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26 October 2013 @ 11:55 pm
Chapter 67: Rifts and Ties  

Chapter 67: Rifts and Ties

March 19, 1833

Aix-en-Provence

My son,

I'm writing in order to inquire if you are well, as well as to ask you to please clarify several recent turns of events. A number of stories and reports have reached us here in Aix, through the newspapers as well as through word of mouth and the drawing room, regarding what you and your friends have recently been embroiled in. I will not repeat the news articles here, but you must know that the Magnon trial has caused some short-lived suspicion with regard to the sympathies of some individuals and factions, especially the de Bracy family, but that matter has since been cleared up. A few of the Radicaux members here are surprised that you 'showed mercy' to that horrible man, especially since he's proven to be a danger to your personal safety. Others say you were paid off to do it. On the other hand your staying your hand has also served to dispel the rumors that you're going down Robespierre's path.

As to that matter concerning the jeweller, I must admit that your letter explaining the situation was a little delayed, and I initially learned the story through other means. To be frank, I was alarmed till your letter and Eponine's article clarified the issue. There is talk going about as to your friend Prouvaire's motivations for testifying; is it true that he is particular friends with Eponine's sister and he intended to save her from some terrible state of affairs? Nevertheless everything else I have heard since then affirms my hope that your father and I raised you well enough, such that you would not compromise your integrity over a matter such as wealth. Your testimony was said to be the most damning of all, and it may as well help set a precedent with regard to handling some civil offenses in our courts. This affair also confirms my good opinion of your friends and associates. Extend my congratulations to them.

If there is one thing I find fault with in your handling of all this controversy, it is that you are still sorely lacking in gallantry. How could you allow Eponine to be exposed to the humiliation and calumny that would arise from her testifying? Couldn't you have prevented your colleague from vilifying her with his questioning? I will not stand for it, since you know she may as well be a daughter to me now. I know that her word was valuable and that you two are not strangers to defusing scandal, but you must remember that she will always have more to lose than you do in terms of reputation. I sincerely hope that some new intrigue, preferably from the neighbours, will soon better satisfy the common urge to gossip. I have written to her already to convey my regards and support for her actions, and at the same time I must remind you to be more solicitous to her. You both have proud characters, but that does not spare either of you from feeling these matters deeply.

I insist you write back as soon as you can. Gossip runs too quickly here, and I am intent on being perfectly equipped to return some sense into the drawing rooms.

Sincerely,

Your mother

This letter arrived in Paris on the 23rd of March, more than a week after the conclusions of the Duchamp and Magnon trials. 'That will hopefully be the last inquiry I will have to answer on these matters,' Enjolras mused as he headed towards the Rue de Babylone, where he had to make an important call to clarify a report recently circulated at the Hotel de Ville. It was just past nine in the morning, a late start for him even on a Saturday.

As he walked, he happened to catch sight of a group of young law students laughing over the latest copy of the satirical gazette Charivari. Enjolras gritted his teeth when he saw that the front page was emblazoned with a lengthy 'retelling' of the Duchamp trial. It seemed that it would take far more than eight days till the press would consider this topic exhausted, which was more than he could say for himself and most of the other individuals connected with this controversy.

The truth was that his mother's letter had touched on the matter all too accurately; while the trial had achieved its legal end of prosecuting a murderer and conniver, it had the unintended effect of further fuelling the tumult and gossip surrounding the ongoing work at the legislature and the committees, as well as the efforts of Les Femmes Pour Egalite et Fraternite. More than once over the past week, Enjolras had come home with a headache from having to deal with annoying queries from journalists and detractors in committees. There was also one particularly trying night when Eponine had been on the verge of tears after receiving a particularly vicious missive. Enjolras was sure that similar scenes had been part and parcel of the week for his friends and colleagues. 'The only ones who've profited from this excess in intrigues are the publications and presses,' he mused as he arrived on the corner of the Rue du Bac and the Rue Babylone.

He was met at the barracks' door by a sergeant, who greeted him with a stiff but cordial nod. "Colonel Tolbert will see you in a few minutes, Citizen," he said. "He is in the commandant's office; do not mind the rest here," he added as an afterthought.

Enjolras raised an eyebrow as he followed the sentry into the building. "Has there been some sort of trouble, Citizen?"

The soldier blanched before glancing over his shoulder and shrugging. "We only have a busy day in the infirmary," he replied briskly over the sound of a door suddenly slamming open.

"Enjolras! What are you doing here?" Joly called as he stepped out into the corridor. The doctor's shirtsleeves were pushed up past his elbows, and his hands were drenched with fluid.

"Calling on the commandant on a matter of inquiry," Enjolras said, going to his friend. "How about you?"

"Their surgeon is ill and there has been a run of the flux." Joly said, wiping his hands on a very soiled handkerchief. "Among other illnesses; the infirmary is full."

"Well I should not keep you any longer from your patients. Let me know if there is any way I can be of assistance," Enjolras said, noticing the sentry signing to him from the end of the hall. He saw Joly nod gratefully before retreating back into the infirmary, and only then he proceeded to the office where he was set to meet the head of the regiment.

Colonel Tolbert was the sort of man that Courfeyrac would have called a walking caricature of the army officer: moustachioed, hair slicked back, plump and with far too many decorations on his lapel. "To what do I owe the honor of this visit, Citizen Enjolras?" he asked in a booming voice after the usual courtesies had been exchanged. "I find it pleasing that you have taken an interest in matters of defence."

"It is only a matter of clarification," Enjolras replied cordially. He brought out a letter and smoothed it out on the table. "I have with me a set of figures sent from the regiments stationed near Verdun and Metz, stating their expenses and asking for an increase in the proposed allocations for the military. I wish to know if these numbers are commensurate to the needs of an actual garrison, such as this one, before the legislature takes a vote on it," he said.

Tolbert surveyed the report for a few moments and then burst out in rough guffaws. "Citizen, these are modest expenses for a regiment, especially one residing in Paris. The board and lodging of nearly a hundred alone is quite taxing, what more the salaries and their armaments?"

"You are referring to armaments for practice and for reserve; we are not in a state of war. The allocation for these appears inflated," Enjolras pointed out in a level tone. 'I've bought enough gunpowder to know at a glance when it is overpriced,' he thought.

"Some regions are in a state of unrest; you yourself know the threat that counterrevolutionaries still pose," Tolbert said, putting his large hands on the table. "I forgot to mention expenses for illnesses and wounds, especially here what with the rate the men are-"he began before a series of knocks sounded on the door. He cursed as he checked his pocket watch. "I almost forgot about you there, Captain Gillenormand. Please come in."

In a moment Theodule Gillenormand strode in, wearing a bright new uniform and holding his hat under his arm. His mustache twitched when he caught sight of Enjolras, more so when he was only met with an impassive nod. "You sent for me, Colonel?" he said as he saluted Tolbert.

"Yes, there is a revision I need you to make in the schedules," Tolbert said gruffly. "By the way Captain Gillenormand, let me introduce our guest Citizen Enjolras. Citizen Enjolras, may I introduce one of my recently promoted officers, Captain Theodule Gillenormand."

"We've met," Theodule said stiffly.

Tolbert glanced curiously at the two men. "I did not know you were acquainted."

"His cousin is a colleague of mine," Enjolras cut in coolly.

"A smaller city than I thought," Tolbert mused aloud just as a loud shout came from upstairs. He cursed again as he made his way to the door. "This will only be a minute; make yourselves comfortable," he said before quitting the office.

Enjolras immediately busied himself with reviewing the paper he and Tolbert had been discussing, checking for any other numbers that needed further clarification. In the meantime Theodule began to tap his feet, slowly at first then more and more restlessly. "This should not be any of your business," Theodule said at last.

"This report was forwarded to the members of the legislature to take into consideration in an upcoming vote," Enjolras replied.

"A mere justification for unpaving hell last summer," Theodule muttered.

Enjolras looked at Theodule sternly. "You speak as if the military is separate from the citizens."

"We do not live as most of the populace does," Theodule replied, suddenly sounding uncomfortable at having started this discussion. "It's a necessary sacrifice, out of duty."

"A sacrifice which does not necessitate absolute secrecy," Enjolras pointed out. "There was a time when the citizenry took active participation in the affairs of the military, not just in conscription but even in the acquisition of resources. Nowadays that may not be the case but that does not prevent citizens from ascertaining that the taxes they pay and that the trust they place in the military are not misplaced."

For a long moment Theodule looked down, clearly not having expected this reply. He tugged at his moustache pensively before giving Enjolras a pointed look. "I asked her to marry me. Did you even know of that?"

Enjolras raised an eyebrow. He had already half-expected that the lancer would raise this particular point of contention. "I know. Now what of it?"

Theodule shook his head bitterly. "Eponine would have said yes if it weren't for you. I would have protected her. You on the other hand destroyed her reputation by putting all sorts of ideas in her head and pushing her into politics. It isn't her world, it isn't proper for her to do this. For all intents and purposes, you all but ruined her."

"If you have something to say about her doings then you should discuss them with her directly," Enjolras retorted curtly.

"She is now among the most controversial women in Paris. I know what is being said about her in my grandfather's drawing room, especially when my cousins are not around. When she tires of this political excitement she will be left without any prospects," Theodule continued. All of this was said without looking Enjolras in the face. In that respect, the lancer had learned something of caution.

Enjolras gritted his teeth, now thoroughly annoyed at the turn this discussion had taken. If ever it only brought him back to his recollections of the Duchamp trial, when he could only watch as Eponine was being questioned. He knew that she had avoided looking his way in order to give less cause for anyone to drop a rude comment or two. However he had still seen how her face colored and her eyes flashed with anger at the defense attorney's humiliating questions. It had taken every ounce of his self control to continue to feign impassivity in those circumstances, if only to avoid shaming her. "I would advise that you refrain from further pressing this discussion," he said after a moment, his tone one of cold fury.

Theodule crossed his arms. "She will eventually realize her place. By then it may be too late for her."

The office door swung open again and Tolbert sauntered in, still trying to catch his breath. "I am sorry for the interruption. Why are you so cross, Captain? You look like the time you were upset about that girl who refused to accompany you to Dijon."

Theodule reddened deeply and muttered something under his breath while Enjolras just managed to contain a smirk. "We only had a slight disagreement on politics," he replied gruffly.

Enjolras carefully folded up the report he'd been reading. "Colonel, I would like to see an account of this garrison's expenses, in order to better examine the comparisons we were just discussing," he said cordially to Tolbert.

Tolbert nodded. "That would be wise. My second in command will prepare the list for you immediately if you wish. Captain Gillenormand, I have written down the new assignments and designations. They are here on my desk," he said.

Theodule saluted before going to see the report while Enjolras and Tolbert left to speak to one of the commandants. Within the next hour, Enjolras had the list he needed, in time to catch Joly just as he was leaving the infirmary. "Will you be heading back to the Bourbe?" Enjolras asked his friend.

Joly shook his head cheerily. "I'm meeting Musichetta directly after this. What about you?"

"I have another appointment," Enjolras said as they left the barracks. He waited till they were at the corner of the Rue du Bac before speaking again. "It was more than just some illnesses, wasn't it?"

Joly rubbed the top of his cane pensively. "There seems to be some malingering. I made sure to report it. The Colonel said he's implementing discipline now within the ranks; it was a comment he let slip past." He rubbed his cane again, clearly pondering now some other line of inquiry. "It is a terrible business to be a soldier, whether in peacetime or in battle. Fortunately the army surgeons have made this interesting observation: the swift extraction of the musket balls and in some cases, a little debridement, seems to ease the healing process somewhat."

"How?'

"I suspect it has to do with how the human body manages the repair of broken and wounded tissues; the process seems to necessitate that the patient become poorly before he makes a recovery. If there is foreign matter present, it seems to exacerbate the process. Haven't you ever considered why, at the Rue de Chanvrerie, Pontmercy wandered for such a long time in a fever, while Prouvaire regained lucidity far more quickly and was on his feet in a few days?"

"Then it has nothing to do with the extent or location of their injuries; Prouvaire took a bullet to his chest but Marius broke his arm."

"Marius was also struck by some debris and a few pieces of shot, which were not removed right away. He also had debris in the wound. On the other hand Prouvaire's wounds to the chest were shallower and more easily cleaned."

Enjolras grimaced at this clinical explanation. "That stands to reason."

"Especially in light of the practice of many of our gunnery crews to fight with clean shirts or none at all; a dirty shirt seems to prove the death of them," Joly added in a matter-of-fact tone. "If only it would be possible to investigate the sort of debris or the actual mechanism of injury."

"It could be a matter of developing the proper instrument for such a venture," Enjolras observed.

"Like how Laennec did it with his studies on auscultation. Too bad the consumption took him too soon," Joly said. He checked his pocket watch and sighed deeply. "Musichetta is having adjustments made to her dress. She has forbidden me from even having a peek of her wearing it."

Enjolras smirked, imagining how this discussion might have played out. "I need not remind you that even in this case, patience is a virtue."

Joly laughed ruefully. "In this case, I have learned to enjoy her caprices." In a few minutes they parted ways; Joly continued on towards the Place Saint-Sulpice while Enjolras went up to the Rue de la Chaise, where he was set to meet with an official and some provincial deputies regarding the legislation he was making final revisions to in preparation for the third hearing several days from then.

It was past two in the afternoon when this meeting finally concluded, which was a little bit later than Enjolras had hoped. 'No use making further inquiries now when some offices are on half-holiday,' he thought as he finally took his leave of his hosts. As he walked down the street, he noticed some carriages parked outside the Abbaye aux Bois. 'Chauteaubriand and some of his friends are probably visiting there,' he noted, recalling that one of their associates had retired to this very convent.

Suddenly the jarring crash of a gate slamming shut pierced the noontime quiet. Two young women were yelling at each other from opposite sides of the gate. "So you think you can simply leave? After everything that Angelique and I have done for you, this is the sort of gratitude we get?" Cerise Lafontaine screeched from inside the convent compound.

"I can't thank you for making me feel terrible even when you say you're trying to make me look nice. I am tired of following you around, and Angelique telling me all the time what to do especially when she's being horrible to other people. You've been horrible to me ever since that meeting at the Place Vendome," Azelma Thenardier snapped.

"Because you did what you weren't supposed to do! Just because she is your sister, that doesn't mean you had to choose her in that silly election," Cerise seethed.

"You didn't have to be there either. I know you didn't even want to go," Azelma said. "I also don't like what you say about so many other people, like Jehan, or my sister, or my brother."

"Brother? Your brothers are still children, why would I bother with any of them?"

"Not them. My older brother, at least he will be someday."

Cerise's jaw dropped. "How could you say such a thing?"

"It's much better than what you have been trying to make everyone believe about him and you," Azelma shot back. "I'm telling Jehan too what you said about him back there-"

"He'll have nothing to do with you," Cerise hissed. "After what you did, with that money and the necklace? It's still a mess, even with that horrible man Citizen Duchamp in prison. He'll never want a horrible liar, someone from the lowest gutter-"she added before jumping back when Azelma kicked the gate. Cerise stared at Azelma as if the latter had gone mad before running back to the convent's main building, calling for her sister.

Enjolras quickly moved to intercept Azelma as she ran down the street. She started when she realized he was there, but she managed to greet him with a shaky nod. "She's awful. Am I glad to be gone, and am I glad to see you!"

"You should speak to Eponine as soon as you can," Enjolras simply said.

"Is she at the Rue des Macons now?"

"Most likely. What do you plan to do?"

"After I tell Ponine about this, I will send for my things."

"Very well then, and do you already know where will you stay?"

"I could go to the Pontmercys; I know Cosette won't turn me away." She paused and reddened with embarrassment at having brought up the name of a mutual friend in such a context. "Never mind that I said that. Ponine will help me think of something better than the streets. How is Jehan?"

"He is still doing well."

Azelma nodded slowly, as if trying to make her mind up about something. "I should...I should thank him. Ponine was right about him, I should have spoken to him earlier. Do you think he will be at home some time later?"

"Perhaps. You should also see if he is at the Odeon," Enjolras replied as they reached the corner of the Rue de Chaise, where they eventually boarded an omnibus bound for the neighbourhood of the Sorbonne. Normally he would have walked all the way there but there was no way that Azelma's slippers would stand the trek all the way across this part of the Latin Quartier.

It was only when they alighted near the Rue des Macons that Azelma spoke up again. "Are you angry that I said you were my older brother?"

"More of surprised," he replied bluntly. While he could not say he was entirely pleased with this notion, he could understand the sentiment behind it.

Azelma swallowed hard before she wiped her face with the back of her hand and frowned at the rouge that came off. "Cerise was bragging to all those people we were visiting that she'll become 'Citizenness Enjolras' by this time next year."

"That is foolishness."

"I told her so, and that was the beginning of the row." Although it was evident that Azelma was still shaken by what had just transpired, there was something about her countenance that seemed less shrunken and insipid. It was a startling but rather welcome change.

It also turned out that a similar transformation had overtaken the Stendhal residence. For the first time in several weeks, Enjolras saw that the house was brightly lit, with the door ajar to receive visitors; normally it was only the front office that showed any sign of life. Through the window, he could see Eponine seated at her desk, apparently humming to herself as she copied out another manuscript. She happened to glance towards the window after a few moments and a surprised smile spread across her face as she signed for Enjolras and Azelma to enter the house.

In a few moments she met them in the front hall. "What happened? I know you two are here for a reason," she asked curiously.

"I'm no longer staying with the Lafontaines," Azelma announced proudly.

Eponine's jaw dropped. "You have to tell me all about it in a little bit; we'll talk in that room I was just working in. I just need to talk with Enjolras first," she said, her tone both amused and conspiratorial.

Enjolras smiled knowingly as he and Eponine went to a quieter part of the front hall, away from the front office door. "What are you planning?"

"I wasn't till you and Zelma arrived," Eponine whispered, catching his hand and squeezing it excitedly. "Prouvaire is here with some friends of his. They're reading a play that Emile just translated; it's actually quite awful from what I heard from here."

"I think you and Azelma should talk first before they meet," he suggested.

She grinned more widely, perhaps at the fact that he'd caught on so quickly. "He misses her. He's just been looking for a chance to see her but those Lafontaines have been keeping her away from everyone."

"She'll explain the rest of it shortly."

"You'll be the one to tell Prouvaire though that she's here. I'll see you later then?"

He nodded and clasped her arm for a moment before going to the back office, where there was the sound of uproarious laughter and some catcalling. He also heard what sounded like applause, but oddly enough it seemed more muffled, as if it was from far off, and very irregular at that. 'Almost like musket-fire,' Enjolras thought, instinctively glancing around as if he could locate the source of this odd sound. However he did not hear it again, and so he went into the back office.

In this room, Prouvaire was seated atop a desk, balancing a huge sheaf of paper on his knees and reading to Emile and three other friends. The poet grinned at Enjolras. "You've arrived at the second-best part of the story."

"What is the best part?" Emile chimed in.

"The end of it. It will be a breath of relief."

Enjolras smirked at this long-suffering quip as he found a seat. "Azelma is here."

Prouvaire nearly dropped what he was reading. "Why?"

"She and Eponine have to discuss some matters," Enjolras said. "Do you wish to speak with her?"

Prouvaire swallowed hard and looked down. "Only if she wishes to, if she would have me..."

One of the other young men shook his head. "Prouvaire, hasn't she brought you endless trouble these past few weeks? You'll end up pining again and what's going to happen to your work?"

"It was not entirely her doing. I've lived with pining long enough for me to make a sort of recovery." Prouvaire said slowly. "Of course you know that is not my natural state," he said, directing this comment to Enjolras.

"If that is what you say," Enjolras simply said; although Prouvaire had maintained an unusual sort of equanimity throughout these past few weeks of tumult, the toll was still evident in his countenance and slightly pained look. 'Which is different from his previous entanglements, when he'd be more vocal about his despondency,' he observed quietly.

Prouvaire simply shrugged before flipping again through the pages of the manuscript. "We may as well skip the soliloquy; Balzac suggested we do away with it in order to maintain the audience's interest-"

"Aren't you boys quite through with that horrible drama of yours?" Odette called from the office doorway. She was still clad in mourning black, but she had finally taken care with her toilette and dressed her hair. The matron's eyebrows shot up when she saw Enjolras. "Citizen, I was not aware you were interested in drama."

"On rare occasions," Enjolras replied.

"Mother, we were in the middle of a reading," Emile said furtively.

"I'm not about to be rude to another guest," Odette replied more energetically. "I need to have a word with you though, Citizen," she said to Enjolras.

Emile rolled her eyes. "Mother, if it's about what happened earlier this week-"

"It's a cause of concern, Emile. Now get back to your reading," Odette said sternly to her son.

Enjolras quietly stepped out to where Odette waited in the hallway. "What is this about, Citizenness?"

Odette went to a table and picked up a sheaf of papers. "All of these have been turning up at our doorstep ever since those trials. Sometimes Emile gets notes but those are mostly harmless, but it's another matter for Eponine. I sometimes tell her that she shouldn't work in the front office where people can see and throw things, but you know how stubborn she is and she says she likes the light. We're lucky nothing of that sort has happened yet."

Enjolras looked through the papers, recognizing some of them as scathing articles and denouncements he'd read over the past eight days in the aftermath of the trial. "I'm sorry about this disturbance, Citizenness Stendhal," he said, setting the papers back down on the table.

"I do not understand how you all deal with this; I know you cannot censor the presses and that filing all those libel charges against each and every writer and artist is impossible," Odette sighed. "If I was in any one of your places, I would probably die."

"Mother! Are you honestly still talking about that?" Emile groaned indignantly as he emerged from the back room. "I told you it was nothing to worry about."

"You were complaining about that several days ago," Odette retorted.

"I already said it was no problem, Mother!" Emile said before he yelped as Odette grabbed his ear and dragged him to another part of the hallway to begin arguing with him.

"Stendhal, I have no problem if we reschedule the rest of this reading-"Prouvaire suggested as he stepped out into the hall, still holding the manuscript. He stopped in his tracks and dropped the papers as he looked towards someone who was now standing near the front office. "Azelma..."

At the other end of the hall, Azelma glanced over her shoulder at Eponine, who gave her an encouraging nod. Azelma took a halting step forward. "Are you happy to see me, Jehan?"

Prouvaire shook his head even as he walked towards Azelma, closing the distance between them in moments. He whispered something in her ear that made her smile with pure relief. She threw her arms around him, burying her face in his chest to hide her tears as he ducked his head to continue speaking closely to her, all the while holding her tightly to him as if he was afraid she would slip away again.

In the meantime Enjolras saw that Eponine had picked up the sheaf of articles that Odette had been saving, and was now bringing the entire pile to the front office. He followed her there in time to see her tearing up the entire stack and stuffing the pieces into the stove. "I don't know why Odette was saving these articles; they only make her more upset!" she remarked. "I've been waiting for days to make good use of this to get a little warmer."

Enjolras couldn't help but smile at this practical line of thought. "This journalistic backlash was more than anyone expected," he remarked as he picked up some wayward shreds of paper and shoved them into the stove. "It's too much of a distraction."

"It's only because of people being silly and looking at all the wrong things," Eponine pointed out, gently laying a hand on his chest. "I remember that when I was a little girl my father would take me out walking and sometimes ask me to look for the birds. He used to like them so. Sometimes I'd be listening to other children playing, sometimes I'd be looking at flowers, and I'd miss what he was trying to make me see. I s'pose it's a little like that."

"It is not merely distractions that people have to contend with, but with prejudice and outdated ideas," Enjolras replied. He ran his thumb over her cheek to push away a stray strand of hair and smiled when he saw her lean into his touch. The open trust and affection in her dark eyes was heartening, but even so he felt his gut clench as he recalled the spiteful words that Theodule had uttered earlier that morning. "Did you ever regret coming forward for the trial?" he asked her seriously after a moment.

"Not really. I just wished people made it easier, but I'm not sorry for it," she replied. Her smile was teasing when she spoke again. "Now which silly asked you about such a thing?"

He pulled her a little closer, knowing better than to simply dismiss the subject now that she was unwittingly getting to the bottom of it. "I spoke with Theodule Gillenormand at the barracks today."

Eponine rolled her eyes. "Is he still angry about what I said to him last month? I could very well give him a kick where he needs it again."

"You don't have to," he said as he tightened his grip on her waist. "He claims I ruined your reputation by 'pushing you into politics'."

"He is much worse than a silly. He never understood anything."

"What do you mean?"

She reached for his hand, deftly sliding her fingers between his. "Most other people tell me to simply run away from things. That's the way it was on the streets, that's what people think I ought to do with these troubles. You're the first one to help me figure out how to fix them," she said in his ear.

Enjolras touched the side of her face, prompting her to meet his gaze again. He kissed her lightly and rested his forehead against hers, feeling her sigh contentedly at this gesture. "You have always had the strength for it," he told her.

"You're the one who's always believed in that-and thank you for it," she whispered back.

Suddenly a rapping sound came from the direction of the front office windows. Eponine frowned and stood on tiptoe to look over Enjolras' shoulder. "It's Courfeyrac and Paulette!"

"They look like they've come a long way," Enjolras noted, letting go of her so they could let in their obviously harried friends. His wariness only heightened when he saw how Courfeyrac was trying to catch his breath and how Paulette seemed almost on the verge of collapse. "What happened?"

Courfeyrac took a deep breath. "Get Paulette inside first, please." He paused and looked around the front hall; the Stendhals, Prouvaire, Azelma, and the rest of Emile's friends were now all in the hallway. "There's been a fight in the neighbourhood of Saint Sulpice. There was an uprising in the barracks and the fugitive soldiers tried to take refuge in the church," he said.

"What about Joly, Musichetta, and Bossuet? They don't live far from there," Eponine asked.

"The three of them weren't home when we knocked," Paulette replied from where she was half-collapsed in a chair. "Musichetta said anyway she'd be out seeing to some preparations for the wedding; I think they are with her."

"If it's a problem with soldiers, then someone has to tell Lafayette right away," Emile said, stepping aside to let Eponine hurry to the kitchen. "He still has command over the army."

"Rather indirect at this point," Enjolras pointed out, now recalling the visit that he and Joly made to the barracks earlier that morning. Perhaps there was a more sinister reason for this sudden issue with discipline within the ranks. "He does have jurisdiction nowadays over the National Guard, but I would rather he would not have to summon them," he said at length.

"Why so?" Eponine asked, returning now with a glass of water for Paulette.

"They know how to deal with barricades. Mutiny of our armed forces is a completely different question."