However, on the footway down below Florent presently heard a sound of voices, the laughter of happy folks. Then the door of the passage was closed noisily. It was Quenu and Lisa coming home from the theatre. Stupefied and intoxicated, as it were, by the atmosphere he was breathing, Florent thereupon left the balcony, his nerves still painfully excited by the thought of the tempest which he could feel gathering round his head. The source of his misery was yonder, in those markets, heated by the day’s excesses. He closed the window with violence, and left them wallowing in the darkness, naked and perspiring beneath the stars.
A week later, Florent thought that he would at last be able to proceed to action. A sufficiently serious outburst of public dissatisfaction furnished an opportunity for launching his insurrectionary forces upon Paris. The Corps Legislatif, whose members had lately shown great variance of opinion respecting certain grants to the Imperial family, was now discussing a bill for the imposition of a very unpopular tax, at which the lower orders had already begun to growl. The Ministry, fearing a defeat, was straining every nerve. It was probable, thought Florent, that no better pretext for a rising would for a long time present itself.
One morning, at daybreak, he went to reconnoitre the neighbourhood of the Palais Bourbon. He forgot all about his duties as inspector, and lingered there, studying the approaches of the palace, till eight o’clock, without ever thinking that his absence would revolutionise the fish market. He perambulated all the surrounding streets, the Rue de Lille, the Rue de l’Universite, the Rue de Bourgogne, the Rue Saint Dominique, and even extended his examination to the Esplanade des Invalides, stopping at certain crossways, and measuring distances as he walked along. Then, on coming back to the Quai d’Orsay, he sat down on the parapet, and determined that the attack should be made simultaneously from all sides. The contingents from the Gros-Caillou district should arrive by way of the Champ de Mars; the sections from the north of Paris should come down by the Madeleine; while those from the west and the south would follow the quays, or make their way in small detachments through the then narrow streets of the Faubourg Saint Germain. However, the other side of the river, the Champs Elysees, with their open avenues, caused him some uneasiness; for he foresaw that cannon would be stationed there to sweep the quays. He thereupon modified several details of his plan, and marked down in a memorandum-book the different positions which the several sections should occupy during the combat. The chief attack, he concluded, must certainly be made from the Rue de Bourgogne and the Rue de l’Universite, while a diversion might be effected on the side of the river.
Whilst he thus pondered over his plans the eight o’clock sun, warming the nape of his neck, shone gaily on the broad footways, and gilded the columns of the great structure in front of him. In imagination he already saw the contemplated battle; clusters of men clinging round those columns, the gates burst open, the peristyle invaded; and then scraggy arms suddenly appearing high aloft and planting a banner there.