[PAUL, about to speak, checks himself.]
He was the husband of my cousin.
Ha! I thought I’d make you speak.
You know her?—She has escaped?—Is safe?—alive?—happy?
Oh, ho!—So you would turn the tables—question me?
Is she alive and well?—I ask to know but this.
I’ll tell you more, if you will answer first my questions.
All!—that do not force me to betray my cause.
Explain!—You escaped the guillotine?
The story is too long.
Make it brief, but answer.
In the death-cart I found a priest confessing those about him. He questioned me, soon saw that I was not the Duke. “My child,” he said, “I die to-day, but as a priest shall be the last to mount the scaffold.—Let me take your place, assume the same disguise, while you slip from the cart and live.” At first I refused, as I no longer cared for life! But when he said Diane might not escape unless I lived to aid her, I yielded.—The night was cloudy. When the moon was hidden, the priest put on my coat and wig, and as the death-cart neared the scaffold, I slipped through its slatted floor, and in the darkness mingled with the crowd.
Who was the holy man who set you free?
The Abbe de St. Simon.
Strange! We heard the Abbe had escaped.
He answered when the Duke was called and so was guillotined; but when the Abbe’s turn had come, they could not find him, and so gave out that he’d escaped.
Yes, I understand it now.—Proceed!
I found Diane had gone, believing I was guilty of a most ignoble crime. Too sick at heart to follow her, I enlisted and, seeking death, obtained promotion to my present grade.