Henriette managed to find her way to two sansculotte troopers stationed in the centre of the Place, to whom she told her story. Reasonable fellows they seemed, offering to conduct her presently to the new authorities and get a search warrant for the Frochard clan. But the madder swirl of the Carmagnole came along, and presto! swallowed them up.
To heighten the rosy picture of great wealth to accrue, she took a deep draught of cognac from her loved black bottle. Poor Louise sank down to deep slumber, from which neither the noisy potations of La Frochard and Jacques, nor their cursing and abuse of the hunchback Pierre, sufficed to awaken her.
You do the singing, and I'll do the begging." "Never!" cried Louise. "You may kill me if you will, but I'll not be a street beggar. Why, the very first person we meet, I'll ask to save me and inform the police!" "I'll fix you, my fine lady!" screamed La Frochard, throwing her from her. "Come, Jacques," she said to her ruffian son, "we'll trying a means of making her mind!"
The offerings all went into the capacious pocket of La Frochard, whence indeed most of them were stolen or cajoled by her worthless scamp of a Jacques. The old hag feared only lest she lose her precious acquisition of the blind girl. She guarded her ceaselessly, and warded off dangerous questioners.
What is her disgust then to encounter the wart-faced and moustachioed hag who is its proprietor! Quickly Henriette tells La Frochard of her information, and demands Louise. "I don't know any such person," the hag lies, with ready effrontery. "You must be mistaken!" But Henriette's eyes are gazing at the Frochard's neck, sensing something or other vaguely familiar.
"Well, if you must know the truth " "Yes, yes," cries Henriette, "go on!" " she was with us, but alas! poor thing with the hard life we have to lead she she died!" The searcher for Louise reels as if about to faint. She collects herself with difficulty, and stares at La Frochard. A distraught look is on the girl's face.
I tell you I will kill anyone who interferes with me!" La Frochard tried to throw herself between the brothers. Louise groped away, and as by instinct found refuge behind Pierre. Jacques pushed the hag aside, saying savagely: "Let me look after this!" Each brother stripped off his coat, holding it as a buckler whilst the right hand gripped a knife.
When he descended to earth and turned to survey the cause of his torment, he faced but an impassive trooper with weapon at parade rest and the grinning countenances of Mere and Jacques Frochard, convulsed with laughter. Picard decided the vicinity of the guillotine was almost as dangerous for him as for his master. He edged out of range, biding the occasion for a counter-thrust....
He trembled to think what knavery his wicked kinsfolk meant, though he himself was their helpless slave; the target of kicks, cuffs, and the robbery of all his earnings. La Frochard led the way to their dank and noisome den, opening from a street trap-door and giving at the other extremity on a sort of water-rat exit underneath the pier.
"You'll slave for me, eh, my pretty? Yes, for you, no one but Jacques!" He leered at her as he appropriated the coins of her singing. Huddled in the corner, the silent cripple bit his finger knuckles until they bled.... Inflamed with liquor and lust, Jacques soon decided to carry out his purpose. "Come with me, my little beauty!" Mother Frochard chuckled at the sight of him mastering her.