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Volume II, Chapter Twenty-Three – Fire Rises
- We’re back in the French countryside.
- It’s just about as dismal as when we left it: there’s no food, the crops are withered, and the people are in about the same condition as the crops.
- Despite this, things seem to have changed somehow.
- For years, Monseigneur (as a class) has squeezed and starved the poor of the village.
- Now, however, the faces of the poor have a new look. It’s one that Monseigneur can’t quite figure out.
- Our old friend, the mender of roads, is out mending roads.
- After all, what else would he be doing?
- A man walks up to him, greets him as Jacques, and the two sit down to eat together.
- The mender of roads asks if it’s happening tonight.
- What? What’s happening?
- Just wait…we’ll find out soon enough.
- The traveler wants to take a nap. He asks the mender of roads to wake him at sunset.
- It’s now sunset. The mender of roads wakes the traveler.
- Hey, we told you it was going to happen.
- They shake hands. The traveler asks a cryptic question: is it two leagues away?
- The answer is yes.
- Later that night, the chateau on the hill begins to burn.
- Vast clouds of smoke and flames can be seen from the town.
- Monsieur Gabelle, the guy who’s in charge of the town, awakens to find a rider at his door.
- Frantic, the rider asks Monsieur Gabelle to send village folks up to the chateau.
- Everyone in the village looks at each other. Amazingly enough, no one wants to help put out the fire.
- The chateau burns.
- After the blaze dies down a little bit, folks start to remember that the Marquis wasn’t the only aristocrat in town.
- Gabelle was the one who collected the Marquis’ taxes.
- Okay, so he’s not really an aristocrat. But he’s close enough, isn’t he?
- That seems to be the general consensus.
- People start to beat down Gabelle’s door.
- He takes the advice of his friends and puts a heavy bolt on the door.
- As night descends, we leave Gabelle praying that he won’t get strung up on a pike.
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