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 joined the troop of the Wolves, whether welcome or not. Some hideous women, with tattered garments, who always seem to follow in the track of such people, accompanied them on this occasion, and, by their cries and fury, inflamed still more the general excitement. One of them, tall, robust, with purple complexion, blood shot eyes, and toothless jaws, had a handkerchief over her head, from beneath which escaped her yellow, frowsy hair. Over her ragged gown, she wore an old plaid shawl, crossed over her bosom, and tied behind her back. This hag seemed possessed with a demon. She had tucked up her half-torn sleeves; in one hand she brandished a stick, in the other she grasped a huge stone; her companions called her Ciboule (scullion).
This horrible hag exclaimed, in a hoarse voice: “I’ll bite the women of the factory; I’ll make them bleed.”
The ferocious words were received with applause by her companions, and with savage cries of “Ciboule forever!” which excited her to frenzy.