List Of Contents | Contents of The Wandering Jew, V7, by Eugene Sue
< < Previous Page     Next Page > >

"Battle to the Devourers! or let them join the Wolves!" cried the angry
crowd with one voice, as they appeared to invade the house.

"Come!" exclaimed the host.  Without giving Olivier time to answer, he
seized him by the arm, and opening a window which led to a roof at no
very great height from the ground, he said to him: "Make your escape by
this window, let yourself slide down, and gain the fields; it is time."

As the young workman hesitated, the host added, with a look of terror:

"Alone, against a couple of hundred, what can you do?  A minute more, and
you are lost.  Do you not hear them?  They have entered the yard; they
are coming up."

Indeed, at this moment, the groans, the hisses, and cheers redoubled in
violence; the wooden staircase which led to the first story shook beneath
the quick steps of many persons, and the shout arose, loud and piercing:
"Battle to the Devourers!"

"Fly, Olivier!" cried Sleepinbuff, almost sobered by the danger.

Hardly had he pronounced the words when the door of the large room, which
communicated with the small one in which they were, was burst open with a
frightful crash.

"Here they are!" cried the host, clasping his hands in alarm.  Then,
running to Olivier, he pushed him, as it were, out of the window; for,
with one foot on the sill, the workman still hesitated.

The window once closed, the publican returned towards Morok the instant
the latter entered the large room, into which the leaders of the Wolves
had just forced an entry, whilst their companions were vociferating in
the yard and on the staircase.  Eight or ten of these madmen, urged by
others to take part in these scenes of disorder, had rushed first into
the room, with countenances inflamed by wine and anger; most of them were
armed with long sticks.  A blaster, of Herculean strength and stature,
with an old red handkerchief about his head, its ragged ends streaming
over his shoulders, miserably dressed in a half-worn goat-skin,
brandished an iron drilling-rod, and appeared to direct the movements.
With bloodshot eyes, threatening and ferocious countenance, he advanced
towards the small room, as if to drive back Morok, and exclaimed, in a
voice of thunder:

"Where are the Devourers?--the Wolves will eat 'em up!"

The host hastened to open the door of the small room, saying: "There is
no one here, my friends--no one.  Look for yourselves."

"It is true," said the quarryman, surprised, after peeping into the room;
"where are they, then?  We were told there were a dozen of them here.
They should have marched with us against the factory, or there'd 'a been
a battle, and the Wolves would have tried their teeth!"

"If they have not come," said another, "they will come.  Let's wait."

"Yes, yes; we will wait for them."

"We will look close at each other."

"If the Wolves want to see the Devourers," said Morok, "why not go and
howl round the factory of the miscreant atheists?  At the first howl of
the Wolves they will come out, and give you battle."

"They will give you--battle," repeated Sleepinbuff, mechanically.

"Unless the Wolves are afraid of the Devourers," added Morok.

"Since you talk of fear, you shall go with us, and see who's afraid!"
cried the formidable blaster, and in a thundering voice, he advanced
towards Morok.

A number of voices joined in with, "Who says the Wolves are afraid of the

"It would be the first time!"

"Battle! battle! and make an end of it!"

"We are tired of all this.  Why should we be so miserable, and they so
well off?"

"They have said that quarrymen are brutes, only fit to torn wheels in a
shaft, like dogs to turn spits," cried an emissary of Baron Tripeaud's.

"And that the Devourers would make themselves caps with wolf-skin," added

"Neither they nor their wives ever go to mass.  They are pagans and
dogs!" cried an emissary of the preaching abbe.

"The men might keep their Sunday as they pleased; but their wives not to
go to mass!--it is abominable.

"And, therefore, the curate has said that their factory, because of its
abominations, might bring down the cholera to the country."

"True? he said that in his sermon."

"Our wives heard it."

"Yes, yes; down with the Devourers, who want to bring the cholera on the

"Hooray, for a fight!" cried the crowd in chorus.

"To the factory, my brave Wolves!" cried Morok, with the voice of a
Stentor; "on to the factory!"

"Yes! to the factory! to the factory!" repeated the crowd, with furious
stamping; for, little by little, all who could force their way into the
room, or up the stairs, had there collected together.

These furious cries recalling Jacques for a moment to his senses, he
whispered to Morok: "It is slaughter you would provoke?  I wash my hands
of it."

"We shall have time to let them know at the factory.  We can give these
fellows the slip on the road," answered Morok.  Then he cried aloud,
addressing the host, who was terrified at this disorder: "Brandy!--let us
drink to the health of the brave Wolves!  I will stand treat."  He threw
some money to the host, who disappeared, and soon returned with several
bottles of brandy, and some glasses.

"What! glasses?" cried Morok.  "Do jolly companions, like we are, drink
out of glasses?"  So saying, he forced out one of the corks, raised the
neck of the bottle to his lips, and, having drunk a deep draught, passed
it to the gigantic quarryman.

That's the thing!" said the latter.  "Here's in honor of the treat!--None
but a sneak will refuse, for this stuff will sharpen the Wolves' teeth!"

"Here's to your health, mates!" said Morok, distributing the bottles.

"There will be blood at the end of all this," muttered Sleepinbuff, who,
in spite of his intoxication, perceived all the danger of these fatal
incitements.  Indeed, a large portion of the crowd was already quitting
the yard of the public-house, and advancing rapidly towards M. Hardy's

Those of the workmen and inhabitants of the village, who had not chosen
to take any part in this movement of hostility (they were the majority),
did not make their appearance, as this threatening troop passed along the
principal street; but a good number of women, excited to fanaticism by
the sermons of the abbe, encouraged the warlike assemblage with their
cries.  At the head of the troop advanced the gigantic blaster,
brandishing his formidable bar, followed by a motley mass, armed with
sticks and stones.  Their heads still warmed by their recent libations of
brandy, they had now attained a frightful state of frenzy.  Their
countenances were ferocious, inflamed, terrible.  This unchaining of the
worst passions seemed to forbode the most deplorable consequences.
Holding each other arm-in-arm, and walking four or five together, the
Wolves gave vent to their excitement in war-songs, which closed with the
following verse:

"Forward!  full of assurance!
Let us try our vigorous arms!
They have wearied out our prudence;
Let us show we've no alarms.
Sprung from a monarch glorious,[28]
To-day we'll not grow pale,
Whether we win the fight, or fail,
Whether we die, or are victorious!
Children of Solomon, mighty king,
All your efforts together bring,
Till in triumph we shall sing!"

Morok and Jacques had disappeared whilst the tumultuous troop were
leaving the tavern to hasten to the factory.

[27] Let it be noted, to the working-man's credit, that such outrageous
scenes become more and more rare as he is enlightened to the full
consciousness of his worth.  Such better tendencies are to be attributed
to the just influence of an excellent tract on trades' union written by
M. Agricole Perdignier, and published in 1841, Paris.  This author, a
joiner, founded at his own expense an establishment in the Faubourg St.
Antoine, where some forty or fifty of his trade lodged, and were given,
after the day's work, a course of geometry, etc., applied to wood-
carving.  We went to one of the lectures, and found as much clearness in
the professor as attention and intelligence in the audience.  At ten,
after reading selections, all the lodgers retire, forced by their scanty
wages to sleep, perhaps, four in a room.  M. Perdignier informed us that
study and instruction were such powerful ameliorators, that, during six
years, he had only one of his lodgers to expel.  "In a few days, he
remarked, "the bad eggs find out this is no place for them to addle sound
ones!"  We are happy to here reader public homage to a learned and
upright man, devoted to his fellow-workmen.

[28] The Wolves (among others) ascribe the institution of their company
to King Solomon.  See the curious work by M. Agricole Perdignier, from
which the war-song is extracted.



Whilst the Wolves, as we have just seen, prepared a savage attack on the
Devourers, the factory of M. Hardy had that morning a festal air,
perfectly in accordance with the serenity of the sky; for the wind was
from the north, and pretty sharp for a fine day in March.  The clock had
just struck nine in the Common Dwelling-house of the workmen, separated
from the workshops by a broad path planted with trees.  The rising sun
bathed in light this imposing mass of buildings, situated a league from
Paris, in a gay and salubrious locality, from which were visible the
woody and picturesque hills, that on this side overlook the great city.
Nothing could be plainer, and yet more cheerful than the aspect of the
Common Dwelling-house of the workmen.  Its slanting roof of red tiles
projected over white walls, divided here and there by broad rows of
bricks, which contrasted agreeably with the green color of the blinds on
the first and second stories.

These buildings, open to the south and east, were surrounded by a large
garden of about ten acres, partly planted with trees, and partly laid out
in fruit and kitchen-garden.  Before continuing this description, which
perhaps will appear a little like a fairy-tale, let us begin by saying,
that the wonders, of which we are about to present the sketch, must not
to be considered Utopian dreams; nothing, on the contrary, could be of a
more positive character, and we are able to assert, and even to prove
(what in our time is of great weight and interest), that these wonders
were the result of an excellent speculation, and represented an
investment as lucrative as it was secure.  To undertake a vast, noble,
and most useful enterprise; to bestow on a considerable number of human
creatures an ideal prosperity, compared with the frightful, almost
homicidal doom, to which they are generally condemned; to instruct them,
and elevate them in their own esteem; to make them prefer to the coarse
pleasures of the tavern, or rather to the fatal oblivion which they find
there, as an escape from the consciousness of their deplorable destiny,
the pleasures, of the intellect and the enjoyments of art; in a word, to
make men moral by making them happy, and finally, thanks to this generous
example, so easy of imitation, to take a place amongst the benefactors of
humanity--and yet, at the same time to do, as it were, without knowing
it, an excellent stroke of business--may appear fabulous.  And yet this
was the secret of the wonders of which we speak.

Let us enter the interior of the factory.  Ignorant of Mother Bunch's
cruel disappearance, Agricola gave himself up to the most happy, thoughts
as he recalled Angela's image, and, having finished dressing with unusual
care, went in search of his betrothed.

Let us say two words on the subject of the lodging, which the smith
occupied in the Common Dwelling-house, at the incredibly low rate of
seventy-five francs per annum like the other bachelors on the
establishment.  This lodging, situated on the second story, was comprised
of a capital chamber and bedroom, with a southern aspect, and looking on
the garden; the pine floor was perfectly white and clean; the iron
bedstead was supplied with a good mattress and warm coverings; a gas-
burner and a warm-air pipe were also introduced into the rooms, to
furnish light and heat as required; the walls were hung with pretty fancy
papering, and had curtains to match; a chest of drawers, a walnut table,
a few chairs, a small library, comprised Agricola's furniture.  Finally,
in the large and light closet, was a place for his clothes, a dressing-
table, and large zinc basin, with an ample supply of water.  If we
compare this agreeable, salubrious, comfortable lodging, with the dark,
icy, dilapidated garret, for which the worthy fellow paid ninety francs
at his mother's, and to get to which he had more than a league and a half
to go every evening, we shall understand the sacrifice he made to his
affection for that excellent woman.

Agricola, after casting a last glance of tolerable satisfaction at his
looking-glass, while he combed his moustache and imperial, quitted his
chamber, to go and join Angela in the women's workroom.  The corridor,
along which he had to pass, was broad, well-lighted from above, floored
with pine, and extremely clean.  Notwithstanding some seeds of discord
which had been lately sown by M. Hardy's enemies amongst his workmen,
until now so fraternally united, joyous songs were heard in almost all
the apartments which skirted the corridor, and, as Agricola passed before
several open doors, he exchanged a cordial good-morrow with many of his
comrades.  The smith hastily descended the stairs, crossed the court-
yard, in which was a grass-plot planted with trees, with a fountain in
the centre, and gained the other wing of the building.  There was the
workroom, in which a portion of the wives and daughters of the associated
artisans, who happened not to be employed in the factory, occupied
themselves in making up the linen.  This labor, joined to the enormous
saving effected by the purchase of the materials wholesale, reduced to an
incredible extent the price of each article.  After passing through this
workroom, a vast apartment looking on the garden, well-aired in
summer,[29] and well-warmed in winter, Agricola knocked at the door of
the rooms occupied by Angela's mother.

If we say a few words with regard to this lodging, situated on the first
story, with an eastern aspect, and also looking on the garden, it is that
we may tape it as a specimen of the habitation of a family in this
association, supplied at the incredibly small price of one hundred and
twenty-five francs per annum.

A small entrance, opening on the corridor, led to a large room, on each
side of which was a smaller chamber, destined for the family, when the
boys and girls were too big to continue to sleep in the two dormitories,
arranged after the fashion of a large school, and reserved for the
children of both sexes.  Every night the superintendence of these
dormitories was entrusted to a father and mother of a family, belonging
to the association.  The lodging of which we speak, being, like all the
others, disencumbered of the paraphernalia of a kitchen--for the cooking
was done in common, and on a large scale, in another part of the
building--was kept extremely clean.  A pretty large piece of carpet, a

< < Previous Page     Next Page > >

Other sites: