“Not at all,” said Denot; “no one in the country is more anxious for success than the old Marquis.”
“There you are again, friend,” said Santerre, “I know you’ll get your neck into danger. Have I not told you that the Republic knows nothing of Marquises?”
“I only called him by the name he goes by, as you’d call a man Peter, if his name were Peter. I didn’t mean to say he was a Marquis,” said Denot, excusing himself.
“But you mustn’t say so at all, unless you speak of him as a criminal, as you would speak of a perjurer, or a parricide. But as to this foolish old man; is he not doting? If I thought that, I might perhaps he excused in sparing him.”
“Doting!” said Denot; “not at all; he has all his faculties as much as you or I.”
Santerre gave a look of disgust at the wretch, who would not even follow his hint by giving such an account as might spare the life of the old man, who had been his host, his guardian, and his friend. He said nothing further, however, but trotted on quickly, till the cherry groves of Durbelliere were in sight, and then he halted to give his final orders to his men, and make arrangements that the house should be surrounded.
“You remember our bargain, citizen General?” said Denot.
“What bargain?” asked the brewer.
“Why, about the young lady; the girl, you know,” replied the other. “No one is to interfere between me and Agatha Larochejaquelin. She is to be my prize and my reward.”
“I will be as good as my word,” said Santerre, “as long as you are true to yours; but I own I pity the young lady the treatment she is likely to receive from her lover,” and as he spoke, he rode up to the front door of the house, accompanied by Denot and a company of men on horseback.
The immediate arrival of republican soldiers in the neighbourhood of Durbelliere was neither expected, or even feared by the inhabitants of the chateau, or it would not have been left by Henri, as it had been, perfectly undefended. The truth was this: the royalists had hitherto been so very generally successful against the republicans; and that, when every odds of number, arms, and position had been in favour of their enemies, that they had learnt to look with contempt upon the blues, as they called them. Hitherto the royalists had always been the attacking party; the republicans had contented themselves with endeavouring to keep their position within the towns; and when driven from thence, had retreated altogether out of the revolted district. Except lately at Nantes, the Vendeans had as yet incurred no great reverse; they had not, therefore, learnt to fear that their houses would be attacked and burnt; their corn and cattle destroyed; and even their wives and children massacred. The troops which had now been dispatched by the Convention for the subjection of the country, were of a very different character from those with whom the Vendeans had as yet contended, and the royalists were not long before they experienced all the horrors of a civil war, in which quarter was refused them by their enemies, and mercy even to children was considered as a crime.