Page:Ninety-three.djvu/53

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49
NINETY-THREE.

The gunners of the "Claymore" were stationed by their guns.

Boisberthelot said to la Vieuville,—

"I think it would be well to open fire,"

"A flirt's notion," said la Vieuville.




CHAPTER IX.

SOME ONE ESCAPES.

The passenger had not left the deck, he was watching everything, unmoved.

Boisberthelot approached him. "Sir," he said, "the preparations are completed. Here we are cramped into our tomb, but we shall not yield. We are prisoners of the squadron or of the reef. To surrender to the enemy or founder on the rocks, we have no other alternative. Only one resource remains, death. To fight is better than shipwreck. I would rather be shot than drowned; if I must die, I prefer fire to water. But to die is our fate, not yours. You are the man chosen by the princes, you have a great mission, to direct the war in La Vendée. Without you, the monarchy may be lost; you must live then. It is our duty to remain here, yours to get away. Go, general,—leave the ship. I will give you a man and a boat. It is not impossible to reach the shore by a roundabout way. It is not yet day, the waves are high, the sea is dark, you will escape. There are times when to flee is to conquer."

With his stern head, the old man made a solemn sign of acquiescence.

The Count de Boisberthelot raised his voice,

"Soldiers and sailors," he cried.

All movement ceased, and from every part of the vessel faces were turned toward the captain.

He continued,—

"The man who is among us represents the king. He has been entrusted to our care, we must preserve him. He is necessary to the throne of France; for want of a