Tantissimi classici della letteratura e della cultura politica,
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Abbe Prevost - MANON LESCAUT
Alcott, Louisa M. - AN OLDFASHIONED GIRL
Alcott, Louisa M. - LITTLE MEN
Alcott, Louisa M. - LITTLE WOMEN
Alcott, Louisa May - JACK AND JILL
Alcott, Louisa May - LIFE LETTERS AND JOURNALS
Andersen, Hans Christian - FAIRY TALES
Anonimo - BEOWULF
Ariosto, Ludovico - ORLANDO ENRAGED
Aurelius, Marcus - MEDITATIONS
Austen, Jane - EMMA
Austen, Jane - MANSFIELD PARK
Austen, Jane - NORTHANGER ABBEY
Austen, Jane - PERSUASION
Austen, Jane - PRIDE AND PREJUDICE
Austen, Jane - SENSE AND SENSIBILITY
Authors, Various - LETTERS OF ABELARD AND HELOISE
Authors, Various - SELECTED ENGLISH LETTERS
Autori Vari - THE WORLD ENGLISH BIBLE
Bacon, Francis - THE ADVANCEMENT OF LEARNING
Balzac, Honore de - EUGENIE GRANDET
Balzac, Honore de - FATHER GORIOT
Baroness Orczy - THE SCARLET PIMPERNEL
Barrie, J. M. - PETER AND WENDY
Barrie, James M. - PETER PAN
Bierce, Ambrose - THE DEVIL'S DICTIONARY
Blake, William - SONGS OF INNOCENCE AND EXPERIENCE
Boccaccio, Giovanni - DECAMERONE
Brent, Linda - INCIDENTS IN THE LIFE OF A SLAVE GIRL
Bronte, Charlotte - JANE EYRE
Bronte, Charlotte - VILLETTE
Buchan, John - GREENMANTLE
Buchan, John - MR STANDFAST
Buchan, John - THE 39 STEPS
Bunyan, John - THE PILGRIM'S PROGRESS
Burckhardt, Jacob - THE CIVILIZATION OF THE RENAISSANCE IN ITALY
Burnett, Frances H. - A LITTLE PRINCESS
Burnett, Frances H. - LITTLE LORD FAUNTLEROY
Burnett, Frances H. - THE SECRET GARDEN
Butler, Samuel - EREWHON
Carlyle, Thomas - PAST AND PRESENT
Carlyle, Thomas - THE FRENCH REVOLUTION
Cellini, Benvenuto - AUTOBIOGRAPHY
Cervantes - DON QUIXOTE
Chaucer, Geoffrey - THE CANTERBURY TALES
Chesterton, G. K. - A SHORT HISTORY OF ENGLAND
Chesterton, G. K. - THE BALLAD OF THE WHITE HORSE
Chesterton, G. K. - THE INNOCENCE OF FATHER BROWN
Chesterton, G. K. - THE MAN WHO KNEW TOO MUCH
Chesterton, G. K. - THE MAN WHO WAS THURSDAY
Chesterton, G. K. - THE WISDOM OF FATHER BROWN
Chesterton, G. K. - TWELVE TYPES
Chesterton, G. K. - WHAT I SAW IN AMERICA
Chesterton, Gilbert K. - HERETICS
Chopin, Kate - AT FAULT
Chopin, Kate - BAYOU FOLK
Chopin, Kate - THE AWAKENING AND SELECTED SHORT STORIES
Clark Hall, John R. - A CONCISE ANGLOSAXON DICTIONARY
Clarkson, Thomas - AN ESSAY ON THE SLAVERY AND COMMERCE OF THE HUMAN SPECIES
Clausewitz, Carl von - ON WAR
Coleridge, Herbert - A DICTIONARY OF THE FIRST OR OLDEST WORDS IN THE ENGLISH
Coleridge, S. T. - COMPLETE POETICAL WORKS
Coleridge, S. T. - HINTS TOWARDS THE FORMATION OF A MORE COMPREHENSIVE THEORY
Coleridge, S. T. - THE RIME OF THE ANCIENT MARINER
Collins, Wilkie - THE MOONSTONE
Collodi - PINOCCHIO
Conan Doyle, Arthur - A STUDY IN SCARLET
Conan Doyle, Arthur - MEMOIRS OF SHERLOCK HOLMES
Conan Doyle, Arthur - THE HOUND OF THE BASKERVILLES
Conan Doyle, Arthur - THE RETURN OF SHERLOCK HOLMES
Conan Doyle, Arthur - THE SIGN OF THE FOUR
Conrad, Joseph - HEART OF DARKNESS
Conrad, Joseph - LORD JIM
Conrad, Joseph - NOSTROMO
Conrad, Joseph - THE NIGGER OF THE NARCISSUS
Conrad, Joseph - TYPHOON
Crane, Stephen - LAST WORDS
Crane, Stephen - MAGGIE
Crane, Stephen - THE RED BADGE OF COURAGE
Crane, Stephen - WOUNDS IN THE RAIN
Dante - THE DIVINE COMEDY: HELL
Dante - THE DIVINE COMEDY: PARADISE
Dante - THE DIVINE COMEDY: PURGATORY
Darwin, Charles - THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF CHARLES DARWIN
Darwin, Charles - THE ORIGIN OF SPECIES
Defoe, Daniel - A GENERAL HISTORY OF THE PYRATES
Defoe, Daniel - A JOURNAL OF THE PLAGUE YEAR
Defoe, Daniel - CAPTAIN SINGLETON
Defoe, Daniel - MOLL FLANDERS
Defoe, Daniel - ROBINSON CRUSOE
Defoe, Daniel - THE COMPLETE ENGLISH TRADESMAN
Defoe, Daniel - THE FURTHER ADVENTURES OF ROBINSON CRUSOE
Deledda, Grazia - AFTER THE DIVORCE
Dickens, Charles - A CHRISTMAS CAROL
Dickens, Charles - A TALE OF TWO CITIES
Dickens, Charles - BLEAK HOUSE
Dickens, Charles - DAVID COPPERFIELD
Dickens, Charles - DONBEY AND SON
Dickens, Charles - GREAT EXPECTATIONS
Dickens, Charles - HARD TIMES
Dickens, Charles - LETTERS VOLUME 1
Dickens, Charles - LITTLE DORRIT
Dickens, Charles - MARTIN CHUZZLEWIT
Dickens, Charles - NICHOLAS NICKLEBY
Dickens, Charles - OLIVER TWIST
Dickens, Charles - OUR MUTUAL FRIEND
Dickens, Charles - PICTURES FROM ITALY
Dickens, Charles - THE MYSTERY OF EDWIN DROOD
Dickens, Charles - THE OLD CURIOSITY SHOP
Dickens, Charles - THE PICKWICK PAPERS
Dickinson, Emily - POEMS
Dostoevsky, Fyodor - CRIME AND PUNISHMENT
Dostoyevsky, Fyodor - THE BROTHERS KARAMAZOV
Du Maurier, George - TRILBY
Dumas, Alexandre - THE COUNT OF MONTE CRISTO
Dumas, Alexandre - THE MAN IN THE IRON MASK
Dumas, Alexandre - THE THREE MUSKETEERS
Eliot, George - DANIEL DERONDA
Eliot, George - MIDDLEMARCH
Eliot, George - SILAS MARNER
Eliot, George - THE MILL ON THE FLOSS
Engels, Frederick - THE CONDITION OF THE WORKING-CLASS IN ENGLAND IN 1844
Equiano - AUTOBIOGRAPHY
Esopo - FABLES
Fenimore Cooper, James - THE LAST OF THE MOHICANS
Fielding, Henry - TOM JONES
France, Anatole - THAIS
France, Anatole - THE GODS ARE ATHIRST
France, Anatole - THE LIFE OF JOAN OF ARC
France, Anatole - THE SEVEN WIVES OF BLUEBEARD
Frank Baum, L. - THE PATCHWORK GIRL OF OZ
Frank Baum, L. - THE WONDERFUL WIZARD OF OZ
Franklin, Benjamin - AUTOBIOGRAPHY
Frazer, James George - THE GOLDEN BOUGH
Freud, Sigmund - DREAM PSYCHOLOGY
Galsworthy, John - COMPLETE PLAYS
Galsworthy, John - STRIFE
Galsworthy, John - STUDIES AND ESSAYS
Galsworthy, John - THE FIRST AND THE LAST
Galsworthy, John - THE FORSYTE SAGA
Galsworthy, John - THE LITTLE MAN
Galsworthy, John - THE SILVER BOX
Galsworthy, John - THE SKIN GAME
Gaskell, Elizabeth - CRANFORD
Gaskell, Elizabeth - MARY BARTON
Gaskell, Elizabeth - NORTH AND SOUTH
Gaskell, Elizabeth - THE LIFE OF CHARLOTTE BRONTE
Gay, John - THE BEGGAR'S OPERA
Gentile, Maria - THE ITALIAN COOK BOOK
Gilbert and Sullivan - PLAYS
Goethe - FAUST
Gogol - DEAD SOULS
Goldsmith, Oliver - SHE STOOPS TO CONQUER
Goldsmith, Oliver - THE VICAR OF WAKEFIELD
Grahame, Kenneth - THE WIND IN THE WILLOWS
Grimm, Brothers - FAIRY TALES
Harding, A. R. - GINSENG AND OTHER MEDICINAL PLANTS
Hardy, Thomas - A CHANGED MAN AND OTHER TALES
Hardy, Thomas - FAR FROM THE MADDING CROWD
Hardy, Thomas - JUDE THE OBSCURE
Hardy, Thomas - TESS OF THE D'URBERVILLES
Hardy, Thomas - THE MAYOR OF CASTERBRIDGE
Hartley, Cecil B. - THE GENTLEMEN'S BOOK OF ETIQUETTE
Hawthorne, Nathaniel - LITTLE MASTERPIECES
Hawthorne, Nathaniel - THE SCARLET LETTER
Henry VIII - LOVE LETTERS TO ANNE BOLEYN
Henry, O. - CABBAGES AND KINGS
Henry, O. - SIXES AND SEVENS
Henry, O. - THE FOUR MILLION
Henry, O. - THE TRIMMED LAMP
Henry, O. - WHIRLIGIGS
Hindman Miller, Gustavus - TEN THOUSAND DREAMS INTERPRETED
Hobbes, Thomas - LEVIATHAN
Homer - THE ILIAD
Homer - THE ODYSSEY
Hornaday, William T. - THE EXTERMINATION OF THE AMERICAN BISON
Hume, David - A TREATISE OF HUMAN NATURE
Hume, David - AN ENQUIRY CONCERNING HUMAN UNDERSTANDING
Hume, David - DIALOGUES CONCERNING NATURAL RELIGION
Ibsen, Henrik - A DOLL'S HOUSE
Ibsen, Henrik - AN ENEMY OF THE PEOPLE
Ibsen, Henrik - GHOSTS
Ibsen, Henrik - HEDDA GABLER
Ibsen, Henrik - JOHN GABRIEL BORKMAN
Ibsen, Henrik - ROSMERHOLM
Ibsen, Henrik - THE LADY FROM THE SEA
Ibsen, Henrik - THE MASTER BUILDER
Ibsen, Henrik - WHEN WE DEAD AWAKEN
Irving, Washington - THE LEGEND OF SLEEPY HOLLOW
James, Henry - ITALIAN HOURS
James, Henry - THE ASPERN PAPERS
James, Henry - THE BOSTONIANS
James, Henry - THE PORTRAIT OF A LADY
James, Henry - THE TURN OF THE SCREW
James, Henry - WASHINGTON SQUARE
Jerome, Jerome K. - THREE MEN IN A BOAT
Jerome, Jerome K. - THREE MEN ON THE BUMMEL
Jevons, Stanley - POLITICAL ECONOMY
Johnson, Samuel - A GRAMMAR OF THE ENGLISH TONGUE
Jonson, Ben - THE ALCHEMIST
Jonson, Ben - VOLPONE
Joyce, James - A PORTRAIT OF THE ARTIST AS A YOUNG MAN
Joyce, James - CHAMBER MUSIC
Joyce, James - DUBLINERS
Joyce, James - ULYSSES
Keats, John - ENDYMION
Keats, John - POEMS PUBLISHED IN 1817
Keats, John - POEMS PUBLISHED IN 1820
King James - THE BIBLE
Kipling, Rudyard - CAPTAINS COURAGEOUS
Kipling, Rudyard - INDIAN TALES
Kipling, Rudyard - JUST SO STORIES
Kipling, Rudyard - KIM
Kipling, Rudyard - THE JUNGLE BOOK
Kipling, Rudyard - THE MAN WHO WOULD BE KING
Kipling, Rudyard - THE SECOND JUNGLE BOOK
Lawrence, D. H - THE RAINBOW
Lawrence, D. H - THE WHITE PEACOCK
Lawrence, D. H - TWILIGHT IN ITALY
Lawrence, D. H. - AARON'S ROD
Lawrence, D. H. - SONS AND LOVERS
Lawrence, D. H. - THE LOST GIRL
Lawrence, D. H. - WOMEN IN LOVE
Lear, Edward - BOOK OF NONSENSE
Lear, Edward - LAUGHABLE LYRICS
Lear, Edward - MORE NONSENSE
Lear, Edward - NONSENSE SONG
Leblanc, Maurice - ARSENE LUPIN VS SHERLOCK HOLMES
Leblanc, Maurice - THE ADVENTURES OF ARSENE LUPIN
Leblanc, Maurice - THE CONFESSIONS OF ARSENE LUPIN
Leblanc, Maurice - THE HOLLOW NEEDLE
Leblanc, Maurice - THE RETURN OF ARSENE LUPIN
Lehmann, Lilli - HOW TO SING
Leroux, Gaston - THE MAN WITH THE BLACK FEATHER
Leroux, Gaston - THE MYSTERY OF THE YELLOW ROOM
Leroux, Gaston - THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA
London, Jack - MARTIN EDEN
London, Jack - THE CALL OF THE WILD
London, Jack - WHITE FANG
Machiavelli, Nicolo' - THE PRINCE
Malthus, Thomas - PRINCIPLE OF POPULATION
Mansfield, Katherine - THE GARDEN PARTY AND OTHER STORIES
Marlowe, Christopher - THE JEW OF MALTA
Marryat, Captain - THE CHILDREN OF THE NEW FOREST
Maupassant, Guy De - BEL AMI
Melville, Hermann - MOBY DICK
Melville, Hermann - TYPEE
Mill, John Stuart - PRINCIPLES OF POLITICAL ECONOMY
Milton, John - PARADISE LOST
Mitra, S. M. - HINDU TALES FROM THE SANSKRIT
Montaigne, Michel de - ESSAYS
Montgomery, Lucy Maud - ANNE OF GREEN GABLES
More, Thomas - UTOPIA
Nesbit, E. - FIVE CHILDREN AND IT
Nesbit, E. - THE PHOENIX AND THE CARPET
Nesbit, E. - THE RAILWAY CHILDREN
Nesbit, E. - THE STORY OF THE AMULET
Newton, Isaac - OPTICKS
Nietsche, Friedrich - BEYOND GOOD AND EVIL
Nietsche, Friedrich - THUS SPAKE ZARATHUSTRA
Nightingale, Florence - NOTES ON NURSING
Owen, Wilfred - POEMS
Ozaki, Yei Theodora - JAPANESE FAIRY TALES
Pascal, Blaise - PENSEES
Pellico, Silvio - MY TEN YEARS IMPRISONMENT
Perrault, Charles - FAIRY TALES
Pirandello, Luigi - THREE PLAYS
Plato - THE REPUBLIC
Poe, Edgar Allan - THE COMPLETE POETICAL WORKS 1
Poe, Edgar Allan - THE COMPLETE POETICAL WORKS 2
Poe, Edgar Allan - THE COMPLETE POETICAL WORKS 3
Poe, Edgar Allan - THE COMPLETE POETICAL WORKS 4
Poe, Edgar Allan - THE COMPLETE POETICAL WORKS 5
Poe, Edgar Allan - THE FALL OF THE HOUSE OF USHER
Potter, Beatrix - THE TALE OF PETER RABBIT
Proust, Marcel - SWANN'S WAY
Radcliffe, Ann - A SICILIAN ROMANCE
Ricardo, David - ON THE PRINCIPLES OF POLITICAL ECONOMY AND TAXATION
Richardson, Samuel - PAMELA
Rider Haggard, H. - ALLAN QUATERMAIN
Rider Haggard, H. - KING SOLOMON'S MINES
Rousseau, J. J. - THE ORIGIN AND FOUNDATION OF INEQUALITY AMONG MANKIND
Ruskin, John - THE SEVEN LAMPS OF ARCHITECTURE
Schiller, Friedrich - THE DEATH OF WALLENSTEIN
Schiller, Friedrich - THE PICCOLOMINI
Schopenhauer, Arthur - THE ART OF CONTROVERSY
Schopenhauer, Arthur - THE WISDOM OF LIFE
Scott Fitzgerald, F. - FLAPPERS AND PHILOSOPHERS
Scott Fitzgerald, F. - TALES OF THE JAZZ AGE
Scott Fitzgerald, F. - THE BEAUTIFUL AND DAMNED
Scott Fitzgerald, F. - THIS SIDE OF PARADISE
Scott, Walter - IVANHOE
Scott, Walter - QUENTIN DURWARD
Scott, Walter - ROB ROY
Scott, Walter - THE BRIDE OF LAMMERMOOR
Scott, Walter - WAVERLEY
Sedgwick, Anne Douglas - THE THIRD WINDOW
Sewell, Anna - BLACK BEAUTY
Shakespeare, William - COMPLETE WORKS
Shakespeare, William - HAMLET
Shakespeare, William - OTHELLO
Shakespeare, William - ROMEO AND JULIET
Shelley, Mary - FRANKENSTEIN
Shelley, Percy Bysshe - A DEFENCE OF POETRY AND OTHER ESSAYS
Shelley, Percy Bysshe - COMPLETE POETICAL WORKS
Sheridan, Richard B. - THE SCHOOL FOR SCANDAL
Sienkiewicz, Henryk - QUO VADIS
Smith, Adam - THE WEALTH OF NATIONS
Smollett, Tobias - TRAVELS THROUGH FRANCE AND ITALY
Spencer, Herbert - ESSAYS ON EDUCATION AND KINDRED SUBJECTS
Spyri, Johanna - HEIDI
Sterne, Laurence - A SENTIMENTAL JOURNEY
Sterne, Laurence - TRISTRAM SHANDY
Stevenson, Robert Louis - A CHILD'S GARDEN OF VERSES
Stevenson, Robert Louis - ESSAYS IN THE ART OF WRITING
Stevenson, Robert Louis - KIDNAPPED
Stevenson, Robert Louis - NEW ARABIAN NIGHTS
Stevenson, Robert Louis - THE BLACK ARROW
Stevenson, Robert Louis - THE STRANGE CASE OF DR. JEKYLL AND MR. HYDE
Stevenson, Robert Louis - TREASURE ISLAND
Stoker, Bram - DRACULA
Strindberg, August - LUCKY PEHR
Strindberg, August - MASTER OLOF
Strindberg, August - THE RED ROOM
Strindberg, August - THE ROAD TO DAMASCUS
Strindberg, August - THERE ARE CRIMES AND CRIMES
Swift, Jonathan - A MODEST PROPOSAL
Swift, Jonathan - A TALE OF A TUB
Swift, Jonathan - GULLIVER'S TRAVELS
Swift, Jonathan - THE BATTLE OF THE BOOKS AND OTHER SHORT PIECES
Tagore, Rabindranath - FRUIT GATHERING
Tagore, Rabindranath - THE GARDENER
Tagore, Rabindranath - THE HUNGRY STONES AND OTHER STORIES
Thackeray, William - BARRY LYNDON
Thackeray, William - VANITY FAIR
Thackeray, William Makepeace - THE BOOK OF SNOBS
Thackeray, William Makepeace - THE ROSE AND THE RING
Thackeray, William Makepeace - THE VIRGINIANS
Thoreau, Henry David - WALDEN
Tolstoi, Leo - A LETTER TO A HINDU
Tolstoy, Lev - ANNA KARENINA
Tolstoy, Lev - WAR AND PEACE
Trollope, Anthony - AN AUTOBIOGRAPHY
Trollope, Anthony - BARCHESTER TOWERS
Trollope, Anthony - FRAMLEY PARSONAGE
Trollope, Anthony - THE EUSTACE DIAMONDS
Trollope, Anthony - THE MAN WHO KEPT HIS MONEY IN A BOX
Trollope, Anthony - THE WARDEN
Trollope, Anthony - THE WAY WE LIVE NOW
Twain, Mark - LIFE ON THE MISSISSIPPI
Twain, Mark - SPEECHES
Twain, Mark - THE ADVENTURES OF HUCKLEBERRY FINN
Twain, Mark - THE ADVENTURES OF TOM SAWYER
Twain, Mark - THE PRINCE AND THE PAUPER
Vari, Autori - THE MAGNA CARTA
Verga, Giovanni - SICILIAN STORIES
Verne, Jules - 20000 LEAGUES UNDER THE SEAS
Verne, Jules - A JOURNEY TO THE CENTRE OF THE EARTH
Verne, Jules - ALL AROUND THE MOON
Verne, Jules - AROUND THE WORLD IN 80 DAYS
Verne, Jules - FIVE WEEKS IN A BALLOON
Verne, Jules - FROM THE EARTH TO THE MOON
Verne, Jules - MICHAEL STROGOFF
Verne, Jules - THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND
Voltaire - PHILOSOPHICAL DICTIONARY
Vyasa - MAHABHARATA
Wallace, Edgar - SANDERS OF THE RIVER
Wallace, Edgar - THE DAFFODIL MYSTERY
Wallace, Lew - BEN HUR
Webster, Jean - DADDY LONG LEGS
Wedekind, Franz - THE AWAKENING OF SPRING
Wells, H. G. - KIPPS
Wells, H. G. - THE INVISIBLE MAN
Wells, H. G. - THE ISLAND OF DOCTOR MOREAU
Wells, H. G. - THE STOLEN BACILLUS AND OTHER INCIDENTS
Wells, H. G. - THE TIME MACHINE
Wells, H. G. - THE WAR OF THE WORLDS
Wells, H. G. - WHAT IS COMING
Wharton, Edith - THE AGE OF INNOCENCE
White, Andrew Dickson - FIAT MONEY INFLATION IN FRANCE
Wilde, Oscar - A WOMAN OF NO IMPORTANCE
Wilde, Oscar - AN IDEAL HUSBAND
Wilde, Oscar - DE PROFUNDIS
Wilde, Oscar - LADY WINDERMERE'S FAN
Wilde, Oscar - SALOME
Wilde, Oscar - SELECTED POEMS
Wilde, Oscar - THE BALLAD OF READING GAOL
Wilde, Oscar - THE CANTERVILLE GHOST
Wilde, Oscar - THE HAPPY PRINCE AND OTHER TALES
Wilde, Oscar - THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING EARNEST
Wilde, Oscar - THE PICTURE OF DORIAN GREY
Wilde, Oscar - THE SOUL OF MAN
Wilson, Epiphanius - SACRED BOOKS OF THE EAST
Wollstonecraft, Mary - A VINDICATION OF THE RIGHTS OF WOMAN
Woolf, Virgina - NIGHT AND DAY
Woolf, Virgina - THE VOYAGE OUT
Woolf, Virginia - JACOB'S ROOM
Woolf, Virginia - MONDAY OR TUESDAY
Wordsworth, William - POEMS
Wordsworth, William - PROSE WORKS
Zola, Emile - THERESE RAQUIN
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ISTRUZIONI D'USO DETTAGLIATE
THE GODS ARE ATHIRST
By ANATOLE FRANCE
Évariste Gamelin, painter, pupil of David, member of the Section du
Pont-Neuf, formerly Section Henri IV, had betaken himself at an early
hour in the morning to the old church of the Barnabites, which for three
years, since 21st May 1790, had served as meeting-place for the General
Assembly of the Section. The church stood in a narrow, gloomy square,
not far from the gates of the Palais de Justice. On the façade, which
consisted of two of the Classical orders superimposed and was decorated
with inverted brackets and flaming urns, blackened by the weather and
disfigured by the hand of man, the religious emblems had been battered
to pieces, while above the doorway had been inscribed in black letters
the Republican catchword of "Liberty, Equality, Fraternity or Death."
Évariste Gamelin made his way into the nave; the same vaults which had
heard the surpliced clerks of the Congregation of St. Paul sing the
divine offices, now looked down on red-capped patriots assembled to
elect the Municipal magistrates and deliberate on the affairs of the
Section. The Saints had been dragged from their niches and replaced by
the busts of Brutus, Jean-Jacques and Le Peltier. The altar had been
stripped bare and was surmounted by the Table of the Rights of Man.
It was here in the nave that twice a week, from five in the evening to
eleven, were held the public assemblies. The pulpit, decorated with the
colours of the Nation, served as tribune for the speakers who harangued
the meeting. Opposite, on the Epistle side, rose a platform of rough
planks, for the accommodation of the women and children, who attended
these gatherings in considerable numbers.
On this particular morning, facing a desk planted underneath the pulpit,
sat in red cap and "carmagnole" complete the joiner from the Place
Thionville, the "citoyen" Dupont senior, one of the twelve forming the
Committee of Surveillance. On the desk stood a bottle and glasses, an
ink-horn, and a folio containing the text of the petition urging the
Convention to expel from its bosom the twenty-two members deemed
Évariste Gamelin took the pen and signed.
"I was sure," said the carpenter and magistrate, "I was sure you would
come and give in your name, "citoyen" Gamelin. You are the real thing.
But the Section is lukewarm; it is lacking in virtue. I have proposed to
the Committee of Surveillance to deliver no certificate of citizenship
to any one who has failed to sign the petition."
"I am ready to sign with my blood," said Gamelin, "for the proscription
of these federalists, these traitors. They have desired the death of
Marat: let them perish."
"What ruins us," replied Dupont senior, "is indifferentism. In a Section
which contains nine hundred citizens with the right to vote there are
not fifty attend the assembly. Yesterday we were eight and twenty."
"Well then," said Gamelin, "citizens must be obliged to come under
penalty of a fine."
"Oh, ho!" exclaimed the joiner frowning, "but if they all came, the
patriots would be in a minority.... "Citoyen" Gamelin, will you drink a
glass of wine to the health of all good sansculottes?..."
On the wall of the church, on the Gospel side, could be read the words,
accompanied by a black hand, the forefinger pointing to the passage
leading to the cloisters: ""Comité civil, Comité de surveillance, Comité
de bienfaisance."" A few yards further on, you came to the door of the
erstwhile sacristy, over which was inscribed: "Comité militaire".
Gamelin pushed this door open and found the Secretary of the Committee
within; he was writing at a large table loaded with books, papers, steel
ingots, cartridges and samples of saltpetre-bearing soils.
"Greeting, "citoyen" Trubert. How are you?"
"I?... I am perfectly well."
The Secretary of the Military Committee, Fortuné Trubert, invariably
made this same reply to all who troubled about his health, less by way
of informing them of his welfare than to cut short any discussion on the
subject. At twenty-eight, he had a parched skin, thin hair, hectic
cheeks and bent shoulders. He was an optician on the Quai des Orfèvres,
and owned a very old house which he had given up in '91 to a
superannuated clerk in order to devote his energies to the discharge of
his municipal duties. His mother, a charming woman, whose memory a few
old men of the neighbourhood still cherished fondly, had died at twenty;
she had left him her fine eyes, full of gentleness and passion, her
pallor and timidity. From his father, optician and mathematical
instrument maker to the King, carried off by the same complaint before
his thirtieth year, he inherited an upright character and an industrious
Without stopping his writing:
"And you, "citoyen"," he asked, "how are you?"
"Very well. Anything new?"
"Nothing, nothing. You can see,--we are all quiet here."
"And the situation?"
"The situation is just the same."
The situation was appalling. The finest army of the Republic blockaded
in Mayence; Valenciennes besieged; Fontenay taken by the Vendéens; Lyons
rebellious; the Cévennes in insurrection, the frontier open to the
Spaniards; two-thirds of the Departments invaded or revolted; Paris
helpless before the Austrian cannon, without money, without bread!
Fortuné Trubert wrote on calmly. The Sections being instructed by
resolution of the Commune to carry out the levy of twelve thousand men
for La Vendée, he was drawing up directions relating to the enrolment
and arming of the contingent which the "Pont-Neuf," erstwhile "Henri
IV," was to supply. All the muskets in store were to be handed over to
the men requisitioned for the front; the National Guard of the Section
would be armed with fowling-pieces and pikes.
"I have brought you here," said Gamelin, "the schedule of the
church-bells to be sent to the Luxembourg to be converted into cannon."
Évariste Gamelin, albeit he had not a penny, was inscribed among the
active members of the Section; the law accorded this privilege only to
such citizens as were rich enough to pay a contribution equivalent in
amount to three days' work, and demanded a ten days' contribution to
qualify an elector for office. But the Section du Pont-Neuf, enamoured
of equality and jealous of its independence, regarded as qualified both
for the vote and for office every citizen who had paid out of his own
pocket for his National Guard's uniform. This was Gamelin's case, who
was an "active" citizen of his Section and member of the Military
Fortuné Trubert laid down his pen:
""Citoyen" Évariste," he said, "I beg you to go to the Convention and
ask them to send us orders to dig up the floor of cellars, to wash the
soil and flag-stones and collect the saltpetre. It is not everything to
have guns, we must have gunpowder too."
A little hunchback, a pen behind his ear and a bundle of papers in his
hand, entered the erstwhile sacristy. It was the "citoyen" Beauvisage,
of the Committee of Surveillance.
""Citoyens"," he announced, "we have bad news: Custine has evacuated
"Custine is a traitor!" cried Gamelin.
"He shall be guillotined," said Beauvisage.
Trubert, in his rather breathless voice, expressed himself with his
"The Convention has not instituted a Committee of Public Safety for fun.
It will enquire into Custine's conduct. Incompetent or traitor, he will
be superseded by a General resolved to win the victory,--and "ça ira!""
He turned over a heap of papers, scrutinizing them with his tired eyes:
"That our soldiers may do their duty with a quiet mind and stout heart,
they must be assured that the lot of those they leave behind at home is
safeguarded. If you are of the same opinion, "citoyen" Gamelin, you will
join me in demanding, at the next assembly, that the Committee of
Benevolence concert measures with the Military Committee to succour the
families that are in indigence and have a relative at the front."
He smiled and hummed to himself: ""Ça ira! ça ira!...""
Working twelve and fourteen hours a day at his table of unpainted deal
for the defence of the fatherland in peril, this humble Secretary of the
Sectional Committee could see no disproportion between the immensity of
the task and the meagreness of his means for performing it, so filled
was he with a sense of the unity in a common effort between himself and
all other patriots, so intimately did he feel himself one with the
Nation at large, so merged was his individual life in the life of a
great People. He was of the sort who combine enthusiasm with
long-suffering, who, after each check, set about organizing the victory
that is impossible, but is bound to come. And verily they "must" win the
day. These men of no account, who had destroyed Royalty and upset the
old order of things, this Trubert, a penniless optician, this Évariste
Gamelin, an unknown dauber, could expect no mercy from their enemies.
They had no choice save between victory and death. Hence both their
fervour and their serenity.
Quitting the Barnabites, Évariste Gamelin set off in the direction of
the Place Dauphine, now renamed the Place de Thionville in honour of a
city that had shown itself impregnable.
Situated in the busiest quarter of Paris, the "Place" had long lost the
fine stateliness it had worn a hundred years ago; the mansions forming
its three sides, built in the days of Henri IV in one uniform style, of
red brick with white stone dressings, to lodge splendour-loving
magistrates, had had their imposing roofs of slate removed to make way
for two or three wretched storeys of lath and plaster or had even been
demolished altogether and replaced by shabby whitewashed houses, and now
displayed only a series of irregular, poverty-stricken, squalid fronts,
pierced with countless narrow, unevenly spaced windows enlivened with
flowers in pots, birdcages, and rags hanging out to dry. These were
occupied by a swarm of artisans, jewellers, metal-workers, clockmakers,
opticians, printers, laundresses, sempstresses, milliners, and a few
grey-beard lawyers who had not been swept away in the storm of
revolution along with the King's courts.
It was morning and springtime. Golden sunbeams, intoxicating as new
wine, played on the walls and flashed gaily in at garret casements.
Every sash of every window was thrown open, showing the housewives'
frowsy heads peeping out. The Clerk of the Revolutionary Tribunal, who
had just left his house on his way to Court, distributed amicable taps
on the cheeks of the children playing under the trees. From the
Pont-Neuf came the crier's voice denouncing the treason of the infamous
Évariste Gamelin lived in a house on the side towards the Quai de
l'Horloge, a house that dated from Henri IV and would still have
preserved a not unhandsome appearance but for a mean tiled attic that
had been added on to heighten the building under the last but one of the
"tyrants". To adapt the lodging of some erstwhile dignitary of the
"Parlement" to the exigencies of the bourgeois and artisan households
that formed its present denizens, endless partitions and false floors
had been run up. This was why the "citoyen" Remacle, concierge and
jobbing tailor, perched in a sort of 'tween-decks, as low ceilinged as
it was confined in area. Here he could be seen through the glass door
sitting cross-legged on his work-bench, his bowed back within an inch of
the floor above, stitching away at a National Guard's uniform, while the
"citoyenne" Remacle, whose cooking stove boasted no chimney but the well
of the staircase, poisoned the other tenants with the fumes of her
stew-pots and frying-pans, and their little girl Joséphine, her face
smudged with treacle and looking as pretty as an angel, played on the
threshold with Mouton, the joiner's dog. The "citoyenne", whose heart
was as capacious as her ample bosom and broad back, was reputed to
bestow her favours on her neighbour the "citoyen" Dupont senior, who was
one of the twelve constituting the Committee of Surveillance. At any
rate her husband had his strong suspicions, and from morning to night
the house resounded with the racket of the alternate squabbles and
reconciliations of the pair. The upper floors were occupied by the
"citoyen" Chaperon, gold and silver-smith, who had his shop on the Quai
de l'Horloge, by a health officer, an attorney, a goldbeater, and
several employés at the Palais de Justice.
Évariste Gamelin climbed the old-fashioned staircase as far as the
fourth and last storey, where he had his studio together with a bedroom
for his mother. At this point ended the wooden stairs laid with tiles
that took the place of the grand stairway of the more important floors.
A ladder clamped to the wall led to a cock-loft, from which at that
moment emerged a stout man with a handsome, florid, rosy-cheeked face,
climbing painfully down with an enormous package clasped in his arms,
yet humming gaily to himself: "J'ai perdu mon serviteur".
Breaking off his song, he wished a polite good-day to Gamelin, who
returned him a fraternal greeting and helped him down with his parcel,
for which the old man thanked him.
"There," said he, shouldering his burden again, "you have a batch of
dancing-dolls which I am going to deliver straight away to a
toy-merchant in the Rue de la Loi. There is a whole tribe of them
inside; I am their creator; they have received of me a perishable body,
exempt from joys and sufferings. I have not given them the gift of
thought, for I am a benevolent God."
It was the "citoyen" Brotteaux, once farmer of taxes and "ci-devant"
noble; his father, having made a fortune in these transactions, had
bought himself an office conferring a title on the possessor. In the
good old times Maurice Brotteaux had called himself Monsieur des Ilettes
and used to give elegant suppers which the fair Madame de Rochemaure,
wife of a King's "procureur", enlivened with her bright glances,--a
finished gentlewoman whose loyal fidelity was never impugned so long as
the Revolution left Maurice Brotteaux in possession of his offices and
emoluments, his hôtel, his estates and his noble name. The Revolution
swept them all away. He made his living by painting portraits under the
archways of doors, making pancakes and fritters on the Quai de la
Mégisserie, composing speeches for the representatives of the people and
giving dancing lessons to the young "citoyennes". At the present time,
in his garret into which you climbed by a ladder and where a man could
not stand upright, Maurice Brotteaux, the proud owner of a glue-pot, a
ball of twine, a box of water-colours and sundry clippings of paper,
manufactured dancing-dolls which he sold to wholesale toy-dealers, who
resold them to the pedlars who hawked them up and down the
Champs-Élysées at the end of a pole,--glittering magnets to draw the
little ones' eyes. Amidst the calamities of the State and the disaster
that overwhelmed himself, he preserved an unruffled spirit, reading for
the refreshment of his mind in his Lucretius, which he carried with him
wherever he went in the gaping pocket of his plum-coloured surtout.
Évariste Gamelin pushed open the door of his lodging. It offered no
resistance, for his poverty spared him any trouble about lock and key;
when his mother from force of habit shot the bolt, he would tell her:
"Why, what's the good? Folks don't steal spiders'-webs,--nor my
pictures, neither." In his workroom were piled, under a thick layer of
dust or with faces turned to the wall, the canvases of his student
years,--when, as the fashion of the day was, he limned scenes of
gallantry, depicting with a sleek, timorous brush emptied quivers and
birds put to flight, risky pastimes and reveries of bliss, high-kilted
goose-girls and shepherdesses with rose-wreathed bosoms.
But it was not a genre that suited his temperament. His cold treatment
of such like scenes proved the painter's incurable purity of heart.
Amateurs were right: Gamelin had no gifts as an erotic artist. Nowadays,
though he was still short of thirty, these subjects struck him as dating
from an immemorial antiquity. He saw in them the degradation wrought by
Monarchy, the shameful effects of the corruption of Courts. He blamed
himself for having practised so contemptible a style and prostituted his
genius to the vile arts of slavery. Now, citizen of a free people, he
occupied his hand with bold charcoal sketches of Liberties, Rights of
Man, French Constitutions, Republican Virtues, the People as Hercules
felling the Hydra of Tyranny, throwing into each and all his
compositions all the fire of his patriotism. Alas! he could not make a
living by it. The times were hard for artists. No doubt the fault did
not lie with the Convention, which was hurling its armies against the
kings gathered on every frontier, which, proud, unmoved, determined in
the face of the coalesced powers of Europe, false and ruthless to
itself, was rending its own bosom with its own hands, which was setting
up terror as the order of the day, establishing for the punishment of
plotters a pitiless tribunal to whose devouring maw it was soon to
deliver up its own members; but which through it all, with calm and
thoughtful brow, the patroness of science and friend of all things
beautiful, was reforming the calendar, instituting technical schools,
decreeing competitions in painting and sculpture, founding prizes to
encourage artists, organizing annual exhibitions, opening the Museum of
the Louvre, and, on the model of Athens and Rome, endowing with a
stately sublimity the celebration of National festivals and public
obsequies. But French Art, once so widely appreciated in England, and
Germany, in Russia, in Poland, now found every outlet to foreign lands
closed. Amateurs of painting, dilettanti of the fine arts, great
noblemen and financiers, were ruined, had emigrated or were in hiding.
The men the Revolution had enriched, peasants who had bought up National
properties, speculators, army-contractors, gamesters of the
Palais-Royal, durst not at present show their wealth, and did not care a
fig for pictures, either. It needed Regnault's fame or the youthful
Gérard's cleverness to sell a canvas. Greuze, Fragonard, Houin were
reduced to indigence. Prud'hon could barely earn bread for his wife and
children by drawing subjects which Copia reproduced in stippled
engravings. The patriot painters Hennequin, Wicar, Topino-Lebrun were
starving. Gamelin, without means to meet the expenses of a picture, to
hire a model or buy colours, abandoned his vast canvas of "The Tyrant
pursued in the Infernal Regions by the Furies", after barely sketching
in the main outlines. It blocked up half the studio with its
half-finished, threatening shapes, greater than life-size, and its vast
brood of green snakes, each darting forth two sharp, forked tongues. In
the foreground, to the left, could be discerned Charon in his boat, a
haggard, wild-looking figure,--a powerful and well conceived design, but
of the schools, schooly. There was far more of genius and less of
artificiality in a canvas of smaller dimensions, also unfinished, that
hung in the best lighted corner of the studio. It was an Orestes whom
his sister Electra was raising in her arms on his bed of pain. The
maiden was putting back with a moving tenderness the matted hair that
hung over her brother's eyes. The head of the hero was tragic and fine,
and you could see a likeness in it to the painter's own countenance.
Gamelin cast many a mournful look at this composition; sometimes his
fingers itched with the craving to be at work on it, and his arms would
be stretched longingly towards the boldly sketched figure of Electra, to
fall back again helpless to his sides. The artist was burning with
enthusiasm, his soul aspired to great achievements. But he had to
exhaust his energy on pot-boilers which he executed indifferently,
because he was bound to please the taste of the vulgar and also because
he had no skill to impress trivial things with the seal of genius. He
drew little allegorical compositions which his comrade Desmahis engraved
cleverly enough in black or in colours and which were bought at a low
figure by a print-dealer in the Rue Honoré, the "citoyen" Blaise. But
the trade was going from bad to worse, declared Blaise, who for some
time now had declined to purchase anything.
This time, however, made inventive by necessity, Gamelin had conceived a
new and happy thought, as "he" at any rate believed,--an idea that was
to make the print-seller's fortune, and the engraver's and his own to
boot. This was a "patriotic" pack of cards, where for the kings and
queens and knaves of the old style he meant to substitute figures of
Genius, of Liberty, of Equality and the like. He had already sketched
out all his designs, had finished several and was eager to pass on to
Desmahis such as were in a state to be engraved. The one he deemed the
most successful represented a soldier dressed in the three-cornered hat,
blue coat with red facings, yellow breeches and black gaiters of the
Volunteer, seated on a big drum, his feet on a pile of cannon-balls and
his musket between his knees. It was the "citizen of hearts" replacing
the "ci-devant" knave of hearts. For six months and more Gamelin had
been drawing soldiers with never-failing gusto. He had sold some of
these while the fit of martial enthusiasm lasted, while others hung on
the walls of the room, and five or six, water-colours, colour-washes and
chalks in two tints, lay about on the table and chairs. In the days of
July, '92, when in every open space rose platforms for enrolling
recruits, when all the taverns were gay with green leaves and resounded
to the shouts of "Vive la Nation! freedom or death!" Gamelin could not
cross the Pont-Neuf or pass the Hôtel de Ville without his heart beating
high at sight of the beflagged marquee in which magistrates in tricolour
scarves were inscribing the names of volunteers to the sound of the
"Marseillaise". But for him to join the Republic's armies would have
meant leaving his mother to starve.
Heralded by a grievous sound of puffing and panting the old "citoyenne",
Gamelin's widowed mother, entered the studio, hot, red and out of
breath, the National cockade hanging half unpinned in her cap and on the
point of falling out. She deposited her basket on a chair and still
standing, the better to get her breath, began to groan over the high
price of victuals.
A shopkeeper's wife till the death of her husband, a cutler in the Rue
de Grenelle-Saint-Germain, at the sign of the Ville de Châtellerault,
now reduced to poverty, the "citoyenne" Gamelin lived in seclusion,
keeping house for her son the painter. He was the elder of her two
children. As for her daughter Julie, at one time employed at a
fashionable milliner's in the Rue Honoré, the best thing was not to know
what had become of her, for it was ill saying the truth, that she had
emigrated with an aristocrat.
"Lord God!" sighed the "citoyenne", showing her son a loaf baked of
heavy dun-coloured dough, "bread is too dear for anything; the more
reason it should be made of pure wheat! At market neither eggs nor
green-stuff nor cheese to be had. By dint of eating chestnuts, we're
like to grow into chestnuts."
After a long pause, she began again:
"Why, I've seen women in the streets who had nothing to feed their
little ones with. The distress is sore among poor folks. And it will go
on the same till things are put back on a proper footing."
"Mother," broke in Gamelin with a frown, "the scarcity we suffer from is
due to the unprincipled buyers and speculators who starve the people and
connive with our foes over the border to render the Republic odious to
the citizens and to destroy liberty. This comes of the Brissotins' plots
and the traitorous dealings of your Pétions and Rolands. It is well if
the federalists in arms do not march on Paris and massacre the patriot
remnant whom famine is too slow in killing! There is no time to lose;
we must tax the price of flour and guillotine every man who speculates
in the food of the people, foments insurrection or palters with the
foreigner. The Convention has set up an extraordinary tribunal to try
conspirators. Patriots form the court; but will its members have energy
enough to defend the fatherland against our foes? There is hope in
Robespierre; he is virtuous. There is hope above all in Marat. He loves
the people, discerns its true interests and promotes them. He was ever
the first to unmask traitors, to baffle plots. He is incorruptible and
fearless. He, and he alone, can save the imperilled Republic."
The "citoyenne" Gamelin shook her head, paying no heed to the cockade
that fell out of her cap at the gesture.
"Have done, Évariste; your Marat is a man like another and no better
than the rest. You are young and your head is full of fancies. What you
say to-day of Marat, you said before of Mirabeau, of La Fayette, of
Pétion, of Brissot."
"Never!" cried Gamelin, who was genuinely oblivious.
After clearing one end of the deal table of the papers and books,
brushes and chalks that littered it, the "citoyenne" laid out on it the
earthenware soup-bowl, two tin porringers, two iron forks, the loaf of
brown bread and a jug of thin wine.
Mother and son ate the soup in silence and finished their meal with a
small scrap of bacon. The "citoyenne", putting "her" titbit on her
bread, used the point of her pocket knife to convey the pieces one by
one slowly and solemnly to her toothless jaws and masticated with a
proper reverence the victuals that had cost so dear.
She had left the best part on the dish for her son, who sat lost in a
"Eat, Évariste," she repeated at regular intervals, "eat,"--and on her
lips the word had all the solemnity of a religious commandment.
She began again with her lamentations on the dearness of provisions, and
again Gamelin demanded taxation as the only remedy for these evils.
But she shrilled:
"There is no money left in the country. The "émigrés" have carried it
all off with them. There is no confidence left either. Everything is
"Hush, mother, hush!" protested Gamelin. "What matter our privations,
our hardships of a moment? The Revolution will win for all time the
happiness of the human race."
The good dame sopped her bread in her wine; her mood grew more cheerful
and she smiled as her thoughts returned to her young days, when she used
to dance on the green in honour of the King's birthday. She well
remembered too the day when Joseph Gamelin, cutler by trade, had asked
her hand in marriage. And she told over, detail by detail, how things
had gone,--how her mother had bidden her: "Go dress. We are going to the
Place de Grève, to Monsieur Bienassis' shop, to see Damiens drawn and
quartered," and what difficulty they had to force their way through the
press of eager spectators. Presently, in Monsieur Bienassis' shop, she
had seen Joseph Gamelin, wearing his fine rose-pink coat and had known
in an instant what he would be at. All the time she sat at the window to
see the regicide torn with red-hot pincers, drenched with molten lead,
dragged at the tail of four horses and thrown into the flames, Joseph
Gamelin had stood behind her chair and had never once left off
complimenting her on her complexion, her hair and her figure.
She drained the last drop in her cup and continued her reminiscences of
"I brought you into the world, Évariste, sooner than I had expected, by
reason of a fright I had when I was big. It was on the Pont-Neuf, where
I came near being knocked down by a crowd of sightseers hurrying to
Monsieur de Lally's execution. You were so little at your birth the
surgeon thought you would not live. But I felt sure God would be
gracious to me and preserve your life. I reared you to the best of my
powers, grudging neither pains nor expense. It is fair to say, my
Évariste, that you showed me you were grateful and that, from childhood
up, you tried your best to recompense me for what I had done. You were
naturally affectionate and tender-hearted. Your sister was not bad at
heart; but she was selfish and of unbridled temper. Your compassion was
greater than ever was hers for the unfortunate. When the little
ragamuffins of the neighbourhood robbed birds' nests in the trees, you
always fought hard to rescue the nestlings from their hands and restore
them to the mother, and many a time you did not give in till after you
had been kicked and cuffed cruelly. At seven years of age, instead of
wrangling with bad boys, you would pace soberly along the street saying
over your catechism; and all the poor people you came across you
insisted on bringing home with you to relieve their needs, till I was
forced to whip you to break you of the habit. You could not see a living
creature suffer without tears. When you had done growing, you turned out
a very handsome lad. To my great surprise, you appeared not to know
it,--how different from most pretty boys, who are full of conceit and
vain of their good looks!"
His old mother spoke the truth. Évariste at twenty had had a grave and
charming cast of countenance, a beauty at once austere and feminine, the
countenance of a Minerva. Now his sombre eyes and pale cheeks revealed a
melancholy and passionate soul. But his gaze, when it fell on his
mother, recovered for a brief moment its childish softness.
She went on:
"You might have profited by your advantages to run after the girls, but
you preferred to stay with me in the shop, and I had sometimes to tell
you not to hang on always to my apron-strings, but to go and amuse
yourself with your young companions. To my dying day I shall always
testify that you have been a good son, Évariste. After your father's
death, you bravely took me and provided for me; though your work barely
pays you, you have never let me want for anything, and if we are at this
moment destitute and miserable, I cannot blame you for it. The fault
lies with the Revolution."
He raised his hand to protest; but she only shrugged and continued:
"I am no aristocrat. I have seen the great in the full tide of their
power, and I can bear witness that they abused their privileges. I have
seen your father cudgelled by the Duc de Canaleilles' lackeys because he
did not make way quick enough for their master. I could never abide "the
Austrian"--she was too haughty and too extravagant. As for the King, I
thought him good-hearted, and it needed his trial and condemnation to
alter my opinion. In fact, I do not regret the old régime,--though I
have had some agreeable times under it. But never tell me the Revolution
is going to establish equality, because men will never be equal; it is
an impossibility, and, let them turn the country upside down to their
heart's content, there will still be great and small, fat and lean in
As she talked, she was busy putting away the plates and dishes. The
painter had left off listening. He was thinking out a design,--for a
sansculotte, in red cap and "carmagnole", who was to supersede the
discredited knave of spades in his pack of cards.
There was a sound of scratching on the door, and a girl appeared,--a
country wench, as broad as she was long, red-haired and bandy-legged, a
wen hiding the left eye, the right so pale a blue it looked white, with
monstrous thick lips and teeth protruding beyond them.
She asked Gamelin if he was Gamelin the painter and if he could do her a
portrait of her betrothed, Ferrand (Jules), a volunteer serving with the
Army of the Ardennes.
Gamelin replied that he would be glad to execute the portrait on the
gallant warrior's return.
But the girl insisted gently but firmly that it must be done at once.
The painter protested, smiling in spite of himself as he pointed out
that he could do nothing without the original.
The poor creature was dumfounded; she had not foreseen the difficulty.
Her head drooping over the left shoulder, her hands clasped in front of
her, she stood still and silent as if overwhelmed by her disappointment.
Touched and diverted by so much simplicity, and by way of distracting
the poor, lovesick creature's grief, the painter handed her one of the
soldiers he had drawn in water-colours and asked her if he was like
that, her sweetheart in the Ardennes.
She bent her doleful look on the sketch, and little by little her eye
brightened, sparkled, flashed, and her moon face beamed out in a radiant
"It is his very likeness," she cried at last. "It is the very spit of
Jules Ferrand, it is Jules Ferrand to the life."
Before it occurred to the artist to take the sheet of paper out of her
hands, she folded it carefully with her coarse red fingers into a tiny
square, slipped it over her heart between her stays and her shift,
handed the painter an "assignat" for five livres, and wishing the
company a very good day, hobbled light-heartedly to the door and so out
of the room.
On the afternoon of the same day Évariste set out to see the "citoyen"
Jean Blaise, printseller, as well as dealer in ornamental boxes, fancy
goods and games of all sorts, in the Rue Honoré, opposite the Oratoire
and near the office of the Messageries, at the sign of the "Amour
peintre". The shop was on the ground floor of a house sixty years old,
and opened on the street by a vaulted arch the keystone of which bore a
grotesque head with horns. The semicircle beneath the arch was occupied
by an oil-painting representing "the Sicilian or Cupid the Painter,"
after a composition by Boucher, which Jean Blaise's father had put up in
1770 and which sun and rain had been doing their best to obliterate ever
since. On either side of the door a similar arched opening, with a
nymph's head on the keystone arch glazed with the largest panes to be
got, exhibited for the benefit of the public the prints in vogue at the
time and the latest novelties in coloured engravings. To-day's display
included a series of scenes of gallantry by Boilly, treated in his
graceful, rather stiff way, "Leçons d'amour conjugal", "Douces
résistances" and the like, which scandalized the Jacobins and which the
rigid moralists denounced to the Society of Arts, Debucourt's "Promenade
publique", with a dandy in canary-coloured breeches lounging on three
chairs, a group of horses by the young Carle Vernet, pictures of air
balloons, the "Bain de Virginie" and figures after the antique.
Amid the stream of citizens that flowed past the shop it was the
raggedest figures that loitered longest before the two fascinating
windows. Easily amused, delighting in pictures and bent on getting their
share, if only through the eyes, of the good things of this world, they
stood in open-mouthed admiration, whereas the aristocrats merely glanced
in, frowned and passed on.
The instant he came within sight of the house, Évariste fixed his eyes
on one of the row of windows above the shop, the one on the left hand,
where there was a red carnation in a flower-pot behind a balcony of
twisted ironwork. It was the window of Élodie's chamber, Jean Blaise's
daughter. The print-dealer lived with his only child on the first floor
of the house.
Évariste, after halting a moment as if to get his breath in front of the
"Amour peintre", turned the hasp of the shop-door. He found the
"citoyenne" Élodie within; she had just sold a couple of engravings by
Fragonard "fils" and Naigeon, carefully selected from a number of
others, and before locking up the "assignats" received in payment in the
strong-box, was holding them one after the other between her fine eyes
and the light, to scrutinize the delicate lines and intricate curves of
engraving and the watermark. She was naturally suspicious, for as much
forged paper was in circulation as true, which was a great hindrance to
commerce. As in former days, in the case of such as copied the King's
signature, forgers of the national currency were punished by death; yet
plates for printing "assignats" were to be found in every cellar, the
Swiss smuggled in counterfeits by the million, whole packets were put in
circulation in the inns, the English landed bales of them every day on
our coasts, to ruin the Republic's credit and bring good patriots to
destitution. Élodie was in terror of accepting bad paper, and still more
in terror of passing it and being treated as an accomplice of Pitt,
though she had a firm belief in her own good luck and felt pretty sure
of coming off best in any emergency.
Évariste looked at her with the sombre gaze that speaks more movingly of
love than the most smiling face. She returned his gaze with a mocking
curl of the lips and an arch gleam in the dark eyes,--an expression she
wore because she knew he loved her and liked to know it and because such
a look provokes a lover, makes him complain of ill-usage, brings him to
the speaking point, if he has not spoken already, which was Évariste's
Before depositing the "assignats" in the strong-box, she produced from
her work-basket a white scarf, which she had begun to embroider, and set
to work on it. At once industrious and a coquette, she knew
instinctively how to ply her needle so as to fascinate an admirer and
make a pretty thing for her wearing at one and the same time; she had
quite different ways of working according to the person watching her,--a
nonchalant way for those she would lull into a gentle languor, a
capricious way for those she was fain to see in a more or less
despairing mood. For Évariste, she bent with an air of painstaking
absorption over her scarf, for she wanted to stir a sentiment of serious
affection in his heart.
Élodie was neither very young nor very pretty. She might have been
deemed plain at the first glance. She was a brunette, with an olive
complexion; under the broad white kerchief knotted carelessly about her
head, from which the dark lustrous ringlets escaped, her eyes of fire
gleamed as if they would burn their orbits. Her round face with its
prominent cheek-bones, laughing lips and rather broad nose, that gave it
a wild-wood, voluptuous expression, reminded the painter of the faun of
the Borghese, a cast of which he had seen and been struck with
admiration for its freakish charm. A faint down of moustache accentuated
the curve of the full lips. A bosom that seemed big with love was
confined by a crossed kerchief in the fashion of the year. Her supple
waist, her active limbs, her whole vigorous body expressed in every
movement a wild, delicious freedom. Every glance, every breath, every
quiver of the warm flesh called for love and promised passion. There,
behind the tradesman's counter, she seemed rather a dancing nymph, a
bacchante of the opera, stripped of her lynx skin and thyrsus,
imprisoned, and travestied by a magician's spell under the modest
trappings of a housewife by Chardin.
"My father is not at home," she told the painter; "wait a little, he
will not be long."
In the small brown hands the needle travelled swiftly over the fine
"Is the pattern to your taste, Monsieur Gamelin?"
It was not in Gamelin's nature to pretend. And love, exaggerating his
confidence, encouraged him to speak quite frankly.
"You embroider cleverly, "citoyenne"; but, if I am to say what I think,
the pattern you have traced is not simple enough or bold enough, and
smacks of the affected taste that in France governed too long the
ornamentation of dress and furniture and woodwork; all those rosettes
and wreaths recall the pretty, finikin style that was in favour under
the tyrant. There is a new birth of taste. Alas! we have much leeway to
make up. In the days of the infamous Louis XV the art of decoration had
something Chinese about it. They made pot-bellied cabinets with drawer
handles grotesque in their contortions, good for nothing but to be
thrown on the fire to warm good patriots. Simplicity alone is beautiful.
We must hark back to the antique. David designs beds and chairs from the
Etruscan vases and the wall-paintings of Herculaneum."
"Yes, I have seen those beds and chairs," said Élodie, "they are lovely.
Soon we shall want no other sort. I am like you, I adore the antique."
"Well, then, "citoyenne"," returned Évariste, "if you had limited your
pattern to a Greek border, with ivy leaves, serpents or crossed arrows,
it would have been worthy of a Spartan maiden ... and of you. But you
can still keep this design by simplifying it, reducing it to the plain
lines of beauty."
She asked her preceptor what should be picked out.
He bent over the work, and the girl's ringlets swept lightly over his
cheek. Their hands met and their breaths mingled. For an instant
Évariste tasted an ecstatic bliss, but to feel Élodie's lips so close to
his own filled him with fear, and dreading to alarm her modesty, he drew
The "citoyenne" Blaise was in love with Évariste Gamelin; she thought
his great ardent eyes superb no less than the fine oval of his pale
face, and his abundant black locks, parted above the brow and falling
in showers about his shoulders; his gravity of demeanour, his cold
reserve, his severe manner and uncompromising speech which never
condescended to flattery, were equally to her liking. She was in love,
and therefore believed him possessed of supreme artistic genius that
would one day blossom forth in incomparable masterpieces and make his
name world-famous,--and she loved him the better for the belief. The
"citoyenne" Blaise was no prude on the score of masculine purity and her
scruples were not offended because a man should satisfy his passions and
follow his own tastes and caprices; she loved Évariste, who was
virtuous; she did not love him because he was virtuous, albeit she
appreciated the advantage of his being so in that she had no cause for
jealousy or suspicion or any fear of rivals in his affections.
Nevertheless, for the time being, she deemed his reserve a little
overdone. If Racine's "Aricie," who loved "Hippolyte," admired the
youthful hero's untameable virtue, it was with the hope of winning a
victory over it, and she would quickly have bewailed a sternness of
moral fibre that had refused to be softened for her sake. At the first
opportunity she more than half declared her passion to constrain him to
speak out himself. Like her prototype the tender-hearted "Aricie," the
"citoyenne" Blaise was much inclined to think that in love the woman is
bound to make the advances. "The fondest hearts," she told herself, "are
the most fearful; they need help and encouragement. Besides, they are so
simple a woman can go half way and even further without their even
knowing it, if only she lets them fancy the credit is theirs of the bold
attack and the glorious victory." What made her more confident of
success was the fact that she knew for a certainty (and indeed there was
no doubt about it) that Évariste, before ever the Revolution had made
him a hero, had loved a mistress like any ordinary mortal, a very
unheroic creature, no other than the "concierge" at the Academy of
Painting. Élodie, who was a girl of some experience, quite realised that
there are different sorts of love. The sentiment Évariste inspired in
her heart was profound enough for her to dream of making him the partner
of her life. She was very ready to marry him, but hardly expected her
father would approve the union of his only daughter with a poor and
unknown artist. Gamelin had nothing, while the printseller turned over
large sums of money. The "Amour peintre" brought him in large profits,
the share market larger still, and he was in partnership with an army
contractor who supplied the cavalry of the Republic with rushes in place
of hay and mildewed oats. In a word, the cutler's son of the Rue
Saint-Dominique was a very insignificant personage beside the publisher
of engravings, a man known throughout Europe, related to the Blaizots,
Basans and Didots, and an honoured guest at the houses of the "citoyens"
Saint-Pierre and Florian. Not that, as an obedient daughter should, she
held her father's consent to be an indispensable preliminary to her
settlement in life. The latter, early left a widower, and a man of a
self-indulgent, volatile temper, as enterprising with women as he was in
business, had never paid much heed to her and had left her to develop at
her own sweet will, untrammelled whether by parental advice or parental
affection, more careful to ignore than to safeguard the girl's
behaviour, whose passionate temperament he appreciated as a connoisseur
of the sex and in whom he recognized charms far and away more seductive
than a pretty face. Too generous-hearted to be circumspect, too clever
to come to harm, cautious even in her caprices, passion had never made
her forget the social proprieties. Her father was infinitely grateful
for this prudent behaviour, and as she had inherited from him a good
head for business and a taste for money-making, he never troubled
himself as to the mysterious reasons that deterred a girl so eminently
marriageable from entering that estate and kept her at home, where she
was as good as a housekeeper and four clerks to him. At twenty-seven she
felt old enough and experienced enough to manage her own concerns and
had no need to ask the advice or consult the wishes of a father still a
young man, and one of so easy-going and careless a temper. But for her
to marry Gamelin, Monsieur Blaise must needs contrive a future for a
son-in-law with such poor prospects, give him an interest in the
business, guarantee him regular work as he did to several artists
already--in fact, one way or another, provide him with a livelihood; and
such a favour was out of the question, she considered, whether for the
one to offer or the other to accept, so small was the bond of sympathy
between the two men.
The difficulty troubled the girl's tender heart and wise brain. She saw
nothing to alarm her in a secret union with her lover and in taking the
author of nature for sole witness of their mutual troth. Her creed found
nothing blameworthy in such a union, which the independence of her mode
of life made possible and which Évariste's honourable and virtuous
character gave her good hopes of forming without apprehension as to the
result. But Gamelin was hard put to it to live and provide his old
mother with the barest necessaries, and it did not seem as though in so
straitened an existence room could well be found for an amour even when
reduced to the simplicity of nature. Moreover, Évariste had not yet
spoken and declared his intentions, though certainly the "citoyenne"
Blaise hoped to bring him to this before long.
She broke off her meditations, and the needle stopped at the same
""Citoyen" Évariste," she said, "I shall not care for the scarf, unless
you like it too. Draw me a pattern, please. Meanwhile, I will copy
Penelope and unravel what I have done in your absence."
He answered in a tone of sombre enthusiasm:
"I promise you I will, "citoyenne". I will draw you the brand of the
tyrannicide Harmodius,--a sword in a wreath,"--and pulling out his
pencil, he sketched in a design of swords and flowers in the sober,
unadorned style he admired. And as he drew, he expounded his views of
"A regenerated People," he declared, "must repudiate all the legacies of
servitude, bad taste, bad outline, bad drawing. Watteau, Boucher,
Fragonard worked for tyrants and for slaves. Their works show no feeling
for good style or purity of line, no love of nature or truth. Masks,
dolls, fripperies, monkey-tricks,--nothing else! Posterity will despise
their frivolous productions. In a hundred years all Watteau's pictures
will be banished to the garrets and falling to pieces from neglect; in
1893 struggling painters will be daubing their studies over Boucher's
canvases. David has opened the way; he approaches the Antique, but he
has not yet reached true simplicity, true grandeur, bare and unadorned.
Our artists have many secrets still to learn from the friezes of
Herculaneum, the Roman bas-reliefs, the Etruscan vases."
He dilated at length on antique beauty, then came back to Fragonard,
whom he abused with inexhaustible venom:
"Do you know him, "citoyenne"?"
"You likewise know good old Greuze, who is ridiculous enough, to be
sure, with his scarlet coat and his sword. But he looks like a wise man
of Greece beside Fragonard. I met him, a while ago, the miserable old
man, trotting by under the arcades of the Palais-Égalité, powdered,
genteel, sprightly, spruce, hideous. At sight of him, I longed that,
failing Apollo, some sturdy friend of the arts might hang him up to a
tree and flay him alive like Marsyas as an everlasting warning to bad
Élodie gave him a long look out of her dancing, wanton eyes.
"You know how to hate, Monsieur Gamelin, are we to conclude you know
also how to lo...?"
"Is that you, Gamelin?" broke in a tenor voice; it was the "citoyen"
Blaise just come back to his shop. He advanced, boots creaking, charms
rattling, coat-skirts flying, an enormous black cocked hat on his head,
the corners of which touched his shoulders.
Élodie, picking up her work-basket, retreated to her chamber.
"Well, Gamelin!" inquired the "citoyen" Blaise, "have you brought me
"May be," declared the painter,--and proceeded to expound his ideas.
"Our playing cards present a grievous and startling contrast with our
present ways of thinking. The names of knave and king offend the ears of
a patriot. I have designed and executed a reformed, Revolutionary pack
in which for kings, queens, and knaves are substituted Liberties,
Equalities, Fraternities; the aces in a border of fasces, are called
Laws.... You call Liberty of clubs, Equality of spades, Fraternity of
diamonds, Law of hearts. I venture to think my cards are drawn with some
spirit; I propose to have them engraved on copper by Desmahis, and to
take out letters of patent."
So saying and extracting from his portfolio some finished designs in
water-colour, the artist handed them to the printseller.
The "citoyen" Blaise declined to take them, and turning away:
"My lad," he sneered, "take 'em to the Convention; they will perhaps
accord you a vote of thanks. But never think to make a "sol" by your new
invention which is not new at all. You're a day behind the fair. Your
Revolutionary pack of cards is the third I've had brought me. Your
comrade Dugourc offered me last week a picquet set with four Geniuses of
the People, four Liberties, four Equalities. Another was suggested, with
Sages and Heroes, Cato, Rousseau, Hannibal,--I don't know what all!...
And these cards had the advantage over yours, my friend, in being
coarsely drawn and cut on wood blocks--with a penknife. How little you
know the world to dream that players will use cards designed in the
taste of David and engraved à la Bartolozzi! And then again, what a
strange mistake to think it needs all this to-do to suit the old packs
to the new ideas. Out of their own heads, the good sansculottes can find
a corrective for what offends them, saying, instead of 'king'--'The
Tyrant!' or just 'The fat pig!' They go on using the same old filthy
cards and never buy new ones. The great market for playing-cards is the
gaming-hells of the Palais-Égalité; well, I advise you to go there and
offer the croupiers and punters there your Liberties, your Equalities,
your ... what d'ye call 'em?... Laws of hearts ... and come back and
tell me what sort of a reception they gave you!"
The "citoyen" Blaise sat down on the counter, filliped away sundry
grains of snuff from his nankeen breeches and looking at Gamelin with an
air of gentle pity:
"Let me give you a bit of advice, "citoyen"; if you want to make your
living, drop your patriotic packs of cards, leave your revolutionary
symbols alone, have done with your Hercules, your hydras, your Furies
pursuing guilt, your Geniuses of Liberty, and paint me pretty girls. The
people's ardour for regeneration grows lukewarm with time, but men will
always love women. Paint me women, all pink and white, with little feet
and tiny hands. And get this into your thick skull that nobody cares a
fig about the Revolution or wants to hear another word about it."
But Évariste drew himself up in indignant protest:
"What! not hear another word of the Revolution!... But, why surely, the
restoration of liberty, the victories of our armies, the chastisement of
tyrants are events that will startle the most remote posterity. How
could we not be struck by such portents?... What! the sect of the
"sansculotte" Jesus has lasted well-nigh eighteen centuries, and the
religion of Liberty is to be abolished after barely four years of
But Jean Blaise resumed in a tone of superiority:
"You walk in a dream; "I" see life as it is. Believe me, friend, the
Revolution is a bore; it lasts over long. Five years of enthusiasm, five
years of fraternal embraces, of massacres, of fine speeches, of
"Marseillaises", of tocsins, of 'hang up the aristocrats,' of heads
promenaded on pikes, of women mounted astride of cannon, of trees of
Liberty crowned with the red cap, of white-robed maidens and old men
drawn about the streets in flower-wreathed cars; of imprisonments and
guillotinings, of proclamations, and short commons, of cockades and
plumes, swords and "carmagnoles"--it grows tedious! And then folk are
beginning to lose the hang of it all. We have gone through too much, we
have seen too many of the great men and noble patriots whom you have led
in triumph to the Capitol only to hurl them afterwards from the Tarpeian
rock,--Necker, Mirabeau, La Fayette, Bailly, Pétion, Manuel, and how
many others! How can we be sure you are not preparing the same fate for
your new heroes?... Men have lost all count."
"Their names, "citoyen" Blaise; name them, these heroes we are making
ready to sacrifice!" cried Gamelin in a tone that recalled the
print-dealer to a sense of prudence.
"I am a Republican and a patriot," he replied, clapping his hand on his
heart. "I am as good a Republican as you, as ardent a patriot as you,
"citoyen" Gamelin. I do not suspect your zeal nor accuse you of any
backsliding. But remember that my zeal and my devotion to the State are
attested by numerous acts. Here you have my principles: I give my
confidence to every individual competent to serve the Nation. Before the
men whom the general voice elects to the perilous honour of the
Legislative office, such as Marat, such as Robespierre, I bow my head; I
am ready to support them to the measure of my poor ability and offer
them the humble co-operation of a good citizen. The Committees can bear
witness to my ardour and self-sacrifice. In conjunction with true
patriots, I have furnished oats and fodder to our gallant cavalry, boots
for our soldiers. This very day I am despatching from Vernon a convoy of
sixty oxen to the Army of the South through a country infested with
brigands and patrolled by the emissaries of Pitt and Condé. I do not
talk; I act."
Gamelin calmly put back his sketches in his portfolio, the strings of
which he tied and then slipped it under his arm.
"It is a strange contradiction," he said through his clenched teeth, "to
see men help our soldiers to carry through the world the liberty they
betray in their own homes by sowing discontent and alarm in the soul of
its defenders.... Greeting and farewell, "citoyen" Blaise."
Before turning down the alley that runs alongside the Oratoire, Gamelin,
his heart big with love and anger, wheeled round for a last look at the
red carnations blossoming on a certain window-sill.
He did not despair; the fatherland would yet be saved. Against Jean
Blaise's unpatriotic speeches he set his faith in the Revolution. Still
he was bound to recognize that the tradesman had some show of reason
when he asserted that the people of Paris had lost its old interest in
public events. Alas! it was but too manifest that to the enthusiasm of
the early days had little by little succeeded a widespread indifference,
that never again would be seen the mighty crowds, unanimous in their
ardour, of '89, never again the millions, one in heart and soul, that in
'90 thronged round the altar of the "fédérés". Well, good citizens must
show double zeal and courage, must rouse the people from its apathy,
bidding it choose between liberty and death.
Such were Gamelin's thoughts, and the memory of Élodie was a spur to his
Coming to the Quais, he saw the sun setting in the distant west behind
lowering clouds that were like mountains of glowing lava; the roofs of
the city were bathed in a golden light; the windows flashed back a
thousand dazzling reflections. And Gamelin pictured the Titans forging
out of the molten fragments of by-gone worlds Diké, the city of brass.
Not having a morsel of bread for his mother or himself, he was dreaming
of a place at the limitless board that should have all the world for
guests and welcome regenerated humanity to the feast. Meantime, he tried
to persuade himself that the fatherland, as a good mother should, would
feed her faithful child. Shutting his mind against the gibes of the
printseller, he forced himself to believe that his notion of a
Revolutionary pack of cards was a novel one and a good one, and that
with these happily conceived sketches of his he held a fortune in the
portfolio under his arm. "Desmahis," he told himself, "shall engrave
them. We will publish for ourselves the new patriotic toy and we are
sure to sell ten thousand packs in a month, at twenty "sols" apiece."
In his impatience to realize the project, he strode off at once for the
Quai de la Ferraille, where Desmahis lived over a glazier's shop.
The entrance was through the shop. The glazier's wife informed Gamelin
that the "citoyen" Desmahis was not in, a fact that in no wise surprised
the painter, who knew his friend was of a vagabond and dissipated humour
and who marvelled that a man could engrave so much and so well as he did
while showing so little perseverance. Gamelin made up his mind to wait a
while for his return and the woman offered him a chair. She was in a
black mood and began to grumble at the badness of trade, though she had
always been told that the Revolution, by breaking windows, was making
the glaziers' fortunes.
Night was falling; so abandoning his idea of waiting for his comrade,
Gamelin took his leave of his hostess of the moment. As he was crossing
the Pont-Neuf, he saw a detachment of National Guards debouch from the
Quai des Morfondus. They were mounted and carried torches. They were
driving back the crowd, and amid a mighty clatter of sabres escorting a
cart driving slowly on its way to the guillotine with a man whose name
no one knew, a "ci-devant" noble, the first prisoner condemned by the
newly constituted Revolutionary Tribunal. He could be seen by glimpses
between the guardsmen's hats, sitting with hands tied behind his back,
his head bared and swaying from side to side, his face to the cart's
tail. The headsman stood beside him lolling against the rail. The
passers-by had stopped to look and were telling each other it was likely
one of the fellows who starved the people, and staring with eyes of
indifference. Gamelin, coming closer, caught sight of Desmahis among the
spectators; he was struggling to push a way through the press and cut
across the line of march. He called out to him and clapped a hand on his
shoulder,--and Desmahis turned his head. He was a young man with a
handsome face and a stalwart person. In former days, at the Academy,
they used to say he had the head of Bacchus on the torso of Hercules.
His friends nicknamed him "Barbaroux" because of his likeness to that
representative of the people.
"Come here," Gamelin said to him, "I have something of importance to say
to you, Desmahis."
"Leave me alone," the latter answered peevishly, muttering some
half-heard explanation, looking out as he spoke for a chance of darting
"I was following a divine creature, in a straw hat, a milliner's wench,
with her flaxen hair down her back; that cursed cart has blocked my
way.... She has gone on ahead, she is at the other end of the bridge by
Gamelin endeavoured to hold him back by his coat skirts, swearing his
business was urgent.
But Desmahis had already slipped away between horses, guards, swords and
torches, and was in hot pursuit of the milliner's girl.
It was ten o'clock in the forenoon. The April sun bathed the tender
leafage of the trees in light. A storm had cleared the air during the
night and it was deliciously fresh and sweet. At long intervals a
horseman passing along the Allée des Veuves broke the silence and
solitude. On the outskirts of the shady avenue, over against a rustic
cottage known as "La Belle Lilloise", Évariste sat on a wooden bench
waiting for Élodie. Since the day their fingers had met over the
embroidery and their breaths had mingled, he had never been back to the
"Amour peintre". For a whole week his proud stoicism and his timidity,
which grew more extreme every day, had kept him away from Élodie. He had
written her a letter conceived in a key of gravity, at once sombre and
ardent, in which, explaining the grievance he had against the "citoyen"
Blaise, but saying no word of his love and concealing his chagrin, he
announced his intention of never returning to her father's shop, and was
now showing greater steadfastness in keeping this resolution than a
woman in love was quite likely to approve.
A born fighter whose bent was to defend her property under all
circumstances, Élodie instantly turned her mind to the task of winning
back her lover. At first she thought of going to see him at the studio
in the Place de Thionville. But knowing his touchy temper and judging
from his letter that he was sick and sore, she feared he might come to
regard daughter and father with the same angry displeasure and make a
point of never seeing her again; so she deemed it wiser to invite him to
a sentimental, romantic rendezvous which he could not well decline,
where she would have ample time to cajole and charm him and where
solitude would be her ally to fascinate his senses and overcome his
At this period, in all the English gardens and all the fashionable
promenades, rustic cottages were to be found, built by clever
architects, whose aim it was to flatter the taste of the city folk for a
country life. The "Belle Lilloise" was occupied as a house of light
refreshment; its exterior bore a look of poverty that was part of the
"mise en scène" and it stood on the fragments, artistically imitated, of
a fallen tower, so as to unite with the charm of rusticity the
melancholy appeal of a ruined castle. Moreover, as though a peasant's
cot and a shattered donjon were not enough to stir the sensibilities of
his customers, the owner had raised a tomb beneath a weeping-willow,--a
column surmounted by a funeral urn and bearing the inscription:
"Cléonice to her faithful Azor." Rustic cots, ruined keeps, imitation
tombs,--on the eve of being swept away, the aristocracy had erected in
its ancestral parks these symbols of poverty, of decadence and of death.
And now the patriot citizen found his delight in drinking, dancing,
making love in sham hovels, under the broken vaults, a sham in their
very ruin, of sham cloisters and surrounded by a sham graveyard; for was
not he too, like his betters, a lover of nature, a disciple of
Jean-Jacques? was not his heart stuffed as full as theirs with
sensibility and the philosophy of humanity?
Reaching the rendezvous before the appointed time, Évariste waited,
measuring the minutes by the beating of his heart as by the pendulum of
a clock. A patrol passed, guarding a convoy of prisoners. Ten minutes
after a woman dressed all in pink, carrying a bouquet as the fashion
was, escorted by a gentleman in a three-cornered hat, red coat, striped
waistcoat and breeches, slipped into the cottage, both so very like the
gallants and dames of the ancien régime one was bound to think with the
"citoyen" Blaise that mankind possesses characteristics Revolutions
A few minutes later, coming from Rueil or Saint-Cloud, an old woman
carrying a cylindrical box, painted in brilliant colours, arrived and
sat down beside Gamelin, on his bench. She put down her box in front of
her, and he saw that the lid had a turning needle fixed on it; the poor
woman's trade was to hold a lottery in the public gardens for the
children to try their luck at. She also dealt in "ladies' pleasures," an
old-fashioned sweetmeat which she sold under a new name; whether because
the time-honoured title of "forget-me-nots" called up inappropriate
ideas of unhappiness and retribution or that folks had just got tired of
it in course of time, "forget-me-nots" were now yclept "ladies'
The old dame wiped the sweat from her forehead with a corner of her
apron and broke out into railings against heaven, upbraiding God for
injustice when he made life so hard for his creatures. Her husband kept
a tavern on the river-bank at Saint-Cloud, while she came in every day
to the Champs Élysées, sounding her rattle and crying: ""Ladies'
pleasures", come buy, come buy!" And with all this toil the old couple
could not scrape enough together to end their days in comfort.
Seeing the young man beside her disposed to commiserate with her, she
expounded at great length the origin of her misfortunes. It was all the
Republic; by robbing the rich, it was taking the bread out of poor
people's mouths. And there was no hoping for a better state of affairs.
Things would only go from bad to worse,--she knew that from many tokens.
At Nanterre a woman had had a baby born with a serpent's head; the
lightning had struck the church at Rueil and melted the cross on the
steeple; a were-wolf had been seen in the woods of Chaville. Masked men
were poisoning the springs and throwing plague powders in the air to
Évariste saw Élodie spring from a carriage and run forward. The girl's
eyes flashed in the clear shadow cast by her straw hat; her lips, as red
as the carnations she held in her hand, were wreathed in smiles. A scarf
of black silk, crossed over the bosom, was knotted behind the back. Her
yellow gown displayed the quick movements of the knees and showed a pair
of low-heeled shoes below the hem. The hips were almost entirely
unconfined; the Revolution had enfranchised the waists of its
"citoyennes". For all that, the skirts, still puffed out below the
loins, marked the curves by exaggerating them and veiled the reality
beneath an artificial amplitude of outline.
He tried to speak but could not find his voice, and was chagrined at his
failure, which Élodie preferred to the most eloquent greeting. She
noticed also and looked upon it as a good omen, that he had tied his
cravat with more than usual pains.
She gave him her hand.
"I wanted to see you," she began, "and talk to you. I did not answer
your letter; I did not like it and I did not think it worthy of you. It
would have been more to my taste if it had been more outspoken. It would
be to malign your character and common sense to suppose you do not mean
to return to the "Amour peintre" because you had a trifling altercation
there about politics with a man many years your senior. Rest assured you
have no cause to fear my father will receive you ill whenever you come
to see us again. You do not know him; he has forgotten both what he said
to you and what you said in reply. I do not say there is any great bond
of sympathy between you two; but he bears no malice; I tell you frankly
he pays no great heed to you ... nor to me. He thinks only of his own
affairs and his own pleasures."
She stepped towards the shrubberies surrounding the "Belle Lilloise",
and he followed her with something of repugnance, knowing it to be the
trysting-place of mercenary lovers and amours of a day. She selected the
table furthest out of sight.
"How many things I have to tell you, Évariste. Friendship has its
rights; you do not forbid me to exercise them? I have much to say about
you ... and something about myself, if you will let me."
The landlord having brought a carafe of lemonade, she filled their
glasses herself with the air of a careful housewife; then she began to
tell him about her childhood, described her mother's beauty, which she
loved to dilate upon both as a tribute to the latter's memory and as
the source of her own good looks, and boasted of her grandparents'
sturdy vigour, for she was proud of her bourgeois blood. She related how
at sixteen she had lost this mother she adored and had entered on a life
without anyone to love or rely upon. She painted herself as she was, a
vehement, passionate nature, full of sensibility and courage, and
"Oh, Évariste, my girlhood was so sad and lonely I cannot but know what
a prize is a heart like yours, and I will not surrender, I give you fair
warning, of my own free will and without an effort to retain it, a
sympathy on which I trusted I might count and which I held dear."
Évariste gazed at her tenderly.
"Can it be, Élodie, that I am not indifferent to you? Can I really
He broke off, fearing to say too much and thereby betray so trusting a
She gave him a little confiding hand that half-peeped out of the long
narrow sleeve with its lace frillings. Her bosom rose and fell in
"Credit me, Évariste, with all the sentiments you would have me feel for
you, and you will not be mistaken in the dispositions of my heart."
"Élodie, Élodie, you say that? will you still say it when you know
She dropped her eyes; and he finished the sentence in a whisper:
"... when you know I love you?"
As she heard the declaration, she blushed,--with pleasure. Yet, while
her eyes still spoke of a tender ecstasy, a quizzical smile flickered in
spite of herself about one corner of her lips. She was thinking:
"And he imagines he proposed first!... and he is afraid perhaps of
Then she said to him fondly:
"So you had never seen, dear heart, that I loved you?"
They seemed to themselves to be alone, the only two beings in the
universe. In his exaltation, Évariste raised his eyes to the firmament
flashing with blue and gold:
"See, the sky is looking down at us! It is benign; it is adorable, as
you are, beloved; it has your brightness, your gentleness, your smile."
He felt himself one with all nature, it formed part and parcel of his
joy and triumph. To his eyes, it was to celebrate his betrothal that the
chestnut blossoms lit their flaming candles, the poplars burned aloft
like giant torches.
He exulted in his strength and stature. She, with her softer as well as
finer nature, more pliable and more malleable, rejoiced in her very
weakness and, his subjection once secured, instantly bowed to his
ascendancy; now she had brought him under her slavery, she acknowledged
him for the master, the hero, the god, burned to obey, to admire, to
offer her homage. In the shade of the shrubbery he gave her a long,
ardent kiss, which she received with head thrown back and, clasped in
Évariste's arms, felt all her flesh melt like wax.
They went on talking a long time of themselves, forgetful of the
universe. Évariste abounded mainly in vague, high thoughts, which filled
Élodie with ecstasy. She spoke sweetly of things of practical utility
and personal interest. Then, presently, when she felt she could stay no
longer, she rose with a decided air, gave her lover the three red
carnations from the flower in her balcony and sprang lightly into the
cabriolet in which she had driven there. It was a hired carriage,
painted yellow, hung on very high wheels and certainly had nothing out
of the common about it, or the coachman either. But Gamelin was not in
the habit of hiring carriages and his friends were hardly more used to
such an indulgence. To see the great wheels whirling her away gave him a
strange pang and a painful presentiment assailed him; by a sort of
hallucination of the mind, the hack horse seemed to be carrying Élodie
away from him beyond the bounds of the actual world and present time
towards a city of wealth and pleasure, towards abodes of luxury and
enjoyment, which he would never be able to enter.
The carriage disappeared. Évariste recovered his calm by degrees; but a
dull anguish remained and he felt that the hours of tender abandonment
he had just lived would never be his again.
He returned by the Champs Élysées, where women in light summer dresses
were sitting on wooden chairs, talking or sewing, while their children
played under the trees. A woman selling "ladies' pleasures,"--"her" box
was shaped like a drum--reminded him of the one he had spoken to in the
Allée des Veuves, and it seemed as if a whole epoch of his life had
elapsed between the two encounters. He crossed the Place de la
Révolution. In the Tuileries gardens he caught the distant roar of a
host of men, a sound of many voices shouting in accord, so familiar in
those great days of popular enthusiasm which the enemies of the
Revolution declared would never dawn again. He quickened his pace as the
noise grew louder and louder, reached the Rue Honoré and found it
thronged with a crowd of men and women yelling: "Vive la République!
Vive la Liberté!" The walls of the gardens, the windows, the balconies,
the very roofs were black with lookers-on waving hats and handkerchiefs.
Preceded by a sapper, who cleared a way for the procession, surrounded
by Municipal Officers, National Guards, gunners, gendarmes, huzzars,
advanced slowly, high above the backs of the citizens, a man of a
bilious complexion, a wreath of oak-leaves about his brow, his body
wrapped in an old green surtout with an ermine collar. The women threw
him flowers, while he cast about him the piercing glance of his
jaundiced eyes, as though, in this enthusiastic multitude he was still
searching out enemies of the people to denounce, traitors to punish. As
he went by, Gamelin bent his head and joining his voice to a hundred
thousand others, shouted his:
The triumphant hero entered the Hall of the Convention like Fate
personified. While the crowd slowly dispersed Gamelin sat on a stone
post in the Rue Honoré and pressed his hand over his heart to check its
wild beating. What he had seen filled him with high emotion and burning
He loved and worshipped Marat, who, sick and fevered, his veins on fire,
eaten up by ulcers, was wearing out the last remnants of his strength in
the service of the Republic, and in his own poor house, closed to no
man, welcomed him with open arms, conversed eagerly with him of public
affairs, questioned him sometimes on the machinations of evil-doers. He
rejoiced that the enemies of "the Just", conspiring for his ruin, had
prepared his triumph; he blessed the Revolutionary Tribunal, which
acquitting the Friend of the People had given back to the Convention
the most zealous and most immaculate of its legislators. Again his eyes
could see the head racked with fever, garlanded with the civic crown,
the features instinct with virtuous pride and pitiless love, the worn,
ravaged, powerful face, the close-pressed lips, the broad chest, the
strong man dying by inches who, raised aloft in the living chariot of
his triumph, seemed to exhort his fellow-citizens: "Be ye like
me,--patriots to the death!"
The street was empty, darkening with the shadows of approaching night;
the lamplighter went by with his cresset, and Gamelin muttered to
"Yes, to the death!"
By nine in the morning Évariste reached the gardens of the Luxembourg,
to find Élodie already there seated on a bench waiting for him.
It was a month ago they had exchanged their vows and since then they had
seen each other every day, either at the "Amour peintre" or at the
studio in the Place de Thionville. Their meetings had been very tender,
but at the same time characterized by a certain reserve that checked
their expansiveness,--a reserve due to the staid and virtuous temper of
the lover, a theist and a good citizen, who, while ready to make his
beloved mistress his own before the law or with God alone for witness
according as circumstances demanded, would do nothing save publicly and
in the light of day. Élodie knew the resolution to be right and
honourable; but, despairing of a marriage that seemed impossible from
every point of view and loath to outrage the prejudices of society, she
contemplated in her inmost heart a liaison that could be kept a secret
till the lapse of time gave it sanction. She hoped one day to overcome
the scruples of a lover she could have wished less scrupulous, and
meantime, unwilling to postpone some necessary confidences as to the
past, she had asked him to meet her for a lover's talk in a lonely
corner of the gardens near the Carthusian Priory.
She threw him a tender look, took his hand frankly, invited him to share
the bench and speaking slowly and thoughtfully:
"I esteem you too well, Évariste, to hide anything from you. I believe
myself worthy of you; I should not be so were I not to tell you
everything. Hear me and be my judge. I have no act to reproach myself
with that is degrading or base, or even merely selfish. I have only been
weak and credulous.... Do not forget, dear Évariste, the difficult
circumstances in which I found myself. You know how it was with me; I
had lost my mother, my father, still a young man, thought only of his
own amusement and neglected me. I had a feeling heart, nature has
dowered me with a loving temper and a generous soul; it was true she had
not denied me a firm will and a sound judgment, but in those days what
ruled my conduct was passion, not reason. Alas! it would be the same
again to-day, if the two were not in harmony; I should be driven to give
myself to you, beloved, heart and soul, and for ever!"
She expressed herself in firm, well-balanced phrases. She had well
thought over what she would say, having long ago made up her mind to
this confession for several reasons--because she was naturally candid,
because she found pleasure in following Rousseau's example, and because,
as she told herself reasonably enough:
"One day Évariste must fathom a secret which is known to others as well
as myself. A frank avowal is best. It is unforced and therefore to my
credit, and only tells him what some time or other he would discover to
Soft-hearted as she was and amenable to nature's promptings, she did
not feel herself to be very much to blame, and this made her confession
the easier; besides which, she had no intention of telling more than was
"Ah!" she sighed, "why did I not know you, Évariste, in the days when I
was alone and forsaken?"
Gamelin had taken her request quite literally when Élodie asked him to
be her judge. Primed at once by nature and the education of books for
the exercise of domestic justice, he sat ready to receive Élodie's
As she still hesitated, he motioned to her to proceed. Then she began
speaking very simply:
"A young man, who with many defects of character combined some good
qualities, and only showed the latter, found me to his taste and courted
me with a perseverance that was surprising in such a case; he was in the
flower of his youth, full of charm and the idol of a bevy of charming
women who made no attempt to hide their adoration. It was not his good
looks nor even his brilliance that appealed to me.... He touched my
heart by the tokens of true love he gave me, and I do think he loved me
truly. He was tender, impassioned. I asked no pledge save of his heart,
and alas! his heart was fickle.... I blame no one but myself; it is my
confession I am making, not his. I lay nothing to his charge, for indeed
he is become a stranger to me. Ah! believe me, Évariste, I swear it, he
is no more to me than if he had never existed."
She had finished, but Gamelin vouchsafed no answer. He folded his arms,
a steadfast, sombre look settling in his eyes. His mistress and his
sister Julie were running together in his thoughts. Julie too had
hearkened to a lover; but, unlike, altogether unlike, he thought, the
unhappy Élodie, "she" had let him have his will and carry her off, not
misled by the promptings of a tender heart, but to enjoy, far from her
home and friends, the sweets of luxury and pleasure. He was a stern
moralist; he had condemned his sister and he was half inclined to
condemn his mistress.
Élodie resumed in a very pleading voice:
"I was full of Jean-Jacques' philosophy; I believed men were naturally
honest and honourable. My misfortune was to have encountered a lover who
was not formed in the school of nature and natural morality, and whom
social prejudice, ambition, self-love, a false point of honour had made
selfish and treacherous."
The words produced the effect she had calculated on. Gamelin's eyes
softened. He asked:
"Who was your seducer? Is he a man I know?"
"You do not know him."
"Tell me his name."
She had foreseen the question and was firmly resolved not to answer it.
She gave her reasons:
"Spare me, I beseech you. For your peace of mind as for my own, I have
already said too much."
Then, as he still pressed her:
"In the sacred name of our love, I refuse to tell you anything to give
you a definite notion of this stranger. I will not give your jealousy a
shape to feed on; I will not bring a harassing shadow between you and
me. I have not forgotten the man's name, but I will never let you know
Gamelin insisted on knowing the name of the seducer,--that was the word
he employed all through, for he felt no doubt Élodie had been seduced,
cajoled, trifled with. He could not so much as conceive any other
possibility,--that she had obeyed an overmastering desire, an
irresistible craving, listened to the tempter's voice in the shape of
her own flesh and blood; he could not find it credible that the fair
victim, a creature of hot passion and a fond heart, had offered herself
a willing sacrifice; to satisfy his ideal, she must needs have been
overborne by force or fraud, constrained by sheer violence, caught in
snares spread about her steps on every side. He questioned her in
guarded terms, but with a close, searching, embarrassing persistency. He
asked her how the liaison began, if it was long or short, tranquil or
troubled, under what circumstances it was broken off. And his enquiries
came back again and again to the means the fellow had used to cajole
her, as if these must surely have been extraordinary and unheard of. But
all his cross-examination was in vain. She kept her own counsel with a
gentle, deprecatory obstinacy, her lips tightly pressed together and
tears welling in her eyes.
Presently, however, Évariste having asked where the man was now, she
"He has left the Kingdom--France, I mean," she corrected herself in an
"An "émigré"!" ejaculated Gamelin.
She looked at him, speechless, at once reassured and disheartened to see
him create in his own mind a truth in accordance with his political
passions and of his own motion give his jealousy a Jacobin complexion.
In actual fact Élodie's lover was a little lawyer's clerk, a very pretty
lad, half Adonis, half guttersnipe, whom she had adored and the thought
of whom, though three years had gone by since, still thrilled her
nerves. Rich old women were his particular game, and he deserted Élodie
for a woman of the world of a certain age who could and did recompense
his merits. Having, after the abolition of offices, attained a post in
the Mairie of Paris, he was now a "sansculotte" dragoon and the
hanger-on of a "ci-devant" Countess.
"A noble! an "émigré"!" muttered Gamelin, whom she took good care not to
undeceive, never having been desirous he should know the whole truth.
"And he deserted you like a dastard?"
She nodded in answer. He clasped her to his heart:
"Dear victim of the vile corruption of monarchies, my love shall avenge
his villainy! Heaven grant, I may meet the scoundrel! I shall not fail
to know him!"
She turned away, at one and the same time saddened and smiling,--and
disappointed. She would fain have had him wiser in the lore of love,
with more of the natural man about him, more perhaps even of the brute.
She felt he forgave so readily only because his imagination was cold and
the secret she had revealed awoke in him none of the mental pictures
that torture sensuous natures,--in a word, that he saw her seduction
solely under a moral and social aspect.
They had risen, and while they walked up and down the shady avenues of
the gardens, he informed her that he only esteemed her the more because
she had suffered wrong, Élodie entertained no such high claims; however,
take him as he was, she loved him, and admired the brilliant artistic
genius she divined in him.
As they left the Luxembourg, they came upon crowds thronging the Rue de
l'Égalité and the whole neighbourhood of the Théâtre de la Nation. There
was nothing to surprise them in this; for several days great excitement
had prevailed in the most patriotic Sections; denunciations were rife
against the Orleans faction and the Brissotin plotters, who were
conspiring, it was said, to bring about the ruin of Paris and the
massacre of good Republicans. Gamelin himself a short time back had
signed a petition from the Commune demanding the expulsion of the
Just before passing under the arcade, joining the theatre to the
neighbouring house, they had to find their way through a group of
citizens "en carmagnole" who were listening to a harangue from a young
soldier mounted on the top of the gallery. He looked as beautiful as the
Eros of Praxiteles in his helmet of panther-skin. This fascinating
warrior was charging the People's Friend with indolence:
"Marat, you are asleep," he was crying, "and the federalists are forging
fetters to bind us."
Hardly had Élodie cast eyes on the orator before she turned rapidly to
Évariste and begged him to get her away. The crowd, she declared,
frightened her and she was afraid of fainting in the crush.
They parted in the Place de la Nation, swearing an oath of eternal
* * * * *
That same morning early the "citoyen" Brotteaux had made the "citoyenne"
Gamelin the magnificent present of a capon. It would have been an act of
indiscretion for him to mention how he had come by it; as a fact, he had
it of a "Dame de la Halle" at the Pointe Eustache for whom he sometimes
acted as amanuensis, and as everybody knows, these "Ladies of the
Market" cherished Royalist sympathies and were in correspondence with
the "émigrés". The "citoyenne" Gamelin had received the gift with
heartfelt gratitude. Such dainties were scarce ever seen then; victuals
grew dearer every day. The people feared a famine; the aristocrats, they
said, wished it, and the "corner" makers were at work to bring it about.
The "citoyen" Brotteaux, being invited to eat his share of the capon at
the midday dinner, appeared in due course and congratulated his hostess
on the rich aroma of cooking that assailed his nostrils. Indeed a noble
smell of rich, savoury broth filled the painter's studio.
"You are very obliging, sir," replied the good dame. "To prepare the
digestion for your capon, I have made a vegetable soup with a slice of
fat bacon and a big beef bone. There's nothing like a marrowbone, sir,
to give soup a flavour."
"The maxim does you honour, "citoyenne"," returned the old man. "And you
will be doing wisely to put back again to-morrow and the day after, all
the week, in fact, to put back again, I say, this precious bone in the
pot, which it will continue to flavour. The wise woman of Panzoust
always did so; she used to make a soup of green cabbages with a rind of
rusty bacon and an old "savorados". That is what in her country, which
is also mine, they call the medullary bone, the most tasty and most
succulent of all bones."
"This lady you speak of, sir," remarked the "citoyenne" Gamelin, "was
she not rather a saving soul, to make the same bone serve so many times
"Oh! she lived in a small way," explained Brotteaux, "she was poor,
albeit a prophetess."
At that moment, Évariste Gamelin returned, agitated by the confession he
had heard and determined to know who was Élodie's betrayer, to avenge at
one and the same time the Republic's wrong and his own on the miscreant.
After the usual greetings had been exchanged, the "citoyen" Brotteaux
resumed the thread of his discourse:
"It is seldom those who make a trade of foretelling the future grow
rich. Their impostures are too soon found out and their trickery renders
them odious. But indeed we should be bound to detest them much worse if
they prophesied truly. A man's life would be intolerable if he knew what
is to befall him. He would be aware of calamities to come and suffer
their pains in advance, while he would get no joy of present blessings
whose end he would foresee. Ignorance is a necessary condition of human
happiness, and it must be owned that in most cases we fulfil it well. We
know almost nothing about ourselves; absolutely nothing about our
neighbours. Ignorance constitutes our peace of mind; self-deception our
The "citoyenne" Gamelin set the soup on the table, said the Benedicite
and seated her son and her guest at the board. She stood up herself to
eat, declining the chair the "citoyen" Brotteaux offered her beside him;
she said she knew what good manners required of a woman.
Ten o'clock in the forenoon. Not a breath of wind. It was the hottest
July ever known. In the narrow Rue de Jérusalem a hundred or so citizens
of the Section were waiting in queue at the baker's door, under the eye
of four National Guards who stood at ease smoking their pipes.
The National Convention had decreed the "maximum",--and instantly corn
and flour had disappeared. Like the Israelites in the wilderness, the
Parisians had to rise before daybreak if they wished to eat. The crowd
was lined up, men, women and children tightly packed together, under a
sky of molten lead. The heat beat down on the rotting foulness of the
kennels and exaggerated the stench of unwashed, sweating humanity. All
were pushing, abusing their neighbours, exchanging looks fraught with
every sort of emotion one human being can feel for another,--dislike,
disgust, interest, attraction, indifference. Painful experience had
taught them there was not bread enough for everybody; so the late comers
were always trying to push forward, while those who lost ground
complained bitterly and indignantly and vainly claimed their rights.
Women shoved and elbowed savagely to keep their place or squeeze into a
better. When the press grew too intolerable, cries rose of "Stop pushing
there!" while each and all protested they could not help it--it was
someone else pushing them.
To obviate these daily scenes of disorder, the officials appointed by
the Section had conceived the notion of fastening a rope to the
shop-door which each applicant held in his proper order; but hands at
such close quarters "would" come in contact on the rope and a struggle
would result. Whoever lost hold could never recover it, while the
disappointed and the mischievously inclined sometimes cut the cord. In
the end the plan had to be abandoned.
On this occasion there was the usual suffocation and confusion. While
some swore they were dying, others indulged in jokes or loose remarks;
all abused the aristocrats and federalists, authors of all the misery.
When a dog ran by, wags hailed the beast as Pitt. More than once a loud
slap showed that some "citoyenne" in the line had resented with a
vigorous hand the insolence of a lewd admirer, while, pressed close
against her neighbour, a young servant girl, with eyes half shut and
mouth half open, stood sighing in a sort of trance. At any word, or
gesture, or attitude of a sort to provoke the sportive humour of the
coarse-minded populace, a knot of young libertines would strike up the
"Ça-ira" in chorus, regardless of the protests of an old Jacobin, highly
indignant to see a dirty meaning attached to a refrain expressive of the
Republican faith in a future of justice and happiness.
His ladder under his arm, a billsticker appeared to post up on a blank
wall facing the baker's a proclamation by the Commune apportioning the
rations of butcher's-meat. Passers-by halted to read the notice, still
sticky with paste. A cabbage vendor going by, basket on back, began
calling out in her loud cracked voice:
"They'm all gone, the purty oxen! best rake up the guts!"
Suddenly such an appalling stench of putrefaction rose from a sewer near
by that several people were turned sick; a woman was taken ill and
handed over in a fainting condition to a couple of National Guards, who
carried her off to a pump a few yards away. All held their noses, and
fell to growling and grumbling, exchanging conjectures each more ghastly
and alarming than the last. What was it? a dead animal buried
thereabouts, a dead fish, perhaps, put in for mischief's sake, or more
likely a victim of the September massacres, some noble or priest, left
to rot in a cellar.
"They buried them in cellars, eh?"
"They got rid of 'em anywhere and anyhow."
"It will be one of the Châtelet prisoners. On the 2nd I saw three
hundred in a heap on the Port au Change."
The Parisians dreaded the vengeance of these aristocrats who were like
to poison them with their dead bodies.
Évariste Gamelin joined the line; he was resolved to spare his old
mother the fatigues of the long wait. His neighbour, the "citoyen"
Brotteaux, went with him, calm and smiling, his Lucretius in the baggy
pocket of his plum-coloured coat.
The good old fellow enjoyed the scene, calling it a bit of low life
worthy the brush of a modern Teniers.
"These street-porters and goodwives," he declared, "are more amusing
than the Greeks and Romans our painters are so fond of nowadays. For my
part, I have always admired the Flemish style."
One fact he was too sensible and tactful to mention--that he had
himself owned a gallery of Dutch masters rivalled only by Monsieur de
Choiseul's in the number and excellence of the examples.
"Nothing is beautiful save the Antique," returned the painter, "and what
is inspired by it. Still, I grant you these low-life scenes by Teniers,
Jan Steen or Ostade are better stuff than the frills and furbelows of
Watteau, Boucher, or Van Loo; humanity is shown in an ugly light, but it
is not degraded as it is by a Baudouin or a Fragonard."
A hawker went by bawling:
""Bulletin of the Revolutionary Tribunal!"... list of the condemned!"
"One Revolutionary Tribunal is not enough," said Gamelin, "there should
be one in every town ... in every town, do I say?--nay, in every
village, in every hamlet. Fathers of families, citizens, one and all,
should constitute themselves judges. At a time when the enemy's cannon
is at her gates and the assassin's dagger at her throat, the Nation must
hold mercy to be parricide. What! Lyons, Marseilles, Bordeaux in
insurrection, Corsica in revolt, La Vendée on fire, Mayence and
Valenciennes in the hands of the Coalition, treason in the country, town
and camp, treason sitting on the very benches of the National
Convention, treason assisting, map in hand, at the council board of our
Commanders in the field!... The fatherland is in danger--and the
guillotine must save her!"
"I have no objection on principle to make to the guillotine," replied
Brotteaux. "Nature, my only mistress and my only instructress, certainly
offers me no suggestion to the effect that a man's life is of any value;
on the contrary, she teaches in all kinds of ways that it is of none.
The sole end and object of living beings seems to be to serve as food
for other beings destined to the same end. Murder is of natural right;
therefore, the penalty of death is lawful, on condition it is exercised
from no motives either of virtue or of justice, but by necessity or to
gain some profit thereby. However, I must have perverse instincts, for I
sicken to see blood flow, and this defect of character all my philosophy
has failed so far to correct."
"Republicans," answered Évariste, "are humane and full of feeling. It is
only despots hold the death penalty to be a necessary attribute of
authority. The sovereign people will do away with it one day.
Robespierre fought against it, and all good patriots were with him; the
law abolishing it cannot be too soon promulgated. But it will not have
to be applied till the last foe of the Republic has perished beneath the
sword of law and order."
Gamelin and Brotteaux had by this time a number of late comers behind
them and amongst these several women of the Section, including a
stalwart, handsome "tricoteuse", in head-kerchief and sabots, wearing a
sword in a shoulder belt, a pretty girl with a mop of golden hair and a
very tumbled neckerchief, and a young mother, pale and thin, giving the
breast to a sickly infant.
The child, which could get no milk, was screaming, but its voice was
weak and stifled by its sobs. Pitifully small, with a pallid, unhealthy
skin and inflamed eyes, the mother gazed at it with mingled anxiety and
"He is very young," observed Gamelin, turning to look at the unhappy
infant groaning just at his back, half stifled amid the crowd of new
"He is six months, poor love!... His father is with the army; he is one
of the men who drove back the Austrians at Condé. His name is Dumonteil
(Michel), a draper's assistant by trade. He enlisted at a booth they had
established in front of the Hôtel de Ville. Poor lad, he was all for
defending his country and seeing the world.... He writes telling me to
be patient. But pray, how am I to feed Paul (he's called Paul, you know)
when I can't feed myself?"
"Oh, dear!" exclaimed the pretty girl with the flaxen hair, "we've got
another hour before us yet, and to-night we shall have to repeat the
same ceremony over again at the grocer's. You risk your life to get
three eggs and a quarter of a pound of butter."
"Butter!" sighed the "citoyenne" Dumonteil, "why, it's three months
since I've seen a scrap!"
And a chorus of female voices rose, bewailing the scarcity and dearness
of provisions, cursing the "émigrés" and devoting to the guillotine the
Commissaries of Sections who were ready to give good-for-nothing minxes,
in return for unmentionable services, fat hens and four-pound loaves.
Alarming stories passed round of cattle drowned in the Seine, sacks of
flour emptied in the sewers, loaves of bread thrown into the
latrines.... It was all those Royalists, and Rolandists, and Brissotins,
who were starving the people, bent on exterminating every living thing
All of a sudden the pretty, fair-haired girl with the rumpled
neckerchief broke into shrieks as if her petticoats were afire. She was
shaking these violently and turning out her pockets, vociferating that
somebody had stolen her purse.
At news of the petty theft, a flood of indignation swept over this crowd
of poor folks, the same who had sacked the mansions of the Faubourg
Saint-Germain and invaded the Tuileries without appropriating the
smallest thing, artisans and housewives, who would have burned down the
Palace of Versailles with a light heart, but would have thought it a
dire disgrace if they had stolen the value of a pin. The young rakes
greeted the pretty girl's loss with some ribald jokes, that were
immediately drowned under a burst of public indignation. There was some
talk of instant execution--hanging the thief to the nearest lamp-post,
and an investigation was begun, where everyone spoke at once and nobody
would listen to a word of reason. The tall "tricoteuse", pointing her
finger at an old man, strongly suspected of being an unfrocked monk,
swore it was the "Capuchin" yonder who was the cut-purse. The crowd
believed her without further evidence and raised a shout of "Death!
The old man so unexpectedly exposed to the public vengeance was standing
very quietly and soberly just in front of the "citoyen" Brotteaux. He
had all the look, there was no denying it, of a "ci-devant" cleric. His
aspect was venerable, though the face was changed and drawn by the
terrors the poor man had suffered from the violence of the crowd and the
recollection of the September days that were still vivid in his
imagination. The fear depicted on his features stirred the suspicion of
the populace, which is always ready to believe that only the guilty
dread its judgments, as if the haste and recklessness with which it
pronounces them were not enough to terrify even the most innocent.
Brotteaux had made it a standing rule never to go against the popular
feeling of the moment, above all when it was manifestly illogical and
cruel, "because in that case," he would say, "the voice of the people
was the voice of God." But Brotteaux proved himself untrue to his
principles; he asseverated that the old man, whether he was a Capuchin
or not, could not have robbed the "citoyenne", having never gone near
her for one moment.
The crowd drew its own conclusion,--the individual who spoke up for the
thief was of course his accomplice, and stern measures were proposed to
deal with the two malefactors, and when Gamelin offered to guarantee
Brotteaux' honesty, the wisest heads suggested sending "him" along with
the two others to the Sectional headquarters.
But the pretty girl gave a cry of delight; she had found her purse
again. The statement was received with a storm of hisses, and she was
threatened with a public whipping,--like a Nun.
"Sir," said the ex-monk, addressing Brotteaux, "I thank you for having
spoken in my defence. My name is of no concern, but I had better tell
you what it is; I am called Louis de Longuemare. I am in truth a
Regular; but not a Capuchin, as those women would have it. There is the
widest difference; I am a monk of the Order of the Barnabites, which has
given Doctors and Saints without number to the Church. It is only a
half-truth to refer its origin to St. Charles Borromeo; we must account
as the true founder the Apostle St. Paul, whose cipher it bears on its
arms. I have been compelled to quit my cloister, now headquarters of the
Section du Pont-Neuf, and adopt a secular habit.
"Nay, Father," said Brotteaux, scrutinizing Monsieur de Longuemare's
frock, "your dress is token enough that you have not forsworn your
profession; to look at it, one might think you had reformed your Order
rather than forsaken it. It is your good heart makes you expose yourself
in these austere habiliments to the insults of a godless populace."
"Yet I cannot very well," replied the ex-monk, "wear a blue coat, like a
roisterer at a dance!"
"What I mention, Father, about your dress is by way of paying homage to
your character and putting you on your guard against the risks you run."
"On the contrary, sir, it would be much better to inspirit me to confess
my faith. For indeed, I am only too prone to fear danger. I have
abandoned my habit, sir, which is a sort of apostasy; I would fain not
have deserted, had it been possible, the House where God granted me for
so many years the grace of a peaceable and retired life. I got leave to
stay there, and I still continued to occupy my cell, while they turned
the church and cloister into a sort of petty "hôtel de ville" they
called the Section. I saw, sir, I saw them hack away the emblems of the
Holy Verity; I saw the name of the Apostle Paul replaced by a convicted
felon's cap. Sometimes I was actually present at the confabulations of
the Section, where I heard amazing errors propounded. At last I quitted
this place of profanation and went to live on the pension of a hundred
pistoles allowed me by the Assembly in a stable that stood empty, the
horses having been requisitioned for the service of the armies. There I
sing Mass for a few of the faithful, who come to the office to bear
witness to the eternity of the Church of Jesus Christ."
"For my part, Father," replied the other, "if you care to know my name,
I am called Brotteaux, and I was a publican in former days."
"Sir," returned the Père Longuemare, "I was aware by St. Matthew's
example that one may look for good counsel from a publican."
"Father, you are too obliging."
""Citoyen" Brotteaux," remarked Gamelin, "pray admire the virtues of the
people, more hungry for justice than for bread; consider how everyone
here is ready to lose his place to chastise the thief. These men and
women, victims of such poverty and privation, are of so stern a probity
they cannot tolerate a dishonest act."
"It must indeed be owned," replied Brotteaux, "that in their hearty
desire to hang the pilferer, these folks were like to do a mischief to
this good cleric, to his champion and to his champion's champion. Their
avarice itself and their selfish eagerness to safeguard their own
welfare were motives enough; the thief in attacking one of them
threatened all; self-preservation urged them to punish him.... At the
same time, it is like enough the most part of these workmen and
goodwives are honest and keep their hands off other folk's goods. From
the cradle these sentiments have been instilled in them by their father
and mother, who have whipped them well and soundly and inculcated the
virtues through their backside."
Gamelin did not conceal the fact from his old neighbour that he deemed
such language unworthy of a philosopher.
"Virtue," said he, "is natural to mankind; God has planted the seed of
it in the heart of mortals."
Old Brotteaux was a sceptic and found in his atheism an abundant source
"I see this much, "citoyen" Gamelin, that, while a Revolutionary for
what is of this world, you are, where Heaven is concerned, of a
conservative, or even a reactionary temper. Robespierre and Marat are
the same to you. For me, I find it strange that Frenchmen, who will not
put up with a mortal king any longer, insist on retaining an immortal
tyrant, far more despotic and ferocious. For what is the Bastille, or
even the "Chambre Ardente" beside Hellfire? Humanity models its gods
on its tyrants, and you, who reject the original, preserve the copy!"
"Oh! "citoyen!"" protested Gamelin, "are you not ashamed to hold such
language? how can you confound the dark divinities born of ignorance and
fear with the Author of Nature? Belief in a benevolent God is necessary
for morality. The Supreme Being is the source of all the virtues and a
man cannot be a Republican if he does not believe in God. Robespierre
knew this, who, as we all remember, had the bust of the philosopher
Helvétius removed from the Hall of the Jacobins, because he had taught
Frenchmen the lessons of slavery by preaching atheism.... I hope, at
least, "citoyen" Brotteaux, that, as soon as the Republic has
established the worship of Reason, you will not refuse your adhesion to
so wise a religion!"
"I love reason, but I am no fanatic in my love," was Brotteaux's answer.
"Reason is our guide and beacon-light; but when you have made a divinity
of it, it will blind you and instigate you to crime,"--and he proceeded
to develop his thesis, standing both feet in the kennel, as he had once
been used to perorate, seated in one of Baron d'Holbach's gilt
armchairs, which, as he was fond of saying, formed the basis of natural
"Jean Jacques Rousseau," he proceeded, "who was not without talents,
particularly in music, was a scampish fellow who professed to derive his
morality from Nature while all the time he got it from the dogmas of
Calvin. Nature teaches us to devour each other and gives us the example
of all the crimes and all the vices which the social state corrects or
conceals. We should love virtue; but it is well to know that this is
simply and solely a convenient expedient invented by men in order to
live comfortably together. What we call morality is merely a desperate
enterprise, a forlorn hope, on the part of our fellow creatures to
reverse the order of the universe, which is strife and murder, the blind
interplay of hostile forces. She destroys herself, and the more I think
of things, the more convinced I am that the universe is mad. Theologians
and philosophers, who make God the author of Nature and the architect of
the universe, show Him to us as illogical and ill-conditioned. They
declare Him benevolent, because they are afraid of Him, but they are
forced to admit that His acts are atrocious. They attribute a malignity
to him seldom to be found even in mankind. And that is how they get
human beings to adore Him. For our miserable race would never lavish
worship on just and benevolent deities from which they would have
nothing to fear; they would feel only a barren gratitude for their
benefits. Without purgatory and hell, your good God would be a mighty
"Sir," said the Père Longuemare, "do not talk of Nature; you do not know
what Nature is."
"Egad, I know it as well as you do, Father."
"You cannot know it, because you have not religion, and religion alone
teaches us what Nature is, wherein it is good, and how it has been made
evil. However, you must not expect me to answer you; God has vouchsafed
me, to refute your errors, neither eloquence nor force of intellect. I
should only be afraid, by my inadequate replies, of giving you occasion
to blaspheme and further reasons for hardening your heart. I feel a
strong desire to help you; yet the sole fruit of my importunate efforts
would be to...."
The discussion was cut short by a tremendous shout coming from the head
of the column to warn the whole regiment of famished citizens that the
baker was opening his doors. The line began to push forward, but very,
very slowly. A National Guard on duty admitted the purchasers one by
one. The baker, his wife and boy presided over the sale, assisted by two
Civil Commissaries. These, wearing a tricoloured riband round the left
arm, saw that the customers belonged to the Section and were given their
proper share in proportion to the number of mouths to be filled.
The "citoyen" Brotteaux made the quest of pleasure the one and only aim
of life, holding that the reason and the senses, the sole judges when
gods there were none, were unable to conceive any other. Accordingly,
finding the painter's remarks somewhat overfull of fanaticism, and the
Monk's of simplicity, to please his taste, this wise man, bent on
squaring his behaviour with his views and relieving the tedium of
waiting, drew from the bulging pocket of his plum-coloured coat his
Lucretius, now as always his chiefest solace and faithful comforter. The
binding of red morocco was chafed by hard wear, and the "citoyen"
Brotteaux had judiciously erased the coat of arms that once embellished
it,--three islets or, which his father the financier had bought for
good money down. He opened the book at the passage where the poet
philosopher, who is for curing men of the futile and mischievous passion
of love, surprises a woman in the arms of her serving-women in a state
bound to offend all a lover's susceptibilities. The "citoyen" Brotteaux
read the lines, though not without casting a surreptitious glance at the
golden pate of the pretty girl in front of him and enjoying a sniff of
the heady perfume of the little slut's hot skin. The poet Lucretius was
a wise man, but he had only one string to his bow; his disciple
Brotteaux had several.
So he read on, taking two steps forward every quarter of an hour. His
ear, soothed by the grave and cadenced numbers of the Latin Muse, was
deaf to the women's scolding about the monstrous prices of bread and
sugar and coffee, candles and soap. In this calm and unruffled mood he
reached the threshold of the bakehouse. Behind him, Évariste Gamelin
could see over his head the gilt cornsheaf surmounting the iron grating
that filled the fanlight over the door.
When his turn came to enter the shop, he found the hampers and lockers
already emptied; the baker handed him the only scrap of bread left,
which did not weigh two pounds. Évariste paid his money, and the gate
was slammed on his heels, for fear of a riot and the people carrying the
place by storm.
But there was no need to fear; these poor folks, trained to obedience
alike by their old-time oppressors and by their liberators of to-day,
slunk off with drooping heads and dragging feet.
As he reached the corner of the street, Gamelin caught sight of the
"citoyenne" Dumonteil, seated on a stone post, her nursling in her
arms. She sat there quite still; her face was colourless and her
tearless eyes seemed to see nothing. The infant was sucking her finger
voraciously. Gamelin stood a while in front of her, abashed and
uncertain what to do. She did not appear to see him.
He stammered something, then pulled out his pocket-knife, a clasp-knife
with a horn handle, cut his loaf in two and laid half on the young
mother's knee. She looked up at him in wonder; but he had already turned
the corner of the street.
On reaching home, Évariste found his mother sitting at the window
darning stockings. With a light laugh he put his half of the bread in
"You must forgive me, mother dear; I was tired out with standing about
and exhausted by the heat, and out in the street there as I trudged
home, mouthful by mouthful I have gobbled up half of our allowance.
There's barely your share left,"--and as he spoke, he made a pretence of
shaking the crumbs off his jacket.
 "Chambre Ardente",--under the ancien régime, a tribunal charged with
the investigation of heinous crimes and having power to burn those found
Employing a very old-fashioned locution, the "citoyenne" Gamelin had
declared: "that by dint of eating chestnuts they would be turning into
chestnuts." As a matter of fact, on that day, the 13th July, she and her
son had made their midday dinner on a basin of chestnut porridge. As
they were finishing this austere repast, a lady pushed open the door and
the room was flooded in an instant with the splendour of her presence
and the fragrance of her perfumes. Évariste recognised the "citoyenne"
Rochemaure. Thinking she had mistaken the door and meant her visit for
the "citoyen" Brotteaux, her friend of other days, he was already
preparing to point her out the "ci-devant" aristocrat's garret or
perhaps summon Brotteaux and so spare an elegant woman the task of
scrambling up a mill-ladder; but she made it clear at once that the
"citoyen" Évariste Gamelin and no other was the person she had come to
see by announcing that she was happy to find him at home and was his
servant to command.
They were not entirely strangers to each other, having met more than
once in David's studio, in a box at the Assembly Hall, at the Jacobins,
at Venua's restaurant. On these occasions she had been struck by his
good looks and youth and interesting air.
Wearing a hat beribboned like a fairing and plumed like the head-piece
of a Representative on mission, the "citoyenne" Rochemaure was wigged,
painted, patched and scented. But her complexion was young and fresh
behind all these disguises; these extravagant artificialities of fashion
only betokened a frantic haste to enjoy life and the feverishness of
these dreadful days when the morrow was so uncertain. Her corsage, with
wide facings and enormous basques and all ablaze with huge steel
buttons, was blood-red, and it was hard to tell, so aristocratic and so
revolutionary at one and the same time was her array, whether it was the
colours of the victims or of the headsman that she sported. A young
officer, a dragoon, accompanied her.
Dandling her long cane by its handle of mother-o'-pearl, a tall, fine
woman, of generous proportions and ample bosom, she made the circuit of
the studio, and putting up to her grey eyes her double quizzing-glasses
of gold, examined the painter's canvases with many smiles and
exclamations of delight, admiring the handsome artist and flattering him
in hopes of a return in kind.
"What," asked the "citoyenne", "is that picture--it is so nobly
conceived, so touching--of a gentle, beautiful woman standing by a young
man lying sick?"
Gamelin told her it was meant to represent "Orestes tended by his sister
Electra", and that, had he been able to finish it, it might perhaps have
been the least unsatisfactory of his works.
"The subject," he went on to say, "is taken from the "Orestes" of
Euripides. I had read, in a translation of this tragedy made years ago,
a scene that filled me with admiration,--the one where the young
Electra, raising her brother on his bed of pain, wipes away the froth
that gathers on his lips, puts aside the locks that blind his eyes and
beseeches the brother she loves to hearken to what she will tell him
while the Furies are at peace for the moment.... As I read and re-read
this translation, I seemed to be aware of a kind of fog that shrouded
the forms of Greek perfection, a fog I could not drive away. I pictured
the original text to myself as more nervous and pitched in a different
accent. Feeling a keen desire to get a precise idea of the thing, I went
to Monsieur Gail, who was the Professor of Greek at the Collège de
France (this was in '91), and begged him to expound the scene to me word
by word. He did what I asked, and I then saw that the Ancients are much
more simple and homely than people think. Thus, for instance, Electra
says to Orestes: 'Dear brother, what joy it gave me to see thee sleep!
Shall I help thee to rise?' And Orestes answers: 'Yes, help me, take me
in thy arms, and wipe away the spume that still clings about my mouth
and eyes. Put thy bosom against mine and part from my brow my tangled
hair, for it blinds my eyes....' My mind still full of this poetry, so
young and vivid, ringing with these simple, strong phrases, I sketched
the picture you see there, "citoyenne"."
The painter, who, as a rule, spoke so sparingly of his works, waxed
eloquent on the subject of this one. At an encouraging gesture from the
"citoyenne" Rochemaure, who lifted her quizzing-glasses in token of
attention, he continued:
"Hennequin has depicted the madness of Orestes in masterly fashion. But
Orestes appeals to us still more poignantly in his sorrow than when he
is distraught. What a fate was his! It was filial piety, obedience to a
sacred obligation, drove him to commit his dreadful deed,--a sin the
gods cannot but pardon, but which men will never condone. To avenge
outraged justice, he has repudiated Nature, has made himself a monster,
has torn out his own heart. But his spirit remains unbroken under the
weight of his horrible, yet innocent crime.... That is what I would fain
have exhibited in my group of brother and sister." He stepped up to the
canvas and looked at it not without satisfaction.
"Parts of the picture," he said, "are pretty nearly finished; the head
and arm of Orestes, for instance."
"It is an admirable composition.... And Orestes reminds me of you,
"You think he is like me?" exclaimed the painter, with a grave smile.
She took the chair Gamelin offered her. The young dragoon stood beside
her, his hand on the back of the chair on which she sat. Which showed
plainly that the Revolution was an accomplished fact, for under the
ancien régime, no man would ever, in company, have touched so much as
with the tip of a finger, the seat occupied by a lady. In those days a
gentleman was trained and broken in to the laws of politeness, sometimes
pretty hard laws, and taught to understand that a scrupulous
self-restraint in public places gives a peculiar zest to the sweet
familiarity of the boudoir, and that to lose your respectful awe of a
woman, you must first have that feeling.
Louise Masché de Rochemaure, daughter of a Lieutenant of the King's
Hunt, widow of a Procureur and, for twenty years, the faithful mistress
of the financier Brotteaux des Ilettes, had fallen in with the new
ideas. She was to be seen, in July, 1790, digging the soil of the Champ
de Mars. Her strong inclination to side with the powers that be had
carried her readily enough along a political path that started with the
Feuillants and led by way of the Girondins to end on the summit of "the
Mountain", while at the same time a spirit of compromise, a passion for
conversion and a certain aptitude for intrigue still attached her to the
aristocratic and anti-revolutionary party. She was to be met
everywhere,--at coffee houses and theatres, fashionable restaurants,
gaming-saloons, drawing-rooms, newspaper offices and ante-chambers of
Committees. The Revolution yielded her a hundred satisfactions,--novelty
and amusement, smiles and pleasures, business ventures and profitable
speculations. Combining political with amorous intrigue, playing the
harp, drawing landscapes, singing ballads, dancing Greek dances, giving
supper parties, entertaining pretty women, such as the Comtesse de
Beaufort and the actress Mademoiselle Descoings, presiding all night
long over a "trente-et-un" or "biribi" table and an adept at "rouge et
noir", she still found time to be charitable to her friends. Inquisitive
and interfering, giddy-pated and frivolous, she understood men but knew
nothing of the masses; as indifferent to the creed she professed as to
the opinions she felt bound to repudiate, understanding nothing whatever
of all that was happening in the country, she was enterprising,
intrepid, and full of audacity from sheer ignorance of danger and an
unbounded confidence in the efficacy of her charms.
The soldier who escorted her was in the heyday of youth. A brazen helmet
decorated with a panther skin and the crest set off with a crimson
cock's-comb shaded his fresh young face and displayed a long and
terrific mane that swept his back. His red jacket was cut short and
square, barely reaching to the waist, the better to show off his elegant
figure. In his girdle he carried an enormous sabre, the hilt of which
was a glittering eagle's beak. A pair of flapped breeches of sky blue
moulded the fine muscles of his legs and was braided in rich arabesques
of a darker blue on the thighs. He might have been a dancer dressed for
some warlike and dashing rôle, in "Achilles at Scyros" or "Alexander's
Wedding-feast", in a costume designed by a pupil of David with the one
idea of accentuating every line of the shape.
Gamelin had a vague recollection of having seen him before. He was, in
fact, the same young soldier he had come upon a fortnight previously
haranguing the people from the arcades of the Théâtre de la Nation.
The "citoyenne" Rochemaure introduced him by name:
"The "citoyen" Henry, Member of the Revolutionary Committee of the
Section of the Rights of Man."
She had him always at her heels,--a mirror of gallantry and a living and
walking guarantee of patriotism.
The "citoyenne" complimented Gamelin on his talents and asked him if he
would be willing to design a card for a protégée of hers, a fashionable
milliner. He would, of course, choose an appropriate "motif",--a woman
trying on a scarf before a cheval glass, for instance, or a young
workwoman carrying a band-box on her arm.
She had heard several artists mentioned as competent to execute a little
matter of the sort,--Fragonard "fils", young Ducis, as well as a certain
Prudhomme; but she would rather apply to the "citoyen" Évariste
Gamelin. However, she made no definite proposal on this head and it was
evident she had mentioned the commission merely by way of starting the
conversation. In truth she had come for something quite different. She
wanted the "citoyen" Gamelin to do her a favour; knowing he was a friend
of the "citoyen" Marat, she had come to ask him to introduce her to the
Friend of the People, with whom she desired an interview.
Gamelin replied that he was too insignificant an individual to present
her to Marat, besides which, she had no need of anyone to be her
sponsor; Marat, albeit overwhelmed with business, was not the
inaccessible person he was said to be,--and, added Gamelin:
"He will receive you, "citoyenne", if you are in distress; his great
heart makes him compassionate to all who suffer. He will likewise
receive you if you have any revelation to make concerning the public
weal; he has vowed his days to the unmasking of traitors."
The "citoyenne" Rochemaure answered that she would be happy to greet in
Marat an illustrious citizen, who had rendered great services to his
country, who was capable of rendering greater still, and that she was
anxious to bring the legislator in question into relation with friends
of hers of good repute and good will, philanthropists favoured by
fortune and competent to provide him with new means of satisfying his
ardent affection for humanity.
"It is very desirable," she concluded, "to make the rich co-operate in
securing public prosperity."
In actual fact, the "citoyenne" had promised the banker Morhardt to
arrange a dinner where he and Marat should meet.
Morhardt, a Swiss like the Friend of the People, had entered into a
combination with several deputies of the Convention, Julien (of
Toulouse), Delaunay (of Angers) and the ex-Capuchin Chabot, to speculate
in the shares of the "Compagnie des Indes". The game was very
simple,--to bring down the price of these shares to 650 livres by
proposing motions pointing in the direction of confiscation, in order to
buy up the greatest possible number at this figure and then push them up
to 4,000 or 5,000 livres by dint of proposals of a reassuring nature.
But for Chabot, Julien, Delaunay, their little ways were too notorious,
while suspicions were rife of Lacroix, Fabre d'Églantine, and even
Danton. The arch-speculator, the Baron de Batz, was looking for new
confederates in the Convention and had advised Morhardt to sound Marat.
This idea of the anti-revolutionary speculators was not so extravagant
as might have been supposed at the first blush. It was always the way of
these gentry to form alliance with those in power at the moment, and by
virtue of his popularity, his pen, his character, Marat was a power to
be reckoned with. The Girondists were near shipwreck; the Dantonists,
battered by the hurricane, had lost their hold on the helm. Robespierre,
the idol of the people, was a man jealous of his scrupulous honesty,
full of suspicion, impossible to approach. The great thing was to get
round Marat, to secure his good will against the day when he should be
dictator--and everything pointed to this consummation,--his popularity,
his ambition, his eagerness to recommend heroic measures. And it might
be, after all, Marat would re-establish order, the finances, the
prosperity of the country. More than once he had risen in revolt
against the zealots who were for outbidding him in fanaticism; for some
time past he had been denouncing the demagogues as vehemently as the
moderates. After inciting the people to sack the "cornerers'" shops and
hang them over their own counters, he was now exhorting the citizens to
be calm and prudent. He was growing into an administrator.
In spite of certain rumours disseminated against him as against all the
other chiefs of the Revolution, these pirates of the money-market did
not believe he could be corrupted, but they did know him to be vain and
credulous, and they hoped to win him over by flattery and still more by
a condescending friendliness which they looked upon as the most
seductive form of flattery from men like themselves. They counted,
thanks to him, on blowing hot and cold on all the securities they might
wish to buy and sell, and making him serve their interests while
supposing himself to be acting solely for the public good.
Great as a go-between, albeit she was still of an age for amours on her
own account, the "citoyenne" Rochemaure had made it her mission to bring
together the legislator-journalist and the banker, and in her
extravagant imagination she already saw the man of the underworld, the
man whose hands were yet red with the blood of the September massacres,
a partner in the game of the financiers whose agent she was; she
pictured him drawn by his very warmth of feeling and unsophisticated
candour into the whirlpool of speculation, a recruit to the côterie she
loved of "corner" makers, contractors, foreign emissaries, gamblers, and
women of gallantry.
She insisted on the "citoyen" Gamelin taking her to see the Friend of
the People, who lived quite near, in the Rue des Cordeliers, near the
church. After some little show of reluctance, the painter acceded to the
The dragoon Henry was invited to join them in the visit, but declined,
declaring he meant to keep his liberty of action, even towards the
"citoyen" Marat, who, he felt no doubt, had rendered services to the
Republic, but was weakening nowadays; had he not, in his news sheet,
counselled resignation as the proper thing for the people of Paris?
And the young man, in a sweet voice, broken by long-drawn sighs,
deplored the fate of the Republic, betrayed by the men in whom she had
put her trust,--Danton rejecting the notion of a tax on the rich,
Robespierre opposing the permanence of the Sections, Marat, whose
pusillanimous counsels were paralyzing the enthusiasm of the citizens.
"Ah!" he cried, "how feeble such men appear beside Leclerc and Jacques
Roux!... Roux! Leclerc! "ye" are the true friends of the people!"
Gamelin did not hear these remarks, which would have angered him; he had
gone into the next room to don his blue coat.
"You may well be proud of your son," observed the "citoyenne"
Rochemaure, addressing the "citoyenne" Gamelin. "He is a great man;
talent and character both make him so."
In answer, the widow Gamelin gave a good account of her son, yet without
making much boast of him before a lady of high station, for she had been
taught in her childhood that the first duty of the lowly is humility
towards the great. She was of a complaining bent, having indeed only too
good cause and finding in such jeremiads a salve for her griefs. She was
garrulous in her revelations of all the hardships she had to bear to
any whom she supposed in a position to relieve them, and Madame de
Rochemaure seemed to belong to that class. She made the most, therefore,
of this favourable opportunity and told a long and breathless story of
their distresses,--how mother and son were both dying of slow
starvation. Pictures could not be sold any more; the Revolution had
killed business dead. Victuals were scarce and too dear for words....
The good dame poured out her lamentations with all the loose-lipped
volubility her halting tongue was capable of, so as to get them all
finished by the time her son, whose pride would not brook such whining,
should reappear. She was bent on attaining her object in the shortest
possible time,--that of touching a lady whom she deemed rich and
influential, and enlisting her sympathy in her boy's future. She felt
sure that Évariste's good looks were an asset on her side to move the
heart of a well-born lady. And so they were; the "citoyenne" Rochemaure
proved tender-hearted and was melted to think of Évariste's and his
mother's sufferings. She made plans to alleviate them; she had rich men
amongst her friends and would get them to buy the artist's pictures.
"The truth is," she added, with a smile, "there is still money in
France, but it keeps in hiding."
Better still, now Art was ruined, she would obtain Évariste a post in
Morhardt's bank or with the Brothers Perregaux, or a place as clerk in
the office of an army contractor.
Then she reflected that this was not what a man of his character needed;
and, after a moment's thought, she nodded in sign that she had hit the
nail on the head:
"There are still several jurymen left to be appointed on the
Revolutionary Tribunal. Juryman, magistrate, that is the thing to suit
your son. I have friendly relations with the Committee of Public Safety.
I know Robespierre the elder personally; his brother frequently sups at
my house. I will speak to them. I will get a word said to Montané,
The "citoyenne" Gamelin, bursting with excitement and gratitude, put a
finger to her lip; Évariste was coming back into the studio.
He escorted the "citoyenne" Rochemaure down the gloomy staircase, the
steps of which, whether of wood or tiled, were coated with an ancient
layer of dirt.
On the Pont-Neuf, where the sun, now near its setting, threw a
lengthened shadow from the pedestal that had borne the Bronze Horse and
was now gay with the National colours, a crowd of men and women of the
people gathered in little groups were listening to some tale that was
being told them. Consternation reigned and a heavy silence, broken at
intervals by groans and fierce cries. Many were making off at a rapid
pace in the direction of the Rue de Thionville, erstwhile Rue Dauphine;
Gamelin joined one of these groups and heard the news--that Marat had
just been assassinated.
Little by little the tidings were confirmed and particulars became
known; he had been murdered in his bath by a woman who had come
expressly from Caen to commit the crime.
Some thought she had escaped; but the majority declared she had been
There they stood like sheep without a shepherd, thinking sadly:
"Marat, the tender-hearted, the humane, Marat our benefactor, is no
longer there to guide us, Marat who was never deceived, who saw through
every subterfuge and never feared to reveal the truth!... What can we
do, what is to become of us? We have lost our adviser, our champion, our
friend." They knew very well whence the blow had come, and who had
directed the woman's arm. They groaned aloud:
"Marat has been struck down by the same criminal hands that are bent on
our extermination. His death is the signal for the slaughter of all good
Different reports were current, as to the circumstances of the tragic
event and the last words of the victim; endless questions were asked
concerning the assassin, all that anyone knew was that it was a young
woman sent by those traitors, the federalists. Baring teeth and nails,
the "citoyennes" devoted the culprit to condign punishment; deeming the
guillotine too merciful a death, they demanded this monster of iniquity
should be scourged, broken on the wheel, torn limb from limb, and racked
their brains to invent new tortures.
An armed body of National Guards was haling to the Section headquarters
a man of determined mien. His clothes were in tatters, and streams of
blood trickled down his white face. He had been overheard saying that
Marat had earned his fate by his constant incitements to pillage and
massacre, and it was only with great difficulty that the Guards had
saved him from the fury of the populace. A hundred fingers pointed him
out as the accomplice of the assassin, and threats of death followed him
as he was led away.
Gamelin was stunned by the blow. A few hot tears blistered his burning
eyes. With the grief he felt as a disciple mingled solicitude for the
popular idol, and these combined feelings tore at his heart-strings. He
thought to himself:
"After Le Peltier, after Bourdon, Marat!... I foresee the fate of the
patriots; massacred on the Champ de Mars, at Nancy, at Paris, they will
perish one and all." And he thought of Wimpfen, the traitor, who only a
while before was marching on Paris, and who, had he not been stopped at
Vernon, by the gallant patriots, would have devoted the heroic city to
fire and slaughter.
And how many perils still remained, how many criminal designs, how many
treasonable plots, which only Marat's perspicacity and vigilance could
unravel and foil! Now he was dead, who was there to denounce Custine
loitering in idleness in the Camp of Cæsar and refusing to relieve
Valenciennes, Biron tarrying inactive in the Lower Vendée letting Saumur
be taken and Nantes blockaded, Dillon betraying the Fatherland in the
Meantime, all about him, rose momentarily higher the sinister cry:
"Marat is dead; the aristocrats have killed him!"
As he was on his way, his heart bursting with grief and hate and love,
to pay a last mark of respect to the martyr of liberty, an old
countrywoman, wearing the coif of the Limousin peasantry, accosted him
to ask if the Monsieur Marat who had been murdered was not Monsieur le
Curé Mara, of Saint-Pierre-de-Queyroix.
It was the eve of the Festival, a calm, bright evening, and Élodie
hanging on Évariste's arm, was strolling with him about the "Champ de la
Fédération". Workmen were hastily completing their task of erecting
columns, statues, temples, a "mountain," an altar of the Fatherland.
Huge symbolic figures, Hercules (representing the people) brandishing
his club, Nature suckling the Universe from her inexhaustible breasts,
were rising at a moment's notice in the capital that, tortured by famine
and fear, was listening for the dreaded sound of the Austrian cannon on
the road from Meaux. La Vendée was making good its check before Nantes
by a series of startling victories. A ring of fire and flame and hate
was drawn about the great revolutionary city.
And meantime, she was preparing a superb welcome, like the sovereign
state of a vast empire, for the deputies of the primary Assemblies which
had accepted the Constitution. Federalism was on its knees; the
Republic, one and indivisible, would surely vanquish all its enemies.
Waving his arm towards the thronged expanse:
"There it was," cried Évariste, "that on the 17th July, '91, the
infamous Bailly ordered the people to be shot down at the foot of the
altar of the fatherland. Passavant, the grenadier, who witnessed the
massacre, returned to his house, tore his coat from his back and cried:
'I have sworn to die with Liberty; Liberty is no more, and I fulfil my
oath,'--and blew out his brains."
All this time artists and peaceful citizens were examining the
preparations for the festival, their faces showing as joyless a joy in
life as their lives were dull and joyless; to their minds the mightiest
events shrank into insignificance and grew as insipid as they were
themselves. Couple by couple they went, carrying in their arms or
holding by the hand or letting them run on in front children as
unprepossessing as their parents and promising to grow up no whit
happier, who in due course would give birth to children of their own as
poor in spirit and looks as they. Yet now and again a young girl would
pass, tall and fair and desirable, rousing in young men a not ignoble
passion to possess, and in the old regret for the bliss they had missed.
Near the "École Militaire" Évariste pointed out to his companion the
Egyptian statues designed by David on Roman models of the age of
Augustus, and they overheard a Parisian, an old man with powdered hair,
ejaculate to himself:
"Egad! you might think yourself on the banks of the Nile!"
It was three days since Élodie had seen her lover, and serious events
had befallen meantime at the "Amour peintre". The "citoyen" Blaise had
been denounced to the Committee of General Security for fraudulent
dealings in the matter of supplies to the armies. Fortunately for
himself, the print-dealer was well known in his Section; the Committee
of Surveillance of the "Section des Piques" had stood guarantee of his
patriotism with the general committee and had completely justified his
This alarming incident Élodie now recounted in trembling accents,
"We are quiet now, but the alarm was a hot one. A little more and my
father would have been clapped in prison. If the danger had lasted a few
hours more, I should have come to you, Évariste, to make interest for
him among your influential friends."
Évariste vouchsafed no reply to this, but Élodie was very far from
realizing all his silence portended.
They went on hand in hand along the banks of the river, discoursing of
their mutual fondness in the phrases of Julie and Saint-Preux; the good
Jean-Jacques gave them the colours to paint and prank their love withal.
The Municipality of Paris had wrought a miracle,--abundance reigned for
a day in the famished city. A fair was installed on the "Place des
Invalides", beside the Seine, where hucksters in booths sold sausages,
saveloys, chitterlings, hams decked with laurels, Nanterre cakes,
gingerbreads, pancakes, four-pound loaves, lemonade and wine. There were
stalls also for the sale of patriotic songs, cockades, tricolour
ribands, purses, pinchbeck watch-chains and all sorts of cheap gewgaws.
Stopping before the display of a petty jeweller, Évariste selected a
silver ring having a head of Marat in relief with a silk handkerchief
wound about the brows, and put it on Élodie's finger.
* * * * *
The same evening Gamelin proceeded to the Rue de l'Arbre-Sec to call on
the "citoyenne" Rochemaure, who had sent for him on pressing business.
She received him in her bedchamber, reclining on a couch in a seductive
While the "citoyenne's" attitude expressed a voluptuous languor,
everything about her spoke of her accomplishments, her diversions, her
talents,--a harp beside an open harpsichord, a guitar on a chair, an
embroidering frame with a square of satin stretched on it, a
half-finished miniature on a table among papers and books, a bookcase in
dire disorder as if rifled by the hand of a fair reader as eager to know
as to feel.
She gave him her hand to kiss, and addressed him:
"Greeting, sir juryman!... This very day Robespierre the elder gave me a
letter in your favour to be handed to the President Herman, a very well
turned letter, pretty much to this effect:
"I bring to your notice the "citoyen" Gamelin, commendable alike for his
talents and for his patriotism. I have made it my duty to make known to
you a patriot whose principles are good and his conduct steadfast in the
right line of revolution. You will not let slip the opportunity of being
useful to a Republican.... This letter I carried there and then to the
President Herman, who received me with an exquisite politeness and
signed your appointment on the spot. The thing is done."
After a moment's pause:
""Citoyenne"," said Gamelin, "though I have not a morsel of bread to
give my mother, I swear on my honour I accept the duties of a juror only
to serve the Republic and avenge her on her foes."
The "citoyenne" thought this but a cold way of expressing gratitude and
considered the sentiment high-flown. The young man was no adept, she
suspected, at graceful courtesies. But she was too great an admirer of
youth not to excuse some little lack of polish. Gamelin was a handsome
fellow, and that was merit enough in her eyes. "We will form him," she
said to herself. So she invited him to her suppers to which she welcomed
her friends every evening after the theatre.
"You will meet at my house men of wit and talent,--Elleviou, Talma, the
"citoyen" Vigée, who turns bouts-rimés with a marvellous aptitude. The
"citoyen" François read us his 'Paméla' the other day, the piece
rehearsing at the present moment at the "Théâtre de la Nation". The
style is elegant and chaste, as everything is that comes from the
"citoyen" François' pen. The plot is touching; it brought tears to all
our eyes. It is the young "citoyenne" Lange who is to take the part of
"I believe it if you say so, "citoyenne"," answered Gamelin, "but the
"Théâtre de la Nation" is scarcely National and it is hard on the
"citoyen" François that his works should be produced on the boards
degraded by the contemptible verses of a Laya; the people has not
forgotten the scandal of the "Ami des Lois"...."
"Nay, "citoyen" Gamelin, say what you will of Laya; he is none of my
It was not purely out of kindness that the "citoyenne" had employed her
credit to get Gamelin appointed to a much envied post; after what she
had done for him and what peradventure she might come to do for him in
the future, she counted on binding him closely to her interests and in
that way securing for herself a protector connected with a tribunal she
might one day or another have to reckon with; for the fact is, she was
in constant correspondence with the French provinces and foreign
countries, and at that date such a circumstance was ground enough for
"Do you often go to the theatre, "citoyen"?"
As she asked the question, Henry, the dragoon, entered the room, looking
more charming than the youthful Bathyllus. A brace of enormous pistols
was passed through his belt.
He kissed the fair "citoyenne's" hand. Turning to him:
"There stands the "citoyen" Évariste Gamelin," she said, "for whose sake
I have spent the day at the Committee of General Security, and who is an
ungrateful wretch. Scold him for me."
"Ah! "citoyenne"," cried the young soldier, "you have seen our
Legislators at the Tuileries. What an afflicting sight! Is it seemly the
Representatives of a free people should sit beneath the roof of a
despot? The same lustres that once shone on the plots of Capet and the
orgies of Antoinette now illumine the deliberations of our law-makers.
'Tis enough to make Nature shudder."
"Pray, congratulate the "citoyen" Gamelin," was all her answer, "he is
appointed juryman on the Revolutionary Tribunal."
"My compliments, "citoyen"!" said Henry. "I am rejoiced to see a man of
your character invested with these functions. But, to speak truth, I
have small confidence in this systematic justice, set up by the
moderates of the Convention, in this complaisant Nemesis that is
considerate to conspirators and merciful to traitors, that hardly dares
strike a blow at the Federalists and fears to summon "the Austrian" to
the bar. No, it is not the Revolutionary Tribunal will save the
Republic. They are very culpable, the men who, in the desperate
situation we are in, have arrested the flowing torrent of popular
"Henry," interrupted the "citoyenne" Rochemaure, "pass me that scent
On reaching home, Gamelin found his mother and old Brotteaux playing a
game of piquet by the light of a smoky tallow-candle. At the moment the
old woman was calling "sequence of kings" without the smallest scruple.
When she heard her son was appointed juryman, she kissed him in a
transport of triumph, thinking what an honour it was for both of them
and that henceforth they would have plenty to eat every day.
"I am proud and happy," she declared, "to be the mother of a juryman.
Justice is a fine thing, and of all the most necessary; without justice
the weak would be harassed every moment of their lives. And I think you
will give right judgment, Évariste, my own boy; for from a child I have
found you just and kind-hearted in all concerns. You could never endure
wrong-doing and always tried what you could to hinder violence. You
compassionated the unfortunate and that is the finest jewel in a juror's
crown.... But tell me, Évariste, how are you dressed in your grand
Gamelin informed her that the judges wore a hat with black plumes, but
that the jury had no special costume, that they were dressed in their
"It would be better," returned the good woman, "if they wore wig and
gown; it would inspire more respect. Though you are mostly dressed
carelessly, you are a handsome man and you set off your clothes; but the
majority of men need some fine feathers to make them look imposing; yes,
the jury should have wigs and gowns."
The "citoyenne" had heard say that the duties of a juror of the Tribunal
carried a salary; and she had no hesitation in asking the question
whether the emoluments were enough to live respectably on, for a
juryman, she opined, ought to cut a good figure in the world.
She was pleased to hear that each juror received an allowance of
eighteen livres for every sitting and that the multiplicity of crimes
against the security of the State obliged the court to sit very
Old Brotteaux gathered up the cards, rose from the table and addressing
""Citoyen"," he said, "you are invested with an august and redoubtable
office. I congratulate you on lending the light of your integrity to a
tribunal more trustworthy and less fallible perhaps than any other,
because it searches out good and evil, not in themselves and in their
essence, but solely in relation to tangible interests and plain and
obvious sentiments. You will have to determine betwixt hate and love,
which is done spontaneously, not betwixt truth and falsehood, to
discriminate which is impossible for the feeble mind of man. Giving
judgment after the impulses of your heart, you will run no risk of
mistake, inasmuch as the verdict will be good provided it satisfy the
passions that are your sacred law. But, all the same, if I was your
President, I should imitate Bridoie, I should appeal to the arbitrament
of the dice. In matters of justice it is still the surest plan."
Évariste Gamelin was to enter on his duties on the 14th September, when
the reorganization of the Tribunal was complete, according to which it
was henceforth subdivided into four sections with fifteen jurors for
each. The prisons were full to overflowing; the Public Prosecutor was
working eighteen hours a day. Defeats in the field, revolts in the
provinces, conspiracies, plots, betrayals, the Convention had one
panacea for them all,--terror. The Gods were athirst.
The first act of the new juror was to pay a visit of ceremony to the
President Herman, who charmed him by the amiability of his conversation
and the courtesy of his bearing. A compatriot and friend of
Robespierre's, whose sentiments he shared, he showed every sign of a
feeling and virtuous temper. He was deeply attached to those humane
sentiments, too long foreign to the heart of our judges, that redound to
the everlasting glory of a Dupaty and a Beccaria. He looked with
complacency on the greater mildness of modern manners as evidenced, in
judicial matters, by the abolition of torture and of ignominious or
cruel forms of punishment. He was rejoiced to see the death penalty,
once so recklessly inflicted and employed till quite lately for the
repression of the most trifling offences, applied less frequently and
reserved for heinous crimes. For his own part, he agreed with
Robespierre and would gladly have seen it abolished altogether, except
only in cases touching the public safety. At the same time, he would
have deemed it treason to the State not to adjudge the punishment of
death for crimes against the National Sovereignty.
All his colleagues were of like mind; the old Monarchical idea of
reasons of State still inspired the Revolutionary Tribunal. Eight
centuries of absolute power had moulded the magisterial conscience, and
it was by the principles of Divine Right that the Court even now tried
and sentenced the enemies of Liberty.
The same day Évariste Gamelin sought an interview with the Public
Prosecutor, the "citoyen" Fouquier, who received him in the Cabinet
where he used to work with his clerk of the court. He was a sturdily
built man, with a rough voice, catlike eyes, bearing in his pock-marked
face and leaden complexion marks of the mischief wrought by a sedentary
and indoor life on a vigorous constitution adapted to the open air and
violent exercise. Towering piles of papers shut him in like the walls of
a tomb, and it was plain to see he was in his element amid all these
dreadful documents that seemed like to bury him alive. His conversation
was that of a hard-working magistrate, a man devoted to his task and
whose mind never left the narrow groove of his official duties. His
fiery breath reeked of the brandy he took to keep up his strength; but
the liquor seemed never to fly to his brain, so clear-headed, albeit
entirely commonplace, was every word he uttered.
He lived in a small suite of rooms in the Palais de Justice with his
young wife, who had given him twin boys. His wife, an aunt Henriette and
the maid-servant Pélagie made up the whole household. He was good and
kind to these women. In a word, he was an excellent person in his family
and professional relations, with a scarcity of ideas and a total lack of
Gamelin could not help being struck unpleasantly by the close
resemblance in temper and ways of thought between the new magistrates
and their predecessors under the old régime. In fact, they were of the
old régime; Herman had held the office of Advocate General to the
Council of Artois; Fouquier was a former Procureur at the Châtelet. They
had preserved their character, whereas Gamelin believed in a
Quitting the precincts of the court, he passed along the great gallery
of the Palace and halted in front of the shops where articles of every
sort and kind were exposed for sale in the most attractive fashion.
Standing before the "citoyenne" Ténot's stall, he turned over sundry
historical, political, and philosophical works:--"The Chains of
Slavery," "An Essay on Despotism," "The Crimes of Queens." "Very good!"
he thought, "here is Republican stuff!" and he asked the woman if she
sold a great many of these books. She shook her head:
"The only things that sell are songs and romances,"--and pulling a
duodecimo volume out of a drawer:
"Here," she told him, "here we have something good."
Évariste read the title: "La Religieuse en chemise," "The Nun in
Before the next shop he came upon Philippe Desmahis, who, with a tender,
conquering-hero air, among the "citoyenne" Saint-Jorre's perfumes and
powders and sachets, was assuring the fair tradeswoman of his undying
love, promising to paint her portrait and begging her to vouchsafe him a
moment's talk that evening in the Tuileries gardens. There was no
resisting him; persuasion sat on his lips and beamed from his eye. The
"citoyenne" Saint-Jorre was listening without a word, her eyes on the
ground, only too ready to believe him.
* * * * *
Wishing to familiarize himself with the awful duties imposed on him, the
new juror resolved to mingle with the throng and look on at a case
before the Tribunal as a member of the general public. He climbed the
great stairs on which a vast crowd was seated as in an amphitheatre and
pushed his way into the ancient Hall of the Parlement of Paris.
This was crammed to suffocation; some General or other was taking his
trial. For in those days, as old Brotteaux put it, "the Convention,
copying the example of His Britannic Majesty's Government, made a point
of arraigning beaten Generals, in default of traitorous Generals, the
latter taking good care not to stand their trial. Not that a beaten
General," Brotteaux would add, "is necessarily criminal, for in the
nature of things there must be one in every battle. But there's nothing
like condemning a General to death for giving encouragement to others."
Several had already appeared before the Tribunal; they were all alike,
these empty-headed, opinionated soldiers with the brains of a sparrow in
an ox's skull. This particular commander was pretty nearly as ignorant
of the sieges and battles of his own campaign as the magistrates who
were questioning him; both sides, prosecution and defence, were lost in
a fog of effectives, objectives, munitions and ammunitions, marches and
counter-marches. But the mass of citizens listening to these obscure and
never-ending details could see behind the half-witted soldier the bare
and bleeding breast of the fatherland enduring a thousand deaths; and by
look and voice urged the jurymen, sitting quietly on their bench, to use
their verdict as a club to fell the foes of the Republic.
Évariste was firmly convinced of one thing,--what they had to strike at
in the pitiful creature was the two dread monsters that were battening
on the fatherland, revolt and defeat. What a to-do to discover if this
particular soldier was innocent or guilty! When La Vendée was recovering
heart, when Toulon was surrendering to the enemy, when the army of the
Rhine was recoiling before the victors of Mayence, when the Army of the
North, cowering in Cæsar's Camp, might be taken at a blow by the
Imperialists, the English, the Dutch, now masters of Valenciennes, the
one important thing was to teach the Generals of the Republic to conquer
or to die. To see yonder feeble-witted muddle-pated veteran losing
himself under cross-examination among his maps as he had done before in
the plains of Northern France, Gamelin longed to yell "death! death!"
with the rest, and fled from the Hall of Audience to escape the
* * * * *
At the meeting of the Section, the newly appointed juryman received the
congratulations of the President Olivier, who made him swear on the old
high altar of the Barnabites, now altar of the fatherland, to stifle in
his heart, in the sacred name of humanity, every human weakness.
Gamelin, with uplifted right hand, invoked as witness of his oath the
august shade of Marat, martyr of Liberty, whose bust had lately been set
up against a pillar of the erstwhile church, facing that of Le Peltier.
There was some applause, interrupted by cries of protest. The meeting
was a stormy one; at the entrance of the nave stood a group of members
of the Section, armed with pikes and shouting clamorously:
"It is anti-republican," declared the President, "to carry arms at a
meeting of free citizens,"--and he ordered the muskets and pikes to be
deposited there and then in the erstwhile sacristy.
A hunchback, with blazing eyes and lips drawn back so as to show the
teeth, the "citoyen" Beauvisage, of the Committee of Vigilance, mounted
to the pulpit, now become the speakers' tribune and surmounted by a red
cap of liberty.
"The Generals are betraying us," he vociferated, "and surrendering our
armies to the enemy. The Imperialists are pushing forward their cavalry
around Péronne and Saint-Quentin. Toulon has been given up to the
English, who are landing fourteen thousand men there. The foes of the
Republic are busy with plots in the very bosom of the Convention. In the
capital conspiracies without number are afoot to deliver "the Austrian".
At this very moment while I speak there runs a rumour that the Capet
brat has escaped from the Temple and is being borne in triumph to
Saint-Cloud by those who would fain re-erect the tyrant's throne in his
favour. The dearness of food, the depreciation of the "assignats" are
the direct result of manoeuvres carried out in our own homes, beneath
our very eyes, by the agents of the foreigners. In the name of public
safety I call upon the new juryman, our fellow-citizen, to show no pity
to conspirators and traitors."
As he left the tribune, cries rose among the audience: "Down with the
Revolutionary Tribunal! Down with the Moderates!"
A stout, rosy-faced man, the "citoyen" Dupont senior, a joiner living in
the Place de Thionville, mounted the Tribune, announcing that he wished
to ask a question of the new juror. Then he demanded of Gamelin what
attitude he meant to take up in the matter of the Brissotins and of the
Évariste was timid and unpractised in public speaking. But indignation
gave him eloquence. He rose with a pale face and said in a voice of
"I am a magistrate. I am responsible to my conscience only. Any promise
I might make you would be against my duty, which is to speak in the
Court and hold my peace elsewhere. I have ceased to know you. It is mine
to give judgment; I know neither friends nor enemies."
The meeting, made up like all meetings of divers elements and subject to
sudden and incalculable moods, approved these sentiments. But the
"citoyen" Dupont returned to the charge; he could not forgive Gamelin
for having secured a post he had coveted himself.
"I understand," he said, "I even approve the juror's scruples. They say
he is a patriot; it is for him to examine his conscience and see if it
permits him to sit on a tribunal intended to destroy the enemies of the
Republic and resolved to spare them. There are circumstances in which a
good citizen is bound to repudiate all complicity. Is it not averred
that more than one juror of this tribunal has let himself be corrupted
by the gold of the accused, and that the President Montané falsified the
procedure to save the head of the woman Corday?"
At the words the hall resounded with vehement applause. The vaults were
still reverberating with the uproar when Fortuné Trubert mounted the
tribune. He had grown thinner than ever in the last few months. His face
was pale and the cheek-bones seemed ready to pierce the reddened skin;
his eyes had a glassy look under the inflamed lids.
""Citoyens"," he began, in a weak, breathless voice that yet had a
strangely penetrating quality, "we cannot suspect the Revolutionary
Tribunal without at the same time suspecting the Convention and the
Committee of Public Safety from which it derives its powers. The
"citoyen" Beauvisage has alarmed us, showing us the President Montané
tampering with the course of justice in favour of a culprit. Why did he
not add, to relieve our fears, that on the denunciation of the Public
Prosecutor, Montané has been dismissed his office and thrown into
prison?... Is it impossible to watch over the public safety without
casting suspicion on all and sundry? Is there no talent, no virtue left
in the Convention? Robespierre, Couthon, Saint-Just, are not these
honest men? It is a notable thing that the most violent language is held
by individuals who have never been known to fight for the Republic. They
could speak no otherwise if they wish to render her hateful. "Citoyens",
less talk, say I, and more work! It is with shot and shell and not with
shouting that France will be saved. One-half the cellars of the Section
have not been dug up. Not a few citizens still hold considerable
quantities of bronze. We would remind the rich that patriotic gifts are
for them the most potent guarantees. I recommend to your generosity the
wives and daughters of our soldiers who are covering themselves with
glory on the frontiers and on the Loire. One of these, the hussar
Pommier (Augustin), formerly a cellarman's lad in the Rue de Jérusalem,
on the 10th of last month, before Condé, when watering the troop horses,
was set upon by six Austrian cavalrymen; he killed two of them and
brought in the others prisoners. I ask the Section to declare that
Pommier (Augustin) has done his duty."
This speech was applauded and the Sectionaries dispersed with cries of
"Vive la République!"
Left alone in the nave with Trubert, Gamelin pressed the latter's hand.
"Thank you. How are you?"
"I? Oh! Very well, very well!" replied Trubert, coughing and spitting
blood into his handkerchief. "The Republic has many enemies without and
within, and our own Section counts a not inconsiderable number of them.
It is not with loud talk but with iron and laws that empires are founded
... good night, Gamelin; I have letters to write."
And he disappeared, his handkerchief pressed to his lips, into the
* * * * *
The widow Gamelin, her cockade now and henceforth fastened more
carefully in her hood, had from one day to the next assumed a fine,
consequential air, a Republican haughtiness and the dignified carriage
suitable to the mother of a juror of the State.
The veneration for the law in which she had been brought up, the
admiration with which the magistrate's gown and cassock had from a child
inspired her, the holy terror she had always experienced at sight of
those to whom God had delegated on earth His divine right of life and
death, these feelings made her regard as an august and worshipful and
holy being the son whom till yesterday she had thought of as little more
than a child. To her simple mind the conviction of the continuity of
justice through all the changes of the Revolution was as strong as was
that of the legislators of the Convention regarding the continuity of
the State under varying systems of government, and the Revolutionary
Tribunal appeared to her every whit as majestic as any of the
time-honoured jurisdictions she had been taught to revere.
The "citoyen" Brotteaux showed the young magistrate an interest mingled
with surprise and a reluctant deference. His views were the same as the
widow Gamelin's as to the continuity of justice under successive
governments; but, in flat contradiction to that good lady's attitude,
his scorn for the Revolutionary Tribunals was on a par with his contempt
for the courts of the ancien régime. Not daring to express his opinions
openly and unable to make up his mind to say nothing, he indulged in a
string of paradoxes which Gamelin understood just well enough to suspect
the anti-patriotism that underlay them.
"The august tribunal whereon you are soon to take your seat," he told
him on one occasion, "was instituted by the French Senate for the
security of the Republic; and it was for certain a magnanimous thought
on the part of our legislators to set up a court to try our enemies. I
appreciate its generosity, but I doubt its wisdom. It would have shown
greater astuteness, it seems to me, if they had struck down in the dark
the more irreconcilable of their adversaries and won over the rest by
gifts and promises. A tribunal strikes slowly and effects more harm than
it inspires fear; its first duty is to make an example. The mischief
yours does is to unite together all whom it terrifies and make out of a
mass of contradictory interests and passions a great party capable of
common and effective action. You sow fear broadcast, and it is terror
more than courage that produces heroes; I pray, "citoyen", you may not
one day see prodigies of terror arrayed against you!"
The engraver Desmahis, in love that week with a light o' love of the
Palais-Égalité named Flora, a brown-locked giantess, had nevertheless
found five minutes to congratulate his comrade and tell him that such an
appointment was a great compliment to the fine arts.
Élodie herself, though without knowing it she detested everything
revolutionary and who dreaded official functions as the most dangerous
of rivals, the most likely to estrange her lover's affections, the
tender Élodie was impressed by the glamour attaching to a magistrate
called upon to pronounce judgment in matters of life and death. Besides
which, Évariste's promotion as a juryman was followed by other fortunate
results that filled her loving heart with satisfaction; the "citoyen"
Jean Blaise made a point of calling at the studio in the Place de
Thionville and embraced the young juror affectionately in a burst of
Like all the anti-revolutionaries, he had a great respect for the
authorities established by the Republic, and ever since he had been
denounced for fraud in connection with his supplies for the army, the
Revolutionary Tribunal had inspired him with a wholesome dread. He felt
himself to be a person too much in the public eye and mixed up in too
many transactions to enjoy perfect security; so the "citoyen" Gamelin
struck him as a friend worth cultivating. When all was said, one was a
good citizen and on the side of justice.
He gave the painter magistrate his hand, declaring himself his true
friend and a true patriot, a well-wisher of the arts and of liberty.
Gamelin forgot his injuries and pressed the hand so generously offered.
""Citoyen" Évariste Gamelin," said Jean Blaise, "I appeal to you as a
friend and as a man of talent. I am going to take you to-morrow for two
days' jaunt in the country; you can do some drawing and we can enjoy a
Several times every year the print-dealer was in the habit of making a
two or three days' expedition of this sort in the company of artists who
made drawings, according to his suggestions, of landscapes and ruins. He
was quick to see what would please the public and these little journeys
always resulted in some picturesque bits which were then finished at
home and cleverly engraved; prints in red or colours were struck off
from these, and brought in a good profit to the "citoyen" Blaise. From
the same sketches he had over-doors and panels executed, which sold as
well or better than the decorative works of Hubert Robert.
On this occasion he had invited the "citoyen" Gamelin to accompany him
to sketch buildings after nature, so much had the juror's office
increased the painter's importance in his eyes. Two other artists were
of the party, the engraver Desmahis, who drew well, and an almost
unknown man, Philippe Dubois, an excellent designer in the style of
Robert. According to custom, the "citoyenne" Élodie with her friend the
"citoyenne" Hasard accompanied the artists. Jean Blaise, an adept at
combining pleasure with profit, had also extended an invitation to the
"citoyenne" Thévenin, an actress at the Vaudeville, who was reputed to
be on the best of terms with him.
On Saturday at seven in the morning the "citoyen" Blaise, in a black
cocked-hat, scarlet waistcoat, doe-skin breeches, and boots with yellow
tops, rapped with the handle of his riding-whip at the studio door. The
"citoyenne" Gamelin was in the room in polite conversation with the
"citoyen" Brotteaux, while Évariste stood before a bit of looking-glass
knotting his high white cravat.
"A pleasant journey, Monsieur Blaise!" the "citoyenne" greeted him.
"But, as you are going to paint landscapes, why don't you take Monsieur
Brotteaux, who is a painter?"
"Well, well," said Jean Blaise, "will you come with us, "citoyen"
On being assured he would not be intruding, Brotteaux, a man of a
sociable temper and fond of all amusements, accepted the invitation.
The "citoyenne" Élodie had climbed the four storeys to embrace the widow
Gamelin, whom she called her good mother. She was in white from head to
foot, and smelt of lavender.
An old two-horsed travelling "berline" stood waiting in the Place, with
the hood down. Rose Thévenin occupied the back seat with Julienne
Hasard. Élodie made the actress sit on the right, took the left-hand
place herself and put the slim Julienne between the two of them.
Brotteaux settled himself, back to the horses, facing the "citoyenne"
Thévenin; Philippe Dubois, opposite the "citoyenne" Hasard; Évariste
opposite Élodie. As for Philippe Desmahis, he planted his athletic
figure on the box, on the coachman's left, and proceeded to amaze that
worthy with a traveller's tale about a country in America where the
trees bore chitterlings and saveloys by way of fruit.
The "citoyen" Blaise, who was a capital rider, took the road on
horseback, going on in front to escape the dust from the "berline".
As the wheels rattled merrily over the suburban roads the travellers
began to forget their cares, and at sight of the green fields and trees
and sky, their minds turned to gay and pleasant thoughts. Élodie dreamed
she was surely born to rear poultry with Évariste, a country justice, to
help her, in some village on a river bank beside a wood. The roadside
elms whirled by as they sped along. Outside the villages the peasants'
mastiffs dashed out to intercept the carriage and barked at the horses,
while a fat spaniel, lying in the roadway, struggled reluctantly to its
feet; the fowls scattered and fled; the geese in a close-packed band
waddled slowly out of the way. The children, with their fresh morning
faces, watched the company go by. It was a hot day and a cloudless sky.
The parched earth was thirsting for rain. They alighted just outside
Villejuif. On their way through the little town, Desmahis went into a
fruiterer's to buy cherries for the overheated "citoyennes". The
shop-keeper was a pretty woman, and Desmahis showed no signs of
reappearing. Philippe Dubois shouted to him, using the nickname his
friends constantly gave him:
"Ho there! Barbaroux!... Barbaroux!"
At this hated name the passers-by pricked up their ears and faces
appeared at every window. Then, when they saw a young and handsome man
emerge from the shop, his jacket thrown open, his neckerchief flying
loose over a muscular chest, and carrying over his shoulder a basket of
cherries and his coat at the end of a stick, taking him for the
proscribed girondist, a posse of "sansculottes" laid violent hands on
him. Regardless of his indignant protests, they would have haled him to
the town-hall, had not old Brotteaux, Gamelin, and the three young women
borne testimony that the "citoyen" was named Philippe Desmahis, a
copper-plate engraver and a good Jacobin. Even then the suspect had to
show his "carte de civisme", which he had in his pocket by great good
luck, for he was very heedless in such matters. At this price he escaped
from the hands of these patriotic villagers without worse loss than one
of his lace ruffles, which had been torn off; but this was a trifle
after all. He even received the apologies of the National Guards who had
hustled him the most savagely and who now spoke of carrying him in
triumph to the Hôtel de Ville.
A free man again and with the "citoyennes" Élodie, Rose, and Julienne
crowding round him, Desmahis looked at Philippe Dubois--he did not like
the man and suspected him of having played him a practical joke--with a
wry smile, and towering above him by a whole head:
"Dubois," he told him, "if you call me Barbaroux again, I shall call you
Brissot; he is a little fat man with a silly face, greasy hair, an oily
skin and damp hands. They'll be perfectly sure you are the infamous
Brissot, the people's enemy; and the good Republicans, filled with
horror and loathing at sight of you, will hang you from the nearest
lamp-post. You hear me?"
The "citoyen" Blaise, who had been watering his horse, announced that he
had arranged the affair, though it was quite plain to everybody that it
had been arranged without him.
The company got in again, and as they drove on, Desmahis informed the
coachman that in this same plain of Longjumeau several inhabitants of
the Moon had once come down, in shape and colour much like frogs, only
very much bigger. Philippe Dubois and Gamelin talked about their art.
Dubois, a pupil of Regnault, had been to Rome, where he had seen
Raphael's tapestries, which he set above all the masterpieces of the
world. He admired Correggio's colouring, Annibale Caracci's invention,
Domenichino's drawing, but thought nothing comparable in point of style
with the pictures of Pompeio Battoni. He had been in touch at Rome with
Monsieur Ménageot and Madame Lebrun, who had both pronounced against the
Revolution; so the less said of them the better. But he spoke highly of
Angelica Kauffmann, who had a pure taste and a fine knowledge of the
Gamelin deplored that the apogee of French painting, belated as it was,
for it only dated from Lesueur, Claude and Poussin and corresponded with
the decadence of the Italian and Flemish schools, had been succeeded by
so rapid and profound a decline. This he attributed to the degraded
state of manners and to the Academy, which was the expression of that
state. But the Academy had been happily abolished, and under the
influence of new canons, David and his school were creating an art
worthy of a free people. Among the young painters, Gamelin, without a
trace of envy, gave the first place to Hennequin and Topino-Lebrun.
Philippe Dubois preferred his own master Regnault to David, and founded
his hopes for the future of painting on that rising artist Gérard.
Meantime Élodie complimented the "citoyenne" Thévenin on her red velvet
toque and white gown. The actress repaid the compliment by
congratulating her two companions on their toilets and advising them how
to do better still; the thing, she said, was to be more sparing in
ornaments and trimmings.
"A woman can never be dressed too simply," was her dictum. "We see this
on the stage, where the costume should allow every pose to be
appreciated. That is its true beauty and it needs no other."
"You are right, my dear," replied Élodie. "Only there is nothing more
expensive in dress than simplicity. It is not always out of bad taste we
add frills and furbelows; sometimes it is to save our pockets."
They discussed eagerly the autumn fashions,--frocks entirely plain and
"So many women disfigure themselves through following the fashion!"
declared Rose Thévenin. "In dressing every woman should study her own
"There is nothing beautiful save draperies that follow the lines of the
figure and fall in folds," put in Gamelin. "Everything that is cut out
and sewn is hideous."
These sentiments, more appropriate in a treatise of Winckelmann's than
in the mouth of a man talking to Parisiennes, met with the scorn they
deserved, being entirely disregarded.
"For the winter," observed Élodie, "they are making quilted gowns in
Lapland style of taffeta and muslin, and coats "à la Zulime",
round-waisted and opening over a stomacher "à la Turque"."
"Nasty cheap things," declared the actress, "you can buy them ready
made. Now I have a little seamstress who works like an angel and is not
dear; I'll send her to see you, my dear."
So they prattled on trippingly, eagerly discussing and appraising
different fine fabrics--striped taffeta, self-coloured china silk,
muslin, gauze, nankeen.
And old Brotteaux, as he listened to them, thought with a pensive
pleasure of these veils that hide women's charms and change
incessantly,--how they last for a few years to be renewed eternally like
the flowers of the field. And his eyes, as they wandered from the three
pretty women to the cornflowers and the poppies in the wheat, were wet
with smiling tears.
They reached Orangis about nine o'clock and stopped before the inn, the
"Auberge de la Cloche", where the Poitrines, husband and wife, offered
accommodation for man and beast. The "citoyen" Blaise, who had repaired
any disorder in his dress, helped the "citoyennes" to alight. After
ordering dinner for midday, they all set off, preceded by their
paintboxes, drawing-boards, easels, and parasols, which were carried by
a village lad, for the meadows near the confluence of the Orge and the
Yvette, a charming bit of country giving a view over the verdant plain
of Longjumeau and bounded by the Seine and the woods of
Jean Blaise, the leader of the troop of artists, was bandying funny
stories with the "ci-devant" financier, tales that brought in without
rhyme or reason Verboquet the Open-handed, Catherine Cuissot the pedlar,
the demoiselles Chaudron, the fortune-teller Galichet, as well as
characters of a later time like Cadet-Rousselle and Madame Angot.
Évariste, inspired with a sudden love of nature, as he saw a troop of
harvesters binding their sheaves, felt the tears rise to his eyes, while
visions of concord and affection filled his heart. For his part,
Desmahis was blowing the light down of the seeding dandelions into the
"citoyennes'" hair. All three loved posies, as town-bred girls always
do, and were busy in the meadows plucking the mullein, whose blossoms
grow in spikes close round the stem, the campanula, with its little
blue-bells hanging in rows one above another, the slender twigs of the
scented vervain, wallwort, mint, dyer's weed, milfoil--all the wild
flowers of late summer. Jean-Jacques had made botany the fashion among
townswomen, so all three knew the name and symbolism of every flower. As
the delicate petals, drooping for want of moisture, wilted in her hands
and fell in a shower about her feet, the "citoyenne" Élodie sighed:
"They are dying already, the poor flowers!"
All set to work and strove to express nature as they saw her; but each
saw her through the eyes of a master. In a short time Philippe Dubois
had knocked off in the style of Hubert Robert a deserted farm, a clump
of storm-riven trees, a dried-up torrent. Évariste Gamelin found a
landscape by Poussin ready made on the banks of the Yvette. Philippe
Desmahis was at work before a pigeon-cote in the picaresque manner of
Callot and Duplessis. Old Brotteaux who piqued himself on imitating the
Flemings, was drawing a cow with infinite care. Élodie was sketching a
peasant's hut, while her friend Julienne, who was a colourman's
daughter, set her palette. A swarm of children pressed about her,
watching her paint, whom she would scold out of her light at intervals,
calling them pestering gnats and giving them lollipops. The "citoyenne"
Thévenin, picking out the pretty ones, would wash their faces, kiss them
and put flowers in their hair. She fondled them with a gentle air of
melancholy, because she had missed the joy of motherhood,--as well as to
heighten her fascinations by a show of tender sentiment and to practise
herself in the art of pose and grouping.
She was the only member of the party neither drawing nor painting. She
devoted her attention to learning a part and still more to charming her
companions, flitting from one to another, book in hand, a bright,
"No complexion, no figure, no voice, no nothing," declared the
women,--and she filled the earth with movement, colour and harmony.
Faded, pretty, tired, indefatigable, she was the joy of the expedition.
A woman of ever-varying moods, but always gay, sensitive, quick-tempered
and yet easy-going and accommodating, a sharp tongue with the most
polished utterance, vain, modest, true, false, delightful; if Rose
Thévenin enjoyed no triumphant success, if she was not worshipped as a
goddess, it was because the times were out of joint and Paris had no
more incense, no more altars for the Graces. The "citoyenne" Blaise
herself, who made a face when she spoke of her and used to call her "my
step-mother," could not see her and not be subjugated by such an array
They were rehearsing "Les Visitandines" at the Théâtre Feydeau, and Rose
was full of self-congratulation at having a part full of "naturalness."
It was this quality she strove after, this she sought and this she
"Then we shall not see 'Paméla'?" asked Desmahis.
The Théâtre de la Nation was closed and the actors packed off to the
Madelonnettes and to Pélagie.
"Do you call that liberty?" cried Rose Thévenin, raising her beautiful
eyes to heaven in indignant protest.
"The players of the Théâtre de la Nation are aristocrats, and the
"citoyen" François' piece tends to make men regret the privileges of the
"Gentlemen," said Rose Thévenin, "have you patience to listen only to
those who flatter you?"
As midday approached everybody began to feel pangs of hunger and the
little band marched back to the inn.
Évariste walked beside Élodie, smilingly recalling memories of their
"Two young birds had fallen out of their nests on the roof on to the
sill of your window. You brought the little creatures up by hand; one of
them lived and in due time flew away. The other died in the nest of
cotton-wool you had made him. 'It was the one I loved best,' I remember
you said. That day, Élodie, you were wearing a red bow in your hair."
Philippe Dubois and Brotteaux, a little behind the rest, were talking of
Rome, where they had both been, the latter in '72, the other towards the
last days of the Academy. Brotteaux indeed had never forgotten the
Princess Mondragone, to whom he would most certainly have poured out
his plaints but for the Count Altieri, who always followed her like her
shadow. Nor did Philippe Dubois fail to mention that he had been invited
to dine with Cardinal de Bernis and that he was the most obliging host
in the world.
"I knew him," said Brotteaux, "and I may add without boasting that I was
for some while one of his most intimate friends; he had a taste for low
society. He was an amiable man, and for all his affectation of telling
fairy tales, there was more sound philosophy in his little finger than
in the heads of all you Jacobins, who are for making us virtuous and
God-fearing by Act of Parliament. Upon my word I prefer our
simple-minded theophagists who know not what they say nor yet what they
do, to these mad law-menders, who make it their business to guillotine
us in order to render us wise and virtuous and adorers of the Supreme
Being who has created them in His likeness. In former days I used to
have Mass said in the Chapel at Les Ilettes by a poor devil of a Curé
who used to say in his cups: 'Don't let's speak ill of sinners; we live
by 'em, we priests, unworthy as we are!' You must agree, sir, this
prayer-monger held sound maxims of government. We should adopt his
principles, and govern men as being what they are and not what we should
like them to be."
Rose Thévenin had meantime drawn closer to the old man. She knew he had
lived on a grand scale, and the thought of this gilded the "ci-devant"
financier's present poverty, which she deemed less humiliating as being
due to general causes, the result of the public bankruptcy. She saw in
him, with curiosity not unmixed with respect, the survival of one of
those open-handed millionaires of whom her elder comrades of the stage
spoke with sighs of unfeigned regret. Besides, the old fellow in his
plum-coloured coat, so threadbare and so well brushed, pleased her by
his agreeable address.
"Monsieur Brotteaux," she said to him, "we know how once upon a time, in
a noble park, on moonlight nights, you would slip into the shade of
myrtle groves with actresses and dancing-girls to the far-off shrilling
of flutes and fiddles.... Alas! they were more lovely, were they not,
your goddesses of the Opera and the Comédie-Française, than we of
to-day, we poor little National actresses?"
"Never think it, Mademoiselle," returned Brotteaux, "but believe me, if
one like you had been known in those days, she would have moved alone,
as sovereign queen without a rival (little as she would have desired
such solitude), in the park you are obliging enough to form so
flattering a picture of...."
It was quite a rustic inn, this Hôtel de la Cloche. A branch of holly
hung over the great waggon doors that opened on a courtyard where fowls
were always pecking about in the damp soil. On the far side of this
stood the house itself, consisting of a ground floor and one storey
above, crowned by a high-pitched tiled roof and with walls almost hidden
under old climbing rose-trees covered with blossom. To the right,
trimmed fruit-trees showed their tops above the low garden wall. To the
left was the stable, with an outside manger and a barn supported by
wooden pillars. A ladder leaned against the wall. Here again, under a
shed crowded with agricultural implements and stumps of trees, a white
cock was keeping an eye on his hens from the top of a broken-down
cabriolet. The courtyard was enclosed on this side by cow-sheds, in
front of which rose in mountainous grandeur a dunghill which at this
moment a girl as broad as she was long, with straw-coloured hair, was
turning over with a pitchfork. The liquid manure filled her sabots and
bathed her bare feet, and you could see the heels rise out of her shoes
every now and then as yellow as saffron. Her petticoats were kilted and
revealed the filth on her enormous calves and thick ankles. While
Philippe Desmahis was staring at her, surprised and tickled by the
whimsicalities of nature in framing this odd example of breadth without
length, the landlord shouted:
"Ho, there! Tronche, my girl! go fetch some water!"
She turned her head, showing a scarlet face and a vast mouth in which
one huge front tooth was missing. It had needed nothing less than a
bull's horn to effect a breach in that powerful jaw. She stood there
grinning, pitchfork on shoulder. Her sleeves were rolled up and her
arms, as thick as another woman's thighs, gleamed in the sun.
The table was laid in the farm kitchen, where a brace of fowls was
roasting,--they were almost done to a turn,--under the hood of the open
fireplace, above which hung two or three old fowling-pieces by way of
ornament. The bare whitewashed room, twenty feet long, was lighted only
through the panes of greenish glass let into the door and by a single
window, framed in roses, near which the grandmother sat turning her
spinning-wheel. She wore a coif and a lace frilling in the fashion of
the Regency. Her gnarled, earth-stained fingers held the distaff. Flies
clustered about her lids without her trying to drive them away. As a
child in her mother's arms, she had seen Louis XIV go by in his coach.
Sixty years ago she had made the journey to Paris. In a weak sing-song
voice she told the tale to the three young women, standing in front of
her, how she had seen the Hôtel de Ville, the Tuileries and the
Samaritaine, and how, when she was crossing the Pont-Royal, a barge
loaded with apples for the Marché du Mail had broken up, the apples had
floated down the current and the river was all red with the rosy-cheeked
She had been told of the changes that had occurred of late in the
kingdom, and in particular of the coil there was betwixt the curés who
had taken the oath and the nonjuring curés. She knew likewise there had
been wars and famines and portents in the sky. She did not believe the
King was dead. They had contrived his escape, she "would" have it, by a
subterranean passage, and had handed over to the headsman in his stead a
man of the common people.
At the old woman's feet, in his wicker cradle, Jeannot, the last born of
the Poitrines, was cutting his teeth. The "citoyenne" Thévenin lifted
the cradle and smiled at the child, which moaned feebly, worn out with
feverishness and convulsions. It must have been very ill, for they had
sent for the doctor, the "citoyen" Pelleport, who, it is true, being a
deputy-substitute to the Convention, asked no payment for his visits.
The "citoyenne" Thévenin, an innkeeper's daughter herself, was in her
element; not satisfied with the way the farm-girl had washed the plates
and dishes, she gave an extra wipe to the crockery and glass, an extra
polish to the knives and forks. While the "citoyenne" Poitrine was
attending to the soup, which she tasted from time to time as a good cook
should, Élodie was cutting up into slices a four-pound loaf hot from the
oven. Gamelin, when he saw what she was doing, addressed her:
"A few days ago I read a book written by a young German whose name I
have forgotten, and which has been very well translated into French. In
it you have a beautiful young girl named Charlotte, who, like you,
Élodie, was cutting bread and butter, and like you, cutting it
gracefully, and so prettily that at the sight the young Werther fell in
love with her."
"And it ended in their marrying?" asked Élodie.
"No," replied Évariste; "it ended in Werther's death by violence."
They dined well, they were all very hungry; but the fare was
indifferent. Jean Blaise complained bitterly; he was a great trencherman
and made it a rule of conduct to feed well; and no doubt what urged him
to elaborate his gluttony into a system was the general scarcity. In
every household the Revolution had overturned the cooking pot. The
common run of citizens had nothing to chew upon. Clever folks like Jean
Blaise, who made big profits amid the general wretchedness, went to the
cookshop where they showed their astuteness by stuffing themselves to
repletion. As for Brotteaux who, in this year II of liberty, was living
on chestnuts and bread-crusts, he could remember having supped at Grimod
de la Reynière's at the near end of the Champs Élysées. Eager to win the
repute of an accomplished gourmand he reeled off, sitting there before
Dame Poitrine's bacon and cabbages, a string of artful kitchen recipes
and wise gastronomic maxims. Presently, when Gamelin protested that a
Republican scorns the pleasures of the table, the old financier, always
a lover of antiquity, gave the young Spartan the true recipe for the
famous black broth.
After dinner, Jean Blaise, who never forgot business, set his itinerant
academy to make studies and sketches of the inn, which struck him as
quite romantic in its dilapidation. While Philippe Desmahis and Philippe
Dubois were drawing the cow-houses the girl Tronche came out to feed the
pigs. The "citoyen" Pelleport, officer of health, who at the same moment
appeared at the door of the farm kitchen where he had been bestowing his
professional services on the Poitrine baby, stepped up to the artists
and after complimenting them on their talents, which were an honour to
the whole nation, pointed to the Tronche girl in the middle of her
"You see that creature," he said, "it is not one girl, it is two girls.
I speak by the letter, understand that. I was amazed at the
extraordinary massiveness of her bony framework and I examined her, to
discover she had most of the bones in duplicate--in each thigh two
femurs welded together, in each shoulder a double humerus. Some of her
muscles are likewise in duplicate. It is a case, in my view, of a pair
of twins associated or rather confounded together. It is an interesting
phenomenon. I notified Monsieur Saint-Hilaire of the facts, and he
thanked me. It is a monster you see before you, "citoyens". The people
here call her 'the girl Tronche'; they should say 'the girls Tronches,'
for there are two of them. Nature has these freaks.... Good evening,
"citoyens"; we shall have a storm to-night...."
After supper by candle-light, the Academy Blaise adjourned to the
courtyard where they were joined by a son and daughter of the house in
a game of blindman's-buff, in which the young folks, both men and women,
displayed a feverish energy sufficiently accounted for by the high
spirits proper to their age without seeking an explanation in the wild
and precarious times in which they lived. When it was quite dark, Jean
Blaise proposed children's games in the farm kitchen. Élodie suggested
the game of "hunt my heart," and this was agreed to unanimously. Under
the girl's direction Philippe Desmahis traced in chalk, on different
pieces of furniture, on doors and walls, seven hearts, that is to say
one less than there were players, for old Brotteaux had obligingly
joined the rest. They danced round in a ring singing "La Tour, prends
garde!" and at a signal from Élodie, each ran to put a hand on a heart.
Gamelin in his absent-minded clumsiness was too late to find one vacant,
and had to pay a forfeit, the little knife he had bought for six sous at
the fair of Saint-Germain and with which he had cut the loaf for his
mother in her poverty. The game went on, and one after the other Blaise,
Élodie, Brotteaux and Rose Thévenin failed to touch a heart; each paid a
forfeit in turn--a ring, a reticule, a little morocco-bound book, a
bracelet. Then the forfeits were raffled on Élodie's lap, and each
player had to redeem his property by showing his society
accomplishments--singing a song or reciting a poem. Brotteaux chose the
speech of the patron saint of France in the first canto of the
"Je suis Denis et saint de mon métier,
J'aime la Gaule,..."
The "citoyen" Blaise, though a far less well-read man, replied without
hesitation with Richemond's ripost:
"Monsieur le Saint, ce n'était pas la peine
D'abandonner le céleste domaine...."
At that time everybody was reading and re-reading with delight the
masterpiece of the French Ariosto; the most serious of men smiled over
the loves of Jeanne and Dunois, the adventures of Agnès and Monrose and
the exploits of the winged ass. Every man of cultivation knew by heart
the choice passages of this diverting and philosophical poem. Évariste
Gamelin himself, stern-tempered as he was, when he recovered his
twopenny knife from Élodie's lap, recited the going down of Grisbourdon
into hell, with a good deal of spirit. The "citoyenne" Thévenin sang
without accompaniment Nina's ballad:
""Quand le bien-aimé reviendra.""
Desmahis sang to the tune of "La Faridondaine":
"Quelques-uns prirent le cochon
De ce bon saint Antoine,
Et lui mettant un capuchon,
Ils en firent un moine.
Il n'en coûtait que la façon...."
All the same Desmahis was in a pensive mood. For the moment he was
ardently in love with all the three women with whom he was playing
forfeits, and was casting burning looks of soft appeal at each in turn.
He loved Rose Thévenin for her grace, her supple figure, her clever
acting, her roving glances, and her voice that went straight to a man's
heart; he loved Élodie, because he recognized instinctively her rich
endowment of temperament and her kind, complaisant humour; he loved
Julienne Hasard, despite her colourless hair, her pale eyelashes, her
freckles and her thin bust, because, like Dunois in Voltaire's
"Pucelle", he was always ready, in his generosity, to give the least
engaging a token of love--and the more so in this instance because she
appeared to be for the moment the most neglected, and therefore the most
amenable to his attentions. Without a trace of vanity, he was never sure
of these being agreeable; nor yet was he ever sure of their not being.
So he never omitted to offer them on the chance. Taking advantage of the
opportunities offered by the game of forfeits, he made some tender
speeches to Rose Thévenin, who showed no displeasure, but could hardly
say much in return under the jealous eyes of the "citoyen" Jean Blaise.
He spoke more warmly still to the "citoyenne" Élodie, whom he knew to be
pledged to Gamelin, but he was not so exacting as to want a heart all to
himself. Élodie could never care for him; but she thought him a handsome
fellow and did not altogether succeed in hiding the fact from him.
Finally, he whispered his most ardent vows in the ear of the "citoyenne"
Hasard, which she received with an air of bewildered stupefaction that
might equally express abject submission or chill indifference. And
Desmahis did not believe she was indifferent to him.
The inn contained only two bedrooms, both on the first floor and opening
on the same landing. That to the left, the better of the two, boasted a
flowered paper and a looking-glass the size of a man's hand, the gilt
frame of which had been blackened by generations of flies since the days
when Louis XIV was a child. In it, under sprigged muslin curtains, stood
two beds with down pillows, coverlets and counterpanes. This room was
reserved for the three "citoyennes".
When the time came to retire, Desmahis and the "citoyenne" Hasard, each
holding a bedroom candlestick, wished each other good-night on the
landing. The amorous engraver quickly passed a note to the colourman's
daughter, beseeching her to come to him, when everybody was asleep, in
the garret, which was over the "citoyennes'" chamber.
With judicious foresight, he had taken care in the course of the day to
study the lie of the land and explore the garret in question, which was
full of strings of onions, apples and pears left there to ripen with a
swarm of wasps crawling over them, chests and old trunks. He had even
noticed an old bed of sacking, decrepit and now disused, as far as he
could see, and a palliasse, all ripped up and jumping with fleas.
Facing the "citoyennes'" room was another of very modest dimensions
containing three beds, where the men of the party were to sleep, in such
comfort as they might. But Brotteaux, who was a Sybarite, betook himself
to the barn to sleep among the hay. As for Jean Blaise, "he" had
disappeared. Dubois and Gamelin were soon asleep. Desmahis went to bed;
but no sooner had the silence of night, like a stagnant pool, enveloped
the house, than the engraver got up and climbed the wooden staircase,
which creaked under his bare feet. The door of the garret stood ajar.
From within came a breath of stifling hot air, mingled with the acrid
smell of rotting fruit. On the broken-down bed of sacking lay the girl
Tronche, fast asleep with her mouth open.
* * * * *
* * * * *
* * * * *
* * * * *
Desmahis returned to his room, where he slept soundly and peacefully
On the morrow, after a last day's work, the itinerant Academy took the
road back to Paris. When Jean Blaise paid mine host in assignats, the
"citoyen" Poitrine complained bitterly that he never saw what he called
"square money" nowadays, and promised a fine candle to the beggar who'd
bring back the "yellow boys" again.
He offered the "citoyennes" their pick of flowers. At his orders, the
girl Tronche mounted on a ladder in her sabots and kilted skirts, giving
a full view of her noble, much-bespattered calves, and was indefatigable
in cutting blossoms from the climbing roses that covered the wall. From
her huge hands the flowers fell in showers, in torrents, in avalanches,
into the laps of Élodie, Julienne, and Rose Thévenin, who held out their
skirts to catch them. The carriage was full of them. The whole party,
when they got back at nightfall, carried armfuls home, and their
sleeping and waking were perfumed with their fragrance.
"I am Denis, and sainthood is my trade,
I love the land of Gaul,... etc."
"Well, well, sir Saint, 'twas hardly worth your pains
Thus to forsake the heavenly domains...."
"Some ribalds took the pig,
Of the good St. Anthony,
And clapping a cowl on's head,
They made the brute a monk.
'Twas all a matter of dress...."
In the forenoon of the 7th September the "citoyenne" Rochemaure, on her
way to visit Gamelin, the new juror, whose interest she wished to
solicit on behalf of an acquaintance, who had been denounced as a
suspect, encountered on the landing the "ci-devant" Brotteaux des
Ilettes, who had been her lover in the old happy days. Brotteaux was
just starting to deliver a gross of dancing-dolls of his manufacture to
the toy-merchant in the Rue de la Loi; for their more convenient
carriage he had hit on the idea of tying them at the end of a pole, as
the street hawkers do with their commodities. His manners were always
chivalrous towards women, even to those whose fascination for him had
been blunted by long familiarity, as could hardly fail to be the case
with Madame de Rochemaure,--unless indeed he found her appetizing with
the added seasoning of betrayal, absence, unfaithfulness and fat. Be
this as it may, he now greeted her on the sordid stairs with their
cracked tiles as courteously as he had ever done on the steps before the
entrance-door of Les Ilettes, and begged her to do him the honour of
entering his garret. She climbed the ladder nimbly enough and found
herself under a timbering, the sloping beams of which supported a tiled
roof pierced with a skylight. It was impossible to stand upright. She
sat down on the only chair there was in the wretched place; after a
brief glance at the broken tiling, she asked in a tone of surprise and
"Is this where you live, Maurice? You need have little fear of
intruders. One must be an imp or a cat to find you here."
"I am cramped for space," returned the "ci-devant" millionaire; "and I
do not deny the fact that sometimes it rains on my pallet. It is a
trifling inconvenience. And on fine nights I can see the moon, symbol
and confidant of men's loves. For the moon, Madame, since the world
began, has been apostrophized by lovers, and at her full, with her pale
round face, she recalls to the fond swain's mind the object of his
"I know," sighed the "citoyenne".
"When their time comes the cats make a fine pandemonium in the rain
gutter yonder. But we must forgive love if it makes them caterwaul and
swear on the tiles, seeing how it fills the lives of men with torments
Both had had the tact to greet each other as friends who had parted the
night before to take their night's rest, and though grown strangers to
each other, they conversed with a good grace and on a footing of
At the same time Madame de Rochemaure seemed pensive. The Revolution,
which had for a long while been pleasant and profitable to her, was now
a source of anxiety and disquietude; her suppers were growing less
brilliant and less merry. The notes of her harp no longer charmed the
cloud from sombre faces. Her play-tables were forsaken by the most
lavish punters. Many of her cronies, now numbered among the suspects,
were in hiding; her lover, Morhardt the financier, was under arrest,
and it was on his behalf she had come to sound the juror Gamelin. She
was suspect herself. A posse of National Guards had made a search at her
house, had turned out the drawers of her cabinets, prised up boards in
her floor, thrust their bayonets into her mattresses. They had found
nothing, had made their apologies and drunk her wine. But they had come
very near lighting on her correspondence with an "émigré", Monsieur
d'Expilly. Certain friends he had among the Jacobins had warned her that
Henry, her handsome favourite, was beginning to compromise his party by
his violent language, which was too extravagant to be sincere.
Elbows on knees and head on fist, she sat buried in thought; then
turning to her old lover sitting on the palliasse, she asked:
"What do you think of it all, Maurice?"
"I think these good gentry give a philosopher and an amateur of the
shows of life abundant matter for reflection and amusement; but that it
would be better for you, my dear, if you were out of France."
"Maurice, where will it land us?"
"That is what you asked me, Louise, one day we were driving on the banks
of the Cher, on the road to Les Ilettes; the horse, you remember, had
taken the bit in his teeth and was galloping off with us at a frantic
pace. How inquisitive women are! to-day, for the second time, you want
to know where we are going to. Ask the fortune-tellers. I am not a
wizard, sweetheart. And philosophy, even the soundest, is of small help
for revealing the future. These things will have an end; everything has.
One may foresee divers issues. The triumph of the Coalition and the
entry of the allies into Paris. They are not far off; yet I doubt if
they will get there. These soldiers of the Republic take their beatings
with a zest nothing can extinguish. It may be Robespierre will marry
Madame Royale and have himself proclaimed Protector of the Kingdom
during the minority of Louis XVII."
"You think so!" exclaimed the "citoyenne", agog to have a hand in so
promising an intrigue.
"Again it may be," Brotteaux went on, "that La Vendée will win the day
and the rule of the priests be set up again over heaps of ruins and
piles of corpses. You cannot conceive, dear heart, the empire the clergy
still wields over the masses of the foolish,... I beg pardon, I meant to
say,--of 'the Faithful'; it was a slip of the tongue. The most likely
thing, in my poor opinion, is that the Revolutionary Tribunal will bring
about the destruction of the régime it has established; it is a menace
over too many heads. Those it terrifies are without number; they will
unite together, and to destroy it they will destroy the whole system of
government. I think you have got our young friend Gamelin posted to this
court. He is virtuous; he will be implacable. The more I think of it,
fair friend, the more convinced I am that this Tribunal, set up to save
the Republic, will destroy it. The Convention has resolved to have, like
Royalty, its "Grands Jours", its "Chambre Ardente", and to provide
for its security by means of magistrates appointed by itself and by it
kept in subjection. But how inferior are the Convention's "Grands Jours"
to those of the Monarchy, and its "Chambre Ardente" to that of Louis
XIV! The Revolutionary Tribunal is dominated by a sentiment of
mean-spirited justice and common equality that will quickly make it
odious and ridiculous and will disgust everybody. Do you know, Louise,
that this tribunal, which is about to cite to its bar the Queen of
France and twenty-one legislators, yesterday condemned a servant-girl
convicted of crying: 'Vive le Roi!' with malicious intent and in the
hope of destroying the Republic? Our judges, with their black hats and
plumes, are working on the model of that William Shakespeare, so dear to
the heart of Englishmen, who drags in coarse buffooneries in the middle
of his most tragic scenes."
"Ah, well! Maurice," asked the "citoyenne", "are you still as fortunate
as ever with women?"
"Alas!" replied Brotteaux, "the doves flock to the bright new dovecote
and light no more on the ruined tower."
"You have not changed.... Good-bye, dear friend,--till we meet again."
* * * * *
The same evening the dragoon Henry, paying a visit uninvited at Madame
de Rochemaure's, found her in the act of sealing a letter on which he
read the address of the "citoyen" Rauline at Vernon. The letter, he
knew, was for England. Rauline used to receive Madame de Rochemaure's
communications by a postilion of the posting-service and send them on to
Dieppe by the hands of a fishwife. The master of a fishing-smack
delivered them under cover of night to a British ship cruising off the
coast; an "émigré", Monsieur d'Expilly, received them in London and
passed them on, if he thought it advisable, to the Cabinet of Saint
Henry was young and good looking; Achilles was not such a paragon of
grace and vigour when he donned the armour Ulysses offered him. But the
"citoyenne" Rochemaure, once so enraptured by the charms of the young
hero of the Commune, now looked askance at him; her mood had changed
since the day she was told how the young soldier had been denounced at
the Jacobins as one whose zeal outran discretion and that he might
compromise and ruin her. Henry thought it might not break his heart
perhaps to leave off loving Madame de Rochemaure; but he was piqued to
have fallen in her good graces. He counted on her to meet sundry
expenses in which the service of the Republic had involved him. Last but
not least, remembering to what extremities women will proceed and how
they go in a flash from the most ardent tenderness to the coldest
indifference, and how easy they find it to sacrifice what once they held
dear and destroy what once they adored, he began to suspect that some
day his fascinating mistress might have him thrown into prison to get
rid of him. Common prudence urged him to regain his lost ascendancy and
to this end he had come armed with all his fascinations. He came near,
drew away, came near again, hovered round her, ran from her, in the
approved fashion of seduction in the ballet. Then he threw himself in an
armchair and in his irresistible voice, his voice that went straight to
women's hearts, he extolled the charms of nature and solitude and with a
lovelorn sigh proposed an expedition to Ermenonville.
Meanwhile she was striking chords on her harp and looking about her with
an expression of impatience and boredom. Suddenly Henry got up with a
gesture of gloomy resolution and informed her that he was starting for
the army and in a few days would be before Maubeuge.
Without a sign either of scepticism or surprise she nodded her approval.
"You congratulate me on my decision?"
"I do indeed."
She was expecting a new admirer who was infinitely to her taste and from
whom she hoped to reap great advantages,--a contrast in every way to the
old, a Mirabeau come to life again, a Danton rehabilitated and turned
army-contractor, a lion who talked of pitching every patriot into the
Seine. She was on tenter-hooks, thinking to hear the bell ring at any
To hasten Henry's departure, she fell silent, yawned, fingered a score,
and yawned again. Seeing he made no move to go, she told him she had to
go out and withdrew into her dressing-room.
He called to her in a broken voice:
"Farewell, Louise!... Shall I ever see you again?"--and his hands were
busy fumbling in the open writing-desk.
When he reached the street, he opened the letter addressed to the
"citoyen" Rauline and read it with absorbed attention. Indeed it drew a
curious picture of the state of public feeling in France. It spoke of
the Queen, of the actress Rose Thévenin, of the Revolutionary Tribunal
and a host of confidential remarks emanating from that worthy, Brotteaux
des Ilettes, were repeated in it.
Having read to the end and restored the missive to his pocket, he stood
hesitating a few moments; then, like a man who has made up his mind and
says to himself "the sooner the better," he turned his steps to the
Tuileries and found his way into the antechamber of the Committee of
* * * * *
The same day, at three o'clock of the afternoon, Évariste Gamelin was
seated on the jurors' bench along with fourteen colleagues, most of whom
he knew, simple-minded, honest, patriotic folks, savants, artists or
artisans,--a painter like himself, an artist in black-and-white, both
men of talent, a surgeon, a cobbler, a "ci-devant" marquis, who had
given high proofs of patriotism, a printer, two or three small
tradesmen, a sample lot in a word of the inhabitants of Paris. There
they sat, in the workman's blouse or bourgeois coat, with their hair
close-cropped "à la Titus" or clubbed "à la catogan"; there were
cocked-hats tilted over the eyes, round hats clapped on the back of the
head, red caps of liberty smothering the ears. Some were dressed in
coat, flapped waistcoat and breeches, as in olden days, others in the
"carmagnole" and striped trousers of the sansculottes. Wearing top-boots
or buckled shoes or sabots, they offered in their persons every variety
of masculine attire prevalent at that date. Having all of them occupied
their places on several previous occasions, they seemed very much at
their ease, and Gamelin envied them their unconcern. His own heart was
thumping, his ears roaring; a mist was before his eyes and everything
about him took on a livid tinge.
When the usher announced the opening of the sitting, three judges took
their places on a raised platform of no great size in front of a green
table. They wore hats cockaded and crowned with great black plumes and
the official cloak with a tricolour riband from which a heavy silver
medal was suspended on the breast. In front of them at the foot of the
daïs, sat the deputy of the Public Prosecutor, similarly attired. The
clerk of the court had a seat between the judges' bench and the
prisoner's chair, at present unoccupied. To Gamelin's eyes these men
wore a different aspect from that of every day; they seemed nobler,
graver, more alarming, albeit their bearing was commonplace enough as
they turned over papers, beckoned to an usher or leant back to listen to
some communication from a juryman or an officer of the court.
Above the judges' heads hung the tables of the Rights of Man; to their
right and left, against the old feudal walls, the busts of Le Peltier
Saint-Fargeau and Marat. Facing the jury bench, at the lower end of the
hall, rose the public gallery. The first row of seats was filled by
women, who all, fair, brown and grey-haired alike, wore the high coif
with the pleated tucker shading their cheeks; the breast, which
invariably, as decreed by the fashion of the day, showed the amplitude
of the nursing mother's bosom, was covered with a crossed white kerchief
or the rounded bib of a blue apron. They sat with folded arms resting on
the rail of the tribune. Behind them, scattered about the rising tiers,
could be seen a sprinkling of citizens dressed in the varied garb which
at that date gave every gathering so striking and picturesque a
character. On the right hand, near the doors, behind a broad barrier, a
space was reserved where the public could stand. On this occasion it was
nearly empty. The business that was to occupy the attention of this
particular section of the tribunal interested only a few spectators,
while doubtless the other sections sitting at the same hour would be
hearing more exciting cases.
This fact somewhat reassured Gamelin; his heart was like to fail him as
it was, and he could not have endured the heated atmosphere of one of
the great days. His eyes took in the most trifling details of the
scene,--the cotton-wool in the "greffier's" ear and a blot of ink on the
Deputy Prosecutor's papers. He could see, as through a magnifying glass,
the capitals of the pillars sculptured at a time when all knowledge of
the classical orders was forgotten and which crowned the Gothic columns
with wreaths of nettle and holly. But wherever he looked, his gaze came
back again and again to the fatal chair; this was of an antiquated make,
covered in red Utrecht velvet, the seat worn and the arms blackened with
use. Armed National Guards stood guarding every door.
At last the accused appeared, escorted by grenadiers, but with limbs
unbound, as the law directed. He was a man of fifty or thereabouts, lean
and dry, with a brown face, a very bald head, hollow cheeks and thin
livid lips, dressed in an out-of-date coat of a sanguine red. No doubt
it was fever that made his eyes glitter like jewels and gave his cheeks
their shiny, varnished look. He took his seat. His legs, which he
crossed, were extraordinarily spare and his great knotted hands met
round the knees they clasped. His name was Marie-Adolphe Guillergues,
and he was accused of malversation in the supply of forage to the
Republican troops. The act of indictment laid to his charge numerous and
serious offences, of which no single one was positively certain. Under
examination, Guillergues denied the majority of the charges and
explained the rest in a light favourable to himself. He spoke in a
cold, precise way, with a marked ability and gave the impression of
being a dangerous man to have business dealings with. He had an answer
for everything. When the judge asked him an embarrassing question, his
face remained unmoved and his voice confident, but his two hands, folded
on his breast, kept twitching in an agony. Gamelin was struck by this
and whispered to the colleague sitting next him, a painter like himself:
"Watch his thumbs!"
The first witness to depose alleged a number of most damaging facts. He
was the mainstay of the prosecution. Those on the other hand who
followed showed themselves well disposed to the prisoner. The Deputy of
the Public Prosecutor spoke strongly, but did not go beyond
generalities. The advocate for the defence adopted a tone of bluff
conviction of his client's innocence that earned the accused a sympathy
he had failed to secure by his own efforts. The sitting was suspended
and the jury assembled in the room set apart for deliberation. There,
after a confused and confusing discussion, they found themselves divided
in two groups about equal in number. On the one side were the
unemotional, the lukewarm, the men of reason, whom no passion could
stir, on the other the kind who let their feelings guide them, who prove
all but inaccessible to argument and only consult their heart. These
always voted guilty. They were the true metal, pure and unadulterated;
their only thought was to save the Republic and they cared not a straw
for anything else. Their attitude made a strong impression on Gamelin
who felt he was of the same kidney himself.
"This Guillergues," he thought to himself, "is a cunning scamp, a
villain who has speculated in the forage supplied to our cavalry. To
acquit him is to let a traitor escape, to be false to the fatherland, to
devote the army to defeat." And in a flash Gamelin could see the Hussars
of the Republic, mounted on stumbling horses, sabred by the enemy's
cavalry.... "But if Guillergues was innocent...?"
Suddenly he remembered Jean Blaise, likewise suspected of bad faith in
the matter of supplies. There were bound to be many others acting like
Guillergues and Blaise, contriving disaster, ruining the Republic! An
example must be made. But if Guillergues was innocent...?
"There are no proofs," said Gamelin, aloud.
"There never are," retorted the foreman of the jury, shrugging his
shoulders; he was good metal, pure metal!
In the end, there proved to be seven votes for condemnation, eight for
The jury re-entered the hall and the sitting was resumed. The jurors
were required to give reasons for their verdict, and each spoke in turn
facing the empty chair. Some were prolix, others confined themselves to
a sentence; one or two talked unintelligible gabble.
When Gamelin's turn came, he rose and said:
"In presence of a crime so heinous as that of robbing the defenders of
the fatherland of the sinews of victory, we need formal proofs which we
have not got."
By a majority of votes the accused was declared not guilty.
Guillergues was brought in again and stood before his judges amid a hum
of sympathy from the spectators which conveyed the news of his acquittal
to him. He was another man. His features had lost their harshness, his
lips were relaxed again. He looked venerable; his face bore the
impression of innocence. The President read out in tones of emotion the
verdict releasing the prisoner; the audience broke into applause. The
gendarme who had brought Guillergues in threw himself into his arms. The
President called him to the daïs and gave him the embrace of
brotherhood. The jurors kissed him, while Gamelin's eyes rained hot
The courtyard of the Palais, dimly lighted by the last rays of the
setting sun, was filled with a howling, excited crowd. The four sections
of the Tribunal had the day before pronounced thirty sentences of death,
and on the steps of the Great Stairway a throng of "tricoteuses"
squatted to see the tumbrils start. But Gamelin, as he descended the
steps among the press of jurors and spectators, saw nothing, heard
nothing but his own act of justice and humanity and the
self-congratulation he felt at having recognized innocence. In the
courtyard stood Élodie, all in white, smiling through her tears; she
threw herself into his arms and lay there half fainting. When she had
recovered her voice, she said to him:
"Évariste, you are noble, you are good, you are generous! In the hall
there, your voice, so gentle and manly, went right through me with its
magnetic waves. It electrified me. I gazed at you on your bench, I could
see no one but you. But you, dear heart, you never guessed I was there?
Nothing told you I was present? I sat in the gallery in the second row
to the right. By heaven! how sweet it is to do the right! you saved
that unhappy man's life. Without you, it was all over with him; he was
as good as dead. You have given him back to life and the love of his
friends. At this moment he must bless you. Évariste, how happy I am and
how proud to love you!"
Arm in arm, pressed close to one another, they went along the streets;
their bodies felt so light they seemed to be flying.
They went to the "Amour peintre". On reaching the Oratoire:
"Better not go through the shop," Élodie suggested.
She made him go in by the main coach-door and mount the stairs with her
to the suite of rooms above. On the landing she drew out of her reticule
a heavy iron key.
"It might be the key of a prison," she exclaimed, "Évariste, you are
going to be my prisoner."
They crossed the dining-room and were in the girl's bedchamber.
Évariste felt upon his the ardent freshness of Élodie's lips. He pressed
her in his arms; with head thrown back and swooning eyes, her hair
flowing loose over her relaxed form, half fainting, she escaped his hold
and ran to shoot the bolt....
The night was far advanced when the "citoyenne" Blaise opened the outer
door of the flat for her lover and whispered to him in the darkness.
"Good-bye, sweetheart! it is the hour my father will be coming home. If
you hear a noise on the stairs, go up quick to the higher floor and
don't come down till all danger is over of your being seen. To have the
street-door opened, give three raps on the "concierge's" window.
Good-bye, my life, good-bye, my soul!"
When he found himself in the street, he saw the window of Élodie's
chamber half unclose and a little hand pluck a red carnation, which fell
at his feet like a drop of blood.
 "Grands Jours",--under the ancien régime, an extraordinary assize
held by judges specially appointed by the King and acting in his name.
One evening when old Brotteaux arrived in the Rue de la Loi bringing a
gross of dancing-dolls for the "citoyen" Caillou, the toy-merchant, the
latter, a soft-spoken, polite man as a rule, stood there stiff and stern
among his dolls and punch-and-judies and gave him a far from gracious
"Have a care, "citoyen" Brotteaux," he began, "have a care! There is a
time to laugh, and a time to be serious; jokes are not always in good
taste. A member of the Committee of Security of the Section, who
inspected my establishment yesterday, saw your dancing-dolls and deemed
"He was jesting!" declared Brotteaux.
"Not so, "citoyen", not at all. He is not the man to joke. He said in
these little fellows the National representatives were insidiously
mimicked, that in particular one could discover caricatures of Couthon,
Saint-Just and Robespierre, and he seized the lot. It is a dead loss to
me, to say nothing of the grave risks to which I am exposed."
"What! these Harlequins, these Gilles, these Scaramouches, these Colins
and Colinettes, which I have painted the same as Boucher used to fifty
years ago, how should they be parodies of Couthons and Saint-Justs? No
sensible man could imagine such a thing."
"It is possible," replied the "citoyen" Caillou, "that you acted
without malice, albeit we must always distrust a man of parts like you.
But it is a dangerous game. Shall I give you an instance? Natoile, who
runs a little outdoor theatre in the Champs Élysées, was arrested the
day before yesterday for anti-patriotism, because he made Polichinelle
poke fun at the Convention."
"Now listen to me," Brotteaux urged, raising the cloth that covered his
little dangling figures; "just look at these masks and faces, are they
anything else whatever but characters in plays and pastorals? How could
you let yourself be persuaded, "citoyen" Caillou, that I was making fun
of the National Convention?"
Brotteaux was dumfounded. While allowing much for human folly, he had
not thought it possible it could ever go so far as to suspect his
Scaramouches and Colinettes. Repeatedly he protested their innocence and
his; but the "citoyen" Caillou would not hear a word.
""Citoyen" Brotteaux, take your dolls away. I esteem you, I honour you,
but I do not mean to incur blame or get into trouble because of you. I
intend to remain a good citizen and to be treated as such. Good evening,
"citoyen" Brotteaux; take your dolls away."
The old man set out again for home, carrying his suspects over his
shoulder at the end of a pole, an object of derision to the children,
who took him for the hawker of rat-poison. His thoughts were gloomy. No
doubt, he did not live only by his dancing-dolls; he used to paint
portraits at twenty "sols" apiece, under the archways of doors or in one
of the market halls, among the darners and old-clothes menders, where he
found many a young recruit starting for the front and wanting to leave
his likeness behind for his sweetheart. But these petty tasks cost him
endless pains, and he was a long way from making as good portraits as he
did dancing-dolls. Sometimes, too, he acted as amanuensis for the
Market dames, but this meant mixing himself up in Royalist plots, and
the risks were heavy. He remembered there lived in the Rue
Neuve-des-Petits-Champs, near the erstwhile Place Vendôme, another
toy-merchant, Joly by name, and he resolved to go next day to offer him
the goods the chicken-hearted Caillou had declined.
A fine rain began to fall. Brotteaux who feared its effects on his
marionettes, quickened his pace. As he crossed the Pont-Neuf and was
turning the corner of the Place de Thionville, he saw by the light of a
street-lamp, sitting on a stone post, a lean old man who seemed utterly
exhausted with fatigue and hunger, but still preserved his venerable
appearance. He was dressed in a tattered surtout, had no hat and
appeared over sixty. Approaching the poor wretch, Brotteaux recognised
the Père Longuemare, the same he had saved from hanging six months
before while both of them were waiting in queue in front of the bakery
in the Rue de Jérusalem. Feeling bound to the monk by the service he had
already done him, Brotteaux stepped up to him and made himself known as
the publican who had stood beside him among the common herd, one day of
great scarcity, and asked him if he could not be of some use to him.
"You seem wearied, Father. Take a taste of cordial,"--and Brotteaux drew
from the pocket of his plum-coloured coat a flask of brandy, which lay
there alongside his Lucretius.
"Drink. And I will help you to get back to your house."
The Père Longuemare pushed away the flask with his hand and tried to
rise, but only to fall back again in his seat.
"Sir," he said in a weak but firm voice, "for three months I have been
living at Picpus. Being warned they had come to arrest me at my lodging,
yesterday at five o'clock of the afternoon, I did not return home. I
have no place to go to; I am wandering the streets and am a little
"Very well, Father," proposed Brotteaux, "do me the honour to share my
"Sir," replied the Barnabite, "you know, I suppose, I am a suspect."
"I am one too," said Brotteaux, "and my marionettes into the bargain,
which is the worst thing of all. You see them exposed under this flimsy
cloth to the fine rain that chills our bones. For, I must tell you,
Father, that after having been a publican, I now make dancing-dolls for
The Père Longuemare took the hand the "ci-devant" financier extended to
him and accepted the hospitality offered. Brotteaux, in his garret,
served him a meal of bread and cheese and wine, which last he had put to
cool in the rain-gutter, for was he not a Sybarite?
Having appeased his hunger:
"Sir," said the Père Longuemare, "I ought to inform you of the
circumstances that led to my flight and left me to die on yonder post
where you found me. Driven from my cloister, I lived on the scanty
allowance the Assembly had assigned to me; I gave lessons in Latin and
Mathematics and I wrote pamphlets on the persecution of the Church of
France. I have even composed a work of some length, to prove that the
Constitutional oath of the Priests is subversive of Ecclesiastical
discipline. The advances made by the Revolution deprived me of all my
pupils, while I could not get my pension because I had not the
certificate of citizenship required by law. This certificate I went to
the Hôtel de Ville to claim, in the conviction I was well entitled to
it. Member of an order founded by the Apostle Paul himself, who boasted
the title of Roman citizen, I always piqued myself on behaving after his
example as a good French citizen, a respecter of all human laws which
are not in opposition to the Divine. I presented my demand to Monsieur
Colin, pork-butcher and Municipal officer, in charge of the delivery of
certificates of the sort. He questioned me as to my calling. I told him
I was a Priest. He asked me if I was married, and on my answering that I
was not, he told me that was the worse for me. Finally, after a variety
of questions, he asked me if I had proved my citizenship on the 10th
August, the 2nd September and the 31st May. 'No certificates can be
given,' he added, 'except to such as have proved their patriotism by
their behaviour on these three occasions.' I could not give him an
answer that would satisfy him. However, he took down my name and address
and promised me to make prompt enquiry into my case. He kept his word,
and as the result of his enquiry two Commissioners of the Committee of
General Security of Picpus, supported by an armed band, presented
themselves at my lodging in my absence to conduct me to prison. I do not
know of what crime I am accused. But you will agree with me one must
pity Monsieur Colin, whose wits are so clouded he holds it a reproach
to an ecclesiastic not to have made display of his patriotism on the
10th August, the 2nd September, and the 31st May. A man capable of such
a notion is surely deserving of commiseration."
""I" am in the same plight, I have no certificate," observed Brotteaux.
"We are both suspects. But you are weary. To bed, Father. We will
discuss plans to-morrow for your safety."
He gave the mattress to his guest and kept the palliasse for himself;
but the monk in his humility demanded the latter with so much urgency
that his wish had to be complied with; otherwise he would have slept on
These arrangements completed, Brotteaux blew out the candle both to save
tallow and as a wise precaution.
"Sir," the monk addressed him, "I am thankful for what you are doing for
me; but alas! it is of small moment to you whether I am grateful or no.
May God account your act meritorious! "That" is of infinite concern for
you. But God pays no heed to what is not done for his glory and is
merely the outcome of purely natural virtue. Wherefore I beseech you,
sir, to do for Him what you were led to do for me."
"Father," answered Brotteaux, "never trouble yourself on this head and
do not think of gratitude. What I am doing now, the merit of which you
exaggerate,--is not done for any love of you; for indeed, albeit you are
a lovable man, Father, I know you too little to love you. Nor yet do I
act so for love of humanity; for I am not so simple as to think with
'Don Juan' that humanity has rights; indeed this prejudice, in a mind so
emancipated as his, grieves me. I do it out of that selfishness which
inspires mankind to perform all their deeds of generosity and
self-sacrifice, by making them recognize themselves in all who are
unfortunate, by disposing them to commiserate their own calamities in
the calamities of others and by inciting them to offer help to a mortal
resembling themselves in nature and destiny, so that they think they are
succouring themselves in succouring him. I do it also for lack of
anything better to do; for life is so desperately insipid we must find
distraction at any cost, and benevolence is an amusement, of a mawkish
sort, one indulges in for want of any more savoury; I do it out of pride
and to get an advantage over you; I do it, in a word, as part of a
system and to show you what an atheist is capable of."
"Do not calumniate yourself, sir," replied the Père Longuemare. "I have
received of God more marks of grace than He has accorded you hitherto;
but I am not as good a man as you, and am greatly your inferior in
natural merits. But now let me take an advantage too over you. Not
knowing me, you cannot love me. And I, sir, without knowing you, I love
you better than myself; God bids me do so."
Having so said, the Père Longuemare knelt down on the floor, and after
repeating his prayers, stretched himself on his palliasse and fell
Évariste Gamelin occupied his place as juror of the Tribunal for the
second time. Before the opening of the sitting, he discussed with his
colleagues the news that had arrived that morning. Some of it was
doubtful, some untrue; but part was authentic--and appalling; the armies
of the coalition in command of all the roads and marching "en masse" on
Paris, La Vendée triumphant, Lyons in insurrection, Toulon surrendered
to the English, who were landing fourteen thousand men there.
For him and his fellow magistrates these were not only events of
interest to all the world, but so many matters of domestic concern.
Foredoomed to perish in the ruin of the fatherland, they made the public
salvation their own proper business. The Nation's interests, thus
entangled with their own, dictated their opinions and passions and
Gamelin, where he sat on the jury bench, was handed a letter from
Trubert, Secretary of the Committee of Defence; it was to notify his
appointment as Commissioner of Supplies of Powder and Saltpetre:
""You will excavate all the cellars in the Section in order to
extract the substances necessary for the manufacture of powder.
To-morrow perhaps the enemy will be before Paris; the soil of the
fatherland must provide us with the lightning we shall launch
against our aggressors. I send you herewith a schedule of
instructions from the Convention regarding the manipulation of
saltpetres. Farewell and brotherly greeting.""
At that moment the accused was brought in. He was one of the last of the
defeated Generals whom the Convention delivered over one after the other
to the Tribunal, and the most insignificant. At sight of him Gamelin
shuddered; once again he seemed to see the same soldier whom three weeks
before, looking on as a spectator, he had seen sentenced and sent to the
guillotine. The man was the same, with his obstinate, opinionated look;
the procedure was the same. He gave his answers in a cunning, brutish
way that ruined the effect even of the most convincing. His cavilling
and chicanery and the accusations he levelled against his subordinates,
made you forget he was fulfilling the honourable task of defending his
honour and his life. Everything was uncertain, every statement
disputed,--position of the armies, total of forces engaged, munitions of
war, orders given, orders received, movements of troops; nobody knew
anything. It was impossible to make head or tail of these confused,
nonsensical, aimless operations which had ended in disaster; defending
counsel and the accused himself were as much in the dark as were
accuser, judges, and jury, and strange to say, not a soul would admit,
whether to himself or to other people, that this was the case. The
judges took a childish delight in drawing plans and discussing problems
of tactics and strategy, while the prisoner constantly betrayed his
inborn predilection for crooked ways.
The arguments dragged on endlessly. And all the time Gamelin could see
on the rough roads of the north the ammunition wagons stogged in the
mire and the guns capsized in the ruts, and along all the ways the
broken and beaten columns flying in disorder, while from all sides the
enemy's cavalry was debouching by the abandoned defiles. And from this
host of men betrayed he could hear a mighty shout going up in accusation
of the General. When the hearing closed, darkness was falling on the
hall, and the head of Marat gleamed half-seen like a phantom above the
President's head. The jury was called upon to give judgment, but was of
two minds. Gamelin, in a hoarse, strangled voice, but in resolute
accents, declared the accused guilty of treason against the Republic,
and a murmur of approval rose from the crowd, a flattering unction to
his youthful virtue. The sentence was read by the light of torches which
cast a lurid, uncertain gleam on the prisoner's hollow temples beaded
with drops of sweat. Outside the doors, on the steps crowded with the
customary swarm of cockaded harridans, Gamelin could hear his name,
which the habitués of the Tribunal were beginning to know, passed from
mouth to mouth, and was assailed by a bevy of "tricoteuses" who shook
their fists in his face, demanding the head of "the Austrian".
The next day Évariste had to give judgment on the fate of a poor woman,
the widow Meyrion. She distributed bread from house to house and tramped
the streets pushing a little hand-cart and carrying a wooden tally hung
at her waist, on which she cut notches with her knife representing the
number of the loaves she had delivered. Her gains amounted to eight sous
a day. The deputy of the Public Prosecutor displayed an extraordinary
virulence towards the wretched creature, who had, it appears, shouted
"Vive le Roi!" on several occasions, uttered anti-revolutionary remarks
in the houses where she called to leave the daily dole of bread, and
been mixed up in a plot for the escape of the woman Capet. In answer to
the Judge's question she admitted the facts alleged against her; whether
fool or fanatic, she professed Royalist sentiments of the most
enthusiastic sort and waited her doom.
The Revolutionary Tribunal made a point of proving the triumph of
Equality by showing itself just as severe for street-porters and servant
maids as for the aristocrats and financiers. Gamelin could conceive no
other system possible under a popular government. He would have deemed
it a mark of contempt, an insult to the people, to exclude it from
punishment. That would have been to consider it, so to speak, as
unworthy of chastisement by the law. Reserved for aristocrats only, the
guillotine would have appeared to him in the light of an iniquitous
privilege. In his thoughts he was beginning to erect chastisement into a
religious and mystic dogma, to assign it a virtue, a merit of its own;
he conceived that society owes punishment to criminals and that it is
doing them an injustice to cheat them of this right. He declared the
woman Meyrion guilty and deserving of death, only regretting that the
fanatics, more culpable than herself, who had brought her to her ruin,
were not there to share her fate.
* * * * *
Every evening almost Évariste attended the meetings of the Jacobins, who
assembled in the former chapel of the Dominicans, commonly known as
Jacobins, in the Rue Honoré. In a courtyard, in which stood a tree of
Liberty, a poplar whose leaves shook and rustled all day in the wind,
the chapel, built in a poor, clumsy style and surmounted by a heavy roof
of tiles, showed its bare gable, pierced by a round window and an
arched doorway, above which floated the National colours, the flagstaff
crowned with the cap of Liberty. The Jacobins, like the Cordeliers, and
the Feuillants, had appropriated the premises and taken the name of the
dispossessed monks. Gamelin, once a regular attendant at the sittings of
the Cordeliers, did not find at the Jacobins the familiar sabots,
carmagnoles and rallying cries of the Dantonists. In Robespierre's club
administrative reserve and bourgeois gravity were the order of the day.
The Friend of the People was no more, and since his death Évariste had
followed the lessons of Maximilien whose thought ruled the Jacobins, and
thence, through a thousand affiliated societies was disseminated over
all France. During the reading of the minutes, his eyes wandered over
the bare, dismal walls, which, after sheltering the spiritual sons of
the arch-inquisitor of heresy, now looked down on the assemblage of
zealous inquisitors of crimes against the fatherland.
There, without pomp or ceremony, sat the body that was the chiefest
power of the State and ruled by force of words. It governed the city,
the empire, dictated its decrees to the Convention itself. These
artisans of the new order of things, so respectful of the law that they
continued Royalists in 1791 and would fain have been Royalists still on
the King's return from Varennes, so obstinate in their attachment to the
Constitution, friends of the established order of the State even after
the massacres of the Champ-de-Mars, and never revolutionaries against
the Revolution, heedless of popular agitation, cherished in their dark
and puissant soul a love of the fatherland that had given birth to
fourteen armies and set up the guillotine. Évariste was lost in
admiration of their vigilance, their suspicious temper, their reasoned
dogmatism, their love of system, their supremacy in the art of
governing, their sovereign sanity.
The public that formed the audience gave no token of their presence save
a low, long-drawn murmur as of one voice, like the rustling of the
leaves of the tree of Liberty that stood outside the threshold.
That day, the 11th Vendémiaire, a young man, with a receding brow, a
piercing eye, a sharp prominent nose, a pointed chin, a pock-marked
face, a look of cold self-possession, mounted the tribune slowly. His
hair was white with powder and he wore a blue coat that displayed his
slim figure. He showed the precise carriage and moved with the cadenced
step that made some say in mockery that he was like a dancing-master and
earned him from others the name of the "French Orpheus." Robespierre,
speaking in a clear voice, delivered an eloquent discourse against the
enemies of the Republic. He belaboured with metaphysical and
uncompromising arguments Brissot and his accomplices. He spoke at great
length, in free-flowing harmonious periods. Soaring in the celestial
spheres of philosophy, he launched his lightnings at the base
conspirators crawling on the ground.
Évariste heard and understood. Till then he had blamed the Gironde; were
they not working for the restoration of the monarchy or the triumph of
the Orleans faction, were they not planning the ruin of the heroic city
that had delivered France from her fetters and would one day deliver the
universe? Now, as he listened to the sage's voice, he discerned truths
of a higher and purer compass; he grasped a revolutionary metaphysic
which lifted his mind above coarse, material conditions into a region of
absolute, unqualified convictions, untrammelled by the errors of the
senses. Things are in their nature involved and full of confusion; the
complexity of circumstances is such that we lose our way amongst them.
Robespierre simplified them to his mind, put good and evil before him in
clear and precise formulas. Federalism,--indivisibility; unity and
indivisibility meant salvation, federalism, damnation. Gamelin tasted
the ineffable joy of a believer who knows the word that saves and the
word that destroys the soul. Henceforth the Revolutionary Tribunal, as
of old the ecclesiastical courts, would take cognizance of crime
absolute, of crime definable in a word. And, because he had the
religious spirit, Évariste welcomed these revelations with a sombre
enthusiasm; his heart swelled and rejoiced at the thought that,
henceforth, he had a talisman to discern betwixt crime and innocence, he
possessed a creed! Ye stand in lieu of all else, oh, treasures of faith!
The sage Maximilien enlightened him further as to the perfidious intent
of those who were for equalizing property and partitioning the land,
abolishing wealth and poverty and establishing a happy mediocrity for
all. Misled by their specious maxims, he had originally approved their
designs, which he deemed in accord with the principles of a true
Republican. But Robespierre, in his speeches at the Jacobins, had
unmasked their machinations and convinced him that these men,
disinterested as their intentions appeared, were working to overthrow
the Republic, that they were alarming the rich only to rouse against the
lawful authority powerful and implacable foes. Once private property
was threatened, the whole population, the more ardently attached to its
possessions the less of these it owned, would turn suddenly against the
Republic. To terrify vested interests is to conspire against the State.
These men who, under pretence of securing universal happiness and the
reign of justice, proposed a system of equality and community of goods
as a worthy object of good citizens' endeavours, were traitors and
malefactors more dangerous than the Federalists.
But the most startling revelation he owed to Robespierre's wisdom was
that of the crimes and infamies of atheism. Gamelin had never denied the
existence of God; he was a deist and believed in a Providence that
watches over mankind; but, admitting that he could form only a very
vague conception of the Supreme Being and deeply attached to the
principle of freedom of conscience, he was quite ready to allow that
right-thinking men might follow the example of Lamettrie, Boulanger, the
Baron d'Holbach, Lalande, Helvétius, the "citoyen" Dupuis, and deny
God's existence, on condition they formulated a natural morality and
found in themselves the sources of justice and the rules of a virtuous
life. He had even felt himself in sympathy with the atheists, when he
had seen them vilified and persecuted. Maximilien had opened his mind
and unsealed his eyes. The great man by his virtuous eloquence had
taught him the true character of atheism, its nature, its objects, its
effects; he had shown him how this doctrine, conceived in the
drawing-rooms and boudoirs of the aristocracy, was the most perfidious
invention the enemies of the people had ever devised to demoralize and
enslave it; how it was a criminal act to uproot from the heart of the
unfortunate the consoling thought of a Providence to reward and
compensate and give them over without rein or bit to the passions that
degrade men and make vile slaves of them; how, in fine, the monarchical
Epicureanism of a Helvétius led to immorality, cruelty, and every
wickedness. Now that he had learnt these lessons from the lips of a
great man and a great citizen, he execrated the atheists--especially
when they were of an open-hearted, joyous temper, like his old friend
* * * * *
In the days that followed Évariste had to give judgment one after the
other on a "ci-devant" convicted of having destroyed wheat-stuffs in
order to starve the people, three "émigrés" who had returned to foment
civil war in France, two ladies of pleasure of the Palais-Égalité,
fourteen Breton conspirators, men, women, old men, youths, masters, and
servants. The crime was proven, the law explicit. Among the guilty was a
girl of twenty, adorable in the heyday of her young beauty under the
shadow of the doom so soon to overwhelm her, a fascinating figure. A
blue bow bound her golden locks, her lawn kerchief revealed a white,
Évariste was consistent in casting his vote for death, and all the
accused, with the one exception of an old gardener, were sent to the
The following week Évariste and his section mowed down sixty-three
heads--forty-five men and eighteen women.
The judges of the Revolutionary Tribunal drew no distinction between men
and women, in this following a principle as old as justice itself. True,
the President Montané, touched by the bravery and beauty of Charlotte
Corday, had tried to save her by paltering with the procedure of the
trial and had thereby lost his seat, but women as a rule were shown no
favour under examination, in strict accordance with the rule common to
all the tribunals. The jurors feared them, distrusting their artful
ways, their aptitude for deception, their powers of seduction. They were
the match of men in resolution, and this invited the Tribunal to treat
them in the same way. The majority of those who sat in judgment, men of
normal sensuality or sensual on occasion, were in no wise affected by
the fact that the prisoner was a woman. They condemned or acquitted them
as their conscience, their zeal, their love, lukewarm or vehement, for
the Republic dictated. Almost always they appeared before the court with
their hair carefully dressed and attired with as much elegance as the
unhappy conditions allowed. But few of them were young and still fewer
pretty. Confinement and suspense had blighted them, the harsh light of
the hall betrayed their weariness and the anguish they had endured,
beating down on faded lids, blotched and pimpled cheeks, white, drawn
lips. Nevertheless, the fatal chair more than once held a young girl,
lovely in her pallor, while a shadow of the tomb veiled her eyes and
made her beauty the more seductive. That the sight had the power to melt
some jurymen and irritate others, who should deny? That, in the secret
depraved heart of him, one of these magistrates may have pried into the
most sacred intimacies of the fair body that was to his morbid fancy at
the same moment a living and a dead woman's, and that, gloating over
voluptuous and ghoulish imaginings he may have found an atrocious
pleasure in giving over to the headsman those dainty, desirable
limbs,--this is perhaps a thing better left unsaid, but one which no one
can deem impossible who knows what men are. Évariste Gamelin, cold and
pedantic in his artistic creed, could see no beauty but in the Antique;
he admired beauty, but it hardly stirred his senses. His classical taste
was so severe he rarely found a woman to his liking; he was as
insensible to the charms of a pretty face as he was to Fragonard's
colouring and Boucher's drawing. He had never known desire save under
the form of deep passion.
Like the majority of his colleagues in the Tribunal, he thought women
more dangerous than men. He hated the "ci-devant" princesses, the
creatures he pictured to himself in his horrified dreams in company with
Elisabeth and "the Austrian" weaving plots to assassinate good patriots;
he even hated all those fair mistresses of financiers, philosophers, and
men of letters whose only crime was having enjoyed the pleasures of the
senses and the mind and lived at a time when it was sweet to live. He
hated them without admitting the feeling to himself, and when he had one
before him at the bar, he condemned her out of pique, convinced all the
while that he was dooming her justly and rightly for the public good.
His sense of honour, his manly modesty, his cold, calculated wisdom, his
devotion to the State, his virtues in a word, pushed under the knife
heads that might well have moved men's pity.
But what is this, what is the meaning of this strange prodigy? Once the
difficulty was to find the guilty, to search them out in their lair, to
drag the confession of their crime from reluctant lips. Now, there is no
hunting with a great pack of sleuth-hounds, no pursuing a timid prey;
lo! from all sides come the victims to offer themselves a voluntary
sacrifice. Nobles, virgins, soldiers, courtesans, flock to the Tribunal,
dragging their condemnation from dilatory judges, claiming death as a
right which they are impatient to enjoy. Not enough the multitude with
which the zeal of the informers has crowded the prisons and which the
Public Prosecutor and his myrmidons are wearing out their lives in
haling before the Tribunal; punishment must likewise be provided for
those who refuse to wait. And how many others, prouder and more pressing
yet, begrudging their judges and headsmen their death, perish by their
own hand! The mania of killing is equalled by the mania to die. Here, in
the Conciergerie, is a young soldier, handsome, vigorous, beloved; he
leaves behind him in the prison an adorable mistress; she bade him "Live
for me!"--he will live neither for her nor love nor glory. He lights his
pipe with his act of accusation. And, a Republican, for he breathes
liberty through every pore, he turns Royalist that he may die. The
Tribunal tries its best to save him, but the accused proves the
stronger; judges and jury are forced to let him have his way.
Évariste's mind, naturally of an anxious, scrupulous cast, was filled to
overflowing through the lessons he learned at the Jacobins and the
contemplation of life with suspicions and alarms. At night, as he paced
the ill-lighted streets on his way to Élodie's, he fancied through every
cellar-grating he passed he caught a glimpse of a plate for printing off
forged assignats; in the dark recesses of the baker's and grocer's empty
shops he imagined storerooms bursting with provisions fraudulently held
back for a rise in prices; looking in at the glittering windows of the
eating-houses, he seemed to hear the talk of the speculators plotting
the ruin of the country as they drained bottles of Beaune and Chablis;
in the evil-smelling alleys he could see the very prostitutes trampling
underfoot the National cockade to the applause of elegant young
roisterers; everywhere he beheld conspirators and traitors. And he
thought: "Against so many foes, secret or declared, oh! Republic thou
hast but one succour; Saint Guillotine, save the fatherland!..."
Élodie would be waiting for him in her little blue chamber above the
"Amour peintre". To let him know he might come in, she used to set on
the window-sill her little watering-can beside the pot of carnations.
Now he filled her with horror, he seemed like a monster to her; she was
afraid of him,--and she adored him. All the night, clinging together in
a frantic embrace, the bloody-minded lover and the amorous girl
exchanged in silence frenzied kisses.
Rising at dawn, the Père Longuemare, after sweeping out the room,
departed to say his Mass in a chapel in the Rue d'Enfer served by a
nonjuring priest. There were in Paris thousands of similar retreats,
where the refractory clergy gathered together clandestinely little
troops of the faithful. The police of the Sections, vigilant and
suspicious as they were, kept their eyes shut to these hidden folds,
from fear of the exasperated flock and moved by some lingering
veneration for holy things. The Barnabite made his farewells to his host
who had great difficulty in persuading him to come back to dine, and
only succeeded in the end by promising that the cheer would be neither
plentiful nor delicate.
Brotteaux, when left to himself, kindled a little earthenware stove;
then, while he busied himself with preparations for the Monk's and the
Epicurean's meal, he read in his Lucretius and meditated on the
conditions of human beings.
As a sage and a philosopher, he was not surprised that these wretched
creatures, silly playthings of the forces of nature, found themselves
more often than not in absurd and painful situations; but he was weak
and illogical enough to believe that the Revolutionaries were more
wicked and more foolish than other men, thereby falling into the error
of the metaphysician. At the same time he was no Pessimist and did not
hold that life was altogether bad. He admired Nature in several of her
departments, especially the celestial mechanism and physical love, and
accommodated himself to the labours of life, pending the arrival of the
day, which could not be far off, when he would have nothing more either
to fear or to desire.
He coloured some dancing-dolls with painstaking care and made a Zerline
that was very like Rose Thévenin. He liked the girl and his Epicureanism
highly approved of the arrangement of the atoms of which she was
These tasks occupied him till the Barnabite's return.
"Father," he announced, as he opened the door to admit him, "I told you,
you remember, that our fare would be meagre. We have nothing but
chestnuts. The more reason, therefore, they should be well seasoned."
"Chestnuts!" cried Père Longuemare, smiling, "there is no more delicious
dish. My father, sir, was a poor gentleman of the Limousin, whose whole
estate consisted of a pigeon-cote in ruins, an orchard run wild and a
clump of chestnut-trees. He fed himself, his wife and his twelve
children on big green chestnuts, and we were all strong and sturdy. I
was the youngest and the most turbulent; my father used to declare, by
way of jesting, he would have to send me to America to be a
filibuster.... Ah! sir, how fragrant your chestnut soup smells! It takes
me back to the table where my mother sat smiling, surrounded by her
troop of little ones."
The repast ended, Brotteaux set out for Joly's, the toy-merchant in the
Rue Neuve-des-Petits-Champs, who took the dancing-dolls Caillou had
refused, and ordered--not another gross of them like the latter, but a
round twenty-four dozen to begin with.
On reaching the erstwhile Rue Royale and turning into the Place de la
Révolution, Brotteaux caught sight of a steel triangle glittering
between two wooden uprights; it was the guillotine. An immense crowd of
light-hearted spectators pressed round the scaffold, waiting the arrival
of the loaded carts. Women were hawking Nanterre cakes on a tray hung in
front of them and crying their wares; sellers of cooling drinks were
tinkling their little bells; at the foot of the Statue of Liberty an old
man had a peep-show in a small booth surmounted by a swing on which a
monkey played its antics. Underneath the scaffold some dogs were licking
yesterday's blood, Brotteaux turned back towards the Rue Honoré.
Regaining his garret, where the Barnabite was reading his breviary, he
carefully wiped the table and arranged his colour-box on it alongside
the materials and tools of his trade.
"Father," he said, "if you do not deem the occupation unworthy of the
sacred character with which you are invested, I will ask you to help me
make my marionettes. A worthy tradesman, Joly by name, has this very
morning given me a pretty heavy order. Whilst I am painting these
figures already put together, you will do me a great service by cutting
out heads, arms, legs, and bodies from the patterns here. Better you
could not find; they are after Watteau and Boucher."
"I agree with you, sir," replied Longuemare, "that Watteau and Boucher
were well fitted to create such-like baubles; it had been more to their
glory if they had confined themselves to innocent figures like these. I
should be delighted to help you, but I fear I may not be clever enough
The Père Longuemare was right to distrust his own skill; after sundry
unsuccessful attempts, the fact was patent that his genius did not lie
in the direction of cutting out pretty shapes in thin cardboard with the
point of a penknife. But when, at his suggestion, Brotteaux gave him
some string and a bodkin, he showed himself very apt in endowing with
motion the little creatures he had failed to make and teaching them to
dance. He had a happy knack, by way of trying them afterwards, of making
them each execute three or four steps of a gavotte, and when they
rewarded his pains, a smile would flicker on his stern lips.
One time when he was pulling the string of a Scaramouch to a dance tune:
"Sir," he observed, "this little travesty reminds me of a quaint story.
It was in 1746, when I was completing my noviciate under the care of the
Père Magitot, a man well on in years, of deep learning and austere
morals. At that period, you perhaps remember, dancing figures, intended
in the first instance to amuse children, exercised over women and even
over men, both young and old, an extraordinary fascination; they were
all the rage in Paris. The fashionable shops were crammed with them;
they were to be found in the houses of people of quality, and it was
nothing out of the way to see a grave and reverend senior dancing his
doll in the streets and public gardens. The Père Magitot's age,
character, and sacred profession did not avail to guard him against
infection. Every time he saw anyone busy jumping his cardboard mannikin,
his fingers itched with impatience to be at the same game,--an
impatience that soon grew well nigh intolerable. One day when he was
paying a visit of importance on a matter involving the interests of the
whole Order to Monsieur Chauvel, advocate in the courts of the
Parlement, noticing one of these dancers hanging from the chimney-piece,
he felt a terrible temptation to pull its string, which he only resisted
at the cost of a tremendous effort. But this frivolous ambition pursued
him everywhere and left him no peace. In his studies, in his
meditations, in his prayers, at church, at chapter, in the confessional
and in the pulpit, he was possessed by it. After some days of dreadful
agony of mind, he laid bare his extraordinary case to the General of the
Order, who happened fortunately to be in Paris at the moment. He was an
eminent ecclesiastic of Milan, a Doctor and Prince of the Church. His
counsel to the Père Magitot was to satisfy a craving, innocent in its
inception, importunate in its consequences and inordinate in its excess,
which threatened to super induce the gravest disorders in the soul which
was afflicted with it. On the advice, or more strictly by the order of
the General, the Père Magitot returned to Monsieur Chauvel's house,
where the advocate received him, as on the first occasion, in his
cabinet. There, finding the dancing figure still fastened in the same
place, he ran excitedly to the chimney-piece and begged his host to do
him a favour,--to let him pull the string. The lawyer gave him his
permission very readily, and informed him in confidence that sometimes
he set Scaramouch (that was the doll's name) dancing while he was
studying his briefs, and that, only the night before, he had modulated
on Scaramouch's movements the peroration of his speech in defence of a
woman falsely accused of poisoning her husband. The Père Magitot seized
the string with trembling fingers and saw Scaramouch throw his limbs
wildly about under his manipulation like one possessed of devils in the
agonies of exorcism."
"Your tale does not surprise me, father," Brotteaux told him, "We see
such cases of obsession; but it is not always cardboard figures that
The Père Longuemare, who was religious by profession, never talked about
religion, while Brotteaux was for ever harping on the subject. He was
conscious of a bond of sympathy between himself and the Barnabite, and
took a delight in embarrassing and disturbing his peace of mind with
objections against divers articles of the Christian faith.
Once when they were working together making Zerlines and Scaramouches:
"When I consider," remarked Brotteaux, "the events which have brought us
to the point at which we stand, I am in doubt as to which party, in the
general madness, has been the most insane; sometimes, I am greatly
tempted to believe it was that of the Court."
"Sir," answered the Monk, "all men lose their wits like Nebuchadnezzar,
when God forsakes them; but no man in our days ever plunged so deep in
ignorance and error as the Abbé Fauchet, no man was so fatal as he to
the kingdom. God must needs have been sorely exasperated against France
to send her Monsieur l'Abbé Fauchet!"
"I imagine we have seen other evil-doers besides poor, unhappy Fauchet."
"The Abbé Gregoire too, was full of malice."
"And Brissot, and Danton, and Marat, and a hundred others, what of them,
"Sir, they are laics; the laity could never incur the same
responsibilities as the clergy. They do not work evil from so high a
standpoint, and their crimes are not of universal bearing."
"And your God, Father, what say you of His behaviour in the present
"I do not understand you, sir."
"Epicurus said: Either God wishes to hinder evil and cannot, or He can
and does not wish to, or He cannot nor does he wish to, or He does wish
to and can. If He wishes to and cannot, He is impotent; if He can and
does not wish to, He is perverse; if He cannot nor does He wish to, He
is impotent and perverse; if He does wish to and can, why does He not,
tell me that, Father!"--and Brotteaux cast a look of triumph at his
"Sir," retorted the Monk, "there is nothing more contemptible than these
difficulties you raise. When I look into the reasoning of infidels, I
seem to see ants piling up a few blades of grass as a dam against the
torrent that sweeps down from the mountains. With your leave, I had
rather not argue with you; I should have too many excellent reasons and
too few wits to apply them. Besides, you will find your refutation in
the Abbé Guénée and twenty other apologists. I will only say that what
you quote from Epicurus is foolishness; because God is arraigned in it
as if he was a man, with a man's moral code. Well! sir, the sceptics,
from Celsus down to Bayle and Voltaire, have cajoled fools with
"See, Father," protested Brotteaux, "to what lengths your faith makes
you go. Not satisfied with finding all truth in your Theology, you
likewise refuse to discover any in the works of so many noble intellects
who thought differently from yourselves."
"You are entirely mistaken, sir," replied Longuemare. "On the contrary,
I believe that nothing could ever be altogether false in a man's
thoughts. The atheists stand on the lowest rung of the ladder of
knowledge; but even there, gleams of sense are to be found and flashes
of truth, and even when darkness is thick about him, a man may lift up
his eyes to God, and He will put understanding in his heart; was it not
so with Lucifer?"
"Well, sir," said Brotteaux, "I cannot match your generosity and I am
bound to tell you I cannot find in all the works of the Theologians one
atom of good sense."
At the same time he would repudiate any desire to attack religion, which
he deemed indispensable for the nations; he could only wish it had for
its ministers philosophers instead of controversialists. He deplored the
fact that the Jacobins were for replacing it by a newer and more
pestilent religion, the cult of liberty, equality, the republic, the
fatherland. He had observed this, that it is in the vigour of their
youth religions are the fiercest and most cruel, and grow milder as they
grow older. He was anxious, therefore, to see Catholicism preserved; it
had devoured many victims in the times of its vigour, but nowadays,
burdened by the weight of years and with enfeebled appetite, it was
content with roasting four or five heretics in a hundred years.
"As a matter of fact," he concluded, "I have always got on very well
with your God-eaters and Christ-worshippers. I kept a chaplain at Les
Ilettes, where Mass was said every Sunday and all my guests attended.
The philosophers were the most devout while the opera girls showed the
most fervour. I was prosperous then and had crowds of friends."
"Friends," exclaimed the Père Longuemare, "friends! Ah! sir, do you
really think they loved you, all these philosophers and all these
courtesans, who have degraded your soul in such wise that God himself
would find it hard to know it for one of the temples built by Him for
* * * * *
The Père Longuemare lived for a week longer at the publican's without
being interfered with. As far as possible he observed the discipline of
his House and every night at the canonical hours would rise from his
palliasse to kneel on the bare boards and recite the offices. Though
both were reduced to a diet of wretched scraps, he duly observed fasts
and abstinence. A smiling but pitiful spectator of these austerities,
Brotteaux one day asked him:
"Do you really believe that God finds any satisfaction in seeing you
endure cold and hunger as you do?"
"God himself," was the Monk's answer, "has given us the example of
On the ninth day since the Barnabite had come to share the
philosopher's garret, the latter sallied forth at twilight to
deliver his dancing-dolls to Joly, the toy-merchant of the Rue
Neuve-des-Petits-Champs. He was on his way back overjoyed at having sold
them all, when, as he was crossing the erstwhile Place du Carrousel, a
girl in a blue satin pelisse trimmed with ermine, running by with a
limping gait, threw herself into his arms and held him fast in the way
suppliants have had since the world began.
She was trembling and her heart was beating so fast and loud it could be
plainly heard. Wondering to see one of her common sort look so pathetic,
Brotteaux, a veteran amateur of the stage, thought how Mademoiselle
Raucourt, if she could have seen her, might have learnt something from
She spoke in breathless tones, lowering her voice to a whisper for fear
of being overheard by the passers-by:
"Take me with you, "citoyen", and hide me, for the love of pity!... They
are in my room in the Rue Fromenteau. While they were coming upstairs, I
ran for refuge into Flora's room,--she is my next-door neighbour,--and
leapt out of the window into the street, that is how I sprained my
ankle.... They are coming; they want to put me in prison and kill me....
Last week they killed Virginie."
Brotteaux understood, of course, that the child was speaking of the
delegates of the Revolutionary Committee of the Section or else the
Commissaries of the Committee of General Security. At that time the
Commune had as "procureur" a man of virtue, the "citoyen" Chaumette who
regarded the ladies of pleasure as the direct foes of the Republic and
harassed them unmercifully in his efforts to regenerate the Nation's
morals. To tell the truth, the young ladies of the Palais-Égalité were
no great patriots. They regretted the old state of things and did not
always conceal the fact. Several had been guillotined already as
conspirators, and their tragic fate had excited no little emulation
among their fellows.
The "citoyen" Brotteaux asked the suppliant what offence she had been
guilty of to bring down on herself a warrant of arrest.
She swore she had no notion, that she had done nothing anyone could
blame her for.
"Well then, my girl," Brotteaux told her, "you are not suspect; you have
nothing to fear. Be off with you to bed and leave me alone."
At this she confessed everything:
"I tore out my cockade and shouted: 'Vive le roi!'"
He walked down to the river-side and she kept by his side along the
deserted "quais". Clinging to his arm she went on:
"It is not that I care for him particularly, the King, you know; I never
knew him, and I daresay he wasn't very much different from other men.
But they are bad people. They are cruel to poor girls. They torment and
vex and abuse me in every kind of way; they want to stop me following my
trade. I have no other trade. You may be sure, if I had, I should not be
doing what I do.... What is it they want? They are so hard on poor
humble folks, the milkman, the charcoalman, the water carrier, the
laundress. They won't rest content till they've set all poor people
He looked at her; she seemed a mere child. She was no longer afraid; she
was almost smiling, as she limped along lightly at his side. He asked
her her name. She said she was called Athenaïs and was sixteen.
Brotteaux offered to see her safe to anywhere she wished to go. She did
not know a soul in Paris; but she had an aunt, in service at Palaiseau,
who would take her in.
Brotteaux made up his mind at once.
"Come with me, my child," he ordered, and led the way home, with her
hanging on his arm.
On his arrival, he found the Père Longuemare in the garret reading his
Holding Athenaïs by the hand, he drew the other's attention to her:
"Father," he said, "here is a girl from the Rue Fromenteau who has been
shouting: 'Vive le roi!' The revolutionary police are on her track. She
has nowhere to lay head. Will you allow the girl to pass the night
The Père Longuemare closed his breviary.
"If I understand you right," he said, "you ask me, sir, if this young
girl, who is like myself subject to be molested under a warrant of
arrest, may be suffered, for her temporal salvation, to spend the night
in the same room as I?"
"By what right should I object? and why must I suppose myself affronted
by her presence? am I so sure that I am any better than she?"
He established himself for the night in an old broken-down armchair,
declaring he should sleep excellently in it. Athenaïs lay on the
mattress. Brotteaux stretched himself on the palliasse and blew out the
The hours and half-hours sounded one after the other from the church
towers, but the old man could not sleep; he lay awake listening to the
mingled breathing of the man of religion and the girl of pleasure. The
moon rose, symbol and witness of his old-time loves, and threw a silvery
ray into the attic, illuminating the fair hair and golden lashes, the
delicate nose and round, red mouth of Athenaïs, who lay sound asleep.
"Truly," he thought to himself, "a terrible enemy for the Republic!"
When Athenaïs awoke, the day was breaking. The Monk had disappeared.
Brotteaux was reading Lucretius under the skylight, learning from the
maxims of the Latin poet to live without fears and without desires; but
for all this he felt himself at the moment devoured with regrets and
Opening her eyes, Athenaïs was dumfounded to see the roof beams of a
garret above her head. Then she remembered, smiled at her preserver and
extended towards him with a caressing gesture her pretty little dirty
Rising on her elbow, she pointed to the dilapidated armchair in which
the Monk had passed the night.
"He is not there?... He has not gone to denounce me, has he?"
"No, no, my child. You could not find a more honest soul than that old
Athenaïs asked in what the old fellow's madness consisted; and when
Brotteaux informed her it was religion, she gravely reproached him for
speaking so, declaring that men without faith were worse than the beasts
that perish and that for her part she often prayed to God, hoping He
would forgive her her sins and receive her in His blessed mercy.
Then, noticing that Brotteaux held a book in his hand, she thought it
was a book of the Mass and said:
"There you see, you too, you say your prayers! God will reward you for
what you have done for me."
Brotteaux having told her that it was not a Mass-book, and that it had
been written before ever the Mass had been invented in the world, she
opined it was an "Interpretation of Dreams", and asked if it did not
contain an explanation of an extraordinary dream she had had. She could
not read and these were the only two sorts of books she had heard tell
Brotteaux informed her that this book was only by way of explaining the
dream of life. Finding this a hard saying, the pretty child did not try
to understand it and dipped the end of her nose in the earthenware crock
that replaced the silver basins Brotteaux had once been accustomed to
use. Next, she arranged her hair before her host's shaving-glass with
scrupulous care and gravity. Her white arms raised above her head, she
let fall an observation from time to time with long intervals between:
"You, you were rich once."
"What makes you think that?"
"I don't know. But you "were" rich,--and you are an aristocrat, I am
certain of it."
She drew from her pocket a little Holy Virgin of silver in a round ivory
shrine, a bit of sugar, thread, scissors, a flint and steel, two or
three cases for needles and the like, and after selecting what she
required, sat down to mend her skirt, which had got torn in several
"For your own safety, my child, put this in your cap!" Brotteaux bade
her, handing her a tricolour cockade.
"I will do that gladly, sir," she agreed, "but it will be for the love
of you and not for love of the Nation."
When she was dressed and had made herself look her best, taking her
skirt in both hands, she dropped a curtsey as she had been taught to do
in her village, and addressing Brotteaux:
"Sir," she said, "I am your very humble servant."
She was prepared to oblige her benefactor in all ways he might wish,
but she thought it more becoming that he asked for no favour and she
offered none; it seemed to her a pretty way to part so, and what good
Brotteaux slipped a few assignats into her hand to pay her coach-hire to
Palaiseau. It was the half of his fortune, and, albeit he was notorious
for his lavishness towards women, it was the first time he had ever made
so equal a partition of his goods with any of the sex.
She asked him his name.
"I am called Maurice."
It was with reluctance he opened the garret door for her:
She kissed him. "Monsieur Maurice," she said, "when you think of me, if
ever you do, call me Marthe; that is the name I was christened, the name
they called me by in the village.... Good-bye and thank you.... Your
very humble servant, Monsieur Maurice."
The prisons were full to bursting and must be emptied; the work of
judging, judging, must go on without truce or respite. Seated against
the tapestried walls with their fasces and red caps of liberty, like
their fellows of the fleurs-de-lis, the judges preserved the same
gravity, the same dreadful calm, as their Royal predecessors. The Public
Prosecutor and his Deputies, worn out with fatigue, consumed with the
fever of sleeplessness and brandy, could only shake off their exhaustion
by a violent effort; their broken health made them tragic figures to
look upon. The jurors, divers in character and origin, some educated,
others ignorant, craven or generous, gentle or violent, hypocritical or
sincere, but all men who, knowing the fatherland and the Republic in
danger, suffered or feigned to suffer the same anguish, to burn with the
same ardour; all alike primed to atrocities of virtue or of fear, they
formed but one living entity, one single head, dull and irritable, one
single soul, a beast of the apocalypse that by the mere exercise of its
natural functions produced a teeming brood of death. Kind-hearted or
cruel by caprice of sensibility, when shaken momentarily by a sudden
pang of pity, they would acquit with streaming eyes a prisoner whom an
hour before they would have condemned to the guillotine with taunts. The
further they proceeded with their task, the more impetuously did they
follow the impulses of their heart.
Judge and jury toiled, fevered and half asleep with overwork, distracted
by the excitement outside and the orders of the sovereign people,
menaced by the threats of the "sansculottes" and "tricoteuses" who
crowded the galleries and the public enclosure, relying on insane
evidence, acting on the denunciations of madmen, in a poisonous
atmosphere that stupefied the brain, set ears hammering and temples
beating and darkened the eyes with a veil of blood. Vague rumours were
current among the public of jurors bought by the gold of the accused.
But to these the jury as a body replied with indignant protest and
merciless condemnations. In truth they were men neither worse nor better
than their fellows. Innocence more often than not is a piece of good
fortune rather than a virtue; any other who should have consented to put
himself in their place would have acted as they did and accomplished to
the best of his commonplace soul these appalling tasks.
Antoinette, so long expected, sat at last in the fatal chair, in a black
gown, the centre of such a concentration of hate that only the certainty
of what the sentence would be made the court observe the forms of law.
To the deadly questions the accused replied sometimes with the instinct
of self-preservation, sometimes with her wonted haughtiness, and once,
thanks to the hideous suggestion of one of her accusers, with the noble
dignity of a mother. The witnesses were confined to outrage and calumny;
the defence was frozen with terror. The tribunal, forcing itself to
respect the rules of procedure, was only waiting till all formalities
were completed to hurl the head of "the Austrian" in the face of
Three days after the execution of Marie Antoinette Gamelin was called to
the bedside of the "citoyen" Fortuné Trubert, who lay dying, within
thirty paces of the Military Bureau where he had worn out his life, on a
pallet of sacking, in the cell of some expelled Barnabite father. His
livid face was sunk in the pillow. His eyes, which already were almost
sightless, turned their glassy pupils upon his visitor; his parched hand
grasped Évariste's and pressed it with unexpected vigour. Three times he
had vomited blood in two days. He tried to speak; his voice, at first
hoarse and feeble as a whisper, grew louder, deeper:
"Wattignies! Wattignies!... Jourdan has forced the enemy into their camp
... raised the blockade at Maubeuge.... We have retaken Marchiennes, "ça
ira" ... "ça ira" ..." and he smiled.
These were no dreams of a sick man, but a clear vision of the truth that
flashed through the brain so soon to be shrouded in eternal darkness.
Hereafter the invasion seemed arrested; the Generals were terrorized and
saw that the one best thing for them to do was to be victorious. Where
voluntary recruiting had failed to produce what was needed, a strong and
disciplined army, compulsion was succeeding. One effort more, and the
Republic would be saved.
After a half hour of semi-consciousness, Fortuné Trubert's face,
hollow-cheeked and worn by disease, lit up again and his hands moved.
He lifted his finger and pointed to the only piece of furniture in the
room, a little walnut-wood writing-desk. The voice was weak and
breathless, but the mind quite unclouded:
"Like Eudamidas," he said, "I bequeath my debts to my friend,--three
hundred and twenty livres, of which you will find the account ... in
that red book yonder ... good-bye, Gamelin. Never rest; wake and watch
over the defence of the Republic. "Ça ira.""
The shades of night were deepening in the cell. The difficult breathing
of the dying man was the only sound, and his hands scratching on the
At midnight he uttered some disconnected phrases:
"More saltpetre.... See the muskets are delivered. Health? Oh!
excellent.... Get down the church-bells...."
He breathed his last at five in the morning.
By order of the Section his body lay in state in the nave of the
erstwhile church of the Barnabites, at the foot of the Altar of the
Fatherland, on a camp bed, covered with a tricolour flag and the brow
wreathed with an oak crown.
Twelve old men clad in the Roman toga, with palms in their hands, twelve
young girls wearing long veils and carrying flowers, surrounded the
funeral couch. At the dead man's feet stood two children, each holding
an inverted torch. One of them Évariste recognized as his "concierge's"
little daughter Joséphine, who in her childish gravity and beauty
reminded him of those charming genii of Love and Death the Romans used
to sculpture on their tombs.
The funeral procession made its way to the Cemetery of
Saint-André-des-Arts to the strains of the "Marseillaise" and the
As he laid the kiss of farewell on Fortuné Trubert's brow, Évariste
wept. His tears flowed in self-pity, for he envied his friend who was
resting there, his task accomplished.
On reaching home, he received notice that he was posted a member of the
Council General of the Commune. After standing as candidate for four
months, he had been elected unopposed, after several ballots, by some
thirty suffrages. No one voted nowadays; the Sections were deserted;
rich and poor alike only sought to shirk the performance of public
duties. The most momentous events had ceased to rouse either enthusiasm
or curiosity; the newspapers were left unread. Out of the seven hundred
thousand inhabitants of the capital Évariste doubted if as many as three
or four thousand still preserved the old Republican spirit.
The same day the Twenty-one came up for trial. Innocent or guilty of the
calamities and crimes of the Republic, vain, incautious, ambitious and
impetuous, at once moderate and violent, feeble in their fear as in
their clemency, quick to declare war, slow to carry it out, haled before
the Tribunal to answer for the example they had given, they were not the
less the first and the most brilliant children of the Revolution, whose
delight and glory they had been. The judge who will question them with
artful bias; the pallid accuser yonder who, where he sits behind his
little table, is planning their death and dishonour; the jurors who will
presently try to stifle their defence; the public in the galleries which
overwhelms them with howls of insult and abuse,--all, judge, jury,
people, have applauded their eloquence in other days, extolled their
talents and their virtues. But judge, jury, people have short memories
Once Évariste had made Vergniaud his god, Brissot his oracle. But he
had forgotten; if any vestige of his old wonder still lingered in his
memory, it was to think that these monsters had seduced the noblest
Returning to his lodging after the sitting, Gamelin heard heart-breaking
cries as he entered the house. It was little Joséphine; her mother was
whipping her for playing in the Place with good-for-nothing boys and
dirtying the fine white frock she had worn for the obsequies of the
After three months during which he had made a daily holocaust of
victims, illustrious or insignificant, to the fatherland, Évariste had a
case that interested him personally; there was one prisoner he made it
his special business to track down to death.
Ever since he had sat on the juror's bench, he had been eagerly
watching, among the crowd of culprits who appeared before him, for
Élodie's seducer; of this man he had elaborated in his busy fancy a
portrait, some details of which were accurate. He pictured him as young,
handsome, haughty, and felt convinced he had fled to England. He thought
he had discovered him in a young "émigré" named Maubel, who, having come
back to France and been denounced by his host, had been arrested in an
inn at Passy; Fouquier-Tinville was in charge of the prosecution,--among
a thousand others. Letters had been found on him which the accusation
regarded as proofs of a plot concocted between Maubel and the agents of
Pitt, but which were in fact only letters written to the "émigré" by a
banking-house in London which he had entrusted with certain funds.
Maubel, who was young and good-looking, seemed to be mainly occupied in
affairs of gallantry. His pocket-book afforded a clue to some
correspondence with Spain, then at war with France; but these
communications were really of a purely private nature, and if the court
of preliminary enquiry did not ignore the bill, it was only in virtue of
the maxim that justice should never be in too great a hurry to release a
Gamelin was handed a report of Maubel's first semi-private examination
and he was struck by what it revealed of the young man's character,
which he took to agree with what he believed to be that of Élodie's
betrayer. Thereafter he spent long hours in the private room of the
Clerk of the Court, poring eagerly over the papers relating to this
case. His suspicion received a remarkable confirmation on his
discovering in a note-book belonging to the "émigré", but long out of
date, the address of the "Amour peintre", in company, it is true, with
those of the "Green Monkey", the "Dauphin's Head", and several more
print and picture shops. But when he was informed that in this same
note-book had been found three or four petals of a red carnation
carefully wrapped in a piece of silk paper, remembering how the red
carnation was Élodie's favourite flower, the one she cultivated on her
window-sill, wore in her hair and used to give (he had reason to know)
as a love-token, Évariste's last doubts vanished. Being now convinced he
knew the facts, he resolved to question Élodie, though without letting
her know the circumstances that had led him to discover the culprit.
As he was climbing the stairs to his lodgings, he perceived even on the
lower landings a stifling smell of fruit, and on reaching the studio,
found Élodie helping the "citoyenne" Gamelin to make quince preserve.
While the old housewife was kindling the stove and turning over in her
mind ways of saving the fuel and moist sugar without prejudicing the
quality of the preserves, the "citoyenne" Blaise, seated in a
straw-bottomed chair, with an apron of brown holland and her lap full of
the golden fruit, was peeling the quinces, quartering and throwing them
into a shallow copper basin. The strings of her coif were thrown back
over her shoulders, the meshes of her black hair coiled above her moist
forehead; from her whole person breathed a domestic charm and an
intimate grace that induced gentle thoughts and voluptuous dreams of
Without stirring from her seat, she lifted her beautiful eyes, that
gleamed like molten gold, to her lover's face, and said:
"See, Évariste, we are working for you. We mean you to have a store of
delicious quince jelly to last you the winter; it will settle your
stomach and make your heart merry."
But Gamelin, stepping nearer, uttered a name in her ear:
At that moment Combalot the cobbler showed his red nose at the half-open
door. He had brought, along with some pairs of shoes he had re-heeled,
the bill for the repairs.
For fear of being taken for a bad citizen, he made a point of using the
new calendar. The "citoyenne" Gamelin, who liked to see clearly what was
what in her accounts, was all astray among the "Fructidors" and
"Vendémiaires". She heaved a sigh.
"Jesus!" she complained, "they want to alter everything,--days, months,
seasons of the year, the sun and the moon! Lord God, Monsieur Combalot,
what ever is this pair of over-shoes down for the 8 Vendémiaire?"
""Citoyenne", just cast your eye over your almana
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