Alexandre Dumas.

The companions of Jehu online

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" you told them that 1 "

** Well, my dear sir — "

"Come, gentlemen, the carriage is ready."

" But before we go, we want to know — "

** What, if I have government money 1 Well, I have.
Now, if we are stopped, don't breathe a word of it, and
we shall get along all right."

" Are you sure 1 "

" Let me arrange matters with the gentlemen."

** What will you do if they stop us 1 " asked the doctor
of the architect


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** Oh, I shall follow the conductor's advice."

" That is what you had better do,** replied the latter.

** Then I shall keep quiet," said the architect.

" And I also," said the watchmaker.

" Come, gentlemen, carriage is ready ; hurry up ! "

The child had listened to this conversation with frown-
ing brows and clinched teeth. ** Well," he said to his
mother, " I know what I shall do if we are stopped."

** And what will you do ] " asked she.

"You will see."

" What does the boy sayl " asked the watchmaker.

"I say that you are all cowards," replied the child,
without hesitating.

" Why, Edward ! " said his mother, " what is that ] "

** I wish they would stop the diligence, for my part,"
said the child, with flashing eyes.

*' Come, come, gentlemen, in the name of Heaven get
into the carriage ! " cried the conductor for the last time.

" Conductor," said the doctor, " I suppose you have
no weapons 1 "

" Yes, indeed ; I have pistols."

" Unfortunate ! "

The conductor bent down and said in a low tone,
" Don't worry, doctor, they are only loaded with powder."

" Very well." And the doctor shut the door of the in-
side compartment.

" Come, postilion, go on." And while the postilion
cracked his whip and the heavy vehicle rolled away, the
conductor shut the door of the coupe.

** Are you not going to get up with us, Conductor 1 "
asked the mother.

"Thanks, Madame de Montrevel," replied the con-
ductor, " I have a little business on the roof." Then as
he passed along he said : " Take care that Master Edward


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does not touch the pistols which are in the back, for he
might wound himself."

" There ! " said the boy, ** as if one did not know
what pistols were ! I have some that are much more
beautiful than yours, that my friend Sir John sent for
from England. Have I not. Mother 1"

" No matter," said Mme. de Montrevel. " I beg of
you, Edward, to touch nothing."

" Oh, don't worry, dear mamma." But he said to him-
self : " Just the same, if the companions of Jehu stop us,
I know what I shall do."

The diligence had resumed its heavy journey, and was
rolling towards Paris. It was one of those beautiful
winter days which show men who believe Nature to be
dead that Nature does not die; she only sleeps. The
man who lives seventy or eighty years has nights of ten
or twelve hours, and complains that their length shoi-tens
the brevity of his days. Nature, which has an infinite
existence, and trees which live one thousand years, sleeps
for five months, which are our winters, but which are their
nights. Poets sing the immortality of Nature, saying that
she dies each autumn and comes to life again each spring.
Poets are mistaken ; Nature does not die each autumn,
— she falls asleep ; Nature does not come to life again each
spring, — she awakes. When our Earth really dies, it will
be dead indeed ; and then it will roll into space or fall into
chaos, motionless, mute, silent, without trees, without
flowers, without verdure, and without poets.

Now, on this beautiful day, the 23d of February, 1800,
sleeping Nature seemed to dream of spring. A brilliant,
almost joyous sun made the grass on the double ditch
which bordered the road sparkle with those mock pearls
of hoar-frost which fall through the fingers of children
and rejoice the heart of the farmer when they tremble on


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the points of his freshly springing wheat. The passen-
gers opened the windows of the diligence to give entrance
to this precocious smile of spring, and welcomed the sun's
warm rays.

Suddenly, after having left Chfitillon an hour's ride be-
hind them, just as they came to a bend in the river, the
carriage stopped without any apparent reason. Four
horsemen were quietly advancing, and one of them, who
was two or three steps in front of the others, had made a
signal for the postilion to stop. The postilion had obeyed.

'* Oh, Mamma I " said little Edward, standing up in spite
of Mme. de Montrevel's entreaties, and looking through
the opening of the lower window, — " oh. Mamma ! what
beautiful horses! But why have the horsemen got on
masks 1 We are not at the carnival."

Mme. de Montrevel was lost in dreamy thought. A
woman always dreams. When she is young she dreams
of the future ; when she is old she dreams of the past.
She roused herself from her revery, put her head out of
the diligence also, and uttered a cry.

Edward turned around quickly. " What is the matter ] "
he asked.

Mme. de Montrevel, growing pale, took him in her
arms without replying. Cries of terror were heard in the
interior of the diligence.

** But what is it 1 " asked Edward, struggling to rid him-
self of his mother's arms.

" It is only, my little friend," said one of the masked
men in a gentle voice, as he put his head into the coupe,
" that we have a little business with the conductor which
does not at all concern the travellers. Tell your mother,
therefore, to accept our respectful homage, and to pay no
more attention to us than if we were not here.'* Then
going on to the other compartment he said : " Gentlemen,

VOL. II. — 2


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your servant. Fear nothing for your purses or your jew-
els, and assure the nurse that we have not come to do her
any harm.'' Then he said to the conductor : " Come
there, Jerome, we have one hundred thousand francs under
the roof and in the boxes, have we not 1 '*

" Gentlemen, I assure you — "

" It is government money ; it belongs to the treasury of
the bears of Berne. Seventy thousand francs are in gold,
and the rest in silver ; the silver is on the carriage, and
the gold in the box of the coupe. Is that a fact, and are
we well informed 1"

At the words "in the box of the coupe" Mme. de
Montrevel uttered a cry of terror. She was about to be
brought into immediate contact with these men who, in
spite of their politeness, inspired her with profound

"But what is the matter with youl What is the
matter 1 " asked the child, impatiently.

"Be stiU, Edward, be efcill !"

"Why shall I be still]''

" Do you not understand 1 "

« No."

" The diligence has been stopped."

" Why 1 Tell me why ! Oh, Mamma ! I understand

"No, no!" said Mme. de Montrevel, "you do not

" These gentlemen are thieves."

" Beware how you say that ! "

"What, are they not thieves? They are taking the
conductor's silver."

In fact, one of them was loading upon his horse's saddle
the bags of silver which the conductor was throwing to
him from the roof of the carriage.


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'* No/' said Mme. de Montrevel, " these are not thieves.*'
Then lowering her voice, she said : ** They are the com-
panions of Jehu."

** Oh/' said the child, " then they are the ones who assas-
sinated my friend Sir John." And the child grew pale in his
turn, while his breath came fast between his shut teeth.

Just then one of the masked men opened the door of
the coup4 and with the most exquisite politeness said : —

" Madame, to our great regret we are forced to disturb
you ; but we, or rather the conductor, has a little business
with the box of his coup^. Be good enough, therefore, to
step down upon the ground for a moment. Jerome will
do the thing as quickly as possible." Then with an ac-
cent of gayety which was never completely absent from
his laughing voice he said, " Will you not, Jerome ] *'

Jerome, from the top of the diligence, confirmed the
words of the masked man.

By an instinctive movement, in order to put herself
between her son and danger, if danger there was, Mme.
de Montrevel, while she obeyed the invitation, made
Edward go behind her. This moment was enough to
enable the child to seize the conductor's pistols. The
young man with the laughing voice helped Mme. de Mon-
trevel to descend, made a sign for one of his companions
to offer her his arm, and turned towards the carriage. But
just at that moment a double report was heard. Edward
had just fired both pistols at the companions of Jehu,
who disappeared in a cloud of smoke.

Mme. de Montrevel uttered a cry of alarm, and fainted
away. Several cries expressive of different sentiments
answered to that of the mother. In the inside of the
diligence there was a cry of anguish. They had agreed
to oppose no resistance, and here was somebody resisting !

With the three other young men it was a cry of sur-


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prise. It was the first time that such a thing had hap-
pened. They sprang towards their comrade, whom they
believed to be killed. They found him sitting up safe
and sound, and laughing heartily, while the conductor,
with clasped hands, cried, —

" Monsieur, I assure you that there were no bullets
there ! Monsieur, I protest that they were loaded with
powder only I "

" Yes,'* said the young man, " I know they were loaded
with powder only : but the good intention was there, was
it not, Edward 1" Then turning towards his companions
he said : " You must confess, gentlemen, that he is a
charming child, — a true son of his father, and brother of
his brother. Bravo 1 Edward, you will be a man some
day." And taking the child in his arms, he kissed him
in spite of himself on both cheeks.

Edward fought like a little demon, no doubt finding it
humiliating to be kissed by a man whom he had just at-
tempted to shoot.

In the mean time one of the three other companions had
carried Edward's mother a few steps away from the dili-
gence and laid her upon a cloak on the border of the
ditch. The one who had just kissed Edward with so
much affection and persistence looked around him for a
moment, and perceiving her said : —

"But in the mean time Mme. de Montrevel has not
come to herself. We cannot leave a lady in this condition,
gentlemen. Conductor, take care of Master Edward."
He put the child down, and addressing one of his compan-
ions said : " Here, you man of precautions, have you not
about you some flask of salts or some bottle of sweet-
scented water?"

"Yes," replied the other. And he drew from his
pocket a flask of smelling-salts.


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** There now/' said the young man who appeared to be
the chief of the baud, ** you may finish with Jerome. I
am going to try to help Mme. de Montrevel."

It was indeed time. Mme. de Montrevel's fainting-fit
was gradually becoming an attack of hysteria. Sharp
movements agitated her body, and dull cries escaped her.
The young man bent over her and made her breathe the

Alme. de Montrevel opened her startled eyes, and while
crying, " Edward ! Edward V' with an involuntary ges-
ture she struck off the mask of the one who was endeav-
oring to help her. The young man's face was uncovered.
It was Morgan.

Mme. de Montrevel remained stupefied at the sight of
the beautiful blue eyes, the high forehead, the graceful
lips, and the white teeth half parted with a smile. She
guessed at once that she ran no danger at the hands of
such a man, and that no harm could have happened to
Edward. Then, treating Morgan not as a bandit who
had been the cause of her fainting-fit, but as a man of the
world who had brought help to her, she said : —

" Oh, sir ! how good you are ! '* And in these words
and in the tone in which they were pronounced, there
was a world of gratitude, not only for herself but for
her son.

With a strange coquetry which was a part of his chiv-
alric character, Morgan, instead of taking his mask up
quickly and putting it so rapidly over his face that Mme.
lie Montrevel should keep only a confused remembrance
of it, replied by a complimentary speech. He allowed his
face time enough to produce its effect, and not until after
he had put the flask of D'Assas into Mme. de MontreveFs
hands, did he tie the cords of his mask.

Mme. de Montrevel noticed the young man's del-


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icacy. ** Oh, sir," she said, " do not be uneasy. In
whatever place or whatever situation 1 find j'^ou again,
you are unknown to me."

" Then, Madame," said Morgan, " it is for me to thank
you^ and to tell you in my turn that you are good."

"Come, gentlemen, carriage is ready," said the con-
ductor, with his habitual tone, as if nothing extraordinary
had happened.

" Have you entirely recovered, Madame 1 Do you not
need a few minutes longer 1 " said Morgan ; " the diligence
can wait."

" No, gentlemen, it is useless. I thank you, and I am
perfectly well.''

Morgan oflfered his arm to Mme. de Montrevel, who
leaned upon it while crossing the road and getting into the
diligence. The conductor had already put Edward in.

When Mme, de Montrevel had taken her place, Mor-
gan, who had already made his peace with the motlier,
tried to do as much with the son. " Let us bear no
grudge, my young hero," he said, holding out his hand.

But the child drew back. " I do not give my hand to
a highway robber," he said.

Mme. de Montrevel started in affright.

" You have a charming boy, Madame," said Morgan,
" but he has his prejudices." And bowing with the great-
est courtesy, he added as he shut the door, " Bon voyage^

** Go on," cried the conductor. The carriage was rolling

"Oh, I beg your pardon, sir," cried Mme. de Mon-
trevel, "here is your flask."

" Keep it, Madame," said Morgan, " although I hope
you are sufficiently recovered to have no further need
of it.''


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But the child, drawing it from his mother's hands, ex-
claimed : " Mamma does not receive gifts from a tliief ! "
And he threw the flask out of the door.

*'A\\" murmured Morgan, with the first sigh which his
companions had ever heard him utter, ''I think I did
well not to ask my dear Am^lie in marriage.'* Then he
said to his comrades : " Well, gentlemen, is it done 1 "

" Yes," they replied with a single voice.

" Then to horse and away ! You must not forget that
we are to he at the Opera this evening at nine o'clock."

And leaping into the saddle he was the first to cross
the ditch, gain the border of the river, and without hesi-
tation plunge into the ford indicated upon the map of
Cassani by the pretended courier.

When they reached the other bank, and while the young
men were putting themselves in order, D'Assas asked :
" Tell me ; did your mask not fall off? "

*' Yes ; but Mme. de Moutrevel was the only one to
see my face."

" Hum," said D'Assas, " it would have been better if no
one had seen it."

And all four, putting their horses to a gallop, disap-
peared across the fields towards Chaource.


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When Mrae. de Montrevel arrived at the H6tel des
Ambassadeurs on the next day at about eleven o'clock in
the morning, she was astonished to find a stranger await-
ing her instead of Roland. The stranger approached her.

"You are General de Montrevel's widow, Madame 1"
he asked.

*' Yes, sir," replied Mme. de Montrevel, astonished.

" And you are looking for your son 1 "

" Yes, and I do not understand after the letter that he
wrote me — "

" Man proposes, but the First Consul disposes," replied
the stranger, laughing. " The First Consul has disposed
of your son for a few days, and has sent me to receive
you in his place."

Mme. de Montrevel bowed. " And I have the honor
of speaking — " she asked*

" To citizen Fauvelet de Bourrienne, his first secretary,"
replied the stranger.

"You will thank the First Consul for me," replied
Mme. de Montrevel, "and I hope you will be good
enough to express to him my deep regret at not being able
to thank him myself."

" But nothing will be easier, Madame."

"How so r'

" The First Consul has ordered me to bring you to the


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" You and your sou."

*'0h, I am going to see General Bonaparte! I am
going to see General Bonaparte 1 " cried the child. " What
happiness ! " And he clapped his hands and leaped for joy.

" Well, well, Edward," said Mme. de MontreveL
Then turning towards Bourrienne, she said : " You must
excuse him, sir; he is a little savage from the Jura

Bourrienne held out his hand to the boy. " I am your
brother's friend," he said ; " will you kiss meT'

"Oh, willingly, sir," replied Edward. '*You are not
a thief."

** Well, no, I hope not," replied the secretary, laughing.

" Excuse him once more, sir, but we were stopped upon
the road."

" What ! stopped ] "


"By thieves r'

" Not exactly."

" Sir," a<5ked Edward, "are not those thieves who take
money from other people ] "

" Usually, my dear boy, they are called such."

" There 1 you see, Mamma ! "

" Edward, be quiet, I beg of you."

Bourrienne glanced at Mme. de Montrevel, and clearly
saw from the expression of her face that the subject was
disagreeable to her, and therefore did not continue it.

"Madame," he said, "may I repeat that I received an
order to take you to the Luxembourg, and that Mme.
Bonaparte is expecting you ] "

" Sir, give me only time to change my dress, and to
dress Edward."

" And how long will this take, Madame ] "


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'* Is it too much to ask for a half-hour 1 "

" Oh, no ; if a half-hour is enough, I find that a very
reasonable demand."

" That will be quite sufficient, sir."

" Very well, Madame," said the secretary, bowing, ** I
am going to take a walk, and in half an hour I shall come
to put myself under your orders."

" I thank you, sir."

" Do not blame me if I am punctual."

*' I shall not keep you waiting."

Bourrienne went. Mme. de Montrevel dressed first
Edward and then herself; and when Bourrienne reap-
peared she had been ready for five minutes.

" Take care, Madame," said Bourrienne, laughing, "lest
I tell the First Consul of your punctuality ! "

" And what should I have to fear in that case ] "

" Lest he should retain you near him to give lessons in
punctuality to Mme. Bonaparte."

"Oh," said Mme. de Montrevel, "a great many
things must be excused in Creoles."

"But you are also a Creole, Madame, I believe V

" Mme. Bonaparte," replied Mme. de Montrevel, *' sees
her husband every day, while I am about to see him for
the first time.''

" Come, Mother, let us go," said Edward.

The secretary drew back to allow Mme. de Montrevel
to pass. A quarter of an hour later they were at the

Bonaparte occupied in the little Luxembourg an apart-
ment on the right of the ground floor, and Josephine had
her rooms and boudoir on the first story. A passage led
from the First ConsuPs room to her own.

Josephine had been notified of the expected arrival, for
when she perceived Mme. de Montrevel she received


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her with open arms, like a friend. Mme. de Montrevel
stopped respectfully at the door.

" Oh, come in, come ! " said Josephine ; " I feel as
though I had known you ever since I knew your excellent
son Koland. Do you know the thing that makes me feel
safest when Bonaparte leaves me ] It is that Roland fol-
lows him. And when I know that Boland is near him I
think that no evil can happen to him. Well, will you not
kiss me 1 "

Mme. de Montrevel was confused at so much kindness.

"We come from the same country, do we not']" con-
tinued Josephine. " Oh, I remember perfectly M. de la
Cl^menci6re, who had such a beautiful garden and such
magnificent fruit. And I remember having seen there a
beautiful young girl who seemed to be the queen of it.
You were married when you were very young, were you
not, Madame 1"

" At fourteen years."

" It must have been so, for you to have a son as old as
Roland. But come and sit down." She set the exam-
ple, making a sign for Mme. de Montrevel to sit down
beside her. " And this charming boy," she continued,
looking at Edward, " is he also your son ] " She sighed.
'* God has been very lavish with you, Madame," she said.
" And since he does everything that you desire, you must
pray to him to send me one, also."

Josephine put her lips enviously to Edward's forehead.
" My husband will be very glad to see you, Madame, —
he loves your son so much; and you would not have
been brought to me in the first place if he had not been
occupied with the minister of police. And by the way,"
she added laughing, "you have come at an inopportune
moment. He is furious."

" Oh," exclaimed Mme. de Montrevel, almost frightened,
" if that is the case, I should like to wait ! "


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** Not at all. On the contrary, the sight of you will
calm him. I do not know what is the matter with him.
It seems that they have stopped the diligences, as if they
were in the Black Forest, in broad daylight on the open
road. Fouche will have to look out for himself if the
thing continues."

Mme. de Montrevel was about to reply, but just then
the door opened and a messenger appeared. ** The First
Consul expects Mme. de Montrevel," he said.

" Come," said Josephine, " Bonaparte's time is so pre-
cious that he is almost as impatient as Louis XIV., who
had nothing to do. He does not like to be kept waiting."

Mme. de Montrevel rose quickly and made a motion to
take her son with her.

" No," said Josephine, *' leave this beautiful child with
me. We are going to keep you to dinner. Bonaparte
will see him at six o'clock. Besides, if he wants to see
him now he will ask for him. For the moment I am his
second mother. Let us see, what can we do to amuse
you 1 "

" The First Consul must have some fine weapons, Ma-
dame," said the child.

*' Yes, very fine. Well, they shall show you the First
Consul's weapons."

Josephine went out through one door, leading the boy,
and Mme. de Montrevel through the other after the

On the way the countess met a blond man with a pale
face and dull eye, who looked at her with a suspicion
which seemed to be habitual to him. She moved quickly
aside to allow him to pass.

The messenger saw the movement. " That is the pre-
fect of police," he said to her in a low tone.

Mme. de Montrevel glanced after him curiously. Fouch^
was at that time already fatally celebrated.


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Just then the door of Bonaparte's private room opened,
and putting out his head he perceived Mme. de Montrevel.
" Madame de Montrevel ! " he said, ** come ! come ! "

She hastened her steps and entered the private room.

** Come/* said Bonaparte, shutting the door after her ;
" I made you wait, which was very much against my will.
I had business with Fouch^. You know how pleased I
am with Eoland, and that I am going to make a general
of him at the first opportunity. At what time did you
arrive 1 "

"Just now, General."

" Where did you come from ] Koland told me, but I
have forgotten."

"From Bourg."

« By what road r^

" By the Champagne road."

" By the Champagne road ! Then you were at Cha-
tillon at what time ? "

" Yesterday morning at nine o'clock."

** In that case you must have heard them speaking of
the stopping of a diligence.*'

"General — **

" Yes, the diligence was stopped at ten o'clock in the
morning between Chatillon and Bar-sur-Seine."

" General, it was ours.**

" What, yours ] "


" You were in the diligence that was stopped 1 "

" I was."

" Ah, tlien you can give me the exact details. Excuse
me ; you understand my desire to get information, do you
not 1 In a civilized country which has General Bonaparte
for its magistrate, they cannot with impunity stop a dili-
gence on the road in open day, unless — "


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"General, I can tell you nothing, except that those
who stopped the diligence were on horseback and

" How many were there 1 "


" How many men were in the diligence 1 *'

Online LibraryAlexandre DumasThe companions of Jehu → online text (page 2 of 24)