“And is not Cathelineau a worthy gentleman?” forgetting in her enthusiasm that she was taking the cause of one who was being spoken of as her lover. “Oh, indeed he is; if valour, honesty, and honour, if trust in God, and forgetfulness of self, if humanity and generosity constitute a gentleman, then is Cathelineau the prince of gentlemen: but do not, pray do not mistake me, Henri: a lover of scenery admires the tops of distant mountains, and gazes on their snowy peaks with a pleasure almost amounting to awe; but no one seeks to build his house on the summit: so do I admire the virtues, the devotion, the courage of Cathelineau; but my admiration is mixed with no love which would make me wish to join my lot with his. I only say, that despite his birth and former low condition, he is worthy of any woman’s love.”
Henri did not quite like his sister’s enthusiasm, though he hardly knew why it displeased him. He had thought of Cathelineau only as a soldier and a General, and had found nothing in him that he did not approve of; but he felt that be could not welcome him as his darling sister’s husband; “if Adolphe should have prophesied rightly,” said he, to himself as he went from his sister’s room to his own chamber, “but no! whatever her feelings may be, she is too good to do anything that would displease me.”
On the Sunday morning, after Henri’s return to Durbelliere, Jacques Chapeau, with Jean and Peter Stein, left the chateau very early, and started for Echanbroignes. Word had been sent to the old smith by some of the neighbours, who had been at Saumur, that his two sons were safe and sound, and that they had behaved well at the siege, and a message at the same time reached Annot, informing her that Jacques meant to spend his next Sunday at the village; the party was therefore expected, and great preparations were made for a fete at Echanbroignes. The heroes of that place considered that they had somewhat celebrated themselves; in the first place, on final inquiry, it appeared, that not one person from the village, who was at all able to go to Saumur, had neglected to do so. In the next place, many of the villagers were among the number of the red scarfs, and they claimed to themselves the privilege of being considered peculiarly valiant and particularly loyal; and lastly, though many of them had gone to Saumur, without arms, every man on his return had a musket with him, which the old men and women regarded as absolute trophies, taken by each man individually from some awful rebel whom he had slain in single combat. There were to be great rejoicings, therefore, at Echanbroignes, which were postponed for the arrival of Chapeau and the two Stems.
The old smith was very angry at his sons’ behaviour. As Chapeau had said, he was a very black man, and when he was angered, it wasn’t easy to smooth him; the operation, however, was attempted by some of his neighbours, and though they were not altogether successful, they succeeded in making the old man a little proud of his family.