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Chapter 5


OTHER DEEDS OF DARKNESS

Yvan had again seen Conneau. He corroborated the information given in
the letter of Alexandre Dumas to Bocage; with the fact we had the names.
On the 3d of December at M. Abbatucci's house, 31, Rue Caumartin, in the
presence of Dr. Conneau and of Piétri, a Corsican, born at Vezzani,
named Jacques François Criscelli,[29] a man attached to the secret and
personal service of Louis Bonaparte, had received from Piétri's own
mouth the offer of 25,000 francs "to take or kill Victor Hugo." He had
accepted, and said, "That is all very well if I am alone. But suppose
there are two of us?"

Piétri had answered,--

"Then there will be 50,000 francs."

This communication, accompanied by urgent prayers, had been made to me
by Yvan in the Rue de Monthabor, while we were still at Dupont White's.

This said, I continue my story.

The massacre of the 4th did not produce the whole of its effect until
the next day, the 5th. The impulse given by us to the resistance still
lasted for some hours, and at nightfall, in the labyrinth of houses
ranging from the Rue du Petit Carreau to the Rue du Temple, there was
fighting. The Pagevin, Neuve Saint Eustache, Montorgueil, Rambuteau,
Beaubourg, and Transnonain barricades were gallantly defended. There,
there was an impenetrable network of streets and crossways barricaded by
the People, surrounded by the Army.

The assault was merciless and furious.

The barricade of the Rue Montorgueil was one of those which held out the
longest. A battalion and artillery was needed to carry it. At the last
moment it was only defended by three men, two shop-clerks and a
lemonade-seller of an adjoining street. When the assault began the night
was densely dark, and the three combatants escaped. But they were
surrounded. No outlets. Not one door was open. They climbed the grated
gateway of the Passage Verdeau as Jeanty Sarre and Charpentier had
scaled the Passage du Saumon, had jumped over, and had fled down the
Passage. But the other grated gateway was closed, and like Jeanty Sarre
and Charpentier they had no time to climb it. Besides, they heard the
soldiers corning on both sides. In a corner at the entrance of the
Passage there were a few planks which had served to close a stall, and
which the stall-keeper was in the habit of putting there. They hid
themselves beneath these planks.

The soldiers who had taken the barricade, after having searched the
streets, bethought themselves of searching the Passage. They also
climbed over the grated gateway, looked about everywhere with lanterns,
and found nothing They were going away, when one of them perceived the
foot of one of these three unfortunate men which was projecting from
beneath the planks.

They killed all three of them on the spot with bayonet-thrusts. They
cried out, "Kill us at once! Shoot us! Do not prolong our misery."

The neighboring shop-keepers heard these cries, but dared not open their
doors or their windows, for fear, as one of them said the next day,
"that they should do the same to them."

The execution at an end, the executioners left the three victims lying
in a pool of blood on the pavement of the Passage. One of those
unfortunate men did not die until eight o'clock next morning.

No one had dared to ask for mercy; no one had dared to bring any help.
They left them to die there.

One of the combatants of the Rue Beaubourg was more fortunate. They were
pursuing him. He rushed up a staircase, reached a roof, and from there a
passage, which proved to be the top corridor of an hotel. A key was in
the door. He opened it boldly, and found himself face to face with a man
who was going to bed. It was a tired-out traveller who had arrived at
the hotel that very evening. The fugitive said to the traveller, "I am
lost, save me!" and explained him the situation in three words.

The traveller said to him, "Undress yourself, and get into my bed." And
then he lit a cigar, and began quietly to smoke. Just as the man of the
barricade had got into bed a knock came at the door. It was the solders
who were searching the house. To the questions which they asked him the
traveller answered, pointing to the bed, "We are only two here. We have
just arrived here. I am smoking my cigar, and my brother is asleep." The
waiter was questioned, and confirmed the traveller's statement. The
soldiers went away, and no one was shot.

We will say this, that the victorious soldiers killed less than on the
preceding day. They did not massacre in all the captured barricades. The
order had been given on that day to make prisoners. It might also be
believed that a certain humanity existed. What was this humanity? We
shall see.

At eleven o'clock at night all was at an end.

They arrested all those whom they found in the streets which had been
surrounded, whether combatants or not, they had all the wine-shops and
the _cafés_ opened, they closely searched the houses, they seized all
the men whom they could find, only leaving the women and the children.
Two regiments formed in a square carried away all these prisoners
huddled together. They took them to the Tuileries, and shut them up in
the vast cellar situated beneath the terrace at the waterside.

On entering this cellar the prisoners felt reassured. They called to
mind that in June, 1848, a great number of insurgents had been shut up
there, and later on had been transported. They said to themselves that
doubtless they also would be transported, or brought before the Councils
of War, and that they had plenty of time before them.

They were thirsty. Many of them had been fighting since that morning,
and nothing parches tire mouth so much as biting cartridges. They asked
for drink. Three pitchers of water were brought to them.

A sort of security suddenly fell upon them. Amongst them were several
who had been transported in June, 1848, and who had already been in that
cellar, and who said, "In June they were not so humane. They left us for
three days without food or drink." Some of them wrapped themselves up in
their overcoats or cloaks, lay down, and slept. At one o'clock in the
morning a great noise was heard outside. Soldiers, carrying torches,
appeared in the cellars, the prisoners who were sleeping woke with a
start, an officer ordered them to get up.

They made them go out anyhow as they had come in. As they went out they
coupled them two by two at random, and a sergeant counted them in a loud
voice. They asked neither their names, nor their professions, nor their
families, nor who they were, nor whence they came; they contented
themselves with the numbers. The numbers sufficed for what they were
about to do.

In this manner they counted 337. The counting having come to an end,
they ranged them in close columns, still two by two and arm-in-arm. They
were not tied together, but on each side of the column, on the right and
on the left, there were three files of soldiers keeping them within
their ranks, with guns loaded; a battalion was at their head, a
battalion in their rear. They began to march, pressed together and
enclosed in this moving frame of bayonets.

At the moment when the column set forward, a young law-student, a fair
pale Alsatian, of some twenty years, who was in their ranks, asked a
captain, who was marching by him with his sword drawn,--

"Where are we going?"

The officer made no reply.

Having left the Tuileries, they turned to the right, and followed the
quay as far as the Pont de la Concorde. They crossed the Pont de la
Concorde, and again turned to the right. In this manner they passed
before the esplanade of the Invalides, and reached the lonely quay of
Gros-Caillou.

As we have just said, they numbered 337, and as they walked two by two,
there was one, the last, who walked alone. He was one of the most daring
combatants of the Rue Pagevin, a friend of Lecomte the younger. By
chance the sergeant, who was posted in the inner file by his side, was a
native of the same province. On passing under a street-lamp they
recognized each other. They exchanged quickly a few words in a whisper.

"Where are we going?" asked the prisoner.

"To the military school," answered the sergeant. And he added, "Ah! my
poor lad!"

And then he kept at a distance from the prisoner.

As this was the end of the column, there was a certain space between the
last rank of the soldiers who formed the line, and the first rank of the
company which closed the procession.

As they reached the lonely boulevard of Gros-Caillon, of which we have
just spoken, the sergeant drew near to the prisoner, and said to him in
a rapid and low tone,--

"One can hardly see here. It is a dark spot. On the left there are
trees. Be off!"

"But," said the prisoner, "they will fire at me."

"They will miss you."

"But suppose they kill me?"

"It will be no worse than what awaits you."

The prisoner understood, shook the sergeant's hand, and taking advantage
of the space between the line of soldiers and rear-ground, rushed with a
single bound outside the column, and disappeared in the darkness beneath
the trees.

"A man is escaping!" cried out the officer who commanded the last
company. "Halt! Fire!"

The column halted. The rear-guard company fired at random in the
direction taken by the fugitive, and, as the sergeant had foreseen,
missed him. In a few moments the fugitive had reached the streets
adjoining the tobacco manufactory, and had plunged into them. They did
not pursue him. They had more pressing work on hand.

Besides, confusion might have arisen in their ranks, and to recapture
one they risked letting the 336 escape.

The column continued its march. Having reached the Pont d'Iéna, they
turned to the left, and entered into the Champ de Mars.

There they shot them all.

These 336 corpses were amongst those which were carried to Montmartre
Cemetery, and which were buried there with their heads exposed.

In this manner their families were enabled to recognize them. The
Government learned who they were after killing them.

Amongst these 336 victims were a large number of the combatants of the
Rue Pagevin and the Rue Rambuteau, of the Rue Neuve Saint Eustache and
the Porte Saint Denis. There were also 100 passers-by, whom they had
arrested because they happened to be there, and without any particular
reason.

Besides, we will at once mention that the wholesale executions from the
3d inst. were renewed nearly every night. Sometimes at the Champ de
Mars, sometimes at the Prefecture of Police, sometimes at both places at
once.

When the prisons were full, M. de Maupas said "Shoot!" The fusillades at
the Prefecture took place sometimes in the courtyard, sometimes in the
Rue de Jérusalem. The unfortunate people whom they shot were placed
against the wall which bears the theatrical notices. They had chosen
this spot because it is close by the sewer-grating of the gutter, so
that the blood would run down at once, and would leave fewer traces. On
Friday, the 5th, they shot near this gutter of the Rue de Jérusalem 150
prisoners. Some one[30] said to me, "On the next day I passed by there,
they showed the spot; I dug between the paving-stones with the toe of my
boot, and I stirred up the mud. I found blood."

This expression forms the whole history of the _coup d'état_, and will
form the whole history of Louis Bonaparte. Stir up this mud, you will
find blood.

Let this then be known to History:--

The massacre of the boulevard had this infamous continuation, the secret
executions. The _coup d'état_ after having been ferocious became
mysterious. It passed from impudent murder in broad day to hidden murder
at night.

Evidence abounds.

Esquiros, hidden in the Gros-Caillou, heard the fusillades on the Champ
de Mars every night.

At Mazas, Chambolle, on the second night of his incarceration, heard
from midnight till five o'clock in the morning, such volleys that he
thought the prison was attacked.

Like Montferrier, Desmoulins bore evidence to blood between the
paving-stones of the Rue de Jérusalem.

Lieutenant-Colonel Cailland, of the ex-Republican Guard, is crossing the
Pont Neuf; he sees some _sergents de ville_ with muskets to their
shoulders, aiming at the passers-by; he says to them, "You dishonor the
uniform." They arrest him. They search him. A _sergent de ville_ says to
him, "If we find a cartridge upon you, we shall shoot you." They find
nothing. They take him to the Prefecture of Police, they shut him up in
the station-house. The director of the station-house comes and says to
him, "Colonel, I know you well. Do not complain of being here. You are
confided to my care. Congratulate yourself on it. Look here, I am one of
the family, I go and I come, I see, I listen; I know what is going on; I
know what is said; I divine what is not said. I hear certain noises
during the night; I see contain traces in the morning. As for myself I
am not a bad fellow. I am taking care of you. I am keeping you out of
the way. At the present moment be contented to remain with me. If you
were not here you would be underground."

An ex-magistrate, General Leflô's brother-in-law, is conversing on the
Pont de la Concorde with some officers before the steps of the Chamber;
some policemen come up to him: "You are tampering with the army." He
protests, they throw him into a vehicle, and they take him to the
Prefecture of Police. As he arrives there he sees a young man, in a
blouse and a cap, passing on the quay, who is being shoved along by
three municipal guards with the butt-ends of their muskets. At an
opening of the parapet, a guard shouts to him, "Go in there." The man
goes in. Two guards shoot him in the back. He falls. The third guard
despatches him with a shot in his ear.

On the 13th the massacres were not yet at an end. On the morning of that
day, in the dim light of the dawn, a solitary passer-by, going along the
Rue Saint Honoré, saw, between two lines of horse-soldiers, three wagons
wending their way, heavily loaded. These wagons could be traced by the
stains of blood which dripped from them. They came from the Champ de
Mars, and were going to the Montmartre Cemetery. They were full of
corpses.


[29] It was this same Criscelli, who later on at Vaugirard in the Rue du
Trancy, killed by special order of the Prefect of Police a man named
Kech, "suspected of plotting the assassination of the Emperor."

[30] The Marquis Sarrazin de Montferrier, a relative of my eldest
brother. I can now mention his name.


Victor Hugo