Page:Madagascar - Phelps - 1883.djvu/85

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conspirators, and informed that every preparation had been made, and that the time of action might be looked for every hour.

The decisive day, however, was not fixed upon until the 20th of June, when the following plan was to be carried into execution. The Prince was to dine at eight o’clock in the evening with Mr. Lambert, Marius, Latrobe and his son, in the garden-house belonging to the latter, and to that point all the reports from the other conspirators were to be carried, in order that it might be known how every thing was progressing, and whether every man was at his post. After the dinner, at eleven o’clock at night, the gentlemen were to march home to the upper part of the town, accompanied by music, as if returning from a feast; and every man was then to remain quiet in his own house until two o’clock. At that hour, all the conspirators were to steal silently into the palace, the gates of which Prince Raharo, the Chief of the army, was to keep open, and guarded by officers devoted to Prince Rakoto; they were to assemble in the great court-yard, in front of the Queen's appartments, and at a given signal loudly to proclaim Prince Rakoto King! The new ministers, who had already been nominated by the Prince, were to explain to the Queen that this was the will of the nobles, the military, and the people; and, at the same time, the thunder of cannon from the royal palace was to announce to the people the change in the government, and deliverance from the sanguinary rule of Queen Ranavalona!

But unluckily, this bright scheme was not carried out. The combination did not work. While the chief conspirators were still at table, they received from Prince Raharo the disastrous news that, from unforseen obstacles, he had found it impossible to fill the palace exclusively with officers in the Prince's interest, that he could not consequently keep the gates open that night, and that the attempt must be deferred to some more favorable opportunity. In vain did the Prince send messenger after messenger to him. He could not be induced to risk an attempt; and the plan wholly failed.

Prince Rakoto had headed a similar conspiracy in 1856; the hour had been fixed on, but everything miscarried through the apparent sudden defection of the commander-in-chief of the army. It was suspected that this one of the principal actors in the scheme was in fact false to his engagements, that he was faithful to the Queen, and at heart a partisan of Prince Ram-