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they eyed us with significant looks of importance, for which there was not the slightest occasion. In my former remarks on this district I have observed that the filthiness of the peasants of both sexes is inconceivable; yet I must add, that in every village at which we arrived, my companion and I were quite astonished how the people could possibly live in such a condition. On our way through the country to Belleisle, we had seen but few inhabitants in them; but now there were hundreds of persons seated on the ground, and employed in picking from each other's bodies the insects engendered by their habitual filth.
Toward evening we arrived at Vannes and went to lodge at the inn where we had before been so well treated. The pretty landlady received us with her wonted grace, and expressed great pleasure on seeing us again. Shortly after our arrival we were summoned to supper, and as other strangers were present, the conversation turned on the arming of La Vendée, and on the probable motives of Louis XVIII. in keeping such a number of people still under arms without any assignable cause. One of the party present said to me: “ Do not think, Sir, that the government wished to keep on foot this armed rabble; scarcely was our King restored to the throne, when, aware of the injury inflicted on the country by thousands of armed men, he instantly sent a message expressing his heartfelt gratitude for their good disposition towards him, and exhorting them to return home to the bosom of their families, as the time of peace, so long and anxiously desired, was at length arrived. Now, Sir, you must be aware that all political parties are actuated merely by private interest; and accordingly these armed peasants gave no heed to the exhortation of the King, but have continued to do as they liked, exhausting the country by levying contributions and plundering travellers. Thus, without listening to reason, they choose to go on filling their pockets at other people's expence, and a long time will be required to clear the country of a horde of ruffians who have acquired a relish for thieving. I am astonished that you have both reached this place without being plundered by them, and I advise you to be very cautious in travelling farther.” As we were thus conversing, our hostess came to us, accompanied by a voiturier about to return to Rennes, and said, that if we chose we might avail ourselves of this opportunity to continue our journey.. I asked the voiturier if there was any danger to be apprehended on the road, as we had learned that it was infested with robbers, the man, intent on his own interest, encouraged us to set out with him, assuring us that we had nothing to fear. The pleasure of quitting so disagreeable a country determined us to depart next morning by daybreak, and we agreed for our conveyance with the voiturier, who promised to call for us. The guests at supper again told us that we were very wrong in exposing ourselves to peril, and that we ought to wait for the diligence; but as we understood that in this case we should have to remain four days longer, we rejected the advice that was meant for our good.
At sunrise we were summoned by the voiturier, and having got all in readiness, we departed in great glee, reckless of any thing that might happen. When we had proceeded a few miles, we were met by about fifty of the armed peasantry, who exclaimed,“ halt! halt!" My friend looked at me and said: “ What those gentlemen told us last
night has come to pass.” The brigands ordered us to alight, and not to utter a word, adding, that we were suspected people, as we had not the white cockade, and therefore they must take us to head-quarters, and bring us before the General, who would determine what was to be done with us. Having taken our luggage from the vehicle, they carried it away on their shoulders, and told the voiturier he might be going, but must take care to say nothing in the country of what had happened, as he valued his life. The man readily obeyed this order, while we were marched almost three miles from the high road, through fields overgrown with thorns, and along paths but little frequented. On our way the people loaded us with abuse in their native dialect, as we could perceive by their looks, though we did not understand what they said. To express their exultation in having taken us, which they regarded as an act of prowess, they repeatedly discharged their muskets in the air. One of them, who seemed to be their chief, put several questions to us, which we did not think it worth while to answer, but reserved what we had to say for the commandant. We at length came to a thicket of shrubs and stunted trees, in the midst of which were some low thatched huts, and a multitude of armed men, who rose from their seats as we came up, and danced for joy on seeing that their companions were bringing captives and plunder. Among them were a number of women, some occupied in boiling victuals, while others were busied in the operation formerly mentioned of converting dung into fuel. After a short pause we were led into one of the huts, where we found the commandant seated on the ground surrounded by a number of these brigands, who were all smoking their pipes, and occasionally drinking cider out of large mugs. The commandant was a man of middle stature, and by no means of a very forbidding aspect; he was dressed in a blue jacket and pantaloons, and wore the white scarf on his right arm, and a large sabre attached to his belt. The captain of the band who had taken us, having made his report to him, he turned towards , us and said: “ Are you not aware who is now in authority? There are laws established by our King, which ordain that all persons travelling in France must wear the cockade as a token that they are royalists. My men having found you without a cockade, have arrested you in virtue of this decree, and brought you before us.
Were I to judge you according to its strict tenor, you would both be lost men; but I hope to plead your cause and obtain your pardon, as I see by your passports that you are foreigners, and probably unacquainted with our laws." We thanked the commandant for his good disposition towards us, though we knew the men to be assassins, pretending to be stationed in these places by the Government, to maintain good order. We were led out of the hut, the commandant telling us that we must await our sentence without. As we stood in the open air, near the door, we heard continual sounds of laughter, whence
my friend and I deemed it probable, that after having been plundered of all we had, we should have even to thank them for their kindness towards us. My companion, judging from their savage looks, was afraid that plunder alone would not satiate them, and observed, that misfortune now seemed to attend us in all our proceedings. “ My dear friend," replied I,“ in adversity we must be firm and wrestle against our fate, in the hope of better times.” “ If hcaren,” replied he,“ will be so gracious as to set me free once more, I will return to my home, in the hope that I shall never more be seized with a passion for travelling." I remarked to him, that in prosperity all men adapt themselves to circumstances, but in our case we must reflect that human life is subject to vicissitude. Amidst these philosophic reasonings we were summoned before the commandant, who informed us that all his colleagues wished to punish us severely, but that he, on the contrary, was disposed to be merciful ; we must give up our luggage, and be stripped of all our apparel, except our trowsers and shirts. Indignant at being reduced to such a state of wretchedness, I said to him: “ So, your King has issued a decree for poor travellers to be plundered, and perhaps assassinated, for the maintenance of good order; since, who knows whether, on some occasions, you do not deprive your victims even of life? Such then are the means by which Louis XVIII. defends his throne, if I rightly comprehend what you tell me." My fellow-traveller fearing that this discourse might exasperate the commandant, said to him:“You mustexcuse my companion, if, mortified at finding himself far from his home, and destitute of the means of subsistence, he should give vent to some expressions against you.” The commandant, regarding him with a severe look, said: “ Were it pot for you, the haughty spirit of your companion should be querched with four bullets in his body, for never did I see a man possessed of so little gratitude after his life had been spared.” Perceiving that if I continued to speak my existence would soon be terminated, my companion exhorted me to be silent, and agitated as I was with alarm, I resigned myself to my fate. A number of the brigands haring approached for the purpose of stripping us, I said to the commandant: “ If you have a spark of hnmanity, order your men to leave us alone; and we will take off our clothes.” The commandant then called off his men, who seemed to me worse than executioners about to perform their duty, and we gave up such of our clothes as had been demanded. My companion exclaimed: “ Do you think, Mr. Commandant, that we can march barefooted as far as Paris? Have you not even the compassion to leave us some raiment to cover us?” The commandant angrily said to me : You deserve nothing, for you have called us, who are regular troops under the command of his Majesty, assassins; but as a mark of my condescension, I will allow you shoes and clothing." He then ordered his attendant to furnish us with those articles, and the man brought two pair of wooden shoes, called sabots, two old dirty stinking cloaks, and two large slouched hats. On seeing that we were to be thus wretchedly attired, I looked indignantly at the commandant, and said : “ Really, I never expected treatment like this from the supporters of the house of Bourbon !” My companion entreated, that since we had been deprived of every thing, he would at least give us our papers, that we might, by their means, procure decent apparel
. After conferring with his comrades, the commandant said: “ To prove to you how considerate we are, I restore them to you, and I trust you will always remember my condescension. Seeing that they were all making sport of us, and that the commandant, with all these airs of compassion, was laughing us to scorn, I nearly lost all patience, and was beginning to reproach him again, but I curbed my indignation from regard to iny companion, who, in an under tone, implored me to
bear all quietly. The brigands having opened our trunks and portmanteaus, gave us our papers. The commandant seeing that the portfolios which contained them were very handsome, said to us : In your present garb you cannot want those portfolios ; I will keep them for your sakes." I told him that we had many memoranda and accounts written within them. He gave us all the papers, together with such leaves as had writing on them, but kept the portfolios. I then asked him if he thought we had any thing else worth taking; he said, “ No; but I advise you to put some white mark in your hats to serve as a white cockade, lest you meet with other armed bands, who may treat you in the same manner.” “I think,” said I, “ they can only take our lives, for you and your comrades have cased us of every thing else.” He now told us we were at liberty, and we put on the cloaks, the wooden shoes, and the slouched hats, in which we stuck a bit of white paper, to serve as a cockade. The commandant laughed at seeing us clad in this manner, and as we departed from the cabin, all the people followed his example, the women affecting to be struck with admiration,
We patiently took the road by which we had come, amidst the imprecations and derision of the rabble. We paced along in mournful silence, but on looking at my companjon, I could not help laughing to see him so accoutred, and he was equally diverted. “ Do not think, my dear friend,” said I,“ that I rated the commandant so roundly because he had robbed me, and I was unable to arm myself with philosophy against adverse fortune ; it was only because he wanted to make us believe that what he did was for the maintenance of good order. Had he told us that he was an assassin I should have said nothing, being aware that such a vocation required him to deprive people of their property; but hypocrisy combined with villainy,disgusts me extremely.” My companion began to complain that his wooden shoes hurt him very much, being fit only for peasants, whose feet have become callous ; in which remark I sympathized, for I was scarcely able to walk. At length we reached the high road, without a farthing in our pockets, and attired in such a manner that the passengers eyed us with astonishment. We came to an inn, but had not the heart to enter it, being destitute of the means of paying for refreslıment. On proceeding further, we perceived, in a valley on our right, a very beautiful country-house. I proposed to my companion, that as the brigands had restored to us our papers, and among them a bill of exchange for the sum of one thousand francs, which I had taken the precaution to lodge in the bank of Monsieur Perrier, before I left Paris, as a provision against any misfortunes that might happen, we should go to this house, obtain an interview with its owner, acquaint him with our misfortunes, deposit the bill in his hands, and request him to advance something for our relief, as we had tasted no food since the preceding night. Though my companion felt great repugnance at going, as it were, to ask alms, yet he consented to accompany me. The house was half a mile from the high road, and we approached it very slowly, as our feet began to be sore with wearing the sabots. Having rung the bell, there came out a man very well dressed, whom we might have expected to give us a little soup and a morsel of bread, but he shut the door in our faces. Then, looking at each other, we concluded that he had taken us for wandering beggars; and, to tell the truth, our condition was more critical than that of a mendicant who is accustomed to a life of vagrancy; for we, who had been only four hours in such a state, found it insupportable. After we had waited patiently a full hour, the door opened, and a man in a cook's dress brought us some soup and bread, saying to us: “ Eat, and begone quickly from hence." “ My good man," said I, “is the master of this house at home?" “ Certainly,” he replied, “and he is just now at dinner.” “ Would it be possible to speak a word with your master ?” He looked at us, and began to laugh: “ pretty people you are to speak with my master," said he. “Yet," replied I, you may possibly be mistaken in judging of us by our condition, for we were robbed but two hours ago.” The man then changed his tone, and said: “Wait, and I will go and call the Count's chamberlain." In ten minutes the same person came who had opened the door, and enquired what we wanted. I said we wished to speak with his master, as we had been robbed. The chamberlain, with a look of compassion, bade us come into the hall and sit down, and he would tell his master of our misfortune, as soon as dinner was over. Meanwhile he told us we might go and take some refreshment in the kitchen, giving orders at the same time, that we should have meat and drink. I was not slow in concluding that the master of the house must be a kind-hearted man, and accustomed to do good, since those of his household were so well disposed. I have always found, that if the master be a tyrant, the servants partake of his temper, and if he be charitable, they will be charitable likewise as the proverb says, “ He who lives with the lame, will learn to limp." On entering the kitchen, we were invited to sit down, and the cook, after giving us a hearty welcome, placed before us a roast fowl, a plate of ragoût, some excellent soup, and two bottles of wine, telling us that his master was a brave gentleman, whose sole pleasure was in doing good. The cook, who proved to be a great talker, sat down to take a glass of wine with us, and asked us to tell him what had happened to us, forgetting that dinner was not yet over. The servants came in to ask him for the second course, and the moment he had sent it to table, he returned to us, bringing some pastry, and a dish of caviare. He bade us eat, drink, and be merry, taking care to fill our glasses; but we drank sparingly, as we expected to speak with his master.
When the Count had finished dinner, the chamberlain related to him our misfortune, and he immediately desired to see us. The chamberlain came for us, and conducted us to the dining-room. We were ashamed to enter it in such wretched attire. The Count, who sat at the head of the table, was a handsome man, about fifty years of age, his wife appeared rather younger; there were also at table four boys, whom I judged to be their sons, two young ladies, and a gentleman. We bowed respectfully to the Count, who asked us what we were, and how we came to wear that dress. I then related to him all our adventures, from our residence at Brest to that very moment; I also presented to him our papers, which he read one by one. It
gave me great pleasure to find that he understood Italian, and after he had finished the perusal, I said to him : “We have a bill of exchange, Sir, on the bank of Monsieur Perrier, at Paris, and we entreat that you would do us the favour to receive it, and advance us a sum of money to enable