Part 5 out of 5
A few more minutes' walk up the Rue des Archives and they were in the
thick of the crowd. Sir Andrew Ffoulkes, Lord Anthony Dewhurst, and
Lord Hastings, the three Englishmen, were in front; Déroulède and
Juliette immediately behind them.
The mob itself now carried them along. A motley throng they were,
soaked through with the rain, drunk with their own baffled rage, and
with the brandy which they had imbibed.
Everyone was shouting; the women louder than the rest; one of them was
dragging the length of rope, which might still be useful.
"_Ça ira! ça ira! A la lanterne! A la lanterne! les traîtres!_"
And Déroulède, holding Juliette by the hand, shouted lustily with
Sir Andrew Ffoulkes turned, and laughed. It was rare sport for these
young bucks, and they all entered into the spirit of the situation.
They all shouted "_A la lanterne!_" egging and encouraging those
Déroulède and Juliette felt the intoxication of the adventure. They
were drunk with the joy of their reunion, and seized with the wild,
mad, passionate desire for freedom and for life... Life and love!
So they pushed and jostled on in the mud, followed the crowd, sang and
yelled louder than any of them. Was not that very crowd the great
bulwark of their safety?
As well have sought for the proverbial needle in the haystack, as for
two escaped prisoners in this mad, heaving throng.
The large open space in front of the Temple Prison looked like one
great, seething, black mass.
The darkness was almost thick here, the ground like a morass, with
inches of clayey mud, which stuck to everything, whilst the sparse
lanterns, hung to the prison walls and beneath the portico, threw
practically no light into the square.
As the little band, composed of the three Englishmen, and of
Déroulède, holding Juliette by the hand, emerged into the open space,
they heard a strident cry, like that of a sea-mew thrice repeated, and
a hoarse voice shouting from out the darkness:
"_Ma foi!_ I'll not believe that the prisoners are in the Temple now!
It is my belief, friends, citizens, that we have been fooled once
The voice, with its strange, unaccountable accent, which seemed to
belong to no province of France, dominated the almost deafening noise;
it penetrated through, even into the brandy-soddened minds of the
multitude, for the suggestion was received with renewed shouts of the
Like one great, living, seething mass the crowd literally bore down
upon the huge and frowning prison. Pushing, jostling, yelling, the
women screaming, the men cursing, it seemed as if that awesome day--
the 14th of July--was to have its sanguinary counterpart to-night, as
if the Temple were destined to share the fate of the Bastille.
Obedient to their leader's orders the three young Englishmen remained
in the thick of the crowd: together wit Déroulède they contrived to
form a sturdy rampart round Juliette, effectually protecting her
against rough buffetings.
On their right, towards the direction of Ménilmontant, the sea-mew's
cry at intervals gave the strength and courage.
The foremost rank of the crowd had reached the portico of the
building, and, with howls and snatches of their gutter song, were
loudly clamouring for the guardian of the grim prison.
No one appeared; the great gates with their massive bars and hinges
remained silent and defiant.
The crowd was becoming dangerous: whispers of the victory of the
Bastille, five years ago, engendered thoughts of pillage and of arson.
Then the strident voice was heard again:
"_Pardi!_ the prisoners are not in the Temple! The dolts have allowed
them to escape, and now are afraid of the wrath of the people!"
It was strange how easily the mob assimilated this new idea. Perhaps
the dark, frowning block of massive buildings had overawed them with
its peaceful strength, perhaps the dripping rain and oozing clay had
damped their desire for an immediate storming of the grim citadel;
perhaps it was merely the human characteristic of a wish for something
new, something unexpected.
Be that as it may, the cry was certainly taken up with marvellous,
"The prisoners have escaped! The prisoners have escaped!"
Some were for proceeding with the storming of the Temple, but they
were in the minority. All along, the crowd had been more inclined for
private revenge than for martial deeds of valour; the Bastille had
been taken by daylight; the effort might not have been so successful
on a pitch-black night such as this, when one could not see one's hand
before one's eyes, and the drizzling rain went through to the marrow.
"They've got through one of the barriers by now!" suggested the same
voice from out the darkness.
"The barriers--the barriers!" came in sheeplike echo from the crowd.
The little group of fugitives and their friends tightened their hold
on one another.
They had understood at last.
"It is for us to see that the crowd does what we want," the Scarlet
Pimpernel had said.
He wanted it to take him and his friends out of Paris, and, by God! he
was like to succeed.
Juliette's heart within her beat almost to choking; her strong little
hand gripped Déroulède's fingers with the wild strength of a mad
Next to the man to whom she had given her love and her very soul she
admired and looked up to the remarkable and noble adventurer, the
high-born and exquisite dandy, who with grime-covered face, and strong
limbs encased in filthy clothes, was playing the most glorious part
ever enacted upon the stage.
"To the barriers--to the barriers!"
Like a herd of wild horses, driven by the whip of the herdsmen, the
mob began to scatter in all directions. Not knowing what it wanted,
not knowing what it would find, half forgetting the very cause and
object of its wrath, it made one gigantic rush for the gates of the
great city through which the prisoners were supposed to have escaped.
The three Englishmen and Déroulède, with Juliette well protected in
their midst, had not joined the general onrush as yet. The crowd in
the open place was still very thick, the outward-branching streets
were very narrow: through these the multitude, scampering, hurrying,
scurrying, like a human torrent let out of a whirlpool, rushed down
headlong towards the barriers.
Up the Rue Turbigo to the Belleville gate, the Rue des Filles, and the
Rue du Chemin Vert, towards Popincourt, they ran, knocking each other
down, jostling the weaker ones on one side, trampling others
underfoot. They were all rough, coarse creatures, accustomed to these
wild bousculades, ready to pick themselves up, again after any number
of falls; whilst the mud was slimy and soft to tumble on, and those
who did the trampling had no shoes on their feet.
They rushed out from the dark, open place, these creatures of the
night, into streets darker still.
On they ran--on! on!--now in thick, heaving masses, anon in loose,
straggling groups--some north, some south, some east, some west.
But it was from the east that came the seagull's cry.
The little band rand boldly towards the east. Down the Rue de la
République they followed their leader's call. The crowd was very thick
here; the Barrière Ménilmontant was close by, and beyond it there was
the cemetery of Père Lachaise. It was the nearest gate to the Temple
Prison, and the mob wanted to be up and doing, not to spend too much
time running along the muddy streets and getting wet and cold, but to
repeat the glorious exploits of the 14th of July, and capture the
barriers of Paris by force of will rather than force of arms.
In this rushing mob the four men, with Juliette in their midst,
remained quite unchallenged, mere units in an unruly crowd.
In a quarter of an hour Ménilmontant was reached.
The great gates of the city were well guarded by detachments of the
National Guard, each under command of an officer. Twenty strong at
most--what was that against such a throng?
Who had ever dreamed of Paris being stormed from within?
At every gate to the north and east of the city there was now a rabble
some four or five thousand strong, wanting it knew not what. Everyone
had forgotten what it was that caused him or her to rush on so
blindly, so madly, towards the nearest barrier.
But everyone knew that he or she wanted to get through that barrier,
to attack the soldiery, to knock down the captain of the Guard.
And with a wild cry every city gate was stormed.
Like one huge wind-tossed wave, the populace on that memorable night
of Fructidor, broke against the cordon of soldiery, that vainly tried
to keep it back. Men and women, drunk with brandy and exultation,
shouted "_Quatorze Juillet!_" and amidst curses and threats demanded
the opening of the gates.
The people of France _would_ have its will.
Was it not the supreme lord an ruler of the land, the arbiter of the
Fate of this great, beautiful, and maddened country?
The National Guard was powerless; the officers in command could offer
but feeble resistance.
The desultory fire, which in the darkness and the pouring rain did
very little harm, had the effect of further infuriating the mob.
The drizzle had turned to a deluge, a veritable heavy summer downpour,
with occasional distant claps of thunder and incessant sheet-lightning,
which ever and anon illumined with its weird, fantastic flash this
heaving throng, these begrimed faces, crowned with red caps of
Liberty, these witchlike female creatures with wet, straggly hair and
gaunt, menacing arms.
Within half-an-hour the people of Paris was outside its own gates.
Victory was complete. The Guard did not resist; the officers had
surrendered; the great and mighty rabble had had its way.
Exultant, it swarmed around the fortifications and along the _terrains
vauges_ which it had conquered by its will.
But the downpour was continuous, and with victory came satiety--
satiety coupled with wet skins, muddy feet, tired, wearied bodies, and
throats parched with continual shouting.
At Ménilmontant, where the crowd had been thickest, the tempers
highest, and the yells most strident, there now stretched before this
tired, excited throng, the peaceful vastness of the cemetery of Père
The great alleys of sombre monuments, the weird cedars with their
fantastic branches, like arms of a hundred ghosts, quelled and awed
these hooting masses of degraded humanity.
The silent majesty of this city of the dead seemed to frown with
withering scorn on the passions of the sister city.
Instinctively the rabble was cowed. The cemetery looked dark, dismal,
and deserted. The flashed of lightning seemed to reveal ghostlike
processions of the departed heroes of France, wandering silently
amidst the tombs.
And the populace turned with a shudder away from this vast place of
From within the cemetery gates, there was suddenly heard the sound of
a sea-mew calling thrice to its mate. And five dark figures, wrapped
in cloaks, gradually detached themselves from the throng, and one by
one slipped into the grounds of Père Lachaise through that break in
the wall, which is quite close to the main entrance.
Once more the sea-gull's cry.
Those in the crowd who heard it, shivered beneath their dripping
clothes. They thought it was a soul in pain risen from one of the
graves, and some of the women, forgetting the last few years of
godlessness, hastily crossed themselves, and muttered an invocation to
the Virgin Mary.
Within the gates all was silent and at peace. The sodden earth gave
forth no echo of the muffled footsteps, which slowly crept towards the
massive block of stone, which covers the graves of the immortal lovers
--Abélard and Heloïse.
There is but little else to record.
History has told us how, shamefaced, tired, dripping, the great,
all-powerful people of Paris quietly slunk back to their homes, even
before the first cock-crow in the villages beyond the gates, acclaimed
the pale streak of dawn.
But long before that, even before the church bells of the great city
had tolled the midnight hour, Sir Percy Blakeney and his little band
of followers had reached the little tavern which stand close to the
farthest gate of Père Lachaise.
Without a word, like six silent ghosts, they had traversed the vast
cemetery, and reached the quiet hostelry, where the sounds of the
seething revolution only came, attenuated by their passage through the
peaceful city of the dead.
English gold had easily purchased silence and good will from the
half-starved keeper of this wayside inn. A huge travelling chaise
already stood in readiness, and four good Flanders horses had been
pawing the ground impatiently for the past half hour. From the window
of the chaise old Pétronelle's face, wet with anxious tears, was
A cry of joy and surprise escaped Déroulède and Juliette, and both
turned, with a feeling akin to awe, towards the wonderful man who had
planned and carried through this bold adventure.
"Nay, my friend," said Sir Percy, speaking more especially to
Déroulède; "if you only knew how simple it all was! Gold can do so
many things, and my only merit seems to be the possession of plenty of
that commodity. You told me yourself how you had provided for old
Pétronelle. Under the most solemn assurance that she would meet her
young mistress here, I got her to leave Paris. She came out most
bravely this morning in one of the market carts. She is so obviously a
woman of the people, that no one suspected her. As for the worthy
couple who keep this wayside hostel, they have been well paid, and
money soon procures a chaise and horses. My English friends and I, we
have our own passports, and one for Mademoiselle Juliette, who must
travel as an English lady, with her old nurse, Pétronelle. There are
some decent clothes in readiness for us all in the inn. A quarter of
an hour in which to don them and we must on our way. You can use your
own passport, of course; your arrest has been so very sudden that it
has not yet been cancelled, and we have an eight hours' start of our
enemies. They'll wake up to-morrow morning, begad! and find that you
have slipped through their fingers."
He spoke with easy carelessness, and that slow drawl of his, as if he
were talking airy nothings in a London drawing-room, instead of
recounting the most daring, most colossal piece of effrontery the
adventurous brain of man could conceive.
Déroulède could say nothing. His own noble heart was too full of
gratitude towards his friend to express it all in a few words.
And time, of course, was precious.
Within the prescribed quarter of an hour the little band of heroes had
doffed their grimy, ragged clothes, and now appeared dressed as
respectable bourgeois of Paris _en route_ for the country. Sir Percy
Blakeney had donned the livery of a coachman of a well-to-do house,
whilst Lord Anthony Dewhurst wore that of an English lacquey.
Five minutes later Déroulède had lifted Juliette into the travelling
chaise, and in spite of fatigue, of anxiety, and emotion, it was
immeasurable happiness to feel her arm encircling his shoulders in
perfect joy and trust.
Sir Andrew Ffoulkes and Lord Hastings joined them inside the chaise;
Lord Anthony sat next to Sir Percy on the box.
And whilst the crowd of Paris was still wondering why it had stormed
the gates of the city, the escaped prisoners were borne along the
muddy roads of France at breakneck speed northward to the coast.
Sir Percy Blakeney held the reins himself. With his noble heart full
of joy, the gallant adventurer himself drove his friends to safety.
They had an eight hours' start, and the league of the Scarlet
Pimpernel had done its work thoroughly: well provided with passports,
and with relays awaiting them at every station of fifty miles or so,
the journey, though wearisome was free from further adventure.
At Le Havre the little party embarked on board Sir Percy Blakeney's
yacht the _Day dream,_ where they met Madame Déroulède and Anne Mie.
The two ladies, acting under the instructions of Sir Percy, had as
originally arranged, pursued their journey northwards, to the populous
Anne Mie's first meeting with Juliette was intensely pathetic. The
poor little cripple had spent the last few days in an agony of
remorse, whilst the heavy travelling chaise bore her farther and
farther away from Paris.
She thought Juliette dead, and Paul a prey to despair, and her tender
soul ached when she remembered that it was she who had given the final
deadly stab to the heart of the man she loved.
Hers was the nature born to abnegation: aye! and one destined to find
bliss therein. And when one glance in Paul Déroulède's face told her
that she was forgiven, her cup of joy at seeing him happy beside his
beloved, was unalloyed with any bitterness.
* * * * *
It was in the beautiful, rosy dawn of one of the last days of that
memorable Fructidor, when Juliette and Paul Déroulède, standing on
the deck of the _Daydream,_ saw the shores of France gradually receding
from their view.
Déroulède's arm was round his beloved, her golden hair, fanned by the
breeze, brushed lightly against his cheek.
"Madonna!" he murmured.
She turned her head to him. It was the first time that they were
quite alone, the first time that all thought of danger had become a
What had the future in store for them, in that beautiful, strange land
to which the graceful yacht was swiftly bearing them?
England, the land of freedom, would shelter their happiness and their
joy; and they looked out towards the North, where lay, still hidden in
the arms of the distant horizon, the white cliffs of Albion, whilst
the mist even now was wrapping it its obliterating embrace the shores
of the land where they had both suffered, where they had both learned
He took her in his arms.
"My wife!" he whispered.
The rosy light touched her golden hair; he raised her face to his, and
soul met soul in one long, passionate kiss.