Morning of Anguish

Chapter 2

4 rue Blanche was a house divided into rather poor apartments. The concierge directed the two lieutenants to a set of rooms on the first floor which overlooked the shabby courtyard in the rear.

“Are you sure this is the place?”

“It has to be. Julien would not have confused his Mlle Mancion with another.”

Gouttenoire knocked firmly on the door. A woman in her mid fifties opened it. She was evidently of strong peasant stock, not far removed judging from the redness of her hands and the wear of her unfashionable grey woolen dress. “Messieurs?” She gave them a look of stupid inquiry, like a sheep.

“Bonjour, madame. I am Lieutenant Gouttenoire, of the National Guard, and this is my colleague, Lieutenant Lucas. I have a letter addressed to Mlle Angèle Mancion. I presume she is your daughter?” The woman nodded. "May we speak with her?” Mme Mancion nodded again and opened the door fully, allowing the young officers to enter. A dark-haired young girl sat by the window, sewing. She was the only occupant of the room. “Mlle Angèle Mancion?”

“Oui, monsieur.” Angèle stood up out of respect for the uniforms.

“Mademoiselle, I have a letter for you. Did you hear the fighting this far north?”

“No, but we heard of it. Angèle has been on pins and needles ever since we first got word of it last night,” her mother broke in.

“The fighting has ended,” Gouttenoire announced, hoping to include the proper note of sadness in his speech.

“And you are here? Oh, mon dieu!” Angèle collapsed breathlessly into her chair. “Then he is . . .”

“I am sorry, mademoiselle, he is. We found this letter, and I felt it my duty to deliver it.”

“Please, give it here.” Angèle took the letter and read it quickly, gasping at the news of her brother’s death, but not allowing further emotion to show except in the sad blue depths of her eyes. “Maman, Bahorel is dead,” she announced when she had finished the letter, tears shining in her eyes.

“I should have known he was up to no good. But he seemed so happy!” The older woman, who had seemed as strong and stubborn as an emotional ox only a moment before, was ready to break into tears.

The effect on Angèle was unexpected. She wiped her eyes and said, quite calmly, “I am going for a walk with the good officers.” With a slight beckoning gesture, she ordered them to follow her. Down in the street, she explained, “I know why Bahorel left home. I cannot stand that woman either. Julien was supposed to - was supposed to -” She could not finish for some time. Finally she whispered, “take care of me.” Angèle did not sob; tears did not stream down her pale cheeks. Instead, there was only the sadness in her eyes. She handed the letter to Gouttenoire. “Read it. Both of you. You look as though you need to talk. I’ll explain after you read the letter.”

Gouttenoire asked, “Are you sure, mademoiselle?” Angèle nodded. Not wishing to let on that he had already read it, he reread it at a normal pace, then passed it to Lucas, who read it slowly, as if to absorb all shades of meaning. Then he handed it back to Angèle. “Why do you ask us to read this?”

“So you will understand what I ask of you next. Do you have enough money for a fiacre? It is imperative that I go immediately to the Luxembourg.”

“Yes, we will take you, if you will help us. Lucas is an artist, and he has some drawings we wish you to peruse. The men who died with M. Julien. We would like to identify them so that their parents may know what has happened.”

Angèle smiled sadly. “You are honourable men. Of course I will help you. But first I must go to the Luxembourg.”

“Of course, mademoiselle.” Gouttenoire hailed a fiacre.

“Before I enter a carriage with two young strangers, I should at least know their names.”

“I am Lieutenant Félix Gouttenoire,” the tall dark one said as he helped her into the carriage, “and this is my friend, Lieutenant Alexandre Lucas,” he introduced the blond one.

“Did you speak to him before he died?”

“Speak to whom?”


“No. I arrived too late to save anyone.”

“Then they are all . . .?”

“I am sorry, mademoiselle. If it would not trouble you too much, could you tell me who Julien was?”

“You are very like him, lieutenant. He was -- you think him my lover, do you not?” Gouttenoire blushed. “It was not like that. We loved each other, yes, but we could never marry, and Julien was honourable. He was a friend of my brother, second in command of the revolution,” Angèle announced proudly. "Enjolras was the leader, but Julien was the philosopher. He taught me everything, from how to see Paris to why we must read Cicero. Bahorel first brought me to Paris last July. My brother was very kind, but he always treated me as a child.”

“But you are a child!” Lucas broke in.

“Lieutenant,” Angèle turned to him, “I am sixteen years of age.”

“She is very much an adult. Many young women are betrothed at the age of fifteen,” Gouttenoire defended her.

“You are very much like Julien. He explained everything of the revolution to me, and many other things as well, whenever I could come back. We are just peasants, as I am sure you could see from my mother. Julien taught me how to be a student. I knew how to read, but he made me literate. He taught me how to study faces. When I look at you, lieutenant, I cannot help but see him. It is not just that you are dark like him, though that may be a part. You are very serious and certainly not a slave to fashion. You do not indulge in one of those idiotic little moustaches that the younger officers of the National Guard seem to prefer. But you, lieutenant,” she turned to Lucas, “you are very much a slave to fashion, and you love life very much. Thankfully, you have realised the folly of the little moustache and shaved yours off quite recently. I see where you cut your lip last week. And it is in your eyes. You are trying so hard to be sober when it goes against your nature. If you must smile, then you must.” At her command, Lucas burst into a grin. “Much better.”

Gouttenoire glared at him. “I’m sorry. I can’t help it.”

“Orestes and Pylades,” Angèle said softly, sadly. “You are them.”

The fiacre stopped at the gate of the Luxembourg. Gouttenoire helped Angèle to descend while Lucas paid the driver. Angèle walked quickly past the palace and stopped at a bench by the pond, finally sobbing. “I am here, Julien,” she whispered, her tiny frame wracked with silent, convulsive sobs. Lucas made a move to comfort her, but Gouttenoire held him back to give her time alone. Angèle cried until her tears were gone, then she bent over and kissed the bench next to her, where her Julien would have sat. She sat up, wiped her eyes, and looked about for the officers. “Messieurs, I believe that Julien would want me to help you. But first, I must explain the rest of the letter. Please, walk with me.”

“Mademoiselle, are you quite certain that you wish us to know so much?” Gouttenoire asked with concern.

“I am quite sure. Lieutenant Lucas, you do not have to remain silent. Your exultation of life will not offend me. Yes, I must explain the letter, for I must request a second favour of you. You read of Mlle Laurier. Her name confused you, did it not? She is Julien’s fiancée, the reason we could never marry. He respected her a great deal, but he never loved her. It would be wrong of me to go there myself. Have you a pencil and a bit of paper? I shall give you her address. She will tell his parents. Charles is his brother, now the heir to a vineyard and a vast fortune.” Lucas dug through his pockets and produced a pencil and a scrap of paper. “14 Place des Vosges. Ask the servant for Mlle Isabelle Laurier, that you were sent by M. Julien Combeferre. Tell her that he was accidentally caugh in the crossfire at the barricade. She will tell his parents whatever you tell her, and I do not want them to know he died honourably for the Republic. They would not understand, and their ignorance would be an insult to his memory.”

Gouttenoire pocketed the note. “I shall do it, mademoiselle.”

Lucas finally spoke, unable to keep his voice to an appropriately somber tone. “I’m a bit of an artist, and I sketched the faces of the students and the women at the barricade, hoping they could be identified. Gouttenoire had the same idea.” He pulled out his pile of drawings and handed them to Angèle.

“I never met most of Bahorel’s friends, but I’ll do the best I can,” she promised the eager young man. “This one on top is Julien. It is a very good likeness; he does not look dead. May I keep it?” Lucas nodded and Angèle put it in her pocket. “This next must be Courfeyrac. He looks very much like Marie, his sister. Here,” she pulled a portrait from the middle of the stack, “this is Marie. They were students at the Sorbonne.”

“Would you mind labelling the pictures for us?” Lucas asked.

“Not at all.” Angèle scribbled their names on the back of the sketches. “I don’t know much about them, but you can ask at the university. These next two I don’t know. This one. M. Joly. He was a medical student, so ask about him at the school of medicine.” She stopped to write his name down. “This woman here is Gabrielle. She was to marry my brother. Here is his picture. She was a waitress at the café where they held meetings. She has no family, so she is of no concern to you. This is Feuilly, an artist like you, lieutenant. He, too, is an orphan, and of no concern to you. These two must be Enjolras and Grantaire. I saw M. Enjolras once, and no one can be as ugly as this one here. Orestes and Pylades, Julien called them. Enjolras was a student; I can’t help you with Grantaire. I don’t know the others,” she said, concluding her writing and handing the drawings back to Lucas. “Is there anything else I can do for you?”

“I believe that is all. You have helped us immensely, mademoiselle. May I ask you a question” Gouttenoire asked.

“Of course.”

“Will you remain long in Paris?”

“I don’t know. My mother does not like the city. We are here only to be close to Bahorel, whom she missed sorely. Without Bahorel, she will leave, I am sure, and without Julien, I have no means to stay here. He was going to support me as one would a mistress, but now there is no one.”

“You have no other acquaintance?”

“Only you, messieurs. Maman does not like that I speak to people, but she is in no position to stop me today. If I were to find employment or marriage, perhaps I could stay, but nothing is certain anymore.”

“I am sorry, mademoiselle.”

“If I must leave, then I will find a way back. I believe that I will come back some day. I have years to find a way. But I am taking too much of your time, messieurs.”

“Not at all.”

“If I may request one more favour? I know it is contrary to your purpose, but I should be very grateful if you would take me up to the hill of Montmartre. It was where I first understood Julien. I can walk home from there.”

“Alone in Montmartre?” Gouttenoire asked in horror.

“Lieutenant, I go up there often, always alone. No one will harm me. You must trust me. Please believe me.”

“All right, I believe you. Lucas, if you could find us a fiacre?”

“Oh sure, send me to do the dirty work,” Lucas complained good naturedly as he set off in search of a carriage.

Alone with Angèle, Gouttenoire suddenly found himself speechless with sad memories and worries about Angèle herself. They walked in silence toward the gate, where Lucas waited with the fiacre.


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