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List Of Contents | Contents of Massacres of the South, by Dumas, Pere
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of mother wit, a deep hatred for Republicans, against whom he had
vowed vengeance at the foot of the scaffold on which his father and
mother had perished, an idea can be formed of the terrible chief of
the assassins of Avignon, who had for his lieutenants, Farges the
silk-weaver, Roquefort the porter, Naudaud the baker, and Magnan the
secondhand clothes dealer.

Avignon was entirely in the power of these five men, whose brutal
conduct the civil and military authorities would not or could not
repress, when word came that Marshal Brune, who was at Luc in command
of six thousand troops, had been summoned to Paris to give an account
of his conduct to the new Government.

The marshal, knowing the state of intense excitement which prevailed
in the South, and foreseeing the perils likely to meet him on the
road, asked permission to travel by water, but met with an official
refusal, and the Duc de Riviere, governor of Marseilles, furnished
him with a safe-conduct.  The cut-throats bellowed with joy when they
learned that a Republican of '89, who had risen to the rank of
marshal under the Usurper, was about to pass through Avignon.  At the
same time sinister reports began to run from mouth to mouth, the
harbingers of death.  Once more the infamous slander which a hundred
times had been proved to be false, raised its voice with dogged
persistence, asserting that Brune, who did not arrive at Paris until
the 5th of September, 1792, had on the 2nd, when still at Lyons,
carried the head of the Princesse de Lamballe impaled on a pike.
Soon the news came that the marshal had just escaped assassination at
Aix, indeed he owed his safety to the fleetness of his horses.
Pointu, Forges, and Roquefort swore that they would manage things
better at Avignon.

By the route which the marshal had chosen there were only two ways
open by which he could reach Lyons: he must either pass through
Avignon, or avoid it by taking a cross-road, which branched off the
Pointet highway, two leagues outside the town.  The assassins thought
he would take the latter course, and on the 2nd of August, the day on
which the marshal was expected, Pointu, Magnan, and Naudaud, with
four of their creatures, took a carriage at six o'clock in the
morning, and, setting out from the Rhone bridge, hid themselves by
the side of the high road to Pointet.

When the marshal reached the point where the road divided, having
been warned of the hostile feelings so rife in Avignon, he decided to
take the cross-road upon which Pointu and his men were awaiting him;
but the postillion obstinately refused to drive in this direction,
saying that he always changed horses at Avignon, and not at Pointet.
One of the marshal's aides-de-camp tried, pistol in hand, to force
him to obey; but the marshal would permit no violence to be offered
him, and gave him orders to go on to Avignon.

The marshal reached the town at nine o'clock in the morning, and
alighted at the Hotel du Palais Royal, which was also the post-house.
While fresh horses were being put to and the passports and safe-
conduct examined at the Loulle gate, the marshal entered the hotel to
take a plate of soup.  In less than five minutes a crowd gathered
round the door, and M. Moulin the proprietor noticing the sinister
and threatening expression many of the faces bore, went to the
marshal's room and urged him to leave instantly without waiting for
his papers, pledging his word that he would send a man on horseback
after him, who would overtake him two or three leagues beyond the
town, and bring him his own safe-conduct and the passports of his
aides-de-camp.  The marshal came downstairs, and finding the horses
ready, got into the carriage, on which loud murmurs arose from the
populace, amongst which could be distinguished the terrible word
'zaou!'  that excited cry of the Provencal, which according to the
tone in which it is uttered expresses every shade of threat, and
which means at once in a single syllable, "Bite, rend, kill,
murder!"

The marshal set out at a gallop, and passed the town gates
unmolested, except by the howlings of the populace, who, however,
made no attempt to stop him.  He thought he had left all his enemies
behind, but when he reached the Rhone bridge he found a group of men
armed with muskets waiting there, led by Farges and Roquefort.  They
all raised their guns and took aim at the marshal, who thereupon
ordered the postillion to drive back.  The order was obeyed, but when
the carriage had gone about fifty yards it was met by the crowd from
the "Palais Royal," which had followed it, so the postillion stopped.
In a moment the traces were cut, whereupon the marshal, opening the
door, alighted, followed by his valet, and passing on foot through
the Loulle gate, followed by a second carriage in which were his
aides-de-camp, he regained the "Palais Royal," the doors of which
were opened to him and his suite, and immediately secured against all
others.

The marshal asked to be shown to a room, and M. Moulin gave him
No. 1, to the front.  In ten minutes three thousand people filled the
square; it was as if the population sprang up from the ground.  Just
then the carriage, which the marshal had left behind, came up, the
postillion having tied the traces, and a second time the great yard
gates were opened, and in spite of the press closed again and
barricaded by the porter Vernet, and M. Moulin himself, both of whom
were men of colossal strength.  The aides-de-camp, who had remained
in the carriage until then, now alighted, and asked to be shown to
the marshal; but Moulin ordered the porter to conceal them in an
outhouse.  Vernet taking one in each hand, dragged them off despite
their struggles, and pushing them behind some empty barrels, over
which he threw an old piece of carpet, said to them in a voice as
solemn as if he were a prophet, "If you move, you are dead men," and
left them.  The aides-de-camp remained there motionless and silent.

At that moment M. de Saint-Chamans, prefect of Avignon, who had
arrived in town at five o'clock in the morning, came out into the
courtyard.  By this time the crowd was smashing the windows and
breaking in the street door.  The square was full to overflowing,
everywhere threatening cries were heard, and above all the terrible
zaou, which from moment to moment became more full of menace.
M. Moulin saw that if they could not hold out until the troops under
Major Lambot arrived, all was lost; he therefore told Vernet to
settle the business of those who were breaking in the door, while he
would take charge of those who were trying to get in at the window.
Thus these two men, moved by a common impulse and of equal courage,
undertook to dispute with a howling mob the possession of the blood
for which it thirsted.

Both dashed to their posts, one in the hall, the other in the
dining-room, and found door and windows already smashed, and several
men in the house.  At the sight of Vernet, with whose immense
strength they were acquainted, those in the hall drew back a step,
and Vernet, taking advantage of this movement, succeeded in ejecting
them and in securing the door once more.  Meantime M. Moulin, seizing
his double-barrelled gun, which stood in the chimney-corner, pointed
it at five men who had got into the dining-room, and threatened to
fire if they did not instantly get out again.  Four obeyed, but one
refused to budge; whereupon Moulin, finding himself no longer
outnumbered, laid aside his gun, and, seizing his adversary round the
waist, lifted him as if he were a child and flung him out of the
window.  The man died three weeks later, not from the fall but from
the squeeze.

Moulin then dashed to the window to secure it, but as he laid his
hand on it he felt his head seized from behind and pressed violently
down on his left shoulder; at the same instant a pane was broken into
splinters, and the head of a hatchet struck his right shoulder.
M. de Saint-Chamans, who had followed him into the room, had seen the
weapon thrown at Moulin's head, and not being able to turn aside the
iron, had turned aside the object at which it was aimed.  Moulin
seized the hatchet by the handle and tore it out of the hands of him
who had delivered the blow, which fortunately had missed its aim.  He
then finished closing the window, and secured it by making fast the
inside shutters, and went upstairs to see after the marshal.

Him he found striding up and down his room, his handsome and noble
face as calm as if the voices of all those shouting men outside were
not demanding his death.  Moulin made him leave No. 1 for No. 3,
which, being a back room and looking out on the courtyard, seemed to
offer more chances of safety than the other.  The marshal asked for
writing materials, which Moulin brought, whereupon the marshal sat
down at a little table and began to write.

Just then the cries outside became still more uproarious.  M. de
Saint-Chamans had gone out and ordered the crowd to disperse,
whereupon a thousand people had answered him with one voice, asking
who he was that he should give such an order.  He announced his rank
and authority, to which the answer was, "We only know the prefect by
his clothes."  Now it had unfortunately happened that M. de Chamans
having sent his trunks by diligence they had not yet arrived, and
being dressed in a green coat; nankeen trousers, and a pique vest, it
could hardly be expected that in such a suit he should overawe the
people under the circumstances; so, when he got up on a bench to
harangue the populace, cries arose of "Down with the green coat!  We
have enough of charlatans like that!" and he was forced to get down
again.  As Vernet opened the door to let him in, several men took
advantage of the circumstance to push in along with him; but Vernet
let his fist fall three times, and three men rolled at his feet like
bulls struck by a club.  The others withdrew.  A dozen champions such
as Vernet would have saved the marshal.  Yet it must not be forgotten
that this man was a Royalist, and held the same opinions as those
against whom he fought; for him as for them the marshal was a mortal

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