Schulers Books Online
books - games - software - wallpaper - everything
- The Reign Of Terror - 40/50 -
pallor of his face, "but I pity you. The street is furious that these wretches should have carried off that sweet young creature, who was so good to everyone; but what could we do? We hissed the men, and we would have pelted them had we not been afraid of striking your sisters. When they had gone La Mere Pichon said to some of us, 'The best thing we can do for that angel is to save her brother from being caught also. So do one of you post yourself on each road leading to the house, and warn him in time. He generally walks beyond the town. I heard one of his sisters say so.' So some of us came out on all the roads, and two remained, one at each end of the street, in case we should miss you. La Mere said, whoever met you was to tell you to be on this road, by the river, just outside the town, after dark, and she would bring you some clothes, and take you where you would be safe; but till then you were to go away again, and keep far from the town. Do you understand?" she asked, laying her hand on his arm, for he seemed dazed and stupid with the shock he had received.
"I understand," he said in a low voice. "Thank you all for your warning. Yes, I will be here this evening."
So saying he turned and moved away, walking unsteadily as if he were drunk. The woman looked after him pityingly, and then, shaking her head and muttering execrations against the "Reds," she made her way home to tell Mere Pichon that she had fulfilled her mission.
Harry walked on slowly until some distance from the town, and then threw himself down on a bank by the road and lay for a time silent and despairing. At last tears came to his relief, and his broad shoulders shook with a passion of sobbing to think that just at the moment when a chance of escape was opened - just when all the dangers seemed nearly past - the girls should have fallen into the hands of the enemy, and he not there to strike a blow in their defence. To think of Jeanne - his bright, fearless Jeanne - and clinging little Virginie, in the hands of these human tigers. It was maddening! But after a time the passion of weeping calmed down, and Harry sat up suddenly.
"I am a fool," he said as he rose to his feet; "a nice sort of fellow for a protector, lying here crying like a girl when I had begun to fancy I was a man; wasting my time here when I know the only hope for the girls is for me to keep myself free to help them. I need not lose all hope yet. After Marie has been saved, why shouldn't I save my Jeanne? I am better off than I was then, for we have friends who will help. These women whose hearts Jeanne has won will aid if they can, and may get some of their husbands and brothers to aid. The battle is not lost yet, and Jeanne will know I shall move heaven and earth to save her."
Harry's fit of crying, unmanly as he felt it, had afforded him an immense relief, for he hardly knew himself how great the strain had been upon him of late, and with a more elastic step he strode away into the country, and for hours walked on, revolving plan after plan in his mind for rescuing the girls. Although nothing very plausible had occurred to him he felt brighter in mind, though weary in body, when, just after nightfall, he again approached the spot where he had that morning received so heavy a blow. He was not disheartened at the difficulty before him, for he knew that he should have some time yet to hit upon a a plan, and the jails were so crowded with prisoners that he might fairly reckon upon weeks before there was any actual necessity for action. Marthe Pichon was waiting for him.
"Ah, Monsieur," she began, "but this is a terrible day! Oh, if I had but known a day or two earlier they could have moved in time, and now they are in the power of those wolves; but we will try to save them. We have been talking it over. We will all go to the tribunal, and we will take our husbands and our children with us, and we will demand their release. We will not let them be murdered. And now here are the clothes, but you need not put them on now. There will be a boat here in a few minutes. We have told some of the sailors how they misjudged you, and they are sorry, now it is too late, that they would not listen when you spoke to them. However, they will do all they can for you. I have sent a message by a boy to my sister to say that I shall be down this evening, so they will be expecting us. Ah, here is the boat!"
The splash of oars was heard, and a boat rowed along close to the bank.
"Is that you, Pierre?"
"It is us, sure enough, Mere Pichon. Is all right?"
"Yes, we are both here."
In another minute the boat was rowed alongside, and Harry and the woman got on board. There were few words spoken as the two men rowed vigorously down stream. In three quarters of an hour some lights were seen on the opposite bank, and the boat was headed towards them and soon reached a little causeway.
"I shall not be more than twenty minutes," Mere Pichon said as she got out.
"All right, we will wait!" was the reply, and mounting the causeway La Mere Pichon led the way to the farthest cottage in the little fishing-village. A light was burning within, and lifting the latch she entered, followed by Harry. A fisherman and his wife were sitting by the fire.
"Here, sister Henriette and brother Pierre," Marthe said; "you have heard from me how a dear angel, who lived next door to me, has nursed and tended my little Julie, and by blessing of the Virgin brought her round from her illness; and those wretches, the Reds, have carried her off to-day with her sister, and you know what it is to fall into their hands. This is her brother, and I am going to ask you to give him shelter and let him stay here with you. I have brought him a suit of clothes with me, and no one will guess that he is not the son of some comrade of yours. He will pay you well for sheltering him till we can put him on board Adolphe's lugger and send him across the water. If it had not been that the Reds had come to-day I should have brought his sisters with him. I was just starting to arrange it with you when those wretches came and took them away, and it may be that they would pay a hundred crowns to you, and that is not a sum to be earned every day."
"No, indeed," her sister said briskly; "that will buy Pierre a new boat, and a good one, such as he can go out to sea in; besides, as you say, after what his sister did for Julie we are bound to help them. What do you say, Pierre?"
Pierre's face had expressed anything but satisfaction until the money was mentioned, but it then changed entirely. The times were bad - his boat was old and unseaworthy - a hundred crowns was a fortune to him.
"I have risked my life often," he said, "to earn five crowns, therefore I do not say no to the offer. Monsieur, I accept; for a hundred crowns I will run the risk of keeping you here, and your sisters too if they should come, until you can cross the water."
"Very well then," Marthe Pichon said. "That's settled, now I shall be off at once. They will be watching the street for monsieur, and to-morrow, when they find he has not come back, they will be asking questions, so the sooner I am back the better."
"We cannot give you much accommodation, monsieur," the fisherman said. "There is only the loft upstairs, and, for to-night, the sails to sleep on; but we will try and make you more comfortable to-morrow."
"I care nothing for comfort," Harry answered, "so make no change for me. Just treat me as if I were what I shall seem to be - a young fisherman who has come to work with you for a bit. I will row with you and help you with your nets. Your sister has promised to send a boy every day with all the news she can gather. Now, if you have a piece of bread I will gladly eat it, for I have touched nothing since breakfast."
"We can do better than that for you," the woman replied, and in a few minutes some fish were frying over the fire. Fortunately the long hours he had been on his feet had thoroughly tired Harry out, and after eating his supper he at once ascended to the loft, threw himself on the heap of sails, and in a few minutes was sound asleep. The next morning he dressed himself in the fisherman's clothes with which he had been provided, and went down stairs.
"You will do," Pierre said, looking at him; "but your hands and face are too white. But I was tanning my sails yesterday, and there is some of the stuff left in the boiler; if you rub your hands and face with that you will do well."
Harry took the advice, and the effect was to give him the appearance of a lad whose face was bronzed by long exposure to the sea and air.
"You will pass anywhere now," Pierre said approvingly. "I shall give out that you belong to St. Nazaire, and are the son of a friend of mine whose fishing-boat was lost in the last gale, and so you have come to work for a time with me; no one would ask you any more. Besides, we are all comrades, and hate the Reds, who have spoilt our trade by killing all our best customers, so if they come asking questions here they won't get a word out of anyone."
For ten days Harry lived with the fisherman. Adolphe had returned in his lugger the day after his arrival there, and came over the next evening to see him. He said that it would be some little time before the lugger sailed again, but that if he was ready to start before she sailed he would manage to procure him a passage in some other craft. He said that he had already been talking to some of the sailors on the wharves, and that they had promised to go to the Tribunal when the girls were brought up before it, and that he would manage to get news from a friend employed in the prison when that would be.
Harry frequently went up in a boat to Nantes with Pierre with the fish they had caught. He had no fear of being recognized, and did not hesitate to land, though he seldom went far from the boat. Adolphe was generally there, and he and two or three of his comrades, who were in the secret, always hailed him as an old acquaintance, so that had any of the spies of the Revolutionists been standing there, no suspicion that Harry was other than he seemed would have entered their minds.
One evening, three weeks after Harry's arrival at the hut, Adolphe came in with his head bound up by a bandage.
"What is the matter, Adolphe?" Harry exclaimed.
"I have bad news for you, monsieur. I learned this morning that
Previous Page Next Page
1 10 20 30 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 50
Schulers Books Online
books - games - software - wallpaper - everything