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Chapter 5


BAUDINS'S CORPSE

With regard to the Faubourg St. Antoine, we had, as I said, lost nearly
all hope, but the men of the _coup d'état_ had not lost all uneasiness.
Since the attempts at rising and the barricades of the morning a rigorous
supervision had been organized. Any one who entered the Faubourg ran the
risk of being examined, followed, and upon the slightest suspicion,
arrested. The supervision was nevertheless sometimes at fault. About two
o'clock a short man, with an earnest and attentive air, crossed the
Faubourg. A _sergent de ville_ and a police agent in plain clothes barred
his passage. "Who are you?" "You seem a passenger." "Where are you going?"
"Over there, close by, to Bartholomé's, the overseer of the sugar
manufactory.--" They search him. He himself opened his pocket-book; the
police agents turned out the pockets of his waistcoat and unbuttoned
his shirt over his breast; finally the _sergent de ville_ said gruffly,
"Yet I seem to have seen you here before this morning. Be off!" It was
the Representative Gindrier. If they had not stopped at the pockets of
his waistcoat--and if they had searched his great-coat, they would have
found his sash there--Gindrier would have been shot.

Not to allow themselves to be arrested, to keep their freedom for the
combat--such was the watchword of the members of the Left. That is why
we had our sashes upon us, but not outwardly visible.

Gindrier had had no food that day; he thought he would go home, and
returned to the new district of the Havre Railway Station, where he
resided. In the Rue de Calais, which is a lonely street running from Rue
Blanche to the Rue de Clichy, a _fiacre_ passed him. Gindrier heard his
name called out. He turned round and saw two persons in a _fiacre_,
relations of Baudin, and a man whom he did not know. One of the
relations of Baudin, Madame L----, said to him, "Baudin is
wounded!" She added, "They have taken him to the St. Antoine Hospital.
We are going to fetch him. Come with us." Gindrier got into the
_fiacre_. The stranger, however, was an emissary of the Commissary of
Police of the Rue Ste. Marguerite St. Antoine. He had been charged by
the commissary of Police to go to Baudin's house, No, 88, Rue de Clichy,
to inform the family. Having only found the women at home he had
confined himself to telling them that Representative Baudin was wounded.
He offered to accompany them, and went with them in the _fiacre_. They
had uttered the name of Gindrier before him. This might have been
imprudent. They spoke to him; he declared that he would not betray the
Representative, and it was settled that before the Commissary of Police
Gindrier should assume to be a relation, and be called Baudin.

The poor women still hoped. Perhaps the wound was serious, but Baudin
was young, and had a good constitution. "They will save him," said they.
Gindrier was silent. At the office of the Commissary of Police the truth
was revealed.--"How is he?" asked Madame L---- on entering. "Why?" said
the Commissary, "he is dead." "What do you mean? Dead!" "Yes; killed on
the spot."

This was a painful moment. The despair of these two women who had been
so abruptly struck to the heart burst forth in sobs. "Ah, infamous
Bonaparte!" cried Madame L----. "He has killed Baudin. Well, then, I will
kill him. I will be the Charlotte Corday of this Marat."

Gindrier claimed the body of Baudin. The Commissary of Police only
consented to restore it to the family on exacting a promise that they
would bury it at once, and without any ostentation, and that they would
not exhibit it to the people. "You understand," he said, "that the sight
of a Representative killed and bleeding might raise Paris." The _coup
d'état_ made corpses, but did not wish that they should be utilized.

On these conditions the Commissary of Police gave Gindrier two men and a
safe conduct to fetch the body of Baudin from the hospital where he had
been carried.

Meanwhile Baudin's brother, a young man of four-and-twenty, a medical
student, came up. This young man has since been arrested and imprisoned.
His crime is his brother. Let us continue. They proceeded to the
hospital. At the sight of the safe conduct the director ushered Gindrier
and young Baudin into the parlor. There were three pallets there covered
with white sheets, under which could be traced the motionless forms of
three human bodies. The one which occupied the centre bed was Baudin. On
his right lay the young soldier killed a minute before him by the side of
Schoelcher, and on the left an old woman who had been struck down by a
spent ball in the Rue de Cotte, and whom the executioners of the _coup
d'état_ had gathered up later on; in the first moment one cannot find out
all one's riches.

The three corpses were naked under their winding sheets.

They had left to Baudin alone his shirt and his flannel vest. They had
found on him seven francs, his gold watch and chain, his Representative's
medal, and a gold pencil-case which he had used in the Rue de Popincourt,
after having passed me the other pencil, which I still preserve. Gindrier
and young Baudin, bare-headed, approached the centre bed. They raised the
shroud, and Baudin's dead face became visible. He was calm, and seemed
asleep. No feature appeared contracted. A livid tint began to mottle his
face.

They drew up an official report. It is customary. It is not sufficient
to kill people. An official report must also be drawn up. Young Baudin
had to sign it, upon which, on the demand of the Commissary of Police,
they "made over" to him the body of his brother. During these
signatures, Gindrier in the courtyard of the hospital, attempted if not
to console, at least to calm the two despairing women.

Suddenly a man who had entered the courtyard, and who had attentively
watched him for some moments, came abruptly up to him,--

"What are you doing there?"

"What is that to you?" said Gindrier.

"You have come to fetch Baudin's body?"

"Yes."

"Is this your carriage?"

"Yes."

"Get in at once, and pull down the blinds."

"What do you mean?"

"You are the Representative Gindrier. I know you. You were this morning
on the barricade. If any other than myself should see you, you are
lost."

Gindrier followed his advice and got into the _fiacre_. While getting in
he asked the man:

"Do you belong to the Police?"

The man did not answer. A moment after he came and said in a low voice,
near the door of the _fiacre_ in which Gindrier was enclosed,--

"Yes, I eat the bread, but I do not do the work."

The two men sent by the Commissary of Police took Baudin on his wooden
bed and carried him to the _fiacre_. They placed him at the bottom of
the _fiacre_ with his face covered, and enveloped from head to foot in a
shroud. A workman who was there lent his cloak, which was thrown over
the corpse in order not to attract the notice of passers-by. Madame L----
took her place by the side of the body, Gindrier opposite, young Baudin
next to Gindrier. A _fiacre_ followed, in which were the other relative
of Baudin and a medical student named Dutèche. They set off. During the
journey the head of the corpse, shaken by the carriage, rolled from
shoulder to shoulder; the blood began to flow from the wound and
appeared in large red patches through the white sheet. Gindrier with
his arms stretched out and his hand placed on its breast, prevented it
from falling forwards; Madame L---- held it up by the side.

They had told the coachman to drive slowly; the journey lasted more than
an hour.

When they reached No. 88, Rue de Clichy, the bringing out of the body
attracted a curious crowd before the door. The neighbors flocked
thither. Baudin's brother, assisted by Gindrier and Dutèche, carried up
the corpse to the fourth floor, where Baudin resided. It was a new
house, and he had only lived there a few months.

They carried him into his room, which was in order, and just as he had
left it on the morning of the 2d. The bed, on which he had not slept the
preceding night, had not been disturbed. A book which he had been
reading had remained on the table, open at the page where he had left
off. They unrolled the shroud, and Gindrier cut off his shirt and his
flannel vest with a pair of scissors. They washed the body. The ball had
entered through the corner of the arch of the right eye, and had gone out
at the back of the head. The wound of the eye had not bled. A sort of
swelling had formed there; the blood had flowed copiously through the
hole at the back of the head. They put clean linen on him, and clean
sheets on the bed, and laid him down with his head on the pillow, and
his face uncovered. The women were weeping in the next room.

Gindrier had already rendered the same service to the ex-Constituent
James Demontry. In 1850 James Demontry died in exile at Cologne.
Gindrier started for Cologne, went to the cemetery, and had James
Demontry exhumed. He had the heart extracted, embalmed it, and enclosed
it in a silver vase, which he took to Paris. The party of the Mountain
delegated him, with Chollet and Joigneux, to convey this heart to Dijon,
Demontry's native place, and to give him a solemn funeral. This funeral
was prohibited by an order of Louis Bonaparte, then President of the
Republic. The burial of brave and faithful men was unpleasing to Louis
Bonaparte--not so their death.

When Baudin had been laid out on the bed, the women came in, and all
this family, seated round the corpse, wept. Gindrier, whom other duties
called elsewhere, went downstairs with Dutèche. A crowd had formed
before the door.

A man in a blouse, with his hat on his head, mounted on a kerbstone, was
speechifying and glorifying the _coup d'état_. Universal Suffrage
re-established, the Law of the 31st May abolished, the "Twenty-five
francs" suppressed; Louis Bonaparte has done well, etc.--Gindrier,
standing on the threshold of the door, raised his voice: "Citizens!
above lies Baudin, a Representative of the People, killed while
defending the People; Baudin the Representative of you all, mark that
well! You are before his house; he is there bleeding on his bed, and
here is a man who dares in this place to applaud his assassin! Citizens!
shall I tell you the name of this man? He is called the Police! Shame
and infamy to traitors and to cowards! Respect to the corpse of him who
has died for you!"

And pushing aside the crowd, Gindrier took the man who had
been speaking by the collar, and knocking his hat on to the ground with
the back of his hand, he cried, "Hats off!"


Victor Hugo