She sat, repeating to herself the same words, “Sad and pale, but very beautiful—sad and pale, but very beautiful; just as he used to dream. Why did he die, when such fortune was before him! Why did he die, when such noble fortune was before him!”
Agatha suffered her to go on for a while before she interrupted her, and then she came to the real purport of her visit. She offered the old woman her assistance and protection, and begged her to pass over with the others into Brittany, assuring her that she should want for nothing as long as Henri or her father had the means of subsistence, and that she should live among them as an honoured guest, loved and revered as the mother of Cathelineau.
On this point, however, she remained obstinate. Whether she still fancied that she would be despised by her new friends, or whether, as she said, she was indifferent to life, and felt herself too old to move from the spot where she had passed so many years, she resolutely held her purpose to await the coming of the republicans. “They will hardly put forth their strength to crush such a worm as me,” she said; “and if they do, it will be for the better.”
Agatha then offered her money, but this she refused, assuring her that she did not want it.
“You shall give me one thing though, if you will, sweet lady, that I may think of you often, and have something to remind me of you; nay, you shall give me two things—one is a lock of your soft brown hair, the other is a kiss.”
Agatha undid the braid which held up her rich tresses, and severing from her head a lock of the full length to which her hair grew, tied it in a portion of the braid, and put it into the old woman’s hand; then she stooped down and kissed her skinny lips, and having blessed her, and bid her cherish the memory of her son with a holy love, as she herself did and always would, Agatha. Larochejaquelin left the cabin, and returned to her father.
“What good has the war done?”
The raft which Chapeau had made was by degrees enlarged and improved, and the great mass of the Vendeans passed the river slowly, but safely. As soon as the bulk of the people was over, Henri Larochejaquelin left the southern shore, and crossed over to marshal the heterogeneous troops on their route towards Laval, leaving Chapeau and Arthur Mondyon to superintend and complete the transit of those who remained.