Marie de Beaurepaire was seized by the soldier of the National Guard, at the moment that the Château de Cerisay was gained, she knew enough of the ferocity of the Republican troops to give herself up as devoted to instant death. But her name had been inserted in the warrant of arrest, and the soldier feared to deprive a mightier tyrant than himself of his prey. He therefore contented himself with tying her hands after no gentle sort; and thus detained her till--the royalists being obliged to draw off their forces--De Cailly was at liberty to inquire into the condition of the few prisoners he had made. He reproved the man for his barbarity, but in very measured terms; for the vengeance of a concitoyen might easily denounce him at the revolutionary tribunal; and then apologized to his captive for the harshness with which she had been treated. "I should not have thought," he said, "of detaining you, Mademoiselle de Beaurepaire, from the mere fact of your having been discovered in the house of a gentleman who had been unfortunate enough to fall under the suspicion of Convention, and who has now, I grieve to say, given so much countenance to those suspicions; but your name, I regret to inform you, occurs in my warrant, and we military men are as much subject to orders as the meanest soldier. In the meantime all that can be done to render your situation easy, I hope you will reckon on my procuring you."
Marie's first thought was to establish some communication between herself and the female servants, who had sought refuge, as we have already said, in a part of the ancient portion of the house known as the "Old Cellars." But these cellars opened from a pantry; and to request to be confined in that place would give rise to instant suspicion.
"I have nothing to ask, monsieur," she said at length, "but that I may be confined in my own sitting-room, and may be left alone, unless you will allow some woman from the village, if such can be procured, to be my companion."
"Any room you choose shall be at your service," replied De Cailly, "if you will give me your word of honour not to attempt to escape."
"I shall give you no such promise," replied Mademoiselle de Beaurepaire; "but I give you my word that that room communicates with no other, nor could I make my escape from it but by the door or the window."
"That will do," replied De Cailly. "I will do myself the honour of conducting you thither." He did so, calling two soldiers to accompany him. One of them he placed at the door; the other he directed to take his place below the window. And having taken these precautions he retired.
Marie's first impulse was to lock the door; her next, to throw herself into the chair whence so lately she had been watching the arrival of Charles Duchenier, and to burst into a flood of tears. Then her mind ran over the chances she might hope for of escape. If she were once committed to prison, her doom, she felt, was sealed: the daughter of any rebel, and still more of a Vendean insurgent, and most of all when that insurgent was a gentleman of rank, would, she knew, be but too acceptable an offering to republican revenge. Her only hope lay in making her escape while they were conveying her to prison. To outwit her escort would be as impossible as to resist them: her only hope lay in bribery. She remembered with joy that in that very room she possessed a hundred louis-d'or; a gift from a distant relation on occasion of her approaching marriage with Duchenier. "And who knows," she thought, "but that the present intended but to adorn me for him, may, under GOD, save me for him?" Before possessing herself of this treasure, she knelt down and prayed for guidance and protection, and arose with a lighter heart. She hoped for some one of the peasant women, whose services she had requested De Cailly to procure, and he had promised to do it if possible: but as he intended that it should not be possible, her expectation was quite fruitless. The next difficulty was how to conceal the money. This she effected by sewing it in various portions in her dress, trusting that no one would suspect her of such concealment; and knowing that the republican soldiers, however avaricious by nature, were too much in terror of their masters in Paris to display any great greediness after gain. She was interrupted in her task at about ten o'clock, by De Cailly, who came to announce that she must be prepared to set off that night, and to inquire if she would take any supper. At first she refused all refreshment; but then, resolving to be true to herself, accepted the offer. The officer brought her, arranged with as much neatness as the time would allow, stewed fowl, fruit, and wine; and was about to leave her, when she stopped him.
"M. de Cailly," she said, for she had learned his name, when he entered the chateau, "you probably know what has become of my father. I ask you, if you do, to tell me; and, on the honour of a French gentleman, to tell me truly."
"On my honour, then," replied he, "the last time I saw him was when he rode after the retreating brigands; and, so far as I can judge, he had not suffered the slightest hurt. There has been scarcely any firing since: I should therefore judge that he is as safe as you could wish him to be."
"There was another gentleman who assisted him in defending his chateau. Have you any idea whether he received any injury?" She added, very unnecessarily, "One naturally takes an interest in every one who has perilled his life in defending us."
"You mean M. Duchenier," returned Cailly. "We know him too well by reputation. I did not see him so late as M. de Beaurepaire, but when I did see him, he also was unhurt. And I have no reason for believing that he was subsequently wounded."
"Thank you, monsieur," said Marie. "I have nothing further to ask; except, indeed, whither I am to be conveyed."
"You shall know that when we march," said Cailly. "At present I am not at liberty to tell you."
"I shall require some articles of apparel, and a few other things: I suppose I may have leave to take them with me. If you will give me leave to collect them, I will consider myself on my parole for the next hour."
"Most willingly," said the other. "I will withdraw the soldier from your door."
Left to herself, Marie hastened to complete her task of concealment; swallowed as much as she could of her melancholy supper; and then made her preparations for the journey. She took the precaution of carrying a pencil and a few scraps of paper about her, not knowing what occasion or opportunity she might have for communication with any friendly person.
In less than the hour De Cailly returned, and announcing to his prisoner that all was ready, led her down and mounted her, as we have related in the last chapter. She then learnt with a thrill of horror that her destination was Paris, and that she would travel by way of La Flêche. And at the same moment, as the reader remembers, her father and lover learnt it too.
The journey was long and melancholy. They had to accommodate their speed, till reaching Parthenay, to that of the infantry that escorted them. They rode in the middle of this body; De Cailly at the right, Lecointel at the left hand of her horse. But at Parthenay, which they reached after midnight, the infantry was left behind, and a guard of ten dragoons enabled the party to proceed at a brisk trot; so that about two o'clock they found themselves in Mirebeau. But few words had been interchanged on the journey; and Marie almost spoke for the first time when she inquired the name of the place they were entering. De Cailly told her. "Here," he said, "we shall stop to-night: and you will find comfortable accommodation, I trust, at the mayor's house. To say the truth, he is my quincaillier, and an honest citizen. He will have given us up, I expect."
The old streets of Mirebeau rung out beneath the horse-hoofs of the advancing party. Dreamily did the quaint gables, with richly-carved barge-boards, the curious pargetting, and cunning woodwork, gleam in the light of the waning moon. The word was given, "To the right!" and the dragoons presently drew up before an old-fashioned house which had endeavoured to assume something of a modern look. The lantern which projected over the door, and which was the only one in the street that was not extinguished, showed the inscription, Le Grand, Quincaillier et Mercier; and a solitary light in the parlour over the shop showed that the worthy official had not yet retired to bed.
Citizen Le Grand was a man of more importance in his own eyes than in those of his country. Indeed, if he had not been, half, at least, of the Moniteur would have been occupied with his opinions and his actions. He was a little, round, busy, bustling personage, possessed with the idea that France was the finest country in the world, Poitou the most important province in France, Mirebeau the most influential city in Poitou, and he himself at the head of the political movements in Mire-beau. In principles he was a violent Girondist, and (hearing nothing whatever of the springs of government in Paris) he was at a loss to conceive how his own party could allow such licence to Danton, Robespierre, and Marat. He scrupled not to call the latter personages by the title of infernal monsters; and was never weary of expressing his wonder that "Vergniaud, my own particular and most intimate friend,"--he had once waited on him with an address from Mirebeau,--"and Buzot, for whom I have the greatest esteem, and Louvet, should suffer themselves to be guided by such wretches. There is something at the bottom of this, neighbours," he had been saying that very afternoon in the caf6 which he frequented--"There is something at the bottom of this, depend upon it, which every one does not understand." And he pursed his lips, shook his head, and looked wise. Poor man! There was something that every one did not understand, and, least of all, the mayor of Mirebeau,--as the sequel of this history will prove.
The mayor, as his visitors had suspected, was sitting up in the faint expectation that they might still arrive. But such protracted vigils had by no means improved his temper; and when he came down and opened the door, it was with an expression of countenance which augured ill for Marie's comfort during the time that she might be compelled to make his house her abode. However, like other men of a similar stamp, he was better at heart than in manner; as, truth to say, it was very desirable he should be.
"So, M. de Cailly," he began, "you are come at last! Better late than never, they say; on my word, I think 'Better never than late,' in these cases. Here have I been sitting u£ for you by myself ever since the bell rang for nine o'clock. Sent Lisette to bed; would not keep up any one; no, says I, if anybody must bear the burden of waiting for government prisoners, who so fit as the mayor? But where's De Beaurepaire? You haven't let him slip through your fingers, I hope?"
"Indeed, M. le Maire, I have been unfortunate enough so to do. This is his daughter. I told her that she might reckon on finding every accommodation she could require in your house."
The mayor was seized with a fit of republican virtue. "She must not expect such rooms as at Beaurepaire, General; but those days, thank GOD, are gone by for ever. A De has no great virtue in it now.--You must e'en be content, mademoiselle, with a bed in my daughter's room; for we have none other to spare. If your father had come, I must have lodged him in the prison; and, I can assure you, you may think yourself well off to have that."
"I will not intrude farther," said De Cailly. "We must be riding by eight o'clock to-morrow morning; - for we must be at La Flêche that evening. I have to stay a day there for some other prisoners.--Good-night, Mademoiselle de Beaurepaire.--Good-night, monsieur. Remember," he added aside, "you must be answerable for the safety of your prisoner."
"Answerable, quotha!" grumbled the mayor, as he locked and bolted the door, while Marie was standing in the narrow passage that served as hall. "Answerable! I shall put a good lock outside your door, made-! moiselle; and if you can break open that, they must answer it that brought you here. Follow me up-stairs, and don't make a noise; I am sure there has been disturbance enough already. If you want that bundle, you had better carry it up yourself; we have no servants here." Marie, without saying a word, took up the carpet-bag accordingly; and whether it were her beauty, or her evident exhaustion, or her uncomplainingness, that touched the mayor's heart, he began to give signs of a little more humanity.
"Poor young woman!" he said; "after all, I had better take it up for you. Step into the counting-house a moment; you will not be the worse for a glass of wine." He accordingly fetched one, and a biscuit; and Marie received it with many expressions of gratitude for his kindness.
"Now," he said, when she had finished, "follow me upstairs. Rose is as good a girl as ever lived, though I say it that should not; and I'll warrant she does not mind a little disturbance. Here, Rose! Rose!" he continued, opening the door, "I have brought the lady I spoke to you about; and I must lock you both in together for to-night. Don't let her want anything. Good-night, mademoiselle." And he retired; but, saying to himself, "No, no, it cannot matter; I have the key of the house-door," did not lock that of the bedroom.
"Can I do anything for you? "inquired Rose, somewhat timidly, and sitting up in her bed. "I shall be so glad if you will let me."
"Thank you," said Marie, "thank you very much; but I shall not want any help. I shall only be too glad to get to sleep, if I can."
"I am sure you will be," said Rose. "Will you tell me if M. de Beaurepaire is with you?"
"Thank GOD, no!" answered Marie. "He escaped."
"I am glad of it, with all my heart," said Rose. "My poor father thinks it his duty, because he is mayor of the town, to do as government would have him. But he is too good a man for his party--he is indeed--though perhaps he might have been somewhat hasty with you just now, because he has been much worried in this business."
"I am very willing to think so, Rose, if you say so. But how comes it to pass that you think so differently from those about you?"
"My poor mother," said Rose, "brought me up to fear GOD and the King; and, a few hours before she died, she begged me never, whatever might happen, to join with those men who did not believe in GOD, and would not honour the King. And I have never done so, and I never will."
"It makes me very happy to hear you say so," replied Marie. "It is like finding a friend when one least expected it. How grieved I am that we are to go on so early!"
"At what time?" inquired Rose.
"M. de Cailly said at eight."
"You shall have breakfast first, anyhow," said Rose. "But is there nothing else I can do for you?"
"There is one thing," replied Marie; "and yet I hardly like to ask it, because it might be the means of getting you into trouble."
"Do not fear that," answered Rose Le Grand; "tell me what it is."
"Well, then, it is this:--I hear that we stop one whole day in La Flêche. It is just possible that, if my friends knew it, they might make some effort for me. Could you help me in sending them a note?"
"I will do so," replied Rose, after a moment's pause, "on one condition. It is, that you will not date your note, nor give any clue by which they may discover that it was written here. I am bound, you know, to think of my father."
"You are quite right. I will only say that we stop a day in La Flêche. You shall see what I write, if you like."
"No, no," said Rose, "I will not do that. I know I can trust you."
"There, there it is," said Marie de Beaurepaire, after hastily writing down the words which we have already been made acquainted with. "There it is; I will give it you now." And, approaching the bedside of Rose Le Grand, she put it into her hand.
"I will send it off by a man I can trust first thing in the morning; long, I hope, before you are awake. Pray, try now to go to sleep. I can answer for your bed being as comfortable as circumstances will allow; for I made it with my own hands."
"Good-night then, dear Rose," said Marie quite touched by her kindness. "I shall trust to you to call me; for, indeed, I am very, very tired."
Faithful to her word, as soon as the great bell of S. Etienne chimed six, Rose Le Grand went down-stairs, and gave the note to a lad in her father's service on whom she knew that she might depend. She promised to make an excuse for him to his master; and desired him to make the best of his way to Cerisay, and either to give it to M. de Beaurepaire, should he still be there, or to take care that it reached him, wherever he might be.
Thence she proceeded into the kitchen, to give Lisette directions for preparing breakfast for her guest. She was still engaged in that occupation, when the trampling of horses was heard in front of the house, and presently after a violent thumping and ringing at the door.
"They are earlier than Mademoiselle de Beaurepaire thought," said Rose. "You must go and open the door, Lisette, and then bring up the coffee as quickly as you can. I am not fit to be seen yet; so let me get up-stairs first."
Meanwhile the knocking and ringing continued. Rose hurried up-stairs, found that Mademoiselle de Beaurepaire was still asleep, and proceeded with her toilette, which was not quite finished. She wondered at the extreme noise which the dragoons made outside, and pulling aside the curtain, she saw that as many as twenty or thirty people were collected in the street, who seemed to be looking on with interest.
"What can all this mean?" she thought. "They cannot be afraid that their prisoner has made her escape!"
At that moment she heard the hall-door open, and in a few seconds the heavy step of two or three men was on the stairs. She drew the bolt in her own door, and it was well she did so; for some one outside turned the handle roughly, and tried to enter.
"Not that door, not that door!" said the voice of Lisette in a. crying tone. "That is my young mistress's room."
"Which way then?" said a harsh gruff voice. And Rose heard them knock at her father's door, which was at the opposite side of the landing.
"What is the matter?" asked Mademoiselle de Beaurepaire, waking: "it all seems like a dream. What is this noise? "
"There must be something wrong," said Rose;" there is a party of dragoons before the house, and some of them have just gone up to my father's room. Hark! do you not hear their voices? "
They were, indeed, sufficiently audible. "I had better get up at once," said Marie; "they are earlier, I suppose, than they said they would be," and assisted by Rose, she dressed herself with as much haste as possible. In the meanwhile the hubbub increased. The voices of the dragoons, who had entered the house, were loud and threatening; then the shrill tones of Le Grand made themselves distinctly audible.
"Arrest me!" he screamed; "arrest me! me, the mayor of Mirebeau! I shall acquaint my friends with this conduct--I shall not fail to represent it in its true light--I shall mention more particularly, General Santerre, that your behaviour is a disgrace to your uniform, and to your masters of Convention."
"Very well, citoyen," said Santerre, "you will be able to do it well; for I shall myself carry you to Paris."
"Oh, Mademoiselle de Beaurepaire!" cried Rose, wringing her hands in agony.
"I will go with you to Paris or anywhere else," said the self-important quincaillier; who, to do him justice, showed not the slightest symptom of fear. "I will bring you up before the Convention; I will have you stripped of your regimentals; I will teach you how to insult the Mayor of Mirebeau in his own house; then we shall see who will be on the right side, M. Santerre."
"Come, citoyen," said Santerre," no more of this insolence, if you please. What family have you?--What family has he, woman? "turning fiercely to Lisette.
"One daughter, M. le Ge'ne'ral," wailed Lisette, "and one servant, that is me, your honour's worship. But I never did anybody any harm, I'm sure; nor she neither, poor child, for the matter of that."
"Hold your clack, woman," said the brewer Santerre. "The girl I must take with me. Where is she?"
"What shall we do! what shall we do, Mademoiselle de Beaurepaire!" said Rose. "Oh! what will become of us all!"
"Take courage, Rose," said Marie. "There must be some mistake in this, so far as your father is concerned. You cheered me up last night, and now, you see, it is my turn to give you comfort. I advise you to open the door at once,"--for Santerre was knocking at it.
Rose did so with a trembling hand. "Why, here are two young women!" cried Santerre, with an oath. "Who, in the name of fortune, is this?"
"I am the daughter of M. de Beaurepaire," said Marie quietly, "and a prisoner here."
"A prisoner! how came you here?"
"M. de Cailly brought me here last night from Cerisay."
"Oho! did he? Well, well, I shall relieve him of your charge, and carry you along with me to Paris. I'll warrant we make your head and the little national window acquainted."
"Don't be frightened, young lady," said Le Grand; "I will see this fellow punished when we get to Paris."
"You will, will you?" said Santerre, with a sound between a howl and a laugh. "I tell you what, citoyen, if I hear much more of this sort of thing, I will have you pistolled in your own parlour."
"Oh, my dear father!" cried Rose, throwing her arms round his neck, "pray, pray, be quiet; you cannot help yourself by violence."
"Come, young woman, no sensibility here, if you please," cried Santerre. "Bah! it puts me in mind of Couthon and his spaniel. The prisoners will get ready instantly."
At this moment De Cailly entered. As soon as he saw Santerre, he seemed like the bird that is fascinated by a serpent--he trembled, stood still, and could scarcely get out the words, "Good-morning, M. le Général."
"Ah! good-morning, Cailly," said Santerre, studiously dropping the De. "I will take your little prisoner there out of your hands: you may consider yourself quit of the charge."
"As you please," said De Cailly, bowing. "But what?--is M. Le Grand a prisoner?"
"I am so," said the quincaillier. "But there must be some mistake in the arrest; there is not a stancher republican in France than I am. The matter will be set right on our arrival at Paris, I doubt not."
"Ah, we have a very easy and scientific way of arranging all those little mistakes in the Place de la Révolution" cried Santerre. "But we are, loitering too long. Are the horses ready?" he demanded of a subaltern.
"Perhaps," suggested De Cailly, "the ladies would like some refreshment before they set off."
"Refreshment!" growled Santerre, "they need not much trouble themselves about that. If they want anything at night, they can call for it." And Le Grand, who exhibited a more dignified demeanour as a prisoner than ever he had done as a mayor, was mounted on a horse provided for him. While Santerre was superintending the operation of fastening him to it, De Cailly had opportunity to say to Marie--
"I am sorry, most truly sorry, that you have fallen into the power of that man. He is a disgrace to our profession and to our cause, and indeed to a civilised country. I know not of anything that can give you a hold on him. You may touch Robespierre by flattering his vanity; Marat, by appealing to his patriotism; Danton is said to have some admiration for beauty; Collot d'Herbois may be bribed; but nothing can touch Santerre. Take care not to offend him, or he may have you shot by the road-side. I have known such things. The only comfort is, he will come to the guillotine at last. But while he is commanding-officer of the district, I must obey."
Marie de Beaurepaire and Rose Le Grand were now summoned to their horses. A considerable crowd had assembled in the street to witness the departure of the mayor, and the unfortunate Le Grand could draw no comfort from their behaviour. The Jacobins hissed and hooted; the Girondists, who constituted not only by far the most respectable, but by far the largest portion of the citizens, were too much intimidated to venture on any demonstration of feeling. The mayor conjectured, and conjectured but too truly, that his violent expressions against the Triumvirate of Terror must have been reported at Paris by some of the numerous spies; and that for them he was called to answer, and perhaps to suffer. Still he had great confidence in the strength of his party, and, to do him justice, some in the goodness of his principles; and nothing but the unusual paleness of his countenance told the anguish which he was suffering.
The escort consisted of about fifty dragoons; the prisoners rode in the middle, each between two soldiers; Mademoiselle de Beaurepaire being, in studied insult to her aristocratical birth, placed last. It was impossible that she could hold any communication with her fellow-prisoners; and, the dragoons who rode at her side spoke but seldom, and then only to interchange some blasphemous or brutal jest, the greater part of which were, fortunately, as unintelligible to the fair girls they were escorting as if uttered in another language.
Nothing had been said of the road that was to be taken, and Marie's anxiety grew intense to learn whether it would be by La Flêche. The crucifixes, however, that stood at the branch lanes and roads, many of which were frightfully ill-treated, could give no information; and when once she asked the soldier at her right hand whether they went near La Flêche, his only answer, clenched with an oath, was that she would know soon enough. She perceived, however, with considerable satisfaction, that they seemed to hold in the straight road to the north.
About midday, the evidently exhausted state of herself and her companion, and probably still greater consideration for the horses, induced Santerre to stop at a small auberge about a mile from Loudun. No one appeared; the house was deserted. The prisoners were, however, carried into the kitchen, and supplied with bread and wine; but conversation was impossible, because a party H of dragoons occupied the same apartment, and employed themselves in drinking, smoking, and blaspheming.
After about two hours' rest they were again ordered to mount; and passing rapidly through a large town, which Le Grand knew to be Loudun, though neither Rose nor Marie de Beaurepaire had any idea what place it was, about nightfall they came out on the banks of the Loire, and before dusk entered Saumur.
Here, to the great horror of Marie and Rose, the dragoons drew up before the prison. It was a modern erection, massy, gloomy, and terrible. General Santerre addressed his prisoners for the first time, and told them that they must be stirring early on the following morning. The iron doors, studded with knobs and stubs of wrought metal, fell back; a grim-looking and unshaven gaoler looked out, with a lantern in his hand and a brace of pistols at his waist, and demanded what was the matter.
"You will answer for the safety of these prisoners for to-night," said Santerre. "I have them in charge for Paris. Oh! those are their effects, are they? They should have been searched before now: let them be so." And with these words he gave the command,: "Forward!"
The prisoners were now in the court. Two or three of the officials came up: their packages were thrown open; and though nothing that was not indispensably necessary was found, all was not replaced.
"Now, old gentleman," said a wardkeeper to Le Grand, "trot off, and I'll lock you up for to-night."
"Are we not to be together?" asked the mayor, in consternation.
"Together?--a likely story!--not you: you in one wing, your daughters, or mistresses, or whatever they are, in the other. Come, young woman, don't make us lose time; if you have nothing to do, we have;" for Rose had thrown herself into her father's arms; and he was very unceremoniously hurried off.
Marie de Beaurepaire had taken hold of her friend's arm, when the turnkey who had opened the door came up to them.
"This way, if you please," he said; "follow me." They did so, up three long flights of stone steps, with iron banisters, lighted by one lamp at each landing, and echoing dismally to the tread; thence down a long passage, on each side of which were doors, so thickly set, as to prove how small a cell was thought necessary for the persons confined there. To each of these doors there was a projection near the top, and in it a sliding panel of iron, so contrived that the gaoler could, at any moment, look into the cell, though the prisoner could not look out of it.
"Let me see," said the turnkey, "No. 17--ay, there is but one woman there, and she is ill, so she will be glad of a companion. You shall go in there," touching Marie on the shoulder; "and this opposite one will do for you," he added to Rose.
"Oh! can we not be together?" cried the two girls, clinging to each other. "Pray, pray, if it can be managed, put us into any hole, so we may but stay with each other."
"Hoity-toity!" cried the turnkey. "Together quotha! What, and I not paid for it?"
"But supposing you were paid for it? "inquired Marie, anxiously.
"Why, that would alter the case," answered the gaoler.
"Will this do?" inquired Marie, holding out two louis-d'or, which she had kept concealed in her glove.
The man pocketed them with a nod. "This way, then," he said, going to the end of the passage, and turning down another which branched off to the right. He stopped before a door that seemed to promise better things, selected a key from his bunch, opened it, and ushered the two friends in. The room was very small, but tolerably clean; a little bed and a small table almost filled it.
"There," said the turnkey, setting down the lantern; "sapper-hour's over; but, I dare say, if it be paid for, I can get you some."
"I will give you another louis-d'or," said Marie, "if you will get us a little bread and water--or wine, if it may be; and if you will tell us what place this is."
"What place!--why, what should it be but Saumur? Why, where did you drop down from?"
"We have travelled far, and are strangers to this part of the country," replied Marie de Beaurepaire. "There is the money. Now, go and get us the supper," she added in a more commanding tone, for she perceived that she had acquired some influence over him.
"I will leave the lantern till I come back," said the turnkey; "but you must eat in the dark, for it is contrary to all rules to allow a light after supper." He went, not forgetting to lock the door behind him; and the prisoners felt, for the first time, that they were, like the meanest felons, in a common gaol.
Marie threw her arms round Rose, and kissed her several times. "No tears yet; not yet, dear Rose," she said, as the latter was about to burst into a passionate flood of weeping. "That man must not see it. But oh, I do thank GOD that I am not left to bear this alone."
"And so do I, Mademoiselle de Beaurepaire," said Rose; "so do I from my very heart. But my poor father!"
"Pray call me Marie, Rose; it is like a mockery to use my other name. And as to M. Le Grand, you saw what money did for us: we will try its effect for him."
"You are too too kind," sobbed Rose. "But you must not leave yourself without any. I have none: and I should not think that they allowed my father to take any."
"I have nearly a hundred louis-d'or," replied Marie, extricating another small portion from her dress. "Hark! here is the gaoler. Now we shall see."
The man entered; and it was clear that he thought the present he had received handsome. He brought a loaf, a knife, some detestable-looking butter, and a flask of tolerably good wine, a jug of water, and a tumbler.
"I am as good as my word," he said, setting them down. "I ought not, by rights, to leave you the knife; but you do not look as if you would do much harm with it: and I am sure you will not peach."
"Listen," said Mademoiselle de Beaurepaire. "You saw the gentleman who came with us: if you will do as much for him as for us, here are a couple more louis-d'or."
"I will try," said the man. "About separate accommodation I will not promise: but I will do my best. I will do all I can: but must not be coming back here again, or the governor will smell a rat."
"I will trust you," said Marie. And she put the money into his hand. Receiving it with a "Thank you, mam'selle," he took up the lantern, bade the prisoners "Good-night," and left and locked the cell.
Then all the thoughts that had been locked up in each heart that long day burst forth at once. Hopes, and fears, and wishes were interchanged; tears came to give force to words; nor were there wanting a few passing smiles to gild them: and though in such deep affliction, the fair companions lay down side by side with thankful hearts, and with brighter hopes than they could have anticipated when they entered that gloomy prison.
The early rays of a May sun, streaming in through the grated window, aroused Rose Le Grand. Even while she was endeavouring to collect her scattered thoughts, and to remember where she was, and what would be the principal events of the day, a dull heavy roar, like distant thunder, was heard to the south. At first she could not conceive what it was; but in a few moments, as it grew clearer and clearer, she came to the conclusion that it must be a heavy cannonade; and she awoke her companion to listen to it.
"It is firing, indeed," said Marie, who was acquainted with a sound to which the mayor's daughter had never yet listened. "This is the morning that the Vendeans were to attack Thouars. My father, and--and--and others of my friends will probably be there; are probably now in danger. And, oh, Rose, here are we cooped up, without the possibility of learning how they succeed, or knowing of their safety!"
"How far is Thouars from here?" inquired Rose.
"I have not any idea," said Marie. "But surely it cannot be very far; that terrible sound being so clear."
It was evident that there was some commotion in the prison. Steps were heard hurrying to and fro; voices here and there loud in consultation and dispute: and presently the arrival of a party of horse beneath the prison walls. Marie and Rose had but just time to prepare themselves for their journey, when the turnkey summoned them to their horses: "for," said he, "General Santerre is desirous of being in La Flêche as soon as may be."