. However, he took the precaution of learning
the name of the village he passed through, six miles from the town;
so that if any one should happen to ask where they came from, and
what they were doing, he could give the name of a village, and say
that they had merely come in from curiosity, hearing that there was
likely to be a battle. Assuredly many country people would be
coming for the same purpose.

They entered the town at six o'clock. It was already astir. The
citizens, with anxious faces, were talking together in little
groups. Soldiers were loitering about in the streets, totally
regardless of the bugles and drums that were sounding in the
marketplace, and at various points outside the town. The civil
functionaries, in their scarves of office, hurried fussily about,
but for once they were unheeded. But a week before, a denunciation
by any of these men would have been sufficient to ensure the arrest
and imprisonment, and probably the death, of anyone against whom
they had a grudge. Now they were in greater danger than those who
had dreaded and hated them.

At present there was no talk of politics among the groups of
townspeople. Men who were the chief upholders of the regime of
confiscation and murder, and others who in their heart loathed and
hated it, were discussing the probabilities of an attack by the
Vendeans, and what would happen were that attack to be successful.
Would the town be given over to sack? Would there be a massacre and
slaughter, such as Chalbos and other commanders of the Blues had
inflicted in the Vendean villages through which they had passed?
The Vendeans in arms were called, by the Blues, "the brigands."
Would they behave like brigands, or would they conduct themselves
as Royal and Catholic soldiers, as they called themselves?

As the hours passed, the streets became more crowded. Numbers of
the country people came in to learn the news. Spies from Doue had
already brought in word that orders had been issued, by
Cathelineau, that the army should march at eight o'clock for
Saumur; and all doubt that it was their intention either to attack
the town, or to accept battle in the plain before it, was at an
end. The assembly was sounded in all quarters of the town and,
presently, parties of the mounted gendarmes rode through the
streets, and drove the soldiers to their rendezvous.

Presently Leigh saw General Menou, and some other officers of rank,
enter a large house.

"Who lives there?" he asked a woman who was standing near him.

"General Duhoux. He is in command, you know, but he has not
recovered from a wound he got at Chemille, and is unable to ride."

Leigh had no doubt that a council of war was about to be held and,
bidding his companions wait for him at the end of the street, he
sauntered across the road, and sat down on the pavement by the side
of the entrance. Leaning against the wall, he took from his pocket
a hunk of the peasants' black bread and, cutting it up with his
knife, proceeded to munch it unconcernedly. An officer and two or
three troopers were standing by their horses' heads, in the road
opposite the door, evidently awaiting orders.

In half an hour General Menou himself came out, and said to the
officer:

"Sir, you will ride at once to Thouars, by way of Loudun, and
deliver this despatch to General Salomon. It is most urgent. When
you hand it to him, you can say that I begged you to impress upon
him the necessity for losing not a moment of time. It is all
important that he should arrive here tonight, for tomorrow morning
we may be attacked. Take your troopers with you."

The officer and his men mounted at once, and rode off at full
speed. Leigh remained quiet until Menou and the other officers rode
out from the courtyard and proceeded down the street, followed by
their escort. Then he got up, stretched himself, and walked slowly
to the spot where his two comrades were awaiting him.

"I have learned what I wanted to know," he said. "Do you both make
your way back to the spot where Pierre will be awaiting us, and
tell him that I am going to swim the river, a mile above the town.
He is to wait where he is until Lucien comes back from Tours--which
will not be till twelve o'clock tonight, for his orders are to
remain within sight of the town till six in the afternoon. If by
that hour the troops there have not set out, they will not arrive
until after we have captured Saumur.

"Saunter along quietly. There is no hurry."

After they had set out he, too, strolled out of the town, kept
along the road for another half mile, and then struck off across
the fields towards the river. Arrived there, he took off his heavy
country shoes, tied them round his waist, and waded out into the
river. He had but some thirty yards to swim. As soon as he reached
the opposite bank, he poured the water out of his shoes, put them
on again, and set out at a run. He had to make a detour, so as to
get beyond the eminences on which the Republican troops were posted
and, after running for a couple of miles, came down on the road.

A short distance farther he arrived at a village. A peasant, with a
horse and cart, was standing in front of a cabaret.

"Do you want to earn two crowns?" he asked the man.

The latter nodded.

"Two crowns are not easily earned," he said. "I was just starting
for Montreuil but, if it pays me better to go in another direction,
I must put that journey off until tomorrow."

"I want you to carry me to Doue," he said, "at the best speed of
which your horse is capable."

The countryman looked at him doubtfully. His clothes were not yet
dry. Leigh saw that the man was not sure of his power to fulfil his
promise. He therefore produced two crowns, and held them up.

"By Saint Matthew," he said, "it is the first silver I have seen
for months. I will take you."

Leigh jumped up beside the peasant. The latter at once whipped up
his horse, and started at a brisk trot.

"You know that the Catholic Army is there?" he asked.

"Yes, I know. I belong to it myself. I have been with it from the
first."

"I would have taken you for nothing, if you had said so before,"
the man said. "We are all heart and soul with them, here; and if,
as they say, they will come along here to attack Saumur, every man
in the village will go with them. How is it that you are here?"

"I am an officer," Leigh said, "and have been, in disguise, into
Saumur to see what is going on there; and am now taking the news
back to Cathelineau."

Conversation was difficult, for the jolting of the cart was
terrible, and Leigh found it next to impossible to talk. He was
well content when the belfries of Doue came into sight. On arriving
at the town, they drew up at the house where Cathelineau and the
generals had their quarters. As he got down, he offered the peasant
the two crowns.

"No, sir," the man said, "I will not take a sou for my service. We
in this part have had no chance of doing anything, and I should be
ashamed, indeed, to take money from those who have been fighting
for the good cause.

"As you say they will advance tomorrow, I will wait here. It may be
that my cart will be useful and, whether or no, I shall stay if it
is only to get a sight of Cathelineau, whose name we all
reverence."

"I will tell him of your goodwill. You had best remain here for a
few minutes."

He was about to enter, when two armed peasants, who were guarding
the door, stopped him.

"No one can enter. The general is in council."

"Do you not know me? I am Captain Stansfield."

The men drew back at once. It was not strange that they did not
recognize him. He generally wore a sort of uniform, with a red sash
round his waist, which was the distinguishing badge of the
officers; but had always adopted a peasant dress, on setting out on
an expedition. There was no one to announce him, and he entered a
room where the leaders were sitting round a table.

They looked up in surprise. He was grimed with the dust, which had
risen in clouds as he drove along, and his clothes bore signs of
their immersion.

"Back again, monsieur?" Cathelineau exclaimed, "and with news, no
doubt."

"Very important news, sir. I have been in Saumur, and have learned
that an officer has started for Thouars, by way of Loudun, with
orders to General Salomon to march instantly into Saumur, and that
he is to arrive there tonight. I left the town five minutes after
the messenger. Three-quarters of an hour later I struck the road,
two miles this side of Saumur; and have been brought here in a
cart, by a peasant. It is now four o'clock, and I do not think that
the officer would arrive at Thouars before half past three."

"That is important news, indeed," Cathelineau said.

"Well, gentlemen, what do you think had best be done?"

"It seems to me that nothing could be better," Monsieur de Lescure
said. "The enemy's column cannot start until five o'clock, at the
earliest. It will be dark before they can arrive at Saumur. I know
the road well. It runs in several places through woods and, where
this is not the case, there are high hedges.

"Nothing could be more suitable for an ambuscade. I propose that
half of our force should march, at once, and take post on the other
side of Montreuil. It will be nearly sunset before Salomon can
arrive at that town and, if we engage him at dusk, he will lose
half the benefit of the discipline of the regiment of gendarmes who
will, no doubt, accompany him."

"I quite approve of that plan, monsieur," Cathelineau said.

"Are you all of the same opinion, gentlemen?"

There was a general expression of assent.

"Will you, General Bonchamp, with Monsieur de Lescure, take command
of that force? I myself will proceed, with the rest of our army,
until past the point where the road from Montreuil falls into that
from this town. In that way, if General Bonchamp fails to arrest
Salomon's march, we can fall upon him; and on the other hand, if
the firing should be heard at Saumur, and Menou leads out a force
to assist Salomon, we can oppose him.

"General Dommaigne, your cavalry would be useless in the attack on
Salomon, while it might be of great value if Menou comes out.

"You have rendered us another good service, Monsieur Stansfield. If
Salomon had thrown another four thousand men into Saumur, including
his regiment of gendarmes, it would have been a serious business to
take the place; whereas with the troops Menou has, half of whom are
Leigonyer's fugitives, I do not anticipate any great difficulty."

"I shall be glad, general, if you would speak a word to the good
fellow who brought me here. I had bargained with him for two crowns
but, when he found that I was one of your officers, he refused to
receive anything; and moreover, he said that he would remain here
with his cart, until tomorrow, as perhaps he might be useful in
carrying stores. He expressed the greatest desire to see you."

"Certainly I will speak to him," Cathelineau said, as he sent out
to give orders for the church bells to ring, and the horns to blow.

The man was standing by his cart, a short distance off, in the hope
of catching sight of Cathelineau. The general at once walked up to
him.

"This is General Cathelineau," Leigh said.

The countryman took off his hat, and dropped on his knees.

"Get up, my good fellow," Cathelineau said; "I am but a Vendean
peasant, like yourself. I thank you for the good service that you
have rendered, by bringing Monsieur Stansfield so quickly to us.
The time it has saved may make all the difference to us and, in the
future, you will have the satisfaction of knowing that you have
played an important part in the capture of Saumur."

In five minutes the quiet street was crowded with men. The peasants
had encamped in the fields round the town and, at the summons,
caught up their arms and ran in hastily, feeling sure that the
occasion was important, as they had been told that they were not to
march until next morning.

The divisions commanded by Monsieur de Lescure and General Bonchamp
speedily gathered round the distinguishing flags of those officers.
Other leaders joined them with their followers, until some ten
thousand men were gathered outside the town.

Leigh had changed his clothes and mounted his horse, Monsieur de
Lescure having invited him to ride with him. As they were about to
start, one of Andre's messengers arrived, with the news that an
officer and three troopers had arrived at the town; and that, ten
minutes later, the trumpets were sounding the assembly.

"It is well that we got your news first," Monsieur de Lescure said
to Leigh, "for otherwise we could hardly have got our forces
together, and been ready for a start, until it was too late to
intercept Salomon."

The route of the column was by a byroad, between Doue and
Montreuil. It was seven o'clock before they approached the town.
Then, striking off the road, they marched through the fields until
a mile and a half to the east of it, when they halted in a thick
wood. They were now divided into three columns, of equal strength.
That under Monsieur de Lescure occupied the wood on one side of the
road, that under Monsieur Bonchamp the other side. The third column
were posted in rear of the wood, and were to thickly line the
hedges that bordered it.

It was just dusk when the force from Thouars came along. It
consisted of three thousand six hundred men, with four pieces of
cannon. It was allowed to pass nearly through the wood, when a
heavy fire was opened upon it on both flanks.

The regiment of gendarmes which led the column showed great
coolness and, animated by their example, the whole force remained
steady. Darkness came on, but it was not until eleven o'clock that
there was any change in the situation. Owing to the darkness in the
forest, neither side was able to distinguish its foes. The men
fired only at the flashes of the muskets.

Lescure then sent round four or five hundred men, who suddenly fell
upon the baggage train of the enemy. The guard were completely
taken by surprise. Many of the carters cut the ropes and traces,
and galloped off, delighted to escape from a service into which
they had, for the most part, been dragged against their will.

The alarm thus begun spread rapidly. The young troops who,
encouraged by the example of the gendarmes, had so far stood their
ground, at once lost heart. The darkness of the night, their
ignorance as to the strength of the force that had attacked the
rear, and the fear that all retreat would be cut off, would have
shaken older soldiers than these and, in spite of the efforts of
their officers, the wildest confusion soon reigned.

The Vendeans pressed their attack more hotly, and General Salomon,
seeing that unless a retreat was made while there was yet time, a
terrible disaster might take place, ordered the gendarmes to fall
back in good order. The movement was effected without great loss.
In the darkness it was impossible for Lescure and the other leaders
to get their men together, and to press hard upon their retreating
foes; and they were well satisfied at having carried out the object
of their expedition, and prevented the force from Thouars from
entering Saumur.

Word was sent to Cathelineau that Salomon had fallen back, and the
peasants then lay down till morning.

Andre, with his little band, had joined the force when fighting
began. They had, as soon as Salomon started from Thouars, followed
his movements at a distance, from time to time sending off a
messenger to Doue giving an account of the progress of the enemy.
As soon as the firing broke out in the wood, Andre, with the twelve
who still remained with him, joined the combatants and, finding
that Leigh was with Monsieur de Lescure, was not long in
discovering him.

"You have done very well, Andre," he said. "I don't think anything
will come of this fighting. It is getting dark already, and I have
no fear, now, that the Blues will break through. Neither party will
be able to see the other, in this wood, and certainly you could do
no good with your pistols. Practically, few are engaged on either
side. The Blues have made one effort and, finding that we have a
very strong force in their front, have given up the attempt to push
forward. I don't believe that the new levies have courage enough to
keep steady through a whole night's uncertainty.

"You had best draw off some distance and rest, till you hear, by
the firing, that some change has taken place. If you hear that the
Blues are retreating, follow them at a distance. It is important
for the generals to know what course they are taking. They may halt
in Montreuil, they may return to Thouars, they may retire to Niort
or Parthenay.

"If they remain in Montreuil, let us know at once, because in that
case we shall have to stay here, in case they should attempt to
push on again. If they go farther, we need have no more concern
about them. Still, it would be of great importance to our generals
to know whether they return to Thouars, or retire farther south."

"Very well, captain; I will see that you are kept informed."

"You had better instruct your first messengers to come straight
here. Cathelineau and the rest of the forces started, directly we
did, and will halt at the junction of the roads, and are likely to
remain there all day tomorrow. Therefore, if your messengers find
the wood deserted, they have simply to follow the road, and they
will either overtake us, or find us with Cathelineau."

"How long must we follow the Blues?"

"There is no occasion to go any great distance. I do not suppose
that we shall pursue them. They could certainly defend themselves
at Montreuil, and we should not risk suffering heavy loss, and
having the men dispirited by failure, when all are needed for the
work at Saumur. If you follow them far enough to determine whether
they are retiring on Thouars, or are marching towards Niort, that
is all that is necessary; and you will be able to rejoin us in
plenty of time to see the fight at Saumur."

As Leigh thought would be probable, Monsieur de Lescure restrained
the peasants from following in pursuit, when the Blues retreated.
The latter had left two of their guns behind them, and a number of
carts, laden with ammunition and provisions for the march, fell
into the peasants' hands--the latter providing them with breakfast
before they started, early next morning, rejoining Cathelineau's
force two hours later. These had been apprised, some hours before,
by one of the mounted gentlemen who had accompanied the column, of
the success that had attended the operation; and they were received
with great joy by their comrades, on their arrival.

Cathelineau, with General Bonchamp and a small escort of cavalry,
had ridden towards Saumur to examine the positions occupied by the
enemy, and to discuss the plan of attack. They now felt confident
of success; unless, indeed, Biron should come up in the course of
the day with the Paris brigade at Tours, together with its guns.
The description that Leigh had given, of the confusion and want of
discipline in the garrison, showed that it could not be relied upon
for hard fighting; and as it was certain that the failure of
Salomon to get through to its assistance would be known, in Saumur,
early in the day, it could not but add to the dismay produced by
the advance against the town.

This was indeed the case. As artillery had not been employed on
either side, the sound of the conflict did not reach the town.
However, as the officer who had taken the order to Thouars returned
at seven o'clock; saying that Salomon was preparing to march, and
would assuredly arrive some time in the evening, the anxiety
increased hour by hour and, by midnight, the conviction that he
must have been attacked by the enemy, and had failed to get
through, became a certainty, and spread dismay through the town.

At five in the morning a mounted messenger brought a despatch from
Salomon, saying that he had fought for four hours near Montreuil,
against a large force of the enemy; and that, another column of
these having fallen on his rear, he found it necessary to retire,
as a panic was spreading among the National Guard, and a serious
disaster would have happened, had he continued his attempts to push
on. In the evening Generals Coustard and Berthier, who had been
sent by Biron to act under Menou's orders, arrived in the town; and
Santerre, the brewer of Paris, who had been the leader of the mob
there and was now a general, arrived next morning.

Cathelineau's army was astir early. The leaders had been gladdened
by the arrival, at five o'clock, of a messenger from Pierre, saying
that one of his messengers had come in from Tours, and that, up to
seven o'clock in the evening, no troops had left that city. It was,
therefore, certain that the garrison of Saumur could receive no
assistance from that quarter.

Breakfast was eaten, and the army then formed up in its divisions.
Mass was celebrated, and it then set out for Saumur.

In that town all was confusion and dismay. The newly arrived
generals were strangers alike to the town, its defences, and the
troops they were to command. In front of the works defending Saumur
ran the river Dives, which fell into the Loire, a mile or so below
the town. It was crossed by a bridge; but so great was the
confusion that, in spite of the representations of the civil
authorities, no steps were taken either to cut or guard it.

It was not until three o'clock in the afternoon that the Vendeans
approached the town, and General Menou sent two battalions of the
line, one of volunteers, and eighty horse, under the orders of
General Berthier, to take possession of a chateau in front of the
position. Two hundred and fifty men were posted in a convent near
it. Santerre commanded the force which was to defend the
intrenchments at Nantilly, and Coustard the troops who occupied the
heights of Bourlan.

At four o'clock the skirmishers on both sides were hotly engaged.
The Vendeans advanced in three columns--the central one against the
post occupied by Berthier, the left against Nantilly, and the right
threatened to turn the position at Beaulieu.

Berthier allowed the force advancing against him to approach within
a short distance of the chateau, and then poured a storm of grape
into it, from a battery that he had established. Lescure, who was
in command, was badly wounded. The head of the column fell into
confusion, and Berthier at once attacked them, with his two
regiments of the line, and for a time pressed the column back. His
little body of cavalry, whom he had ordered to charge, fell back as
soon as the Vendeans opened fire upon them; and the latter then
attacked the line battalions, with such fury that Berthier was
obliged to call up his regiment of volunteers. Cathelineau sent
reinforcements to his troops, and these pressed on so hotly that
Berthier, who had had a horse shot under him, was obliged to fall
back; and the exulting Vendeans rushed forward and carried the
faubourg of Fenet.

Dommaigne, with his cavalry, charged the cuirassiers and the German
Legion. There was a sharp fight. Dommaigne was killed, and the
colonel of the German Legion desperately wounded; but a body of the
Vendean infantry, coming up, took the cuirassiers in flank with
their fire, and they fell back into Saumur.

General Menou had been in the thick of the fight, and had three
horses killed under him. He sent another battalion to reinforce
Berthier but, as soon as they came within shot of the Vendeans,
they broke and fled.

The two line battalions, reinforced by four companies of gendarmes,
kept up a heavy fire. The artillery until now had zealously
supported them, but their ammunition was failing. Menou and
Berthier placed themselves at the head of the cavalry, and called
upon them to charge; but instead of doing so, they raised their
favourite cry of "Treason!" and galloped back to the town.

The line regiments and gendarmes, pressed more and more hotly, and
finding themselves without support, withdrew in good order into
Saumur. The Vendeans had now possession of all the works in the
centre of the defenders' line. Coustard, seeing that the centre was
lost, and that the Vendeans were moving towards a bridge across the
Dives, by which alone they could enter the town, ordered two
battalions with two pieces of cannon to hold it. He was not only
disobeyed but, with shouts of "Treason!" they rushed upon him and,
with difficulty, he escaped with his life.

The Vendeans seized the bridge, and established a battery for its
defence. Coustard saw that it must be recaptured, as the town was
now open to the enemy; and ordered a detachment of cuirassiers,
commanded by Colonel Weissen, to carry the bridge. The two
battalions of infantry now promised to follow.

Although he saw that to charge the battery with a handful of
cavalry was to ride to almost certain death, Weissen gallantly led
his men forward. The infantry followed for a short distance but,
being taken in flank by a volley from a party of Vendeans, they
broke and fled. The cavalry were almost annihilated, and Weissen
was desperately wounded, two or three of his men alone riding back.

The main force of Coustard's division, in the redoubts at Bourlan,
had not been attacked; and retired to Angers during the night. The
rout of the rest of the defenders was now complete, and the town
open.

La Rochejaquelein, by whose side Leigh and a small party of
gentlemen rode, had made a succession of desperate charges into the
midst of the fugitives; and he now said to Leigh and three other
gentlemen:

"Come along, we will see what they are doing in the town."

Then, dashing forward at full speed, they passed through the gate,
entered the main street, and found that it contained a battalion of
infantry, retreating. So cowed were these that they opened their
ranks and allowed the five horsemen to dash through them. Then they
made a tour of the place, and returned to inform the Vendeans, who
were just entering, that all resistance had ceased. As on two
previous occasions, the flying Republicans owed their safety to the
piety of the peasants who, instead of pursuing at once, rushed into
the churches; where the cures, who had accompanied them, returned
thanks for the victory that had been gained, and thus lost the half
hour of daylight that would have been invaluable.

Cathelineau, after a consultation with Lescure and Bonchamp,
decided that it would be useless to attempt a pursuit in the dark.
Berthier's battalion was, too, unbroken. The generals, finding that
there was no pursuit, might have rallied a considerable number of
the others; when the peasants, coming up in the dark, could in turn
have been repulsed with heavy loss. Saumur had been taken, with all
its stores of cannon, ammunition, and provisions; and it was
considered that, under the circumstances, it was best to be
contented with the signal success they had gained.

Berthier and Menou indeed, although both severely wounded, had
covered the retreat with the line regiments and gendarmes; and
carried off with them seven cannon, which they came across as they
passed through the town; and would have given the peasants a warm
reception, had they followed them. The rest of the army were
hopelessly scattered, and continued their flight all night; some
towards Tours, others to Angers, their reports causing the wildest
dismay in both towns.

Had Charette, who had always acted independently in lower Vendee,
been persuaded at this moment to join hands with Cathelineau, there
can be little question that they might have marched to Paris
without encountering any serious resistance, and that their arrival
there would have changed the whole course of events. Unfortunately,
however, he was himself sorely pressed, by several columns of the
enemy, and was with difficulty holding his own. The great
opportunity was therefore lost, never to return.

The castle of Saumur was still in the hands of the Blues. Five
hundred of the National Guards of the town, and about the same
number of men of different regiments, threw themselves into it
before the Vendeans entered, carrying with them what provisions
they could lay hands upon. The wives of the National Guards soon
surrounded the chateau, crying to their friends to surrender; and
asserting that, if they did not do so, the Vendeans would give the
town over to pillage and fire. For a time the commandant resisted
their entreaties but, feeling that his position was desperate, and
that there was no hope of relief, he surrendered.

In the morning the garrison marched out. The officers were allowed
to retain their sidearms, and the men to return to their homes.
Eighty cannon fell into the hands of the victors, many thousands of
muskets, a large quantity of ammunition, and very many prisoners.

Here, as at other places, the peasants behaved with great
moderation. The agents of the Convention, who had tyrannized the
town so long, were thrown into prison, as were their chief
supporters; but private property was untouched. On the following
day there was a council, at which Lescure, seriously wounded as he
was, was present. It was agreed that it was indispensable that one
man should be appointed commander-in-chief. Many difficulties had
arisen from independent action, by generals and leaders of bands
more or less numerous, and it was necessary that all should act
under the orders of a recognized head.

When this was agreed to, the question had to be decided as to who
should be appointed to this responsible post. The claims of
Lescure, la Rochejaquelein, d'Elbee, Bonchamp, Cathelineau, and
Stofflet were almost even. Each had a large band of followers. All
had been unwearied in their devotion to the cause.

It is probable that Lescure would have been chosen. He was the
largest landed proprietor, and was of the highest rank--with the
exception of Rochejaquelein, who had, although the idol of the army,
scarcely experience and ballast enough to take so responsible a
position. Lescure himself, however, proposed that Cathelineau should
be chosen. His influence was great, his talents unquestionable, and the
simple honesty of his character, his modesty and untiring zeal in the
cause, alike recommended him.  Lescure felt that if he himself, Bonchamp,
or d'Elbee were chosen, jealousies might arise and the cause suffer.

His choice was felt by all to be a good one, and Cathelineau was
unanimously appointed to the post of commander-in-chief. No finer
tribute was ever paid, to the virtues and talent of a simple
peasant, than such a choice, made by men so greatly his superior in
rank and station.



Chapter 9: Bad News.


Neither Leigh nor Jean Martin was at Saumur, when this decision was
arrived at. The very night that the town was taken, one of the
former's band, who was wounded and, greatly against his
inclination, had been left behind, arrived there on horseback. He
was the bearer of terrible news.

[Illustration: He was the bearer of terrible news.]

Early on the previous day, a troop of the enemy's cavalry had
arrived. They had apparently ridden all night, and without exciting
any alarm on the way. They had made straight for the chateau,
without going into the village. Beyond the fact that they belonged
to the force operating from Nantes, none knew the route they had
followed. They had doubtless expected to arrest Jean at the chateau
but, on finding him absent, had seized his wife, had placed her in
their midst, set fire to the chateau, and ridden off before any
force could be gathered to oppose them. Jean and Leigh were horror
stricken at the news.

"What is to be done?" the former exclaimed. "What can be done?"

"I should say," Leigh said, "that the first thing to do will be to
tell the generals that we must, for the present, leave them. Then
we must go to Nantes in disguise, find out where she is imprisoned,
and see what can be done to rescue her."

"Certainly that is the best thing, Leigh. Let us start at once."

"It will be daylight in two hours, Jean, and that will make no
difference. I will go and talk with my boys. They are asleep
together on the steps of the church of Saint Marie. They may be
useful to us, and I am sure would follow us anywhere."

Jean made no reply. He had buried his face in his hands, and deep
sobs broke from him. Tears were streaming down Leigh's cheek as he
spoke, but he put his hand upon Jean's shoulder and said, in a
voice which he tried to keep steady:

"It is terrible, Jean, but we must not give up hope. We have beaten
the Blues in the field, and it is hard if we cannot manage to beat
them, somehow, in this business."

The other made no reply, and Leigh, feeling that it would be best
to leave him to himself for the present, went downstairs.

The lad who had brought the message was seated against the wall,
holding the horse's bridle in his hand. Being a stranger in the
place, he did not know where to go.

"Come with me, Philippe. The others are all in the great square, a
hundred yards away. They got their bread yesterday morning, and
will have plenty of it left for you and the horse. It can take a
drink at the fountain, in the centre.

"Ah," he exclaimed stopping suddenly, "you said nothing about the
child, and we did not think to ask. Did my sister take it away with
her, or was it left?"

"I did not hear, captain. My mother ran into the house crying, and
said:

"'The Blues have come, and have set fire to the chateau and carried
madame away prisoner. Take the horse and ride to the army, and tell
Monsieur Martin what has happened.'

"I ran into the stable and saddled it, took two loaves of bread,
one for him and one for myself, and started. I should have been
here in the middle of the day, but I lost my way in the lanes last
night, and had to stop till daylight and, even then, rode for a
long time in the wrong direction."

Leaving the lad and horse in the middle of the square, Leigh went
to the steps of the church. A great number of peasants were
sleeping there. He was not long in finding his own band. He roused
Andre and Pierre with some difficulty for, having both been up all
the previous night, they slept heavily.

"Come with me," Leigh said, as soon as they were sufficiently
roused to understand who was speaking to them. "I want to have a
talk with you.

"I have some bad news," he went on, as they passed beyond the
sleepers; "the Blues have been at the chateau. They have burned it
down, and have carried off Madame Martin."

Exclamations of rage broke from both the lads. Patsey had, during
the months she had spent on the estate, made herself extremely
popular among the peasantry; whose cottages she constantly visited,
and who always found her ready to listen to their tales of trouble,
and to supply dainty food for the sick. The thought, too, that the
chateau had been burned down was also a blow, for all the tenantry
considered that they had a personal interest in the affairs of
their seigneur.

"How was it that there was no defence?" Andre asked. "I know that
most of the men were away, but surely enough might have been
gathered to keep the Blues back, until madame escaped to the
woods."

"It seems they rode by night, and arrived there soon after day
broke. They had evidently come on purpose to seize your lord for,
as soon as they found that he was not there, they went away at
once, only stopping to set fire to the chateau. They were evidently
in a hurry to be off.

"Here is Philippe Rehan, who has brought the news. He only knows
what I have told you, as he mounted and rode off at once."

"I suppose they have taken our young lord, too?"

"Philippe does not know about that. He says they came from the
direction of Nantes, and no doubt my sister has been taken there."

"What is to be done, captain?" Andre asked, as he and Pierre looked
at each other helplessly, in face of this trouble.

"Monsieur Martin and I are going to leave, at once. We don't know
what we are going to do yet, but we shall certainly try, by all
means, to get her out of prison. How it is to be managed we have
not even thought, but if it can be done, we shall do it. Now, I am
sure that we can rely upon your assistance."

"We will do anything," Andre exclaimed; while Pierre said, "We will
be cut to pieces for you, captain."

Leigh gave a hand to each.

"I am sure of it," he said. "And the band?"

"Every one of those we had at first we could answer for," Andre
replied. "And I believe that the others can be trusted, too. They
all esteem it a high honour to have been received into the band of
Cathelineau's scouts. They knew that there would be danger, when
they joined, and that they must be prepared to die for the cause.
All would certainly be faithful; there would be no fear about
that."

"I have not the least idea, at present, what I shall want you to
do; but at any rate we shall go to Nantes, and it is there that you
must meet us. We shall ride off in an hour's time. Let the others
sleep till there is a general movement, then you can tell them what
has happened, and that my orders are that you shall march home, at
once. You can be there by tomorrow night, can you not?"

"It will be two long marches, but we will be there, captain."

"We shall not be much before you. By that time we shall have
determined how we shall set about the matter, and shall be able to
give you instructions; which will probably be that you are to meet
us, at some point we will arrange, just outside the town. Of
course, you will not go in a body, but singly or in pairs; crossing
the river at various points, and travelling by different roads.
Enter the town as if you belonged to villages round.

"I will ask Monsieur de la Rochejaquelein to let you have another
pistol, each, before you leave. Of course, you will hide your arms
under your clothes. I don't know that it will be necessary to use
force; of course, at first we shall try bribery.

"At any rate, you will both be most useful in obtaining
information. There are very many people who know Monsieur Martin by
sight, and a few who know me. Possibly some of your band may have
friends in Nantes; and these, if they are of our party, would be
able to ask questions, and to find out the place in which my sister
is imprisoned, much better than strangers could do.

"We have heard nothing of what is passing in Nantes for many weeks
and, as they have sent troops to arrest Monsieur Martin, it is
possible that his father may also be arrested. If he is at liberty,
he would be sure to know where my sister is imprisoned."

The day was breaking now, and Leigh went next to the large house
which had been set apart for the use of the generals. He knew
Rochejaquelein's room, having been chatting with him till late, the
evening before. The young count sat up in bed, as he opened the
door.

"You have given me a start, Leigh," he said, with a smile. "I was
dreaming that the Blues had retaken the town and, when the door
opened, thought that it was a party come to make me prisoner.

"Is there any bad news? You look grave."

"Bad news as far as Jean Martin and I are concerned. A messenger
arrived, two hours ago, with the news that a party of Blues from
Nantes arrived at his chateau, without being observed, as they had
travelled all night and reached it at daybreak. They had no doubt
been specially sent to arrest Jean but, finding that he was away,
they burnt the chateau, and carried off my sister a prisoner.

"We are going to start at once. I trust that you will explain, to
the other generals, the cause of our absence."

"I am sorry, indeed, to hear your news," Rochejaquelein said
warmly. "A curse upon the Blues! Why can't they content themselves
with making war on men, without persecuting and massacring women?

"Certainly I will explain, to Cathelineau and the others, the cause
of your absence. But what are you thinking of doing?"

"That we have not even considered. We mean to get her out of their
hands, if possible; but until we see whether she has been really
taken to Nantes--of which I have little doubt--which prison she is
placed in, and how it is guarded, we can form no plan. If possible,
we shall bribe the jailers. If not, we will try to rescue her by
force.

"I am taking my band with me. I can depend upon them, and there is
no one in Nantes on whom we can rely. They will, of course, enter
the town singly; and will, I am sure, give us their loyal service,
should we require it."

"If they serve you as well as they serve the cause, you could
scarce have better assistants. I would that I could go with you. It
would be an adventure after my own heart, but private friendship
must give way to our country's needs. I hope, Leigh, that it will
not be long before we meet again, and that I may hear that you have
been successful."

Half an hour later, Leigh and Jean Martin started. The latter's
first question, when Leigh returned, had been regarding the child.
It was now nearly fifteen months old but, in the terrible shock
caused by the news of his wife having been carried off, Jean had
not thought of it till Leigh had left the room.

"The child is as nothing to me," he said, when Leigh had told him
that the messenger had heard nothing of it. "It would have been,
some day; but so far 'tis as nothing compared to Patsey. It slept
with the nurse, and may possibly have escaped; unless, indeed,
Patsey wished to take it with her."

"I do not think that she would do that," Leigh said. "No doubt it
would have been a comfort, to have it with her; but she would have
known that its chances of life would be slight, indeed, and for
your sake she would have concealed it, if possible, before she was
seized."

They reached the ruins of the chateau at noon next day, having
stopped for the night at Chemille, in order to rest their horses
and keep them in condition for another long ride, if necessary. The
outhouse had been left standing. Francois came out, on hearing the
sound of the horses' hoofs.

"Thank God you are back, master!" he said. "It has been a terrible
time."

"Is the child safe, or was it taken with its mother?" Jean asked.

"He is safe, sir. Marthe saved it. When madame heard the Blues ride
up, and looked out and saw their uniforms, she ran into Marthe's
room and said:

"'Hide the child, Marthe! Run with it downstairs, without waking
it, and put it in a cupboard in the kitchen. They will never think
of searching for it there. Then return to your bed again. Tell your
master, when he comes back again, I have left little Louis for
him.'

"I was getting up when I heard the horsemen, and guessed that it
was the Blues and, without waiting a moment, dropped from my window
and ran past the stable, and hid myself in the shrubbery behind it.
I had scarcely done so when I heard them come round the house.

"Then there was a great knocking at the door and, a minute later, a
pistol shot was fired. I heard afterwards that madame told Henri to
open the door. As he did so, the officer of the Blues shot him
through the head.

"For ten minutes I heard nothing more. Then someone came to the
stable, took out the two horses, and then set fire to it. Looking
out through the bushes, I saw the smoke coming out from two or
three windows of the chateau. Then I made off as quickly as I
could, got into the church, and set the bells ringing; thinking
that it might frighten off the Blues, though I knew that the men
were all away, and there was no chance of help.

"Soon they came riding along at full speed, and I saw madame in the
middle of them. As soon as they had gone, the women all ran out
from their houses. We tried our best to put out the flames, but the
fire had too much hold.

"As we were doing this, I saw Marthe with the child in her arms. It
had been saved well-nigh by a miracle, she said, and she told me
how her mistress had run in to her. She caught up the child, and
then, thinking that if they saw its clothes they would search for
it, she opened the drawers, seized them all, and ran down and put
them and the child into the kitchen cupboard, as her mistress had
told her, then ran back to her bedroom and began to dress.

"She heard her mistress call to Henri to go down and open the door.
She heard the pistol shot, and the Blues pour into the house. She
hurried on her clothes and went out. They were searching all over
the chateau. The officer came up to her, with a pistol in his hand.

"'Where is your master?' he said.

"'I do not know,' she replied. 'He rode away from here ten days
ago, and has not been back since.'

"'That is the tale your mistress tells,' he said.

"'It is true, sir. You go into the village and ask any of the women
there, they will tell you the same thing. I will swear on the cross
that it is so.'

"He seemed very angry, but turned away from her. Presently the
mistress came down, under a guard of two soldiers and, as she
passed, she said:

"'Goodbye, Marthe. Tell your master that I am thankful, indeed,
that he was not here.'

"Then the officers told the men to set fire to the house, in a
dozen places. They had all got bundles, having taken everything
they thought of value. As soon as they had set fire to the curtains
everywhere, and saw that the flames had got a good hold, they
mounted and rode off.

"They had not searched the kitchen much, as they had only opened
the closets large enough for a man to hide in and, not expecting to
find anything worth taking, had not troubled themselves to look
into the small ones; so Marthe had only to take the child out.
Fortunately it had not awoke. When we found that it was hopeless to
try and put the fire out, Marthe took the child over to the farm of
Madame Rehan who, as soon as she got the news of the mistress being
carried off, had sent her son away on horseback to tell you."

"Thank God, the child has been spared!" Jean Martin said,
reverently. "We will go to the cure's.

"The boys will all be back tonight. Give the horses a good feed. We
shall set out perhaps tonight, perhaps tomorrow morning."

"Ah, Monsieur Martin," the cure said, as they entered his house,
"this is a sad homecoming for you. If we had known that the Blues
were coming, but a quarter of an hour before they arrived, we could
have got madame away to a place of safety. I knew nought about it
until the church bells began to ring. Just as I was about to go
out, five minutes later, to learn the cause, I saw them ride past
with Madame Martin in their midst. We did not know that there were
any of them within twenty miles of us, and thought that there was
no chance, whatever, of their coming to a little village like
ours."

"They came, no doubt, for me," Jean said gloomily. "If they had
found Leigh and myself at home, they would not have taken the place
so easily. He and I and the two men could have made a stout
defence. I hear that there were not more than twenty of them, and I
warrant that there would not have been many of them left, when the
fight was over."

"I am sure," the cure said, "that if you had been there, and the
place had been defended, all the women within sound of the church
bell would have come in with arms, and would have fought like men
in the defence of yourself and madame; but as it was, the whole
thing was such a surprise, with everyone in bed and asleep, that
the enemy were off before anyone could think of what had best be
done. As it was, the women from all the farms round were here,
armed with hatchets or pitchforks, half an hour after the bell
began to ring. Of course, in the village here we knew that it was
too late to do anything, but to flock to the church and pray for
the safety of our good lady."

"Thank you, my friend. Leigh and I are going to Nantes, to see if
anything can be done to get her out of prison. Leigh's band are
coming also. Of course, they will travel singly. If of no other
use, they will be better able to ask questions than we.

"I am going over now to Rehan's farm, to see my boy and to thank
Marthe for saving him."

"It was well managed, indeed," the priest said. "I went over
yesterday to see the child, and the nurse told me how its escape
had been contrived. It was a happy thought on the part of its
mother, and the woman carried it out well.

"But before you go, you must take a meal. I am sure that you must
want it."

"I will not say no to that," Jean replied, "for we have not broken
our fast this morning."

In half an hour, the cure's table was most abundantly furnished
for, as soon as the news spread through the village that the
seigneur had arrived, and was at the house of the priest, the women
brought in little presents--a dozen eggs, a fowl, or some trout
that had been caught by the boys in the stream, that morning.

One or two of the women volunteered to assist the cure's servant.
Three fowls were hastily plucked, cut asunder, and grilled over the
fire. As soon as they were nearly ready, they were placed in front
of the fire to be finished, while the trout took their place. The
repast began with these, the fowls followed, and it was concluded
with an omelette.

"I have not eaten such a meal, father," Martin said, "since I rode
away. I think, after this, I shall be able to take a more hopeful
view of matters. In that respect the meal will be thrown away upon
Leigh, for he always takes the brightest view of everything, and
has never ceased to assure me that we are sure to manage to get my
wife out of the hands of these villains, somehow; and as he has so
far always succeeded in what he has attempted, I feel a good deal
of faith in him. I should be as hopeful as he, if I knew that the
Henriette was in the river at Nantes, and that I had to my hand a
dozen stout fellows I could thoroughly rely on."

After paying a visit to the farm, praising Marthe, and arranging
that she should continue to live there, they returned to the
village.

"We will go over to the chateau, Leigh, before we do anything else.
I want to see how hot the ruins are."

"I should think that they must be pretty cool by this time, Jean.
You see, it is nearly four days since it was burnt."

"I have no doubt that the walls will be cool enough; but there was
a lot of woodwork about it. When the roof fell in it would smother
the fire for a time, but it might go on smouldering, even now."

"But what does it matter, Jean?"

"It matters a good deal. I have with me only a hundred francs, in
paper, which is not worth above a third of its face value. I have
here four thousand in gold, which I brought with me from Nantes, as
soon as the troubles began. I buried it one day under the
hearthstone of the kitchen, thinking it possible that the Blues
might come here. The money is of the utmost importance now, for we
may want it to bribe some of the jailers; and therefore I must get
it, even if it delays us for a day."

They found indeed that, as they had feared, there was still fire
among the mass of debris.

"We must quench it before we can do anything, Jean. I have no doubt
that the women will help."

Francois was at once sent round and, in a short time, all the women
in the place were assembled with pails. Martin and Francois worked
the windlass of the well, the women carried pails of water, and
Leigh threw the contents on to the smouldering mass above where he
knew the kitchen fireplace must have stood. Clouds of steam rose
and, from time to time, some of the women with rakes pulled off the
upper layer of ashes. They worked till nightfall, by which time
steam had ceased to rise.

"That will do for tonight," Jean said; "we will finish the job
tomorrow morning. Your band will be here by that time, and will
help us to get some of these heavy beams and timbers out of the
way. We can then rake the smaller stuff out, and get at the
fireplace."

At eight o'clock the band arrived. Leigh went down and spoke to
them, and thanked them for the two long marches they had made. He
had, during the afternoon, obtained a supply of bread and wine and,
after they fell out, a meal was eaten before they started for their
homes, promising to be back at six in the morning, to aid in the
work of clearing away the debris.

Jean and Leigh spent a couple of hours in talk with the cure, and
related to him the events that had passed since they had left.
Then, thoroughly tired out, they retired to the room that had been
prepared for them. The work that afternoon had been heavy; they had
had a long ride previously, and neither had slept much the night
before.

The next morning the work was recommenced. During the night the
fire had crept in again, from the surrounding mass; but there were
plenty of hands now, and in an hour it was again extinguished. The
hearthstone was soon cleared and raised, and Martin brought out a
crock, in which he had placed the gold.

"Now, Leigh," he said, "you had better have a talk with your boys,
and arrange where they are to meet you. I should not press any of
them who are unwilling to go. This is a private business, and I do
not think that it would be right to urge them."

"Certainly not," Leigh agreed. "I am quite sure that all our boys
will go with us, both for Patsey's sake, and because they are
furious at the chateau being burnt down; as to the others, I shall
put it to them that they are perfectly free to do as they wish.
They can go with us, or they can rejoin the army, just as they
like.

"If they go, I think that it would be as well that they did not
enter the town; but should take up their quarters in a copse, or in
a deserted house, a mile or two away, so that we could call them if
we wanted them. Even in a town like Nantes, forty strange boys
wandering about might be noticed."

Martin, after seeing that the workers all had refreshment, went to
the cure's; as he never interfered in any way with the boys,
thinking that it might lessen Leigh's authority, were he to do so.

"Now, I want to talk to you all," Leigh said, after they had drunk
their wine and eaten their bread. "In the first place, do I
understand that all who were first with me are ready to run a
considerable risk to attempt, with us, to carry off Madame Martin
from the hands of the Blues, and to save her from the fate that
falls upon every one that they once lay a hand upon?"

"They are all willing, captain," Andre said. "We spoke to them
again, just before we came in last night, and they all said that
they were willing and anxious."

"Good. Remember, lads, that it is not too late to draw back now."

"We should not dare show our face in the village again," Pierre
said, "if we were to hang back when there was a chance of our being
of service to so good a lady."

"I thank you with all my heart," Leigh said. "I tell you fairly
that I expected such an answer. Those who have shown such courage
as you have done, and have been so loyal to the promises made me
when I first enrolled you, would, I felt certain, not hang back
now. Now, do you draw aside for a minute or two, while I speak to
the others."

There was a movement, and the two groups stood apart.

"Your case is different from that of the others," he said. "In the
first place, you have not been with me so long; and secondly--and
this is more important--that Madame Martin is not the wife of your
seigneur, and that you owe no duty to her. The enterprise on which
we are going to start does not concern the cause for which we are
fighting. It is a private business, and there is no occasion
whatever for you to take part in it. You are free either to choose
an officer among yourselves; or to rejoin the army, find Monsieur
de la Rochejaquelein, and tell him that I sent you to him in order
that he might find a suitable leader for you, among the gentlemen
with him. I would rather that you talked the matter over among
yourselves, and came and gave me an answer, in half an hour."

"Will you tell us what we shall have to do, captain?" one of them
said.

"That I can hardly do, for I do not know myself. However, I think
it probable that the greater portion of the band would remain
outside the town. There are copses, down by the riverside, where
you could wait in safety until you were wanted. Possibly you might
not be wanted at all. Possibly you might be summoned to take part
in so desperate an enterprise as storming one of the prisons. Of
course it would be done at night, when we should have the advantage
of a surprise. I can tell you no more than that.

"Now, my last word is, I shall not think any the worse of you, if
you decide not to go with me."

It wanted five minutes of the time, when two of the boys returned
to where he was talking with Pierre and Andre.

"We have decided, captain. You told us, when you marched away from
Saumur, that Monsieur de la Rochejaquelein had approved of your
taking us, and therefore we shall feel that we are still doing our
duty to the cause. You have been kind, good, and thoughtful while
we have been with you. All those of our own age in the army envied
us who were of Cathelineau's scouts, and regarded our position as a
great honour. Even if we were willing to go back, we could not do
so, and tell the others that we had left you and our comrades when
you were about to undertake some perilous service.

"But we do not wish it. We all desire to remain with you, and to
follow wherever you may lead us, and to die in your service, if
need be."

Leigh shook them warmly by the hand.

"Bravely said, and I thank you heartily. I am proud of my scouts,
and am glad to see that my confidence in you is well founded. Call
the others up."

After thanking these also, Leigh addressed the whole of them.

"Now, I will give you your orders. You must make your way by
different routes to Nantes. There are many villages on the bank
where you can find a boat that will take you across. Never travel
more than two together. You must all take the green ribbons off
your hats, leave your belts behind, and hide your pistols. If
questions are asked you, reply that you are going to get work at
Nantes, where you have friends, and that you are afraid to stay in
your own villages.

"I will give each of you assignats for five francs. It would not do
to give you silver. With this you can pay for your ferry across the
water, and buy food on the way. It were best that, both on this
side of the river and the other, you travel either by by-lanes or
through the fields.

"When you get near Nantes, keep close to the river, and enter the
last large copse before you get there. Andre or Pierre are likely
to be there first, and will be on the lookout for you. They will
join me in the town and bring you orders when necessary, and will
send two or three of you in, daily, to buy food for the rest.

"I can give you no orders beyond that. Now, I hope I shall meet you
all, in three days' time, at your rendezvous.

"Pierre and Andre, you will, on the evening after you arrive, enter
Nantes, following the river bank. You will go along to a spot where
a church faces the river. Sit down on its steps and wait for us,
until the clock strikes ten. If we are not there, return and come
back the next evening. If we are still not there, you will know
that some bad luck has befallen us; and the band will then
disperse, and you will all find your way up home.

"I should advise you all to travel by night, when you have once
crossed the Loire. In that way you will avoid any risk of being
questioned."

The boys then dispersed, and Leigh returned to the priest's. He and
Martin had already talked over their disguises, and had agreed that
those of fishermen would be the most appropriate; but until they
could obtain the necessary clothes, they would go in the attire of
fairly well-to-do people in a country town.

"We should only have to put on a tricolour scarf, Jean, and should
look like municipal authorities."

"It would go against the grain to put that rag on," Martin said;
"but your idea is a good one, and I would dress up as a general of
the Blues, or as Robespierre himself, on such an errand as we are
bound on.

"We cannot do better than go to Clisson. The place is in the hands
of our people, and the village authorities will not dare to ask us
any questions."

After dining with the cure, they mounted and rode to Clisson,
arriving there at five o'clock in the afternoon. They went to the
leader of the force there, as he was a friend of Jean's.

"I will send and get you the things," he said, when they told him
the object of their visit. "It is just as well, if any of the
people here are acting as spies for the Blues--which is likely
enough--that they should not be able to give any description of
you. We are all three about the same size, therefore I will go out
and buy two suits.

"As to the scarves, I am more doubtful. I doubt if any shopkeeper
here would admit that he had even a bit of tricolour ribbon in his
possession."

"It will not matter about that," Martin said; "and, at any rate,
when we get beyond the ground held by us, we shall find no
difficulty whatever in getting a couple of cockades of those
colours.

"Thank you very much indeed," he went on. "Here are five louis. I
have no doubt that you will be able to lay them out well for us.
But remember, please, that although we are all three the same
height, I am some four or five inches bigger round the shoulders
than Leigh; and want more room for my arms, also."

"I will remember," the other laughed. "Just let me pass this string
round you, and then round Monsieur Stansfield, and tie two knots in
it; and I will also measure you round the waist and leg."

In an hour he returned with one of his men, carrying two parcels.

"I had no difficulty in getting the clothes for your
brother-in-law," he said, "but I had to go to two or three shops
before I could get coat and breeches wide enough for you. What do
you intend to do with your horses?"

"We shall ride into Nantes as we are, after nightfall, and shall
put them up at a small inn. I know of one near the water. It is
kept by a man who was at one time in my lugger, but he had his leg
crushed in a storm, and had to have it taken off. He was a good
sailor, so I set him up, and can rely upon him. He will get
fishermen's clothes for us and, should we have to stay there any
time, buy a boat and nets. We may want such a thing, badly."

The clothes were tried on, and found to fit fairly well. In our
days the short-waisted coats with their long tails, and the
waistcoats extending below the waist, would be deemed laughable;
but as it was then the fashion among the middle classes, and
especially the Republicans, Jean saw nothing ridiculous in it,
while Leigh smiled at the figures they cut. Both had bright yellow
breeches and stockings, and low shoes.

They waited till midnight at Clisson, and then mounted again, and
by morning they were within a mile or two of a ferry, a short
distance above Nantes. They stopped at a small village, and there
purchased two tricolour cockades from the one shop it boasted,
these forming conspicuous objects in the window, as a proof of the
warm adherence of its owner to the Convention.

At the little cabaret they took breakfast, and saw that the horses
were fed, then they rode on to the ferry. The boat was on the
opposite side, and in half an hour it crossed. Then they took their
places, and were ferried over. A party of soldiers were posted at
the landing place.

"You are going to Nantes, I suppose, citizens?" the officer in
command asked.

"We are. We come from Vallet, and are going to consult the
commissary of the republic concerning some taxes that, as we
consider, it is impossible for the town to pay, which the
commissary there has imposed upon us."

"I should imagine that your errand is scarcely likely to meet with
success," the officer said, with a light smile. "I hear the same
complaints at Nantes, but have not heard that any remission has
been made. Well, citizens, at any rate I can wish you luck on your
errand."

It was still very early when they rode into Nantes, and but few
people were about the streets. Trade was almost at a standstill.
The town, which had been strongly Republican, was at once deeply
discontented with the crushing taxation imposed upon it, and
horrified at the constant executions that took place. Almost every
house had soldiers billeted on it, as it was considered necessary
to keep a large force there in order to overawe the south of
Brittany and, if necessary, to send supports to the generals
operating in the west of La Vendee.

There was scarcely any shipping in the river, and even the
fishermen had almost given up plying their business; their best
customers had fallen under the guillotine, and there was no demand
for fish on fast days--for to practise any of the observances of
religion was considered to be, in itself, a proof of hostility to
the Convention. Therefore Jean and Leigh rode into the courtyard of
the little inn without having attracted any attention, whatever.



Chapter 10: Preparations For A Rescue.


"I have no accommodation for you here, citizens," a voice said, as
Jean Martin and Leigh rode into the little courtyard, and a man
with a wooden leg came out from the side door of the inn.

"I think you might be able to manage for us, Brenon," Jean said.

"Mon Dieu! it is--"

Jean held up his hand sharply.

"Yes, it is I, Citizen Gallon, from Vallet. It is not often that I
stir so far from home, but I had business here."

"Well, well, I will see what I can do for you, comrade; but as you
know, I don't profess to take in horses. My clients come from the
waterside, and generally my stable is full of their baskets and
ropes. However, I will see what I can do. I will tie them up in
that shed, for the present, and then clear out a stall for them
afterwards."

The horses were led to a shed, encumbered with fishing gear of all
sorts.

"What madness has seized you, mon capitaine, to put your head into
this lion's den?"

"I will tell you presently, Brenon, when we get inside. I am glad
that you are able to take the horses in. We don't want to be stared
at, or talked about. We have come along the river bank and, so far,
we have been quite unnoticed."

"All the better, all the better; to be noticed here means to have
one's head cut off. Now, I will take you to a little room upstairs,
where there is no chance of anyone seeing you."

"Get us up, if you can, without our being noticed by your servants,
Brenon. We shall be differently dressed when we come down again."

The man nodded.

"The boy is in the front room," he said. "There are three or four
fishermen there, having their morning glass. I have no other
servants. My wife does what is needful, for I was obliged to
discharge the girl we had, everything has been so slack of late."

He led them up to a chamber looking on to the quay. Jean was
puzzled at the man's manner, for he spoke in a confused and
hesitating way. When he closed the door behind him, he stood
rubbing his hands together nervously.

"Have you heard lately from Nantes, Monsieur Jean?"

"No, it is five weeks since I had any news; except, of course, what
was known about the troops that were here. What is it, old friend?
Is there bad news?"

"There is terrible news," Brenon said, "so bad that I don't know
how to tell you."

"Speak out, old friend. I have had one blow so heavy that I can
scarcely be hurt more than I am."

"Well, then, monsieur, your father has been arrested and is in the
prison; and you know what that means!"

"Father arrested!" Jean exclaimed; "on what grounds? He never
expressed an opinion as to public affairs. That at heart he hated
what has been going on, I know; but he never spoke strongly, even
to me, and when I have heard his opinion asked, he has always
replied that he was a trader, and that a man could not give his
attention to business if he worried himself over politics. He
attended to his trade, and left it to those who liked, to manage
the government of the country.

"What of my mother and sister?"

"They are safe, monsieur. He sent them off a fortnight before, in
disguise, to La Rochelle; at least, so I have heard from the
fishermen. And as the Henriette was lying there at the time, and
sailed two days after, there is not much doubt but that they sailed
in her for England.

"Your father was denounced before the committee of public safety as
one who was hostile to the Convention. He was accused of having
sent large sums of money to England, and was believed to have sent
his wife and daughter there also, with the intention, of course, of
following them; and the fact that you were known to be fighting in
the ranks of the brigands, as they call the Vendeans, was also
mentioned as an additional crime on his part."

"Then we have a double task to carry out, Leigh," Jean said grimly.

"Now I will tell you what we came here for, Brenon. Six days ago a
small party of the Blue cavalry came, at night, to my chateau. I
was away, but they carried off my wife as a prisoner, and burnt the
house to the ground. So we have come here to see if we cannot get
her out of prison.''

"You have thought of such a thing as that?" the man exclaimed in
surprise. "Ah, monsieur! It is well nigh an impossibility that you
have undertaken. The villains know that there are hundreds of men,
friends of the prisoners with whom they have crowded the jails, who
would tear them down stone by stone, if they had the power; but in
addition to the prison warders--not the men that used to be there,
but men taken from the lowest class in the town--the prisons are
watched by what they call the volunteers, fifteen hundred men
belonging to the scum of the city--the men from the slaughterhouses,
the skinners', and the tan yards Some of these are ever on guard
round the prisons, night and day.

"There have been great changes here. A year ago, almost everyone
thought that the Assembly was going to do wonderful things. No one
knew exactly what. According to what they said, everyone was to be
able to eat meat, seven days a week, to wear good clothes, and to
do just as much work as pleased him and no more. Even the fishermen
and sailors were fools enough to believe it.

"But there is a great change now. At first they approved of cutting off
the heads of those who, they were told, were the cause of all misery
and poverty; but when, every day, fresh prisoners were brought in, and
it was not the nobles only but quiet citizens--tradesmen, manufacturers,
doctors, and advocates--and every morning a score were carried out to be
guillotined, men began to change their opinion; especially when they
found that the more heads were cut off, the less work there was and the
poorer they became. They began to talk among themselves and, when it
came to executing women and children, as well as men, they turned round
altogether.

"More than once the fishermen and sailors have tried to rescue
prisoners on their way to execution. The commissioners of the
republic have been hooted in the streets and, if they had had arms
in their hands, our men would have turned the tables; but the town
is full of troops now and, worse than all, they have enrolled this
corps of volunteers, who are the terror of the place. They have
spies everywhere, and no one dares whisper a word against the
commissioners or the executions for, if but two or three men are
standing by, the chances are that one of them is a spy."

"But surely my brother might have prevented my father's arrest,
Brenon? He was one of the leading men at that Jacobin Club."

"He is still one of the leading men of the party," Brenon said
gloomily. "He is established in your father's house, now, and is on
the most intimate terms with the commissaries of the Convention."

"Is Monsieur Desailles still here? He was a young advocate, and a
member of the Jacobin Club."

"Yes, he is a member still: but he is not in good odour with the
extreme party. He is at the head of what they call the moderates.
They say that sometimes these try to defend accused persons, and
that is considered a terrible offence by the others. I should never
be surprised to hear that he himself, and those with him, have been
denounced as enemies of the state. This is an awful time, monsieur,
and Heaven only knows what we shall come to.

"Now, is there anything that I can do for you, captain? You know
well that you have but to say the word and that, whatever it is, I
would do it, even if I were cut to pieces the minute afterwards."

"Thank you, old friend. It was because I knew that you were trusty
and true that I came here. Now, the first thing that we want is
fishermen's clothes. We only disguised ourselves in those things in
order to pass safely through the Blues, and be able to cross the
ferry. For the present they have done their work, and now we want a
disguise that we can go about in, unnoticed. Of course, we don't
want new things."

"I can get them easily enough, monsieur. My customers are all hard
up. I know pretty well which are true men, and which are not."

"In the next place, I should like to buy or hire a boat to be at my
disposal, as long as I stay here."

"There are boats and to spare, captain. Fishing goes on because men
must live; though it can hardly be called living, for the prices of
everything are fixed by law, now, and are fixed so low that the men
can scarce earn enough to buy bread for themselves, and their
families. Still, there are boats in plenty. Men have come down from
towns and villages higher up, for they say that the troops are
under no control and, when the boats come in after a night's
fishing, they come down and help themselves and, if a man ventures
to grumble, he gets a musket ball to pay him for his fish. The men
here, at first, were against their fishing between this place and
the sea; but the authorities stepped in, and said that the more
food, the better for the people; and as the price was fixed, the
men here saw that it made no difference to them. Still, like our
own men, they are doing badly enough, and one could buy a boat for
a mere song."

"It would be better to buy one from those men, Brenon, because the
fact of our being strangers would not then be noticed. I want one
rowing boat, as fast a craft as you can pick out.

"I also want to hire a boat with a cabin that will hold us both. Of
course it will be a sailing boat, say of three or four tons burden.
I intend that we shall live on board. It might be noticed if two
strange sailors were often coming in and out of your place;
whereas, if we were in a boat moored against the bank, no one would
notice us. If you can get hold of such a boat, with a couple of men
who seem to you to be honest fellows, strangers to the place, it
will be a great thing; and we could occasionally go down the river,
and do a little fishing."

"All that can be managed easily enough, captain. I know of one
boat, just such a size; owned by two men, Rouget and Medart, who
sailed in the Henriette for years, and only left her when you did,
as they had wives and families here, and knew that she would not
put in again for a long time. You could trust them as you do me."

"That would be the very thing. Make arrangements with them, on any
terms they like. I will take her by the week. She carries a boat, I
suppose?"

"Of course, monsieur, they could not do without one."

"If she is fast, well and good. If not, tell them to buy the
fastest they can find. They can sell their own boat in part
payment, or they can get her up on the quay and let her lie there,
until we have gone, when they can either sell her or the new one.

"However, the clothes are the first thing. We cannot venture out in
these, in the first place, because we might be questioned; and
secondly, because we might be recognized; whereas in a fisherman's
dress, with a wide oilskin hat and our faces dirtied somewhat, I
don't think that anyone could know us."

They remained quiet until evening, and then sallied out in the
disguises Brenon had obtained for them. Their first visit was to
the house of Jean's friend, Desailles. It was arranged that Leigh
should not go in, as Desailles would probably speak more freely to
Jean, if alone. Jean had written his name on a piece of paper,
folded it up, and carefully sealed it and, when he reached the
house, he handed this to the woman who opened the door.

"This is for Citizen Desailles," he said. "I will wait. He may want
to see me."

In a minute the servant returned, and requested him to come in. He
was shown into a room where Desailles was sitting, with some papers
before him. He did not speak until the servant closed the door.
Then he leapt up, and held out both hands to his visitor.

"My dear Jean," he said, "what imprudence, what madness for you to
venture here!"

"I don't think there is any fear of my being discovered. Even you,
yourself, would scarcely know me."

"I know you, now you have taken that hat off; but I own that I did
not recognize you before, and thought for the moment that you were
but a messenger.

"Please do not talk loud. For aught I know, my servant has been
bribed to act as a spy upon me, and may have her ear at the
keyhole. To tell you the truth, Jean, things are coming to a crisis
at the club. The violent party get more violent every day, and I am
heartily sick of this butchers' work. I feel that, at any moment, I
may be denounced."

"Then why on earth do you stay here, Jules? Why don't you come and
throw in your lot with us?"

"I should have laughed at the idea, a year ago," he said; "for at
that time, although I objected strongly to the doings in Paris, I
yet believed that much good would come of the changes. Now I know
that nothing has come of them but murder and misery, and the
madness increases rather than diminishes. Hopeless as I own your
struggle seems, to me, I would at least rather be killed in battle
than executed here; but I would rather still get to England, if I
could. As you know, I can play the violin well, and might be able
to support myself, by its aid, if nothing else turned up."

"If you are thinking of going, Desailles, I will give you a letter
to my father-in-law, at Poole. I hear that my mother and sister
have escaped, and they have doubtless gone there, so you will not
find yourself friendless.

"And now for the purpose that has brought me here. I had no idea,
until I arrived, that these wretches had imprisoned my father; who
is the last man to interfere in politics, and has, I am sure, never
uttered a word of enmity against the Convention. I came to
endeavour to rescue my wife who, as no doubt you have heard, has
been seized and carried off in my absence, and my house laid in
ashes. I suppose she has been brought here."

"Yes, I am aware of it," Jules said. "The party of horse who did it
were specially sent from here. Of course you were the principal
object of the expedition, but the officer was ordered to bring her,
too--in the first place as your wife, in the second as an
Englishwoman and therefore, of course, an enemy of France. You were
denounced to the club; and as you were known to be one of the
gentlemen who had joined the insurrection, and were fighting with
Cathelineau and others, I knew that it would be useless to raise a
voice on your behalf; having the satisfaction of feeling sure that
you would be away from home when they got there, and hoping that
your wife would receive notice of their coming, before they entered
the house."

"Has she been brought here yet?"

"Yes, she arrived three days ago. She is in the old city prison,
where your father is also confined."

"So far that is fortunate," Jean said.

"Now, how about my father? I should have thought that Jacques'
influence would have been sufficient to protect him."

The young advocate smiled bitterly.

"Monsieur Jacques Martin poses as a Brutus, Jean. When your father
was denounced in the club, he rose and said that he should take no
part in the deliberations, that he was before all other things a
patriot, and that he would not permit private affection to
interfere with his duty as a citizen. In fact, my dear Jean,
painful as it must be for you to hear, my opinion is that your
brother has all along been playing a deep game, and that his object
has been to grasp the whole of your father's business and property.
It was a friend of his who denounced you at the club, when I before
gave you warning; it was members of his clique who stirred the
authorities up to send a small body of cavalry to capture you, and
it was they also who denounced your father. Your brother is by far
the most powerful of the committee of safety, as well as in the
club. He assumes an air of perfect disinterestedness, and of a
passionate love for the republic. His vote is always given for
death. I think he takes Saint Just as his model, and repeats his
assertion, that it is only by the destruction of the enemies of
France that France can be freed.

"There is a cold bloodedness about him that sets my nerves
tingling. I believe, myself, that the discovery that your father
had largely reduced his stocks, and had sent the proceeds to
England, decided him in either agreeing to, or bringing about, this
denunciation; and that he deferred it only until he found that your
mother and sister had escaped. That freed his hands, to some
extent. Had they remained here, he would have been in a difficult
position. Even in these days, when we are sated with horrors, he
could hardly have permitted his mother and sister to be executed
when, as everyone knew, he had power to save them. On the other
hand, if they had remained they would have been obstacles to the
success of his plan. As it is now, your father's house and all
property belonging to him were declared confiscated; but the
committee of safety passed a vote that, seeing the inestimable
service rendered to the state by his eldest son, they would be
bestowed upon him as a token of gratitude for his well doing."

"You scarcely surprise me," Jean said gloomily. "I never liked my
brother--we had not a feeling in common, and for years he has never
seemed to belong to the family; and certainly, since the troubles
began, he has not set foot in my father's house. Still, I hardly
believed that he would be such a scoundrel. I abhorred his
opinions, but believed that he was at least sincere. I did not see
what he could gain by a revolution. Now I understand his character
better, and can see how cleverly he has played his cards. I cannot
reckon myself with the scoundrel, deeply as he has wronged me and
my father; but I should welcome the news that retribution had
fallen upon him, by some other hand.

"And now, Jules, can you give me any advice whatever as to how to
set about my scheme of getting them both out of prison?"

Jules shook his head.

"I fear, my poor friend, that that is impossible. The prison is, as
you know, strong. There are, I should say, some forty warders, all
ruffians and scoundrels. Any attempt to bribe even one of them
would, almost to a certainty, be denounced; and it would probably
be necessary to have at least half a dozen in the plot. As to
force, it is out of the question. The building is very strong.
There are always some twenty or thirty of the volunteers on guard
outside, and an alarm would bring up five hundred in a quarter of
an hour, to say nothing of the troops. What force could you bring
that could have even a remote chance of success?"

"I have Leigh with me. You know him well, Jules. I rely much more
upon him than I do on myself. He is full of plans and contrivances,
and has rendered extraordinary services during the war. He has with
him, or rather will have in the course of a day or so, a band of
forty lads, of whom he is the captain, who have acted as scouts to
Cathelineau. They will be in hiding, a mile or two out of the
town."

Jules lifted his eyebrows.

"I am afraid that such a force as that would be of very little use
to you, Jean--in fact, of no use whatever. If you had five hundred
men, and could gather them for a sudden attack on the jail, and had
a couple of cannon to blow in the gate, I should say it might be
possible; and even then the chance of its being all done, and the
fugitives got safely away, before the arrival of some three
thousand troops would be very doubtful."

At this moment the servant brought in a note.

"Who brought this?" Monsieur Desailles asked.

"It was a woman, monsieur. She did not wait for an answer."

The advocate opened it. It was written in pencil.

"Dear Jules, Martin is on his feet denouncing you. Hostile vote
certain. Escape at once."

After reading it, he handed it to Jean.

"That settles it," he said. "I am with you. Where are you staying?"

Martin told him, and said:

"It will never do for you to stay there. But I have arranged for a
boat, with a cabin. We shall go on board at once. You can come with
us. I had better go out first."

"It is better that we should not go together for, if the woman
reports that I went off with a fisherman, a search might be made in
all the boats. I will join you on the quay opposite the inn you
speak of. I shall need a quarter of an hour to burn some papers. I
have already a valise packed, with a couple of thousand francs,
which is all the money I could obtain without creating suspicion. I
have seen this coming for some time, and had no intention of making
a martyr of myself, when my doing so would be of no advantage."

"Don't delay too long, Jules. I shall be in a fever until you join
me."

"I know their way, Jean. There will be a half a dozen speeches,
each vying with the other in abusing me. My friends will see the
uselessness of trying to defend me, when the terrorists are three
to one against them. If my friend slipped out, as is probable,
directly your brother rose, I can calculate on a good hour.
Actually, the club have no power whatever to order arrests, but
they are so closely allied now with the committee of safety that
they do not stand upon legalities, except in cases likely to
attract a great deal of public attention."

Jules went to the door and let his visitor out. Jean joined Leigh.

"Desailles is going to join us. He has just been denounced, and
will be with us in a quarter of an hour, on the wharf. It is very
lucky that Brenon completed the arrangements today for the boat,
and that Rouget and Medart will be expecting us this evening. I
told them that I might not come until tomorrow morning, but this
settles it. There will be a sharp search for Desailles, as soon as
it is found that he is gone; and it is just as well that we should
be off, too. I am very glad that I had the boat taken from her
usual berth to a spot half a mile higher up, because there are sure
to be inquiries whether any fishing boats put out during the
night."

They walked fast back to the inn. Brenon, on being told what had
happened, agreed that it would certainly be safest for them to go
on board.

"I have two friends living here," he said, "both of whom are
carriers, and keep eight or ten horses. Tomorrow morning, early, I
will take one of your horses to one and the second to the other. No
one will notice them there, whereas if a search is made--and I have
no doubt a search will be made of the houses near the river--they
will light upon them in my shed, and they would not believe my
story that I had two citizens from Vallet living here--in the first
place because it is an unlikely place to put them up, and in the
second because no such citizens would be forthcoming. It is lucky
that you told the men to get a cask of wine and a store of
provisions on board, before starting.

"Well, you know, captain, that whenever you choose to land again,
my house is at your disposal; and I will carry out what we
arranged, that I should get together a score of men I can trust,
and to each of whom I can promise a hundred francs, for a night's
work in a good cause."

They packed up their former disguises, which might come in useful
again. Their pistols they had already about them. They then went
out on to the wharf again and, a few minutes later, were joined by
Jules Desailles.

"I have been nervous ever since I left you," Jean Martin said, as
his friend shook hands with Leigh. "I was afraid that a quarter of
an hour's delay might be fatal."

"I lost no time. But I feel sure that it will be an hour before
anyone is down after me; they are all too fond of listening to
their own voices to close any discussion, in less than an hour
after the proposer has sat down. I hope the boat is not far off,
for this portmanteau of mine is heavy, I can assure you."

Martin took it up and swung it on to his shoulder.

"No, my dear Jean, I won't have it."

"Nonsense, Jules. The weight is nothing to me though, no doubt, to
a man who never takes any exercise it would feel heavy."

"To say the truth, it is heavier than I expected. I went on packing
up everything that I did not like to leave behind, until the thing
was crammed full; and after I had locked it, and went to lift it, I
was thunderstruck with the weight."

"Did your servant see you go out?"

"No; I rang for her, and told her that I was going out, and did not
suppose that I should be back till late, and that she could go to
bed when she liked--which I knew would be a few minutes after she
got permission. She is a sort of human dormouse and, nineteen times
out of twenty, I have had to wait for my breakfast. I was in a
fright as I walked down here, lest some one who knew me might run
against me, but happily I saw no one."

"They would not recognize you, if they had seen you," Jean laughed.
"The idea of Monsieur Desailles, advocate, a gentleman somewhat
particular as to his attire, dragging a portmanteau weighing a
hundred pounds through the streets, would seem an impossibility."

"I have left that phase of my existence behind me," Jules laughed;
"henceforth I am a man of war, a rebel, a brigand, as they call
you, prepared for any desperate adventure, ready to rush up to a
cannon's mouth."

"That is right, Desailles. I am glad to see that you take things so
cheerfully."

"My dear Jean, I feel as if I walk on air since you have taken my
portmanteau. I have been living in a state of suspense for months,
hating these wretches and their ways; and knowing that I was
gradually falling into bad odour with them, and that the blow would
certainly fall, ere long. Over and over again I have thought of
making my escape from it all; but you see, I am not a man of
action, as you are. I did not see how the matter was to be
effected--where to go or what to do. I was like a boy shivering at
the edge of the bank, and afraid to plunge in; then another comes
behind him and pushes him into the water, and he strikes out, and
finds that it is not as cold as he expected, and forthwith enjoys
it. I have cut loose from the past. I have become a rover and a
waif, and I feel as lighthearted as a boy.

"Now, let me get hold of one end of that trunk, again."

"I have got it all right and, as you see, I have not yet changed
shoulders. And if I want help, it is to Leigh I should turn, and
not to you. After three months' campaigning, it may be that you
will be able to hold up an end as well as he can, but you certainly
cannot do so now. In another hundred yards we shall be at the boat,
and they must be on the lookout for us."

In a short time they saw a fishing craft, with a boat astern of
her. A man was standing on the deck.

"It is a dark night, my friends," he said.

"It will be lighter in the morning," Jean replied.

The man leapt ashore.

"Ah, captain, I am glad, indeed, to see you. Brenon did not tell
us, until after he had made a bargain with us, who wanted our boat,
or we should not have talked about payment. Not likely, after
having sailed with you since you were a boy of fourteen."

"No, indeed," said another man, who had just raised his head out of
the cabin hatch; "and we are not going to take it, either."

"We will talk about that afterwards," Jean said, as he stepped on
board.

"I doubted whether it was you, captain, for Brenon had only spoken
to us of two; and when I saw three of you, I thought that you must
belong to one of the boats higher up. There are two or three of
them, a bit farther on."

"I did not know, myself, until half an hour ago. This is my friend
Monsieur Desailles, who is in the same danger from these butchers
of the Convention as I am. First pass this box down, and then we
will follow it."

They gathered in the little cabin. It was but some seven feet long.

"It will be close work, captain," Rouget said.

"It will do very well," Jean said cheerfully. "There is room for
two of us to sleep on the lockers, and one on the floor. You have
got the small boat behind you, I see."

"She is there," the man said, "and a good boat she is. We bought
her from two fishermen, who had come down from Saint Florent. She
is very well for up there, but she is scarce fit for fishing far
below Nantes."

"I am glad that she did not belong to this place," Martin said.
"The fishermen might have been surprised to see two strange men in
a boat they knew; but so many have come down here, from the towns
above, that we shall excite no attention. Now, the first thing to
do is to get up sail, and drop down two miles past the town; then
you can go about your fishing as usual. Only one of us will show
upon deck at a time.

"Now, as to the matter on which we are here. Brenon told you that
it was a dangerous business for which you would be required?"

"He told us that it was to hide two gentlemen whom the committee of
public safety would be glad to get hold of; and I knew, of course,
that to do such a thing was dangerous, but we did not like it any
the worse for that. All honest men are horrified at the way these
commissioners from Paris are carrying things on, and would be glad
enough to aid in getting anyone out of their hands."

"But the danger is greater, in our case, than ordinary," Jean went
on. "You heard that my father had been imprisoned?"

"We heard it, captain, and savage it made us, as you may guess.
Everyone spoke well of him and, being your father, of course we
felt it all the more."

"But that is not all, lads. A party of their cavalry went to my
chateau in my absence, burnt it down, and brought my wife here a
prisoner. Now, it is absolutely certain that they will both of them
be condemned, for they have a personal enemy on the committee of
public safety, and they will be murdered, unless we can get them
out; and I and my brother Leigh, whom you all know, have come for
that purpose."

"Well, captain, you can count upon both of us, heart and soul. But
I don't see how it is going to be done. The prison is a strong
place, and well guarded. I have no doubt that we could count on
getting twenty stout men, along the wharf, but that would not be
much use. They have more than that on guard and, before we could
get into the prison, they would come swarming down, any number of
them."

"We have forty young fellows from my neighbourhood, who will by
tomorrow be hidden away in the wood, a mile and a half higher up
the river."

"That will be a help, sir; but even with two hundred we should not
be able to do much."

"We shall have plenty of time to talk it over, afterwards. Get the
sail up and drop down the river. Keep close to the opposite bank.
It is important that we should not be noticed, as we pass the
town."

"Well, sir, there is hardly air enough to fill the sails. I should
say that we had best tow her across to the other side, in the small
boat; and then drift till we are fairly beyond the town. We are
safe not to be seen then."

"Perhaps that will be the best plan, Rouget."

The men went out and, in two or three minutes, the sound of the
oars could be heard.

"I can't say that the lookout is very hopeful, Leigh."

"I did not think that anyone would think it so, Jean; but it seems
to me that it is just because everyone seems so confident that the
prison is safe from attack, that we shall have a chance. The thing
that is troubling me most is where we can get a barrel of
gunpowder. We must have powder to blow open the gate. I expect that
any of the doors we may find locked, inside, will give way if a
pistol is fired through the keyhole; but to blow in the main gate
of the prison we must get powder, and a good deal of it. That,
however, is a matter in which we shall find that money will be of
use.

"There are too many officials in the prison for us to hope to get
any one out, without eight or ten being in the plot; and as these,
we hear, are all fellows who are heart and soul with the
Convention, it is not possible to attempt it in that way. But when,
as you know, the Blues succeeded in bribing a Vendean to tamper
with our guns, it ought not to be such a difficult thing to bribe
one of these fellows, who is in charge of ammunition, to let us
have a barrel or two of powder."

"That certainly seems to hold out a prospect of success, so far,
Leigh. I have never been able to understand your confidence in
success, but certainly the first indication of your plan seems to
promise well. Now, let us hear some more of it."

"Well, this is my idea, Jean. I will choose a windy night, and send
Andre and Pierre, with twenty of the boys, into the worst part of
the town. Each shall carry a ball of yarn dipped in turpentine,
mixed with sulphur and other inflammable things. They shall also
carry another ball, having but a thin coating of the yarn, and
powder inside so as to explode. When the clock strikes two, we will
say, each of them will smash the window of some store, light both
balls, and put them in. I want the explosion of one ball to scare
anyone who may be sleeping there half out of their senses, and make
them rush out of the house; which will leave plenty of time for the
other ball to set on fire anything that it may light upon. Twenty
fires, starting at once at different spots, will create a fearful
scare. Many of the guards outside the prison--all of whom are drawn
from the slums--will have come from that quarter and, as they have
no idea of discipline, will, when they see the flames mounting up,
leave their posts and rush off to see to the safety of their homes.

"Choosing a windy night, you may be sure that the fires would burn
fast, and that the rest of the volunteers, and the National Guard,
would soon be so busy that they would not trouble themselves about
the prison, one way or the other. Thus I calculate that, of the
fifty men on guard round the prison, there would not be twenty left
at the outside; and they would be so busy staring at and talking of
the fire that, with a sudden surprise, they could all be disposed
of without difficulty. Then the gates of the prison would be blown
in, and we should rush in, shoot down all the warders we
meet--keeping one only as a guide--make straight for the rooms
where your father and Patsey are confined, release them and as many
others as the time will allow, telling them to rush down to the
wharf and seize boats, or to escape in whichever way they like;
while you, with your father and Patsey, would make straight down to
our boat; while I, with the boys, would follow you and cover your
retreat, if any of the Blues came up to pursue you."

"Leigh, you are a genius!" Martin exclaimed, bringing his hand down
on the lad's shoulder with a force that almost knocked him from his
seat.

"What do you think of that, Desailles, for a plan? I told you that
I relied upon Leigh's head more than my own, and you see I had good
reason for doing so. I doubt whether it could be done with his
forty boys, but if we can get the powder, it seems to me that, with
half as many sailors to help us, there is no reason why it should
not succeed."

"But you might burn half the town down," Desailles said, gravely.

"If I was sure that it would burn the whole of it down, I should
not mind," Leigh exclaimed. "But there is not much fear of that. If
it cleared out the whole of the slums, where the supporters of the
gang of murderers they call the committee of public safety live, I
should rejoice most heartily. As there are several wide streets
between them and the business quarters, and as they will have all
the soldiers of the town to assist in fighting the flames, I do not
think that there will be any fear of the fire spreading very far."

"Well, at any rate, Leigh, you have hit on a plan that offers a
good chance of success. We shall find out, in a day or two, how
many of the boatmen we can get to aid us, and how far they will be
disposed to go. We must learn, in some way, how long it is likely
to be before it is absolutely necessary to act. If we find that
there is time, we can send some of the boys off to the army, to
bring their fathers and brothers back with them. The sixty might
not be enough, but with a hundred of our men, I think we should be
pretty sure of success."



Chapter 11: The Attack On Nantes.


When three or four miles down the river the boat was anchored, and
the two men were called into the cabin, and Leigh's scheme
explained to them.

"It is a big affair, sir," Medart said thoughtfully, when Jean had
concluded. "Now, there is no love lost between us and the ruffians
who carry out the committee's orders. They call us river rats, we
call them sewer rats, and there has been many fights between the
fishermen and these fellows, as far back as I can remember, and
lately these have been much more frequent. If the plan was only to
burn down their quarters, there are a good many who would lend a
hand; because it could be done quietly, and they would have no
particular reason for suspecting that it was the work of the
fishermen. But as for going into the jail, that would be different.
We should not have time, by what you say, to hunt up and kill all
the warders; and it would therefore be known, at once, that we were
concerned. Five or six of our fellows have already had their heads
chopped off, on suspicion of having aided Royalists to escape. They
don't mind whom they lay hands on, and they don't trouble
themselves to search, but just seize the first they come to who,
perhaps in a cabaret, has said a word against their doings.

"As to the trials, they are no trials at all. One of their fellows
comes in and says, 'I heard this man abusing the authorities, and I
accuse him also of being concerned in the escape of so and so.' It
is no odds what the prisoner says. The fellow who acts as judge
looks at the jury, who are all their creatures; they say 'Guilty
'and he says' Death!' and the accused are marched off again to the
prison, to wait until their turn comes for the guillotine. Well you
see, if this prison was broken into as you propose, and it was
known that the sailors had a hand in it, the chances are that they
would march a couple of hundred of us into the great square, which
would be choke full of the National Guard and volunteers, and just
shoot us down."

Jean was silent. The probability that things would go as the man
said was so evident that he had no answer.

"I think the way to get over that difficulty," Leigh said, when he
saw that Jean was puzzled, "would be for you all quietly to buy
other clothes or, better still, for them to be bought for you by
your wives. They should be such clothes as the peasants buy, when
they come into the town. It would then be supposed that the attack
was made by a party of Breton peasantry. As a good many other
prisoners would escape, in addition to Monsieur Martin and your
captain's wife, there would be no reason to suppose that the plot
was specially arranged to aid their escape, or that any of the
people of this town were concerned in the matter."

"That is so, Master Leigh," Rouget said. "It might be managed in
that way. But I think that most of our chaps had better be told off
for firing the town. I think that a good many might be willing to
undertake that job, for I have heard it said, many and many a time,
that they would like to burn the sewer rats out. There are other
men who would, I am sure, rather join in the attack on the jail, if
they could do so without putting the lives of all of us in danger.

"As to getting hold of an artilleryman, I don't know that that
would be difficult. The men employed on that sort of work are all
old soldiers, and many of these, though they dare not say so, hate
what is going on just as much as we do. I have met one of them with
Emile Moufflet, who served with you, captain, for two or three
years. When we have been chatting together, he has said things
about the committee that would have cost him his head, if he had
been overheard. I know that his chum is in charge of some stores,
but whether they are powder or not, I cannot say. But at any rate,
Emile will be able to find out for me the name of several of them
who have charge of powder; and he would be likely to know which of
them had sentiments like his own, and how far they could be
trusted.

"That would not take long, but to get hold of forty hands for the
other work would take some time. One dare go only to men one is
very intimate with, and get them to approach men whom they know
well; for even among us, there are fellows who take the committee's
money to spy over the others, and to find out whether any trouble
is likely to come, or Royalists to be shipped off. One generally
knows who they are, because they overdo their parts, and rail at
the Convention more roundly and openly than an honest man would
dare to do. Some of them one finds out that way; others, again, one
spots by their always having money to spend. If they are too shrewd
to betray themselves in that way, our wives find them out for us,
by telling us that their women and children have new clothes, and
we know well enough that there is no buying new clothes out of
fish, at their present price. Besides, most of these fellows give
up fishing altogether, and lounge about the wharves talking and
smoking, and one knows that a man and his family cannot live on
air. Still, there may be others who are too sly to let out their
secret in either way, and therefore one must be very careful whom
one speaks to. One would not think of telling anyone about what is
intended until, just as it comes off, one could simply say that one
has heard that there is something in the air, and that report says
that every man who will lend a hand will earn--how much, captain?"

"Two hundred francs."

"When one sees how a man takes that, one can go a step or two
further.

"Well, I should not think of letting out to a soul what the nature
of the work would be, simply saying that every precaution will be
taken to prevent its being known that any fishermen are engaged in
it. All that will take time. I should say that it might be nigh a
couple of weeks before one could get the whole thing arranged."

"What do you think, Desailles?" Jean said. "Shall we have a
fortnight?"

Desailles shook his head.

"I could not say; you might have more than that, if the prisoners
were taken in the regular order in which they were condemned. The
jails are crowded and, as fresh captures are effected, room must be
made for them. Of course the committee have a list, and they make a
mark against the names of those who are to be executed, each day.
It might be three weeks before your friends' turn comes, it might
be only a few days."

"I tell you what, Rouget; you and your comrade had better land
tomorrow morning, and set to work. You might say that three
fishermen from Saint Florent, finding their boat too small, hired
yours for a week to try their luck. If they succeed they will give
you a fair price for her, if not they will simply pay the hire. You
can say that the price is not much, but as it is as much as you can
make at fishing, you thought that you might as well have an idle
week on shore.

"Leigh and I can work her. As soon as day breaks you shall shoot
your nets, so that we can see exactly how you work, and be able to
catch an average amount of fish each day. I am sure that no one
will know us in these disguises and, at any rate, we sha'n't be
clumsy either with the sails or oars. You can say that, as we are
strangers, you have agreed to sell our fish for us; which will be
an excuse for your coming down to us, with the news of how you are
getting on, each time that we come in."

"That will do very well, captain; but in that case, as a good deal
of the fishing must be done at night, we had better get out the
nets at once, and show you how they are managed."

For the next three days the work was carried on. Desailles had
undertaken to obtain, from a friend of his on the committee of
public safety, news of what was going on, and an early copy of the
names of the prisoners told off for execution on the following day.

On the third day after their arrival, Martin and Leigh rowed up to
the wood where they had directed the band to assemble and found
that, with two or three exceptions, all had arrived. Four or five
of them were at once told to return, to the estate and to the army,
with a message from Jean begging all his tenants to leave, and join
the party in hiding. Many of them would, no doubt, have returned to
their homes within a day or two of the capture of Saumur. Letters
had already been written to Bonchamp and Rochejaquelein to say that
they were intending to attack the jail, and deliver a number of
captives besides Jean's father and wife; and to beg that they would
pick out some fifty or a hundred determined men, and send them on.
On the morning of the sixth day, when the two sailors joined them,
they were in a state of high excitement.

"There is great news, captain," Rouget said; "the whole city is in
a state of tumult. It is reported that Cathelineau, with his army,
is marching upon Nantes; and it is also reported--but this is not
so certain--that Charette is marching to join them, with all his
force."

"That is grand news, if true!" Jean exclaimed. "That would indeed
favour our scheme! I doubt whether they will capture Nantes, for
there is a big force here, and enough of them are seasoned troops
to encourage the volunteers and National Guard to make a good fight
of it. However we can, at any rate, take advantage of the attack to
carry out our own plans. When the fighting is at the hottest, you
may be sure that every armed man will be wanted at the work, and
that there will not be many guards left behind at the prison. Our
band here can dispose of them; and half a dozen men each, with
fireballs, can add to the confusion by setting fire to warehouses
and factories. The great thing now will be the powder."

"That we have managed already, captain," Medart replied. "As I told
you, I spoke to Emile Moufflet the first morning I went ashore, and
he said that it was at the magazines that his chum was employed.
Yesterday evening he came to us, and said that if I gave him the
two thousand francs that you had given me for the purpose, he would
hand us over two barrels of powder, at eleven o'clock last night.
We got them; and carried them, as you told us, to Brenon's; and
helped him to bury them in his shed. We also got, as you ordered, a
couple of yards of fuse."

"Bravo, Medart! everything seems going well for us."

The news of Cathelineau's advance was confirmed, on the following
day, by the return of the lads who had been sent to fetch
assistance. They brought with them eight or ten men from the
estate; and reported that la Rochejaquelein had remained at Saumur,
with a portion of his army, to defend that town against a large
force that Biron was assembling at Tours; while Cathelineau, having
with him Bonchamp and Stofflet, was marching with the main force
along the north bank of the river. They said, however, that his
force was greatly diminished, for that large numbers of his men,
objecting to fight outside their own country, had scattered to
their villages. They, however, confirmed the news that Charette was
reported to be marching north to join Cathelineau.

"That is the worst part of the whole business," Jean said,
bitterly. "Our generals have no control over their men. They will
fight when they want to fight, and return home when they choose. If
Cathelineau had come along with a big force, he would have been
joined by numbers of Bretons on the way and, if he had captured
Nantes, by the greater part of Southern Brittany. Now that so many
of his men have left him, it is quite possible that his attack may
fail; and in that case the result will be disastrous. His army
would disperse, the Blues would turn their whole force against la
Rochejaquelein, and the cause that a fortnight since seemed half
won would be lost.

"It shows, at any rate, that the idea of marching on Paris could
not be carried out; for if men refuse to march, when they would be
separated from their own country only by the river, to take Nantes,
by which La Vendee is constantly threatened; certainly a greater
portion still would have gone off to their homes, rather than join
in what would seem to them so terrible an affair as a march on
Paris. The peasants are good enough at fighting but, though they
may win a victory by their bravery, they are certain to lose a
campaign by their independent habits."

Feeling convinced that the approach of the Vendean army would
enable their enterprise to be carried out by a much smaller body
than had at first appeared necessary, Jean Martin told the two
sailors that they had better abstain from broaching the matter to
any more of their acquaintances. They had already obtained the
adhesion of those of whose fidelity they felt absolutely assured
and, should one of the others whom they intended to approach turn
traitor, it would overthrow all chances of success, and might cause
such alarm to the authorities that the executions would go on more
rapidly than before, and the fate of their friends be precipitated.

Day by day the excitement in the city increased. Generals Beysser
and Canclaux had, under their command, some ten thousand men. There
was no chance of further reinforcements reaching them, but they
felt confident that they could successfully defend the town with
this force.

Had Charette marched to Ponts-de-Ce and, crossing there, joined
Cathelineau, the danger would have been much more formidable; but
instead of so doing he was advancing directly towards Nantes, on
the south side of the river, the few places remaining in the hands
of the Republicans being hastily evacuated on his approach. Here,
however, he could give but slight aid to Cathelineau, for the
bridge crossing the Loire could be defended by a comparatively
small force, provided with cannon to sweep the approaches.

In order to reassure the townspeople and encourage the troops, the
French generals, as the enemy approached, moved out with a large
proportion of their force and threw up some intrenchments a mile
and a half outside the town; feeling confident that they could
withstand any attack in the open country.

As many of the peasants fled into Nantes, especially those who, in
the villages, had rendered themselves obnoxious by their
persecutions of those suspected of Royalist leanings, or who were
personally obnoxious to them, Leigh was able to gather the whole of
his party in the town. They were, like other peasants, to sleep in
the open squares or down near the walls. They were always to go
about in pairs, and to meet Pierre or Andre at places and hours
arranged by them. They were supplied with money sufficient to buy
bread, and were warned on no account to make themselves conspicuous
in any way. With them were the men from Martin's estates who had
answered to his summons.

Clothes had been bought for the twelve sailors engaged by Medart
and Rouget. The fireballs had been prepared in the cabin of the
fishing boat. Each of the fourteen fishermen was to carry two of
these. Their leaders had carefully gone round the quarter, and had
picked out the stores or warehouses into which the fireballs were
to be flung. Among these were several wood yards No private houses
were to be fired. That the flames would spread to these was likely
enough, but at least there would be time for the women and children
to escape.

Having decided upon the places to be fired, the sailors were one by
one taken round, and the two buildings assigned to each pointed
out, so that there would be no confusion or loss of time when the
signal was given. Only two stores near the water had been marked
down for destruction, namely, those belonging to the Martins. This
was Leigh's work. As a firm the business was extinct. It was now
the sole property of Jacques Martin, and there was no probability
that Martin senior or Jean would ever recover a share in it. As in
each of the stores a considerable quantity of spirits in addition
to the wine was housed, not only would the loss be very heavy, but
the interest excited in the vicinity would increase the confusion
and alarm that would prevail.

Desailles was in daily communication with his friend. He learned
that the list of prisoners was being taken, now, more in the order
in which they stood. The farce of a trial had been gone through, in
the case of Jean's wife, and she had of course been condemned. She
stood a good deal lower on the list than his father. There was not
much chance of the day of her execution being settled before the
arrival of the Vendean forces. The number of names, however, above
that of Monsieur Martin was rapidly decreasing, and there was
imminent danger that he might be included in the fatal list before
their arrival.

On the twenty-sixth of June the Vendeans arrived within a few miles
of the town, and a formal summons was sent in to the generals. It
was briefly refused. General Canclaux believed that he had so
strengthened his advanced position, which was occupied by his best
troops, that he would be able to repulse Cathelineau's force there.
The Vendeans, however, being informed by the peasantry of the
formidable nature of the intrenchments, decided that it would be
dangerous to attack them; and consequently moved round so as to
threaten the town from the north. Charette, on his side, moved his
force up within cannon shot of the bridge.

At eight o'clock on the evening of the twenty-seventh, the sound of
heavy firing was heard in Nantes. A column of the Vendeans had
attacked Nort, a place lying to the north of the town. It was
defended by six hundred troops of the line, and a body of the
National Guard. They maintained themselves there during the night
but, at daybreak, fell back upon the town, leaving their cannon
behind them. A considerable body of troops moved out to cover their
retreat.

Confident that the attack would begin that evening, every
preparation for action was made by Jean and Leigh. The powder
barrels were dug up, and holes bored for the fuses. The boys were
all informed that the hour for action was at hand; and were ordered
to lie down, at nightfall, in the open space facing the front of
the prison, scattering themselves among others who would be
sleeping there or, in expectation of the attack on the town
beginning, would be standing in groups listening for it. Leigh
would be among them.

As the hour neared twelve they were to gather in a body. The
sailors were not to begin their work until the attack on the town
commenced in earnest. Jean, with his twelve tenants, was to come up
at twelve. The exact moment for the attack was to be decided upon
by the progress made by the fires. When these had had their effect,
Leigh was to fall upon the guard round the prison; and Jean, with
his band, to run forward to the gate, plant the powder barrels
against it, light the fuse and run back.

As soon as they had killed or driven away the guard, Leigh's party
were to return to the front. There Andre, with half the band, were
to station themselves, and to hold the gate against any armed body
that might arrive; while Leigh, with the others, entered the prison
and aided, if necessary, to overpower the warders and blow open the
doors of the cells. The prisoners were all to be told that
Charette's army was on the other side of the Loire, and that their
best plan was to make their way down to the river, seize boats, and
get across.

At five o'clock in the afternoon Charette's guns opened against the
barricades that had been thrown up at the bridge. Canclaux, seeing
that the attack upon the north had rendered it useless for him to
retain the advanced post, ordered the troops there to fall back
into the town, at ten o'clock in the evening; and at eleven the
whole garrison were concentrated in Nantes.

Finding that, with the exception of the cannonade on both sides
across the river, all remained quiet, Leigh passed the word round
among his followers to remain as they were, until further orders.
Jean and his men came up by twos and threes before twelve; and
these, too, lay down as if to sleep, or seated themselves on the
steps of the houses. Few of the inhabitants had retired to rest.
They knew that at any moment the storm might break, and some
awaited the attack with hope that the time of their release from
the tyranny under which they had, for months, groaned, had come;
while others trembled at the thought of the vengeance that, if the
town were taken, would fall upon those who had been concerned in
what had passed.

Martin and Desailles presently joined Leigh. As the time went on
they began to fear that, for some reason or other, the Vendeans had
determined to delay their attack until the next day. At half past
two Charette's cannonade redoubled in vigour, and the rattle of
musketry showed that his troops were advancing. The batteries of
the defenders opened with equal violence, and their musketry
answered that of the assailants on the opposite bank.

"I think that that must be the signal for Cathelineau to begin,"
Martin said.

And, ten minutes later, the attack commenced with fury upon the
gates of Vannes, Rennes, and that by the river.

Every window was opened, and anxious faces looked out. The night
was dark, and the few oil lamps alone threw a feeble light on the
square. Suddenly a broad glare rose to the west, and the murmur,
"There is a house on fire!" passed from mouth to mouth. In another
few minutes flames were seen rising at a dozen points, and a cry of
consternation arose.

"The brigands have entered the town! They are going to burn it to
the ground."

Man after man of the little group of National Guards, who had been
gathered talking in front of the door of the prison, was seen to
detach himself from it and to move quietly away. Then those at the
windows noticed four or five parties of men move forward, from
among those who were standing talking; when within a short distance
of the guard there was a sharp command, and these groups all rushed
towards the gates together. There were shouts and cries, and then
there was silence. Taken wholly by surprise, the guard had fallen
under the knives of the Vendeans without having had time to fire a
shot.

Then the majority of their assailants ran off, half one way, half
the other, following the wall of the prison. Two pistol shots were
fired, a moment later. The men who had remained at the gate drew
back for some distance. There was a short pause, and then a
tremendous explosion. All the people gathered in the place, save
those who had carried out the affair, fled with cries of terror.
Then Jean and his party dashed forward towards the shattered gates
and entered the prison, and shot or cut down the frightened warders
as these came running out, dazed and bewildered at the sound of the
explosion. Jean seized one of them by the throat.

[Illustration: Jean seized one of them by the throat.]

"Where are the keys kept? Answer, or I will blow out your brains!"

The frightened ruffian at once led the way to the chief warder's
room. He had already fallen, being one of the first to run down.
There were two bunches of keys.

"These are of the doors of the corridors," the man said, taking
down one bunch. "The others are of the cells."

"Now, go before us and open them all--every one, mind."

They were soon joined by Leigh with his party, who had made short
work of the few guards who remained at their post outside the
prison.

"Set your men to blow in the doors," Jean said; "It would take half
an hour to unlock them all, at this rate."

Pistols were at once applied to the keyholes, and the locks
destroyed. There were a few separate cells, but the prisoners were
for the most part crowded, twenty or thirty together, in the larger
rooms. As he entered each room, Leigh shouted the directions agreed
on to the prisoners. In a short time he came upon Jean who, as had
been arranged, had first gone to the rooms where his father and
Patsey were confined. Jean started with these at once, with six of
his men, leaving Leigh and Desailles to see to the release of the
rest of the prisoners.

As soon as all rooms had been burst open or unlocked, he and his
party, with that at the gate, hurried away. The streets were light,
as a sheet of flame rose from the stores of Jacques Martin. The
musketry fire on the wharves showed that there were troops
stationed there. As they hurried along, the shouts of alarm which
rose in the town showed that the news of the attack upon the prison
had spread rapidly. As soon as the released prisoners knew that
they were well above the bridge, and the silence on the wharves
showed that none of the troops were stationed there, shouts of
delight arose. There were a good many boats moored to the bank, and
the fugitives threw themselves into these.

"Get out your oars and row straight across," Leigh shouted. "If you
drift down the stream, you will come under the fire of the troops
there."

Then, having done their work, he and his band went up a hundred
yards farther, where they knew that three large boats were lying.
In these they took their places and started to row across the river
and, in five minutes, reached the opposite bank. They sprang out,
with a shout of joy at finding themselves again in their own
country. Most of the fugitives also gained the opposite bank; but
some boats, in which there were but few capable of handling the
oars, drifted down the river, and lost most of their number from
the fire of the troops on the bank, before they could land among
the men of Charette's army.

Leigh with his boys soon joined the other party, who had landed a
hundred yards higher up. It was a joyful meeting, indeed, between
him and Patsey.

"Jean tells me it is all your doing that we have been got out," she
said. "I felt sure you would manage it, somehow."

They had already arranged their plans. Jean, with his wife and
father and his twelve men, was to start at once for Parthenay,
where Lescure was in command. Leigh had determined to join
Cathelineau, with as many of his band as chose to accompany him.
Desailles would go with Jean.

The boys, on the choice being given them, almost all decided to
accompany Leigh. They were excited at the success that had attended
them, and the tremendous roll of fire round the town showed how
fiercely their countrymen were fighting, and they longed to join in
the conflict.

Saying goodbye to those who were going, Leigh and his party towed
one of the boats a mile up the river, and then crossing, soon
joined the party engaged. The Vendeans had already advanced some
distance, but every house and garden was fiercely contested. Hour
after hour passed, and the troops were beginning to be discouraged.
It was broad daylight now, and the Vendeans pressed forward at all
points, more hotly than ever.

The troops were falling into disorder, and would soon have become a
disorganized mass; when a musket ball, fired from a window, struck
Cathelineau in the breast as, with his officers, who had been
considerably increased in number owing to the many gentlemen who
had joined him at Saumur, he was leading on his troops.

A cry of dismay rose from those who saw him fall, and the news
spread like wildfire among the peasants, who regarded him with an
almost superstitious reverence, and had a firm belief that he was
protected by Heaven from the balls of his enemies. His loss seemed
to them an irretrievable misfortune. The fierceness of their attack
diminished. Their ardour was gone, and the Blues, gaining courage
as their assailants ceased to press them, took the offensive.

They met with but little opposition. The Vendean army, lately on
the point of being victorious, was already breaking up and, ere
long, was scattered over the country, its retreat being undisturbed
by the enemy, who could scarcely believe their own good fortune at
having succeeded, when all had seemed lost.

Cathelineau was carried off; but died, a fortnight later, from the
effects of the wound. His death was a terrible blow to the cause.
The failure to take Nantes had, in itself, been a great misfortune;
but the Vendeans had suffered no more heavily than the enemy and,
had Cathelineau been but spared, matters might still have gone well
with them. The effect of his death, however, was for the time to
dishearten the peasantry utterly; and had at this time terms of
peace, which would have permitted them to enjoy the exercise of
their religion, and to be free from conscription, been offered to
them, they would gladly have been accepted.

Charette, after he saw that the attack upon Nantes from the north
side of the river had failed, fell back with his force, as before,
into Lower Poitou. The Vendeans, now under Bonchamp, who had also
been wounded, retired along the north bank of the Loire, crossing
the river at various points as they could find boats.

Before joining in the fight, Leigh had told his band that, in the
event of failure, he should recross the river in the boat that had
brought them over. They had all kept near him during the struggle.
Eight of them had fallen, several others were wounded, and he
himself had received a musket ball in the shoulder. As soon as he
saw that the battle was lost, he withdrew from it and made his way
with the boys to the river bank; recrossed the stream, and struck
across the country. After proceeding some six miles they entered a
wood, and lay down and slept for some hours, and then marched to
Parthenay.

Here the band broke up and proceeded to their homes; while Leigh
made his way to Lescure's headquarters, learned where his friends
were lodged, and joined them.

Patsey gave a cry of alarm as he entered. Fugitives had arrived
before him, and it was already known that the attack on Nantes had
failed, and that Cathelineau was mortally wounded.

"What is it, Leigh?"

"I am wounded in the shoulder. It is nothing very serious, I think;
though I suppose I sha'n't be able to hold a sword for some time."

A surgeon was soon fetched, the ball extracted, and the wound
bandaged; and they then sat down to talk over the events that had
occurred. Since they had been separated, Monsieur Martin had become
a broken man. The fact that his son, who assuredly had it in his
power to protect him, had given him over to the terrible tribunal,
had been a harder blow to him than the prospect of death; and even
the devotion that had been shown by Jean scarcely sufficed to
comfort him.

Patsey was pale and thin. Her imprisonment had told upon her and,
still more, the thought of what Jean must be suffering on her
account, and her uncertainty as to the fate of her child. But even
the twenty-four hours that had elapsed since she had left her
prison had done much for her. The news that the child was safe and
well had taken a load off her mind; and she felt proud, indeed,
that her release, and that of so many others of her fellow
prisoners, had been brought about by the devotion of her husband
and her brother. Before the day was out, she was laughing and
chatting as if nothing had happened.

On the following morning they started early, and reached home in
the afternoon. They were received with delight by their people,
although many of these had lost relations in the recent battles. A
house in the village was placed at their disposal, Patsey riding
straight on to see her child; with which, and its faithful nurse,
she soon returned.

"And now, Jean," Patsey said when, with the cure and Jules
Desailles, they sat down for a quiet talk that evening, "what is to
be the next thing?"

"You should ask the Blues that," he replied. "So far as I can see,
it will be a repetition of what has taken place. They will invade
us again, and probably we shall beat them back. Each time they will
come with larger forces and, at last, I suppose we shall have to
endeavour to make our way to England. I am afraid there can be no
question that that will be the end of it. Fight as we may, we
cannot withstand the whole strength of France."

"Why can we not fly at once?" Monsieur Martin asked.

"The difficulty in reaching the coast, and of getting a passage,
would be immense. Besides, so long as La Vendee resists, so long is
it my duty to fight; and I am sure that Patsey would not wish me to
do otherwise. I have been in it from the first, and must stay until
the end, if I am not killed before that comes. If it were possible
to send you and Patsey and Leigh away to England, I would gladly do
so; but I am sure that she would not go, and I think I may say the
same for Leigh."

"Certainly, Jean; as long as you stay, I stay. My life is far less
important than yours, for I have no one dependent upon me. I quite
agree with you that the war can end in only one way; but till that
comes, all those who have been the leaders of these poor peasants
ought to hold by them."

"I agree entirely with you both," Patsey added, and there was no
more to be said.



Chapter 12: A Series Of Victories.


More formidable foes than the peasants had yet met were approaching
La Vendee. Mayence had surrendered to the allies, and the garrison
there, which was a large one, composed of veteran troops, was
allowed to march away, on each man taking an oath that he would not
again serve on the frontier.

Outside France there was no idea of the desperate struggle that was
going on in La Vendee. Had it been known, in England, that it
needed but little aid for Brittany and La Vendee to successfully
oppose the efforts of the Republic, men, money, arms, and
ammunition would no doubt have been sent; but unfortunately the
leaders of the insurrection, occupied as they were with the efforts
they were making, had taken no steps to send a statement of the
real facts of the case to the English government. The ports were
all in the hands of the Republicans and, although in Paris public
attention was concentrated on the struggle, the British government
was very badly informed as to what was passing there. Had the
allies been aware of it, the terms granted to the garrison at
Mayence would have been very different; and they would either have
been held as prisoners, or been compelled to take the oath that
they would, in future, not serve the Republic in any way, in arms.

As it was, they were free to act in France, and were already on the
march towards La Vendee. As before, arrangements were made for the
district to be attacked simultaneously on all sides. La
Rochejaquelein was so much weakened by the return of the peasants
to their homes that he was obliged to evacuate Saumur, and this
town was taken possession of by the division from Tours, consisting
of twelve thousand five hundred infantry, sixteen hundred cavalry,
and four hundred artillerymen, under General Menou.

The division of Niort comprised fifteen thousand six hundred
infantry, and thirteen hundred and eighty cavalry. It was commanded
by Chalbos, having Westermann with him. At Sables were four
thousand three hundred infantry, two hundred and fifty cavalry, and
three hundred artillery. They were commanded by General Boulard.

There was but small breathing time for the Vendeans. Westermann had
moved towards Parthenay with a strong force and, but a few hours
after the Martins had left it, Lescure was forced to fall back from
the town. This was occupied by the Blues. They pillaged and burned
a village near, although no opposition had been offered, and then
sent off a force which burned Lescure's chateau at Clisson.

The Martins were engaged in conversation when a messenger ran in.

"I have an order from Monsieur Lescure," he said. "The church bells
are to be rung throughout the district."

All started to their feet.

"Already?" Jean exclaimed. "Why, what has happened?"

"We have fallen back from Parthenay. The Blues under Westermann,
eight thousand strong, have already occupied the town. The
general's orders are that all are to join him at Moulin, in two
days' time. Messengers have been despatched all over the country,
and Monsieur de la Rochejaquelein has been sent for, to join
General Lescure at Moulin."

"That gives us twenty-four hours, then," Jean said, with a sigh of
content. "I will see that your message is carried on to all the
villages near. There are plenty of boys of twelve or fourteen about
the place."

But the bells rang that night to deaf ears. Many of the peasants
were still absent, others had returned but a few hours before, worn
out and dispirited. But when on the following day the news came
that Westermann's troops were burning villages, and slaying all who
fell into their hands, and that Monsieur de Lescure's chateau had
been burnt, fury and indignation again fired them and, that night,
the greater part of them set out for Moulin.

"I wonder what has become of our horses," Jean said, as he prepared
to start. "We shall never hear any more of those we left at Nantes.
We must go on foot this time, and trust to getting hold of a couple
of horses, the first time we defeat the Blues."

He had that day been over with Patsey, her child, his father, the
nurse, and Francois to the peasant's house, deep in the forest, to
which he had before arranged that she should go, in case of need.
All the party were dressed as peasants. The man and woman from whom
the house was hired removed to another hut, a quarter of a mile
away. Francois was to go down every day in the cart to the village,
to get news and letters and buy provisions. The cure had arranged
to send off one of the village boys, the moment that he heard that
any party of the Blues were approaching; when the whole of the
occupants of the village and the farms around it would be obliged
to take to the woods, for it was evident that neither age nor sex
was respected by Westermann's troops.

It was morning when Jean, Leigh, and Desailles arrived at Moulin.
They were warmly received by Rochejaquelein and Bonchamp, to whom
Jean introduced Desailles as a new comrade.

"I know nothing of fighting," the latter said; "but, gentlemen, I
shall do my best."

"That is all that anyone can do," Rochejaquelein said heartily. "We
may say that none of us, with the exception of Monsieur Bonchamp
and a few others, had any experience in fighting when we began; but
we have done pretty well, on the whole."

"Do you think that we have much chance of holding this place?" Jean
asked. "They told us, as we came in, that at present there are not
much more than eight thousand men here; and Westermann, they say,
has about as many."

"That is so," Bonchamp said, "and I do not expect that we shall
beat them; but we must fight, or they will march through the
country, wasting and destroying as they go. It is only by showing
them that we are still formidable, and that they must keep together
and be prudent and cautious, that we can maintain ourselves. A
succession of blows, even of light ones, will break a rock."

At two o'clock the enemy's forces approached, and the engagement
soon became hot. Every hedge was lined by the peasants, every
position strongly defended, and only evacuated when the horns gave
the signal. At the end of two hours Westermann, after losing a
considerable number of men, approached ground where his cavalry
could come into play; and the leaders of all the bands had been
warned that, when they fell back to this point, the horn was to be
sounded three times, and that resistance was to cease at once and
the bands disperse, to meet at a given point, two hours later.
Seven of the ten cannon they had with them were safely carried off;
and although compelled to retire from their position, the peasants
were well satisfied with having withstood, so long, the attack of
an equal number of troops, supported by an artillery much superior
to their own.

Leigh had taken no part in the actual fighting. His right arm was
tightly strapped, and bandaged across his chest; and he therefore
acted only as the general's aide-de-camp.

"I'll tell you what it is, Jules," Jean said to Desailles, as they
retired from the field; "if you are going to expose yourself in the
way you have done today, your fighting will be over before long.
When it comes to leading the peasants to an attack, one must
necessarily set the men an example; but when on the defence, you
see, the peasants all lie down behind the hedges and bushes, and
show themselves as little as possible.

"And there were you, walking about as if you were in the principal
street in Nantes! I do not say that we must not expose ourselves a
good deal more than the peasants, in order to encourage them; but
there is a limit to all things, and one must remember that we are
very short of officers, and that the peasants, brave as they are,
would be useless without someone to direct them."

"I have no doubt but you are right, Jean," Desailles said with a
laugh; "but in fact, I don't remember giving a thought to the
matter. I was almost bewildered by the roar of the battle and the
whistling of the bullets. I felt like a man who had taken too much
wine; which, in my student days, happened to me more than once. My
blood seemed to rush through my veins, and I would have given
anything for the order to come for us to throw ourselves upon the
enemy."

"You will get over that," Jean laughed, "but the same feeling is
strong among the men. One can see how eager they are for the order
to charge. They use their muskets, but it is to use their bayonets
that they are panting. They would make grand soldiers, if they were
but well drilled and disciplined.

"Unless I am mistaken, you will see them at their favourite work,
before many days are over. Westermann will get to Chatillon
tonight. When he gets there, he will find no provisions for his
troops, and will begin to wonder whether he is wise in thus
penetrating so far into a nest of hornets.

"Bonchamp will give him two or three days to forget the mauling
that we have given him. By that time our force will have increased,
and it will be well for Westermann if he manages to carry half his
force back with him."

The news of the burning of la Rochejaquelein's chateau, on the
following day, excited the liveliest indignation. The young count
himself received the news with greater indifference than did those
around him.

"When a man carries his life in his hand, every day," he said, "he
does not fret over the loss of a house. I do not suppose that I
should ever have sat down quietly in possession of it, and the
cousin who is my heir may have to wait a number of years before, if
ever, he comes to take possession of the estate. Had circumstances
been different, the loss of the old chateau, where my family have
lived for so many years, would have been very grievous to me; but
at present it affects me comparatively little.

"It is lucky that I sent off four men, directly the fight was over,
with a letter to my steward, charging him to hand over to them the
four horses that still remained in my stables. They arrived here an
hour ago. I guessed that the Blues would be paying a visit there in
my absence.

"One of them is for you, Monsieur Martin, and one for Leigh; the
others I shall keep as spare chargers. I have had two shot under me
already, and am likely to have more. In the meantime, if your
friend Monsieur Desailles likes to ride one, it is at his service."

"I thank you very much, marquis," Jules said; "but I would prefer
trusting to my own legs. My profession has been a peaceful one, and
I have never yet mounted a horse, and certainly should feel utterly
out of my element, in the saddle, with an animal under me excited
almost to madness by the sounds of battle. Of the two, I think that
I should prefer being on a ship, during a storm."

Rochejaquelein laughed.

"It is all a matter of training," he said. "As for me I feel twice
the man, on horseback, that I do on foot. I have never tried
fighting on foot, yet; and I should certainly feel altogether out
of my element, the first time that I attempted it.

"However, I will not press the animal on you. I shall send it and
the other to some cottage, in the heart of the woods, whence I can
have them fetched when needed."

"I am sure that we are greatly obliged to you," Jean said. "As I
told you, when relating our adventure in Nantes, we had to leave
our horses behind us there though, had we captured the town, we
should have recovered them. As it is, the Blues carried off the two
I had left behind at the chateau, and I could only buy one other,
as we came through. That I detailed for the use of my wife. I
certainly had not expected to obtain another, until we captured
some from the enemy. We are heartily obliged to you, not only for
your generous gift, but for your thoughtful kindness in sending for
them for us."

"Say not another word," Rochejaquelein said. "You are a sailor and
I am a soldier, and between us there is no occasion for thanks or
compliments. You would have done the same for me, and I am glad to
be able to set you both on horseback again. And indeed, I am not
sure that I was not a little selfish in the matter; for yesterday I
missed the company of your brother-in-law greatly, and felt that I
would give a good deal to hear his cheery laugh, and confident
tone."

As usual, the army dispersed after its victory; but there were but
a few days' quiet, for on the fourteenth it gathered to oppose the
advance of a strong French column, from Brissac; and on the morning
of the fifteenth, early, just as the troops were getting into
movement, the Vendeans burst down upon them.

Their numbers were not large, for the notice had been short, and only
the peasants of the surrounding district had had time to gather.
Nevertheless they attacked with such energy, led by Rochejaquelein
and d'Elbee, that they fought their way into the middle of the camp,
captured the headquarters with its correspondence and treasury, and
scattered several battalions in utter confusion.

On the return of the advanced guard, under Santerre, the situation
changed; the fugitives were rallied and, after long and fierce
fighting, the Vendeans drew off.

"We must admit another failure," said Rochejaquelein; who had, with
his little troop of mounted men, been in the thick of the fight;
charging again and again into the midst of the enemy, and covering
the retreat, when it began, by opposing a determined front to the
enemy's cavalry; "a failure, but a glorious one. They were superior
to us in numbers; and yet, if it hadn't been that their advanced
guard returned while our men were scattered, intent upon the
plunder of their headquarters, we should have won the day. However,
we shall have reinforcements up, in a couple of days."

On the seventeenth, the French column resumed its march. Santerre's
command led the way to Vihiers, which they reached without
opposition. The rest of the division arrived in the afternoon. They
had left, at their previous halting place, the heavy baggage; with
a portion of their artillery ammunition. Scarcely had they arrived
at Vihiers when a tremendous explosion told them that the guard
left behind had been overpowered, and their store of ammunition
destroyed.

A feeling of uneasiness and alarm spread through the army.
Santerre's battalion were at once attacked by Rochejaquelein, who
had but a small body of men with him, but who thought to take
advantage of the alarm which the explosion would naturally cause
among the enemy. Santerre's battalion, however, stood firm, and the
Vendeans were drawn off. In the night, however, the main body of
the peasants arrived and, at one o'clock next day, made their
attack.

Menou himself, with the rest of his command, had now come up. Some
of the battalions, as before, stood steadily; but the rest of the
army, dispirited by the perseverance with which the Vendeans, in
spite of failure and losses, were ever ready to renew their attack,
speedily lost heart.

In two hours the right fell back in disorder, the panic spread and,
in a short time, the rout became general. In vain the officers
endeavoured to check the fugitives. So great was their terror that,
in three hours, the panic stricken mob traversed the distance
between Vihiers and Saumur.

Thus the second great invasion of La Vendee had met with no greater
success than the first. The two strong columns that had advanced,
in full confidence of success, had returned utterly discomfited.
Westermann's division had been all but annihilated. The army from
Saumur had lost great numbers of men, and had for the time ceased
to be a military body. The Bocage, with its sombre woods, its thick
hedges, and its brave population, seemed destined to become the
grave of the Republican army; and the order to advance into it was,
in itself, sufficient to shake the courage of those who boasted so
loudly, when at a distance.

It was the grave, too, of the reputation of the French generals.
One after another they had tried, failed, and been disgraced. The
first general, Marce, was superseded by Berruyer; Berruyer by
Biron, who was recalled and guillotined. Westermann was also tried,
but having powerful friends, was acquitted. Generals of divisions
had come and gone in numbers. Some had been dismissed. Some, at
their own urgent request, allowed to return to the districts they
commanded before the outbreak of the insurrection. But one and all
had failed. One and all, too, had never ceased, from the time they
joined the army of invasion, to send report after report to the
Convention, complaining of the untrustworthiness of the troops, the
bad conduct and uselessness of the officers, and the want of a
sufficient staff to maintain discipline and restore order.

Indeed, the bulk of the revolutionary troops possessed little more
discipline than the Vendeans themselves and, being uninspired, as
were the latter, by a feeling either of religion or of patriotic
enthusiasm, they were no match for men who were willing to give
their lives for the cause.

The Vendeans were far better armed than when they commenced the
struggle. Then the proportion of men who were possessed of muskets
or firearms of any kind was extremely small; but now, thanks to the
immense quantity which had been captured in the hands of prisoners,
thrown away by fugitives, or found in the storehouses of the towns,
there were sufficient to supply almost every man of the population
with firearms; and in addition, they possessed a good many pieces
of artillery.

Unfortunately they had learned little during the four months'
fighting. Their methods were unchanged. Love of home overpowered
all other considerations; and after a victory, as after a defeat,
they hurried away, leaving with their generals only the officers
and a small body of men, who were either emigres who had returned
from England to take part in the struggle, or Royalists who had
made their way from distant parts of France, for the same purpose.

After the capture of Saumur, too, a good many Swiss and Germans,
belonging to a cavalry regiment formed of foreigners, had deserted
and joined the Vendeans. Thus a small nucleus of an army held
together, swelling only when the church bells summoned the peasants
to take up arms for a few days.

But while the Royalists of La Vendee remained quiescent, after they
had expelled the invaders; the Republicans, more alarmed than ever,
were making the most tremendous efforts to stamp out the
insurrection.

Beysser, who had commanded at Nantes, was appointed to succeed
Menou. Orders were given that the forests and hedges of La Vendee
were all to be levelled, the crops destroyed, the cattle seized,
and the goods of the insurgents confiscated. An enormous number of
carts were collected to carry faggots, tar, and other combustibles
into La Vendee, for setting fire to the woods. It was actually
proposed to destroy the whole male population, to deport the women
and children, and to repeople La Vendee from other parts of France,
from which immigrants would be attracted by offers of free land and
houses. Santerre suggested that poisonous gases should be inclosed
in suitable vessels, and fired into the district to poison the
atmosphere.

Carrier, the infamous scoundrel who had been appointed commissioner
at Nantes, proposed an equally villainous scheme; namely, that
great quantities of bread, mixed with arsenic, should be baked and
scattered broadcast, so that the starving people might eat it and
be destroyed, wholesale. This would have been carried out, had it
not been vigorously opposed by General Kleber, who had now taken
the command of one of the armies of the invasion.

The rest of July and the first half of August passed comparatively
quietly. General Toncq advanced with a column into La Vendee, and
fought two or three battles, in which he generally gained successes
over the peasants; but with this exception, no forward movement was
made, and the majority of the peasants remained undisturbed in
their homes.

Soon, however, from all sides, the flood of invaders poured in. No
fewer than two hundred thousand men were now under the orders of
the French generals, and advanced from different directions, in all
cases carrying out the orders of the Convention, to devastate the
country, burn down the woods, destroy the crops, and slay the
inhabitants. Five armies moved forward simultaneously, that
commanded by Kleber consisting of the veteran battalions of
Mayence.

But everywhere they were met. Charette had marched to the aid of
the Vendeans of the north, and the country was divided into four
districts, commanded by Charette, Bonchamp, Lescure, and la
Rochejaquelein. Each of these strove to defend his own district.

The war now assumed a terrible aspect. Maddened by the atrocities
perpetrated upon them, the peasants no longer gave quarter to those
who fell into their hands and, in their despair, performed
prodigies of valour. They had not now, as at the commencement of
the war the superiority in numbers. Instead of fighting generally
four to one against the Blues, the latter now exceeded them in the
same proportion.

But the peasants had changed their tactics. Instead of rushing
impetuously upon the enemy's lines, and hurling themselves upon his
artillery, they utilized the natural features of their country. As
the Republican columns marched along, believing that there was no
enemy near, they would hear the sound of a horn, and from behind
every hedge, every thicket, every tree, a stream of musketry would
break out. Very soon the column would fall into confusion. The
lanes would be blocked with dead horses and immovable waggons. In
vain would the soldiers try to force their way through the hedges,
and to return the fire of their invisible foes. Then, as suddenly
as the attack commenced, the peasants would leap from their shelter
and, with knife and bayonet, carry havoc among their enemies.

These tactics prevailed over numbers, even when, as in the case of
Kleber's division, the numbers possessed military discipline,
training, and high reputation. For a month, fighting was almost
continuous and, at the end of that time, to the stupefaction of the
Convention, their two hundred thousand troops were driven out of La
Vendee, at every point, by a fourth of that number of undisciplined
peasants. Never, perhaps, in the history of military warfare did
enthusiasm and valour accomplish such a marvel.

The second half of September was spent by the peasants at their
homes, rejoicing and returning thanks for their success; but
already a heavy blow was being struck at their cause. Charette,
hotheaded, impetuous, and self confident, had always preferred
carrying out his own plans, without regard to those of the leaders
in Upper Vendee; and he now quarrelled with them as to the course
that had best be pursued, and left, with the forces that he had
brought with him, to renew the war in the south.

But although the peasants rejoiced, their leaders knew that the
struggle could not long continue. The number of fighting men--that
is to say, of the whole male population of La Vendee capable of
bearing arms--had diminished terribly; indeed, the number that
originally responded to the summons of the church bells was
decreased by fully a half. Food was scarce. Owing to the continued
absence of the peasants the harvest had, in many places, not been
garnered; and wherever the Republican troops had passed, the
destruction had been complete. A large portion of the population
were homeless. The very movements of the Vendeans were hampered by
the crowds of women and children who, with the few belongings that
they had saved, packed in their little carts, wandered almost
aimlessly through the country. Many of the towns were in ruins, and
deserted; in all save a few secluded spots, as yet unvisited by the
Republicans, want and misery were universal.

There was no thought of surrender, but among chiefs and peasants
alike the idea that, as a last resource, it would be necessary to
abandon La Vendee altogether, and to take refuge in Brittany, where
the vast majority of the population were favourable to them,
gradually gained ground.

Generals Beysser, Canclaux, and Dubayet were recalled by the
Convention for their failure to obtain success, and l'Echelle was
appointed to the command, having Kleber and Westermann as leaders
of his principal divisions.

Jean Martin and Leigh had joined their friends, in their retreat in
the forest, after the repulse of all the Republican columns. They
had heard, while engaged in the thick of the fighting, of the death
of Monsieur Martin. He had never recovered from the effects of his
imprisonment at Nantes, and instead of gaining strength he had
become weaker and weaker. The terrible uncertainty of the position,
the news that constantly arrived of desperate battles, and the
conviction that in the end the Vendeans would be crushed, told
heavily upon him. He took to his bed, and sank gradually.

"I am not sorry, my child," he said to Patsey, the day before he
died, "that I am going to leave you. I was wrong in not taking
Jean's advice, and sailing for England with my wife and daughter.
However, it is useless to think of that, now.

"I can see terrible times in store for all here. It is evident that
no mercy is to be shown to the Vendeans. It has been decreed by the
Convention that they are to be hunted down like wild beasts.

"Had I lived, I should have been a terrible burden to you. I should
have hampered your movements and destroyed any chance, whatever,
that you might have of escaping from these fiends. It would have
been impossible for me to have supported the fatigues and hardships
of a flight, and I should have been the means of bringing
destruction on you all. It is therefore better, in every respect,
that I should go.

"I pray that Heaven will protect you and Jean and your brave
brother, and enable you to reach England in safety. You will bear
my last message to my wife and Louise. You will tell them that my
last thought was of them, my last feeling one of gratitude to God
that they are in safety, and that I have been permitted to die in
peace and quiet."

"It is a sad homecoming this time, Jean," Patsey said, as her
husband and Leigh rode up to the door.

"It is indeed, Patsey; and yet, even when the news came to me, I
could scarcely grieve that it was so. I had seen how he was fading
when I went away, and was not surprised when I heard that he had
gone. For me it is one care, one anxiety, the less, in future.

"Patsey, we will be together. I cannot leave you here, when Leigh
and I are away. The child shall go with us and, when all is lost,
we will escape or die together."

"I am glad to hear you say so, Jean. It has been terrible waiting
here, and knowing that you were in the midst of dangers, and that
even while I thought of you, you might be lying dead. I shall be
glad, indeed, to share your fate, whatever it is."

For three weeks the little party lived quietly in the cottage.
There were many discussions as to the future. It was agreed that,
in case of a final reverse, it would be better that they should
travel alone.

"The more of us there are, the more certain to attract
observation," Jean said. "We must go without Francois and Marthe.
Their chance of safety will be greater if they either return to
their villages, or take up their abode with the family of some
woodman--or rather, Marthe's safety would be greater. As to
Francois, he has long been eager to join in the fighting, and it is
only his fidelity that has constrained him to remain in what he
considers is a disgraceful position, when every other man who can
bear arms is fighting. We will therefore take him with us and, when
the day of battle comes, he will join the fighting men and, if we
are defeated, must care for his own safety.

"When we fight, I shall always leave you at a village, a mile or
two away. You will have the horse ready to mount, and we shall join
you at once, if we are defeated."

"We ought to be disguised, Jean," Leigh said.

"It would be well," Jean said, "but I hardly see what disguise
would be of use to us. Certainly not that of peasants, for in that
dress we should be shot down, without question, by the first party
of Blues we came across. Even if we succeed in reaching the river
and crossing it, we may be sure that the authorities will be
everywhere on the lookout for fugitive peasants. It would be better
to be shot, at once, than to await in prison death by the
guillotine."

"I should say that it does not matter a bit how we are dressed,
till we reach the river. We know now pretty nearly every lane in
the country," Leigh said, "and I should think that we ought to be
able to reach the Loire."

"That is where the difficulty will begin. In the first place there
will be the trouble of crossing, and then that of making our way
through the country. Certainly we could not do so as Vendean
peasants."

"I should say, Jean, that the best disguises would be those of
fairly well-to-do townspeople; something like those we wore into
Nantes, but rather less formal--the sort of thing that ordinary
tradesmen, without any strong political feeling either way, would
wear. I don't say that we shall not be suspected, however we are
dressed, because no one in his senses would be travelling about
just at present; but when once we get beyond Tours, if we go that
way, we might pass without much notice.

"Which way do you think that we ought to go, Jean?"

Jean shrugged his shoulders.

"I don't see that there is any choice. There would be very little
chance of escaping from any of the ports of Brittany, and La
Rochelle would be still more hopeless. As far south as Bordeaux we
should be in a comparatively peaceful country, and I should hope to
find friends there. The eastern frontier is of course the safest to
cross, but the distance is very great and, in the towns near the
border, a very sharp lookout is kept to prevent emigres escaping.

"There is a rumour that Lyons has declared against the Convention,
but if we got there it is certain that it would be but La Vendee
over again. Lyons cannot resist all France and, as soon as they
have done with us here, they will be able to send any number of
troops to stamp out these risings.

"Undoubtedly, if we could get there, Toulon would be the best
place. I have heard for certain that they have driven out the
extreme party, and have admitted the English fleet. Once there, we
should be able to take berths in a ship bound somewhere abroad--it
matters little where--and thence get a passage to England. Most
probably we shall be able to arrange to go direct from Toulon, for
there are sure to be vessels coming and going with stores for the
British fleet."

"But that would be a terrible journey, Jean," his wife said.

"Yes, I think that would be quite out of the question. It seems to
me that our best chance would be either to cross the Loire and then
make for Le Mans, and so up through Alencon to Honfleur--that way
we should be east of the disturbed district--or, if we found that a
vast number of fugitives had made their way into Brittany, as is
almost certain to be the case, we might bear more to the east, and
go up through Vendome and Chartres and Evreux, and then branch off
and strike the Seine near Honfleur. In that case we should be
outside the district where they would be searching for fugitives
from here.

"Once on the seashore, or on the Seine, it would be hard if we
could not steal a fishing boat, and cross the Channel. However, one
must of course be guided by circumstances. Still, I do think that
it would be as well to buy the disguises Leigh suggests, without
loss of time. I will ride over to Chatillon, tomorrow, and get
them."



Chapter 13: Across The Loire.


Marthe was filled with grief, when she heard that it had been
decided that it was better that she should return to her native
village; but her mistress pointed out to her that, if all went
well, she could rejoin them. If things went badly, and they
escaped, they would send for her wherever they might be; but in
case disaster compelled them to fly, three persons were as many as
could hope to travel together, without exciting suspicion. The
nurse however begged that, at any rate, she might go with them to
the headquarters of the army.

"Everyone is going," she said; "and they say that, if we are beaten
in the next battle, they will cross the Loire and take refuge in
Brittany, for the Blues will not leave a soul alive in La Vendee. I
should have nowhere to go to here, and will keep with the others,
whatever happens. If you are with them, madame, I can rejoin you;
if not, I hope to be with you, afterward."

It was indeed an exodus, rather than the gathering of an army, that
was taking place. The atrocities committed by the invaders, the
destruction of every village, the clouds of smoke which ascended
from the burning woods, created so terrible a scare among the
peasants that the greater portion of the villages and farms were
entirely deserted, and every road leading to Chollet, which was the
rendezvous where the fighting men were ordered to gather, was
crowded with fugitives. Francois walked by the horse's head.
Patsey, the nurse, and the child, with a trunk containing articles
of absolute necessity, occupied the cart. Jean and Leigh rode
ahead.

The company of Cathelineau's scouts no longer existed. More than
half of them had fallen in the late battles. Their services were no
longer required as scouts, and the survivors had joined their
fathers and brothers, and formed part of the command of Bonchamp.

On the fourteenth of October the enemy's columns were closing in
upon Chollet. Those round Mortagne were marching forward, when the
advanced guard, under General Beaupuy, were suddenly attacked by
the Vendeans, while entangled in the lanes. The head of the column
fought well; but those in the rear, finding themselves also
attacked, and fearing that the retreat would be cut off, retired
hastily to Mortagne. The column would have been destroyed, had not
Beaupuy promptly sent up large reinforcements. After a long and
obstinate fight the Vendeans were driven from the woods and, the
Republican artillery opening upon them, they were compelled to
retire to Chollet.

Here no halt was made. Kleber had also been fiercely attacked, but
had also, though with much difficulty, repulsed his assailants. The
next morning the Republicans entered Chollet, which they found
deserted by the enemy.

On the seventeenth, their whole force being now concentrated there,
they were about to move forward towards Beaupreau; when the
advanced guard was hotly attacked and, in a short time, the combat
became general. For a time the Vendeans bore down all opposition,
but as the whole of the Republican force came into action, their
advance was arrested.

The battle began soon after one o'clock. It raged without
intermission till nightfall. No decisive advantage had been gained
on either side, and the result was still doubtful, when a panic
took place among the multitude of noncombatants in the rear of the
Vendeans. The cry was raised, "To the Loire!"

The panic spread. In vain the leaders and their officers galloped
backwards and forwards, endeavouring to restore confidence, and
shouted to the men that victory was still in their grasp. In the
darkness and din they could only be heard by those immediately
round them, and even these they failed to reanimate; and the men
who had for seven hours fought, as Kleber himself reported, like
tigers, lost heart.

Lescure had fallen in the fighting on the fourteenth. Bonchamp and
d'Elbee were both desperately wounded at the battle at Chollet, and
were carried off by their men. La Rochejaquelein, with whom Jean
Martin and Leigh were riding, had made almost superhuman efforts to
check the panic; and they fell back, almost broken hearted, with a
band of peasants, who held together to the last. On the previous
day Leigh had escorted Patsey to Beaupreau, and it was to this town
that the fugitives made their way, arriving there at midnight.

"Thank God that you are both alive!" Patsey said, bursting into
tears as her husband entered the room in which she was established.

"We can hardly believe it ourselves," Jean said. "It has been a
terrible day, indeed. Our men fought nobly, and I firmly believe
that we should have won the day, had not an unaccountable panic set
in. What caused it I know not. We were doing well everywhere, and
had begun to drive them back and, could we have fought on for
another half hour it was likely that, as usual, a panic would have
seized them.

"However, Patsey, they would have gathered again stronger than ever,
and it must have come to the same thing, in the long run. Now put on
your disguise, at once. We will lie down for two hours, and see you
off before daybreak. I do not know whether la Rochejaquelein, who
must now be considered in command, since d'Elbee and Bonchamp are
both desperately wounded, will gather a force to act as a rearguard.
If so we must stay with him; but I do not think that even his influence
would suffice to hold any considerable body of peasants together. All
have convinced themselves that there is safety in Brittany.

"At any rate, the enemy will need a day's rest before they pursue.
They must have suffered quite as heavily as we have."

The night, however, was not to pass quietly. At two o'clock two
officers, who had remained as piquets, rode into the town with news
that Westermann's division, which had marched through Moulet and
had taken no part in the action, was approaching. The horn sounded
the alarm, and the fugitives started up and renewed their flight.
Marthe could not be left behind now, nor did the others desire it;
and until they had crossed the Loire there could be no separation,
for the whole country would swarm, in forty-eight hours, with
parties of the enemy, hunting down and slaying those who had taken
refuge in the woods.

Jean and Leigh had lain down in the cart, to prevent any of the
fugitives seizing it. The two women and the child were hurried
down, and took their places in it. Francois, who had escaped, had
fortunately found them; and took the reins, and the journey was
continued.

There was no pursuit. It was only a portion of Westermann's force
that had arrived, and these were so exhausted and worn out, by the
length of their march and by the fact that they had been unable to
obtain food by the way, that they threw themselves down when they
reached the town, incapable of marching a mile farther.

At Beaupreau there had been no fewer than five thousand Republican
prisoners, kept under guard. On the arrival of the routed Vendeans,
the peasants, as a last act of retaliation, would have slain them;
but Bonchamp, who was at the point of death, ordered them to be set
free.

"It is the last order that I shall ever give," he said to the
peasants assembled round his litter. "Surely you will not disobey
me, my children."

The order was obeyed, and the prisoners were at once sent off; and
as the Republican column marched out from Chollet, the next day,
they encountered on the road their liberated comrades. The
sentiments with which the commissioners of the Convention were
animated is evidenced by the fact that one of them declared, in a
letter to the commander-in-chief of the army, that the release of
these prisoners by the Vendeans was a regrettable affair; and
recommended that no mention, whatever, should be made of it in the
despatches to Paris, lest this act of mercy by the insurgents
should arouse public opinion to insist upon a cessation of the
measures that had been taken for the annihilation of the Vendeans.

The fugitives, a vast crowd of over one hundred thousand men,
women, and children, reached Saint Florent without coming in
contact with the enemy. The Republican generals, indeed, had no
idea that the peasants had any intention of quitting their beloved
country; and imagined that they would disperse to their homes
again, and that there remained only the task of hunting them down.
A company had been left on a hill which commanded Saint Florent,
but they had no idea of being attacked, and had not even taken the
precaution of removing the boats across the river.

As soon as they arrived, the Vendeans attacked the post with fury,
and captured it. Twenty boats were found, and the crossing was
effected with no little difficulty. There were still two or three
thousand, principally women and children, to be taken over, when a
party of Republican dragoons arrived. Numbers of the women and
children were massacred; but the great bulk, flying precipitately,
regained the country beyond the heights of Saint Florent, and took
refuge in the woods.

The multitude were, for the present, safe. There was no strong
force of the enemy between Nantes and Saumur, and they halted for
the night, dispirited, worn out, and filled with grief. They had
left their homes and all they cared for behind. They were in a
strange country, without aim or purpose, their only hope being that
the Bretons would rise and join them--a poor hope, since the
terrible vengeance that had been taken on La Vendee could not but
strike terror throughout Brittany, also.

Jean Martin and Leigh had seen Patsey and the nurse placed in one
of the first boats that crossed.

"Do not go far from the spot where you land," they said. "We shall
stay here, until all is over. If the Blues come up before all have
crossed, we shall swim across with our horses; be under no
uneasiness about us."

Taking the horse out of the shafts of the cart, and putting a
saddle that they had brought with them on its back, they left the
three animals in charge of Francois; and then aided other officers
to keep order among the crowd, and to prevent them from pressing
into the boats, as they returned from the other bank, in such
numbers as to sink them. All day the work went on quietly and
regularly, until so comparatively few remained that hope became
strong that all would cross, before any of the enemy arrived.

That hope was destroyed when, suddenly, the enemy's cavalry
appeared at the edge of the slope, and came galloping down. The
officers in vain tried to get the few men that remained to make a
stand. They were too dispirited to attempt to do so, and the little
throng broke up and fled, some one way, some another.

Fortunately an empty boat had just returned, and into this the
other officers leapt; while Jean, with his two companions, led the
horses into the water. They had already linked the reins. Francois
was unable to swim but, at Jean's order, he took hold of the tail
of the horse in the middle; while Jean and Leigh swam by the heads
of the two outside horses, and without difficulty the other side
was gained. Patsey, who had had her eye fixed upon them all day,
was standing at the spot where they landed.

They were near the town of Ancenis, and a portion of the Vendeans
entered the place, which was wholly undefended. The inhabitants
were in abject terror, thinking that the town would be sacked; and
were surprised to find that the peasants did no one any harm, and
were ready to pay for anything that they required. So long, indeed,
as any money whatever remained, the Vendeans paid scrupulously.
When it was all expended, the chiefs did the only thing in their
power, issuing notes promising to pay; and although these had no
value, save in the good faith of the Vendeans, they were received
by the Bretons as readily as the assignats of the Republic--which,
indeed, like the notes of the Vendeans, were never destined to be
paid.

Had the army plunged into Brittany after the capture of Saumur,
there can be no doubt that the peasantry would everywhere have
risen; but coming as fugitives and exiles, they were a warning
rather than a source of enthusiasm; and although small numbers of
peasants joined them, the accession of force was very trifling.

Jean Martin, his wife, and Leigh held an anxious consultation that
evening. They had found a poor lodging, after attending a meeting
of the leaders, at which la Rochejaquelein had been unanimously
elected commander-in-chief; Bonchamp having died, while d'Elbee,
wounded to death, had been left at the cottage of a Breton peasant,
who promised to conceal him. The young soldier had accepted the
fearful responsibility with the greatest reluctance. He, and those
around him, saw plainly enough that the only hope of escape from
annihilation was the landing of a British force to their
assistance. Unhappily, however, England had not as yet awoke to the
tremendous nature of the struggle that was going on. Her army was a
small one; and her fleet, as yet, had not attained the dimensions
that were, before many years, to render her the unquestioned
mistress of the seas.

The feeling that the Revolution was the fruit of centuries of
oppression; and that, terrible as were the excesses committed in
the name of liberty, the cause of the Revolution was still the
cause of the peoples of Europe, had created a party sufficiently
powerful to hamper the ministry. Moreover, the government was badly
informed in every respect by its agents in France, and had no idea
of the extent of the rising in La Vendee, or how nobly the people
there had been defending themselves against the whole force of
France. It is not too much to say that had England, at this time,
landed twenty thousand troops in Brittany or La Vendee, the whole
course of events in Europe would have been changed. The French
Revolution would have been crushed before it became formidable to
Europe, and countless millions of money and millions of lives would
have been saved.

Throughout France there was a considerable portion of the
population who would have rejoiced in the overthrow of the
Republic, for even in the large towns its crimes had provoked
reaction. Toulon had opened its gates to the English. Lyons was in
arms against the Republic. Normandy's discontent was general, and
its peasantry would have joined those of Brittany and La Vendee,
had there been but a fair prospect of success.

England, however, did nothing, but stood passive until the
peasantry of La Vendee were all but exterminated; and indeed, added
to their misfortunes by promising aid that never was sent, and thus
encouraging them to maintain a resistance that added to the
exasperation of their enemies, and to their own misfortunes and
sufferings.

"What are we going to do?" Patsey asked, as her husband and Leigh
returned from the meeting.

"That is more than anyone can say," Jean replied. "We shall, for
the present, move north. We are like a flight of locusts. We must
move since we must eat, and no district could furnish subsistence
for eighty thousand people, for more than a day or two.

"There can be no doubt that the impulse to cross the Loire was a
mad one. On the other side we at least knew the country, and it
would have been far better to have died fighting, there, than to
throw ourselves across the river. It was well nigh a miracle that
we got across, and it will need nothing short of a miracle to get
us back again.

"Of one thing we may be sure: the whole host of our enemies will,
by this time, be in movement. We should never have got across, had
they dreamed that such was our intention. Now that we have done it,
you may be sure that they will strain every effort to prevent us
from returning. Probably, by this time, half their forces are
marching to cross at Nantes. The other half are pressing on to
Saumur. In three or four days they will be united again, and will
be between us and the river.

"Were we a smaller body, were we only men, I should say that we
ought to march another twenty miles north, then sweep round either
east or west and, while the enemy followed the north bank of the
river to effect a junction, we should march all night without a
halt, pass them, and hurl ourselves either upon Saumur or Nantes,
and so return to La Vendee. But with such a host as this, there
would be little hope of success. I fancy that we shall march to
Laval, and there halt for a day or two. By that time the whole
force of the enemy will have come up, and there will be another
battle."

"And we, Jean?"

"I see nothing but for us to march with them. We know nothing of
the movements of the enemy and, were we to try to make our way
across the country, we might run into their arms. Besides, Leigh
and I have both agreed that, at present at least, we cannot leave
Rochejaquelein."

"We could not, indeed, Patsey," Leigh broke in. "If you had seen
him this evening when, with tears in his eyes, he accepted our
choice, you would feel as we do. It was all very well for us,
before, to talk of making off; but now that the worst has happened,
if it were only for his sake, I should stay by him; though I think
that Jean, with the responsibility of you and your child, would be
justified in going."

"No," Patsey said firmly, "whatever comes, we will stay together.
As Jean said, you cannot desert the cause now. As long as there are
battles to fight we must stay with them, and it is not until
further fighting has become impossible that we, like others, must
endeavour to shift for ourselves."

"Well spoken, Patsey!" her husband said. "That must be our course.
So long as the Vendeans hang together, with Rochejaquelein at their
head, we must remain true to the cause that we have taken up. When
once again the army becomes a mass of fugitives we can, without
loss of honour, and a clear consciousness that we have done our
duty to the end, think of our safety. I grant that, if one could
find a safe asylum for you and our Louis in the cottage of some
Breton peasant--"

"No, no!" she interrupted, "that I would never consent to. We will
remain together, Jean, come what may. If all is lost, I will ask
you to put a pistol to my head. I would a thousand times rather die
so than fall into the hands of the Blues, and either be slaughtered
mercilessly, or thrown into one of their prisons to linger, until
the guillotine released me."

"I agree with you in that, Patsey. Well, we will regard the matter
as settled. As long as the army hangs together, so long will we
remain with it; after that we will carry out the plans we talked
over, and make for the coast by the way which seems most open to
us."

The next day was spent, by Rochejaquelein and his officers, in
going about among the peasants. They did not disguise from these
the extreme peril of the position, but they pointed out that it was
only by holding together, and by defeating the Blues whenever they
attacked them, that they could hope for safety.

"It was difficult to cross the Loire before," they said; "it will
be tenfold more difficult now. Every boat will have been taken over
to the other side, and you may be sure that strong bodies of the
enemy will have been posted, all along the banks, to prevent our
returning. You have fought well before. You must fight even better
in future, for there is no retreat, no home to retire to. Your
lives, and those of the women and children with you, depend upon
your being victorious. You have beaten the Blues almost every time
that you have met them. You would have beaten them last time, had
not a sort of madness seized you. It was not we who led you across
the Loire; you have chosen to come, and we have followed you.

"At any rate, it is better to die fighting, for God and country,
than to be slaughtered unresistingly by these murderers. You saw
how they fell upon the helpless ones who were unable to cross with
us; how they murdered women and children, although there was no
resistance, nothing to excite their anger. If you die, you die as
martyrs to your faith and loyalty, and no man could wish for a
better death.

"All is not lost, yet. Defeat the Blues, and Brittany may yet rise;
besides, we are promised aid from England. At any rate, La Vendee
has been true to herself through over six months of terrible
struggle. La Vendee may perish. Let the world see that she has been
true to herself, to the end."

The fugitive priests with the army seconded the efforts of the
officers and, by nightfall, a feeling of resolution and hope
succeeded the depression caused by the terrible events of the
preceding thirty-six hours; and it was with an air of calmness and
courage that the march was recommenced, on the following morning.

The instant that it became known that the Vendeans had crossed the
Loire, a panic seized the Republicans at Nantes; and messengers
were sent to implore the commander-in-chief to march with all haste
to aid them should, as they believed, the Vendeans be marching to
assail the town. Kleber with his division started at once, followed
more slowly by the main body of the army.

Another column advanced to Saint Florent and, obtaining boats,
crossed the river and entered Angers; to the immense relief of the
Republicans there, who had been in a state of abject terror at the
presence, so near them, of the Vendeans. Kleber marched with great
rapidity, passed through Nantes without stopping, and established
himself at the camp of Saint Georges.

The news of what was termed the glorious victory at
Chollet--although in point of fact the Republicans fell back, after
the battle, to that town--caused the greatest enthusiasm in Paris,
and the Convention and the Republican authorities issued
proclamations, which were unanimous in exhorting the army to pursue
and exterminate the Vendeans.

By the twenty-third, the whole of the French army was in readiness
to march in pursuit. Kleber was still in the camp of Saint Georges,
Chalbos was at Nantes with a corps d'armee, Beaupuy was at Angers.

The Vendeans had marched through Cande and Chateau-Gontier, and had
without difficulty driven out the Republican force stationed at
Laval. L'Echelle, the commander-in-chief, was profoundly ignorant,
supine, and cowardly; and owed his position solely to the fact that
he belonged to the lower class, and was not, like Biron and the
other commanders-in-chief, of good family. Remaining always at a
distance from the scene of operations, he confused the generals of
divisions by contradictory orders, which vied with each other in
their folly.

On the twenty-fourth, Kleber marched to Ancenis, and on the following
day he, Beaupuy, and Westermann arrived at Chateau-Gontier. Canuel's
division from Saint Florent had not yet come up. The troops were
already tired, but Westermann who, as Kleber in his report said, was
always anxious to gain glory and bring himself into prominence,
insisted on pushing forward at once; and prevailed over the more
prudent counsel of the others, as he was the senior officer.

When they approached Laval, Westermann sent a troop of cavalry
forward to reconnoitre. He was not long before he came upon some
Vendean outposts. These he charged, and drove in towards the town.

No sooner did they arrive there than the bells of the churches
pealed out. It was now midnight but, before the army could form
into order, the Vendeans poured out upon them, guided by the shouts
of the Republican officers, who were endeavouring to get their
troops into order. The combat was desperate and sanguinary. The
peasants, fighting with the fury of despair, threw themselves
recklessly upon the Republican troops; whose cannon were not yet in
a position to come into action, and whose infantry, in the
darkness, fired at random. Fighting in the dark, discipline availed
but little. Kleber's veterans, however, preserved their coolness,
and for a time the issue was doubtful.

Had Westermann's cavalry done their duty, victory might still have
inclined towards them; but instead of charging when ordered, they
turned tail and, riding through a portion of their infantry, spread
disorder among them. Westermann, seeing that it was hopeless to
endeavour to retrieve the confusion, ordered a retreat; and the
army fell back to Chateau-Gontier, where they arrived in the course
of the day. Here they found the commander-in-chief who,
disregarding the exhausting march the troops had already
accomplished, and their loss of spirit after their defeat, ordered
them to return to Vihiers, halfway to Laval.

It was nightfall when they reached this place, but Westermann
pushed the advanced guard some two leagues farther. Kleber, seeing
the extreme danger of the position, refused to advance beyond
Vihiers; and sent orders to Danican, who commanded the advanced
guard, to fall back to a strong position in advance of Vihiers.

Danican had taken command only on the previous day, and the
soldiers, believing that this order was but an act of arbitrary
authority on his part, refused to move; and the bridge over the
river Ouette, in front of Vihiers, remained unguarded save by a
squadron of cavalry. Kleber had just returned from visiting the
post, when he received a despatch from l'Echelle, bidding him give
the order they had decided upon between them to the other two
divisions. As no such arrangement had been made, Kleber was in
ignorance of what was meant; but he sent a messenger to Beaupuy,
who was at Chateau-Gontier, and to Bloss, who commanded a column of
grenadiers, to join him as soon as possible.

Bloss arrived early the next morning at the camp. Beaupuy moved
forward but, as his whole force had not yet come up, he did not
arrive at the camp at the same time.

At eleven that night l'Echelle and the four generals now in the
camp held a council. Westermann was extremely discontented, at
finding that the heights were not occupied; but as Kleber remarked,
the troops were utterly dissatisfied at the way in which they had
been handled, and at the unnecessary and enormous fatigues that had
been imposed upon them, and it was impossible to demand further
exertions. Savary, one of the generals at the council, was well
acquainted with Laval, and gave the advice that a portion of the
army should follow the river for some distance, and then take
possession of the hills commanding the town.

When Beaupuy arrived, his division moved forward at once, as an
advanced guard; but as the army was moving a messenger arrived from
l'Echelle, issuing orders in absolute contradiction of the plan
that he had agreed to, when the council of war broke up. The orders
were obeyed, but the generals again met, and sent off a messenger
to l'Echelle to remonstrate against the attack in one mass, and a
march by a single road, on a position that could be attacked by
several routes; and to recommend that at least a diversion should
be made, by a false attack. Westermann himself carried this
remonstrance, but the commander-in-chief paid no attention to him.

Advancing, it was found that the Vendeans had taken up a position
on the neglected heights. The cannon opened on both sides, and
Beaupuy was soon hotly engaged. Kleber advanced his division to
sustain him. L'Echelle, coming up, arrested the further advance of
the division of Chalbos. Savary rode back in haste, to implore
l'Echelle to order Chalbos to move to the right and attack the left
flank of the enemy; but by this time the unfortunate wretch had
completely lost his head and, instead of giving Chalbos orders to
advance, ordered him to retreat, and himself fled in all haste.

Two columns, that were posted a few miles in the rear, received no
orders whatever, and remained all day waiting for them. Kleber,
seeing the division of Chalbos retiring in great disorder, felt
that success was now impossible; and placed two battalions not yet
engaged at the bridge, to cover the retreat. But the panic was
spreading, his orders were disobeyed, and the veterans of Mayence,
as well as the divisions of Beaupuy, broke their ranks and fled.

In vain the officers endeavoured to stay the flight. The panic was
complete. Their guns were left behind, and the Vendeans, pressing
hotly on their rear, overtook and killed great numbers. Bloss with
his grenadiers, advancing from Chateau-Gontier, tried in vain to
arrest the flight of the fugitives; and he himself and his command
were swept away by the mob, and carried beyond the town.

A few hundreds of the soldiers alone were rallied, and prepared to
defend the bridge of Chateau-Gontier; but la Rochejaquelein had
sent a portion of his force to make a circuit and seize the town,
so that the defenders of the bridge were exposed to a heavy fire
from houses in their rear.

Kleber, with a handful of men, held the bridge; and was joined by
Bloss, who had been already wounded while passing through the town.
He advanced to cross; Kleber and Savary in vain tried to stop him.

"No," he said, "I will not survive the shame of such a day," and,
rushing forward with a small party, fell under the fire of the
advancing Vendeans.

The pursuit was hotly maintained. Keeping on heights which
commanded the road, the Vendeans maintained an incessant fire of
cannon and musketry. It was already night, and this alone saved the
Republican army from total destruction. Beaupuy received a terrible
wound in the battle, and a great number of officers were killed, in
endeavouring to stop the panic.

At last the pursuit ceased and, for a few hours, the weary
fugitives slept. Then they continued their retreat, and took up a
strong position near the town of Angers, which was crowded with
fugitives.

L'Echelle came out to review the troops who, by the orders of their
generals, had already formed in order of battle; but was received
with such yells of hatred and contempt that he was forced to
retire. The representatives of the convention offered Kleber the
command of the army, but he refused, saying that Chalbos was of
superior rank, and that it was he who should take the command. They
agreed to this, and sent to l'Echelle, telling him to demand leave
of absence, on account of his health.

A council of war was then held. The representatives of the
Convention were favourable to a fresh advance of the army, but
Kleber protested that, at present, there was no army. He said that
the soldiers were utterly discouraged, that some battalions had but
twenty or thirty men with the colours, that all were wet to the
skin, utterly exhausted, many without shoes, and all dispirited.
Therefore he insisted that it was absolutely necessary that the
army should be completely reorganized, before undertaking a fresh
forward movement.

Their loss had indeed been extremely heavy, Kleber's division alone
having lost over a thousand men. Beaupuy had suffered even more
heavily; while the divisions of Chalbos, and the grenadiers of
Bloss had also lost large numbers. The total loss, including
deserters, amounted to over four thousand.

The whole of the cannon of the two first divisions had fallen into
the hands of the enemy, the artillerymen having cut the traces. A
large number of ammunition waggons, and a quantity of carts laden
with provisions, had also been captured.



Chapter 14: Le Mans.


The victory won by the Vendeans was one of the most important of
the war. Never had they fought with greater bravery. Never did they
carry out more accurately and promptly the orders of their
generals. Napoleon afterwards pronounced that the tactics pursued
by la Rochejaquelein showed that he possessed the highest military
genius.

It was night, alone, that saved the routed army of the Republic
from absolute destruction. It is probable that, at the time, the
Vendean general had no idea of the completeness of the victory that
he had won, or of the disorganization of the enemy. Had he known
it, he would doubtless have attacked them again on the following
day; when he would have experienced no resistance, could have
captured Angers without firing a shot, and could, had he chosen,
have recrossed the Loire. The Vendeans, however, well content with
their success, returned to Laval, and there enjoyed a week's quiet
and repose.

The crushing defeat that the Republicans had experienced caused an
immense sensation at Paris, and in the towns through which the
Vendeans would pass on their way to the capital, which was at the
time actually open to them.

Patsey was delighted, when Jean and Leigh returned unwounded.

"You both seem to bear a charmed life," she said. "Leigh has indeed
once been hit, but it was not serious; you have escaped altogether.
What is going to be done next?"

"We are going to rest here for ten days or so. There is plenty of
food to be had, and the rest will do wonders for the men. Of
course, we rode back with la Rochejaquelein. His opinion was, as it
always has been, that a march on Paris will alone bring this
terrible business to a close; but he knows that even his authority
will not suffice to carry out such a plan. As long as they are in
Brittany they are among friends, and are still near their homes;
but to turn their backs on these, and march on Paris, would appear
so terrible an undertaking that, reckless as they are of their
lives in battle, nothing would induce them to attempt it."

After ten days' delay, the Vendeans commenced their march towards
the coast. The battle at Vihiers was fought on the twenty-seventh.
By the sixth of November they had captured the towns of Ernee and
de Fougeres, defeating at the latter place three battalions. Dol
was next captured. Mayenne opened its gates without resistance.

The greatest efforts were made, by the Republicans, to place the
seaports in a state of defence. Cherbourg would have been the best
point for the fugitives to attack, as here they would have found an
abundance of powder, of which they were in great need, and cannon;
and here they might have defended themselves until the promised
help arrived from England. Granville, however, had been fixed upon
by the British government; and the march thither was shorter,
therefore it was against Granville that the attack was directed.

A considerable portion of the force, with the artillery, were left
at Avranches. Although assured that the march to the sea was made
in order to obtain succour there from England, there was much fear
among the peasants that the intention of the chiefs was to embark,
and to leave the army to its fate. Consequently they advanced
against Granville with less energy and enthusiasm than usual.

However, half a league out of the town they came upon a portion of
the garrison, and repulsed them so successfully that they entered
one of the suburbs with them. The garrison had, for the most part,
shut themselves up in a fort which commanded the town; having
erected a strong palisade across the streets leading to it. Four
hundred men occupied this post.

The Vendeans had no axes to cut down the palisades, nor powder to
blow then in. They were therefore obliged to content themselves
with a musketry fire against it. As the garrison were well supplied
with ammunition, and kept up a constant fire, they suffered
heavily.

When night came, the Vendeans scattered among the houses to find
food, fire, and shelter; and all night the batteries on the heights
played upon them.

In the morning the Republicans redoubled their fire. It became
evident that the town itself could not be taken, and the mass of
the Vendeans, without orders from their chiefs, began to retire,
and in a short time the whole were in rapid retreat to Avranches.

There the cry was raised, "Back to La Vendee!"

La Rochejaquelein, after halting his force on the main road a few
hours, called upon the men to follow him to Caen; but only one
thousand did so. On arriving at a village he learned that the bulk
of the army, instead of being behind him, had marched towards
Pontorson. He was therefore forced to retrace his steps and to
follow them and, on overtaking them, found that they had already
carried the bridge, driven away the enemy, and occupied the town.

The enemy were closing round them, but the capture of Pontorson
deranged the plans of the Republicans. The place had been held by
four thousand men and ten pieces of cannon and, as it could be
approached only by a narrow defile, it was believed that it would
be impossible for the Vendeans to force their way into it. However,
after three hours' fighting, their desperate valour won the day,
and the Republicans were routed, with the loss of most of their
cannon.

The affair, indeed, appeared to the peasants to be a miracle
granted in their favour; and with renewed heart they marched the
next night to Dol. Kleber was with a large force in this
neighbourhood, but the impetuosity of Westermann again upset his
plans. As soon as the latter heard that Pontorson had been carried
by the Vendeans, and that they had marched to Dol, he pursued them
with three thousand infantry, two hundred cavalry, and four cannon.
He arrived within a short distance of Dol at six in the evening
and, without waiting for the infantry to come up, charged into the
town, and for a moment spread confusion among the Vendeans.

[Illustration: Westermann's cavalry charged into the streets of Dol.]

They, however, soon recovered from their surprise, and drove the
enemy out with loss. Westermann's infantry took no part in the
action. Kleber was occupied in closing every route by which the
Vendeans could leave Dol; but Westermann, who had held no
communication with him, and knew nothing of his plans, marched with
Marigny's division, with six thousand men, to attack the town.

This he did at two o'clock in the morning. The Vendeans at once
rushed to meet them, and first tried to turn the right; but they
failed here, and also in an attack on the left. They fought,
however, so fiercely that Westermann withdrew his troops to the
position that they had occupied before attacking. The Vendeans,
however, gave them no time to form in order of battle but,
heralding their charge with a heavy musketry fire, rushed down upon
them. The enemy at once broke and, leaving their cannon behind
them, continued their flight till they reached Pontorson.

In the meantime Marceau was advancing with his division by another
road; and the Vendeans, hearing this, ceased their pursuit of
Westermann's routed division and moved against him and, at four
o'clock in the morning, attacked him when within a league of Dol. A
combat ensued that lasted for three hours. The Vendeans then drew
off, on learning that the division of Muller was on the point of
joining that of Marceau.

Together these divisions could have forced their way into Dol, but
Muller was hopelessly drunk and, being the senior officer, the
greatest confusion arose and, had the Vendeans known what was
taking place, they could have gained a decisive victory.

Marceau, seeing that he could do nothing to restore order, rode at
full speed to Kleber's headquarters; and at daybreak the two
generals arrived at the spot, and found the two divisions mingled
in supreme disorder, the brigades and battalions being mixed up
together. Finding that nothing could be done with them, there,
Kleber drew them off; their confusion being almost converted into a
rout, by the fire of about a hundred Vendeans. A council of war was
held, and eighteen hundred men, with two guns, were sent to
Pontorson to join Westermann's defeated division.

That general was ordered to advance again, at once, upon Dol.
Kleber opposed this, and the rest of the council coming at last to
his opinion, orders were sent to Westermann to remain on the
defensive, and await fresh orders. Westermann, however, as usual,
disregarded these and, marching through the night, approached the
town and arrived, early in the morning, at a village close to it.

The sounding of the church bells told that the Vendeans had
discovered the enemy, and in a few minutes these were seen rushing,
as usual, to the attack. In spite of the reinforcements that had
reached them, Westermann's troops fought worse than they had done
two nights before. The reinforcements were the first to give way.
The advanced guard speedily turned and fled. Westermann and
Marigny, with a small party of cavalry, fought desperately to cover
the retreat. Marigny however fell, and the whole force became a
mass of fugitives.

Kleber, on his way the next day to reconnoitre the town, met the
Vendeans advancing. Scattering rapidly, these occupied the ridges,
and attacked the brigade that formed his advanced guard so fiercely
that it broke and fled. Kleber sent to fetch some battalions of the
troops of Mayence and, as soon as they arrived, with some
battalions of grenadiers, formed them in order of battle. Other
troops came up, and they prepared for a serious engagement.

At this moment the Vendean column that had defeated Westermann
showed itself, on the right flank of the Republicans, and
threatened their rear. Kleber ordered some of the battalions to
take post further back, to cover the line of retreat. Other
battalions, seeing the movement, and believing this to be a signal
for retreat, followed.

The grenadiers alone stood firm, and defended themselves for three
hours. In the meantime the greater portion of the Republican army
was already in full flight, and a retreat was ordered. The troops
remaining on the field retired at first in good order but, as the
victorious Vendeans pressed on, this speedily became a rout.

Marceau, gathering together such soldiers as still retained their
presence of mind, endeavoured to defend the bridge of Antrain; but
the Vendeans, pressing forward, swept them away; and the fugitives
fled, in a confused mob, as far as Rennes.

The Vendeans, on entering Antrain, at once scattered in search of
food; disregarding the orders and entreaties of la Rochejaquelein
and Stofflet, who urged them to press hotly upon the routed enemy,
and so to complete the victory they had won. At Antrain they
learned that the wounded, who had been left in hospital at
Fougeres, had been murdered in their beds by the Blues; and they
accordingly shot all the prisoners they had taken in the battle.

The victory seemed to open the way to the Loire, and the Vendeans
steadily marched south through Mayenne and Laval, and arrived in
front of Angers. But the city was no longer in the defenceless
state in which it was when they first crossed the Loire. As soon as
it was perceived to be the point for which the Vendeans were
marching, four thousand troops were thrown into it, and all
preparations made for a stout defence.

"If they defend themselves as they ought to do," la Rochejaquelein
said to two or three of his officers, among whom was Jean Martin,
"there is no hope of taking the town. We have neither cannon to
blow down the walls, nor means of scaling them. Thirty-six hours is
the utmost we can hope for our operations. Kleber and the rest of
them will be up by that time. However--it is our sole hope--possibly
a panic may seize them when we attack; but even cowards will fight
behind walls and, after our failure at Granville, I have little hope
of our taking Angers, especially as they must know how soon their
army will be up."

The affair was a repetition of that at Granville. The Vendeans at
once obtained possession of one of the suburbs. Twenty pieces of
cannon opened fire upon it from the walls, while from the houses
the Vendeans replied with a musketry fire. During the night a
number of men laboured to undermine the wall by one of the gates,
and partially succeeded. But day broke before the work was
completed, and the defenders planted several cannon to bear upon
them.

The Vendeans were too much discouraged to make any further effort;
and when, a few hours later, news came that the Republican army was
fast approaching, and would reach the ground in an hour's time,
they again got into motion, and pursued their hopeless journey in
search of some point where they could cross the river, if only to
die in their beloved land.

On the following day Kleber was reinforced by a column, eight
thousand strong, from Cherbourg; and a reconnaissance was made
along the road by which the Vendeans had retreated. They found
everywhere the bodies of men, women, and children who had succumbed
to cold, fatigue, and misery. Westermann's cavalry set out in
pursuit, Muller following with his division to support him.

Marceau was now appointed commander-in-chief, pending the arrival
of Turreau and Rossignol. The latter had, almost from the
commencement of the war, intrigued against every general concerned
in the operations, especially against Kleber. He was himself
utterly without military talent, and owed his position simply to
his devotion to the Convention, and his readiness to denounce the
men who failed to satisfy its anticipations of an easy victory, or
who showed the slightest repugnance to execute its barbarous
decrees.

With the exception of some three thousand men, who marched at the
head of the Vendean column, the fugitives were now utterly
disheartened. Many hid their muskets and, cutting sticks, thought
that, being no longer armed, they would not be molested by the
enemy. Each night numbers stole away, in groups of twos and threes,
in the hope of finding a boat on the bank of the river. Others
scattered among the villages, their appearance exciting compassion;
but fear of the troops was more powerful, and the men for the most
part were seized and held prisoners.

Of the hundred thousand men, women, and children who had crossed
the Loire, more than half were dead. Of those who remained, fully
fifteen thousand were women and children.

On the march, Leigh always rode by the side of his sister,
generally carrying the child before him. Jean, as one of the
leading officers, now rode with Rochejaquelein at the head of the
column. Patsey suffered less, on her own account, than on that of
the poor people who had to journey on foot. The cold was intense
and, except when they entered a town, it was impossible to obtain
provisions. The horses were worn out and half famished, a great
proportion of the fugitives were without shoes, and the clothing of
all was in rags.

In order to spare her the sight of the misery prevailing among
those who marched in the rear of the column, Leigh always rode with
his sister in the rear of the leading division. He himself, for the
most part, walked on foot; lending his horse to some wounded man,
or exhausted woman.

When the column left Angers it had been intended to march to Saumur
and cross there, but the news arrived that a strong Republican
force had gathered there; and it was determined to change the
course, and to march through La Fleche to Le Mans. By this sudden
and unexpected movement, Rochejaquelein hoped to gain time to give
his followers two days' rest.

The immediate result, however, was to excite a feeling of despair
among a great portion of them. Their backs were now turned to La
Vendee, and it seemed to them that their last hope of reaching
their homes had vanished. Rochejaquelein's idea, however, was that
in their present state of exhaustion it was impossible to hope to
cross the Loire--guarded as it was at every point, and with over
one hundred thousand men between him and La Vendee--and he
intended, after giving them the much needed rest, to march round
through Chateaudun, to come down on the Loire above Orleans, and so
to make his way back into Poitou.

Had he had with him only men, the project, difficult as it seemed,
might possibly have been accomplished. Unembarrassed by baggage
trains or cannon, the peasants could have out marched their
pursuers; but hampered by the crowd of wounded, sick, women, and
children, the movement must be regarded as the inspiration of
despair.

Indeed, even the fighting men were no longer in a state to bear the
fatigue. Bad and insufficient food had played havoc with them.
Dysentery was raging in their ranks, and many could scarce drag
themselves along.

"We cannot conceal from ourselves that it is nearly over," Jean
said, when he told his wife and Leigh that the route was changed.
"We shall get to Le Mans, but the Republicans will be on our heels,
and one cannot doubt what the issue will be. Doubtless a small body
will hang together, and still try to regain La Vendee; but we shall
have done our duty. After our next defeat I will leave the army.

"I shall not go without telling la Rochejaquelein of my intentions.
He has more than once spoken to me of you both, and it was but two
days ago that he said to me:

"'Martin, you are not like the rest of us. You have an English
wife, and your brave young brother-in-law is English, also. You
have to think of them, as well as of La Vendee. You can make your
home in England, and live there until better times come.

"'It is no longer a question of defending our country. It is lost.
Charette is there now, and still fighting; but as soon as we are
disposed of, all these troops that have been hunting us down will
be free to act against him, and he too must be crushed. The
peasants have nowhere else to go; and it is not with a desire to
defend their homes--which no longer exist--but to die in their
native land that they seek to return. You have from the first done
your utmost for La Vendee, but there can be no occasion that you
should throw away your life, and those of your wife and brother,
now that the cause is utterly lost, and all hope is at an end.

"'Think this over. I do not say that it is possible for you to
escape; but the longer you stay with us, the more difficult will it
become.'

"So you see, I am sure that when I tell him that, feeling that we
can no longer be of use, I am determined to make at least an
endeavour to reach England with you, he will approve."

"I think he is right, Jean. No one can say that you have not done
your duty to your country to the utmost, or can blame you for now
doing what you can for your family."

Just as they neared La Fleche, a squadron of the enemy's cavalry
fell upon the rear of the column. They killed many of the
fugitives, but were too small in number to threaten the safety of
the column, which kept on until it reached the bridge across the
Loir. This had been broken down, but fire was opened against the
cannon planted on the other side. The gunboats that were guarding
the river were driven away; and a party, moving up the bank, found
two little boats, and began to cross.

A detachment of Republicans hurried to attack them; but the Loir,
an affluent of the Loire, was narrow, and the musketry fire of the
main body drove them away, until two or three hundred men had
crossed. La Rochejaquelein went over and took the command, and on
their advance the Republicans took to their heels. Rochejaquelein
then recrossed, and drove off the cavalry that were harrassing the
rear.

Working desperately, a strong party threw beams across the broken
bridge, and the Vendeans occupied the town at daybreak. The weary
fugitives slept till midday, when the enemy's cavalry reappeared;
but Rochejaquelein with some mounted gentlemen attacked and
defeated them, and pursued them for some distance.

In the evening a force under Chalbos approached the town, but the
Vendeans sallied out and speedily scattered them. They then broke
down the bridge that they had repaired, and started for Le Mans;
which they captured after three-quarters of an hour's fighting.

Two days later, Kleber was in front of the town. Westermann and
Muller's divisions first approached. The two days' rest had
reanimated the Vendeans, and Muller's infantry were driven back
three miles; but large reinforcements came up, and the peasants
were forced to fall back again. Then Westermann's cavalry charged
into the town, carrying dismay among its defenders; but la
Rochejaquelein and his officers soon reanimated them, and the
cavalry were driven out of the town, itself. They and the infantry
that had come up were able, however, to maintain themselves in the
suburbs.

By this time la Rochejaquelein was aware that the armies of Brest,
Cherbourg, and the west were all upon him. All through the night
the battle went on, without interruption. The Republican columns
could gain no ground, and were frequently obliged to give way; but
behind the Vendean line of defence, panic was gaining ground among
the fugitives. Three or four thousand escaped by the road to Laval,
but the retreat of the rest was cut off by the cavalry.

In the morning, Kleber's division came up. They at once relieved
Marceau's division, which had been fighting all night, and renewed
the attack. The resistance was feeble. A few hundred men disputed
every foot of the way, and died with a consciousness that they had
at least covered the retreat of the rest.

A hot pursuit was at once organised and, while all taken in the
town were massacred at once, Westermann's cavalry pursued the
fugitives in all directions, covering the plain with corpses, and
pressing hard on the rear of the force that still held together.

Jean Martin had, the day before the Republican attack, gone with
Leigh to la Rochejaquelein's quarters; and told him that he
intended, if the town was captured by the enemy, to endeavour to
save the life of his wife by flight.

"You are quite right," Rochejaquelein said warmly. "I entirely
approve of your determination. As long as ten of my men hold
together, it is my duty to remain with them; for I have accepted
the position of their commander, and I must share their fate to the
end. But it is different with you. As the cause of La Vendee, for
which you have fought, is lost, your first duty now is to your
wife. I trust that you will all three succeed in making your way to
England, and enjoy there the peace and rest that none can have in
unhappy France. I thank you for your gallant services.

"And I thank you in the name of La Vendee, Leigh, for the manner in
which you have fought for her; and also for the companionship that
has so often cheered me, during our last days.

"As for myself, I have no wish to live. I should feel dishonoured
were the army I led to be exterminated, and I, who accepted the
responsibility of leading it, to survive. We have the consolation,
at least, that never in history has a people fought more bravely
against overpowering odds than La Vendee has done; and though at
present we are called brigands, I am sure that the world will
acknowledge that we have fought like heroes, for our country and
our faith. Unfortunate as we may be, I am proud to be one of those
who have led them so often to victory.

"When will you go, my friend?"

"I intend to be with you to the last," Jean said. "When the fight
begins, Leigh and my wife will be ready, at a point agreed on in
the rear of the town. When all is lost, I shall join them there. We
shall ride until beyond pursuit, and then put on our disguises."

"Then I will not say goodbye to you now," Rochejaquelein said.

"Goodbye, Leigh. May Heaven keep you, and take you safely home
again."

Leigh was too much affected to speak and, after a silent grasp of
the hand of the gallant young soldier, he returned with Jean to the
quarters they occupied.

"Now for our plans," Jean said. "They are as vague as ever, but we
must settle now. It is quite evident that the alarm is so widely
spread, here in the west, that it will be well-nigh impossible to
pass through even a village without being questioned. Alencon on
the north has a strong garrison, at Mayenne on the west is a
division, and the whole country beyond will be alive with troops on
the search for fugitives. It is only to the east that the road is
open to us.

"I should say that the safest way will be to travel so as to cross
the Loir between Chateaudun and Nogent, and then come down on the
road running south from Fontainebleau through Montargis. Travelling
south through Nevers, we should excite no suspicion. If questioned,
we can say that we are going to visit some friends at Macon. The
unfortunate thing is that we have no papers; and I think that our
story had best be that we belong to Le Mans, and fled in such
haste, when the town was captured by the Vendeans, that we escaped
just as we stood, and omitted to bring our papers with us.

"Fortunately we all speak French without accent, and there is
nothing about us to give rise to suspicion that we belong to La
Vendee. If we can think of a more likely story, as we go along, all
the better. When we get as far as Macon, if we ever get there, we
can decide whether to endeavour to cross the frontier into
Switzerland, or to go down to Toulon.

"Now remember, Patsey, my last injunctions are that, when you
perceive from the rush of fugitives that all is over, and that any
firing that may still be going on is but an attempt to cover the
retreat, you must not wait for me but, as soon as the sound of
combat approaches, you will ride off with Leigh. You need not
suppose, because I do not join you, that I am killed. The enemy may
have pushed so far through the town that I may find it impossible
to join you. But from whatever cause I tarry, you are not to wait
for me.

"If I am shot, it will be a consolation to me to know that you will
be away under your brother's protection. If I escape, I shall, if I
make my way to England, have the hope of meeting you there; and
shall not be haunted with the fear that you have delayed too long,
and have sacrificed your lives uselessly. I want you and him to
give me your solemn promise that you will act thus, and will, as
soon as he considers that further delay will be dangerous, ride
off. Remember that this is my last wish, this is my last order."

"I will do as you wish, Jean," his wife said firmly. "God has
preserved us three thus far, and I trust that He will continue to
do so. I shall have the less hesitation because I think that,
alone, you will have perhaps a better chance of escaping than with
us. At any rate, we will carry out your instructions. But should we
miss each other, is there no place where we can arrange to meet?"

"I do not see that it is possible to make any arrangements, Patsey.
You may be turned out of your course, by circumstances which it is
impossible to foresee; and the same may be the case with myself.
Suppose we named a seaport, there would in the first place be
difficulty in finding each other. You might see some opportunity of
getting across the water and, if you lost that, the chance might
not occur again; and the delay might cost you your lives. I trust
that we shall not be separated, dear, but I see clearly that if
such a misfortune should happen, it were best that we should each
make our own way, in the hope of meeting at Poole.

"You may be sure that I shall join you, if possible; for I see
that, if separated, your difficulties will be far greater than
mine. You, too, would have the burden of the child. But let us
suppose that I was wounded, but got away and managed to obtain
shelter in some Breton cottage. You might be waiting for me, for
weeks, at an agreed point. Now, while travelling, you might escape
many questions; but were you to stop even for a few days at any
town or village, you may be sure that you would be questioned so
closely, by the authorities, that there would be little chance of
your getting on. I should know that, and should be fretting my
heart out."

"Yes, I see 'tis best that we should do as you say, Jean. God
forbid that we should be separated, but if you do not come to the
rendezvous, I promise you that we will, as you wish, go on by
ourselves."

"And now, dear, we will divide our money. We have still three
hundred louis left. I will take one hundred, and you shall take the
rest. You are much more likely to want money, if we are separated,
than I.

"You had best sew the greater part up in your saddle, Leigh."

"I think we had better divide it as much as possible, Jean. We can
put seventy-five louis in each of our saddles, and the weight would
not be so great that anyone who happens to handle one of them would
notice it. I can put another five-and-forty in the belt round my
waist, and keep the odd five in my pocket for expenses. Of course,
if we decide to abandon our horses, I will make some other
arrangement."

"The best plan, Leigh, will be for us to change the louis for
assignats at the first opportunity. Gold is so scarce that each
time you offered to pay with it, it would excite suspicion. I have
no doubt that I can buy assignats here. We have taken a quantity
from the enemy, and la Rochejaquelein will, I am sure, be glad to
obtain some gold for them. It will be a double advantage: we shall
have less weight to carry, and shall be able to pay our way without
the gold exciting suspicion. The assignats now are only a quarter
of their face value, so that for two hundred louis I should get
eight hundred louis in assignats, of which I would take two
hundred, and you could take the rest."

"That would certainly be an excellent plan, Jean, for two hundred
louis in gold would be a serious weight to carry and, if found on
us, would in itself be sufficient to condemn us as intending
emigres."

Jean at once took two hundred louis, which had hitherto been
carried in their wallets, and went out. He returned in an hour.

"That is satisfactorily settled," he said. "Blacquard, who is in
charge of the treasury, was delighted to obtain some gold, and has
given us five times the amount in assignats. Of this I will take
two hundred and fifty louis' worth. You will have seven hundred and
fifty louis in assignats, and we will divide the hundred louis in
gold. Of the latter, you had best sew up twenty in each of your
saddles, and you can carry ten about you. People are so anxious for
gold that, in case of need, you can get services rendered for it
that you would fail to obtain for any amount of paper."

The greater portion of the assignats and the gold, as agreed, was
sewn up in the saddles; some provisions packed in the valises; and
Jean and Leigh went out together, and fixed upon a spot where they
were to wait. The preparations were all finished, when firing broke
out. Jean kissed his wife.

"May God's blessing keep you," he said. "I trust that we shall meet
again, when the fighting is over."

Then he kissed his child, wrung Leigh by the hand, and rode off to
join the general. The women, children, and the men who had thrown
away their arms, the sick and wounded, were already leaving the
town.

"Marthe, you must go now," Patsey said to the faithful nurse.

They had bought a horse for her from a peasant who had captured it,
a riderless animal that belonged to one of Westermann troopers.

"Here are fifty louis in assignats. I wish that you could have gone
with us, but that is not possible. Francois is waiting outside, and
will take care of you, as we have agreed. The best possible plan
will be to separate yourselves from the others as soon as possible.
The Blues are sure to be keeping close to them. Ride straight for
the river by by-lanes and, if you cannot obtain a boat, swim your
horse across, and then make for home. If we get safely to England,
we will write to you, as soon as these troubles are over, and you
can join us there."

"God bless you, madame. It breaks my heart to part with you and the
child, but I see that it is for the best."

Leigh fetched the horse round, and assisted her to mount behind
Francois. The two women, both weeping, were still exchanging adieus
when Leigh said to Francois:

"Ride on; the sooner this is over, the better for both."

The man nodded.

"God bless you, young master! I will look after Marthe. As soon as
we get away from the rest, I shall get off and run by her side. The
horse would never carry two of us far."

So saying, he touched the horse with his heel, and they rode off.



Chapter 15: In Disguise.


Leigh returned into the house with his sister.

"Cheer up, Patsey," he said; "it is very hard parting, but I have
every hope that they will succeed in getting safely home. Francois
is a sharp fellow. They have a good stock of food, and they won't
have to go into any village and, being only two, they will have a
far better chance of crossing the river than if they kept with the
others."

"How they are fighting!" Patsey said, a few minutes later.

Indeed the roar of musketry was unceasing, and was mingled with the
louder cracks of the field guns.

"Our men are holding their own," Leigh replied. "The firing is no
nearer than it was half an hour ago.

"Now, you had better lie down, Patsey. I will keep a sharp lookout
and, the moment I see any signs of our men retiring, we will mount.
I know there is no chance of your sleeping, but it will rest you to
lie down, and we shall have a long ride before us, tomorrow."

Patsey nodded, but after he had gone out she did not lie down, but
threw herself on her knees by the couch, and prayed for the safety
of her husband. Hour after hour passed. From time to time Leigh
returned and, towards morning, told Patsey that it was time that
they should mount.

"Our men have not begun to give way yet," he said, "but they say
that Kleber's division has just arrived. There is a lull in the
fighting at present, but no doubt they will relieve the division
that has been fighting all night, and our men cannot hope to hold
out for long. I have just brought the horses round to the door.
Now, I will strap the valises on while you wrap Louis up warmly."

In five minutes they started for the point agreed on. Before they
reached it, the firing broke out again with increased violence. In
an hour numbers of men began to make their way past them. One of
them halted. He was one of Jean's tenants.

"Ah! madame," he said, as he recognized her--for it was now broad
daylight--"I fear that all is lost. You had best ride at once. The
Blues will not come just yet, for la Rochejaquelein, with four or
five hundred of his best followers, will hold the place till the
last, so as to give us time to get away."

"Did you see my husband, Leroux?"

"He was with the general, madame. They and the horsemen charged
again and again, whenever the Blues pushed forward."

"Thank God he is safe so far!" Patsey said. "Goodbye, Leroux; we
may not meet again."

"We shall meet in heaven, madame," the man said reverently. "They
may take away our country, they may kill our cures, they may
destroy our churches, but they cannot take away our God. May He
protect you, madame!" and, pressing the hand she held out to him,
he hurried on.

Faster and faster the fugitives passed them, but for an hour the
combat continued unabated; then the exulting shouts of the Blues
showed that they were making way. The gallant band of Vendeans were
not, indeed, retiring; but they were being annihilated. Patsey had
said but little during the anxious time of waiting. From time to
time she murmured:

"Will he never come? Oh, God, send him to us!"

Presently a mounted officer rode past.

"Ride on! ride on!" he shouted. "The Blues will be here in a
minute!"

"We must go, Patsey," Leigh said as, without drawing rein, the
officer rode on.

"No, no; wait a few minutes, Leigh. He will surely come soon."

Presently, however, a number of peasants, their faces blackened
with powder, ran past.

"The Blues are on our heels!" they shouted. "They will be here in a
minute; they are but a hundred yards away."

"Come, Patsey," Leigh said. "Remember your promise. We must go; it
is madness waiting any longer."

And as he spoke one of the peasants, running past, fell dead, shot
by a musket ball from the rear. Leigh seized Patsey's bridle and,
setting his own horse in motion, they rode on. They were but just
in time for, before they had ridden two hundred yards Leigh,
looking round, saw the Republicans issuing from the town.

"Pull yourself together, Patsey!" Leigh exclaimed. "We may have
their cavalry after us, in a minute or two. Remember, Jean trusts
you to carry out his instructions."

Patsey drew herself up, struck the horse with her whip, and
galloped on at full speed. They soon left the road followed by the
rest of the fugitives, and turned down one leading east. The din of
battle had ceased now, but a scattered fire of musketry showed that
the enemy were engaged in their usual work of shooting all who fell
into their hands.

After riding for an hour at full speed they drew rein at a wood
and, entering it, dismounted and put on their disguises. They had
no fear now of pursuit. The enemy's cavalry must have made a very
long march to reach the town, and their horses must be worn out by
their previous exertions; while their own had had forty-eight
hours' rest, during which time they had been well fed and cared
for. Moreover, any pursuit that was made would be in the direction
taken by the bulk of the fugitives.

Mounting again, they rode on. It was but a narrow country road that
they were traversing and, during the day, they only passed through
two or three small hamlets.

"Are the brigands coming this way?" they were asked.

"No," Leigh replied. "They are fighting at Le Mans. If they are
beaten they won't come this way, but will make south. We thought it
best to leave the town. When fighting is going on in the streets it
is time for quiet people to be off."

They rode forty miles before night, and then entered a wood; having
agreed that, until they got farther away from the scene of action,
and struck the road running south, it would be better not to enter
any place where they would be questioned. Choosing an open space
among the trees, Leigh took off the bridles to let the horses pluck
what grass they could, after giving to each a hunch of bread from
their store. Then he returned, with the blankets that had been
rolled up and fastened behind the saddles.

"Now, Patsey, you must eat something and drink some wine. You must
keep up your strength, for the sake of Louis and Jean."

Patsey had spoken very few words during the day. She shook her
head.

"I will try for Louis's sake," she said; "as to Jean--" and she
stopped.

"As to Jean," he said, "we have every reason to hope for the best.
Many things may have happened to prevent his joining us. The Blues
may have pushed in between his party and us, and he may have found
that he could not rejoin us. His horse may have been shot and he
obliged to fly on foot. He has gone through all these battles from
the first, and has never been wounded. Why should we suppose that
he has not done the same now? I feel sure that if he had lost his
horse he would not have tried to join us, for he would have thought
that he would have hampered our escape.

"Jean is full of resources, and has everything in his favour. He is
not like the others, who have but one aim, to get back to La Vendee
and die there, and whose way is barred by the Loire. He has all
France open to him and, if he gains a port, has but to get some
sailor clothes to pass unnoticed. He is well provided with money,
and has everything in his favour. When he once gets away from Le
Mans, the road would be open, for we may be sure that the enemy
will all gather in the rear of the remains of our army."

"I see all that," Patsey said; "and if I were but sure that he got
safely away, I should feel comparatively easy. However, Leigh, I
will try and look at the best side of things. If Jean is killed he
has died gloriously, doing his duty till the last. If he is not, he
will some day be restored to me."

"That is right, dear," he said. "You have always been so hopeful
and cheery, through all this business, that I am sure you will keep
up your courage now. We have every reason to hope and, for my part,
I confidently expect to see Jean, safe and sound, when we arrive
home. Now let us set to; we both want something badly."

Patsey did her best and, being indeed faint from hunger, having
eaten nothing since the evening before, she felt all the better and
stronger when she had finished her meal; and was able to chatter
cheerfully to little Louis, who had ridden before Leigh all day,
and who was now just beginning to talk. Then they spread a blanket
on the ground and, lying down together for warmth, covered
themselves with the rest of their wraps; and Leigh was glad to
find, by her steady breathing, that the fatigue of the last
twenty-four hours had sufficed to send his sister to sleep, in
spite of her grief at her separation from her husband.

The next day they crossed the road leading to Tours, between
Chateaudun and Chartres. Once over this there was no longer any
occasion for haste. There was no fear of their connection with the
struggle in the west being suspected, and they had now only to face
the troubles consequent on travelling unprovided with proper
papers.

Late that evening they entered the town of Artenay, on the main
road from Paris to Orleans, coming down upon it from the north
side. Here they entered a quiet inn. The landlord was a jovial,
pleasant-faced man of some sixty years of age; and his wife a kind,
motherly-looking woman. As usual, the travellers signed the names
they had agreed upon in the book kept for the purpose, Patsey
retaining her own name, and he signing as Lucien Porson.

The landlady, seeing that Patsey was completely worn out, at once
took her off to her room.

"Ah! I thought that monsieur was too young to be madame's husband,"
the landlord said.

Leigh laughed.

"I am her brother," he said. "Her husband is a sailor, and she is
to join him at Toulon."

"I see the resemblance," the landlord said. "It is a long journey
indeed for her, and with a child under two years old, and in such
weather.

"But you forget that such a place as Toulon no longer exists. It
has been decreed that the town that received the English and
resisted the Republic is to be altogether destroyed, except of
course the arsenal, and is henceforth to be known as 'the town
without a name.'"

The tone, rather than the words, convinced Leigh that his host was
not an admirer of the present state of things. Leigh shrugged his
shoulders slightly, and said, with a smile:

"Perhaps France will change her own name. Surely a Republic cannot
put up with the name that has been associated, for centuries, with
kings."

The landlord brought his hand down, with a heavy smack, on Leigh's
shoulder.

"Ah," he said, "I see that you are too young, as I am too old, to
care for the present changes. With anyone in the town I should not
venture to say anything; but I am sure, by your face, that you can
be trusted."

"And I can say the same to you, landlord."

"Are your papers, by the by, in good order?"

"Frankly, we have no papers."

The landlord gave a low whistle, expressive of surprise and
consternation.

"And how do you expect to travel, monsieur? How you have got so far
as this, I cannot make out; for at any tavern where you put up you
might, of course, have been asked for them."

"We have not put up at any towns, as yet; but have slept at little
places, where no questions were asked."

"But you can't get on like that, monsieur. Even in the small
villages, they are on the watch for suspected persons. You must
have papers of some sort."

"That is all very well," Leigh said; "the question is, where to get
them?"

"What story do you mean to tell?"

"If we had been stopped anywhere on our way here, we should have
said that we belonged to Le Mans; that, like most of the other
inhabitants, we fled before the Vendeans entered, and in such haste
that I forgot all about papers; and indeed could not have got them,
had I thought of it, as all the authorities had fled before we
did."

"That story, added to your appearance and that of madame as
respectable citizens, might succeed sometimes, with those who are
not anxious to show their zeal; but as most of these functionaries
are so, you would probably, if it was a village, be sent on under a
guard to the next town, and if it were a town would be thrown into
prison. And you know, to get in a prison in our days is--"

"Equivalent to a sentence of death," Leigh put in as he hesitated.

"You must get papers somehow--something that would pass at any rate
in the villages, where as often as not there is not a man who can
read. I will see what I can do. A cousin of mine is clerk to the
mayor. He is a good fellow, though he has to pretend to be a
violent supporter of the Convention.

"I don't know how you are situated, monsieur, but times are hard,
and all salaries terribly in arrears; and when they are paid it is
in assignats, and I need hardly say that when you pay in assignats
you don't buy cheap."

"We have money," Leigh said, "and I would pay any reasonable sum,
in gold, for proper papers."

"Sapristi! You might almost tempt the maire himself, by offering
him gold. Only he would suspect that you must have more hidden
away, and that by arresting you, he could make himself master of
the whole, instead of only a part; but since you offer gold, I have
no doubt that my cousin would not mind running some little risk.
How much shall I say, monsieur?"

"I would, if necessary, give forty louis."

"That is more than his yearly salary," the innkeeper said; "half of
that would be ample. I will go to him at once. It is important that
you should get papers of some kind, for at any moment anyone might
come in and demand to see them."

"Here are ten louis. I have more sewn up in my saddle, and can give
him the other ten later on, when I get an opportunity to go to the
stable unnoticed."

"That will do very well, monsieur. I will be off at once."

It was an hour before he returned, and Leigh and Patsey had just
finished supper. As there were two or three other persons in the
room he said nothing, but signified by a little nod that he had
succeeded. A quarter of an hour later the other customers, having
finished their meal, went out.

"Here are your papers," he said, as he handed a document to Leigh.

It was a printed form, blanks being left for the names,
description, and the object of journey.

"Arthenay Mairie,

"To all concerned--

"It is hereby testified that citizen Lucien Porson, and his sister
citoyenne Martin, both of good repute and well disposed to the
Republic, natives of this town of Arthenay, are travelling,
accompanied by a child of the latter, to Marseilles, whither they
go on family affairs, and to join citoyenne Martin's husband, a
master mariner of that town."

The destination had been altered when they heard of the state of
things at Toulon. The document was purposed to be signed by the
maire, under his official seal.

"There is only one difficulty," the landlord said, as Leigh and
Patsey warmly thanked him; "and that is that, although it will pass
you when you have once left this town, it would be dangerous to use
it here; and you may at any moment be asked for it. But my cousin,
who is a charming fellow, pointed out the difficulty to me, and
said:

"'The best thing will be for me to take a couple of men, and pay
the official visit to him, myself.'

"I expect that he will be here in a few minutes."

"Then, as the stableman has gone out at last--at least I see no
lights there--I will go and get the rest of the money."

"Yes, I met him a hundred yards off, on my way back. There is no
one about. I will take a lantern and go out with you."

In ten minutes they returned, Leigh having the ten louis required
in his pocket. A quarter of an hour later the door opened, and a
man wearing the scarf which showed him to be an officer of the
municipality entered, followed by two men with the cockade of the
Republic in their hats.

"This is citizen Porson and citoyenne Martin, his sister," the
landlord, who accompanied the party, said.

The functionary walked up to the table and said gruffly, "Your
papers, citizen."

Leigh handed him the document. He glanced through it.

"That is right," he said. "Citizen Porson and citoyenne Martin, of
the arrondissement of Paris, travelling to Marseilles, duly signed
by the maire of the arrondissement and duly sealed. That is all in
order. We are obliged to be particular, citizen; there are many ill
disposed to the Republic travelling through the country."

"Will you sit down, citizen, and take a glass of wine with me?
Landlord, draw two stoups of wine for these two good citizens."

The two men followed the landlord out to the public room.

"I should think, Jeannette," Leigh said to his sister, "you had
better to retire to bed. You have had a long day's ride, and must,
I am sure, be tired out."

As soon as she had left the room, Leigh dropped the ten louis into
the adjoint's hand.

"I thank you with all my heart," he said. "You have done a good
action, and I can assure you that it can do no harm to the
Republic, against whom I have no intention of conspiring. There is
no fear, I suppose, that the maire's signature may be questioned?"

"There is no fear whatever of that, because the signature is
precisely similar to that which occurs on all official documents.
The maire is without doubt an excellent Republican, and a devoted
servant of the Convention, but he is altogether ignorant of
letters, and the consequence is that I sign all official documents
for him. So you see there was no trouble whatever in filling in,
signing, and sealing this letter. The only matter that concerned me
was that, if by any chance you should be arrested as a suspect,
possibly a demand might be made as to how you obtained this pass.
However, even that did not trouble me greatly; for as I myself open
and read the maire's letters, I should have no difficulty in
keeping him altogether in the dark as to the purport of any letter
that might come, and should myself pen an answer, with explanations
which would no doubt be found satisfactory."

"And now can you tell me, sir, which in your opinion would be the
best port for me to make to, to leave the country? It matters
little whether we go by land or sea."

"It would be more easy for you to make your way to a port than
across the frontier," the adjoint said, "but when you reach a port,
your difficulties would but begin. In the first place, our trade
with foreign countries is almost at a standstill, and every vessel
that goes out is rigidly searched for concealed emigres.

"On the other hand, once across the frontier your troubles would be
at an end; but every road is closely watched, every village is on
the lookout, for the orders are precise that all persons leaving
France shall be arrested and detained until in a position to prove
their identity, and to place the truth of the reason given for
journeying beyond all doubt. I do not say that it might not be
possible to bribe peasants to take you by unfrequented paths over
the Jura; but the journey would be arduous in the extreme, and
probably impossible to be performed on horseback.

"But for my part, if I were in your position and desired to leave
the country, I should go north instead of south. I should go in the
first place to Paris, stay there in quiet lodgings for a little
time until you became known, and you might then get your papers
visaed to enable you to continue your journey to Calais or Dunkirk.
Money will go just as far among the incorruptibles of Paris as it
will here. You might obtain a passage down the Seine, to Rouen or
Havre."

"That would certainly suit us best. I regret, now, that I had the
paper made out for Marseilles."

"That can easily be remedied, monsieur. If you will walk back with
me to the mairie, I will write a fresh paper out, and destroy the
one I have given you. But what shall I say is your object in
journeying to Paris? You are too young to be going to purchase
goods and, indeed, would hardly be taking a woman and child with
you for such a purpose.

"Now, monsieur, frankly tell me who you are. I have some relations
in Paris, quiet bourgeois, who keep a small shop near the markets.
If I were to give you a letter to them, saying that you have
business in Paris, and have asked me to recommend someone who would
provide you with quiet lodgings, no doubt they would willingly take
you in. But I would not involve them in danger. You might be
recognised as being members of some family who are proscribed, and
in that case not only would my friends get into trouble but, as
they would, of course, say that you were recommended to them by me,
I might find myself in a very unpleasant position."

"There is no fear of anything of that sort. I and my sister are
both English. She married the son of a merchant at Nantes, and I
came over with her to learn the business. There have, as you know,
been troubles in that part of France. We endeavoured to escape, but
she was separated from her husband--who has, I greatly fear, been
killed--and we, of course, are both anxious to rejoin our family in
England."

"How long have you been in France, monsieur? You speak the language
well."

"We have been over here nearly three years."

"Well, I do not think that there is any risk; unless, of course,
you are caught in the act of trying to make your escape. But I
think that it would be as well that my friends should be prepared
for your coming. I know a man who is leaving for Paris tomorrow. I
will give him my letter, and ask him to deliver it personally, as
soon as he gets there; then you can follow, twenty-four hours
later. Now that it is known that I have examined your papers, and
found them correct, there will be no further inquiry about you and,
at any rate, you could stay here for a day or two without any
questions being asked."

"That would be an admirable plan, monsieur; and I cannot tell you
how much I am obliged to you."

"Say no more about that, monsieur; you have paid me well for it
and, moreover, I am not a bad fellow, though at present I am
obliged to appear to be a strong supporter of the people in Paris.
Now, if you will put on your hat and come along with me, I will
leave you a short distance from the hotel de ville, to which I have
access at all hours. I shall of course simply put, in the passport,
that you are travelling to Paris on private matters, and that you
will stay with your friend, citizen Tourrier, in the rue des
Halles."

A quarter of an hour later Leigh returned to the auberge, furnished
with the required paper. The adjoint had said, on handing it to
him:

"I shall not come round tomorrow. We met as strangers yesterday,
and it is as well I should not appear to be intimate with you. But
should you find yourself in any difficulty, send for me at once,
and I will soon set matters right."

"Is it all satisfactorily arranged, monsieur?" the hotel keeper
asked, when Leigh returned.

"Perfectly. Your friend has done even more than he promised."

And he told him of the change that had been made in the plans.

"That is certainly better. I have been wondering, myself, how you
would ever be able to get away from Marseilles. Now it seems
comparatively easy. I have no doubt that my cousin's friends in
Paris will be able to get you another pass, or to put you in the
way of travelling to one of the ports; though no doubt it will be
almost as difficult to get away, from there, as from Marseilles."

"I think that could be managed, landlord. I am a pretty good
sailor, and there ought to be no great difficulty in getting hold
of a boat and making out to sea and, when once away, I could steer
for England, or get on board some vessel bound there."

He tapped at his sister's door. She was still up.

"You are very late, Leigh."

"Yes, but you will be able to sleep as long as you like tomorrow,
as we are not going to start till next day, and are then going
north instead of south. Our paper has been changed for Paris,
instead of Marseilles; and we are going to the house of a cousin of
the man who gave me the pass, so we shall be safe so far; and ought
to have no difficulty, whatever, in journeying from there either to
Havre or one of the northern ports. I will tell you all about it,
tomorrow."

They passed the next day quietly, and both felt better for the
short rest. In addition to the pass, the adjoint had given Leigh a
note to his cousin. It was unsealed, and read:

"My dear Cousin,

"The bearer of this is Monsieur Porson, and his sister, Madame
Martin, of whom I wrote to you. You will find them amiable people,
who will give you but little trouble. I have assured them that they
will find themselves very comfortable with you, and that you will
do all in your power for them, for the sake of your affectionate
cousin.

"Simon Valles,

"Adjoint to the maire of Arthenay."

They journeyed by easy stages, stopping at Etampes, Arpajon, and
Longjumeau, and rode on the fourth day into Paris. They had no
difficulty in finding the shop of Monsieur Tourrier. It was a
grocer's and, as soon as they alighted from their horses, its owner
came out and greeted them heartily.

"Madame and monsieur are both most welcome," he said. "I have
received a letter from my cousin Simon. I am glad, indeed, to
receive his friends. Fortunately our rooms upstairs are unlet.
Strangers are rare in Paris, at present."

He called a boy from the shop, and told him to show Leigh the way
to some stables near. He then entered the house, accompanied by
Patsey with her child. Here she was received by Madame Tourrier, a
plump-faced businesslike woman, and was not long in finding out
that she was the real head of the establishment.

"I have got the rooms ready for you," she said. "We were surprised,
indeed, to get a letter from Simon Valles; for he is a poor
correspondent, though he generally comes to stay with us for three
days, once a year. He is a good fellow, but it is a pity that he
did not go into trade. He would have done better for himself than
by becoming adjoint to the maire of Arthenay. It has a high sound,
but in these days, when men are paid their salaries in assignats,
it is but a poor living. However, I suppose that it is an easy
life, for I don't think hard work would suit Simon. The last time
he was up we tried to persuade him that he would do better here,
but he laughed and said that people's heads were safer in Arthenay
than they were in Paris. But that is folly; the Convention does not
trouble itself with small shopkeepers. It knows well enough that we
have work enough to do to earn our living, without troubling
ourselves about politics; yet if the truth were known, a good many
of us are better to do than some of those they call aristocrats.
This is a busy quarter, you see, and we are close to the markets,
and the country people who come in know that we sell good
groceries, and on cheaper terms than they can get them in their
villages. We should do better, still, if my husband would but
bestir himself; but men are poor creatures, and I don't know what
would become of them, if they had not us women to look after their
affairs."

They now reached the rooms, which were small but comfortable, and
the price which Madame Tourrier named seemed to Patsey to be very
moderate.

"You see, your room is furnished as a sitting room also, madame,
and you and your brother can talk over your affairs here. As to
your meals, I could provide your cafe au lait in the morning, but I
can't undertake to cook for you. But there are many good places,
where you can obtain your meals at a cheap rate, in the
neighbourhood. How long do you expect to remain in Paris?"

"That I cannot say, at present. My husband is a sailor, but I have
not heard from him for a long time. At Arthenay there is but small
opportunity of learning what happens outside, and it may be that I
shall have to travel to Havre to obtain news of him; although I am
troubled greatly by the fear that his ship has been lost, or
captured by the English. We have never been in Paris before, and my
brother naturally wishes to stay a short time, to see the sights."

Madame Tourrier shook her head.

"There are but few sights to see," she said. "The churches are all
closed, or at least are turned into meeting places and clubs. It is
not as it was before the troubles began; there are few amusements,
and no reviews or pageants. I do not say that it is not better so.
I have no opinion on such subjects. I have never once been to the
hall of representatives. I have no time for such follies and,
except on Sunday afternoons, I never stir out of doors. Still, no
doubt, it will all be new to him, and as you have horses you can
ride over to Versailles, and other places round. There is not much
of that now; people think of nothing but the Convention, talk of
nothing but of the speeches there, and of Robespierre and Saint
Just and Danton. It seems to me that they are always quarrelling,
and that nothing much comes of it.

"Now if you will excuse me, madame, I will go down to the shop
again. My husband cannot be trusted there a minute and, if my back
is turned, he will be selling the best sugar for the price of the
worst, then we shall lose money; or the worst sugar for the price
of the best, and then we shall lose customers."

So saying, she hurried away. In a few minutes Leigh came up.

"I was told where to find you," he said. "Madame is in the thick of
business, and there were half a dozen customers waiting to be
served. Monsieur was standing a few yards away from the front of
the shop. It was he who gave me instructions for finding your room.

"'It is best,' he said, 'that madame should be asked no questions
while she is busy. I always go out myself, when customers come in.
She is one of the best of wives, and manages affairs excellently,
but her temper is short. She likes to do things her own way and, as
it pleases her, I never interfere with her.'"

"I think he is wise not to do so," Patsey laughed. "I can see
already that she is mistress of the establishment. But from what I
have seen at Nantes, I think that it is generally the women who
look after the shops and mind the businesses. However, though she
speaks sharply, I should say that she is a kind-hearted woman.
However, we may be very thankful that we have obtained a shelter
where we can live, safely and quietly, until we have fixed on our
plans for the future."

But although Monsieur Tourrier was, in all matters connected with
the business, but as a child in the hands of his wife, he was far
better acquainted with what was passing around them; and when Leigh
mentioned to him that he intended to ride out to Versailles, he at
once warned him against doing so.

"My dear monsieur," he said, "I know nothing of the state of things
at Arthenay, and for aught I know people may go out riding for
pleasure there; but it would be little short of madness to attempt
such a thing here. At present things have got to such a state that
for any man to seem richer than another is, in itself, a crime.
Here all must be on an equality. Were you to ride out, every man
you pass would look askance at you. At the first village through
which you rode you would be arrested, and to be arrested at present
is to be condemned. There are no questions asked, the prisoners are
brought in in bunches, and are condemned wholesale. I say nothing
against the condemnation of the aristocrats; but when perhaps two
or three aristocrats are brought up with half a dozen journalists,
and a dozen others who may have been arrested merely out of spite,
and are all condemned in five minutes, it is clear that the only
way to live is to avoid being arrested, and the only way to avoid
being arrested is to avoid attracting attention.

"If you were really going on a matter of business, it would be
different, but to ride to Versailles merely to see the place would
be regarded as ample proof that you were an aristocrat; and no one
would regard your papers as anything but a proof that these had
been obtained by fraud, and that you were either an aristocrat, or
a spy of Pitt's, or a Girondist, and certainly an enemy of the
Convention. Therefore, monsieur, if you wish to go anywhere, walk,
or go out in a market cart, for to ride might be fatal."

"I will take your advice," Leigh said. "I did not think that things
were so bad as that."

"They could not be worse, monsieur; it would be impossible. But we
who are quiet men think that it cannot go on much longer; even the
sans-culottes are getting tired of bloodshed. There is no longer a
great crowd to see the executions, and the tumbrils pass along
without insults and imprecations being hurled against the
prisoners.

"The men of the Convention, having killed all the Girondists, are
now quarrelling among themselves. Robespierre is still all
powerful, but the party opposed to him are gaining in strength, and
there is a feeling that, ere long, there will be a terrible
struggle between them and, if Robespierre is beaten, there are many
of us who think that the reign of terror will come to an end. We
who are too insignificant to be watched talk these things over
together, when we gather at our cafe, and there is no one but
ourselves present; and even then we talk only in whispers, but we
all live in hopes of a change, and any change must surely be for
the better."



Chapter 16: A Friend At Last:


Day after day, Leigh went out into the town. More than once he saw
the fatal tumbrils going along in the distance, but he always
turned and walked in the opposite direction. Once or twice, having
changed his clothes for those of a workman, he fought his way into
the public galleries of the Convention and listened to the
speeches; in which it seemed to him that the principal object of
each speaker was to exceed those who had gone before him in
violence, and that the most violent was the most loudly applauded,
both by the galleries and the Assembly.

Patsey was most anxious to be off, but he urged that it would not
do to show haste. She did not leave the house at all, while he was
out almost all day. At the end of the fortnight, he told Monsieur
Tourrier that he had now finished his business, and asked him if he
could obtain from the maire of the arrondissement a pass down to
Havre.

"It is a pity that you did not get your pass direct from Arthenay,"
he said. "You say that your sister wants to make inquiries about a
husband there, and that you are taking her down, and you also say
that you are a sailor."

"Yes."

"Then, I should think that the best thing for you would be to dress
yourself as a sailor again. It will seem more natural than for you
to be in that civilian dress. I can go with you, and say that you
were strongly recommended to me by the maire's adjoint at Arthenay,
and that your papers are all en regle. If he asks why you did not
have your papers made out in the first place to Havre, say that you
had hoped to have been joined by your brother-in-law here; but as
he has not arrived your sister is anxious about him, and wishes
therefore to go on to Havre, which indeed he has requested her to
do, as it was uncertain whether he would be able to leave his ship.

"I know, of course, that it is all right, or my cousin would not
have recommended you so strongly to me; but in these days everyone
is suspicious, and one cannot be too cautious. I will get one of
the market authorities to go up with me. I am well known to them
all, and 'tis likely that none of the people at the mairie will
know me, seeing that I am a quiet man, and keep myself to myself."

Leigh had no trouble in buying a sailor's dress, at a shop down by
the wharves and, having put this on, went up with Monsieur Tourrier
and one of the market officers to the mairie. As the former had
anticipated, there was no difficulty. Leigh's pass was examined.
The market official testified to the grocer as being a well-known
citizen, doing business with the market people, and taking no part
in public affairs; while Monsieur Tourrier showed the letter that
he had received from his cousin, the adjoint at Arthenay.

"What is the name of the ship which your sister's husband
commands?" the maire asked.

"The Henriette, a lugger. Formerly she traded with England but,
since the war broke out, she trades between the ports on our
western coast."

"And you have been a sailor on board her?"

"Yes, citizen."

The maire nodded, and made out the pass for Jeannette Martin,
travelling to join her husband, the captain of the lugger
Henriette; for her brother, Lucien Porson; and for Louis Martin,
aged two years, son of the above-named citoyenne Martin.

As they agreed that it would now be best to travel by water, Leigh
next went to the stables and, as the horses were both good ones,
obtained a fair price for them. The next morning they went on board
a sailing craft going down the river and, after a cordial adieu
from their host and hostess, and a promise to take up their abode
there, on their return through Paris, they went on board. Leigh had
sold the saddles with the horses; having, on the journey to Paris,
removed the bundles of assignats concealed in them.

The accommodation on board was very fair. Patsey occupied a roomy
cabin aft, the rest slept in a large cabin forward; for before the
troubles began, the majority of people travelling from Paris down
to Rouen or Havre went by water, and although the boats were mainly
constructed for the carriage of merchandise, the conveyance of
passengers formed an important part of the profits. At present,
however, there was but little travelling, and Patsey had the
women's cabin to herself; while one other male messenger, with the
master and two hands, had the forward compartments to themselves.

The master explained that, at ordinary times, his two men occupied
a tiny place boarded off from the hold, or in summer slept on deck;
but that, as there were so few passengers, they lived with the rest
"for," as he growled under his breath, "the present."

The voyage was slow but not unpleasant. There was scarce wind
enough to fill the two sails carried by the boat, but the captain
and his two hands frequently got out sweeps, to keep the boat in
the middle of the current. They stopped for a day at Rouen, while
the cargo destined for that town was landed. Patsey and Leigh were
glad to spend the day in the town, visiting the cathedral, taking
their meals at a restaurant, for the cuisine on board the boat was
not of the highest character.

"We used to keep a regular cook," the captain lamented. "In those
days we often carried several passengers; but at present, when we
seldom have more than one or two, we cannot afford it. The
Revolution is no doubt a grand thing, and has greatly benefited the
nation, but it has weighed hardly on us. There are but half the
boats on the river there used to be, and they are hardly paying
expenses, now that no one travels. Those that go to sea are worse
off still for, what with the falling off in trade, and with the
English cruisers all along the coast, there is little employment
for seamen, save in the privateers. However, they don't starve; for
the greater portion of the men on the coast have to go in the ships
of the Republic."

On the sixth day after leaving Paris, they arrived at Havre. Here
they had no difficulty in obtaining lodgings, in a small auberge
near the port. Their pass was, on their arrival, sent to the
authorities of the town and duly stamped. Leigh's first inquiries
were for the Henriette. He found that she was well known in the
port, and had sailed for La Rochelle, six weeks before.

"She does not very often come up here," one of the sailors said.
"Sometimes she is months between her visits. As likely as not, she
may have been captured on her way down. Her port is Bordeaux and,
if you wanted to find her, you had much better have gone straight
there than come to this place."

"I do want to find her," Leigh said. "Is there any chance of
finding a ship going down south?"

"Well, you might find one," the man said; "but you would have to
take your chance of getting there. Many of the ships are laid up,
for the risk of capture is great. It is small craft that, for the
most part, make the venture. They creep along inshore, and either
run into a port or anchor under the guns of a battery if they see a
British cruiser outside. Drawing so little water, they can keep in
nearer than a cruiser would dare to; and as they all can take the
mud, they do not mind if they stick on the sands for a tide."

Leigh returned with the news to his sister.

"What do you think, Patsey?" he said. "I do not say that we cannot
cross from here in a boat, though I have learned that the entrance
to the Channel is guarded by gunboats. If we passed safely through
these, we should have serious risk and many hardships to undergo. I
hear that there are numerous French privateers, and we might be
picked up by one of them, instead of by an English cruiser. I am
afraid that our passes, in that case, would not avail us in the
slightest.

"Now, if we go down to Bordeaux, we have only to wait till the
Henriette comes in. Possibly she may be there when we arrive. In
that case, I am sure that Lefaux will be willing to take us out,
and either put us on board a British cruiser, or land us in
England."

"Certainly we will go to Bordeaux," Patsey said. "We may find Jean
there. If he escaped that night he would make for the Loire and, as
he is a good swimmer, he would get over without difficulty, and he
would then try to make his way towards Bordeaux."

"That may be so, Patsey; but I would not be too sanguine about our
finding him there. It was so much nearer for him to have made for
one of the northern ports that he might very well have done so and,
as soon as he managed to obtain a sea outfit, he would no longer be
suspected of having anything to do with the Vendeans."

They had learnt before this that, after the fight at Le Mans, the
Vendeans had made for the river, had desperately fought their way
through the forces that barred their march, had come down on the
banks, but had failed to find any means to cross it. Then they had
turned into Brittany again for a short distance, had fought two or
three more desperate battles, and had again reached the Loire.
There was but one leaky boat to be found. In this la Rochejaquelein,
with a few of his officers, had crossed the river to bring back some
boats that were moored on the opposite bank.  Directly they got
across they were attacked, but la Rochejaquelein, with two or three
others, effected their escape.

After this the Vendeans no longer kept together. The women and
children, wounded and invalids, hid themselves in the woods; where
they were hunted down like wild beasts, and either slaughtered at
once or sent to Nantes, where thousands were either executed or
drowned by the infamous Carrier, one of the most sanguinary
villains produced by the Revolution. Many of the men managed to
cross the river either by swimming on rough rafts or in boats. In
La Vendee the war was still going on, for Charette had marched up
again from Lower Poitou, and was keeping a large force of the
Republican troops engaged.

"I will try not to hope too much," Patsey said. "But at any rate, I
am for going down to Bordeaux for, apart from the chance of finding
Jean there, it seems much safer than putting out to sea in a little
boat."

"I certainly think so," Leigh replied. "Now I will go out and make
inquiries as to what craft there may be, bound south."

He returned in a couple of hours.

"I have arranged for our passage, Patsey. She is a fast-looking
little craft, with very decent accommodation. She is in the wine
trade, and brought a cargo safely up last week, and will start
again the day after tomorrow. She carries a crew of eight hands;
and I have made inquiries about the captain, and hear a very good
report of him, and he seemed to me a first-rate fellow. When I
mentioned the name of the Henriette he said that he knew her well,
and was acquainted both with the present captain and with your
Jean. He had heard, from Lefaux, that her former owner had been
denounced, and had been obliged to fly from Nantes to a chateau
that he had in La Vendee. The Henriette has never been into Nantes
since, but went down to Bordeaux, and was there registered in
another owner's name, and Lefaux had worked for him ever since.

"'I fancy,' he said, 'she sometimes makes a run with brandy to
England. She was in that business before, and had, Lefaux said,
been chased many a time by English cutters, but had always managed
to give them the slip.'

"I was half inclined to tell him that I was Jean's brother-in-law,
but I thought it better not to until we had been to sea for a day
or two, and had learned a little more about him."

The next day Leigh went to the mairie and explained that, not
having found the ship commanded by citoyenne Martin's husband, and
thinking it likely that they would hear of him at Bordeaux, they
had taken passage by the Trois Freres, which sailed the next day.
The addition was made to his papers without a question, and the
next morning they went on board. They were heartily received by the
captain.

"You ought to bring us luck, madame," he said; "I mean citoyenne,
but the old word slips out of one's mouth, sometimes. It is not
often that I have a lady passenger. There are few who travel now
and, before the war broke out, people preferred taking passage in
larger ships than mine. Still, I will do my best to make you
comfortable, and I can assure you that Leon, my cook, is by no
means a bad hand at turning out dainty dishes. He was cook in an
hotel, at one time; but he let his tongue wag too freely and,
having to leave suddenly, was glad enough to ship with me.
Fortunately he likes the life, and I do not think anything would
tempt him to go back to an hotel kitchen again."

"I am not particular, I can assure you," Patsey said. "In these
times we all have to rough it. Still, I own that I like a good
dinner better than a bad one."

"We shall put in to a good many little ports," the skipper said.
"Sailing as close as we do inshore, I always make a port if I can,
as evening comes on; and we are therefore never without fresh meat,
fish, and vegetables."

"How long shall we be going down?"

"That I cannot tell you. It all depends upon the wind. We may, too,
be kept in port for two or three days if there is an enemy's
cruiser anywhere about. We may get there in ten days, we may take
three weeks."

Before the boat set sail, a commissary with two men came on board
and examined the passes of the passengers, and searched below the
hatches to make sure that no one was hidden there. As soon as they
had completed their inspection the sails were hoisted, and the
Trois Freres started on her way down the Channel. The wind was
light and blowing from the southwest, and they were just able to
lay their course, and anchored for the night off the mouth of the
Vire river.

"I suppose tomorrow you will get round the Cape de la Hague,
captain?" Leigh said.

"No, we shall not attempt that. The coast is a very difficult one,
with furious currents. We shall bring up off Cherbourg and start at
daylight; and shall, I hope, be well down towards the bay of
Avranches by nightfall. There is no fear of a British cruiser till
we get out towards Ushant. They do not care about coming inside the
islands; what with the fogs, the rocks, and the currents, it is
safer outside than in. Besides, there is little to be picked up
except coasters like ourselves, and fishing boats. There is hardly
any foreign trade between Havre and Brest. It is from there down to
the mouth of the Gironde that their cruisers are so thick. From
Ushant to Boulogne there are plenty of them, but these are chiefly
occupied in guarding their ships going up and down the Channel from
our privateers, which run out from every port: Dieppe and Havre,
Granville, Avranches, and Saint Malo."

The skipper had by no means over praised his cook, who turned them
out a better dinner than any that they had eaten since the troubles
began, with the exception only of those they had had at Arthenay.

"He takes a pride in it," the captain said, "and you will never get
good work done in any line, unless by a man who does so. A sailor
who is careless about the appearance of his ship is sure to be
careless about the keeping of the watch, and is not to be trusted
in matters of navigation. When you see a craft with every rope in
its place, everything spotlessly clean, the brass work polished up,
and the paint carefully attended to, you may be sure that the
skipper is as particular in more important matters. It is just so
with our man. It is a little bit of a galley, but his saucepans
shine like gold, everything is clean and in its place. He grumbles
if we run short of anything, and is a good deal more particular
about my dinner being just what it should be than I am myself.

"Sometimes when we have rough weather I say to him, 'Make me a soup
today, Leon. I shall be well content with that, and it is not
weather for turning out a regular dinner.'

"He always replies gravely, 'Monsieur, anyone can cook when the sea
is calm. It is on an occasion like this that one who knows his
business is required. Monsieur will dine as usual.'

"And up comes dinner, with three or four courses, cooked to
perfection. For myself, I would rather snatch a few mouthfuls and
go up on deck again; but this would hurt Leon's feelings if he saw
it, and he might even consider that he must seek another employer,
for that his talents were wasted upon me; so I go through it all
with exemplary patience. I would not lose him for anything, not
only because I own I like good food, but the Trois Freres has such
a reputation for good living that, if I am in port, passengers will
wait for days to sail with me, instead of going by other craft.

"And then, too, I have no trouble with my crew, and it is rarely,
indeed, that I change one of my hands; for although their meals are
of course much simpler than mine, they are all perfect in their
way.

"It takes a great deal of trouble off my hands, too. Instead of my
having a dozen little accounts to go into, at every port we enter,
I allow him a certain sum and he manages on that--so much a day for
my own table, so much for each passenger, and so much for the crew.
How he does it, I don't know. I find that it is cheaper than it
used to be, before his time; and yet I have all sorts of dainties I
never dreamt of, then.

"I say to him sometimes, 'Leon, you must be ruining yourself;' but
he smiles and says, 'I am well content, captain; if you are
satisfied, I am so.'

"He buys the fish off the boats as they come in, and I can
understand that he gets them far more cheaply than if he waited
till they were hawked in the streets. He is great at omelets and,
when he has a chance, he is ashore before the countrywomen come
into the market; and will buy the whole stock of eggs, a pound or
two of butter, and three or four couples of fowls from one woman,
who is glad to sell cheaply and so be free to return home at once.
At Bordeaux he lays in a stock of snipe and other birds from the
sand hills and marshes, oysters, and other such matters. He is a
great favourite with the crew and, in cold weather or stormy
nights, there is always hot soup ready for them.

"He has only one fault. As a rule, the cooks are expected to help
get up the anchor and sails, but he will not put a hand to sailors'
work. He says that a cook must not have a rough hand, but that it
should be as soft as a woman's. Personally, I believe that is all
nonsense. However, as we have a fairly strong crew, I do not press
him on the subject; though sometimes, when I tail on to a rope
myself, and see him leaning quietly against his galley smoking his
pipe, I am inclined to use strong language."

"I don't think that is much to put up with, captain," Patsey said
with a smile, "if he always cooks for you such breakfasts and
dinners as we have had today; and I do think that there is,
perhaps, something in what he says about rough hands."

"Well, I feel that myself," he said. "Still, it is a little
aggravating, when everyone else is working hard, to see a man
calmly smoking, and never raising a finger to help."

The next day they kept very close inshore. More than once a white
sail was seen in the distance, which the captain pronounced, from
its cut, to belong to a British cruiser.

"The weather is fine, you see, and the wind is steady, so they are
coming rather farther into the bay than usual. We shall see more of
them, as soon as we are round that cape ahead, for they keep a very
sharp lookout off Cherbourg."

It was not, however, until they had rounded Ushant that any British
vessel came near enough to cause them uneasiness. There were two
large frigates cruising backwards and forwards off Brest, and a
brig-of-war came within shot, as they were doubling Penmarch Point.

"There is plenty of water for her, here," the skipper said.
"However, she will hardly catch us, before we are under shelter of
the batteries of Quimper."

"I should have thought that she would hardly think you worth the
trouble of chasing."

"It may be that they think we are carrying fresh meat from Saint
Malo to Nantes. There is a good deal of trade that way, this time
of year, when meat will keep good for a week. Or it may be that
they want to get news of what ships there are in Brest. However, it
is certain that he is in earnest; he is politely requesting us to
lower our sails."

He laughed as a puff of white smoke broke out from the brig and, a
second or two later, a ball dashed up the water fifty yards ahead
of them. The emotions with which Patsey and Leigh watched the brig
differed much from those of the captain. They would gladly have
seen the lugger overhauled and captured, but they soon saw that
there was little chance of this. The lugger was a fast boat, the
wind just suited her, and the brig fell farther and farther astern
until, as the former entered the bay of Quimper and laid her course
north, the brig hauled her wind and turned to rejoin the vessels
off Brest.

Keeping close to the land, they passed L'Orient and Quiberon and
Vannes without stopping, and did not drop anchor again until they
entered the bay on the eastern side of the island of Noirmoutier.
The next day they passed out through the narrow channel of Froment,
and had gone between the island and the mainland, for a distance of
two miles, when they saw a large brig making in towards the shore.

"Another of those cruisers," the captain exclaimed. "This is more
serious, for there is no bay we can run into, and the fellow is
bringing the wind down with him. Our only chance is to anchor under
the guns of Saint Jean des Montes; we shall be lucky if we get
there in time."

The brig came up fast, and was within a mile when the lugger caught
the wind; then running along rapidly she held her own until off
Saint Jean, when she ran in as close as her draught would permit,
and anchored. Two French privateers were already lying in there,
one having dropped anchor only a few minutes before the Trois
Freres arrived.

"I expect it was that fellow that the brig was in chase of, and I
am not by any means sure that we have done with her, yet. They are
as likely as not to try to cut out one, if not both, of these
privateers. Of course it would look like madness, with the guns of
that battery on the height protecting them, but they have done such
things so often that one can never say that one is altogether safe
from them."

The brig stood in until two or three guns in the battery opened
fire, when she turned and made out to sea again.

"That means nothing," the captain said. "Of course she would not
attack in daylight. I dare say she will sail pretty nearly out of
sight, so as to make the privateers believe that she had no
intention of meddling with them. If I was sure that was her game, I
would get up sail again, as soon as it is dark, and make for
Oleron; but it is likely enough that she may think that that is
just what the privateers will do, and will sail in that direction
herself, so as to cut them off before they get there, and force
them to fight without the protection of a shore battery.

"There is the bell for breakfast! Leon would not be two minutes
late, if there was an action going on close to us."

Half an hour later they went on deck again.

"At any rate, the sea has saved us the trouble of discussing the
matter," the captain said. "We are aground. The tide turned just
before we got here. It is now half past twelve, and we shall not be
afloat again for nearly twelve hours.

"Well, there is one thing: if they are thinking of trying to cut
out the privateers, they are not likely to do it before two or
three o'clock in the morning. As soon as we float I shall haul out,
a cable's length or two, so as to ensure our being able to get off;
and if they do attack, I shall get up my sails at once, and run
south. They will be too much occupied to give us a thought. Whereas
if I stay here, and they capture the privateers, they might take it
into their heads to come on board and set fire to the lugger;
which, as I am part owner, would be a very serious matter to me."

It was apparent that the privateers had no thought of the brig
returning, at any rate at present, as boats went backwards and
forwards between them and the shore.

"What do you think, Leigh?" his sister asked quietly, as they were
sitting alone together.

"I do not know in the least," he said. "Our best chance is that the
two Frenchmen seem to be so confident that they are safe under the
guns of the fort, that they will take no very great precautions.
One of them mounts eight guns, the other ten, and they ought to be
a match for the brig, even without the forts; for we could see, by
her ports, that she only carries sixteen guns. However, I think
myself that she will very likely have a try at them. It will be a
very dark night, for the sky is overcast and there is no moon."

It was between ten and eleven when, just as they were about to turn
in, the captain ran in.

"Quick, madame, you must hurry on your clothes! I heard a sound
just now that could only be made by a boat. As we are still
aground, I shall bring a boat alongside and land. There is nothing
like being on the safe side!"

The two privateers were lying a quarter of a mile farther out, and
there were still lights burning on board them.

"The fools!" the captain growled, as Leigh and his sister came on
deck; Leigh carrying little Louis, who had been put to bed fully
dressed. Indeed, no time had been lost, for his mother and Leigh
had agreed that it would be better to lie down in their clothes, in
case of an alarm being given.

"The fools!" the captain repeated. "If they had extinguished every
light, as they ought to have done, the boats would have had
difficulty in finding them. Now, they could not miss them if they
tried.

"Now, madame, will you please take your place in the boat with me?
I am sure that there are boats coming along. Of course the oars are
muffled, and there is enough sea on to prevent us hearing the
splash. I think the noise I heard was caused by one of the
stretchers giving way."

Reluctantly Patsey and Leigh took their places in the boat. Just as
they reached the shore, a shout was heard on board one of the
privateers and, a moment later, came the sound of a British cheer.
It was followed by a hubbub of shouts, then muskets flashed out
from the decks, and almost immediately came the sounds of conflict.
A blue light was struck on the deck of one of the privateers and,
by its light, those on shore could obtain a view of the conflict.
The boats had boarded from the shore side. Two of them lay
alongside each of the privateers, and the crews could be seen
climbing up by the chains and leaping down upon the decks.

"They deserve to be taken," the captain said. "They have not even
triced up their boarding nets."

A confused medley of sounds came to the shore; with the shouts of
the French sailors were mingled the clash of cutlasses and the
crack of pistols. The British sailors fought, for the most part,
silently. On the heights above, blue lights were burning in the
battery, and men could be seen standing on its crest watching the
combat below, but powerless to assist their friends.

It was but five minutes after the outbreak of the combat when a
loud British cheer, followed by a dead silence, showed that one, at
least, of the privateers had been captured. The fighting still
continued on the deck of the other craft but, from the vessel that
had been captured, a number of sailors leapt down into one of their
boats, and rowed to the assistance of their comrades. The
reinforcements apparently decided the issue of the fight, for in a
couple of minutes the British cheer was again heard, and the blue
light was promptly extinguished, as were all the other lights on
both vessels. Scarcely was this done when the guns from the battery
boomed out.

"It is of no use their firing," the captain said. "I don't think
they can depress the guns enough to bear upon them.

"There, they are making sail!" he went on, as the creaking of
blocks was heard. "Of course they have cut the cables. They would
not waste time in getting up anchors, with the forts playing upon
them. However, it is mere waste of powder and shot on such a night
as this. I don't suppose the gunners can make them out, now; for a
certainty they won't be able to do so, as soon as they have moved
off another quarter of a mile. Of course a stray shot may hit them,
but practically it is all over.

"I think that we can go on board again. I did not think of it
before, but they would hardly set fire to us, for the light would
enable the gunners to see them till they were a long way out.

"There is no doubt those Englishmen can fight. Our men are all
right when they are under sail, and it is a question of exchanging
broadsides, but the success of so many of their cutting out
expeditions shows that, somehow or other, we lose heart when we are
boarded. We must have had nearly twice as many men as there were in
those four boats, and yet it seemed to be a certainty, as soon as
the English got among them.

"Our craft had much better have sailed out together when the brig
came in this morning, and fought her fairly. They ought to have
been more than a match for her. No doubt they would have done so if
they had thought that they would be attacked tonight; but they
relied upon the battery, and allowed themselves to be taken
completely by surprise.

"I could see, even from this distance, that most of them were
fighting in their shirts; and I expect that they were sound asleep
when the attack began, and men roused in that sudden way can never
be relied upon to do their duty as they would do, if prepared to
meet it."

The party were soon on board the lugger again. Just as daylight was
breaking there was a trampling of feet on the deck, and Leigh,
going up, found that sail was being hoisted. Keeping close to the
shore they ran down, without putting in anywhere, to La Rochelle.
Here they waited for a day and then, keeping inside the Isle of
Oleron, entered the Gironde and, the next day, anchored in the
Garonne, off the quays of Bordeaux.

After thanking the captain very heartily for his kindness during
the passage, they landed, showed their papers to an official on the
quay, and then, being unhampered by luggage, walked quietly away.
As there was nothing particularly noticeable in their appearance,
they attracted no attention whatever. It was five o'clock when they
landed, and already becoming dusk. They waited until it was quite
dark and then, having inquired for the house of Monsieur Flambard,
the merchant to whom Jean had assigned the Henriette, they knocked
at his door.

It was a handsome house, not far from the quays. The lower portion
was evidently occupied by the offices. As a servant opened the
door, Leigh, seeing that his sister hesitated to speak, inquired if
Monsieur Flambard was at home.

"He is," the man said shortly, "but he does not see people on
business after the office is closed."

Leigh saw that his dress, as a sailor, did not impress the man.

"I think he will see us," he said, "if you take the name up to him.
Will you tell him that Citoyenne Martin wishes to speak to him."

A minute later the merchant himself, a handsome man of about the
same age as Jean Martin, came down.

"Ah! madame, I am glad indeed to see you," he said; for he had more
than once been up to Nantes, during the time she was living there,
and had been frequently at the house. "I have been in great anxiety
about you."

"Has Jean been here?" she asked, in a tone of intense anxiety.

"No, madame, I have heard nothing of him for many months; not,
indeed, since his lugger first came down here, with his letter and
the deed of her sale to myself. Did you expect to find him here?"

"I hoped so, although there was no arrangement between us to meet
here. Still, I thought that he would have made his way down here,
if possible, as he would then be able to escape in the lugger."

"He may have found it more difficult than he thought," Monsieur
Flambard said, soothingly. "But do not let us be standing here.
Pray, come up. My wife will be glad to welcome you, for she has
often heard me speak of Martin's English wife."

Leigh had been standing behind Patsey while they spoke but, as the
merchant closed the door, his eye fell upon him.

"Ah, monsieur, now I recognize you. You are Monsieur Leigh
Stansfield, the brother of madame. I welcome you also, cordially."

So saying, he led the way upstairs.



Chapter 17: A Grave Risk.


Nothing could be kinder than the reception of the fugitives by
Madame Flambard. She had heard so much of Patsey, she said, from
her husband, to whom she had been married six months before, that
she had quite shared his anxiety about the fate of Jean Martin, who
had more than once been mentioned as being one of the leaders of
the Vendeans. She soon went off with Patsey to put the child to bed
and, while they were away, Monsieur Flambard took Leigh into his
smoking room.

"Before," he said, "I ask you anything about your adventures, I
must explain to you the state of things here. Until November last
Bordeaux, and indeed the whole of the Gironde, was moderate. All
our deputies--who have now, as perhaps you know, either fallen on
the scaffold or been hunted down like wild beasts--belonged to that
party. They were earnest reformers, and were prominent among the
leaders of the Revolution. They went with the stream, up to a
certain point. They voted for most of the sanguinary decrees,
although in time they strove to mitigate the horrors inflicted by
the extreme party; but after a long conflict the latter, supported
by the mob of Paris, obtained the ascendency, and the Girondists
underwent the same fate that had befallen so many others. For
myself, I cannot pity them. They were all men of standing and of
intelligence but, without perceiving the terrible results that must
follow, they unchained the mob and became its victims.

"Up to that time there had been but few executions here, and the
power remained in the hands of the moderate party. Two months
since, however, there was a local insurrection. The party of the
terror suddenly rose, seized the members of the council, and threw
them into prison. Other prominent citizens were seized, and the
guillotine began its bloody work in earnest. Since that time every
citizen of position or standing lives in momentary danger of
arrest. Not a day passes, but a dozen or so are seized and dragged
off. I grant that, at present, there is nothing like the wholesale
butchery that goes on at Nantes under that fiend Carrier; it is
only those who have wealth and property that are seized. Not only
in this town, but in the whole department, the agents of those who
assumed power are busy. It is the Gironde, and therefore hateful to
the party of Robespierre; and the proprietors of the land, who have
hitherto been left unmolested, are being brought in daily.

"The trial is of course a mere farce. The prisoners are murdered,
not because they are moderates, but because they are rich; and
their wealth is divided among the members of the council, and the
mob who support them. So far I have been unmolested. I have never
taken any part in politics, business being sufficient to occupy all
my time. Another thing is that I employ a considerable number of
men, in addition to the crews of some ten vessels which belong to
me. I believe that I am popular generally on the wharves, and it is
the knowledge that my arrest might promote a tumult, and might
reverse the present order of things, that has led to my being left
alone so far.

"Fortunately my servant, who let you in, has been in the family for
the past five-and-thirty years, and is devoted to me. Had it been
otherwise the position would have been a dangerous one. A report to
the council that a young man in the attire of a sailor, accompanied
by a lady and child, had arrived, and been at once received, would
suffice to set them in motion. I should be accused of having a
suspect, probably one of the emigres hidden here, and it would be
difficult for me to explain your reception. You must, in the first
place, attire yourself in clothes such as are worn by the mate of a
privateer. I suppose you have papers, or you would not have been
permitted to land."

Leigh took out the passes and handed them to him. Monsieur Flambard
glanced through them.

"You must have managed well to have got hold of these passes, and
they certainly put the matter on safer ground. However, I should
find some difficulty in explaining how I came to show hospitality
to two persons who, by a strangely roundabout course, had made
their way from Arthenay. It is a little unfortunate that your
sister kept her own name. Had it been otherwise, I might have said
that her husband was captain of one of my ships. But he is
unfortunately not unknown here. After Martin's flight from Nantes,
a claim was made by the committee of public safety at Nantes for
the Henriette. Fortunately your brother-in-law had dated his bill
of sale to me a fortnight before he left. The trial took place here
and, as in those days law and justice still prevailed in the civic
courts, the decision was given in my favour.

"It was urged on the other side that the transaction was invalid,
as Martin must have parted with his vessel knowing well that he was
a traitor to the Republic, and that his property would be
confiscated. However, we got the best of them. There was no proof
whatever that Martin was conscious that he was suspected of being
disaffected, and we claimed that he had only sold it as, having
married, he had decided to give up the sea and to settle upon his
estates in La Vendee. Of course, at that time La Vendee had not
risen, and it was not a crime worthy of death to own an estate
there. Still, the case attracted attention, and the fact that my
guest was a Madame Martin might recall the circumstances, and at
once awake a suspicion that she was the wife of one of those who
had led the insurgents of La Vendee; in which case her life and
yours would be certainly forfeited, and my receiving you would be
regarded as amply sufficient evidence of my connection with the
insurgents.

"Now, for our sakes, as well as yours, I think that it would be
strongly advisable that you should take up your abode elsewhere.
Believe me that it is no want of hospitality, but a measure of
precaution, both for your sake and ours. Tomorrow morning I should
have to send in a statement that two guests have arrived here, and
it is therefore most desirable that you should move without delay.
Fortunately the wives of two or three of my captains live here; one
of these especially, an excellent woman, has a house much larger
than she needs, and takes in lodgers, generally captains whose
families do not reside here, when their ships are in port.
Therefore the fact that a sailor, with a sister and her child, have
taken rooms there will excite no suspicion, whatever. She will, as
a matter of course, send in your name to the police of the town,
together with your passes. They will be marked and returned
without, probably, being glanced at."

"I think that that will be an excellent arrangement, sir," Leigh
said, "and I quite see that our stay here might be awkward for you,
as well as us."

"I will at once go with you; that is, as soon as you have told your
sister the reason why it will be better for you to establish
yourselves elsewhere than here. I may tell you that I, myself, have
been quietly making preparations for flight; but it is not all my
captains whom I can trust. The Henriette, which I expect here
shortly, has been delayed; but on her arrival I propose that we
shall all cross the Channel together. I hear the ladies' voices in
the next room. It were best that we got this painful business over,
at once."

Madame Flambard was greatly distressed, when Leigh gave his sister
an account of the conversation they had had, and the resolution at
which they had arrived; but Patsey at once saw that it was most
desirable that the change should be made, and assured her hostess
that she fully recognized that their safety would be imperilled by
staying at their house.

"It would be a cruel kindness, on your part, to insist upon our
stopping here, Madame Flambard. We know that it is from no lack of
hospitality that we are leaving, but that you are making a real
sacrifice, in order to procure our safety.

"Shall I put on my things at once, monsieur?"

"By no means. I will go with your brother, first, to see if Madame
Chopin has other lodgers. If so, I will go to the wife of one of my
clerks, who also lets a portion of a house; or, if you would not
mind poor accommodation, to another of the captains' wives as, in
your brother's character of a sailor, it would be more natural for
you to go to such a lodging, which may very well have been
recommended to you by the skipper of the lugger in which you came
here. When we have arranged things, we will return. It is but a
quarter of an hour's walk, for the house stands near the river,
above the bridge."

He at once set out with Leigh. On arriving at the house, they found
that there were at present no lodgers there.

"This young sailor has brought a letter of recommendation to me,
Madame Chopin. He has a married sister and her child with him, and
I am sure that you will make them very comfortable, and can supply
them with what they may require. They have just arrived by sea,
from Havre; the length of their stay is uncertain. This young man
is looking for a berth as mate, and shall have the first vacancy on
one of my vessels. His sister may stop with you for some time, as
she is hoping that her husband will return here, though he is so
long overdue that I fear his ship has been either lost or captured
by the English."

"I will do my best to make them both comfortable, Monsieur
Flambard, and thank you for recommending them to me."

Leigh saw the rooms, which consisted of two bedrooms, and a third
room which was similarly furnished; but Madame Chopin said that she
would take down the bed and put some other furniture into it, so
that they could use it as a sitting room.

"We should prefer that, madame; for my sister at times is greatly
depressed, and we should prefer being alone."

"I can quite understand that," the woman said. "Well, you will not
be troubled with society here, as I have only these three rooms to
let so that, unless my husband comes home before you go, we shall
be quite alone."

"I shall return with my sister in an hour's time," Leigh said;
"that will not be too late for you?"

"No, monsieur, it is little past eight o'clock yet, and it will
take me fully two hours to get everything straight and tidy."

"Very well, then, we will say ten o'clock," Monsieur Flambard said.
"I will keep Monsieur Porson, as he has news to give me concerning
the friend who recommended him to me."

On their return to the merchant's, they sat chatting for an hour
over the adventures through which Leigh and his sister had passed,
and the manner in which they were separated from Jean Martin.

"I think you have every reason to hope, madame," Monsieur Flambard
said cheerfully. "Jean is not the sort of fellow to let himself be
caught in a hole; and I expect that, when he found that he could
not rejoin you, he at once struck north, either for Dunkirk or
Calais, and has probably managed to be taken over in a fishing boat
or a smuggler and, if he failed in doing so, he would probably make
off in a boat single handed. I think that you have every reason to
hope that you will find him at Poole, when you arrive there; but
even should he not be there, there will be no reason for despair.
He may have had difficulty in getting away. He may have been
impressed for the naval service. At any rate, I have great faith
that he will turn up, sooner or later. Certainly, when he has once
managed to get a seafaring outfit, he will be safe from any fear of
detection as one of the terrible Vendean insurgents."

At a quarter to ten little Louis was taken out of bed, wrapped up
in a cloak, and carried by Leigh. Monsieur Flambard insisted on
again accompanying them. The streets were now almost deserted, and
they soon arrived at Madame Chopin's.

"I quite forgot to ask if you would want anything, before going to
bed; but I can make you a cup of good coffee, if you would like
it."

"Thank you, but we have eaten but an hour ago."

Saying goodnight to Monsieur Flambard, they went up to their rooms,
their hostess leading with a candle. She had made the most of her
time, since Leigh left the house. White curtains had been put up at
the windows, and everything looked beautifully clean; and Patsey
uttered an exclamation of pleasure when she entered the room.

"This does indeed look fresh and homelike," she said. "Thank you
for taking so much trouble, madame."

The next morning Leigh procured a jacket and waistcoat, with brass
buttons; and a cap with a gold band. He then sauntered along the
wharves and went aboard the Trois Freres, and told the skipper that
no news had been received of his sister's husband. It had been
agreed that it was best that they should not go to Monsieur
Flambard's house, but that the merchant should call at the lodging,
after dark. When Leigh returned to the midday meal, he found that
the papers had come back from the mairie, duly stamped and
countersigned, and that as no one had been to the house to make
inquiries, it was evident that no suspicion had been excited.

During the next four or five days Leigh went but little into the
town, contenting himself with keeping near the wharves, watching
the vessels loading or discharging cargo, and spending much of his
time on board the Trois Freres. On the afternoon of the fifth day
he saw a lugger approaching and as it came near, he made out, to
his great delight, that it was the Henriette. As soon as she
dropped anchor in the stream, her boat rowed to the wharves. Lefaux
was sitting in the stern and, as soon as he landed, went off in the
direction of Monsieur Flambard's office.

Leigh did not go near him. He thought that it would be better that
the honest sailor should learn that he and his sister were there
from the merchant, before he spoke to him; as any imprudent remark
on the sailor's part might be caught up by one of the spies of the
committee, and lead to trouble. As he expected, Monsieur Flambard
came round with Lefaux, that evening.

"I am heartily glad to see you again, madame," he said, as Patsey
shook him by the hand; "and you too, Monsieur Stansfield. I began
to think that I never should do so, and I only wish that Monsieur
Jean was here, too. Still, I feel confident that he has got safely
away; trust a sailor for getting out of a scrape. You must have
gone through a lot, madame, but you don't look any the worse for
it."

"Except anxiety for my husband, I have gone through nothing to
speak of. I had a horse to ride, and generally a shelter to sleep
under, and for myself I had little to complain of; but it was
terrible to see the sufferings of the peasant women and children,
and of the many men broken down by sickness. And there was, too,
the anxiety as to the safety of my husband and brother, in each
battle that took place. But of hardship to myself there was very
little."

"Well, madame, I hope that I shall soon have the pleasure of
sailing into Poole again, with you and Monsieur Leigh on board; and
also with my good master, Monsieur Flambard, and his wife."

"When will you be off again?" Patsey asked eagerly.

"That is what I have come to talk with you about, Madame Martin,"
Monsieur Flambard said. "I have pretty good information as to what
passes, at the meetings of the wretches who call themselves the
committee of public safety, and I hear that there will very shortly
be a seizure of a number of prominent citizens, and my name has
been mentioned. They are only hanging back until they can decide
upon what shall be the pretext, since none of those named have
taken any part in politics here. All those who have done so have
been already seized. However, the blow may come at any moment.

"The Henriette has already begun to discharge her cargo.
Fortunately, there is not much of it. The moment that she has
finished she will drop down below the rest of the shipping, and be
ready to start at any moment. If we find that the matter is not
absolutely pressing, we will go quietly on board as soon as she is
ready, and sail at once; as there will then be no fear of her being
stopped.

"If, however, I find that the order for our arrest is on the point
of being issued, I will send her down and let her lie beyond Fort
Medoc and Blaye. If it were discovered that I was missing, a few
hours after she had started, it would be suspected at once that I
had gone in the Henriette. Mounted messengers would carry the news
down to both forts, and the boat would be forced to heave to, as
she passed between them.

"Therefore I shall have a light carriage, with two fast horses,
kept in readiness a quarter of a mile outside the town; and a relay
of horses fifteen miles on, which is about halfway, and join the
ship below the forts. If, as may possibly happen, I am suddenly
arrested in the streets, I shall have my servant near me. He will
have his orders, which will be to hurry back home to tell his
mistress to put on the disguise of a peasant woman, that has
already been prepared for her, and to go with her at once to the
carriage; and another man, whom I can also thoroughly trust, is to
come here and say to you, 'It is a bad day.'

"Then you and your sister and the child will at once start to join
my wife. She has most reluctantly consented to carry out this plan
for, as I tell her, it will add to my sufferings a hundredfold,
were she also to be arrested."

By dint of great exertions the Henriette was unloaded by the
following evening and, half an hour after her last bale was ashore,
she dropped down the river with the tide. She was to anchor off a
small village, two miles beyond Fort Medoc; and if inquiry was made
as to why she stopped there, Lefaux was to say that he was to take
in some wine that Monsieur Flambard had bought from a large grower
in that district, and that the lugger was then going to Charente to
fill up with brandy for Havre.

Leigh had, the day before, gone with the merchant into the
extensive cellars which adjoined the house.

"There is not a man here," Monsieur Flambard said, "who would not
do all in his power for me. Some of them have been with the firm
nearly all their lives. I treat them well, and I am happy to say
that not one of them has taken any part in our last troubles.
Indeed, I am told that is one of the matters that, if I am
arrested, will be brought against me. It will be said that it was a
proof of my enmity to the Convention that none of my people took
the side of the patriots.

"However, it tells both ways. I have over forty men here. They
have, of course, friends among the porters and others working on
the wharves; and a disturbance might take place, were I arrested.
However, the scoundrels have now got such absolute power that, no
doubt, they feel that they could disregard any local rising and,
indeed, with the plunder of my store before them, they could reckon
on the devotion of the greater part of the mob of the town."

On the morning after the Henriette had sailed, the merchant took
Leigh down to a little wayside inn, half a mile below the town,
where he had placed his carriage and horses; and gave instructions
to his coachman that he was to place himself under Leigh's orders.

"At whatever hour of the day or night he comes, you will start at
once with him, and the lady and child who accompany him. You will
know in that case that I am not coming, but have been arrested."

"But, master--"

"It must be as I say, Pierre. Once I am arrested--and it is almost
certain my wife would be arrested with me--nothing can be done to
help, and it would be a great satisfaction to me to know that my
friends have escaped. There will be in that case no need of extreme
haste, for no one knows that they are in any way connected with me,
and there will be no inquiries for them."

Leigh told Patsey that afternoon that, in the event of the
Flambards being arrested, he might possibly, instead of coming
himself, send a messenger to her; and that she must then start at
once, and await his coming in front of the church, at the end of
the street in which the merchant's house stood.

"You had better have a letter written to our landlady, inclosing
the sum due to her and a week's rent in advance; and say that we
are hastily called away to Blaye, but may return in a few days, and
begging her to keep the rooms vacant for a week, for which you
leave the money. You had better write the letter at once, so that
if you get my message you can leave instantly. There is nothing
like being prepared for everything. Of course the arrest of the
Flambards would not really affect us in any way, or add to our
danger; but if the coachman were to hear of it before we got there,
he might disregard his master's orders, and return at once with the
carriage."

Leigh had in his mind the very short notice that Desailles had had
of his danger, and how narrowly he escaped being arrested, although
he had a friend who kept him acquainted with what was going on. He
thought that it was still more likely that the arrest of the
Flambards would take place suddenly. It would probably be decided
upon by two or three of the men, who were the leaders of the party
of terror; and no word would get about as to their intentions until
the arrest had been absolutely made, in which case the captives
would be lodged in prison before the matter would be known, and all
fear of an emeute be thereby prevented. He had therefore decided
upon what was the best course to pursue, and posted himself in the
street, where he could observe anyone who entered or left
Flambard's house.

It was already getting dusk when he saw two commissaries of the
committee, with six armed men, stop before the door and knock. It
was opened. Two of the men remained outside, and the rest entered.
He ran to the stores. The head cellarman had gone round the place
with him and his master, and Leigh at once went to him.

"Lefranc," he said, "your master and mistress have just been
arrested. Two commissaries and six armed men have gone into the
house. There is time to save them yet. They have a carriage in
waiting, a short distance away; and if we can overpower these men
and tie them up, so that they cannot give the alarm until morning,
Monsieur Flambard and his wife will get safely away. They have a
vessel waiting for them in readiness, down the river."

"I am your man, sir, and every one here."

"Half a dozen will be enough. Pick out that number of strong
fellows, whom you can rely upon. Let them all take off their
aprons, and tear up this black silk handkerchief and, as we leave
the cellar, let each man put a piece over his face, to act as a
mask. There is a private door leading to the house, is there not?"

"Yes, monsieur."

"Well, draw the men off quietly, so that the others shall not
notice them; and tell them to go to that door, and to put on their
masks there. Let each man take some weapon, but not a mallet, or
anything used in the trade. Let them bring some stout rope with
them."

The man nodded and hurried away, and Leigh went to the end of the
stores abutting on the house, and stopped at the door he found
there. In a minute the men began to arrive. They had, as he
directed, thrown aside their leather aprons and put on blouses; so
that they differed in no way, in appearance, from ordinary working
men. One or two were armed with hammers, others with long knives.
Each carried a piece of black handkerchief in his hand, long enough
to go from the forehead down to the mouth. Leigh tied these on with
strings, cutting holes with his knife through which they could see.

When the six men and the foreman had assembled, they entered the
house. The old servant was standing in the hall, wringing his hands
in distress.

"Where are they?" Leigh asked.

"In the master's study, sir. They are searching the drawers."

"Come on quietly," Leigh said to the men. "We must take them by
surprise."

The door of the study was standing open, and lights burned within.
Leigh had already instructed his followers to go at once for the
armed men, and to knock them down before they had time to use their
muskets. Going noiselessly up, they entered the door with a sudden
rush.

The two commissaries were engaged in emptying the contents of the
table drawers into a basket. The armed ruffians had leant their
muskets against the wall, and had seated themselves in comfortable
chairs. Flambard stood with his arm round his wife, looking
disdainfully at the proceedings of the commissaries.

In a moment the scene changed. Before the men could even rise from
their seats they were knocked down, bits of sacking thrust into
their mouths, and their arms tied. Leigh had levelled one of the
commissaries by a blow in the face, and the foreman had struck down
the other with a hammer. These were also securely tied.

The Flambards stood, a picture of astonishment. The whole thing had
passed so instantaneously that they could scarcely realize what had
happened. When they did so, Madame Flambard, who had hitherto
preserved her calmness, burst into tears; while her husband
embraced Leigh with passionate gratitude.

"Now, monsieur," the latter said, "you had better collect at once
any money and jewels you wish to take with you, while we are making
sure of these ruffians.

"Now, my men," he went on, "take these fellows into different
rooms; but first let me see that the ropes are securely tied;
although, as sailors, you are not likely to make any mistake that
way. Still, it is as well to be on the safe side."

He himself then examined the fastenings, and added a few more
cords.

"Now, when you have got them into separate rooms, tie their feet to
a heavy piece of furniture. Make a slipknot at the end of another
rope, put the noose round the neck, and fasten the other end to
another piece of furniture, that there may be no chance of their
getting loose, till their friends come to their assistance."

He saw all this securely done. Then he said:

"There is one more thing to see to. In time those fellows at the
door will be getting impatient, and will begin to suspect that all
is not right. We must get them inside, and then tie them up with
the others. Stand back behind the door as they enter and, as I
close it, throw yourselves upon them. One of you grip each of them
by the throat, and another seize his musket and wrench it from him.
The rest will be easy."

The men placed themselves as directed, and Leigh then opened the
door and said:

"You are to come in. They will take some little time over the
papers, and there is plenty of good wine for you to amuse
yourselves with."

With an exclamation of satisfaction, the two men entered.

"It is very dark in here," one said, as Leigh closed the door. "Why
didn't you get a light?"

The words were scarcely spoken when there was a rush, a sudden
exclamation, the sound of a short struggle, and then silence.

"Keep hold of them tightly, while I fetch a candle," Leigh said
and, running upstairs, soon came down with the light.

The two guards were standing helpless in the hands of their
captors, and gripped so tightly that they were unable to utter the
least sound.

"Now, put the gags into their mouths and truss them up, as you did
the others."

Leaving the men to carry out his orders, he ran upstairs again.

"Everything is arranged now," he said. "The whole of the fellows
are bound, and the road is free for you. I should go out by the
back way, for there is sure to be a little crowd in front of the
house, attracted by the sight of the guard standing outside. I do
not think that there is any extraordinary hurry, but in an hour or
so, if either of the men who have ordered your arrest is waiting at
the prison, he may get impatient, and send down to see what detains
the party here.

"I am going, in the first place, to have the servants bound, so
that they may not be suspected of having aided in this business. As
soon as that is done, I shall hasten to my lodging and bring my
sister and the child to the inn where you have your carriage. Of
course, you will have the horses put in as soon as you get there. I
shall not be very long behind you, as I shall take the first fiacre
and drive down to that end of the town, and then discharge him. As
I am not in any way associated with you, even if inquiries are
made, our movements will throw no light upon yours."

The conversation took place in the bedroom where Madame Flambard
was, with her husband, packing up a few necessaries.

"As we go downstairs," he went on, "I shall make some remark about
our going straight on board. That will put them on the wrong scent,
and they will waste a lot of time searching all the craft in the
river. I do it principally because I want them to believe that you
have been rescued by a party of sailors. You heard me say that, as
sailors, they would be accustomed to tie the knots tightly; and of
course my uniform will help to lead them astray. The men with me
were really some of your cellarmen, under Lefranc."

"We shall be ready in three minutes. Fortunately we have not much
beyond my wife's jewels that we want to save. Like your wife's
brother, I have already made provision in England for this."

"I will be off as soon as I see the servants tied up."

He ran downstairs again. The two men and the maids willingly
suffered themselves to be tied up, when Leigh explained to them the
reasons for which it was done.

"Mind," he said, "if questioned, you say you believe that the men
who rushed in and fastened you up were sailors."

Before the work was done Monsieur Flambard came down and, standing
at the door which communicated with the cellars, shook hands with
his rescuers as they went out; and thanked them most heartily, in
the name of himself as well as his wife, for the service that they
had rendered. The men, before they passed through the door, took
off their masks. It had already been arranged that they should at
once scatter, and return quietly to the places where they had been
at work, and in so large a place it was not likely that their
absence had been noticed, as it would be supposed that they had
gone to another part of the cellar, and it was not above twenty
minutes since they had left it.

As soon as they had gone out, the door was locked on the inside.
Leigh and the Flambards went out at the back entrance into another
street, and there separated, Leigh hurrying back to his lodgings.
Madame Chopin opened the door.

"Madame," he said, "I have good news for my sister. I hope that we
shall be able to obtain news of her husband at Blaye; for he may,
if my information is correct, have sailed up the Dordogne, and we
may catch him as he comes down again. If my information is not
correct, we shall return here. I will therefore, if you will allow
me, pay you our reckoning at once, and also the rent of the rooms
for another week; so that if we return, we may find them
unoccupied."

"But you are not going to start this evening, surely, monsieur?"

"Yes; I have arranged for a passage on a boat that is on the point
of starting, and have not a moment to lose."

He ran upstairs to Patsey.

"They have gone on to the carriage," he said. "Put on Louis's
things and your own. I will tell you all about it, as we go."

He then went down again and settled up with his landlady, who was
profuse in her exclamations of regret at their departure. In a
couple of minutes Patsey came down. She had the letter that she had
written in her hand. Leigh took it from her.

"I have already settled up with our kind hostess," he said. "Say
goodbye, dear, at once, or the boat may be starting without us."

A minute later they were out of the house. Leigh carried Louis, and
led the way to a spot near, where two or three fiacres were always
standing. He took the first, and told the driver to put them down
in a street at the lower end of the town, the name of which he had
noticed when he went with Monsieur Flambard to the inn where the
carriage was standing.

When he got to the end of the street he told the driver to stop,
saying that he was not sure of the number. Paying the man his fare,
they walked slowly down the street until the fiacre had driven off;
and then, returning, took the road leading into the country.

Ten minutes' walking brought them close to the little inn. They met
the carriage coming along slowly, three hundred yards before they
arrived there. It stopped at once.

"You are here sooner than I expected, madame," Monsieur Flambard
said, as he alighted and helped Patsey.

As she took her place by the side of Madame Flambard, the latter
threw her arms round her neck.

"Thank God this awful time is over!" she said. "It is to your
brother we owe it that we are not, both, now in that terrible
prison.

"Leigh is good at breaking prison," Patsey said. "He rescued me
from the gaol at Nantes."

By this time her husband and Leigh had taken their places. Louis,
still soundly asleep, was transferred to his mother's lap; and the
carriage, turning, went back at the full speed of the horses.



Chapter 18: Home.


"Why did you come down the road?" Leigh asked Monsieur Flambard, as
the carriage flew past the little inn. "We had not arranged for
that, and in the dark we might have passed it without knowing that
it was yours."

"We were on the lookout for you, and had no fear of missing you. I
decided to drive back to the town as we went out. I believe the
innkeeper to be an honest fellow, and he has been one of our
customers for a number of years; but I thought it just as well to
throw dust in his eyes. Therefore, as I got into the carriage, I
said in his hearing:

"'Don't go through the main streets of the town, but drive round
and strike the road beyond it. Keep on to Langon. We shall stop
there tonight.'

"We drove off fast, and only broke into a walk just before you met
us. The innkeeper would have gone into the house again, before we
met; and as I noticed that the shutters were up, he certainly would
not have supposed that the vehicle which passed was our carriage,
coming back again.

"Well, thank God we are all safe and together! In three hours we
shall be at the village. Lefaux was to keep a boat ashore, and to
be himself at the inn. There is only one in the village."

The road was a good one, and the horses fast, and in less than an
hour and a half they reached the spot where the relay of horses had
been stationed. Five minutes sufficed to make the change and, in a
little under three hours after starting, they arrived at the
village two miles below Fort Medoc. They stopped at the first
house.

"Now, Gregoire," Monsieur Flambard said, as they alighted, "here
are five louis for yourself. You had better drive back to the place
where we changed horses, and put up there for the night. Tomorrow
you can go quietly back to Bordeaux. Don't get there until late in
the afternoon. Return the carriage and the other two horses to the
stables where you hired them, and take my two horses back to our
stables.

"You are sure to be questioned, and can tell them the truth. Say
that you acted by my orders, and had no idea of the reason for
which I had hired the carriage and the extra horses; that you knew
that I often made flying visits to the vineyards, and you thought I
wanted to see some proprietor of Medoc, on business, and to return
as quickly as possible; and were much surprised when you saw that
madame went with me. Do not say anything about our picking up my
friends on the road."

"I understand, monsieur, and I will stick to that story. God bless
you, sir, and you, madame; and I trust that, before long, you will
be back again with us."

"I hope so, Gregoire, but I fear it will not be for some time to
come."

They now walked forward, Leigh hurrying on in front until he came
to the little village inn. It was already closed but, on his
knocking violently at the door, a window above was opened.

"What are you making such a noise for, at this time of night?"

"I have come to call Captain Lefaux," he said. "A messenger has
just brought an order, from Bordeaux, that he is to get up anchor
at daylight."

"I will call him," the landlord said, and in three minutes Lefaux
came out.

"We are all here, Lefaux," Leigh said, "and we want to go on board
and get up anchor at once, and to be as far down the river as we
can, before daylight."

"The saints be praised that you have all escaped, Monsieur
Stansfield! We will lose no time. I have two men sleeping in a
cottage, close to where the boat is made fast. They sleep on the
ground floor, and I can tap at the window and get them out. I told
them to turn in as they stood, as they might be wanted at any
moment."

The others had now come up, and together they went down to the
boat. The tide had turned about an hour before, and the boat was
afloat.

"Now, I will fetch the men out," the skipper said, and in five
minutes he came down with them.

They untied the head rope of the boat, from the stump to which it
was fastened, and hauled it in.

"That is the lugger, I suppose?" Leigh said, pointing to a dark
object, a hundred yards from the shore.

"That is her, sir, and it won't take us long to get under weigh.
Everything is ready for hoisting sail."

They rowed off to the Henriette, and Leigh could hardly restrain a
shout of joy at finding himself once again on board her. The crew
had been unchanged since they left Nantes and, tumbling up on deck
as they heard the boat coming off, greeted Leigh most heartily; and
respectfully saluted Patsey and their owner. They would have broken
into cheers, had not their skipper sharply silenced them.

"It will be time enough to cheer when we reach the open sea, lads,"
he said; "and we will do so more heartily still, when we land
Madame Martin, Monsieur Leigh, and the owner and his wife either on
English ground, or the deck of an English ship."

"You mistake, captain," Monsieur Flambard said. "As you know, the
lugger was only passed over to me by Monsieur Martin to escape
confiscation. There is no longer any need that I should appear as
owner; and in fact Madame Martin, as representative of her husband,
is the owner of the Henriette, and I and my wife are passengers on
board her."

"I hope that you will find it all right below, madame," Captain
Lefaux said. "Captain Martin's cabin--we have always called it
so--is ready for you and Madame Flambard. Monsieur will take the
spare cabin, and Monsieur Leigh mine."

"I will sleep on one of the sofas in the saloon, captain. I should
not feel comfortable if I turned you out; and besides, I like being
able to pop quietly on deck, whenever I feel inclined: so that is
settled."

"Now we will have a tumbler of hot brandy and water," the captain
said. "You have had a cold drive.

"What will you take, ladies?"

Both declared that they wanted nothing but to get to bed, and they
at once retired to the after cabin with little Louis, who had slept
without waking, ever since he had been lifted from his bed at
Bordeaux. The captain had given orders, as soon as he came on
board, to have the sails hoisted and, as Monsieur Flambard and
Leigh sipped their grog, they had the satisfaction of hearing the
water rippling past; and of feeling, by the heel of the boat, that
there was sufficient wind to send them along at a good rate.

"What is she making, captain?" Leigh asked, as he went up to take a
last look round.

"About five knots, but the wind is getting up. There was scarcely a
breath when I turned in, at ten o'clock."

"How far do you call it to the mouth of the river?"

"It is about forty miles to the tower of Cordouan. Once past that,
we reckon we are at sea."

"Eight hours going, at five knots. It is nearly twelve now. It will
be daylight when we get there."

"I hope that we shall be there before that, sir. You have not
allowed for the tide, nor for the wind increasing. I reckon we
shall be there by six, and day does not begin to break till an hour
later.

"I want to get past without being seen. There are always a couple
of gunboats lying there. I fancy that they know us pretty well by
this time, but sometimes as we go out they make us lie to, and come
on board to see that we are not taking off suspected persons, and
that any passengers we have tally with those on the manifest. If
they should take it into their heads to do that in the morning, it
would be awkward; and I am anxious to get past without being seen.
Once out of gunshot I do not mind. I fancy that we can show our
heels to either of the gunboats."

Leigh and Monsieur Flambard turned in. The latter slept soundly,
but Leigh went frequently on deck.

"She is doing well," the captain said gleefully, "she is going
fully seven knots an hour. You see, Master Leigh, I still keep to
Captain Martin's terms, and count by knots instead of by leagues.
The tide is giving us another two knots. I reckon that, at the rate
we are going, we shall keep it pretty nearly down to the mouth of
the river. Seven and two are nine, and as I have just been looking
up the chart, and as I find that it is but thirty-seven from the
village where we started, we shall do it in five hours at the
outside.

"The river is wide at the mouth, and by heading south directly we
get there, and running so for a couple of miles before we put
straight out to sea, there will be no chance whatever of our being
seen. Once away, we shall of course lay a course inside the islands
till we are off Finisterre; then we can either strike out into the
Channel, or coast along as far as Cape la Hague, and thence sail
straight for Poole. But there is no occasion to discuss that, at
present."

Satisfied with the assurance of the captain, Leigh turned in again
at two o'clock, and this time slept soundly. When he awoke the
motion of the vessel told him he was at sea, and he saw that it was
broad daylight. Leaping off the sofa, he saw by his watch that it
was eight o'clock, and he was speedily on deck. The mate was in
charge.

"The captain turned in half an hour ago, sir. Do you wish him to be
called?"

"Certainly not. Where are we now?"

"We are just passing between the island of Oleron and the
mainland."

"Oh, yes, I see. When I came down, of course we saw it from the
other way; and I did not recognize it, at first. So we managed to
get past Cordouan without being seen?"

"Yes, we rounded the south point of the river before six o'clock,
laid her head southwest for an hour and, just as it became light,
changed our course north and passed three miles to seaward of the
tower. They doubtless supposed that we were coming up from Bayonne.
At any rate, they paid no attention to us."

"The wind is blowing pretty strongly."

"Yes, sir, we should have had a rough tumble of sea if it had been
from the west, and should have had to lie up under shelter of the
island; but as it is blowing right off shore, it is just about the
right strength for us, and we shall make a quick run of it if it
holds.

"I hear there is no news of Captain Martin, monsieur?"

"No, I am sorry to say there is not; but I have every hope that we
shall find he has got to Poole before us."

"We are all hoping that nothing has happened to him. Of course, we
heard that he was fighting in La Vendee and, as every one of us
comes from one port or another there, we only wished that we had
been with him."

"You were well out of it, Edouard. It was a terrible business. No
one could have fought better than your people did, but they had all
France against them; and few, indeed, of those who were engaged
from the first can ever have returned to their homes. And even when
they get there there can be no safety for them, for Carrier and his
commissioners seem to be determined to annihilate the Vendeans
altogether."

The mate indulged in many strong expressions as to the future fate
of Carrier and his underlings.

"We heard of that attack on the jail, Master Leigh. I guessed that
you were in that, for among the prisoners who were delivered the
names of Monsieur Martin and Madame Jean Martin were mentioned."

"Yes, Captain Martin and I were in the thick of it. There was very
little fighting to do, for we chose a time when the troops were all
busy with Cathelineau's and Stofflet's attack; and we had really
only to open the door of the prison, to get them out."

"The captain has been telling us that Monsieur Flambard was also in
danger of arrest. It is atrocious. Everyone knows that he is a good
master, and I never heard a word said against him."

"That has very little to do with it," Leigh said. "His crime was
that he was rich, and the scoundrels wanted his money. They did
arrest him, but he was rescued before they got him out of his
house, and fortunately everything had been prepared for his flight.
At the present moment they are searching high and low for him, and
I expect that no craft there will be permitted to leave till she
has been thoroughly ransacked, to make sure that he and madame are
not hiding there."

"Ah, they are bad times, monsieur. It may be that things were not
quite as they might have been, though for my part I never saw
anything to grumble at; nor did any other Vendean, as far as I ever
heard; but if things had been ten times as bad as they were, they
would have been better than what is going on now.

"Why, monsieur, all Europe must think that we Frenchmen are devils.
They say that more than a hundred thousand people have been put to
death, not counting the loss in La Vendee."

"Which must be quite as much more, Edouard; and it is no
consolation to know that the loss of the Blues must have been fully
equal to ours."

"How is it to end, monsieur?"

"I think that the first part will end soon. As far as I could find
out as we travelled through the country, and in Paris, even the mob
are getting sick of this terrible bloodshed. That feeling will get
stronger, until finally I believe that Robespierre and his gang
will be overturned. What will come after that, I don't know. One
may hope that some strong man will rise, drive out the Convention,
and establish a fixed government. After that, I should say that no
one can guess what will follow."

"There is one consolation, monsieur. No change can be for the
worse."

"That is absolutely certain."

He went to the galley.

"Well, cook, when are you going to let us have some breakfast? I am
famishing, for I have eaten nothing since twelve o'clock
yesterday."

"It will be ready in twenty minutes, monsieur. I was just going to
ask you if you would call the ladies, or whether you will take the
cafe au lait and eggs to their door."

"I will go and ask them."

He went and knocked at the cabin door.

"Patsey, cafe au lait will be ready in twenty minutes. Will you and
Madame Flambard take it in your cabin, or come into the saloon?"

"I am just dressed, and shall be up on deck with Louis in two or
three minutes. Madame Flambard will not get up. It is her first
voyage, and she will not take anything to eat."

He was just going to knock at the merchant's door, when there was a
shout from within:

"I have heard what you are saying, and shall be dressed in ten
minutes."

Patsey was soon on deck.

"This is splendid, Leigh! And now that we have got away so
wonderfully, I feel more hopeful than I have done before that Jean,
also, will have made his escape.

"Well, Louis, what do you think of this? You had better keep hold
of your uncle's hand, as well as mine, or you may get a nasty
tumble."

"Nasty, bad ship, mama?"

"It is because the wind is blowing hard, and the sea is rough. We
had smooth water on our last voyage, you know."

"Louis not like him," he said positively; "very bad ship."

"You will be all right, if you keep hold of your uncle's hand. He
will walk up and down with you."

"This is good, indeed," Monsieur Flambard said. "If we go on as
well as we have begun, we shall have nothing to grumble at."

The voyage to Ushant was accomplished without any adventure. The
lugger was so evidently French that two or three privateers, who
passed close by, paid no attention to them; and although they saw
the sails of more than one British cruiser, they either escaped
observation or were considered too insignificant to be chased.

On the voyage they had agreed that, when they came to Ushant, they
would be guided by the wind. If it continued to blow as it had
done, from the east, it would be a great loss of time to beat in to
Saint Malo, and they would be within sight of England long before
they could make in there.

As the wind was unchanged, they therefore laid their course from
Ushant for the Isle of Wight. Before they had been many hours out
they saw an English brig of war, making toward them. They did not
attempt to escape, but slightly changed their course so as to head
for her.

As the brig approached, they lowered their mainsail. The brig was
thrown up into the wind, a couple of lengths away.

"Send your boat on board!" the captain of the brig shouted.

They had indeed already got the boat over the side.

"You may as well come with me," Leigh said, as he stepped into her.
"Monsieur Flambard will take care of Louis while you are away."

Seeing that there was a woman in the boat, the brig lowered its
accommodation ladder, and the captain was standing at the gangway.

"We are English, sir," Leigh said. "The lugger is owned by my
sister's husband, if he is alive. If not, I suppose it belongs to
her. We are escaping from France, with two French friends. My
brother-in-law was a Vendean, and has fought through the war. We
were with him until, at the attack on Le Mans, we were separated.
We hope to meet him at Poole. The vessel traded between that port
and Nantes until the war broke out. Some members of the family are
already established there, and our father is a magistrate, living
within a couple of miles of the town."

"I am sorry, madam, that I cannot offer you a passage; but I must
not leave my cruising ground."

"Thank you, sir. We are doing very well in the lugger. We intend to
register her as a British vessel; and the crew, who are all
Vendeans, will probably remain in our service until things settle
down in France."

"And were you through the war too, madam?" the captain asked
Patsey.

"Not through the whole of it," she replied. "Our chateau was burned
down by the Republicans, and I was carried to the prison at Nantes;
and should have been guillotined had not my husband and brother
rescued me, when the Vendeans were attacking the town. I remained
at the farmhouse, until the Vendeans could no longer maintain
themselves in La Vendee and crossed the Loire; then I accompanied
my husband."

"Well, madam, I congratulate you heartily on your escape. We heard
terrible tales, in England, of what is going on in France."

"However terrible they are, they can hardly give you an idea of the
truth. At Nantes, for instance, the guillotine is too slow; and
hundreds of men, women, and children are put into boats, which are
sunk in the middle of the river. It is too horrible to think of."

"Is there anything that I can do for you, madam? Anything in the
way of provisions with which we can supply you?"

"No, thank you, we have everything that we can want."

"Then I will detain you no further," he said, "and can only wish
you a pleasant voyage. I see, by the course you are steering, that
you are making for the Isle of Wight. You ought to be there
tomorrow afternoon."

The boat returned to the lugger, the sails were filled again and,
at four next afternoon, the Henriette passed Handfast Point, and
headed for the entrance to Poole harbour. As the distance from home
lessened, Patsey's excitement increased hourly. She could not sit
down for a minute, quietly, but walked restlessly up and down the
deck. She had scarcely spoken when Leigh said, after a long look
through the telescope:

"I can make out the house on the hill, quite plainly, Patsey."

At any other time Patsey, who dearly loved their old home, would
have shown the liveliest interest; but just then her thoughts were
all of Jean, and she could spare none for anything else.

"They must have made us out, by this time," she said, as they
passed Durleston.

"I should think so, but I don't suppose they watch as we used to do
in the old days. The revenue men up there--" and he nodded up the
cliff "--must of course see that we are French; and if there are
any of them who were here, three or four years ago, no doubt they
know us again, and must be wondering what brings us here."

They had scarcely passed Durleston when Patsey sprang on to the
rail, holding fast by the shrouds, and gazed intently at the narrow
entrance of the channel, between the island and the mainland.

"There is a boat coming out," she exclaimed.

"The coast guard are sure to have launched their boat, as soon as
they made us out. They would naturally come out to inquire what a
French lugger is doing here."

He went forward with his telescope, and took a long look at the
boat.

"Yes, it is the coast guard, rowing six oars."

In a minute or two he went back to his sister.

"Do get down, Patsey," he urged. "Of course they may have news of
Jean, but you must not be disappointed, too much, if they have not.
You know that we have agreed, all along, that very likely we shall
be the first back; and no news cannot be considered as bad news. It
will only mean that we must wait."

She shook her head, but did not reply.

"There are three men in the stern," she said at last.

Leigh sprang up onto the rail behind her.

"Yes, there are three sitters."

Suddenly one of the men stood up. The boat was still too far away
for the figure to be distinguished. Leigh would have called to the
captain, to use his glass; but he feared to hold out even a hope,
to Patsey, that Jean might be in the boat.

A minute later the standing figure began to wave his arms wildly.

"It is Jean, it is Jean!" Patsey cried. "He has made me out."

It was well that Leigh had taken his place beside her, for suddenly
her figure swayed; his arm closed round her and, calling to the
captain to help him, he lowered her and laid her on the deck.

"My sister has fainted. Bring a bucket of water."

Madame Flambard took Patsey from him.

"She thinks she sees her husband in that boat," Leigh said. "Pray
try and get her round, before it comes up. I think it must be he;
but if it should not be, we will take her below, directly we are
sure. It will be a terrible blow to her to be disappointed, now;
but possibly they may have news of him, and that would be almost as
good as his being here."

"She could not have recognized him, at this distance," Monsieur
Flambard said.

"No, she did not; but he would have recognized her. At least, he
must have seen that there was a woman standing upon the rail,
watching them; and it was hardly likely that, coming in his own
boat, it should be anyone but her. I don't see why anyone else
should have waved his arms, suddenly, in the way that he did."

He took the bucket of water from Lefaux's hands.

"We think it is Captain Martin," he said. "Run up the shrouds and
take a look through the glass."

Then, taking a double handful of water, he dashed it into his
sister's face.

"But, monsieur--" Madame Flambard began to remonstrate.

"Oh, it does not matter about her being wet a bit," Leigh said.
"The great thing is to bring her round.

"There, she is opening her eyes. I never saw her faint before. She
is not that sort."

At this moment, there was a joyous shout from the skipper:

"It is Captain Martin, himself! Hurrah, boys! It is the captain."

The crew broke into joyous shouts.

"It is Jean, Patsey," Leigh said, sharply. "Thank God, it is he.

"Steady, steady!" he added, as his sister suddenly sat up, and held
out her arms to be lifted to her feet. "Are you all right, dear? He
will not be alongside for some little time. Don't try to get up for
a minute or two."

As Madame Flambard supported her, he ran down into the cabin,
poured out a little brandy and water, and ran upstairs again with
the glass.

"There, dear, drink this. You must be strong enough to greet him,
as he comes alongside."

She drank it up, and then he helped her to her feet. She stood
leaning on the rail, but unable to see the boat through her tears.
Leigh ran up a few of the ratlines and waved his cap and, two or
three minutes later, the whole crew, clustered along the side,
raised a loud cheer as the boat came near.

Patsey held out her arms to Jean, who had, after his first eager
signal, dropped back into his seat; and sat there, with his face
covered in his hands, until within two or three hundred yards of
the lugger. Then he had stood up again. He waved his cap in reply
to the cheers of the crew, but his eyes were fixed upon Patsey.

[Illustration: For two or three minutes, husband and wife stood
together.]

As the boat came alongside he sprang on to the channel, swung
himself over the rail, Patsey falling into his arms as his feet
touched the deck. The others all drew back and, for two or three
minutes, husband and wife stood together. Then Jean, placing Patsey
in a chair, turned and embraced Leigh warmly.

"I felt sure that you would bring her back safely," he said. "I
never allowed myself to doubt it, for a minute; and as soon as I
made the lugger out, from the height there, I was sure that she was
on board; and ran down to the coast guard station, and Captain
Whittier and the crew were in her, in a couple of minutes.

"Where is Louis?"

"Here he is!" Monsieur Flambard said, coming forward with the child
in his arms.

Louis knew his father at once, and greeted him with a little shout
of pleasure.

"And you, too, Flambard?" Jean said, after he had kissed and
embraced his boy. "I am glad indeed that you, too, have escaped
from that inferno they call France."

"Yes, and my wife too, Martin; and, like your wife, we owe our
safety to Leigh."

Although they had not met before, Jean and Madame Flambard shook
hands as warmly as if they had been old friends, filled as they
were by a common happiness.

Captain Whittier now came on board. He had hitherto remained in the
boat, in order that the family meetings should be got over before
he showed himself.

"I am glad to see you, Master Leigh," he said, shaking hands as he
spoke; "though I certainly should not have known you again. You
ought no longer to be called Master Leigh, for you are a grown man.
We have talked of you, often and often; and it was not until
Captain Martin arrived, a week ago, that we had any idea of what
had become of you.

"Everyone will be glad to know that you are safely back; and you
too, Mrs. Martin. Everyone has missed Miss Patsey, as they still
call you when they speak of you."

Jean had been shaking hands with Lefaux and the crew, and now
returned.

"I don't know how we stand with this craft, captain. She has come
into port of her own free will, and not as a prize. I claim that
she is the property of a French Royalist, now an emigre; and as
England, so far from being at war with French Royalists, is their
ally, I intend to transfer her to my wife, and to have her
registered as an English ship."

"Well, I suppose that you will have to settle that with the
authorities, Captain Martin; but I should think that you are right,
for other French craft have come across with emigres, and have
always been allowed to return. Is there any cargo on board?"

"None," Leigh said. "She left Bordeaux the moment she discharged
the cargo she brought there."

As they dropped anchor off the island another boat came alongside,
with Mr. Stansfield and his two sons, and there was again a scene
of tender greeting between them, her, and Leigh.

"Where is Polly?" Patsey asked.

"She was married, two years ago," her father said, "to Harry King,
the son of the banker, you know. Of course, she lives in Poole now.

"And so this is your little boy?"

"Yes, but he cannot understand you, at present. We have always
talked French with him since the troubles began as, had he spoken a
word or two of English, it might have been fatal to him, and to us;
but he will soon pick it up, now he is among you all."

It was a happy party, indeed, that evening at Netherstock, where
Mr. Stansfield had insisted that Monsieur and Madame Flambard
should stay, till they could find a lodging to suit them in Poole.
Madame Martin and her daughter, Louise, arrived a few minutes after
the others had reached the house; as Jean had sent off a boy to
tell them, as soon as he made out the lugger; and a little later
Patsey's sister, Polly, came over from Poole.

At first, innumerable questions were asked on each side; and then
Leigh related all that had happened, since they left Le Mans.
Monsieur Flambard interrupted, when it came to the point where
Leigh had rescued him and his wife, and gave full particulars of it
to Jean, who translated it to the others. Then it came to Jean's
turn.

"I was with Rochejaquelein," he said. "We had made our last charge
down on the head of the enemy's column. It was hot work. Desailles
was shot through the head, close by my side and, as we rode off, I
felt my horse stumble, and knew that it was hit. Almost at the same
moment my sword fell from my hand, my right arm being broken by a
musket ball.

"La Rochejaquelein had given orders that this charge was to be the
last. He knew that, by this time, the main part of the army would
have left the town. My horse lagged behind the others, and I was
just turning it to ride to our meeting place, when it fell under
me.

"I decided at once not to attempt to come to the rendezvous. In the
first place, I felt sure that you had already followed out my
instructions; and in the next place, had I joined you, I should
have ruined your chance of escape. Being dismounted, I should have
hampered your flight and, even had we escaped pursuit, your having
a man with a broken arm with you would, everywhere, have roused
suspicion. I therefore determined to go as far as I could, and then
hide in a wood and shift for myself.

"I got a peasant, who was running past me, to stop for a moment and
bind my arm tightly with my sash. It was broken high up. I walked,
for two or three hours, in the direction opposite to that in which
the army had retreated. The peasant who had bound my arm up
accompanied me. I found that he came from a farm near us. He had
recognized me at once, but I had not noticed who it was. I told him
to try and save himself, but he would not hear of it.

"'Monsieur will require my aid," he said, 'and it is my duty to
render it. Besides, I am as likely to escape one way as the other.
Monsieur knows more about the roads than I do, and will be able to
direct me.'

"Of course, I assented, for I was glad indeed to have him with me.
As soon as we hid up in a wood, he cut two strips of bark off the
trunk of a young tree, cut off the sleeve of my coat and shirt, put
the arm straight and, with a strip torn off my sash first bandaged
it, and then applied the two pieces of bark as splints, and finally
bound another bandage round them.

"He had carried with him the blanket and valises he had taken off
the saddle. The latter contained a bottle of wine, and some food,
and on this we lived for three days. Then I determined upon
starting. He went out in the evening and managed to buy, at a
cottage, two loaves of bread and a couple of bottles of wine. We
divided these. Then I put on my disguise, and we started in
different directions, he making south for the river, which I trust
the good fellow managed to reach and cross safely, while I struck
north.

"My wine and bread lasted me for four days, by which time I had
arrived at Louviers, on the Seine. I was now a hundred miles from
Le Mans, and altogether beyond the line of action. I felt
comparatively safe. My arm was so painful, however, that I felt
that, at whatever risk, I must see a surgeon.

"I went first to an inn, where my appearance as a stranger, and
without means of conveyance, excited the surprise of the landlord.

"'You are hurt, monsieur,' he said.

"'Yes; my horse fell under me and threw me heavily, and broke my
arm. Before I could recover myself, it had run away. Fortunately a
peasant who was going by bandaged my arm up, and I was able to walk
on here. Who is the best surgeon in the place?'

"He mentioned the name of the doctor, and said that he had the
reputation of being very skilful and kind. He offered to send for
him but, being close by, I said that I would rather go to him.

"The man's face gave me confidence, as soon as I entered. I knew
that it would be of no use to tell him the story of a fall, and I
said at once:

"'Monsieur, I believe doctors are like confessors, and that they
keep the secrets of their patients.'

"He smiled.

"'Monsieur has a secret, then?'

"'I have,' I said. 'I have had my arm broken by a musket ball--it
does not matter how or when, does it?'

"'In no way,' he said; 'my business is simply to do what I can for
you.'

"'It is seven days old,' I said, 'and is horribly painful and
inflamed.'

"He examined the wound.

"'The bone is badly broken,' he said. 'It is well for you that it
has been bound up with some skill, and that these rough splints
have kept it in its place. Of course, what you require is rest and
quiet. Without cutting down to the bone I cannot tell how badly it
is splintered and, in the state of inflammation that it is now in,
I could not venture upon that. I can only rebandage it again, and
give you a lotion to pour over it, from time to time.

"Tell me frankly what you are. You can trust me.'

"'I am a sailor,' I said, 'captain of my own craft. I am also a
Vendean and, as the cause is now lost, I am making my way down to
the sea. I hope, in some way or other, to make my escape to
England, where I have friends, my wife being an Englishwoman. What
I require more than anything is a suit of sailor's clothes.'

"'I will do what I can to help you, my friend. I am not one of
those who think that France can be regenerated by the slaughter of
the whole of the best of her people, and by all power being given
to the worst.

"'Let me see; I cannot go and buy sailor's clothes myself, but my
old servant can be trusted absolutely. There is a shop down by the
river where such things are sold. I will get her to go down there,
and say that she has a nephew just arrived from sea, and that she
wants to give him a new rig out; but as he has hurt himself, and
cannot come, she must choose it. What is your height?'

"'About five foot ten,' I said.

"'And how broad round the shoulders?'

"'Forty-three inches. I have plenty of money to pay for all that is
necessary, and more,' and I took out my roll of assignats.

"'Since you are well provided,' he said, 'I will take some. The
people are very poor, and we all suffer together. They pay me when
they can and, so that I can make ends meet, I am well content.'

"In an hour the woman returned, with a suit of rough sailor's
clothes, and you may imagine how glad I was to put them on, the
doctor helping me on with the jacket.

"'Now,' he said, when I had dressed and eaten some food the old
servant had set before me, 'it happens that at daybreak tomorrow
one of my patients, the master of a river boat, is starting on the
turn of tide for Honfleur. I will first go round to the auberge,
and tell the landlord that your arm is badly broken, and that I
shall keep you here for the night, as you will require attention;
then I will go to the captain, and arrange for your passage. When I
tell him that you are a patient of mine, and that I should be
obliged if he would find you some quiet lodging at Honfleur, where
you can remain till your arm is better and you are fit to be about
again, I have no doubt he will manage it. He is a good fellow, and
I shall let him understand that you don't want inquiries made about
you.

"'Now, you had better lie down on a bed upstairs, and try to sleep.
I will call you in time to go down to the boat.'

"'There is no fear of my getting you into trouble?' I asked. 'I
would rather go on to Honfleur by road at once, than do so.'

"'There is no fear of that; the maire is a friend and patient of
mine. And if, as may be the case, the landlord mentions the arrival
of a stranger, and his coming to me; I shall simply tell the maire
that, your arm being badly broken, I kept you for the night, and
then sent you on by boat; and that as for papers, not being a
gendarme, I never thought of asking you for them.'

"The next morning he dressed my arm again, and then himself took me
down to the boat, and handed me over to its skipper. He absolutely
refused any payment for his services; but I insisted on his
receiving a couple of hundred francs, in assignats, for the use of
his poorer patients.

"The skipper carried out his instructions to the letter. We got to
Honfleur after dark, on the day after starting, and he went with me
to the cottage of a widow of his acquaintance.

"He said to her, 'Mother, I want you to take care of this young
sailor. He has broken his arm, and wants nursing. He does not want
his being here to be known, because he is afraid he might be packed
off in one of the ships of war, as soon as he recovers. I suppose
you can manage that?'

"'Oh, yes,' she said; 'I have very few visitors, and no one would
guess that I have anyone upstairs.'

"'He has plenty of money to pay your charges. Now I will leave him
with you, and will look in tomorrow, to see how he is getting on.'

"I stayed there a fortnight, by which time the inflammation had
pretty well subsided. No one could be kinder than the old woman
was. She used to bathe my arm by the hour, and she fed me up with
broth.

"At the end of that time I felt ready for work, though my arm was
of course useless. So, having paid my account, I went down boldly
to the river and crossed to Harfleur, and then went on to Havre. I
stayed there for a couple of days, at a sailors' cabaret; where
they supposed that I belonged to a vessel in port, and no questions
were asked.

"Finding that it would be difficult to pass the gunboat lying
there, I walked up to Fecamp, picked out a likely looking boat
afloat by the quay; and at night got on board, rowed quietly out,
and then managed to get the sail hoisted. The wind was offshore,
and by the morning I was out of sight of the French coast. I laid
my course for Portsmouth, and landed there that evening. Being
fortunately able to speak English, I had only to leave the boat
tied up to the quay, and go up to a small inn close by. I slept
there, crossed to Gosport, and walked to Southampton the next
morning; and got into Poole on the following day, and soon found
where my mother and sister were staying.

"So you see I had, altogether, very little adventure on my way from
Le Mans. Since then, I have spent most of my time up here sweeping
the water with your father's glass. I had been watching the
Henriette, for hours, before she came near enough for me to be sure
that it was she; though of course, I could see that she was a
French-rigged boat.

"As soon as I made her out I sent off word to my mother, and ran
down to the coast guard station. I felt sure that you were on
board, for otherwise the lugger would not have come over here.
Still, of course, I could not be absolutely certain until I saw
that the figure I could make out, standing on the rail, was that of
a woman."

It was some little time before their plans were finally decided
upon. It was evident that, at present, no trade could be done in
French wines. However, as Jean, his mother, and his friend Flambard
had sufficient capital to enable them to live without trade, for
some time, they agreed that they should establish themselves at
once, in London, as wine merchants. Flambard had correspondents in
Spain and Portugal, from whom he could obtain wine of these
countries; and they agreed that Poole did not offer opportunities
for carrying on any considerable trade. Both insisted that Leigh
should become a member of the firm and, a month after their arrival
at Poole, the party moved up to London.

Madame Martin, her daughter, Jean and his wife took a house,
between them, at Hackney; and Monsieur Flambard and his wife
established themselves in another, a few hundred yards away.

From time to time came scraps of news from across the Channel. La
Rochejaquelein and Stofflet, after being separated from their
followers when crossing the Loire, had gathered a small band
together, and gained some successes over parties of the enemy. Two
grenadiers, after one of these skirmishes, were on the point of
being shot by the peasants when Henri came up to save their lives.
One of the prisoners, however, recognizing the gallant leader of
the Vendeans, raised his musket and shot him dead.

It was not for two years after this that the struggle was finally
brought to a conclusion, for the heroic people of La Vendee
continued to resist all the efforts of their enemies; until
Stofflet and Charette were captured and executed, the one in
February, 1796, the other in the following month. The moderation
and judgment of General Hoche finally brought about the end of a
war which stands unexampled, in history, for the noble resistance
offered by a small body of peasants to the power of a great
country.

As soon as Monsieur Flambard heard, from his correspondents abroad,
that a consignment of wine was on its way they took an office; for
it had already been agreed that, having no connection for sales to
private customers, they would work only as wholesale merchants,
dealing with the trade and with large hotels and other establishments,
contenting themselves with the smallest possible rate of profit until
they made a connection; and at the end of two or three years, they
were doing a considerable business.

The Henriette sailed for France, shortly after their arrival in
Poole, as the crew preferred returning home. Lefaux was to trade as
before and, being so well known at all the western ports, was
certain of obtaining freights. He was to pay wages and all other
expenses, and to transmit the balance as opportunity occurred.

Three years later, when the internal affairs of the country had
calmed down, Jean managed to get a letter sent to the priest of
their village, asking him to inquire about Marthe; and after a
considerable time an answer was received, saying that she and
Francois had reached home in safety, had been married shortly after
their return, and were doing well; having, with their joint
savings, purchased at a very low price one of Jean's confiscated
farms.

Ten years later the firm of Flambard, Martin, & Stansfield were
doing a large business, and when the war came to a termination, and
trade with Bordeaux, Charente, and Nantes was renewed, Monsieur
Flambard returned to Bordeaux and, having a large connection there,
the firm soon became known as the largest importers of foreign
wines in London.

Madame Martin had, long before that, died. Patsey was the mother of
three boys and two girls, and Leigh had a separate establishment of
his own, and had been for fifteen years a married man. Mr.
Stansfield was still alive, and things went on at Netherstock in
very much the same fashion as before Patsey left home.

Jacques Martin had been one of the many who were guillotined when
the terror came to an end, after the death of Robespierre.

THE END.





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