“They have said that quarrymen are brutes, only fit to torn wheels in a shaft, like dogs to turn spits,” cried an emissary of Baron Tripeaud’s.
“And that the Devourers would make themselves caps with wolf-skin,” added another.
“Neither they nor their wives ever go to mass. They are pagans and dogs!” cried an emissary of the preaching abbe.
“The men might keep their Sunday as they pleased; but their wives not to go to mass!—it is abominable.
“And, therefore, the curate has said that their factory, because of its abominations, might bring down the cholera to the country.”
“True? he said that in his sermon.”
“Our wives heard it.”
“Yes, yes; down with the Devourers, who want to bring the cholera on the country!”
“Hooray, for a fight!” cried the crowd in chorus.
“To the factory, my brave Wolves!” cried Morok, with the voice of a Stentor; “on to the factory!”
“Yes! to the factory! to the factory!” repeated the crowd, with furious stamping; for, little by little, all who could force their way into the room, or up the stairs, had there collected together.
These furious cries recalling Jacques for a moment to his senses, he whispered to Morok: “It is slaughter you would provoke? I wash my hands of it.”
“We shall have time to let them know at the factory. We can give these fellows the slip on the road,” answered Morok. Then he cried aloud, addressing the host, who was terrified at this disorder: “Brandy!—let us drink to the health of the brave Wolves! I will stand treat.” He threw some money to the host, who disappeared, and soon returned with several bottles of brandy, and some glasses.
“What! glasses?” cried Morok. “Do jolly companions, like we are, drink out of glasses?” So saying, he forced out one of the corks, raised the neck of the bottle to his lips, and, having drunk a deep draught, passed it to the gigantic quarryman.
“That’s the thing!” said the latter. “Here’s in honor of the treat!—None but a sneak will refuse, for this stuff will sharpen the Wolves’ teeth!”
“Here’s to your health, mates!” said Morok, distributing the bottles.
“There will be blood at the end of all this,” muttered Sleepinbuff, who, in spite of his intoxication, perceived all the danger of these fatal incitements. Indeed, a large portion of the crowd was already quitting the yard of the public-house, and advancing rapidly towards M. Hardy’s factory.
Those of the workmen and inhabitants of the village, who had not chosen to take any part in this movement of hostility (they were the majority), did not make their appearance, as this threatening troop passed along the principal street; but a good number of women, excited to fanaticism by the sermons of the abbe, encouraged the warlike assemblage with their cries. At the head of the troop advanced the gigantic blaster,