Make your own free website on Tripod.com

List Of Contents | Contents of Massacres of the South, by Dumas, Pere
< < Previous Page     Next Page > >

never without resources; but from the moment it got into the
possession of our enemies we were quite destitute.  The country was
ravaged, my friends had grown cold, their purses were empty, a
hundred towns had been sacked and burned, the prisons were full of
Protestants, the fields were uncultivated.  Added to all this, the
long promised help from England had never arrived, and the new
marechal had appeared in the province accompanied by fresh troops."

Nevertheless, in spite of his desperate position, Cavalier listened
to the propositions laid before him by Lacombe with cold and haughty
front, and his reply was that he would never lay down arms till the
Protestants had obtained the right to the free exercise of their
religion.

Firm as was this answer, Lalande did not despair of inducing Cavalier
to come to terms: he therefore wrote him a letter with his own hand,
asking him for an interview, and pledging his word that if they came
to no agreement Cavalier should be free to retire without any harm
being done him; but he added that, if he refused this request, he
should regard him as an enemy to peace, and responsible for all the
blood which might be shed in future.

This overture, made with a soldier's frankness, had a great effect on
Cavalier, and in order that neither his friends nor his enemies
should have the least excuse for blaming him, he resolved to show
everyone that he was eager to seize the first chance of making peace
on advantageous terms.

He therefore replied to Lalande, that he would come to the bridge of
Avene on that very day, the 12th May, at noon, and sent his letter by
Catinat, ordering him to deliver it into the hands of the Catholic
general himself.

Catinat was worthy of his mission.  He was a peasant from Cayla,
whose real name was Abdias Maurel.  He had served under Marshal
Catinat in Italy, the same who had maintained so gallant a struggle
against Prince Eugene.  When Maurel returned home he could talk of
nothing but his marshal and his campaigns, so that he soon went among
his neighbours by the name of "Catinat."  He was, as we have seen,
Cavalier's right hand, who had placed him in command of his cavalry,
and who now entrusted him with a still more dangerous post, that of
envoy to a man who had often said that he would give 2000 livres to
him who would bring him the head of Cavalier, and 1000 livres each
for the heads of his two lieutenants.  Catinat was quite well aware
of this offer of Lalande's, yet he appeared before the general
perfectly cool and calm; only, either from a feeling of propriety or
of pride, he was dressed in full uniform.

The bold and haughty expression of the man who presented Cavalier's
letter astonished the general, who asked him his name.

"I am Catinat," he answered.

"Catinat!" exclaimed Lalande in surprise.

"Yes, Catinat, commander of the cavalry of Cavalier."

"What!" said Lalande, "are you the Catinat who massacred so many
people in Beaucaire?"

"Yes, I am.  I did it, but it was my duty."

"Well," exclaimed M. de Lalande, "you show great hardihood in daring
to appear before me."

"I came," said Catinat proudly, "trusting to your honour and to the
promise that Brother Cavalier gave me that nothing should happen to
me."

"He was quite right," returned Lalande, taking the letter.  Having
read it, he said, "Go back to Cavalier and assure him that I shall be
at the bridge of Avene at noon, accompanied only by a few officers
and thirty dragoons.  I expect to find him there with a similar
number of men."

"But," answered Catinat, "it is possible that Brother Cavalier may
not wish-to come with so poor a following."

"If so," returned Lalande, "then tell him that he may bring his whole
army if he likes, but that I shall not take a single man with me more
than I have said; as Cavalier has confidence in me, I have confidence
in him."

Catinat reported Lalande's answer to his chief it was of a kind that
he understood and liked, so leaving the rest of his troops at
Massanes, he chose sixty men from his infantry, and eight horsemen as
escort.  On coming in sight of the bridge, he saw Lalande approaching
from the other side.  He at once ordered his sixty men to halt, went
a few steps farther with his eight horsemen, and then ordered them in
their turn to stop, and advanced alone towards the bridge.  Lalande
had acted in the same manner with regard to his dragoons and
officers, and now dismounting, came towards Cavalier.

The two met in the middle of the bridge, and saluted with the
courtesy of men who had learned to esteem each other on the field of
battle.  Then after a short silence, during which they examined each
other, Lalande spoke.

"Sir," said he, "the king in his clemency desires to put an end to
the war which is going on between his subjects, and which can only
result in the ruin of his kingdom.  As he knows that this war has
been instigated and supported by the enemies of France, he hopes to
meet no opposition to his wishes among those of his subjects who were
momentarily led astray, but to whom he now offers pardon."

"Sir," answered Cavalier, "the war not having been begun by the
Protestants, they are always ready for peace--but a real peace,
without restriction or reserve.  They have no right, I know, to lay
down conditions, but I hope they will be permitted to discuss those
which may be laid down for them.  Speak openly, sir, and let me know
what the offers are that you have been authorised to make to us, that
I may judge if we can accept them."

"But how would it be," said Lalande, "if you were mistaken, and if
the king desired to know what conditions you would consider
reasonable?"

"If that is so," answered Cavalier, "I will tell you our conditions
at once, in order not to prolong the negotiations; for every minute's
delay, as you know, costs someone his life or fortune."

"Then tell me what your conditions are," returned Lalande.

"Well," said Cavalier, "our demands are three first, liberty of
conscience; secondly, the release of all prisoners who have been
condemned to imprisonment or the galleys because of their religion;
and thirdly, that if we are not granted liberty of conscience we may
be at least permitted to leave the kingdom."

"As far as I can judge," replied Lalande, "I do not believe that the
king will accept the first proposition, but it is possible that he
may accede to the third.  In that case, how many Protestants would
you take with you?"

"Ten thousand of all ages and both sexes."

"The number is excessive, sir.  I believe that His Majesty is not
disposed to go beyond three thousand."

"Then," replied Cavalier, "there is nothing more to be said, for I
could not accept passports for any smaller number, and I could accept
for the ten thousand only on condition that the king would grant us
three months in which to dispose of our possessions and withdraw from
the country without being molested.  Should His Majesty, however, not
be pleased to allow us to leave the kingdom, then we beg that our
edicts be re-enacted and our privileges restored, whereupon we shall
become once more, what we were formerly, His Majesty's loyal and
obedient servants."

"Sir," said Lalande, "I shall lay your conditions before M. le
Marechal, and if no satisfactory conclusion can be arrived at, it will
be to me a matter of profound regret.  And now, sir, will you permit
me to inspect more closely the gallant men with whose help you have
done such astounding deeds?"  Cavalier smiled; for these "gallant
men" when caught had been broken on the wheel, burnt at the stake, or
hanged like brigands.  His sole answer was an inclination of the head
as he turned and led the way to his little escort.  M. de Lalande
followed him with perfect confidence, and, passing by the eight
horsemen who were grouped on the road, he walked up to the infantry,
and taking out of his pocket a handful of gold, he scattered it
before them, saying:

"There, my men! that is to drink the king's health with."

Not a man stooped to pick the money up, and one of them said, shaking
his head

"It is not money we want, but liberty of conscience."

"My men," answered Lalande, "it is unfortunately not in my power to
grant your demand, but I advise you to submit to the king's will and
trust in his clemency."

"Sir," answered Cavalier, "we are all ready to obey him, provided
that he graciously grant us our just demands; if not, we shall die
weapon in hand, rather than expose ourselves once more to such
outrages as have already been inflicted on us."

"Your demands shall be transmitted word for word to M. de Villars,
who will lay them before the king," said Lalande, "and you may be
sure, sir, that my most sincere wish is that His Majesty may not find
them exorbitant."

With these words, M. de Lalande saluted Cavalier, and turned to
rejoin his escort; but Cavalier, wishing to return confidence with
confidence, crossed the bridge with him, and accompanied the general
to where his soldiers had halted.  There, with another salute, the
two chiefs parted, M. de Lalande taking the road to Uzes, while
Cavalier rejoined his comrades.

Meantime d'Aygaliers, who, as we have seen, had not left Uzes until
the 5th May, in order to join Cavalier, did not come up with him
until the 13th, that is to say, the day after his conference with
Lalande.  D'Aygaliers gives us an account of their interview, and we
cannot do better than quote it.

"Although it was the first time that we had met face to face, we
embraced each other as if we were old acquaintances.  My little band
mixed with his and sang psalms together, while Cavalier and I talked.
I was very much pleased with what, he said, and convinced him without
difficulty that he should submit for the sake of the brethren, who
could then choose whichever course best suited them, and either leave
the kingdom or serve the king.  I said that I believed the last
course to be the best, provided we were allowed to worship God
according to our consciences; because I hoped that, seeing their
faithful service, His Majesty would recognise that he had been

< < Previous Page     Next Page > >



Other sites:

db3nf.com screen-capture.net floresca.net simonova.net flora-source.com flora-source.com sourcecentral.com sourcecentral.com geocities.com