The journals of the day which said that that nearly impregnable structure,
of the barricade of the Rue de la Chanvrerie, as they call it,
reached to the level of the first floor, were mistaken. The fact is,
that it did not exceed an average height of six or seven feet.
It was built in such a manner that the combatants could, at their will,
either disappear behind it or dominate the barrier and even scale
its crest by means of a quadruple row of paving-stones placed on top
of each other and arranged as steps in the interior. On the outside,
the front of the barricade, composed of piles of paving-stones
and casks bound together by beams and planks, which were entangled
in the wheels of Anceau's dray and of the overturned omnibus,
had a bristling and inextricable aspect.
An aperture large enough to allow a man to pass through had been
made between the wall of the houses and the extremity of the
barricade which was furthest from the wine-shop, so that an exit
was possible at this point. The pole of the omnibus was placed
upright and held up with ropes, and a red flag, fastened to this pole,
floated over the barricade.
The little Mondetour barricade, hidden behind the wine-shop building,
was not visible. The two barricades united formed a veritable redoubt.
Enjolras and Courfeyrac had not thought fit to barricade the other
fragment of the Rue Mondetour which opens through the Rue des
Precheurs an issue into the Halles, wishing, no doubt, to preserve
a possible communication with the outside, and not entertaining
much fear of an attack through the dangerous and difficult street
of the Rue des Precheurs.
With the exception of this issue which was left free, and which
constituted what Folard in his strategical style would have termed
a branch and taking into account, also, the narrow cutting arranged
on the Rue de la Chanvrerie, the interior of the barricade, where the
wine-shop formed a salient angle, presented an irregular square,
closed on all sides. There existed an interval of twenty paces
between the grand barrier and the lofty houses which formed the
background of the street, so that one might say that the barricade
rested on these houses, all inhabited, but closed from top to bottom.
All this work was performed without any hindrance, in less than
an hour, and without this handful of bold men seeing a single
bear-skin cap or a single bayonet make their appearance.
The very bourgeois who still ventured at this hour of riot to enter
the Rue Saint-Denis cast a glance at the Rue de la Chanvrerie,
caught sight of the barricade, and redoubled their pace.
The two barricades being finished, and the flag run up, a table was
dragged out of the wine-shop; and Courfeyrac mounted on the table.
Enjolras brought the square coffer, and Courfeyrac opened it.
This coffer was filled with cartridges. When the mob saw the cartridges,
a tremor ran through the bravest, and a momentary silence ensued.
Courfeyrac distributed them with a smile.
Each one received thirty cartridges. Many had powder, and set
about making others with the bullets which they had run.
As for the barrel of powder, it stood on a table on one side,
near the door, and was held in reserve.
The alarm beat which ran through all Paris, did not cease, but it
had finally come to be nothing more than a monotonous noise to which
they no longer paid any attention. This noise retreated at times,
and again drew near, with melancholy undulations.
They loaded the guns and carbines, all together, without haste,
with solemn gravity. Enjolras went and stationed three sentinels
outside the barricades, one in the Rue de la Chanvrerie, the second
in the Rue des Precheurs, the third at the corner of the Rue de la
Then, the barricades having been built, the posts assigned,
the guns loaded, the sentinels stationed, they waited, alone in
those redoubtable streets through which no one passed any longer,
surrounded by those dumb houses which seemed dead and in which no human
movement palpitated, enveloped in the deepening shades of twilight
which was drawing on, in the midst of that silence through which
something could be felt advancing, and which had about it something
tragic and terrifying, isolated, armed, determined, and tranquil.