The Companions of Jehu HTML version

34. The Diplomacy Of Georges Cadoudal
The feeling that Roland experienced as he followed Georges Cadoudal
resembled that of a man half-awakened, who is still under the influence of a
dream, and returns gradually from the confines which separate night from day.
He strives to discover whether the ground he walks on is that of fiction or reality,
and the more he burrows in the dimness of his brain the further he buries himself
in doubt.
A man existed for whom Roland felt a worship almost divine. Accustomed to live
in the atmosphere of glory which surrounded that man, to see others obey his
orders, and to obey them himself with a promptness and abnegation that were
almost Oriental, it seemed amazing to him to encounter, at the opposite ends of
France, two organized powers, enemies of the power of that man, and prepared
to struggle against it. Suppose a Jew of Judas Maccabeus, a worshipper of
Jehovah, having, from his infancy, heard him called the King of kings, the God of
strength, of vengeance, of armies, the Eternal, coming suddenly face to face with
the mysterious Osiris of the Egyptians, or the thundering Jupiter of the Greeks.
His adventures at Avignon and Bourg with Morgan and the Company of Jehu, his
adventures in the villages of Muzillac and the Trinité with Cadoudal and his
Chouans, seemed to him some strange initiation in an unknown religion; but like
those courageous neophytes who risk death to learn the secrets of initiation, he
resolved to follow to the end.
Besides he was not without a certain admiration for these exceptional characters;
nor did he measure without a certain amazement these revolted Titans,
challenging his god; he felt they were in no sense common men--neither those
who had stabbed Sir John in the Chartreuse of Seillon, nor those who had shot
the bishop of Vannes at the village of the Trinité.
And now, what was he to see? He was soon to know, for they had ridden five
hours and a half and the day was breaking.
Beyond the village of Tridon they turned across country; leaving Vannes to the
left, they reached Tréfléon. At Tréfléon, Cadoudal, still followed by his major-
general, Branche-d'Or, had found Monte-à-l'assaut and Chante-en-hiver. He
gave them further orders, and continued on his way, bearing to the left and
skirting the edges of a little wood which lies between Grandchamp and Larré.
There Cadoudal halted, imitated, three separate times in succession, the cry of
an owl, and was presently surrounded by his three hundred men.
A grayish light was spreading through the sky beyond Tréfléon and Saint-Nolf; it
was not the rising of the sun, but the first rays of dawn. A heavy mist rose from
the earth and prevented the eye from seeing more than fifty feet beyond it.
Cadoudal seemed to be expecting news before risking himself further.
Suddenly, about five hundred paces distant, the crowing of a cock was heard.
Cadoudal pricked up his ears; his men looked at each other and laughed.
The cock crowed again, but nearer.
"It is he," said Cadoudal; "answer him."