Les Amis de l'ABC

Chapter 4


They had not gone far. Everyone was still in the bar downstairs.

“Courfeyrac, you should not have done that,” said Bahorel.

“Then why did you walk out with me?”

“I wanted to stay, but his impassiveness to your insults, well, it just annoyed the shit out of me.”

“Then you’re with us, Bahorel?” asked Combeferre.

“Better a man with obvious fire than that man of ice upstairs to be our leader. I’ll stand with you.”

“Joly? Prouvaire? Lesgle? Good. We still stand. We’ll meet Thursday, here, as scheduled. Mlle Feuilly can attend. If Enjolras shows up, we will invite him to join us. Is that clear? We invite him to join us,” ordered Combeferre. “Courfeyrac, you are our leader.”

“No, no, I’d much rather not have the responsibility. I’m not suited to it. Combeferre, please, run this thing.”

“If Combeferre is to be the brains, then you must consent to be the heart of the revolution, Courfeyrac,” Prouvaire told him.

“I’ll consent to that, our little poet. I’m no philosopher,” said Courfeyrac.

“Do I get a say in any of this?” asked Grantaire.

“Of course. Enjolras would have said ‘no’,” replied Courfeyrac.

“I think you need Enjolras in this. He’s the only one who can do it,” Grantaire said.

“I’m surprised you’re speaking on his behalf. Enjolras hates you, you’re not exactly of a similar disposition, and he never hears a word you say. Why stand up for him?” asked Courfeyrac, quickly becoming angry.

“Because he’s a leader. Because he’s my leader,” Grantaire quietly replied.

“That’s all well and good, but why are you here instead of upstairs?” Joly asked him.

“He told me to get out. He said he did not need or want my help.”

“Then why still defend him? Grantaire, we have overthrown tyranny of the worst sort. This is the object of revolution, and you want us to go back and fight under the conditions we are fighting against? I won’t do it,” Courfeyrac said.

“Grantaire is right. I said we would invite Enjolras to join us because we do need him. Everyone will be nice when we see him, understand? I don’t want to incur more of his wrath,” said Combeferre.

“Why are you here, then?” asked Courfeyrac argumentatively.

“Because I support you in your effort to temper his attempts to foster some sort of religious doctrine of morality or virtue on us. He seems almost Puritan at times, and it scares me. It would scare away our support from the people as well, and we need to cool him off before he goes before the public. Maybe he’ll calm down a bit now.”

“So you’re not really with me; you’re still with him. So is Bahorel, and of course Grantaire. What about you guys? Are you with me or the bastard upstairs?” Courfeyrac was beginning to lose control of himself.

“Courfeyrac, calm down. We’re all with you or we wouldn’t be here. Right, Bossuet? Prouvaire? Combeferre? Bahorel? See, Courfeyrac, we’re all with you,” Joly told him as each nodded assent, trying to calm him before they were minus another member.

“We ought to have a meeting, I suppose, except I have no idea what Enjolras had planned for this afternoon. Is anyone in a meeting mood anyway, after what happened?” Combeferre asked the group.

“I say we all stay here until midnight and get completely and utterly drunk,” suggested Grantaire.

“I don’t think I should. Too much wine aggravates my stomach condition, and knowing you, you’d start us on absinthe, which could prove deadly,” said Joly.

“Oh, bullshit, Joly. I’ve seen you drink quite a lot of absinthe before, and only two weeks ago you downed three bottles of wine, one after the other, because your mistress cut you off from sex when Bossuet moved into your flat. rYou don’t have stomach problems, at least not that are aggravated by alcohol,” Prouvaire accused him.

“Are you a doctor, Jehan? No, you’re a poet, and it would please me very much if you did not try to diagnose my disorders,” Joly replied.

“As far as a meeting, we already had one. Where the drinking is concerned, I’d better knock off and so should you, Lesgle. Three drunken men moving your wardrobe does not sound like the best idea. Speaking of which, we can do that now while we can still see. Thank God for late sunsets. Come on, Joly. It’s your flat. You’re helping, like it or not.” Courfeyrac left with Joly and Lesgle.

“I’ve actually nothing better to do. I’ll sit with you a while, Capital R,” offered Prouvaire.

“Oh, what the hell. I’m not Enjolras. Can’t be serious all the time. What will it be, boys? Wine or absinthe?” asked Bahorel.

“We’ll start with wine. If you decide to up the alcohol to that toxic absinthe, I’m out of here,” said Combeferre.

“My dear Mme Hucheloup. Five bottles of wine for my friends and I, and be ready with the sixth and seventh,” ordered Grantaire.

“Shall I bring glasses, or will you just swig out of the bottles?”

“Bring glasses. We are not barbarians,” Combeferre quickly interjected.

“Fricassee! Five tonight!” Mme Hucheloup yelled into the kitchen. In a moment, Fricassee appeared with a tray of five bottles and four glasses.

“Fricassee, you are an angel,” cried Grantaire. Fricassee set the entire tray on the table and left as quickly as her languid body would allow. The boys proceeded to get very drunk, Grantaire fell in love with Chowder, and even Combeferre had a glass of absinthe before they staggered home.

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