An anecdote: Parisian all over; but with such stuff are they amused!
Raoul Rigault, the man who arrests, was breakfasting with Gaston Dacosta, the man who destroys. These two friends are worthy of each other. Rigault has incarcerated the Archbishop of Paris, but Dacosta claims the merit of having loosened the first stone in M. Thiers’ house. But however, Rigault would destroy if Dacosta were not there to do so; and if Rigault did not arrest, Dacosta would arrest for him.
They talked as they ate. Rigault enumerated the list of people he had sent to the Conciergerie and to Mazas, and thought with consternation that soon there would be no one left for him to arrest. Suddenly he stopped his fork on its way to his mouth, and his face assumed a most doleful expression.—“What’s the matter?” cried Dacosta, alarmed.—“Ah!” said Rigault, tears choking his utterance, “Papa is not in Paris.”—“Well, and what does it matter if your father is not here?”—“Alas!” exclaimed Rigault, bursting out crying, “I could have had him arrested!"
[Footnote 91: The illegality of his conduct, however, was too glaring even for the Commune, and he was removed from his post on a complaint made by Arthur Arnould, to the committee, concerning the arbitrary arrest of a number of persons. Cournet was appointed to the Prefecture in Rigault’s stead, but the amateur policeman and informer did not renounce work; he found the greatest pleasure, as he himself expressed it, in acting the spy over the official spies. This man was a well-known frequenter of the low cafes of the Quartier Latin, and his face bore such evidences of his debauched life, that though only twenty-eight years of age, he looked nearer forty.]
[Illustration: COURNET, MEMBER OF COMMITTEE OF GENERAL SAFETY.]
The horrible cracking sound that is heard at sea when a vessel splits upon a rock, is not a surer sign of peril to the terrified crew, than are the vain efforts, contradictions and agitation at the Hotel de Ville, the forerunners of disaster to the men of the Commune. Listen! the vessel is about to heave asunder. Everybody gives orders, no one obeys them. One man looks defiantly at another; this man denounces that, and Rigault thinks seriously of arresting them both. There is a majority which is not united, and a minority that cannot agree amongst themselves. Twenty-one members retire, they do well. I am glad to find on the list the names of the few that Paris’ still believes in, and whom, thanks to this tardy resignation, it will not learn to despise. For instance, Arthur Arnould. But why should they take the trouble to seek out a pretext? Why did they not say simply: “We have left them because we find them full of wickedness; we were blinded as you were at first, but now we in our turn see clearly;