CHAPTER II. LOUIS PHILIPPE AND HIS FAMILY.
April 14, 1832, was fixed upon for leaving Massa. It was given out that the duchess, was going to Florence. At nightfall a carriage, containing the duchess, with two ladies and a gentleman of her suite, drove out of Massa and waited under the shadow of the city wall. While a footman was absorbing the attention of the coachman by giving him some minute, unnecessary orders, Madame (as they called the duchess) slipped out of the carriage door with one of her ladies, while two others, who were standing ready in the darkness, took their places. The carriage rolled away towards Florence, while Madame and her party, stealing along under the dark shadow of the city wall, made their way to the port, where a steamer was to take them on board.
That steamer was the "Carlo Alberto," a little vessel which had been already used by some republican conspirators, and had been purchased for the service of Marie Caroline. It had some of her most devoted adherents on board, but the captain was in ignorance. He thought himself bound for Genoa, and was inclined to disobey when his passengers ordered him to lay to off the harbor of Massa. However, they used force, and at three in the morning Marie Caroline, who was sleeping, wrapped in her cloak, upon the sand, was roused, put on board a little boat, and carried out to the steamer. She had a tempestuous passage of four days to Marseilles. The steamer ran out of coal, and had to put into Nice. At last, in a heavy sea which threatened to dash small craft to pieces, a fishing-boat approached the "Carlo Alberto," containing some of the duchess's most devoted friends. With great danger she was transferred to it, and was landed on the French coast. She scrambled up slippery and precipitous rocks, and reached a place of safety. But the delay in the arrival of her steamer had been fatal to her enterprise. A French gentleman in the secret had hired a small boat, and put out to sea in the storm to see if he could perceive the missing vessel. His conduct excited the suspicion of his crew, who talked about it at a wine-shop, where they met other sailors, who had their story to tell of a lady landed mysteriously a few hours before at a dangerous and lonely spot a few miles away. The two accounts soon reached the ears of the police, and Marseilles was on the alert, when a party of young men, with their swords drawn and waving white handkerchiefs, precipitated their enterprise, by appearing in the streets and striving to rouse the populace. They were arrested, as were also the passengers left on board the "Carlo Alberto," - among them was a lady who deceived the police into a belief that she was the Duchesse de Bern.
Under cover of this mistake the duchess, finding that all hope was over in the southern provinces, resolved to cross France to La Vendee. At Massa she had had a dream. She thought the Duc de Bern had appeared to her and said: "You will not succeed in the South, but you will prosper in La Vendee."
She quitted the hut in which she had been concealed, made her way on foot through a forest, lost herself, and had to sleep in the vacant cabin of a woodcutter. The next night she passed under the roof of a republican, who respected her sex and would not betray her. She then reached the chateau of a Legitimist nobleman with the appropriate name of M. de Bonrecueil. Thence she started in the morning in a postchaise to cross all France along its public roads.
She accomplished her journey in safety, and fixed May 24, 1832, as the day for taking up arms. She made her headquarters at a Breton farm-house, Les Meliers. She wore the costume of a boy, - a peasant of La Vendee - and called herself Petit Pierre.
On May 21, three days before the date fixed upon for the rising, she was waited upon by the chiefs, - the men most likely to suffer in an abortive insurrection, - and was assured that the attempt would fail. Had the South risen, La Vendee would have gladly joined the insurrection; but unsupported by the South, the proposed enterprise was too rash a venture. Overpowered by these arguments and the persuasions of those around her, Marie Caroline gave way, and consented to return to Scotland with a passport that had been provided for her. But in the night she retracted her consent, and insisted that the rising should take place upon the 3d of June. She was obeyed; but what little prospect of success there might have been at first, was destroyed by the counter-order of May 22. All who rose were at once put down by the king's troops, and atrocities on both sides were committed.
Nantes, the capital city of La Vendee, was hostile to the duchess; in Nantes, therefore, she believed her enemies would never search for her. She took refuge there in the house of two elderly maiden ladies, the Demoiselles Duguigney, where she remained five months. They must have been months of anguish to her, and of unspeakable impatience. It is very possible that the Government did not care to find her. She was the queen's niece, and if captured what could be done with her? To set her free to hatch new plots would have been bitterly condemned by the republicans; to imprison her would have made an additional motive for royalist conspiracies; to execute her would have been impossible. Marie Caroline, however, had solved these difficult problems by her own misconduct.