The Vendeans, during the night, lost every cannon they possessed; all their baggage, consisting of provisions, wearing apparel, and ammunition; they lost also about five hundred men, in killed, wounded and prisoners; but all this was not of so much injury as the loss of the prestige of victory. The peasants had conceived themselves invincible, and they were struck with consternation to find they were liable to repulse and defeat. Early on the following morning, another council of war was held, but the spirits and hopes of the Generals had been greatly damped.
The bishop of Agra.
On this occasion the meeting of the leaders was kept strictly secret; none were admitted but those who were known to be the chosen chiefs of the Vendeans; it consisted of Cathelineau, de Lescure, Larochejaquelin, d’Elbee, Stofflet, and Father Jerome. They had been closeted together about an hour and a half, when Father Jerome left the room, and rode off towards Thouars, on the best horse which could be found for him; no one seemed to know where or for what he was going, though much anxiety was expressed on the subject. Those who knew him, were well aware that he was not about to desert the cause in its first reverse. In the meantime, the Generals tried to reassure the men. Cathelineau explained to them that they had brought on themselves the evils which they now suffered by their absurd attempt to act without orders; and de Lescure and Larochejaquelin endeavoured to rouse their energies by pointing out to them the necessity of recovering their favourite cannon.
“Ah! M. Henri,” said one of the men from Durbelliere, “how can we get her again when we have lost our guns, and have got no powder?”
“How!” said Henri, “with your sticks and your hands, my friends—as your neighbours in St. Florent took her, at first, from the blues; we all think much of the men of St. Florent, because it was they first took ‘Marie Jeanne;’ let us be the men who rescue her from these traitors, and these people will think much of us.”
About two o’clock in the day a closed carriage was driven into Montreuil very fast, by the road from Thouars; the blinds were kept so completely down, that no one could see who was within it; it was driven up to the door of the house in which the council had been held; the doors of the carriage and of the house were opened, and two persons alighted and ran into the house so quickly that their persons could hardly be recognized, even by those who were looking at them.
“That last is Father Jerome, at any rate,” said a townsman.
“Who on earth had he with him?” said another; “he must be some giant,” said a third, “did you see how he stooped going into the door.”
“A giant, stupid;” said a fourth, “how could a giant get out of such a carriage as that; besides, where could Father Jerome find giants in these days.”