The History of a Crime, by Victor Hugo

Chapter xi.

The Combat Finished, the Ordeal Begins

I did not know where to go.

On the afternoon of the 7th I determined to go back once more to 19, Rue Richelieu. Under the gateway some one seized my arm. It was Madame D. She was waiting for me.

“Do not go in,” she said to me.

“Am I discovered?”

“Yes.”

“And taken.”

“No.”

She added —

“Come.”

We crossed the courtyard, and we went out by a backdoor into the Rue Fontaine Molière; we reached the square of the Palais Royal. The fiacres were standing there as usual. We got into the first we came to.

“Where are we to go?” asked the driver.

She looked at me.

I answered —

“I do not know.”

“I know,” she said.

Women always know where Providence lies.

An hour later I was in safety.

From the 4th, every day which passed by consolidated the coup d’état. Our defeat was complete, and we felt ourselves abandoned. Paris was like a forest in which Louis Bonaparte was making a battue of the Representatives; the wild beast was hunting down the sportsmen. We heard the indistinct baying of Maupas behind us. We were compelled to disperse. The pursuit was energetic. We entered into the second phase of duty — the catastrophe accepted and submitted to. The vanquished became the proscribed. Each one of us had his own concluding adventures. Mine was what it should have been — exile; death having missed me. I am not going to relate it here, this book is not my biography, and I ought not to divert to myself any of the attention which it may excite. Besides, what concerns me personally is told in a narrative which is one of the testaments of exile.33

Notwithstanding the relentless pursuit which was directed against us, I did not think it my duty to leave Paris as long as a glimmer of hope remained, and as long as an awakening of the people seemed possible. Malarmet sent me word in my refuge that a movement would take place at Belleville on Tuesday the 9th. I waited until the 12th. Nothing stirred. The people were indeed dead. Happily such deaths as these, like the deaths of the gods, are only for a time.

I had a last interview with Jules Favre and Michel de Bourges at Madame Didier’s in the Rue de la Ville-Lévêque. It was at night. Bastide came there. This brave man said to me —

“You are about to leave Paris; for myself, I remain here. Take me as your lieutenant. Direct me from the depths of your exile. Make use of me as an arm which you have in France.”

“I will make use of you as of a heart,” I said to him.

On the 14th, amidst the adventures which my son Charles relates in his book, I succeeded in reaching Brussels.

The vanquished are like cinders, Destiny blows upon them and disperses them. There was a gloomy vanishing of all the combatants for Right and for Law. A tragical disappearance.

33 “Les Hommes de l’Exile,” by Charles Hugo.

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Last updated Saturday, March 1, 2014 at 20:38