The Companions of Jehu
35. A Proposal Of Marriage
Roland's first visit on arriving in Paris was to the First Consul. He brought him the
twofold news of the pacification of the Vendée, and the increasingly bitter
insurrection in Brittany.
Bonaparte knew Roland; consequently the triple narrative of Thomas Millière's
murder, the execution of Bishop Audrein, and the fight at Grandchamp, produced
a deep impression upon him. There was, moreover, in the young man's manner a
sombre despair in which he could not be mistaken.
Roland was miserable over this lost opportunity to get himself killed. An unknown
power seemed to watch over him, carrying him safe and sound through dangers
which resulted fatally to others. Sir John had found twelve judges and a death-
warrant, where he had seen but a phantom, invulnerable, it is true, but
He blamed himself bitterly for singling out Cadoudal in the fight, thus exposing
himself to a pre-arranged plan of capture, instead of flinging himself into the fray
and killing or being killed.
The First Consul watched him anxiously as he talked; the longing for death still
lingered in his mind, a longing he hoped to cure by this return to his native land
and the endearments of his family.
He praised and defended General Hatry, but, just and impartial as a soldier
should be, he gave full credit to Cadoudal for the courage and generosity the
royalist general had displayed.
Bonaparte listened gravely, almost sadly; ardent as he was for foreign war with
its glorious halo, his soul revolted at the internecine strife which drained the life-
blood of the nation and rent its bowels. It was a case in which, to his thinking,
negotiation should be substituted for war. But how negotiate with a man like
Bonaparte was not unaware of his own personal seductions when he chose to
exercise them. He resolved to see Cadoudal, and without saying anything on the
subject to Roland, he intended to make use of him for the interview when the
time came. In the meantime he wanted to see if Brune, in whose talent he had
great confidence, would be more successful than his predecessors.
He dismissed Roland, after telling him of his mother's arrival and her installation
in the little house in the Rue de la Victoire.
Roland sprang into a coach and was driven there at once. He found Madame de
Montrevel as happy and as proud as a woman and a mother could be. Edouard
had gone, the day before, to the Prytanée Français, and she herself was
preparing to return to Amélie, whose health continued to give her much anxiety.
As for Sir John, he was not only out of danger, but almost well again. He was in
Paris, had called upon Madame de Montrevel, and, finding that she had gone
with Edouard to the Prytanée, he had left his card. It bore his address, Hôtel
Mirabeau, Rue de Richelieu.