“Will the conscripts from hence be required to join at Chatillon or at Cholet?” said the old man.
“Those from St. Laud’s, at Chatillon,” said Henri; “but the men will not leave their homes, they will know how to receive the soldiers if they come amongst them.”
So saying, he got up and went out, and the priest followed him; they had much to do, and many things to arrange; to distribute arms and gunpowder, and make the most of their little means. It was not their present intention to lead the men from their homes, but they wished to prepare them to receive the republican troops, when they came into the country to enforce the collection of the republican levy.
The revolt of St. Florent took place on the day after that on which the priest had breakfasted at Durbelliere, and the rumours of it went quickly through the country. As Cathelineau had said, the news was soon known in Nantes and Angers, and the commander of the republican troops determined most thoroughly to avenge the insolence and rebellion of the vain people of St. Florent. He was not, however, able to accomplish his threat on the instant, for he also was collecting conscripts in the neighbourhood of Nantes, and the peasantry had heard of the doings of St. Florent as well as the soldiers, and the men of Brittany seemed inclined to follow the example of the men of Anjou.
He had, therefore, for a time enough to occupy his own troops, without destroying the rebels of St. Florent—and it was well for St. Florent that it was so. Had he at once marched five hundred men, with four pieces of cannon against the town, he might have reduced the place to ashes, and taken a bloody revenge for their victory The men of St Florent would have had no means of opposing such a force, and the peasantry generally were not armed, the tactics of the royalists were not settled, and the revolt through the province was not general. The destruction of St Florent was postponed for a month, and at the expiration of that time, the troops of the republic had too much to do, to return to the little town where the war had commenced.
The rumour of what had been done at St. Florent, was also soon known in Coron, in Torfou, and in Clisson. The battle was fought on Thursday, and early on Saturday morning, M. de Lescure had heard some indistinct rumour of the occurrence; indistinct at least it seemed to him, for he could not believe that the success of the townspeople was so complete, as it was represented to him to be; he heard at the same time that the revolt had been headed by Cathelineau and Foret, and that as soon as the battle was over, they had started for Durbelliere to engage the assistance of Henri Larochejaquelin. De Lescure, therefore, determined to go at once to Durbelliere; and Adolphe Denot, who was with him, accompanied him.