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    Chapter 34

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    Chapter 34
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    Jean stepped over the bodies of two or three drunked National Guards and found himself in the room occupied by Colonel Tudesco and in that worthy's presence. The Colonel lay snoring on a satin sofa, a cold chicken on the table at his elbow. He wore his spurs. Jean shook him roughly by the shoulder and asked him where the portrait came from, declaring that he, Jean, had not the smallest wish to keep it. The Colonel woke, but his speech was thick and his memory confused. His mind was full of his underground passages. He was commander of them all and could not find one. There was something in this fact that offended his sense of justice. The Lady Superior of the Nuns of Marie-Joseph had refused to betray the secret of the famous Saint-Lazare tunnel.

    "She has refused," declared the old Italian, "out of contumacy--and also, perhaps, because there is no tunnel. And, since truth must out, I'm bound to say, if I was not Commandant of the subterranean passages of the capital, I should really think there were none."

    His wits came back little by little.

    "Young man, you have seen the soldier reposing from his labours. What question have you come to ask the veteran champion of freedom?"

    "About Bargemont? About that portrait?"

    "I know, I know. I proceeded with a dozen men to his domicile to arrest him, but he had taken to flight, the coward! I carried out a perquisition in his rooms. In the _salon_ I saw Madame Bargemont's portrait and I said: 'That lady looks as sad as Monsieur Jean Servien. They are both victims of the infamous Bargemont; I will bring them together and they shall console each other.' Monsieur Servien, oblige me by tasting that cognac; it comes from the cellar of your odious rival."

    He poured the brandy into two big glasses and hiccuped with a laugh:

    "The cognac of an enemy tastes well."

    Then he fell back on the sofa, muttering:

    "The soldier reposing----"

    His face was crimson. Jean shrugged his shoulders and left the room. He had hardly opened the door when the old man began howling in his sleep: "Help! help! they're murdering me."

    In an instant the _fédérés_ on guard hurled themselves upon Jean; he could feel the cold muzzles of revolvers at his temples and hear rifles banging off at random in the ante-room.

    The Colonel was raving in the frenzy of alcoholic delirium, writhing in horrible convulsions and yelling: "He has killed me! he has murdered me!"

    "He has murdered the Colonel," the _fédérés_ took up the cry. "He has poisoned him. Take him before the court martial."

    "Shoot him right away. He's an assassin; the Versaillais have sent him."

    "Off with him to the lock-up!"

    Servien's denials and struggles were in vain. Again and again he protested:

    "You can see for yourselves he's drunk and asleep!"

    "Listen to him--he is insulting the sovereign people."

    "Pitch him in the river!"

    "Swing him on a lamp-post."

    "Shoot him!"

    Bundled down the stairs, rifle-butts prodding him in the back to help him along, Jean was haled before an officer, who there and then signed an order of arrest.
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