“You ruined my collar,” Courfeyrac said plaintively, holding up the limp strip of linen by its strings.
“I did warn you it was experimental,” Combeferre said, leaning over. “What’s the matter? Look, the wine stain did come out.”
“It’s got encrustations," said Courfeyrac, fingering the salty outline where the detergent had dried in fine refolded fringes. “And look what it’s done to the dye —”
“Huh,” said Combeferre, and took the collar back. He held it up to the light, and ran his fingers along it. “It shouldn’t have done that. Perhaps I should have tried on bleached linen first. Your white collar, were you complaining about grease? Let me —”
“No,” said Courfeyrac. “I’m firing you as my laundress, effective immediately.”
“But if we can liberate women from the labour of household drudgery —” said Combeferre — “just imagine what we could do, as a society, if women didn’t have to waste half their time beating stains out of clothing —”
“Practice on someone else’s collars,” Courfeyrac said, and reclaimed his battered linen.
“I don’t think they boiled this quite long enough,” said Joly, picking up the skull between a reluctant thumb and forefinger. Hair still dripped, limply, from its remaining scalp.
“I can’t see,” said the second man attached to sniper duty, and Feuilly moved along to crouch behind his shoulder. The windowpane was full of bubbles, and strongly warped toward the base.
Feuilly pressed his mouth together impatiently. “Then open the window.”
“It’s well damned stuck,” the man — Dangeau — said.
Feuilly looked at him, then the glass. The latch was rusted shut. He smashed the window with the butt of his rifle, and the brittle glass shattered easily outward. Dangeau made an inarticulate sound of protest.
“There’s a lot worse is going to get broken today,” Feuilly said. “Get in position. I can hear footsteps.”
“What?” said Dangeau, and then, as the sound of marching echoed up from the street, “right.” He leveled his rifle out between the broken shards of the window.
Feuilly clapped him on the shoulder, and went five paces down the stripped hallway to his own station. The marching grew louder, and stopped.
“Who goes there?” the National Guard called below.
“The French Revolution!” Enjolras called back, voice carrying and disdainful.
Feuilly aimed his gun out of the window, his sights on the dim wavering feathers that marked the hats of the National Guard, and cocked his trigger back.