Romilly raised his eyebrows and shrugged his shoulders when I did so, saying, “What will he do, then?”
“I know not. Take his chance, I suppose.”
“Here, take you it,” said he, thrusting it into my pocket “He may be glad of it at the end.”
It was a sad day. Mothers were weeping over their new-born infants; men were talking to one another in anger and sorrow. The Catholics were already carrying their heads high, and smiling scornfully as we passed them. I thought, “Oh that we were in a desert, all to ourselves, with none to impugn our faith!” But then I called to mind that without needing to be in a desert, people might dwell in happy countries where each man’s faith is respected and tolerated. I hoped my uncle would safely reach one of these happy countries; but yet one’s native land is very dear after all!
Twilight came; the parting took place amid tears and embraces and benedictions; and soon I was driving my good uncle and aunt towards the coast. We had gone some miles, when a man, scarcely distinguishable in the dark, emerged from a corner and said, “Who goes there?”
I was greatly alarmed, but my uncle, recognizing the voice, said, “Oh, Joseph, is it thou? Whither art thou bound?”
“Fleeing for my life,” said Joseph, “as I take it you are doing. It is well you have escaped, though I cannot make out how you come to be so far on the road. I have just left your neighborhood; the dragoons are turning your house out of window.”
“Give him a lift, Jacques,” said my uncle to me; “the poor man is weary.” Finding him to be one of my uncle’s flock, I readily did so; the more that his tone and words betokened honesty.
“Sir, you are doubtless going to join your brother-ministers,” said Joseph. “Have you a passport?”
“I have not, but I hope to get one on the frontier, or find some other path open to me,” said my uncle.
“Let us trust the ‘other path’ may open, then,” said Joseph, “for most vexatious obstacles are being thrown in the way of our ministers on the frontier; they are either refused passports altogether, or such as they are provided with are declared worthless.”
“Romilly’s passport, then, will be no good,” thought I, and I was musing on the moral advantage to my uncle of his having refused to use it from the first, when Joseph in alarm cried—
“Hist—I hear some one galloping hard after us. Let us whip on as fast as we can.”
But we had just reached the foot of a heavy ascent, and the pursuer gained upon us, and presently came up panting.
“Is Minister Chambrun here?” cried he, breathlessly.
“Who are you that ask?” returned I. At the same instant my uncle cried—
“Yes, here I am. What is it?”
“What a dance you have led me!” cried the messenger. “I come from the commissioner, who sends you a passport, and desires you to go to Bordeaux as fast as you can.”