Page:Ninety-three.djvu/371

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
This page has been validated.
367
NINETY-THREE.

throne, the regal will, divine right; on the other side, this simple thing,—a chopping-knife.

On one side, a knot; on the other, an axe.

La Tourgue had long stood alone in this wilderness. It stood there filled with enormous tragedy; with his machicolations, out of which had been poured boiling oil, burning pitch, and melted lead; with its oubliettes, paved with bones; with its quartering room; its funereal form had dominated this forest; it had had fifteen centuries of cruel repose in this shady spot; it had been the sole power, the sole object of awe, and the sole terror in this land; it had reigned; it had been the unique example of barbarism: suddenly, there arose before it and against it something,—more than something,—some one as horrible as itself—the Guillotine.

Stone sometimes seem to have strange eyes. A statue observes, a tower watches, the façade of a building contemplates.

La Tourgue seemed to examine the guillotine.

It seemed to query it?

"What is that?"

That object seemed to have come up out of the earth.

And, in reality, it had come up out of the earth.

In the fatal earth had germinated the ill-favored tree. Out of this earth, watered with so much sweat, with so many tears, with so much blood;—out of this earth, where so many trenches had been dug, so many tombs, so many caves, so many ambushes;—out of this earth, where had rotted all kinds of dead, deprived of life by all kinds of tyranny;—out of this earth, placed over so many abysses, and where had been buried so many dreadful crimes, seeds of horror;—out of this deep earth had arisen, on a notable day, this strange avenger, this cruel swordbearer, and '93 had said to the old world: "Here I am!"

And the guillotine had the right to say to the keep: "I am thy daughter."

And at the same time the keep—for these fatal objects live with a mysterious vitality—felt that it was killed by her.

La Tourgue, in the face of this terrible apparition, felt strangely frightened. It seemed as if it were afraid. The huge mass of granite was majestical and infamous; this