Yvonne had settled herself in a corner of the tap-room on a bench and had tried to lose consciousness of her surroundings.
It was not easy! Glances charged with rancour were levelled at her dainty appearance--dainty and refined despite the look of starvation and of weariness on her face and the miserable state of her clothing--and not a few muttered insults waited on those glances.
As soon as she was seated Yvonne noticed that the old man and the coarse, fat woman behind the bar started an animated conversation together, of which she was very obviously the object, for the two heads--the lean and the round--were jerked more than once in her direction. Presently the man--it was George Lemoine, the proprietor of the Rat Mort--came up to where she was sitting: his lank figure was bent so that his lean back formed the best part of an arc, and an expression of mock deference further distorted his ugly face.
He came up quite close to Yvonne and she found it passing difficult not to draw away from him, for the leer on his face was appalling: his eyes, which were set very near to his hooked nose, had a horrible squint, his lips were thick and moist, and his breath reeked of alcohol.
"What will the noble lady deign to drink?" he now asked in an oily, suave voice.
And Yvonne, remembering the guide's admonitions, contrived to smile unconcernedly into the hideous face.
"I would very much like some wine," she said cheerfully, "but I am afraid that I have no money wherewith to pay you for it."
The creature with a gesture of abject humility rubbed his greasy hands together.
"And may I respectfully ask," he queried blandly, "what are the intentions of the noble lady in coming to this humble abode, if she hath no desire to partake of refreshments?"
"I am expecting friends," replied Yvonne bravely; "they will be here very soon, and will gladly repay you lavishly for all the kindness which you may be inclined to show to me the while."
She was very brave indeed and looked this awful misshapen specimen of a man quite boldly in the face: she even contrived to smile, though she was well aware that a number of men and women--perhaps a dozen altogether--had congregated in front of her in a compact group around the landlord, that they were nudging one another and pointing derisively--malevolently--at her. It was impossible, despite all attempts at valour, to mistake the hostile attitude of these people. Some of the most obscene words, coined during these last horrible days of the Revolution, were freely hurled at her, and one woman suddenly cried out in a shrill treble:
"Throw her out, Citizen Lemoine! We don't want spies in here!"
"Indeed, indeed," said Yvonne as quietly as she could, "I am no spy. I am poor and wretched like yourselves! and desperately lonely, save for the kind friends who will meet me here anon."
"Aristos like yourself!" growled one of the men. "This is no place for you or for them."
"No! No! This is no place for aristos," cried one of the women in a voice which many excesses and many vices had rendered hoarse and rough. "Spy or not, we don't want you in here. Do we?" she added as with arms akimbo she turned to face those of her own sex, who behind the men had come up in order to see what was going on.
"Throw her out, Lemoine," reiterated a man who appeared to be an oracle amongst the others.
"Please! please let me stop here!" pleaded Yvonne; "if you turn me out I shall not know what to do: I shall not know where to meet my friends . . ."
"Pretty story about those friends," broke in Lemoine roughly. "How do I know if you're lying or not?"
From the opposite angle of the room, the woman behind the bar had been watching the little scene with eyes that glistened with cupidity. Now she emerged from behind her stronghold of bottles and mugs and slowly waddled across the room. She pushed her way unceremoniously past her customers, elbowing men, women and children vigorously aside with a deft play of her large, muscular arms. Having reached the forefront of the little group she came to a standstill immediately in front of Yvonne, and crossing her mighty arms over her ponderous chest she eyed the "aristo" with unconcealed malignity.
"We do know that the slut is lying--that is where you make the mistake, Lemoine. A slut, that's what she is--and the friend whom she's going to meet . . . ? Well!" she added, turning with an ugly leer towards the other women, "we all know what sort of friend that one is likely to be, eh, mesdames? Bringing evil fame on this house, that's what the wench is after . . . so as to bring the police about our ears . . . I wouldn't trust her, not another minute. Out with you and at once--do you hear? . . . this instant . . . Lemoine has parleyed quite long enough with you already!"
Despite all her resolutions Yvonne was terribly frightened. While the hideous old hag talked and screamed and waved her coarse, red arms about, the unfortunate young girl with a great effort of will, kept repeating to herself: "I am not frightened--I must not be frightened. He assured me that these people would do me no harm. . . ." But now when the woman had ceased speaking there was a general murmur of:
"Throw her out! Spy or aristo we don't want her here!" whilst some of the men added significantly: "I am sure that she is one of Carrier's spies and in league with his Marats! We shall have those devils in here in a moment if we don't look out! Throw her out before she can signal to the Marats!"
Ugly faces charged with hatred and virulence were thrust threateningly forward--one or two of the women were obviously looking forward to joining in the scramble, when this "stuck-up wench" would presently be hurled out into the street.
"Now then, my girl, out you get," concluded the woman Lemoine, as with an expressive gesture she proceeded to roll her sleeves higher up her arm. She was about to lay her dirty hands on Yvonne, and the poor girl was nearly sick with horror, when one of the men--a huge, coarse giant, whose muscular torso, covered with grease and grime showed almost naked through a ragged shirt which hung from his shoulders in strips--seized the woman Lemoine by the arm and dragged her back a step or two away from Yvonne.
"Don't be a fool, petit mère," he said, accompanying this admonition with a blasphemous oath. "Slut or no, the wench may as well pay you something for the privilege of staying here. Look at that cloak she's wearing--the shoe-leather on her feet. Aren't they worth a bottle of your sour wine?"
"What's that to you, Paul Friche?" retorted the woman roughly, as with a vigorous gesture she freed her arm from the man's grasp. "Is this my house or yours?"
"Yours, of course," replied the man with a coarse laugh and a still coarser jest, "but this won't be the first time that I have saved you from impulsive folly. Yesterday you were for harbouring a couple of rogues who were Marats in disguise: if I hadn't given you warning, you would now have swallowed more water from the Loire than you would care to hold. But for me two days ago you would have received the goods pinched by Ferté out of Balaze's shop, and been thrown to the fishes in consequence for the entertainment of the proconsul and his friends. You must admit that I've been a good friend to you before now."
"And if you have, Paul Friche," retorted the hag obstinately, "I paid you well for your friendship, both yesterday and the day before, didn't I?"
"You did," assented Friche imperturbably. "That's why I want to serve you again to-night."
"Don't listen to him, petit mère," interposed one or two out of the crowd. "He is a white-livered skunk to talk to you like that."
"Very well! Very well!" quoth Paul Friche, and he spat vigorously on the ground in token that henceforth he divested himself from any responsibility in this matter, "don't listen to me. Lose a benefit of twenty, perhaps forty francs for the sake of a bit of fun. Very well! Very well!" he continued as he turned and slouched out of the group to the farther end of the room, where he sat down on a barrel. He drew the stump of a clay pipe out of the pocket of his breeches, stuffed it into his mouth, stretched his long legs out before him and sucked away at his pipe with complacent detachment. "I didn't know," he added with biting sarcasm by way of a parting shot, "that you and Lemoine had come into a fortune recently and that forty or fifty francs are nothing to you now."
"Forty or fifty?" Come! come!" protested Lemoine feebly.
Yvonne's fate was hanging in the balance. The attitude of the small crowd was no less threatening than before, but immediate action was withheld while the Lemoines obviously debated in their minds what was best to be done. The instinct to "have at" an aristo with all the accumulated hatred of many generations was warring with the innate rapacity of the Breton peasant.
"Forty or fifty?" reiterated Paul Friche emphatically. "Can't you see that the wench is an aristo escaped out of Le Bouffay or the entrepôt?" he added contemptuously.
"I know that she is an aristo," said the woman, "that's why I want to throw her out."
"And get nothing for your pains," retorted Friche roughly. "If you wait for her friends we may all of us get as much as twenty francs each to hold our tongues."
"Twenty francs each. . . ." The murmur was repeated with many a sigh of savage gluttony, by every one in the room--and repeated again and again--especially by the women.
"You are a fool, Paul Friche . . ." commented Lemoine.
"A fool am I?" retorted the giant. "Then let me tell you, that 'tis you who are a fool and worse. I happen to know," he added as he once more rose and rejoined the group in the centre of the room, "I happen to know that you and every one here is heading straight for a trap arranged by the Committee of Public Safety, whose chief emissary came into Nantes awhile ago and is named Chauvelin. It is a trap which will land you all in the criminal dock first and on the way to Cayenne or the guillotine afterwards. This place is surrounded with Marats, and orders have been issued to them to make a descent on this place, as soon as Papa Lemoine's customers are assembled. There are two members of the accursed company amongst us at the present moment. . . ."
He was standing right in the middle of the room, immediately beneath the hanging lamp. At his words--spoken with such firm confidence, as one who knows and is therefore empowered to speak--a sudden change came over the spirit of the whole assembly. Everything was forgotten in the face of this new danger--two Marats, the sleuth-hounds of the proconsul--here present, as spies and as informants! Every face became more haggard--every cheek more livid. There was a quick and furtive scurrying towards the front door.
"Two Marats here?" shouted one man, who was bolder than the rest. "Where are they?"
Paul Friche, who towered above his friends, stood at this moment quite close to a small man, dressed like the others in ragged breeches and shirt, and wearing the broad-brimmed hat usually affected by the Breton peasantry.
"Two Marats?" Two spies?" screeched a woman, "Where are they?"
"Here is one," replied Paul Friche with a loud laugh and with his large grimy hand he lifted the hat from his neighbour's head and threw it on the ground; "and there," he added as with long, bony finger he pointed to the front door, where another man--a square-built youngster with tow-coloured hair somewhat resembling a shaggy dog--was endeavouring to effect a surreptitious exit, "there is the other; and he is on the point of slipping quietly away in order to report to his captain what he has seen and heard at the Rat Mort. One moment, Citizen," he added, and with a couple of giant strides he too had reached the door; his large rough hand had come down heavily on the shoulder of the youth with the tow-coloured hair, and had forced him to veer round and to face the angry, gesticulating crowd.
"Two Marats! Two spies!" shouted the men. "Now we'll soon settle their little business for them!"
"Marat yourself," cried the small man who had first been denounced by Friche. "I am no Marat, as a good many of you here know. Maman Lemoine," he added pleading, "you know me. Am I a Marat?"
But the Lemoines--man and wife--at the first suggestion of police had turned a deaf ear to all their customers. Their own safety being in jeopardy they cared little what happened to anybody else. They had retired behind their counter and were in close consultation together, no doubt as to the best means of escape if indeed the man Paul Friche spoke the truth.
"I know nothing about him," the woman was saying, "but he certainly was right last night about those two men who came ferreting in here--and last week too . . ."
"Am I a Marat, Maman Lemoine?" shouted the small man as he hammered his fists upon the counter. "For ten years and more I have been a customer in this place and . . ."
"Am I a Marat?" shouted the youth with the tow-coloured hair addressing the assembly indiscriminately. "Some of you here know me well enough. Jean Paul, you know--Ledouble, you too . . ."
"Of course! Of course I know you well enough, Jacques Leroux," came with a loud laugh from one of the crowd. "Who said you were a Marat?"
"Am I a Marat, Maman Lemoine?" reiterated the small man at the counter.
"Oh! leave me alone with your quarrels," shouted the woman Lemoine in reply. "Settle them among yourselves."
"Then if Jacques Leroux is not a Marat," now came in a bibulous voice from a distant corner of the room, "and this compeer here is known to Maman Lemoine, where are the real Marats who according to this fellow Friche, whom we none of us know, are spying upon us?"
"Yes! where are they?" suggested another. "Show 'em to us Paul Friche, or whatever your accursed name happens to be."
"Tell us where you come from yourself," screamed the woman with a shrill treble, "it seems to me quite possible that you're a Marat yourself."
This suggestion was at once taken up.
"Marat yourself!" shouted the crowd, and the two men who a moment ago had been accused of being spies in disguise shouted louder than the rest: "Marat yourself!"
After that, pandemonium reigned.
The words "police" and "Marats" had aroused the terror of all these night-hawks, who were wont to think themselves immune inside their lair: and terror is at all times an evil counsellor. In the space of a few seconds confusion held undisputed sway. Every one screamed, waved arms, stamped feet, struck out with heavy bare fists at his nearest neighbour. Every one's hand was against every one else.
"Spy! Marat! Informer!" were the three words that detached themselves most clearly from out the babel of vituperations freely hurled from end to end of the room.
The children screamed, the women's shrill or hoarse treble mingled with the cries and imprecations of the men.
Paul Friche had noted that the turn of the tide was against him, long before the first naked fist had been brandished in his face. Agile as a monkey he had pushed his way through to the bar, and placing his two hands upon it, with a swift leap he had taken up a sitting position in the very middle of the table amongst the jugs and bottles, which he promptly seized and used as missiles and weapons, whilst with his dangling feet encased in heavy sabots he kicked out vigorously and unceasingly against the shins of his foremost assailants.
He had the advantage of position and used it cleverly. In his right hand he held a pewter mug by the handle and used it as a swivel against his aggressors with great effect.
"The Loire for you--you blackmailer! liar! traitor!" shouted some of the women who, bolder than the men, thrust shaking fists at Paul Friche as closely as that pewter mug would allow.
"Break his jaw before he can yell for the police," admonished one of the men from the rear "before he can save his own skin."
But those who shouted loudest had only their fists by way of weapon and Paul Friche had mugs and bottles, and those sabots of his kicked out with uncomfortable agility.
"Break my jaw will you," he shouted every time that a blow from the mug went home, "a spy am I? Very well then, here's for you, Jacques Leroux; go and nurse your cracked skull at home. You want a row," he added, hitting at a youth who brandished a heavy fist in his face, "well! you shall have it and as much of it as you like! as much of it as will bring the patrols of police comfortably about your ears."
Bang! went the pewter mug crashing against a man's hard skull! Bang went Paul Friche's naked fist against the chest of another. He was a hard hitter and swift.
The Lemoines from behind their bar shouted louder than the rest, doing as much as their lungs would allow them in the way of admonishing, entreating, protesting--cursing every one for a set of fools who were playing straight into the hands of the police.
"Now then! Now then, children, stop that bellowing, will you? There are no spies here. Paul Friche was only having his little joke! We all know one another, what?"
"Camels!" added Lemoine more forcibly. "They'll bring the patrols about our ears for sure."
Paul Friche was not by any means the only man who was being vigorously attacked. After the first two or three minutes of this kingdom of pandemonium, it was difficult to say who was quarrelling with whom. Old grudges were revived, old feuds taken up there, where they had previously been interrupted. Accusations of spying were followed by abuse for some past wrong of black-legging or cheating a confrère. The temperature of the room became suffocating. All these violent passions seething within these four walls seemed to become tangible and to mingle with the atmosphere already surcharged with the fumes of alcohol, of tobacco and of perspiring humanity. There was many a black-eye already, many a contusion: more than one knife--surreptitiously drawn--was already stained with red.
There was also a stampede for the door. One man gave the signal. Seeing that his mates were wasting precious time by venting their wrath against Paul Friche and then quarrelling among themselves he hoped to effect an escape ere the police came to stop the noise. No one believed in the place being surrounded. Why should it be? The Marats were far too busy hunting up rebels and aristos to trouble much about the Rat Mort and its customers, but it was quite possible that a brawl would bring a patrol along, and then 'ware the police correctionnelle and the possibility of deportation or worse. Retreat was undoubtedly safer while there was time. One man first: then one or two more on his heels, and those among the women who had children in their arms or clinging to their skirts: they turned stealthily to the door--almost ashamed of their cowardice, ashamed lest they were seen abandoning the field of combat.
It was while confusion reigned unchecked that Yvonne--who was cowering, frankly terrified at last, in the corner of the room, became aware that the door close beside her--the door situated immediately opposite the front entrance--was surreptitiously opened. She turned quickly to look--for she was like a terror-stricken little animal now--one that scents and feels and fears danger from every quarter round. The door was being pushed open very slowly by what was still to Yvonne an unseen hand. Somehow that opening door fascinated her: for the moment she forgot the noise and the confusion around her.
Then suddenly with a great effort of will she checked the scream which had forced itself up to her throat.
"Father!" was all that she contrived to say in a hoarse and passionate murmur.
Fortunately as he peered cautiously round the room, Monsieur le Duc caught sight of his daughter. She was staring at him--wide-eyed, her lips bloodless, her cheeks the colour of ashes. He looked but the ghost now of that proud aristocrat who little more than a week ago was the centre of a group of courtiers round the person of the heir to the English throne. Starved, emaciated, livid, he was the shadow of his former self, and there was a haunted look in his purple-rimmed eyes which spoke with pathetic eloquence of sleepless nights and of a soul tortured with remorse.
Just for the moment no one took any notice of him--every one was shrieking, every one was quarrelling, and Monsieur le Duc, placing a finger to his lips, stole cautiously round to his daughter. The next instant they were clinging to one another, these two, who had endured so much together--he the father who had wrought such an unspeakable wrong, and she the child who was so lonely, so forlorn and almost happy in finding some one who belonged to her, some one to whom she could cling.
"Father, dear! what shall we do?" Yvonne murmured, for she felt the last shred of her fictitious courage oozing out of her, in face of this awful lawlessness which literally paralysed her thinking faculties.
"Sh! dear!" whispered Monsieur le Duc in reply. "We must get out of this loathsome place while this hideous row is going on. I heard it all from the filthy garret up above, where those devils have kept me these three days. The door was not locked . . . I crept downstairs . . . No one is paying heed to us . . . We can creep out. Come."
But at the suggestion, Yvonne's spirits, which had been stunned by the events of the past few moments, revived with truly mercurial rapidity.
"No! no! dear," she urged. "We must stay here . . . You don't know . . . I have had a message--from my own dear milor'--my husband . . . he sent a friend to take me out of the hideous prison where that awful Pierre Adet was keeping me--a friend who assured me that my dear milor' was watching over me . . . he brought me to this place--and begged me not to be frightened . . . but to wait patiently . . . and I must wait, dear . . . I must wait!"
She spoke rapidly in whispers and in short jerky sentences. Monsieur le Duc listened to her wide-eyed, a deep line of puzzlement between his brows. Sorrow, remorse, starvation, misery had in a measure numbed his mind. The thought of help, of hope, of friends could not penetrate into his brain.
"A message," he murmured inanely, "a message. No! no! my girl, you must trust no one . . . Pierre Adet. . . . Pierre Adet is full of evil tricks--he will trap you . . . he means to destroy us both . . . he has brought you here so that you should be murdered by these ferocious devils."
"Impossible, Father dear," she said, still striving to speak bravely. "We have both of us been all this while in the power of Pierre Adet; he could have had no object in bringing me here to-night."
But the father who had been an insentient tool in the schemes of that miserable intriguer, who had been the means of bringing his only child to this terrible and deadly pass--the man who had listened to the lying counsels and proposals of his own most bitter enemy, could only groan now in terror and in doubt.
"Who can probe the depths of that abominable villain's plans," he murmured vaguely.
In the meanwhile the little group who had thought prudence the better part of valour had reached the door. The foremost man amongst them opened it and peered cautiously out into the darkness. He turned back to those behind him, put a finger to his lip and beckoned to them to follow him in silence.
"Yvonne, let us go!" whispered the Duc, who had seized his daughter by the hand.
"But, Father . . ."
"Let us go!" he reiterated pitiably. "I shall die if we stay here!"
"It won't be for long, Father dear," she entreated; "if milor' should come with his friend, and find us gone, we should be endangering his life as well as our own."
"I don't believe it," he rejoined with the obstinacy of weakness. "I don't believe in your message . . . how could milor' or any one come to your rescue, my child? . . . No one knows that you are here, in this hell in Nantes."
Yvonne clung to him with the strength of despair. She too was as terrified as any human creature could be and live, but terror had not altogether swept away her belief in that mysterious message, in that tall guide who had led her hither, in that scarlet device--the five-petalled flower which stood for everything that was most gallant and most brave.
She desired with all her might to remain here--despite everything, despite the awful brawl that was raging round her and which sickened her, despite the horror of the whole thing--to remain here and to wait. She put her arms round her father: she dragged him back every time that he tried to move. But a sort of unnatural strength seemed to have conquered his former debility. His attempts to get away became more and more determined and more and more febrile.
"Come, Yvonne! we must go!" he continued to murmur intermittently and with ever-growing obstinacy. "No one will notice us . . . I heard the noise from my garret upstairs . . . I crept down . . . I knew no one would notice me . . . Come--we must go . . . now is our time.
"Father dear, whither could we go? Once in the streets of Nantes what would happen to us?"
"We can find our way to the Loire!" he retorted almost brutally. He shook himself free from her restraining arms and gripped her firmly by the hand. He tried to drag her towards the door, whilst she still struggled to keep him back. He had just caught sight of the group of men and women at the front door: their leader was standing upon the threshold and was still peering out into the darkness.
But the next moment they all came to a halt: what their leader had perceived through the darkness did not evidently quite satisfy him: he turned and held a whispered consultation with the others. Monsieur le Duc strove with all his might to join in with that group. He felt that in its wake would lie the road to freedom. He would have struck Yvonne for standing in the way of her own safety.
"Father dear," she contrived finally to say to him, "if you go hence, you will go alone. Nothing will move me from here, because I know that milor' will come."
"Curse you for your obstinacy," retorted the Duc, "you jeopardize my life and yours."
Then suddenly from the angle of the room where wrangling and fighting were at their fiercest, there came a loud call:
"Look out, Père Lemoine, your aristos are running away. You are losing your last chance of those fifty francs."
It was Paul Friche who had shouted. His position on the table was giving him a commanding view over the heads of the threatening, shouting, perspiring crowd, and he had just caught sight of Monsieur le Duc dragging his daughter by force towards the door.
"The authors of all this pother," he added with an oath, "and they will get away whilst we have the police about our ears."
"Name of a name of a dog," swore Lemoine from behind his bar, "that shall not be. Come along, Maman, let us bring those aristos along here. Quick now."
It was all done in a second. Lemoine and his wife, with the weight and authority of the masters of the establishment, contrived to elbow their way through the crowd. The next moment Yvonne felt herself forcibly dragged away from her father.
"This way, my girl, and no screaming," a bibulous voice said in her ear, "no screaming, or I'll smash some of those front teeth of yours. You said some rich friends were coming along for you presently. Well then! come and wait for them out of the crowd."
Indeed Yvonne had no desire to struggle or to scream. Salvation she thought had come to her and to her father in this rough guise. In another moment mayhap he would have forced her to follow him, to leave milor' in the lurch, to jeopardize for ever every chance of safety.
"It is all for the best, Father dear," she managed to cry out over her shoulder, for she had just caught sight of him being seized round the shoulders by Lemoine and heard him protesting loudly:
"I'll not go! I'll not go! Let me go!" he shouted hoarsely. "My daughter! Yvonne! Let me go! You devil!"
But Lemoine had twice the vigour of the Duc de Kernogan, nor did he care one jot about the other's protests. He hated all this row inside his house, but there had been rows in it before and he was beginning to hope that nothing serious would come of it. On the other hand, Paul Friche might be right about these aristos; there might be forty or fifty francs to be made out of them, and in any case they had one or two things upon their persons which might be worth a few francs--and who knows? they might even have something in their pockets worth taking.
This hope and thought gave Lemoine additional strength, and seeing that the aristo struggled so desperately, he thought to silence him by bringing his heavy fist with a crash upon the old man's head.
"Yvonne! A moi!" shouted Monsieur le Duc ere he fell back senseless.
That awful cry, Yvonne heard it as she was being dragged through the noisome crowd. It mingled in her ear with the other awful sounds--the oaths and blasphemies which filled the air with their hideousness. It died away just as a formidable crash against the entrance door suddenly silenced every cry within.
"All hands up!" came with a peremptory word of command from the doorway.
"Mercy on us!" murmured the woman Lemoine, who still had Yvonne by the hand, "we are undone this time."
There was a clatter and grounding of arms--a scurrying of bare feet and sabots upon the floor, the mingled sounds of men trying to fly and being caught in the act and hurled back: screams of terror from the women, one or two pitiable calls, a few shrill cries from frightened children, a few dull thuds as of human bodies falling . . . It was all so confused, so unspeakably horrible. Yvonne was hardly conscious. Near her some one whispered hurriedly:
"Put the aristos away somewhere, Maman Lemoine . . . the whole thing may only be a scare . . . the Marats may only be here about the aristos . . . they will probably leave you alone if you give them up . . . perhaps you'll get a reward . . . Put them away till some of this row subsides . . . I'll talk to Commandant Fleury if I can."
Yvonne felt her knees giving way under her. There was nothing more to hope for now--nothing. She felt herself lifted from the ground--she was too sick and faint to realize what was happening: through the din which filled her ears she vainly tried to distinguish her father's voice again.
A moment or two later she found herself squatting somewhere on the ground. How she got here she did not know--where she was she knew still less. She was in total darkness. A fusty, close smell of food and wine gave her a wretched feeling of nausea--her head ached intolerably, her eyes were hot, her throat dry: there was a constant buzzing in her ears.
The terrible sounds of fighting and screaming and cursing, the crash of broken glass and overturned benches came to her as through a partition--close by but muffled.
In the immediate nearness all was silence and darkness.