Subscribe for ad free access & additional features for teachers. Authors: 267, Books: 3,607, Poems & Short Stories: 4,435, Forum Members: 71,154, Forum Posts: 1,238,602, Quizzes: 344

Chapter 2


PARIS SLEEPS--THE BELL RINGS

On the 2d December, 1851, Representative Versigny, of the Haute-Saône,
who resided at Paris, at No. 4, Rue Léonie, was asleep. He slept
soundly; he had been working till late at night. Versigny was a young
man of thirty-two, soft-featured and fair-complexioned, of a courageous
spirit, and a mind tending towards social and economical studies. He had
passed the first hours of the night in the perusal of a book by Bastiat,
in which he was making marginal notes, and, leaving the book open on the
table, he had fallen asleep. Suddenly he awoke with a start at the sound
of a sharp ring at the bell. He sprang up in surprise. It was dawn. It
was about seven o'clock in the morning.

Never dreaming what could be the motive for so early a visit, and
thinking that someone had mistaken the door, he again lay down, and was
about to resume his slumber, when a second ring at the bell, still
louder than the first, completely aroused him. He got up in his
night-shirt and opened the door.

Michel de Bourges and Théodore Bac entered. Michel de Bourges was the
neighbor of Versigny; he lived at No. 16, Rue de Milan.

Théodore Bac and Michel were pale, and appeared greatly agitated.

"Versigny," said Michel, "dress yourself at once--Baune has just been
arrested."

"Bah!" exclaimed Versigny. "Is the Mauguin business beginning again?"

"It is more than that," replied Michel. "Baune's wife and daughter came
to me half-an-hour ago. They awoke me. Baune was arrested in bed at six
o'clock this morning."

"What does that mean?" asked Versigny.

The bell rang again.

"This will probably tell us," answered Michel de Bourges.

Versigny opened the door. It was the Representative Pierre Lefranc. He
brought, in truth, the solution of the enigma.

"Do you know what is happening?" said he.

"Yes," answered Michel. "Baune is in prison."

"It is the Republic who is a prisoner," said Pierre Lefranc. "Have you
read the placards?"

"No."

Pierre Lefranc explained to them that the walls at that moment were
covered with placards which the curious crowd were thronging to read,
that he had glanced over one of them at the corner of his street, and
that the blow had fallen.

"The blow!" exclaimed Michel. "Say rather the crime."

Pierre Lefranc added that there were three placards--one decree and two
proclamations--all three on white paper, and pasted close together.

The decree was printed in large letters.

The ex-Constituent Laissac, who lodged, like Michel de Bourges, in the
neighborhood (No. 4, Cité Gaillard), then came in. He brought the same
news, and announced further arrests which had been made during the
night.

There was not a minute to lose.

They went to impart the news to Yvan, the Secretary of the Assembly, who
had been appointed by the Left, and who lived in the Rue de Boursault.

An immediate meeting was necessary. Those Republican Representatives who
were still at liberty must be warned and brought together without delay.

Versigny said, "I will go and find Victor Hugo."

It was eight o'clock in the morning. I was awake and was working in bed.
My servant entered and said, with an air of alarm,--

"A Representative of the people is outside who wishes to speak to you,
sir."

"Who is it?"

"Monsieur Versigny:"

"Show him in."

Versigny entered, and told me the state of affairs. I sprang out of bed.

He told me of the "rendezvous" at the rooms of the ex-Constituent
Laissac.

"Go at once and inform the other Representatives," said I.

He left me.

Victor Hugo