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PAGE 2

A Committee-Man Of ‘The Terror’
by [?]

‘In his preoccupation the foreign gentleman had hardly noticed her, but her strange collapse immediately attracted his attention. He quickly crossed the carriageway, picked her up, and carried her into the first shop adjoining the bridge, explaining that she was a lady who had been taken ill outside.

‘She soon revived; but, clearly much puzzled, her helper perceived that she still had a dread of him which was sufficient to hinder her complete recovery of self-command. She spoke in a quick and nervous way to the shopkeeper, asking him to call a coach.

‘This the shopkeeper did, Mademoiselle V— and the stranger remaining in constrained silence while he was gone. The coach came up, and giving the man the address, she entered it and drove away.

‘”Who is that lady?” said the newly arrived gentleman.

‘”She’s of your nation, as I should make bold to suppose,” said the shopkeeper. And he told the other that she was Mademoiselle V–, governess at General Newbold’s, in the same town.

‘”You have many foreigners here?” the stranger inquired.

‘”Yes, though mostly Hanoverians. But since the peace they are learning French a good deal in genteel society, and French instructors are rather in demand.”

‘”Yes, I teach it,” said the visitor. “I am looking for a tutorship in an academy.”

‘The information given by the burgess to the Frenchman seemed to explain to the latter nothing of his countrywoman’s conduct–which, indeed, was the case–and he left the shop, taking his course again over the bridge and along the south quay to the Old Rooms Inn, where he engaged a bedchamber.

‘Thoughts of the woman who had betrayed such agitation at sight of him lingered naturally enough with the newcomer. Though, as I stated, not much less than thirty years of age, Mademoiselle V–, one of his own nation, and of highly refined and delicate appearance, had kindled a singular interest in the middle-aged gentleman’s breast, and her large dark eyes, as they had opened and shrunk from him, exhibited a pathetic beauty to which hardly any man could have been insensible.

‘The next day, having written some letters, he went out and made known at the office of the town “Guide” and of the newspaper, that a teacher of French and calligraphy had arrived, leaving a card at the bookseller’s to the same effect. He then walked on aimlessly, but at length inquired the way to General Newbold’s. At the door, without giving his name, he asked to see Mademoiselle V–, and was shown into a little back parlour, where she came to him with a gaze of surprise.

‘”My God! Why do you intrude here, Monsieur?” she gasped in French as soon as she saw his face.

‘”You were taken ill yesterday. I helped you. You might have been run over if I had not picked you up. It was an act of simple humanity certainly; but I thought I might come to ask if you had recovered?”

‘She had turned aside, and had scarcely heard a word of his speech. “I hate you, infamous man!” she said. “I cannot bear your helping me. Go away!”

‘”But you are a stranger to me.”

‘”I know you too well!”

‘”You have the advantage then, Mademoiselle. I am a newcomer here. I never have seen you before to my knowledge; and I certainly do not, could not, hate you.”

‘”Are you not Monsieur B–?”

‘He flinched. “I am–in Paris,” he said. “But here I am Monsieur G–.”

‘”That is trivial. You are the man I say you are.”

‘”How did you know my real name, Mademoiselle?”

‘”I saw you in years gone by, when you did not see me. You were formerly Member of the Committee of Public Safety, under the Convention.”

“I was.”

‘”You guillotined my father, my brother, my uncle–all my family, nearly, and broke my mother’s heart. They had done nothing but keep silence. Their sentiments were only guessed. Their headless corpses were thrown indiscriminately into the ditch of the Mousseaux Cemetery, and destroyed with lime.”