Les Amis de l'ABC

Chapter 5

Meanwhile, Joly, Lesgle, and Courfeyrac were fighting with Lesgle’ wardrobe and each other.

“OK, take the top, Joly, and tilt it so we’ve got this thing almost on its side, otherwise we’ll never get it picked up,” ordered Courfeyrac.

Joly struggled with it for a while, then quit. “I’m going to need a lot of help here. What the hell is in this thing, Lesgle?”

“Almost nothing.”

“That’s bullshit and you know it. It can’t be this heavy empty. Come on, open it up,” Courfeyrac ordered him.

“But I just locked it so it wouldn’t fly open.”

“Open it, Lesgle, or it’s getting hacked to pieces with an axe. I’m already sick of this thing, and it can’t stay in my flat.”

“Fine, here’s the key.” Lesgle gave it to Courfeyrac, who proceeded to open the wardrobe.

“It’s practically empty! So what is making this thing so heavy? Ah hah! A drawer! Let’s get that out. Your clothes are coming out, too. Any weight has to go,” demanded Courfeyrac. There really wasn’t much to take out: a pair of boots, Lesgle’s good suit, three extra shirts and a few pairs of socks. “I doubt this will help much, but let’s try again. I’ll help Joly this time.”

Lesgle locked the doors again, and this time Joly and Courfeyrac succeeded in getting the wardrobe tilted. “OK, I’ll go to the other end to help Lesgle, since he’s going to be on the bottom,” offered Joly.

“Is that so you have less work?” asked Courfeyrac.

“Shut up about it, or you don’t get my extra bed.”

“There’s nothing like a wardrobe to set men at odds with each other,” proffered Lesgle.

“OK, the door’s open, and the concierge knows we’re coming down,” said Lesgle. “On my count, we’ll lift. One, two, three, UP!” They got it off the ground. “OK, slowly, because we’re backing down the stairs.” Once they got out the door, it took ten minutes to get downstairs. Thankfully, Joly lived on the first floor. “Courfeyrac, you’re above us. Can you see if the door is open?” Lesgle asked.

“Yeah, it’s still open.”

“Okay, let’s go,“ said Lesgle. “We’re down. Rest stop.”

“You should have hired a cart,” said Courfeyrac.

“I didn’t see the necessity of spending all that money. You sure are arrogant for someone who’s broke.”

“Okay, I’m sorry. Let’s at least get this thing moved so that it doesn’t block the door.” They moved it a few feet.

“So, Courfeyrac, tell us about this Mlle Feuilly,” said Joly.

“There’s nothing to tell.”

“I, for one, don’t believe that. Tell us, old boy, is she pretty? Will she be your next mistress?” asked Lesgle.

“NO! Let’s just get moving.”

“That’s a ‘yes’,” said Lesgle.

A tall young woman approached them. “Excusez-moi, messieurs. I’m looking for M. Courfeyrac. He was just here a second ago.”

Courfeyrac came out from behind the wardrobe. “What? Mlle Feuilly? What are you doing here? How did you find me?”

“Well, I followed you to Corinth, where you either had a meeting or met with a very large group of friends. Then, I followed you here. I kind of need to talk to you. I can’t really come to your meeting. I have to work, and I can’t afford to lose this job.”

“We will push the meeting back. At what time are you dismissed?”

“Half past six.”

“We will meet at seven for dinner,” offered Courfeyrac. “That will be satisfactory to you fellows, correct?”

“Still at Corinth?” asked Lesgle. Since Hucheloup died, the food had been quite dismal.

“Grantaire would know where to find decent food and privacy,” offered Joly. Grantaire had, even in their short acquaintance, proven himself adept at deciphering the mysteries of Parisian cafés.

“Mlle Feuilly, come to this building tomorrow after you finish working, and I will direct you to our new meeting place. Is that satisfactory?”

“Um, sure, I guess.” Feuilly looked very unsure.

“What is the problem? Come over here, where we can speak in semi-privacy,” Courfeyrac suggested, hinting to his friends to stay out of it.

“Well, it’s just that, well, umm, money. I don’t have the money to go to one of your fancy cafés. I’ll meet you somewhere later, but dinner is out of the question,” she whispered once they were out of earshot.

“Do not worry about it. Joly will pay. He’s always got money, and I am quite sure that he will not mind.”

“No. Thank you, monsieur, but I don’t want to put you out. I’ll come find you around eight or so.”

“Nonsense. You will come to dinner with us.”

“I don’t want your charity.”

“Who said anything about charity? Joly is buying dinner for three as it is, and I know he will not mind one more. It happens to be called friendship.”

“I wouldn’t feel right about it. I barely know you, and I don’t know this Joly at all.”

“What if this were a date?”

“What?!” Feuilly became quite alarmed.

“Hypothetically, if we were dating, which we are not, but if we were, would you let me buy dinner?”

“That’s a totally different situation.”

“Well, would you?”

“Yes, but it’s not the same,” she protested.

“Joly, come over here,” Courfeyrac called.

“What about Lesgle?” Joly shouted back.

“Stay and watch the wardrobe,” Courfeyrac ordered. Joly came over alone. “Joly, meet Mlle Feuilly. She will be your new mistress.”

“What the hell?! I did not agree to this!” Feuilly cried.

“What are you doing, Courfeyrac,” Joly asked, perplexed by the situation, but not in complete disagreement. Feuilly was quite beautiful, and Joly was not incredibly deep.

“Well, mistress is not the proper term, I grant you. I want you both to reach an agreement whereby Joly will purchase dinner for Feuilly at the meeting of Les Amis de l’ABC on Thursday,” Courfeyrac informed them in explanation. “Is it a deal?”

“I don’t have a problem with it. I’m already buying dinner for you and Bossuet. What’s one more?”

“I didn’t want you to make a scene about this. Monsieur, would you go back with your friend for a minute so I can talk to M. Courfeyrac? Merci. Why did you do that?” she asked when Joly had gone. “You really put me on the spot, and now I got to do what you want. You want to pass me around to all your friends, let all of them screw me? I had thought as a gentleman, you’d be honourable. You’re no better than that bastard I work for!”

“Slow down. I do not want to have anything in a relationship with you that I would not have in my relationship with Joly. The only thing involved here is dinner, nothing more. No ‘screwing’, and could you please find a different term to use in the future? You sound as though I picked you up out of the gutter. You do have a civil tongue in your head; I would advise you to use it around the others.”

That ticked off Feuilly. “I come from the gutter, and I picked myself out, thank-you-very-much. I’ll talk however I damned well please.”

“You certainly have spirit, I will admit. Please, mademoiselle, join us for dinner? It would give us great pleasure to enjoy your company for an evening.” Courfeyrac was trying to make peace while retaining the upper hand. It was working.

“I don’t know.” Feuilly was bending. “You’ve been really pushy, well, not pushy, what’s the word I want? You’re getting me to do what you want.”

“I’ve been manipulative? I’m very sorry. I would truly enjoy an evening with you and my other friends.”

“Manipulative? Is that it? Well, okay, fine, I’ll go along with it this time. But just this once.”

“Fair enough. Come, since you are here, you ought to meet two of Les Amis.“ Courfeyrac brought Feuilly over to where Joly and Lesgle were watching the wardrobe, or rather not watching the wardrobe. They had been engaged in conversation while watching Courfeyrac and Feuilly. Courfeyrac was just in time to hear, “You should have heard him talk. Pulling out the lawyer language, trying to impress her.” He turned bright red, knowing that he had been caught by Joly. “Mlle Feuilly, meet Joly and Lesgle de Meaux, alias Bossuet. We are currently engaged in the transportation of Bossuet’s furniture to his new flat, which is how far away?”

“Five blocks,” replied Lesgle.

“You expect us to carry this thing five g-- blocks?” Courfeyrac choked off “goddammed” in an attempt to seem above Feuilly, but she caught the slip.

“You don’t have a cart?”

“She, even she knows you ought to hire a cart,” Joly told Lesgle.

“I don’t see the need to spend that much money to move one piece of furniture,” he explained.

“This is all you have?” asked Feuilly.

“Are you being judgmental?” replied Lesgle.

“No, but I will offer my assistance.”

“What, are you going to help us carry this thing?” Joly asked skeptically.

“In a way, yes. Don’t look at me like that! Just because I’m a woman doesn’t mean that I’m not stronger than you are. I could kick you ass if I wanted too!”

“Mademoiselle Feuilly,” Courfeyrac said as a warning.

“Well, anyway,” she continued, taking the hint, “I’m not going to carry it and neither will any of you. Can I get one of you to come with me? We’ll get a cart and some men, free of charge. D’accord?” Feuilly offered.

“You go with her, Courfeyrac. She’s your acquaintance,” said Lesgle.

“Me? I think that Joly ought to go. They can get better acquainted,” countered Courfeyrac.

“I’m sure to catch something deadly if I go into that disease infested part of town. You go, Lesgle.”

“I’m watching my wardrobe.”

“It’s so nice to feel wanted, boys. Since you guys can’t make up your minds, I’ll choose who goes, okay?” Feuilly looked at the three young men in front of her: one short, one bald, and one very thin and pale. None looked acceptable to her neighbours, but she had to choose someone as evidence of her errand. “I suppose I’ll have to choose you,” she said, pointing to Joly. “What was your name, again?”

“Joly.” He couldn’t help smiling. So what if they were going into her part of town. He’d die a happy man. She was beautiful, intelligent, and could kick his ass if she chose to. He could see why Courfeyrac had asked her to join the revolution.

“Well, come on, Joly. We’ll be back in a few minutes.”

As they left, Lesgle could not help saying, “Did you see the smile on Joly’s face when she chose him? There’s going to be some competition around here.”

“Shut up, Lesgle. Joly can control himself, and I don’t need her. She’s just another revolutionary.”

“With beautiful blue eyes, breasts, and a lovely face, not to mention a fine waist. If she had chosen me, well, I tell you, old boy, it would have been the greatest moment of my life.”

“Mine too, mon frère, mine too,” murmured Courfeyrac.


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