"Saint-Denis," Book Fourteen: Chapter V
End of the Verses of Jean Prouvaire
All flocked around Marius. Courfeyrac flung himself on his neck.
"Here you are!"
"What luck!" said Combeferre.
"You came in opportunely!" ejaculated Bossuet.
"If it had not been for you, I should have been dead!" began Courfeyrac again.
"If it had not been for you, I should have been gobbled up!" added Gavroche.
"Where is the chief?"
"You are he!" said Enjolras.
Marius had had a furnace in his brain all day long; now it was a whirlwind. This whirlwind which was within him, produced on him the effect of being outside of him and of bearing him away. It seemed to him that he was already at an immense distance from life. His two luminous months of joy and love, ending abruptly at that frightful precipice, Cosette lost to him, that barricade, M. Mabeuf getting himself killed for the Republic, himself the leader of the insurgents,—all these things appeared to him like a tremendous nightmare. He was obliged to make a mental effort to recall the fact that all that surrounded him was real. Marius had already seen too much of life not to know that nothing is more imminent than the impossible, and that what it is always necessary to foresee is the unforeseen. He had looked on at his own drama as a piece which one does not understand.
In the mists which enveloped his thoughts, he did not recognize Javert, who, bound to his post, had not so much as moved his head during the whole of the attack on the barricade, and who had gazed on the revolt seething around him with the resignation of a martyr and the majesty of a judge. Marius had not even seen him.
In the meanwhile, the assailants did not stir, they could be heard marching and swarming through at the end of the street but they did not venture into it, either because they were awaiting orders or because they were awaiting reinforcements before hurling themselves afresh on this impregnable redoubt. The insurgents had posted sentinels, and some of them, who were medical students, set about caring for the wounded.
They had thrown the tables out of the wine-shop, with the exception of the two tables reserved for lint and cartridges, and of the one on which lay Father Mabeuf; they had added them to the barricade, and had replaced them in the tap-room with mattresses from the bed of the widow Hucheloup and her servants. On these mattresses they had laid the wounded. As for the three poor creatures who inhabited Corinthe, no one knew what had become of them. They were finally found, however, hidden in the cellar.
A poignant emotion clouded the joy of the disencumbered barricade.
The roll was called. One of the insurgents was missing. And who was it? One of the dearest. One of the most valiant. Jean Prouvaire. He was sought among the wounded, he was not there. He was sought among the dead, he was not there. He was evidently a prisoner. Combeferre said to Enjolras:—
"They have our friend; we have their agent. Are you set on the death of that spy?"
"Yes," replied Enjolras; "but less so than on the life of Jean Prouvaire."
This took place in the tap-room near Javert's post.
"Well," resumed Combeferre, "I am going to fasten my handkerchief to my cane, and go as a flag of truce, to offer to exchange our man for theirs."
"Listen," said Enjolras, laying his hand on Combeferre's arm.
At the end of the street there was a significant clash of arms.
They heard a manly voice shout:—
"Vive la France! Long live France! Long live the future!"
They recognized the voice of Prouvaire.
A flash passed, a report rang out.
Silence fell again.
"They have killed him," exclaimed Combeferre.
Enjolras glanced at Javert, and said to him:—
"Your friends have just shot you."
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