As he continued speaking, Agatha had risen from her seat, and she was now kneeling at the foot of his bed, hiding her face between her hands, and the tears were streaming fast down her cheeks.
“Tell me, Mademoiselle, that you forgive me,” said he, “tell me that you pardon my love, and above all, pardon me for speaking of it. I have now but a few hours’ breath, and in them I feel that I shall be but feeble; but tell me that you forgive me, and, though dying, I shall be happy.”
Agatha was too agitated to speak for a time, but she stretched her hand out to him, and he grasped it in his own as forcibly as his strength would allow.
“I know that you have pardoned my boldness,” said he. “May God bless you, and protect you in the dangers which are coming.”
“May He bless you also, Cathelineau—dear Cathelineau,” said Agatha, still sobbing. “May He bless you, and receive you into His glory, and seat you among His angels, and make you blessed and happy in His presence for ever and ever through eternity.” And she drew herself nearer to him, and kissed the hand which she still held within her own, and bathed it with her tears, and pressed it again and again to her bosom. “The memory of the words you have spoken to me shall be dearer to me than the love of man, shall be more precious to me than any homage a living prince could lay at my feet—to remember that Cathelineau has loved me—that the sainted Cathelineau has held my image in his heart, shall be love enough for Agatha Larochejaquelin.”
Cathelineau lingered on for the whole of that day, and the greater portion of the night. Agatha did not leave his bed-side for a moment, but sat during most of the time still holding his hand in hers. He spoke no farther respecting the singular passion he had nursed in his heart, nor did she allude to it; but when be spoke at all, he felt that he was speaking to a dear, and tried, and valued friend, and he spoke, therefore, without hesitation and without reserve. He desired her to give various messages from him to the Vendean chiefs, but especially to de Lescure, to whom he said he looked with most hope for a successful issue to the struggle. He begged that they might be told that his last breath was spent in advising that they should make one great, combined, and final effort for the total overthrow of republicanism in France, and not fritter away their strength in prolonged contests with an enemy so infinitely their superior in numbers. Agatha promised faithfully to be a true messenger of these last injunctions, and then she saw the Vendean chief expire in perfect tranquillity, happy in an assured hope of everlasting joy.
He died about three in the morning, and before five, Henri Larochejaquelin arrived at St. Laurent from Clisson. He had ridden hard through the previous day and the entire night, with the hope of once more seeing the leader, whom he had followed with so much devotion, and valued so truly; but he was too late.