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Chapter V. Preparations

The journals of the day which said that that nearly impregnable structure, of the barricade of the Rue de la Chanvrerie, as they call it, reached to the level of the first floor, were mistaken. The fact is, that it did not exceed an average height of six or seven feet. It was built in such a manner that the combatants could, at their will, either disappear behind it or dominate the barrier and even scale its crest by means of a quadruple row of paving-stones placed on top of each other and arranged as steps in the interior. On the outside, the front of the barricade, composed of piles of paving-stones and casks bound together by beams and planks, which were entangled in the wheels of Anceau's dray and of the overturned omnibus, had a bristling and inextricable aspect.

An aperture large enough to allow a man to pass through had been made between the wall of the houses and the extremity of the barricade which was furthest from the wine-shop, so that an exit was possible at this point. The pole of the omnibus was placed upright and held up with ropes, and a red flag, fastened to this pole, floated over the barricade.

The little Mondetour barricade, hidden behind the wine-shop building, was not visible. The two barricades united formed a veritable redoubt. Enjolras and Courfeyrac had not thought fit to barricade the other fragment of the Rue Mondetour which opens through the Rue des Precheurs an issue into the Halles, wishing, no doubt, to preserve a possible communication with the outside, and not entertaining much fear of an attack through the dangerous and difficult street of the Rue des Precheurs.

With the exception of this issue which was left free, and which constituted what Folard in his strategical style would have termed a branch and taking into account, also, the narrow cutting arranged on the Rue de la Chanvrerie, the interior of the barricade, where the wine-shop formed a salient angle, presented an irregular square, closed on all sides. There existed an interval of twenty paces between the grand barrier and the lofty houses which formed the background of the street, so that one might say that the barricade rested on these houses, all inhabited, but closed from top to bottom.

All this work was performed without any hindrance, in less than an hour, and without this handful of bold men seeing a single bear-skin cap or a single bayonet make their appearance. The very bourgeois who still ventured at this hour of riot to enter the Rue Saint-Denis cast a glance at the Rue de la Chanvrerie, caught sight of the barricade, and redoubled their pace.

The two barricades being finished, and the flag run up, a table was dragged out of the wine-shop; and Courfeyrac mounted on the table. Enjolras brought the square coffer, and Courfeyrac opened it. This coffer was filled with cartridges. When the mob saw the cartridges, a tremor ran through the bravest, and a momentary silence ensued.

Courfeyrac distributed them with a smile.

Each one received thirty cartridges. Many had powder, and set about making others with the bullets which they had run. As for the barrel of powder, it stood on a table on one side, near the door, and was held in reserve.

The alarm beat which ran through all Paris, did not cease, but it had finally come to be nothing more than a monotonous noise to which they no longer paid any attention. This noise retreated at times, and again drew near, with melancholy undulations.

They loaded the guns and carbines, all together, without haste, with solemn gravity. Enjolras went and stationed three sentinels outside the barricades, one in the Rue de la Chanvrerie, the second in the Rue des Precheurs, the third at the corner of the Rue de la Petite Truanderie.

Then, the barricades having been built, the posts assigned, the guns loaded, the sentinels stationed, they waited, alone in those redoubtable streets through which no one passed any longer, surrounded by those dumb houses which seemed dead and in which no human movement palpitated, enveloped in the deepening shades of twilight which was drawing on, in the midst of that silence through which something could be felt advancing, and which had about it something tragic and terrifying, isolated, armed, determined, and tranquil.

Victor Hugo

    Volume I - Book First--A Just Man

    Volume I - Book Second.--The Fall

    Volume I - Book Third.--In the Year 1817

    Volume I - Book Fourth.--To Confide is Sometimes to De

    Volume I - Book Fifth.-- The Descent

    Volume I - Book Sixth.--Javert

    Volume I - Book Seventh.--The Champmathieu Affair

    Volume I - Book Eighth.--A Counter-blow

    Volume II - Book First.--Waterloo

    Volume II - Book Second.--The Ship Orion

    Volume II - Book Third.--Accomplishment of the Promise

    Volume II - Book Fourth.--The Gorbeau Hovel

    Volume II - Book Fifth.--For A Black Hunt, A Mute Pack

    Volume II - Book Sixth.--Le Petit-Picpus

    Volume II - Book Seventh.--Parenthesis

    Volume II - Book Eighth.--Cemeteries Take That Which i

    Volume III - Book First.--Paris Studied in its Atom

    Volume III - Book Second.--The Great Bourgeois

    Volume III - Book Third.--The Grandfather and the Gran

    Volume III - Book Fourth.--The Friends of the ABC

    Volume III - Book Fifth.--The Excellence of Misfortune

    Volume III - Book Sixth.--The Conjunction of Two Stars

    Volume III - Book Seventh.--Patron Minette

    Volume III - Book Eighth.--The Wicked Poor Man

    Volume IV - Book First.--A Few Pages of History

    Volume IV - Book Second.--Eponine

    Volume IV - Book Third.--The House in the Rue Plumet

    Volume IV - Book Fourth.--Succor From Below May Turn O

    Volume IV - Book Fifth.--The End of Which Does Not Res

    Volume IV - Book Sixth.--Little Gavroche

    Volume IV - Book Seventh.--Slang

    Volume IV - Book Eighth.--Enchantments and Desolations

    Volume IV - Book Ninth.--Whither are they Going?

    Volume IV - Book Tenth.--The 5th of June, 1832

    Volume IV - Book Eleventh.--The Atom Fraternizes with

    Volume IV - Book Twelfth.--Corinthe

    Volume IV - Book Thirteenth.--Marius Enters the Shadow

    Volume IV - Book Fourteenth.--The Grandeurs of Despair

    Volume IV - Book Fifteenth.--The Rue de L'Homme Arme

    Volume V - Book First.--The War Between Four Walls

    Volume V - Book Second.--The Intestine of the Leviatha

    Volume V - Book Third.--Mud but the Soul

    Volume V - Book Fourth.--Javert Derailed

    Volume V - Book Fifth.--Grandson and Grandfather

    Volume V - Book Sixth.--The Sleepless Night

    Volume V - Book Seventh.--The Last Draught from the Cu

    Volume V - Book Eighth.--Fading Away of the Twilight

    Volume V - Book Ninth.--Supreme Shadow, Supreme Dawn

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