Then, with a violent kick, he again threw down the victim, whose head struck twice heavily on the pavement.
Just as the giant fell a voice from amongst the crowd exclaimed: “It is Goliath! stop! he is innocent.”
It was Father d’Aigrigny, who, yielding to a generous impulse, was making violent efforts to reach the foremost rank of the actors in this scene, and who cried out, as he came nearer, pale, indignant, menacing: “You are cowards and murderers! This man is innocent. I know him. You shall answer for his life.”
These vehement words were received with loud murmurs.
“You know that poisoner,” cried the quarryman, seizing the Jesuit by the collar; “then perhaps you are a poisoner too.
“Wretch,” exclaimed Father d’Aigrigny, endeavoring to shake himself loose from the grasp, “do you dare to lay hand upon me?”
“Yes, I dare do anything,” answered the quarryman.
“He knows him: he’s a poisoner like the other,” cried the crowd, pressing round the two adversaries; whilst Goliath, who had fractured his skull in the fall, uttered a long death-rattle.
At a sudden movement of Father d’Aigrigny, who disengaged himself from the quarryman, a large glass phial of peculiar form, very thick, and filled with a greenish liquor, fell from his pocket, and rolled close to the dying Goliath. At sight of this phial, many voices exclaimed together: “It is poison! Only see! He had poison upon him.”
The clamor redoubled at this accusation, and they pressed so close to Abbe d’Aigrigny, that he exclaimed: “Do not touch me! do not approach me!”
“If he is a poisoner,” said a voice, “no more mercy for him than for the other.”
“I a poisoner?” said the abbe, struck with horror.
Ciboule had darted upon the phial; the quarryman seized it from her, uncorked it and presenting it to Father d’Aigrigny, said to him: “Now tell us what is that?”
“It is not poison,” cried Father d’Aigrigny.
“Then drink it!” returned the quarryman.
“Yes, yes! let him drink it!” cried the mob.
“Never,” answered Father d’Aigrigny, in extreme alarm. And he drew back as he spoke, pushing away the phial with his hand.
“Do you see? It is poison. He dares not drink it,” they exclaimed. Hemmed in on every side, Father d’Aigrigny stumbled against the body of Goliath.
“My friends,” cried the Jesuit, who, without being a poisoner, found himself exposed to a terrible alternative, for his phial contained aromatic salts of extraordinary strength, designed for a preservative against the cholera, and as dangerous to swallow as any poison, “my good friends, you are in error. I conjure you, in the name of heaven—”
“If that is not poison, drink it!” interrupted the quarryman, as he again offered the bottle to the Jesuit.
“If he does not drink it, death to the poisoner of the poor!”