Orphans of the Storm
by Henry MacMahon
TWO GIRLS OF
CHAPTER II. THE
JOURNEY TO PARIS
WHAT HAPPENED AT
THE COACH HOUSE
CHAPTER IV. THE
FETE OF BEL-AIR
CHAPTER V. BEL-AIR—(CONTINUED)
CHAPTER VI. IN
THE HONOR OF THE
FRIENDS OF THE
CHAPTER X. THE
ATTACK ON DANTON
LOVE, MASTER OF
DOWN IN THE
LIGHT RAYS IN
“THERE IS NO
KNIFE DUEL AND
CHAPTER XX. THE
ADVENTURES OF A
ADVENTURES OF A
BEFORE THE DREAD
CHAPTER XXV. THE
VOICE OF DANTON
MANIAC WITH A
CHAPTER XXX. THE
CHAPTER I. TWO GIRLS OF NORMANDY
In all the countryside of Evreux, nay in all the beauteous old-time
Normandy of the period of 1789, there were no lovelier filles du
peuple than Henriette and Louise Girard.
Their romantic story was often whispered by country gossips. In
infancy foundlings on the church steps of Notre Dame, then brought to
this quiet Norman backwater by the Girards and raised as sisters, they
had lost both their protectors by death. The same visitation of the
dread plague had cost poor little Louise her eyesight.
Since the orphaning and especially since the blindness of Louise,
Henriette cared for her with a love overwhelming as that of a mother
for her helpless baby. She looked forward eagerly to the day when they
might leave the kinswoman's where they were staying and go to Paris.
A local doctor had imparted a precious ray of hope.
As for me, voila! I can do nothing, he said. Mais, is it not that
there are learned faculties in Parismen skilled in chirurgery even to
the taking off of cataracts and the restoration of sight? Of a truth,
yes! En avant, mes enfants! Let Monsieur Martin, your ancient cousin in
Paris, have the care of you whilst the chirurgeons exert their
skillpresto! if all goes well, the little one shall yet see!
Henriette's heart thumped with joy o'er the cheering prospect. She
kissed and fondled Louise and even teased her. Reading or chatting to
the blind girl, sewing her frocks or performing a thousand and one
kindly services, her sole thought was to distract and enliven the
prisoned soul behind the darkened windows.
And so a broad smile crossed the lovely sightless features and even
the dulled orbs radiated a little as Henriette excitedly told the
details of the proposed trip, and teased:
And, oh, yesI forgotwhen Miss Baby's eyes are quite well, I
shall sit down like a ladyand you'll do all the work!
They were quite in a fever of delighted ardor over the preparations
for the journey.
Elder sister, attending to everything, pronounced it perfect with
gay little pats of quaint panniered costumes, fitting of banded sailor
hats o'er white coifs, recurling of ringlets, and dainty polishing of
slippers. The graceful little figures seemed elfin and fairy-like in
the half sleeves and low corsages of tight bodices from which depended
enormously full skirts set off by cute pinafores.
Round boxes, baskets or bags on either arm and even the rainy-day
umbrella, they waited in delicious expectancy the serving man fetching
the brass-studded cowhide trunk, to the very last moment when to
Henriette's surprise the blind girl pouted and drew back!
She groped until her fingers touched a chair, then sat
I won't go! announced Louise firmly. Y-you'll meet somebody or
other in Parisget marriedandandI'll be left all alone!
The little general of the expedition paced hurriedly up and down the
floor like a Napoleon at Elba. Shocked surprise at Louise's awful
insinuation struggled with panic fear. At last Henriette faced her
sister squarely. She came over and knelt beside her chair, raising a
small hand to high Heaven.
Desert you for a Man! said Henriette, breathlessly. Why, the very
idea that I could ever think such a thing. Dear, here is my right hand;
take it and bear witness: I solemnly swear never to marry till you
yourself can see and approve my husband!
The left hand of Louise traveled up till it met and lay flat on the
other's upraised palm. An expression of happiness overspread the blind
girl's face. She leaned over and kissed her sister. The two girls rose
and left the old home of Evreux.
CHAPTER II. THE JOURNEY TO PARIS
Locomotion in those pre-railroad days was by stage coach except for
the rich and noble who rode in their chaises. The way of the diligence
led past winding streams and bright meadows busy with haymakers; past
picturesque water mills and stone chateaux, anon along tree-shaded
avenues grateful in their coolness.
Hard as the leathern seats were and however wearisome the ride, the
girls forgot discomfort in Henriette's description of the sights and
scenes and Louise's just as eager listening. Then at the stops the
young women would get out and stretch their weary limbs whereof they
suddenly became aware as the motion ceased. They were the only
passengers, with unlimited time for the naive confidences which
Are you sure that Cousin Martin will really meet us at the Paris
coach house? asked the blind sister anxiously.
I wrote him that we were coming, replied Henriette simply. Of
course he will be there and awaiting our arrival.
But if he should not
Then, we have his address and will go to his house. Never fear,
little sister, it will be all right....
The lumbering coach-and-six did its hundred miles a day, bad roads
or good roads. But within a few miles of Paris a whiffletree broke, the
ungainly vehicle stopped, and the men jumped off to hold the horses and
repair the damage. Henriette and Louise soon left the hard seats for a
few minutes too.
Down the other side of the narrow turn of the road where the
accident had occurred, thundered the beautiful carved and gilded chaise
of a famous nobleman, Marquis de Praille, accompanied by gallant
outriders and backed by liveried footmen on the high rear seats. Inside
the equipage were the Marquis and his commissionaire La Fleur.
The black and dusty old stage coach blocked the way.
As the aristocrat's journey rudely stopped, with the chaise horses
thrown back on their haunches, a bewigged and powdered head was thrust
out of the window, roaring:
What is the meaning of this?
Descending presently with his follower to survey the scene, the
noble Marquis enraged at the blocking of his day's pleasuring belabored
the chief ostler with his cane. Smartly the blows rained down on the
cowering sufferer, alternate right and left in rhythmic strokes that
touched each and several part of the canaille anatomy.
This gentle exercise finished, the Marquis espied around the corner
of the coach the two young passengers. Another side of the Grand
Seigneur's nature disclosed itself.
Mon Dieu, what a vision! Blue eyes, yellow ringlets framing most
kissable features, dainty form, twinkling feet, flower-like elegancea
rustic Psyche far more to be desired than the ladies of the Court! The
Marquis hardly looked twice at the blind girl. All his glances were for
Self-conscious, the noble gentleman plumed and preened. Patting down
his somewhat ruffled apparel, adjusting his fashionable wig and peruke,
and touching up his mouth with the lipstick that the dandies of that
age carried, he advanced elegantly upon the young women, cane in one
hand and the other toying delicately with a hand muff.
Henriette curtsied and smiled, and bade Louise do the same. They
knew not the ways of Courts, but native courtesy and naive simplicity
were theirs. Presently the elder girl found herself telling the
distinguished personage all the details of their trip, the appointment
with M. Martin, and the hope of curing Louise by a visit to the
The gallant de Praille, all bows and smirks, was offering them the
hospitality of the chaise. What a grand stranger, truly! A regal caress
of Henriette's fingers in the handclasp. Most patronizing (or was it
odious familiarity?) his dainty touch of her bare arms; the jeweled
hand that toyed with her ringlets; the dexterous move as if to encircle
her waist; the playingin the airiest, most fluttering manner
imaginablewith the lace that draped her adorable little bosom!
Quietly Henriette replied to his overtures:
No, monsieur, I think it is best that we go in our own coach!
The chastiser of canaille and charmer of ladies did not seem a whit
abashed. Paying them ceremonious farewell, he withdrew and repaired to
his equipage, the road for which was now clear. The girls stood a
minute giggling at his mannerisms, as Henriette described his finery
and imitated his peacock airs.
The girls would not have smiled had they understood. La Fleur, whom
they had scarcely noticed, was the pander of the Marquis's vices. The
two were deep in plot. 'Twas whispered talk, but a chance bystander
might at least have overheard the words:
... At my fete of Bel-Airmake no mistake, La FleurI rely on
you. One hundred louis, the reward....
Or another scene that marked de Praille's entry into Paris, might
have interested them. Driving recklessly to make up time lost in the
blockade, the nobleman's equipage knocked down and ran over a luckless
denizen of the faubourgs. Carelessly flinging out gold to the relatives
of the dead woman who were sobbing or cursing him, he leaned forward
and inquired most solicitously of the driver:
Butare the horses hurt?
Indeed the nobles of that time regarded the masses as little if any
superior to cattle or any other of their possessions.
In the country the common man toiled a serf without wages, for his
master; while in Paris itself, the centre of gayety and fashion, the
fruit of his toil was expended by the aristocrats in prodigal luxury.
The bourgeoisie or middle class bore the brunt of the taxes. A gay
parasitic element, the demi-monde, ministered to the nobles' pleasures.
Below, the submerged tenth of the thievish and begging classes plied
their questionable trades, with a large margin of the city's population
on the very verge of starvation.
It hints eloquently of the terrible conditions that there were no
less than thirty thousand professional beggars in Paris at this time. Their wan, pinched faces, gaunt forms and palsied vitality were an
outstanding reproach to a flower-like but decadent aristocratic culture
founded on the muck of cruelty and oppression.
Nothing had the girls (or the simpleminded country Doctor who sped
them) known of the dangers or pitfalls of the city. Vile gallantry or
viler underworld was looking for just such prey....
CHAPTER III. WHAT HAPPENED AT THE
The Normandy-Paris stage swung into the city as the shades of
evening were falling and deposited our heroines at journey's end in a
little square beyond the Pont Neuf where the coach house was situated.
As they alighted, cries of Sedan! Sedan chair! were heard. Brawling
chairmen mixed it with pummeling fists and kicking legs to be in the
front lines for the passengers' custom.
'Twas a terrifying scene from which they were glad to escape to a
side bench whence they watched the homeward hurrying throngs and looked
vainly for Monsieur Martin. As in the country, Henriette tried to pass
the time of day with divers and sundry folk, but it was no use. They
gave her queer looks or hurried on, as if stone deaf.
They simply pay no attention to you here! she complained to
Louise, but never mind! Cousin Martin will come soon, and take us to
Presently the city lamplighter was lighting the street lantern above
them; he went his way and the Place was deserted.
There was a man lurking in the shadows of a portico nearby,
though 'twould somewhat strain credulity to imagine him the elderly
tradesman Martin. He was a powerful and burly figure, black habited, of
impudent visage quite unlike a gentle relative's. In the deeper shadows
back of him crouched two fellows, one of whom bore in his hand a black
Oh, why does not Monsieur Martin come? said Henriette to herself
softly, with a little gesture of half-despair.
I am your cousin Martin! said the man, advancing upon them with a
smirk that was like a leer.
Henriette involuntarily drew back, withdrawing Louise a few steps
with her. Relief and fear of the strange cousin struggled within her.
The man laid a hand on the elder girl's arm and at the same time
signalled the ruffians. A sudden impulse moved Henriette to wrench
In a twinkling the three were upon her. While the burly leader tore
away her grasp of the blind Louise, the fellow with the cloth threw it
over her face and shoulders, stifling her screams.
Not a passer-by in sight!
Fiercely Henriette struggled, twice lifting the cloth from her face,
and fiercely Louise sought to twine herself around the body of her
lovely guide and protector. But the big man again had thrown the blind
girl off, and the fellows, having tied the black cloth, lifted
Henriette between them and carried her into a waiting fiacre.
We've got her safe now, La Fleur, said the kidnappers.
Drive your hardest to Bel-Air, the Marquis's fete begins at nine
o'clock! said the villain addressed, who was none other than the
famous nobleman's pander....
What cared the Marquis and La Fleur about the blind one's
misfortunes. As La Fleur had said:
Never fearblindness is ever a good stock in trade. She'll find
her careerin the streets of Paris!
Louise stopped, and listened for the retreating footsteps. The noise
of the kidnappers' melee was quite stilled. Instead, the diminishing
sound of hoofbeats and crunching wheels woke the echoes of the silent
street; mingled with itperhaps not even actually, but the memory of
an earlier outcrythe muffled cry, Louise! Louise!
Louise listened again, but no familiar sound met her earonly the
rushing of the water, or the footsteps of some pedestrian in the
I hear nothing, she said, in a terrified whisper. Hoping against
hope, and in a voice trembling with fear, she spoke as it were to the
Henriette! Speak to me, speak one word. Answer me, Henriette! No
answer, no reply!
Louise! sounded faintly on the far-off wind, or perhaps her poor
brain conjured it. The blind girl knew now that her sister was beyond
reach, and in the power of cruel men who knew no mercy.
They have dragged her away to some hiding, sensed the poor blind
brain, or perhaps that carriage is bearing her away from me forever.
Oh, what shall I do? she cried aloud, in tones that would have
thrilled a hearer's heart with pity. Alonealone! Abandoned!
With the last word the full horror of her situation surged upon her,
and she burst into a torrent of tears. Alone in Paris! Blind and alone,
without relatives or friends.
You who sit in a cozy home, surrounded by safeguards and comforts,
can have no idea of the blind foundling's utter dependence or the
terrible meaning conveyed by the one word abandoned.
What will become of me? she cried, between the sobs. Alone in
this great city; helpless and blindmy God, what shall I do?
Where am I to go? I do not know which way to turn!
Self-preservation, and the piteous hope that the house fronts might
give her some clue to her bearings, caused the girl to stagger from the
centre of the square to the sides. Along one of them she picked her
way, moaning for help and having not even a stick to guide her. Slowly,
painfully she groped around the Place until unwittingly she approached
the railing or wall which served as a guard to the steep bank that
descended to the river.
Along this she felt her way until suddenly her hands met the empty
air. What, now? Should she return as she had come? No, she thought; the
flagging beneath her feet was heavy and substantial: 'twas probably the
intersection of another street, and a few steps would bring her to
house fronts again.
Louise walked down the flags and stepped into nothingnessthirty
feet sheer precipice into the river Seine!
In the instant horror of falling to death off the stone pier, she
found herself saved by being clasped in a man's arms.
Great heavens! this individual exclaimed as he bore her to the
centre of the square. What were you going to do?
Nothingnothingwhat was it? cried Louise incoherently,
realizing only that she had been pulled back from death's door.
Another moment, said the man in horror-stricken accents, and you
would have been drowned in the Seine! I leaped up the steps and just
managed to catch you. Lucky that five minutes ago I had to go down to
the river to fill my water can. You
The tones of the voice, which struck Louise as young-old in its
timbre, were soft and kind with a refined and even plaintive quality
albeit not cultured. Here was a good soul and a friend, she sensed at
once. But could she suddenly have won her sight, Louise would have been
astonished at the actual vision.
Pale narrow spirituelle features, lit by beautiful eyes and
surmounted by a wealth of straight black hair; a form haggard, weazened
by deformity, yet evidencing muscular toil; delicate hands and feet
that like the features bespoke the poesy of soul within mis-shapen
shell,the hunchback scissors-grinder Pierre Frochard presented a
remarkable aspect which, once seen, no one could ever forget!
Wonder and awe were writ on the pale face as he looked at the lovely
angel he had rescued. Pierre shuddered again over the escape. Better
that he should have suffered myriad deaths than that a hair of that
lovely head were injured. As for himselfpoor object of the world's
scorn and his family's revilingswas he worthy e'en to kiss the hem of
Pierre looked yet again. The angelic little creature was blind!
Wide-open yet sightless orbs whereof the cataracts blackened the view
of all Life's perils, as they had of the imminent river. A surge of
self-abnegating, celestial love, mingled with divine pity, filled the
Tenderly he inquired about her misfortune, and she told him the sad
tale of the journey and Henriette's kidnapping.... Their talk was
broken in upon by the entry of the hag Mere Frochard and her elder son.
Alas, poor Louise! In finding a friend thou hast likewise found the
bitter bread of the stranger and the slavery of the Frochard clan! The
wretched hunchback is himself in thrall. Little dreams he the woe that
shall attend ye both, the while Henriette is the victim of far mightier
pomps and powers.
Though Henriette shall not know thy fate for many a day, though she
shall search long and frantically and not meet the beloved until within
the shadow of the guillotine, it may give the reader what comfort it
will that the blind sister still livesa lost mite in the vast ocean
CHAPTER IV. THE FETE OF BEL-AIR
Henrietta had swooned in the vehicle which was being rapidly driven
into open country.
Gradually color came back into wan cheeks. The blue orbs and Cupid
lips fluttered and half opened; the dazed little brain tried vainly to
sense what had happened.
Quickly the man La Fleur took out a small phial and poured some few
drops of a dark liquid on the girl's tongue. Half consciously
swallowing it, she sank back againthis time, into a deeper nirvana.
They were coming now to a large estate, the grounds of which were
brightly illuminated. Outside the iron palings a crowd of beggars
shrieked and gesticulated. Within, all was gayety. La Fleur and his
fellows dismounted with their burden. They laid the inanimate form of
the Norman girl on a litter and covered it with a white canopy. As this
strange pallet awaits the Master's wishes in anteroom, let us take a
peep at the celebrated Sunken Gardens.
Bel-Air had been beautified in the lovely exedra style for which
Petit Trianon is noted. Art blended so cunningly with Nature one might
almost mistake marble Venus for live goddess or flesh-and-blood naiads
of the lake for carved caryatides. The very musicians seemed children
of Pan as they tuned their lyres and fiddles in woodland nook.
Before the splashing fountain supported by little naked Loves in
marbleflanked by balustrades and bordered by screens of myriad
crystalline glass dropsa cool white pavement invited the gay minuet.
Beyond, a huge banquet table groaned with delicacies and wines the cost
of which would have gone far to rationing the thirty thousand hungry of
the nearby City. Indeed, enough was wasted to have fed many. With
bizarre and often gross entertainment Marquis de Praille amused his
guests who themselves presented a wanton and amorous scene that seemed
itself a part of the elaborately staged revels.
What gallantry, what passion, what low asides and snatched kisses!
as the squirming dancers intoxicated the spectators' sense or gauzily
draped coryphees plunged in the pool now converted into a fountain of
wine. The elegant gentlemen and the audacious women gueststhemselves
miracles of bold costuming and sixty-inch snow-white coiffuresknew
the play foretold the coarser revels that all would indulge in after
Around the banqueting tables a number of ladies and gentlemen were
seated, some still toying with the savory viands and drinking rare
vintages of Champagne, whilst others idly watched the dancers or
discussed the latest court news and high life scandal.
Well, what do you think of my retreat from the whirl and bustle of
Paris? asked Marquis de Praille of his vis-a-vis, who was a dashing
sort of beauty.
My dear Marquis, replied that lady, I am delighted. It is a
satisfaction to find a gentleman who maintains the customs of his
And yet there are fools who want to change them, exclaimed a young
nobleman from the opposite table.
You are rightfoolsfools, answered de Praille, as he motioned
to the servants for more wine.
[Illustration: I WON'T GO ANNOUNCED LOUISE FIRMLY. YOU'LL MEET
SOMEBODY, GET MARRIED AND I'LL BE LEFT ALL ALONE.]
By the way, asked the lady who had first spoken, you have heard
As no one had heard anything particularly new for the last two
hours, she continued by saying:
They say that the new minister of police is as hard as a stone, and
cold as a fish. He is going to put a stop to all our amusements, and,
Marquis, this may be the last entertainment you will give at Bel-Air.
Nonsense! exclaimed the host. I'd like to see the minister of
police who would dare to interfere with the pleasures of a French
nobleman. Who and what is he?
He is from Touraine; is called the Count de Linieres, and is the
uncle of the Chevalier Maurice de Vaudrey.
Where is the Chevalier? suddenly asked one of the ladies, as she
was thus reminded of one whom report had described as rather eccentric,
and on whom she wished to exercise her charms. You promised me I
should see him, Marquis.
So I did, and I expect him, as well as another guest. I warn you,
ladies, that she will be the rival to you all.
Who is the other guest? was the question which assailed him from
A young lady, answered the Marquis as if enraptured at the
thought. Sweet sixteen, beautiful as a rose, and innocent as an
Where did you find such a pearl? asked one of the ladies
This announcement was followed by a titter from the feminine members
of the group.
Yes, I know these Normandy beauties! scorned one of the ladies,
betraying in spite of herself a tinge of jealousy.
Rustics! Quite unpolished and de trop, chimed in another fair one,
cat-like in her verbal claws.
Laugh away, ladies, said de Praille gayly. You shall see a real
Norman beauty, and then see how jealous you will all become at sight of
At this moment a noise was heard from the outside, and in the midst
of some confusion a rather singular voice was heard saying:
I tell you I must go in, and I will. I must speak to your master.
On hearing this the Marquis went toward the entrance, and demanded
of the servants who this was who was so importunate.
Picard, answered the owner of the singular voice. Picard, valet
to the Chevalier de Vaudrey.
The Marquis immediately gave orders that he be admitted, and a
sharp, wiry-looking fellow, wearing the de Vaudrey livery, stood before
the gay party.
Most excellent Marquis and most beautiful ladies, he said to the
general mirth as he curtsied low and executed a neat pas seul, my
master the Chevalier is very late, but he will surely appear.
Late? protested one of the young blades who knew the Prefect's
nephew. Why, he told me he expected to be here early.
Alas, detained by business replied Picard in a melancholy tone.
Business! A young nobleman has no business!
It is so, gentlemen. Some nights, I grant you, he devotes to
pleasure, as a young aristocrat should; but his dayshow do you
suppose he spends his days?
Sleeps, of course, said the Marquis, in a positive tone.
Gentlemen, allow me to tell you confidentially, said the valet
mysteriously as the gentlemen gathered around him, fully expecting to
hear of some treason. He works! actually works! He sits down and reads
and writes as though he were an advocate.
CHAPTER V. BEL-AIR(CONTINUED)
Bah! exclaimed one. You don't expect us to believe that?
Yes, and more, too, answered Picard, who enjoyed immensely being
able to impart some information to his superiors. Why, how do you
suppose he acts to the common people who want to see him? His
creditors, for instance?
Why, if they are importunate, he beats them, I suppose, answered
de Praille, who often settled bills thus.
Yes, he beats them, sneered Picard; he pays them! Yes, gentlemen,
he pays his tradespeople. And the valet surveyed the group, enjoying
the surprise he had given them.
Oh, the poor fellow is lost! exclaimed one of the party, who at
the age of twenty had spent a large fortune and was now living on his
Completely, affirmed Picard, and all owing to the company he
keeps. He won't be guided by me
The Chevalier Maurice de Vaudrey!
Picard's further revelations were cut short by the entry of his
master who dismissed the valet and presented his apologies to the
In any assemblage the young Chevalier of twenty-two might have been
remarked for his Greek God features and the occasional smile that made
him look, from time to time, a veritable bright Phoebus Apollo.
He was far handsomer, far more attractive than the host, but a
young-old cynic about these goings-on. Nephew of the police prefect of
Paris, he had been specially invited to forestallby reason of his
presenceany Governmental swooping down on Praille's wild party.
Evidently he was not thinking of morals or of license, but his thoughts
were far other.
The people cry out for bread, said the Chevalier, looking at the
board and thinking of the shrieking beggars.
Marquis de Praille raised his fashionable lorgnette, contemplating a
vast chateau-like confection on the table, and sprung his little joke.
Why don't they eat cake? he replied airily, with a cackling laugh.
De Vaudrey smiled fleetingly, then half-serious, half-smiling,
raised a hand in polite protest. Two fair ones carried him off eagerly
to retail to the distinguished visitor a morsel of gossip.
The Marquis has made another conquest! whispered one to him behind
her fan, to which the other added: Yes, he found a marvelously
beautiful Norman peasant journeying to Paris in a stage coach, so
he had La Fleur take her and fetch her herea mere rustic, to outvie
Yes, 'twill be good sport, replied the cynic. These country girls
that his excellency abducts are willing victims.
They were interrupted by a procession of servants bringing in the
The spread was thrown off, a restorative administered to the
recumbent figureHenriette sat up and gazed in blank stupefaction at
the crowding revelers.
She staggered to her feet, looking for a friendly face somewhere.
Of a sudden, the mental image of her lost sister shot her as with a
My sister Louisewhere is she? she pleaded. Quick! Please let me
go to herdon't you understand? She is BLIND! Sobs almost choked the
little voice. She cannot take a SINGLE STEP without me!
De Vaudrey looked up to see the tiny creature running hither and
yon, asking the laughing gentlemen for help, repulsing Praille's
embraces, fending off the other satyr who would drown her sorrows in
fizz. If this were play-acting, it excelled the finest efforts of
Adrienne Lecouvreur! De Praille had now grasped her firmly by the waist
and shoulders, his sensual breath was on her cheek, a last cry escaped
Among all these noblemen, is there not ONE MAN OF HONOR?
The despairing outcry pierced the Chevalier's shallow cynicism,
touching the finer feelings that had lain dormant.
He sprang to her side, dashed de Praille's arms from her exquisite
form. Then, facing his bewildered host, he said in calm even tones to
Come, Mademoiselle, we will leave this place.
Suiting the word to the action, he offered his arm to Henriette and
started to go. With a fury restrained only by conventional usages, de
Praille was across their path and barred the way with his wand.
This is my house, he said hoarsely, and I will not permit this
insult! As he spoke, the chimes sounded midnight. Do you hear? After
twelve o'clock, no one ever leaves Bel-Air!
For answer de Vaudrey dashed aside the extended wand, escorted the
kidnapped girl to the foot of the staircase. De Praille was upon them
again. This time he drew his sword. Fascinated, the courtiers and their
women companions watched the outcome.
Gently shielding Henriette behind him, de Vaudrey drew. Stroke and
counterstroke and parry of rapiers and lightning-like motion glinted in
the air. Henriette was the affrighted center of the fashionable group
that, according to the custom of that time, awaited the issue of the
duel without intervening.
Glory be! her protector was parrying the Marquis' wild thrusts while
he himself bided an opening. It came with a suddenness as dramatic as
the duel itself. A lunge of the villain had left his own side exposed.
De Vaudrey sidestepped and as he did so plunged his rapier between the
ribs of the owner of Bel-Air.
The mortally stricken de Praille sank back against a marble bench.
De Vaudrey scarcely glanced at him. Taking Henriette by the hand, he
rushed with her up the staircase and out to liberty.
Before the Grand Seigneur's cronies thought to avenge their master,
they had passed the astonished servants, passed the minatory beggars at
the gates, and hailing a fiacre were on their way to Paris.
CHAPTER VI. IN THE FROCHARDS' DEN
One hundred and fifty years of outlawry had made the Frochard clan a
wolfish breed; battening on crime, thievery and beggary. The head of
the house had suffered the extreme penalty meted out to highwaymen. The
precious young hopeful, Jacques, was a chip of the old blockpossibly
a shade more drunken and a shade less enterprising.
But the real masterful figure was the Widow Frochard, his mother, a
hag whose street appearance nurses used to frighten naughty children.
Hard masculine features, disheveled locks and piercing black eyes gave
her a fearsome look enhanced by a very vigorous moustache, a huge wart
near the mouth, the ear-hoops and tobacco pipe that she sported, and
the miscellaneous mass of rags that constituted her costume.
In this menage of the begging Frochards, the crippled
scissors-grinder Pierre was the only individual worth his salt, and he
was heartily despised by his brother Jacques and his mother.
The hag's black eyes snapped as she saw Louise whom the hunchback
had saved from the water.
Prettyblindshe'll beg us lots of money! she said gleefully to
Jacques. But to the girl she pretended aid, and her leathern,
liquor-coated voice proclaimed:
No friends, eh, Dearie? Then I'll take care of you!
Only poor Pierre sympathized with Louise's awful grief in being
thrown adrift on Paris through the violent disappearance of her beloved
sister. He trembled to think what knavery his wicked kinsfolk meant,
though he himself was their helpless slave; the target of kicks, cuffs,
and the robbery of all his earnings.
La Frochard led the way to their dank and noisome den, opening from
a street trap-door and giving at the other extremity on a sort of
water-rat exit underneath the pier. She handed Louise down the steps
and taking her things remarked in a self-satisfied tone: Here are your
The old woman arrayed herself in Louise's shawl, and grinned as she
tried on the girl's widespread garden hat. She flung the girl about
roughly, even choking her. To heighten the rosy picture of great wealth
to accrue, she took a deep draught of cognac from her loved black
bottle. Poor Louise sank down to deep slumber, from which neither the
noisy potations of La Frochard and Jacques, nor their cursing and abuse
of the hunchback Pierre, sufficed to awaken her.
Next morning the hag pulled the blind girl out of the rough bed and
dressed her in beggar's garments.
You must go out now on the street with us and sing! she said.
... But you promised to help me find Henriette.... said the poor
We'll find her for you one of these days, but in the meantime you
must earn your keep. NoI don't mean, actually beg! You do the
singing, and I'll do the begging.
Never! cried Louise. You may kill me if you will, but I'll not be
a street beggar. Why, the very first person we meet, I'll ask to save
me and inform the police!
I'll fix you, my fine lady! screamed La Frochard, throwing her
from her. Come, Jacques, she said to her ruffian son, we'll trying a
means of making her mind! Together they seized and started dragging
her to the steps of a sub-cellar. Tremblingly Pierre urged them to
desist, but they cast him aside.
Louise was thrust into the dungeon and the trap closed. Black bread
and a cup of water was to be her prison fare. Still moaning Henriette!
Henriette! she groped along the slimy walls and tried the footing of
the mingled mud and straw.
Horrors! What were the creeping things she sensed, though sightless?
Two raced under her petticoat, one nibbled at her shoe. She jumped high
in air and screamed outright.
Rats! They were upon her again, almost swarming. She fled to a
corner, leaped on a pile of rags, literally fought them off with both
hands! Her screams echoed through the upper den, to the anguish of
Pierre and the mocking laughter of La Frochard and Jacques....
Pitiably broken, Louise was pulled out of the vile sink a few hours
later, pledging wildly to obey the least of the hag's commands.
La Frochard knew that her conquest was complete.
Henceforth the girl would be but as a clay figure in her handsa
decoy to lure the golden charity of the rich and sympathetic.
As for Jacques, that ruffian was now eyeing the blind lass closely,
Not bad-lookingI'll see to it no other man gets her!
He slapped his knife villainously.
CHAPTER VII. TANGLED SKEINS
Henriette Girard had not only been saved from dishonor by Chevalier
de Vaudrey, but she had won a devoted friend. Through his connections,
the Chevalier knew much that was passing in the half-world. The mystery
of the happenings at the coach house was cleared by him.
Your cousin M. Martin, he said, was found drugged in a wineshop
to which presumably the man La Fleur had enticed him. It was easy then
for La Fleur to pose as Martin and kidnap you.
I grieve to say it, abductions of the poor and friendless are
common with the roues of fashion. Their families are of such influence
that the police rarely interfere.
But there will be an end of thisif I mistake not, said the
Chevalier, the people mean to put an end to these seignorial
[Illustration: THE MARQUIS DE PRAILLE IS ENRAPTURED BY THE LITTLE
VISION FROM THE STAGE COACH (HENRIETTE PLAYED BY LILLIAN GISH.)]
It was in one of his frequent talks at the simple lodgings to which
he had conducted her the night of Bel-Air. Swiftly they had retraced
the steps of the stricken Louise even to the pier edge over the
darkling Seine. Horrified and trembling, Henriette feared the worst.
It is not likely she was drowned, said the Chevalier gravely.
Someone must have been about, to save her. Do not be discouraged,
Mademoiselle, if our search for Louise takes several days. We are
without a clewgroping, like her, in the dark. But we shall find her,
The confident words gave tiny comfort to the elder girl as he bade
his adieux in the parlor of the respectable lodging house he had found
for herthe same caravansary (had they but known it) that housed the
then obscure Maximilien Robespierre.
She strove to thank him for his kindness when he interrupted her:
Don't thank me, Mademoiselle, I owe you a debt of
gratitude, for you have restored to me ideals sweet as childhood!
Unconsciously the young people standing there, drew closer to one
another until their lips met. Each was almost too astonished for words.
Fine breeding came to de Vaudrey's aid. He apologizedand promised not
to let it happen again!
Sincerity spoke in the young man's earnest eyes and his respectful
kiss of her small hand at parting.
Was indeed this youthful cynic transformed by the flower-like
influence of the girl?
He went away all eagerness to pursue the lost sister's quest,
promising that no stonepolice or othershould be left unturned in
* * * * *
And herewhere the orphans' eventful epoch becomes entwined with
the lives of the great and with the darkening storm and impending
passion of the Revolutionit is well to acquaint our readers further
with the de Vaudreys.
Count de Linieres of Touraine had been marriedmany years before
the date of this storyto Mlle. de Vaudrey, the heiress of a great
fortune. A skeleton ('twas rumored) rattled in the Vaudrey closet.
Certainly there was heritage of hates as well as gold.
A tenant Jean Setain, who came to the Paris mansion to pay his rent,
made a scene. He told of the cruelties long ago inflicted on his father
by the Countess' fatherfor some trifling trespass on seigniorage,
boiling lead in the unfortunate's veinsand the angry Count, after
a stern rebuke, had him ejected. Jacques-Forget-Not (such was his queer
nickname) departed, vowing vengeance.
Having ample wealth, the Count desired preferment. The post of
Minister of Police was a steppingstone. He accepted it whilst visions
of a grand alliance for his nephew, Chevalier de Vaudrey, pointed to
dukedom or even princely rank as the family's goal. It thus vexed
Linieres exceedingly that the Chevalier should have been mixed up in a
duel about an unknown girl. He believed it a clever stroke to hire
Picard, the Chevalier's own valet, to spy upon him.
How is your master's conduct? asked the Count.
Scandalous, perfectly scandalous! replied Picard in a tone of deep
dejection. Once indeed he had a few gentleman associates and went to
gay parties, but now he is quite moral, and just as studious as a
lawyer's clerk. Really I must leave the Chevalier, continued Picard,
his principles are such as I cannot accept!
Then I will re-engage youon one condition. That is, that you
remain a while with my nephew and tell me everything he does. I have
heard, on the contrary, that
Picard almost danced a pas seul. Oh, that is the way the wind lies!
The sly dog!And I thought of leaving him. She must be a saucy and
jaunty little minx, whoever she is! Oh, yes, I will find out everything
that you require.
With eye to keyhole the valet reporter saw the frequent innocent
parleys of Maurice and Henriette, which he construed as an intrigue. He
was quite ecstatic with happiness now. The police Prefect, finding his
suspicions privately confirmed, bluntly refused police aid to the
Chevalier's hunt for Louise. He spoke pointedly and (as he hoped) with
Monsieur, you must give up your association with these common
people. I have other plans for you that will shortly mature.
The angry Count could not be crossed. De Vaudrey's sole hope lay in
* * * * *
Ceaselessly Henriette spent her days in trying to trace Louise. Her
quest became the neighborhood gossip. Strangers interested themselves
and offered clues to herself and the Chevalierclues that proved quite
To her doorstep a great pock-marked man, bushy-browed and of
knob-like visage, was walking one day with her finicky dandified
neighbor M. Robespierre. As he passed, the titan turned and inquired
Are you the little girl who lost her sister?
He spoke with a gentle sympathy that touched her and even his
cursing reference to the abductions: Damned aristocrats! The people
are going to stop that sort of thing! did not phase her, for she
looked up into his face and trustfully replied:
You are such a big man I should think you could do almost
Robespierre was pawing at the pock-marked one's coat, and finally
succeeded in yanking him around. The broad back of the giant being
turned to her, our little sparrow of a Henriette noiselessly
departedto the evident disappointment of the big man who looked yet
again and found her place empty!
The big man had run across Chevalier de Vaudrey also, and the two
had struck up a friendship. Moved by the pitiful sight of a starveling
crowd gazing into a bakery, Maurice had rushed in and bought an armful
of loaves which he distributed, adding gold louis for the wretched
mothers of families. The pock-marked one had been a spectator. He
stopped the Chevalier, shook his hand warmly, and remarked: If more of
the aristocrats were like you, things would be different!
* * * * *
From these scenes of low life, let the reader pass for a few moments
to the Salon de la Paix at Versailles, where King Louis XVI received
We in America who have no awe of royalty perceive that the luckless
King was simply a square peg in a round hole. He loved locksmithy,
hunting, and home; would have been a successful inventor, pioneer, or
bourgeois parent. In the chair of State, on this day of petitions, his
head and hand busied themselves with a wonderful new doorlock he had
Sire, said the suppliant de Linieres, in the matter of the grand
alliance betwixt my nephew Chevalier de Vaudrey and your ward Princesse
The monarch nodded absentmindedly.
Oh, yes, yes! Of course. As you say With a courtly wave of the
hand, the monarch indicated the waiting heiress on his right. She
curtsied low in acceptance of the royal command.
Let the young man marry her, and accept a place in my royal
entourageBut now that this little matter is settled, continued the
King with a return to his former animation, I invite you to examine my
latest invention, an unpickable lock, which I have here!
The grave comedy of eulogy on the royal locksmithing was played by
the delighted suppliant according to all the rules.
CHAPTER VIII. THE HONOR OF THE FAMILY
Daily the young Chevalier developed a warmer interest in the sweet
and pure young girl at the faubourg lodgings. Always his visits brought
a little delicious heart-flutter to Henriette, though not unmixed with
mourning o'er lost sister. And as a result of these idyllic meetings,
ambitious plans appeared to him abhorrent.
About this time the Countess de Linieres, calling one day at her
husband's ministerial offices, learned of his purposes.
I was about to come to you, said the Count, but you have
anticipated me. I desire to speak with you on the subject of your
nephew, the Chevalier de Vaudrey, and to ask you to prepare him for the
marriage which the King
Wishes to impose on him, interrupted the Countess bitterly.
Impose on him? repeated de Linieres. It is a magnificent
alliance, which will complete the measure of the distinguished honors
with which His Majesty deigns to favor us.
Have you spoken to the Chevalier yet?
No, but I am expecting him every moment, and I wished to talk with
him in your presence.
As if this conversation had some influence over him, de Vaudrey
entered at this moment.
Ah, Chevalier! exclaimed the Count. I am glad to see you. The
Countess and myself have an important communication to make to you.
De Vaudrey looked at his uncle in surprise. The latter was
positively beaming. Big with the prospective grandeur of his house, he
hesitated momentarily over the manner of delivering it.
My dear Maurice, said the Count finally, the King did me the
honor to receive me yesterday, and he spoke of you.
Of me? asked de Vaudrey in surprise.
He takes a great interest in you, continued de Linieres, now
speaking quickly. He wishes you to accept a position at court, and
desires at the same time that you should marry.
Marry? asked de Vaudrey, as though he could not believe his uncle
really meant what he said.
The Countess waited as anxiously for de Vaudrey's answer as did her
husband, though for a different reason. She loved the young man before
her, and his happiness and well-being were very dear to her.
My dear nephew, she said kindly, I see that this news surprises
you. Yet there is no fear that the King's choice will do violence to
your feelings. The lady whom His Majesty has chosen, has youth, beauty
In proof of which I have only to tell you that his choice is
Princesse the Count attempted to say, but was interrupted by the
Do not name her, he said excitedly.
Why not? asked his uncle in astonishment.
Because I refuse to marry!
The effect of these momentous words was quite diverse upon the uncle
and the aunt of the young man.
For the moment the haughty nobleman could not understand why his
nephew-by-marriage should reject the flattering proposal, such an easy
and agreeable road to place and fortune. Soon rising anger got the
better of his surprise, and minding Picard's reports on the Chevalier's
conduct, his thought was:
Ah, that's the secrethe prefers his libertine courses to assured
But the Aunt, with a woman's ready wit, understood there could be
but one reason to such a decided refusal, and knew that he must be
already in love.
Countess de Linieres loved the Chevalier as if he were her own son.
Quickly she shot the youth a warning look to prevent if possible a
verbal passage of arms. But it was already too late.
You dare to disobey the King thundered Count de Linieres, in
righteous wrath, backed (as the others well knew) by the triple
authority of household, police and royal cachet.
My sword is my King's, flashed the handsome youth resolutely, but
my will must remain my own!
I will go to His Majesty, he continued passionately. I will thank
him for his goodness, place my services at his disposal. My devotion,
my life are his, but my affections are my own, and I wish to
Free! exclaimed the Count scornfully. Free to lead a life of
dissipation which you may not always be able to hide from the world.
These words, which implied so much, stung the noble-hearted de
Vaudrey more than any words of anger or reproach could have done.
There is nothing in my life to hide, he said proudly but
impatiently, nothing for which I have reason to blush.
Are you sure of that, Chevalier? asked the Count, in a tone that
plainly said the speaker knew differently. Conscious of his own
uprightness, this doubt cast upon his word was more than the Chevalier
could bear, and he advanced toward his uncle with a menacing air.
Monsieur! he began, boldly, I cannot
Maurice! my husband! exclaimed the Countess, as she stepped
between the two men to prevent those words being spoken which would
have led to an encounter. Defer the conversation for the present.
Permit me to speak to Maurice.
Very well, said de Linieres sternly. Then turning to the Chevalier
he said, in a voice which he had never before used to his nephew: We
will return to this another time. You will remember that as head of the
family its honor is confided to my care, and I will not suffer any one
to sully it with a stain.
De Vaudrey had nearly lost all control of his temper. In a moment
the outbreak which the Countess was so anxious to avoid would have
broken forth, had not the Count without giving his nephew time to speak
I leave you with the Countess. I hope that your respect and
affection for her will cause you to lend more weight to her counsels
than you are disposed to give to mine.
As if fearing that he might have tried the young man's temper too
far, or that he did not wish to prolong a useless scene, the Count left
the room. De Vaudrey was alone with his Aunt.
The Countess went up to the noble-looking young man, and taking his
hand in hers, asked in a sweet, winning voice:
Who is this woman you love? What obstacle prevents the avowal of
your passion? If it is only a matter of fortune, take mine; it is all
at your disposal, and I will give it to you cheerfully.
Ah, where shall I find a heart like yours? exclaimed the Chevalier
in a voice trembling with emotion. You have divined my secret. I adore
a young girl as charming as she is pure. Yet never have I dared to
whisper my passion!
Her nameher family? asked the Countess eagerly.
She was born of the people, said de Vaudrey proudly, yet tenderly.
She is an orphan and lives by the labor of her hands.
The Countess, who had never for a moment imagined such an answer to
her question, was surprised, and she showed plainly that grief was
mingled with her surprise.
And you would make such a woman your wife? she asked
Do not judge her until you have seen her, entreated the Chevalier.
Consent to see her, and then advise me.
The young man took the Countess's hands in his, and looked
imploringly into her face.
But his Aunt turned away from him with a gesture of sorrow.
In such a marriage, she said sadly, there can be no happiness for
you, and for her, only misery. Alas! I know too well the result of
those unequal unions. You must renounce her. You owe obedience to your
family and your King. She burst into a flood of tears.
Diffidently the young man sought to comfort the Countess whose
emotion seemed to have its spring in some hidden sorrow. He promised at
last for her sake to consider again the horribly odious proposal of a
State marriage, and drying her tears as well as he could, went his way,
a victim of torn desires and intensest anguish....
CHAPTER IX. FRIENDS OF THE PEOPLE
The giant stranger who had talked to Henriette and made friends with
de Vaudrey was Jacques Danton. He and his colleague, Maximilien
Robespierre, were destined to be the outstanding figures of the French
Revolution. It is worth while to stop here for a little and consider
these two men in their historical aspects and for the profound
influence which they exerted on the lives of our characters.
As the storm clouds blacken the sky and the sullen sea (not yet
lashed to fury) is ridged in deep, advancing breakers, the mariner's
eye discerns these stormy petrels flying about or momentarily perched
on the masts of the Ship of State.
Mark them wellDanton and Robespierre: today, merely esurient
advocates, petty men of law come up from the provinces to win their
fortunes in Paris; tomorrow, leaders of faction; some months or years
later, the rulers of France!
[Illustration: PIERRE BECOMES THE DEVOTED WORSHIPPER OF LOUISE WHOM
HE HAS SAVED FROM THE RIVER]
Dantonthe huge, brawny figure, through whose black brows and rude
flattened face there looks a waste energy as of Hercules not yet
Robespierreaptly described as the meanest man of the Tiers Estat:
that anxious, slight, ineffectual-looking man, under thirty, in
spectacles; his eyes, troubled, careful; with upturned face, snuffing
dimly the uncertain future-time; complexion of a multiplex atrabiliar
color, the final shade of which may be the pale sea-green!
Such were they, afterwards to be known respectively as the
pock-marked Thunderer and the sea-green Incorruptible of the
Revolution. The slight, fox-like man had got himself elected to the
States-General which in May, 1789, convened at Versailles to take up
the troubled state of the country, whilst the lion-like and fiery
Danton was the president of the Cordeliers electoral district of
Paristhe head of a popular faubourg faction, not yet of power in the
The new helmsmen of the State, headed by Mirabeau, steered with
considerable success among waters as yet but partly roiled. At
Versailles an outward and visible Liberalism triumphed. The Third
Estate or Commons, consolidating its authority as a permanent assembly,
took measures to end the national bankruptcy and tried to cope with the
awful menace of starvation. It was a bourgeois body, thinly sprinkled
with members of the nobility and clergy; its aim, to abolish the worst
seigniorial abuses, restore prosperity, and support the throne by a
system of constitutional guarantees.
But when the Storm broke, it was not at Versailles where these
lawgiving Six Hundred debated the state of the Nation, but at Paris
that the group known as Friends of the People lashed the popular
discontents to unmeasured and ungovernable fury.
It begins in the Palais Royal where there has been erected,
apparently by subscription, a kind of Wooden Tent, most
convenientwhere select Patriotism can now redact resolutions, deliver
harangues, with comfort, let the weather be as it will. Lively is that
Satan-at-Home! On his table, on his chair, in every cafe, stands a
patriotic orator; a crowd round him within; a crowd listening from
without, open-mouthed, through open door and window; with 'thunders of
applause for every sentiment of more than common hardiness.'
Strange that in a Royalist garden should sprout the seeds of a great
Revolution! Stranger the crowds that gathered there, and the leaders
both popular and Royalistamong the former, our fiery friend Danton,
our cautious, snuffling Robespierre, and the boy of genius Camille
Desmoulins, Danton's slight-built comrade and craft-brother, he with
the long curling locks, with the face of dingy blackguardism,
wondrously irradiated with genius!
General Lafayette and Minister from America Thomas Jefferson came
there too now and again, to watch the crowds and hear the speeches.
Symbols of America's newly won freedom, they were objects of almost
superstitious veneration to the agitators for an enfranchised France.
Danton, Desmoulins and the rest crowded around them, eager to shake
their hands and listen to their comments. In particular, Lafayette's
swordthe gift of the American Congress a decade before, excited their
From America's Congress! repeated Danton fervently as he eyed the
inscription on the scabbard. Why, that's the kind of Government we
want over here! Tears came into the Frenchman's eyes, to think of the
Liberty that Lafayette had helped to win.
The Palais Royal gardens were the property of the King's cousin,
Louis Phillipe. Disgusted with not being in the councils of the monarch
and leaning to democracy, he permitted the place to be used for public
promenades, lovers' meetingsand popular harangues. Friends of the
People, Friends of Phillipe, and Friends of the King freely rubbed
elbows. The popular tide set so strongly that none dared openly oppose
the demagogic orators. A bread famine had descended upon Paris. The
scarcity of wheat and flour was an ever-present theme; the oppression
of autocracy and seigniorage, another. The cry for direct action always
woke echo in the popular breast, sick over the delays of the Versailles
lawgivers, and nourishing the hope of seizing pelf and power, rescuing
their kinsfolk from the prisons, and beating down the Kingship and
aristocracy to relinquish privileges and abate the hardships of the
Plain, embittered envy stalked abroad, tooenvy of the aristocrats'
grand homes and unparalleled luxury, their fine equipages and clothing,
costly foods and wines, their trains of lackeys and menials, the beauty
and joie-de-vivre of their sons and daughters! The mechanic, the
storekeeper, the unskilled laborer, the ranks of unemployed, and the
submerged tenth obliged to live by their wits or starve, were as fuel
to the spark of the orators' lightning.
'Twas unlike a well-ordered land wherein each one receives the
well-merited reward of toil. Justice was not in the body politic.
Tyranny, extravagance and bankruptcy on the part of the ruling class
had wiped out the margin of plenty. Black ruin seemed to impend for
all. It was a case of starveor unite against the rulers and
oppressors of society. Danton, the thunderer of mighty speech,
dominated these gatherings, aided and abetted by the eagle-like
Desmoulins and the crafty Robespierre.
With the People's government, his swelling periods resounded,
there shall be no common man, no aristocratno rich nor poorbut all
brothersbrothersbrothers! Imagine if you can the fire-drama of his
recital of generations of cruelties and wrongshis picture of their
miserable lot and of the envied aristocrats' pleasuresand then
consider the pitch of frenzied republicanism to which this wonderful
fraternal climax uplifted them! With crash of thunder and wrack of the
elements the Storm must break, directly the popular feeling found
immediate object of its ire.
CHAPTER X. THE ATTACK ON DANTON
But the royalists were not idle. Their spies attended the meetings.
Their swordsmen provoked street encounters with popular leaders.
They had always coped with popular ferments by picking off the
individual leaders, and they did not doubt their ability to do the same
thing now. As Danton spoke, an influential Royalist, pretending to
handclap his sentiments, privately signaled to a number of these
spadassins or killers.
On his way home from the meeting Danton was attacked in the lonely
street. He backed up to a house porch, quickly drew his own sword, and
with herculean strength managed to cut down five or six spadassins of
the advance party.
Then he fled to the house where Henriette and also Robespierre
lodged, rushed in and up the stairs. The following company were almost
upon him. Their shouts and cries could be heard below.
Danton plumped into the first door at the left of the stair-head. He
was there when Henriette, who had been momentarily away, returned to
The spiesspadassinsthey would take my life He was wounded.
It was with a difficult hoarseness that he spoke.
The little homekeeper put a warning finger to mouth. Running past
him to the door, she slipped out and closed it. She withdrew to the
back of the hall, and came forward nonchalantly as the assassins
reached the hallway.
Rapier at her throat, the leader put the silent but terrible
question. Henriette's heart jumped. She managed not to show her terror.
I saw a man going up those stairs three steps at a time! she lied
superbly, pointing to the floor above.
The company ran up the third-floor stairs on the double jump. As
they vanished, she was inside her rooms again and with the quarry.
Minutes passed. The spadassins searched the top garrets. They sought
the roof, saw escape was impossible that way. Then they clattered down
the stairs. The leader hesitated at Henriette's door.
Faugh! he said. The girl is just a simpleton, she couldn't have
At his command the men marched downto encounter unexpectedly a
company of national gendarmes that had been hurriedly summoned to the
scene of the disturbance.
In the porch melee Danton's side had been painfully slashed. Despite
the pain, he recognized his little preserver and thanked her. Still
holding his hand to his side and half-reeling, he moved to go. Now that
all seemed quiet, he proposed to rid her of the compromising presence
of a man in her room.
Henriette seized him with her little arms.
No, no, you can't go! she said with a little smile of divine pity.
Better a little gossip about me than that you should lose your life.
Henriette locked the door!
She strove to carry the disabled giant to the nearest chair. Leaning
heavily on her, he walked with an effort and plumped down on it. One of
his arms was around her. She tried to free it, but it clung. With hands
and knees she crawled out backward from the unconscious embrace.
It was the work of but a few minutes to wash and bind his wound.
Next she spread a pallet on the floor, assisted him to it, wrapped him
warmly, and with a kind Good night! left him to go to her little
That same night the spadassins were met and disarmed by the
gendarmes who (largely owing to Danton's eloquence) espoused the
people's side. And that is why Monsieur Robespierre, his confrere, was
abroad very early, without fear of assassins, and nosing for news.
I hear Danton was in a little trouble last night! gossiped the
slick citizen with his landlady. The fight was in this very house, was
The landlady, it seemed, was ignorant of Danton's refuge. But
Robespierre suspected. He decided to investigate, being a stickler for
propriety. Mounting the stairs stealthily, he knocked at Henriette's
The girl and the man were at their leave-taking. Few words were
spoken. The giant clasped both her little hands in his great paws.
What you have done for me I shall never forget! he was saying.
Oh, if I had a great kind brother like this! was her sudden
Whisht! she whispered vocally as the knock was heard. Again the
little gesture of warning finger to mouth.
She stole to the keyhole and thought she recognized the habiliments
of her neighbor the dandy. Motioning Danton back out of sight she
opened the door on the crack, closed it as she slipped through, and
encountered the bowing and smirking Robespierre.
A man escaped from the spadassins here last night-did he find
refuge with you?
You are mistaken, Monsieur. I am quite alone.
May I just see? Very intimate friend of mine, I am sure.
No, you may not! Henriette quickly reentered, and slammed
and locked the door on the future Dictator of France. 'Twas only a
little door slam, but it re-echoed later, even at the Gates of Death!
Rubbing his long nose Robespierre took snuff.
Sh-h, he is still there! whispered the girl to Danton, with
another look through keyhole. Presently steps were heard going
I think he is gone! she said, verifying her statement by again
opening the door and finding the coast clear.
Danton, with a final good-by, went his way.
The sneak, however, had retraced his downstairs steps with cat-like
tread. In an alcove of the back hall he had found a hiding post.
As Danton's broad back descended down the steps, a vulpine head
peered out of the alcove, and Robespierre's cunning, self-satisfied
look showed that he recognized Henriette's visitant.
CHAPTER XI. LOUISE BEFORE NOTRE DAME
In the days following her immurement in the dreadful sub-cellar,
Louise became the Frochards' breadwinner. Her pathetic blindness,
lovely face and form, and sweet young voice attracted sympathy from
each passer-by. The offerings all went into the capacious pocket of La
Frochard, whence indeed most of them were stolen or cajoled by her
worthless scamp of a Jacques.
The old hag feared only lest she lose her precious acquisition of
the blind girl. She guarded her ceaselessly, and warded off dangerous
It was not easy, however, to avoid the good Doctor from La Force,
who gave them a donative and looked at the girl with deep professional
interest. Despite the beggar's tactics, he insisted on examining the
pupils, then called La Frochard aside.
Don't encourage her too much, said the old gentlemen kindly, but
bring her to me. I am quite sure that she can be cured.
Rejoining Louise and smiling her wheedling beggar's smile at the
departing Doctor, the features of Widow Frochard suddenly contorted in
black rageshe shook her fist at the physician directly his back was
turned. Monstrousto restore sight, and thus make the girl worthless
as object of charity! La Frochard felt she had good reason for her
Can the Doctor do anything? ventured Louise to the hag, timidly.
No, he said your case is hopeless.
They were standing now near the snowy steps of Notre Dame, awaiting
worshippers whose pity would be stirred by the girl's misfortune.
Half-drunken Jacques had reeled out of a cabaret to exact his share of
the plunder. Mother and first-born cursed heartily the scissors-grinder
Pierre who came limping up, saying he could get no jobs on account of
the bitter cold, wintry day. Kicking the cripple and twisting Louise's
arm were the favorite pastimes of Jacques and the Widow.
On this occasion the hag snatched the covering from the wretched
girl's shoulders and put it around her own. You'll shiver better
without that shawl! she said, brutally setting the scene for the
Jacques and I, she continued, are going to get a little drink to
warm our frozen bodies.
Guard her there, you good-for-nothing Pierre, or I'll break every
bone of your body! They departed to spend the Doctor's gold-piece.
Pierre tried vainly to comfort the girl. He could but find her a
seat in a pile of snow! He warmed her hands with his own, strove to
speak cheering words. But teeth were chattering, and her frail form was
quivering as with the ague.
A great wave of pity and love overwhelmed the cripple. He peeled off
his coat, beneath which were but the thinnest rags. He wrapped it
around her, saying:
There, there! this will help you keep warm. I really do not need
His own teeth were chattering now, and his pinched features were
The blind girl touched his icy arm, half exposed by his ragged
shirt, as she rose to sing for the charity of those who attended mass.
No, no, Pierre, she cried, removing the coat from her shoulders,
I will not let you freeze. Oh, how selfish I am to permit you to
suffer, who have been so kind to me!
Rejecting his entreaties, she made him put it on again, hiding her
Hearken! there sounds the organ for the recessional! she
continued. Soon the people will be coming out. I will sing the same
songs that my sister Henriette and I used to sing. Perhaps some one
will recognize the melody, and lead me back to her!
A beautifully majestic, ermined figure stepped graciously out of the
church, as La Frochard rejoined Louise and began whining: Charity! In
the name of God, Charity! whilst the girl's voice lifted up in an old
The lady was the Countess de Linieres, returning from her devotions.
The song evoked memories of a bitter past and of a long lost
daughter snatched from her in infancy. Bending over poor Louise, she
asked: My child, can you not see me?
No, Madame, I am blind, was the low, sad answer.
[Illustration: MARQUIS DE PRAILLE PLYING HIS ART WITH THE LADIES.]
A strange sympathy stirred in the Countess for this girl. There
seemed to be some hidden link between them, the nature of which baffled
her. She felt the impulse to protect and cherishwas it the voice of
Mother Love obscurely speaking?
Alas! said Louise. Blindness is not the worst of my misfortunes.
La Frochard administered a terrible pinch that pulled Louise away,
then mothered her cutely. We are starving, my beautiful lady, she
whined, and the poor girl is out of her head. What is that you say?
Not my daughter? Yes, indeed she isthe preciousand the youngest
of seven. Charity, charity! In the name of God, charity! she sniffled.
Reluctantly Countess de Linieres stifled the impulse to mother this
kindred and hapless young being, averred to be the beggar's daughter.
She placed a golden louis on the palm of the singer, saying:
Give this to your mother, child.
CHAPTER XII. LOVE, MASTER OF HEARTS
The Count's demands brought to a head a resolve that had taken
possession of Chevalier de Vaudrey's heart and soul. Always the picture
of the sweet Norman girl he had saved from de Praille's foul clutches
was in his waking thoughts, of nights he dreamed a blessed romance! He
recked not of the Count's displeasure, sorrowed that he must displease
his Aunt as sorely. The only bar was that a vision of the lost Louise
stood, as it were, between him and his beloved Henriette.
Now that he had come to her to speak of his proposal, the little
heart still quested for the lost sister.
Don't you ever think of anyone but her? he asked.
A negative shake of the golden head and ringleted curls was the
answer, though the cupid mouth and the blue eyes smiled with
tenderness. They stood very close to another, like poles of a magnet
twixt which a spark flashes.
Silently Maurice drew from his pocket a ring. 'Twas of pure gold, a
lovely and exquisite bauble, whereof the two little claws clasped a
golden heart. He handed it to Henriette, who took it with a happy smile
till she realized its meaning as betrothal.
A wave of color overspread her cheek. The heir of the de Vaudreys to
give himself to her! Pride and love mingled in her thoughts.
Yes, to throw himself away on a Commoner girlhe meant it. Flashed
the picture on her mental retina of the little solemn oath to Louise.
What he asked was impossiblefor him and for her.
Henriette handed back the ring.
Marry youan aristocrat! Why, that would ruin you in the eyes of
all the world!
He was down on his knees, pleading, agonized, distressed, looking
for some sign of relentment from the beauteous little head that seemed
rigidly to repress emotion.
Then you d-o-n-'t l-o-v-e m-e? he faltered at last, rising.
No! was the reply, in a firm but very small voice.
The broken Chevalier started slowly for the door. He turned slightly
and caught the sound of sobs.
Wheeling around, he saw her arms half stretched towards him. He
He was now kissing the hem of her garments, her gloves, her roses,
her fingertips, and crying extravagantly, almost shouting the words:
You DO love me!
Gently Henriette imparted a maiden's delicate kiss on his cheek.
When Louise is found she was half sobbing in his arms,
dreamsyesperhaps you might find a way to bring them true!
But the gallant gentleman jumps forward to the end of the dream.
Youthfully swearing that Louise will soon be found, he visions their
exquisite happiness as of tomorrow or the day after. He holds her
delightedly, then draws her closer. The kindred magnets are one.
Lips meet lips in soul-kiss that cause the maidenly head to hide
under elbow in confusion. Kissing almost every part and furnishing of
that dear second selfvowing never to rest till he brings Louise and
takes Henriettethe ecstatic cavalier is gone!
Alas for the quickly visioned dream-facts of twenty-four! Full long
shall be the interval betwixt the bright Utopia and the heavenly
reality:the dungeon, the Storm, the death chamber and e'en the
shining axe shall intervene.
A great Nation shall have thrown off its old tyrants and weltered in
the blood of new tyranny. What matter? The souls of the girl and the
man are one, they shall be faithful unto the End!
CHAPTER XIII. THE RECOGNITION
The Chevalier de Vaudrey sought his Aunt and begged her to see his
beloved before finally siding with the Count against him. The incident
of the chance encounter with the blind girl had stirred the Countess,
awakened renewed pity for hapless love such as she herself had once
experienced. She decided to visit Henriette, if only to divert her from
the seemingly mad project of a union with the Chevalier.
Meantime Count Linieres had decided to exercise the power of the
dread lettres de cachet. In the France of that day, personal rights
were unknown. Subject only to the King's will, no other warrant than
the Prefect's signature was required to send anyone into exile or to
life imprisonment. The means that Linieres now had in mind were often
used to quell rebellious lovers.
He would brand this inconvenient, presumptuous Henriette Girard as a
fallen woman, imprison her at La Salpetriere, and then ship her as a
convict to Louisiana. That would get rid of her, truly!
In the meanwhile the Chevalier, if disobedient, could cool his heels
in the prison tower of the royal fortress at Caen. After a while, he
might indeed see reason and think better of marrying the Princesse de
He summoned the Chevalier. The autocratic Count brooked no words; he
commanded marriage with the State heiressor exile!
His nephew refusing, the guards were summoned, the young man gave up
his sword, and under their escort he was presently on his way to Caen
Then, summoning a detail of military police, the Count moved to
carry out the other part of his plan.
* * * * *
You are Mademoiselle Henriette Girard? inquired the Countess
kindly on entering the girl's lodgings.
Henriette greeted the distinguished and aristocratic lady with due
respect. Making her comfortable in a guest chair, she resumed her
sewing and listened.
I am the aunt of the Chevalier Maurice de Vaudrey. The girl,
startled, looked up from her work. Marriage between you and the
Chevalier is impossible.
I love him, Madame, replied Henriette, simply.
Then it is your duty to give him up, since it is the will of the
King that he marry Princesse de Acquitaine
Henriette paled. For an instant the blue eyes looked near-tigerish,
with green and yellow lights. Yet she must save Maurice from the King's
If you will make this sacrifice, continued the Countess, I shall
not prove ungrateful with any reward that is in my power.
Oh, yes, there is! replied Henriette earnestly. She showed the
Countess her sampler, on which she was working the word
Louisethat name is very dear to me, replied the Lady softly. She
visioned a scene of long ago when an infant Louise had been snatched
from her young armsthe arms of a mother deprived of her offspring.
She is my sister, resumed Henriettelost, wandering and alone,
on the streets of Paris. Oh, help me find her, and II will do
anything you say! The poor creature sobbed in her double misery.
She pointed to her own eyes in gesture to portray Louise's
misfortune: Blindso helplessit was just like taking care of a
baby. She told the story of her abduction and the loss of her sister,
then of Chevalier de Vaudrey's vain efforts and hers to trace her.
The Countess de Linieres leaned forward in intense sympathy
conjoined with a certain weird premonition.
She isn't really my sister, went on Henriette, but I owe her the
love of a mother and sister combined. She saved us from want and death.
My father found her on the steps of Notre Dame
A low cry escaped the Countess.
where he was about to put me as a foundling, there not being a
morsel of food in our wretched home. This other baby was half buried
under the snow. He warmed the little bundle against his body and
mineand, rather than let us perish there of the cold, returned
homeward with both infants in his arms. Suspended from the other baby's
neck were a bag of gold and this locket
The Countess gasped. She put a hand to her heart and seemed about to
faint before recovering strength to examine the locket that Henriette
handed to her.
It was a miniature that the Prefect's wife recognized as her own!
Opened, it disclosed an aged and yellowed bit of paper, on which the
writing was still visible:
HER NAME IS LOUISE
My child! My own Louise! she cried, lost, wandering and blind
in Paris. Tell me, tell me She had almost fainted. The floodgate of
tears relieved her pent heart.
Henriette was bending over her now, her arm around her shoulders,
trying to comfort.
But the girl herself was near the breaking point. The voice of the
loved and absent one seemed to sound in her ears.
Was it an hallucination?
Singing,don't you hear? said Henriette, softly, to the Mother.
The girl brushed a hand across her eyes and tapped her temple.
In my dreams oft I hear it, my sister's voice. I must be losing my
Again swelled the notes of the Norman melody, and this time the
Mother heard too.
The two sprang to their feet.
Henriette dashed to balcony window. At the end of the street she saw
a figure clad in beggar's rags that she thought she knew.
Henriette's cry echoed down the street and impinged on the blind
beggar's brain. The outcast ran groping and stumbling forward, no
longer singing, but calling Henriette! Her keeper, Widow Frochard,
was not in sight.
The blind girl came nearer. Frochard emerged from a ginshop and
tried to head her off. The Mother followed Henriette to the window. The
latter encouraged Louise with little cries:
Don't get excited!
It's all right!
I'll be down in one instant!
She rushed past the Countess across the room and flung wide the
door, on the very brink of happiness.
But a troop of guards stood there to her astonished gaze. The Count
de Linieres, standing at their head, pronounced her name as if reading
a warrant: Henrietta Girard!
The girl drew back, then charged like a little fury on the gunstocks
and bosoms of the troopers, pounding them with her fists.
Unable to move this granite-like wall, she dashed back to the
balcony eyrie, imploring Louise with both hands.
Arrest her! said de Linieres to the soldiers.
Brawny troopers pulled her back as she would have jumped out of the
window to the flagging belowand her Louise. Vainly the Countess de
Linieres entreated for mercy. They dragged the girl downstairs.
Here again she made a frantic appeal and wild effort to join her
blind charge, who was being hurried away in the vise-like grip of La
Oh, for Heaven's sake, have pitylet me go to my sister, or I
shall lose her again!
Deaf to her entreaties, they took her to La Salpetriere, this
loveliest of virgins, to be immured among the foul characters there!
END OF PART ONE
CHAPTER XIV. DOWN IN THE DEPTHS
With Henrietta condemned to the cruel fate of immurement in a prison
for the fallen, the Chevalier trussed up in royal Caen, and his aunt
the Countess prostrated by the hag's recapture of and disappearance
with the noblewoman's long-lost daughter, blind Louise, 'twould seem as
if our characters faced indeed blank walls of ruin, misery and despair,
from which no power could rescue them.
In those times, the utter vanishing of persons who incurred police
disfavor was no uncommon incident. Often no public charge was made;
merely the gossiped whisper that So-and-So lay in Bastille or La
Salpetriere at the royal pleasure, kept the unfortunate faintly in
memory till the lapse of years caused him or her to be forgotten. And,
sometimes, even, at the prison gate, identity vanished. Did not the
celebrated and mysterious Man in the Iron Mask carry his baffling
secret through decades of dungeon death-in-life to the prisoner's dark
Others were silently transported to exile overseas. As England had
her Botany Bay, so France had Louisiana. Let us take a glance at La
Salpetriere (as Henriette is being dragged there by Count de Linieres'
troopers) to look at the sights and scenes of the famous female prison,
and contemplate what the inmates had in store.
There was no interesting toil to relieve their unhappy lot, and no
distinction was made of the insane, the law-breaking criminal, and the
wretched streetwalker or demimondaine. In the courtyard, during the
exercise periods, the only talk was of the terms of imprisonment and of
the chances of Louisiana. In that gray monotony the ministrations of
the charitable Sisters, headed by the saintly Sister Genevieve (who had
been born within the walls of the prison), furnished the one bright
Do not grieve so! said one of the older inmates who had begged a
little needlework, to a novice who was seated on a bench, weeping
convulsively with her head in her arms.
Oh, I can never live such a life as this! replied the poor girl,
giving way to new grief.
Try to do something or other, 'twill make you forget your
I've never done anything in my lifeexcept amuse myself! replied
That would be precious hard work in this place, said a third
speaker, who had passed several years of the dreary inactions of prison
Well, anyhow, I've had my fling! remarked the newcomer, drying her
eyes. Scores of admirers crowded around me, willing to ruin themselves
for my amusement she said in a vivacious manner, as she recalled her
And it all peters down to prison, eating gruel with a wooden
spoon, said the cynical old-timer; then, some day, we shall be
treated as those poor creatures were yesterdayhurried off with a
guard of soldiers to see us safe on our weary exile
Does the idea of exile frighten you?
[Illustration: ONE OF THE BEAUTIES OF THE GARDEN FETE OF BEL-AIR.]
Who would not be frightened at the idea of being led off amid
insults and jeerscondemned to a two months' voyage in the vilest
companyand at the end of it be landed in a wild country to face the
alternatives of slavery or a runaway into the savage swamps?
Plenty of work to relieve monotony
They say women are scarce out there in Louisiana. Perhaps I shall
get a husband, and revenge myself on the male creation that way
Their speculations were cut short by the entry of a squad of
troopers literally dragging tiny Henriette Girard within the prison
walls. Cold and unfeeling at best, these men had no sympathy with their
young charge whom they naturally believed to be one of the harpies or
half-wits caught in the police dragnet. They thrust her mid the crowd
in the courtyard and departed. The great iron doors clanged shut. The
gatekeeper turned the massive key. Henriettewithout a friend in the
world to appeal towas an inmate of dread La Salpetriere!
Like a flock of magpies the imprisoned demi-mondaines, petty
thieves, and grosser criminals for love or for hate, crowded around the
girl, inquiring what offence had brought her amongst them.
I am innocent!
Her little sobbing cry of self-justification was received with jibes
and winks. Was not such the formula of every prisoner? They pressed her
for her story. Looking at these ignoble spirits, the girl could not
bear to acquaint them with her pure and holy romance.
As she turned away, a new shock met her gaze.
Faugh! What was this physical weakness, this nausea-like repulsion,
but the bodily reaction from the tense spiritual agony she had
Courage! She must look again. That wild womanhair down, breath
gasping, arms weaving threateninglywas coming at her like a
murderess. Momentarily Henriette expected the long arms to seize her,
the steel-like hands and wrists to choke her.
She looked yet a third time. The crazy murderess had veered her
course, but what was that other object nearby? A Niobe weeping for her
own and the world's sorrows! Or this one over herea shrieking maniac
calling on all Hell's legions for vengeance on fancied enemies! Beyond,
gibbering victims of paresis, white-haired idiots, wasted sufferers
from senile dementia.
Not a friendly face, not a kind look nor an understanding eye!
Crime, passion, foulness, insanity. The sheer horror of her situation
mercifully blotted out consciousness. She sank, a crumpled heap to the
The girl is sick, said Sister Genevieve, who had entered at this
moment and was presently bending over her. Here, two of you lift her
and carry her into the hospitalwe shall have the good Doctor from La
Force attend her! Two of the sturdier prisoners bore her away....
Beautiful, pitiful Henriette!
The horrors of the madwomen thou facest in Salpetriere; the obscene
shouts and curses of the fallen; the fury of the female criminal; the
misery of the poor distracted half-wits, where mad and sane are given
the same cell:these shall be but confused phantasmagoria projected on
thy sick brain during this prison time before the awful Storm
breaksthe lightning strikesthe thunder crashes, and the sharp
female called La Guillotine holds thee in its embrace.
From the tumbril shalt thou find and kiss the blind girl, and
Maurice de Vaudrey shall accompany thee into the Valley of the Shadow!
CHAPTER XV. LIGHT RAYS IN THE
Henriette was nursed through a severe mental and bodily illness by
Sister Genevieve directed by the visiting prison Doctor, none other
than him who had examined the eyes of Louise before Notre Dame.
During this period it was quite impossible for the attendants to get
her story. She herself in lucid moments could hardly realize her
situation, nor in any wise remember how she had come to it.
But one day new strength seemed to be hers. Feverish and with hair
unbound and a wild light in her eyes, she sprang out of her cot, sought
Genevieve in the main prison, and knelt before her.
Oh, Madame! cried Henriette in imploring accents, if you are the
mistress here, have pity on me, and order them to set me free. I ask
you on my knees!
You are still ill, my child, said Sister Genevieve tenderly,
stroking Henriette's, long hair with a gentle, loving touch.
Certainly you are, confirmed the Doctor, who was just then on his
way to the hospital ward. Why have you left your bed without my
Oh, monsieur! said the poor girl, turning to the gentle-voiced,
pleasant-faced man who spoke so kindly, have you attended me in my
illness? Lookthanks to your careI have recovered! she affirmed
confidently, though her hectic features and weak motions belied it.
They left me alone for a few moments, and I arose and dressed
myself. Now that you see I am quite well, you will tell them to let me
go, will you not?
The Doctor gazed at her compassionately before answering:
That is impossible. To release you from this place requires a far
greater power than mine.
This place? asked the young girl in surprise. Why, what is it? Is
it not a hospital?
A hospital and a prison, replied the physician gravely.
A prison! exclaimed Henriette in terror, striving to remember how
she came to be in such a place.
At last the events that preceded her illness gradually came back to
her mind, until she understood all.
Ah, I remember, she said at length. Yes, I remember the soldiers
who dragged me here, and him who commanded.... And Mauricewas he too
condemned? Alas, poor Louisemy last sight of her showed her in the
power of vile, unscrupulous wretches! Oh, dear God, what have I done to
be crushed like this!
She dropped, weeping and wailing, to the floor.
Sister, said the Doctor, turning away to hide his tears, this is
not a case for my care. You must be the physician here.
I know virtue and innocence when I see it, surely this child has
done nothing worthy of a term at Salpetriere! replied the kind
Genevieve softly, lifting up the stricken girl and embracing her.
Come, dear, you must rest yet a little longer in order to acquire
the full strength so as to be able to tell me everything. Assuredly we
will help you!
* * * * *
In the course of convalescence Henriette told her complete story to
Sister Genevieve. The narrative included the girls' journey to Paris,
her kidnapping and rescue, the disappearance of Louise, de Vaudrey's
suit and the objections of his family, the recognition of her sister as
the Countess's long-lost daughter, Louise's recapture by the beggars,
and the peremptory act of the Police Prefect whereby mother and
daughter, and beloved foster-sisters, were cruelly parted, and
Henriette branded with the mark of the fallen woman by incarceration in
Sister Genevieve was strangely moved by it, as was the Doctor to
whom she repeated it.
Against the will of the Police Prefect we can do nothing! said the
Doctor, soberly. If only his wrath has cooled, we may possibly get her
What monstrous wickedness! interrupted the Sister, ordinarily mild
and loyal, but worked up to near-democracy by these and other
injustices. To imprison a pure girlher only offence a nobleman's
honorable suit and her own ceaseless search for her blind sister, lost
in the streets of Paris!
This girl Henriette was her blind sister's sole support, suggested
I had found herLouiseat the moment when they arrested me,
exclaimed Henriette sorrowfully. I heard her voice. I saw her. She was
covered with rags. Her beautiful golden hair fell in disorder on her
shoulders. She was being dragged along by a horrible old woman, who I
know ill-treats herbeats her, perhaps, and they would not let me go
to her. Now I have lost her foreverforever!
Wait a minute, my child, exclaimed the physician, as a sudden
thought flashed over him. I believe I have met that very same girl.
You, monsieur? exclaimed Henriette in surprise.
Yesyes, a young girl led by an old woman who calls her Louise
Yesyes, that's her name, and the young girl became breathless
I know the old woman, too, continued the Doctor. She is called La
Frochardan old hag who goes about whining for alms in the name of
Heaven and seven small children.
Where did I last see them? he mused. Suddenly he recollected a
little scene on the steps of Notre Dame one morning before mass. Oh,
yes, he continued, they were begging for charity of the churchgoers
at Notre Dame. I noticed that the young girl was blindprofessionally
interested, I examined her pupils and discovered she was merely
suffering from cataracts which could be readily removed. I told the old
woman so, asked her to bring the girl for treatment to La Force, but
they have never shown up
Quick! Quick! cried Henriette. Tell me, Doctor, where Mere
Oh, they inhabit an old boathouse at the end of the Rue de Brissac
down on the banks of the river Seine. There's a cellar entrance to
their hovel near the Paris-Normandy coach house. But what would you
do? he inquired solicitously.
Oh, Sir, said Henriette piteously, if you could use your
influence to get me out of here some way, I wouldwould run there and
recover my little lost sister! You don't know how I love her, nor my
fears that they will kill her. Please, please The little voice broke
off in sobs.
Patting the girl's shoulder and smiling at her as if to try to
impart confidence in a very difficult matter, the good Doctor drew
apart with Sister Genevieve and conferred earnestly for a few moments.
On their return, the physician spoke again:
'Twould be of no use to invoke the police, as the Count has
probably instructed them not to hunt for Louise. Nor is it in our power
to release you from here. But we shall get up a petition signed by all
of us for your reprieve, very likely Count de Linieres will not venture
to refuse it
Henriette was overjoyed even with this slender resource, and warmly
thanked them. At once her busy little brain laid plans for invading the
lair of the Frochards. And thena most unexpected ray in the
darknessarrived at Salpetriere the quaint valet Picard and brought
her comfort too.
No longer a spy for the Count, he had been converted from base
suspicion by the Chevalier's honorable suit and the exile the latter
had suffered. He now delivered this little message from his master at
Dearest, never will I marry anyone but you, my heart's desire!
Should I escape, it will be to your arms. Picard knows my secret
plan and will tell youuntil then, courage! A thousand kisses
from your Maurice.
Henriette kissed the little paper fervently.
Countess de Linieres decided to make a clean breast of her wretched
past to her husband. It was not that II sinned, she sobbed,
kneeling at his feet, In the sight of God I am innocent, though
In early girlhood, she continued, I loved and was loved by a
Commoner, a man of the people. The good Cure married us secretly. We
were blessed by an infant daughter.
The family pride of the de Vaudreys was outraged by the so-called
dishonor. Two of the clan found our hiding-place and slew my husband,
then took my baby Louise from my helpless arms. I was brought back to
the chateau and given in marriage to you, after threats of death if I
should ever divulge the secret! Twenty years after, I saw my daughter
as Louise the blind singerthe girl Henriette, whom you sent to
Salpetriere, is her foster-sister. Oh, forgive, forgiveput me away if
you wish, but consider what I have suffered!...
The strong man, whom neither the fate of Maurice nor of Henriette
had melted, was crying. Gently he lifted up the Countess and clasped
her sobbing in his arms.
If you had only told me before was the only word to which he
could give utterance.
The hellish aspect of his persecutions now stood revealed. Count de
Linieres, in the act of divine forgiveness, resolved to undo wrongs.
But History struck faster.
The avenger Jacques-Forget-Not annihilated pardons. The Linieres and
the other aristocrats were soon to flee for their lives.
CHAPTER XVI. REVOLUTION IS HERE!
The ex-retainer nicknamed Forget-Not bore a baleful grudge because
of the cruelties inflicted on his own father many years before by the
Countess's fatherthe cruel punishment of pouring boiling lead into
the unfortunate tenant's veins: a procedure on which the boy Chevalier
had been taught to look approvingly.
In fact ever since the elder Jean Setain displeased the then
Seigneur of the de Vaudrey estate, the affairs of the tenant family had
gone to wrack and ruin until the middle-aged son was little more than a
landless beggar and an embodied voice calling for vengeance.
The original parties of the quarrel were dead. But the feud (on the
part of Jacques-Forget-Not) had taken on a more personal aspect,
because his own sufferings were involved as well as the memory of his
father's. He had determined to kill the Chevalier, the Countess and the
In normal times the monomaniac's designs would never have reached
fruition. Now the vast public discontents converted the cringing
ex-tenant or shrieking beggar into a gaunt, long-haired, ferocious
agitatorone of the outstanding crazy figures of Great Crises!
For the Stormlong brewing in seditious Palais Royal or seething
faubourg, in the heart and conscience of patriot Dantons, the cunning
of Robespierres, the wildness of Desmoulins fire-eaters, the starvation
and misery of the peoplestruck the doomed country with full force.
In the outcome the fat King Louis XVI, the hapless royal family, and
the whole supporting system of parasitic aristocracy, were hurled down
into black nothingness! The upset released our characters from the
horrors of prison immurement, only to plunge them in the more awful
tyranny of the New Terror.
* * * * *
Early in midsummer the wildest rumors reached Paris that the
Versailles government intended to put down the discontents by weight of
sword. Armies were advancing on the city, 'twas averredcannon and
arms were being parked in the commanding squares; the King's faithful
Allemands and Swiss were about to attack the representatives of the
people and mow them down.
As a beehive, stirred by over-curious bear or by an invader's stick,
seethes and swarms in milling fury before the myriads of angry
occupants attack and overwhelm the intruder with their stings, so the
seething populace mills in widening and ever widening circles, out to
destroyburnslay. The ominous drum murmurs to the people of their
ancient wrongs. Artisans pick up their nearest implements, the butcher
his axe, the baker his rolling pin, the joiner his saw, the iron worker
his mallet or crowbar, rushing to join the homicidal throngs. Vengeful
leaders like Forget-Not urge them on, directing the milling masses to
the central places of the city.
At the Palais Royal gardens, later from the Cafe de Foy, Camille
Desmoulins is in his glory. See him rushing out, sibylline in face; his
hair streaming, in each hand a pistol! He springs to a table: the
police satellites are eyeing him; alive they shall not take him; not
they alive, him alive.
[Illustration: DANTON WELCOMES LAFAYETTE AND JEFFERSON, THE
REPRESENTATIVES OF AMERICA'S NEW-WON FREEDOM.]
'Friends, shall we die like hunted hares? Us, meseems, only one cry
befits: To arms! Let universal Paris, universal France, as with the
throat of the whirlwind, resound: To arms! Friends (continues Camille)
some rallying sign! Cockades, green one; the color of hope!' As with
the flight of locusts, these green leaves; green ribands from the
neighboring shops; all green things are snatched and made cockades
of.... And now to Curtius' image shop there; to the boulevards; to the
four winds, and rest not until France be on fire!
Ancient flint-locks, pikes and lances are replevined, and dance
high, minatory, over the heads of the mob. Storerooms of powder and
musketry are broken into and swept clean. Behold, now, a still more
astonishing sight; a rushing tide of women, impetuous, all-devouring,
equipped with brooms and household tools, descending like a snowbreak
from all directions upon the Hotel de Ville. And now doors fly under
hatchets; the Judiths have broken the armory; have seized guns and
cannon, three money-bags, and have fired the beautiful City Hall of
King Henry the Fourth's time!
... And where the Storm breaks fiercest and the cry Down with
Tyrants! most loudly sounds, there Danton the revolutionist, the
pock-marked Thunderer, leads the way, whipping up new fury and moulding
them to his will with his appeal 'gainst Starvationoppressionages
of injusticevile prisons where innocent ones die under autocracy!
Danton's voice shakes the world.
Thousands upon thousands of commoners gather for the attack on the
hated symbol of royal authority, the prison fortress of Bastille.
Look! His impassioned eloquence touches the popular sympathies of
the common soldiers who constitute the royal guard. They lower their
opposing bayonets, identify their cause with the people's, the exultant
throng rushes past.
Hurrah! The Revolution shall sweep on. The King's foreign soldiery
are the only loyal ones now. At the side of the Place de Greve the
populace throw up barricades. The conflict twixt Kingship and democracy
The people have won more cannon and more small arms. They rake the
loyalist Swiss and Germans with a murderous fire. The foreign troops
fight to the last. They are killed or overwhelmed as the victorious
commonalty take possession of the Square. Danton who has directed the
proletariat is the popular hero.
Forget-Not has his share of the triumph too. Come, my men, he
yells. On to the Police Prefect's palacelet us avenge the wrongs of
police tyranny! For in this dreadful hour the baleful
Jacques-Forget-Not remembers a private vengeancehis followers need no
second urging to haste with him to sack and slaughter....
Fox-like, Maximilien Robespierre, the people's advocate, has
watched from a safe recess the issue of the battle. Not for him, the
risking of his precious skin! Later, in the councils of the new
democratic State, he shall sway men to his purposes....
And now the mob, re-enforced by many of the popular soldiery, seeks
the Bastille. Our previous description of the system of lettres de
cachet and the wholesale imprisonments without warrant of law, will
have given readers some idea of the hate with which this fortress of
injustice was commonly regarded. Many of the attackers, no doubt, had
friends or relatives immured there. 'Twas the monstrous and visible
crime of the Kingshipthe object all had immediately in view when
crying Down with tyranny!
In less than a day the Bastille falls. 'Tis but feebly defended by a
few aged veterans and a handful of valiant Swiss. Their first fire
kills some of the commoners and lashes the mob to fury. Up on the
walls, bastions and parapets, away from the guns at the port holes,
crawl some of the more daring attackers. Others bring cannon, preparing
to carry the siege by cannonade, investiture and starvation.
The governor, seeing that it is a losing fight, parleys and yields.
But, instead of observing the terms of the honorable surrender and
safe-conduct, the inrushing mob slays and mutilates a number of the
officers and defendersthe first inkling of what murder and rapine the
Wild Beast of the Proletariat will commit!
Set free the victims of the tyrants! is the sole thought after the
lust of blood is satiated. The dungeons are opened, the prisoners
brought forth, joy of reunion or pathos of sorrow is the result of
these strange meetings, many of the victims being but the wrecks or
shadows of their old selves.
Set free the victims of tyranny!
After the Bastille La Salpetriere, the famous female prison, is
summoned. Already the inmates are on the qui vive of expectation. Mad
and sane are flying about from cells to courtyard, and courtyard to
barred windows, like birds in storm-flight.
Impatient, restless little Henriette, between the bars of her cage,
is looking out wonderingly on a re-made world. What does it mean?
Release? the easy path to her lost Louise?
Pray Heaven it does
CHAPTER XVII. PRISON DELIVERYAND
The jailers deliver the keys; the mob pours tumultuously into the
female prison. What cries of joy, what sobs of relief from the saner
inmates, as they try to think their new, almost incredible jail
delivery! What stony, uncomprehending glances or what wild shrieks from
the maniacal! Amid this confused throng Picard, who has entered with
the crowd to wait upon his mistress, presents a comic figure. He has
arrayed himself in the red-and-white striped garb of the proletariat,
is trying his best to look a Revolutionary, though all he gets for it
are kicks and wallops!
Sense and nonsense mix strangely in the proceedings of the mob. They
set up a rude court headed by two horny-handed butchers, the object of
which is to separate the innocent from the guilty. But the new
red-and-white cockadesuperseding the green cockades of the first
battleis the best passport to their favor. Inmates whose friends have
provided them with these Revolutionary badges, are generally turned
loose. Shouting and laughing in their glee, they dance out of the
Picard has provided Henriette with his badge, whilst Sister
Genevieve and the Doctor vouch to her good character. Henriette kisses
the cockade as a sign of fealty to the new order. The brawny judges let
her pass. She runs merrily out past the harmless gauntlet of the
friendly pikes and lances.
Not so PicardThat luckless valet tries to sneak out past the big
chopper of the brawny butcher-judge.
Whir-r! The chopper descends in front of him, almost taking his head
Picard executes a strategic retirement to the rear. There! Isn't
there seemingly a good chance to crawl out between the other guardian's
legs, and thus escape?
Picard tries it.
Alas! the first butcher catches sight of Picard's be-tufted head
protruding in this strange manner from under the crotch of his fellow.
The Man of Meat grasps Picard firmly by the collar and pulls him forth.
With the other hand he raises the axe to chop the offender's head
off, thinks better of it, twirls Picard swiftly around, and using the
flat of the chopper spanks the rear of the Picard anatomy, sending him
sprawling into the limbo.
So that little Henriette's excursion into Freedom is unattended and
alone. It is quite unlikely that she bothers about Picard at all.
Louise! Rue de Brissac! is the sole thought of her whirling little
brain, as she speeds on.
Just where is the Frochards' cellar door? Certainly she has never
noticed it in her frequent searches of the Pont Neuf district. But
perhaps some one can tell herShe is in the Rue de Brissac now, almost
at the spot where she herself was kidnapped and Louise was lost.
A good-looking daughter of the people comes hurrying by.
Can you tell me where the Frochards live? inquires Henriette
The girl points to an almost indistinguishable trap-door, nearly
covered with straw, in front of one of the houses. There! she says.
Henriette presses the newcomer to accompany her. Sorry, I haven't a
minute! negatives the other, hastening off in spite of Henriette's
efforts to detain her.
* * * * *
Henriette opens the trap-door of the cellar where the Frochards
lodged, and peers within. Courageously she goes down the steps.
Sympathy and horror struggle in the thought of Louise being an inmate
of this foul place.
What is her disgust then to encounter the wart-faced and
moustachioed hag who is its proprietor! Quickly Henriette tells La
Frochard of her information, and demands Louise.
I don't know any such person, the hag lies, with ready effrontery.
You must be mistaken!
But Henriette's eyes are gazing at the Frochard's neck, sensing
something or other vaguely familiar. The old woman, who has been
drinking, has unloosened her nondescript rig. The girl's gaze sees a
My sister's shawl!
The blue eyes are gleaming now in astonishmentwith a hint of
coming fury. She snatches the shawl from La Frochard's shoulders,
fondles and caresses it. Then like a small tigress robbed of whelp she
advances on the beggar, shaking her in paroxysmal rage.
It would have been a comical sight if not so very serious a one; the
tiny Henrietta shaking a woman twice her size, pummeling her,
brow-beating her till La Frochard sinks to her knees and begs for
You have been lying, and that shawl proves it, cries Henriette.
Where is she?
The old woman gets up. She changes her tone to a whine, and tries to
pat Henriette in pretended sympathy. Well, if you must know the
Yes, yes, cries Henriette, go on!
she was with us, but alas!poor thingwith the hard life
we have to leadsheshe died!
The searcher for Louise reels as if about to faint.
She collects herself with difficulty, and stares at La Frochard. A
distraught look is on the girl's face.
It is a look of utter misery, compounded with mistrustfulness of the
She leaves the cellar, fully resolved to invoke the Lawif Lawin
this wild timethere can be found...
A bundle of rags, on which Henrietta has almost stepped in passing,
moves very slightly.
CHAPTER XVIII. THERE IS NO LAW
The wild and drunken madness of the triumphant people expended
itself in many strange forms, of which none was stranger, more awesome,
more ludicrous and yet more tragic than the Carmagnole.
This was a dance that seized whole multitudes in its rhythmic,
swaying clutch. The tune was Ca Ira! that mad measure of the
sansculottes, meaning roughly
Here it goes
And there it goes!
and go forever it did till all the world of Paris seemed a
heaving, throbbing vortex of werewolves and witches, things lower than
animals in their topsyturvydom, drunken frenzy and frequent obscenity.
The throng through which Henriette now directed her steps was
verging on this madness, though not yet at the pitch of it.
Henriette managed to find her way to two sansculotte troopers
stationed in the centre of the Place, to whom she told her story.
Reasonable fellows they seemed, offering to conduct her presently to
the new authorities and get a search warrant for the Frochard clan. But
the madder swirl of the Carmagnole came along, and presto! swallowed
them up. It happened on this wise:
As the locust swarms of the dancers enveloped them in shortening
circles, two young and attractive maenads broke from the throng and
literally entwined themselves with the troopers. Military dignity,
assaulted in burlesque, tried to keep its post. But the bold nymphs
were clinging, not to be shaken; as the mad whirl of the dancers
touched the centre, the troopers and their female captors were borne
away in the ricocheting, plunging motions, disappearing thenceforward
from our story. Little Henriette dived to a place of safety, the side
wall of the nearest building. Straightening herself after the
unexpected knocks and bruises, she looked aghast at the scene before
Whole streets of them, plazas of them, these endlessly gyrating male
and female loons; swirls of gayety, twisting, upsetting passers-by like
a cyclone;arms, bodies and legs frantically waving, as at the very
brink of Dante's Inferno!
Strange little dramas of lust and conquest punctuated the cyclonic
panorama. Here, a girl's snapping black eyes, winking devilishly, and
pursed-up Cupid mouth invited a new swain to master her. There, a
short-skirted beauty, whose sways and kicks revealed bare thighs, was
dancing wildly a solo intended to infatuate further two rival admirers.
Again, a half-crazed sansculotte had won a girl and in token of triumph
was spinning her body horizontally around like a top, upheld by the
open palm of his huge right arm.
But what might be this comic figure, quite unpartneredknocked and
shoved from human pillar to human postwinning the deep curses of the
dancers, and their hearty wallops when not o'er-busied with
Picard, the ex-valet of aristocracy, finally let out from the
Salpetriere mock-court, had stumbled into this bedlam of sansculotte
craziness, the rhythm and procedure of which were as foreign to him as
a proposition in Euclid.
But the Jolly Baker, from the Ile de Paris, was his match. The
bare-armed, lean-legged pleasurer had equipped himself (by way of
disguise) with a large false moustache, and evading the close watch of
his hatchet-faced, middle-aged spouse, had come forth to celebrate.
Neither dancer nor vocalist, the Jolly Baker had other little
entertaining ways all his own.
As the foolscap-crowned, white-and-red-trousered Picard bumped the
pave, he saw squatting opposite him a figure whose gleaming eyes,
ferocious whiskerage and lean-wiry frame suggested the canine rather
than the human species. The Jolly Baker was a bum werewolf, but a hot
The gleaming eyes never left Picard's face, the dog-like body jumped
whichever way he did, Picard half expected the dog-man to bite or snap
the next instant and take a chunk out of him. Both had got to their
feet now; the stranger still silent and nosey, Picard looking out of
the corner of his eye for a way of escape. But just then the Baker
spied a maenad with a drum.
One could beat drum in celebration, if naught else. Lo and behold,
the posterior of the foolscapped one would serve for a drum very
nicely! The Jolly Baker twisted Picard around, bending him half double
as he did so.
With a rear thrust and firm shoulder grip, the Jolly Baker leaped
upon Picard's back. Emulating the young woman's beating of the drum, he
rained a shower of blows on the valet's hind quarters.
The new drum"-beater was now quite the cynosure of admiring
attention. He had captured the centre of the stage. He gloried in it.
With a more elaborate, fanciful and complexive
He suddenly lost his grip of the human drum, Picard wriggled out
from under, and the drummer bumped his own posterior on the pave.
Calmly, quite undisturbed, the foolish Baker continued to
rat-tat-tat with a stick on the curb, then as the Ca Ira beats
resounded above him, his own squatting body began to sway with the
music in a heightened absurdity. Picard had run off. He was convinced
these people were crazier than any of those in the mad cells of
[Illustration: JACQUES FORGET-NOT, SWEARS VENGEANCE ON THE FAMILY OF
THE DE VAUDREYS. THE COUNT DE LINIERES AND THE CHEVALIER DE VAUDREY
HEAR HIS THREATS.]
Long since Henriette had evaded the worse sights and sounds by
creeping as best she could along the side walls of the buildings,
watching her chance to get away from the revelers. Again, at the street
corner, another swirl passed over her, knocking her down. Ruefully she
picked herself up again.
The throng had passed by completely, leaving but a drunken fool
prancing here and there, or a scant winrow of half-prostrate figures.
Henriette ran with all her might to the only refuge she knewher old
The middle-aged landlady who in days agone had fetched the guard to
subdue Danton's would-be assassins, and who likewise had resented
Robespierre's prying as to the identity of Henriette's visitor, studied
the girl at first a bit quizzically. Released from Salpetriere, eh? Was
she the same sweet, pure Henriette she knew? Yes, the little Girardla
petite Girardlooked to be the same hard-working, respectable
seamstress person of yore, only that she seemed very weak and about to
The landlady folded Henriette within one stout arm.
She pointed with her free hand to the bedchamber immediately above.
Your old room up there awaits you, she remarked kindly. As soon
as you have recovered strength a bit, I have no doubt the old sewing
job will be yours too!
* * * * *
... Jacques-Forget-Not and his men arrived too late at the Prefect's
palace for complete vengeance on the de Vaudreys.
Around the historic Fourteenth of July, there was a pell-mell exodus
of aristocrats from the city. A panic-stricken servant brought the
Count de Linieres tidings of the people's victory.
Fly, monsieur! Fly, madame! he cried. The troops are overthrown,
the Bastille surrounded, before nightfall the mob will surely attack
here and try to kill your excellencies. Fly, I implore you!
Other messengers confirmed the news, and thus it happened that the
erstwhile proud and arrogant Minister of Police who but yesterday had
ruled France was reduced to making the most hurried preparations for
flight, aided by the distracted Countess.
The latter realized with a pang that the hegira meant farewell,
perhaps forever, to the chance of recovering her lost daughter Louise
from this welter of Paris. How mysterious the ways of the Higher Power!
Her beloved nephew the Chevalier, at least, was safe in the distant
fortress to which the Count her husband had condemned him. Pray God
Louise might be saved, yes! and her foster-sister Henrietta, beloved
of the ChevalierHenriette whom her husband had branded by unjust
The de Linieres party succeeded in evading the fate of numbers of
the runaway aristocrats, who were bodily pulled out of their coaches
and trampled upon or strung up by the infuriated mobs. They managed to
make their way to the northeastern borders of France. There thousands
of emigres were received under the protection of foreign powers,
awaiting the ripe moment for the impact of foreign armies on French
soil and the hoped-for reconquest of the monarchists....
That night the beautiful Hotel de Vaudreyhome of the Vaudrey and
Linieres family and fortunewas given up to sack and pillage. Enraged
that the objects of his vengeance had fled, the leader Forget-Not
ordered a general demolition.
Priceless works of art were hurled about and destroyed. The cellars
of old wines were quickly emptied by drunken revelers. The kitchen and
pantries catered to the mob's gluttony. Wenches arrayed themselves in
the Countess's costly silks and linens; perfumed, powdered and painted
with the cosmetics; preened and perked in the cheval mirrors.
Among the motley crew of destroyers, drunkards, gluttons, satyrs and
sirens, our friend the Jolly Baker was on the jobunfortunately for
him, accompanied this time by his hatchet-faced spouse.
He started a flirtation with a new-made vamp, all tricked out in
stolen finery. The Jolly Baker had found a new use for his eyes and
eyebrows, i.e., to convey love messages. He was making the most
alarming motions and succeeding most prodigiously in evoking the new
vamp's answering smiles when
Dame Baker fetched him a tremendous slap directly on the face that
caused him to see innumerable little stars.
Gradually coming back to this mundane world, the Jolly Baker
resolved to devote his strict attention to the bottle....
CHAPTER XIX. KNIFE DUEL AND ESCAPE
The bundle on the cellar floor of the Frochards den stirred again,
this time more actively.
The crippled knife-grinder Pierre had entered. His mother was again
busied with her potations. Under the half-lifted rags showed the
tear-stained face of Louise. The heavy fatigue of street mendicancy had
wrapped her in deep sleep, from which she woke with a start to her
wretched surroundings. The misery of it all overwhelmed her. She
sobbed, and the big tears descended from her blind eyes.
Don't cry, Louise! begged the almost equally wretched Pierre.
There may yet be escape and the finding of your sister. Oh! he said
to himself. If I had but the courage to lay down my life that I might
make her happy!
* * * * *
The ruffian Jacques Frochard was exhibiting a sinister interest in
the blind girl. He had forbidden Pierre to speak to her or come near
her, and now as he entered, the crippled brother shrank away. Get up
and go to work! said Mother Frochard to the girl roughly, yanking her
to her feet.
I'll find a way to make her work! laughed Jacques with fiendish
coarseness. You'll slave for me, eh, my pretty? Yes, for you, no one
He leered at her as he appropriated the coins of her singing.
Huddled in the corner, the silent cripple bit his finger knuckles
until they bled....
* * * * *
Inflamed with liquor and lust, Jacques soon decided to carry out his
Come with me, my little beauty!
Mother Frochard chuckled at the sight of him mastering her. Struggle
wildly as the poor blind creature would to avoid his grip, he was
dragging her slowly to the stair while her screams were stifled by one
rough hand over her mouth.
But as he was doing this, the huddled figure rose. I have been a
coward long enough, said Pierre. Don't touch her! laying a
restraining hand on Jacques' arm.
Astonished, Jacques turned. Who'll stop me? He flung his brother
prostrate half way across the room.
The cripple had risen again. A dirk gleamed in his extended hand.
His eyes blazed like coals. Fury distorted his features which were
craned forward in hideous ugliness parallel with the knife.
You misbegotten hunchback! roared Jacques, letting loose of the
girl and drawing his own knife. She is mine. I tell you I will kill
anyone who interferes with me!
La Frochard tried to throw herself between the brothers. Louise
groped away, and as by instinct found refuge behind Pierre. Jacques
pushed the hag aside, saying savagely: Let me look after this!
Each brother stripped off his coat, holding it as a buckler whilst
the right hand gripped a knife.
You are right, Jacques, said the frenzied cripple. We Frochards
come of a race that kills!
The adversaries feinted around each other in circles, in the Latin
mode of fighting that was their heritage. Coats or sidesteps parried or
evaded blows. The knives gleamed, but did not go quickly home.
If Jacques had the superior strength, Pierre was the more cat-like.
His frail body was a slight target, so that the other's great lunges
missed. Then, leaping like a puma, he was behind and under Jacques'
guard, and stabbed him in the back.
The great hulk of a man fell back into La Frochard's arms, the blood
oozing from a cut that was not mortal though fearsome. The hag-mother
wailed and crooned as if he were in death agony.
Quick! cried the hunchback to Louise, the road to liberty is
open. Taking Louise by the hand, he ran with her up the steps out of
But Henriette did not meetnot until one fateful hourthe
itinerant grinder and her loved sister whom he protected. They were in
many of the scenes of the later Revolution. Louise ate off the de
Vaudrey plate, and Pierre perforce sharpened the knives of the
September Massacre. Tramps of the boiling, tempestuous City, spectators
but not participants of the great events, they looked ceaselessly for
Nor did the wicked Frochards abide in the den of Louise's
imprisonment and sufferings. They too were swallowed up in the vast
maelstromto reappear at one ludicrous moment of tragic times.
CHAPTER XX. THE NEW TYRANNY
Before telling you how the Chevalier de Vaudrey got out of Caen and
how he fared forth to his love, it is meet that the reader should
understand the rapidly changing conditions that converted the New
France into a veritable Hell on earth.
After the Fall of the Bastille, and even after the mob's sortie on
Versailles which enforced the royal family's return to Paris where they
lived in the Tuileries, it was the hope of the moderate patriots that
constitutional monarchy might prevail.
These hopes were dashed, first, by royalty's intrigues and
double-dealing, and, secondly, through the pressure of the revolting
emigres and the threat of foreign invasion that welded all the
defenders of France, willy-nilly, into a traitor-crushing and
Of all the personages of that unhappy time, the locksmithing King
Louis XVI least understood what was going on about him.
A true Bourbon with an ancestry of nearly a thousand years'
possession of the French throne, he never learned anything and never
forgot anything. He played at being a limited monarch but his
sympathies were naturally with the riffled aristocratsthe nobility
whose privileges had been taken away, their estates commandeered, their
chateaux fired or sacked, and themselves obliged to flee for their
lives to the protection of the foreigner.
Not comprehending the nature of the Storm that wiped out old
tyranny, Louis dangerously rode the Storm, he could not guide it. His
lack of understanding is sadly shown in the closing scene at Versailles
when they brought him news of the people's coming.
Mais, c'est une revolte. Why, that is a revolt! exclaimed the
No, Sire, replied the Minister gravely, 'tis not a revolt. It is
Within a few hours the yelling maenads and bold satyrs of the
sansculottes possessed the gorgeous Salon de la Paix, whilst the King
and his family were on their way to Paris....
Then followed many weary months of royalist intrigue, plot and
counter plot, secret dickers with foreign Powers, attempts at escape,
fresh indignities by the mob, until at last Royalty is suspended from
its function, becomes the prisoner instead of the ruler. Turned out of
the Tuileries, Louis and Marie Antoinette are no longer King and
Queenhenceforth Citizen and Citizeness Capet. At the end of dreadful
imprisonments, looms for the hapless pair the dread Scaffold....
A real Republic teeters for a short period on the crest of the
Revolutionary wave. Men are mad with the joy over the new thought of
universal brotherhood. Little do Danton and the other Utopians realize
that the Pageant of Brotherhood is but the prelude of a new Despotism.
For a dark ring of foesspurred to invasion by the King's
misfortunessurrounds France on every side. Within, the cry re-echoes:
The traitors to the prisons! and all the aristocrats as yet at large
are hunted down and put in durance.
As Minister of Justice, Danton, the idol of the people, acts quickly
to subdue aristocracy, and ceaselessly organizesorganizesorganizes
the raw republican levies into troops fit to resist the advancing
Prussians, Austrians and Savoyards.
Lashed to uncontrollable rage by the preliminary successes of the
invading Prussians, the Paris proletariat break into the prisons and
massacre the unfortunate members of the nobility there immured. Few are
spared. Young equally with the oldgirls and women no less than the
sterner sexthe noble, the wise, the cultivated, the beautiful, are
murdered in cold blood. The September Massacres shock moderates
everywhere with the feeling that France is at last running amuckthe
mad dog of the Nations.
Yes, France now is running amuck'ware of her when she strikes!
Lafayette and other moderatesindeed, several of the Generals
commanding the patriot armies have fled over the border, disgusted with
the national rabies, utterly unable to quench it.
The patriot ranks close up. The wilder element of the sansculottes
grasps the helm of State. In the desperate need of a dictatorship to
cope against the foreign invasion, Danton procures from the Legislature
absolute power for a little inner group, the Committee of Public
Working on the passions of the people, worming himself into favor by
denouncing moderate suspects and advocating the extremest measures, our
sly acquaintance of the faubourg lodgingsMaximilien
Robespierrebecomes the head of this Committeethereby the Tyrant of
The foreign foe is indeed driven back, but at what a cost! The rule
of Robespierre's fanatical minority that has seized the State,
inaugurates the dreadful Reign of Terror. The great Revolutionary
leader DantonMinister of Justice in the earlier timehas himself
caused to be established the Revolutionary Tribunal for the quick trial
of the public's foes, and the guillotine for the guilty. Robespierre
uses it as a ready forged weapon for destroying all who do not think as
In this storm-wracked world Jacques-Forget-Not is now a great judge
and a most fanatical patriot. The avenger of the de Vaudreys heads the
Revolutionary Tribunal. He is in his glory now, for the aristocrats
that the mobs overlooked are sent in batches to the guillotineon the
most trifling charges, or finally without accusation at all. The mere
fact of being an aristocrat is a capital offence!
And in and among these slaughters is intermixed the destruction of
Robespierre's personal and political rivalsa work in which the
vengeful Jacques-Forget-Not studies and obeys every whim of his master,
for does not Jacques also have private grudges as yet unpaid?
... But Danton remains a popular hero. For his work in driving back
the foreign foe, he is upraised in chair of state by the multitudes,
heading a huzzaing procession and preceded by young girls strewing
None of the bloody butchery has been Danton's. He has been too busy
fighting Prussia, Austria and Savoy. Today, as he sits in the chair of
state acknowledging the acclamations, his heart wells in gratitude to
Henriette who had once saved his lifeno face of treasured memory so
dear as hers!
[Illustration: LOVE, MASTER OF HEARTS.]
Confessedly, under the New Tyranny, there is nothing to engage the
great heart and soul. Sick of the murderous scramble for pelf and
power, he withdraws from most political activity, though still able to
exert a wide influence.
* * * * *
About this time twenty-two political rivals of Robespierrethe
Girondistswere sent by one decree to the guillotine. Danton, vainly
pleading for mercy, saw that the Committee of Safety machine was being
made an instrument of slaughter. France must be purged of all vice!
was Robespierre's sanctimonious reply to his passionate protest. Not
long after, the rival masters of France faced one another in the hall
of the Revolutionary Tribunal, whereof Jacques-Forget-Not was
Well works this Tribunal you established, Danton! said
Robespierre, in glee at the increasing number of executions.
It was established, replied the pock-marked man solemnly, to
punish the enemies of the people. Now through youRobespierreFrance
rivers with innocent blood!
... God help our hero and heroine if they should encounter its dread
CHAPTER XXI. ADVENTURES OF A PILGRIM
Some parts of France continued to be held by the royalists after the
establishment of the Republic.
Insurrectionary war raged in the provinces, particularly the
stubborn war of La Vendee, and certain loyal fortresses like Caen
managed to resist capture.
It was thus as a prisoner of the royalist faction, and quite out of
touch with worldshaking events, that our young hero Chevalier Maurice
de Vaudrey lived through the earlier period of the Revolution.
A love-message from him through Picard to Henriettean unsuccessful
attempt to escape; a glimpse of the still handsomely frizzed and
powdered head gazing through trefoil Gothic window on the outer
sunshine and liberty:such is all that we may see of de Vaudrey's
strangely trussed up life during this time.
He was still enshrined in the heart of the little seamstress in the
Paris faubourg, still dear to his aunt the Countess who with her
husband was an emigre beyond the borders. Otherwise, no hermit nor
solitary was more completely effaced from the world.
The first light of hope was brought to Caen by a messenger from the
Countess, who had managed to smuggle through a letter or two and a
small box of gold.
I dare not advise you, his kind Aunt wrote. Escape into France
would invite your death as an aristocrat. On the other hand, if you
make use of the accompanying pardon signed by your uncle the Count, the
Governor of Caen will probably enroll you for the inhuman and useless
war of La Vendee. Take the money, my dear Nephew, and use it as you
deem bestthe messenger will secure it for you outside the prison
until you need it!
De Vaudrey pondered, as his Aunt advised. But, really, there was but
the one course for him! To win through, disguised, at whatever peril,
to Henriette; to find her and Louise; to save them from that black
welter of the Revolution, and guide them out of the country to the
loving care of the Countess and the repentant Count: yes, such was the
course that both Love and Duty dictated. He would begin it that night,
aided by his faithful friend the messenger.
Hand part of the gold, he whispered the Countess's agent, to some
rustic carter on whom you can rely. Bring another part here and give it
to a keeper whom I shall point out to you!
The impromptu little plot worked perfectly. The friendly keeper,
having gotten a peep at the ex-Police Prefect's letter of pardon,
needed but the clincher argument of the gold in order to aid de
Vaudrey's escape. A rope over the wall, and even a plank across the
moat, were mysteriously provided. In the last silent watch of the
night, the go-between (who had been waiting) conducted the escaped
prisoner to the carter's cavern. Already the East was showing the
ghostly light of the first faint streaks of dawn.
Having breakfasted in the cave and put his few belongings into a
pack, de Vaudrey with the two others stepped out of the dark hole into
the growing light.
The carter pointed to the Chevalier's frizzled locks and elegant if
faded dress. They would take you up at the first village crossing on
that! he remarked. Your get-up gives you away.
The Chevalier retired to a new toilette. Within, were the primitive
resources of rustic wardrobe. As he emerged again from the cavern, old
boon companions would indeed have been startled by the guise he now
Beautiful apparel, cane, wig, lorgnette and snuffbox were in the
discard. The frizzled locks were gone, revealing long straight black
hair which was crowned by a shabby tricorne hat. The Chevalier's
elegant form was covered by an ill-fitting ragged black suit, which a
pair of dusty shoes well matched. Across one shoulder he carried a pack
stick, to which a thoroughly disreputable-looking small black bundle
You'll do now, said the rustic. Remember you're only a helper on
a carter's journey to Paris.
Rustic and helper took their leave of the go-between by plunging
through a wide but shallow stream. When they had emerged at the farther
bank, they felt secure that their steps could not be traced. Waving
good-byes to the other, the rustic and his man hastened to a stable
where they loaded a provision wagon and attached a country Dobbin to
the thills. Presently de Vaudrey, in his new character of the carter's
assistant, was on the first stage of the long journey to the
The carter's load was of so little value, the whole outfit so
poverty-stricken, that neither country Royalist nor provincial
Revolutionary saw fit to bother them.
Gradually the carter sold his wares in the smaller villages en
route. They wisely avoided the larger towns. The cart was nearly empty
now. Saleables had all been disposed of except a few apples.
How are you and I going to get into Paris? said the distinguished
young aristocrat, whose respect for the Reuben had increased daily.
Trust me! said the other. His broad, moon-faced physiognomy masked
the cunning of the fox. I have this apple here
The carter eyed his assistant intently and winked solemnly as if to
say: That will do the trick!
As they leave the open country behind and jog through the better
settled regions immediately north of Paris, let us take our stand
beside the barrier or outer gate which they are slowly approaching.
Judge Forget-Not and his fellows are inspecting the barriers. The
voice of the Chief is heard speaking.
Watch strictly that no aristocrats escape. Our new law also
condemns to death all who harbor an aristocrat.
The Inquisitor's face assumes a yet harsher expression as he
addresses the guards: Beware lest you yourselves be suspect!Remember
the sharp female 'Guillotine'!
Forget-Not draws a significant hand across the throat. A shudder
passes through the more timid folk.
The coarse-faced guards applaud and promise to use the utmost
precautions. The judges move on, inspecting another part of the
CHAPTER XXII. ADVENTURES OF A
The farmer's cart nears the gate. The moon-faced Reuben is as
impassive as ever. Though the tall assistant manages to keep his
expression fairly immobile too, 'tis evident to us who know him that he
labors under suppressed excitement. For the prize of his Great Quest is
Henriette; the penalty of discovery and capture, Death!
The gallant young man does not hesitate, however. He has never
shrunk from Danger's bright face, least of all would he shrink now when
the passing of a brief ordeal may well mean reunion with his beloved
and her rescue from the welter of Paris. The Pilgrim's soul hungers and
thirsts for her. After the great Sahara of imprisoned loneliness, how
near the Oasis of love and rapture! How beautiful the prospect, if not
The rustic's helper dismounts with the farmer at the gate, and
follows him into the office of the registrar. The farmer presents a
This is for one only, says the registrar at the gate, roughly.
The other cannot go through, he says, pointing to de Vaudrey, who
tries to look as stupid and uncomprehending as possible.
The farmer hands a big red apple to the functionary. But the latter
makes a gesture of refusal.
Bite into it! says the Rustic ingratiatingly.
The official bites at the top which comes offa smooth and even
slice. The centre of the apple is hollow. Within it are several gold
Quickly the gatekeeper covers the golden apple with his hairy paw.
Your papers are all right, he says gruffly, rapidly converting the
figure 1 into a 2, and viseing the pass for two. He motions for both
the man and the youth to go through.
The farmer and his follower drive in and mix with the crowd on the
inside of the barrier. At this stage the farmer disappears from our
history. But the face of the youth is noted by an eagle eye and
recognized by a brain that does not forget!
The prowling Judge sees the Chevalier, though the Chevalier does not
Follow that man! he says quietly to his deputies. We shall catch
him red-handed in some plot!
* * * * *
Our little heroine had lived quietly for many months in the faubourg
lodgings to which, perforce, she had to return after her vain visit to
the Frochard cellar and her rough handling by the Carmognole rioters.
The little sparrow of a seamstress was quite undisturbed by the great
events of the French Revolution, except as they had put everything at
sixes and sevens and whirled away her own intimates in the mad
The pock-marked man (whom she had sheltered overnight in this very
place) was the Savior of the Country; the prying lodger Robespierre was
the Chief of State. Of course she never saw them now, her small self
would hardly dare address them! Sister Genevieve and the Doctor, who
had told her about the Frochards' den, were no longer within her ken.
The weary months had dragged along. Notwithstanding the cheering
message conveyed by Picard, her knight the Chevalierso far as she
knewwas still a prisoner of Caen. And the weary months had dragged
their ball and chain of silence and despair still more wearingly in the
failure of her many renewed attempts to find Louise. The blind sister
was again swallowed up in the devouring citythe Frochards were fled.
Whither was Henriette to lookwhither to turn?
A ray of light from the window glinted on the holy Book of books
that the girl treasured. She opened it. A line read at random comforted
her. Clasping the volume in her hands, she knelt in prayer, addressing
Thou who hast said: 'I am the Light!' oh, show me the way!
At the sound of a knock at the door, the girl rose from her
supplications. Entered sad and dusty pilgrim, carrying his few
belongings in bag suspended from shoulder stick. Now they dropped
sharply to the floor, and the disguised Chevalier gazed long and
earnestly upon his love.
Her eyes in turn were riveted on his sad, lean apparition, how
terribly changed from the old debonair days! Kind sympathy spoke in her
look and mien till the radiance of love, beginning in little ghosts of
welcoming smiles at the corners of her mouth, broke into clear
The Chevalier tottered forward. He collapsed into the nearest chair.
She put her arms around him and hovered there, comforting him with
affectionate little hand pats and soft kisses.
Jacques-Forget-Not, the avenger of the de Vaudreys, had not been far
behind during the pilgrim's tramp across the city. He had in fact
sneaked back of him, seen the wanderer enter Henriette's door. Standing
at the head of the stair, he could almost overhear stray phrases of
their talk, knew that they were quite within his power.
The shaggy-haired one fairly gloated in his triumph. Number One!
he hissed, raising a forefinger in token that de Vaudreythe first of
his Trinity of Hatewas in the net. Two and Three shall come next!
he whispered savagely, knuckling down two other fingers to mark his
vengeance on the Count and Countess.
The shaggy-haired Forget-Not hurried down the stairs, his gaunt
features baleful with unholy glee. Pointing significantly overhead, he
ordered a detail of his guards:
Arrest de Vaudrey and all in that room! The men at once proceeded
to carry out the order.
* * * * *
The guard captain would have been equally at home in a pirate crew
or at a land massacre. Enormous black brows and heavy moustache
accentuated his ferocity, the particolored Revolutionary garb and in
particular the red-and-white striped pantaloons gave him a bizarre
appearance like a pirate chief.
The detail were armed with muskets and bayonets. They clattered up
the stairs and burst into Henriette's room.
The lovers seemed dazed rather than affrighted. They clasped each
other again. With a little warning gesture Henriette bade Maurice say
nothing when the captain addressed him as de Vaudrey.
The villain laid a heavy hand on his victim while two of the
soldiers seized and pinioned his arms. You are under arrest as a
returned emigre! the head pirate said.
Then he turned his attention to Henriette who made futile little
efforts like a tiny mother wren.
You are also under arrest, Citizeness, said the captain harshly,
for the crime of sheltering a returned aristocrat.
She cannot be blamed, interrupted de Vaudrey. I entered this
Silence! roared the Captain. Your plea, if any, must be made to
the Revolutionary Tribunal.
CHAPTER XXIII. BEFORE THE DREAD
That awful Tribunal sat daily. During the height of the Terror, no
time was allowed to prisoners for the preparation of their casesno
interval elapsed between the prisoners' arrest and their arraignment.
DispatchdispatchDISPATCH was the essence of the bloody
business, the purpose being to strike terror upon all that opposed the
little fanatical minority then in power.
Therefore the guard brought Henriette and Maurice directly from
their arrest to their trial, and they gazed upon a sight for Gods and
mena travesty on the sacred name of justice. Such scenes would seem
unbelievable to us but for the recent events of the Russian Revolution,
which prove that in our age also a proletarian dictatorship can be
senselessly wicked and cruel.
The trialsbeside their Terror function of upholding a minority
governmentwere great public shows for the howling rabble and leering
sansculottes, the hoodlums of Paris whom even the masters dared not
offend. The riff-raff acted exactly as at any of their own celebrations
Along the side benches and up on the Mountain, flirtation and
sweethearting went on, of a rough-and-ready order. Some spectators
coolly munched their dinners. Others, having brought along their
bottles, indulged in drinking bouts. Everyone's ideas of a good time
cannot be the same. There was our eccentric acquaintance the Jolly
Baker, for instance. The height of bliss for him, at one of these
capital trials, was to lean far, far back with open mouth whilst a
tilted bottle, held by a ministering Hebe, spilled ecstatic drops of
damp and ruby happiness upon his open-face physiognomy.
Another misfit of the grotesque crowds was Picard, foolishly trying
to discover what 'twas all about, gazing soulful-eyed into hoodlum
mugs that gave him the merry ha! ha! or sickened him with the
likeness of the First Murderer. But crime, in one instance at least,
was followed by punishment, for as the murderous citizen suddenly
thrust out his roaring raucous mouth, Picard inadvertently leaned back.
[Illustration: LOUISE AND LA FROCHARD TRYING TO KEEP PIERRE, THE
CRIPPLE, FROM FIGHTING HIS BROTHER JACQUES.]
The huge sansculotte, to his own surprise, was eating the bushy
horse-hair pigtail of Picard's bobbing queue! The ex-valet made a quick
duck. His murderous-looking neighbor, with a full swing, walloped the
countenance of the sansculotte beyond....
On this day of our characters' trial, the side benches and balconies
of the great hall quickly fill with the howling, leering mobsthe
fierce and grotesque chorus of the grim tragedy.
Interspersed with the rabid Jacobins are otherless
partisanspectators, and among the hurrying throngs a close observer
might have noticed the luckless Pierre Frochard and the blind girl
Louise entering. They found seats on a front bench.
The judges are taking their places now, said Pierre. You will
soon hear the trials. Over on their right sits Robespierre, the
dictator of France!
The judges, so-called, are five villainous individuals, wearing
dirty-looking plumed hats, black jerkins and breeches, and tall jack
boots. The shaggy-haired Jacques-Forget-Not presides.
A frowsy public prosecutorred, white and blue cockade affixed to
his tousled hat plumecalls the names of the accused and presents the
charge. From the background, the stripe-panted soldiery are bringing
the victims up.
They are arraigning them in batches, says Pierre. The judges make
quick work! Louise shudders, lays hold of his arm.
There is something horrible in the sound of the advancing footsteps;
the harsh accusations and weak replies, oft drowned by the
sansculottes' roar; the sentences of doom, and the final scuffling of
feet as the soldiers seize their prey and bear it off.
Innocence and guilt often go up together.
Unfortunate women of the street are arraigned next high-bred
aristocrats, or moderates whose only crime has been to denounce such
horrors. A gallant gentleman pleads vainly to the judges who are also
the jury: We have had no trial! The mob howls Guillotine! and
Guillotine! is Jacques-Forget-Not's brief sentence !
A young Corsican lieutenant of artillery looks on meditatively. His
silent thought is sensed by a bystander who remarks: I suppose,
Napoleon, you think you could manage things better! The man grins. But
Napoleon Bonapartehe who snuffed out Revolution later by whiff of
grapeshotnods gravely yes.
As the prisoners from the faubourg are brought in, Henriette sees
the loved and long lost face of her dreams among the front row of the
Stupefied, unbelieving, she looks again and again. Yes, it is
shenone other! Her own peril and that of Maurice are unthought of.
Protective love of the blind one tides back in resistless strength.
She is trying now to escape from the guards, run to her sistereven
to pantomime her love, gesticulate it with funny little motions and
confidential fingers on lipsforgetting that the other cannot see! And
then her wild, excited cry rings through the great hall:
Louise jumps to her feet, groping wildly towards the cry. Her blind
features are strained in agonized expectancy. Pierre has located the
frenzied Henriette. He guides the groping blind girl from the benches
to her sister.
In this council chamber of hates and cruelty, rulers and attendants
alike are steeled against shrieks of suffering or the outbursts of the
accused. A fence of locked bayonets stops each advancing sister. Paying
rather less heed to the incident than if it were a request for a drink
of water, the soldiery push back Pierre and Louise to the seats and
make ready to obey the prosecutor's call.
Citizen de Vaudrey and Henriette Girard to the bar!
The Chevalier faces the dread quintet. The prosecutor reads the
charge, demands the death penalty on the returned aristocrat. Poor
Henriette is divided between her frenzied wish to clasp her sister and
her horror about Maurice.
The young man defends himself.
An emigre, yes! he acknowledges, but not an enemy of the people.
Many a spectator of the sceneseven the wicked judgescould bear
witness (did not prejudice blind!) to his kindness for the afflicted
and fallen. Is there an undercurrent of sympathy for him even amongst
But this is Jacques-Forget-Not's great moment.
Vengeance's hour has struck.
The wickedness of the old de Vaudreys is to be expiated at last!
CHAPTER XXIV. VENGEANCE COME TO
I myself accuse you, Citizen de Vaudrey! says the Judge, rising
and pointing to the culprit.
I accuse your family and all aristocrats of oppression and murder
through countless generations!
A yell of approvalthe savage howl of the Mob Beastresounds from
the rabble whose passion is played upon. It is followed by the general
Guillotine! Guillotine! GUILLOTINE!
With a smile Forget-Not records the death sentence given by his
compliant fellow judges, in his book. Chevalier de Vaudrey is hustled
back to the rear of the hall.
Poor trembling Henriette is next. The horrors of Maurice's
condemnation and the thought of her little lost sister nearby, rack her
with a stinging pain in which is commingled little thought of self.
You sheltered this aristocrat? questions the Judge.
Of courseIlove him!
The penalty for sheltering an emigre is death! replies Forget-Not
shrilly, again playing to the Jacobins.
But Henriette is thinking of the suffering Louise. She strives to
direct the Judge's attention to the blind girl.
She might hear! says Henriette softly. Pleasenot so loud!
The Judge turns the pages of his book in studied indifference.
Pleasemy sisterwe have just met after a long timesheshe is
blind! The little voice breaks off in sobs.
The idea strikes her that, if they can only see the helpless
creature, they will have pity. She calls:
Louise, stand upthey want to see you!
The cripple Pierre aids Louise to her feet. She stands there alone,
a picture of abject misery.
You see! cries Henriette. Blindno one to care for her!
* * * * *
The dandified dictator of France fixes fishy eyes on the little
person in the dock. One affected hand has raised a double lorgnette
through which he peers at her. He muses, strokes a long nostril with
his forefinger, recollects something which causes him to curl his lip:
Henriette's door slam on the obscure Maximilian Robespierre finds
its re-echo to day at the gates of Death. Ah, yes, he has placed the
girl of the Faubourg lodging now!
You were an inmate of the prison for fallen women? he asks coldly.
The clear, unashamed blue eyes would have told innocence if the
words had not.
Yes, Monsieur, but I was not guilty.
Robespierre's delicate hand passes in the faintest movement across
his throat and toys with the neck ruffle underneath it.
His lips frame a dreadful word though he does not speak it. A nod to
Jacques-Forget-Not completes the by-play.
The servant imitates the master's gesture. This time, the drawing of
the hand across the throat is more decisive.
Jacques speaks the word that his master did not vocalize. The other
judges confirm it.
Henriette is borne shrieking out to the death chamberOne hour
with heronly one hourthen I will go with him!
But she and the Vaudrey are already being taken out together by the
CHAPTER XXV. THE VOICE OF DANTON
We have explained that Danton took little part in the Government
after the repelling of the foreign foe and the commencement of the
Terror. He had no sympathy with the excesses of his former colleagues,
but on the other hand was subject to strange lassitudes or inhibitions
that oft paralyzed his spirit except at the supreme hour.
Saving France had been his real job.
Among these petty and mean minds seeking power or pelf or the
repayment of some ancient grudge, Danton had nothing to do! He loved
his frontier fightersmen who, the same as himself, dared all for
They were somewhat like our cowboys of the Western plains. Born to
the saddle; recruited for the northern cavalry; supremely successful in
whirlwind charges and harassing flank attacks that drove back
Brunswick's legions, they were now quartered on well-deserved furlough
within the city.
The old lion of Danton's nature woke again, his indomitable spirit
reasserted itself whenever he went to their yard and roused them by his
Alas! within the tribunal and on the execution place at the other
side of the city, was that going on which shamed patriotism and mocked
La Guillotinethat fiendish beheading instrument that a deputy
named Doctor Guillotin had devisedwas become Robespierre's private
engine to tyrannize France.
It stood in a great suburban place, on a scaffolding led up to by a
flight of steps: a tall massive upright with high cross pieceuglier
than the gallows. A brightly gleaming, triangular knife, about the size
of a ploughshare, worked up and down in the channels.
The knife was first raised to the top of the upright, and held there
by a lever. The master of the ceremonial raised right hand in token to
the executioners to be ready.
As he dropped his hand in a down-sweeping gesture, one of these
villains pulled the rope which released the lever. Down fell the heavy
knife across the neck opening of a body board to which the victim was
strapped. Below the contraption was a huge basket.
A cordon of soldiery guarded the place, keeping back the crowds. The
brawny executionersnaked to the waist, like butchers in a
stockyarddaily performed their office.
On this day of Henriette and Maurice's sentence, they were giving it
a preliminary trial. The trigger's been slippingnot working well,
the head fellow explained to the master of ceremonies. Back and forth
the terrible guillotine knife hissed and whistled until they pronounced
its action perfect....
Danton and three of his friends had an errand at the Government that
day that took them past the death chamber. A little frightened face
amongst the condemned drew his notice.
Killing aristocrats, yes! he was thinking. But these poor huddled
folk are not the public foe. Would I might summon the legions to put an
end to slaughterbut that Robespierre has inflamed all France with the
lust of blood!
He was startled from the reflection by the woe-begone, distrait
little thing who seemed hypnotized by terror. The tall man bent down
and peered at the girl.
Like the other condemned, her hands had just been pinioned behind
her. She stood forlorn and helpless.
Horror froze him.... The Child who had saved his life from the
spadassinsthe dear little face the memory of which he had always
treasured! He asked her a mute question, she mutely nodded.
So black-hearted murder was to snuff her out tooyes, and that
young man nearby, Maurice de Vaudrey whom he knew.
Not if Danton could protect and save!
Stern was his voice as he said to the jailer:
There is some mistake. Keep herand her frienduntil I return!
He was on his heel and striding to the courtroom.
A follower sensed his purpose. He laid hand on Danton's shoulder,
saying: No, Dantonyou endanger your own life!
What if I do? She must be saved.
As we see him pass into the Tribunal, let us stop for a moment and
watch the procedure in the death chamber. Outside, the tumbrils of
death clatter up to receive their load. A functionary calls the names
of the condemned whilst a court officer identifies them. Each in turn
is bundled off to the carts. The men hesitate over Henriette and
The ex-Minister of Justice, said one, asked that this case be
Her name is here, said the master functionary, a creature of the
Dictator. She goes
We might as well take the other too, said the court officer,
pointing to de Vaudrey....
* * * * *
Superbly the Lion of the Revolution faced the judges and the mob,
and demanded a hearing. Robespierre uplifted eyebrows and half-smiled,
vulpinely. His rapid exchange of looks with the Court seemed to say:
Well, we have got to listen to this crazy man, but be on guard!
The president, Jacques-Forget-Not, took the cue and acceded to
A great injustice has been done, cried Danton, to the innocent
and helpless. I ask the lives of Henriette Girard and Citizen de
The judges did not need to answer.
A savage cry of No! No! swelled from the infuriated Mountain.
The sansculottes half rose from their benches, shaking minatory
fists, yelling, gesticulating. Faces were contorted in fury. The
mobthe same that had once acclaimed Danton in chair of statewas not
to be balked of blood.
The orator continued: These sufferers are friends of you who demand
their death. The girl once saved methe organizer of your
victoryfrom spadassins. The boy was ever known as the people's
benefactorI have seen him buy loaves to keep you from starving! Now
through trumped-up charges they are to be hurried away to death
You question the justice of the people's Tribunal? interrupted
Judge Forget-Not shrilly, with obvious play at the mob.
Hell's bells! replied the indignant Thunderer. I established this
Tribunal. Did not I as Minister of Justice set it in being, and shall I
not speak when crimes are done in its name!
... In the death chamber Henriette and Maurice were trying to kiss
each other good-by. The guards had separated them. Vaudrey was going in
one death cart, Henriette in another....
He had silenced the querulous Forget-Not, was waking the echoes with
the same thunders that had nerved France to resist the foe. I ask for
their lives not only, but for MERCY and JUSTICE to wipe out the tyranny
and cruelty that are befouling all of us. I ask for a regenerated
nation, purged of these vile offences.
Robespierre was sinisterly serious now.
The group of judges sat amazed.
Give Danton a hearing! was the murmur among the sansculottes, half
awed by his old witchery.
The impassioned orator swung upon them, his old supporters.
My heartmy brainmy soulmy very life! Do they mean anything to
YES! YES! shouted the answering mob, caught by the personal
Alarmed at the swiftly changing tide, the Chief Judge sought the
Dictator's eye. The orator's eyes were far away, his frame was
convulsed by emotion as he cried: My very lifeeverythingI owe to
one of these victims! The mob identified its cause with Danton's,
submerged their personalities with his own!
[Illustration: DANTON AND MEN RIDE TO THE RESCUE PAST THE CORRUPT
AND DEGENERATE ORGY OF THE FEAST OF REASON.]
Robespierre answered Forget-Not's look. He indicated the speaker by
a slight motion of the head, then drew his right hand across the
throat, played with the lace rufflesand smiled! Forget-Not
understood. Not thenbut later, only a little laterwould come the
time to snuff out this disturber!
Danton turned from the mob, swinging the peroration to the judges in
the one impassioned cry of JUSTICE! Lion-like he glanced from those
mean, denying souls to the rabble, and held out his hands.
Like an avalanche, the Mountain swept down from benches to hall
and on, on toward the judges. Murder was in their eyes. A word from the
Thunderer would have sealed Forget-Not's fate.
His wish! Give Danton his wish! they roared.
Like a monkey the man Forget-Not leaped and cowered behind his bar,
imploring Robespierre for a sign. The Dictator nodded to yield. But
again was there not the very slightest motion of hand past neck, the
eyes side-glancing at the Thunderer?
Danton stilled the tempest as Chief Judge Forget-Not wrote the
reprieve and the other affrighted Judges confirmed it.
... Outside, the tumbrils were already on their way to the
guillotine. Henrietta and de Vaudrey were approaching the gates of
CHAPTER XXVI. REPRIEVE OR AGONY
The man Forget-not, directly the paper was signed, rushed past the
speaker and out of the hall into the lobbies. He was followed presently
by the Court's messenger. There was here some trickery or other that
He could not stop the Chief Judge leaving, but he pounced on the
messenger and yanked the reprieve out of his hand. I will deliver it!
said Danton. The people applauded the act. Everyone knew that he dared
Quick as he had been, Jacques-Forget-Not had already given his
Stop Danton if you can! had been Jacques' word to the outer guard.
To his inspectors of defences, he had said: The barriers to the
guillotineclose them! He ran forth to see that the orders were
obeyed. None of Robespierre's party wanted to see Danton achieve his
errand of mercyleast of all, the vengeful Jacques-Forget-Not!....
The pock-marked Thunderer wasn't stopped beyond the door. His giant
strength threw off the minions who would have blocked him. He hastened
to the yard where his beloved troopers were quartered.
* * * * *
Henriette and Maurice's route lay past an obscene and sacrilegious
Mocking at religion, the more fanatical had thrown off every vestige
of decency and indulged in Bacchanalian worship of a so-called Goddess
of Reason. This was a lewd female from the Paris half-world,
flower-chapleted, flimsily draped, prancing in drunken frenzy atop a
table surrounded by her worshippers.
The Feast of Reason included hundreds of revelers grouped around the
open-air tables for the supper of Liberty, Equality and Fraternity,
and between long lines of these they were obliged to pass.
Drink a toast to the Goddess! cried the revelers, offering the
winecup to the victims.
Curses on them! said others. Death is too good for vile
Tra-la-la-la! sang drunken wenches, La Guillotine will soon hold
ye in her sharp embrace
The blasphemy of burlesquing a far greater Scene of Sorrows occurred
to drunken Carmagnole dancers. The notion was applauded, carried into
effect at once.
A tall sansculotte reached over betwixt the guards and placed a
Crown of Thorns on the girl's brow. Another dashed a cupful of vinegar
in the girl's face.
Can't you see she's helpless? said a centurion, pointing to her
pinioned arms. He yanked off the chaplet and threw it back in the
crowd. They roared with merriment at the farce....
But, in the stable yard of the Northern cavalry, Danton from a
horseblock was addressing the fiery spirits who knew and loved him.
Will you dare with Danton? he cried. Will you risk Death to open
a Nation's eyes?
The head Cavalryman embraced the Thunderer and kissed him on both
We are with you to the last manto the last ounce of our strength
to save this girl and boy! he said while the others cheered.
Danton had got a gallant white mount, the Captain was on a noble
black Arabian charger; the others had leaped astride their ever ready
army steedsthe ride with the reprieve was in full course!
CHAPTER XXVII. THE FAREWELL
Louise, guided by her faithful attendant Pierre, had left the
courtroom directly after the condemnation. Leaning heavily upon him,
the blind girl had staggered out, or pressed by the awful knowledge
that her sister Henriette was doomed to die. Oh, take me to her! she
There was only one thing to do: to follow the route of the death
tumbrils, in the slight hope of overtaking her. The crippled Pierre
could not walk fast, and the steps of Louise had to be most carefully
directed. Now and again Pierre could see the death carts a long way
ahead, he tried to hasten their steps, but presently the transports of
death were out of sight again.
A traffic tie-up and street delay that halted the tumbrils just
beyond the scene of the bacchanalian Feast of Reason, gave them their
opportunity. Here the revelers had burlesqued Henriette as the Woman
of Sorrows, and here the guardsman had thrown off the chaplet and
rebuked the crowd.
During the halt Pierre and his companion came up with what speed
they could; he led Louise to the back of the death cart, and placed her
hands on the bound and standing figure of poor little Henriette.
It is your sister! said Pierre softly.
Gently the blind girl's fingers traveled up to the wet face of her
little foster-mother, now bending towards her. With a handkerchief
Louise tenderly wiped it, her fingers gave loving little pats of the
heaving neck and bosom, she kissed the stained cheeks, and then the
girls' lips metmet long and passionately! No words were spoken, none
was needed for a reunion that was also a farewell.
The cart moved. The loving lips were parted. Now one might see
Louise's imploring arms still held out toward the sad receding little
* * * * *
It was indeed a busy day for the executioners. Batches of men and
women preceded Henriette and Maurice. Two of these were beautiful young
girls who, in default of priest, were saying the last offices of the
Church as they knelt on the bare ground. In tragic glory Faith's clear
credo rang out: I am the Resurrection and the Life; he that
believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live!
Their lovely heads dropped in the basket as the knitting women
clicked their needles and cried Two! Henriette, with a physical retch
at the sight, fell back half-fainting on Maurice. Roughly the soldiers
yanked them asunder.
Citizeness, your time is come! said one of the brawny butchers. He
half led, half supported her up the steps of the guillotine....
The Chief executioner turned Henriette about, inspecting her fine
points as an equine connoisseur would inspect a filly. He gloated over
her not yet budded form, the swan-like neck, unlined piquant features,
the golden head-curls that fell in ringlets.
A pretty oneeh, Jean? he commented to his assistant.
Between the two, they had strapped her unresisting on the board.
They lowered it below the razor edge of the knife, so that she lay
prone with her neck directly underneath. The finale was to fasten on
the neck piece, a round-holed cross board which prevented the head from
Alas! what avails it that five miles awayin the heart of the
citythe hoofbeats of a company of cavalry resound rhythmically over
Danton and his Northern riders are straining every nerve, galloping
their steeds furiouslyeyes fixed on the seeming-impossible goal.
Rather are they modern centaurs, each rider and steed a unit of
undivisible will and energy: Danton a furious resistless hippogriff,
fire-striking, fire-exhaling, in unity with his white charger; the
lean-jawed, sternly set Captain on his lean galloping Arabian,
cyclonic, onrushing like some Spectral Horseman; the rest riding like
the Valkyriesas it were, twixt Heaven and earththeir galloping
beats scorning the ground as they rush by to the hissing of the cleaved
and angry winds.
But what avails it?...
Even on the straightway 'twere a quarter-hour ride to the
outer-suburban locality where the guillotine does its dreadful work.
Ancient Paris with its tortuous streets delays them. Ahead, are
Poor little Henriette's golden head!
Is it not fated to drop in the basket long, long before they can
CHAPTER XXVIII. MANIAC WITH A DAGGER
A sansculotte soldier, less brutal than his fellows, had allowed
Louise and Pierre to approach one side of the scaffold. They were more
privileged than the frantic Picard, who could not get near his young
master and mistress. Revolutionary infantry guarded every side of the
public square. Intermingled among them were the favored hoodlums of the
Jacobin party, execrating the victims and howling with glee whenever
the dread axe fell.
Among the riff-raff, Mere Frochard and her precious son Jacques
Frochard were conspicuous. For no particular reason they were gloating
over the cutting-off of aristocrats, whilst indulging in rough
horseplay at the expense of the friends of the condemned. Picard's
quaint look of helpless sympathy excited ready mirth.
Sniveling over those good-for-nothings, eh? La Frochard curled her
heavy moustachioed lip in scorn.
We'll find a way to make that sensitive young man feel something
she confided to Jacques. A moment later she had pulled over a
sansculotte's bayonet, with which she executed a neat jab into Picard's
Picard leaped in the air like a jumping jack. When he descended to
earth and turned to survey the cause of his torment, he faced but an
impassive trooper with weapon at parade rest and the grinning
countenances of Mere and Jacques Frochard, convulsed with laughter.
Picard decided the vicinity of the guillotine was almost as
dangerous for him as for his master. He edged out of range, biding the
occasion for a counter-thrust....
Pierre and Louise stood on the other side of the scaffold, the heavy
structure of which quite hid the ruffian Frochards and their horseplay
Henriette had been borne up the steps of the guillotine a few
moments before Pierre and Louise reached the scene. The cripple,
terribly excited, was telling Louise of Henriette's being strapped to
the board and shoved toward the knife vent.
That big murderer is going to kill her! hissed Pierre.
Louise's blind features became contorted with agony. Large tear
drops fell from her eyes. Both arms were extended toward her sister
above, then clawed convulsively at Pierre.
The-executioner-is-all-ready. Pierre was gesticulating like a
madman. He seemed to be raising despairing hands to high Heaven, in
token of helplessness.
Abovearoundeverywhere, he looked for succor; found none. A
glance from Henriette's doomed form to Louise's bitter anguish converts
him into a maniac.
HE'S ASKING THE MASTER FOR THE SIGNAL TO PULL THE ROPE!
Pierre shouts the words in a fury that is rapidly growing
uncontrollable. Spectators for the first time notice his strange
actions. But neither the expectant executioner nor the self-important
master of ceremonial looks down, or distinguishes the cry in the babel
of savage sounds.
The wild youth now disengages himself from Louise's clutch. With his
right hand he pulls a dagger from his hip pocket. Look! As the master's
signalling hand is upraised high and begins to lower, the boy leaps up
the steps of the guillotine, and attacks the executioner whose fingers
are already on the death rope....
Ride on yet more fiercely, O Danton and ye fierce Cavalrymenride
on, e'en past the barrier, if Jacques-Forget-Not and his men do not
stay thee. Yes, thank God! there may yet be time, should this maniac
with the dagger provide sufficient respite!
... The brawny butcher is too astonished to defend himself. His
nerveless fingers are no longer on the rope; he stands like a stalled
ox in front of his homicidal assailant. With the rapidity of lightning
Pierre plunges his long Provencal dirk in the executioner's side. The
butchered butcher falls with a single bawling outcry and a groan. The
crowd is thunderstruck, and the pinioned de Vaudrey is wild with joy.
Though bound and helpless, he tries to leap up to his prostrate
But the master of ceremonial, at first too panic-stricken to
intervene, now summons the sansculotte guards from the ground below. Up
the steps on the double-quick they rush with fixed bayonets. As the
huge victim falls back into the arms of his assistant, the bayoneting
soldiers corner the dirk-waving Pierre.
The brief contest is quite unequal. In less time than it takes to
tell it, one of the men plunges his bright, long steel in Pierre's
side. The latter falls like a lump of clay on the scaffold flooring.
Several of the bayonets speed toward the inert lump, with the intent on
the part of their owners to fling the body contemptuously from the
scaffold to the floor.
But a more refined cruelty speaks: Save him for the guillotine!
The soldiers leave the crumpled-up, desperately wounded Pierre, dooming
him yet to taste La Guillotine's embrace. They subdue de Vaudrey and
truss him up anew.
The roars of the crowd die down. Comparative order is again
restored. The master of ceremonial, having recovered the habit of
command, orders Jean, the remaining executioner, to complete the
stricken one's job.
[Illustration: HENRIETTE SAVED FROM THE GUILLOTINE'S KNIFE.]
Fortunately for our heroine under the knife, the second executioner
is slow and awkward. He has seen butchery come quite too close to his
own flesh! Still somewhat unnerved, he prepares himself for the task
with clumsy movements and halting fingers. The master bids him
hurryJean takes his time, he's not going to bungle the job....
As the supreme moment nears, it is well that we should note what is
happening with Danton and his Centaurs
CHAPTER XXIX. DANTON'S RIDERS
About half way of the journey through the City, Jacques-Forget-Not
and his men take up a stand in front of the onrushing cavalry.
They wave orders and prohibitions.
They yell to the horsemen to draw rein.
Resistlessly the troopers keep their careering coursethe talk and
gestures are but as the East Wind to tensed Danton, stern-set Captain,
and the rest.
Forget-Not's tribe escape the deadly horse hoofs by quick side
Within the next few minuteseven while the head executioner is
making the little victim readyDanton and his riders reach the barrier
on the Guillotine side of Paris. Orders had already been received to
close the gates at the cavalry's approach.
Quick! there is not a moment to lose, yells the Jacobin commander
as he sights the oncoming host. He hastens to deploy his soldiers with
spears and pikes across the barrier, whilst the keepers bring the heavy
The barred gates and the opposing fighters threaten to dash Danton's
every hope of saving by reprieve his dear one of treasured memory.
Indeed, as we have seen, but for frenzied Pierre's maniacal slaughter
of the headsman, the fatal blow would now be falling! Neither Danton
nor his men, of course, know that. Theirs to struggle on, to confront
and conquer fortune, never to despair! Within those iron souls is no
such thought as Defeat.
One foremost rider has managed to squeeze through the mighty gates
before they clang. Danton and the rest of his men face a small army on
the closed barrier's City side.
The superb horses would charge against a stone wall if bade to! They
charge against the living wall of foot soldiers; kicking, pounding,
trampling in the narrow space, while the riders strike.
Some footmen perish under the hoofs. Others save themselves by
leaping, scrambling out over the side parapets. The attack becomes a
rout. Hip-hip-hurrah! The lone rider on the guillotine side has
succeeded in unloosing the bar. The gates fly open. Danton's cavalry
dash madly down the straight and unobstructed road that leads to the
Place de la Execution, still a few furlongs distant!
Can they even yet save her? For now it would appear as if the
supremely tragical moment might anticipate themby seconds!
During the final furlongsthe executioner now in
readinessHenriette looks up with gaping mouth at the awful knife
edge. A terrible cry escapes her. Wracked with agony, she gazes about
at the sea of hostile facesnot one stray iota of sympathy in that
Dark Hour. Missing is de Vaudrey, missing the loved blind sister! As
the down-dropping gesture of Death is again begun by the grim master of
ceremonial, Henriette with a low cry of Louise! shuts eyes and drops
head to receive the stroke!
But the clatter of myriad hoofbeats assails the Master's ears; the
hoarse cries of Danton's riders, and the astonished roars of the
populace. His hand falters. He turns to look at the tumult. The
executioner takes his hand off the rope.
The cavalrymen are dashing down the roadway, from which quick
clearance has been made by the sansculotte guards and the loaferish
spectators. At their head gallops Danton, the Thunderer of old,
thundering at the officials, waving in his free hand a State paper!
In front of the death machine he halts and dismountsthen taking
the steps in two bounds, puts the reprieve of Henriette and Maurice in
the hands of the master of ceremonial!
The Savior of Francethe Organizer of Victorybrings such a show
of power at his back and compels such respect that none dare question
him. He strides to the guillotine, bades the trembling executioner
release Henriettehimself personally unstraps her from the death
board. So ensues a scene that would wring even a heart of stone: the
delivery of a demented girl from Death's very passion and utmost pang!
Danton takes the little form in his arms, looks in her eyes, kisses
her and tries to make her understand.
For the honor of France, he cries to the assembled multitude, as
he still upholds her swaying figure, a monstrous injustice is righted.
This girl, and that young patriot, signifying to the attendants that
de Vaudrey should be unloosed, are reprieved by the order of the
Revolutionary Tribunal! The multitudecaught by Danton's tensely
dramatic announcementapplauds, even as it had jeered and mocked a few
But the girl, kept from falling by his protective left arm, still
gazes upon him idiotically. She had died, was it not true ? How then,
she lives? What are these crowds, and who is this stranger? The gallant
rescuer fears that her reason is gone!
Release that boy!
He has seen the wounded Pierre trussed in the far corner of the
scaffold, guessed that some wild deed of the lad's stayed the judicial
murder. His tones to the officials are sharp, imperative. The outraged
superior of the hacked executioner looks around the assemblage for some
prop of resistancefinds nonetremblesand is all bows and scrapes
to do Danton's will. Pierre crawls painfully across the platform. He
kisses the hem of his Savior's garment.
Danton has brought Henriette to the ground. He is looking for her
friends now. Catching sight of blind Louise starting up the steps, he
brings her around and puts the loved sisters in front of one
another.... Slowly the light of understanding comes into the eyes of
her who had most loved and most suffered. She embraces Louise....
Danton is looking for yet another figure, the affianced of Henriette.
He draws over de Vaudrey, places the latter's right hand within the
free hand of Henriette.
Take her, he says kindly to de Vaudrey. It is enough for me that
I have saved France from this foul blot!...
... Down in the crowd, too, the fortunes of war have changed. The
wicked Frochards, who have been egging on the crowds to jeer the
victims, have become distinctly unpopular. It is Picard's turn to jest
the Frochards now.
A grenadier offers a little friendly assistance with the bayonet,
pricking the old hag in a tender part as if by accident. She jumps and
squeals. Sly Picard watches another chance, shoves forward his friend's
bayonet to prick her again.
... Both she and her precious Jacques the Good-for-Nothing take it
on the run, enduring the buffets of the railing soldiery. Yes,
Picardour genial rogue of a body servantgets in the last bayonet
pricks and body wallops of this story!
CHAPTER XXX. THE AFTERMATH
Danton later suffered the dark hour and the snapping of Life's
thread through Robespierre's cruelty, but the glory of that valiant
soul is eternal.
His plea for the ways of Mercyhis gallant deeds (like this
particular one) of risking all for the life of a friendwere as
signposts to bewildered humanity. He foresaw the precipice down which
the Terrorists were headed for the pit:
This time twelvemonth I was moving the creation of that same
Revolutionary Tribunal. I crave pardon for it of God and man. They are
all Brothers CainI leave the whole business in a frightful welter.
Robespierre will follow me; I drag down Robespierre!
Of a verity, the following Thermidor or hot July saw the fate come
true. Universally execrated, the Tyrant was himself dragged down and
guillotined. Fell with him the rest of the murdering crew. Black
hatredfoul suspicionwicked vengeance vanished like departing
There dawned happier days wherein justice bore sway, and little
gardens of flowers and love and happiness again sprang up and
flourished. Among these blooming gardens let us seek the refuge of
Count and Countess de Linieres after the Storm has abated and the
kinsfolk it has sundered are united. The sisters of our story are their
especial care, daughter and foster-daughter of the exquisite
Young Maurice de Vaudrey is their pride. The old gentleman has
reconciled himself to the passing of the Ancient Regime, and through
his nephew's good office has made his peace with the State.
On a bright and beautiful day as Henriette is flitting about the
garden, the Doctornone other than our old friend of La Forcecomes
with a precious gift.
The removal of the cataract has been successful, he says,
presenting Louise. Is it not a joy that she can see?
The girls intertwine arms and laugh happily. The parents approach.
Henriette and Louise embrace the Count, now their foster parent and
protector. Back of the Count limps the devoted Pierre, now fully
restored from his old hurt of the bayonet thrust. Pierre is to be the
Countess's especial care.
That lovely lady has received her daughter Louise within her arms, a
daughter who for the first time can look upon the mother of whose
loving care she was deprived for a score of years. In a few moments
Henriette summons her sister to her side as a young man, whom we should
all recognize, joins the little company.
Allow me to present to your new eyes Monsieur Maurice de Vaudrey
then with a shy smile and a glance back and forth, Henriette adds:
Do you approve of him?
Recurs the memory of that almost forgotten incident in the Normandy
homeHenriette's promise to stay single till the blind sister should
win sight and approve the suitor. Louise is so happy that she decides
to tease. She is about to shake her small head and her lips to frame
NO! But in another moment she uses her new gift to inspect the
marvelous young man of whose perfections she had so often heard.
She looks at Maurice from top to toe; the shapely head covered with
luxuriant locks, the fine brown eyes, the Apollo features comely yet
sensitive, the elegant form, small hands and feet, the graceful and
chivalrous carriagethe MAN who is looking at her with a kindly
affectionate smile. Really, Henriette hadn't told her half enough! She
clasps her sister with one hand, Maurice with the other, cries: YES!
We may leave our hero and heroine thereas Louise and the oldsters
presently left themto taste the exquisite happiness of mutual love.
For Love is stronger than Death, and must prevail. And the kisses of
Maurice and Henriette blotted out all the wrack and nightmare of the
Orphans of the Storm!