Page:Ninety-three.djvu/34

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30
NINETY-THREE.

And Boisberthelot added thoughtfully,—

"La Vieuville, what would you think of the Chevalier de Dieuzie?"

"The young man?"

"Yes."

"For a commander?"

"Yes."

"That he, again, is an officer for the open field, and for pitched battles. The thicket only knows the peasant."

"Then resign yourself to General Stoffiet and to General Cathelineau."

La Vieuville considered a moment and said,—

"We need a prince—a prince of France—a prince of the blood—a real prince."

"Why? He who names a prince——"

"Names a coward. I know it, commander. But it is for the effect on the great, stupid eyes of the louts."

"My dear chevalier, princes would not come."

"We can dispense with them."

Boisberthelot made that mechanical movement of rubbing the forehead with the hand, as if expecting to bring out an idea.

He continued: "At last, let us consider the present general."

"He is a great nobleman."

"Do you believe that he will answer?"

"If he is strong!" said la Vieuville.

"That is to say, cruel," said Boisberthelot.

The count and the chevalier looked at each other.

"Monsieur du Boisberthelot, you have spoken the word. Cruel. Yes that is what we need. This is a merciless war. It is the time for bloodthirsty men. Regicides have cut off Louis XVI.'s head; we will tear the four limbs from the regicides. Yes, the general necessary is General Inexorable. In Anjou and upper Poitou the chiefs play the magnanimous; they flounder in generosity, nothing succeeds. In the Marais and in the Retz country, the chiefs are terrible, everything moves on. It is because Charette is cruel that he holds out against Parrein. Hyena against hyena."

Boisberthelot had no time to reply to la Vieuville. La Vieuville was suddenly cut short by a cry of despair, and at the same time a noise was heard wholly unlike any other