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The Gendarmes and the Priest

Anecdotes Home

During the Revolution a priest took refuge
in the house of a farmer. Some gendarmes having heard of it came one
evening to the house. The whole family were gathered round the hearth, and
among them was the priest, disguised as a servant. When the soldiers
entered every one grew pale; they asked the farmer if there was not a
priest concealed in the house. "Gentlemen," returned he, without losing his
presence of mind, "you see very well there is no priest here; but one might
conceal himself in the house without my knowledge; so I will not prevent
you from doing your duty; search the house from cellar to garret." Then he
said to the priest, "I say, Jacques, take your lantern and show these
gentlemen everywhere; let them see every corner of the farm." The gendarmes
made a minute inspection of the house, uttering many imprecations and many
menaces against the priest, promising themselves to pay him well for the
trouble he had cost them, if they succeeded in discovering him. Seeing
their search was useless, they prepared to leave. As they were going the
farmer said, "Pray gentlemen, remember the boy." They gave the disguised
priest a small coin, and thanking him for his civility took their leave.

A housemaid in Upper Grosvenor Street, London, going to the cellar for a
draught of ale, after the family had retired to bed, glided silently in
without a candle. As she was feeling about for the cask, she put her hand
upon something which she immediately perceived to be the head of a man. The
girl, with great fortitude and presence of mind, forebore to cry out, but
said, in a tone of impatience, "That stupid creature, Betty, is always
putting the mops in the way." She then went on to the cask, quietly drew
her beer, retired from the cellar, fastened the door, and then alarmed the
house. The man was taken; and afterwards declared, that the maid was
entirely indebted to her presence of mind for her life, for had she cried
out, he would instantly have murdered her: but as he firmly believed she
mistook his head for a mop, particularly as she had drawn the beer after
she had felt it, he let her go without injury.

King James the Fourth of Scotland, who used often to amuse himself in
wandering about the country in different disguises, was once overtaken by a
violent storm in a dark night, and obliged to take shelter in a cavern near
Wemys. Having advanced some way in it, the king discovered a number of men
and women ready to begin to roast a sheep, by way of supper. From their
appearance, he began to suspect that he had not fallen into the best of
company; but, as it was too late to retreat, he asked hospitality from them
till the tempest was over. They granted it, and invited the king, whom they
did not know, to sit down, and take part with them. They were a band of
robbers and cut-throats. As soon as they had finished their supper, one of
them presented a plate, upon which two daggers were laid in form of a St.
Andrew's cross, telling the king, at the same time, that this was the
dessert which they always served to strangers; that he must choose one of
the daggers, and fight him whom the company should appoint to attack him.
The king did not lose his presence of mind, but instantly seized the two
daggers, one in each hand, and plunged them into the hearts of the two
robbers who were next him; and running full speed to the mouth of the
cavern, he escaped from their pursuit, through the obscurity of the night.
The rest of the band were seized next morning and hanged.

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