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respect and services really extraordinary on the other, which existed between these two individuals.
There was in all this more than enough to kindle curiosity, ever on the watch in places where it can but rarely be excited and not easily satisfied. Already it was known throughout the colony that a man of high birth had arrived at Martinique and lodged at Duval Ferrol's; all the circumstances of his landing were mentioned ; his daily actions were the subject of conversation; facts were misrepresented, exaggerated, multiplied; the imaginations of people were excited, without yet having a determinate object before them, and t.iis young man, who had been only four days in the islaridi, was already the subject of endless rcdiculous suppositions, of romantic stories each more strange than the other, all repeared with equal assurance and received with equal avicity.
However, after a few days, Duval Ferrol informs the stranger that not knowing him and being himself a subaltern officer, he had been under the necessity of making his arrival known to the Lieutenant de Roi, commanding at the Cul-de-sac Marin, and that the latter requested to see him. The young man goes there, he presents himself by the name of count de Tarnaud and is well received; but the commandant, having had notice of the rumours which are circulated on the subject of the stranger, and being determined to pierce through the mystery which envelops him, offers him a lodging in his house and the use of his table. Tarnaud accepts it all, and now we have him established at Nadau's; this was the commandant's name.
Rhodez, who never quitted him, took up his quarters there also, and thus appeared to acknowledge a sort of voluntary dependence, which by the by, he did not seek to dissemble.
Young Tarnaud had now been two days at the commandant's; the latter had company to dine with him. When they were just seated at table, the young man perceives that he has forgotten his handkerchief-Rhodez leaves his seat and goes for it. All the guests stare at each other; a white man wait upon a white man! This in the islands is an unheard of thing, a dishonourable thing, unless it were a prince, or at least the governor of the colony.
The poorest planter would not consent to do it; and Rhodez, of a good family, well educated, acquainted with the customs of the country, would certainly not commit himself to such a degree for a man of ordinary rank. Who then can this stranger be ? What confidential information can Rhodez have obtained from him ? How is this mystery to be unravelled ?
The company are seated ; in the midst of the dinner Nadau receives a letter from Duval Ferrol :
“You desire of me," writes he, " information respecting the French passenger who lodged some days at my house ; his signature will tell you more than I could do. I herewith send you a letter which I have just now received from him.”
Nadau looks over the letter enclosed in that of Duval ; it contains nothing but thanks, expressed in a style bad enough-but what confounds him is that it is signed D’Estè, and not Tarnaud. As soon as dinner was over, he takes aside one of his guests, to whom he communicates the contents of the packet. His friend sets off immediately for the house of the marquis d’Eragny, whose plantation was at a short distance. The marquis was still at table with several other persons who dined with him.They were speaking of the stranger; the new-comer states what has just happened. At the name of Estè every body was astonished they endeavour to find out who it can be, and at last, after consulting the court Almanack, it is decided that the stranger can only be Hercules Rinaldo d'Estè, hereditary prince of Modena and brother of the dutchess of Penthièvre. Nothing more easy than to ascertain the fact ;-one of the company, by name Bois-Fermè, the commandant's brother in law, declares that the preceding year he has several times seen the prince of Modena; another of the company has seen him when with the army; they resolve to clear up all doubts about the matter; in the meantime they must finish their wine. Towards evening the whole troop mount their horses, and arrive at the commandant's as he is going to supper. They look attentively on the stranger.Bois-Fermè declares that it is certainly he.--It is true that Bois
Ferme never spoke a word of truth, cven when he was drunk.* But the other officer says the same thing; they approach the commandant. You have in your house,” say they to him, " the hereditary prince of Modena."--Scarcely had the company taken their seats, when the sound of instruments was heard out of doors; it proceeded from some French horns which BoisFermè had brought with him. They drank the health of Hereules Rinaldo d'Estè, hereditary prince of Modena, to a flourish of the music. The person, in whose house this scene was performed, appeared at first surprised, embarrassed ; then expressed dissatisfaction at such a piece of indiscretion.
“My lord,” say they to him, “you cannot conceal yourself from us; we know who you are.” He then leaves the table, takes the commandant aside and says to him: “I did not expect, in so distant a country, to be recognized so soon. Inform those gentlemen that I insist on being incognito; and that I am for every body the count de Tarnaud.” Nadau communicates to all present the prince's orders; every body takes leave with promises of keeping the secret, and you may suppose how well they perform their engagement.
Our colonies, and particularly Martinique, were at that time in a very critical situation. The island was blockaded by the English and provisions were scarce; none could be procured but from the neutral islands of Curacoa and St. Eustatius.These supplies, in their own nature sufficiently precarieus and burdensome, were rendered still more so by the advices of some of the principal officers, who sought in the public inisery for means to increase their private fortunes. At the head of these was the marquis of Caylus, governor-general of the windward islands, residing at Martinique; he was a man of extravagant habits, whom the embarrassment of his affairs forced into the hands
* Bois-Fermè had a negro, named La Plume, who waited on him at table, and whom he had taught not a word of French, except oui (yes).—“ Is it not true La Plume ?” his master used to say, turning round to him whenever be had told a story a little hard of digestion. “Oui” answered constantly and laconically La Plume. Is it not true, La Plume ? had become ü proverbial mode of expressing deribt of a fact or a st":"?".
of a crowd of designing people who led him into speculations, of which the profits were for them and the odium for him. It was he who was the principal subject of accusation ; his subalterns, whom he watched with jealous severity, took part with the multitude in their animosity against him, which was moreover excited by the scarcity now beginning to be felt to an alarming degree. Discontent was at its height and waited only for an opportunity of declaring itself. It is easy to imagine what an effect was produced on the minds of people thus prepared, by the news of the arrival of the pretended prince.
Every body was engaged in calculating the advantages which would result to the colony from this event. No one asked : what business has a prince of Modena at Martinique? Why has he come in such a manner? What does he mean to do? or if such questions chance to be made, there are answers ready to all of them. Besides four or five persons pretend to have seen him at Paris, and whether they believe it or not, declare that this is the man. In short they all need the indulgence of hope, and their wishes are too keen to admit of doubt.
Nadau who fancies that his fortune is made, and moreover excited by individual resentment against the governor, hastens to lay before his guest the complaints of the whole colony; unveils to him the tricks of the speculators to raise the price of provisions, informs him of the monopoly they exercise in this necessary branch of trade, and paints in vivid colours the 'misery which is consequent to it. The prince grows warm, gets into a passion, swears that he will put a stop to such scandalous proceedings, that he will cause to be punished those who thus abuse the king's confidence. In the meantime, if the English should attempt to land, he will place himself at the head of the inhabitants to repel them.
Nadau fails not to repeat this conversation. Enthusiasm and confidence are excited by it. The fermentatation even reaches Fort St. Pierre where the marquis of Caylus then was, and who laughed at this cabal which he expected to annihilate with a single frown. However reports were coming to him from every quarter. He gives orders to the commandant of the
- Tell your
Cul-de-sac Marin to send the count de Tarnaud to him, or if he is a person of rank to bring him himself. Nadau answers that the person at his house is, beyond all doubt, the hereditary prince of Modena; that the prince is sick and cannot go to St. Pierre. The governor, on receiving this message, despatches the captain of his guards accompanied by another officer, and charges them with a letter for the count de Tarnaud, by which he invites him to come to St. Pierre. The count or prince, which you please, reads the letter and says to the envoys : master that I am to all others the count de Tarnaud, but to him, Hercules Rinaldo d'Estc. If he wishes to see me let him come half-way; let him, in four or five days hence, go to Fort-Royal*; I will be there."
The messengers had their doubts when they set out on their errand: they returned persuaded. The marquis liimself began not to know what to think of the matter. « There is no doubt about its being the prince," said the captain of the guards ; “ G**d (this was the officer who accompanied him) was struck with his likeness to the dutchess of Penthiévre his sister, and especially to the dutchess his mother. Besides Nadau is so sure of the fact that he must have proofs of it; if he conceals them, it is in orde, to lay a snare for you. Take care what you are about.” The governor, borne along by the general conviction, and perhaps disturbed by the consciousness of his own improper conduct, at last gives up the point. He goes into his drawing-room where the company were expecting the result of his message.
An officer had just been laying a wager that the pretended count de Tarnaud was not the prince of Modena; the governor told him he had lost. *
This was the decisive blow; the incredulous were silent, the others triumphed. The governor secmeci to have lost his senses; he wrote word that he should go to Fort-Royal, began his journey, then changed his mind, and returned to Saint Pierro.
The prince (for we nust call him so) pursues his excursion followed by a court of seventeen or cighteen gentlemen. He
Fort-Royal is seven leagues from Saint Pierre, and the same distance from Cul-de-sac Mary.
† The officer who laid this wager, was the narrator of this anecdote.