As he only spoke and understood the dialect of the region, he could not imagine what the gendarme wanted. He raised his coarse, heavy face towards him with an effort; then, fancying he was being asked the name of his village, he said in his hoarse voice: "I come from Poujols." A burst of laughter ran through the crowd, and some voices cried: "Release the peasant." "Bah!"

Hitherto he had allowed himself to be dragged along stupidly. But fear now overcame him, and he repeated, in a tone of despair: "I come from Poujols I come from Poujols!" Then he threw himself on the ground, rolling at the gendarme's feet, breaking out into prayers for mercy, and imagining that he was being mistaken for some one else. "What does it matter to me that you come from Poujols?"

Nevertheless, the contingents of La Palud and Saint-Martin-de-Vaulx had again formed in line in the middle of the promenade, and stood there erect and fierce. A wood-cutter, who was a head taller than any of his companions, shouted, as he waved his red neckerchief: "To arms, Chavanoz, Graille, Poujols, Saint-Eutrope! To arms, Les Tulettes! To arms, Plassans!" Crowds streamed across the esplanade.

He was fastened by the arm to a peasant of Poujols named Mourgue, a man about fifty, who had been brutified by the scorching sun and the hard labour of tilling the ground. Crooked-backed already, his hands hardened, his face coarse and heavy, he blinked his eyes in a stupid manner, with the stubborn, distrustful expression of an animal subject to the lash.

Some of them even only carried large navvies' shovels. Every hamlet, however, had sent its able-bodied men. Silvere, who recognised the parties by their leaders, enumerated them in feverish tones. "The contingent from Chavanoz!" said he. "There are only eight men, but they are strong; Uncle Antoine knows them. Here's Nazeres! Here's Poujols!

Intelligence was received of successive risings in small neighbouring towns; the whole southern part of the department had taken up arms; La Palud and Saint-Martin-de-Vaulx had been the first to rise, drawing after them the villages of Chavanos, Nazeres, Poujols, Valqueyras and Vernoux. The yellow drawing-room party was now becoming seriously alarmed.