The Fat and the Thin HTML version

A week later, Florent thought that he would at last be able to proceed to action. A
sufficiently serious outburst of public dissatisfaction furnished an opportunity for
launching his insurrectionary forces upon Paris. The Corps Legislatif, whose members
had lately shown great variance of opinion respecting certain grants to the Imperial
family, was now discussing a bill for the imposition of a very unpopular tax, at which the
lower orders had already begun to growl. The Ministry, fearing a defeat, was straining
every nerve. It was probable, thought Florent, that no better pretext for a rising would for
a long time present itself.
One morning, at daybreak, he went to reconnoitre the neighbourhood of the Palais
Bourbon. He forgot all about his duties as inspector, and lingered there, studying the
approaches of the palace, till eight o'clock, without ever thinking that his absence would
revolutionise the fish market. He perambulated all the surrounding streets, the Rue de
Lille, the Rue de l'Universite, the Rue de Bourgogne, the Rue Saint Dominique, and
even extended his examination to the Esplanade des Invalides, stopping at certain
crossways, and measuring distances as he walked along. Then, on coming back to the
Quai d'Orsay, he sat down on the parapet, and determined that the attack should be
made simultaneously from all sides. The contingents from the Gros-Caillou district
should arrive by way of the Champ de Mars; the sections from the north of Paris should
come down by the Madeleine; while those from the west and the south would follow the
quays, or make their way in small detachments through the then narrow streets of the
Faubourg Saint Germain. However, the other side of the river, the Champs Elysees,
with their open avenues, caused him some uneasiness; for he foresaw that cannon
would be stationed there to sweep the quays. He thereupon modified several details of
his plan, and marked down in a memorandum-book the different positions which the
several sections should occupy during the combat. The chief attack, he concluded, must
certainly be made from the Rue de Bourgogne and the Rue de l'Universite, while a
diversion might be effected on the side of the river.
Whilst he thus pondered over his plans the eight o'clock sun, warming the nape of his
neck, shone gaily on the broad footways, and gilded the columns of the great structure
in front of him. In imagination he already saw the contemplated battle; clusters of men
clinging round those columns, the gates burst open, the peristyle invaded; and then
scraggy arms suddenly appearing high aloft and planting a banner there.
At last he slowly went his way homewards again with his gaze fixed upon the ground.
But all at once a cooing sound made him look up, and he saw that he was passing
through the garden of the Tuileries. A number of wood-pigeons, bridling their necks,