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- La Vendee - 2/91 -


his talents. For Henri's sake, M. de Lescure tolerated him, and the three were therefore much together; they came from the same country; they belonged to the same club; they had the same political sympathies; and were looked upon as dear and stedfast friends.

On the 10th of August, the King left the Tuilleries, and took refuge in the National Assembly; during the greater part of the night he remained there with his family. Early on the following morning, he was removed, under a guard, to the Feuillants; and on the 12th it was decided that he should be confined in the prison of the Temple.

It was on the morning of the 12th, that the last meeting of the little club of the Poitevins took place.

They met with throbbing hearts and blank faces; they all felt that evil days had come that the Revolution which had been so petted and caressed by the best and fairest in France, had become a beast of prey, and that war, anarchy, and misrule were at hand.

They sat waiting on the morning of the 12th, till they should learn the decision of the Assembly with regard to the King. De Lescure was there calm and grave, but with much melancholy in his countenance.

Larochejaquelin was there. Hot and eager, whispering plans for rescuing the King, to which the less resolute hardly dared to listen. Charette, the Prince de Talmont, d'Autachamps, Fleuriot, and others, all of whom now detested the Revolution, though they could not but feel the danger of proclaiming themselves royalists.

"Denot will be here directly," said La Rochejaquelin; "he is at the Assembly--they are not apt to be very tedious in their decisions."

"Danton has openly declared," said Fleuriot, "that the armed sections shall remain in revolt, unless the Assembly decree the abolition of the monarchy."

"Lafayette," said the Prince, "is the only man now who could save the country--if Lafayette will move, he might still save the throne."

"He could do nothing," said d'Autachamps, "but add himself to the ruins--the regiments, to a man, would side with the populace."

"I don't know," said Larochejaquelin, "I don't think so. See how our Swiss fought--could any men be more true to their officers or their colours? and do you think there are not thousands in the French army as true, as brave as they? If Lafayette would raise his hand, I for one would join him."

"Wait, Henri, wait," said de Lescure, "wait till you know whether Lafayette and the army will really be wanting to save the King. If Roland be still firm, and Vergniaud true to his principles, they may still quell the fury of the Jacobins----the moderate party has still a large majority in the Assembly."

"Roland and Vergniaud are both true," said Fleuriot, "but you will find, de Lescure, that they can do nothing but yield or go--they must vanish out of the Assembly and become nothing--or else they must go with the people."

"The people! How I hate that phrase, in the sense in which it is now used," said Larochejaquelin. "A mob of blood-thirsty ruffians wishes to overturn the throne--but what evidence have we that the people wish it."

"The people, Henri, have been taught to wish it," said de Lescure.

"No, Charles, the people of France have not been taught to wish it--with all the teaching they have had, they do not wish it--have they shewn any favour to the new priests whom the Revolution has sent to them; do they love much the Commissioners, who from time to time, come among them with the orders of the Assembly. Do the people in the Bocage wish it?--do they wish it in the Marais, Charette?--do they wish it in Anjou and Brittany? Danton, Robespierre, and Tallien wish it--the mob of Paris wishes it--but the people of France does not wish to depose their King."

"But unfortunately," said d'Autachamps, "it is Danton, Robespierre, and the mob of Paris who have now the supreme power, and for a time will have their way--they who are wise will lie by till the storm has blown over."

"And are we to remain quiet while we are robbed of every thing which we esteem as holy?" said Larochejaquelin; "are we all to acquiesce in the brutality of such men as Danton, for fear the mob of Paris should be too strong for us?"

"I for one, will not!" said Charette.

"Nor I," said Larochejaquelin--not while I have a sword to draw, and an arm to use it. You are silent, Charles--is a Republic so much to your mind, that you have not a word, or even a wish for your King?"

"You are too talkative, Henri," replied the other; "will it not be well to think a little first before we proclaim definitively what we mean to do? We do not even know as yet in what position Louis XVI. may find himself tomorrow--he may be more firmly seated on his throne than he has been at any time since the Three Estates first met at Versailles."

As he ceased speaking, the door opened, and Adolphe Denot entered, hot with walking fast, and with his whole dress disordered by pushing through the dense masses of the crowd.

"Speak, Adolphe," said Henri, "have they decreed--has it come to the vote?"

"Are they still sitting?" said Fleuriot; "Danton, I am sure would not have yielded so soon as this:--if the chamber be closed, he must have been victorious."

"The King," said Denot, pausing for breath, "the King is to be taken to the Temple!"

There was a momentary silence among them all--their worst fears had been realized--the brute force of Paris had been triumphant. The firmness of Roland, the eloquence of Vergniaud, the patriotism of Guadet had been of no avail. The King of France--the heir of so long a line of royalty--the King, who had discarded the vices of his predecessors, and proved himself the friend of. the people, was to be incarcerated in the worst prison in Paris by the vote of that very Assembly which he had himself called into existence.

"He is to be confined in the Temple," continued Denot, "with the Queen and the two children. The populace are mad; they would kill him, if they could lay their hands on him."

"Where are your hopes now, Charles?" said Larochejaquelin. "Is it yet time for us to proclaim what we are--is it yet time for us to move? or are we to set still, until Danton enrolls us in his list of suspected persons?"

No one immediately answered the appeal of the hot young loyalist, and after a moment or two de Lescure spoke.

"Adolphe, did you hear the words of the decree?"

"Again and again," said Denot. "I was at the door of the Assembly, and the decree was known to the crowd the moment the votes had been taken."

"But did you hear the exact words?"

"That Louis and his family should be imprisoned in the Temple," answered Denot.

"Did they say the King, or did they call him by his name?" asked de Lescure again. "Did they decree that the King should be imprisoned, or Louis Capet?"

As he spoke, the door again opened, and another member, who had been among the crowd, entered the room.

"Gentlemen," said he, "allow me the honour to congratulate you. Yon do not know your own happiness. You are no longer the burdened slaves of an effete monarchy; you are now the vigorous children of a young Republic."

"Vive le Roi, quand mÍme," said Larochejaquelin, standing up in the middle of the room. "I am glad they have so plainly declared themselves; we are driven now to do the same. Prince, now is the time to stand by our King. Charette, your hand; our dreams must now be accomplished. You will doubt no longer, Charles. Prudence herself would now feel that we have no longer aught to wait for."

"No--we must delay no longer," said Adolphe Denot. "A King is to be saved; every hour of delay is an hour of treason, while the King is in the hands of his enemies."

"A fine sentiment, Denot," said d'Autachamps; "but how will you avoid the treason?--how do you purpose to rescue his Majesty?"

"With my sword," said Adolphe, turning round shortly. "Do you doubt my will?"

"We only doubt your power, Adolphe," said de Lescure. "We only fear you may not be able to raise the standard of revolt against the armed sections of all Paris, backed by a decree of the Assembly."

"I can at any rate die in the attempt," replied Denot. "I cannot draw the breath of life from the atmosphere of a Republic! I will not live by the permission of Messieurs Danton and Robespierre."

"Whatever we do," said Fleuriot, "the club must be given up. We are known to be friendly to the King, and we are too weak to stand our ground; indeed, we should only incur useless danger by meeting here"

"And waste the time which we may well employ in the provinces," said Charette.

"You are right, Charette," said Rochejaquelin, whom the wildness of his friend Denot had a little sobered. "You are quite right--Paris is no longer a place for us. I will go back to the Bocage; there, at least, I may own among my neighbours that I am not a republican; there, perhaps, I may make some effort for my King--here I can make none. You will not stay in Paris, Charles, to hear unwashed revolutionists clatter of Louis Capet?"

"No, Henri, I also will return home. Charette is right. We should but waste our time in Paris, and be in danger. We shall probably be in safety in Poitou."

"Perhaps not in safety," said Henri. "We may, I trust, soon be in action."


La Vendee - 2/91

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