“Our government is prompt, good Nicot,—never fear. Humph!—humph!” and Robespierre took the paper on which Nicot had written, and stooping over it—for he was near-sighted—added, smilingly, “Dost thou always write the same hand, citizen? This seems almost like a disguised character.”
“I should not like them to know who denounced them, Representant.”
“Good! good! Thy virtue shall be rewarded, trust me. Salut et fraternite!”
Robespierre half rose as he spoke, and Nicot withdrew.
“Ho, there!—without!” cried the Dictator, ringing his bell; and as the ready Jacobin attended the summons, “Follow that man, Jean Nicot. The instant he has cleared the house seize him. At once to the Conciergerie with him. Stay!—nothing against the law; there is thy warrant. The public accuser shall have my instruction. Away!—quick!”
The Jacobin vanished. All trace of illness, of infirmity, had gone from the valetudinarian; he stood erect on the floor, his face twitching convulsively, and his arms folded. “Ho! Guerin!” the spy reappeared—“take these addresses! Within an hour this Englishman and his woman must be in prison; their revelations will aid me against worthier foes. They shall die: they shall perish with the rest on the 10th,—the third day from this. There!” and he wrote hastily,—“there, also, is thy warrant! Off!
“And now, Couthon, Payan, we will dally no longer with Tallien and his crew. I have information that the Convention will not attend the Fete on the 10th. We must trust only to the sword of the law. I must compose my thoughts,—prepare my harangue. To-morrow, I will reappear at the Convention; to-morrow, bold St. Just joins us, fresh from our victorious armies; to-morrow, from the tribune, I will dart the thunderbolt on the masked enemies of France; to-morrow, I will demand, in the face of the country, the heads of the conspirators.”
Le glaive est contre
toi tourne de toutes parties.
La Harpe, “Jeanne de Naples,” Act iv. sc. 4.
(The sword is raised against you on all sides.)
In the mean time Glyndon, after an audience of some length with C—, in which the final preparations were arranged, sanguine of safety, and foreseeing no obstacle to escape, bent his way back to Fillide. Suddenly, in the midst of his cheerful thoughts, he fancied he heard a voice too well and too terribly recognised, hissing in his ear, “What! thou wouldst defy and escape me! thou wouldst go back to virtue and content. It is in vain,—it is too late. No, I will not haunt thee; human footsteps, no less inexorable, dog thee now. Me thou shalt not see again till in the dungeon, at midnight, before thy doom! Behold—”