As their brutish hearts had been suddenly melted on behalf of Juliette, in response to Deroulede’s passionate appeal, so now they swiftly changed their sympathetic attitude to one of horror and execration.
Two people had fooled and deceived them. One of these they had reverenced and trusted, as much as their degraded minds were capable of reverencing anything, therefore his sin seemed doubly damnable.
He and that pale-face aristocrat had for weeks now, months, or year perhaps, conspired against the Republic, against the Revolution, which had been made by a people thirsting for liberty. During these months and years he had talked to them, and they had listened; he had poured forth treasures of eloquence, cajoled them, as he had done just now.
The noise and hubbub were growing apace. If Tinville and Merlin had desired to infuriate the mob, they had more than succeeded. All thas was most bestial, most savage in this awful Parisian populace rose to the surface now in one wild, mad desire for revenge.
The crowd rushed down from the benches, over one another’s heads, over children’s fallen bodies; they rushed down because they wanted to get at him, their whilom favourite, and at his pale-faced mistress, and tear them to pieces, hit them, scratch out their eyes. They snarled like so many wild beasts, the women shrieked, the children cried, and the men of the National Guard, hurrying forward, had much ado to keep back this food-tide of hate.
Had any of them broken loose, from behind the barrier of bayonets hastily raised against them, it would have fared ill with Deroulede and Juliette.
The Pesident wildly rang his bell, and his voice, quivering with excitement, was heard once or twice above the din.
“Clear the court! Clear the court!”
But the people refused to be cleared out of court.
“A la lanterne les traitres! Mort a Deroulede. A la lanterne! l’aristo!”
And in the thickest of the crowd, the broad shoulders and massive head of Citizen Lenoir towered above the others.
At first it seemed as if he had been urging on the mob in its fury. His strident voice, with its broad provincial accent, was heard distinctly shouting loud vituperations against the accused.
Then at a given moment, when the tumult was at its height, when the National Guard felt their bayonets giving way before this onrushing tide of human jackals, Lenoir changed his tactics.
“Tiens! c’est bete!” he shouted loudly, “we shall do far better with the traitors when we get them outside. What say you, citizens? Shall we leave the judges here to conclude the farce, and arrange for its sequel ourselves outside the ’Tigre Jaune’?”
At first but little heed was paid to his suggestion, and he repeated it once or twice, adding some interesting details:
“One is freer in the streets, where these apes of the National Guard can’t get between the people of France and their just revenge. Ma foi!” he added, squaring his broad shoulders, and pushing his way through the crowd towards the door, “I for one am going to see where hangs the most suitable lanterne.”