Les Amis de l'ABC

Chapter 16

They got lost on the way, since Courfeyrac hadn’t been there in almost a year, and Joly had never seen the place before. “I swear this is the street.”

“There’s no café down here, Courfeyrac.”

“That’s it. I’m going to have to ask for directions.”

“And we’ll get mugged for being in the wrong place at the wrong time.”

“Joly, I’m going out to the main street to ask for directions.”

“Fine, I’m coming,” Joly reluctantly replied, not wanting to be alone in a tiny, twisting ruelle.

Courfeyrac tapped a fairly well dressed man on the shoulder. “Excusez-moi, monsieur.” The man turned around.


“Tenier! What are you doing down here?”

“I could ask you the same question. As it happens, I am on my way to the Café Musain for the dice. Cards no longer bring me the amusement that I once derived from them.”

“You’re going to the Musain? So are we! Quel hasard!”

“Courfeyrac, who is this?” Joly whispered.

“Oh, I completely forgot. Tenier, this is Joly, the medical student I’m temporarily rooming with. Joly, Tenier is an old friend from back home. He and I have gone to school together for at least ten years.”

“Make that twelve. Do you realise that we have not spoken since the - er -”

“Revolution. You can say it, Marc. Revolution. More like betrayal, but anyway . . .” Courfeyrac trailed off.

“I shall never believe how you can be so radical, René. It scares your father, so he speaks to mine, and my father writes to me . . .”

“Thanks for the warning. I don’t see how you can be so bloody royalist when you see all the abuse the people have suffered.”

“You’re still acting like a child. Grow up and accept your position, René.”

“Then you need to stay out of these neighbourhoods, Marc.”

“Look, I did not have the intention of beginning a fight. I have a bit of news.”

“From home?” Courfeyrac asked with a dirty look.

“No. Grow up, René. From school. It seems that Pontmercy has disappeared again.”


“Pontmercy. Surely you remember him. A very pale boy, sat in back, disappeared until he was in danger of being expelled. Last term.”

“Oh, Pontmercy. He’s disappeared again?”

“Yes. He has been gone for two weeks.”

“Any idea yet what his problem is?”

“Not a clue.” Tenier checked his watch. “Oh, dear, it is almost seven. We had better walk more and talk less if I am to be on time.”

“Us too. We’re meeting Grantaire at seven.”

“François Grantaire?” Tenier inquired.

“The same. Come, let’s walk. How do you know Grantaire?”

“He comes every week for the dice and the wine. You know, the Musain has a wonderful little red -”

“- straight out of the casks. Grantaire told me.”

“Gentleman, since we have arrived, I shall join my circle of acquaintance and leave you to yours. M. Joly, it was a pleasure to meet you. Courfeyrac, I would advise you to stay out of politics just now, while you still have a future. It was good to see you again. Good day.” Tenier left them at the door.

“Thank god the pretentious bastard is gone,” Courfeyrac sighed with relief.

“What’s wrong with him?” Joly asked. “He seemed OK to me, and I know not all royalists are pretentious bastards.”

“It’s not just that he’s a royalist; royalism is symptomatic of how in every way he is so much a part of the old regime. Look at how he comes here for dice, but is willing to sell out his acquaintance for position. Plus, he’d never fight for anything in his life, and my father likes him. Therefore, pretentious bastard.”

Eager to change the subject, Joly saw Grantaire at a corner table. “Look, Grantaire’s waving us over.”

“Courfeyrac, Joly! Come, come!” Grantaire called as they moved towards his table. “We’ll eat first, and at eight the dice begin in earnest.”

“Grantaire, do you know a Marc Tenier?” Joly asked.

“Pretentious bastard. He’s over there. Why?”

“Just looking for someone to corroborate Courfeyrac’s high opinion of him. You pass.”

“I took the liberty of ordering already. Here the food comes now. Sit, eat, amuse yourselves. As a medical professional, Joly, I order you to have fun.”

“You don’t study medicine, Grantaire.”

“Well, you won’t listen to your friends.”

“I will tonight,” Joly smiled.

The food was good, the wine superb, and the dice hot. Grantaire won 500 francs, Courfeyrac and Joly broke even, and late that night, the café was approved as the new meeting place.


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