GAVROCHE WOULD HAVE DONE BETTER TO ACCEPT ENJOLRAS' CARBINE
They threw a long black shawl of Widow Hucheloup's over Father Mabeuf.
Six men made a litter of their guns; on this they laid the body,
and bore it, with bared heads, with solemn slowness, to the large
table in the tap-room.
These men, wholly absorbed in the grave and sacred task in which
they were engaged, thought no more of the perilous situation
in which they stood.
When the corpse passed near Javert, who was still impassive,
Enjolras said to the spy:--
"It will be your turn presently!"
During all this time, Little Gavroche, who alone had not quitted
his post, but had remained on guard, thought he espied some men
stealthily approaching the barricade. All at once he shouted:--
Courfeyrac, Enjolras, Jean Prouvaire, Combeferre, Joly, Bahorel, Bossuet,
and all the rest ran tumultuously from the wine-shop. It was almost
too late. They saw a glistening density of bayonets undulating
above the barricade. Municipal guards of lofty stature were making
their way in, some striding over the omnibus, others through the cut,
thrusting before them the urchin, who retreated, but did not flee.
The moment was critical. It was that first, redoubtable moment
of inundation, when the stream rises to the level of the levee
and when the water begins to filter through the fissures of dike.
A second more and the barricade would have been taken.
Bahorel dashed upon the first municipal guard who was entering,
and killed him on the spot with a blow from his gun; the second
killed Bahorel with a blow from his bayonet. Another had already
overthrown Courfeyrac, who was shouting: "Follow me!" The largest
of all, a sort of colossus, marched on Gavroche with his bayonet fixed.
The urchin took in his arms Javert's immense gun, levelled it
resolutely at the giant, and fired. No discharge followed.
Javert's gun was not loaded. The municipal guard burst into a laugh
and raised his bayonet at the child.
Before the bayonet had touched Gavroche, the gun slipped from
the soldier's grasp, a bullet had struck the municipal guardsman
in the centre of the forehead, and he fell over on his back.
A second bullet struck the other guard, who had assaulted Courfeyrac
in the breast, and laid him low on the pavement.
This was the work of Marius, who had just entered the barricade.