Cobbler Takes Dauphin Hostage Until His Mother Intervenes

March 22, 2018

[The mob] all pressed closer to the fence; and naked arms and clenched fists, thrust through the palings, threatened the queen, and the dauphin who walked in front of his mother. As they neared a part of the path which ran close to the fence, the queen saw the bare arm of a man, which extended as far as possible through the railing, stretched half-way across the walk. The queen looked in alarm toward the dauphin. She saw him hesitate a little in his hurried course, and then go slowly forward.

“Come here, my son,” said Marie Antoinette; “give me your hand.” But before she could reach him, the little prince sprang forward and stood in front of the outstretched arm. “Good day, sir!” he said in a loud voice; “good day!” And he grasped the great hand of the man and shook it a little, as in friendly salutation.

The Dauphin of France “What do you mean?” roared the man; “and how dare you lay your paw on the claws of the lion?”

“I thought you were stretching out your hand to reach me,” said the dauphin; “and so I give you mine, and say, ‘Good day, sir!’”

“And, if I wanted, I could crush your hand in my fist as if it were in a vice,” said the man, holding the little hand firmly.

“You shall not do it!” cried the crowd.  “No, Simon; you shall not hurt the child.”

 “Sir!” exclaimed the queen, motioning back with a commanding gesture the two lackeys who were hastening to release the dauphin, “sir, I beg you to withdraw your hand, and not to hinder us in our walk.”

“Ah! you are there too, are you, madame the baker’s wife?” cried the man, with a horrid laugh. “But suppose I do not do as you want me to? I suppose you would dictate to me then, and perhaps call your soldiers and order them to shoot the dreadful people?”

“You know, Master Simon, that I give no such command, and never gave any such,” replied the queen. “The king and I love our people, and never would order our soldiers to fire upon them.”

“Because you would not be sure, madame, that the soldiers would obey your commands if you should,” laughed Simon. “Since we got rid of the Swiss guards, there are no soldiers left who would let themselves be torn in pieces for their king and queen; and you know well that if the soldiers should fire the first shot at us, the people would tear the soldiers in pieces afterward. Yes, yes, the fine old days at Versailles are past. Here, in Paris, you must accustom yourself to ask, instead of command; and the arm of a single man of the people is enough to stop the queen and the dauphin of France.”

 “You are mistaken, sir!” exclaimed Marie Antoinette. “The queen and the dauphin of France will no longer be detained by you in their walk.” And, with a quick movement, she caught the dauphin, struck back the fist of the cobbler, and, snatching the boy away with the rapidity of lightning, passed by before Simon could again extend his arm. The people, delighted with this energetic and courageous action of the queen, — the people, who would have howled with rage had she ordered her lackeys to push the cobbler back, — now roared with admiration to see the proud-hearted woman have the courage to repel her assailant, and free herself from him. Thousands upon thousands of voices rose in a mighty shout, which seemed to shake the very foundations of the palace: “Vive la Reine! Vive Marie Antoinette!” And all eyes followed the tall, majestic figure of the queen as she walked away.

A Short History of the French Revolution for Young People: Pictures of the Reign of Terror, by Lydia Hoyt Farmer; Pgs. 247-249.

Stories on Honor, Chivalry, and the World of Nobility—no. 618

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