The Companions of Jehu
19. The Little House In The Rue De La Victoire
While they are bearing Sir John Tanlay's body to the Château des Noires-
Fontaines; while Roland is hurrying in the same direction; while the peasant,
despatched by him, is hastening to Bourg to notify Dr. Milliet of the catastrophe
which necessitated his immediate presence at Madame de Montrevel's home, let
us jump over the distance which separates Bourg from Paris, and the time which
elapsed between the 16th of October and the 7th of November; that is to say,
between the 24th of Vendemiaire and the 16th Brumaire, and repair to that little
house in the Rue de la Victoire rendered historically famous by the conspiracy of
the 18th Brumaire, which issued from it fully armed.
It is the same house which stands there to-day on the right of the street at No.
60, apparently astonished to present to the eye, after so many successive
changes of government, the consular fasces which may still be seen on the
panels of its double oaken doors.
Let us follow the long, narrow alley of lindens that leads from the gate on the
street to the door of the house; let us enter the antechamber, take the hall to the
right, ascend the twenty steps that lead to a study hung with green paper, and
furnished with curtains, easy chairs and couches of the same color. The walls are
covered with geographical charts and plans of cities. Bookcases of maple are
ranged on either side of the fireplace, which they inclose. The chairs, sofas,
tables and desks are piled with books; there is scarcely any room on the chairs to
sit down, or on the desks and tables to write.
In the midst of this encumbering mass of reports, letters, pamphlets and books, a
man had cleared a space for himself where he was now seated, clutching his hair
impatiently from time to time, as he endeavored to decipher a page of notes,
compared to which the hieroglyphics on the obelisk of Luxor, would have been
transparently intelligible. Just as the secretary's impatience was approaching
desperation, the door opened and a young officer wearing an aide's uniform
The secretary raised his head, and a lively expression of satisfaction crossed his
"Oh! my dear Roland," said he; "you here at last! I am delighted to see you, for
three reasons. First, because I am wearying for you; second, because the
general is impatient for your return, and keeps up a hullaballoo about it; and third,
because you can help me to read this, with which I have been struggling for the
last ten minutes. But first of all, kiss me."
And the secretary and the aide-de-camp embraced each other.
"Well," said the latter, "let us see this word that is troubling you so, my dear
"Ah! my dear fellow, what writing! I get a white hair for every page I decipher, and
this is my third to-day! Here, read it if you can."
Roland took the sheet from the secretary, and fixing his eyes on the spot
indicated, read quite fluently: "Paragraph XI. The Nile, from Assouan to a
distance of twelve miles north of Cairo, flows in a single stream"--"Well," said he,