Her companions in misfortune vied with each other in giving her the most tender attention, and demanded of the jailer that a physician should be called.
“Why a physician!” said the man, indifferently. “Death is the best physician. He called the general to-day; in a few days he will restore to him his wife.”
This prophecy was almost verified. Josephine, scarcely recovered from her illness, received her citation from the Tribunal of Terror. This was the herald of certain death, and she courageously prepared for the grave, troubled only by thoughts of the children she must leave behind.
A fortunate and unforeseen occurrence saved her. The men of the revolution had now attained the summit of their power, and, as there was no standing still for them, they sank into the abyss which themselves had digged.
The fall of Robespierre opened the prisons and set at liberty thousands of the already condemned victims of the revolution.
Viscountess Josephine left her prison; she was restored to liberty, and could now hasten to her children, but she came back to them as a poor widow, for the seals of the “one and indivisible republic” were on hers and her children’s property as well as on that of all other aristocrats.
CONSEQUENCES OF THE REVOLUTION.
France drew a breath of relief; the Reign of Terror was at an end, and a milder and more moderate government wielded the sceptre over the poor land that had so lately lain in the agonies of death. It was no longer a capital offence to bear an aristocratic name, to be better dressed than the sans-culottes, to wear no Jacobin-cap, and to be related to the emigrants. The guillotine, which had ruled over Paris during two years of blood and tears, now rested from its horrid work, and allowed the Parisians to think of something else besides making their wills and preparing for death.
Mindful of the uncertainty of the times, the people were disposed to make the most of this release from the fear of immediate death, and to enjoy themselves to the utmost while they could.
They had so long wept, that they eagerly desired to laugh once more; so long lived in sorrow and fear, that they now ardently longed for amusement and relaxation. The beautiful women of Paris, who had been dethroned by the guillotine, and from whose hands the reins had been torn, now found the courage to grasp these reins again, and reconquer the position from which the storm-wind of the revolution had hurled them.