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money that you may have on hand for the cause. He has
promised me not to allow it to be taken away from him, and
I can trust his word.

A murmur of enthusiasm rose among the young men
when Morgan had finished the last words of this letter.

" You have heard, gentlemen ] '* he said.

** Yes, yes, yes 1 *' replied every voice.

" In the first place, what sum have we on hand to give
to Branche-d'Orr*

"Thirteen thousand francs from Lake Silans, twenty-
two thousand from the Carronnieres, fourteen thousand
from Meximieux, — total, forty-nine thousand," said

'* You hear, my dear Branche-d'Or 1 " said Morgan. " It
is not much, and we are half as poor again as we were
last time. But we can only give you what we have."

** The general knows what you risk in getting this
money, and he said that whatever little you could send
to him he would receive it gratefully."

" All the more so, that the next instalment will be a
better one,'' said the voice of a young man who had
mingled with the group without being noticed, their at-
tention being entirely concentrated upon Cadoudal's letter
and the one who was reading it ; " particularly if we only
say two words to the mail-coach from Chambery next

" Ah, is it you, ValensoUe 1 '' said Morgan.

" No proper names, if you please. Baron. Let us be
shot, guillotined, broken on the wheel, or torn asunder if
you like, but let us save the honor of our family. I am
called Adler, and I reply to no other name."

" I beg your pardon, I was wrong. You were saying — "

" That the mail-coach from Paris to Chambery will pass
next Saturday between the Chapelle-de-Guinchay and


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Belleville, carrying fifty thousand francs from the govern-
ment to the monks of Saint Bernard ; to which I will add
that there is between these two places a spot named the
Maison Blanche, which seems to me admirably arranged
for the ambuscade."

" What do you say, gentlemen ]*' asked Morgan. " Shall
we do citizen Fouch^ the honor to be afraid of his police ]
Shall we.gol Shall we leave France, or shall we remain
faithful companions of Jehu ? **

There Was only one cry : " We will remain ! "

"Very well," said Morgan; "there spoke my brave
brothers. Cadoudal has traced out our path for us in the
admirable letter which we have just received from him.
Let us then adopt his heroic motto, — * Etiamsi omnes,
ego non.'" Then, addressing the Breton peasant, he
added : " Branche-d'Or, the forty-nine thousand francs
are at your disposal. You may go as soon as you like.
Promise in our name something better next time, and tell
the general from me that wlierever he goes, be it even to
the scaffold, I shall do myself the honor either to follow
or precede him. Farewell, Branche-d'Or." Then, turning
towards the young man who had seemed so desirous of
having his incognito respected, he said, like one who had
recovered the gayety which had been for a moment ab-
sent : " My dear Adler, may I ask you to eat something
and go to bed, providing you will condescend to accept
me for your host 1 "

" Gratefully, friend Morgan," replied the new arrival ;
" only I warn you that I am dying of fatigue and perish-
ing of hunger."

" You shall have a good bed and an excellent supper."

" What shall I do to get it? "

" Follow me."

" I am ready."


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"Then come. Good-night, gentlemen. Is it your
watch, Montbar*?"

" Yes."

" Then we can sleep tranquilly.'^

Thereupon Morgan took his friend's arm, and holding
in the other hand a torch, disappeared in the depths of
the cave, whither we will follow him.

It was the first time that Valensolle, who had corae
from the neighborhood of Aix, had had occasion to visit
the cave of Ceyzeriat, which had been recently adopted
by the companions of Jehu as a place of refuge. On the
preceding visits he had only had occasion to explore the
windings of the monastery of Seillon, with which he had
finally become so well acquainted that in the comedy
played before Roland they had confided to him the part
of the ghost. All was then interesting and strange to
him in the new domicile which he was to explore for
the first time, and which appeared to be, for a few days
at least, Morgan's headquarters.

As in all abandoned quarries, which resemble at first
sight a subterranean city, the different roads cut for the
extraction of the stone all ended in a cul-de-sac. One
only of these roads seemed to be prolonged indefinitely.
However, there came a point at last where it seemed to
have been finished ; but towards the angle at the end of
the road an opening two thirds as large as the gallery to
which it led had been hollowed out, for some reason which
always remained a mystery to the country people. The two
friends went out through this opening. The air was so
rare that their torch at each step was nearly extinguished.

Valensolle felt drops of icy water falling upon his
shoulders and hands. ** Here ! " he said, " is it raining] "

" No,'* replied Morgan, laughing. " but we are passing
under the Reyssouse."


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" Then we are going to Bourg 1 '*

" Very nearly."

" Very well, the responsihility is yours. You promised
me a supper and a bed. I have nothing to worry about
except that our torch may be extinguished/' added thd
young man, following with his eyes the waning light of
the flame.

''And that would not do much harm, for we could still
find ourselves."

" Well/' said Valensolle, " when one stops to think that
it is for princes who do not even know our names, and
who if they should hear them would forget them the next
day, that at three o'clock in the morning we are walking
in a cave under a river, and going to bed I do not know
where, with a prospect of being taken, tried, and guil-
lotined some fine morning, do you not think it looks
stupid, Morgan?"

" My dear friend," replied Morgan, *' what appears to
be stupid, and what would be thought so in many cases,
may possibly be sublime."

" Oh," said Valensolle, " I see that you are even further
gone than I am. I bring only devotion to the cause,
while you bring enthusiasm."

Morgan uttered a sigh. "Here you are," he said,
allowing the conversation to drop, like a burden which was
too heavy for him to carry any longer.

In fact, they had just touched with their feet the first
steps of the staircase. Morgan, holding the torch, and
preceding Valensolle, went up a few steps and came to a
gate. By means of a key which he drew from his pocket
the gate was opened. They were in a burial vault On
two sides of this vault two coffins were placed upon iron
tripods. Ducal crowns and the azure escutcheon with a
silver cross indicated that these coffins must contain mem-


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bers of the family of Savoy, who had died before that
family wore the royal crown. A staircase was visible in
the depths of the vault, leading to an upper floor.

ValensoUe threw a curious look around him, and by
the flickering light of the torch recognized the gloomy
locality in which he found himself. " The devil ! " he
said. ''It seems to me we are taking an opposite course
from the Spartans.'*

'' Because they were republicans and we are royalists 1 "
asked Morgan.

" No ; because they introduced a skeleton at the end
of their repast, wliile it comes at the beginning of ours."

" Are you very sure that it was the Spartans who em-
ployed that piece of philosophy 1 " asked Morgan, shutting
the door.

" Them or others, it does not matter," said ValensoUe.

" Well, another time say Egyptians."

" Very well,*' said ValensoUe, with a carelessness which
did not lack a sort of melancholy. " I shall probably be
a skeleton myself before I have occasion to show my learn-
ing again. But what are you doing, and why are you
putting out the torch 1 I hope you are not going to make
me eat supper and go to bed here."

In fact, Morgan had just extinguished the torch upon
the first step of the staircase, which led to an upper floor.
" Give me your hand," replied the young man.

ValensoUe seized his friend's hand with an eagerness
which betrayed a moderate desire not to make a long stay
in the midst of the shadows of the vault of the dukes of
Savoy, however honored he might have felt at having met
them when they were still living, Morgan mounted the
steps. Then the muscles of his hand stiffened as with an
efibrt. In fact, the stone of the pavement was being
raised, and through the opening a twilight glimmer trem-


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bled before Valensolle's eyes, while an aromatic odor,
filling the mephitic atmosphere of the vault, rejoiced his

" Ah," he said, " upon my word, we are in a barn ! I
like that better."

Morgan did not reply. He helped his companion to
leave the vault, and allowed the stone to fall back again.

ValensoUe looked around him. He was in the centre of
a vast building filled with hay, into which the light
penetrated through windows which were so admirably
modelled that they could not be those of a barn. " Then,"
said ValensoUe, " we are not in a bam 1 "

" Climb up on this hay, and go and sit down near that
window," replied Morgan.

ValensoUe obeyed ; and climbing upon the hay like a
schoolboy, he went, as Morgan had told him, and sat
down near the window. A moment later Morgan had put
between his friend's knees a napkin, a pie, some bread, a
bottle of wine, two glasses, and two knives and forks.

** Upon my word ! " said ValensoUe, " Lucullus sups
with Lucullus." Then looking through the window-panes
upon a building pierced with a quantity of windows,
which seemed to be a part of the one where the two
frionds were, and before which an officer was walking, he
said : ** I shall certainly not enjoy my supper unless I
know where we are. What is that building, and why
does that officer walk up and down before the door ] "

*' Well," said Morgan, " since you are absolutely deter-
mined, I will tell you. We are in the church of Brou,
which a decree of the council has converted into a store-
house for forage. That building near us is the barracks
of the armed police, and that officer is a sentinel charged
with seeing that nobody disturbs us during our supper,
and that no one surprises us while we sleep."


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" Nice officer ! '* said ValensoUe, filling his glass ; " to
his health, Morgan ! "

"And to ours," said the young man, laughing. "Not
even the devil will have an idea of looking for us here."

Scarcely had Morgan emptied his glass, when, as if the
devil had accepted the defiance which had been offered
him, they heard the harsh voice of the sentinel crying.
" Who goes there 1 "

" Ah ! " said the two young men, " what does that
mean 1 "

In fact, a troop of thirty men had just come from tlie
direction of Pont-d*Ain, and after having exchanged the
password with the sentinel had separated, the greater part
of them, led by two men who seemed to be officers, enter-
ing the barracks, and the rest continuing along the road.

" Attention ! " said Morgan ; and both of them on
their knees, listening intently, with their eyes fastened
upon the window-pane, watched and waited.

Let us explain to the reader the cause of the interrup-
tion of a meal which, at three o'clock in the morning,
should have been a perfectly peaceful one.


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The turnkey's daughter had not been mistaken ; it was
indeed Roland whom she had seen talking to the captain
of police. Amelie had nothing to fear on her own account ;
he was only seeking fur traces of Morgan. His reason for
staying away from the Chateau of Noires-Fontaines was
not because he suspected that his sister had any particular
interest in the chief of the companions of Jehu, but be-
cause he was afraid of some indiscretion among the ser-
vants. He had recognized Charlotte at her father's house,
but as she had manifested no astonishment he had be-
lieved that she did not recognize him ; and after exchang-
ing a few words with the quartermaster, he had gone to
wait for him on the Place du Bastion, entirely deserted at
that hour. When he had finished his accounts, the cap-
tain had joined him there, and had found Roland walking
up and down, impatiently awaiting him. At the prison
Roland had contented himself with making his personality
known ; now he entered into details. He therefore in-
formed the captain of the object of his journey.

Just as in public assemblies men ask the promise of a
personal favor, and obtain it without dispute, Roland had
asked of the First Consul, also as a personal favor, that
the pursuit of the companions of Jehu might be confided
to him ; and he had obtained the favor without difficulty.
An order from the minister of war put at his disposal the
garrisons, not only of Bourg, but also of the neighboring


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towns. An order from the minister of police commanded
the officers of the police force to uphold him in every pos-
sible way. He had naturally thought first of coming to
the captain of the police of Bourg, whom he had known
for a long time, and whom he knew to be a man of cour-
age and executive ability.

Roland had found what he wanted. The captain of the
police of Bourg was deeply incensed against the compan-
ions of Jehu, who stopped diligences at a quarter of a
league from the city, and yet eluded him completely. He
knew of the reports which had upon the last three occa-
sions been sent to the minister of police, and he under-
stood the ill-humor of the latter. But Roland added the
final straw to his astonishment when he told him what
had taken place in the monastery of Seillon, on the night
he had watched there, and above all what had happened
on the following night to Sir John in the same monastery.
The captain had heard through public report that Mme.
de Montrevel's guest had been poniarded, but as no one
had made any complaint he had felt that he had no right
to pierce the obscurity in which it had seemed to him
Roland chose to allow the whole thing to be wrapped. In
those troubled times the armed force granted indulgences
which they would not have permitted in times of peace.
As for Roland, he had said nothing about it, preferring
to pursue in his, own time and manner the inhabitants of
the monastery, whether ghosts or assassins. Now he had
arrived with every facility for putting his designs into ex-
ecution, and he was resolved not to return to the First
Consul without accomplishing the deed. •

Moreover, this was the kind of an adventure which Ro-
land liked best. Was it not both dangerous and pic-
turesque? Was there not here a chance to play his life
against that of people who, not sparing their own, would

VOL. IT. —11


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probably not spare his 1 Roland was far from attributing
to its true cause the good fortune with which he had es-
caped harm on the night he had passed in the monastery,
and on the day he had fought Cadoudal. How was he to
suppose that a simple cross had been placed against his
name, and that at two hundred leagues* distance this sign
of redemption had protected him at the two extremities
of France?

The first thing to be done was to surround the monastery
of Seillon, and to search its most secret recesses ; and Eo-
land thought himself now perfectly in a position to do this.
But the night was already so far advanced that this expe-
dition could not take place until the following night. In
the mean time Roland concealed himself in the barracks
of the armed force, so that no one in Bourg suspected
either his presence or the cause of it. On the following
night he was to guide the expedition. One of the men,
who was a tailor, made a complete quartermaster's costume
for him ; he would pass as a member of the brigade of
Lons-le-Saulnier ; and thanks to this uniform, he could,
without being recognized, direct the search in the monas-
ter3^ Everything was done as had been arranged. About
one o'clock Roland went to the barracks with the captain,
went up to the latter's room, arranged a camp-bed there,
and slept in it as only a man can do who has passed two
days and nights in a post-chaise.

On the next day Roland whiled away the time by
making, for the quartermaster's instruction, a plan of the
monastery of Seilhm ; by the aid of which, even without
•Roland's help, that worthy officer could have directed the
expedition without once losing his way. As the captain
had only eighteen soldiers under him, and as this was
not enough completely to surround the monastery, or
rather to guard the two entrances and search the interior ;


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and as it would take two or three days to assemble the
rest of the scattered brigade and get the necessary number
of men, — the captain, by Koland's order, went during
the day to inform the colonel of dragoons, whose regiment
was in garrison at Bourg, of what they were about to do,
and to ask for twelve men, which with the captain's eigh*
teen would make a total of thirty.

The colonel not only granted the twelve men, but, learn-
ing that the expedition was to be directed by the brigadier-
general Roland de Montrevel, aide-de-camp of the First
Consul, he declared that he would like to be of the party
also, and that he would lead -his twelve men. Roland ac-
cepted his offer ; and it was agreed that the colonel and
his twelve dragoons should stop for Roland, the captain,
and their eighteen armed policemen, the barracks being
directly on the road to the monastery of Seillon. The
hour of departure was fixed for eleven o'clock.

At eleven o'clock precisely, the colonel and his twelve
men joined the police ; and the two troops, united in one,
started on their march. Roland, in his costume of quarter-
master, revealed his identity to the colonel of dragoons ;
but for the dragoons themselves, as well as for the police,
he was, as had been agreed, a quartermaster of the brigade
of Lons-le-Saulnier. But as it would not have appeared
natural that a stranger to that part of the country should
be familliar with the localities to the extent of acting as
guide, they were told that in his youth Roland had been
a novice at Seillon, and that he was therefore, better than
any one else, capable of acting as guide through the most
mysterious detours of the monastery. The first sentiment
of these brave soldiers had been one of mortification at
being led by an ex-raonk ; but after a while, seeing that the
ex-monk seemed fairly accustomed to his three-cornered
hat, and that his manner was that of a man who while


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wearing the uniform had apparently forgotten that he had
ever worn a monk's robe, they had finally swallowed their
humiliation, reserving their definite opinion until they saw
how the quartermaster handled the musket which he car-
ried on his arm, the pistols which he wore at his belt, and
the sword which hung at his side.

They were provided with torches, and they began their
march in the most profound silence, and in three divis-
ions, — one of eight men, commanded by the captain of
police ; one of ten men, commanded by the colonel ; and
one of twelve, commanded by Roland. When they left
the city, they separated. The captain of police, knowing
the localities better than the colonel of dragoons, agreed
to guard the window of the Correrie which looked out
over the forest of Seillon ; he had eight policemen with
him. The colonel of dragoons was charged by Roland to
guard the great door of the monastery. He had with him
five dragoons and five gendarmes, Roland undertook to
search the interior ; he had with him five gendarmes and
seven dragoons. A half-hour was given to each detach-
ment to reach its post, which was more than was required.
As half-past eleven was sounding from the church of
P6ronnaz, Roland and his men were to scale the orchard

The captain of police followed the road from Pont-d'Ain
to the edge of the forest, and, going along its border,
gained the position which had been assigned to him. Tho
colonel of dragoons took the cross-road which led off from
the Point-d'Ain road, and which went to the great door
of the monastery. Roland went across fields, and thus
reached the wall of the monastery, which he had already
climbed twice under other circumstances.

As half-past eleven struck, Roland gave the signal to
his men, and scaled the orchard wall, followed by soldiers


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and police. When they had reached the other side of the
wall, although they did not know whether Eoland was
brave, they at least knew that he was agile. Roland
showed them in the darkness the door towards which they
were to direct their steps j it waa that which entered the
cloister from the orchard. Then he was the first to push
through the tall grass, to open the door and enter the
cloister. All was dark, silent, solitary. Roland, still at
the head of his men, reached the refectory. Everywhere
solitude and silence. He entered the vaulted passage, and
reached the garden, without having alarmed any living
thing save the owls and bats.

There remained the pit, or cistern, the burial vaults, and
the pavilion, or rather forest-chapel. Roland crossed
the empty space which separated them from the cistern.
When he had reached the lowest step he lighted three
torches ; keeping one, he handed one to a policeman and
another to a dragoon ; then he raised the stone which con-
cealed the stairs. The gendarmes who followed Roland
began to think he was as brave as he was agile. They
passed through the subterranean corridor, and came to the
first gate ; it was shut, but not fastened. They entered
the burial vault. There they found more than solitude
and silence, — they found the dead. The bravest felt a
shiver pass through them. Roland went from tomb to
tomb, striking them with the .butt-end of the pistol which
he held in his hand; all were silent. They crossed
the burial vaults, went through the second gate, and
reached the chapel. The same silence, the same solitude ;
everything was deserted, and to all appearances had been
so for years. Roland went straight to the choir ; he saw
again the blood upon the stones j no one had taken the
trouble to efface it.

The search ended there, and the result was — nothing.


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Roland could not make up his mind to retreat. He
thought that possihly he had not been attacked because
of his numerous escort ; he therefore left ten men and a
torch in the chapel, charging them to communicate through
the ruined window with the captain of police, who was
concealed in the forest a few steps away from the window,
and with two men he retraced his steps. This time, the
two men who followed Kolaud thought him not only
brave but reckless. But Roland, not caring whether he
were accompanied at all, followed his own trail, in default
of that of the bandits. The two men were ashamed not
to come also.

There could be no doubt that the monastery was

When he came to the great door, Roland called to the
colonel of dragoons ; he and his ten men were at their post.
Roland opened the door and joined them. They had
neither seen nor heard anything. They re-entered all
together, shutting and barricading the door beliind them to
cut off the retreat of the bandits, if they should have the
good luck to meet them. Then they went to rejoin their
companions, who had already called the captain of police
and his eight men. They were all waiting in the choir.

They were obliged to decide to retreat ; two o'clock had.
just struck ; they had been searching for nearly three
hours, without the least result. Roland, who was com-
pletely reinstated in the opinion of the police and dragoons,
gave, to his own great regret, the signal for retreat, by open-
ing the chapel door, which looked out upon the forest. This
time, as they no longer hoped to find any one, Roland con-
tented himself with merely shutting it behind him. Then,
at a quickened pace, the little troop took the road to
Bourg. The captain of police, his eighteen men, and
Roland entered the barracks, after making themselves


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known to the sentinel. The colonel of dragoons and his

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Online LibraryAlexandre DumasThe companions of Jehu → online text (page 11 of 24)