List Of Contents | Contents of Massacres of the South, by Dumas, Pere
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loose which God had only given him over the soul, he was seized with
strange tremors, and falling on his knees with folded hands and bowed
head he remained for hours wrapt in thought, so motionless that were
it not for the drops of sweat which stood on his brow he might have
been taken for a marble statue of prayer over a tomb.

Moreover, this priest by virtue of the powers with which he was
invested, and feeling that he had the authority of M. de Baville,
intendant of Languedoc, and M. de Broglie, commander of the troops,
behind him, had done other terrible things.

He had separated children from father and mother, and had shut them
up in religious houses, where they had been subjected to such severe
chastisement, by way of making them do penance for the heresy of
their parents, that many of them died under it.

He had forced his way into the chamber of the dying, not to bring
consolation but menaces; and bending over the bed, as if to keep back
the Angel of Death, he had repeated the words of the terrible decree
which provided that in case of the death of a Huguenot without
conversion, his memory should be persecuted, and his body, denied
Christian burial, should be drawn on hurdles out of the city, and
cast on a dungheap.

Lastly, when with pious love children tried to shield their parents
in the death-agony from his threats, or dead from his justice, by
carrying them, dead or dying, to some refuge in which they might hope
to draw their last breath in peace or to obtain Christian burial, he
declared that anyone who should open his door hospitably to such
disobedience was a traitor to religion, although among the heathen
such pity would have been deemed worthy of an altar.

Such was the man raised up to punish, who went on his way, preceded
by terror, accompanied by torture, and followed by death, through a
country already exhausted by long and bloody oppression, and where at
every step he trod on half repressed religious hate, which like a
volcano was ever ready to burst out afresh, but always prepared for
martyrdom.  Nothing held him back, and years ago he had had his grave
hollowed out in the church of St. Germain, choosing that church for
his last long sleep because it had been built by Pope Urban IV when
he was bishop of Mende.

Abbe Duchayla extended his visitation over six months, during which
every day was marked by tortures and executions: several prophets
were burnt at the stake; Francoise de Brez, she who had preached that
the Host contained a more venomous poison than a basilisk's head, was
hanged; and Laquoite, who had been confined in the citadel of
Montpellier, was on the point of being broken on the wheel, when on
the eve of his execution his cell was found empty. No one could ever
discover how he escaped, and consequently his reputation rose higher
than ever, it being currently believed that, led by the Holy Spirit
as St. Peter by the angel, he had passed through the guards invisible
to all, leaving his fetters behind.

This incomprehensible escape redoubled the severity of the
Arch-priest, till at last the prophets, feeling that their only
chance of safety lay in getting rid of him, began to preach against
him as Antichrist, and advocate his death. The abbe was warned of
this, but nothing could abate his zeal.  In France as in India,
martyrdom was his longed-for goal, and with head erect and
unfaltering step he "pressed toward the mark."

At last, on the evening of the 24th of July, two hundred conspirators
met in a wood on the top of a hill which overlooked the bridge of
Montvert, near which was the Arch-priest's residence.  Their leader
was a man named Laporte, a native of Alais, who had become a
master-blacksmith in the pass of Deze.  He was accompanied by an
inspired man, a former wool-carder, born at Magistavols, Esprit
Seguier by name.  This man was, after Laquoite, the most highly
regarded of the twenty or thirty prophets who were at that moment
going up and down the Cevennes in every direction.  The whole party
was armed with scythes, halberts, and swords; a few had even pistols
and guns.

On the stroke of ten, the hour fixed for their departure, they all
knelt down and with uncovered heads began praying as fervently as if
they were about to perform some act most pleasing to God, and their
prayers ended, they marched down the hill to the town, singing
psalms, and shouting between the verses to the townspeople to keep
within their homes, and not to look out of door or window on pain of

The abbe was in his oratory when he heard the mingled singing and
shouting, and at the same moment a servant entered in great alarm,
despite the strict regulation of the Arch-priest that he was never to
be interrupted at his prayers.  This man announced that a body of
fanatics was coming down the hill, but the abbe felt convinced that
it was only an unorganised crowd which was going to try and carry off
six prisoners, at that moment in the 'ceps.' [ A terrible kind of
stocks--a beam split in two, no notches being made for the legs: the
victim's legs were placed between the two pieces of wood, which were
then, by means of a vice at each end, brought gradually together.
Translators Note.]

These prisoners were three young men and three girls in men's
clothes, who had been seized just as they were about to emigrate.  As
the abbe was always protected by a guard of soldiers, he sent for the
officer in command and ordered him to march against, the fanatics and
disperse them.  But the officer was spared the trouble of obeying,
for the fanatics were already at hand.  On reaching the gate of the
courtyard he heard them outside, and perceived that they were making
ready to burst it in.  Judging of their numbers by the sound of their
voices, he considered that far from attacking them, he would have
enough to do in preparing for defence, consequently he bolted and
barred the gate on the inside, and hastily erected a barricade under
an arch leading to the apartments of the abbe.  Just as these
preparations were complete, Esprit Seguier caught sight of a heavy
beam of wood lying in a ditch; this was raised by a dozen men and
used as a battering-ram to force in the gate, which soon showed a
breach.  Thus encouraged, the workers, cheered by the chants of their
comrades, soon got the gate off the hinges, and thus the outside
court was taken.  The crowd then loudly demanded the release of the
prisoners, using dire threats.

The commanding officer sent to ask the abbe what he was to do; the
abbe replied that he was to fire on the conspirators.  This imprudent
order was carried out; one of the fanatics was killed on the spot,
and two wounded men mingled their groans with the songs and threats
of their comrades.

The barricade was next attacked, some using axes, others darting
their swords and halberts through the crevices and killing those
behind; as for those who had firearms, they climbed on the shoulders
of the others, and having fired at those below, saved themselves by
tumbling down again.  At the head of the besiegers were Laporte and
Esprit Seguier, one of whom had a father to avenge and the other a
son, both of whom had been done to death by the abbe.  They were not
the only ones of the party who were fired by the desire of vengeance;
twelve or fifteen others were in the same position.

The abbe in his room listened to the noise of the struggle, and
finding matters growing serious, he gathered his household round him,
and making them kneel down, he told them to make their confession,
that he might, by giving them absolution, prepare them for appearing
before God.  The sacred words had just been pronounced when the
rioters drew near, having carried the barricade, and driven the
soldiers to take refuge in a hall on the ground floor just under the
Arch-priest's room.

But suddenly, the assault was stayed, some of the men going to
surround the house, others setting out on a search for the prisoners.
These were easily found, for judging by what they could hear that
their brethren had come to their rescue, they shouted as loudly as
they could.

The unfortunate creatures had already passed a whole week with their
legs caught and pressed by the cleft beams which formed these
inexpressibly painful stocks.  When the unfortunate victims were
released, the fanatics screamed with rage at the sight of their
swollen bodies and half-broken bones.  None of the unhappy people
were able to stand.  The attack on the soldiers was renewed, and
these being driven out of the lower hall, filled the staircase
leading to the abbe's apartments, and offered such determine.
resistance that their assailants were twice forced to fall back.
Laporte, seeing two of his men killed and five or six wounded, called
out loudly, "Children of God, lay down your arms: this way of going
to work is too slow; let us burn the abbey and all in it.  To work!
to work!  "The advice was good, and they all hastened to follow it:
benches, chairs, and furniture of all sorts were heaped up in the
hall, a palliasse thrown on the top, and the pile fired.  In a moment
the whole building was ablaze, and the Arch-priest, yielding to the
entreaties of his servants, fastened his sheets to the window-bars,
and by their help dropped into the garden.  The drop was so great
that he broke one of his thigh bones, but dragging himself along on
his hands and one knee, he, with one of his servants, reached a
recess in the wall, while another servant was endeavouring to escape
through the flames, thus falling into the hands of the fanatics, who
carried him before their captain.  Then cries of "The prophet! the
prophet!" were heard on all sides.  Esprit Seguier, feeling that
something fresh had taken place, came forward, still holding in his
hand the blazing torch with which he had set fire to the pile.

"Brother," asked Laporte, pointing to the prisoner, "is this man to

Esprit Seguier fell on his knees and covered his face with his
mantle, like Samuel, and sought the Lord in prayer, asking to know
His will.

In a short time he rose and said, "This man is not to die; for

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