They tried to lift the body, but with fingers stiffened by death the General held my big cherry satin butterfly. They had nearly to break his fingers to get it out.
Meantime the Commissioner examined and searched curiously among that brilliant heap of rags on which the General had died. My waist appeared to catch his eye. “Here is a mark,” he said to one of his men—“a mark inside the waist, with the name and number of the maker. We can learn where these dresses came from. Wrap this waist in a newspaper and I’ll take it.”
They wrapped me in an old number of the Official Journal of the Commune. The following day we went to M. Worth, the Commissioner and I. The conversation was not long.
“Was this dress made by you?” the Commissioner asked.
“Yes; here’s the mark.”
“And for whom was it made?”
“Number 18,223. Wait a moment; I’ll consult my books.” The dress-maker came back in five minutes, and said to the Commissioner, “It was for the Baroness Z—— that I made this dress, eighteen months ago, and it isn’t paid for.”
“Prisoner,” said the President of the Council of War, “have you anything to add in your defence?”
“Yes, colonel,” replied the prisoner. “The little lawyer you assigned me defended me according to his idea; I want to defend myself according to mine.
“My name is Martin (Lewis Joseph). I am fifty-five years old. My father was a locksmith. He had a little shop in the upper part of the Saint-Martin Quarter, and had a fair business. We just existed. I learned to read in the National, which was, I believe, the paper of M. Thiers.
“On the 27th of July, 1830, my father went out very early. That evening, at ten o’clock, he was brought back to us on a litter, dying. He had received a bullet in the chest. Beside him on the litter was his musket.
“‘Take it,’ he said to me. ’I give it to you; and every time there is a riot, be against the Government—always, always, always!’
“An hour later he was dead. I went out in the night. At the first barricade I stopped and offered myself; a man examined me by the light of a lantern. ‘A child!’ he exclaimed. I was not fifteen. I was very slight and undersized. I answered: ’A child, maybe, but my father was killed two hours ago. He gave me his musket. Teach me how to use it.’
“From that moment I became what I have always been for forty years, an insurgent! If I fought during the Commune, it was not because I was forced, nor for the thirty sous; it was from taste, from pleasure, from habit, from routine.
“In 1830 I behaved rather bravely at the attack on the Louvre. The urchin who first scaled the gate beneath the bullets of the Swiss was I. I received the Medal of July. But the shopkeepers gave us a king. It had all to be done over. I joined a secret society; I learned to melt bullets, to make powder—in short, I completed my education, and I waited.