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A LADY RESEMBLING THE QUEEN.

As the carriage drew up in front of the church, Mirabeau
said: "I told you recently that I had never set foot in
Argenteuil since my father turned me out of doors. I
forgot; I came back the day I followed his body to this
church."

As he stopped speaking, Mirabeau alighted from the
carriage and removed his hat. It was with uncovered
head and slow and solemn tread that he entered the edifice ;
for he was a strange contradiction, and clung to the out-
ward observances of religion at a time when everybody
was either a so-called philosopher or an atheist.

Gilbert followed at a distance, as Mirabeau walked the
length of the church, until he reached a massive pillar near
the altar. Here he paused, and stood for some time with
bowed head, gazing at a black marble slab inserted in a
niche near the altar; and as the doctor's eyes followed his
companion's, they fell upon the following inscription: —

Here rests

Françoise de Castellane, Marquise de Mirabeau,

a model of piety and virtue, a beloved wife and mother.

Bora in Dauphiny, 1685 ; died in Paris, 1769.

She was first interred in St.-Sulpice, Paris,

then brought here to be reunited in the same grave

with her worthy son,

Victor de Riquetti, Marquis de Mirabeau,

surnamed the Friend of Humanity :

Born at Pertuis, in Provence, October 4, 1715 ;

died at Argenteuil, July 11, 1789.



^rap for t1)tix ^ouW.



110 LA COMTESSE DE CHARNY.

Death and religious feeling are so closely connected in
the human mind that Doctor Gilbert bowed his head for
an instant, and involuntarily searched his memory for some
prayer, that he might comply with the request upon this
burial stone ; but even if Gilbert had ever learned the lan-
guage of faith and humility in infancy, scepticism — that
gangrene of the last century — had effaced it from his
recollection. Finding his heart and tongue alike mute,
Gilbert looked up, and saw tears rolling down Mirabeau's
strong face, furrowed by passion as the sides of a volcano
are scored by fiery lava.

These tears moved Gilbert so deeply that he stepped to
Mirabeau's side and took his hand.

Mirabeau understood him.

Tears shed in memory of a father who had impris-
oned and tortured his son seemed so incomprehensible that
Mirabeau hastened to explain.

"She was a good woman, this Françoise de Castellane,
my father's mother," he remarked. "Though everybody
else thought me hideous, she considered me only plain ;
when everybody else hated me, she seemed really quite
fond of me. But the person she loved best in the world
was her son ; so I have reunited them, as you see. But who
will reunite me to them? Whose bones will rest beside
mine? I have not even a dog to love me! " and he laughed
bitterly.

"Monsieur, people do not laugh in church," said a
rasping, sanctimonious, reproachful voice, — the voice of
a bigot.

Mirabeau turned and saw a priest standing near him.

"Are you the priest of this parish?" he asked mildly.

"Yes."

"Have you many poor under your charge?"

" More poor people than rich people who are inclined to
relieve them."

" Still, you must have some charitable and philanthrop-
ical persons in your congregation."



A LADY RESEMBLING THE QUEEN. Ill

The priest lauglied.

"You just now did me the honour to tell me that people
do not laugh in church, monsieur," remarked Mirabeau.

"Do you propose to take me to task, monsieur?" de-
manded the priest, considerably offended.

"No, monsieur; but to show you that persons who are
disposed to aid their fellow-men are not so rare as you sup-
pose. It is quite probable that I shall soon take up my
abode in the Chateau du Marais ; and if I do, every labourer
who is out of work can find employment there at good
wages, every hungry man can come there for bread, and
every invalid can find help there, whatever his religious
or political opinions may be. Beginning from this day, I
offer you. Monsieur le Curé, the sum of one thousand francs
per month to be devoted to charitable purposes."

And tearing a leaf from his note-book, he wrote on it,
in pencil, the following lines: —

" Good for the amount of twelve thousand (12,000) francs, which
the cure of Argenteuil is to expend for me, at the rate of 1,000 francs
per month, in charitable purposes, beginning with the first day of
my residence at the Château du Marais.

'' Done at the Argenteuil Church, and signed upon the Altar of the
Virgin. " Mirabeau."

The priest was stupefied when he saw the signature, and
still more so when he had read the agreement.

The two friends then re-entered the carriage, which fol-
lowed the main street to the very end and then took the
road leading towards Besons. They had not gone a hundred
rods in this direction, however, before Mirabeau discerned
on his right several thick clumps of trees pierced by the
slate-covered turrets of a château and its appurtenances.
To the right of the road, near the gate of the avenue lead-
ing up to the château, stood a dilapidated cottage, and in
the doorway sat a woman holding a sick child in her arms;
and as she rocked the emaciated little one, she raised lier
eyes imploringly to heaven and wept.



112 LA COMTESSE DE CHARNY.

Mirabeau noted the sorrowful scene, and, turning to
Gilbert, said, "Doctor, I am as superstitious as any old
woman. If that child dies, I won't take the château. I
want you to see if you can do anything for the poor little
thing; and as we have only about twenty minutes of day-
light left, I will drop you here, while I go on and inspect
the château."

Then to the mother he said, —

"My good woman, this gentleman is a great physician;
he will try to cure your child. Give thanks to Heaven,
which has sent him to your aid."

Five minutes afterwards, Teisch rang the bell at the
gate of the château. Mirabeau knew the place, as we
have said before; but he had never had an opportunity to
examine it closely until now. Passing through the gate-
way, he found himself in the outer courtyard, which was
nearly square. To the right stood a small house or pavilion
occupied by the gardener; to the left stood another similar
to it, but its surroundings made it wonderfully charming.
Gigantic rose-bushes in full bloom wreathed its walls, and
every window was shielded by a curtain of carnations,
heliotropes, and fuchsias. In front of the cottage was a
tiny garden filled with lilies and roses and geraniums, — a
veritable carpet of flowers, such as Penelope might have
embroidered.

We have already alluded to Mirabeau's passion for
flowers. On beholding this charming retreat, he uttered
an exclamation of admiration and delight, and said to the
gardener, "Is this cottage, too, for sale or to be let, my
friend?"

"Certainly, monsieur, as it belongs to the château. It
is occupied just now, but the occupant holds no lease of it;
and, if monsieur desires, the tenant can be sent away."

" Who is the tenant? "

"A lady."

"Young?"

"Thirty or thirty -five."



A LADY RESEMBLING THE QUEEN. 113

"Handsome?"

"Very handsome."

"Well, we will see. A beautiful neighbour would cer-
tainly be no objection. Let me take a look at the château,
my friend."

The gardener opened the principal door, which led into a
hall adorned with niches filled with statues, and pedestals
supporting vases, after the fashion of the day.

The door at the other end of the hall led out into a large
garden. To the right of this hall were a billiard and
dining room, and to the left two parlours, one large aud
one small.

On the floor above was a large and well-lighted apart-
ment admirably adapted for an office or study, and three
or four bedrooms.

The windows were all closed. Mirabeau stepped up to
one to open it; and the gardener was about to open the
others, but Mirabeau made a sign to him not to do so.

Just under the window which Mirabeau had opened, at
the foot of a big weeping-willow, a woman was reclining,
reading, while a child five or six years old played on the
turf a short distance from her.

Mirabeau understood at once that this was the lady of
the pavilion.

No one could have been more daintily and beautifully
arrayed. She wore a loose, exquisitely fine white muslin
gown, richly trimmed with lace, over taffeta silk, and
coquettishly adorned with bows of pink and white ribbon.

Her hands were beautiful, with taper fingers and aristo-
cratic, beautifully kept nails. The child was dressed in a
suit of white satin, and wore a Henry IV. hat and a tri-
coloured sash, — a strange combination, but one quite in
vogue at that time. In fact, his dress was almost identical
with that worn by the young dauphin the last time he
appeared on the balcony of the Tuileries in company with
his mother.

While Mirabeau was eagerly devouring the beautiful

VOL. II. — 8



114 LA COMTESSE DE CHAKNY.

reader with his eyes, either purely by chance, or because
she was influenced by a magnetic current, she glanced up
from her book to the very window at which Mirabeau was
standing.

On beholding him she uttered a faint cry of surprise,
arose, called the child, and walked away, holding him by
the hand, but not without looking back several times.

Mirabeau had responded to her cry of surprise by one
of astonishment; for the fair lady not only had Marie
Antoinette's queenly bearing, but her features also — as
far as Mirabeau was able to distinguish through the veil of
fleecy lace that covered her face — bore a striking resem-
blance to those of Marie Antoinette.

This resemblance, too, was increased by the presence of
the boy, who was exactly the age of the second child of
the queen, — of that queen whose face, walk, and slightest
movement had remained so ever present, not only in the
memory, but in the heart of Mirabeau, since that interview
at St. Cloud.

What miracle had brought this mysterious woman — who,
if not the queen herself, was certainly her living image —
into the grounds of the mansion of which Mirabeau con-
templated taking a lease?

Just at that instant the count felt a hand on his shoulder.



THE UNKNOWN LADY'S INFLUENCE. 115



CHAPTER XIX.

IN WHICH THE INFLUENCE OF THE UNKNOWN LADY
BEGINS TO ASSERT ITSELF.

Mirabeau turned with a start. It was Doctor Gilbert
who had touched him on the shoukler.

"Well, is there any hope for the child?" inquired the
count.

"A physician should never cease to hope, even in the
presence of death itself."

"The deuce, doctor! I suppose that is equivalent to
saying that the malady is serious."

"It is more than serious; it is mortal."

"What is the matter with the child?"

"The poor little thing has a fever, of which it will
probably die in less than a week. The mother was help-
ing the gardener to cut the grass a few days ago, and laid
the child down on the ground only a few steps from one of
those ditches of stagnant water which encircle the park.
When she returned to it, she found it injured, not only by
prolonged exposure to the sun, which had overheated its
young brain, but by the absorption of the marshy effluvia
which bring on that sort of poisoning known as malaria."

"I can't say that I altogether understand you."

"I am more than willing to enter into particulars, inas-
much as these particulars should certainly not be devoid
of interest to a man who has nearly decided to take up his
abode in this château, without realising the danger to
which he is exposing himself. You have heard more or
less, of course, in relation to the fevers which come from
the Pontine marshes, as well as of the deadly miasma that
arises from the Tuscan swamps? "



116 LA COMTESSE DE CHAKNY.

" Yes ; and Cabanis was telling me sometliing not unlike
this about the Assembly Hall at the riding-school. He
even pretends that if I do not go out several times during
the session and inhale the fresh air of the Tuileries garden,
I shall die of poisoning."

"And Cabanis is right. The architect who planned the
riding-school never once thought of constructing the chim-
neys in such a way as to enable them to carry off the foul
air, or to arrange for the admission of pure air by a system
of pipes. The result is that the eleven hundred pairs of
lungs shut up in that hall speedily exhaust the oxygen,
and leave carbonic acid in its place. Consequently, at the
end of an hour, especially in winter, when the windows are
closed and the stoves heated, the air is not only unfit to
breathe , but may even reach a degree of vitiation that con-
verts it into positive poison."

"You seem to intimate that I am half poisoned already,
doctor."

"Precisely. In my opinion your intestinal suffering
comes from no other cause ; but you must understand that
the effect of the poison you breathe in the Assembly Hall
is in your case augmented by the effects of the poison you
also inhaled in the archbishop's palace, in the dungeon at
Viucennes, in the fortress at Joux, and the Chateau d'If.
Don't you recollect that Madame de Bellegarde once said
that there was a chamber worth its weight in arsenic at
Vincennes?"

" Do you mean that the poor child you have just seen is
similarly poisoned?"

"Yes, }ny dear count; only in his case the poison has
affected the coatings of the brain, and brought on what is
generally styled cerebral fever; though I should call it
by another name, — say hydrocephalic ague; a malady
which causes convulsions, lockjaw, laboured respira-
tion, purple lips, a pulse which palpitates rather than
throbs, and, finally, a viscid sweat over the entire
body."



THE UNKNOWN LADY'S INFLUENCE. 117

*' Your enumeration fairly gives me the horrors, doctor.
What have you prescribed for the poor little thing?"

"Cooling applications to the head, irritants to the ex-
tremities, emetics, and a decoction of that invaluable tonic
known as Peruvian bark."

"And will all these remedies do no good?"

"Not much, unless nature comes to the child's aid. I
prescribed the treatment chiefly to ease my conscience.
Its good angel, if it has one, must do the rest."

"Hum!"

"You understand, do you not?"

"Your theory of poisoning by the oxide of carbon? Yes;
at least, partially."

"Ko, not that. I want to know if you understand that
the air here will not suit you?"

"You think it will not, doctor?"

"I am positive of it."

"That is very unfortunate, for the château suits me
perfectly."

" There you are again, — your own most persistent enemy,
as usual! I advise an elevated site: you select a flat local-
ity; I suggest running water: you choose a stagnant pool."

"But look at these fine trees, doctor."

"Sleep here a single night with open windows, or walk
about in the shade of those beautiful trees, and I shall hear
of you the next day."

" You mean that I shall be poisoned outright, instead of
being half poisoned, as I am now?"

"Do you want the truth? "

"Yes; and you are giving it to me, are you not?"

" Yes, in all its nakedness. Listen carefully to what I
am about to say, my dear count. I state the facts rather
as a philosophical observer than as a physician. As a gen-
eral thing, acute maladies are governed by fixed rules. In V
infancy it is the brain that is attacked; in youth it is
the chest; in persons of maturer years it is the bowels;
in old age, either the heart or the brain, — that is, the
organs which have been used most and suffered most."



118 LA COMTESSE DE CHARNY.

*' One would think my heart knew what you were talking
about; see how it throbs; " and as he spoke, Mirabeau took
the doctor's hand and pressed it upon his heart.

"This illustrates what I am saying exactly," responded
the doctor. "How can you suppose that an organ which
shares all your emotions, which increases or decreases the
number of its pulsations in following a pathological con-
versation, — how can you suppose that such an organ could
escape being affected? Through the heart you have con-
quered; through the heart you will be conquered. There
is not a single emotion or physical sensation which does
not give a man a sort of fever; and there is no such' thing
as fever without a more or less great acceleration of
heart-beats. My friend, the heart is like a purse: no mat-
ter how well lined it may be, if we go to it often enough
it becomes exhausted. Xow I have shown you the worst
side of your condition, allow me to speak of the brighter
side. The heart must not be overtaxed. Ask no more of
it than it is able to perform with ease, subject it to no
more excitement than it can well bear, and you may live
twenty or thirty years longer, and die of old age. On the
contrary, if you wish to commit suicide, nothing could be
easier. Just imagine you are driving a pair of fiery steeds :
compel them to trot along moderately, and they will hold
out a long time ; allow them to gallop, and, like the fabled
steeds of the sun, they will make the circuit of the sky in
a single day and night."

"I will think about all you have just said," replied
]\[irabeau. "But it is getting late now, doctor; we must
be off."

"Keflect upon it as much as you please, but begin by
obeying the orders of the faculty. Promise me, first of
all, not to take this château. You will find a dozen, yes,
fifty residences near Paris which will offer the same
advantages as this, without being open to the same
objections."

Perhaps Mirabeau would have heeded the voice of reason



THE UNKNOWN LADY's INFLUENCE. 119

and given the desired promise, but suddenly he fancied he
caught sight of the face of that same beautiful woman
peeping out from behind a screen of flowers. This woman
smiled, — at least so Mirabeau fancied, but he had no oppor-
tunity to make sure; for, convinced from the nervous
tremor he noticed in the arm upon which he was leaning
that some sudden change had taken place in his patient's
mood, the doctor glanced in the same direction. The
woman's head was instantly withdrawn, and one could see
nothing save a slight movement of the sprays of roses,
heliotropes, and pinks.

"You do not answer me," remarked Gilbert.

"My dear doctor, do you recollect what I said to the
queen when she gave me her hand to kiss? * Madame, by
this kiss the monarchy is saved.' I took a heavy burden
upon myself that day, especially if they abandon me, as
they have done up to the present time. Still, I must not
fail in my undertaking. Don't censure the suicide of
which you spoke, doctor; it may be the only honourable
way out of the difficulty."

Two days afterwards Mirabeau took a lease of the
Château du Marais.



120 LA COMTESSE DE CHARNY.



CHAPTER XX.



LE CHAMP DE MARS.



We have already endeavoured to make our reader compre-
hend what an indissoluble bond of federation the people
of France had formed, and what effect this federation had
produced upon Europe.

Europe began to understand that a new era was dawning,
and that some day she too must belong to an immense
federation of citizens, — a single gigantic brotherhood.

Mirabeau had been a strong advocate of this grand
gathering of the French people which was about to take
place; and when the king expressed his fears as to the
result, he had replied that if there was any salvation for
royalty in France, it must be sought, not in Paris, but in
the provinces.

He realised, too, that there was another great advantage
to be derived from such a gathering, — the king would see
his people, and the people would see their king; besides,
when the entire population of France, represented by three
hundred thousand delegates, shouted "Long live the
nation ! " and clasped hands over the ruins of the Bastile,
courtiers could no longer insist that Paris, instigated by a
handful of agitators, demanded privileges which the rest
of the country felt no disposition to claim.

Mirabeau relied upon the good sense of the king, as well
as upon the spirit of loyalty which still pervaded the
hearts of most of the French people, and argued that this
novel meeting would result in a sacred alliance which no
spirit of intrigue would ever have the power to break.

When this idea of a general convention was first broached
to the Assembly by the mayor and common council of



LE CHAMP DE MARS. 121

Paris, it created a great sensation. The Royalists declared
that to encourage such a gathering would be to risk another
fourteenth of July on a colossal scale, directed, not against
the Bastile this time, but against royalty itself.

The Jacobins, on the other hand, knowing how strong a
hold Louis XVI. still retained upon the masses, were no
better pleased with the project than were their political
opponents. There was no way of checking this popular
movement, however, which had had no parallel since the
eleventh century, when all Europe aroused itself to re-
capture the Holy Sepulchre; and the two movements were
not so foreign to each other as one might suppose, inas-
much as the first tree of liberty was planted upon Calvary.

The Assembly endeavoured to make the gathering less
formidable by prolonging discussion until it should be
too late for delegates from remote parts of the kingdom to
reach Paris. Besides, the expenses were to be defrayed by
the different sections of the country; and, as the enemies
of the convention were perfectly well aware, there were
provinces so poor that it would be an absolute impossi-
bility for them to defray a half or even a quarter part of
the expenses of their delegates : consequently these deputies
would not be able to reach Paris, to say nothing of getting
home again.

But the opponents of the movement had not taken into
consideration the intense enthusiasm of the public, or that
spirit of co-operation which causes the rich to give twice,
— once for themselves, and once for their poorer neigh-
bours — or that spirit of hospitality that prompted every
one along the road to exclaim : " Our doors are open to our
brothers! Come, pilgrims, to the grand festival. You
will find fathers and mothers and wives ready and eager
to offer the same hospitality their sons and husbands are
enjoying in other homes."

And by whom were these pilgrims of liberty led? By
aged men ; by soldiers who had fought in the Seven Years
War; by men who had fought at Pontenoy; by miners



122 LA COMTESSE DE CHARNY.

bearing upon their brows the sign of the iron rule of ancient
France; by mariners who had conquered the Indies under
Bussy and Dupleix, and had had their prize wrested from
them under Lally Tolendal. Veterans of fourscore years
made daily journeys of twenty-five or thirty miles a day on
foot in order to reach Paris in time ; and they were in time.
As they were about to lie down and sleep tlie sleep of eter-
nity, the strength of their youth was miraculously restored,
and they mounted on wings like eagles.

I'heir country was beckoning to them with one hand,
while with the other she pointed to the banner of hope, —
to the roseate light of the new day which was to brighten
the pathway of their children and children's children.

They sang one song, — these pilgrims gathering from the
north and south and east and west, from Alsace, Brittany,
Provence, and Normandy. Who taught them this song no
one knows. The angel of the Revolution, perhaps, drop-
ping music from his mighty wings as he passed over
France. The song was the famous "(7a ira," — not the
Terror song of '93, when hope was changed into wild
despair and a frenzied longing for revenge, and France
sweat great drops of blood. The song was not a death-
chant then, but an inspiring melody, — a canticle of hope.

For the reception of these five hundred thousand dele-
gates an immense arena was needed, as well as a huge
amphitheatre capable of accommodating a million specta-
tors. The Champ de Mars was selected for the arena; the
heights of Passy and of Chaillot for the amphitheatre.

As the Champ de Mars was perfectly flat, it was neces-
sary to convert it into a gigantic valley by digging out the
earth in the middle and piling it up on two sides.

Fifteen thousand labourers, men of the sort who are
eternally complaining of their futile search for work,
praying under their breath all the while that they may
not find it, — fifteen thousand such labourers were set to
work with spades and pickaxes and hoes, by the city of
Paris, to transform this plain into a valley, flanked by a



LE CHAMP DE MARS. 123

huge amphitheatre. But three weeks remained for the
accomplishment of this Titanic task, and at the end of
three days it was evident that these men would not com-
plete it in as many months.

Then occurred a sort of miracle, by which one could
measure the enthusiasm of the Parisians. This colossal



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