The clamor was indeed approaching, and grew more and more distinct.
“It is the same noise that I heard just now,” said the marshal, rising in his turn.
“There are more than two hundred of them, M. Simon,” said Olivier; “they are armed with clubs and stones, and unfortunately the greater part of our workmen are in Paris. We are not above forty here in all; the women and children are already flying to their chambers, screaming for terror. Do you not hear them?”
The ceiling shook beneath the tread of many hasty feet.
“Will this attack be a serious one?” said the marshal to his father, who appeared more and more dejected.
“Very serious,” said the old man; “there is nothing more fierce than these combats between different unions; and everything has been done lately to excite the people of the neighborhood against the factory.”
“If you are so inferior in number,” said the marshal, “you must begin by barricading all the doors—and then—”
He was unable to conclude. A burst of ferocious cries shook the windows of the room, and seemed so near and loud, that the marshal, his father, and the young workman, rushed out into the little garden, which was bounded on one side by a wall that separated it from the fields. Suddenly whilst the shouts redoubled in violence, a shower of large stones, intended to break the windows of the house, smashed some of the panes on the first story, struck against the wall, and fell into the garden, all around the marshal and his father. By a fatal chance, one of these large stones struck the old man on the head. He staggered, bent forward, and fell bleeding into the arms of Marshal Simon, just as arose from without, with increased fury, the savage cries of, “Death to the Devourers!”
The wolves and the Devourers.
It was a frightful thing to view the approach of the lawless crowd, whose first act of hostility had been so fatal to Marshal Simon’s father. One wing of the Common Dwelling-house, which joined the garden-wall on that side, was next to the fields. It was there that the Wolves began their attack. The precipitation of their march, the halt they had made at two public-houses on the road, their ardent impatience for the approaching struggle, had inflamed these men to a high pitch of savage excitement. Having discharged their first shower of stones, most of the assailants stooped down to look for more ammunition. Some of them, to do so with greater ease, held their bludgeons between their teeth; others had placed them against the wall; here and there, groups had formed tumultuously round the principal leaders of the band; the most neatly dressed of these men wore frocks, with caps, whilst others were almost in rags, for, as we have already said, many of the hangers-on at the barriers, and people without any profession, had