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• An old woman performed the duties of porter, but for greater security she was attended by a stout and robust peasant armed with a long and heavy stick, a weapon of terrific power in such hands.
• " We want to see Monsieur Charles," said the chief.
"“ He is asleep," the old woman replied; " but he gave orders to be immediately informed if any one arrived. Come into the kitchen, and I will go and awaken him."
• " Tell him that it is M. Berryer from Paris.”
• The old woman left them in the kitchen, and they approached the huge fire-place, in which were still some burning embers, the remains of the fire used during the day. One extremity of a board was in the fire-place, whilst at the other there was a slit containing one of those lighted pieces of pine which, in the Vendean cottages, are used as torches in lieu of lamps or candles.
In about ten minutes she returned, and informed M. Berryer that Monsieur Charles was ready to receive him. He accordingly followed her up a rickety staircase outside the house, which seemed scarcely fastened to the wall. It led to a small room on the first floor, the only one in the house at all fit to be inhabited.
* This was the apartment of the Duchess of Berri, into which the old woman ushered M. Berryer, shut the door, and returned to the kitchen.
* All M. Berryer's attention was now directed to the duchess, who was in bed, upon a wooden bedstead clumsily made with a hedging-bill. She had sheets of the finest lawn, and was covered with a Scotch shawl of green and red plaid. She had on her head one of those woollen coifs worn by the women of the country, the pinners of which fall over the shoulders. The walls of the room were bare, the apartment was warmed by an awkward stove of plaster of Paris, and the only furniture, besides the bed, was a table covered with papers, upon which were two brace of pistols, and in a corner, a chair, upon which lay the complete dress of a peasant boy, and a black wig.'—pp. 148–151.
All that the general tells us respecting this interview simply is, that M. Berryer laboured with all his might to persuade the princess to quit the country, and it was not until near daylight that the princess capitulated and promised to leave France. The tears and expressions of despair which accompanied the act of resignation, appeared to constitute a perfectly unequivocal testimony of her sincerity of purpose. He then left her, after making with her an appointment, by which she contracted to meet him at a place distant about four leagues from the farm-house, where she was to enter his cabriolet to return with him to Nantes, there to take post with a false passport and proceed across France, and leave it in the direction of Mount Cenis. With this explicit understanding M. Berryer withdrew, and had every thing in readiness at the destined hour and place. Six hours had passed after the specified time, and no duchess appeared, but in her stead a packet arrived, in which M. Berryer was mortified to find a declaration in the hand-writing of the princess to the effect, that she had changed her mind! She wrote to Bourmont a letter expressing her determination to see it out, now that she had come to France, and the general, at her bidding, adopted instant measures to induce the Vendeans to take up arms on the 3rd and 4th of June.
We do not think it necessary to follow the general in his account of the actions which followed between the regular troops and the Chouans, who fought with great bravery, evidently roused to enthusiasm by the presence of the Duchess of Berri, who seems to have been present at some of the actions, and to have assisted in dressing the wounds of the soldiers. The duchess, however, suffered in the meantime from the annoyance of a corps of the government army which pursued her incessantly, and frequently came so close to her as to be able to seize some part of her portable property. The misery encountered by her from this persecution led to a plan amongst the Vendeans, whereby the duchess was to proceed to Nantes, where a secret asylum was ready for her, and whilst the regular troops were seeking for her in other parts of the district, the Chouans were to enter the city on a market-day, disguised as peasants, get possession of the castle by a coup de main, and immediately place the duchess within its walls ;—then declare Nantes the provisional capital of the kingdom, and proclaim
the deposition of Louis-Philippe, together with the regency of the Duchess of Berri. To facilitate the execution of this enterprise, her royal highness was to reside as near to the castle as possible. The duchess, when told of the project, suggested that she should enter Nantes as a peasant girl, and accordingly she actually did set out on foot on the next market-day, which happened to fall on the 16th of June. It was at six o'clock in the morning that the party, consisting of the duchess, and Madlle. de Kersabiec, both dressed as peasant women, with M. de Ménars habited as a farmer, departed from a cottage in the neighbourhood of Chateau-Thibaud for Nantes. The distance was five leagues. After travelling half an hour in this trim, the thick, nailed shoes and worsted stockings, to which the duchess was not accustomed, hurt her feet. Still she attempted to walk; but, judging that if she continued to wear these shoes and stockings, she should soon be unable to proceed, she seated herself upon the bank of a ditch, took them off
, thrust them into her large pockets, and continued her journey barefoot. A moment after, having remarked the peasant-girls who passed her on the road, she perceived that the fineness of her skin, and the aristocratic whiteness of her legs, were likely to betray her; she therefore went to the road-side, took some dark-coloured earth, and after rubbing her legs with it, resumed her walk. She had still four leagues to travel before she reached the place of her destination. As the strange party advanced towards Nantes, their fears were more and more dissipated. The duchess now had become accustomed to her attire, and the country-people on the road did not seem to perceive that the little peasant-woman who tripped lightly by them, was any other than her dress indicated.
It was already a great point gained to deceive the instinct of penetration peculiar to the inhabitants of this country, and who are rivalled, if not surpassed in this quality, only by soldiers inured to warfare.
At length, Nantes appeared in sight, and the duchess put on her shoes and stockings to enter the town. On reaching the Pont Pyrmile, she found herself in the midst of a detachment commanded by an officer formerly in the royal guard, and whom she recognised, as having often seen him on duty at her palace.
Opposite to the Bouffai, somebody tapped the duchess on the shoulder; she started and turned round. The person guilty of this familiarity was an old apple-woman, who had placed her basket of fruit on the ground, and was unable by herself to replace it upon her head.
My good girls,' she said, addressing the duchess and Mademoiselle de Kersabiec, ' help me, pray, to take up my basket, and I will give each of you an apple.
The duchess of Berri immediately seized a handle of the basket, made a sign to her companion to take the other, and the load was quickly placed in equilibrium upon the head of the old woman, who was going away without giving the promised reward, when she seized her by the arm, and said: Stop, mother, where's my apple ?
At the very time when the duchess made her humble entrance into Nantes, a placard was posted throughout the streets, declaring four departments of La Vendée to be in a state of siege, and setting a price on the head of the duchess. She stopped very carelessly to read this placard, but proceeded to her appointed domicile, which was an apartment on the third floor, consisting of two small rooms; and the place of concealment was a recess within an angle closed by the chimney of an innermost room. An iron plate formed the entrance to the hiding-place, and was opened by a spring. Her most habitual occupation, however, was painting flowers and tapestry, in which she excels. On the least subject of alarm, a bell was rung, which reached from the ground-floor to her bed-chamber, and gave the signal for concealment within the recess. Here the duchess passed five months. She was not long, however, a resident of Nantes, ere the General Dermoncourt ascertained the fact, but no other evidence could be obtained by him, or by the government, for a considerable period, which led to the knowledge of details beyond those of the simple fact that she was in the city. It was about this period that the individual already spoken of under the name of Deutz arrived at Paris. This Deutz who had been originally a journeyman printer, succeeded in a scheme of going through a process of conversion from Judaism to Christianity, merely for the purpose, as it afterwards turned out, of serving his own interests. Being recommended by the highest authorities at Rome to the duchess, during her stay in that city, Deutz was employed by her in some
very confidential and delicate duties, which the general admits were fulfilled with great ability.
Deutz, we have said, in introducing his name, came to Paris at the time that the duchess was sojourning at Nantes; he was still on the business of the ex-princess, and was literally engaged in a negociation for a loan, in conjunction with an agent of Don Miguel's, between whom and the duchess the assets received were to be divided. One of the conditions of the loan was, that Don Miguel should furnish the duchess with an equivalent for part of the sum in arms and ammunition, which he was to land at Vendée. Such was the spectacle which the money-market of Paris presented; a claim on the one hand being made upon it for money to consolidate one throne, and a similar claim for the purpose of overturning another! Two such characters as Deutz and his fellow agent could not be long in Paris and
observation. Deutz was well known to be a man capable of tampering with whatever sense of duty he might have possessed, and to curtail our account, we may mention at once, that Deutz readily consented to a private interview with the minister of the interior, M. Montalivet. It is supposed that a perfect understanding soon took place between the two parties, and that Deutz promised unbounded treachery, while Montalivet guaranteed a liberal compensation. But the government hesitated about the very nice point of taking any step at all concerning her highness, and it happened that during the suspense, the ministry was changed, and M. Montalivet's functions devolved on M. Thiers. The latter, however, determined on securing to himself the credit which could be derived from the capture of such a prize as the duchess, prevailed on Deutz to go down in disguise to Nantes, and for the purpose of forwarding his views, this minister had the boldness to supersede in the prefecture of the place the existing incumbent, a popular man, whilst the individual selected as his successor was in quite an opposite predicament.
It is highly creditable to the fidelity of the partizans (they were chiefly women) of the duchess, that no power of the ministry, whether by threats or by inducements, could procure the revelation of the grand secret where the duchess was lodged. Every body knew that she was in Nantes; many had seen her in the streets, but the actual house where she lived no one could tell, beyond the half dozen individuals to whom, as having tried their attachment, she confided the secret. Even Deutz did not succeed in obtaining the least clue to this mystery, but was able to make the duchess acquainted with his arrival. She was not satisfied, however, that it was really Deutz, and she asked him by her messenger to send her his dispatches. But this he declined, saying that he would retire to a neighbouring place for ten days, and on his return would seek an interview with her royal highness. The course thus pointed out was scrupulously adhered to, and after his return he renewed his application. He gave such undoubted proofs of being the real Deutz, that the princess immediately gave him liberty to visit her. On the 31st of October, at 7 o'clock in the evening, he was conducted to the house, and had an interview of an hour and a half with her royal highness. But on leaving he concluded that she left the house also, and for the life of him he could not remember where the house was. His plan, therefore, was to solicit a second interview under pretence that the agitation caused by the sight of her royal highness at the last audience she granted him had made him forget to communicate to her matters of the most urgent importance. The duchess felt less difficulty in granting his request, because she had herself dispatches to give him. A second interview was therefore fixed for Tuesday the 6th of November, of which circumstance Deutz immediately informed the police. At four o'clock, Deutz was conducted to the duchess; but it seems that he was followed by some skilful police-agents, who watched all his motions. The same day, at about seven o'clock, this wretch had passed before the house in which he had first seen her, and was again to see her that afternoon, the better, no doubt, to reconnoitre the premises. No sooner therefore, had he entered the house a second time, than he made such observations as led him to suppose that the duchess resided there.
On reaching her apartment, he found her pale and agitated. She rose, walked straight to him, crumpling a letter in her hand, and fixing her eyes upon him as if she would scrutinize his innermost thoughts.
“Sir,” she said, “ do you know what they write to me from Paris? they inform me, that I am betrayed;-is it by you?”
Deutz remained silent at this unexpected appeal; he had not a word at command wherewith to defend himself.
“You see, Sir," continued the duchess, showing him the dispatch, " that I am to be arrested to-morrow. Do
anything about it?” Deutz, having recovered himself, assumed a certain degree of as
He attributed to wounded feelings the confusion he had betrayed on her accusing him, protested that he was innocent and faithful, and appealed for a proof of his incorruptibility to the economy with which he had executed every mission she had entrusted him with. The duchess acknowledged the truth of his appeal, and immediately said that she believed him incapable of such baseness. Deutz, on retiring, was struck with the number of the services which he saw arranged on the dinner table of the duchess. They were seven in number, and he concluded that a better opportunity could not be obtained of securing the duchess than the present.
He went forth with to the prefect, who was prepared for the nature of his mission, but who took the proper precaution of keeping the traitor in custody that a richer bounty from another quarter might not by possibility induce the villain to stop short in the performance of his agreement. A body of troops, twelve hundred