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reproach. " It is midnight ; you are in my room, and I
am weeping in your arms. I am the daughter of General
de Montrovel, and I am Roland's sister ; and yet you say,
' if you love me ! ' "

" I am wrong, I am wrong, my dear Amelie ! Yes, I
know that you have been brouglit up almost to worship
this man. You do not understand that he can be re-
sisted, and whoever opposes him is in your eyes a rebel."

" Charles, you said that there were three things which
we could do. What is the second one ? "

" Pretend to accept the marriage which is proposed to
you, but gain time by delaying it under all sorts of pre-
texts. The man is not immortal."

" No, but he is very young for us to count upon his
death. What is the third thing, my friend 1"

" Fly 1 But to this extreme measure, Am61ie, there
are two obstacles. Your dislike to it is the first."

" I am yours, Charles. I can overcome this dislike."

" And then," added the young man, " my engagements."

" Your engagements 1 "

"My companions and I are bound together, Amelia


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We also have a man to whom we have sworn obedience.
This man is the future king of France. If you admit
your brother's devotion to Bonaparte, admit ours to
Louis XVIII."

Am61ie let her head fall into her hands with a sigh.
" Then," she said, " we are lost."

" How so ? Under different pretexts, — above all that
of your health, — you can gain a year. Before a year he
will probably be obliged to begin another war with Italy.
A single defeat would take away his reputation. In short,
many things may come to pass."

" Then you did not read Roland's postscript, Charles 1 "

" Oh, yes ; but I don't see anything more in it than in
your mother's letter."

" Eead the last sentence again ; " and Am^lie put the
letter into the young man's hands.

He read : —

" I am leaving Paris for a few days ; but if you do not
see me, you will hear from me."


" Do you know what that means 1 "

" No."

" It means that Eoland is in pursuit of you."

" What does that matter, since he cannot be killed by
any of us 1 "

" But you, unfortunate one, you may be killed by
him ! "

'* Do you think I should blame him much if he killed
me, Ameliel"

" Oh, I did not dream of this in my darkest moments ! "

" Then you think that your brother is in pursuit cf

" I am sure of it."


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*' What makes you so sure 1 '*

" When Sir John was dying, and Koland believed him
already dead, he swore an oath over his body to aveuge

" If he had only been dead, instead of dying," said the
young man, bitterly, " we should not be where we are now,

*' God saved him, Charles ; it was therefore good that
he should not die."

"Good for usl"

" I cannot judge our Lord's designs. I tell you, my
beloved Charles, to beware of Roland ! He is not far

Charles smiled incredulously.

'* I tell you that he is not only near us, — he is here.
He has been seen."

" He has been seen 1 Where, and by whom 1 "

" Who has seen him 1 "


" Charlotte, my maid, a daughter of the prison turnkey.
She asked permission to go and visit her parents yesterday.
I wanted to see you, and I gave her leave until this


" She passed the night with her parents. At eleven o'clock
the captain of police brought in some prisoners. Their
names were being entered on the books. A man came in
wrapped in a cloak, and asked for the captain. Charlotte
thought she recognized his voice. She looked at him
intently, and once when the cloak slipped away from his
face, she recognized my brother."

The young man made a sudden movement.

" Do you understand, Charles ] My brother has come
here to Bourg. He has come mysteriously, without even


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warning me of his presence ; he nas asked for the captain
of police, has followed him into the prison,has spoken
to him alone, and has disappeared. Is that not a terrible
menace for my love 1 '*

And in truth, in proportion as Am^lie went on, her
lover's brow grew dark and gloomy. "Am61ie," he said,
" when we became what we are, none of us disguised from
ourselves the perils which we ran."

*' But at least,'' said Am^lie, " you have changed your
refuge. You have abandoned the monastery of Seillon ] "

** Our dead are its only inhabitants now."

** Is the cave of Ceyzeriat a safe refuge ] "

" As safe as any refuge can be which has two outlets."

** The monastery of Seillon had two outlets, and yet, as
you said, you have left your dead there."

" The dead are safer than the living. They are certain
not to die upon the scaffold."

Amelie felt a shudder pass through her whole being.
" Charles ! " she murmured.

" Listen," said the young man. " God is my witness,
and so are you, that I have always in our interviews put
my smile and my gayety between your forebodings and
my fears. To-day the aspect of things is changed. We
are about to have a struggle. Whatever it may be, we are
approaching the end. I do not ask of you, my Ara^lie,
those foolish and selfish vows which lovers who are threat-
ened with great danger often exact. I do not ask you to
keep your love for the dead, your heart for a corpse."

" Love ! " said the young girl, putting her hand upon
his arm, ** take care ! you are doubting me I "

" No ; the merit on your part will be still greater if I
leave you free to accomplish the sacrifice in its whole ex-
tent ; but I will not bind you with an oath, or constrain
you with a tie."


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" It is well," said Am^lie.

"What I do ask of you," continued the young man,
** what you must swear to me upon our love, — such a
fatal one for you, — is, that if I am arrested, if I am dis-
armed, imprisoned, and condemned to death, in some way
you will send weapons not only for me hut for my com-
panions alsoy 80 that we may still he masters of our own

" But in that case, Charles, would you not permit me to
tell all, to appeal to my hrother's tenderness and the gen-
erosity of the First Consul 1 "

The young girl did not finish, for her lover seized her
violently hy the arm. " Am^lie,'* he said, ** I exact from
you, not one oath, hut two. You must swear first, and
hefore all, that you will not ask for mercy for me. Swear
it, Am^lie ! Swear it ! "

"Do I need to swear it, my love?" asked the young
girl, sohhing. ** I promise it."

" Do you promise it upon the moment when I told you
that I loved you, upon that in which you replied that I
was heloved ? ''

" On your love and mine, on the past and the future,
on our smiles and our tears ! "

'* I should die just the same, you see, Amelie, even
though I were to break my head against the wall ; but I
should die dishonored."

" I promise, Charles." .

*< There remains my second request, Amelie. If we are
taken and condemned, send weapons or poison, — some
means of dying, no matter what. If it comes from you,
death will still be a happiness to me."

" Near or far, free or a prisoner, living or dead, yon are
my master and I am your slave. Command, and I obey."

** That is all, Amdlie. You see it is simple and clear."


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*' Simple and clear, but terrible."

" And it will be as I wish, will it not 1 '•

" You desire it 1 "

*' I entreat it.'*

*' Order or prayer, my dear Charles, your will shall be

The young man supported her with his left arm, for she
was almost fainting, and put his lips to hers.

But just as their lips were about to touch, the cry of a
screech-owl was heard so near the window that Am^lie
trembled and Charles raised his head. The cry was heard
a second time, and then a third.

** Ah," murmured Ani^lie, "do you recognize the cry of
that bird of evil augury 1 We are doomed, my love."

But Charles shook his head. ^' That is not an owl's
cry, Amelie," he said; **it is a signal from one of my
companions. Put out the light."

Am^lie blew out the light while her lover opened the

" Ah ! " she murmured, " they have come to look for
you even here."

" Oh, it is our friend and confidant, the Comte de Jayat.
No one else knows where I am." Then from the balcony
he asked : ** Is it you, Montbar 1 "

** Yes ; is it you, Morgan 1 ^

" Yes."

A man emerged from beneath the trees. ** There is
news from Paris. Not a moment to lose ; it is a question
of all our lives."

'* Do you hear, Am^lie 1 " He took the young girl in
his arms and pressed her convulsively to his heart.

" Go," she said faintly. " Do you not hear that it
concerns the lives of all of y6u % "

** Adieu, my beloved Amelie ; adieu 1 "


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*' Oh, do not say adieu ! "

*' No, no ! au revoir*^

" Morgan ! Morgan ! " said the voice of the naan who
was waiting below the balcony.

The young man put his lips once more to Am^lie's, and
hastening out of the window, threw his leg over tlie bal-
cony, and with a single bound reached the ground.

Amelie uttered a cry and went forward to the railing ;
but she only saw two shadows who faded away in the
darkness, which was made still thicker by the neighbor-
hood of the great trees which formed the park.


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The two young men plunged beneath the shadow of the
great trees. Morgan guided his companion, who was less
familiar than himself with the windings of the park, and
conducted him to the place where he was in the habit of
scaling the wall. It took only a moment for each of
them to accomplish this feat. An instant afterwards they
were standing on the border of the Reyssouse. A boat
was waiting beneath a willow-tree. They leaped into it,
and were almost immediately at the other bank. A little
path went along the bank of the river, and led to the
wood which extends from Ceyzeriat to Etrez, about three
leagues in all.

When they had arrived at the border of the wood they
stopped. Until then they had walked as rapidly as pos-
sible without running, and neither of them had pro-
nounced a word. The road had seemed deserted. It was
almost certain that no one had seen them. They could
therefore take breath.

" Where are the others 1 " asked Morgan.

'* In the cave," replied Montbar.

" And why did you not go there immediately 1 "

" Because at the left of this beech-tree we shall find one
of our men, who will tell us whether we can go farther
without danger."

"Which oner*



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A shadow appeared from behind the tree and drew
nearer* " Here I am," it said.

"Ah, is it you?" said both young men.

" What news?" asked Montbar.

" Nothing. They are waiting for you in order to make
a decision."

" In that case, let us go quickly.*'

The three young men resumed their way. At the end of
three hundred paces Montbar stopped again. *' Armand,"
he said in a low tone.

At this call they heard a rustling of dry leaves, and a
fourth shadow came out from behind an oak ami approached
the three companions.

*' Anything new 1 '' asked Montbar.

" Yes, indeed ! a messenger from Cadoudal."

" The one who came before ] "

" Yes.''

** Where is he?"

" With the brothers in the cave,"

" Come on."

Montbar led the way. The path was so narrow that
tlie four young men could not walk except in single file.
The path led up to the cave by a winding ascent for about
five hundred feet. When they reached a clearing, Montbar
stopped and uttered three times the same cry of the screech-
owl which had indicated his presence to Morgan. A single
hoot of the owl replied to him. Then from the midst of
the branches of an oak a man leaped to the ground. It '
was the sentinel who was watching over the entrance to the
cave. This entrance was ten feet away from the oak. By
reason of the thickets which surrounded it, it could not be
seen until one was almost upon it.

The sentinel exchanged a few words with Montbar, who
seemed by fulfilling the duties of the chief to wish to

VOL. II — 10


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leave Morgan free to indulge in his own thoughts ; and
then, as his duty was not finished, he mounted again into
the branches of the oak, and a moment later could not
be distinguished from the body of the tree ; so that those
from whose sight he had just disappeared sought vainly
for him in his airy retreat.

The path became still narrower as they approached the
entrance to the cave. Montbar went first, and from the
place where he knew that they were hidden drew out a
flint and steel, some tinder, some matches, and a torch.
The flame leaped forth, the tinder caught fire, the match
showed its bluish, uncertain light, and was followed by
the flaming and resinous glare of the torch.

Three or four paths could be seen, one of which Montbar
took without hesitating. This path turned upon itself as
it entered the earth, and it seemed as if the young men
Wjere retracing under tlie ground their own footsteps, and
were going in the opposite direction to the road which
they had taken in coming. It was evident that they were
following the windings of the old stone quarry, perhaps
the same from which were hewn nineteen hundred years be-
fore the three Eoman towns which to-day are only villages,
and the camp of Caesar which surmounts them. From
place to place the subterranean path which they were fol-
lowing was cut across by a large ditch, which they could
cross only by the aid of a plank, which could be sent to
the bottom of the abyss by a single kick. From place to
place there were projections, behind which the men could
intrench themselves and fire without exposing any part of
their bodies to the enemy.

Finally, about a hundred feet from the entrance, a bar-
ricade as high as a man offered a last obstacle to those who
had succeeded in reaching a sort of rotunda, where were
lying or sitting about a dozen men, some busy reading,


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some playing. Neither the readers nor the gamesters dis-
turbed themselves at the sound of the steps of the new
arrivals, or at sight of the light which played upon the
surface of the stones, for they were sure that only friends
could penetrate to them, guarded as they were.

The appearance of this encampment was highly pict-
uresque. The wax candles which burned in profusion, —
for these companions of Jehu were too aristocratic to use.
any other light, — reflected upon trophies of arms of all
kinds, among which double-barrelled guns and pistols
held the first rank. Fencing foils and masks were hung in
the intervals. . A few instruments of music were placed here
and there, and one or two mirrors in their gilded frames
indicated that the toilet was not one of the least appre-
ciated of the pastimes of the strange inhabitants of this
subterranean dwelling. They all seemed as composed as
if the news which had snatched Morgan from Amelie's
arms had been unknown to them, or regarded as of little

When at the approach of the little group from outside
the words, " The captain, the captain," were heard, they
all rose, not with the servility of soldiers who see their
general approaching, but with the aflectionate deference
of intelligent and strong men to one stronger and more
intelligent than they. Morgan shook his head and lifted
his face, and passing before Montbar penetrated to the
centre of the circle that had formed at sight of him.

**Well, my friends,*' he said, ''it seems there is some

** Yes, Captain," said a voice ; *' they say that the First
Consul's police are doing us the honor of occupying them-
selves about us."

" Where is the messenger 1 " asked Morgan.

" Here T am,*' said a young man dressed in the uniform of
a cabinet courier, and all covered still with dust and mud.


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** Have you any dispatches ? "

" Written, no. Verbal, yes.'*

" Whence do they come ] "

" From the minister's own cabinet."

" Then they can be depended upon ? "

" I will answer for them. They are entirely official."

** It is a good thing to have friends everywhere," said
Montbar, in a sort of parenthesis.

" And particularly near M. Fouch^," replied Morgan.
" Let us hear the news."

" Shall I say it aloud or to you alone ] "

" As I suppose it interests us all, say it aloud."

" Well, the First Consul summoned citizen Fouch^ to
the palace of the Luxembourg, and hauled him over the
coals on our account."

"Good! What then?"

"Citizen Fouche replied that we were very adroit
knaves ; very difficult to find, and still more difficult to
take when found. In short, he praised us to the skies."

" That was very good of him. And then ? "

" Then the First Consul replied that that did not con-
cern him ; that we were brigands, and that it was we who
by our robberies were sustaining the war in la Vendue ;
that as soon as we stopped sending money into Brittany
there would be no more fighting from the Chouans."

" That is admirable reasoning."

" And that it was in the east and south that they must
strike the west."

" Like England and India."

" And that consequently he would give carte-blanche to
citizen Fouch^ ; and that even if it cost a million in money,
and killed five hundred men, he must have our heads."

"Well, he knows what he wants ; it remains to see if
we shall let him take them."


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"Then citizen Fouch^ was furious, and declared that
before a week had gone by there would not be a single
companion of Jehu left in France."

" The delay is short.'*

" On the same day couriers were sent out from Lyons,
Macon, Lons-le-Saulnier, Besan9on, and Geneva, with
orders for the chiefs of the garrisons to do, personally,
everything that they could to accomplish our destruction,
but for all to obey unquestioningly Roland de Montrevel,
aide-de-camp of the First Consul, and to put at his dis-
posal, for use as may seem good to him, all the troops that
he may need."

"And I can add to this," said Morgan, "that Roland
de Montrevel is already at work. Yesterday, at the prison
at Bourg, he had a conference with the captain of police."

** Do you know to what end ? " asked a voice.

" Why," said another, " to secure lodgings for us."

" Aud now, will you still offer him your safe-guard 1 *'
asked D'Assaa.

" More than ever."

" Oh, that is too much ! '* murmured a voice.

" Why 1 " asked Morgan, impatiently. " Is it not my
right, if only as a companion % "

** Certainly," said two other voices.

" Very well ; I make use of it both as a companion and
as your captain."

" But suppose, in the midst of the fight, a bullet should
happen to strike him 1 " said a voice.

" Then, my friends, I do not claim it as a right, or
give it as an order, but I ask it as a prayer. Promise me
on your honor that the life of Roland de Montrevel shall
be sacred in your eyes ! "

With one voice all who were there replied, as they ex-
tended their hands : " Upon honor, we swear it ! "


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" And now," continued Morgan, " we must look at our
position from its true point of view without any illusions.
If the day really comes when an intelligent police sets out
to pursue us, and really makes war upon us, it will be
impossible for us to resist. We can use the cunning of
foxes ; we can turn like the wild boar ; but our resistance
will be simply a matter of time. That is my opinion, at
least." .

Morgan questioned his companions with his eyes, and
found that they agreed with him ; but it was with a smile
upon their lips that they recognized that their fall was
assured. Thus it was at this strange period. Men received
death without fear, and gave it without emotion.

" And now," asked Montbar, " have you nothing to

" Yes," said Morgan, " I have to add that nothing is
easier than for us to get horses, or even to go away on
foot. We are all hunters and more or less mountaineers.
On horseback it will take us six hours to get out of France.
On foot we should need twelve. Once in Switzerland, we
can make a jest of citizen Fouch^ and his police. That
is what I have to add."

" It would be very amusing to make a jest of citizen
Fouch^," said Adler, "but very tiresome to leave France."

"Therefore I will not put this extreme measure to vote
until after we have heard the messenger from Cadoudal."

" Ah, that is true," said two or three voices. " The
Breton, where is the Breton 1 "

" He was sleeping when I went out," said Montbar.

"And he is sleeping still," said Adler, pointing to a
man lying upon a bed of straw in a retired part of the

They woke the Breton, who rose to his knees, rubbing
his eyes with one hand and feeling for a rifle with the


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^*You are with friends," said a voice; "do not be

" Afraid ! *' said the Breton ; " who thinks I am afraid 1 "

" Some one who probably does not know what fear is,
my dear Branche-d'Or," said Montbar (for he recognized
Cadoudal's messenger as the one who had already been
there, and who had been sent into the monastery on the
night when he himself had arrived from Avignoij), " and
in his name I ask your pardon."

Branche-d*Or looked at the group of young men in
whose presence he found himself with an air which left
no doubt of the repugnance with which he accepted a cer-
tain kind of joke. But as this group had nothing oifen-
sive about it, and it was evident that its gayety was not
mockery, he asked pleasantly enough, —

" Which of you gentlemen is the chief ] I have a letter
for him from my general."

]klorgan stepped forward. ** It is I," he said.

*« Your name r*

" I have two."

"Your nom-de-guerre ? "

" Morgan."

•' Yes, that is what the general said. Besides, I recog-
nized you. It was you who on the evening I was received
by the monks gave me a bag of sixty thousand francs.
Well, then, I have a letter for you."

" Give it to me."

The peasant took his hat, tore out the lining, and from
between the lining and the felt took out a piece of paper,
which at first sight seemed to be blank. Then, with a
military salute, he presented the paper to Morgan.

The latter turned it round and round, and seeing that
no writing was visible upon it, said : " A candle."

They brought the candle, and Morgan held the paper


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near the flame. Little by little it became covered with
characters, the writing appearing beneath the warmth.
This proceeding seemed to be familiar to the young men ;
the Breton alone watched it with surprise. To his inno-
cent mind there must have seemed to be a certain magic
in it. But if the devil would only serve the royalist
cause, the Chouan was not reluctant to have dealings
with him.

"Gentlemen," said Morgan, "would you like to hear
what the master says to us ? *'

They all bowed their heads and listened. The young
man read :

My dear Morgan, — If any one tells you that I have aban-
doned the cause and treated with the government of the First
Consul, like the Vend6ean chiefs, do not believe a word of it.
I am a Breton of the Bretons, and consequently as obstinate
as any one of them. The First Consul has sent one of his
aides-de-camp to offer me a free pardon for my men, and the
rank of colonel for myself. I did not even consult my men :
I refused for them and for me.

Now, all depends on you. As we receive from princes
neither money nor encouragement, you are our only treasurer.
Shut your money-boxes, or rather cease to open for us those
of the government, and the royalist opposition, whose heart
beats only in Brittany, will grow fainter and fainter, and die
away altogether. I do not need to tell you that when it is
dead, mine also will have ceased to beat.

Our mission is dangerous. Probably we shall lose our heads
by it ; but do you not think it will be beautiful to hear men say
of us, — if one can hear anything beyond the tomb, — "Every-
one else despaired, but they did not despair*' 1 One of us two
will survive the other, but only to yield in his turn. Let the
latter say in dying, " Etiarasi omnes, ego non."

Count upon me, as I count upon you.

Georges Cadoudal.

P. S. — You know that you can send by Branche-d*Or any


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Online LibraryAlexandre DumasThe companions of Jehu → online text (page 10 of 24)