At four in the morning we had another alarm; in an instant every one was on foot and rushing to the windows. The house to which I was ordered was the very one that had inspired my ingenious friend with his novel plan of evasion. I found him already installed in the room from whence we were to fire into the street.—“You do not know what I have done,” said he, coming up to me.—“No.”—“Well, you know the door which opens on to the passage; you remember it?”—“Of course I do.”—“I found there was a key; so what do you think I did? I double-locked the door, and went and slipped the key down the nearest drain! Ha! ha! The fellow who tries to escape that way will be finely caught!”
I seized him cordially by the hand and shook it many times. He was beaming, and I was pleased also. I could not help feeling that however low France may have fallen, one must never despair of a country in which cowards even can be brave.
On Friday, the 24th of March, at nine in the morning, we are still in the quarter of the Bourse. Some of the men have not slept for forty-eight hours. We are tired but still resolved. Our numbers are increasing every hour. I have just seen three battalions, with trumpeters and all complete, come up and join us. They will now be able to let the men who have been so long on duty get a little rest. As to what is going on, we are but very incompletely informed. The Federals are fortifying themselves more strongly than ever at the Place de l’Hotel de Ville and the Place Vendome. They are very numerous, and have lots of artillery. Why do they not act on the offensive? Or do they want, as we do, to avoid a conflict? Certainly our hand shall not be the first to spill French blood. These hours of hesitation on both sides calm men’s minds. The deputies and mayors of Paris are trying to obtain from the National Assembly the recognition of the municipal franchise. If the Government has the good sense to make these concessions, which are both legitimate and urgent, rather than remain doggedly on the defensive, with the conviction that it has right on its ride; if, in a word, it remembers the well-known maxim, “Summum jus, summa injuria,” the horrors of civil war may be averted. We are told, and I fancy correctly, that the Federal Guards are not without fear concerning the issue of the events into which they have hurried. The chiefs must also be uneasy. Even those who have declared themselves irreconcileable in the hour of triumph would not perhaps be sorry now if a little condescension on the part of the Assembly furnished them with a pretext of not continuing the rebellion. Just now, several Guards of the 117th Battalion, a part of which has declared for the Central Committee, who happened to be passing, stopped to chat with our outposts. Civil war to the knife did not at all appear to be their most ardent desire. One of them said: