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" Cadoudal broke away and pointing his pistol at Caniolle, fired."

(See page 322)



The Eagle's Talon

By

Georges Ohnet



Adapted from the French by
Helen Meyer

With 16 Illustrations by
A. de Parys



G. P. Putnam's Sons

New York and London
XTbe -Knickerbocker press

1913



COPYRIGHT, 1913

BY
G. P. PUTNAM'S SONS

Second Printing



Ubc ftnfcfcerbocfccr press, flew Borfc



SRLg

URIJi 51 1



CONTENTS

CHAPTER PAGE

I. A WOMAN AND A SECRET i

II. THE FORTUNE OF WAR ... 24

III. A SNARER OF MEN .... 42

IV. BONAPARTE'S RIVAL .... 76

V. A SUMMONS FROM THE CONSUL . 94

VI. AFFAIRS OF STATE AND OF THE HEART 108

VII. THE DISGUISED VISITOR . . . 122

VIII. FOUCHE'S OPPORTUNITY . . . 132

IX. THE CONSPIRATORS GATHER . . 142

X. AN ARTFUL INQUISITOR . . . 161

XI. A PLOT AND ITS VICTIMS . . .169

XII. LOVE AND PERIL . . . .183

XIII. IN READINESS ..... 195

XIV. TRAPPED . . . . . . 218

XV. THE HIDING-PLACE OF THE COUNTESS 241

iii



iv Contents



CHAPTER



PAGE



XVI. THE CHOUANS ACHIEVE REVENGE . 261

XVII. PROMISES AND THREATS . . . 274

XVIII. THE MASTER GUNNER . . . 290

XIX. A CLEW AND A CAPTURE . . 303

XX. VICTIMS OF A LOST CAUSE . .311

XXI. LOVE UNDYING .... 330

XXII. POLITICAL JUSTICE . . . 343

XXIII. THE EMPEROR'S OFFER . . . 356

XXIV. LONG LIVE THE KING! . . . 366



ILLUSTRATIONS

PACK

"CADOUDAL BROKE AWAY AND POINTING HIS
PISTOL AT CANIOLLE, FIRED." Frontispiece

"THE DOOR OPENED AND THE COUNTESS DE

MONTMORAN ENTERED." ... 14

"FIFTY FEET FROM THE ENTRANCE TO THE

TOWN, CADOUDAL HALTED." ... 28

"WITH A GROWL THE CHOUAN SEIZED HER." 38

"!N THE GARDENS THE GAY WORLD CIRCU-
LATED, MET, AND EXCHANGED GREETINGS." 52

"AT THE REVIEW YESTERDAY MORNING, THE

TROOPS CRIED, 'LONG LIVE THE EMPEROR!'" no

"BRACONNEAU, DROWSY FROM HIS LONG CHASE
OF THE PREVIOUS NIGHT, SAT AT A TABLE
IN THE CAFE DE LA REGENCE, PLAYING
CHESS WITH ' OLD DAZINCOURT.' " . . 132

"As IF BEFORE HIS CAMP-FIRE CADOUDAL BE-
STRODE A CHAIR." .... 146

'"THERE ARE No SECRETS FROM ME IN THIS
HEAD,' SHE SAID GAILY, NESTLING CLOSE
TO HIS SIDE." 164



vi Illustrations



" IN THE CONSUL'S OWN APARTMENT, IN
DINNER DRESS, ATTENDED BY HORTENSE
BEAUHARNAIS AND CAROLINE MURAT,
JOSEPHINE SAT." . . . . .182

AT FRASCATI. ...... 202

" JOSEPHINE, ALWAYS AMIABLE AND ANXIOUS

TO PLEASE, SAT SILENT, WATCHING HIM." 236

" ' COSTER DE SAINT-VICTOR, AND YOU, JOSEPH
PICOT,' BRACONNEAU SAID CALMLY, ' I
ARREST YOU.' "..... 266

'"ARE YOU CITIZEN SINCLAIR?' ASKED ONE
OF THE THREE MEN WHO HAD FOLLOWED
THE MAID INTO THE ROOM." . . -274

"BONAPARTE STOOD WITH HIS GLASS TO HIS

EYES, FROWNING AND THINKING ALOUD." 292

"THE MEN OF THE PREFECTURE LED THEIR

PRISONER TO THE DEAD." . . . 342



The Eagle's Talon



The Eagle's Talon



CHAPTER I

A WOMAN AND A SECRET

THE Chouan chiefs under command of
Georges Cadoudal had met at dinner
in the banquet hall of the Chateau de Kerldan
to reiterate their determination to oppose the
Government of the Consul, and to resist the
Consul's attempts to pacify Brittany. Ca-
doudal in his habitual dress, a hunter's
costume of green velvet, his bare, collarless
neck encircled by a loose, black silk cravat,
his legs sheathed to the knees in tan leather, sat
at the right hand of the Countess de Kerle"an.
The Marquis de Montpelet, Brigadier-General
of the King's army, lounged with thumbs
thrust in his belt, at the left hand of the
hostess.

The beautiful and notoriously coquettish
Countess de Montmoran and the beautiful



2 The Eagle's Talon

and amiable Mme. de Tardy, two ladies
known to the outspoken Chouans as "Georges'
girls," sat at either hand of the Count de
Kerlean.

Around the table, in the pale light of the
crystal lustres, the watchful eyes of Jean
Tiffauges, Rev. Father Clarec, Baron de
Quatrelouis, and the Chevalier de Kerallac
looked out of faces dark with stern resolve.

The dinner had been a babel of discussion,
and the old wines, served by the liveried
lackeys of the household de Kerlean, had not
decreased the general animation.

"Have you heard," said the Abb6, "Bona-
parte has given Father Bernier a bishopric!"

"Eh, well! Bernier worked for it; such serv-
ices as he rendered when they signed the
peace treaty of Chatillon were worth some
return!" sneered Quatrelouis.

"Bernier is a traitor!" cried de Barbazan.
"He has betrayed our cause. Let him not
show his face in these regions. I know twenty
men who would like nothing better than to
kill him."

"He knows that as well as you know it,"
said Cadoudal.

"I loved Father Bernier," sighed the Coun-
tess de Montmoran. "He is so handsome.



A Woman and a Secret 3

His gestures are so graceful. In the pulpit
he is a dream! . . . He is a true prelate;
magnetic and a most convincing speaker!"

"He would have done better if he had kept
his mouth shut," said Tiffauges. "His talk
lulled our people to sleep to be awakened by
HMouville's cannon. . . . And now, after
all his plausible villainy, that damned Bona-
parte has made him a bishop! If he lives
long enough, he will make him a cardinal
and seat him on the papal throne. The
'Master of France' knows how to reward his
servants; there is no denying that!"

"That is why he is not like our kings,"
piped the soft voice of the gentle Mme. de
Tardy.

Falling from her artless lips the bold words
caused deep emotion. Cadoudal said in a
harsh voice:

"We serve our King because we are loyal
lovers of the monarchy. Shame to us if we
look for a reward for our devotion!"

"Pardine!" said Tiffauges, "it would do us
little good to do anything of that sort! It is
easy to talk of ' royalty. ' How many Royalists
are there? Normandy is as submissive as a
sheep; the men who pillaged Chartres are
dead. As far as I have seen, we are the only



4 The Eagle's Talon

men of Morbihan on foot. And whom are
we fighting . . . and how are we fighting?
Our men would throw down their guns . . .
they would starve to death; we could not feed
them were it not for the English, who toss us
a few carbines . . . money, and powder,
from time to time."

Cadoudal made an attempt to speak;
Tiffauges cut short his words:

" Georges, you can afford to talk ! You are a
general, you wear the jewel of the grand cordon
of Saint-Louis, and the King calls you 'friend, '
or, if he is in good humour ' Cousin. ' All that
is very agreeable for you, but it does not
embellish the appearance of our legs."

"Speak for yourself, 'Citizen Tiffauges,'
laughed Mme. de Montmoran.

"Ah, Countess," murmured Tiffauges, "you
are the exception; we all know your perfec-
tions." He turned to Cadoudal. "We can-
not deny facts; we are at bay, and the men
who give us an appearance of authority are
as tired of it as we are."

"Such talk is blasphemous ! " said Cadoudal.
"Not for an instant has our faith wavered;
not even in a black dream could the least, the
weakest of us, be so base as to forsake the
sacred cause."



A Woman and a Secret 5

"The 'sacred cause' seems to have for-
saken us, " mocked Becdelivre. ' ' Hope against
hope is an euphonious legend, but when a thing
is impossible, it is impossible. We are as
ready to die for the Lilies as for the ladies;
but apparently to die is all the service we can
render them."

"I would rather die than lounge in idleness
like Suzannet and d'Autichamp!" shouted de
Barbazan. " Let me drop in my tracks, let me
be the last Chouan to draw a bead upon the
Blues!"

Cadoudal sprang to his feet and faced de
Barbazan with arms outstretched.

"You shall not be the last one; there will
be two of us," he cried, hoarse from emotion.
"We will die together, and side by side;
the last volley fired by the Blues shall be for
you and me! By my soul, Barbazan, I love
you! Let them set the cross between our
graves, and write on it, The last of the Chouan-
nerie"

The faces of the men darkened. De Keral-
lac shrugged his shoulders. The Countess de
Montmoran asked briskly:

"How many emigrants returned this year?"

' ' Sixty thousand. ' '

"They will form concrete for the consolida-



6 The Eagle's Talon

tion of the new governmental organisation.
Our people have carved the wood of the black
cherry trees of the German forest, and given
dancing and fencing lessons to the young
Germans long enough. They are tired of
poverty!"

"They are not as tired as our old nobles
will make the usurpers after the restoration.
That situation will be delicate, to say the
least! " murmured Mme. de Tardy with a fond
glance at the glowing face of Cadoudal.

' ' Law is law ! ' ' declared de Kertean. ' ' The
'usurpers,' as you call them, are backed by
all the magistrates and gendarmes of the
Government of France."

"And," added Quatrelouis, "the man who
holds the combination together is strong
enough to enforce respect for all the acts of
the Revolution."

"If we could make him disappear what
then?" asked Tiffauges.

Kerldan laughed.

"//"he began.

Cadoudal interrupted him.

"We have no time for hypotheses. We
must be at Pont Scorff at daybreak, to meet
the English ship and to get her cargo. Ladies,
you must not be frightened; you will hear



A Woman and a Secret 7

heavy firing from Lorient and Port-Louis.
We shall seize Kerentrec, and under cover of
that diversion, we shall establish communi-
cation with the ship. We can hold the
mouth of the river long enough to receive the
cargo."

"How many men are you taking?" asked
Quatrelouis.

"Only a handful; but three thousand are on
the way. The whole country is with us; I
could call the peasants; they would rise to
a man should we need them." As he spoke, a
vision clouded his mind. Black night, and a
weak band of Chouans struggling in the icy fog
of early morning, hemmed in by battalions of the
Blues. His chin fell upon his breast and he
sat silent, lost in thought. On either side of
de Kerle"an a girlish woman leaned forward
and gazed into his dark face with eyes chal-
lenging his notice.

"Awake, Lord Georges!" said the sweet
voice of Mme. de Tardy. ' ' Let us drink to the
success of the expedition!"

All raised their glasses and the Countess
de Montmoran cried: "To the glory of our
General, and to the restoration of the throne."

Cadoudal bowed low to the Countess, and
kissed the cheek of Mme. de Tardy.



8 The Eagle's Talon

"I thank you. To-morrow night I will
bring you news."

The company arose from the table, and
host and hostess, followed by the majority of
their guests, passed through the corridor, to
the salon. Cadoudal, Tiffauges, and de Bar-
bazan entered a room used by the chief of the
Chouans as an office. A short, massive
cannon stood in a corner behind piled up
double-barrelled pistols and a disordered heap
of sabres in shining black-leather scabbards.
On a long table a map of the country lay
where Cadoudal and his aids had studied
it.

Cadoudal sank into an armchair and turned
with an impatient movement to Tiffauges:

"Eh Bien!" he said. "We are alone, we
can speak freely. Have you any news? "

"You have taken long enough to ask it!"
growled Tiffauges.

" I could not ask it at dinner, could I? Dis-
turb the company . . . excite the ladies

"No!" Tiffauges exclaimed with a savage
laugh. "It would have been better to wait
until the ladies signalled to the Blues to come
in and shoot us down!"

"What do you mean?"

1 ' I mean that you have been betrayed . You



A Woman and a Secret 9

will be trapped at Hennebont, as Charette
was trapped at la Chaboterie."

" Betrayed ? Who has betrayed me ?
I will flay him alive. I swear it by Saint
Anne."

"And what if it is a woman?"

Cadoudal had not stirred. Tiffauges on
foot, close to him, faced him, his strong face
grim.

Making a violent effort the chief mastered
his fury; his face turned from purplish red to
livid grey. Tiffauges drew a chair close to
Cadoudal and de Barbazan seated himself
beside Tiffauges. Tiffauges reflected, then
he said gently, evidently anxious to efface the
effect of his harshness:

"I suspected the Countess de Montmoran
long ago."

"The Countess?"

"Yes, General, your dear friend. I took
note of the fact that our plans failed whenever
they were known to her. I knew that one of
our company was a spy, because whenever we
planned in conclave, our enterprise fell flat,
and we grazed death. I saw that some one
reported our plans to the Blues. When the
same result had followed three of our councils,
I recognised the fact that none but the Coun-



io The Eagle's Talon

tess could have betrayed us. I confided my
suspicions to Barbazan."

"You did," said de Barbazan, "but you
told me no news. I had suspected it. I had
hesitated to speak of my suspicions, because
the case was delicate; I shrank from voicing
my fears."

"After I threshed the matter out with
Barbazan," said Tiffauges, "we made a plan
when we knew that she was listening. We
planned to march in one direction; and we
marched in the opposite direction. We set
out for a given point; she fell into our trap
and notified the Blues that we were to be
at a given point at a stated time."

Livid, the veins in his forehead black and
swollen, Cadoudal listened.

"Ostensibly," pursued TifTauges, "we set
out for Kenlis to levy tribute. The people
of Kenlis had harboured a miscreant priest, a
man who had sworn to support the Consular
Government ; they had paid their taxes to the
Government, and sent their conscripts to
Vannes. We set out for Kenlis, and when on
the march changed our orders and marched
to Guirec. To make sure of facts, and to do
full justice to the suspected woman, I sent a
spy to Kenlis."



A Woman and a Secret n

"And that," said Cadoudal, "was why you
sent me word to go direct to Guirec!"

"It was. Had you been in Kenlis an hour
longer, they would have caught you. As
soon as she reported our plans, the Blues
marched to Kenlis with hussars and cannon.
Kenlis was a hornet's nest; the Blues were
hidden in the barns, in the alleys, and in the
gardens behind the houses. It was a well set
trap; they were ready for you!"

Cadoudal was dumb. His head sunk on
his breast, he sat staring at the floor. Tif-
fauges said:

"General, this is hard work for us, but it is
duty. We love you, we must defend you."

In the salon some one was singing, and the
reiterated refrain of the ancient ballad fell
with mocking insistence upon the ears of the
three men.

Barbazan said, "Georges, we are four com-
rades. We honour you above the princes.
Our love is not the fancy of an idle hour."

The metallic ring of a clock's bell broke the
silence. Cadoudal started.

"You are sure . . . there can be no
doubt?"

"We are sure of it," Tiffauges answered.
"We have proved her a traitor three times.



12 The Eagle's Talon

The Countess is a spy, she tells our secrets to
the Blues."

"What is her object?"

"Damned women ! who knows what motives
actuate them, who can fathom their deviltry?
Perhaps she wants money."

"Money? she has money! She is jealous"
said de Barbazan. "Mme. de Tardy is a
pretty woman, and you, General, have been
too open in your assiduities."

"Georges," exclaimed Tiffauges, "I say as
I have said before, ' You cannot mix war with
love.' The time has come to take a stand
against personal weakness. If you are deter-
mined to dance to the piping of the petticoats,
be kind enough to give us leave of absence,
with permission to go beyond the seas. To
continue this game means capture. I have no
envy for either a useless or an inglorious
death."

"Enough!" said Cadoudal. "From this
night women shall not set foot on military
ground. Give your orders both of you; let
the sentries understand that no woman is to
pass."

De Barbazan made a movement as if to
embrace the chief ; Tiffauges, his eyes gleaming,
asked :



"Shall we go to Kerentrec?"

"Yes, armed for battle! Send out the
couriers. We must be there in all our
strength!"

"And," murmured Tiffauges, "what shall
you do to her?"

"If she is guilty, she shall die!"

"Come, come, Georges," urged de Barba-
zan ; " do not exaggerate her importance. She
is nothing but a woman; we are men. The
strong man is merciful. Women, weak beings,
inconsequent, delicious puppets! They have
no moral consciousness ; it is not just to regard
them as responsible. The worst feature of
the Jacobins is their inability to recognise the
difference between the sexes. They killed de
Lamballe, a lovely being, whose beauty should
have moved them to pity. They cut the
neck of Du Barry, their best ally, the one to
whom they owed their Revolution. . . . But
you are not a Jacobin, you are a gentleman.
She cannot harm you, you have escaped her.
Show the nobility of your race ; have mercy on
her!"

" To the devil with her ! " groaned Cadoudal.
" If she is a spy, she shall meet the fate of the
spy!"

The door opened and the Countess de



14 The Eagle's Talon

Montmoran entered. She cast a swift glance
at the map and said, smiling:

"I must tear you from your conference,
General ; Mme. de Kerle"an wishes you to come
into the salon at once."

"We are about to march," said Cadoudal.

"ToHennebont?"

"ToHennebont."

"With many men?"

"With a handful."

She clung to him and whispered: "I will
meet you there in the morning."

He answered, "I shall be there, if I live to
get there."

"You are not anticipating trouble?" she
asked.

' ' No, ' ' he answered. ' ' M a foi, no ! "

Laying her head upon his breast, she said
fondly:

"Bid me adieu here, Georges! I shall not
dare to embrace you in the salon, before all
the people."

He received her caresses coldly, and she
murmured reproachfully, "You are not think-
ing of me to-night!"

"I am thinking," he answered, "of the road
to Lorient, of the darkness . . . ambush . . .
the Valley of the Shadow death !"




" The door opened and the Countess de Montmoran entered."



A Woman and a Secret 15

"Go!" she cried pettishly. "You do not
desire my love."

11 Adieu, Countess."

"I will not say adieu! Au revoir"

He returned her coquettish glance with a
long, searching stare and answered:

"I accept the augury. Au revoir, Countess.
We shall meet again."

He buckled his sword belt, and, followed by
de Barbazan and by Tiffauges, went into the
salon. When the door of the salon closed,
the Countess ran down the corridor, descended
a flight of steps hidden by a tapestry-covered
panel, and reached an abandoned cellar. By
the dim light filtered through the smoked
glass of a lantern fixed to the mouldy wall,
she saw a man lying on the ground,
asleep.

Aroused by her approach, he sprang to his
feet, grasping his staff, the redoubtable iron-
bound, leather-handled pen-bas of the Breton.
At sight of his visitor, his face cleared.

"Pardon, Countess," he murmured. "I
have been running over the roads and the
fields, two days and two nights; my fatigue
was greater than my good will."

"Your offence is pardonable, Lerebourg,"
she answered. "You needed sleep. You



16 The Eagle's Talon

must set out again, and at once. Are you
ready?"

"I am always ready."

"Go to the man to whom I sent you last
night. Tell him to obey the orders already
given. Say that the information was exact
and that nothing is changed. When you have
delivered your message, go to Hennebont and
find a secure place where I can be comfortable
until the business is terminated. I shall arrive
in a post-chaise toward three o'clock in the
morning. Meet me where the highway enters
the town. I shall dismiss my chaise and go
in on foot. Do not keep me waiting."

' ' Bien, Madame, ' ' answered Lerebourg. ' ' I
shall be there."

The Countess disappeared in the little
stairway. The spy, Lerebourg, crossed the
cellar, and slipped through a ventilator out
into the night. The Countess returned to
the corridor, and entered the salon, where
nothing had been left to remind the gay com-
pany of Cadoudal's night march and its
possibilities, save the wistful light in the soft
eyes of de Tardy, and the tears upon her
cheeks.

Cadoudal had taken leave and gone to
muster his men. De Barbazan was with him,



A Woman and a Secret 17

giving low-voiced orders in the darkness, and
from their hiding-places in the fields around
the chateau, dark shapes were issuing to form
the column. When still close to the chateau,
whose walls loomed like solid rock, the spy
drew back. Vague sounds on every side told
him that the night swarmed with men. Re-
treating to the opening in the wall, he slipped
back into the cellar, and lying with ear to the
ground, listened.

After a time the low, imperative call of the
Chouan sergeants: "Forward March!" and
the swinging tread of the moving column, told
him that Cadoudal was on the road. Cau-
tiously, in silence, he slipped out of the cellar,
and halting incessantly to listen, passed
through the field to the highway, and set out
for Languidic. After an hour's q uick march he
reached a house on the outskirts of the village,
and turning into a lane, passed through the
barnyard of a farm and knocked on the closed
blind of a window on the ground floor. After
deep silence he knocked again, and a voice
close to the window called from behind the
blind.

"Who is it? "

Lerebourg answered by a low cry like the
note of a nested bird.



1 8 The Eagle's Talon

" Who is it ? " insisted the voice.

1 ' Biville-Londres. ' '

A man in a loose, brown great-coat opened
the door, permitted Lerebourg to enter, closed
and barred the door, and led the way into a
low-ceiled, long room furnished with a bench
and a table. The feeble light of a candle,
fixed to the table by its own wax, fell on a
broad-brimmed, stiff -crowned hat, and on two
loaded pistols.

Lerebourg seated himself on the bench and
turned to his companion with a triumphant
grin.

"Well, Braconneau," he said, "this time we
are sure of him. He is on the march; he will
run into the trap at daybreak. We must be
at Hennebont at three o'clock. Now then,
let me sleep!"

The man called Braconneau, known as
"the right hand of the Minister of Police,"
opened a door, disappeared in an inner room,
and came out with his arms full of empty
feed bags. He cast the bags in two heaps on
the floor.

"Lie down," he said.

The two men stretched out upon the floor
with heads pillowed upon the sacks. Bra-
conneau spoke:



A Woman and a Secret 19

"Three times we have set out to take Ca-
doudal ! Three times he has escaped us. This
time will be like the others!"

"Hitherto he has eluded us," responded
Lerebourg, "because the whole country has
worked for him. His luck, the vigilance of
his spies, and the zeal of his partisans, have
protected him. The whole country has con-
nived with him. There is not a bush by the
highway, not a stone in the fields in this devil
of a Brittany, that has not played into his
hands. But the game is up! Montmoran
has given him rendezvous at Hennebont at
daybreak. No fear that he will not be there!
We are spies, Braconneau; but we are not
cowards; I smile when I think of the fate
awaiting us if we are caught!"

"How the peasants hate us!" mused Bra-
conneau.

"Yes, they would make lint of us. But
danger is the redeeming feature of a life like
ours; stripped of its danger, it would be a
treadmill."

They lay side by side in the smoky darkness,
and one said to the other:

"This is not the first time that you and I,
lying in silence and amidst shadows, have tried
to sleep."



20 The Eagle's Talon

"You are thinking of La Pitie, the Paris
hospital, where we lay in our white beds like
two sick children. . . . Do you remember the
lion of the Atlas? We could hear him roaring
in the great garden under the hill, and from
our beds we could see the Judas tree, and the
cedar brought from Lebanon by Jussieu, the
nuns in their white-winged bonnets ... do
you remember?"

"Let me forget!"

The other said after a long silence: "My
duty makes my life natural. I owe it to
Fouch6 to seize Cadoudal; I will do it; I will
deliver him bound hand and foot. I am
working for professional duty. You have a
personal account to settle with the Royalists.
The bullet Saint-Regeant lodged within my
breast was as nothing to the wrong done to
you."

"Vile wretch!" groaned Lerebourg. "He
laid my honour in the dust. He killed my
joy! Georges Cadoudal was party to his
work ; he shall answer for it ; I have sworn it by
the memory of my dead. I loved her! . . .
If she had come back to me, no matter how,
1 would have pardoned her. But he was
young, handsome, and a courtier; and I was
old, and a man far below the rank of the



A Woman and a Secret 21

aristocrat. Saint-Regeant stole the breath of


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