Alexandre Dumas.

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" Four, including the conductor."

"And did they not defend themselves]"

" No, General."

"The police report has it, however, that two pistol
shots were heard."

" Yes, Geneml ; but these two pistol shots — "


"Were made by my son."

*• Your son 1 But he was in la Vendue."

" Roland was, yes. But Edward was with me."

" Edward ! who is Edward ] "

"Roland's brother.'*

" He spoke of him to me ; but he is nothing but a

" He is not twelve years old, General."

" And he fired two pistols 1 "

"Yes, General."

"Why have you not brought him to me]"

*' He is with me."

'* Where is he?"

" I left him with Mme. Bonaparte."

Bonaparte rang, and a messenger appeared. "Tell
Josephine to come here with the boy." Tlien walking
about the room he murmured : " Four men, and the child
sot them an example of courage ! And not one of the
bandits was wounded ] "

" There were no balls in the pistols."

" What ! there were no balls ] "


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" No ; they belonged to the conductor, and he had
taken the precaution to load them only with powder."
" Very well ; we will know his name."
Just then the door opened and Mme. Bonaparte ap-
peared, holding the boy by the hand.
** Come here," said Bonaparte.

The child Edward approached unhesitatingly, and gave
the military salute.

" Was it you who fired at the robbers 1 "
"You see, Mother, that they were robbers," interrupted
the child.

"Certainly they were robbers. I should like to see
any one tell me the contrary. And so it was you who
shot at them when the men were afraid 1 "

" Yes, it was I, General ; but unluckily that coward of
a conductor had loaded the pistols with nothing but pow-
der. If it had not been for that I should have killed
their chief."

** You were not afraid, then ] "
"II JSTo," said the child, " I am never afraid."
"You should call yourself Cornelia, Madame," said
Bonaparte, turning towards Mme. de Montrevel, who was
leaning upon Josephine's arm. Then turning to the child
and kissing him, he said : " We must take care of you.
What do you want to be ] "
" A soldier, at first."
" What do you mean by * at first ' 1 "
" Later I want to be a colonel like my brother, and a
general like my father."

" It will not be my fault if you are not," said the First

" Nor mine," replied the child.

" Edward ! " said Mme. de Montrevel, timidly.

" Do not scold him for having replied well." He took


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the child, lifted him up to his face, and kissed him. ** You
will dine with us," he said, '* and this evening Bourrienne,
who went for you at the hotel, will install you in the Rue
de la Victoire. You will stay there until Roland's return,
when he will find a lodging for you to his taste. Edward
will enter the Prytaneura, and I will find a husband for
your daughter."

*' General ! "

" I told Roland T would." Then turning towards Jose-
phine he said : ** Take Mme. de Montrevel to drive. Do
not allow her to weary herself. Madame de Montrevel^ if
your friend [Bonaparte emphasized these last words] wants
to enter a milliner's shop, do not let her. She does not
need any new bonnets ; she has had thirty-eight in the
last month."

And giving a playful slap on the cheek to Edward, the
First Consul dismissed the two ladies with a gesture.


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As we have said, at the very moment when Morgan and
his three companions were stopping the Geneva diligence
between Bar-sur-Seine and Ch^tillon, Roland was enter-
ing Nantes. If we would know the result of his mission,
we must not follow him step by step, among the fogs in
which the Abbe Bernier enveloped his ambitious desires,
but rejoin him at the town of Muzillac, between Ambon
and the Guernic, about two leagues beyond the little gulf
into which the Vilaine empties.

There we are in the heart of Morbihan, the place where
Chouanry had its birth ; it was near Laval, on the home-
stead of the Poiriers, that were born, of Pierre Cottereau
and Jeanne Moyne, the four Chouan brothers. One of
their ancestors, a misanthropic woodcutter, held himself
aloof from the other peasants, as the chat-huant, or
screech-owl, shuns other birds ; hence, by corruption,
came the name Chouan. The name grew to be that of a
party ; on the right bank of the Loire the name Chouan
signified a Breton, wliile on the left bank the Vend^eans
were called brigands.

It is not for us to relate the death and destruction of
this heroic family, to follow to the scaffold the two sisters
and a brother, or to gaze upon Jean and Ren6, as they lay
wounded or dead upon the battlefield, martyrs to their
faith. Since the executions of Perrine, Rene, and Pierre,
and the death of Jean, many years have passed, and the

VOL. II. — 3


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siiflfering of the sisters and the exploits of the brothers
have become almost legendary. It is with their succes-
sors that we have to do.

These people are certainly faithful to traditions. As we
saw them fighting beside la Rouerie, Bois- Hardy, and
Bernard de Villeneuve, so they fought beside Bourmont,
Frott^, and Georges Cadoudal, — always with the same
courage and the same devotion; always as Christian
soldiers and exalted royalists; always the same in ap-
pearance, rude and savage ; always armed with a gun, or
with the simple stick called in the country a j^r^g; always
with the same costume, — the brown woollen cap or the
broad-brimmed hat, scarcely covering the long, straight
hair falling in disorder over their shoulders. They are
still the old Auler*ci Cenomani, as in the time of Caesar,
promisso capillo ; they are still the Bretons of whom Mar-
tial says, —

^* Tarn laxa est . . .
Quam veteres braccae Britonis pauperis."

To protect themselves from rain and cold they wear a
cloak of goatskin, trimmed with long hair; and for a
badge the Bretons wear on the chest a scapulary and
beads, and the Vead^eans wear over the heart a heart of
Jesus, — the distinguishing mark of a brotherhood which
draws nearer each day to a common prayer.

Such are the men who, from the moment we cross the
limit which separates the Loire-Inferieure from the Mor-
bihan, are scattered about from Roche-Bernard to Vannes,
and from Quertemberg to Billiers, including, consequently,
the town of Muzillac. But it needs the ^e of an eagle
looking down from above, or that of an owl which can
see in the dark, to distinguish them as they lie concealed
in the heather.


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Let us pass through the line of these invisible sentinels,
and after having forded two tributary streams of the name-
less river which empties into the sea near Billiers, between
Arzal and Damgan, boldly enter the village of Muzillac.

All is dark and quiet ; a solitary light shines through
the cracks in the shutters of a house, or rather cottage,
which in every other respect is like the rest. It is the
fourth on the right as we enter. Let us look through the
cracks in the shutters.

We see a man dressed in the costume of the well-to-do
peasants of the Morbihan ; but a gold cord, as thick as a
finger, borders the collar and button-holes of his coat,
and the edges of his hat. The remainder of his costume
consists of leather breeches and top-boots. His sword is
thrown upon a chair. A pair of pistols are within reach
of his hand. In the chimney-place the barrels of two or
three rifles reflect the blazing fire. He is seated before a
table ; a lamp shines upon some papers which he is read-
ing attentively, and at the same time lights up his face.
It is that of a man of thirty years. If it were not dark-
ened by the cares of a partisan war, we can easily see that
its expression would be frank and joyous ; it is framed
by blond hair, and animated by beautiful blue eyes ; the
head has the formation peculiar to Bretons, which, if
phrenologists may be believed, is caused by the exag-
gerated development of the organs of obstinacy.

The man has two names. His familiar name, that by
which he is called by the soldiers, is " Round-head.*' His
true name, that which he received from worthy and brave
parents, is Georges Cadudal, — or rather Cadoudal, tra-
dition having changed the orthography of the historic

Georges was the son of a husbandman of the parish of
Kerleano, in Brech. The story goes that the husbandman


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was also a miller. The young man had just received a
good and solid education at the college of Vannes, which
is only a few leagues distant from Brech, when the first ap-
peals from the royalist insurrection came from Ja Vendue.
Cadoudal heard them, gathered together a few of his com-
panions, crossed the Loire at their head, and offered his
services to Stofflet ; hut Stofflet preferred to see him at
work hefore attaching him to himself, which was what
Georges had asked. It was not difficult to find occasions
for fighting in the Vendeean army. On the next day
there was a fight, at which Georges got to work to such
purpose that when M. de Maulevrier's former game-
keeper saw him charging the Blues, he could not help
saying aloud to Bonchamp, who was near him, —
4 " If that great round-head does not get carried off" by a
cannon-hall, it will rise high one of these days."

The nickname clung to Cadoudal. It is thus that, five
centuries before, the ancestors of Malestroit, Penhoet,
Beaumanoir, and De Rochefort designated the grand con-
stable for whom the women of le Bretagne spun a ransom.

" There is the great round-head," they said; *' now we
will have a good fight with the English." Unhappily the
present fight was not against the English, but against
Frenchmen like themselves.

Georges remained in la Vendee until Savenay was put
to rout. The whole Vendeean army remained upon the
field of battle, or vanished like smoke. During the last
three years he had shown wonderful courage, skill, and
strength ; he recrossed the Loire and returned to the Mor-
bihan with only one out of all that had followed him.
This man became his aide-de-camp, or rather his com-
panion in war ; he never left him ; and in exchange for
the severe campaign which they had endured together, he
took the name of Tiffauges instead of that of Lemercier.


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It was he who at the Ball of Victims was charged with a
mission for Morgan.

When he returned to his native land, Cadoudal fomented
insurrections on his own account ; bullets spared the great
Hound-head; and in fulfilment of Stofflet's prophecy the
great Round- head, succeeding La Rochejacquelein, Elbce,
Bonchamp, Lescure, and Stofflet himself, became their
rival in glory and their superior in power ; for he had
come to a point which would test his strength. He was
to fight almost alone against the government of Bon-
aparte, who had been First Consul for three months. The
two chiefs who also remained faithful to the Bourbon
dynasty were Frotte and Bourmont.

At the time of which we are speaking, the 26th of
January, 1800, Cadoudal commanded three or four thou-
sand men, with whom he was preparing to besiege General
Hatry in Vannes. While he was awaiting the First Con-
sul's reply to the letter of Louis XVIIL he had suspended
hostilities; but Tiffauges had arrived two days before,
bringing it. It was already on the way to England, from
whence it would be sent to Mittau ; and since the First
Consul did not desire peace on the terms dictated by
Louis XVIIL, Cadoudal, general-in-chief of his Majesty's
armies in the West, would continue the war against Bon-
aparte, even though he had no help except that of his
friend Tiffauges, who was at the present moment at Pou-'
ance in conference with Chatillon, D'Autichamp, the Abb^
Bernier, and General H^douviUe.

Just now Cadoudal was lost in reflection, this last sur-
vivor of the great heroes of the civil war ; and the news
which he had just heard gave him, in truth, food for re-
flection. General Brune, the conqueror of Alkmaar and
Castricum, and the savior of Holland, had just been
named commander-in-chief of the Republican armies in


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the Westy and within the last three days had arrived at
Nantes ; at any cost he was to crush Cadoudal and his
Chouans; and at any cost the Chouans and Cadoudal
would have to show the new commander-in-chief tliat
they did not fear him, and that intimidation would have
no effect upon tliem.

Just at this moment also the gallop of a horse became
audible ; the rider doubtless had the countersign, for he
passed without difficulty through the patrols scattered
along the Roche-Bernard road, and entered without dif-
ficulty the town of Muzillac. He stopped before the door
of Cadoudal's cottage. The latter raised his head and
listened, and then, merely as a matter of precaution,
placed his hand upon his pistols, although the new-comer
was probably a friend. The rider dismounted, and opened
the door of the room where Cadoudal was sitting.

" Ah, is it you, Coeur-de-Roi ] " said CadoudaL '* Where
do you come from]"

"From Pouanc^, General."

"What news 1"

"A letter from Tiffauges."

" Let me have it."

Georges took the letter quickly from Coenr-de-Roi's
hand, and read it. "Ah I" he said. And he read it a
second time.

" Have you seen the person whose arrival he announces ] "
asked Cadoudal.

" Yes, General," replied the courier.

" What sort of a man is he ] "

" A handsome young man, twenty six or seven years

" And his appearance 1 "

" Very determined."

"Probably; when will he arrive?"


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^ To-night, I suppose."

" Have you given notice of him all along the road ? "

" Yes ; he will be allowed to pass freely."

" Do it again ; no hann must come to him, — he has
Morgan's safeguard."

" Very well, General."

"Have you anything else to tell me]"

" The advance-guard of the Republicans is at la Roche-

" How many men 1 "

" About a thousand ; they have with them a guillotine
and the commissary of executive power, Milliire."

" Are you sure 1 "

" I met them on the road ; the commissioner was on
horseback near the colonel, and I recognized him at once.
He caused my brother to be executed, and I have sworn
that he shall die by my hand."

" And you will risk your life to keep such an oath 1 "

" At the first opportunity."

" Perhaps you will have it before long."

At that moment the sound of a galloping horse was
heard in the street.

"Ah,'* said Coeur-de-Roi, "that is probably the one
you are expecting."

"No," said Cadoudal; "this one is coming from the
direction of Vannes."

As the sound became more distinct, they could see that
Cadoudal was right. Like the first rider, the second one
stopped before the door ; like the first, he dismounted; like
the first, he entered. The royalist chief recognized him at
once, in spite of the large cloak in which he was wrapped.

" It is you, Ben^dicit^ ? "

"Yes, General"

" Where do you come from? "

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" From Vannes, where you sent me to watch the Blues."

" Well, what are the Blues doing 1 *'

** They are afraid of dying of hunger if you blockade
the town ; and to get provisions, General Hatry proposes
to carry off the stores from Grandchamp to-night. The
general will command the expedition in person, and that
it may be done the better^ he will take only a hundred
men with him."

" Are you tired, B^n^diciter*

" JSTot at all, General."

" And your horse ] *'

" He came at a quick pace, but he can do four or five
leagues more at the same rate without giving out."

" Give him two hours' rest and a double ration of oats,
and he can do ten 1 '^

" Under those conditions, yes.*'

" In two hours you will set out ; you will be at Grand-
champ by daylight ; you will give in my name the ordei to
evacuate the village. I will take care of General Hatry
and his men. Have you anything else to tell me 1 "

'* Yes, I have some news for you."


** Vannes has a new bishop."

"Ah, then they are giving us back our bishops 1"

" So it seems ; but if they are all like this one, they
might as well keep them."

" And who is this one 1 "

" Audrein."

"The regicide 1"

"Audrein the renegade."

" And when will he arrive 1 "

" To-night or to-morrow."

" I shall not interfere with him ; but he had better not
come in the way of my men."


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Beuedicit^ and CcBur-de-Boi laughed meaningly.

*• Hark I " said Cadoudal.

The three men listened.

" This time it is probably he," said Cadoudal.

They heard the gallop of a horse, coming from la Rcche-

" It is certainly he," repeated Coeur-de-Roi.

" Then, my friends, leave me alone. You, B^n^dicit^
go to Grandchamp as soon as possible ; you, Coeur-de-Roi,
come to the courtyard with thirty men, — I may want to
send messengers in difierent directions. By the way, arrange
for them to bring me the best supper they can manage."

" For how many. General ] "

" Oh, for two."

** Are you going out ] "

" No ; I am only going to meet the new arrival."

The horses of the two messengers had already been re-
moved from the court. The messengers now made their
escape in their turn.

Cadoudal reached the street gate just as a horseman,
stopping his horse and looking about him, appeared to

*' It is here. Monsieur," said Cadoudal.

" Who is here 1 " demanded the rider.

" The one whom you are seeking."

" How do you know whom I am seeking ] "

** I suppose it is Georges Cadoudal, otherwise known as

« Exactly-"

** You are welcome, then. Monsieur Roland de Montre-
vel, for I am he whom you seek."

" Ah I " ejaculated the young man in astonishment.
And springing to the ground, he seemed to be looking for
some one to take his horse.


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" Throw the bridle on your horse's neck, and give your-
self no further uneasiness about him ; you will find him
again when you waut him. Nothing is ever lost in Bre-
tagne ; it is the laud of loyalty."

The young man made no reply, but throwing the bridle
on his horse's neck, as he had been told to do, fullowed
Cadoudal, who walked before him.

" I will go first to show you the way, Colonel," said the
chief of the Chouans.

And they both entered the cottage, where an invisible
hand had just replenished the fire.


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Roland entered the room behind Oadoudal, and as he
came in he threw around him a glance of careless curi-
osity. It was enough to assure him that they were

" Is this your headquarters] *' asked Roland, with a smile,
holding up his feet to the fire.

"Yes, Colonel."

" It is peculiarly guarded."

Cadoudal smiled in his turn. "You say that," he
said, "because from Roche-Bernard to this place you
found the road free."

"I did not meet a soul."

" But that was no proof that the road was not guarded."

"It might have been by the owls and screech-owls
which seemed to fly from tree to tree accompanying me, —
ami in that case I withdraw my assertion."

" Exactly," said Cadoudal. " These same owls are my
sentinels. They are sentinels which have good eyes,
since they have the advantage of being able to see at

" It is fortunate, nevertheless, that I made inquiries at
Roche-Bernard ; otherwise I should not have found even
a cat to tell me where I could meet you."

" At whatever spot on the road you had asked aloud,
'Where shall I find Georges CadoudaH' a voice would


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have replied to you, ' At the town of Muzillac, in the
fourth house on the right.' You saw nobody, Colonel^
but at this very hour there are at least fifteen thousand
men who know that Colonel Eoland, aide-de-camp to the
First Consul, is in conference with the son of the miller
of Leguemo.'^

"But if they know that I am a colonel in the service of
the Republic, and aide-de-camp to the First Consul, why
did they let me pass 1 "

" Because they had received the order to do so."

** Did you then know that I was coming ] "

" I not only knew that you were coming, but I knew
when you were coming."

Roland looked intently at the other. " Then it is use-
less for me to tell you, and you can reply just as well if I
am silent.^'

" Very nearly."

" Upon my word ! I should like to have a proof of the
superiority of your police over ours."

" I will give you one, Colonel."

" I shall listen with all the more satisfaction since I am
seated before this excellent fire, which also seemed to ex-
pect me.'*

" You speak truer than you know, Colonel ; and the fire
is not the only thing which will do its best to make you

" Yes, but it does not tell me the object of my mission
any more than you do."

" Your mission, which you do me the honor to extend
to me, Colonel, related in the first place to the Abb6 Ber-
nier alone. Unfortunately the Abbe Bernier, in a letter
which he sent to his friend Martin Duboys, exceeded
his prerogative, and offered his mediation to the First


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" I beg your pardon," iutemipted Roland, " but you are
telling me something of which I was ignorant. I did not
know that the Abb^ Bernier had written to General

" I said that he wrote to his friend Martin Duboys,
which is a very different thing. My people intercepted
his letter and brought it to me ; I had it copied and sent
the letter on, and I am certain it reached its destina-
tion. Your visit to General H^douville is a proof of

"You know that General H^douville no longer com-
mands at Nantes. General Brune has taken his place."

''You might say commands at Roche-Bernard; for a
thousand republican soldiers entered that town this even-
ing about six o'clock, accompanied by the guillotine and
by the commissioner-general, Thomas Milliere. Having
the instrument, they needed the executioner."

" Then you say, General, that I came to see the Abbe
Bernier ] "

" Yes, he offered his mediation ; but he forgot that to-
day there are two Vendues, — the Vendue of the right
bank, and the Vendee of the left bank. And when a
treaty has been made with D'Autichamp, Chatillon, and
Suzannet at Pouanc^, it is still necessary to treat with
Frott^, Bourmont, and Cadoudal. But the result of that
is something which no one can tell."

" Except you yourself, General."

" Then, with the chivalry which is one of your charac-
teristics, you engaged to bring me the treaty signed on
the 25th. The Abl3^ Bernier, D'Autichamp, Chatillon,
and Suzannet have signed a pass for you, and here you

*' Upon my word. General, I must say that you are
perfectly well informed. The First Consid desires peace


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with all his heart. He knows that in you he has a hrave
and loyal adversary ; and since he cannot see you, owing
to the fact that you will probably not come to Paris, he
has sent me to you."

*' That is to say, to the Abbe Bernier."

" General, that matters little to you, if I engage that
the First Consul shall ratify anything which we may ar-
range between us. What are your conditions for
peace ] "

" Oh, they are very simple, Colonel. Let the First Con-
sul restore the throne to his Majesty Louis XVIIL, let
him become his lieutenant-general and chief of his armies
by land and by sea, and I for my part will become his
first soldier."

" The First Consul has already replied to this demand."

" And that is why I myself have decided to reply to
his answer."


"This very night, if the occasion presents itself."

"In what way 1"

" By resuming hostilities.^*

"But you know that Chatillon, D'Autichamp, and Suz-
annet have laid down their arms 1 "

"They are chiefs of the Vendeeans, and in the name of
the Vendeeans they can do what they like."

" Then you condemn this unhappy country to a war of
extermination ] "

" To a martyrdom rather, to which I assemble Christians
and royalists."

" General Brune is at Nantes with the eight thousand
prisoners which the English have just returned to us after
their defeats of Alkmaar and Castricum.*'

Online LibraryAlexandre DumasThe companions of Jehu → online text (page 3 of 24)