CHAPTER IX. THE TWILIGHT OF THE BOURBON KINGS
"At that moment, the King, believing the passage forced, and mistaking his saviors for his assassins, opened his door himself, by an impulse of courageous humanity, saying to those without: 'Do not hurt my guards.'
"The danger was past, and the crowd dispersed; the thieves alone were unwilling to be inactive. Wholly engaged in their own business, they were pillaging and moving away the furniture. The grenadiers turned that rabble out of the castle.
"Lafayette, awakened but too late, then arrived on horseback. He saw one of the body-guards whom they had taken and dragged near the body of one of those killed by the guards, in order to kill him by way of retaliation. 'I have given my word to the King,' cried Lafayette, 'to save his men. Cause my word to be respected.'
"He then entered the castle. Madame Adelaide, the King's aunt, went up to him and embraced him: 'It is you,' cried she, 'who have saved us.' He ran to the King's cabinet. Who would believe that etiquette still subsisted? A grand officer stopped him for a moment, and then allowed him to pass: 'Sir,' said he seriously, 'the King grants you les grandes entrees.'
"The King showed himself at the balcony, and was welcomed with the unanimous shout of 'God save the King.' 'Vive le Roi!'
"At that moment several voices raised a formidable shout: 'The Queen!' The people wanted to see her in the balcony. She hesitated: 'What!' said she, 'all alone?' 'Madame, be not afraid,' said Lafayette. She went, but not alone, holding an admirable safeguard - in one hand her daughter, in the other her son. The Court of Marble was terrible, in awful commotion, like the sea in its fury; the National Guards, lining every side, could not answer for the center; there were fire-arms, and men blind with rage. Lafayette's conduct was admirable; for that trembling woman, he risked his popularity, his destiny, his very life; he appeared with her on the balcony, and kissed her hand.
"The crowd felt all that; the emotion was unanimous. They saw there the woman and the mother, nothing more. 'Oh! how beautiful she is! What! is that the Queen? How she fondles her children!'"
The King, overcome by dread, was forced to agree to the demand of the people that he go to Paris. In leaving his palace, he realized that he was finally surrendering all his claims to royalty. About noon on the sixth day of October, Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette, under the protection of the Marquis de Lafayette, turned their faces forever from Versailles. Little they knew that they were even then traveling the long road to the guillotine. A rabble of men and women surrounded them, some on foot, some in carts and carriages. "All were very merry and amiable in their own fashion, except a few jokes addressed to the Queen."
Such was the end of royal Versailles. Who can contest its tragic grandeur? In these halls, these gardens, these secluded villas the supreme destiny of the Bourbon monarchy was achieved. They witnessed the apogee, the decline, and the ruin of the dynasty.