The insurgents burst into applause. The vivid imagination of those Southerners was fired with enthusiasm at the sudden apparition of this girl so nervously clasping their banner to her bosom. Shouts rose from the nearest group:
“Bravo, Chantegreil! Chantegreil for ever! She shall remain with us; she’ll bring us luck!”
They would have cheered her for a long time yet had not the order to resume the march arrived. Whilst the column moved on, Miette pressed Silvere’s hand and whispered in his ear: “You hear! I shall remain with you. Are you glad?”
Silvere, without replying, returned the pressure. He consented. In fact, he was deeply affected, unable to resist the enthusiasm which fired his companions. Miette seemed to him so lovely, so grand, so saintly! During the whole climb up the hill he still saw her before him, radiant, amidst a purple glory. She was now blended with his other adored mistress—the Republic. He would have liked to be in action already, with his gun on his shoulder. But the insurgents moved slowly. They had orders to make as little noise as possible. Thus the column advanced between the rows of elms like some gigantic serpent whose every ring had a strange quivering. The frosty December night had again sunk into silence, and the Viorne alone seemed to roar more loudly.
On reaching the first houses of the Faubourg, Silvere ran on in front to fetch his gun from the Aire Saint-Mittre, which he found slumbering in the moonlight. When he again joined the insurgents they had reached the Porte de Rome. Miette bent towards him, and with her childish smile observed: “I feel as if I were at the procession on Corpus Christi Day carrying the banner of the Virgin.”
Plassans is a sub-prefecture with about ten thousand inhabitants. Built on a plateau overlooking the Viorne, and resting on the north side against the Garrigues hills, one of the last spurs of the Alps, the town is situated, as it were, in the depths of a cul-de-sac. In 1851 it communicated with the adjoining country by two roads only, the Nice road, which runs down to the east, and the Lyons road, which rises to the west, the one continuing the other on almost parallel lines. Since that time a railway has been built which passes to the south of the town, below the hill which descends steeply from the old ramparts to the river. At the present day, on coming out of the station on the right bank of the little torrent, one can see, by raising one’s head, the first houses of Plassans, with their gardens disposed in terrace fashion. It is, however, only after an uphill walk lasting a full quarter of an hour that one reaches these houses.