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was saddling of a horse and riding away. There
was spurring and splashing through the darkness,
and bridle was drawn in the space by the
village fountain, and the horse in a foam stood
at Monsieur Gabelle's door. "Help, Gabelle!
Help every one!" The tocsin rang impatiently,
but other help (if that were any) there was
none. The mender of roads, and two hundred
and fifty particular friends, stood with folded
arms at the fountain, looking at the pillar of
fire in the sky. "It must be forty feet high,"
said they, grimly; and never moved.

The rider from the château, and the horse in
a foam, clattered away through the village, and
galloped up the stony steep, to the prison on
the crag. At the gate, a group of officers were
looking at the fire; removed from them, a group
of soldiers. "Help, gentlemen-officers! The
château is on fire; valuable objects may be
saved from the flames by timely aid! Help!
help!" The officers looked towards the soldiers
who looked at the fire; gave no orders; and
answered, with shrugs and biting of lips, "It
must burn."

As the rider rattled down the hill again and
through the street, the village was illuminating.
The mender of roads, and the two hundred and
fifty particular friends, inspired as one man and
woman by the idea of lighting up, had darted
into their houses, and were putting candles in
every dull little pane of glass. The general
scarcity of everything, occasioned candles to be
borrowed in a rather peremptory manner of
Monsieur Gabelle; and in a moment of reluctance
and hesitation on that functionary's part,
the mender of roads, once so submissive to
authority, had remarked that carriages were
good to make bonfires with, and that post-horses
would roast.

The château was left to itself to flame and
burn. In the roaring and raging of the
conflagration, a red-hot wind, driving straight from
the infernal regions, seemed to be blowing the
edifice away. With the rising and falling of the
blaze, the stone faces showed as if they were in
torment. When great masses of stone and timber
fell, the face with the two dints in the nose
became obscured: anon struggled out of the
smoke again, as if it were the face of the cruel
Marquis, burning at the stake and contending
with the lire.

The château burned; the nearest trees, laid
hold of by the fire, scorched and shrivelled;
trees at a distance, fired by the four fierce
figures, begirt the blazing edifice with a new
forest of smoke. Molten lead and iron boiled
in the marble basin of the fountain; the water
ran dry; the extinguisher tops of the towers
vanished like ice before the heat, and trickled
down into four rugged wells of flame. Great
rents and splits branched out in the solid walls,
like crystallisation; stupified birds wheeled
about, and dropped into the furnace; four fierce
figures trudged away, East, West, North, and
South, along the night-enshrouded roads, guided
by the beacon they had lighted, towards their
next destination. The illuminated village had
seized hold of the tocsin, and, abolishing the lawful
ringer, rang for joy.

Not only that; but, the village, light-headed
with famine, fire, and bell-ringing, and bethinking
itself that Monsieur Gabelle had to do with
the collection of rent and taxesthough it was
but a small instalment of taxes, and no rent
at all, that Gabelle had got in in those latter
daysbecame impatient for an interview with
him, and, surrounding his house, summoned
him to come forth for personal conference.
Whereupon, Monsieur Gabelle did heavily bar
his door, and retire to hold counsel with
himself. The result of that conference was, that
Gabelle again withdrew himself to his house-top
behind his stack of chimneys: this time resolved
if his door were broken in (he was a small
Southern man of retaliative temperament), to
pitch himself head foremost over the parapet,
and crush a man or two below.

Probably, Monsieur Gabelle passed a long
night up there, with the distant château for
fire and candle, and the beating at his door,
combined with the joy-ringing, for music; not
to mention his having an ill-omened lamp slung
across the road before his posting-house gate,
which the village showed a lively inclination to
displace in his favour. A trying suspense, to be
passing a whole summer night on the brink
of the black ocean, ready to take that plunge
into it upon which Monsieur Gabelle had
resolved! But, the friendly dawn appearing at
last, and the rush-candles of the village guttering
out, the people happily dispersed, and
Monsieur Gabelle came down, bringing his life with
him for that while.

Within a hundred miles, and in the light of
other fires, there were other functionaries less
fortunate, that night and other nights, whom
the rising sun found hanging across once-peaceful
streets, where they had been born and bred;
also, there were other villagers and townspeople
less fortunate than the mender of roads and
his fellows, upon whom the functionaries and
soldiery turned with success, and whom they
strung up in their turn. But, the fierce figures
were steadily wending East, West, North, and
South, be that as it would; and whosoever hung,
fire burned. The altitude of the gallows that
would turn to water and quench it, no
functionary, by any stretch of mathematics, was
able to calculate successfully.


FUNGUSES are everywhere.* Spreading from
one end of the land to the other, they assert
their dominion from cellar to garret: some
even preferring to leave this earth, have been
found suspended, like Mahomet's coffin, between
it and the stars, on the highest pinnacle of
Saint Paul's. Few persons imagine that the
delicious mushroom, the poisonous toad-stool,
or the puff-balls of our pastures, bear any
relationship to the mouldiness and mildew which so

* See Good and Bad Fungus, page 341.