Billeder på siden

other-the outer one--called the first wicket. This man looked at me, but did not open. I had to put my hand through the bars to hurry him. At length he turned his two keys, and we were out. And now, recollecting herself, my daughter took my right arm. We had twelve steps of a stair to go up to get at the court where the chair waited; and at the foot of them was the guard

house, where twenty soldiers, with an officer at their head, stood within three steps of me, to see Madame Lavalette pass! My foot was at length on the last step, and I got into the sedan, which was close by. But not a chairman was there-not a servant ! only my daughter, and the old woman standing beside it, and a sentry not six feet off, immovable on his post, staring at me. My first surprise was giving way to violent agitation; I felt my eyes fixed like a basalisk's on that sentry's musket, which, at the smallest noise or difficulty, I should certainly have sprung on, and used it against any one who offered to take

This dreadful suspense may have lasted some two minutes, which to me appeared the length of a night. At length I heard the voice of Bonneville, my valet, whispering to me, One of the bearers has failed me, but I have found another !'

“I then felt myself caught up, the chair


crossed the court, and we went down a street or two. When it was set down, the door opened, and my friend Baudus offering me his arm, said aloud: “Madam, you know you have a visit to make to the president.' I got out, and he pointed to a cabriolet which stood a short

way off down a little dark street. I sprang into it, and the driver said to me, * Hand me my whip.' I sought it in vain; it had fallen. “Never mind,' said my companion, giving the reins a shake, which set off the horses at a round trot. As I passed, I caught sight of my daughter, Josephine, standing on the quay, with her hands joined, praying for me with all her soul before getting into the chair; which, as I had predicted, was quickly overtaken, and finding her only in it, was allowed to proceed.

“Beginning to breathe at length, when we had driven a long way, I had time to look at my coachman, and what was my astonishment to recognize the Count de Chassenon, whom I little thought of seeing in that capacity. 'Is that you?' asked I, in unfeigned surprise. • Yes; and you have at your back four wellloaded pistols, which I hope you will use in case of need. Not I, indeed; I have no mind to involve you in ruin!' 'Well, then, I suppose I must show you the example, and woe to whóever attempts to stop us ! We drove on to

the boulevard neuf, where we stopped, and I displayed my handkerchief, as agreed, on the apron of the cab; having, by the way, got rid of all my female paraphernalia, and slipped on a groom's frock, with a round laced, livery hat. Monsieur Baudus soon joined us: I took leave of the good Count, and modestly followed in the wake of my new master. It was now past eight; the rain fell in torrents; the night was dark; and nothing could be more lonely than this part of the town. It was with the greatest difficulty I could keep pace with Monsieur Baudus before I lost one of my shoes, which did not mend matters. We met several gendarmes at full gallop, little aware that he whom they were probably in pursuit of was so near them! At length, after an hour's march, worn out with fatigue, and with one foot bare, we came to a large mansion. 'I am going in here,' said Monsieur Baudus; and while I engage the porter in conversation, slip into the court-yard; you

will find a staircase on the left; go up it to the highest story. At the end of a dark passage to the right is a pile of fire-wood; stand behind it, and wait.' I grew dizzy, and almost sunk on seeing Monsieur Baudus knock at the very door of the minister for foreign affairs, the Duke de Richelieu ! But while the porter let him in, I passed on quickly. Where is that

man going?' cried the porter. 'O, 'tis only my servant.' I found the staircase and every thing else as directed, and was no sooner on the appointed spot, than I heard the rustling of a gown; my arm was gently taken; I was pushed into a room, and the door closed upon me.”

Lavalette was now concealed in what was in all probability the least suspected place in Paris—the house of the minister of foreign affairs. For an asylum under this roof he was indebted to the gratitude of Madame de Brisson, the wife of the cashier. M. de Brisson, it appears, had been proscribed at the first revolution for voting against the king's death, and was two years in hiding, along with his wife, among the Vosges, a cluster of mountains on the east of France. Here they received so much kindness from the inhabitants, that Madame de Brisson made a vow to save, if ever in her power, a person similarly circumstanced. She now had it in her power to afford a shelter to Lavalette, and nobly did she redeem her vow. Every comfort, down to the minutest luxuries of the toilet-so acceptable to a prisoner long deprived of them--had been provided by this lady's thoughtful kindness; even the felt slippers in which alone he was to dare to move about, and the profusion of books and wax lights, which were to compensate to a studious

man for the necessity of keeping his windows carefully closed all day. When the shades of night permitted him to open them, it was often to hear street-criers bawling forth proclamations, of which he could sometimes catch little more than his own name, threatening with the utmost penalties of the law all landlords or lodgers who might be giving him a harbor; and truly, considering not only the dangers to which their generous conduct in his behalf was exposing his benefactors, but the fearful risk to all involved, in a nephew—who slept next room to him and a couple of faithful servants being necessarily in the secret, it may be imagined that Lavalette's was not a bed of roses. His meals had to be literally purloined from their own table by Madame de Brisson, who, on some refreshment not habitually consumed by the family being requested by her prisoner, was obliged to remind him of the recapture and death on the scaffold of Monsieur de Montmorine, from the trifling circumstance of some chicken bones being found near the door of his landlady--a woman too poor to indulge in such dainties. She was, however, able to afford him the more substantial alleviation of hearing that, spite of proclamations, at which every one laughed, his escape was the subject of rejoicing all over Paris; that Madame Lavalette was

« ForrigeFortsæt »