All this was perfectly unintelligible to Henri, and was attributed by him to the frenzy of madness; but, in fact, there was truth in it. Denot’s irregular spirit had been cowed by de Lescure’s cold reasoning propriety, and he now felt it impossible to submit himself to the pardon of a man who, he thought, would forgive and abhor him. It was to no purpose Henri threatened, implored, and almost strove to drag him from the room. Denot was obstinate in his resolve, and Henri was at last obliged to leave him, with the agreement that they should both meet on horseback an hour before daybreak, at the gate of the town, which led towards Angers.
When Henri returned downstairs he found Chapeau still seated on the lower step, and Plume standing by, discoursing as to the tactics and probable success of the war.
“You found I was right, M. Henri?” said Chapeau, as he followed his master out into the street.
“Yes, Chapeau, you were quite right.”
“And is he very bad, M. Henri?” said he, touching his forehead with his finger. “I suppose he cannot be all right there.”
“He has suffered dreadfully since we saw him, and his sufferings have certainly told upon him; but there is every reason to hope, that, with kind treatment, he will soon be himself again; but, remember, till after today we will say nothing to any of them about his being here.”
It was now three o’clock, and Henri had to be on horseback before six; he had but little time, therefore, either for rest or conversation. Henri and Chapeau hurried home, after having given orders at the guard-house that all the men on whom they could depend should be under arms before day-break; and, having done so, they laid down and slept for the one short hour which was left to them of the night.
When Henri arose from his sleep, the whole house was up and stirring, and men and women were moving about through the dark rooms with candles in their hands. They all knew that this would be an eventful day for their cause; that much must depend on the success of that day’s battle. If they were beaten now, their only hope would be to run farther from their homes, towards the coast, from which they expected English aid; but if fortune would once more visit their arms, they might hope to hold their position in Laval, and in other towns in the neighbouring and friendly province of Brittany. The gallant and cordial assistance which the Vendeans had received from the strangers among whom they were now thrown, had greatly tended to give them new hopes; and the yesterday’s victory, which had been gained by the men called La Petite Vendee, over the advanced troops of the republicans, had made the Poitevins peculiarly anxious to exhibit their own prowess to their gallant friends.