The Honor of the Name HTML version

Chapter 7
The demonstrations which had greeted the Duc de Sairmeuse had been correctly reported
by Chanlouineau.
Chupin had found the secret of kindling to a white heat the enthusiasm of the cold and
calculating peasants who were his neighbors.
He was a dangerous rascal, the old robber, shrewd and cautious; bold, as those who
possess nothing can afford to be; as patient as a savage; in short, one of the most
consummate scoundrels that ever existed.
The peasants feared him, and yet they had no conception of his real character.
All his resources of mind had, until now, been expended in evading the precipice of the
rural code.
To save himself from falling into the hands of the gendarmes, and to steal a few sacks of
wheat, he had expended treasures of intrigue which would have made the fortunes of
twenty diplomats.
Circumstances, as he always said, had been against him.
So he desperately caught at the first and only opportunity worthy of his talent, which had
ever presented itself.
Of course, the wily rustic had said nothing of the true circumstances which attended the
restoration of Sairmeuse to its former owner.
From him, the peasants learned only the bare fact; and the news spread rapidly from
group to group.
"Monsieur Lacheneur has given up Sairmeuse," said he. "Chateau, forests, vineyards,
fields--he surrenders everything."
This was enough, and more than enough to terrify every land-owner in the village.
If Lacheneur, this man who was so powerful in their eyes, considered the danger so
threatening that he deemed it necessary or advisable to make a complete surrender, what
was to become of them--poor devils-- without aid, without counsel, without defence?
They were told that the government was about to betray their interests; that a decree was
in process of preparation which would render their title-deeds worthless. They could see
no hope of salvation, except through the duke's generosity--that generosity which Chupin
painted with the glowing colors of the rainbow.