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" 14. The public has a right to exact of every public official an
account of his stewardship.

"15. Property being an inviolable and sacred right, no one can be
deprived of it unless public necessity absolutely demands it, and
then only on condition of a just and prearranged indemnity.

"And now," continued Billot, "we come to the appli-
cation of these principles as adopted by the National
Assembly. Hearken to it, my brethren ! hearken, fellow-
citizens, set free by this Declaration of the Eights of Man
— of your rights !

"The National Assembly, desiring to establish the French Con-
stitution upon the principles set forth in this declaration, abolishes
irrevocably all institutions injurious to liberty and equality.

" Consequently, henceforth there shall be neither nobility nor peer-
age, neither hereditary distinctions nor distinctions of rank, nor any

Reaiiing the Articles of the Convention.

Photogravure by Goupil et Cie., from Drawing by
H. Pille.

/•/,oia X (-•


of the titles, attributes, or prerogatives derived therefrom; no orders
of knighthood, nor any decorations which presuppose distinctions of
birth, nor any superiority except that belonging to public officials iu
the discharge of their duties.

" No public office shall be saleable or hereditary. There shall be
no restrictive guilds, no professional corporations, no monopolies of
the arts or trades."

Thus ended Billot's address, which had been listened to
in devout silence. For the first time the people heard
their rights proclaimed in the full light of day, and, as it
were, in the presence of the God to whom they had long
prayed for these rights, gained only after cycles of bondage,
misery, and suffering.

As Billot stopped speaking, he extended his arms and
clasped the mayor and Pitou to his breast in a fraternal
embrace; and though the mayor ruled only a small com-
munity, and Pitou commanded only a handful of peasants,
despite the insignificance of the things represented, the
principle was none the less grand, and every person
enthusiastically repeated Billot's concluding words, —
*' Long live the nation ! " — generously dividing his honours
with the mayor and Pitou.

It is needless to say that the gallant captain of the
Haramont National Guards managed to give his hand to
Catherine in the dance, and to secure a place near her at
the table.

The poor child was very unhappy. In his controversy
with Fortier, and his speech on the Declaration of the
Rights of Man, her father had openly defied both the
clergy and nobility. She thought of Isidore, who, accord-
ing to her father's new theories, was no longer superior
socially to any other man.

It was not the loss of his title, rank, or wealth she re-
gretted, — for she would have loved Isidore as a humble
peasant, — but it seemed to her that the world was unjust,
even brutal, to that young man, and that her father, by
wresting Isidore's titles and privileges from him, was

VOL. II. — 5


separating her lover from her for ever, instead of bringing
them nearer together.

As for the mass, no one seemed inclined to say anything
more about it. In fact, the people had almost forgiven
the priest's outburst; though, by his almost empty class-
room the next day, he perceived that his refusal to officiate
at the Patriot Altar had cost him his popularity among the
residents of Villers-Cotterets.




Celebrations similar to that which we have just described
were universal throughout France; but they formed only
the prelude to a much grander gathering, which was to take
place in Paris on the 14th of July, 1790; and the promi-
nent parts Billot and Pitou had so successfully sustained
at this local celebration very naturally led to their appoint-
ment as delegates to the Paris celebration.

After his short-lived military triumph, Pitou relapsed
into his normal condition of mild and kindly melancholy.
He visited Mother Colombe daily, and if there was no
letter for Catherine, he slowly wended his way back to
Haramont. If there was a letter, he carefully deposited
it in the willow -tree. But though Pitou was dumb, he
was not blind; for one fine morning he noticed that the
post-mark on the letter was Lyons instead of Turin, and
a couple of days later — or, to speak more accurately, on
December 25th — a letter came bearing the post-mark Paris,
instead of Lyons; so it was easy to comprehend that
Isidore de Charny had returned to Prance, and that it was
not likely to be very long before he quitted Paris for

The day this last letter came he resolved, by way of
excuse, to go and set his snares on Wolf Heath, where he
had operated so successfully in former years. As the
Pisseleu farm was situated on the road between Haramont
and Wolf Heath, Pitou could stop at the farm-house on
his way; and he very naturally chose for his visit an hour
when Billot was likely to be riding about the fields.


When he reached the gate, he saw Catherine sitting at
her window, apparently watching for some one. When she
saw him she smiled; and, as he approached the window,
she called out, —

"So it is you, Pitou! What lucky wind blew you in
this direction?"

Pitou showed her the snares wrapped round his wrist.

"I thought I 'd see if I couldn't catch a couple of nice
tender rabbits for you, Mademoiselle Catherine; and the
very nicest ones in the neighbourhood are to be found on
Wolf Heath, by reason of the wild thyme that grows

"You are very kind, Pitou, I am sure; but you needn't
take all that trouble on my account. I am nearly well,
now. And, Pitou," she added in a lower tone, "it won't
be necessary for you to go to the post-office for me any
more this week; I shall not receive any more letters for
several days."

Because Isidore had returned to Paris was no reason
that he should not write; so Pitou instantly came to the
conclusion that the letter he had placed in the hollow tree
early that very morning had announced to Catherine her
lover's speedy return. Possibly she was watching for him
even now.

Pitou waited a moment for Catherine to decide whether
she had any further disclosures to make to him; but, as
she maintained a determined silence, he asked, —

" Have you not noticed a great change in your father of
late, mademoiselle?"

The girl trembled, and answered his question by another:
"Why, have you, too, noticed a change in him?"

"Mademoiselle Catherine," Pitou replied, shaking his
head gloomily, " the hour will surely come when the man
who has caused this change will have a hard time settling
with your father."

Catlierine turned pale; nevertheless, she looked sharply
at Pitou as she asked, " Why do you say he, rather than


she? It is a woman, perhaps, not a man, who will have
to suffer from my father's wrath."

*' You frighten me, mademoiselle ! Have you any cause
for fear? "

"I have to fear what any girl who has forgotten her
rank, and loves above her station, has to fear from an
angry parent," answered the girl, ruefully.

" It seems to me, if I were in your place, mademoiselle — "

He paused.

"Well?" insisted Catherine.

"It seems to me, if I were in your place — But no —
you nearly died when he went away. If you had to give
him up altogether, it would kill you — I suppose — "

"Hush! let us talk of something else," exclaimed
Catherine, hastily. "Here comes father now."

Pitou glanced in the direction in which Catherine was
looking, and saw the farmer approaching on horseback at a
brisk trot.

Perceiving a man standing near Catherine's window, the
farmer stopped; then, recognising Pitou, he was about to
jog on again; but seeing his favourite advance smilingly
towards him, hat in hand, he called out, —

"How are you, Pitou? Did you come for your dinner?"

"No, Monsieur Billot; I shouldn't think of taking such
a liberty as that — "

But, fancying he discerned a pleading look on Catherine's
face, he added, —

"Though I think I should accept if you invited me."

"Well, I do invite you, then, here and now."

"And I accept," responded Pitou, promptly.

The farmer touched his horse with the spur, and rode on
to the stable.

" W^as n't that what you wanted me to say? " Pitou asked,
turning to Catherine.


Then, after a moment's pause, "Father looks even more
gloomy to-day than usual, it seems to me."


And again, under her breath, and as if talking to her-
self, she added, "My God! can it be that he suspects?"

"Suspects what, mademoiselle?" asked Pitou, who had
overheard her, though she spoke so low.

''Nothing," she replied, withdrawing her head and clos-
ing the window.




And Catherine was quite right ; for, in spite of the cordial
reception accorded to Pitou, the farmer did appear even
more morose than usual.

"Is dinner ready?" he asked curtly, as soon as he
had entered the house.

"Yes, father," answered his wife, who had risen as usual
as soon as her husband crossed the threshold, both from
a feeling of inferiority on her part, and from a desire to
manifest the respect she felt for him.

"Then let us sit down to it at once, for I have still a
good deal to do before night."

An additional plate was put on for Pitou; but they had
scarcely seated themselves at the table when a knock was
heard at the door, and Father Clouis entered, with Farmer
Billot's double-barrelled gun on his shoulder, and a hare in
his hand. The farmer's gun could be easily distinguished
from others by its silver mountings.

"Good-day, Father Clouis," said Billot. "You're a
man of your word, I see. Thank you."

"Oh, when I say a thing I mean it. When I meet you,
and you say to me, as you did this morning, *I want you to
cast a dozen bullets for me, the right calibre for my gun;
I must have them this afternoon,' and I say, 'That's all
right; you shall have 'em,' why, they're as good as

"Thanks, Father Clouis; you'll dine with us, won't
you? "


"You 're very kind; but really, I don't feel at all hungry.
Still, if you insist upon it — "

As lie spoke, he placed the gun in one corner of the
room, and seated himself at the table, where he attacked
the plate and glass his host had filled for him as valiantly
as if he had not declared himself entirely free from

"Very good wine, Monsieur Billot, and very nice lamb,"
he said, as if merely evincing a proper regard for the
truth. " You believe in the proverb that says, * Lambs
should be eaten too young, and wine be taken too old.' "

As no one responded to this pleasantry, and the conversa-
tion seemed likely to flag, Clouis felt it his duty as a guest
to sustain it; so he continued, "1 happened to remember,
awhile ago, that it was hare day [it will be remembered
that Father Clouis had received permission from his grace
the Duke of Orleans to kill one rabbit and one hare on alter-
nate days, and this, it seems, was hare day], so I thought,
as I had cast thirteen bullets instead of a dozen, I would
see how a silver-mounted gun would carry a ball; and I
must say it carries a ball well, that gun of yours ; but — "

"Yes, it's a good gun."

"Twelve balls, did you say?" exclaimed Pitou. "Is
there going to be a shooting-match. Monsieur Billot?"

"No," responded the farmer, shortly.

"I was going to say, though, that if you intend those
bullets for boar-shooting, they 're rather small," continued
Father Clouis; "for those fellows have pretty tough hides,
to say nothing of the quantity of lead they '11 carry away
with them. I 've seen boars who had six or eight bullets
between their hide and flesh, — big sixteen-to-the-pound
bullets, too, — and they seemed none the worse for it."

"These bullets are not for boar-shooting," said Billot.

Pitou's curiosity could not be repressed, however.

"Pardon me, Monsieur Billot," said he, "but if you
don't want the bullets for prize-shooting or for boars, what
do you want them for ? "


"For a wolf," answered Billot, grimly.

"Why, are there any wolves about now? That is
strange, — before the snow flies."

"It is surprising, but true, nevertheless."

"Are you sure?"

"Perfectly sure. The shepherd saw one this morning."


"On the road from Paris to Boursonnes."

"Ah!" gasped Pitou, with a frightened glance, first at
the farmer and then at his daughter.

"Yes," replied Billot, grimly; "one was seen last winter,
and I was duly notified. After a while it was supposed
that he had gone away, never to return; but it seems that
he has come back, and as he may take it into his head to
come prowling about my farm, I 've had Father Clouis put
my gun in order, and cast me some bullets."

This was more than Catherine could bear. With a
smothered cry she rose and tottered towards the door.
Bewildered and anxious, Pitou also arose, and hastily
followed the girl into the adjoining kitchen.

"What does this mean? My God! what does all this
mean?" he exclaimed.

"Oh! don't you understand?" cried Catherine. "He
knows that Isidore reached Boursonnes this morning, and
means to kill him if he comes near the farm."

Just then the dining-room door opened, and Billot
appeared upon the threshold.

"Pitou," he said, in a voice that admitted of no reply,
" if you really came for rabbits, I think it is quite time
you set your snares. It will soon be too late for you to

"I am going — going at once, Monsieur Billot," the
young man responded humbly.

He went out by the door leading into the courtyard, and
Catherine retired weeping to her chamber, bolting the door
behind her.




Pitou had learned all he wished to know, and more.
Catherine's last words had fully explained her father's
figures of speech, and the situation was extremely critical,
to say the least. But in a case of emergency Pitou seemed
to become endowed with the strength of a lion, as well as
the wisdom of a serpent, and he very promptly made up
his mind to seek a place of observation on the edge of the
forest, from which he could secure an unobstructed view of
Farmer Billot's house and its immediate surroundings.

This proving a comparatively easy matter, he next pro-
ceeded to consider the situation more deliberately. Much
as he desired to do so, he began to wonder if there was the
slightest possibility of preventing Father Billot from carry-
ing his scheme of vengeance into execution. The first
means of prevention that occurred to Pitou was to run to
Boursonnes and warn Monsieur Isidore of the danger that
awaited him if he ventured near the farm-house ; but almost
simultaneously Pitou bethought himself of two things:
first, that Catherine had not commissioned him to inter-
fere; and, secondly, that there was a strong probability
that he would not be able to find the young viscount, who
would be much more likely to approach the farm by one of
the paths used by the wood-cutters and foresters than by
a more frequented road.

Besides, if he went to warn Isidore, he would have to
desert Catherine; and though Pitou would feel sorry to
have any misfortune happen to the viscount, he would be
in despair if any harm befell Catherine: so it seemed


wisest to remain where he was, and be guided by circum-
stances in his subsequent procedures.

So he waited, and watched the farm-house, — his eyes as
steadfast as those of a wildcat watching for its prey.

The first thing he noticed was the departure of Father
Clouis. He left about twilight; and soon afterwards Pitou
saw a light appear in the window of Farmer Billot's
chamber. From his post of observation Pitou could see
Billot load his gun, then extinguish his light and close
both shutters; but in such a way as to leave a slight open-
ing, through which the occupant of the room could watch
what was going on outside.

Billot's window did not command a view of Catherine's,
on account of a projection in the side of the house; but it
did command a view, not only of the entire road from
Boursonnes, but also of the line of forest extending from
the hill to the copse; so, though Billot could not see
Catherine's window, he could not fail to see her if she left
her room by the window and tried to reach the wood, — and
he did not doubt that she would attempt this as soon as it
became dark, in order to warn Isidore of his danger.

Pitou, being of the same opinion, directed his attention
chiefly to Catherine's casement, though he took good care
not to lose sight of the father's.

The men were right; for night had scarcely set in before
Pitou, who, by reason of his forest training, could see
almost as well in the dark as in the light, saw half of the
window turn slowly upon its hinges, and the girl climb out
and then close the window after her. There was no danger
of Catherine's being seen as long as she followed the line
of buildings and fences; but as soon as she directed her
course towards Boursonnes, she would come within the
radius of her father's vision; and it would be all the more
easy for him to see her from the fact that the field which
she would be obliged to cross in order to reach the wood
was deserted.

In a few seconds Pitou saw the girl emerge from the


shadow of the fence, and, bending over so as to conceal
iierself from view as much as possible, cross the road and
-€nter a narrow footpath which led by a short cut through
'the forest to the Boursonnes road, intersecting it at a
place known as the Borough Spring, about half a mile
farther on.

Catherine had «carcely crossed the field and reached the
woods before Pitou saw the shutters of the farmer's win-
dow close entirely. A few seconds afterwards the house-
door opened, and the farmer came out, with his gun upon
his shoulder, and strode down the Boursonnes road in the
direction of the spot where the pa,th taken by Catherine
would intersect it.

There was no time to lose, for in ten minutes the girl
would find herself face to face with her father.

Pitou sprang up, and, bounding through the forest like
a frightened deer, soon reached the edge of the path, and,
hiding himself behind the trunk of an old oak-tree, awaited
Catherine's approach.

In less than two minutes Catherine passed within a few
yards of the tree; and Pitou, hastily emerging from his
hiding-place, called her by name.

She was so startled that she uttered a sharp cry and
paused, trembling in every limb; but she had evidently
recognised the voice, for she exclaimed almost instantly,
"You, Monsieur Pitou, here? What do you want with

"Not a step farther, for Heaven's sake, my dear
mademoiselle ! " Pitou exclaimed, clasping his hands

"And why?"

"Because your father knows you have left the house,
and he has started down the Boursonnes road with his gun.
You will find him waiting for you at the spring."

" But he ! he! " cried Catherine, wildly, — " must he not
be warned?" And she started on, as if resolved to con-
tinue her journey at all hazards.


"Your going will do no good, as your father will be sure
to stop you."

" What am I to do, then? Tell me ! "

"Return; return to your room at once ! I will hide near
the house, and when I see Monsieur Isidore coming, I will
warn him."

"Will you do that, my dear Monsieur Pitou?"

"I would do anything for you, Mademoiselle Catherine.
Ah! how much I love you! "

Catherine pressed his hand gratefully, and, after reflect-
ing a moment, said, —

"Yes, you are right; take me home."

As her strength seemed about to fail her, she passed her
arm through that of Pitou, who supported her as she half
walked, half ran, back to the house.

In ten minutes she was safe in her room again, and Pitou
hastened to the clump of willows in which he intended to
watch and wait.




These willows, which stood on a slight elevation about
twenty-five yards from Catherine's window, overhung a
small stream which flowed along about seven or eight feet
below, and which was shaded here and there by similar
willows, which looked, especially at night, like dwarfs
with small bodies and big heads covered with bristling
tangled hair.

It was in the last of this row of trees, hollowed by time,
that Pitou had secreted Catherine's letters morniug after
morning, and where Catherine had gone in search of them
as soon as her father left the house. They both, however,
had exercised so much caution that it was not this fact that
had aroused the father's suspicious. It chanced that a
shepherd had mentioned the viscount's return to Billot,
without attaching any special importance to it ; but the
farmer, who, ever since his return to the farm and Cath-
erine's illness, had felt convinced that young Charny was
his daughter's lover, and who feared lest disgrace should
be the result of this entanglement, inasmuch as the viscount
could hardly marry Catherine, determined to put an end to
the affair, not only speedily, but effectually. His daugh-
ter, however, divining his intentions, was resolved to warn
Isidore at any cost; but Pitou very luckily frustrated this
attempt, otherwise Catherine would have met her father
instead of Isidore on the road.

Pitou stuck to his willow as closely as if he were a part
of the tree ; but it was not very long before his quick ear
detected clumsy, irregular footsteps approaching; and as


tlie step was much too heavy for that of the young viscount,
Pitou turned carefully around, and perceived the farmer only
about thirty yards distant, with his gun on his shoulder.

Pitou instantly surmised that Billot, after having waited
some time at the spring in vain for Catherine to appear,
had come to the conclusion that he must have been mis-
taken in regard to the direction she had taken, or perhaps
even in fancying he had seen her at all, and had therefore
decided to hide near Catherine's window, feeling sure that
the viscount would atttempt to pay a visit to his sweet-
heart if she was still at the farm-house.

By an unlucky chance, what should Billot do but choose
for his hiding-place the very clump of willows where Pitou
was concealing himself.

Mistrusting the farmer's intentions, Pitou rolled softly
down the bank into the ditch, where his head was concealed
by the projecting roots of the very willow against which
Billot was soon leaning.

Fortunately the wind was blowing quite strongly, or
Billot might have heard the throbbing of Pitou's heart;
but we must do our hero the justice to say that his own
danger troubled him much less than a fear lest he should
be obliged to break his promise to Catherine.

A quarter of an hour of painful suspense followed, but
no sound had disturbed the stillness of the night, when
suddenly Pitou fancied he heard a horse's gallop; and this
horse, if it was a horse, must be coming along the foot-
path leading from the wood.

Above him Pitou could see the farmer bending forward
and trying to peer out into the gloom ; but the night was
so dark that even Pitou's keen eyes could only dimly dis-
cern a shadowy form crossing the road and then disappear-
ing in the shadow of the fence which enclosed the yard of
the farm-house.

Five minutes of unbroken silence followed; and then
Pitou, thanks to the acuteness of his vision, managed to
distinguish a human form near the farther end of the fence.


The man had evidently tied his horse to some tree further
on, and was now returning on foot. The night was so
dark that Pitou hoped Billot might not see this sort of
spectre, or at least not see it until it was too late; but
Billot did see it, and Pitou heard above his head the click-
ing sound made by the farmer in cocking his gun.

The man, who was gliding along in the shadow of the
fence, also heard the sound, and paused for an instant to
look around him. During this brief interval Pitou saw
the gun slowly raised; but the farmer was probably doubt-
ful of his aim at that distance, for the weapon was lowered
as cautiously as it had been raised, and the shadowy form
again began to move on towards Catherine's window.
Again Pitou saw the gun raised, only to be lowered a
second time: the victim was still too far away.

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