Paris under the Commune eBook

John Leighton Stuart
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 389 pages of information about Paris under the Commune.
him where his clothes came from.  The man was very cool and courageous, and his perfect self-possession disconcerted this juge d’instruction. He was asked if he were married, and had a family.  He replied, ‘Yes, I have a wife and eight children.’  He was then shown into the back office, where the ‘judges’ were.  These judges were mere boys, who seemed quite proud of the part they were playing, and gave themselves no end of airs, I asked the governor of the gaol soon afterwards what had been done with the gendarme.  He told me that they were going to shoot him.  I replied, ’Surely it can’t be true.  I must see the president—­we can’t allow a married man with eight children to be murdered in this way.’  I tried to get into the room where the court-martial was sitting, but was prevented.  One of the National Guards on duty at the door told me ’Don’t go in there, or you’re done for (N’y entrez pas, ou vous etes f—­).’  I made immediately further inquiries about M. Grudnemel, and was told he was in ’a provisional cell.’  I trembled for him, for I knew that meant he would be given up to the mob, which would tear him to pieces.  When they said, ’This man is to be taken to a cell,’ that meant that he was to be shot.  When they said, ‘Put him in a provisional cell,’ it meant that he should be delivered over to the mob for butchery, I continued to plead the gendarme’s cause with the National Guard, dwelling on the fact of his having eight children.  Thereon, the Woman above referred to, who appeared to be in command of the detachment, exclaimed, ’Why does this fellow go in for the gendarme?’ One of her acolytes replied, ‘Smash his jaw.’  This woman seemed to understand her business.  She minutely inspected the men’s pouches to ascertain that they had plenty of ammunition.  She would not hear of the gendarme being reprieved, and she had her way.  I understood that I had better follow the governor’s advice and keep quiet.  A mere boy was placed as sentry at the door of the court-martial.  He told me, ‘You know I sha’n’t let you in.’  When I saw the poor gendarme leave the room he looked at me imploringly; he had probably detected in my eyes a look of sympathy.  And when he was told that he might go out—­hearing the yells of the mob—­he turned towards me and said, ’But I shall be stoned to death;’ and, in fact, it was perfectly fearful to hear the shouts of the crowd outside.  I could not withstand the impulse, and I took my place by his side, and tried to address the crowd.  ’Think on what you are going to do—­surely you won’t murder the father of eight children.’  The words were hardly out of my mouth when a kind of signal was given.  I was shoved back against the wall, and one National Guard, clapping his hand on his musket, ejaculated, ’You know, you old rascal, there is something for you here,’ and he drove his bayonet through my whiskers.  The unfortunate gendarme was taken across the place, close to the shop where they sell funeral wreaths, but there was
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Paris under the Commune from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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