The Companions of Jehu HTML version

38. The Two Signals
Let us now relate what happened at the Château des Noires-Fontaines three
days after the events we have just described took place in Paris.
Since the successive departures of Roland, then Madame de Montrevel and her
son, and finally Sir John--Roland to rejoin his general, Madame de Montrevel to
place Edouard in school, and Sir John to acquaint Roland with his matrimonial
plans--Amélie had remained alone with Charlotte at the Château des Noires-
Fontaines. We say alone, because Michel and his son Jacques did not live in the
house, but in the little lodge at the gate where he added the duties of porter to
those of gardener.
It therefore happened that at night all the windows, excepting those of Amélie,
which, as we have said, were on the first floor overlooking the garden, and that of
Charlotte in the attic, were left in darkness.
Madame de Montrevel had taken the second chambermaid with her. The two
young girls were perhaps rather isolated in their part of the house, which
consisted of a dozen bedrooms on three floors, especially at a time when so
many rumors of robberies on the highroads reached them. Michel, therefore,
proposed to his young mistress that he sleep in the main building, so as to be
near her in case of need. But she, in a firm voice, assured him that she felt no
fear, and desired no change in the customary routine of the château.
Michel did not insist, and retired, saying that Mademoiselle might, in any case,
sleep in peace, for he and Jacques would make the rounds of the house during
the night.
Amélie at first seemed anxious about those rounds; but she soon noticed that
Michel and Jacques contented themselves with watching on the edge of the
forest of Seillon, and the frequent appearance of a jugged hare, or a haunch of
venison on the table, proved to her that Michel kept his word regarding the
promised rounds.
She therefore ceased to trouble about Michel's rounds, which were always on the
side of the house opposite to that where she feared them.
Now, as we have said, three days after the events we have just related, or, to
speak more correctly, during the night following the third day, those who were
accustomed to see no light save in Amélie's windows on the first floor and
Charlotte's on the third, might have observed with surprise that, from eleven
o'clock until midnight, the four windows on the first floor were illuminated. It is
true that each was lighted by a single wax-candle. They might also have seen the
figure of a young girl through the shades, staring in the direction of the village of
This young girl was Amélie, pale, breathing with difficulty, and seeming to watch
anxiously for a signal.
At the end of a few minutes she wiped her forehead and drew a joyous breath. A
fire was lighted in the direction she had been watching. Then she passed from
room to room, putting out the three candles one after the other, leaving only the