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M. le Baron ; see if you can yet save our dear lady, and if not, you can revenge her fate, Pierre !”
He pressed his son to his heart, and then, almost pushing him through the window, whose irons they had loosened, he gazed lovingly and eagerly on his manly figure as he leaped lightly over all intervening obstacles, the attention of his guards having been drawn in another direction by the bustle attendant on Pauline's removal. Cambron chanted his cantiques louder than ever, while he listened for every noise which might betray his son's escape. Pierre, however, was clear of Gas le Marafas long before the hour destined for his death.
It were useless to attempt to describe Monrevel's indignation at finding himself thus deprived of two of his victims. He may not have been naturally cruel, but long indulgence of evil passions, and the habit of considering the Calvinists as inferior beings, immeasurably beneath him, had rendered him as hard, while he remained as polished, as steel, and he even experienced a kind of pleasure in carrying out the ferocious orders of the ministry. He was still doubtful of Pauline’s conversion, and, therefore, curiously watched the unsuspecting Cambron when led out for execution. The brutal soldiery, exasperated at Pierre's escape, had wreaked a portion of their vengeance on his father, and his pallid cheeks were streaked with blood.
“Where is Mademoiselle ?” he cried, looking wildly around. “ Tell me — tell me, kind friends, if ye would have an old man's blessing, has she too escaped ? — is she saved ?”
“Saved ! to be sure, body and soul. Do you not know, old dotard, that the mother abbess claims her as one of her flock ?”
“Why, she is a Catholic, old boy! You may slip your head out of the noose yet; it's never too late to change.”
“Mademoiselle de Meyrarques a Catholic ! 'Tis false! I'll never believe it."
“Silence, fool! Monrevel has been told so. She is saved.”
“She is lost, I say! Can a De Meyrarques change? Shall it be said she denied her faith for fear of man? Bid her come here to avow her recusancy to my face. Let her tell me she is an apostate; from no other lips will I believe it.”
We must now leave Cambron in this critical moment, while we return to Pauline. The abbess's first care was to clothe her in the garb of her order. She demurred at this; but when they proceeded to affix a crucifix and rosary to her side, she positively refused to wear these emblems of what she considered idolatry. Mère St. Anne herself interposed, and, with tears even, implored her to consent.
“You are young, my daughter ; life should be sweet to you. Oh, do not cast it lightly aside! I do not ask you to adopt our faith, though I sincerely pray our Lady may yet open your eyes to your errors. I only beseech you to dissemble with this cold, stern man."
Thanks, dear mother, but a Meyrarques cannot lie !”
“ Nay, call it not by so harsh a name. We have evidence in the holy writings that these things are permitted ; and who knows but in time you may be led into the true Church ?”
" It is useless, kind lady. Seek not to avert my doom. I must share my poor followers' fate. Shall they perish while I, for whom they die, remain unscathed? Let me go - let me
The nun drew her to the window.
“See," she said, “sweet girl, how fair, how bright is all around! Can you leave this beautiful world to die a felon's death? Can you, noble and a woman, seek for this degrading fate?
Think on those who love you ; live for their sakes ; think on their despair and loneliness."
“Spare me! spare me!” murmured Pauline ; "there is but one who loves me. Philippe, my own,-my dear one, for thee I could have cherished life!”
“ Think, then, of his bitter, life-long anguish! Who is there to console him ?”
“God; He will support him. We are alone in the world; there is none other of his blood. His mother yesterday, to-day his
“No, no, you cannot mean it! You shall be free as air. I put no restrictions on you. You shall live to be the happy, honoured wife of D’Argaliers; only when Monrevel comes to question you, do not deny my words: make but one acquiescent sign, and you are saved. Hark! his foot is on the stair. I dare not refuse him entrance to this parloir. Promise that you
will be guided by me.”
“ I dare not! I cannot ! Deem me not ungrateful. Forgive and bless me.”
Monrevel now appeared ; but Pauline put an end to all suspense by declaring herself a Calvinist.
“ The abbess was mistaken, in her ardent zeal,” she said. “ Her words have not had their supposed effect on my mind. I am a Huguenot, and am ready to meet my doom.”
« Lead her forth !” said the governor.
“Wait!” cried the abbess; "the innocent may not suffer for the guilty. M. de Monrevel, I can show cause why this relapsed Calvinist's life must be spared for a time: she is about to become a mother."
What, the Lily of Languedoc ! Parbleu ! what says D’Argaliers ?”
“No shame rests on her. They were privately married ; hence her relapse into heresy. But the child must be spared, to become a true Catholic."
“Yes, if you be not mistaken here also, holy mother.”
The abbess hurried forward to arrest Pauline's steps, who, unconscious of this new stratagem, was already preparing to follow the soldiers, and earnestly besought her to avail herself of this plea; but, collecting all her energy, she turned towards Monrevel.
"For D’Argaliers, for your husband's sake, deny it not !” her friend entreated. “M. de Monrevel, as a soldier, a gentleman, I bid you leave fus; humiliate her no farther; she is noble- "
“I thank you, kind mother, I am noble. No power on earth can humiliate me; but no stain shall rest on my honour. They called me the Lily of Languedoc; shall my purity be tarnished ? 'Twas well meant, good, fond lady; but here you stifle woman's inmost feelings. Shall Philippe's bride have her fair fame suspected ? Now your words have put it beyond my power to live. M. de Monrevel, this last plea also is false — false and unfounded. I demand that there be no further delay. Should one of my hearers ever see Philippe d’Argaliers, I beseech him in Christian charity to give him one tress from these poor locks. Bid him not falter on his noble route-bid him forgive his enemies and mine; tell him that his Pauline died true in her faith to him and to her God!”
She walked on with a firm, calm step; but the last indignity was spared her. Cambron was still standing at the foot of the gibbet when she approached.
“I come, Cambron!” she cried.
“Nay, not so, thou dear old friend !” she continued; “thou diest for me. Say, canst thou forgive me? And now, father, bless thy daughter !”
She cast herself in his arms, and fell from them — a corpse ! The next moment was also his last. But this tragedy, far from exciting terror, roused the Protestant witnesses’ angry passions. They flew to arms, and routed the surprised soldiers. Monrevel was obliged to fly before them, while the greater part of his men were cut to pieces. The Benedictines and Jourdain, however, remained unmolested, in gratitude for their intervention.
Philippe d'Argaliers was successful in bringing about a truce, and would have procured very good terms for the government from the terrified authorities, had not the more bigoted and unruly Calvinists insisted on immoderate stipulations. A war of extermination on both sides was, therefore, recommenced. Philippe, suspected by each party, died young and unmarried, while still endeavouring to restore peace. Pierre, who eventually joined Cavalier, shared in his good fortune there, and died rich and respected in the latter part of Queen Anne's reign. It was from one of his descendants that I gleaned this tale of the Cevennes.