“And de Launay?” inquired Calvert.
“He has been beheaded and dragged to the Place de Greve,” says de Corny, gloomily. “Come, if you wish to see the work of destruction,” and he rose hurriedly.
Together the gentlemen entered Mr. Jefferson’s carriage, which was waiting, and were driven along the boulevards toward the Bastille. But the streets near the prison were so crowded with spectators and armed ruffians that they were finally forced to alight from the carriage, which was left in the Place Royale, and proceed on foot. As they passed Monsieur Beaumarchais’s garden, they came upon Mr. Morris and Madame de Flahaut, who had also driven thither and were leaning against the fence looking on at the work of demolition.
“You should have been here some moments ago,” said Mr. Morris. “Lafayette has just ridden by with the key of the Bastille, which has been given to him and which, he tells me, he proposes sending to General Washington. A strange gift!”
“Why strange?” inquired Mr. Jefferson. “’Tis an emblem of hard-earned liberty.”
“An emblem of madness,” said Mr. Morris, with a shrug. “However, I have witnessed some thrilling scenes in this madness. But an hour ago a fellow climbed upon the great iron gate and, failing to bring it down, implored his comrades to pull him by the legs, thus sustaining the rack. He had the courage and strength to hold on until his limbs were torn from the sockets. ’Twould make a great painting, and I shall suggest the idea to d’Angiviliers.”
“Do they know of this at Versailles?” asked Calvert.
“The Duc de Liancourt passed in his carriage half an hour ago,” said Mr. Morris, “on his way to Versailles to inform the King. Yesterday it was the fashion at Versailles not to believe that there were any disturbances at Paris. I presume that this day’s transactions will induce a conviction that all is not perfectly quiet! But, even with this awful evidence, the King is capable of not being convinced, I venture to say.” He was quite right in his surmise, and ’twas not until two o’clock in the morning that Monsieur de Liancourt was able to force his way into the King’s bed-chamber and compel His Majesty to listen to a narrative of the awful events of the day in Paris.
In the meantime crowds of the greatest ladies and gentlemen flocked to the Place de la Bastille to witness the strange and horrid scenes there enacting, rubbing elbows with the armed and drunken scum of the city, and only retiring when night hid the sight of it all from them. It was amid a very carnival of mad liberty, of flaring lights and hideous noises, of fantastic and terrible figures thrusting their infuriated countenances in at the coach-windows, with a hundred orders to halt and to move on, a hundred demands to know if there were arms in the carriage, that Mr. Jefferson and Calvert finally regained the Champs Elysees and the American Legation. With the next