“Well, what did he say besides?”
“Why, I hardly like to say now, Mademoiselle; it will look like asking a favour when I thought you could not well refuse it; and perhaps Jacques was wrong to say anything at all about it.”
Marie, however, was not long in inducing Annot to reveal to her Chapeau’s little plan of taking his own wife over to Durbelliere to wait upon his master’s wife, and she, moreover, promised that, as far as she herself was concerned, she would consent to the arrangement, if, which she expressly inserted, she should ever marry M. Larochejaquelin.
“But an’t you engaged to him, Mademoiselle?”
“Well, Annot,” answered she, “as you have told me so much, I don’t mind telling you that I am. But it will be long, probably, before I am married, if ever I am. Men have other things to think of now than marriage, and, alas! women too. We must wait till the wars are over, Annot.”
“But I thought the wars were over now, Mademoiselle. Haven’t they got that Santerre prisoner up at Durbelliere?”
“There’s much, very much, I fear to do yet, and to suffer, before the wars will be really over,” said Madame de Lescure. “Heaven help us, and guide us, and protect us! Come, Marie, let us go to rest, for I trust Charles will send for us early in the morning.”
Annot gave such assistance to her two guests as they required, and was within her power, and then seating herself in her father’s large arm chair in the kitchen, pondered over the misery of living in times when men were so busy fighting with their enemies, that they had not even leisure to get married.
“And what, after all, is the use of these wars?” said she to herself “What do they get by taking so many towns, and getting so many guns, and killing so many men? I don’t know who’s the better for it, but I know very well who’s the worse. Why can’t they let the blues alone; and the blues let them alone? I worked my poor fingers to the bone making a white flag before they went to Saumur, and all they did was to leave it in the streets of Nantes. There’s not so much as a bottle of beer, and hardly a bushel of flour left in Echanbroignes. There’s the poor dear lovely Cathelineau dead and gone. There’s M. Henri engaged to the girl of his heart, and he can’t so much as stay a day from fighting to get himself married; and there’s Jacques just as bad. If Jacques cares a bit for me, he must take himself off, and me with him, to some place where there’s not quite so much fighting, or else I’ll be quit of him and go without him. I’ve no idea of living in a place where girls are not, to be married till the wars are over. Wars, wars, wars; I’m sick of the wars with all my heart.”
Sentence of death.
After parting with their companion, de Lescure and Henri were not long in reaching Durbelliere; and on the road thither they also learnt that Santerre, and upwards of a hundred blue horsemen, were prisoners in the chateau, or in the barns, out-houses, or stables belonging to it; and that the whole place was crowded with peasants, guarding their captives. As they entered the chateau gates, they met Chapeau, who was at the bottom of the steps, waiting for them; and Henri immediately asked after his father.