Excerpt from “Ninety-Three” by Victor Hugo ~~Death passes~~

picture-NinetyThree-HugoHer first encounter to-day had been a village on the way; it was scarcely daybreak, everything was still bathed in the gloom of night, still some doors were already ajar in the principal street of the village, and some curious heads were looking out of the windows. The inhabitants seemed as agitated as a hive which has been disturbed. This was on account of a sound of wheels and chains which had been heard.
In the square in front of the church, an astounded group, with upturned faces, was looking at something coming down the road toward the village from the top of a hill.
It was a wagon with four wheels, drawn by five horses harnessed with chains. On the wagon could be made out a heap which looked like a pile of long joists, in the middle of which was something strange and shapeless; it was covered over with an awning, which had the appearance of a shroud.
Ten men on horseback rode in front of the wagon, and ten others, behind. These men wore three-cornered hats, and rising above their shoulders could be seen points, which were apparently bare swords. All this procession, advancing slowly, stood out in clearly defined black against the horizon. The wagon looked black, the horses looked black, the cavaliers looked black. The pale morning light gleamed behind them.
It entered the village and went towards the square.
It began to grow light as the wagon came down the hill, and the procession could be seen distinctly; it seemed like a march of ghosts, for not a word escaped the men.
The riders were military men. They had, indeed, drawn swords. The awning was black.
The wretched, wandering mother entered the village and drew near the gathering of peasants just as the team and the mounted men were coming into the square. In the group of spectators, voices whispered questions and answers,—
“What is that?”
“It is the guillotine passing by.”
“Where does it come from?”
“From Fougères.”
“Where is it going?”
“I do not know. They say that it is going to a castle toward Parigné.”
“Parigné!”
“Let it go wherever it will, provided it doesn’t stop here.”
This great wagon, with its burden covered with a sort of shroud; these horses; these military men; the noise of these chains; the silence of these riders; the dim light,—all this was ghastly.
The procession crossed the square and left the village; the village was in a hollow between two hills. After a quarter of an hour, the peasants, who had remained as though petrified, saw the gloomy procession come into sight again on the top of the hill toward the west. The large wheels jolted over the road, the horses’ chains clanked in the morning wind, the sabres glistened; the sun was rising, there was a turn in the road, they all disappeared.

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1 Comment

Filed under Fiction, Literature

One response to “Excerpt from “Ninety-Three” by Victor Hugo ~~Death passes~~

  1. Victor Hugo was born in Besançon, France on 26 February 1802, and died in Paris on 22 May 1885, aged 83 years. ‘Ninety-Three’ was published in 1874.

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