A kind of hospital was immediately opened at a little town called St. Laurent sur Sevre, about two leagues from Durbelliere, at which a convent of sisters of mercy had long been established. De Lescure and Larochejaquelin between them supplied the means, and the sisters of the establishment cheerfully gave their time, their skill, and tenderest attention to assuage the miseries of their suffering countrymen. Agatha knew the superior of the convent well, and assisted in all the necessary preparations. She was there when the hospital was first opened, and for a long time afterwards visited it once or twice a week, on which occasions she stayed for the night in the convent; had it not been that she could not bring herself to leave her father, she would have remained there altogether, as long as the war continued to supply the little wards with suffering patients. They were seldom, or rather never, empty as long as the Vendeans kept their position in the country, the sick and the wounded were nursed with the tenderest care at St. Laurent. The sisters who had commenced the task never remitted their zeal, nor did Agatha Larochejaquelin. The wards were by degrees increased in number, the building was enlarged, surgical skill was procured, every necessary for a hospital was obtained, whatever might be the cost, and whatever the risk; till at last, in spite of the difficulties which had to be encountered, the dangers which surrounded them, the slenderness of their means, and the always increasing number of their patients, the hospital of St. Laurent might have rivalled the cleanliness, care, and comfort of the Hotel Dieu in its present perfection.
As soon as the first arrangements for the commencement of this hospital had been made, de Lescure and Henri went to Clisson. It may easily be supposed that de Lescure was anxious to see his wife, and that she was more than anxious to see him. Henri also was not sorry to hear the praises of his valour sung by the sweet lips of Marie. He stayed one short happy week at Clisson, basking in the smiles of beauty, and they were the last hours of tranquillity that any of the party were destined to enjoy for many a long sad day. De Lescure’s recovery was neither slow nor painful, and before the week was over, he was able to sit out on the lawn before the chateau, with one arm in a sling, and the other round his wife’s waist, watching the setting of the sun, and listening to the thrushes and nightingales. Every now and again he would talk of the future battles to be fought, and of the enemies to be conquered, and of the dangers to be encountered; but he did not speak so sadly of the prospects of his party as he did when he had only just determined to take up arms with the Vendeans. The taking of Thouars, and Fontenay, of Montreuil, and Saumur, had inspirited even him, and almost taught him to believe that La Vendee would be ultimately successful in re-establishing the throne.
De Lescure was delighted to see what he thought was a growing attachment between his sister and his friend. Had he had the power of choosing a husband for Marie out of all France, he would have chosen Henri Larochejaquelin: he loved him already as he could only love a brother, and he knew that he had all those qualities which would most tend to make a woman happy.