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may expect from kings and princes if they sacriiice their
lives for them, a man mounted upon a grey horse was
slowly riding up the avenue at St. Cloud.

The slowness of his progress should not be attributed to
lassitude on the part of the rider, or fatigue on the part of
his steed; for both had come only a short distance, and
the foam that escaped from the horse's mouth was not the
result of over-driving, but of unwelcome restraint.

What retarded the horseman was the deep thought in
which he was evidently absorbed, and possibly, too, his
desire not to reach his destination until a certain hour,
which had not yet arrived.

He was a man about forty years of age, whose remark-
able ugliness had something almost grand about it. His
disproportionately large head, bloated cheeks, skin pitted
with small-pox, animated expression, flashing eyes, and lips
made for cutting irony and biting sarcasm, all indicated
their possessor to be a man destined to occupy a prominent
place and make a great stir in the world.

But one vaguely felt that this man was the victim of one
of those organic maladies against which the most vigorous
constitutions struggle in vain; for his complexion was dull
and grey, his eyes were weary and bloodshot, and his jaws
overweighted with flesh, — the beginning of an unwhole-
some obesity.

On reaching the top of the avenue, he turned unhesitat-
ingly into the gate leading into the courtyard of the palace.



THE MONARCHY IS SAVED. 23

On the right, between two buildings that formed a sort of
lane, a man was standing, evidently waiting.

He motioned the rider to come in that direction. A
gate was standing open, and the attendant led the way
through this gate. The rider followed him, this time
into another courtyard. Here the man paused, and, after
glancing rouud and satisfying himself that the place was
deserted, he approached the rider, hat in hand. The rider,
by leaning over his horse's neck, brought himself nearer
on a level with him.

"Is this Monsieur Weber?" he asked, in a low tone.

" Comte de Mirabeau, is it not ? "

"The same," responded the rider, springing to the ground
more lightly than one would have supposed possible.

"Step inside, and be kind enough to wait a moment,
while I take your horse to the stable myself."

As he spoke, he opened the door of a room overlooking
the park.

Mirabeau entered, and spent the few moments of waiting
in removing the leather leggings that protected his silk
stockings and irreproachably polished shoes from the dust.

Weber returned very soon, according to promise.

"Come, Monsieur le Comte," he said, "the queen is
waiting for you."

"Waiting for me! Have I been so unfortunate as to
keep her Majesty waiting? I thought I was exactly on
time."

" I mean that the queen is impatient to see you. Come,
monsieur."

Weber opened a door leading out into the garden, and
led the way through a labyrinth of paths to the loneliest
and most elevated part of the park.

There, in the midst of a clump of trees, whose bare
gaunt branches stood out in bold relief against the cheer-
less sky, stood one of those summer-houses known by the
name of kiosks.

All the shutters of this pavilion had been tightly closed,



24 LA COMTESSE DE CHARNY.

except two, and even these were drawn so close together
that only a ray or two of light could enter, as through the
narrow loopholes in tower walls, — barely light enough, in
fact, to make the darkness visible.

A fine fire was blazing on the hearth, however, and two
lighted candelabra were burning on the mantel-piece.

Weber ushered the visitor into a sort of ante-chamber;
then, opening the door of the principal room, announced,
"The Comte Riquetti de Mirabeau!" then he stood aside
to allow the count to pass in. If he had listened, he could
certainly have heard the visitor's heart beating in his
broad breast.

On hearing the announcement, a lady at the farther end
of the room arose and took several steps forward, but
apparently not without a certain amount of hesitation, and
even fear. This lady was the queen.

Her heart, too, was throbbing violently. Here, before
her very eyes, was this hated, dangerous man who had
been accused of causing the horrors of the fifth and sixth
of October, — the man to whom Koyalty had turned once
before in its hour of need, but whose services had been
subsequently rejected through the interposition of self-
interested courtiers, but who had since made his sovereigns
realise the great necessity of conciliating him by two out-
bursts of wrath which seemed almost sublime in their
power and majesty.

The first of these was his apostrophe to the clergy; the
second, the discourse in which he explained how and why
the representatives of the people had constituted them-
selves the National Assembly.

Mirabeau advanced with a grace and courtesy which
the queen was surprised to see in a man of his energetic
organisation; but after proceeding a few steps, he paused
respectfully, and waited for his sovereign to speak, — which
she did in a voice from which she did not entirely succeed
in banishing all trace of emotion.

"Monsieur de ]Nrirabeau," she began, "Doctor Gilbert



THE MONARCHY IS SAVED. 25

assured us some time ago that you were willing to ally
yourself with us."

Mirabeau bowed his assent.

"Overtures were made to you, to which you responded
by proposing a new cabinet," continued the queen.

Again Mirabeau bowed.

"It was not our fault that this plan failed," resumed
the queen.

"I am aware of that, madame; but the failure of the
scheme was due, at least in part, to persons who profess to
be devoted to you and to the interests of the monarchy."

"Can you wonder at it?" asked the queen. "This is
one of the greatest misfortunes of people in our position.
Kings can no more choose their friends than they can
choose their enemies; sometimes, too, they are compelled
to accept the most ill-judged and disastrous devotion. We
are surrounded by men who wish to save us, but who are
really ruining us. Their determination to exclude all
members of the Assembly from the king's cabinet is one
specimen of their blundering. Shall I mention another?
Would you believe it possible that one of my most faithful
friends, a man who, I am sure, would willingly die for us,
— would you believe it possible that this man, without
giving us the slightest hint of his intentions, brought to
our dinner — which is generally eaten under the eye of the
public, as you know — the widow and children of Monsieur
de Favras, all three dressed in deep mourning? My first
impulse was to spring up and rush to them, and place the
fatherless children of the man who had so courageously
and nobly died for us between the king and myself.
Every eye was riveted upon us; for every one was waiting
to see what we should do. I turned, and whom do you
suppose I saw standing behind me, not four steps from my
arm-chair? Santerre, the man from the Faubourg Saint-
Antoine ! I sank back in my chair, almost crying with
rage, yet not daring to bestow another glance on the widow
and orphans. The royalists censure me for not making



26 LA COMTESSE DE CHAKNY.

a public display of my sympathy; the revolutionists are
furious, believing the visitors were brought at my request,
or at least with my sanction. Oh, monsieur, there is
indeed little hope for us when we are attacked by men of
such signal ability, and defended only by men who are
very estimable, doubtless, but who have no conception of
our real position."

And the queen, sighing heavily, pressed her handker-
chief to her eyes.

"Madame," said Mirabeau, touched by this allusion to
misfortunes of which he was fully cognisant, "when you
speak of men who attack you, I trust your Majesty does
not allude to me. I professed monarchical principles
even when I was aware of the corruption of the court, and
understood neither the mind nor the heart of the august
daughter of Maria Theresa; I fought for the rights of the
throne even when my efforts only excited suspicion, and
all my measures were misinterpreted into malicious snares;
I served the king when I knew I had nothing to expect
from him. What can I not achieve, now that my failing
courage is revived by your confidence? for your Majesty's
most gracious reception of me makes monarchical principles
a pleasure, as well as a duty. It is late in the day, very
late, I know, madame," he continued, shaking his head.
"In asking me to save it, the monarchy is perhaps only
asking me to perish with it. If I had deliberated coolly,
doubtless I should have chosen some other time for this
interview than a day so closely following his Majesty's
relinquishment to the deputies of the famous ' Red Book, '
or, in other words, of the honour of his friends."

"Oh, monsieur, is it possible that you consider the king
capable of such an act of treachery? that you do not know
how the thing came about? The ' Red Book,' though
almost forced from the king, would never have been
delivered up to the committee if they had not promised to
guard it religiously. They kept their promise by having
it printed. The committee was to blame, you see, not the
king."



THE MONARCHY IS SAVED. 27

"Alas! madame, you know the causes that led to a
publication against which 1 earnestly protested, as a man
of honour, and of which I disapproved as a deputy. At
the very moment the king was swearing allegiance to the
constitution, he had an authorised agent at Turin among
the bitterest enemies of this very constitution While he
was talking of financial reforms, and apparently acceding
to those proposed by the Assembly, costly stables under the
management of the Prince de Lambesc — whom the Parisians
hate, and for whose execution they are daily clamouring —
were established at Treves. Enormous amounts, too, have
been paid to Artois and Conde, and other fugitives; and
this in spite of a decree passed two months ago, which
suppressed all such pensions. True, the king omitted to
sanction this decree. What else could you expect, madame,
when you remember that for more than two months strenu-
ous efforts had been made in vain to find out what had
become of more than sixty million francs? The king was
entreated to say what had become of this money, but he
refused; the members of the committee consequently con-
sidered themselves absolved from their promise, and ordered
the 'Red Book' printed. Why, oh, why did the king
give up a weapon that could be so cruelly used against
him?»

"Ah, monsieur, if you were a member of the king's
council, I am sure you would not advise such disastrous
concessions on his part, — concessions which not only ruin,
but dishonour him ! "

"If I were honoured with a seat in the royal council,
madame, it would be as a defender of a monarchy regulated
by just laws, — as the champion, too, of liberty guaranteed
by monarchical power. This liberty, madame, has three
bitter enemies, — the clergy, the nobility, and the royal
parliament; and not until after the clerical power is
annihilated, and the royal parliament permanently dis-
solved, can the executive power of the Crown revive, and
combine royal authority with popular legislation. As for



28 LA COMTESSE DE CHARNY.

the nobility, I do not see how we can do without them,
for without the nobility there can be no monarchy; but
they must be held in check, and this can only be effected
by a coalition between the people and royalty. There you
have my political policy. If it be the king's also, let him
adopt it; if it is not the king's, let him repudiate it."

"I do not know, monsieur, whether these are, or are
not, the king's political views, but I know they are mine.
Only tell me the means of arriving at this most desirable
end, and I will listen, not only with avidity, but with
heartfelt gratitude."

Mirabeau glanced at the queen, and saw that if she was
not already convinced, she was in a fair way to be; and
his ti'iumph over so haughty a woman as Marie Antoinette
flattered his vanity prodigiously.

"We have lost Paris, or nearly lost it, madame," he
replied; "but there are still hosts of royalists scattered
through the provinces, and it is upon them that we must
chiefly depend. That is why I should strongly advise the
king to leave Paris , but not France, — to retire, for instance ,
to Rouen, accompanied by his army, and from there issue
ordinances which will be more popular to his people than
the edicts of the Assembly. Then there need not be, nor,
indeed, could there be, any civil war, as the king would
be more of a revolutionist than the Revolution itself."

"But does not this Revolution, whether it precedes or
follows us, terrify you, monsieur?"

"Alas! madame, I realise, I believe, better than any
one else, the part the Revolution must play in the matter,
— it must have its piece of cake to quiet it. As I have
already had the honour to say, the reconstruction of the
monarchy on its former basis is an utter impossibility.
All France, from the king to the poorest of his subjects,
has united in demanding a new order of things, — either
intentionally or unintentionally, directly or indirectly. It
is not the old monarchy I shall attempt to defend, but a
form of government very like that which has raised England



THE MONARCHY IS SAVED. 29

to the zenith of its power and glory. Does not the thought
of the imprisonment and death of Charles I. make his
Majesty better content with the throne of William III. or
of George I. ? "

"Oh, Monsieur le Comte!" cried the queen, to whose
mind the frightful vision seen at the Château de Taverney
had been vividly recalled by Mirabeau's words, ''if you
will but establish such a monarchy for us, you shall see if
we are such ingrates as we are represented to be ! "

"That is precisely what I will do, madame," replied
Mirabeau, moved to enthusiasm in his turn. "If the king
will but sustain me, and the queen encourage me, here at
your feet I give you my oath as a nobleman that I will
accomplish what I have promised, or perish in the attempt,
with my armour on, fighting till the last."

"Count, count, do not forget that it is not one woman
alone who hears your vow, but a dynasty of five hundred
years, — seventy kings of France, from Pharamond down
to Louis v., who will be humiliated with us, if our throne
should crumble into dust."

"I know the sacred obligations I assume. The task is
a prodigious one, but it is not greater than my will or
my devotion. If I can be sure of the sympathy of my
queen and the confidence of my king, I feel equal to any
undertaking."

"If such a pledge only is needed, I can promise you
both," replied the queen, with the Circe-like smile that
won all hearts. She bowed as she spoke, and Mirabeau
understood that his audience was at an end.

The pride of the politician was satisfied, but his vanity
as a gallant craved something more.

"Madame," he said, with bold but respectful courtesy,
"when your august mother, the Empress Maria Theresa,
admitted a subject into her presence, she never dismissed
him withovit offering him her hand to kiss."

Then he stood silently waiting.

She looked at this chained lion, who asked nothing



30 LA COMTESSE DE CHARNY.

better than to crouch at her feet; then, with a smile of
triumph wreathing her lips, she slowly extended her
hand, — that beautiful hand, cold as alabaster, and almost
as transparent.

Mirabeau, bowing low, pressed his lips upon it; then,
throwing back his head proudly, exclaimed, "Madame, by
this kiss the monarchy is saved."

He left the room deeply moved, but equally joyful and
elated; for he, poor man of genius, firmly believed in the
fulfilment of the prophecy he had just made.



THE FAKMER's return. 31



CHAPTER IV.

THE farmer's RETURîf.

While Marie Antoinette is forgetting, for a time at least,
her sufferings as a woman in her anxiety for her safety as
a queen, we will take our reader, weary, doubtless, of so
much politics, back among more humble people, and into
a less tainted atmosphere.

Farmer Billot's return to the farm took place the second
day after the famous night in which three important events
occurred; namely, Sebastian Gilbert's flight to Paris,
Isidore de Charny's departure for the same city, and
Catherine's swoon on the road between Villers-Cotterets
and Pisseleu.

As they journeyed homeward together. Farmer P>illot
catechised Pitou closely about this fainting fit. The worthy
man loved his farm and his wife well, but he loved his
daughter better; and he racked his brain with all sorts of
conjectures as to the probable cause of this accident. But
to all his companion's questions, Pitou's invariable answer
was, " I don't know ; " and he deserved the more credit for
this response, from the fact that Catherine had been cruelly
frank in telling him all, and Pitou consequently did know
perfectly well.

Pitou loved Catherine devotedly, and admired her as
much as he loved her; but though he had suffered deeply
on account of his unrequited passion, he had never been
reduced to a fainting condition in consequence of it; so,
reasoning out the matter in his customary manner, he said
to himself, —

" If Mademoiselle Catherine loves Isidore so much that
she swoons when he goes away, then she loves Isidore



32 LA COMTESSE DE CHAKNY.

more than I love Mademoiselle Catherine, for T never
swooned on parting from her. Now , if she loves him more
than I love her, she must suffer more than I do, — in which
case she suffers very much; and she does suffer more than
I do, as she fainted, while I never swooned in my life."

Billot's anxiety increased so much as he approached his
home that he sought relief in frequent blows on the flanks
of the horse he had hired in Dammartin; and so effectual
were his efforts in this direction that by four o'clock in
the afternoon the cart drew up before the door of the farm-
house, and Billot jumped down and rushed into the house.
But here he encountered an unexpected obstacle on the
threshold of his daughter's chamber, in the shape of Doctor
Raynal, a man whom we have had occasion to mention
before in this narrative, and who now declared that any
excitement in Catherine's present condition would not only
be dangerous, but might possibly prove fatal, as she was
suffering from an attack of brain fever which threatened
to reach a high degree of intensity.

Doctor Raynal was fighting the malady with all the
remedies in vogue with medical experts in those days,
mustard plasters and bleeding included; but, in spite of
this vigorous treatment, the disease had not been con-
quered, and since morning Catherine had been a prey to
violent delirium.

In her delirium the girl had doubtless made some start-
ling revelations; so, under pretext of shielding her from
excitement, the doctor had kept her mother out of the
room, as he now intended to keep the father. Mother
Billot was sitting on a stool in one corner of the big fire-
place, with her head buried in her hands, and apparently
oblivious to all that was going on around her.

Not until she heard Billot's voice did she seem to awake
from her lethargy ; then she tottered forward , and threw
herself upon Billot's breast. Her husband gazed at her in
a wild sort of way, as if he hardly knew her.

"What has been going on here?" he asked.



THE faemer's retukn. 33

"Your daughter," said the doctor, "has what is called
acute meningitis; and patients suffering from that disease
must be kept very quiet."

"But is it dangerous? Will she die?"

"People die of all sorts of diseases; but if you will let
me manage this case in my own way, your daughter will
not die."

"But can I not see her?"

"If I do allow you to see her, will you leave me in peace
for three days?"

"I swear it."

"Very well; come in."

The doctor opened the door. Catherine was lying on
the bed, with eyes glittering wildly, cheeks flushed with
fever, and her forehead covered with a wet bandage. She
muttered a few incoherent words now and then, and as
her father pressed his trembling lips upon her brow, he
fancied he caught the name of Isidore.

Faithful to his promise, the farmer retired to the kitchen,
accompanied by his wife. Pitou was about to follow him,
when the doctor suddenly caught him by the sleeve and
whispered hastily, "Don't leave the farm-house; I want
to see you."

Five minutes afterwards the door of the chamber opened
again, and the doctor's voice was heard calling Pitou.

"Eh! what do you want with me, doctor?"

"I want you to come and help Madame Clement hold
Catherine while I bleed her for the third time."

"For the third time!" moaned Mother Billot; "they're
going to bleed her for the third time! oh, my God! "

"Woman, all this would never have happened if you
had watched over your daughter better," exclaimed Billot,
sternly.

VOL. II. — 3



34 LA COMTESSE DE CHARNY.



CHAPTER V.



PITOU AS A NURSE.



Pitou was very mucli surprised to hear that he could be
of any service iu the sick-room ; and he would have been
even more amazed had he known that the aid he was
expected to render was of a mental rather than physical
nature.

The doctor had noticed that Catherine generally coupled
Pitou's name with Isidore's in her delirium; and from the
difference iu the tone in which she uttered these names, a
close observer like Doctor Eaynal soon discovered that
Ange Pitou must be the name of the friend, and Isidore
that of the lover; so he thought it would be an advantage
to the invalid to have the friend with her, in order that
she might be able to talk of the lover. Now, everybody
in Villers-Cotterets knew that George de Charny had been
killed at Versailles on that terrible night, and that his
brother Isidore had left for Paris on the evening of the
following day. This conjuncture of facts made it very easy
for the doctor to discover the real nature of Catherine's
malady, and he reasoned something in this wise: —

"What a person afflicted with brain trouble needs most
is quiet. What will insure Catherine this tranquillity of
mind? News of her absent lover's whereabouts. From
whom can she obtain this news? From some one who
knew about him. And who so likely to know about him
as Pitou, who has just returned from Paris?"

Another slight flow of blood reduced the fever somewhat;
the patient's breathing became more regular; her pulse fell
from one hundred and ten to eighty-five; and everything
seemed to indicate a quiet night for the girl.



PITOU AS A NURSE. 35

Motioning to Pitou to follow him, the doctor, after
having given Madame Clement all necessary instructions,
returned to the kitchen, where they found poor Mother
Billot still sitting, as if stunned, in the chimney-corner,

"Come, come, take courage, Mother Billot!" said the
doctor, cheerfully. "Don't be worried; your daughter
won't have a bad night. But mind what I say, — neither
you nor Father Billot are to set foot in tlie sick-room."

"It is hard, very hard, that a mother cannot go into her
child's room. Who is to take care of my poor girl?"

"You need feel no anxiety on that score. Haven't we
Madame Clement and Pitou?"

"What! Pitou?"

" Yes, Pitou. I find him very capable. I 'm going to
take him with me now to the village to have a prescription
put up. Pitou will bring it back, and Madame Clement
will administer it according to my directions. If I should
be needed, Pitou, who is to sit up with Madame Clement,
will set his long legs going, and be at my house in ten
minutes, eh, Pitou?"

'^ In five, doctor!" responded Pitou, with a confidence
in himself that left no room for doubt in the minds of his
hearers.

Pitou kept his word; for in the course of a quarter of
an hour he returned with a sedative adorned with the
label of Master Pacquenaud, the village apothecary.

On his return, Catherine was asleep, as the physician
had prophesied; and near her, stretched out in a big arm-
chair, with her feet resting on the andirons, was the
nurse, a prey to the drowsiness peculiar to the honourable
class to which she belonged. Having neither the right to
sleep, nor the strength to keep awake, these nurses remind
one of Virgil's unfortunate ghosts; forbidden to ascend to
fields Elysian, and yet unable to endure the light of day,
they haunt the realms of shadow, continually hovering
between sleep and wakefulness.

About an hour after Pitou's return, Catherine moved



36 LA COMTESSE DE CHARNY.

slightly, sighed, and opened her eyes. We must do
Mother Clement the justice to say that she was at the
patient's bedside almost instantly, stammering, "Here I



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