Les Amis de l'ABC

Chapter 10

In the morning, Courfeyrac had an early class that he had to attend. If he skipped one more time, he would be expelled and his father would cut him off from any supply of funds. Therefore, it became Joly’s task to seek out Grantaire in order to decide a new meeting place. Luckily for Joly, Grantaire had returned to Corinth. Or perhaps he had never left: Joly was not quite sure which was the case. Anyway, Grantaire was eating oysters and drinking the rest of his breakfast at the early hour of ten o’clock.

“Joly! Avec quatres ailes! Come in, sit down, have a drink!”

“Grantaire, it’s ten in the morning. If I drink now I’ll be sick all day.”

“Nonsense! Come, sit, talk!” Grantaire pushed a chair out with his foot.

Joly sat down. “I’ve come to you for help.”

“You want my help? I would be most willing to come to your aid, my dear Jolllly. And pray, sir, what is the subject on which you seek my assistance?”

“Grantaire, you’re drunk.”

“Of course I am. It’s glorious, n’est-ce pas?”

“No, it’s not.”

“You’re sounding like Enjolras. Did you come down here just to tell me I’m drunk? I knew that already, mon ami.” He took another swig from the bottle in front of him, then let it clatter to the floor to join the others.

“Grantaire, I’m being serious here. I’m looking for advice on a new meeting place.”

“You’re taking control?” Grantaire asked, popping open another bottle.

Joly took it from him. “Courfeyrac sent me. We’re changing the Thursday meeting to the evening, so we’re going to meet somewhere for dinner at seven. Therein lies the problem. We refuse to eat here, so I’ve come to you to find a place with decent food and privacy.” After a little thought, Grantaire cried, “I know the perfect place! The Café Musain. There’s a back room with an entrance from the street. They keep everyone out of there. I play dice there when there’s a game, but the dice players don’t come on Thurdays. And they serve the most wonderful little red wine, straight out of the casks, none of these bottles.” He reached for his open one and realised it was not there. “I swear I had another bottle,” he mumbled. “Fricassee!” he shouted.

She floated in, moving slowly and quietly. “Oui, monsier?” she whispered.

“Another -”

“No, nothing, thank you,” Joly interrupted.

“But -”

“No. You may go,” Joly told Fricassee, who gladly left.

“What’d ya do that for?”

“It’s ten in the morning and you’re already tanked. Back to the subject. Café Musain is private, accessable, and how’s the food?”

“Not bad. Actually, it’s pretty good. The wine is wonderful. Where is that other bottle?” Grantaire asked himself, searching the floor.

“Come on, let’s get you out of here. You haven’t been home, have you?”

“Well, no. I’ve been having a smashing evening with my girls here. Chowder and Fricassee are a couple of very lovely ladies when you get to know them.”

“Or when you’re drunk. Grantaire, let’s get you home to sleep this off.”

“What if I don’t want to?”

“What if Enjolras finds you?”


“He’s going to come looking for us sometime, and you don’t want him to see you this far gone, do you? I think he’s supposed to meet Combeferre here this morning.” Joly knew that he had to let Grantaire dry out before he drunk himself into a coma, so he made up a meeting in order to get Grantaire home. He didn’t indulge in lies too often, but this was a special circumstance.

“Well, no, I guess not.” Grantaire started to cry like a baby. “All I want is his approval. He thinks I’m just a goddamned stinkin’ drunk.” He put his forehead to the table. “Why, why am I cursed with this?!”

Joly pulled his chair closer and put his arm around Grantaire’s shoulders. “Come, mon ami, let’s get you home,“ he said softly.

Grantaire sat up and nodded, tears in his eyes. Joly helped him up and supported him all the way to Grantaire’s flat.

“OK, sit down on the bed. Good. Now take your shoes off.”

“I can’t.”

“What do you mean, you can’t?”

“My fingers don’t work.”

“Can you take your jacket off? It’s not buttoned.”

“OK.” Somehow, Grantaire got his jacket off while Joly removed his shoes.

“Now lay down and get some sleep.”

“OK.” Grantaire passed out as soon as he laid down.

After searching Grantaire’s flat and confiscating a bottle of absinthe, Joly left him to sleep. He asked the concierge to check on him in a few hours, but she wouldn’t be bothered with that drunked troublemaker. Joly had a class at about the time he thought some one should wake Grantaire up, so he asked, “Can I send a friend by this afternoon to check on him?”

“What do you mean, a friend? I don’t want no women up there!”

“No, a friend from school. You know him. M. Courfeyrac. Short, brown hair.”

“Oh, yeah, him. What the hell. I can’t let the drunk die on me, can I?”

“Merci, Madame.” Joly checked his watch out on the street and realised the lateness of the hour. He was in grave danger of being late, so he walked and ran as fast as he could to the medical school.


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