Home
  By Author [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Title [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Language
all Classics books content using ISYS

Download this book: [ ASCII | HTML | PDF ]

Look for this book on Amazon


We have new books nearly every day.
If you would like a news letter once a week or once a month
fill out this form and we will give you a summary of the books for that week or month by email.

Title: When a Cobbler Ruled a King
Author: Seaman, Augusta Huiell, 1879-1950
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
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.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "When a Cobbler Ruled a King" ***

This book is indexed by ISYS Web Indexing system to allow the reader find any word or number within the document.



scanned images of public domain material from the Google
Print archive.



[Illustration: Book Cover]



WHEN A COBBLER
RULED THE KING


[Illustration]


THE MACMILLAN COMPANY
NEW YORK * BOSTON * CHICAGO * DALLAS
ATLANTA * SAN FRANCISCO

MACMILLAN & CO., LIMITED
LONDON * BOMBAY * CALCUTTA
MELBOURNE

THE MACMILLAN CO. OF CANADA, LTD.
TORONTO



When a Cobbler Ruled the King

by

Augusta Husiell Seaman


with

Decoration and Drawings by

George Wharton Edwards

New York The Macmillan Co. 1919


[Illustration: Title Page]


COPYRIGHT, 1911,
BY THE MACMILLAN COMPANY.


TO MY HUSBAND



FOREWORD


About the tradition of the "Lost Dauphin" there hovers a romance and
charm perennially new, and history contains perhaps no more appealing
little figure than that of Louis XVII of France.

At the time when the tempest of the French Revolution submerged the
throne of the Bourbon monarchy, Louis Charles, royal Dauphin, was but a
child of seven. On his sunny head, for the space of three years, the
Terror wreaked its vengeance; and at the age of ten, it would have been
difficult to recognize in the forlorn little captive of the Temple
Tower, aged by imprisonment and abuse, and experienced in many forms of
suffering, the once light-hearted and lovely child of Versailles and the
Tuileries.

History in its most accepted form has chosen to close this regrettable
chapter with the death of the little prince at the age of ten, and while
still in his unjust captivity. With the receding years, however, there
has arisen a not unreasonable doubt of this premature ending. Evidences
strangely convincing have come to light, revealing a possibility of his
having been rescued, spirited away from his native land, and allowed to
live out the alloted number of his days in peaceful obscurity.

There are few of us who do not welcome this possibility, who do not
relish the thought that his watchful and heartless tormentors may have
been cleverly hoodwinked. And added to our pleasure in a happier fate
for this much-wronged child of monarchy, is the delightful romance and
mystery with which a possible escape and an existence thenceforth
incognito has surrounded the history of the "Lost Dauphin." In the field
of fiction the subject affords an all but endless variety of solution,
and numerous are the romances woven about the person of "Little Capet."
Curiously enough, few if any of these novels are quite suitable for
younger readers, though the subject is one that should have a special
appeal for the hearts of youth, since the chief personality is a child
of peculiarly winning characteristics, and one who endured diversified
and exciting vicissitudes.

Such a story I have striven to relate in _When a Cobbler Ruled the
King_, endeavoring to present a picture, faithful as far as it goes, of
the historical and political situation. It may add to the interest of
the story to know that except for the persons of "Jean," "La Souris" and
"Prevôt," who are pure fiction, there is not one character in the book
but has a counterpart in history. These characters are in the main
obscure enough to admit of much latitude in fictitious presentation. The
Citizeness Clouet, of number 670 rue de Lille, was actually the
laundress for the Temple Tower, and her little daughter was occasionally
introduced into the prison by Commissary Barelle to play with the
captive prince. Had there been schemes of escape concocted by the few
friends remaining to royalty, as doubtless there were, it would be
scarcely strange if the laundress had been involved in them.

Be these things as they may, it is to be hoped that the history of the
throneless, crownless, ill-used child-king, Louis XVII of France, will
make its own appeal to the hearts of all childhood.

  A. H. S.
  RICHMOND HILL, L. I.
  February, 1911.



CONTENTS


  CHAPTER                                                           PAGE
      I. IN THE DAUPHIN'S GARDEN                                       3
     II. JEAN MEETS WITH A THIN YOUNG MAN                             23
    III. IN WHICH THE DAUPHIN WEARS THE RED CAP                       41
     IV. ON TERRIBLE AUGUST TENTH                                     59
      V. A DOMICILIARY VISIT                                          81
     VI. ENTER THE COBBLER--EXIT THE KING                            101
    VII. THE SCHEME OF THE BARON DE BATZ                             117
   VIII. THE COBBLER TAKES COMMAND                                   135
     IX. HOW YVONNE SAW THE KING                                     155
      X. THE BLOW FALLS                                              173
     XI. EXIT THE COBBLER                                            193
    XII. A FRIEND RE-ENTERS AND EVENTS MOVE ON                       211
   XIII. THE TENTH THERMIDOR                                         231
    XIV. IN WHICH JEAN "FINDS CARON"                                 249
     XV. LA SOURIS MEETS HIS MATCH                                   271
    XVI. THE LAST MOVE                                               295
   XVII. THE STAR OF NAPOLEON BONAPARTE                              317
  XVIII. AFTER LONG YEARS                                            341



ILLUSTRATIONS

From drawings by George Wharton Edwards

       *       *       *       *       *


                                                                  FACING
                                                                    PAGE
  Decorative Title Page
  The King and his Family driven through the pitiless crowd           76
  Sing that song about the Austrian wolf or I'll throttle you        160
  He stood before the former child of the Tower--Louis XVII          342



IN THE DAUPHIN'S GARDEN



CHAPTER I

IN THE DAUPHIN'S GARDEN


"Hurry along, Yvonne! Why do you lag behind so!"

"Oh, Jean! I am doing my best, but your legs are so long, and you take
such great strides that I can scarcely keep up!"

Two children, a well-grown, long-limbed boy of twelve, and a little girl
of scarcely more than seven, were hurrying hand-in-hand along the Rue
St. Honoré, on a brilliant May morning in the year 1792. Paris on that
day resembled, more than anything else, a great bee-hive whose swarming
population buzzed hither and thither under the influence of angry
excitement and general unrest. The two youngsters were bubbling over
with the same eager restlessness that agitated their elders. They pushed
their way through throngs of men in red liberty-caps, soldiers in
uniforms of the National Guard, and women in tri-coloured skirts and
bodices. Poor little Yvonne, panting and tired, struggled to keep up
with the striding gait of her larger companion.

"If you don't hurry," said Jean, "we shall not see the little 'Wolf-Cub'
out for his walk, and I want a look at him!"

"Is he very dreadful to look at?" queried Yvonne, innocently.

"I don't know,--I've never seen him," answered Jean, "but he must be
pretty ugly if he's the son of a monster,--and that's what they call our
Citizen King!"

They turned into a narrow lane with but few houses on either side. At
one end stood the church of St. Roch, and at the other lay the park of
the Tuileries, in the centre of which rose the royal palace.

"This is called the Rue du Dauphin because the little monster comes
through it when he goes to church," remarked Jean.

"Well, I think he can't be so very dreadful if he goes to church,"
protested Yvonne.

"Oh, he only pretends to be good to deceive us!" answered Jean,
carelessly.

When they reached the park, they turned and ran along the edge till they
came to the side flanked by the river Seine. Here they were stopped by a
low wooden fence decorated with festoons of tri-coloured ribbons and
bunting. In a small plot of ground behind this fence, a little boy could
be seen digging up the ground about some flower-beds. He was a really
beautiful child and his age evidently did not much exceed seven years.
Great blue eyes looked out of a face whose expression was one of
charming attractiveness. His silky golden-brown hair fell in curls about
his shoulders, and he was dressed in the uniform of a tiny National
Guard, with a small jewelled sword hanging at his side. About his feet
a handsome, coal-black spaniel romped, shaking his long ears that almost
trailed on the ground, barking and biting at the spade in his master's
hand.

Jean stopped and looked over the fence. His snapping black eyes grew
soft at the sight of the group within. What boyish heart does not yearn
toward a dog!

"That's a fine little spaniel you have there, Citizen Boy!" he remarked.
"What do you call him?" The child inside the fence looked up with a
pleased smile.

"His name is Moufflet. Isn't he a beauty? Don't you want to pet him?"
The little boy lifted the wriggling animal to the fence while Jean put
out his hand and stroked the long, curly ears.

"Jean! Jean! lift me up! I want to see him too!" begged Yvonne who was
so short that her head barely came to the top of the fence. Jean reached
down, and with his strong arms swung her to a seat on his shoulder.

"Oh, you beautiful thing!" she exclaimed. "And what a pretty little boy,
too! I like you, boy!" The little fellow laughed with pleasure.

"And I like you also!" he declared. "Don't you want some flowers? I
gathered some for my mother this morning, but I think there are enough
left to make you a nice bouquet." Dropping the dog, he ran hither and
thither gathering from one bush and another, till he had collected quite
a large mass of blossoms. These he handed to the little girl, saying:

"And won't you tell me your name?"

"I am Yvonne Marie Clouet," she answered, burying her face in the
fragrant bunch, "and I thank you!"

Jean, however, was growing restless. This was all very pleasant, but it
was not that for which he had stolen a holiday from the services of the
Citizeness Clouet, risking thereby the prospect of certain punishment,
and had hurried through two miles of hot streets to see. He leaned
across the fence toward the boy, and spoke in a half-whisper:

"I say, Citizen Boy, do you happen to know whereabouts we can get a
sight of the little 'Wolf-Cub'?" The child looked startled.

"I don't know what you mean!" he replied.

"Why, you must know!--the son of that monster, the Citizen King!" The
little fellow drew back proudly. His blue eyes grew dark with anger, and
he laid his hand on the hilt of his sword.

"I am the Dauphin of France! And my father the King is _not_ a monster!
He is a good man!" Jean was so astonished that he let go his hold of
Yvonne, who all but toppled from her perch on his shoulder.

"But--but--" he stammered, "you are not a bit like what they said! What
does all this mean? I--I like you! I don't care if you _are_ the
Dauphin! Say, will you forgive me, little Citizen Prince?" The generous
heart of the royal child was as quick to forgive as it was to take
offence, and he held out his hand with a charming smile. Jean took it,
glanced furtively around, and shook it heartily.

"I hope no one sees me doing this!" he muttered. The Dauphin, now all
restored to good humour, seated himself on an upturned box and nursed
his knees with his clasped hands.

"Let us talk awhile!" he begged. "I do not see any children now, except
my sister, and I'm often very lonely. Please tell me your name."

"I am called Jean Dominique Mettot," answered his new friend. "That is
the name they gave me in the Foundling Hospital from which the
Citizeness Clouet took me."

"Oh, did you come from the Foundling Hospital?" eagerly replied the
Dauphin. "Why, I used to go there often with the Queen, my mother. We
brought food and money for the sick children. I loved to go there! I
never wanted to come away!"

"Did the Citizeness Queen really go there?" marvelled Jean. "Why, she
can't be such a bad one, after all!" The Dauphin's face grew sad.

"Do you know," he said, "I believe that people say a great many false
things about my father and mother because they do not know the
truth,--they do not know how really _good_ they are!"

"Oh, they say bad enough things!" remarked Jean, cheerfully. "You ought
to hear a man they call Citizen Marat! He gets up on a bench in our
street and tells the people that the king and queen are starving them
just for the pastime of hearing them howl for bread,--that they like
that kind of music!"

"It is not true! It is not true!" repeated the Dauphin with tears in his
eyes. "Oh, if you could only _see_ my father, you would not think so!"
Then, glancing over his shoulder he exclaimed gladly, "Why, here he is
now!" Jean made a movement to put down Yvonne and take to his heels,
but the Dauphin begged him to stay. They all stood silent, watching the
approach of a large, stout man who walked slowly with his hands clasped
behind him. His face was gentle, thoughtful and kindly. Across his coat
were stretched the ribbons of several royal orders.

"Father!" called the Dauphin when the King drew near enough. "These are
my little new friends, Yvonne and Jean. Won't you speak to them?" The
King smiled at his son and came over to the fence.

"Good-morning, my children!" he said kindly, laying a hand on Jean's
shoulder. "I am glad to know and greet the friends of my son." Jean
looked up into the fatherly eyes, and noticed the sad lines about the
gentle mouth. He was sorely puzzled in his boyish heart. Certainly this
was not the horrible monster such as he had heard the King described in
the Faubourg St. Antoine. The boy was thoroughly in sympathy with the
downtrodden people who were rising at last to claim their liberty and a
few other inalienable human rights. But there was something wrong
somewhere! At any rate, this royal gentleman had that about him which
compelled his reverence and trust. Snatching off his red liberty-cap,
Jean bent his knee and kissed the hand of Louis XVI of France!

       *       *       *       *       *

"Yvonne," remarked Jean, as they strolled homeward, "we--at least _I_
will have to pay for this little holiday!"

"Oh, Jean, I'm sorry! I ought to take part of the punishment, for I made
you take me," sympathised Yvonne.

"Mother Clouet won't beat _you_, you can warrant, but this is the day
when I should have carried the wash to the Rue du Bac," explained her
companion. "Oh, well! I have had my dance, now I must pay the fiddler!"
It was evident that this was not Jean's first attempt at playing truant.
Then a new thought struck him and he stopped short.

"Yvonne, what do you think of the poor little Citizen Dauphin?"

"I love him!" she answered simply.

"Well, I do too, and yet I suppose I ought not, if I am to be a good
citizen of the Nation. Kings are wrong! We've had enough kings, and
they've trodden us under foot and robbed us of our rights for centuries.
And yet this little fellow might make a good one. Who knows! And there's
his father, too--the Citizen King. How did you like him?"

"He seemed very, very kind," answered Yvonne, "and very sad. I felt
sorry for him. And I don't believe all the things they say about him,
either. Why did you kiss his hand, Jean?"

"I don't know! Something made me. Perhaps it's because he is so
different from what we thought. But, see here, Yvonne! Let me tell you
that if anyone finds out how we feel, or that I kissed his hand, our
heads won't be safe on our shoulders! Do you know that?" The child made
a frightened gesture of assent.

"Then keep it to yourself!" said Jean, shortly. They walked on in
silence, and with dragging steps. It was plain that they were in no
hurry to get home.

"Shall we go to see the little prince again?" inquired Yvonne.

"I'd certainly like to. We will try to go soon,--as soon as I can make
up my mind to another beating!" answered Jean, whimsically. Then in a
more sober manner:

"He's lonesome, poor little fellow! It's a shame for the people to take
away his liberty and keep him cooped up in that palace without any
little friends, I say!"

They turned at length into the Rue de Lille, a narrow, dirty street,
rather deserted at the time, since most of the inhabitants were off at
the Place de la Révolution, singing the "Marseillaise," shouting for
Danton, or dancing the Carmagnole. At the door of the house numbered
"670," stood a woman in a short cotton dress and wooden shoes. She was
shading her eyes and looking far up the street, in the direction
opposite to that from which the children were approaching.

"There's Mère Clouet now!" whispered Jean. Suddenly the woman turned,
caught sight of the pair, and made a dash at Jean who ducked, slid aside
and came out unharmed quite behind the enraged laundress. But Mère
Clouet was agile, and moreover well acquainted with Jean's system of
manoeuvres!

"Ah, you rascal!" she shouted, catching him deftly by the collar. "You
_will_ run away for the whole day, and leave me to carry home the wash
myself! You _will_ entrap my little Yvonne and force her to accompany
you, scaring her good mother almost beyond her wits lest the child come
to harm! To bed you go this night with never a bite or a sup, and lucky
you'll be if there's a whole bone in your lazy, idle body!"

With her great, muscular arms she shook Jean till his teeth clicked
together, dropping him only when sheer exhaustion compelled her. Poor
Yvonne stood by, trembling, wide-eyed and frightened. Citizeness Clouet
having temporarily disposed of Jean, turned her attention to her
daughter.

"And as for thee, naughty little mouse!--" Then her eyes fell for the
first time on the flowers.

"But by all the saints, where did you get that magnificent bouquet,
child? Never since I was a girl in Normandy have I seen such blossoms,
except on the altars in the churches at Eastertide!"

"Why, Mother, the dear little Citizen Dauphin gave them to me!"
exclaimed Yvonne. Then she cast a frightened glance at Jean, remembering
too late his warning on the way home. Jean himself trembled, and
expected that Mère Clouet would break into a torrent of abuse and
invective against the little prince. But to their astonishment she
replied:

"The poor little fellow! Well do I remember how his mother brought him
to the great church of Notre Dame when he was but a tiny baby. You,
Yvonne, were also but a few months old, and I carried you out with me to
see the sight. The Queen in her carriage held him up that all the people
might see him, and how the crowds sang and shouted for joy! Who would
have thought that in seven years they would be keeping him a prisoner in
his own palace and calling him names! These are marvellous times! But
tell me how you came to see him. 'Tis quite a jaunt from here to the
Tuileries."

Encouraged by her mother's relenting mood, Yvonne told the story of
their morning, described the Dauphin, the King and even Moufflet. Jean
too forgot that he was in disgrace, and added his say to the tale at
frequent intervals. Then Yvonne cast all caution to the winds.

"Mother," she ended, "I love the little Citizen Dauphin, and I'm sorry
for his father the Citizen King, and I don't care if you do know it! So
does Jean!"

"Hush, hush, precious one!" exclaimed her mother in alarm. "The walls
may have ears! Never say that thought aloud if you do not wish us all to
be made acquainted with the sharp edge of La Guillotine! But tell me,
what else said the little lad?"

"He said, Citizeness Clouet," broke in Jean, "just when we were coming
away, that if we were ever in need or trouble, his good parents the King
and Queen would help us out if they could. Do you know, I believe that
if you were to ask them, they would give you the money to pay the taxes
that you said would be due next month, and that you could never pay.
Then we would not be turned out of the house. Why don't you ask it?" But
Mère Clouet was incredulous.

"The little Prince is all very well," she remarked scornfully, "but his
father and mother are a different matter. They have ground the poor
under their heel for many years, and they only do an act of charity
when there may be a crowd around to see and applaud it. Trust me, Jean
and Yvonne, the King and Queen would set the soldiery upon us were we to
come and demand money!" But Jean was far from convinced.

"If you would only try!" he begged. "They seemed so kind to-day. Come
with us to-morrow, and see the little fellow! At least it can do no
harm!"

"Well, we shall see!" she conceded. "But tell no one about this, or,--"
and she made a sign indicative of the instability of their heads. "And
now, sit you down to your supper, Yvonne. And you, idle
good-for-nothing, sit you down also, since you have paid with your
chattering tongue for your day's wickedness!"

And so Jean sat down!



JEAN MEETS WITH A THIN YOUNG MAN



CHAPTER II

JEAN MEETS WITH A THIN YOUNG MAN


When the Dauphin came to dig in his garden next morning, he found his
new friends again at the fence, accompanied by a woman.

"Little Citizen Prince, this is my mother," said Yvonne, "and we have
persuaded her to come with us and beg you to fulfil the promise that you
gave for your good father and mother yesterday. She is indeed in sore
need of help." The Dauphin came to the fence and gave Mother Clouet his
hand with his own peculiarly winning smile.

"Good Madame Clouet, my mother will be walking here in a little while.
Will you not wait and speak to her yourself? I know she will be glad to
help you." Now Mère Clouet bore no animosity toward this little
prince,--on the contrary, she admired and almost loved him,--but she
was plainly reluctant to meet the Queen who appealed in no way to her
sympathies. But there seemed nothing else to be done, so she drew aside
while the children chatted together and romped with Moufflet. Presently,
hearing voices, the Dauphin left his friends, ran along one of the
walks, and came back leading a lady and a young girl of thirteen.

"This is my Mother-Queen, and this is my sister, Marie-Thérèse," he
announced. "Mother, these are the new friends that I told you of
yesterday, and this is Yvonne's mother. She wishes to ask something of
you."

"Good Mistress Clouet," said the Queen gently, "whatever I can do for
you I will, if you will but make known your request." Her voice was soft
and penetratingly sweet, and her face, framed in waving hair whitened by
sorrow, was full of a strange beauty veiled by overwhelming sadness.
Here was something entirely different from the haughty sovereign that
Mère Clouet had expected to meet, and she was overcome by surprise and
bashfulness, but she managed to stammer out her request.

"Your Majesty," she faltered, "my good man when he died, left me the
house I live in, but though I work hard,--I am a laundress,--I have been
unable to do more than provide our three mouths with bread. Jean here I
adopted from the Foundling Hospital to help me with my work. But his
mouth is wide!--he eats quantities unknown, and hardly does he pay for
his keep! For three years past I have been unable to pay the taxes, so
great is their amount, and now they threaten to turn me out and keep the
house, if I do not pay up every sou next month. For myself, I would go
uncomplainingly, but how can I rob the little Yvonne of a roof to
shelter her!" Tears came into the woman's eyes as she clasped tighter
her little daughter's hand. "So I must beg for my daughter's sake, but
Madame I trust that some day I may repay it, for I would not be under
obligations, even to a queen!" The Queen was sincerely touched by this
revelation of mingled pride and mother-love.

"I know how you feel, Mistress Clouet. I should not be ashamed to do the
same for my own children. How much is the amount?" The laundress
shuddered, as with bated breath she named the sum,--a fortune in her
eyes.

"A thousand francs, your Majesty!" The Queen seemed not a whit appalled.

"I have not the money with me to-day, but come to-morrow and the Dauphin
shall give it to you. I do not walk out every day. God bless you and the
little Yvonne, and Jean also!" She held out her little white hand, and
Mère Clouet, moved by a gratitude and respect the like of which she
would not yesterday have believed she could experience, took it in both
her rough, work-worn ones. And so they stood a moment gazing at each
other, the proud, beautiful Marie Antoinette, and Citizeness Clouet, the
woman of the people, hand locked in hand across the tri-coloured fence.

"Some day I will repay you!" declared Mère Clouet. "It may not be in
money, but it shall be in service. We are of the people, and our hearts
and sympathies are with the people. But this is a debt of gratitude
which we three shall never forget. We will repay you!"

The Citizeness Clouet spoke more truly than she knew!

       *       *       *       *       *

After this event, Jean was sorely perplexed. He talked his trouble over
with Mère Clouet who seemed more kindly disposed toward him since the
load of debt had been lifted from her shoulders, and her mind had been
set at rest about a home for her beloved Yvonne.

"I do not now know how to act," he told her. "My heart is still all for
the people and the cause of our Liberty, yet I do truly love the little
prince, and even the King and Queen. And I fear from the things I have
heard, that the people will sometime do them harm."

"Let your sympathies still be with the people," counselled Mère Clouet
wisely. "We are not royalists, and our heads will not be safe should we
appear so! But that need not prevent your loyal friendship for these
royal ones, only you must keep it very secret. Heaven help us should it
be discovered! I pray God that the royalty may be left in peace, or at
least be allowed to depart from the country unharmed when the time
comes. We may not desire their sway, but we should not menace their
personal safety."

"Well, at least," answered Jean, "it will do no harm for me to keep
posted as to what the popular intention toward them may be. And for
this, I could learn best what I wish at one of the political clubs,--the
Cordeliers or the Jacobins. But none except the initiated are allowed
to enter. However, I'm going to watch my chance and try!" True to this
resolve, he informed Mère Clouet one evening:

"I shall go to the Rue St. Honoré to-night and linger near the Jacobin
Club. We shall see what we shall see!" And he was off before she could
even protest at the lateness of the hour.

The way from the Rue de Lille to the Rue St. Honoré was not long, but it
was varied by sights and sounds only to be witnessed in Paris during one
of her revolutions. More than once Jean caught the infection from some
shouting group, and snatching outstretched hands, joined in the wild
dance of the Carmagnole. Then again he would pause before a
gesticulating orator madly haranguing his audience from a bench or
improvised platform. The air was filled with shouts of "Vive la Nation!"
"Vive Danton!" "A bas le Roi!" Jean drank it all in, his boyish bosom
filled with pride at the thought of this strange, new liberty. Yet at
the cry, "Down with the King!" his heart would grow sick with the menace
that it carried for his benefactors.

At last he reached the Rue St. Honoré and stood before the great stone
building, so long the peaceful retreat of the Dominican Monks, now given
over to the strongest political society of the day,--the Jacobin Club.
Men were passing through its well-guarded doorway, each separately
interviewed for a moment by a crabbed, ill-disposed doorkeeper. Each as
he passed this watchful sentinel, exhibited a card or murmured some
magic password. Jean possessed neither a card nor the knowledge of the
proper watchword, but he was not to be daunted by either lack. Boldly he
marched up the steps, and would have walked straight into the hall, had
not the doorkeeper seized him wrathfully by the collar. No one else was
passing in at that moment.

"Impudent! What is your business here?" he shouted.

"I am a good citizen who loves liberty, and I demand to be admitted to
this meeting!" replied Jean, hopefully.

"Well, of all outrages!" gasped the astounded doorkeeper. "Begone, you
young scamp! The Nation has little use for such as you!" He released the
boy's collar, and pursued him down the steps with a thick cane he had
snatched up. Jean, deeming flight his wisest course, took to his heels
and was speedily beyond the premises. But so rapid was his retreat that
before he was aware of it, he had butted plumply into someone who was
coming in the opposite direction, and the concussion knocked the
stranger flat on his back!

"Oh, I beg your pardon!" entreated Jean, breathlessly, assisting his
victim to rise.

"You would make a splendid catapult on a field of artillery!" answered
the stranger who proved to be a short and exceedingly thin young man.
He was wrapped in an old grey great-coat, though the weather was May,
and warm. A round, shabby black hat was pulled over his eyes. His hair
was arranged in a slovenly manner, and hung about his ears. In the
lamplight his face was sallow, with high cheek-bones and a very
prominent chin. But he had, so Jean thought, the most extraordinary eyes
in the world. They were deepset, grey and piercing, and fixed one with a
look as sharp as a sword. Jean felt that, had the man's lips commanded
him to throw himself into the fire, those eyes would have compelled him
to obey!

"Perhaps you will explain the cause for this unwarrantable attack on a
peaceful citizen!" said the stranger as he brushed his coat.

"Indeed I meant no harm, nor even knew what I was about, since I was
occupied in being forcibly put out of the Jacobin Club!" laughed the
boy.

"And why should you want to be _in_ the Jacobin Club!" demanded the
stranger. Jean was on his guard at once.

"All good citizens must wish to be present at meetings so important," he
replied airily. "I merely had a curiosity to know what was going on!"
The young man fixed him with his brilliant eyes, and Jean felt the blood
mount guiltily to his cheeks.

"There's something deeper than that!" he remarked coolly. "I can see it!
What are your _real_ reasons? Are you a royalist?"

"Indeed, I'm not!" asserted Jean vehemently.

"Well, it doesn't make a sou's difference to _me_!" his new companion
declared. "I'm neither a royalist, nor am I a republican, nor, for that
matter, even a Frenchman. But I happen to have a ticket for the Jacobins
myself to-night, and since you're so interested, and have even
graciously condescended to knock me down, I'll take you in with me!"
Here was a stroke of luck indeed! Jean was instant in expressing his
delight, and the two climbed together the steps down which he had so
lately fled in ignominy. The gatekeeper scolded and muttered, but there
was nothing to do but let him pass, since a man with a card vouched for
him.

The boy never forgot that night. He reached home and the Rue de Lille
long after midnight, encountering Mère Clouet at the door. She had been
very uneasy, and was inclined to be somewhat wrathful at the lateness of
the hour. But Jean was too excited to care.

"Don't scold, Mère Clouet!" he entreated. "I've gotten into the Jacobin
Club at last!"

"You young rascal!" she exclaimed incredulously, "are you telling the
truth?"

"Every bit!" he answered. "Give me a bite to eat, good mother, and I'll
tell you all about it."

"Always hungry!" she muttered, but nevertheless she gave him a generous
slice of bread and jam. Between great mouthfuls, he told the story of
his forcible encounter with the thin young man and its sequel,--his
admission to the club.

"Ah, but it was a wonderful night for me!" he continued. "Such speeches
did I hear from Citizen Marat who is its president, and from one,
Robespierre, whose voice, they say, has greater weight than any, and
also from Citizen Danton, the president of the Cordeliers, who came this
evening with many more of his own club! Much of what they said was hard
for me to understand, but one thing I learned that it is well to know.

"The citizens of the Faubourg St. Antoine are planning a fête for the
twentieth of June (that's the day after to-morrow), in which they will
form a procession and march to the palace to present a petition to the
King. That, of course, is all very well, but let me tell you what I
heard whispered about by Santerre, the brewer, who is to lead them. Each
_sans-culotte_ is to carry a pike, and he thinks that when the King
sees forty thousand pikes assembled about his door that he will become
alarmed. Then will be the time to lead a general insurrection and demand
that he resign his throne and crown or else _force_ him to it. Is it not
outrageous thus to take advantage of him unfairly?" Mère Clouet was
alarmed and indignant.

"It is indeed!" she declared. "I believe the King means to do the right
thing by his people, but the country is becoming mob-ruled. It is only
the scum of Paris, of which that Santerre is a good sample, who would
sanction such plans! But sadly do I fear that they will do the royal
family harm!"

"And so do I," replied Jean, "and therefore I intend to march with the
mob on the twentieth. Who knows but I may be in some way useful to the
poor little Citizen Dauphin!"

"But," continued Mère Clouet, "it was kind of that strange young man to
take you into the club to-night! Did you learn who he may be?"

"Indeed I did!" answered the boy. "All through the meeting he sat with
his arms folded and his strange eyes fixed on the speakers. Once, when
Santerre harangued us, I heard him mutter, '_Canaille!_' and another
time when Robespierre was speaking, he whispered to me, 'That is a man
of power, but--one should beware!' When we left the club, we parted on
the Rue St. Honoré, and he said, 'Perhaps you will tell me your name,
young sir. You seem a lad of spirit!' When I had informed him, he told
me his own. 'Tis a strange one, and has a foreign sound,--Napoleon
Bonaparte!"



IN WHICH THE DAUPHIN WEARS THE RED CAP



CHAPTER III

IN WHICH THE DAUPHIN WEARS THE RED CAP


There is nothing in this world so fickle as a Parisian mob! A breath, a
word, a gesture even, can often turn it aside from its most murderous
purpose, and bring it worshipping to the very feet of those it sought
but a moment before to destroy!

The great palace of the Tuileries was crowded to suffocation. Hordes of
savage men, women, and even children from the poorest quarters of Paris,
thronged, jostled and fought one another to get a sight of their hated
sovereigns. A small company of soldiers strove in vain to clear the
rooms and defend the royalty from the taunts and insults of the
populace. Outside the palace, a still greater section of the mob, unable
to force an entrance, shrieked for something spectacular, even to
demanding the heads of the royal family. It was a wild, turbulent scene!

Jean had kept his word. Throughout the four hours' march along the Rue
St. Honoré, on that memorable twentieth of June, he had stayed closely
by that great giant of a Santerre, who finally gave him his heavy pike
to carry. At the palace gate the mob forced the doors with a rush, and
Jean, by virtue of being in the van with the brewer, entered among the
first. Up the Grand Staircase they hurried, pell-mell, dragging a piece
of cannon with them, and using hatchets, commenced to force the door
behind which it was rumoured that the King was hiding. Doubtless the mob
expected to find him cowering in terror behind a few faithful soldiers.
What then was their amazement when the panels of the door fell in, to
behold him standing directly before them, calm and unmoved!

"Here I am!" announced Louis XVI. "Had you waited but a moment, you
might have entered the door without destroying it. What do you wish with
me?" The rabble fell back a pace, in enforced respect. Jean crept behind
some of the tallest, not wishing the King to perceive him and
misinterpret his intentions.

"We have here a decree concerning the rights of the people!" announced
one, Legendre, a butcher, who had constituted himself their spokesman.
"We wish you to sanction it!"

"This," said the King quietly, "is neither the place nor the time for me
to do that. You know that I will do all which your new Constitution
requires of me!" His kingly dignity quite changed the attitude of the
turbulent throng.

"Vive la nation!" suddenly shouted his assailants in response.

"Yes," answered the King, "shout for the nation! I am its best friend!"

"Well, prove it then!" demanded a bold voice, and its owner handed the
King a red cap on the point of a pike. Jean held his breath, wondering
what the monarch would do now. But Louis XVI deemed this neither the
time nor the place to resist what was after all but a symbol. He lifted
the cap, and with a dignified gesture, placed it on his head. Further
than that, he even poured some liquor from a bottle offered to him, and
drank to the nation, though there were a thousand chances that he had
been presented with poison. After that he was loudly applauded, and
there was plainly no reason to fear an attack upon his person.

But now Jean became anxious for the safety of the little prince, and
pushed his way from the room to ascertain what he could concerning the
other members of the royal family. At the door of the council hall he
heard it said that within could be seen the "Austrian Wolf," as they
called the Queen. Truly enough, there she was at the end of the room.
Jean's heart gave a bound at the sight of the group. Fenced in by a
long table stood Marie Antoinette, her head high, her great eyes
flashing, her cheeks deathly pale. On one side of her stood young
Marie-Thérèse, pale also, but brave and unflinching, her hand clasped in
her mother's. And on the table, supported by his mother's arm, stood the
Dauphin. In his face was mingled astonishment and fright, and he turned
his eyes constantly toward his mother, as if to read in her countenance
the meaning of this amazing invasion.

For a time nothing but confusion reigned. Cries of "Down with the
Austrian Wolf!" mingled with shouts of "Vive Santerre!" "Vivent les
Sans-culottes!" "Vive le Faubourg St. Antoine!" Then suddenly there was
silence. A huge woman pushed her way through the crowd, threw her red
woollen liberty-cap on the table and cried:

"If thou art so fond of the nation, thou Austrian Wolf, let thy son wear
the red cap of liberty!"

"Yes, yes!" shrieked the crowd. "Crown the little Wolf-Cub with the red
cap, and give him some tri-coloured ribbons to wear!" Someone threw down
the ribbons beside the cap. The Queen turned to one of the guards
standing close by.

"Place the cap on his head!" she commanded, and the grenadier did so,
setting it on the boy's brown curls; then he tied the ribbons in his
button-hole. The little fellow, hardly comprehending whether this might
be in sport or insult, smiled uncertainly. The multitude shouted and
applauded, and more confusion ensued. Jean, taking advantage of the
racket, slipped to the front, and placed himself directly before the
Dauphin. The little prince at once recognised him, but before he should
show that he did, Jean leaned across the table and shouted "Vive la
nation!" and then in an undertone whispered: "I am only here to help
you! What can I do?" The Dauphin's face lit up with a smile of
understanding, and without an instant's hesitation he murmured:

"Find Moufflet!" Comprehending well the boy's anxiety for his pet, Jean
passed on, melted into the crowd and quickly scurried away, darting here
and there, in and out of all the rooms to which he could find
admittance. But it was like hunting for a needle in a haystack. Chance
alone finally favoured him. As he passed a thickly-packed group in one
of the corridors, he thought he distinguished a faint yelp. In another
moment he knew that he was not mistaken. Hating anything that was royal
property, a crowd of rough _sans-culottes_ had surrounded the poor
shivering animal, for lack of being able to get any nearer its master.

"Here, Jacques!" called one ruffian, "give me your pike and I'll finish
him!" He was just about to spear the frightened, yelping ball of fluff,
when Jean broke madly through the crowd.

"Give him to me!" he commanded. "He's just the kind of a dog I want!
I'll teach him to bark for Liberty, Equality and Fraternity!" The crowd
laughed, patted Jean's head approvingly, and handing Moufflet over to
his protection, hurried off to seek other prey. The dog whined his
recognition of a former friend, and tried to hide under the boy's
jacket.

But Jean could not carry the little thing around in his arms, and at the
same time restore him to his master, that was plain. Where could he
place him so that the little animal might remain in safety? He looked
about him in despair. There was not a corner or the smallest cubby-hole
where it would be secure. Suddenly he remembered that in one of the
rooms now deserted, he had opened a door of what seemed to be a large
closet. He hurried to the spot and found just the hiding-place he
needed. Thrusting Moufflet into the darkness, he commanded:

"You be a good dog! Lie down and be quiet!" As if comprehending the
situation completely, the dog crawled into a far corner, curled up and
lay shivering and silent. Jean closed the door, turned the key, and ran
back to the council-hall. Meanwhile, what had taken place in his
absence?

For many minutes the Dauphin stood crowned with the heavy woollen cap,
while the crowd hooted, laughed and jeered. The day was very hot, and
the perspiration streamed down his face and dampened his curls. His
mother pressed him closer to her, whispering him to be brave a little
longer. As she did so, a young woman in front called out:

"How proud and haughty that Austrian is! How she hates us!" The girl was
pretty, and her expression mild and gentle. The Queen wondered at the
contrast between her appearance and her words. For the first time that
day, she opened her lips and answered:

"I do not hate you, my friend! Why should I? But I am afraid that you
hate me, though I have done you no wrong!" The young woman began to feel
a little ashamed.

"No, no! I do not mean that you hate _me_," she replied, "but the
nation. You love only Austria from whence you came!"

"You poor child!" answered the Queen. "They have told you that and you
believe it, but it is not true! I came from Austria when I was a very
young girl, to marry the King. But since then I have forgotten the land
of my birth. I love only France! Why, see! am I not the mother of your
future king?" and she pointed to the Dauphin. "I love all my French
people, and I only wish them to be happy!" The girl was so touched by
the Queen's gentle, reproachful manner, that the tears came into her
eyes.

"Oh, pardon me, Madame! I did not know you!" she begged. "I see now that
you are not as wicked as they said!" It was then that the humour of the
mob changed. Women and men who had been the fiercest, wept at the grief
in the Queen's words and looks. They pressed about the table, admiring
the bravery of Marie Antoinette and the beauty of her children. Cries of
"Down with the Queen!" gave place to words of praise and admiration for
her courage. Even the big, brutal Santerre was touched.

"Take off that cap from the little fellow's head!" he ordered. "Don't
you see how hot he is?" And then to the Queen he whispered: "Have no
fear, Madame! I will send away the people in peace!"

It was then that Jean returned to the room, amazed at the changed aspect
of affairs. Under Santerre's direction the throng began to file out past
the royal family, contenting themselves with kindly looks and words, or
rough ones, as their changeable tempers dictated. Jean was among the
last to leave, and he had only time to whisper in a very low voice as he
passed the prince,

"It's all right! The closet in the next room!" But by the grateful smile
of his little Highness, Jean knew that the Dauphin had both heard and
understood.

Outside, on the terrace of the Tuileries, other events of interest
appeared to be happening, and Jean lingered to witness them. A man
standing on an armchair at a window in the palace, was addressing the
crowds below. It proved to be Pétion, the Mayor of Paris, and he was
bidding the mob disperse peaceably now that the King had been
interviewed. While Jean was looking up, he felt himself clapped on the
shoulder, and a voice exclaimed:

"Well, if here is not my young friend the catapult!" and turning, he
found himself face to face with the thin young man. "And what may you be
doing here? Helping to mob the King?" Now Jean could scarcely have
explained why, but something about this young man both invited and
compelled his confidence, and he had the instinctive feeling that
confidence in him would not be misplaced. So he boldly declared:

"No, Citizen Bonaparte, indeed I have been far from mobbing the King. I
am not a royalist, and I wish to be a true patriot, but I feel that the
people are not dealing rightly with the King, and that they will yet
allow the rabble to do him an ill turn!"

"Well said!" agreed the young man, heartily. "My opinion to a dot! My
friend, I am a Corsican by birth, and I have aided in the unsuccessful
fight for Corsica's liberty, but now I believe I will adopt a new
country and become a French patriot. The situation in this land appeals
to me. My heart thrills when I see an oppressed people rising to throw
off the yoke of the oppressor! And you are right when you say that,
groping in the twilight of their first new liberties, the people are not
dealing justly with their king. But, look you, my friend! Their king
means well, only he is making the biggest mistake a monarch ever made!
He is yet their monarch! He should show it! The people bow to force, to
power, and to that alone. See him now!" and he pointed to a window
where Louis XVI, still crowned with the red cap, was surveying the
throng below.

"Never should he have allowed them to put on him that emblem!" continued
Bonaparte vehemently. "Never should he have countenanced this invasion
of his palace! It was madness! Had he turned a few cannon upon them, and
blown a hundred or more of this rabble to pieces, the rest would have
taken to their heels and fled with respect for him in their hearts! As
it is now, they have none! Mark my words!--worse will come, and he will
live to regret his forbearance!"

Jean marvelled at the fire that flashed from those grey eyes. Instinct
told him that here was a man born to command, and he felt drawn to the
stranger by a feeling of intense admiration.

"I came here to-day through curiosity," he continued, "but what did you
in the palace, my young friend?" And Jean, in his new trust, told the
whole story of his attachment to the little Dauphin, and the debt of
gratitude the Clouets owed to the Queen. When he had finished his
auditor remarked:

"You are a faithful soul, my little friend, and I admire your spirit of
gratitude. I too am genuinely sorry for the royal family. But I fear you
have set yourself a hard road to travel, between your patriotism and
your friendship for royalty. Beware of the many pitfalls that beset you!
I am staying at the Rue Cléry, number 548, over the tobacconist's. Come
and see me sometimes. Fortune is not dealing with me so very lavishly
just at present, and I should be grateful for your bright companionship
while I am far from my family and friends!"

And Jean gladly promised to come.



ON TERRIBLE AUGUST TENTH



CHAPTER IV

ON TERRIBLE AUGUST TENTH


Jean speedily availed himself of the invitation from Bonaparte to visit
him. A few evenings after June twentieth, he went to the Rue Cléry,
ascended to a room over the tobacconist's shop, and found Bonaparte
reading by the light of a single candle. The room was empty of all but
the barest necessities, and it was evident that its occupant was having
a hard struggle to make ends meet. But Bonaparte seemed pleased at the
visit of his new friend, and the two were soon engaged in lively
conversation.

That night Jean heard the story of this young man's life. He told the
eager, sympathetic lad how he had been born of a fine family in Corsica;
how his father had lost all in the vain struggle for Corsican liberty;
how he, Napoleon, a poor shy, proud boy had been sent to the military
school at Brienne where he suffered agonies of wounded pride among his
richer classmates; how at fifteen he had spent a year at the military
school of Paris, suffering similar humiliation because of his poverty,
and at sixteen was appointed second lieutenant of a regiment of
artillery at Valence; how, soon after, his father died, leaving
practically on his shoulders the responsibility of a mother, four
brothers and three sisters! how he left the army and for a time devoted
himself to straightening out his family affairs; how he had returned to
the army, but encouraged by the breaking out of the Revolution in 1789,
he had again attempted to aid in freeing Corsica, and for this reason
had lost his place in the French army. Now he was hoping to regain it,
but in the present disturbed condition of affairs, could obtain little
attention from the authorities. In the meantime he was struggling
along, poor as a church mouse, making the barest kind of a living by
doing a little writing. All this information was not imparted at once,
but came out by degrees in the course of their conversation. Jean drank
it in with intense interest.

"But the tide will turn!" ended Bonaparte. "Something tells me that I
was born under a fortunate star. Things will be different some day!" And
catching the proud flash from his wonderful eyes, Jean had no doubt of
it!

As the days went on, Jean was drawn by an irresistible fascination more
and more into the society of "the thin young man," as he often spoke of
him to Mère Clouet and Yvonne. One evening, as he ran up the stairs of
Rue Cléry, number 548, Napoleon's first greeting was:

"I've something to tell you that will interest you, Jean! I've been to
the Jacobins again. There's a bloody insurrection planned for August
tenth! They are going to mob the palace, dethrone the King, seize the
Dauphin, and make all the royal family prisoners. Santerre is at the
head of it, and Danton, of course, at the bottom! You'd better look
sharp for your royal friends!"

"Oh!" said Jean thankfully, "I'm so glad you warned me. I shall be
there, at least, and see what I can do to help them! I can't of course
do much, but--who knows!"

"But, see here, my lad," answered Bonaparte, laying his hand on the
boy's shoulder, "you must not go alone! You are hardly more than a child
yet, and these are perilous times. I'd be anxious for your safety.
Promise me that you will not go without me! Together, we may be a
protection for each other." Jean gave his word, deeply touched that his
new friend should exhibit such thoughtfulness for his welfare.

       *       *       *       *       *

Meanwhile, gloomy days had ensued for Louis Charles, royal Dauphin of
France. His little garden where he longed to dig among the flower-beds
and romp with Moufflet was forbidden him. Once only since the hateful
day of June twentieth, he had gone there accompanied by his mother. But
the shouts and threats of the crowd behind the fence, quickly drove them
into the palace again for safety.

Distrust and suspicion were in the very air! For the people of Paris,
like a sullen, angry dog that has obtained a bone only to have it
snatched away again, felt that they had been defeated of their purpose
on the day they besieged the Tuileries. They were laying dark plans to
repeat the expedition, which this time, they vowed, should not fail.
Just at present they were only lying in wait till the time should be
fully ripe.

The Dauphin roamed from room to room in the castle, pressed his face to
the windows and gazed with envy at the Park, brilliant with sunshine,
and at the throngs of common people who were free to come and go as
they pleased. He wondered whether Jean and Yvonne ever came to the
garden now. Once he thought he distinguished the boy among the strolling
crowds but he could not be sure. The King and Queen were preoccupied and
sad. His aunt, Madame Elizabeth, was much with them, and had little time
to give to his amusement. Even his sister sometimes forgot to romp and
frolic with him as had been her wont. To all it was a season of
breathless suspense.

And then the fatal day arrived. On the night of August ninth, after his
supper, the Queen went to the Dauphin's room where he was being put to
bed, to kiss him good-night. Tears stood in her eyes as she clasped him
more closely than usual.

"But, Mother, you are crying!" he exclaimed. "Is anything the matter?"

"There is some danger, we have heard, but perhaps not immediate. You
would not understand if I explained it, little son!"

"But can you not stay with me this evening?" he begged. "I am so
lonesome, and everyone is so sad!"

"That I would love to do, but I must be with your father. He needs me
most. Do not be afraid, for we shall be near you."

For a long time the boy lay sleepless, pondering his mother's words.
What did it all mean, anyway! His childish mind strove in vain to
comprehend why the French people should hate his parents so. There must
certainly be something very wrong somewhere! Sleep refused to come to
his tired little brain, and the hours passed slowly by.

Suddenly he was startled by the strokes of a bell sounding far across
the city. It was the great tocsin of the Cordeliers Club, striking the
general alarm. Immediately it was answered by bells from all sections,
mingled with cannon-shots and the hoarse cries of an infuriated mob.
Nearer and nearer came the racket, and then the tumult became general
both within and without the palace. The Dauphin was hurriedly dressed,
and joined his parents, sister and aunt in another room. The King alone
seemed calm.

"Come," said he, "we must all visit the soldiers who are defending the
palace and encourage them! Are you afraid, my son?"

"Indeed no, Father!" answered the boy. "Let us go at once!" and he
seized the King's hand in his own. Down the stairs and from room to room
they passed, the King, calm and gentle as ever, speaking words of
encouragement to the few defenders who remained with them. The grand
gallery of the palace was filled with the troops of the Swiss Guard. As
the royal family passed, the captain snatched up the Dauphin, lifted the
child high above his head, and shouted:

"Long live the King and the King's son!" Wild huzzas broke from every
throat, but their enthusiasm was short-lived. For without was
approaching a sinister clamour. Horrible cries, chiefly "The Crown or
the King's head!" "Deposition or Death!" resounded on all sides. At
that moment there burst into the room the procureur-general, who
approached the king crying:

"Sire, the danger is beyond all expression! All Paris is in arms!
Resistance is impossible! They demand that you resign the throne! It is
death to you and yours if you refuse!" Louis XVI gave one last
despairing look about him. He feared nothing for his own life, but he
refused to risk those of his loved ones.

"It is done!" he said gravely. "I make the last sacrifice! Do with me
what you will!" And so fell the ancient monarchy of France!

"Come!" commanded an officer. "You must leave the palace!"

It was quarter past six in the morning, when the sad procession wended
its way from the abode of its ancestors forever. Louis XVI went first
with Madame Elizabeth. Marie Antoinette followed, leading her two
children by the hand. The Dauphin looked back constantly, dragging at
his mother's hand.

"What is it, son," she said at last, "that you are looking back for?"

"Oh, Mother, can I not wait and find Moufflet?" he pleaded. "I must not
leave him behind! I know just where he is!"

"No, no!" she exclaimed. "You would be killed if you went back! Be a
brave boy and make up your mind to part with Moufflet!" Tears stood in
the little fellow's eyes, and he struggled hard to keep them from
falling. A few trickled down, however, and he dashed them away, lest
someone should think them caused by fear. "My poor Moufflet!" he
thought, when he saw the mob forcing its entrance into the Tuileries.
Could he have known that in the midst of the bloodthirsty rabble was his
little friend Jean, he would have been both amazed and sorely troubled.

But how did Jean get there! All the evening of August ninth, he had been
uneasy, and found it almost unendurable to stay quietly at home with
Mère Clouet and Yvonne. Excitement was in the air! A great event was
about to occur, and when the tocsin of the Cordeliers sounded the first
stroke, he was off like a rocket to the Rue Cléry.

"Citizen Bonaparte!" he clamoured, hammering on that young man's closed
door. "Come! come! They are about to assault the Tuileries! Here I am as
I promised!" Bonaparte came out dressed, after what seemed an age to
Jean, and the two hurried into the street and were instantly carried
almost off their feet in the swirling human current sweeping toward the
Tuileries. Men, women and children, chiefly of the lowest scum of Paris,
carried pikes, knives, hatchets, bludgeons,--anything that might serve
as a weapon of offence. "Death to the King!" "Down with the Austrian
Wolf!" "To the guillotine with Royalty!" were the predominating cries.

Into the Rue St. Honoré, through the Pont Neuf and the Pont Royal they
poured, ever increasing in numbers and ferocity. Almost without
volition on their part, Bonaparte and Jean were carried along by the
throng that swept through the Rue St. Honoré, and in the first faint
dawn of morning, they, with the crowds, drove through the ill-guarded
palace gates, and stood before the long windows. Pressed close to the
wall of the palace, the two friends witnessed the departure of the royal
family, and Jean even guessed at the meaning of the little Dauphin's
despairing, backward looks.

"Citizen Bonaparte," he whispered, "I see plainly that we can do nothing
now to help the royal ones, since they have placed themselves in the
care of the National Assembly, and will probably be safe. But I _would_
like to save that poor little fellow's pet, if it be possible. What do
you think?"

Before Bonaparte could reply, there was an exchange of volleying shots
between the outside mob, and the inner defenders. With a roar of
exasperation, the rabble flung itself at the doors and windows using
the hatchets, and when these gave way, the throng poured into the
palace. For a moment Jean and Bonaparte were hurried along in the rush,
and then at some sudden obstruction were forcibly separated, and Jean
found himself alone amid a scene of indescribable confusion and danger.

The mob, first inhumanly butchered the Swiss Guard who had remained to
defend the palace, then turned its attention to pillaging and
destroying, with ruthless indiscrimination, the carefully hoarded
treasures of this kingly mansion, and when this grew wearisome,
attempted to set fire to different parts of the building. In such a
reign of confusion, members of the mob frequently failed to discriminate
among their victims, and often turned their weapons upon their own
numbers.

Now Jean saw no reason for uselessly exposing himself to murder, and he
looked about for the safest and most convenient place to hide. It
occurred to him that the closet where he had placed Moufflet on that
memorable twentieth of June, would afford the best shelter. Making his
way through the crush with the greatest difficulty, he at last reached
the room, and managed to slip unobserved into this retreat, closing the
door and locking it on the inside. The space was small, and no sooner
had he crouched down in the farthest corner, than he felt something warm
and soft under his hand. For a moment it startled him, and then, with a
stifled cry, he clasped the fluffy mass to his heart.

"Moufflet!" he breathed, and the dog licked his face in an ecstasy of
delighted recognition. Then he realised that the Dauphin must have
placed him once more in this retreat, when the first alarm was heard. He
felt almost happy. Here was half his plan accomplished! Now if he could
only find Bonaparte, and they could get away unharmed, all would be
well. He was just about to emerge from his hiding-place with Moufflet
under his coat, when horrible shouts filled the room, and he quickly
decided to remain where he was.

"Search this room! Search this room!" shrieked hoarse voices. "There may
be aristocrats hiding here!" Then someone pulled at the door of his
retreat. "Here's a locked door!" called a rough fellow. "A
hatchet,--quick!" The splintered wood fell in with a crash, and
shrieking with delight, they dragged Jean out of the closet. Thirsting
for blood, the ruffians cared not, by this time, whether he was an
aristocrat or one of their own number. He was hiding!--that was enough!
A bloody hand grasped his collar, and another with a meat-axe was raised
over his head. Jean was too paralysed with terror to do anything but
wonder just how long it would take that axe to descend, when suddenly he
saw it dashed from his assailant's hand, and a well-known voice shouted:

"Fool! Don't you know a good _sans-culotte_ when you see one? I believe
you'd murder your own brother!" The ruffian backed away, apologised
sheepishly, and darted off into the crowd. And with a glad cry of
recognition, Jean found himself in the arms of Bonaparte!

"A close one for you, lad!" was all his rescuer had time to say. To the
end of his days, Jean could never tell just how they two struggled out
of that palace of horrors, nor how he managed to keep his grip on the
frightened, shivering, squirming Moufflet. But at last they found
themselves beyond the walls, and near the bank of the Seine. In sheer
exhaustion they dropped to the ground and lay there in the sultry
morning sun for over an hour, happy merely to be alive and whole, after
the experiences of that dreadful day.

And elsewhere the hours of this memorable day wore on, filled with a
series of confused events through which the Dauphin and his family
moved, as through some horrible nightmare. The child knew not their
meaning, and could only occasionally grasp at the import of the drama.
Three long, terribly uncomfortable days were passed in the great hall of
the Assembly filled with representatives of the people. During all this
time the royal family was crowded into a tiny hot room at the side where
they were nearly stifled by the intense heat and discomfort, their
hearts constantly trembling at the horrible sounds made by the mob
raging without the building. Three weary nights were passed in the tiny
cells in another building where they were taken to sleep.

The Assembly seemed to have great difficulty in deciding what to do with
their superfluous ex-monarch! Some,--they were the fiercest,--wanted him
killed immediately, as that would save them all further trouble and
expense. Some thought that he and his family should be sent out of the
country into exile. This was opposed because they said he might raise an
army, march back and regain his throne. Others were in favour of
allowing him to live in retirement at the Luxembourg, a smaller palace
than the Tuileries. This too was frowned down, because they thought it
too luxurious and comfortable, and besides had underground passages to
other parts of the city, through which he might escape. Finally they
grew weary of the discussion.

[Illustration]

"Oh, let us send him to the old Temple Tower, and keep him there! That
is good enough for him!" And so it was decided. Two large carriages were
procured, and the King, his family, and a few faithful servants were
driven across the city, through the pitiless, mocking crowds, to the
gloomy prison where they were to pass so many weary months and even
years. The Dauphin, seated on his father's knee, looked out at the mob,
shouting its frenzy of joy at their monarch's abasement.

"Are they not very wicked, Father?" he asked.

"No, dear son," answered the forgiving Louis XVI. "They are not
wicked,--only mistaken!"

When at last the courtyard of the Temple was reached, the carriages
halted and the occupants stepped out. The yard was filled with soldiers
commanded by Santerre (but yesterday made a general!) yet no one helped
them to alight. As they walked to the entrance, no man removed his hat,
and when Santerre addressed the King, he forgot to say "Your Majesty,"
or "Sire." At the doorway they paused a second, but they did not look
back. The crowd shouted "Vive la Nation!" They passed inside, and the
door was shut on the humiliation of the dethroned monarch!



A DOMICILIARY VISIT



CHAPTER V

A DOMICILIARY VISIT


"This country is going to the dogs!" It was Bonaparte who spoke,
striding up and down thoughtfully, his head bent, his hands clasped
behind him. The two friends were taking an evening stroll in the Jardin
des Plantes, and discussing, of course, the affairs of the nation, which
were the only matters that interested anyone in those stirring days.

"Yes, the country, and especially this city is going to the dogs, and I
think I'll leave it!" Jean was thoroughly startled.

"Leave it!" he echoed. "Oh, Citizen Bonaparte, where would you go?"

"I believe I'll go home to Corsica," replied Bonaparte. "I love my home,
and I've always been happy there, poor though it is. And besides, my
sister Elisa has been a student at the royal school of St. Cyr. I have
just received word that this school was closed and suppressed by the
Assembly on August sixteenth. So I must go there and take Elisa home. I
don't want to return. Paris is a horrible place!"

"But what shall I do without you?" wailed Jean. "You are my best friend!
I have almost no others in these dreadful days."

"Come with me, then!" generously responded Bonaparte. "Have you never
thought of becoming a soldier? I have received news of my reinstatement
in the army, and I would gladly take you with me."

"Ah, but would I not love to do so!" answered the boy sadly. "It has
ever been my secret wish to serve my country in the army, and in these
days when we are struggling for liberty, I desire it beyond everything.
But how can I leave Mère Clouet and Yvonne? The good mother has cared
for me ever since she took me, a homeless waif from the Foundling
Hospital, and it would be wrong to leave her and the little Yvonne
unprotected in this mad city. It is true I am young, but I am all they
have! And besides, I have set my heart on being of service to the poor
little Citizen Dauphin in prison, if I can. We owe that debt to him and
to his parents, who helped us in our hour of need."

"You speak truly!" said Bonaparte. "Your family is your first concern,
and nothing appeals to me more than the desire to pay a debt, whether of
money or gratitude. But should the opportunity ever come, I'll take you
with me in the army, lad, for I like your spirit. Would that Paris had
in her many more such!

"But Paris is insane, blood-intoxicated!" he went on thoughtfully. "It
is amazing how blind she has become to the real peril! She seems to
think that the whole danger to her new liberty comes from within her
midst, in the persons of suspected royalists. Whereas, look you! France
is really menaced from _without_ by the foreign powers Austria and
Prussia, whose armies are threatening our borders everywhere. These
powers think that the conquest of this nation will be a mere summer
picnic, because she is internally torn by a great Revolution. What the
country needs is a _head_! Oh, for someone who could mass all her
squabbling factions in one united whole, and lead her to a glorious
victory!"

So declaimed Bonaparte on this dusky, starlit night in the Jardin des
Plantes. What if the curtain of the future could have rolled back for an
instant and revealed to Jean's astonished gaze this same shabby young
man, eight years later! He is the hero of a hundred, victorious battles!
He has raised the perishing land of France and set her on the highest
pinnacle of power in the world! He is the emperor of his country and the
king of Italy! He has made his impoverished brothers and sisters kings
and queens. He is at once feared, obeyed and adored! He has truly
fulfilled his destiny! But the stars twinkled down on the Jardin des
Plantes. Out of Paris rose the subdued murmur of an ever restless
populace. The two friends walked together in silence for a space, and
the future still darkly guarded the wonderful secret!

Suddenly the stillness of the night was broken by a roll of drums from
the Rue Saint Victor. In an instant everyone was hurrying in that
direction, realising that it was a signal of importance. Jean and
Bonaparte lost no time in joining the ranks of the curious. What they
learned that night served to add in no way to their peace of mind.

It seemed that the brain of Danton, ever fertile in inventing outrageous
and unbearable measures, had hatched a new scheme. This was no less than
to apprehend all aristocrats who had been concealing themselves since
August tenth, all who had belonged to the late Court or were in any way
connected with it, and all who were suspected of royalistic sympathies.
This was to be effected by a series of _domiciliary visits_. At the roll
of the drums, all citizens were to repair at once to their homes and
remain there two days, during which time they would be personally
visited by a committee of surveillance. Suspicious evidences found in
any house, would subject all its inmates to immediate imprisonment.

"You are to disperse at once!" ended the soldier who delivered this
message. "By ten o'clock not a soul must be abroad! Citizens, retire at
once to your homes!"

"Outrage! Unwarrantable outrage! This is worse than the Bourbon
tyranny!" muttered Bonaparte, as the two separated, for it lacked but
half an hour of the required time. "But go cautiously, Jean, when the
inspectors visit your house! Remember, you've something incriminating
there!"

When the following morning dawned, Paris was a singular sight! Streets
that had been populous with passing throngs and carriages, or swarming
with the crowded masses of the poor, were silent and deserted. Everyone
sought the vain protection of his own roof, which was soon to prove no
protection at all, and waited in fearful expectation for the threatened
visit. No one, were he never so innocent, could be certain of immunity.
Valuable property was hurriedly concealed, and persons who had the
slightest reason to think themselves objects of suspicion were carefully
hidden, some even going so far as to have themselves nailed up within
the walls of their houses!

For two days Mère Clouet, Yvonne and Jean remained within doors in
nerve-racking uncertainty, trembling at the slightest sound, or the
faintest cry in the streets. For they had in their midst, as Bonaparte
had said, "something most incriminating,"--the pretty, coal-black
spaniel of Louis Charles, so lately imprisoned and deprived of his
title.

"What shall we do with Moufflet, when the committee of surveillance
comes?" whispered Yvonne, who with all the others, instinctively lowered
her voice in this time of peril, lest the very walls betray her.

"Leave that to me!" commanded Jean. "I've decided what I shall do and
say, only be sure you do not contradict me, either by word or action!"

"I wish we could have hidden the little animal," sighed Mère Clouet,
"but of course it would have been useless to try. He would surely betray
both himself and us by some bark or whine!" So the hours wore away. The
two days of suspense drew to an end, and the Clouet family were
beginning to hope they had escaped the ordeal, when at dusk that night,
a thundering knock was heard at the door.

"Open, or we break in!" growled a voice, and Jean hastened to comply.

"Coming, coming!" he called cheerfully. "You are welcome, citizens all!"

"That's a gayer greeting than we get at most places!" answered a high
nasal voice as the door was opened. And without further ceremony there
tramped in six huge pikemen, headed by one of the committee of
surveillance,--the owner of the nasal voice. He was a singularly
unprepossessing specimen of humanity, thin, wiry, short of stature,
evil-faced, with little, claw-like hands. He had a curious habit of
slinking about with soft, noiseless steps and a watchful look in his
beady eyes that reminded one irresistibly of a mouse. The pikemen
addressed him as Citizen Coudert.

"Pikemen, do your duty," he commanded, "while I question these people!"
And while the pikemen tramped through the house, emptying drawers, boxes
and barrels, thumping the walls and floors, tearing up clothing and
destroying china on the pretence of a more thorough search, Citizen
Coudert proceeded to put the inmates upon a rack of torturing questions.
He had just touched upon the ticklish subject of sympathy for the
ex-king and the royal family, when a shout from one of the pikemen
announced the discovery of Moufflet, curled up in a distant corner.

"That's a dog I'll swear I saw at the Tuileries garden many a day this
past year, with the little Wolf-Cub! I know dogs well, and am never
mistaken in one!" Jean's heart was in his throat, but he maintained an
indifferent air.

"Aha! is it so!" snarled Coudert, rubbing his claw-like hands, and with
a gleam very like satisfaction in his beady eyes. "Answer me in regard
to this dog, if you please, young sir! Is he the property of that
Wolf-Cub brat?" Then Jean played his boldest card.

"He was, I suppose, Citizen Coudert, but he's mine now! And when you
hear how I got him, you will say I did well, and acted worthily as a
good republican citizen. I went with the throng to the palace on June
twentieth, to see the sights. There I found this little dog, and I said
to myself,--'Won't it be a fine joke on royalty to take this animal and
train him in good republican ways!' So I caught him and carried him
home." Citizen Coudert looked incredulous.

"You do not believe me, Citizen," continued Jean eagerly, "but hark! I
will prove it! Here, Moufflet! Bark for Liberty!" The little animal ran
to him, crouched, and barked once. "Now for Equality!" Moufflet barked
twice. "Now for Fraternity!" The dog gave three short, sharp barks, then
sat up and lifted its paws to beg. And Mère Clouet and Yvonne realised
now why Jean had been diligently training the intelligent animal in this
new accomplishment during the past two days of seclusion.

"Bravo!" applauded the pikeman. "That's a rare trick for a royalist dog!
You've done well, my boy! I imagine we've no fault to find with you!"

"Be silent, Citizen Prevôt!" growled Coudert. "Pay attention to your own
duties, and leave these things to me! Now, young sir, this is all very
well, but what business had you to appropriate to yourself any property
that belongs to the people at large? This dog should have been delivered
to the Assembly. He is valuable, and might have been sold and the money
turned to helping our starving poor. Hand him over to me! I will do what
is right with him, but I'm going to keep a strict watch over you, do you
understand? You have given me cause to be suspicious of you! Here,
Prevôt, carry this dog! To the next house, pikemen!"

It was all Jean could do to be silent and submissive under this act of
injustice and outrage, but imploring glances from Mère Clouet and Yvonne
helped him to hold his tongue. The committee of surveillance left the
house, accompanied by yelps of protest from Moufflet, struggling in the
grip of Prevôt. When they were gone, Jean tramped up and down the room
in a fury of rage and disappointment.

"That sneak of a Coudert!" he exploded. "Has he any more right to that
dog than we have? He'll never give it to the Assembly, that I know! He
wants it for himself, or else he just took it for the sake of robbing
us! And now I cannot restore Moufflet to his little master, as I had
hoped some day to do!"

"Hush! hush!" begged Mère Clouet. "We were lucky to have gotten off
without being dragged to prison! Had it not been for that dog's trick,
which you were clever enough to teach him, I doubt not but we would have
all been in La Conciergerie within an hour!" But Jean was not to be
passified by such reasoning, and he went to bed in wrath and tears, and
Yvonne followed his example.

Events, however, shortly came to pass that made him sincerely thankful
they were all yet alive and going about with heads still secure on their
shoulders. The domiciliary visits of the last of August had so filled to
overflowing every prison in the city with victims (sad to say, for the
most part absolutely innocent of the crimes imputed to them!) that a
still more horrible plan was determined upon by those two arch fiends of
the Revolution, Marat and Danton,--one which should at once clear the
prisons for more victims, and strike such terror to the hearts of any
remaining royalists as to suppress absolutely all further tendencies in
this direction. This was nothing more nor less than a general massacre
of all the prisoners without trial, justice or mercy.

At two o'clock on Sunday, September 2, 1792, this wholesale slaughter
commenced, and for five days the prisons of Paris were scenes of
unspeakable and indescribable carnage till at last they were empty.
Never was there in history so revolting a sacrifice of innocent lives.
Twelve thousand victims perished, and with this fearful prelude, the
Reign of Terror began!

Three days later, Jean went to make his farewell visit to his friend
Bonaparte, now no longer a resident of the Rue Cléry, for he had in the
meantime brought his sister to the city from St. Cyr, and was staying at
the little hotel De Metz in the Rue du Mail. Bonaparte introduced the
boy to his sister, a slender, rather pretty girl of fifteen in the
tight-fitting black taffeta cap of the St. Cyr school. As she had little
to say for herself, Bonaparte suggested that she remain in her room,
while he and Jean repaired for a walk to their favourite spot, the
Jardin des Plantes. Once there, Jean reported to him the outrages of
their domiciliary visit and discussed with him the horrors of the past
few days.

"Oh, Citizen Bonaparte," he ended, "I am sorely tempted to go away with
you and join the army! I want to fight for better things for France.
This is not liberty, here in Paris! It is oppression and butchery! But I
dare not leave yet! I feel that I have a sacred trust to fulfil! Yet all
has gone wrong! Moufflet is stolen and I shall never see him again. We
are constantly in danger from that spying Coudert; it was only
yesterday that I saw him again sneaking about our street! To help the
royal family seems utterly impossible. And now you are going to leave me
too,--you who once saved my life, and to whom I can never be grateful
enough!"

"I am sorry, little Jean! I truly am!" answered his friend. "Many things
call me away, but cheer up! The tide will turn, and there is no telling
what you may yet do--or what I may yet be! I tell you I believe in my
fortunate star! But one thing I will say to you, my lad. You have a
brave loyal spirit, than which I admire nothing more heartily. I like
you, and I will surely come back some day,--and who knows what we may
yet do together! Au revoir now! Be true to your trust, and don't forget
the friend you once made by butting him flat on his back!" Jean could
not even answer. He seized the young man's hands, kissed them
passionately, and with a sob fled down one of the long, green alleys of
the Jardin. Could he have guessed how long it would be before he and
this thin young man with the marvellous eyes should meet again, his
despair would have been deeper yet. But that also was guarded with the
secret of the future!



ENTER THE COBBLER,--EXIT THE KING



CHAPTER VI

ENTER THE COBBLER,--EXIT THE KING


The warm September sun shone dazzlingly on the pavement before the
_buvette_ or tavern of Père Lefèvre. This shop was situated in the outer
courtyard of the Temple Tower, and enjoyed the trade of all the
soldiers, guards and commissaries employed in guarding the imprisoned
king and his family. Père Lefèvre sat in a chair outside the door,
nodding in the sunshine, for it was mid-afternoon and trade was dull.

Presently through the great gate and down the courtyard strolled a boy,
whistling vigorously the "Ça ira!" He was a little over twelve years of
age, strong and long-limbed. His eyes and hair were black, and his
curls were surmounted by a red liberty-cap. Such a racket did he make,
that Père Lefèvre was awakened from his nap.

"Good afternoon, Citizen!" said the boy. "You look comfortable and
happy! Business must be pretty poor to give you so much leisure!"

"Business is good enough, most of the time!" snapped Père Lefèvre. "I'm
rushed to death in the morning and evening. Just now, however, the
soldiers are all on duty, and it is not the hour for the commissaries'
visit."

"Why don't you get someone to help you?" inquired the boy. "At your age
it is not good for the health to get about so lively!"

"Help,--indeed!" growled Père Lefèvre. "Gladly would I, but the young
boys are all too busy running about the streets and dancing the
Carmagnole to pay attention to sober work. These are demoralising times
for the young!"

"I imagine you are just the man for me, then," replied the boy. "The
good woman I live with shoved me into the street this morning, and bade
me not return till I had found employment for not less than seven francs
a week. What do you say to that, my friend?"

"I say the saints must have sent you to me in my hour of need, and stay
you shall for seven francs a week! But you must be here at six in the
morning, and leave no earlier than ten at night."

"Done!" cried Jean, for of course it was he. "And now set me to work at
once, lest I find time to regret our bargain!"

When Jean came back to the Rue de Lille that night, he was bubbling over
with excitement and news.

"Oh, what do you think?" he exclaimed. "News!--the best of news! I am
waiter at the tavern of Père Lefèvre, and have learned all about the
situation of the ex-king and his family. The shop is crowded in the
evening with soldiers and commissaries, and they do nothing but gossip
over their suppers about what goes on in the Tower.

"Ah! their poor, fallen Majesties! It must be terrible for them! They
are called no longer 'King' and 'Queen,' but 'tis 'Monsieur Capet' and
'Madame Capet' and the 'Little Capets'!--nothing but 'Capet, Capet,'
every other word! Then they are watched and guarded every moment. There
are two rogues, Tison and his wife, who are hired to do nothing but
watch, watch, watch, spy on every word, sneak behind them at unexpected
moments to see that they are not writing to anyone outside, listen to
all their conversation, and search them every night and morning lest
they have concealed weapons about them, or some means of escape!

"Think of it!--they prevented the King from teaching his son the
multiplication table, because they said it might contain a cipher for
communicating with friends outside! They took away the Queen's
embroidery-work because they thought she might be sewing into it a
secret language! They search every article of food that goes into the
Tower, even cutting open loaves of bread and cake! Ah, it is horrible!

"The King and Queen and Madame Elizabeth spend their time in reading or
teaching the children. Sometimes they take a walk in the tiny garden
that is all enclosed by a high wall. To-day I heard the little fellow
shout, as he romped there with his sister. There is talk too, in the
tavern, that they are going to separate the King from his family, and
keep him shut up by himself. After that they will bring him to trial,
condemn him to death, and then!--" The thought was almost too much for
the tender-hearted Jean, and he turned away lest the others should see
the tears in his eyes.

"But do you think," questioned Yvonne, "that you will sometime get a
chance to speak to the little fellow, and tell him that we still love
him, and would do what we can to aid him?"

"I do not know yet," said Jean, "but I am going to try. He is so closely
guarded, that it is all but impossible for even one within the Tower to
make the slightest sign to him,--so well do those cats of Tisons perform
their task. I can only wait and try, and meanwhile keep my eyes and ears
open to all that goes on. I think some of the guards are more friendly
to the unfortunates than others. If I am not mistaken, one or two are
even royalists in disguise. If there should ever be any plans made for
their escape you may warrant that I shall be helping! Royalist I may not
be, but I am even willing to be taken for one in order to help my
friends. But here's a piece of news that's not so good! Citizen Coudert
is one of the commissaries of the Tower! He was not there to-day, but I
heard his name mentioned, by chance. You should hear how they all speak
of him! He has reminded more people than ourselves of a mouse, and
hence they call him La Souris! But we must beware!"

Jean had not been long in the service of Père Lefèvre, before he became
a general favourite. His friendly smile, his gay rejoinders, his sharp
wit and his ready willingness won him many admirers. Few days went by
when he did not dance on one of the tables, and sing the "Marseillaise"
in his fresh young voice, for the benefit of an applauding audience. He
even drew unaccustomed outsiders to the little tavern, and Père Lefèvre
began to think he had drawn a prize when he hired the lively lad.

"He's worth seven francs and more," he would mutter, "even if he _does_
crawl behind the counter and sleep away half his time!" But Jean was not
as idle as Père Lefèvre supposed. He had his shrewd eyes always open,
and his quick ears ready to catch the slightest whisper. Many a time
when the tavern-keeper thought him sleeping behind the counter, he was
in reality only "playing possum," and listening all the while to the
low-muttered conversations of the soldiers or municipals of the Tower.
In this way he learned much, that no one ever suspected him of knowing.

Strangely enough, Citizen Coudert, or La Souris as he was universally
though not openly called, exhibited no special interest in the boy's
position as waiter here, nor in his close proximity to the royal
prisoners. But Jean was perfectly certain that La Souris was keeping him
under the strictest watch, nevertheless. He longed to ask him what had
become of his little Moufflet, but dared not exhibit the slightest
interest in a subject so dangerous.

But there was yet another of all the throng that frequented the tavern,
who struck Jean with a thrill of dread, whenever he entered the shop.
This was Simon, once a cobbler in the Rue des Cordeliers, now a
commissary of the Tower. He was a medium-sized, square-built man of
about fifty-seven years, with great, powerful limbs, a tanned face
framed by coarse black hair that was always hanging in his eyes, and a
heavy beard. His eyes were ugly and malicious, and he was never seen
without a short black pipe between his teeth. His manner was gruff and
insolent, especially when he spoke of the royal prisoners. Jean's hands
itched to choke him, particularly on one day when he flung himself into
a chair, and exploded in the following fashion:

"That Capet creature! What do you think he has done to-day? Handed me a
paper on which was written,--'The _King_ wishes such and such articles
for his wardrobe! The _Queen_ desires some more linen, etc!' I said to
him,--'Capet, don't you understand that we have abolished kings and
queens? This nation is a republic now! Alter that memorandum as quickly
as you can!' He replied that I could hand it to his valet and he would
attend to it. The insolent object! Those Capets! Kinging and queening
themselves in spite of everything! I'll teach them a few lessons!"

Jean could not rid himself of the impression that this man was to play
some dreadful part in the lives of the unhappy prisoners, and as time
proved, he was not mistaken.

Meanwhile the months were passing, and events were hastening on toward
the dark deed which our Jean could neither delay nor prevent,--the
trial, condemnation and execution of Louis XVI. At last it came! The
Republic pronounced him guilty of conspiring against the liberty of his
people, and of endeavouring to endanger their safety by defending
himself.

Poor King! His only crime had been that of being born a monarch, his
heritage the wrongs committed by generations of his ruling ancestors,
and his misfortune that he was utterly unable to cope with the situation
in which fate had placed him. Never was a trial conducted that was so
much of a farce! The King was allowed two lawyers to defend his cause,
but his condemnation was a foregone conclusion--even to himself. He was
sentenced to lay down his life the very next day, the twenty-first of
January, 1793. The new Republic had stained her glorious liberty by this
great injustice, and therefore she dared lose no time in executing the
sentence.

It must not, however, be supposed that the royal sufferers had no
friends, that they were abandoned by all. Many royalists in the same
city yet remained alive after the massacre of September, and would have
laid down their lives to save the monarch they had never renounced. But
they were overwhelmingly outnumbered by their enemies and rendered
practically helpless. And even the good Republicans deemed this an
outrage on personal liberty and deplored it, but the Terror kept them
silent. Outside of Paris, whole sections of France still declared for
the king. One especially, La Vendée, was engaged in raising an army to
defend his cause. Meanwhile, mob-ruled Paris held him in the very heart
of her, helpless, a prisoner, condemned to die!

Jean never forgot that dreadful day! 'Twas early in the morning, and the
tavern was crowded. In the courtyard stood the carriage waiting for the
doomed monarch, while all pressed close to the doors and windows to see
the better. Simon, the cobbler, harangued the crowd in his strident
voice, and bade them rejoice that they were at last to be rid of so
great a tyrant.

A roll of drums announced the coming of the fallen monarch. He crossed
the courtyard on foot, pale but erect, calm and brave. Twice he turned
and looked back toward the Tower, in farewell to all he held dear. At
the entrance gate he stepped into the carriage and the door was shut. A
great shout led by Simon went up from all but Jean. The cobbler,
noticing his silence, grasped him by the collar.

"Shout, you monkey! Rejoice for the death of Capet! What? Are you a
royalist?" he hissed. Jean did not dare to disobey. With a bursting
heart, he snatched off his liberty-cap, threw it in the air, and cried:
"Vive la République!" Simon, satisfied, let him go. He darted through
the crowd unnoticed, and running madly, sought his home in the Rue de
Lille. There on good Mère Clouet's broad bosom he sobbed out his shame
and sorrow for hours, and did not return to the tavern that day.

At quarter past ten o'clock, a dreadful shout rang out from the Place de
la Révolution, mingled with the ringing of bells and the booming of
cannon. Louis XVI was no more! Paris congratulated herself that at last
she was rid of monarchy. But back in the Tower, a little frightened lad
wept and shuddered on his mother's bosom,--a throneless, crownless
boy-king, called Louis XVII of France!



THE SCHEME OF THE BARON DE BATZ



CHAPTER VII

THE SCHEME OF THE BARON DE BATZ


"If we could only find someone among the _sans-culottes_ where they
could hide over one night,--someone who is at heart a sympathiser! That
is all wanting to perfect the plan!"

Two men in _sans-culotte_ costume were seated at a small table in the
restaurant of Père Lefèvre. Both were faces hitherto unfamiliar in the
tavern. One was that of a young man, and was bold, keen and daring. His
older companion's was of a more common type, but was distinguished by
kindly blue eyes. They leaned across the table and spoke in low whispers
with their heads close together. The little room was otherwise deserted,
for Père Lefèvre nodded outside in the morning sun. He had tended to
the wants of his two customers with many muttered complaints about "that
idle, good-for-nothing vagabond of a Jean, who was probably lying asleep
somewhere!" Then he went back to his own nap.

The younger man, who had spoken last, tapped his fingers on the table
impatiently, and waited for his companion to reply.

"I know of no one just now who would be safe," replied the other, "but
wait a few days and perhaps we shall find one in time." Suddenly they
were both startled to see the body of a boy wriggle noiselessly from
behind an old screen and crawl toward them. He was covered with dust and
cobwebs, and his eyes blazed excitedly.

"Citizens," he whispered, "I know of one who will serve you right well!
Trust me!" The men looked at each other in astonishment and alarm. Had
their cherished plans then, been overheard by this fierce little
Republican who danced the Carmagnole and sang the "Ça ira!" with such
grim delight? If so, all was lost! But Jean hastened to reassure them:

"I beg you to trust me, citizen friends! It is true I am not a royalist,
but we love the little fellow and his good mother. Once she gave us
heaven-sent help, and we have sworn to aid her if we could. For this I
took service in the tavern. For this I have listened to every word of
conversation that men carry on here in low tones, when Père Lefèvre
thinks I am asleep. For this opportunity I have prayed,--oh, long, long
months! Trust me, gentlemen!" The boy's words and looks were so earnest
and sincere that the two men felt certain that he could be trusted with
their secret, and must be, since he had discovered so much. The younger
one took him by the shoulder:

"Swear by God and the late martyred King that you will be faithful!" he
commanded. And Jean vowed to be faithful.

"Now," said the man, "how do you think you can help us, since you have
discovered so much?"

"Mère Clouet, with whom I live," declared Jean, "will joyfully open her
house to the royal ones, and shelter them safely. She has the reputation
for being one of the stanchest _sans-culottes_ in the Rue de Lille, and
none would ever suspect her!"

"It is the very thing!" exclaimed the two men. "It is a godsend!" Then
in whispers they elaborated to Jean all the details of the plan for the
escape of the Queen, her sister and the two children from the Tower.
This is the plot that the boy had discovered, and in which he was to
take so important a part.

There was in Paris a loyal and daring royalist, the Baron de Batz, who
schemed so cleverly for the release of his sovereign that he was never
discovered, even when it chanced that his plans failed. He, it seemed,
was the younger of the two men whom Jean had overheard. He contrived to
be present everywhere, seen nowhere, and had the most trusty agents and
spies in his service. He also had many retreats and secure hiding-places
in Paris, the principal one being at the house of a grocer named Cortey,
who was a commissary at the Tower, and at heart a sympathiser with the
royal sufferers. Through him, De Batz discovered another royalist, one
Michonis, a soldier of the Temple guard. The three together had
perfected a bold scheme of escape.

They had arranged that the first time Cortey should be on duty among the
commissaries, he should enroll De Batz as his colleague for the day,
under the name of Citizen Forget, and thus gain his admission to the
Temple Tower. This had already been done, and De Batz, or Forget as he
was now called, had studied the situation for several days, discovering
about thirty men among the soldiery who would be faithful to the cause.

Then the scheme was to wait till a day when Cortey should be on duty as
commissary, and Michonis also on guard among the sentinels, both at the
same time. They would probably be obliged to wait quite a while for
this, as the two men's turns did not coincide often. That day all the
men on sentry at the staircase of the Tower were to wear long, military
capes above their uniforms. When the hour came, late at night, Michonis
was to take these capes from some of them, and put them on three royal
women. In this disguise the Princesses with guns in their hands, would
be incorporated among a patrol, and in their midst they would surround
the child-king. Cortey was to command the patrol, and under the pretence
of investigating some imaginary disturbance in the street, would have
the great inner gates of the courtyard opened for them. Once outside the
walls, their safety would be almost certain.

A carriage was to be waiting in the Rue Charlot. Jean was to be allowed
to drive this, and take the fugitives near to the Rue de Lille. Then
they would get out and make their way unobtrusively to the home of
Citizeness Clouet. Here they would rest secure for the night, and in the
morning escape in _sans-culotte_ costumes to a ship that would leave the
port of Havre next night. The plan seemed perfectly thought out, and to
Jean it appeared that success was certain.

While the three conspirators were whispering at the table, suddenly a
shadow fell across the floor from the open doorway. With a little shiver
of distrust, Jean turned round and faced the rat-like eyes of La Souris!
He had, however, the presence of mind to appear very unconcerned, and
invited Coudert to be seated at another table. The two men rose to
leave, and before they went Jean remarked aloud:

"Citizens, you have entertained me vastly this afternoon with your tales
of La Guillotine! I hope you will come again to help me pass a dull
hour! What will you take, Citizen Coudert?" But in spite of his apparent
unconcern, his heart misgave him somewhat, for though La Souris said
nothing to alarm him, he watched the boy more suspiciously than ever. He
hurried home that night to Mère Clouet and Yvonne, with joy and fear
mingled in his heart, and told them all the wonderful news, and the two
Clouets spent some happy days thereafter, preparing for their royal
guests.

The time passed while they were waiting for the auspicious day, and the
conspirators were careful not to be seen too much in each others'
company. Once, however, when Forget and Michonis happened to meet and
exchange a few low-whispered words in the courtyard, if they had looked
behind them, they would have noticed a little, wiry, evil-faced creature
skulking around the corner of the building near which they stood. Jean,
the lynx-eyed, from his vantage ground in the tavern doorway, caught
sight of La Souris' suspicious manoeuvres. He left the door, and
strolled nonchalantly--past his friends, singing loudly, "Allons,
enfants de la patrie!" Just when he was opposite them he muttered
between his teeth, "'Ware La Souris!" and sauntered on. The two men
parted, and were careful not to meet again.

At last the long-looked-for day arrived. Michonis and Cortey were both
on duty, and also twenty-eight loyal soldiers, among whom was Forget.
All during the day nothing occurred to mar their plans, and Jean hugged
himself and chuckled with delight. Night came and all was well. Michonis
was at his post in the prisoners' apartments, while his colleagues
rested, lounged or played _tric-trac_ in the council-room below. Simon
alone was not among them, having been absent from the Tower for several
hours. This was looked upon as a favourable omen.

At ten o'clock Jean hastened home to the Rue de Lille, donned the
costume of a coachman, which, as he was growing wondrously tall and
large, did not fit him ill, and leaving Mère Clouet and Yvonne tingling
with suppressed excitement, hurried to one of the dark and deserted
streets nearby. True to appointment, there stood a carriage driven by a
liveried coachman. At the whispered word, "_De Batz_," the man got down,
assisted Jean to climb up in his place, promised to be at the same spot
two hours hence, and disappeared. Jean drove away, not proceeding
straight to the Rue Charlot, but by a wide and devious route that took
him first over a large part of that section of Paris. When he entered
the Rue Charlot at the appointed time, eleven-thirty, it was quiet and
dark.

Here he halted, and sat for nearly half an hour, feverish with
impatience for the royal party to arrive. Presently he heard soft steps
coming down the street, and his heart began to beat violently. But as
the steps drew nearer, he beheld a little, wizened figure that had
something strangely familiar about it, and his heart beat more violently
still when he recognised his old enemy, La Souris! Nearer and nearer he
drew with his queer, mouse-like manner, peering sharply to the right
and left, and Jean began to hope that he would pass the waiting carriage
without paying it any particular heed. But, no!--Citizen Coudert stopped
directly before it, measured up the driver with his crafty eyes, and
inquired:

"Is this carriage hired?" Jean thanked his stars for the broad hat that
shaded his face, and the scarf that muffled him to the chin. He made his
voice as deep as possible and replied:

"Yes, citizen! It is engaged for the evening!"

"Ah! Then you cannot take me to the Rue St. Denis?"

"No, citizen! I'm sorry!"

"Good-night, then!" growled Coudert as he moved off, and Jean responded
with a shiver of apprehension. This strange individual's manner was so
peculiar that one could never guess what were his real thoughts.
Something about it all made the boy perfectly certain that La Souris
did not want a carriage to take him anywhere. But why he should inquire,
and how much he suspected, or whether he suspected at all, Jean could
not, for the life of him, determine! Another quarter of an hour passed.
At last the silence of the night was broken by the stern command of a
guard, and the clanking open of a great gate. Then indeed Jean's heart
leaped into his throat, and he felt assured of success. But instead of a
party of five, one man came running at top speed down the street. When
he was near enough, Jean recognised the Baron.

"Quick!" whispered De Batz. "Drive like the wind!"

"Where?" demanded Jean in despair.

"To the Barriére St. Denis! I must get out of Paris!" and De Batz jumped
in, closing the door softly.

The drive through Paris to the entrance called the Barriére St. Denis
was the most bewildering Jean had ever taken. All the way he was
wondering what could have happened, how the plot had been discovered,
and whether this would affect the welfare and safety of all concerned.
That La Souris was at the bottom of it, somehow, he had not a doubt. But
nothing could be ascertained before the carriage reached its
destination. When the Baron finally alighted, he pressed Jean's hand and
thanked him for his quiet, efficient service.

"It's a mystery to me!" he said in explanation. "All seemed to be going
so well until nearly midnight. Then that devil of a Simon entered the
guard-room with his usual infernal racket, and demanded that we have a
roll-call of the guards. He turned to Cortey and snarled,--'I'm
especially glad to see you here, Citizen Cortey! I wouldn't be easy
without _you_!' Then I saw plainly that the whole thing was discovered.
Ah! but for a moment I had a wild desire to blow out that surly rascal's
brains! But reason told me that this would, far from mending matters,
only serve to incriminate us all. So I managed to keep perfectly calm
while the roll was called. Then Simon went upstairs, probably to
interview Michonis, and left Cortey in charge of us. While he was gone,
Cortey pretended that he heard a disturbance in the street, organised a
patrol of eight (including myself), and we came out to investigate it.
Thus I escaped. Cortey is a brave man and true! His patrol will number
only seven when he returns! Well, it is a grief to me that it has failed
but be of good courage, lad! I shall live to hatch more plots and, trust
me, you shall take a part! I pray that none of you suffer for this, but
I think you will not, as our tracks are well covered. I cannot stay
longer! God bless you, and good-bye!" The brave man slipped away in the
darkness, leaving Jean to drive wearily back to where he was to deliver
the carriage to the coachman, and then plod home on foot to the Rue de
Lille.

His heart was almost too heavy to care what became of him, and he hated
to face the disappointment of Mère Clouet and Yvonne. Their sorrow at
the failure of their hopes was all and more than he had pictured it. But
after a while, when they had talked it all over and were preparing to
retire for the night, Yvonne made a sign to her mother, and then turned
to Jean:

"We have a surprise for you!"

"What is it?" he asked without much enthusiasm, for he was too weary and
disgusted to care about lesser matters. Mère Clouet disappeared into
another room for a moment, and returning, with a quick movement
deposited something in his lap. Jean almost tumbled out of his chair!

"_Moufflet!_" he gasped. "How?--when?--where?--" The little animal
fairly smothered him with caresses, and the light of happiness came back
to the boy's eyes.

"Listen!" cried Yvonne. "About eleven o'clock this evening, we were
sitting here, when suddenly I heard a strange scratching at the door. I
thought perhaps you had returned with the royal ones and were giving us
a signal, so I ran to open the door, when there jumped right into my
arms this little Moufflet! He was breathless with running and covered
with mud and dirt. Oh, how glad he seemed to see us! I gave him a bath
and fed him well, and he has been sleeping ever since. How _do_ you
suppose he came here?"

"He must have escaped in some way from La Souris, though I can't imagine
how!" replied Jean. "And, goodness knows! he's had a run, clear from the
other side of Paris! It's a wonder he ever found us again! But we must
be right careful of him, now. If La Souris should discover him here
again, he'll swear I stole him!

"But, oh!" he thought, "if only the little fellow could have come
to-night and found his pet here!"



THE COBBLER TAKES COMMAND



CHAPTER VIII

THE COBBLER TAKES COMMAND


No one ever knew just how it came about that the scheme of the Baron De
Batz had failed. La Souris was firmly believed to be the one who had
discovered it, though whether he had really become acquainted with the
facts, or only suspected a plot could not be ascertained. All the
conspirators could discover was that during the day, one of the
grenadiers not in the plot had found a folded paper lying outside the
courtyard. It contained but one sentence,--"Beware! Michonis will betray
you to-night!" The soldier handed this to Simon, who immediately took
steps to prevent all action, and had Michonis brought up before the
Commune.

But wary Michonis had cleverly covered up his tracks! There was no
evidence of guilt found upon him or any of his companions. He answered
openly and calmly all incriminating questions, and seemed so earnestly
and candidly interested in the welfare of the Republic, that the Commune
decided Simon must have been mistaken, in spite of the note.

This, however, irritated Simon beyond measure! He doubled all the guards
at the Tower. Then he went whining to the great Republican leader,
Robespierre, complaining that he had unearthed evidence of many plots to
carry off the royal child, proclaim him King of France, and overthrow
the Republic. Between the two they so manoeuvred that in consequence
of these rumours, the Committee of Public Safety issued a decree:--the
boy must be separated from his mother, kept in an apartment by himself,
and put in charge of some tutor to be chosen by the Convention.

Then came the question who should take charge of him, who should be
given the important task of educating his royal ideas in the principles
of the Republic? Who but Simon, the zealous commissary that had been so
active in thwarting all schemes of release! Yes, let Simon have charge
of this tender life, and let his wife be there to assist him and
minister to the bodily wants of this carefully reared, tenderly nurtured
little son of a monarch! So it was decreed!

It was about ten o'clock on the night of July third, 1793. Louis XVI had
been dead nearly six months. In their room in the Tower sat the Queen,
Madame Elizabeth and little Marie-Thérèse. The two older women were
sewing, or rather vainly attempting to darn and patch their much-worn
clothes, for the Republic saw fit to provide them with no new ones. The
fair young girl of fifteen was reading aloud. All were dressed in neat
black gowns, their mourning-costume for the late king.

Over in a corner, in a small bed with no curtains about it, slept the
little Louis Charles. His mother had carefully hung up a dark shawl to
shield his eyes from the light and shut off the draughts. Once he
stirred in his sleep and sighed heavily. Marie-Thérèse stopped reading,
and all glanced toward the bed.

"Poor little fellow!" sighed his mother. "His life is not very happy
now!"

"But how brave he is!" said Madame Elizabeth. "He never complains a bit,
he tries so hard to be cheerful and keep us all in good spirits, and how
tenderly he always speaks of his father!"

"Is it not strange," added Marie-Thérèse, "how he never speaks now of
our happy life at Versailles, (how far away that all seems!) and he
never even mentions the Tuileries, for fear it will make us sad! For one
so young, he is very, very thoughtful!"

"God grant that he may have happier years in store for him in the
future!" sighed Marie Antoinette. "But, whatever comes, I pray that he
may never sit on the throne of France! Nothing but sorrow could come of
it!" She shuddered, and after a moment's silence they all continued
their work. Suddenly there was a loud sound outside on the staircase,--a
heavy tread of feet, a hideous clanking of bolts and bars unfastened.
The three women looked at one another in dismay. But they thought it was
only another of the insulting searches to which they were obliged to
submit so frequently, and at such uncertain hours. The last door opened,
and six municipals entered.

"We are come with an order from the Committee of Public Safety," said
their spokesman, in a loud, brutal manner. "The son of Louis Capet is to
be separated from his family. Give him up to us at once!" Poor Marie
Antoinette could not believe her senses. Separated from his mother! A
little child of only eight! They could not be so cruel!

"It is not possible!" she cried, trembling. "You have got the order
wrong! It cannot be true! He is so young, so weak! He needs my care!"
Her anguish softened for a moment even the hearts of the rough
municipals.

"Here is the decree," they said, more gently. "We did not make it,--it
was the Convention. We are only here to carry it out and we cannot help
ourselves." The three women placed themselves before the child's bed.
They defended it with their bodies, they sobbed, they prayed, they
implored, they humbled themselves to the utmost. All to no purpose!

"Come, come!" at length remonstrated the head of the band. "Give over
this disturbance! They are not going to _kill_ the child! He will be
safe and in good hands." He approached the bed and seized the heavy
shawl which fell on the boy, waking him suddenly and completely
enveloping him. He shrieked aloud in his sudden fright and clung to his
mother, crying:

"Do not let them take me! Oh, mother, mother!"

But the municipals were growing weary of the scene. "If you do not let
him go peaceably," they warned, "we will call the guard and take him by
force!" Then the Queen begged that he should be left at least over that
night, that she should be allowed to see him at meals each day. In vain!
In despair the three women began to dress him. Never did a toilet take
so long! They lingered over each garment, passed his shoes from hand to
hand, put them on and took them off again, thinking in this way to delay
the time of parting a few moments.

"Hurry, hurry!" commanded the officials. "We cannot wait all night!" At
length it was completed. The Queen took her son, all trembling and
frightened, sat him on a chair, kneeled down before him, and clasped
both his hands in hers.

"Dear little child of mine, we are about to part! I know not when we
shall see each other again, but when I am not with you, remember always
your duty. Never forget that it is the good God who is putting you to
this test! Be good and patient, brave and straightforward, and your
father will bless you from Heaven where he is gone!" Then she kissed him
and gave him to the municipals. But the little fellow broke from them,
rushed to her again and clasped her knees with his arms. With the tears
streaming down her cheeks, she released his hold. "Go, my son! You must
obey me!" Grasping his arm, the leader dragged him, still looking
backward, from the room. The women strained their gaze till they could
see him no longer, and the door was shut!

Down in the room below, in the apartment formerly occupied by Louis XVI,
a thick-set, dark man was striding about, smoking an evil-smelling pipe.
The door opened, and some municipals entered with a sobbing boy. They
spoke a few words to the man and then went out, leaving Louis XVII alone
with his tutor. He recognised at once Simon the cobbler, whom he had
frequently seen before, and for whom he entertained an unconquerable
aversion.

"Sit down on that chair, Little Capet!" commanded the cobbler, without
removing his pipe from his mouth. The child obeyed.

"Now there are a few things I want you to understand," said Simon,
striding up and down before him, puffing out great clouds of smoke, "and
we might as well make them plain in the beginning. In the first place,
you are to be called nothing but Little Capet! Do you comprehend that?"
The boy made no answer, but only choked and coughed, for the
unaccustomed smoke almost strangled him. Simon laughed aloud at his
plight.

"Next, you are to obey implicitly every order that I give you. I'm
master, now! Do you understand?" Still no answer.

"Lastly, you are to forget all about your royal fol-de-rols, and learn
carefully from me how to conduct yourself as a good citizen of this
great and glorious Republic. I'll teach you! Oh, I'll teach you well!"
The boy's continued silence irritated him beyond measure.

"Answer me, you little pig!" he shouted, grasping him by the collar. And
for the first time in his life, the son of a king, the gentle loving
child who had never before had a rough hand laid on him, was shaken to
and fro by the cobbler's muscular arm. He sobbed and caught his breath,
but still persisted in a stubborn silence. Simon now perceived that in
this frail little body, he had an iron will to cope with, and mentally
bracing himself, he vowed to break it or perish in the attempt.

Then ensued a frightful struggle! The cobbler scolded, threatened,
raged, tramped about the room, and finally resorted to blows. The little
king set his teeth and endured to the last, but he would not open his
lips. It was far into the night when Simon, furious but exhausted, threw
the boy on his bed in a dark corner, and left him to sob out his grief,
pain and despair till morning.

The next day appeared on the scenes, Madame Simon, the cobbler's wife.
She was very little, very fat and very ugly. Her face and hands were
brown like Simon's, and she always wore a cap tied with red ribbons, and
a blue apron. She was rough, coarse-mannered and common like her
husband, but unlike him, she was inclined to be a little more kindly
toward their captive.

The young King took no more notice of her than he had of Simon. For two
days he would touch neither food nor drink, persisting always in his
obstinate silence. On the third day some municipals came to pay a visit
of inspection. Rushing to them, the child demanded with blazing eyes:

"Where is the law by which you keep me from my mother? Show me the law!
I wish to see it!" The men only laughed, but Simon dragged him away,
exclaiming:

"Silence, Little Capet! What do you know about the law, young fool?"
When the visitors had gone, he continued:

"Now that I see you have not forgotten how to speak, I shall teach you
to shout 'Vive la République!' and dance the Carmagnole. We will make a
brave little patriot of you!"

Time went on, and gradually the poor child learned that stubbornness
would prove of little avail, so he resigned himself to his cruel master
with as good grace as he could. He never forgot, however, that he was a
king, and his actions were always dignified and manly. His mother,
failing in her demand to see him, had his books and playthings sent
down, that he might both amuse himself and continue his studies. The
things were all dumped into a corner in a heap. Simon 'pooh-poohed' at
the books and used their pages to light his pipe. The toys he either
stepped on or threw away, as the fancy took him.

"I'll give thee something to amuse thee, and instruct thee too!" he
volunteered one day, and presented his charge with a little concertina.
"Now pipe away on that! Thy wolf of a mother can play, and thy dog of an
aunt can sing. Thou shalt learn to accompany them! It will be a fine
racket!" Louis Charles pushed the instrument away from him. The coarse
remarks about his mother and aunt stung him to the quick. "I do not wish
it!" he said quietly. Simon was furious! He had taken the trouble to
make the little wretch a gift, and it was scorned!

"Peste! You shall suffer for this!" he threatened. And suffer the poor
child did for many a long day, in consequence of that refusal. Yet no
brutality ever induced him to touch the hated instrument. Simon finally
gave it up.

When he entered under the cobbler's yoke, the little king had worn a
suit of black clothes, in memory of his father. Simon's jealous eye was
not long in perceiving that the child was fond of these clothes, since
his mother had fashioned them.

"It's time you left those off!" he announced one day. "I'll have no one
about me mourning for old Capet! We'll have a gay little new suit made
for you!" Louis begged and pleaded to no avail. A few days after, he was
arrayed in a little coat and trousers of the Revolutionary red, and a
bright red liberty-cap. The boy donned the suit sadly but without
resistance. But when it came to the liberty-cap, nothing would induce
him to let it be placed on his head. He fought and struggled wildly
against wearing the headdress of his father's murderers. It was only
through Madame Simon's interference that the cobbler gave up the
contest.

"Come, come!" she said. "Let be! Another time perhaps, he will listen to
reason!" The child gave her a grateful glance that she never forgot.

In addition to his other hardships, the young king was obliged to wait
on his two captors, and run at their beck and call like the meanest
servant. He performed his tasks without a murmur, and counted himself
fortunate if he were not rewarded by a kick, or a cuff on the ear.

One morning while it was yet dark, Louis XVII awoke on his hard
truckle-bed. All days now were bad enough and sad enough, but he somehow
had a presentiment that this one would be worse than the rest. He rose
shivering, lighted a little foot-stove, and took it to Madame Simon's
bed as he had been directed to do. She scolded him sleepily for not
bringing it sooner, and his heart ached as he recalled how he used to
lay a bouquet from his garden at Versailles on his mother's bed every
morning. Oh, the hideous difference! After his scanty breakfast, he
caught the eye of Simon fastened upon him, with some new, malignant
interest in its gaze.

"Thou art bewigged like a royal courtier!" growled the cobbler, passing
his rough hand over the silky curls. "'Tis little like a good
Republican's head. This must go!" With a huge pair of shears, he hacked
into the thick hair with great, jagged strokes. In a few moments the
curls all lay on the floor, and Louis Charles stood like a shorn lamb,
heartbroken but tearless, before his tormentor. Then the cobbler took
his charge down to the courtyard for his daily breath of fresh air. Some
of the soldiers, at the sight of the poor, ill-cropped head, laughed
immoderately. Only one commissary, Meunier, said regretfully:

"Why have you hacked off all the hair that was so becoming, Simon?"

"Oh, don't you see! We are playing at a game of despoiling kings!"
chuckled Simon. Again the soldiers laughed. The child, always peculiarly
sensitive to mockery, hung his head and turned away, losing all desire
to run about with his football. He was glad when Simon took him in
again.

That night the cobbler made him drink two glasses of bad wine. As he had
heretofore never touched anything but water, it made him stupid and
heavy. Perhaps he did not quite understand what was happening. Perhaps
his spirit was at last beginning to break. But, at any rate, when Simon
said to him:

"Now here's your nice red cap! Put it on!" the boy, worn out with
struggling, yielded at last.

"Ah! Now thou art a true _sans-culotte_!" cried Simon in triumph. And he
crowned the shorn head of Louis XVII with the badge of the Commune!



HOW YVONNE SAW THE KING



CHAPTER IX

HOW YVONNE SAW THE KING


Meantime, Jean in the tavern had not been idle. His quick eyes, keen
ears and alert wits were ever on the watch. During the past month he had
made a friend, and hatched a little scheme of his own. The friend was
Citizen Barelle, one of the many and ever-changing commissaries of the
Tower. Barelle often came into the little tavern after his duties for
the day were over, and not infrequently Jean heard him speak with
sincere regret of the present condition of the wretched little monarch
and his brutal tutor. These remarks made Jean feel certain that Barelle
possessed not only a kindly heart and quickly aroused sympathies, but
that he would also be easily disposed to render the necessary help. He
resolved to take this man at least partially into his confidence.

Therefore when a favourable opportunity presented itself one afternoon,
and he had Barelle to himself in the little eating-room, he opened the
subject cautiously.

"Citizen Barelle, I see you are a friend of the little fellow over
yonder! So am I!" Barelle showed some astonishment at this disclosure.
He replied:

"If you are, my lad, you had best say little about it in public! But why
do you speak of it to me?" Then Jean told him how the queen had once
rendered them help in their distress, and how they had grieved at the
misfortune of their royal benefactors. He said nothing of his
determination to aid them to escape if he could, but he did suggest
this:

"Mère Clouet would be very glad to do the laundry work for the Tower. I
see that the position is vacant since Citizeness Pataud left here last
week. Perhaps you could have her appointed. And then, would it not be
possible, when she and little Yvonne come with the clothes, to have
Yvonne taken up to play with the little fellow once in a while? You say
he is so lonely, and has no pleasures. There could surely be no harm in
that!" Barelle considered for a while, gravely.

"You are a kind little chap!" he said at last, "and a grateful one too!
Yes, we need a laundress badly, and no doubt they will be glad to have
found one so soon. I will use what influence I have. But about the
little Yvonne,--we must see later!" The next week it was all settled.
Mère Clouet was notified of her appointment as laundress to the Tower,
and Barelle whispered to Jean that he thought they could manage it about
Yvonne.

Jean was ecstatic at the success of his scheme! So was the good Mère
Clouet, and as for Yvonne,--she never slept a wink the night before she
went for the first time, so excited was she over the prospect! Jean
gave her a long list of instructions early that morning, before he
departed for Père Lefèvre's. Among them, these were the principal ones:

"Don't let anyone see by your words or actions that you know him or have
seen him before! And _don't_ let anyone overhear what you tell him!"
Yvonne promised, understanding thoroughly the necessity for the utmost
caution. She and her mother packed the clothes in a great basket, hired
a carriage for a franc, and were driven to the Temple. At the outer
courtyard the carriage was stopped by a sentry on duty, and they were
obliged to carry the heavy basket across to the door of the inner
courtyard. Yvonne saw Jean standing in the doorway of the tavern, but,
with a prudence beyond her years, she refrained from noticing him in any
way, as likewise did her mother.

At the inner gate they were again halted. Here Citizeness Clouet must
stop, as she was allowed to go no further. Every article of clothes
must be taken from the basket and minutely examined to see that they
contained no hidden writing or messages from the outer world. This was a
long and tiresome process. While it was being completed, Citizen Barelle
called to Yvonne:

"Come with me and romp with the little fellow upstairs awhile! You are
not afraid, are you?"

"I think not!" she replied, putting her hand in his. And they climbed
the gloomy, guarded stairs together. At the door of the room on the
second floor Barelle gave a command to the sentry, the clanking bolts
and chains were drawn, the door opened, and they stood in the presence
of Louis XVII of France! Yvonne could scarcely believe her eyes! Had she
not known whom she was going to see, she would never have recognised
him. Remembering the beautiful boy in the Tuileries garden, the
laughing, dimpled face, the long curls of golden-brown, the round
graceful limbs, the sweet trusting blue eyes, she shrank back and drew
in her breath with almost a sob.

On a chair in a corner sat the unhappy monarch. His little body, grown
thin and wasted by captivity and ill-treatment, was clad in a startling
red suit. On his shorn, jagged hair rested a liberty-cap. His cheeks
were sunken and pale, and his eyes red with weeping. Over him towered
the burly form of the cobbler.

[Illustration]

"Sing that song about the 'Austrian Wolf,' you wretched little cub, or
I'll throttle you!" he threatened.

"I will never sing such a thing about my mother, if you should beat me
to death!" answered the child, quietly but firmly. Simon put out his
great, hairy hand to grasp the boy's collar.

"There, there, Simon!" interposed Barelle. "Leave off your instructions
for a while, and have a game of billiards with me. See, I've brought
this little youngster to play with the boy, and give you some freedom!
You don't have much leisure time now." Simon, exceedingly flattered by
what he deemed Barelle's thoughtfulness for him, acquiesced at once. The
two men went to a billiard-table at the other end of the room, leaving
the children together.

"You're right about my time!" grumbled the cobbler as they chalked their
cues. "I don't have a moment to myself. I'm tied to that cub every
minute of the day, and I'm just as much a prisoner as he is. I tell you
I can't stand it very long! It's bad for my health! It's driving me
crazy! Why, look you! I could not go to Marat's funeral, and I even
missed the great anniversary fête in the Champ de Mars on August tenth!
I'm tired of it!"

But how fared it with Yvonne and the little king? For a moment after
Simon left him, the child remained motionless, his head sunk on his
breast, sobs only half under control heaving his chest. Then he raised
his head and looked at Yvonne. He gave a great start of recognition and
delight, and would have uttered a glad cry, had not Yvonne laid her
finger on her lips, glanced at the two men, and shaken her head. The boy
understood the action. His adversity had taught him only too well, the
necessity for caution. Yvonne boldly took the initiative. Stepping up to
him, and speaking so that she could be heard by the cobbler, she said:

"Little Capet, don't you want to play a game of tag with me? You shall
try to catch me. I do not think you can!" She sprang away from him, and
he jumped from his chair with a new and unaccustomed lightness, to chase
her round and round the room. Presently she allowed herself to be
caught. Under cover of much loud shouting and laughter, she managed to
whisper:

"I have something to tell you! Do you remember Moufflet?"

"Yes," he replied. "He is lost,--dead!" Yvonne noticed that the cobbler
was eyeing them suspiciously.

"Now I'll catch you!" she called loudly. And Louis Charles obediently
broke into a run, she following, till they were both breathless. Then
she caught him.

"Moufflet is not dead!" she murmured. "Jean found him in the Tuileries
the night you left it." Question after question crowded to the boy's
lips, but he dared not satisfy his curiosity at once.

"Have you not some other game we can play?" asked Yvonne. "Ah! here is a
checker-board. I'm tired of running so let us play this!" They arranged
the board on a chair and commenced to move the pieces, quarrelling
loudly with each other every moment or two. Under cover of this noisy
talk, Yvonne, in short scraps of sentences told the boy the story of how
Jean rescued Moufflet from the Tuileries, how La Souris had wrongfully
taken him away, and how he had since returned. She assured the child
that they were keeping the little animal with the hope of some day
returning him to his master. She also told him how Jean worked in the
tavern in order to be nearby, how her mother did the laundry-work for
the royal prisoners, and how she was to be allowed to come and play with
him once in a while, through the kindness of Citizen Barelle.

The little, heart-sick boy grew radiant with a delight which he dared
not exhibit, lest it be discovered by his watchful tormentor. In the
short time he asked many questions about his mother, sister and aunt.
These Yvonne answered by smiling and pointing to the room above to
indicate that all was well with them. He inquired after Jean and his
beloved dog, and sent many messages to his faithful friend. But the time
was all too short.

"Come, we must be going!" warned Barelle.

"A moment!--only a moment, till we finish this game!" implored Louis
Charles. The good-natured commissary agreed, and turned once more to
engage Simon's attention.

"Yvonne," whispered the boy, "I love you and Jean and your mother. Tell
them so for me, and that I thank them!" Yvonne signified that she would,
and pressed a little packet into his hand.

"Hide it!" she commanded. "'Tis a curl of Moufflet's hair. I thought you
would like to have it, perhaps." He slipped it inside his blouse with a
grateful look.

"I'll hide it in my mattress, and I do thank you for it. Good-bye,
Yvonne! Oh, come again soon!"

"I will," she promised, "as soon as they will let me. Good-bye, poor
little King!" And as Barelle led her away, she called back: "Good-bye,
Little Capet!" But the child heard only her last whispered, "poor little
King," and he gratefully pressed the packet of Moufflet's hair to his
heart.

Four weeks had passed in which Marie Antoinette had heard not a word
concerning the welfare of her little son,--weeks of fear, uncertainty,
and foreboding, terrible in their dragging length. Each day she eagerly
questioned the visiting municipals, but they answered merely that he was
well and studying with a tutor.

At length circumstances favoured her, and help arrived from an
unexpected quarter. This was nothing less than the astonishing change of
disposition in the spy Tison and his wife. Madame Tison fell suddenly
very ill, and in her sickness begged the Queen's pardon for all her
former meanness and spite. Marie Antoinette forgave her freely, but the
poor woman's mind had become so unsettled through remorse, that she had
to be moved from the Tower to a hospital. Then Tison himself entreated
the Queen's forgiveness:

"I never knew you till you came here. I never dreamed what noble, true
characters you all were, till I was set to act as a spy upon you! Oh,
forgive me also!" Tison it was then, who came to the Queen's aid in her
hour of need. Making himself acquainted with all that he could gather
about her son's welfare, he gave her daily accounts of all that he
thought would interest her. More than this, he showed her a loophole in
the wall, tiny it is true, but through which she could sometime catch a
glimpse of her boy as he passed up the stairs daily to take the air on
the turret.

She was deeply shocked when she learned in whose care her tender child
had been placed, and horrified when she saw his appearance through her
loophole, clad in the red suit of the Commune. But once as he passed,
she heard him humming softly the air of a little cradle-song she used to
sing him:

  "Sleep, my child, and cease thy weeping!
  Sleep, my child! my heart is sad."

By this she knew that his thoughts were still with her, and her heart
was a trifle comforted.

But a great change was to come. At two o'clock in the morning, on the
first of August, 1793, the Queen was awakened and told that she must
prepare to leave the Temple Tower. She was transferred to the prison of
La Conciergerie where she was kept two months and a half in a small,
damp cell. After that she was obliged to undergo a trial that was even
more of a flimsy mockery than the one accorded to Louis XVI. "Anything,
anything to be rid of her!" was the one idea of this terrible tribunal.
The end, like her husband's, was a foregone conclusion. On the sixteenth
of October, she bravely, calmly, proudly gave up her life, happy in
being reunited at last with her beloved husband, regretting only that
she must leave her children to so uncertain a fate.

In the Tower of the Temple wept and waited poor Madame Elizabeth and
Marie-Thérèse, all in ignorance of the Queen's fate. And on the floor
below, also waited the persecuted child, who did not even know that his
mother was gone from the room above, where he loved to think of her as
watching over him.



THE BLOW FALLS



CHAPTER X

THE BLOW FALLS


On a night toward the end of October, 1793, Jean was walking slowly and
thoughtfully home from the tavern to the Rue de Lille. His day's work
was over and it was long past ten o'clock. He was in no special hurry,
for he had many things to think over and he felt that he could do this
better by himself and in the open. None of his thoughts were
particularly happy. It was but a week since the Queen had given up her
life on the guillotine, and his heart ached with pity and horror for her
sorrowful end. The little King, doubtless all in ignorance of his loss,
was constantly more and more cruelly treated by the cobbler, whose
already evil temper was now thoroughly demoralised by his own enforced
imprisonment.

Then too, the condition of Paris was appalling. The Terror was at its
height, the prisons were overflowing with "suspects," and the guillotine
claimed daily a sickening array of victims. Robespierre ruled the
Convention with a hand of iron, and ruthlessly sacrificed to La
Guillotine all who stood in his way.

Jean had heard no news from his friend Bonaparte except a brief note
some time before, saying that he was in Marseilles with all his family
(which had left Corsica forever), and that he was again in the army. And
there was yet another problem weighing on the boy's mind. Tison, with
whom he had established quite a friendship since the spy's strange
conversion, had come to him two days before with a request. It seemed
that the Queen, before she was taken to La Conciergerie, had entrusted
to Tison a little book of prayers that she wished in some way to be
conveyed to her son. Tison had promised faithfully to accomplish this
mission if possible, but had as yet been unable to do so, as he was
never admitted to Simon's room.

Then he bethought himself of Yvonne, and of how she came occasionally to
play there, and he remembered that Jean had once confided to him the
tale of her first admittance. Here then was the solution! He came to
Jean and begged him to see that the book was in some way delivered, and
had only that morning placed the precious parcel in the boy's keeping.
This Jean felt to be a sacred trust, more so than ever now that the
Queen was dead. He determined that Yvonne must take it on the morrow
when she went with her mother and the laundry. Barelle would be on duty
that day, and would very likely gain her entrance.

One more vague fear troubled him. La Souris had never, by word or sign,
indicated that he concerned himself in the least about the boy, since
the memorable night when the plot of the Baron de Batz had failed. But
of late the man was constant in his hovering about the tavern, and the
very fact that he seemed to avoid speaking to the boy purposely, made
Jean most uneasy. It was as though a sword were suspended above his
head, and might fall at any unexpected moment.

All these thoughts served to depress the spirits of this usually lively
lad. He walked soberly, his head bent, looking neither to the right nor
left, his hands jammed in his trousers pockets. The street he traversed
was alive with people and bright with the lights from many shop-windows.
But presently he turned into one that was quite deserted, and almost
pitch dark by contrast. He had not proceeded far in this black lane
before he became aware of stealthy steps following him. His first
impulse was to take to his heels and run at top speed, but he wisely
decided to do no such thing. Instead he stopped abruptly and demanded:

"Who is following me? What do you want?" The stealthy footfalls ceased
for a moment, then out of the shadow stepped a huge figure.

"Do not be afraid!" a voice whispered, as the figure drew near. "I am
Citizen Prevôt, the pikeman, who helped to search your house over a year
ago!" Jean was astonished and not a little alarmed. He knew Prevôt to be
an almost constant attendant of his enemy, La Souris, and he could not
imagine whether to expect an attack from this giant or a friendly
advance. Prevôt hastened to reassure him:

"I am following you with the friendliest intentions, believe me! I
always liked you for your cleverness in teaching that little dog his
trick, and I've news that will interest you to-night. I followed you
from the tavern, but I dared not address you till we came to this dark
street, for fear of--_him_! He's a born spy! It's the sole ambition of
his life to get someone into trouble,--you know whom I mean!--and I hate
him as I hate the devil! But I have to serve him,--that's my living and
likewise the safety of my neck! Now, in the first place, let me ask you
did your little dog ever get back to you?"

"Oh, yes, yes!" answered Jean. "But how he came to, I know not."

"Well, _I_ do," returned Prevôt, "for I let him out of the house that
night. The poor little beast had been pining away for weeks and weeks.
He would eat almost nothing, and when we tried to make him do that
clever trick, he would only lie down and whine. It was plain that his
heart was breaking. So, one night when _he_ was out on some spying
expedition, I quietly opened the door, and the little animal was off and
away like a flash. I supposed he would get back to you. My soul! But I
had to stand a tirade from _him_ when he came back, for I represented to
him how the beast must have sneaked out unawares!"

"I can never thank you enough!" said Jean gladly. "We all love the
little thing so!"

"But that's not all I have to say," went on Prevôt. "And the rest is
more serious! Do you know that _he_ has been keeping an eye on you for a
long time? Well, he has had his suspicions that you were mixed up in one
or two things concerning those in the Tower, but he could never be quite
certain till this morning, when he caught you in communication with
Tison, and saw Tison hand you something, secretly. Then he put two and
two together, and became convinced that you were in some plot to aid
those Capets. My lad, to-day he denounced you to the authorities!
To-morrow morning you will be arrested and then off with you to La
Conciergerie,--and you can imagine the rest! Tison is to be treated to
the same attention, only he will probably go to some other prison. Then
said I to myself, that fellow is too bright a young chap to afford a
mouthful to La Guillotine, and I'm going to give him at least a warning!
Cut away to-night, young Jean! If you start at once without even going
home, by to-morrow you can be far out of Paris and the reach of _him_!"

Jean's heart almost stopped beating at the news, yet, singularly enough,
so long had he been expecting the blow, that when it fell his one
thought was, "It has come at last!" He could not even command words in
which to thank this kind-hearted _sans-culotte_ for his timely warning.
But Prevôt understood and grasped his hand:

"Don't try to thank me, lad! Make haste to get away, and to-morrow
morning there will be one victim the less, thank heaven! I must return
at once, for _he_ will be missing me, and of course suspecting
something! Adieu!" And he was gone before the boy could open his lips.

For many minutes Jean stood there in the darkness, striving to collect
his thoughts. What _was_ he to do! Circumstance having thus opened the
way for him, combining his safety with one of his most cherished wishes,
it was an almost irresistible temptation to flee from Paris, seek out
his hero and friend in Marseilles, and become a soldier of France. It
was a situation that would have tested the courage and loyalty of many
an older and more experienced mind. But turn and twist it as he would,
the position admitted of one outcome only, for him. Did he take good
Citizen Prevôt's advice and escape before morning, what would be the
inevitable result? Simply this--that Mère Clouet and Yvonne would be
suspected of complicity with him, and _they_ would, without doubt, take
his place in one of the overflowing prisons. That they should suffer
while he went scot-free was unthinkable. And of course they could not
all attempt to escape,--that would mean certain apprehension with its
inevitable results. On the other hand, did he stand his ground, go about
his usual duties to-morrow and accept his arrest as if innocent, there
was one chance in a hundred that he might be so considered, and
ultimately set free. And even at the worst, no matter what happened to
him, Mère Clouet and Yvonne would probably escape suspicion.

Then there was one other consideration,--the dead Queen's little book of
prayers that he held concealed, in trust for her misused son. That must
be delivered at all cost, and in order to facilitate this he must go on
to the Rue de Lille and entrust it to Yvonne. No!--the longer he thought
about it, the plainer his duty became. He must accept with the best
grace possible what fate had in store for him, execute the mission that
had been entrusted to him, and see that no harm came through him, to
those who stood for all the family that he could claim in this world.
Once arrived at this conclusion, his heart actually felt lighter. With
all due gratitude to Prevôt, he hurried home, determined to act on the
morrow as though in complete ignorance of what awaited him.

But when he reached the Rue de Lille, it was with a very grave face. So
unlike his usual gay self was he, that Mère Clouet was alarmed. Jean,
however, told her nothing. He ate his late supper, fed Moufflet, and
tried hard to act as though all were as usual. But when the Citizeness
Clouet had left the room for a time, Jean drew Yvonne aside and took her
into his confidence.

"Do not tell good Mère Clouet yet," he ended. "She must go to-morrow
with the laundry, and I want her to know nothing, till afterward!" Poor
little Yvonne grew white with terror.

"Oh, Jean," she whispered, "nothing must happen to you! We love you so!
How could we live without you!"

"Perhaps nothing more serious than a few days' detention will happen,
little one," he answered, "but we must always be prepared. Now let me
tell you what you must do. Here is the packet. You cannot get it out of
your hands too soon! Do they ever search you when you go to the little
fellow?"

"No," replied Yvonne. "Citizen Barelle always tells them it is not
necessary."

"Then you can probably get it to him safely. It is small thank
heaven!--and easily concealed. Few about the place connect me with you
and your mother, so if I am taken, make no inquiries for me except of
Barelle or Meunier,--he is also a friend,--for your own heads would not
then be safe! Trust in God, Yvonne, to save me! I cannot think He will
suffer me to come to harm. Take good care of Moufflet, and give my love
to Mère Clouet. Good-night, Yvonne!" It is scarcely necessary to add
that two people in number 670 Rue de Lille slept but little that night!

Next morning Jean hurried off to work as though nothing of importance
was to happen that day. The hours of the morning drifted heavily by, and
his heart was in his mouth at every unusual sound. He saw Mère Clouet
and Yvonne arrive with the laundry and leave after their usual stay.
Yvonne looked frightened and was plainly trembling, but by the
imperceptible nod she gave him, he guessed that her mission was
accomplished. Noon came, and still nothing had happened. But about one
o'clock, three gendarmes came into the tavern and ordered some wine.
Scarcely were they finished with their refreshment, when one of them
laid a heavy hand on Jean's shoulder.

"I arrest you in the name of the Republic!" was all he said, but Jean
knew that the blow had fallen at last. A wondering and regretful group
gathered about to see this favourite led away to some unknown but only
too well-imagined fate. Even Père Lefèvre parted from his little waiter
with quite a show of sympathy. It seemed a long journey from the Temple
to the Palais de Justice, and the gendarmes said not a word all the way.
The procession aroused little interest in the passers-by, for arrests
were too common in those days to cause any excitement. Arriving at the
Palais de Justice, they entered through the great Cour du Mai, and led
the boy to a large office where were seated many clerks at work. His
name was entered and a gendarme assured the clerks that the charge had
already been noted so that it only remained to thrust him within the
walls of the prison. Without further ado, he was led down a gloomy
staircase, a gate was opened and shut, and Jean was fast in La
Conciergerie!

He found himself in a spacious courtyard filled to overflowing with a
throng of helpless humanity of every degree from the lowest to the
highest. Among them were nobles, authors, priests, bankers, merchants,
bakers, farmers, mechanics, _sans-culottes_ even, and vagabonds, all
rubbing elbows, existing in daily fear and trembling, and almost starved
on the inadequate rations they received. That afternoon a crier came to
the gate and read aloud the list of that day's victims to the
Guillotine. Amid sobs and cries, that batch of prisoners passed out of
the dungeon forever, only to be replaced by a fresh installment before
evening.

Recognising none of his fellow-prisoners, Jean established himself in a
convenient corner, and amused himself by noting the vast difference in
the way that different classes of victims behaved themselves in their
terrible incarceration. Strangely enough, the class that seemed most
unconcerned was the nobility. A little party of them were grouped
together in a corner, and from their actions they might have been safely
at home enjoying each others' society without a thought of fear. Four of
them were engaged in playing a stately game of cards. When the crier of
the afternoon read, among others, the name of one of these players, Jean
was astonished to see the man rise, apologise politely to the others for
his enforced absence, and request another friend to take his place while
he was away. Then he bowed and departed, as though death were not
awaiting him outside that fatal gate! Others were not less collected.
These aristocrats seemed to pride themselves on ignoring the hideous
peril of their position.

People in other walks of life were not always so self-contained. Here
and there women, and even men sobbed and shivered for hours at a
stretch, and a shriek of anguish from some doomed victim was no unusual
occurrence. Others seemed frozen dumb with apprehension, while yet
others laughed and sang and played at boisterous games, striving
recklessly to forget their precarious nearness to trouble.

When evening came, and the prisoners were to be locked into their
crowded cells for the night, four noisy, stupid, half-tipsy jailers
entered, accompanied by several savage dogs, and there was a great to-do
while the roll of the victims was being called. A badly spelled,
incorrect list was passed from hand to hand among the jailers, a wrong
name was called, to which, of course, no one responded. The turnkeys all
swore in chorus, and tried another with no better success!

"Here, citizens," suggested Jean the irrepressible, "give me that list,
and I'll help you get it straight!" They were only too glad of some
assistance, and willingly handed it to him. Jean called off the names,
while the person to whom each belonged marched before the guards and
assured them of his or her identity. When this performance had been gone
through four times, the muddled keepers were at length convinced that
they had all safely locked in.

"Thanks, little rat!" they told Jean. "We will remember you another
time!" and the great gates were shut and barred for the night. Jean
found himself in a narrow cell in company with seven other persons
completely unknown to him, and they all slept together on a filthy
mattress of straw. Next day, however, Jean was removed from the common
hall and placed in a tiny, uncomfortable cell by himself.

"What's this for, my friend?" he demanded of the turnkey.

"It's because you are a dangerous conspirator, and it has been commanded
to keep you in solitary confinement!" he was told.

"Here's a pretty pass!" thought Jean. "How plainly we see the finger of
La Souris in this pie!" And he sat down on his straw mattress to think
it over.



EXIT THE COBBLER



CHAPTER XI

EXIT THE COBBLER


Louis Charles Capet sat on his rough wooden chair by a table, anxiously
eyeing the door, and listening nervously for the slightest sound. Simon
was not with him, having gone up on the platform by himself for a little
airing. Madame Simon sat knitting in another corner of the room. Just
for a while the child was enjoying one of his rare intervals of peace,
free from violence, insult and terror.

Had one watched him, it would soon have become evident that he was
waiting for something,--waiting, longing, with every nerve tense, for
some desired event. It was the day that the laundry should come back,
and the child knew it. Therefore with all his heart he was hoping for
one of those infrequent visits with Yvonne, the sole pleasure in his
weary little existence. It was long since she last came to him.

For a while nothing was heard in the room but the click of Madame
Simon's knitting-needles, and the chirp and flutter of five or six
canaries in a big gilt cage on the table. It was through the goodness of
the kind-hearted Meunier, another commissary, that the child had been
allowed this plaything. Pitying his forlorn and empty life, Meunier had
obtained permission to have placed in the room a gilt cage that he had
found in the store-room of the Temple. This cage contained an artificial
canary, which when wound up would whistle the air, "O Richard! O, my
king!"

At first Louis Charles was immensely pleased with this toy, thinking
that the bird was alive and a captive like himself. But when he
discovered that it was only an automaton, he lost all interest and
apathetically refused to be entertained by it. Then good-natured
Meunier scoured the neighbourhood and brought him some live canaries to
put with the mechanical one.

"These, at least, are real birds!" the child cried gleefully, and kissed
each one as it was put into the cage. "I shall try to tame them!" From
that time he had always a pleasing occupation with his feathered
captives. He fed them, cleaned the cage, and clapped his hands with
delight when they all started to sing, accompanying the toy one in his
tune of the "King's March." One little fellow seemed tamer than the
rest, never failed to come when the boy chirped to it, and even perched
fearlessly on his shoulder. This one he called "La Petite," and had tied
a tiny pink ribbon around its leg.

But the birds were rather quiet just now, hopping about and twittering
softly. Suddenly in the silence of the room there sounded the rasping of
bolts undrawn, the clanking of chains and the hoarse command of the
sentries. The door queued. The boy's heart almost stood still in the
intensity of his expectation. Would she come? Was Yvonne just beyond the
door? With a stifled cry of joy he recognised the sound of her voice,
and knew that his desire was to be fulfilled. When she entered he
thought she looked grave, and not nearly so buoyant as was her wont.
Poor Yvonne! At that very moment she was sick with fear for Jean's yet
unknown fate.

Wishing to rid herself at once of the packet, and deeming Simon's
absence the most favourable moment, she thrust it into his hand under
the table.

"From your mother! Hide it quickly!" she whispered. Watching Barelle and
Madame Simon who were talking together, he slipped to his bed, and
shoved the packet into a small hole in the mattress, returning
noiselessly to Yvonne. Then he said aloud:

"I have something for you, Yvonne. It is not much, but I wish you to
take and enjoy it!" And he handed her a small, shrivelled pear. Little
Yvonne was sincerely touched by this gift. She knew how small an amount
the poor child got to eat, and she could not bear to deprive him of even
this miserable little piece of fruit.

"Oh, I ought not take it!" she said. "You need it more than I!" But
Louis Charles eagerly pressed her to accept, and even Madame Simon
turned to intervene:

"Take it! take it, little girl! The little fellow has been saving it for
a week to give to you. He will be sorely grieved if you refuse!" With
tears in her eyes, Yvonne accepted the pitiful gift.

"And now show me your birds! How pretty they are!" she said. But the boy
had a question to ask. "My mother! How is she?" he whispered. Poor
little fellow! He did not dream that his mother, long since removed from
the Tower, had so recently gone to her eternal repose. Even the
cruel-hearted cobbler had spared him that blow, and Yvonne would sooner
have had her tongue cut out than be the one to impart such news. So she
only smiled and pointed to the ceiling. And Louis Charles, reassured,
turned to show her his birds.

He whistled and sang to them, and started the toy-bird playing its tune.
This encouraged all the feathered flock to warble and soon there was a
gay little concert in the dingy prison room. The children clapped their
hands and laughed with delight. In the midst of this the door suddenly
opened, and Simon entered, followed by some new municipals who were
making their first tour of inspection.

"What's this! What's this!" exclaimed one, more ferociously zealous than
the rest, as he approached the cage. The live birds all ceased their
music, but the ill-fated automaton went on with its song, "O, Richard!
O, my king!"

"Kings! kings! Here's a pretty state of affairs! How comes such a thing
here? There are no more kings!" Then he noticed the ribbon around the
leg of the boy's favourite. "And what's this! Here's a _decorated_ bird!
Here's a _privileged_ character! Here's an _aristocrat_, I suppose!" He
burst open the door of the cage, and seizing the offending songster,
roughly tore off the "Order." Then he threw it violently from him. Poor
Louis Charles was watching the treatment of his pet. He sat rooted to
his chair with frightened eyes, and a little sob escaped him when the
man cast the bird from him. But he knew better than to utter one word in
defence of his favourite. Experience had taught him that such a course
would conspire even sooner, to bring about the defeat of any wish he
might express.

"Take these things away!" ordered the new municipal, and Simon quickly
removed the cage from the room. Then the municipal turned his attention
to Yvonne.

"Who is this, and why, pray, is she here?" he stormed. Barelle explained
Yvonne's presence.

"Away with her! This is all against the rules!" he shouted, and poor
Yvonne was hustled off before she could even say good-bye to her friend.
In her heart she knew that she would never be allowed to come again.

Louis Charles cried himself to sleep that night, in the agony of the
day's double disappointment. To be robbed at once of his birds and
Yvonne was a crushing blow. But he woke in the night, remembered the
packet his mother had sent him, drew it out and opened it. Though he
could see nothing, by touch he recognised the prayer-book he had so
often seen in his mother's hands. Reassured by her love and thought for
him, he kissed it reverently. After that he thrust it back in its
hiding-place, and went to sleep calmed and comforted.

He never saw his birds again, nor did Yvonne ever enter the door of his
hated prison as the gloomy weeks passed, yet strange events were
preparing which were to make radical changes in the life of Louis XVII.
These events related chiefly to the cobbler Simon. The long confinement
had been telling on his robust health, and stretching his nerves to an
irritable tension. For confined he was, as surely and closely as the
little king himself. He was there to guard "Little Capet" every moment
of the time, and was being handsomely paid for it. Therefore every
request to go out for a while, change scene and air or witness some
festival of the Republic, was sternly refused by the Council-General.
Madame Simon also grew restive, though she was allowed more freedom than
her husband.

At length the time came when the cobbler felt he could endure it no
longer. He liked his work,--nothing pleased him more than to maltreat
this little prince of the blood,--and he liked his pay even better. But
more than all he wanted freedom, and that he could not have with the
position of tutor to "Little Capet." Consequently on the fifth of
January, 1794, he handed in his resignation, and was released from a
situation now become hateful to him.

A few days after, there was a great noise and confusion in the Tower.
The cobbler and his wife were about to leave it. The child-prisoner
could scarcely believe his senses! Was his terrible tormentor really
going? Was he actually to be left in peace? He sat motionless and
silent, watching their operations, while a frenzy of joy surged within
him. At length all was in readiness, and there was no excuse for further
delay. Madame Simon, who had never cherished her husband's hard feeling
for the child, approached him, pressed his hand kindly and said:

"I do not know when I shall see you again, Little Capet, but good-bye!"
Simon heard her, and added a farewell of his own that was quite
characteristic of him.

"Ah, you little toad! I suppose you're glad to be rid of me, aren't you!
But you won't get out of this hole, I can tell you, and you may do
worse than have Simon the cobbler about you!" With this he pressed his
hand heavily on the child's head, almost drawing from him a cry of pain.
Then the door was shut, and Simon the cobbler went out of the life of
Louis XVII forever!

All that day the boy was left alone to amuse himself at will, seeing
none but Caron the cook who brought him his meals. In breathless
expectation he awaited whatever might happen next. Who could tell! He
might even be sent to his mother! Next day, however, another surprise
awaited him.

The Council-General, it seemed, found great difficulty in replacing
Simon. In fact, they declared that his counterpart could not be found,
and so he should have no successor. They determined instead, to try the
effect of absolute solitude for a time on the little sovereign.

Perhaps we wonder why, since the child's existence was so troublesome to
them, they did not kill him outright, as they had his royal parents.
But no! Such a crime would not befit a Republic "always great and
generous!" They did not go about slaughtering innocent children whose
only offence was that of having been born to the purple! By no means!
They would make a great pretence of caring for and guarding him, but in
time he should simply fade away, disappear, be lost to public interest.
Or, in plainer words, he should die a natural death, brought about by
systematic ill-treatment and neglect. The first stage had already been
accomplished by the cobbler. The second was about to begin.

On the morning of the following day, into the room walked carpenters and
workmen. What were they about to do, wondered the boy? He was soon to
discover. First they moved his bed into a dark little back room that
adjoined the large one. Then they cut down the door between to about
breast-height, and criss-crossed the open upper part with heavy iron
bars. In the middle of this they made a wicket or hole closed by other
movable bars, and fastened with an enormous padlock.

Louis Charles was then commanded to enter. He did so, and the door was
shut and fastened unalterably by every device of which they could think.
And so he was left, having no communication with the outer world save
the little wicket. Through this was passed his coarse meals, and
whatever necessaries they thought fit to allow him. Through this also he
sent out whatever he wished removed. The cell was lighted only by a
lantern hung in the room outside, whose feeble rays scarcely penetrated
beyond the bars of the door. He was allowed no books, no playthings, no
occupation of any kind except to keep his cell clean with an old broom.

For the first few days, in spite of the utter desolation of his
surroundings, the boy was contented, even happy. His young life had for
the past six months been so constantly harried by the cruel cobbler and
merciless municipals, that he was devoutly thankful for the peace and
rest of his solitude. One of the first things he did was to draw his
mother's prayer-book from its hiding-place, and try in the dim light to
decipher some of the prayers she had so often repeated with him. This he
had never dared to do when the cobbler had charge of him. Then he
examined the glossy curl of Moufflet's hair, and wondered whether he
should some day see his pet once more. When in want of other occupation,
he would sweep his cell again and again, and make and re-make his bed.

His meals were handed to him twice a day. Coarse, ill-cooked fare it
was, and very little of that,--some watery soup, a small morsel of meat,
a loaf of stale bread and a pitcher of water. He never saw the one who
brought it, for the wicket was so arranged as to hide the face outside.
The commissaries changed daily, and their visits were always after
nightfall. They would come to his wicket and call loudly, "Little Capet,
are you there?" "Yes!" he would reply. "Well, go to bed then! You can't
have any more light!" they would shout, and extinguish the lantern in
the next room.

And so the time passed! Louis Charles soon lost all track of the
dragging days and weeks, but this solitude began to tell frightfully on
his strength, and he grew almost too weak to move about. Upstairs, just
above him, his sister and aunt knew nothing of his troubles. They only
knew that Simon was gone, for they heard no more dreadful shouting and
scolding, nor the plaintive child's voice singing the songs of the
Revolution at his jailer's command. But one dark night, Madame Elizabeth
received a summons to appear before the terrible tribunal. And she also
went out of the Temple, never to return, for she was shortly to travel
the same dark way that the King and Queen had gone before her. Little
Marie-Thérèse was also left in solitude.

And so for a space of several months must we leave the three children,
each to a solitary cell, one in the Conciergerie, and two in the Temple
Tower.



A FRIEND RE-ENTERS AND EVENTS MOVE ON



CHAPTER XII

A FRIEND RE-ENTERS AND EVENTS MOVE ON


On the morning of July first, 1794, Jean sat on the edge of his straw
mattress, listening intently for the slightest sound in the corridor
without. He had been in the Conciergerie over eight months. How he had
come to be left so long without undergoing a trial was a mystery to him,
except that it might be explained by the fact of his age. Under fifteen,
the Republic considered people as children, and these they did not
punish with death. Over it, he would have to suffer as an adult. Now his
fifteenth birthday having occurred the day before, he held himself in
readiness for trouble!

How he had endured those long, dreary weeks, he could scarcely himself
have told. Sometimes it seemed as though the solitude, combined with
his fears for his loved ones and himself, and the despair at this
frustration of all his hopes, would deprive him of his reason. But Jean
was a lad of many and varied resources! For one thing he had made
friends with his jailers on the very first day, and had lost no
opportunity since to improve their acquaintance. With them he held long
conversations, and tried thus to learn as much as possible of the state
of affairs in the city. But the turnkeys, though friendly, were rather
chary of information, and Jean gleaned but little intelligence in this
direction. Yesterday, however, one of them had casually dropped a remark
that filled him with an unreasoning joy:

"We are hideously crowded now, and there's no place to be longer
reserved for solitary confinement. So by to-morrow you may have a
lodger, my friend!" Jean dared not exhibit the pleasure this
announcement caused him. To see and speak to a human being other than
these almost inhuman monstrosities, the turnkeys, was almost too good to
be true!

"Oh, well! I'll not object, only do not crowd in too many, I beg!" he
replied with greatest indifference. But his heart sang in a very jubilee
of thanksgiving. Therefore was he waiting in breathless expectancy, for
either one of two events,--a companion in his solitude, or a call to
himself face the tribunal of justice and its almost certain result.
Which would it be?

He waited till noon in eager suspense, but the corridor remained silent.
Jean began to be very impatient. He longed for anything to break the
monotony of this waiting, even were it to mean his own call to judgment.
At last, about two o'clock, voices were heard along the corridor,
tramping footfalls, the hoarse growl of the turnkeys, and finally the
unbolting of the cell-door. But his joy was beyond all words when the
two turnkeys flung into the room a stranger, and closed the door with a
bang and the cheerful remark:

"There you are! Keep each other company till you go to make your call on
Mistress Guillotine!" The stranger fell heavily on the bed, as though in
a stupor, and so remained for many minutes. While in this state, Jean
had time to look him over and judge what manner of companion he had been
given. The man was clothed in the peasant costume, evidently of Picardy.
His face was covered with a five days' growth of beard, and his
expression indicated no large amount of wits. As he lay on the mattress,
he seemed overcome by a very paroxysm of terror. When he appeared to be
somewhat recovered, Jean broke the conversational ice:

"And what may be _your_ crime against the Republic, Citizen Friend?" The
peasant started at the sound of his voice, sat up and gave the boy a
scrutinising look. Then his face underwent the strangest transformation
Jean had ever seen. The stupid expression vanished, the eyes sparkled
brilliantly, and a smile played about the bearded mouth. In that
instant Jean recognised him.

"The Baron de Batz!" he exclaimed, springing forward.

"Hush!" whispered the Baron, as he wrung the boy's hand. "This is luck
indeed! I knew that you had been sent here, but I thought regretfully,
that you had long since perished!" Jean explained the supposed reason
that he had been so far spared.

"But tell me, I beg, how you come to be here!" he ended.

"Oh," said De Batz, "it's not under my right name that I have been
arrested, as you probably surmise. Of course, I'm still devoted to the
cause of rescuing my little king, but up till now all my plans have
failed, chiefly through just such misfortunes as that which spoiled the
one in which you took part. But there is something on foot now,--or will
be soon,--that is of greater scope than any yet conceived!

"As to how I came here?--well, I was prowling this morning about the
Temple, in this disguise of a peasant of Picardy, seeking to obtain some
needful information. For this purpose I engaged a guard in conversation,
in the course of which he remarked that the country was going to the
Evil One! 'Not _going_, but there already!' I responded, when I felt a
hand on my shoulder. I turned, and confronted--who but Simon the
cobbler!

"'That's a remark inimical to the Republic!' he roared. 'For that I
order your arrest!' And in two seconds I was in the grasp of a couple of
gendarmes who hustled me, followed by Simon, to this prison. Simon made
the charge, and I gave the name of Antoine Lecoste. The rest you know!
And for such offences are thousands of poor wretches doomed to death in
these glorious days!"

"But what a misfortune," sighed Jean, "that you should be so imperilled
when you are the soul of the noble schemes for releasing the little
fellow! You stand about one chance in a million of being acquitted, from
all I hear!"

"Do not fear for me, lad! One can never tell what may happen, of course,
but, hark you! I have a band of trusty followers, and in view of the
very thing that has happened, my arrest, we concerted, some time ago, a
plan to rescue me if I am caught and condemned, even were I on the way
to the very scaffold itself. And trust me, Jean, should it so fall out
that we travel that road together, you shall share my rescue. If I go
before you and am rescued, I will surely devise some scheme for your
escape when your time comes. Only, if you are called to go before me,
heaven alone can aid you!" Jean pressed his hand with a gratitude too
deep for words.

"Meanwhile," ended the Baron, "it is best that we do not seem too
intimate, when our jailers are around. What a horrible place this is!
How long have you been here?" And Jean gave him a history of his
imprisonment. The two talked nearly all that night. Jean had heard
practically no news from the outer world in all the eight months, and he
learned now much that astonished him. One of the events most amazing to
him was the resignation of Simon from his post of tutor to Louis XVII,
and the young king's solitary confinement. The other was that Danton,
the great original Terrorist leader had perished on the scaffold as far
back as April.

"How came it about?" inquired Jean in wonder. "I cannot understand it!
He was head and front of every thing!"

"Simple enough, in these days!" responded De Batz. "It is like the
mountainous waves of the sea. One towers above all for a moment, only to
be overtopped by the one behind it next instant. Robespierre became both
tired and jealous of his great friend and compatriot, and decided to get
rid of him. Nothing easier! He denounced Danton to the Convention, and
he was tried and condemned by the very tribunal he had himself
instituted. Right here in the Conciergerie at that! You should have seen
him during his trial! He sat and made paper pellets which he threw at
his judges! Oh, Danton was a cool one, and he died bravely! But, let me
tell you something. Robespierre's turn is coming next! The people are
weary of him and his underhand ways, and 'tis whispered that he wishes
to sweep all others out of his path and make himself Dictator. But it
won't do! They are furious at him for causing Danton's death,--his
closest friend, mind you!--and something is going to happen. The pot is
on the point of boiling. It will take but a few days at most for it to
boil over. And let me tell you who will be the next man of the
hour,--Barras! He is already very popular. Keep your eye on Barras,
Jean!"

Two days passed, and the friends were left unmolested. During this time
they exchanged thoughts on many subjects, and waited with apprehension
lest one or the other should be called away, and strove to pass the
hours as best they might. Jean begged De Batz to tell him what was the
new plan for rescuing Louis XVII.

"That I cannot tell you just yet," said the Baron. "For it is not
perfected, and I am under oath to reveal nothing. But if we get out of
this alive, be sure that you will hear more about it later. But one
thing I will say. I may have to disappear for a time to another part of
France. If I am not in Paris, _find Caron_! You know who he is?" Jean
nodded assent. Then he asked about how they were to escape.

"It is best that you should not know," said De Batz. "The manner of it
will be attended with great risk, and you will come through it better if
you are ignorant. Only, do not be surprised at anything that may
happen!"

On the third day, the jailers entered the cell at noon, accompanied by
a court-crier. Jean and the Baron exchanged a look, for they knew that
the fate of at least one of them was to be sealed that day. To their
joy, both their names were read to appear before the tribunal. The
jailers left them saying that they would be back in half an hour.

"This is a godsend!" exclaimed the Baron. "Nothing could have been
better than that we should go out at the same time. If we are rescued it
will be together, and if not,--well, at least we will die in each
other's company!" The jailers came back in a few moments and bound the
hands of the two behind their backs. In the courtyard they found a band
of thirty more victims, in charge of a corps of gendarmes, all petrified
into a very apathy of fearful anticipation. Strangely enough, there was
not even a tear shed by the band of the condemned. The sobs and
lamentations came wholly from the friends they were leaving.

Out from the courtyard, and along dark galleries and passages they were
herded like so many cattle, till at length they were pushed into the
great gloomy room where sat the far-famed Tribunal of Terror. Three
judges robed in black, wearing plumed hats, sat on a high platform, and
scribbled occasional notes. A clerk called out the list of names, to
which each prisoner responded. Then, one by one, the names were read
again, and a charge against each was hastily gabbled over, which the
prisoners scarcely heard and in nine cases out of ten did not
understand. When asked if they had anything to say in their defence,
each murmured calmly and hopelessly, "No!" After this, one of the judges
rose and pronounced the sentence:

"You are all found guilty of conspiring against the Republic! I
pronounce upon you the sentence of immediate death!"

There was no surprise and scarcely any interest created by this. Why
should there be! They had expected it from the beginning! For the most
part they were as those already dead. The gendarmes hurried them out by
another passage, and they came to an open gate, beyond which stood the
tumbrils waiting for their daily load. Here a great crowd of the
populace had collected. But where months ago they had hooted and jeered
at the doomed ones, now the sympathy of the majority was with the
victims, and the carts were loaded in a sorrowful silence, broken only
by the occasional cry of some outsider who beheld a friend among the
condemned.

Jean and De Batz were reserved for the last cart, and just before they
entered, the boy saw his friend make an almost imperceptible motion of
the head to a man in the crowd who instantly disappeared. "Courage!"
whispered the Baron to his little comrade, as they were flung
unceremoniously into the tumbril, accompanied by ten or twelve others.
That ride was a thing to be remembered as one recalls a shuddering
nightmare. Crowded in as they were, Jean saw no possible hope of rescue,
and the cart jolted on roughly through street after street. They had
approached very near the Place de la Révolution and the termination of
their ride, when a heavy cart that had driven in between them and the
forward tumbril, suddenly broke down, a wheel flew off, and the way was
completely blocked.

"Good!" muttered the Baron to Jean. "The first step is a success!" The
driver of their tumbril swore roundly, but nothing could be done except
drive back a block or two and proceed through a very narrow street,
scarcely more than an alley. Meanwhile the crowd had forsaken them, and
had hastened on to the guillotine, lest it be too late for the first of
the day's executions. The last tumbril would doubtless arrive in good
time without their assistance!

The narrow alley into which they now turned was lined with rickety
wooden houses, and Jean noticed that De Batz watched one of these
narrowly, so he also kept his eye upon it. They had almost reached it
when suddenly, out from it rushed ten or fifteen men, all shouting,
swearing, lunging at each other with knives and bludgeons, apparently
engaged in a fierce dispute that could only be settled by drawing blood.
They surged about the tumbril, while the astonished driver sought to
clear the way by flourishing his whip, and shouting for a free passage.

In the midst of all this confusion, Jean presently felt a knife inserted
between the cords that bound his wrists, and in a second his hands were
free. Then he saw that De Batz had likewise been released from his
fetters. In the midst of the greatest racket he heard the Baron whisper:

"Slip down! Get among them!" Fortunately they were both seated at the
rear end of the cart. Before Jean realised it, he was down and in the
midst of the noisy group shouting and struggling like the rest. If the
other inmates of the cart realised what was happening, they were either
too apathetic to care, or too glad that even a few might escape, to make
any outcry. The struggling, fighting men, gradually ceased their blows
and pretending to be appeased, gathered into a group, carefully
concealing in their midst the Baron and Jean. The wrathful driver of the
tumbril shook his fist at them, swore to have them all arrested later,
gathered up his reins, and the cart lumbered heavily away, while he
remained entirely in ignorance of the fact that his load was lighter by
two! When it had disappeared, they all hurried into the house from
whence the men had issued.

"Oh!" sobbed Jean, now that the terrible tension was relieved, "if we
could only have saved the rest! It seems horrible that they should go on
to what we have escaped!"

"It could not be done," said De Batz. "It was an awful risk even for
_one_, and for _two_ a still greater peril. But had there been
more,--why all would have perished! You yourself would not have been
saved, had I not given my men a sign." The men now gathered about their
leader, who congratulated them on the successful outcome of the plot.

"But we must not remain here," he ended. "One by one you must leave the
house, all but Jean and myself. It would not do for us to be seen in
broad daylight so soon. We will hide in the cellar till to-night."
Gradually the men dispersed, and till long after midnight, Jean and the
Baron kept each other company in the dark cellar, for the house was an
abandoned one. At length the time came for them to part.

"Return to the Rue de Lille," ordered De Batz, "and keep hidden there
for a few days. Things are going to happen, as I told you, and after
that it may be safe to go out. I must leave Paris, perhaps for some
time. But one injunction I leave with you,--_find Caron_! No,--do not
thank me, my boy, for helping you to this escape! It is only what we
owe to each other, and to Louis XVII! But thank God for helping us to
accomplish it. Adieu! adieu! _Find Caron!_"

And so they parted!



THE TENTH THERMIDOR



CHAPTER XIII

THE TENTH THERMIDOR


It would be impossible to describe the meeting between Jean and his
loved ones on that memorable night. To Mère Clouet and Yvonne it seemed
as though he had actually risen from the dead. For months they had
received absolutely no news of him, or his fate. Yvonne confided to him
that Mère Clouet had even gone to witness the daily executions at such
times as she felt she could be away from necessary work, though the
sight of them nearly killed her. But it seemed the only way in which she
could learn whether the boy had yet been doomed to perish. As her work,
however, compelled her to miss many days, she could never be certain
that he had not been executed in her absence.

For several days Jean remained securely hidden. It would have been far
from safe for him to show his face out of doors, for his enemy, La
Souris, was still very active. So he stayed indoors, played with
Moufflet, and asked incessant questions about the long period of his
imprisonment, striving to learn every detail of what had occurred in his
absence.

While he was thus in hiding, Paris was full of strange mutterings and
subdued excitement. People conversed in undertones in the streets,
gesticulated freely and had heated arguments. Detachments of soldiers
were stationed in every quarter, and an uprising of some kind was
plainly expected. Jean remembered the words of the Baron de Batz, and
scented trouble but could make little of what he slyly witnessed from
the windows. In fact, people seemed themselves scarcely to comprehend
the true cause of all this ferment. Naturally the unrest communicated
itself to Mère Clouet and the children. Yvonne begged to be allowed to
go out and investigate but Mère Clouet and Jean would not hear of this.
At last, on the afternoon of July twenty-eighth, Mère Clouet herself
could no longer contain her curiosity.

"I am going out myself!" she announced. "I at least will be safe in the
streets, and something unusual is happening to-day. Rest you here! I
will come back shortly, and tell you all about it!" And she hurried
away.

Now it must be explained that France, from the time of September, 1792,
had determined to change the names of all the months, and number the
years beginning from her birth as a Republic. Consequently this day of
July 28, 1794, or the Tenth Thermidor, year II, as she called it, was
destined to be a date long remembered in history.

In about two hours Mère Clouet came back. She was breathless, her eyes
were flashing, and she was under the influence of some keen excitement.

"My soul!" she exclaimed, sinking into a seat "What I have seen! What I
have heard! What times we live in! You will scarcely believe me! I went
to the Rue St. Honoré. It was filled with a shouting crowd. I asked a
woman what was happening, and she looked at me as though she thought me
insane for not knowing! 'Where have you been?' she cried. 'What! do you
not know that Robespierre was yesterday condemned by the Convention for
his barbarity, declared an outlaw, and naturally headed for the
scaffold? Coward that he is! He tried to kill himself, but missed his
aim and only wounded his jaw. He's on the way to the guillotine now,
with a few others of a similar stripe,--Couthon, Henriot, St. Just!
Curse him! Curse him! He put to death my husband and my father for no
crime at all,--they were good Republicans! And Barras,--he's in command
of all the forces of Paris, and will soon be at the head of the
government, also. He is at least a humane man! Ah, here comes the
tumbril now!'

"Then a mighty roar went up from the crowd, a cart jolted up the street,
and there sat that Robespierre, his hands tied behind him, and his
wicked face bound up in a rag! Faugh! the sight turned me sick! But
here's something else quite as wonderful! Directly beside him, cheek by
jowl, sat (you'll never believe me!) that ruffian Simon the cobbler, in
the very Carmagnole suit he used to wear in the Temple. His teeth fairly
chattered with fright! Ah, but I wish the little fellow could have seen
him! Was ever a punishment so well deserved!

"Never, in all my life have I witnessed such a sight! People sang for
very joy, and even strangers embraced each other. They say that in some
of the prisons, many were set free! I saw a man pay thirty francs for a
newspaper telling how yesterday Robespierre was condemned! They say the
Reign of Terror is over! Thank God! Thank God!" And Mère Clouet, no
longer able to control herself, sobbed in sheer ecstasy of joy.

The Reign of Terror _was_ over, at last! In a few days that became
apparent. Exiles flocked back to the country. Prisons gave up their
"suspects" to the number of ten thousand. Families were reunited, and
people who had been existing miserably in all sorts of hiding-places,
came out of their seclusion. Paris became a city of resurrected hopes
and homes.

On the morning of the Tenth Thermidor, Barras had made a tour of all the
military posts of Paris, in the course of which he stopped at the Temple
and inspected it. When he saw the condition in which poor little Louis
XVII was kept in solitude, he was filled with pity, and announced that
this must be improved, and that he would at once take steps to
accomplish it. We will now see what the Tenth Thermidor brought to this
unfortunate little monarch.

Six months had passed since Louis Charles had been barred into his
lonely cell. Not that he realised the time at all! One day dragged on
wearily and gave place to the next, but he took no heed, and probably
knew not whether his time of incarceration had been six months or as
many years.

It was the twenty-eighth of July, 1794. For three days the child had
lain inert upon his bed. Life had become absolutely insupportable to
him. At the very moment when he had been compelled to rise and take in
his morning meal, wishing that they would send in no more food so that
he might die the quicker, Robespierre and Simon were passing through the
streets in a tumbril to their well-deserved reward. But he knew it not!

That night the light of a candle shone through his wicket, and an
unusually gentle voice called to him: "Capet! Little Capet! Are you
there?" "Yes!" he answered feebly.

"Can you not come here a moment?" the voice continued. But the boy was
too weak to try, and too exhausted even to answer again. Then the light
disappeared, and the gentle voice was silent. He passed the night in a
feverish sleep. His poor limbs were wasted and thin, and great swellings
on his knees and arms gave him unspeakable pain. No one would have
recognised in him now even the pale captive of the cobbler, much less
the beautiful boy of the Tuileries.

Next morning he was called again, by many voices this time, but he could
make no response at all.

"He is dead!" he heard someone say. "Let us break down the door!"
Forthwith, resounding blows rained on the barrier of his prison. When at
length an entrance had been forced, several strange men entered.

"What a horrible place!" they all exclaimed, starting back in amazement
and disgust at the filth and vile odours, and the rats and mice
scampering off in all directions. The child lay on the bed nervously
watching every movement, wondering what new horror this invasion boded.
The municipals put to him many questions about himself, but he had
neither the strength nor the courage to answer them. Most of them
concluded that he had either become deaf and dumb, or had lost his mind
during his confinement Presently one of them noticed his untouched meal
of the day before still on the table.

"Why do you not eat?" he demanded. The boy raised himself on his arm
with a great effort.

"Because I wish to die!" he answered quietly. Tears rose to the eyes of
one or two of his questioners, and after a hasty consultation they all
left the room, closing the door but not barring it. After a while it
opened again, and the child awoke from an uneasy sleep to find a slight,
thin, kindly-faced little man bending over him.

"I am Laurent," said the same gentle voice of the night before, "and I
have come to take charge of you!" Some memory of the ungentle cobbler
was aroused by the word "charge," and the boy shrank back nervously.
Laurent divined his thought.

"Do not be afraid!" he went on in the same quiet voice. "I am not like
Simon, poor child!" and a kindly hand was laid on the matted hair. Still
the boy made no response. He was too sick, too weak, too listless, to
care very much what might happen to him now, and he only desired to be
left in peace.

But Laurent had him moved from his loathsome cell, and placed on a cot
in the clean, airy outer room. With the assistance of Caron the cook, he
bathed the child in warm water, put on fresh clothes, and gently tried
to comb the tangles from his matted hair. Then Louis was given a little
fresh fruit to eat, and some milk, in place of the horrible fare on
which he had lived for six months. After that Laurent left him to rest
and sleep.

Words cannot paint the slowly growing amazement of Louis Charles at
these changes. So long had he been left to cruel neglect that he could
hardly yet comprehend how any kindness remained in the world. And six
months of absolute silence had rendered him so unaccustomed to speech,
that the good Laurent could not draw from him one word. Many a dumb
grateful look had the child given him, but as yet his lips were silent.
When Laurent came back with his meal in a few hours, he stroked the
boy's head awhile.

"Do you feel better, Monsieur Charles?" he inquired. Used as he was to
being addressed as "Little Capet," "Wolf-Cub" or worse, the respect and
civility in this long-unused title was almost beyond belief! At length
his tongue was unloosed.

"Yes, thank you, Monsieur!" he replied. And from that moment his heart
went out to his new keeper. In a few days he was better. Kindness,
care, decent food and the human society of some well-disposed person
revived the flame of life that had all but flickered out in his long
solitude.

Citizen Laurent was by no means a royalist. On the contrary, his
sympathies were entirely with the Republic. But his heart was so touched
by the desperate plight of the little captive, that he resolved to
render his condition as comfortable as possible. This had also been
Barras's wish in placing him as guardian to the royal prisoner. Laurent
himself was closely watched by the jealous municipals, and he could only
be with the boy part of each day. Among other things, he decided that
Louis Charles, to recover his health, must have exercise. So he sought,
and finally obtained from Barras, permission to take him for an airing
to the top of the Tower.

The little king could hardly believe his senses! He was going to see the
sky again, to hear bird-voices, to smell the scent of growing things!
Too wonderful! Accompanied by Laurent and a guarding municipal, they
made the ascent of the closely sentinelled stairs. The child, still weak
and inactive, could hardly drag himself up the steps, anxious as he was
to reach the top, so Laurent took him in his arms.

It was a warm, delightful evening. The sun had scarcely set, and the
birds were twittering their good-night in the trees beyond the Temple.
Up from the street came the calls of vendors, the shouts of drivers, and
occasionally the gay laugh of some child at play. The little prince
listened to it all and his eyes filled with tears of joy to think that
at last he was permitted to breathe again the free air of heaven and see
the blessed light, even though it hurt his eyes a great deal, used as
they had been only to semi-darkness. Releasing Laurent's hand, he
wandered around by himself for a few moments. Suddenly he bent down with
a low cry of pleasure. "See! See!" he cried, pointing, and Laurent
looked down noticing only a few poor half-withered common little yellow
flowers growing in the cracks of the stone walk. But the boy was on his
hands and knees, gathering them eagerly.

The short time of outing over, Laurent led him down, still clasping
carefully the meagre little bouquet. At the door of the room on the
third floor the boy stopped, pulling back at his keeper's hand with all
his strength. Laurent understood! The boy wished to go in and see his
mother whom he thought was still there. Poor child! He little knew that
only his sister was shut up in that room. It pained Laurent to refuse
him, but to grant the wish was not in his power.

"You are mistaking the door, Monsieur Charles!" he said gently.

"No, I am not mistaking it!" answered the boy, terribly disappointed,
and he walked down languidly. At his own door Laurent noticed that the
child no longer carried his cherished flowers. He was about to ask what
had become of them when an instinct warned him to refrain. Louis Charles
had dropped them, a withered but tender offering of love, at the door of
his mother's room!



IN WHICH JEAN "FINDS CARON"



CHAPTER XIV

IN WHICH JEAN "FINDS CARON"


After the strange events of the last chapter, Jean went in and out
freely, but he did not think it quite safe as yet, to return to the
tavern of Père Lefèvre, till he could ascertain what had become of La
Souris. A week later, Mère Clouet and Yvonne went to the Temple with the
laundry, and returned with welcome news.

"Only think!" exclaimed Yvonne. "Barelle says that Citizen Coudert has
not been seen since the Tenth Thermidor! As he was one of Robespierre's
most trusted spies, he doubtless thought himself scarcely safe, for you
know they are now imprisoning all who were connected with Robespierre.
He will probably remain in hiding for some time!"

So one day Jean returned to the tavern, in the hope of again taking up
his duties as helper, and thus keeping in touch with the affairs of the
little King. But Père Lefèvre had a surprise in store for him. He found
to his intense chagrin, that his place had been usurped by a large, fat
old woman, one Mother Matthieu, whose assistance Père Lefèvre declared
he found more satisfactory than Jean's had ever been.

"She tends to her work, does Mother Matthieu!" insisted Père Lefèvre to
the disappointed boy. "She does not sleep away half her time behind the
counter, as you did, young monkey! And though she cannot whistle, and
dance the Carmagnole on the tables, and she does indulge overmuch in
snuff, she suits me better!" Jean turned away, discomfited, yet smiling
in spite of himself, at the absurd fancy of waddling Mother Matthieu
dancing the Carmagnole on the restaurant table! As he was leaving, he
encountered at the door the burly form of a man hurrying into the
tavern, and recognised Caron, the cook of the Temple Tower kitchen. Here
was a stroke of good fortune, for had he not been told to "find Caron"!
And lately he had been racking his brains to think how this might be
accomplished. But he did not wish outsiders to imagine that he had any
business with the cook, so contented himself merely with a greeting.

"How now, stranger!" exclaimed the hearty Caron. "Never did I expect to
see _you_ again! But I suppose you were pardoned out after the Tenth
Thermidor. But has the Conciergerie given you such a taste for prisons
that you must needs be always near one?" and he grasped Jean's hand
warmly.

"I wanted to see if Père Lefèvre would take me back," explained the
crestfallen boy, "for I must be earning money and I liked it here. But
he will not have me."

"That's bad!" sympathised Caron. "But cheer up! There may be other
things!" And he turned and went out at the boy's side. Once in the
street, however, he grasped Jean's arm. "Were you ever told to _find
me_?" he whispered.

"Indeed yes!" answered Jean. "De Batz! We were in prison and escaped
together! 'Find Caron'! were his parting words!"

"I thought so!" said Caron. "He has already told me much of you, and how
you have been, and will yet be, useful to us. It's lucky we met just
now, for I'm seldom out, and you could not get at me in the Temple. Now
I'm going to tell you something. It's just as well that Père Lefèvre
won't take you back, for I have a position for you right in the Tower.
How would you like to be scullery-boy and assist me in the kitchen! I've
lost my assistant, and have been doing all the grubbing work ever since.
It's not very good pay, only five francs a week,--but it is something.
Besides, the most important thing about it is that _you will be in the
Temple Tower_!" Of course Jean could not imagine himself refusing such
an offer, which was one beyond his greatest hopes.

"Oh, Citizen Caron, when can I come?" he exclaimed.

"Oh, I must first interview the Council, which will then appoint you if
it sees fit. But never fear! I have considerable influence with those in
authority, and I can almost certainly vouch that the place shall be
yours. Come back in a week's time." That week seemed the longest Jean
had ever spent, not even excepting the dreary days at the Conciergerie.
Promptly at the expiration of the time he sought Caron, who had agreed
to meet him at Père Lefèvre's.

"It's all right!" said Caron as soon as they met. "I had some trouble at
first, because you had once been 'suspected' and put in prison. But I
assured them that it was without foundation, and was the work of that
sneaking La Souris, who is himself in hiding to save his skin. They did
not hesitate long, I can tell you! So come along with me now, and I'll
show you the first things you will have to do."

Thus it was that Jean gained admission to the Temple Tower, that he
became in fact a regular inmate, going home to the Rue de Lille only
once a week. He soon made the acquaintance of Laurent, and was not long
in discovering that kindly and humane as the King's new keeper was, he
was not only a devoted Republican, but also strictly conscientious in
discharging the duties the Republic had imposed on him, and would
countenance no plans for his charge's escape.

Among Jean's duties was that of carrying up to the Tower room the
captive's meals twice a day. At the door Laurent would relieve him of
the tray, but he often caught sight of the boy in the room beyond. The
first time this happened, Jean could scarcely believe that he saw
correctly. This wan, emaciated, listless child the little king of his
former acquaintance! Presently, however, he heard the clear sweet voice
address some question to Laurent, and then he recognised it to be
identical with that of the Dauphin in the Tuileries garden. But his
heart went out all the more to this white shadow of his former rosy
friend, and he consecrated himself anew to the wronged child's service.

Louis XVII did not recognise this new face at the door. In fact he took
but slight notice of the faces about him now, and moreover, Jean had
grown a foot taller and had developed wonderfully in the two years of
the Prince's imprisonment. And just for the present Jean deemed it more
advisable that Louis Charles should not recognise him.

Many times since he entered on his new employment did Jean beg Caron to
tell him what was the latest plan for rescuing the imprisoned king. But
Caron always put him off with this remark:

"Do not inquire yet, my lad. Things are not in a state where it is
possible to explain the plans, but rest assured that you are to help,
and the very fact of your having found me and obtained this position has
all been counted on, and is a part of the scheme. You shall know more in
time!" So Jean was obliged to possess his soul in patience.

When Laurent had been in the Tower about four months, he began to suffer
from the same restraint that had finally conquered Simon,--he was
wearied to death of his practical imprisonment. So he applied to the
Convention for a colleague who should share his duties and relieve him
at stated intervals. The Convention considered his request and at length
appointed him a companion.

This colleague, Citizen Gomin by name, was a short, timid, quiet man of
about forty, though he looked much older. He was not at all pleased at
being assigned to this duty, but he dared not refuse, lest he become an
object of suspicion. For he was very moderate in his opinions, leaning
neither to the Republican nor the Royalist side. And to be moderate in
those days, was to be considered almost as bad as an out-and-out enemy
of the Republic of France!

His heart, however, had long revolted at the unjust imprisonment of the
royal children, and he won the little king's love immediately, by
bringing him as a gift four potted plants, radiantly in bloom. The child
was almost wild with delight at the sight of them. He kissed them,
fondled them, examined each blossom separately, and then putting aside
the three finest, he said to Gomin:

"Take these to my mother, please!" Poor Gomin gathered them up and
carried them from the room without a word. And Louis Charles smiled to
himself all that day, thinking of the pleasure he had given his mother.
Who shall say that Marie Antoinette, looking down on her little son from
that other world, did not smile too, and bless him in her heart!

So the months passed, till one night in January, 1795, as Jean was
preparing to go home for his weekly visit to the Rue de Lille, Caron
laid his hand on the boy's arm.

"Don't go home to-night,--at least not till later!" he whispered.

"Why not?" demanded Jean wonderingly.

"_Because the time has come!_" answered Caron, enigmatically. But Jean
understood, and waited in breathless expectation. Later the two passed
into the deserted streets about the Temple. Caron stopped suddenly in
the shadow of a high wall, and grasped Jean's arm.

"Are you truly devoted to _him_?" he asked in an undertone pointing to
the Tower.

"I am!" responded the boy quietly, in a simple but convincing manner.

"So much so that you are willing to risk life, liberty, everything, in
his cause?"

"Yes!"

"Then come with me!" And Caron led the way through many winding,
half-deserted streets, till at length they stood before a little
tumble-down hovel in a black, unsightly alley. Caron knocked on the door
with three peculiar taps, two loud and one soft. The door was opened a
moment later by an unseen hand, and someone demanded:

"The password!"

"_Marie Antoinette!_" whispered Caron. The voice replied:

"_And Louis XVII!_ Enter and be silent!" Jean was mystified beyond
expression, but in his young enthusiasm he was eager for adventure of
any kind, and one that related to his dearest hopes was all the more
alluring. He entered with Caron, his heart beating high. In utter
darkness they passed through rooms apparently empty, guided always by
the unseen owner of the voice. Then they descended a stairway, and stood
in what Jean took to be the cellar. Here the guide lighted a taper and
bent to examine the floor. By the uncertain light, Jean perceived only
that it was a man, and that his face was hidden by a black mask covering
eyes, nose and mouth. Presently he found an iron ring, lifted it,
thereby pulling up a large stone, and disclosed another staircase
reaching far down beyond the range of light.

"Do not fear!" whispered Caron.

"Oh, I'm not in the least afraid!" Jean assured him, and to tell the
truth, he was enjoying himself immensely! Then the guide descended, Jean
followed next, and Caron came last, closing the stone entrance after
him. Guided by the little candle they groped their way down the stairs
and along a passage or tunnel so narrow that even Jean could not walk
upright in it, nor raise his arms far from his side. The tunnel seemed
interminable, and moreover, tiny trickling streams of water slid down
its sides at intervals. Jean was thankful when they ascended another
stairway, and stood in another cellar. This one he could see was much
larger than the first, and filled with casks and barrels, evidently of
wine. Here their guide again halted them.

"Put on these!" he commanded, and gave them two masks similar to his
own. When these were adjusted he bade them go up the stairs, then he
turned and went back through the tunnel, his duty being that of
doorkeeper. Led by Caron they went upstairs, and knocked on a heavy door
at the summit.

"The password!" demanded another voice. It was given and answered as
before, and suddenly the two found themselves in a brilliantly lighted
room. So dazzling was the intense light after the blackness through
which they had been travelling, that Jean was for a moment almost
blinded. When this sensation passed, he saw that they were in a large
room furnished with chairs and a heavy centre-table. Everywhere were
evidences of rich taste in decoration, and the apartment was doubtless
in an abode of great wealth. Around the table were seated from twenty to
twenty-five men all masked like themselves. At the head of the table sat
the leader who turned at their entrance.

"Welcome," he said, "and be seated!" Jean and Caron placed themselves in
two vacant chairs. For several moments no one spoke. Then the man at the
head rose.

"Brothers," he began, "since we are all here, we will delay no longer in
opening our meeting. Unmask!" At this command every mask was removed
except that of the leader, which he continued to wear throughout the
session. Jean looked about him in complete amazement What did it all
mean? Here were Barelle, Meunier, Gagnié, a former cook at the Tower,
Debièrne the commissary who never failed to bring Louis Charles a toy
whenever he visited him, and a host of others whom he knew but slightly.
Most surprising of all, however, was the Baron de Batz seated directly
across the table, who nodded an affectionate greeting and welcome to the
boy. The masked leader looked about him, and his glance fell on Jean.

"There is a strange face among us! Who is responsible for the
stranger?" Caron rose.

"'Tis I who brought him. Jean Dominique Mettot is his name, my assistant
in the kitchen. He is a devoted and loyal friend of the little king, and
one who will be able to render us valuable service. I vouch for him!"

"And I also!" said the Baron de Batz quietly, from the other side of the
table.

"Then let him be sworn!" replied the leader. The ceremony that followed
was a curious one. The company all rose, and Jean was requested to stand
upon the table. He climbed up assisted by the leader who held a lighted
candle in his hand.

"We are the Brotherhood of Liberation!" announced the masked one. "Our
sole aim and object is to free Louis XVII from his hateful, cruel and
unjust captivity, and get him out of the country or to some place of
safety. For this we have sworn to devote our lives! Since you desire to
join us, you must submit to being branded with the badge of our Order.
If you flinch in the branding, you are not worthy to be admitted among
us. Jean Dominique Mettot, hold out your left hand, palm downward!" Jean
obeyed. The leader held close under it the flame of the candle. The
boy's first impulse was to shrink back, but he clinched his teeth and
endured to the end what seemed to him an unspeakable torture. Finally
the leader removed the candle.

"You have stood the test bravely and well! You will now take the oath of
loyalty with the rest. Hold up your branded hand!" Jean held up his
scorched palm, and every man in the room raised his open left hand. In
the palm of each was a small scar, made evidently in the same manner.
The leader raised his hand also, and they all repeated aloud the creed
of their band:

"By our branded hands we swear to devote our lives and all we hold dear
to the cause of liberating Louis XVII from his captivity. Likewise we
swear that to the end of our lives we will never reveal these secrets,
except with the permission of the entire band!" When this was over they
dropped their hands and resumed their seats, and Jean was helped from
the table. Barelle applied soothing liniments and bandages to his
wounded hand, and the business of the meeting went forward.

In that night Jean learned much. In the first place he understood that
there was a definite plot to release the little king,--a plot not
confined to a few scattered souls not yet devoid of all humanity, but
organised and countenanced by some high in authority, who however
preferred that their identity should remain unknown. The details of the
scheme were not yet fully worked out. But in the rough, the idea was to
spirit away Louis XVII, hide him for a while in an unused upper part of
the Temple, and substitute in his place some child resembling him that
they would procure from one of the hospitals,--a child so ill that he
could not in all reason live very long. On the death of this sick child
it would be officially proclaimed that Louis XVII was no more, and then
the real boy could be taken away without very much fear of discovery.

Many things, however, stood for the present in the way of success. In
the first place Laurent was an ardent Republican and too conscientious
to consent to wink at such a scheme. Gomin as yet vacillated, but his
sympathies would probably soon be gained. Then a sick child must be
procured and smuggled into the Tower. No child had yet been discovered
who sufficiently resembled Louis Charles, though Saintanac, a surgeon in
the Society, was making a daily round of the hospitals to find one. It
was a terribly difficult, unthinkably hazardous undertaking, for it
would mean the lives of all were they discovered, and doubtless the
certain death of the very one they sought to rescue. Yet all were eager,
hopeful, enthusiastic! The meeting broke up with a renewal of their
oath of allegiance and they were dismissed in the same way that they had
come, through the tunnel and the hovel in the alley.

When they were outside, Caron told Jean some additional items of
interest. The house they met in was that of the Marquis de Fenouil, an
ardent royalist. It was the Marquis who had been responsible for the
appointment of Gomin, whom he hoped would be converted to the cause.
Caron said he was sure it was the Marquis who had led the meeting that
night. They had various leaders who always remained masked, thereby
avoiding absolute recognition, for they were frequently men prominent in
Republican authority. It was even whispered that the great Barras
himself was sometimes behind that mask. It was also hinted that Barras
had a secret interest in having the little prince removed to a remote
place of safety. But these things were not openly spoken of.

Jean went home that night to nurse his wounded hand, with his head in a
whirl, but with immense hope and thankfulness in his heart!



LA SOURIS MEETS HIS MATCH



CHAPTER XV

LA SOURIS MEETS HIS MATCH


A month and a half had passed. Jean regularly attended the meetings of
the Brotherhood, and in all that company there was no more active and
enthusiastic worker than this youngest member of the league. By the
middle of March many things had been accomplished and the rough details
of the plot were nearing perfection.

In the first place, the Surgeon Saintanac had at last discovered a child
suffering with a hopeless, incurable disease, and as like the little
prince as could be wished in one so near death. The problem of smuggling
him into the Tower was to be solved in this way. When Citizeness Clouet
came with a basket of clean linen, the sick child was to be concealed
at the bottom. The day chosen for this must of course be one when the
municipals on duty were mostly those of the Brotherhood, and the
examination of the basket could thus be intentionally hasty and
incomplete. Then the child would be hidden in an upper lumber room, till
a favourable opportunity to have him exchange places with the King.

This opportunity was not far away, for Laurent had intimated to some of
the municipals that he was about to resign his position as keeper of the
royal child. His mother had recently died, family affairs were pressing,
and in spite of his real affection for the boy, he felt that he had done
his duty and that the time had come for his removal. His successor, a
man named Citizen Lasne, was a staunch Republican, but this did not
worry the Brotherhood, since they planned that the false king should be
exchanged for the real one before his arrival.

One other most important point had been gained by the society. Gomin had
at last ceased his vacillating, and come out staunchly for the cause.
Municipal Debièrne the toy-man, was responsible for this. Long and
arduous had been his discussions, quiet and skilful his manipulations of
the impressionable Gomin, till at length, inspired both by Debièrne's
influence and his own very real sympathy for his pathetic little charge,
he yielded. He was brought to the Brotherhood meeting, branded and
sworn, and the cause was all but complete.

Great was the rejoicing on the night of Gomin's initiation into the
Brotherhood, and a huge feast was partaken of in celebration of this
most important event. Jean's delight was beyond all bounds, and he had
hard work to contain his bubbling spirits, when he heard a piece of news
that considerably dampened his ardour. It was Caron who told him. It had
leaked out that La Souris was again walking about as if no harm could
threaten him! After having disappeared for many months, he had managed
to wriggle himself into favour with someone in high authority, probably
with the minor leader of the Convention, La Reveillière-Lepeaux, and was
again expecting to resume his duties as municipal of the Tower.

"Look out!" warned Caron. "He has you particularly in his eye, Jean! He
can't do you much harm personally, for you are under the protection of
the Brotherhood. Your place here is secure. But he may be the death of
the whole plot if we don't watch out!"

"I'll watch him like a cat!" declared the disgusted boy. "I'll keep him
in sight every minute of the time he is in the Tower. Trust me! But, oh,
_why_ did he have to come back?"

The day was appointed at last for the first great move. Far in the
night, on the twenty-sixth of March, Saintanac drove up in a tightly
closed carriage to Citizeness Clouet's door. No one was about to see him
carry into the house a young boy of ten years, desperately ill and half
delirious. This child, some nameless waif from one of the charity
hospitals, bore a haunting, ghastly resemblance to the little captive of
the Tower.

The surgeon administered to him a heavy dose of opium that would put him
into a deep sleep for many hours, and left him in the care of Mère
Clouet. She and Yvonne were both in the plot, of course, though it had
not been deemed necessary that they should become sworn and branded
members, since Jean vouched for them. Next morning they packed the
unconscious child into the huge clothes-basket, carefully arranging the
linen so that he should not be smothered. Then, with beating hearts and
courage steeled to the utmost, they called a cab, in it deposited their
heavy burden, and were driven to the Temple.

"Mother, mother!" gasped Yvonne, pressing her hands to her heart to
still the terrible thumping, "what will happen if La Souris is there
and insists on examining the basket?"

"Trust in God, little one!" answered Mère Clouet. "Our cause is a just
one and merciful. He will not suffer it to fail! Repeat the prayer for
those in danger, child!" Yvonne's lips moved softly, and scarcely had
she reached the "Amen!" when the carriage drew up at the outer
courtyard.

Yvonne's presentiments were only too correct! To their horror and
despair, the first face they saw as they entered with the basket, was
the sly, evil, suspicious countenance of La Souris! His little, rat's
eyes glittered under his almost hairless brows, and his claw-like hands
twitched nervously as he reached for the basket. Debièrne and Meunier
also stepped up and began to turn over the freshly ironed linen.

"Hold hard, friends! I will attend to this!" snapped La Souris. "You may
look on and see that I do it thoroughly!"

Yvonne and Mère Clouet almost fainted away with terror, but they set
their teeth and endured it bravely. All trembled with despair, even the
staunchest man in the group, yet they dared not utter one word of
remonstrance. Layer after layer La Souris removed, shaking out each
piece deliberately, and holding it to the light. The operation seemed
interminable, and the suspense beyond all endurance! At length all but
the last layer had been removed. Nothing but that and a sheet covered
the body of the hidden child. Oh, was there not something that could
stop that dreadful hand!

Just at this point, out from the kitchen across the courtyard stepped
Jean, bearing in his hands a huge bowl of soup for the breakfast of the
soldiers in the Tower. To carry this to the guard-room where the meal
was served, he was obliged to pass directly through the group gathered
at the door. Well he knew the meaning of those blenched faces, those
hopeless, despairing eyes, but he walked slowly by them all without a
sign of recognition.

La Souris was kneeling before the basket, holding to the light a
pillow-slip, when Jean passed directly behind him. With a studied
carelessness, the boy deliberately tripped over the man's foot, lost his
grip on the huge tureen, and skilfully managed to pour the entire
steaming contents down the back of the unsuspecting municipal! With a
hideous yell, La Souris dropped the linen and sprang to his feet.

"Oh! Pardon! pardon, Citizen! It was an accident!" shrieked Jean,
assuming a well-feigned fright and dashing past him into the courtyard.
La Souris, frenzied by the blistering of his back, and furious with rage
at its perpetrator, tore after him, longing only to lay his hands on the
agile lad. Round and round they flew, Jean ducking, doubling and evading
with the skill of an accomplished Parisian _gamin_, while the soldiers
gathered about laughing and applauding the race. La Souris panted and
shrieked for vengeance, but he was no match for this agile lad, and he
stopped at last, exhausted by his exertion and his very real pain.

"Someone call a doctor!" he groaned. "I haven't an inch of skin left on
my back!" Jean, the wily, was the first and most ardent to rush off at
this command, and fetch the Temple surgeon. La Souris, faint with
suffering, was removed to his house in a cab, having forgotten all about
the basket which had long since been quietly and thankfully removed.
During the excitement and noise, when everyone had rushed to the yard to
witness the chase, the sick child had been carried to the attic and
hidden away in a long-unused half-boarded-up lumber room. The basket was
returned to Mère Clouet, and the plot so far was safe, thanks to the
timely intervention of Jean. He was the hero of the hour that night at
the Brotherhood, and thoroughly did he enjoy that honourable position.

"But you've no idea," he declared, "how Caron and I worked to get that
soup heated to the proper boiling pitch! I was watching at the window,
when I wasn't cramming wood in the fire, and I certainly thought La
Souris would have everything out of that basket before it was ready! It
was Caron who thought of the soup!"

"Yes, but no one could have carried it out so well as Jean!" insisted
the admiring Caron. "Whoever thought that La Souris would turn up just
this day! The Evil One himself must have prompted him! Well, he's out of
the way now for a spell, and that's a mercy!"

All this while the little captive king was living in total ignorance
that there was such a thing as a plot for his escape. Release was
something he had long given up as hopeless. Sometimes, even to his
childish mind, it seemed as though death alone could free him from his
long imprisonment. He was grieved and sad over the thought of Laurent's
approaching departure, for he had begun to cherish a real affection for
this first kindly man who had come into his life in many a weary month.
He dreaded to think who might take his place, though Gomin was still to
be there. But Gomin had to give much of his time to the sister on the
floor above.

On the night of March twenty-ninth, Laurent bade a tender farewell to
Louis Charles. When the door at last closed behind him, the boy threw
himself on his bed in a violent fit of weeping. It was here that Gomin
found him when he came in later with his supper. Gomin himself was
nervous, excited and ill at ease, for this was the appointed time for
the second great move in the scheme of liberation. On him this time
depended success!

For a while the child refused to eat anything. This distressed Gomin
beyond measure, for it was important that the meal should be eaten,
since it was heavily dosed with opium. Nothing could be well
accomplished unless the boy were rendered unconscious. At last, to
please his keeper, Louis Charles swallowed the food though it almost
choked him.

"Why am I so sleepy?" he presently asked. "It is not yet time to go to
bed!"

"You have worn yourself out with crying," answered Gomin. "You had
better let me put you to bed at once." The boy complied, his eyelids
sinking more and more each moment, and before he was half undressed he
had fallen into a heavy slumber. But Gomin did not put him in bed. On
the contrary, he wrapped him in a large shawl, and opening the door,
made a sign to someone outside.

Barelle and Debièrne entered with a huge basket that at first seemed
empty. When the door was closed, however, they removed a false bottom,
and there lay the sick child, sleeping soundly but not drugged. Quick as
a flash the change was made. The strange boy lay in the little king's
bed, clothed in the king's own gown and cap, and Louis XVII was placed
at the bottom of the basket. The false bottom was again adjusted, and
the remaining space piled with odds and ends of waste that had
accumulated during Laurent's stay.

When the basket was filled, the two municipals carried it upstairs,
telling the sentries who challenged them that they were going to place
in the lumber room all the old truck that Laurent had left behind him,
in order to clear the premises for Lasne. The sentries, after a hasty
examination, passed them on without trouble. The attic of the Tower was
a vast space more than half filled with every manner of cast-off
articles that could have accumulated in a century past. Here they
removed the rubbish from the basket, and lifted out the boy. Approaching
the wooden partition they knocked softly, in the manner of the
Brotherhood.

"All right!" whispered a familiar voice from behind, and on removing a
board the curly head of Jean appeared.

"Hand him in!" he said. With incredible difficulty they managed to
squeeze the unconscious child through the small aperture. Behind the
partition was a tiny space not more than six or seven feet in any
direction. Within this space was a mattress on the floor, and nothing
else. Jean laid the boy on the mattress, covered him, and called once
more, "All right!" The two men drew the board into place, and no one
would have suspected either that there was any space behind it, or what
that space contained. Then they left the garret room, rejoicing in the
success of the second great step, and Jean was left alone with his
charge.

All night he sat by the bed watching. But morning came and no change had
occurred. The drug still held the boy in its deadening grip. Jean ate
his breakfast of half a loaf of bread, and washed it down with a pitcher
of water. Then he continued his watch. About noon the little king came
to himself, but so deathly ill was he from the effects of the opium,
that he noticed neither his changed surroundings nor his companion for
many hours. Meanwhile Jean nursed him tenderly, and forced him to
swallow a healing draught that had been left for the purpose by
Saintanac. Toward night Louis Charles recovered himself sufficiently to
be conscious of some radical change in his surroundings.

"Why is it so dark?" he demanded. "And who are you?" Then Jean put his
arms around the boy, and whispered the whole story in his ear.

"I am Jean," he ended, "who has loved you ever since I first saw you in
your little garden at the Tuileries! Will you not trust me?" For a time
it seemed as if the child could hardly comprehend it all. The news was
so sudden, so confusing! It was too wonderful! It was beyond belief that
he should be free at last, and that his long-lost friend should be one
of the chief actors in that scheme of release! But something else
troubled him.

"What of my mother and sister and aunt?" he inquired. "Will they also be
released with me? I do not wish to go if they remain!" Jean was silent a
moment. What should he reply? But the time was not yet ripe to reveal
all the truth to this loving child.

"They will also be safe!" he answered. And satisfied with this, the
little fellow put his head down on Jean's shoulder, and cried long and
softly in the sheer excess of his joy.

Jean remained hidden with the boy for the next few days. He was supposed
to be away on a leave of absence, so at the Tower his non-appearance was
thus accounted for. During this time he warned Louis Charles that his
position was a terribly dangerous one, and that he must keep absolutely
quiet always, and not be afraid if he were left alone, for he, Jean,
could not be with him all the time. After his horrible six months of
solitude, however, this new departure had little terror for a boy so
inured to suffering. He promised joyfully to do all that was required of
him.

"How long do you think it will be?" he asked.

"I cannot tell," answered Jean, "but as long as that poor little chap in
your place down there remains alive. And goodness knows, that won't be
_very_ long, from the description they give of him!" Louis was genuinely
interested in, and sorry for his counterpart.

"Do not waste much sympathy on him, dear friend," said Jean. "He is long
past knowing even that he suffers, and death will be to him also a
welcome release. Rest assured too that he is having better care here
than he would get in a charity hospital! But now I must go. Be quiet and
contented, and do not fear! I will come again to you as soon as it is
possible. Meanwhile here is food and drink for two days. Adieu!" And in
some inexplicable manner Jean wriggled himself out of the absurdly small
aperture, and closed the plank behind him.

For nearly two months and a half, Louis Charles remained hidden at the
top of the Tower, waiting till the sick child below should breathe his
last. During this time Jean was his frequent companion, and his only
one. The boy did his best to amuse the lonely little prisoner, telling
him long stories about Moufflet, Yvonne, the good Mère Clouet, and also
about his own imprisonment in the Conciergerie, and his remarkable
escape. The eyesight of the two children grew like an owl's in this
semi-darkness, and they found after a while that they could see each
other quite well. On one occasion, after they had talked a long while
and fallen into silence, Louis Charles suddenly asked his companion what
day of the month it was.

"The third of May, 1795," answered Jean, unsuspectingly. Louis was quiet
for a while, apparently struggling with some thought or half illusive
recollection. Presently a flash of joy illuminated his face.

"Why! then it is my Aunt Elizabeth's birthday! How I wish I could go to
her and give her my congratulations! But I suppose my mother will
remember to do so for me!"

"Yes, yes!" returned Jean, but the words almost choked him, and he could
think of nothing further to say. Something about his actions aroused his
companion's suspicions. Turning on him squarely, Louis Charles demanded:

"Tell me all about my mother!" Jean felt that the time had at last
arrived when it was expedient to conceal the facts no longer. Summoning
all his courage, he replied softly:

"She is dead!"

"And my aunt?"

"She is also dead!"

"And my sister?" pursued the relentless voice.

"She is alive and safe here in the Tower!" For a moment the blow seemed
too stupendous. The stricken child sat almost stunned. Then the
catechism recommenced.

"How long has my mother been dead?"

"A year and a half!"

"And my aunt?"

"Just one year!"

"And they never told me?"

"They did not have the heart!" said Jean gently. This reply broke the
ice of the little fellow's grief. Tears came to his relief, and he threw
himself on the bed sobbing quietly. The struggle was long and severe,
and Jean left him to the sacredness of his sorrow unmolested. When the
storm of sobs grew less and the tears had ceased, Jean took him in his
big, brawny arms and comforted him almost as one would a tired baby.
Then to divert his thoughts for a while, he told him all his experiences
on the night of his first visit to the Brotherhood of Liberation, for
this he had been permitted to do if he chose. The child's interest was
at first languid, but gradually grew intense as the tale advanced. When
Jean recounted how he had been branded and sworn into the circle, Louis
took in his own hands the branded palm of the older boy.

"And you went through all this for me?" he said in wonder. "Then will I
never, never forget you, and I shall love you always, as I would my own
brother!" Stooping, he bent his head and touched the scar with his
gentle lips!

In all his life, Jean never forgot that moment!



THE LAST MOVE



CHAPTER XVI

THE LAST MOVE


On the night of the tenth of May, Jean attended a meeting of the
Brotherhood. He expected nothing unusual to happen, and was prepared
only to give an account of the little King's welfare during the last few
days. He entered as usual, and found the great room full of masked
figures. But one place remained vacant, and he slipped into it two
minutes before the command for unmasking. In these two minutes he
glanced at his right-hand companion, finding something vaguely familiar
in the short, slight figure. Then came the order to unmask, and a second
later Jean gave a little cry of joy and astonishment, for at his right
hand sat his former well-beloved friend, Napoleon Bonaparte!

Lean and sallow and poorly clad as ever, but with the same hauntingly
brilliant eyes, it was as though not more than a day had passed since
they last met. Bonaparte expressed a similar astonishment at beholding
Jean, but the business-meeting being in full swing, they could exchange
no more than a hearty hand-clasp under the table. But when the meeting
was dismissed, Bonaparte invited Jean to walk home to his lodgings with
him, and talk over their long period of separation.

"By all the saints! Jean, I should never know you! You have grown a foot
at least! But this is a singular meeting! Yes, I am back in Paris," said
Bonaparte. "I arrived to-day. Perhaps you wonder at finding me in the
Brotherhood meeting, but I will tell you how it happened.

"You must know that at present I am a friend and protégé of Barras, who,
by the way, was the leader to-night. Barras was a commissioner of the
Convention at Marseilles while I was there, and he used his influence
to better the condition of my family. So of course I feel somewhat in
his debt, though I partially helped to pay that off by the advice and
assistance I gave at the siege of Toulon. But be that as it may, I have
decided to attach myself to him. He is the man of the hour, and I must
attach myself to _something_!

"Well, recently I received an appointment to come to Paris and command a
brigade of infantry that is soon to stamp out the insurrection in La
Vendée, but, though I came to Paris, I have refused the command. I have
no taste for such butcher's work, and I consider it rather an insult to
be given the infantry when I have always been with the artillery.
Besides that my health is not good at present.

"So I went to Barras to-day, to acquaint him with these matters. He
invited me to sup with him, and then later asked me if I seriously
wished to render him a great assistance. Naturally, as I still feel
much under obligation to him, I replied that I certainly did so wish. He
then told me that he relied on me as a man of honour not to reveal what
I should hear if he took me to the meeting of a secret society. As he
was leader for the evening, it would not be required that I become a
sworn member as yet, and so I went--and met you! Privately I am glad
enough to help that poor child to escape, for I think his inhuman
detention has been one of the greatest outrages in history. But now tell
me how it has fared with you since last we met?" Then Jean gave an
account of the intervening year and a half. When he had ended, Bonaparte
remarked:

"My boy, what you tell me makes me regard you more highly than ever, and
I am not surprised to find you taking so prominent a part in this
scheme. In fact I should have expected it. But let me whisper to you a
few surmises that have occurred to me to-night. It was a curious
meeting, that!--and I amused myself by striving to divine the true
motives of many of the leading characters.

"De Batz and other royalists there have of course but one hope,--to get
Louis XVII out of the clutches of the Republic, no matter how, and then
some day bring him back a victorious king. Then there are not a few
staunch Republicans like Barelle, Meunier and Debièrne, who seem
actuated only by the humane wish to rescue the little fellow from his
cruel captivity.

"But one man there has a motive entirely different, and he is the head
and front of it all. That man is Barras! Shall I tell you what is _his_
motive? I have guessed it, though of course he never suspects. He sees
in himself the coming man of power. True, he is powerful already, but he
aims at higher things. He would rescue Louis XVII and remove him to some
distant spot where he can find him if necessary. Later he will use him
to dangle over the heads of the royalists as a bait, and over the
Republicans as a threat, so balancing his influence with both parties.
And at last, at some expedient moment, Louis XVII will disappear
forever, and Barras can make himself anything he wishes,--Dictator,
Emperor, what not! It is a clever scheme!" Jean shook his head.

"I care not what the ultimate scheme of Barras may be," he vouchsafed,
"if only the little fellow can get out of that horrible place! And if I
can assist any, I shall only feel that I have done my duty by him and
his dead mother!" So the two talked far into the night, and dawn was
breaking when Jean went back to the Temple.

But how fared it in the room in the Tower, where a delirious little
stranger masqueraded all unconsciously as Louis XVII of France?

For several days before the exchange was effected, Gomin had been
writing daily in the Temple register, "Little Capet is ill!" This was
quite true, as Louis Charles had been suffering with a severe cold. As
Gomin expected, no attention was paid to this report. On the day after
the strange child was placed in his care, he wrote, "Little Capet is
dangerously ill!" Still no one took any notice of it, and then Lasne,
the new keeper arrived. Taking one look at the inert, stricken boy, he
exclaimed:

"Can that really be the little Dauphin whom I remember so well having
seen in the Park of the Tuileries? I should never recognise him! He must
be terribly ill. Have you sent for a physician?"

"Yes," answered Gomin. "At least I have reported his sickness, but
nothing has been done about it." That night Lasne wrote in the register,
"Little Capet is so ill that it is feared he will not live!" Then, and
not till then, did the authorities see fit to act on so unimportant a
matter, and they designated physician Desault to attend the boy. Desault
was not long in discovering that his services would be all but useless.
The child was far beyond hope, and all he could do was to ease any
possible suffering. Desault himself was taken suddenly ill, not long
after, and died a short time before the supposed prince. Two other
physicians took his place, though they too felt assured that their
services would not be needed long. At last, word was sent forth on the
tenth of June, "Little Capet is dead!" The event not being considered as
of any special importance by the public at large, it was ordered that he
be buried as quickly and with as little ceremony as possible. This was
done as directed, the reports were duly made out, and _officially_ Louis
XVII was no more!

But _unofficially_, in the little attic room, Louis XVII was very much
alive, and wild with anxiety to be released from his long confinement!
The time had come for the last step in this great undertaking, and
circumstances had rendered that step far easier than the previous ones
had been. In the first place, La Souris was well out of the way, being
still in a state where it would take months for him to leave his bed.
Then, Louis XVII was considered dead and buried! Therefore, why take any
further precautions for safe-guarding his empty prison, thought the
authorities!

A few days after the little funeral procession had wended its way from
the Tower, Jean and Caron went to the attic room to procure the great
basket with the false bottom. They were going to remove some things from
the room of the "Little dead Capet" to the rubbish pile upstairs. At the
same hour, Mère Clouet and Yvonne were to call for the soiled linen in
the now deserted room. It was all very simple! The sentries on the
stairs took no notice whatever of their proceedings. When they deposited
the basket in the room, Mère Clouet's big clothes-hamper was already
standing there, having been brought in while they were upstairs. Quickly
they took out the false bottom and lifted up Louis Charles. He was alert
and conscious this time, having begged hard not to be drugged.

"I will be _so_ good!" he promised. "I will scarcely breathe! Oh, do let
me go as I am, and see and hear everything!" So they granted his wish.
The change of baskets did not take a moment. As the boy cuddled down in
Mère Clouet's hamper, he took one last look about the room where he had
suffered so much.

"Jean," he whispered, "I pray God that I may never see it again!" Then
they buried him deep beneath a mound of linen.

"Can you breathe?" whispered Jean through the cracks of the basket.

"Nicely! I'm all right!" came the voice from within.

"Then, an revoir!" returned Jean. He and Caron lifted the great burden
to their shoulders and carried it downstairs. No one challenged them. No
one was interested in the contents of a basket which they thought
contained only the soiled clothes of a boy now safely dead and buried!
They shoved the huge hamper into the carriage, slammed the door
carelessly on Citizeness Clouet and Yvonne, and called to the driver:

"Number six hundred and seventy Rue de Lille!" and the cab rolled away.
It was all over, and the little captive of the Temple was free forever!

When Jean came home that night, he found the king busy hugging and
kissing Moufflet, while Mère Clouet and Yvonne looked on admiringly. The
boy was almost frantic with joy at being reunited with his long-lost
pet, and the dog had certainly not forgotten his master, for he seemed
as delighted as Louis Charles himself. For two days the little king lay
hidden in the good keeping of Mère Clouet. On the second night, Jean
took the boy off by himself, to have a last long talk with his friend.

"You know, little king," he said, "that much as we love you, we cannot
keep you always here. That would not be safe or right for you. Other
kind though unknown friends have your interests at heart, and are coming
to-night to take you to a place of greater safety."

"Oh, Jean," replied the frightened boy, "I do not want to leave you! I
wish to stay here! There is no one now in the whole world that I really
love besides my sister and yourselves. Why must I leave you? Where will
they take me?"

"You will be in care of kindly people, that I am sure, though I do not
know whom, nor do I know where you will be taken. But always you will
have freedom and the best of care. Perhaps some day you will come back
to live in Paris, when these troubled times are over. That will be a
happy event to look forward to!"

"But my sister!" persisted the boy. "She is yet in the Tower. When will
she be free also? When can I see her?"

"There is a rumour abroad that she will soon be released and sent to the
court of Austria, in return for certain important prisoners that the
Austrians have lately captured from us. Perhaps you will be permitted to
join her sometime, at your cousin's court." Louis Charles sat a long
while, thinking it over.

"I suppose it must be so," he said at last, "since it is best. But I
shall be very, very lonely! May I have a pair of scissors?" Jean opened
his eyes at this strange request, but he procured a pair from the other
room. Louis Charles took them, raised them to his head, and cut off
three of his soft curls.

"This is for you, Jean!" he said. "It is all I have to give you. And
these are for Madame Clouet and Yvonne. And now, there is one thing more
that I wish you to do for me. I had thought to take the little Moufflet
with me, and never, never part from him. But now I have decided that I
shall give him to my sister, since she is soon to be free. She will
perhaps be as lonely as I am and I want her to have something that will
give her pleasure and remind her of me! Will you do this for me, Jean?"
The older boy was almost overwhelmed at the little fellow's generosity,
knowing well what pain it must cost him to part again with the pet he
had so lately recovered, and which was the sole remaining object that
could remind him of happier days.

"I will surely do this, little friend!" answered Jean, and his voice
shook as he spoke. "And we will all wait, watch, and look forward to the
time when you may come back to us!"

"No one will look forward to it more than I," said the boy, "and yet
something tells me that I shall never come back! But at least I shall
never, never forget you, and all that you have suffered and sacrificed
for my sake! And, Jean, neither will I ever forget that day in the attic
room,--you know which one I mean!" Jean nodded. It was the only time
that Louis Charles had ever since alluded to his mother, or to his great
grief at the news of her death. He kept his sorrow locked always
tightly in his own breast.

Then came the parting with Mère Clouet and Yvonne. He gave them the
little gift of his curls,--the only things he had to bestow,--thanked
them over and over again, kissed them tenderly, and not a few tears of
genuine sorrow were shed by every member of the room. Moufflet he kept
hugged to his breast till the last. All waited in breathless suspense
for the sound that was to indicate the time of parting,--the triple
knock of the Brotherhood. At about two in the morning it came, the three
soft taps so familiar to Jean. He opened the door cautiously, and there
stood two men, masked in the fashion of the band.

"The password!" demanded Jean.

"_Liberation!_" they both replied, "_and Louis XVII of France!_" They
were admitted at once, and saw the little king standing ready. In spite
of their masks, Jean recognised the Baron de Batz and Bonaparte.
However, he knew it was best to hold no personal converse with them.

"Is your majesty ready to accompany us?" inquired the Baron, addressing
Louis.

"I am!" answered the child simply and manfully. There were to be no
tears now, no tempestuous parting. The tender farewell of the lonely boy
to his dearest friends had all come before and was too sacred to be
witnessed by strangers. He was a _king_ now, and the royal blood that
was in him rose to meet the occasion.

"Then come with us!" commanded the second masked figure. Louis XVII
turned to give Moufflet a last caress and then addressed the strangers:

"I am ready! Lead the way!" They wrapped him in a long dark cloak, and
making a sign to Jean to follow, the party left the house and proceeded
on foot to the next street, where a carriage was waiting for them. The
drive was made in absolute silence, but the little king sought and held
Jean's hand all the way. At the Rue Chantereine, number six, the
carriage stopped before the door of a small but handsome mansion. All
four ascended the steps, and De Batz rapped on the door with the knock
of the Brotherhood. The door opened on a hallway perfectly dark, and a
soft voice said:

"Follow me, gentlemen!" At once the door of a room beyond was opened,
and a flood of light revealed the owner of the voice, a woman dressed in
soft, clinging drapery, and of such sylph-like grace and sweetness of
manner, that she almost took Jean's breath away!

"Is this little Louis Charles?" she asked. But without waiting for an
answer, she knelt down and threw her arms about the astonished child.

"Do not fear, poor abused little king!" she crooned. "You will be safe
with me, and I love you already!" And at a sign from her, the three
others withdrew and left the little king and his new protectress
together. On leaving the house De Batz bade Bonaparte and Jean
good-night, and went his own way. But the boy and his friend walked a
few blocks together, before they separated.

"Tell me, Citizen Bonaparte," asked Jean, "who is that lovely lady with
whom we left the little fellow?"

"That," answered Bonaparte, "is a great friend of Barras,--the
Vicomtesse Josephine de Beauharnais!"

When Jean returned to the Rue de Lille, he found Yvonne in tears, and
Mère Clouet thoughtful but happy. He told them what had become of the
king, but Yvonne would not be comforted.

"Oh, why did he have to leave us!" she sobbed. "We could have kept him
so well, and he would have been so happy here with us!"

"No, we could not have kept him!" retorted Jean. "He would not have been
safe here long, and he is going to be very happy with that lovely
lady!" Nevertheless he stood for a long time silent at the window, with
his back to the rest, looking steadily out at nothing. But Mère Clouet
dropped to her knees, clasped her hands, and softly uttered this prayer:

"I praise and thank Thee, O God, that Thou hast permitted us at last to
repay this debt of gratitude to the poor Queen who is now with Thee!"



THE STAR OF NAPOLEON BONAPARTE



CHAPTER XVII

THE STAR OF NAPOLEON BONAPARTE


The days passed by after these events in a strange and unaccustomed
quiet. Indeed the Clouet family could scarcely become used to the
tranquillity, so habituated had it been to months of waiting, days of
suspense, and hours of turmoil and agitation!

Jean continued in his place as Caron's assistant at the Tower for
several weeks. This he did for two reasons,--because as yet he had
nothing else in view in the way of occupation, and also because he had
still one other duty to perform, in delivering Moufflet to Marie-Thérèse
as Louis Charles had wished. The detention of this young princess in the
Tower was soon to come to a close, as negotiations for her release and
dismissal to Austria were steadily progressing. Therefore it was only a
question of choosing a favourable time, bringing Moufflet to Gomin, and
letting him deliver the little animal.

The young girl's imprisonment was now far less rigid than it had been,
so the admission of the dog would be no difficult matter. It was deemed
wise by the Brotherhood that Marie-Thérèse should not be informed for
the present of her brother's rescue (she had been told that he died on
June tenth) but that Gomin should merely say that the dog had been found
and kept for her by Jean.

This was done about the first of September, and Gomin reported that she
had been fairly overcome with surprise and joy at having her brother's
former pet so unexpectedly restored to her, and had sent Jean her
heartiest thanks and a little embroidered handkerchief as a remembrance.
She did not start for Austria till December, 1795, but when she went she
was accompanied by Caron, who had been a servant in the royal palace
before the downfall of the monarchy, and who was happiest in serving all
that remained of the royal family. Moufflet also went with her, and
remained with her, it is said, as long as he lived.

In the early part of September, the Brotherhood of Liberation held a
final meeting at which the society was permanently disbanded, its
mission having been fulfilled. All, however, renewed the oath never to
disclose the secret of the little king's escape and how it was
accomplished, unless a time should ever come for him to reign over
France. Jean learned that the boy had been removed to Croissy, the
country home of the Vicomtesse Beauharnais, till he was strong enough to
travel. Since then he had been taken to an obscure village in a remote
corner of France, where he would live in seclusion and good care till
such time as his presence might be deemed expedient in the political
world,--if, indeed, such a time ever came!

But there was one other transaction of the society that filled Jean with
pride and joy. The Brotherhood as a whole, voted that the remaining
funds in their treasury should be devoted to providing a pretty little
home for Jean and his family in the near village of Meudon, and a
comfortable income for the Citizeness Clouet during the remainder of her
life, and Jean himself was to have a sum of one thousand francs to do
with as he pleased! This was in recognition of the invaluable services
they had all rendered in the escape of Louis XVII. It was to be settled
and go into effect at the first of the coming year. Jean went home to
his family that night with the good news, a proud and happy boy!

Meanwhile he had seen little of his friend Bonaparte since that young
man's return to Paris. His own duties kept him rather closely confined
to the Tower, and Bonaparte had now more friends in the city who claimed
his attention. But besides that, his health was poor, and he spent much
time at this period, in gloomy and solitary retirement.

One day Jean, who was having a little holiday, thanks to the kindness of
Caron, was passing the Corazza Coffee-house near the Palais-Royal when
whom should he see sitting at one of the tables but Bonaparte with
another young man. Bonaparte at once hailed his friend:

"Ho, Jean Mettot! Come and sit you down with us and share our mid-day
meal! This is a fortunate meeting, and I want you to know Monsieur
Junot. He's a brave fellow whose mettle I tried at Toulon! You two
should know each other!" Jean, nothing loath, joined the little party,
and listened with interest to their discussion of present political
affairs.

"I do not know what this country is coming to, Jean!" said Bonaparte.
"Public sentiment is like a pendulum! First it swings off to one
extreme, as it did in '93, and then started back on the Tenth Thermidor.
It came to a happy medium just a short time after that, and
now,--behold you!--off it goes in an entirely opposite direction, and
the royalists are coming into favour again!"

"What's the trouble?" asked Jean. "I'm so busy that I've little time to
give to political discussions, and one hears no news in that lonely hole
of a Temple, nowadays! I wish you would explain it to me!"

"Why, the long and short of it is this," replied Bonaparte, obligingly.
"Of course you know that on August twenty-second the Convention adopted
a new Constitution for the year III. According to this Constitution, the
Legislative power shall be an executive body of five Directors, a
Council of Five Hundred, and a Council of the Ancients composed of two
hundred and fifty members. That is all very well, but recently the
Convention has added a new decree,--that two-thirds of the members of
this new Legislature shall be chosen from themselves--the
Convention--and only the remaining one-third by the people at large. So
the people naturally consider themselves slighted, and are
yelling,--'Down with the Convention!'"

"But," interrupted Jean eagerly, "are not the people right? Is not that
what a Republic is for? Was not that the principle for which the
monarchy was overthrown and so much blood spilt?"

"Wait, wait, lad!" commanded Bonaparte. "You have not heard all yet! The
people of France have had eight centuries of monarchy, and only three
years of ruling themselves. They are enthusiastic, but also childish and
fickle to the last degree, and are no more fit to be allowed to go their
own way than so many babes! They must be guided a while longer by the
men who planned and guided the Revolution,--the old Convention! But
there's more behind it than that, and they are blind as moles who don't
see it!

"The returned Royalists are hiding behind all these disgruntled
citizens, and they are going to take advantage of and encourage an
uprising to overthrow the existing government. And what then?--Back will
come monarchy again!" Jean was delighted with this clear yet simple
explanation.

"I see it all now!" he declared. "But what else is happening?"

"Paris," continued Bonaparte, "is divided into forty-eight sections. Of
these, every section but one has voted against the new decree; and while
many of the sections are inactive, there are seven actually in arms
against the Convention, and the worst of these is the Section
Lepelletier. Mark my words, Jean! As sure as this is the first of
October, there will be a crisis before the month is out! And what is
more, something tells me this crisis will mean much for us three now
sitting here so quietly, sipping our coffee!"

Bonaparte's prophecy proved true in every respect, except that the
crisis came sooner than he had predicted. On the fourth of October,
Paris was in a state of indescribable confusion. Bells were sounding
the "generale," that horrible call to insurrection. Streets were
thronged with citizens rushing frenziedly to and fro shouting,--"Death
to the Convention!" "Down with the Two-thirds!" Crowds of soldiers
forced their way through the excited mobs, and skirmishing between the
opposing parties could be heard in every quarter. But worse was yet to
come!

Jean, compelled to pass the day at his duties in the Tower, was as
restive as an imprisoned war-horse, and at eleven that night, Caron
could no longer restrain him. Like a shot from a cannon, he was off in
the driving rain, straight to the lodging of his friend and councillor,
Bonaparte. On being admitted, he found that young man pacing up and down
his narrow room with a curious excitement flaming in his brilliant eyes.
On the table lay a map of Paris, and over it Bonaparte bent anxiously at
every other turn.

"Oho!" he cried. "Another moment and you would have missed me! But I
might have known you'd come, with gunpowder scenting the air! You cannot
guess who has just been here!"

"Oh, but I can," replied Jean. "For I passed him on the block,--Citizen
General Barras!"

"Good! but you cannot guess what brought him here!"

"No! tell me!"

"He has offered me the command of the army of Paris!"

"_He has!_"

"Nothing less! You see the Sections have the Convention cooped up there
in the Tuileries where they hold their sessions, in a state of siege.
To-morrow the Sections will storm the Convention, and on that issue
depends the continuance of the Republic. The Convention has about four
or five thousand soldiers at its command, against fifty thousand
Sectionists! Poor lookout,--that! But I have a plan that will succeed
if anything does, and Barras will support me in anything I order. He
tested my worth at Toulon, my lad, and there will be hot work
to-morrow!"

"Oh, Citizen Bonaparte,--I mean Citizen _General_!--let me go with you,
I beg! I will serve you in any capacity you say, only let me be near you
to-morrow!" Bonaparte thought a moment, then he answered:

"To-morrow, Jean, I am going to put you to a test! You have displayed
courage, energy and skill in the secret work you have done for the
Brotherhood. It now remains for me to see what you can do in the open.
To-morrow will show! Come to me at the Tuileries in the morning, and I
will give you work to do. Now I must go and report to the Convention at
once. I believe my star is rising at last, Jean, and if so, I shall rise
with it. And trust me, you shall not be forgotten!" For a moment his
eyes gleamed with the white fire of inspiration, then he wrapped his
great-coat about him and was gone.

True to his tryst, Jean made all speed for the Tuileries next morning.
He had difficulty enough in getting there, for the streets were so
crowded with insurgents that a passage through them was all but
impossible. However he got there by way of the Place Carrousel, and
noticed that everywhere were barricades and cannon planted to defend the
palace.

Where to find Bonaparte was now the question, and doubtless this would
have been a matter of much difficulty, had not that young general come
riding by on a tour of inspection, accompanied by Barras. Before Jean
could even spring forward, Bonaparte recognised him, motioned him
forward, and turned to Barras:

"Here is a young protégé of mine who is to see his first action. I must
assign him to a post!" Then to Jean:

"Have you ever discharged a cannon, lad?"

"No!" answered Jean, not a little chagrined at his ignorance.

"Well, never mind! Come with me. I'm going to place you as assistant to
one of the gunners and you'll soon learn. Don't you desert that cannon,
Jean, if it costs you your life to stick by it!"

"I will not desert!" Jean promised solemnly. Bonaparte led him through
the Rue de Rivoli to the head of the Rue du Dauphin, where a cannon was
pointed directly down the street at the steps of the church of St. Roch.
To the gunner he said:

"Here's a lad to assist you, and learn a little, likewise!" The gunner
looked up, and Jean recognised his old acquaintance, Prevôt!

"Ah, I know him, General!" answered the gunner, touching his cap. "And a
brave one he is, too, as I can prove. He's welcome!" Bonaparte rode
away, leaving Jean to exchange reminiscences with his companion.

"Yes, I quitted the service of that rascal Coudert," said Prevôt, "right
after the Tenth Thermidor, and entered the army where I've been ever
since, and have seen some action, I can tell you! But I wish you'd
explain to me why you didn't take advantage of that little hint I gave
you once!"

"Because it would have placed my people in danger," answered Jean,
simply.

"Well, you're a plucky one! And you certainly did for that old Coudert,
so I've been told. They _said_ it was an accident, but I have my
suspicions about that! But say! Do you know, that old Coudert, that
sneaking La Souris, lodges right up there!" and he pointed to the window
of a small house facing on the Rue du Dauphin. "He'll hear fine work
to-day,--perhaps he'll see it too. Who knows!" Then he proceeded to
explain to Jean the workings of the great gun.

All that morning the opposing forces were quiet, except for some light
skirmishing, and so it continued into the afternoon. Jean saw no more of
Bonaparte, and began to grow restless, wondering if there was really to
be any battle. But at four o'clock a roar of musketry from the direction
of the Hotel de Noailles was answered by another roar, and the business
of the day began! In all his young life, Jean had never witnessed so
confusing an affair. He could understand little of what others were
doing, but he kept his attention closely on Prevôt, handing him ramrod,
cotton or powder, as he directed. The big cannon, with a companion close
beside it pointed directly down the short street to the steps of the
church which were now crowded with Sectionists. In the windows of the
houses all along the street, Sectionists were hiding with their
death-dealing muskets. The cannon, however, had not yet been fired.
Suddenly up rode Bonaparte.

"On the steps of St. Roch! Fire!" he commanded, and the two guns poured
forth a great volley of iron, mowing down the human harvest before them
like scythes. The semi-circle of Sectionists on the church steps seemed
to sink to the ground in a body for an instant, then more sprang forward
and filled the vacant spaces. Jean's heart grew sick at the sight of
this carnage, but he worked away at his duties, the perspiration
streaming down his face and matting his black curls. Just as Prevôt was
about to touch the match for the second charge, he clapped his hand to
his side, gave a low groan, and sank in a heap by the gun.

Jean's heart fairly stood still with horror and pity, but some blind
instinct caused him to look up at one of the houses. There in a window,
stood, or rather hung, La Souris, his rat's face twisted into a horrible
smile, a smoking musket in his hands. He was about to reload for another
charge, and it was evident that the effort cost him considerable
suffering in his scorched back. As Jean still looked, he finished and
pointed the musket directly at the boy by the gun. The natural instinct
of self-preservation prompted this untried lad to take to his heels and
get to shelter at once, but a second thought brought back Bonaparte's
final warning,--"Stick to the gun, lad, if it costs you your life!"

"I'll stick!" he muttered, and clinched his teeth on the determination.
Seizing the match from Prevôt's relaxed grasp, he blew on it to rekindle
its flame, while he watched out of the corner of his eye the careful aim
that La Souris was striving to accomplish with his none too steady grip.
Then he laid that match to the touchhole and another rain of iron swept
down the street. At this moment a regiment of Volunteers turned into the
Rue du Dauphin at a run.

"Charge the steps of St. Roch!" ordered Bonaparte, appearing again very
near the guns. As the regiment charged down the street with fixed
bayonets, Bonaparte turned his eyes to Jean, and saw the boy standing
bravely by the gun, but with his eyes fixed in agony on a window above
and close by. Following his glance, the general quickly perceived the
cause of his distress. La Souris, having by this time arranged his aim
to his satisfaction, was just about to pull the trigger.

It took Bonaparte but a second to snatch a musket from a passing
soldier, aim it at the window--and fire! Citizen Coudert's musket
clattered from the window to the ground, and he himself dropped from
sight on the other side of the sill, and was seen and heard no more!
After that the general wheeled his horse, galloped down the Rue de
Rivoli, and Jean was left alone, dazed and thankful.

The remainder of the conflict he could never describe, for he did not
see it. The Rue du Dauphin was swept clear of the enemy; if any
Sectionists remained alive on the steps of St. Roch, they had taken
refuge within the church, and the tide of battle surged to another
quarter, raging down the Rue St. Honoré.

Jean, having temporarily no work to do, turned his attention to Prevôt,
whom he found to his joy not killed outright, but severely wounded in
the thigh. It took him a long time to revive the unconscious gunner, and
he had but just accomplished it when he heard resounding from the Park
of the Tuileries terrific huzzas and cries of "Victory! Victory to the
Convention!" Unable longer to contain his curiosity, he left Prevôt and
rushed across the park to see what was going on. He was just in time to
behold Bonaparte, escorted by Barras, enter the Tuileries in triumph to
announce to the Convention the utter defeat of the Sectionists. When
Napoleon Bonaparte came out again, he was General-in-chief of the Army
of the Interior! Thus ended the famous fifth of October, 1795, better
known, according to the reckoning of the Revolution, as the Thirteenth
Vendémiaire!

On the fourth of March, 1796, in the pretty new home at Meudon, where
the Clouets now lived, Jean received a note from Bonaparte asking him to
come at once to his hotel in the Rue Capucines as he had news to
communicate. Naturally Jean let no grass grow under his heels in
complying with this request.

He found Bonaparte pacing up and down the room as usual, but it was a
very different room from the lodgings in which he had formerly existed,
and for that matter, a rather different Bonaparte too, as well-groomed
and handsomely garbed, as he had once been careless and ill-kempt in
appearance.

"Jean," he began, "I've never told you how much I admired the way you
held that gun, on the Thirteenth Vendémiaire, in spite of that leering
devil above you. I suppose you thought I'd forgotten, for I really
believe I haven't seen you since, affairs have been so pressing!"

"No," said Jean, "I didn't think you had forgotten!"

"Well, here's a piece of news,--I'm going to be married!"

"Oh, how splendid! May I inquire who the lady may be?"

"You may! You saw her once,--the Vicomtesse Josephine de Beauharnais!"
Jean was delighted beyond words, and wished his friend the greatest
happiness.

"But here's something else!" cried Bonaparte. "And this will interest
you more! I've been appointed Commander-in-chief of the Army of Italy!"

"Oh, congratulations!" said Jean. "A thousand of them! I know how
greatly you always wished for this position."

"But here's something else that will interest you most of all!" replied
Bonaparte laughing. "I appoint you my aide-de-camp and secretary, and
you will be prepared to accompany me to Nice one week from to-day. Jean,
Jean! my star has risen at last, and I feel that it will shine with a
brilliant light before it goes to its setting!"

And Napoleon Bonaparte gleefully pinched the boy's ear, the first but by
no means the last time that Jean knew him to indulge in this singular
pleasantry!



AFTER LONG YEARS



CHAPTER XVIII

AFTER LONG YEARS


In the month of June, 1806, the lieutenant of the Eighth Brigade of
Light Artillery received, while on duty at the Imperial Palace of St
Cloud, the following mysterious note:

     "If Jean Dominique Mettot will be at Havre on the fourteenth
     instant, he will be admitted on board the vessel 'La Belle
     Gabrielle,' where he will meet someone who is most anxious to see
     him. He is kindly requested to refrain from mentioning this
     rendezvous to anyone. Ask for 'Monsieur Charles Durante.'

  "C.D."

Devoured with curiosity, he hastened to obtain a leave of absence from
his Emperor, who pinched his ear in giving it, inquired on what errand
he was bound, and laughed when Jean blushed and stammered that he was
not at liberty to explain.

Having made all speed to Havre, he had no difficulty in finding the ship
"La Belle Gabrielle" which was preparing to set sail that evening, on
its voyage to America. On inquiring for a Monsieur Durant, he was
referred to cabin number twelve, which he reached and on whose door he
knocked.

[Illustration]

A tall, slim, gentle-faced young man of perhaps twenty years opened the
door. Jean looked keenly at him for a moment, then gave a little gasp.
For he realised in that instant that he stood before the former child of
the Tower, Louis XVII of France! The young man drew him inside, closed
the door, and the two stood for a long moment, hand clasped in hand,
unable to utter a word. It was Louis Charles who at last broke the
silence:

"You are much changed, and yet you seem the same Jean of the Temple!
Tell me about yourself!"

"Indeed," replied Jean, "you are much changed also, but you are
beginning to resemble greatly the late king, your father!"

"So I think myself," laughed the young man, "and so think others, which
has begun to prove rather troublesome. For that reason I am going to
America, never to return. But I could not leave without seeing you once
more!"

"Surely, surely," cried Jean aghast, "you will come back sometime!"

"No, never!" said Louis firmly. "Nothing would induce me to reign over
France, even were the opportunity to present itself. And to reside here
in a private capacity will scarcely be feasible much longer. I have
lived a quiet life for the past ten years with kindly people in a far
corner of France. I was placed with them by Barras, under the name of
Charles Durant, by which name I have been known ever since. They
thought me an orphan of some good Parisian family, sent there to be
away from the violent scenes of the Revolution. I was tenderly nursed
back to health, and carefully educated. Many times lately has De Batz
come secretly to me, and urged me to proclaim my identity and put myself
at the head of the royalist cause, but I have steadily refused.

"The French nation murdered my father and mother! They will never be
ruled by me! And to live here as a private citizen is becoming
impossible because of my resemblance to my father. Again and again I
have heard it remarked how closely I resemble Louis XVI in his younger
days. It would soon be causing serious political complications, more
particularly as I foresee that affairs are far from stable, even with
such a man as your wonderful Emperor at their head! But in America I
shall never be recognised, and there I can live the quiet, peaceful,
useful life which I crave."

"But tell me," asked Jean, "have you never seen your sister since her
removal from the Tower?"

"No, never, for two reasons,--one of them rather curious! She will not
believe that I am alive!"

"How strange!" murmured Jean.

"No, not strange, in a way. It was De Batz who informed her of my
escape, after she went to England. But she refused to believe it, saying
it was an impossibility,--that I had died in the Tower, and that anyone
who claimed to be myself must be an impostor! But then, you see, she has
attached herself to our uncle, my father's oldest brother, who, if the
Bourbons ever returned to reign, would be the next in succession, Louis
XVIII. And on that account I feel I can never forgive her, for he was
always a cruel enemy of our mother, Queen Marie Antoinette, and caused
her much grief. How my sister could endure to be even in his presence, I
cannot understand, and this is the reason I wish never to see her again.
But tell me, Jean, all about yourself! And how is the good Madame
Clouet and pretty little Yvonne?"

"It pains me to tell you," answered Jean, "that our dear Mère Clouet
passed away a few months ago, after a severe illness. But for the last
ten years she had lived a very happy life in our lovely little home at
Meudon. That loss has left little Yvonne,--who is little no longer, but
a beautiful young woman!--quite alone in the world, except for me. We
grew up together as brother and sister, but now I have managed to
persuade her to consider me in another light, and next month she is to
become my wife! The Emperor has promised to give us a beautiful
wedding!"

"Bravo, bravo!" cried Louis Charles. "A thousand happy wishes! Nothing
could have pleased me better than this news!" And as he looked Jean
over, noting his six feet of splendid brawn and muscle, his handsome
black eyes and crisply curling hair, realising the cleverness and worth
of this fellow and the loyal, loving heart of him, Louis Charles did
not wonder at the choice of Yvonne!

"But now tell me about your Emperor," he said. "You fairly worship him,
I'm sure, and I do not blame you! And when did you get this?" He pointed
to a Cross of the Legion of Honour on the young man's breast.

"He decorated me with that after the battle of Austerlitz, for something
or other,--leading a charge, I guess!" replied Jean modestly. "I have
been with him through every campaign since he took command of the Army
of Italy, and I shall go with him through every other, as long as I
live. I love him! Do you blame me?"

"No, I do not! He is the most wonderful man of modern history! He
deserves all that he has achieved. He has done more for France in these
ten years, than all the line of Bourbon kings ever dreamed of
accomplishing. There is no particle of envy in my heart that he is
occupying a throne which should have been mine. It is an unstable throne
at best! Let him be happy on it while he may, only let him beware lest
too great ambition cause him to overreach the mark!"

Then the two drifted into talk of the past, and of the painful years of
their childhood and early acquaintance. The hours, all too short, flew
by, and at twilight the order was given to cast loose the ship and set
sail. The two young men bade each other farewell in the cabin, for they
could not endure that their parting should be witnessed on the common
deck.

"Adieu, adieu, Jean!" murmured Louis Charles huskily. "I owe you a debt
that a lifetime would be too short to repay! But for you I would have
died long since, in that horrible place, and I believe that you and
Yvonne are the only ones in this world who truly care for me now. My
gratitude and love is all that I can give you, for I am poor as regards
worldly wealth. But I know you understand! You are being rewarded by
another and more powerful hand than mine. Give my love to Yvonne, and my
most earnest wishes for her happiness. In you she will have the husband
she deserves!" Jean was almost too overcome to speak at all.

"I--I love you!" he stammered. "And I have always secretly hoped that
sometime you would come back to live among us!"

"That is impossible, as you see," said the young man. "This parting is
harder to me than I dare to tell you, for you are all that links me with
my former life! Adieu, adieu, Jean!"

But Jean could trust himself no longer. He bent and kissed the hands of
Louis Charles, and hastily left the cabin without another word. On the
quay he watched, while the great ship drew in her cables, and moved
majestically out into the tide. But ere the dark hull vanished entirely
from view, Jean perceived a white handkerchief fluttering from the
railing of the afterdeck, and he knew it to be the last farewell of
Louis XVII of France!

       *       *       *       *       *

Jean lived to be a very old man, and he saw in his day many astonishing
changes, and lived through a number of singular epochs in the history of
his country. One of the most peculiar circumstances, however, that came
under his ken was as follows:

In the course of the years, a rumour was wafted abroad (no one knew just
how it started), that perhaps Louis XVII had not died as a child in the
Tower, after all, but had escaped in some marvellous manner and was now
living. Some believed this, and many more did not! But the strangest
part of it was that in the course of ten years, no less than _forty_
impostors arose, each claiming that _he_ was the escaped Louis XVII, and
demanding his right to the throne, for the Bourbon monarchy had been
restored for a time. Of these forty impostors, the claims of
thirty-eight were so obviously and impudently preposterous, that they
were at once detected as false. But there were two, Baron de Richmont
and Count Naundorff, who really seemed to know an amazing amount about
the little Dauphin's early life and affairs, and who told wonderful
stories of their escape from the Tower. Count Naundorff's was singularly
like what had really happened.

But there was always something lacking somewhere, some loose,
ill-fitting stone in their carefully constructed fabrication. None of
them ever gained much serious attention. Perhaps these two had at some
time heard the story of the escape from a member of the Brotherhood who
had been false to his oath. Who can tell!

Jean used to listen to these tales with interest, and not a few times he
was called upon to interview personally, some brazen claimant of the
throne of France. One glance however, sufficed him, and his decision in
the matter was always accepted as final. Not infrequently someone would
say to him:

"How absurd of you to imagine that Louis XVII ever escaped from the
Temple Tower! Why, he died there and was buried, as every record
proves!"

Then Jean would clasp his hands, nod his head and smile patiently. But
in his heart he whispered:

"_I know!_"


THE END





*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "When a Cobbler Ruled a King" ***

Doctrine Publishing Corporation provides digitized public domain materials.
Public domain books belong to the public and we are merely their custodians.
This effort is time consuming and expensive, so in order to keep providing
this resource, we have taken steps to prevent abuse by commercial parties,
including placing technical restrictions on automated querying.

We also ask that you:

+ Make non-commercial use of the files We designed Doctrine Publishing
Corporation's ISYS search for use by individuals, and we request that you
use these files for personal, non-commercial purposes.

+ Refrain from automated querying Do not send automated queries of any sort
to Doctrine Publishing's system: If you are conducting research on machine
translation, optical character recognition or other areas where access to a
large amount of text is helpful, please contact us. We encourage the use of
public domain materials for these purposes and may be able to help.

+ Keep it legal -  Whatever your use, remember that you are responsible for
ensuring that what you are doing is legal. Do not assume that just because
we believe a book is in the public domain for users in the United States,
that the work is also in the public domain for users in other countries.
Whether a book is still in copyright varies from country to country, and we
can't offer guidance on whether any specific use of any specific book is
allowed. Please do not assume that a book's appearance in Doctrine Publishing
ISYS search  means it can be used in any manner anywhere in the world.
Copyright infringement liability can be quite severe.

About ISYS® Search Software
Established in 1988, ISYS Search Software is a global supplier of enterprise
search solutions for business and government.  The company's award-winning
software suite offers a broad range of search, navigation and discovery
solutions for desktop search, intranet search, SharePoint search and embedded
search applications.  ISYS has been deployed by thousands of organizations
operating in a variety of industries, including government, legal, law
enforcement, financial services, healthcare and recruitment.



Home