I need not dwell at any length upon the sequel. It is a matter of history how that oath which Omnes Omnibus administered to the citizens of Nantes formed the backbone of the formal protest which they drew up and signed in their thousands. Nor were the results of that powerful protest — which, after all, might already be said to harmonize with the expressed will of the sovereign himself — long delayed. Who shall say how far it may have strengthened the hand of Necker, when on the 27th of that same month of November he compelled the Council to adopt the most significant and comprehensive of all those measures to which clergy and nobility had refused their consent? On that date was published the royal decree ordaining that the deputies to be elected to the States General should number at least one thousand, and that the deputies of the Third Estate should be fully representative by numbering as many as the deputies of clergy and nobility together.
Dusk of the following day was falling when the homing Andre-Louis approached Gavrillac. Realizing fully what a hue and cry there would presently be for the apostle of revolution who had summoned the people of Nantes to arms, he desired as far as possible to conceal the fact that he had been in that maritime city. Therefore he made a wide detour, crossing the river at Bruz, and recrossing it a little above Chavagne, so as to approach Gavrillac from the north, and create the impression that he was returning from Rennes, whither he was known to have gone two days ago.
Within a mile or so of the village he caught in the fading light his first glimpse of a figure on horseback pacing slowly towards him. But it was not until they had come within a few yards of each other, and he observed that this cloaked figure was leaning forward to peer at him, that he took much notice of it. And then he found himself challenged almost at once by a woman’s voice.
“It is you, Andre — at last!”
He drew rein, mildly surprised, to be assailed by another question, impatiently, anxiously asked.
“Where have you been?”
“Where have I been, Cousin Aline? Oh... seeing the world.”
“I have been patrolling this road since noon to-day waiting for you.” She spoke breathlessly, in haste to explain. “A troop of the marechaussee from Rennes descended upon Gavrillac this morning in quest of you. They turned the chateau and the village inside out, and at last discovered that you were due to return with a horse hired from the Breton arme. So they have taken up their quarters at the inn to wait for you. I have been here all the afternoon on the lookout to warn you against walking into that trap.”
“My dear Aline! That I should have been the cause of so much concern and trouble!”
“Never mind that. It is not important.”