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- La Vendee - 91/91 -


about three leagues to the east of Cholet, a little to the south of the great road from Saumur. From this place M. Henri harassed them most effectually; about fifty of the old Vendeans had joined him, and with these he stopped their provisions, interrupted their posts, and on one occasion, succeeded in getting the despatches from Paris to the republican General. We. were at this work for about six weeks; and he, as he always did, exposed himself to every possible danger. One morning we came upon two republican grenadiers; there were M. Henri, two others and myself there, and we wanted immediately to fire upon them; but M. Henri would not have it so; he said that he would save them, and rushed forward to bid them lay down their arms; as he did so, the foremost of them fired, and M. Henri fell dead without a groan."

"And the two men--did they escape?"

"No, neither of them," said Chapeau; and for a moment, a gleam of savage satisfaction flashed across his face; "the man who fired the shot had not one minute spared him for his triumph; I had followed close upon my master, and I avenged him."

"And where was his young wife all this time?"

"She was with Madame de Lescure, in Brittany; and so was Mademoiselle Agatha; they were living disguised almost as peasants, at an old château called Dreneuf; after that they all escaped to Spain; they are both still alive, and now in Poitou; and I am told, that though they have not chosen absolutely to seclude themselves, they both pass the same holy life, as though they were within the walls of a convent."

It was long before Chapeau discontinued his narrative, but it is unnecessary for us to follow farther in the sad details which he had to give of the loss of the brave Vendean leaders. The Prince de Talinont, Charette, Stofflet, Marigny, all of them fell: "And yet," said Chapeau, with a boast, which evidently gave him intense satisfaction, "La Vendée was never conquered. Neither the fear of the Convention, nor the arms of the Directory, nor the strength of the Consul, nor the flattery of the Emperor could conquer La Vendée, or put down the passionate longing for the return of the royal family, which has always burnt in the bosom of the people. Revolt has never been put down in La Vendée, since Cathelineau commenced the war in St. Florent. The people would serve neither the republic nor the empire; the noblesse would not visit the court; their sons have refused commissions in the army, and their daughters have disdained to accept the hands of any, who had forgotten their allegiance to the throne. Through more than twenty years of suffering and bloodshed, La Vendée has been true to its colour, and now it will receive its reward."

Chapeau himself, however, more fortunate, though not less faithful, than his compatriots, had not been obliged to wait twenty years for his reward; he owned, with something like a feeling of disgrace, that he had been carrying on his business in Paris, for the last fifteen years, with considerable success and comfort to himself; and he frankly confessed, that he had by practice inured himself to the disagreeable task of shaving, cutting and curling beards and heads, which were devoted to the empire; "but then, Monsieur," said he apologizing for his conduct, "there was a great difference you know between them and republicans."

Five-and-thirty years have now passed, since Chapeau was talking, and the Vendeans triumphed in the restoration of Louis XVIII to the throne of his ancestors. That throne has been again overturned; and, another dynasty having intervened, France is again a Republic.

How long will it be before some second La Vendée shall successfully, but bloodlessly, struggle for another re-establishment of the monarchy? Surely before the expiration of half a century since the return of Louis, France will congratulate herself on another restoration.

THE END


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