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- The Companions of Jehu - 1/133 -
THE COMPANIONS OF JEHU
BY ALEXANDRE DUMAS
An Introductory Word to the Reader. Prologue--The City of Avignon. I. A Table d'Hôte. II. An Italian Proverb. III. The Englishman. IV. The Duel. V. Roland. VI. Morgan. VII. The Chartreuse of Seillon. VIII. How the Money of the Directory was Used. IX. Romeo and Juliet X. The Family of Roland. XI. Château des Noires-Fontaines. XII. Provincial Pleasures. XIII. The Wild-Boar. XIV. An Unpleasant Commission. XV. The Strong-Minded Man. XVI. The Ghost. XVII. Investigations. XVIII. The Trial. XIX. The Little House in the Rue de la Victoire. XX. The Guests of General Bonaparte. XXI. The Schedule of the Directory. XXII. The Outline of a Decree. XXIII. Alea Jacta Est. XXIV. The Eighteenth Brumaire. XXV. An Important Communication. XXVI. The Ball of the Victims. XXVII. The Bear's Skin. XXVIII. Family Matters. XXIX. The Geneva Diligence. XXX. Citizen Fouché's Report. XXXI. The Son of the Miller of Guerno. XXXII. White and Blue. XXXIII. The Law of Retaliation. XXXIV. The Diplomacy of Georges Cadoudal. XXXV. A Proposal of Marriage. XXXVI. Sculpture and Painting. XXXVII. The Ambassador. XXXVIII. The Two Signals. XXXIX. The Grotto of Ceyzeriat. XL. A False Scent. XLI. The Hôtel de la Poste. XLII. The Chambéry Mail-Coach. XLIII. Lord Grenville's Reply. XLIV. Change of Residence. XLV. The Follower of Trails. XLVI. An Inspiration. XLVII. A Reconnoissance. XLVIII. In which Morgan's Presentiments are Verified. XLIX. Roland's Revenge. L. Cadoudal at the Tuileries. LI. The Army of the Reserves. LII. The Trial. LIII. In which Amélie Keeps Her Word. LIV. The Confession. LV. Invulnerable. LVI. Conclusion.
AN INTRODUCTORY WORD TO THE READER
Just about a year ago my old friend, Jules Simon, author of "Devoir," came to me with a request that I write a novel for the "Journal pour Tous." I gave him the outline of a novel which I had in mind. The subject pleased him, and the contract was signed on the spot.
The action occurred between 1791 and 1793, and the first chapter opened at Varennes the evening of the king's arrest.
Only, impatient as was the "Journal pour Tous," I demanded a fortnight of Jules Simon before beginning my novel. I wished to go to Varennes; I was not acquainted with the locality, and I confess there is one thing I cannot do; I am unable to write a novel or a drama about localities with which I am not familiar.
In order to write "Christine" I went to Fontainebleau; in writing "Henri III." I went to Blois; for "Les Trois Mousquetaires" I went to Boulogne and Béthune; for "Monte-Cristo" I returned to the Catalans and the Château d'If; for "Isaac Laquedem" I revisited Rome; and I certainly spent more time studying Jerusalem and Corinth from a distance than if I had gone there.
This gives such a character of veracity to all that I write, that the personages whom I create become eventually such integral parts of the places in which I planted them that, as a consequence, many end by believing in their actual existence. There are even some people who claim to have known them.
In this connection, dear readers, I am going to tell you something in confidence--only do not repeat it. I do not wish to injure honest fathers of families who live by this little industry, but if you go to Marseilles you will be shown there the house of Morel on the Cours, the house of Mercédès at the Catalans, and the dungeons of Dantès and Faria at the Château d'If.
When I staged "Monte-Cristo" at the Theâtre-Historique, I wrote to Marseilles for a plan of the Château d'If, which was sent to me. This drawing was for the use of the scene painter. The artist to whom I had recourse forwarded me the desired plan. He even did better than I would have dared ask of him; he wrote beneath it: "View of the Château d'If, from the side where Dantès was thrown into the sea."
I have learned since that a worthy man, a guide attached to the Château d'If, sells pens made of fish-bone by the Abbé Faria himself.
There is but one unfortunate circumstance concerning this; the fact is, Dantès and the Abbé Faria have never existed save in my imagination; consequently, Dantès could not have been precipitated from the top to the bottom of the Château d'If, nor could the Abbé Faria have made pens. But that is what comes from visiting these localities in person.
Therefore, I wished to visit Varennes before commencing my novel, because the first chapter was to open in that city. Besides, historically, Varennes worried me considerably; the more I perused the historical accounts of Varennes, the less I was able to understand, topographically, the king's arrest.
I therefore proposed to my young friend, Paul Bocage, that he accompany me to Varennes. I was sure in advance that he would accept. To merely propose such a trip to his picturesque and charming mind was to make him bound from his chair to the tram. We took the railroad to Châlons. There we bargained with a livery-stable keeper, who agreed, for a consideration of ten francs a day, to furnish us with a horse and carriage. We were seven days on the trip, three days to go from Châlons to Varennes, one day to make the requisite local researches in the city, and three days to return from Varennes to Châlons.
I recognized with a degree of satisfaction which you will easily comprehend, that not a single historian had been historical, and with still greater satisfaction that M. Thiers had been the least accurate of all these historians. I had already suspected this, but was not certain. The only one who had been accurate, with absolute accuracy, was Victor Hugo in his book called "The Rhine." It is true that Victor Hugo is a poet and not a historian. What historians these poets would make, if they would but consent to become historians!
One day Lamartine asked me to what I attributed the immense success of his "Histoire des Girondins."
"To this, because in it you rose to the level of a novel," I answered him. He reflected for a while and ended, I believe, by agreeing with me.
I spent a day, therefore, at Varennes and visited all the localities necessary for my novel, which was to be called "René d'Argonne." Then I returned. My son was staying in the country at Sainte-Assise, near Melun; my room awaited me, and I resolved to go there to write my novel.
I am acquainted with no two characters more dissimilar than Alexandre's and mine, which nevertheless harmonize so well. It is true we pass many enjoyable hours during our separations; but none I think pleasanter than those we spend together.
I had been installed there for three or four days endeavoring to begin my "René d'Argonne," taking up my pen, then laying it aside almost immediately. The thing would not go. I consoled myself by telling stories. Chance willed that I should relate one which Nodier had told me of four young men affiliated with the Company of Jehu, who had been executed at Bourg in Bresse amid the most dramatic circumstances. One of these four young men, he who had found the greatest difficulty in dying, or rather he whom they had the greatest difficulty in killing, was but nineteen and a half years old.
Alexandre listened to my story with much interest. When I had finished: "Do you know," said he, "what I should do in your place?"
"I should lay aside 'René d'Argonne,' which refuses to materialize, and in its stead I should write 'The Companions of Jehu.'"
"But just think, I have had that other novel in mind for a year or two, and it is almost finished."
"It never will be since it is not finished now."
"Perhaps you are right, but I shall lose six months regaining
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