"Go on, preach away!" sneered l'Imânus.
"My brothers, do not let the accursed hour come. There will be bloodshed here. Many of us who are here before you will not see to-morrow's sun; yes, many of us will perish, and you, all of you, will die. Have mercy on yourselves. Why shed all this blood when it is useless? Why kill so many men when two would suffice?"
"Two?" said l'Imânus.
"Lantenac and myself."
And Cimourdain raised his voice,—
"Two men are enough; Lantenac, for us, myself for you. This is what I offer you, and it will be the saving of all your lives: give us Lantenac and take me. Lantenac will be guillotined, and you will have me to dispose of as you like."
"Priest," howled l'Imânus, "if we had you we would burn you over a slow fire."
"I am willing," said Cimourdain.
And he added,—
"You, condemned, who are in this tower can all be alive and free; in an hour I bring you safety. Do you accept it?"
"You are not only a villain; you are mad. Ah, indeed, why do you come to disturb us? who asked you to come to speak to us? we, give up monseigneur! what do you mean?"
"His head, and I offer you—"
"Your hide. For we would skin you like a dog. Curé Cimourdain. Well, no, your hide is not worth his head; get you gone."
"The struggle will be terrible; once more, for the last time, reflect."
Night fell during the exchange of these ominous words, which were heard inside the tower as well as without. The Marquis de Lantenac kept silent and let them alone. Leaders indulge in such portentous deeds of selfishness. This is one of the rights of responsibility. L'Imânus shouted to those beyond Cimourdain, exclaiming,—
"Men who attack us, we have told you our propositions;