“You are come to tell me this?” says Calvert, slowly, still staring at her as though scarce able to believe his senses. “And where is Beaufort?”
“The King refused to let him go; he is with his Majesty,” she says, breathlessly—“d’Angremont is taken—’tis reported that the palace is to be attacked to-night. The King and Queen will not come—the King is afraid to attempt the escape, and the Queen will rely on no one save the allies—we implored them in vain to come but they refused—they have failed you—save yourselves!” She leaned heavily against the door.
“It is quite certain?—they will not come?” asked Calvert. Adrienne shook her head.
“Then wait—come in here,” he said, drawing her into a little anteroom. He ran back up the stairs and burst into the room he had just left, with an imprecation.
“Their Majesties have flashed in the pan,” he said to the gentlemen who crowded about him. “’Tis no use to wait longer. D’Angremont is taken. You, Monciel and Favernay, set out instantly to intercept Marbois’s regiment and turn it back to Compiegne. You will go back with the troops and report to General de Lafayette what has happened. As for you, gentlemen,” he says to the officers of the Guard, “not being needed here longer, you had best lead your men back with all speed to Paris to guard the palace. The attack is for to-night.”
Almost before he had finished speaking the little company had vanished which it had taken such secrecy and courage and fidelity to call together; the great plan was overthrown which had taken such daring and patience and wealth to set afoot. Timidity and bad faith had, in a moment, destroyed what had taken so many weeks to build up, and for the future calamities the King and Queen of France were to bear, they had only themselves to thank.
Calvert ran down the stairs again quickly to the anteroom, where the boyish figure in the long cloak awaited him.
“Come,” he said, briefly, and, ordering a fresh horse for the rider, whose mount was weary, almost without a word the two galloped back together under the fading stars to the city of tumult and horror and crime. And as they raced forward in silence, a thousand hopes and fears crowded in upon Calvert’s mind, but he put them steadily from him, trying to think but of the King and Queen and if there might yet be help for them or service to render. Only as he looked at the pale face beside him, at the blue eyes, tired and strained now, a mad wonder would steal over him that she had done this thing. And with this wonder tugging at his heart and brain they pressed onward with all speed. They entered Paris as the first streaks of dawn were beginning to redden the sky, and in this rosy morning glow the haggard faces of the multitudes of men and women pacing the streets—for who could sleep during that awful night?—looked more haggard and wretched than ever before. Bands of armed ruffians marched through the streets from all sections of the city. ’Twas plain that some movement of importance was going forward.