Jean Prouvaire was in love; he cultivated a pot of flowers, played on the flute, made verses, loved the people, pitied woman, wept over the child, confounded God and the future in the same confidence, and blamed the Revolution for having caused the fall of a royal head, that of Andre Chenier. His voice was ordinarily delicate, but suddenly grew manly. Above all, he was good. In the matter of poetry, he preferred the immense. All day long, he buried himself in social questions, salary, capital, credit, marriage, religion, liberty of thought, education, penal servitude, poverty, association, property, production and sharing, the enigma of this lower world which covers the human ant-hill with darkness; and at night, he gazed upon the planets, those enormous beings. He spoke softly, bowed his head, lowered his eyes, smiled with embarrassment, dressed badly, had an awkward air, blushed at a mere nothing, and was very timid. Yet he was intrepid.
They had their downfalls; Musichetta could hold a grudge longer than university boys could hold a barricade and Olympe could not help but make that awful joke in the first place.
Of course, that was not Olympe’s sole weakness.
For all the leniency in her affair with Bahorel, and even though she hardly believed his beard would ever grey, his death struck her with surprising force. It was almost enough for her to finally relent and heed her mama’s wisdom. She was not a child, and surely these flights of fancy and passionate whirlwinds were something to leave in the past.
But Olympe did not surrender yet. Perhaps she was not matched to Musichetta in holding grudges, but she could stand just as surely. She thought back now to their little congregation earlier, to Musichetta and the other grisettes, careful whispers that grew into shouts, ideas that never died, the sorts of things that certainly outlived barricades – maybe even outlived Musichetta’s grudges. Olympe thought about that spark, rekindled again in the ash of times she meant to forget. She thought about clever little smiles and the rush of anticipation when, caught in the whirlwind of rhetoric or debate or a plain good fight, laughter would ring until hands and bodies fell together to burn the fever out.
And she stood where she was now, alone, supposing she had numerous paths ahead of her.
But who was she trying to fool? After all, this was her greatest weakness; her mama always told her so. A single glance at one who possessed a fever for revolution and fire bright eyes, and Olympe knew exactly where she was going next.