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Seeing that the time for action was now come, Eustache gave the preconcerted signal, and rushed the first of all on the corsairs; his companions followed before they had time to recover from the surprise and confusion occasioned by this unexpected attack. In a few minutes they were all firmly bound, and made prisoners in their turn. Their former captives passed from the deepest despair to the height of joy. They were now free, and yet it was a slave who had won their freedom.
The vessel in which they were safely arrived at Baltimore. Eustache and his master, over whom he had watched throughout with the tenderest care, were once more in safety. But though the chief object of his concern, Monsieur Belin was not the only one. Many of the refugees were devoid of even the ordinary means of subsistence, and found themselves in a foreign land thrown on the charity of strangers. In his exertions towards the support of these unfortunate people, in soliciting others for their sake, and depriving himself of every slight comfort to administer to their wants, the noble and heroic Eustache was unwearied. He was a slave, and therefore owned nothing in this world beyond perseverance and charity; but with these he achieved wonders, and reaped his reward—the blessings of those whom in their misery he had relieved.
In the meantime, the island of St Domingo was regaining comparative tranquillity. The blacks no longer massacred the white residents; and Monsieur Belin, encouraged by this, and, moreover, entertaining hopes of recovering part of his lost property, determined to return to his native country, accompanied by his faithful Eustache and a large number of the exiles. But no sooner had they landed, after a prosperous voyage, than they were attacked by a party of twenty thousand blacks, who massacred a large number of them. In this fearful and unequal combat Eustache once more proved his master's guardian angel. By almost superhuman efforts and bravery he succeeded in withdrawing him from the scene of carnage, and, through great danger, fled with him to Port-au-Prince, where they fortunately arrived in safety. In this town Monsieur Belin at last found a home, which, if it had not the splendour of his former dwelling, was still, though humble, not entirely devoid of comfort. Some of his property he had succeeded in rescuing from the general wreck, and he lived on his income, in happy retirement, and in the society of his faithful slave, or--as, after so much devotedness, he might well be called—of his friend Eustache.
Monsieur Belin was now advanced in years; his sight had almost entirely failed him; and Eustache frequently heard him complain that he could no more, as formerly, beguile the tediousness of the evening by reading. Unfortunately, as we have already stated, Eustache could not read. He had long passed that time of life when study is an easy task; but, undeterred by difficulties, which another at his age would have
plained, “ It is not for men I do this, but for the Master who dwells above."
Such an admirable instance of virtue and piety could not remain hidden. Eustache was brought under the notice of the Academy, and in the year 1832 a medal was publicly awarded to him. Of the further fate of Eustache we regret not to be able to say more. Perhaps his peaceful and noble, though obscure life, has long been ended; or it may be that, though laden with years, he still walks on earth. If so, may blessings ever go with the generous heart that sought no earthly reward, but worked so faithfully for that heavenly 66 Master who dwells above!"
MAXIMILIENNE DE BETHUNE was the daughter of the Duke of Sully, and the last descendant of the celebrated Sully, minister and friend of Henry IV. of France, and whose memory,
like his master's, has remained deservedly endeared to the people for the many virtues which adorned his noble character. This lady, who owned an immense fortune, was early married to the Marquis de l'Aubespine, a nobleman of high rank and ancient family, and master of several fine estates. An only son, the Count de l’Aubespine, was the fruit of this union, which, if rank and wealth constituted happiness, must have rendered the marquis and his wife perfectly happy. Whilst the young count was still a child, a man named Martin lived as a servant in the household of his father. After several years had thus elapsed, Martin, whose good behaviour was proverbial in the whole parish, resolved to marry, and resume his original trade of carpenter, which he had left off in order to enter the service of the Marquis de l'Aubespine. His master, though sorry to lose him, raised no objection to so reasonable á plan; but dismissing him with a handsome present, and every assurance of esteem and protection, he facilitated his project, and enabled him to settle and marry according to his wish in the neighbouring village of Champrond-en-Gâtine, not far from the town of Chartres.
Martin was a good and sober workman. The woman he had married proved an excellent and industrious wife; and though, in the space of a few years, he had three children besides himself and their mother to maintain, things went on pretty well, and Martin was perfectly satisfied with his humble lot. But a far different fate had in the meantime fallen to the share of his former master. The Marquis de l'Aubespine was a very extravagant man, and though possessor of immense wealth, he had contrived to spend it all. His wife's large fortune had long since been squandered; all his fine estates had disappeared one after the other; and not only did the spendthrift nobleman reduce himself and his wife to beggary, but he also utterly ruined his unfortunate son, the Count de l'Aubespine, who had married, but was now a widower, and father of three young children.
Martin had long heard with grief of the distress into which his former masters had fallen. He had at first refused to credit the report; but the sale of the family estates showed him but too well that it was founded on truth. From this time forward he could learn but little of their fate. The marquis, it was said, had disappeared entirely; his wife had died with grief; and their son, the count, was residing with his children in a distant part of the country, doubtless in poverty and obscurity, but where, nobody could tell. Although he knew no more than this, Martin's thoughts were almost constantly engrossed with the distressed state of the son and grandchildren of his former master. On a fine evening of the month of June 1830, as he was seated on a wooden bench near the door of his cottage, and meditating as usual on this painful subject, his attention was attracted towards a haggard and wearied-looking man, who, with a child in his arms, and two little girls following him, was advancing towards him. Martin rose to meet him, but could hardly believe his eyes when he recognised in the stranger the son of his ancient master, the Count de l'Aubespine. The three children who accompanied him were his. Angélique, the eldest, was only five years of age; Josephine, four; and' Louis, the youngest, was not more than eighteen months old. The count and his children, who were very tired, entered the carpenter's dwelling; and whilst they were resting from the fatigue they had experienced, their father opened to Martin the object of his visit. He was on the eve, he said, of a short journey, and knowing no one in that part of the country where he resided to whom he could confide his children, he had resolved on asking Martin to take charge of them during his absence. To this proposal the carpenter readily and joyfully assented; and the Count de l'Aubespine, embracing his children, and once more recommending them to the care of Martin, almost immediately departed. The same night he left France, whence his distressed state compelled him to fly, and to which he never returned. It was not long before Martin learned that the last and helpless descendants of the great Sully were now dependants on his charity. Although already burdened with a family, and no longer young, he did not repine at the prospect, but cheerfully set about considering by what means he could best accomplish the task which had devolved upon him. Martin earned only thirty sous a-day (1s. 3d.); but he received some help from his wife and eldest daughter, who made between them about twentyfour sous a-day (1s.) : two shillings and threepence a-day was therefore the sum by which Martin was to support himself, his wife, and the six children. The carpenter's utmost ingenuity, energy, and perseverance, failed to accomplish this mighty feat. It was in vain that he worked from morning till night with unwearied industry, submitting to the severest privations : he was, before long, compelled to borrow several sums of money from a few kind friends. For some time he endeavoured to go on thus; but this resource soon failing him, he found himself under the necessity of parting with the little furniture he possessed, piece by piece, until he at last became reduced to the greatest distress.
Bút, in the midst of his poverty the deep devotedness of that worthy man remained unchanged. When he and his family were obliged to eat coarse brown bread, he still found the means of giving white bread to the children of the Count de l'Aubespine; and, with a rare feeling of delicacy and refinement, he would never allow them to take their meals at the same table with himself and his family, but waited on them with the same deep respect he would have shown had they still been in the enjoyment of all the privileges of rank and fortune in their ancestral castle of Villebon. Several years thus passed away, and Martin never once wearied in the accomplishment of the task he had undertaken; but whilst he thus provided, though not without difficulty, for the physical wants of the three children, he often grieved to think that he could do nothing towards giving them the education required by their name and rank in society. The curate of Champrond had kindly begun to instruct the young Louis; but this was of course wholly insufficient; and the worthy carpenter was no little perplexed as to how he ought to act, when aid came from the most unexpected quarter.
A conduct so noble and so touching in its disinterestedness as his, could not for ever remain concealed. The report that the three last descendants of the great Sully, who had long inhabited that district, where his memory was still held in deep veneration, were now dependent on the charity of a poor carpenter, gradually spread throughout the whole country, and it was not long before Martin received from the nuns of the order of Saint Paul, in the neighbouring town of Chartres, the offer of taking the three children under their care, and properly educating them. Though most reluctant to part from them, Martin consented, influenced by the evident advantages which would result to them from this exchange. They were immediately transferred to the convent, where the kindness and attention with which they were treated amply proved to Martin that his precious charge could not have been intrusted to kinder hands. But however well qualified those respectable ladies might be to train up properly the two girls, the education of Louis, the boy, could not long remain with them. The hospital of Nogent-le-Rotron, founded and endowed by Sully, whose remains are interred within it, sent a sum of money for the purpose of procuring the young Louis de l'Aubespine that instruction which he so much needed. Of the riches left by Sully, a small share of what he had given to the poor was all that his descendant was destined to reap. T'his sum not being sufficient, however, for the purpose in view,