Book the Third - The Track of a Storm
5. V. The Wood-Sawyer
One year and three months. During all that time Lucie was never
sure, from hour to hour, but that the Guillotine would strike off her
husband's head next day. Every day, through the stony streets, the
tumbrils now jolted heavily, filled with Condemned. Lovely girls;
bright women, brown-haired, black-haired, and grey; youths; stalwart
men and old; gentle born and peasant born; all red wine for La
Guillotine, all daily brought into light from the dark cellars of the
loathsome prisons, and carried to her through the streets to slake
her devouring thirst. Liberty, equality, fraternity, or death;--the
last, much the easiest to bestow, O Guillotine!
If the suddenness of her calamity, and the whirling wheels of the
time, had stunned the Doctor's daughter into awaiting the result in
idle despair, it would but have been with her as it was with many.
But, from the hour when she had taken the white head to her fresh
young bosom in the garret of Saint Antoine, she had been true to her
duties. She was truest to them in the season of trial, as all the
quietly loyal and good will always be.
As soon as they were established in their new residence, and her
father had entered on the routine of his avocations, she arranged the
little household as exactly as if her husband had been there.
Everything had its appointed place and its appointed time. Little
Lucie she taught, as regularly, as if they had all been united in
their English home. The slight devices with which she cheated
herself into the show of a belief that they would soon be reunited--
the little preparations for his speedy return, the setting aside of
his chair and his books--these, and the solemn prayer at night for
one dear prisoner especially, among the many unhappy souls in prison
and the shadow of death--were almost the only outspoken reliefs of
her heavy mind.
She did not greatly alter in appearance. The plain dark dresses,
akin to mourning dresses, which she and her child wore, were as neat
and as well attended to as the brighter clothes of happy days.
She lost her colour, and the old and intent expression was a constant,
not an occasional, thing; otherwise, she remained very pretty and
comely. Sometimes, at night on kissing her father, she would burst
into the grief she had repressed all day, and would say that her sole
reliance, under Heaven, was on him. He always resolutely answered:
"Nothing can happen to him without my knowledge, and I know that I
can save him, Lucie."