He caught his sister in his arms as he ran up the hospital stairs. “Where is he?” said he; “is he still alive? Is there any hope?”
“There is no hope for us,” answered Agatha; “but there is perfect certainty for him. The good Cathelineau has restored his spirit to Him who gave it to avenge His glory.”
COMMISSIONERS OF THE REPUBLIC
The taking Saumur frightened the Convention much more than any of the previous victories of the Vendeans. The republicans lost a vast quantity of military stores, arms, gunpowder, cannons, and soldiers’ clothing; and, which was much worse than the loss itself these treasures had fallen into the hands of an enemy, whose chief weakness consisted in the want of such articles. The royalists since the beginning of the revolt had always shewn courage and determination in action; but they had never before been collected in such numbers, or combated with forces so fully prepared for resistance, as those whom they had so signally conquered at Saumur. The Convention began to be aware that some strong effort would be necessary to quell the spirit of the Vendeans. France at the time was surrounded by hostile troops. At the moment in which the republicans were flying from the royalists at Saumur, the soldiers of the Convention were marching out of Valenciennes, that fortified city having been taken by the united arms of Austria and England. Conde also had fallen, and on the Rhine, the French troops who had occupied Mayence with so much triumph, were again on the point of being driven from it by the Prussians.
The Committee of Public Safety, then the repository of the supreme power in Paris, was aware that unless the loyalty of La Vendee was utterly exterminated, the royalists of that district would sooner or later join themselves to the allies, and become the nucleus of an overpowering aristocratic party in France. There were at the time thousands, and tens and hundreds of thousands in France who would gladly have welcomed the extinction of the fearful Republic which domineered over them, had not every man feared to express his opinion. The Republic had declared, that opposition to its behests, in deed, or in word, or even in thought, as far as thoughts could be surmised, should he punished with death; and by adhering to the purport of this horrid decree, the voice of a nation returning to its senses was subdued. Men feared to rise against the incubus which oppressed them, lest others more cowardly than themselves should not join them; and the Committee of Public Safety felt that their prolonged existence depended on their being able to perpetuate this fear. It determined, therefore, to strike terror into the nation by exhibiting a fearful example in La Vendee. After full consideration, the Committee absolutely resolved to exterminate the inhabitants of the country—utterly to destroy them all, men, women, and children—to burn every