The old motto, attributing disrespect to every prophet in his own country, had not been proved true with reference to Cathelineau in St. Florent. His deeds, during the short period of his triumph, had been celebrated there with general admiration, and since his death, his memory had been almost adored. The people of the town had had no public means of showing their appreciation of his valour; they had not as yet had time to erect monuments to his honour, or to establish other chronicles of his virtues, than those which were written in the hearts of his townsmen. He had left an aged mother behind him, who had long been dependent on his exertions for support, and they had endeavoured to express their feeling of his services, by offering to place her beyond the reach of poverty; but, unaccountably enough, she was the only person in St. Florent, who was dissatisfied with her son’s career, and angry with the town which had induced him to adopt it.
She still lived in a small cottage near the extremity of St. Florent, which had been the residence of Cathelineau as long as he supported himself by his humble calling. It was now wrecked and shattered, and showed those certain signs of ruin which quickly fall on the dwellings of the aged poor, who have no young relatives round them. Here she would sit and spin, seldom now interrupted by any; though at first her neighbours used to flock thither to celebrate the praises of her son. She had loved her son, as warmly as other mothers love their children; but she had loved him as a hard-working labourer, earning for herself and for him their daily pittance; not as a mighty General, courted and complimented by the rich and great of the land. She had begged him not to go out into the town on the morning when he had been so instrumental in saving his townsmen from the ignominy of being pressed into the service of the Republic; and when he returned in the evening, crowned with laurels, she had not congratulated him. She had uttered nothing but evil bodings to him on the day when he first went to Durbelliere; and when he returned from Saumur, chief General of all the forces of then victorious La Vendee, she had refused to participate in the glories which awaited him in his native town. On his departure to Nantes she had prophesied to him his death, and when the tidings of his fall were first brought to her, she merely said that she had expected it. The whole town mourned openly for Cathelineau, except his mother. She wept for him in silence and alone; but she wept for the honest, sturdy, hard—working labourer whom she had reared beneath her roof, and who had been beguiled away by vain people, to vain pursuits, which had ended in his death; while others bewailed the fall of a great captain, who had conferred honour on their town, and who, had he been spared, might have heaped glory on his country. Since that time, she had not ceased to rail on those who had seduced her son into celebrity and danger; and, after a while, had been left to rail alone.