AN irregular outline, sombre colouring, a tangle of towers, steeples, high gables and ramparts, steep passages built in the form of steps: such was the town of Fougères at the beginning of the nineteenth century. The principal features of its surroundings were a turbulent river waging unceasing conflict with numerous mills, uncultivated wastes, more footpaths than lanes, and more lanes than high-roads. This former hot-bed of chouans was an appropriate birthplace for a heroine of romance—and there, on April 10th, 1806, was born Julienne Joséphine Gauvain, subsequently known as Mademoiselle Juliette, and later still, as Madame Drouet. Her father was a humble tailor living in a suburb of the town, on the road between Fougères and Autrain; her mother kept the little home. Madame Drouet was somewhat proud of her humble origin; she wrote: “I am of the people,” as others might boast “I am well born”; she wished thereby to explain and excuse her taste for independence, her fiery temper, and her impulsive nature. She might equally have attributed these to the neglect she suffered in early infancy. For she had no parents to guard or train her. Her mother died on December 15th, 1806, before the infant could lisp her first words. On September 12th in the following year the father dragged himself to the public infirmary at Fougères, and there breathed his last. The infirmary took over the charge of the orphan, and was about to place her with the foundlings—indeed, the necessary formalities had already been complied with—when a protector suddenly came forward, a certain worthy uncle. His name was René Henri Drouet. He was thirty-two years old, a sub-lieutenant of artillery, had seen active service in eight campaigns under Napoleon, and been wounded in the foot by the blow of an axe. The wound was such that some very quiet employment had to be provided for him. The ex-artilleryman was turned into a coast-guard, and dawdled out a bored existence in the little Breton port where fate confined him henceforth. He claimed Julienne, and she was handed over to his care.