Les Misérables by Victor Hugo,
Volume 4, Book Eleventh, Chapter 4
The Child is amazed at the Old Man
In the meantime, in the Marche Saint-Jean, where the post had already been disarmed, Gavroche had just "effected a junction" with a band led by Enjolras, Courfeyrac, Combeferre, and Feuilly. They were armed after a fashion. Bahorel and Jean Prouvaire had found them and swelled the group. Enjolras had a double-barrelled hunting-gun, Combeferre the gun of a National Guard bearing the number of his legion, and in his belt, two pistols which his unbuttoned coat allowed to be seen, Jean Prouvaire an old cavalry musket, Bahorel a rifle; Courfeyrac was brandishing an unsheathed sword-cane. Feuilly, with a naked sword in his hand, marched at their head shouting: "Long live Poland!"
They reached the Quai Morland. Cravatless, hatless, breathless, soaked by the rain, with lightning in their eyes. Gavroche accosted them calmly: –
"Where are we going?"
"Come along," said Courfeyrac.
Behind Feuilly marched, or rather bounded, Bahorel, who was like a fish in water in a riot. He wore a scarlet waistcoat, and indulged in the sort of words which break everything. His waistcoat astounded a passer-by, who cried in bewilderment: –
"Here are the reds!"
"The reds, the reds!" retorted Bahorel. "A queer kind of fear, bourgeois. For my part I don't tremble before a poppy, the little red hat inspires me with no alarm. Take my advice, bourgeois, let's leave fear of the red to horned cattle."
He caught sight of a corner of the wall on which was placarded the most peaceable sheet of paper in the world, a permission to eat eggs, a Lenten admonition addressed by the Archbishop of Paris to his "flock."
Bahorel exclaimed: –
"'Flock'; a polite way of saying geese."
And he tore the charge from the nail. This conquered Gavroche. From that instant Gavroche set himself to study Bahorel.
"Bahorel," observed Enjolras, "you are wrong. You should have let that charge alone, he is not the person with whom we have to deal, you are wasting your wrath to no purpose. Take care of your supply. One does not fire out of the ranks with the soul any more than with a gun."
"Each one in his own fashion, Enjolras," retorted Bahorel. "This bishop's prose shocks me; I want to eat eggs without being permitted. Your style is the hot and cold; I am amusing myself. Besides, I'm not wasting myself, I'm getting a start; and if I tore down that charge, Hercle! 'twas only to whet my appetite."
This word, Hercle, struck Gavroche. He sought all occasions for learning, and that tearer-down of posters possessed his esteem. He inquired of him: –
"What does Hercle mean?"
Bahorel answered: –
"It means cursed name of a dog, in Latin."
Here Bahorel recognized at a window a pale young man with a black beard who was watching them as they passed, probably a Friend of the A B C. He shouted to him: –
"Quick, cartridges, para bellum."
"A fine man! that's true," said Gavroche, who now understood Latin.
A tumultuous retinue accompanied them, – students, artists, young men affiliated to the Cougourde of Aix, artisans, longshoremen, armed with clubs and bayonets; some, like Combeferre, with pistols thrust into their trousers.
An old man, who appeared to be extremely aged, was walking in the band.
He had no arms, and he made great haste, so that he might not be left behind, although he had a thoughtful air.
Gavroche caught sight of him: –
"Keksekca?" said he to Courfeyrac.
"He's an old duffer."
It was M. Mabeuf.