I believe Solivet really meant to be a good brother; but his words were hard to endure, when he lectured us each apart, with all the authority of a senior—told me that Eustace was dying, and that every mile he traveled was hastening his end, laughing to scorn that one hope which buoyed me up, the Dirkius could do more for him than any one else, and almost commanding me to take him home again to Paris while it was possible.
And he equally harassed Eustace the next morning with representations of the folly of taking me away to Holland, and breaking off the advantageous Poligny match, to gratify my headstrong opposition and desire for a mesalliance, which would now happily be impossible, the fellow having ruined himself.
The fellow entered at that moment with M. le Baron’s coat and boots, and Eustace could hardly repress a smile. We could not but rejoice when Solivet took leave of us at the carriage door, very affectionate, but shrugging his shoulders at our madness, and leaving a corporal and his party to guard us to the frontier. They prolonged the sense of constraint, and forced us to be very guarded with poor Clement, but otherwise they were very useful. The inhabitants fancied us by turns great princes or great criminals, or both, being escorted out of the country. Once we were taken for the Queen escaping with the Cardinal, another time for the Prince of Conde eloping with Mademoiselle; but any way of soldiers secured for us plenty of civility, and the best food and lodgings to be had. They pricked on our mules with a good-will, and when one of them fell lame they scoured the neighbourhood to find another, for which Eustace endeavoured to pay the just price, but I am afraid it went into the corporal’s pocket, and Clement never so nearly betrayed himself as when he refused to share with the escort the reckoning of which they stripped the landlord. Integrity in a Parisian valet was all too suspicious! However, to us they behaved very well; and, if all we heard were true, their presence may have saved us from being robbed, if not murdered, long before we reached the frontier.
When once over the border, and our passports duly examined, we breathed freely, and at our first resting-place Clement took out a suit of my brother’s clothes and appeared once more as a gentleman, except for his short hair. He was able, whenever French would serve, to take the management of our journey.
We finished it as before in a canal boat, and the rest of mind and body, and the sense of approaching Millicent, certainly did Eustace good; the hectic fever lessened, and though he slept little at night, he had much good slumber by day, lying on cloaks on deck as we quietly glided along the water, between the fields full of corn, with harvest beginning, and the tall cocks of hay in the large fields, all plenty and high cultivation, and peaceful industry, in contrast with the places we had left devastated by civil war, and the famished population.