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Most happily, as it turned out, Adam 립카페알바 had resolved on taking his own measures in order to guard peaceful citizens from the forces of violence and disorder. He depended on the Gardes Mobiles, recruited in the provinces. The Garde Nationale could not be trusted. It would probably side with the populace. And a parade of regular troops would only irritate the malcontents.
M. Thiers, after the Cabinet meeting, had taken Adam apart and confided to him his fear that the mob, furious against Thiers for his attempt to negotiate an armistice, might attack his house on the Place St. Georges and endanger the lives of his old, faithful servants. Adam promised to have the house guarded. And he now requested Juliette in case of danger to bring his friend’s servants into the Préfecture.
Neither sleep nor rest was possible for the Préfet de Police that night: reports from various parts of Paris were coming in every moment.
Between seven and eight in the morning Adam brought his wife the official newspaper L’Officiel. It contained three items of news, as little calculated as might be to calm the effervescence of the Parisian populace. It announced the capitulation of Metz and the possibility of an armistice, and it confirmed what had only been rumoured the day before, the Prussian capture of Le Bourget.
The Prefect went off at once to consult Trochu as to the measures for controlling the manifestation of popular fury which would be sure to greet these disastrous announcements. He found the general, as usual, irresolute—one moment proclaiming that the Government nominated by [Pg 148] public opinion must find therein its only support, the next declaring that a hostile manifestation must be met by a deployment of all the forces at the Government’s disposition. Determining to give his own interpretation to such contradictory instructions, Adam assembled twenty battalions of the Garde Nationale to defend the Hôtel de Ville. Thither he himself went about one o’clock. Juliette did not see him again until six. Overcome with restlessness and apprehension, Mme. Adam spent the afternoon with some friends at Romainville Fort, whence could be seen the lost Le Bourget. Returning through Belleville about four o’clock, they found the suburb in a state of extreme agitation. Angry crowds thronged the streets, vociferating loudly: “We won’t have an armistice. All our men must engage. Rather blow up Paris than surrender.”
Round the Hôtel de Ville the crowd was so dense that it was impossible for the carriage to pass. Alighting, Juliette mingled with the people and asked, “What was happening?” The replies she received were so contradictory that she could learn nothing. From the windows of the Hôtel de Ville lists were being thrown out, containing the names, curiously assorted, of those who were being proposed for the new Government: on one list were Victor Hugo, Louis Blanc, Ledru-Rollin, Delescluze; on another, Blanqui, Delescluze, Flourens, Félix Peyrat. Every list contained the name of Dorian, an intimate friend of the Adams, the highly popular and capable Minister of Public Works. On one paper was written merely Commune décrétée, Dorian président. Mingling in that self-same crowd were other distinguished diarists of the siege: Labouchère, then Paris correspondent for the Daily News, and Edmond de Goncourt, both of whom observed that list-making. De Goncourt saw workmen in round hats inscribing in pencil on thick writing-pads a list which was being dictated to them. He caught the names of Blanqui, Flourens, Ledru-Rollin and Motte. “That will do now,” cried a workman in a blouse. And de Goncourt next found himself in a group of women timorously talking of the distribution of goods.
Up in the Hôtel de Ville, already invaded by the mob, were deliberating, in one room, the mayors of Paris, and in another the Government of National Defence.
Where was her husband? was naturally Mme. Adam’s chief concern. Following a company of Gardes Nationaux, she penetrated through a little side door into the courtyard of the Hôtel de Ville. There she saw Gustave Flourens on horseback. He was a Revolutionist designated by one of the lists as leader of the Commune.
“Ce pauvre Gustave, brave garçon, mais un enfant,” murmured at her side a man who, perspiring freely and breathing deeply, like one who had been hustled in a crowd, seemed just to have escaped from the riot upstairs.
“You come from above, sir?” asked Mme. Adam. “What is going on there?”
“Everything is for the best, my little lady,” he replied. “Blanqui is proclaimed Dictator of the Commune.”
Juliette longed to ask about her husband. But she was afraid. She only dared to inquire—
“How about Dorian?”
“What would you have, madame? He himself replied to us, saying, ‘I refuse to preside over the Commune. I am no politician. I found cannon, and, in my opinion, this is a time when the country stands more in need of cannons than of insurrections!’”
“Fine words,” exclaimed Juliette.
“Yes, madame; take them away with you,” was the rejoinder.
Hoping that Adam had returned to the Préfecture, Juliette made her way home, but only to find her husband still absent. He returned, however, at half-past six. Only a few minutes before, his wife had heard from the lips of a friendly National Guard the news of her husband’s arrest and of his escape, which he owed to the good offices of the news-bearer. The Prefect had only a few minutes to stay. His wife spoke of dinner. He would not hear of it. He had come to take measures for the defence of the Préfecture. Those measures the events of that black, starless night proved to be only too necessary.