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The band augmented every moment. Near the Rue des Billettes, a man of lofty stature, whose hair was turning gray, and whose bold and daring mien was remarked by Courfeyrac, Enjolras, and Combeferre, but whom none of them knew, joined them. Gavroche, who was occupied in singing, whistling, humming, running on ahead and pounding on the shutters of the shops with the butt of his triggerless pistol; paid no attention to this man.
It chanced that in the Rue de la Verrerie, they passed in front of Courfeyrac's door.
"This happens just right," said Courfeyrac, "I have forgotten my purse, and I have lost my hat."
He quitted the mob and ran up to his quarters at full speed. He seized an old hat and his purse.
He also seized a large square coffer, of the dimensions of a large valise, which was concealed under his soiled linen.
As he descended again at a run, the portress hailed him: -
"Monsieur de Courfeyrac!"
"What's your name, portress?"
The portress stood bewildered.
"Why, you know perfectly well, I'm the concierge; my name is Mother Veuvain."
"Well, if you call me Monsieur de Courfeyrac again, I shall call you Mother de Veuvain. Now speak, what's the matter? What do you want?"
"There is some one who wants to speak with you."
"Who is it?"
"I don't know."
"Where is he?"
"In my lodge."
"The devil!" ejaculated Courfeyrac.
"But the person has been waiting your return for over an hour," said the portress.
At the same time, a sort of pale, thin, small, freckled, and youthful artisan, clad in a tattered blouse and patched trousers of ribbed velvet, and who had rather the air of a girl accoutred as a man than of a man, emerged from the lodge and said to Courfeyrac in a voice which was not the least in the world like a woman's voice: -
"Monsieur Marius, if you please."
"He is not here."
"Will he return this evening?"
"I know nothing about it."
And Courfeyrac added: -
"For my part, I shall not return."
The young man gazed steadily at him and said: -
"Where are you going, then?"
"What business is that of yours?"
"Would you like to have me carry your coffer for you?"
"I am going to the barricades."
"Would you like to have me go with you?"
"If you like!" replied Courfeyrac. "The street is free, the pavements belong to every one."
And he made his escape at a run to join his friends. When he had rejoined them, he gave the coffer to one of them to carry. It was only a quarter of an hour after this that he saw the young man, who had actually followed them.
A mob does not go precisely where it intends. We have explained that a gust of wind carries it away. They overshot Saint-Merry and found themselves, without precisely knowing how, in the Rue Saint-Denis.
Turn to the next chapter: BOOK TWELFTH. - CORINTHE