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

them by chance.  This man was serving under Roland, but had been
visiting his sweetheart in a neighbouring village, and was on his way
home when he fell among Menon's grenadiers.  Without a thought for
his own safety, he fired off his gun, shouting, "Fly! fly!  The
royals are upon you!"

The sentinels took up the cry, Roland jumped out of bed, and, without
staying for clothes or horse, ran off in his shirt, escaping by a
postern gate which opened on the forest just as de Menon entered by
another.  He found Roland's bed still warm, and took possession of
his clothes, finding in a coat pocket a purse containing thirty-five
Louis, and in the stables three superb horses.  The Camisards
answered this beginning of hostilities by a murder.  Four of them,
thinking they had reasons for displeasure against one of M. de
Baville's subordinates, named Daude, who was both mayor and
magistrate; at Le Vigan, hid in a corn-field which he had to pass on
his way back from La Valette, his country  place.  Their measures
were successful: Daude came along just as was expected, and as he had
not the slightest suspicion of the impending danger, he continued
conversing with M, de Mondardier, a gentleman of the neighbourhood
who had asked for the; hand of Daude's daughter in marriage that very
day.  Suddenly he found himself surrounded by four men, who,
upbraiding him for his exactions and cruelties, shot him twice
through the head with a pistol.  They offered no violence to M. de
Mondardier except to deprive him of his laced hat and sword.  The day
on which M. de Villars heard of its murder he set a price on the
heads of Roland, Ravanel, and Catinat.  Still the example set by
Cavalier, joined to the resumption of hostilities, was not without
influence on the Camisards; every day letters arrived from single
troopers offering to lay down their arms, and in one day thirty
rebels came in and put themselves into Lalande's hands, while twenty
surrendered to Grandval; these were accorded not only pardon, but
received a reward, in hopes that they might be able to induce others
to do like them; and on the 15th June eight of the troops which had
abandoned Cavalier at Calvisson made submission; while twelve others
asked to be allowed to return to their old chief to follow him
wherever he went.  This request was at once granted: they were sent
to Valabregues, where they found forty-two of their old comrades,
amongst whom were Duplan and Cavalier's young brother, who had been
ordered there a few days before.  As they arrived they were given
quarters in the barracks, and received good pay--the chiefs forty
sous a day, and the privates ten.  So they felt as happy as possible,
being well fed and well lodged, and spent their time preaching,
praying, and psalm-singing, in season and out of season.  All this,
says La Baume, was so disagreeable to the inhabitants of the place,
who were Catholics, that if they had not been guarded by the king's
soldiers they would have been pitched into the Rhone.


Meantime the date of Cavalier's departure drew near.  A town was to
be named in which he was to reside at a sufficient distance from the
theatre of war to prevent the rebels from depending on him any more;
in this town he was to organise his regiment, and as soon as it was
complete it was to go, under his command, to Spain, and fight for the
king.  M. de Villars was still on the same friendly terms with him,
treating him, not like a rebel, but according to his new rank in the
French army.  On the 21st June he told him that he was to get ready
to leave the next day, and at the same time he handed him an advance
on their future pay--fifty Louis for himself, thirty for Daniel
Billard, who had been made lieutenant-colonel in the place of
Ravanel, ten for each captain, five for each lieutenant, two for each
sergeant, and one for each private.  The number of his followers had
then reached one hundred and fifty, only sixty of whom were armed.
M. de Vassiniac, major in the Fimarcn regiment, accompanied them with
fifty dragoons and fifty of the rank and file from Hainault.

All along the road Cavalier and his men met with a courteous
reception; at Macon they found orders awaiting them to halt.
Cavalier at once wrote to M. de Chamillard to tell him that he had
things of importance to communicate to him, and the minister sent a
courier of the Cabinet called Lavallee to bring Cavalier to
Versailles.  This message more than fulfilled all Cavalier's hopes:
he knew that he had been greatly talked about at court, and in spite
of his natural modesty the reception he had met with at Times had
given him new ideas, if not of his own merit, at least of his own
importance.  Besides, he felt that his services to the king deserved
some recognition.

The way in which Cavalier was received by Chamillard did not disturb
these golden dreams: the minister welcomed the young colonel like a
man whose worth he appreciated, and told him that the great lords and
ladies of the court were not less favourably disposed towards him.
The next day Chamillard announced to Cavalier that the king desired
to see him, and that he was to keep himself prepared for a summons to
court.  Two days later, Cavalier received a letter from the minister
telling him to be at the palace at four o'clock in the afternoon, and
he would place him on the grand staircase, up which the king would

Cavalier put on his handsomest clothes, for the first time in his
life perhaps taking trouble with his toilet.  He had fine features,
to which his extreme youth, his long fair hair, and the gentle
expression of his eyes lent much charm.  Two years of warfare had
given him a martial air; in short, even among the most elegant, he
might pass as a beau cavalier.

At three o'clock he reached Versailles, and found Chamillard waiting
for him; all the courtiers of every rank were in a state of great
excitement, for they had learned that the great Louis had expressed a
wish to meet the late Cevenol chief, whose name had been pronounced
so loud and so often in the mountains of Languedoc that its echoes
had resounded in the halls of Versailles.  Cavalier had not been
mistaken in thinking that everyone was curious to see him, only as no
one yet knew in what light the king regarded him, the courtiers dared
not accost him for fear of compromising their dignity; the manner of
his reception by His Majesty would regulate the warmth of his
reception by everyone else.

Met thus by looks of curiosity and affected silence, the young
colonel felt some embarrassment, and this increased when Chamillard,
who had accompanied him to his appointed place, left him to rejoin
the king.  However, in a few moments he did what embarrassed people
so often do, hid his shyness under an air of disdain, and, leaning on
the balustrade, crossed his legs and played with the feather of his

When half an hour had passed in this manner, a great commotion was
heard: Cavalier turned in the direction from which it came, and
perceived the king just entering the vestibule.  It was the first
time he had seen him, but he recognized him at once.  Cavalier's
knees knocked together and his face flushed.

The king mounted the stairs step by step with his usual dignity,
stopping from time to time to say a word or make a sign with head or
hand.  Behind him, two steps lower, came Chamillard, moving and
stopping as the king moved and stopped, and answering the questions
which His Majesty put to him in a respectful but formal and precise

Reaching the level on which Cavalier stood, the king stopped under
pretext of pointing out to Chamillard a new ceiling which Le Brun had
just finished, but really to have a good look at the singular man who
had maintained a struggle against two marshals of France and treated
with a third on equal terms.  When he had examined him quite at his
ease, he turned to Chamillard, pretending he had only just caught
sight of the stranger, and asked:

"Who is this young gentleman?"

"Sire," answered the minister, stepping forward to present him to the
king, "this is Colonel Jean Cavalier."

"Ah yes," said the king contemptuously, "the former baker of Anduze!"

And shrugging his shoulders disdainfully, he passed on.

Cavalier on his side had, like Chamillard, taken a step forward, when
the scornful answer of the great king changed him into a statue.  For
an instant he stood motionless and pale as death, then instinctively
he laid his hand on his sword, but becoming conscious that he was
lost if he remained an instant longer among these people, whom not
one of his motions escaped, although they pretended to despise him
too much to be aware of his presence, he dashed down the staircase
and through the hall, upsetting two or three footmen who were in his
way, hurried into the garden, ran across it at full speed, and
regaining his room at the hotel, threw himself on the floor, where he
rolled like a maniac, uttering cries of rage, and cursing the hour
when, trusting to the promises of M. de Villars, he had abandoned the
mountains where he was as much a king as Louis XIV at Versailles. The
same evening he received orders to leave Paris and rejoin his
regiment at Macon.  He therefore set out the next morning, without
seeing M. de Chamillard again.

Cavalier on arriving at Macon found that his comrades had had a visit
from M. d'Aygaliers, who had come again to Paris, in the hope of
obtaining more from the king than M. de Villars could or would grant.

Cavalier, without telling his comrades of the strange manner in which
the king had received him, gave them to understand that he was
beginning to fear that not only would the promises they had received
be broken, but that some strange trick would be played upon them.

Thereupon these men, whose chief and oracle he had been for so long,
asked him what they ought to do; Cavalier replied that if they would
follow him, their best course and his would be to take the first
opportunity of gaining the frontier and leaving the country.  They
all declared themselves ready to follow him anywhere.  This caused

< < Previous Page     Next Page > >

Other sites: