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task, which thousands of labourers could not or would not
accomplish, was undertaken by the entire populace. The
very day it became noised about that the Champ de Mars
would not be ready for the festival of the fourteenth of
July, one hundred thousand men arose in their might, and,
with that confidence which is as much a part of the popu-
lar will as of the will of God Himself, said, " It shall be

Deputies from these hundred thousand citizens waited
upon the mayor, and it was decided that the volunteers
should work at night, in order not to interfere with those
who worked during the day.

That same evening a cannon-shot announced that the
day's work was ended and the night's work about to begin;
and, almost simultaneously with the boom of the cannon, a
mighty host appeared, invading the Champ de Mars from
all four sides, — from Grenelle, the Seine, Gros Caillou,
and Paris.

Each workman was provided with some implement, — a
hoe, shovel, wheelbarrow, or pickaxe; others rolled casks
of wine along to the music of violins, guitars, drums, and

People of all sorts and conditions, as well as of all ages
and both sexes, mingled in the crowd, — citizens, soldiers,
priests, monks, actresses, fine ladies, market-women, sisters
of charity, together with everybody who could handle a
pickaxe, trundle a barrow, or drive a waggon. Children
carrying torches marched on ahead; bands followed, play-
ing upon all sorts of instruments; and, resounding above all
this hubbub, one heard the " Ça ira " sung by an immense
choir of one hundred thousand voices.


Among the most indefatigable workers were two men who
wore their uniforms as delegates to the great Federation,

One was a man about forty years of age, with robust and
muscular limbs, but a gloomy face. He never sang, and
rarely spoke. The other was a young fellow not far from
twenty, with a frank, smiling countenance, big blue eyes,
white teeth, and fair hair. He lifted enormous weights
with his large hands, and pushed waggons and handcarts
briskly about, singing cheerily all the while. He watched
his companion closely out of one corner of his eye, and
occasionally addressed a few words to him, to which the
elder man made little or no response, however. Once he
brought him a glass of wine, but it was waved aside ; so
the younger man shrugged his shoulders and returned to
his place, where he did the work of ten men, and sang like

These two men were delegates from the new depart-
ment of Aisne, about ten leagues from Paris; hearing that
strong arms were needed, they had hastened to offer their

These two men were Billot and Pitou.

And now let us see what was taking place at Villers-
Cotterets while these men were rendering such efficient
aid amid this host of labourers.




About eleven o'clock on the night of the fifth of July,
Doctor Raynal was aroused from slumber by three loud
raps on his door.

When the doctor was summoned in the night, he was in
the habit of going to the door himself, in order that there
might be no unnecessary delay; so he sprang out of bed,
slipped on his dressing-gown, stuck his feet into his slip-
pers, and hastened downstairs.

But brisk as were the doctor's movements, the time of
waiting must have seemed long to the nocturnal visitor,
for he began to rap again.

On opening the door, the doctor recognised the lackey
who had come once before to conduct him to Isidore de

"So here you are again, my friend!" exclaimed the
physician. "Well, if your master has got into trouble
again, all I have to say is that he had better take care of
himself. It is n't well for a man to venture out mach in a
locality where it seems to rain bullets."

" It is not on my master's account I have come this time,
though the case is just as urgent. Finish dressing. Here
is a horse, and you are wanted as soon as possible."

In five minutes the worthy doctor was dressed and in
the saddle; but instead of turning to the left on leaving
the house, as on the previous occasion, the lackey led the
way in exactly the opposite direction from Boursonnes, and
the pair soon found themselves in such a dense part of the
forest that it was very difiicult to make their way through
it on horseback.


Suddenly a man sprang out from behind a tree.

"Is it you, doctor?" he asked.

The doctor, ignorant at first of the speaker's intentions,
had reined in his horse; but now, recognising the Vicomte
de Charny, he promptly replied, —

"Yes, it is I. Where on earth are you taking me to,



"You will soon see," responded Isidore. "I must ask
you to dismount and follow me."

" Ah, ha! I think I understand. It is a case of confine-
ment, I judge."

Isidore grasped the worthy physician's hand.

"Yes, doctor; and you must promise me to keep the
matter a profound secret," he exclaimed. "You will,
won't you?"

But the doctor only shrugged his shoulders, as much as
to say, "Don't worry yourself; I 've been here before."

"Come this way," said Isidore; and the two men were
soon lost to view in the shadow of the giant birches, through
whose tremulous foliage they could only now and then per-
ceive the glimmer of a star.

Presently the doctor caught sight of the Clouise Rock.

" Oh, ho ! " he exclaimed, " so it is to Father Clouis' hut
we are bound, I see ! "

"Not exactly, but very near it."

Walking around to the other side of the immense rock,
he led the doctor to the door of a small brick building so
close to the gamekeeper's cottage that any one would have
supposed that the good man had been building an addition
to his abode,

A. single glance at the interior would have undeceived
one, however.

A pretty paper covered the walls, and the soft curtains
harmonised with the paper. Between tlie two windows
was a handsome mirror, and beneath it stood a dressing-
table provided with all sorts of toilet utensils. There
were two arm-chairs in the room, a small sofa, and a tiny


bookcase; but the good doctor's glance did not even rest an
instant upon all this. He saw only the woman on the bed,
and went straight to her relief.

On seeing the doctor, Catherine hid her face in her hands,
but could not repress her sobs or conceal her tears.

Isidore approached and called her by name. She threAv
herself in his arms.

"Doctor," said the young man, "to you I confide the
honour and life of one who is now my mistress, but who,
I hope, will some day be my wife."

"You are kind indeed, my dear Isidore, to say such
things to me ; but you know only too well how impossible
it is for a poor girl like me ever to become a viscountess.
I am none the less grateful to you, though. You know 1
shall need strength, and you are trying to give it to me.
Have no fears, I shall have courage; and the first and
greatest proof of it I can give is to show you my uncovered
face, my dear doctor, and otter you my hand."

And she extended her hand to Doctor Kaynal.

A pain more violent than any she had before experienced
made her clench her hand just as it touched the doctor's,
and that worthy man made a sign to Isidore, who per-
ceived that the critical moment had come.

Throwing himself on his knees by Catherine's bedside,
he whispered, —

" Catherine, my darling, I ought to remain here to sus-
tain and encourage you, but I fear my strength would fail
me; still, if you desire it — "

Catherine put her arm round Isidore's neck.

"Go," she whispered; "go! I thank you for loving me
so much that you cannot bear to see me suffer. "

Isidore pressed his lips to hers, shook Doctor Kaynal's
hand once again, and rushed from the room.

For two long hours he wandered about, like those ghosts
of whom Dante speaks, who could not pause an instant, or,
if they did, were instantly driven on again by a demon
with an iron trident. After each more or less extended


circuit, he invariably returned to that door, on the other
side of which the awful mystery of childbirth was in
progress ; but almost immediately a cry uttered by Catherine
would reach him, piercing his heart like one of the demon's
iron prongs, and compelling him to resume his wander-
ings, only to return again and undergo the same harrowing

At last he heard the doctor's voice, and a much feebler
and sweeter voice, calling to him in the darkness. With
two bounds he reached the door, which was open this time,
and upon the threshold the good doctor stood awaiting him
with a child in his arms.

"Alas! Alas, Isidore! now I am doubly thine," ex-
claimed Catherine, — "as thy mistress, and as the mother
of thy child."

A week later, on the night of the 13th of July, at the
same hour, the door again opened, and two men emerged,
carrying a woman and a babe on a litter, escorted by a
young man on horseback. On reaching the highway, they
found a berlin drawn by three horses awaiting them, in
which the mother and infant were placed with the utmost

The young man then dismounted, threw his bridle to a
servant, to whom he also gave some instructions, and then
entered the vehicle, after which the horses started ofE at a
brisk trot in the direction of Paris.

Before his departure the young man had given Eather
Clouis a purse filled with gold, and the young woman had
left a letter addressed to Pitou.

The rapid recovery of the mother, and the excellent con-
stitution of the infant — which, by the way , was a boy —
had convinced Doctor Raynal that the journey to Paris
could be made with perfect safety.

God, who up to a certain time seems to watch over
those whom He subsequently seems to abandon, had per-
mitted Catherine's confinement to take place in the absence
of Billot, who was still ignorant of his daughter's place of


retreat, and of Pitou, who had not even suspected her

About five o'clock the next morning the vehicle reached
the Porte St. Denis, but could not cross the boulevard, by
reason of the blockade occasioned by the celebration.

Catherine ventured to put her head outside the hood, but
instantly withdrew it, uttering a faint cry, and hiding her
face in Isidore's bosom; for the first persons her eyes fell
upon among the federal delegates were Billot and Pitou.

VOL. II. — 9



JULY 14, 1790.

Thanks to tlie co-operation of all Paris , the work of trans-
forming an immense plain into a valley was completed
on the night of the thirteenth of July, and many of
the labourers slept there, in order to secure places for the
next day.

There was a remarkable display of patriotism and dis-
interestedness in the city; for the innkeepers met, and
unanimously decided to lower their prices instead of rais-
ing them. The journalists, too, proposed a sort of com-
pact between the members of their craft, and, renouncing
all competition and jealousy, promised to indulge only in
that emulation which conduces to the public good.

Several days prior to the festival the Assembly, at
the instigation of Montmorency and Lafayette, abolished
hereditary titles of nobility, — which, by the way, were
zealously defended by the Abbé Maury, the son of a village

The influence of Mirabeau made itself strongly felt in
these days. Thanks to this powerful champion, the court
had gained many warm adherents. The Assembly, too,
had voted the king a civil list, or allowance, of twenty-five
million francs, and an allowance of four millions to the

This liberality richly repaid them for the two hundred
and eight thousand francs spent in defraying the indebted-
ness of their eloquent defender, and for the six thousand
francs which he was to receive from the Crown every

JULY 14, 1790. 131

It seemed, too, that Mirabeau had not been deceived in
regard to the state of feeling that prevailed in the provinces.
The federal delegates were enthusiastic admirers of the
National Assembly, but their feeling for the king was one
of positive adoration. They lifted their hats to Monsieur
Bailly, and shouted, " Long live the nation ! " but they
reverently bowed the knee before Louis XVL, and laid
their swords at his feet, crying, "Long live the king!"
But unfortunately the king was not very romantic or
chivalrous, and responded to this enthusiasm but clumsily.
Unfortunately, too, the queen was too arrogant to rightly
appreciate these pledges of devotion; besides, the poor
woman had a deep sorrow gnawing at her heart. This was
caused by the absence of Charny, who could certainly have
returned if he had liked, but who had remained with the
Marquis de Bouille at Metz, though her Majesty knew
nothing whatever concerning his whereabouts. If she
could but- have heard him whisper, "Marie, my feelings
are unchanged! Antoinette, I love you!" it would have
given her a thousand times more pleasure than all these
acclamations and protestations of devotion.

One might have supposed that this fourteenth of July
was not aware that it was to witness a stupendous and
magnificent spectacle, for it dawned with a sky veiled in
clouds, and with the wind moaning and the rain falling;
but some people laugh at anything, even at a storm on fete-

As early as five o'clock in the morning the boulevards
were thronged with National Guards and federal delegates,
all drenched with rain and dying of hunger, but laughing
and singing all the same.

Though they could not save their guests from the rain ,
the Parisians invented a plan to relieve them of their
hunger by lowering hams, loaves of bread, and bottles of
wine from the windows. In all the streets through which
the procession marched it was the same.

Meanwhile, one hundred and fifty thousand persons had


seated themselves on the hillockS/Overlooking the Champ
de Mars, and one hundred and fifty thousand more stood
behind them. As for the amphitheatres of Chaillot and
Passy, they were thronged with spectators innumerable.

When the federal battalions entered the field, shouts
of enthusiasm, and perhaps also of astonishment at the
superb sight that met their gaze, burst from every lip.

In fact, no such spectacle had ever before greeted the
eye of man.

In a fortnight the Champ de Mars had been transformed,
as if by enchantment, from a plain into a valley a league
in circumference.

In the middle of it stood the Patriot Altar, which was
reached by four stairways corresponding with the four
sides of the obelisk that surmounted it.

At each corner swung an immense censer filled with
burning incense , and upon each side of the monument was
an inscription announcing that the French nation was free,
and inviting other nations to share this freedom.

Oh, the joy of our forefathers at this sight! It was so
profound, so intense, that its echoes resound up to this
very day.

And yet the heavens were discoursing, like one of the
oracles of old, in heavy torrents of rain, gusts of wind,
and threatening clouds, prophetic all of 1793, 1814, and
1815. There were also occasional sunbursts through the
gloom, — symbols of 1830 and 1848.

Stands had been erected in front of the buildings belong-
ing to the military school. These stands, hung with gay
bunting and canopied with tricoloured flags, were reserved
for the queen, the court, and the National Assembly.

Two thrones exactly alike, and only a few feet apart,
had been erected for the king and for the president of the

The king, appointed the supreme head of the French
National Guard, for that day only, transferred his com-
mand to Lafayette, who was therefore the generalissimo

JULY 14, 1790. 133

of six millions of men. His fortunes had readied their
culminating point. Like those fantastic nocturnal appari-
tions which exceed all human proportions, he had grown
inordinately, only to dissolve into thin air and vanish;
but during this great festival everytliing was real, or
seemed to be.

Two of the chief personages present were soon to be the
victims of obloquy and disgrace, — the king, whose head
would soon fall from his shoulders; and the general, whose
white steed would soon carry him into exile.

The long procession of federal delegates entered the
arena first, dividing into two lines, in order to embrace the
entire circuit of the arena; behind this advance guard
of twenty-five thousand men came the electors of Paris,
the city officials, and finally the National Assembly;
and behind them more delegates, and numerous military

Each department carried its distinctive banner; but these
local banners were enveloped, surrounded, and nationalised,
as it were, by a grand girdle of tricoloured banners which
signified country and fraternity to the eyes and hearts of
the people.

As the president of the Assembly ascended to his arm-
chair, the king ascended to his also, and the queen took
her seat in the tribune.

Alas, poor queen! her retinue was limited in number;
for many of her friends had taken fright and deserted her.
Perhaps, though, if they had known that the king had
secured twenty-five million francs for his civil list, and the
queen an allowance of four millions, some of the cowardly
deserters would have returned.

As for the one person her eyes vainly sought, she knew
but too well that neither gold nor power would ever again
draw him to her side. In his absence her eyes longed for
the face of some devoted friend; so she inquired for Isidore,
and wondered why all the defenders of the Crown were not
at their posts, since royalty had so few partisans in that
great crowd.


If anybody had told her that Isidore de Charny was
tenderly conducting an humble peasant girl to a modest
house at Bellevue, who knows but this proud daughter of
the Caesars would not have been more than willing to re-
nounce her throne and crown, and to become the daughter
of an obscure farmer, — to be once more loved by Olivier
as Catherine was loved by his brother Isidore!

Above the noise of five hundred drums and two tliousand,
musical instruments were heard shouts of " Long live the
king ! Long live the nation ! " Then there was a mighty
silence, and the king, like the president of the National
Assembly, took his seat.

Two hundred priests attired in white albs then advanced
towards the altar, led by Talleyrand, the patron saint of all
perjurers, past, present, and future.

He limped up the steps leading to the altar, a Mephis-
topheles awaiting the Faust who was to appear on the
thirteenth Vendémiaire. A mass said by the Bishop
of Autun! In mentioning the other evil omens, we had
forgotten that.

Just then the storm burst forth with redoubled violence.
One might almost have supposed Heaven was protesting
against this unworthy priest who was about to desecrate
this most holy sacrament, and offer as a tabernacle for our
Lord a heart filled with the blackest treachery and deceit.

When the mass was over, Talleyrand descended a few
steps and blessed the national standard and the flags of
the eighty-three departments.

Then the ceremony of taking the national oath began.

Lafayette dismounted from his horse, ascended the steps
leading to the altar, drew his sword, placed the point upon
the Bible, and said, — for he took the oath in the name of
the National Guards throughout the kingdom, —

"We swear to be ever faithful to the nation, to the laws,
and to the king, and to maintain, with all the power that
in us lies, the Constitution as framed by the National
Assembly and accepted by the king; to protect the safety

JULY 14, 1790. 135

of life and property, the dissemination of grain and other
articles of food, and the receipt of the public revenues,
and to live united in the indissoluble bonds of fraternity
with all our fellow countrymen."

There was a profound silence while this oath was taken ;
but it was no sooner concluded than a hundred cannon
thundered forth their approval.

Then the president of the Assembly arose in his turn,
and all the members gathered around him as he said,
clearly and impressively, —

"I swear to be faithful to the nation, to the laws, and
to the king, and to zealously maintain the Constitution
framed by the National Assembly and accepted by the

He had hardly completed the oath before the flames
again belched forth, and the roar of artillery echoed and
re-echoed to the farthest boundaries of France.

Then it was the king's turn. He arose. Listen, each
and every one, to the oath which he breaks in his secret
heart even while he is uttering it.

Have a care, sire ! The clouds are breaking, the sun is
shining out. The sun is God's eye; God is gazing at you.

"I, king of the French, swear to employ all the power
conferred upon me by the Constitution in the maintenance
of the Constitution formed by the National Assembly and
accepted by me."

Ah, sire, sire! why, even on this occasion, did you prefer
not to swear upon the altar?

False or sincere, this oath elicited no less flame and
thunder than the other two. The cannon roared as vocifer-
ously as they had roared for Lafayette and the president
of the Assembly, and a third time the artillery gave this
ominous warning to the king of France: "Have a care,
sire; all France is astir! Have a care, for France is re-
solved to be free ! "




It was an hour of great rejoicing with the multitude. For
an instant Mirabeau forgot the queen, and Billot even
forgot Catherine.

The king departed amid the enthusiastic plaudits of the
crowd. The members of the Assembly returned to their
hall accompanied by the same imposing cortege as on their

As for the flag presented by the veterans to the city of
Paris, it was decided that it should be suspended from the
ceiling of the Assembly Chamber as a symbol to future
legislators of the dawn of the new and glorious epoch which
had just been inaugurated, and as a reminder to the troops
that they must be submissive to the Crown and the As-
sembly conjointly, and that they could not be employed
without the mutual consent of both powers.

Night came on. The festival of the morning had been
held on the Champ de Mars ; that of the evening was held
at the Bastile.

Eighty-three trees, as many as there were departments
in the kingdom, represented the eight former towers of
the edifice upon whose foundation they were planted; rows
of lights were suspended from tree to tree. In the centre
stood a tall flag-pole with a banner with the word " Liberty "
inscribed upon it. Near the moat, in a grave which had
been left open purposely, were the chains, instruments of
torture, and gratings of the Bastile, together with that
famous has-relief from the old clock representing slaves in
chains. The subterranean dungeons, which had absorbed


SO many tears and smothered so many groans, had also
been left open; but if a person, attracted by the music
that resounded amidst the trees, found his way to what
had once been the inner courtyard, he found there a
brilliantly lighted ball-room, above the entrance to which
one read these words, which were surely the realisation of
Cagliostro's prediction : —


At one of the thousand tables set up under the impro-
vised forest — which represented the ancient fortress
almost as well as Palloy's model — two men were recruit-
ing their strength, exhausted by a long day of marching
and counter-marching.

They had before them a huge sausage, a four-pound
loaf, and two bottles of wine. The younger man wore the
uniform of a captain in the National Guards, the other the
uniform of a federal delegate.

" By my faith ! " said the younger man, draining his glass,
" it 's a fine thing to eat when one is hungry, and drink
when one is thirsty. Are you neither hungry nor thirsty,
Father Billot?"

"I hunger and thirst for but one thing, now."

"And what is that?"

"I'll tell you, friend Pitou, when the hour for my
banquet comes."

Pitou detected no covert meaning in Billot's response;
he knew that Billot had eaten but little that day, and, in
fact, ever since his departure from Villers-Cotterets, not-
withstanding his five days, or rather nights, of arduous
labour on the Champ de Mars. But Pitou knew that even
the slightest indisposition frequently deprives the most

Online LibraryAlexandre DumasComtesse de Charny (Volume 2) → online text (page 9 of 24)