All the blood in Bibot’s body seemed to rush up to his head, a wild buzzing was in his ears....
And that was how the Due and Duchesse de Montreux, with their servants and family, escaped from Paris on that third day of Nivose in the year I of the Republic.
TWO GOOD PATRIOTS
Being the deposition of citizeness Fanny Roussell, who was brought up, together with her husband, before the Tribunal of the Revolution on a charge of treason—both being subsequently acquitted.
My name is Fanny Roussell, and I am a respectable married woman, and as good a patriot as any of you sitting there.
Aye, and I’ll say it with my dying breath, though you may send me to the guillotine...as you probably will, for you are all thieves and murderers, every one of you, and you have already made up your minds that I and my man are guilty of having sheltered that accursed Englishman whom they call the Scarlet Pimpernel...and of having helped him to escape.
But I’ll tell you how it all happened, because, though you call me a traitor to the people of France, yet am I a true patriot and will prove it to you by telling you exactly how everything occurred, so that you may be on your guard against the cleverness of that man, who, I do believe, is a friend and confederate of the devil...else how could he have escaped that time?
Well! it was three days ago, and as bitterly cold as anything that my man and I can remember. We had no travellers staying in the house, for we are a good three leagues out of Calais, and too far for the folk who have business in or about the harbour. Only at midday the coffee-room would get full sometimes with people on their way to or from the port.
But in the evenings the place was quite deserted, and so lonely that at times we fancied that we could hear the wolves howling in the forest of St. Pierre.
It was close on eight o’clock, and my man was putting up the shutters, when suddenly we heard the tramp of feet on the road outside, and then the quick word, “Halt!”
The next moment there was a peremptory knock at the door. My man opened it, and there stood four men in the uniform of the 9th Regiment of the Line... the same that is quartered at Calais. The uniform, of course, I knew well, though I did not know the men by sight.
“In the name of the People and by the order of the Committee of Public Safety!” said one of the men, who stood in the forefront, and who, I noticed, had a corporal’s stripe on his left sleeve.
He held out a paper, which was covered with seals and with writing, but as neither my man nor I can read, it was no use our looking at it.
Hercule—that is my husband’s name, citizens—asked the corporal what the Committee of Public Safety wanted with us poor hoteliers of a wayside inn.
“Only food and shelter for to-night for me and my men,” replied the corporal, quite civilly.