Chapter 1: Gavroche's proposal
The Café Musian had no patrons that Friday save for les Amis de l’abc. Originally, a study group, the college students had all met through friends of a friend and happy chance. However, as they grew accustomed to one another, less studying went on as most took this as an opportunity to unwind, have some fun, listen to Enjolras’ political rant of the week and enjoy the company of their pseudo-family members. Eponine in particular appreciated this group, how they willingly and actively helped her expecting nothing in return. Not that she would ever say that aloud. Ever.
As the door opened accompanied by the sound of an annoying bell that Musichetta constantly assured them, she would ask to have removed, Eponine looked up from her night school notes to see Gavroche and the twin terrors waltz inside. They dropped their backpacks by the door and came over to her.
“How was school you lot?”
“The terrors got suspended for the next two school days.” Gavroche announced. The kids in question smirked.
“It was meant to be a little prank.” Etienne protested.
“Yup, we just wanted a tiny explosion.” Antione agreed.
“No idea it would work so well.”
“Explosion?” Bahorel asked. This led to the other Amis looking up from their activities and focusing on the two youngest Thénardiers. Pleased with their newfound audience, the twins continued in their finish-each-others-sentences way.
“For science Maîtresse was going to do that Coca-Cola experiment with Mentos.” Eponine dared a glance at Enjolras who looked like he wanted to interrupt with a rant about Coca-Cola being a way for American capitalism to take over France or something along those lines while at the same time distracted by Grantaire’s knowing smirk. It was funny.
“But we got there first!”
“Yeah, we froze Mentos in ice cubes, placed them in all the bottles and shook it. When each group went to open their bottle-”
“Whoosh! They exploded all over everywhere!”
"It was beautiful."
“Next time we have to make sure to act like we were surprised.” Etienne finished.
“There won’t be a next time. You got suspended!” Eponine said, exasperated.
“Only for two days.”
“How did you get to all the bottles so early?” Courfeyrac asked. Eponine glared at him and he shut up. It was hard enough looking after all her younger siblings, being the responsible one, without the encouragement of her child-like friends.
As the twin terrors went to pester Combeferre to let them see the rather graphic injury illustrations in one of his medical textbooks, Gavroche jumped onto a chair to keep everyone’s attention.
“I also have news.”
“You stole from the wrong teacher?” Grantaire asked, nicely on his way to drunk. Jehan swatted his arm and Grantaire shrugged.
“We all know he’s a multi-talented gamin.” Gavroche grinned at him.
“Not that, this time. You see, each year, our grade has a field trip to the Eiffel Tower. This year it happens on the 15th. But it can’t happen if there aren’t any chaperones. And no parents have volunteered.”
“I wonder why.” Combeferre said, not liking the direction this was going.
“So I figured that since you all are like family. Say, uncles or something. You guys could come be chaperones for the field trip!”
“You can’t be serious.” Enjolras protested. “None of us are very good with children.”
“Speak for yourself, kids love me. I’m fun, I can tell a good story. Just look at Ep’s siblings.” Courfeyrac protested.
“Well and good, do you love kids?” Combeferre retorted.
“Certain ones, in small doses.” Courfeyrac looked over at the terrors mischievously.
“Hey! We are delightful company.” Etienne protested. The effect was somewhat ruined by the fact that he was also picking his nose.
“This trip would require intense interaction with many children in a high stress situation.” Enjolras interrupted them as Gavroche jumped to the top of a table.
“People, please, It’s only for a day. And everyone is really looking forward to this. If no one agrees to chaperone by Monday, the trip will be cancelled! Maîtresse seems so desperate; I bet she would tactically ignore your guy’s criminal records.”
“Gavroche, any one of us would gladly accompany you to the Eiffel Tower.” Combeferre said. Gavroche would probably go by himself if he had a mind to, Eponine thought sourly as she watched their reactions.
“But not my friends! And all of us are really exited. It’ll be the perfect cap to some boring unit on landmarks. It’ll be fun!”
“For you.” Joly said after he sneezed into one of his ever present embroidered handkerchiefs.
“Don’t chaperones on field trips have to make sure kids don’t get themselves killed or hurt or something? I can barley go a day without accidentally nearly killing myself.” Bossuet added. Gavroche didn’t want to knowledge that Bossuet had a point. Next tactic.
“It’ll be free.”
“Of charge, but at what cost?” Grantaire said philosophically.
“Hey, that’s really deep; I should use it in poem.” Jehan immediately started writing.
“Make it about the futility of us watching children on the Eiffel Tower. One of the busiest tourist attractions in Paris.” Grantaire advised.
“C’mon, you’re like, the last hope for this trip.” Gavroche wheedled. Les Amis looked at one another. For all that they pretended to only tolerate Eponine’s siblings, at heart they all liked them, especially the indomitably optimistic Gavroche, and hated to disappoint.
“If your teacher would really permit a bunch of college students to act as chaperones on this field trip. Students who are barely functioning adults I must add.”
“Excuse me!” Combeferre interjected.
“Except the ever responsible Combeferre,” Bahorel continued, “I’m in.”
They stared at him in shock.
“It’s not like I can’t afford to skip a day of classes. Heck, It’d be a relief.” He smiled at them. “How hard can it be?”
How wrong he was.
Now les Amis were feeling somewhat guilty for dismissing Gavroche’s request. As he had said, it was only a day and they would be helping Gavroche and his friends. Plus, a free chance to visit the Eiffel Tower, a landmark they saw on a regular basis but hardly ever found the time to visit shouldn’t be passed up on. Gavroche’s arguments went through their heads in the silence that came after Bahorel volunteering.
“I’d go honey, but I have to work that day, especially considering I’ll have to take the next two days off to watch the terrors.” Eponine said apologetically, already mentally composing her excuses to her boss.
“I can watch them while you’re at work.” Combeferre volunteered.
“Really? Don’t you have classes?”
“Only one lecture per morning on Mondays and Tuesdays. I can make it work.” Eponine considered this proposal, on the one hand, les Amis were already helping her out lots with her siblings, but on the other, she couldn’t afford to take time off.
“If you’re sure.”
“I’m sure.” Combeferre smiled at her.
“If you guys are done, can we get back to you guys agreeing to be chaperones?” Gavroche interrupted.
“I’ll go.” Courfeyrac announced. “Who am I to pass up a free excursion? Even if my enjoyment will be somewhat lessened by having to watch nine and ten year olds.” He added this second part under his breath.
“I have to work. Sorry.” Feuilly shrugged, then went back to his newspaper, the better to friend watch.
“You know, I’ve never actually been to the Eiffel Tower. Why not?” Jehan said slowly.
“How long have you lived in Paris for?” Grantaire asked bemusedly.
“Well excuse me Monsieur I-walk-the-streets-of-Paris-getting-drunk-instead-of-going-to-school Grantaire; I’ve just never gotten around to it.”
“Hey, I’m halfway through my Classics major.”
“And as a result you’re too uninterested in such things as field trips to volunteer then?”
“No one wants a drunk to watch kids.”
“Then get sober and you can go.” Enjolras cut in, exasperated.
“What do you care?”
“I don’t, it was just a suggestion.” He said stiffly.
“Please Grantaire?” Gavroche asked. He liked Grantaire best of all of them; he let him get away with stuff. Mostly because he was too drunk to notice, but sometimes he joined in on the mischief.
“Fine. I’ll arrive sober. Happy now?”
“Of course." Gavroche smirked. "C’mon people, continue with your volunteering. Maîtresse mentioned she needed at least eight chaperones.”
“I’ll help.” Joly announced, “But only if Bossuet comes too.”
“I keep you from freaking out about germs and you’ll call an ambulance if I manage to fall off the tower?”
“That’s the idea my love.” Eponine rolled her eyes. Joly and Musichetta and Bossuet were not only the most stable relationship she knew of, but also the most overtly in love. She totally didn’t envy that. No way.
“If you lot are all going to chaperone, I might as well go too.” Combeferre said slowly, cleaning his glasses on the hem of his shirt.
“To chaperone the chaperones?” Eponine asked sarcastically. He took her seriously.
“So, Bahorel, Courfeyrac, Jehan, Grantaire, Joly, Bossuet and Combeferre are willing to chaperone?” Gavroche asked the continued. “Maîtresse said she needed eight, and that’s seven, so one more.”
“You can count!” Yelled Etienne in mock amazement.
“We never knew!” Continued Antione.
“Shut up terrors.” Gavroche glared at them. During this time, all eyes had turned to Enjolras, who rubbed his forehead and for a moment looked like he wanted to go.
“Look, I know you need another chaperone. Nevertheless, even if I could stand kids, present company excluded, I have a long criminal record from various violent protest. Gavroche’s teacher might be able to ignore your guys’ few nights in a holding cell, but she couldn’t overlook mine. You’ll have to find someone else.”
They knew Enjolras was right. Such was the price of fighting for justice.
“I can ask Marius if he’d like to come.” Courfeyrac offered.
“We haven’t seen him in a while, where has he been?” Enjolras asked.
“I think he’s fallen for another girl.”
“That’s the fourth one in two months!” Enjolras exclaimed. “I just don’t get it.”
“Marius is in love with love. And any girl that’s passably pretty.” Grantaire said.
“This time, he insists it’s the one.”
“He said that two girls ago and that girl didn’t even acknowledge him!”
“Getting him to chaperone will be the perfect distraction.” Eponine interrupted. Marius fell in and out of love with so many girls, so why not with her? She would actually give him the time of day. But no, all puppy-love Marius could talk about was some pretty stranger he saw in passing.
“You okay?” Combeferre asked and Eponine realized that her face was in a scowl. Rearranging her features, Eponine gave him a smile.
“Let me text him.” Courfeyrac said.
Conversations broke out amongst les Amis in the time that followed, Grantaire had drained his ‘alcoholic beverage of the day’ and Eponine finished the first draft of her essay when Courfeyrac looked up.
“Marius said he’d love to.”
“Just hope he shows.” Enjolras muttered.
Gavroche beamed at the students he so looked up to, the students who had just agreed to pretend to be his many uncles so that his grade would be able to go on the highlighted trip of the year, despite the fact they had next to no childcare skills and could barely take care of themselves.
He was glad Eponine decided that she would take care of him and the terrors when things had gotten so bad at home, and that she had fallen in with this group. The parent Thénardiers would never have done anything like this for him.
“I have the chaperone forms right here.” Gavroche took a stack of purple papers out of his backpack.
“You knew we would agree all along.” Grantaire accused in a mild voice.
“It’s always best to be prepared.” He responded with a sly smile as he passed out the forms.
Eiffel Tower here they came.
Chapter 2: Enjolras's surprise
Les Amis make their way to the school and Courfeyrac starts a bet to see who will last the longest without getting into trouble. Meanwhile, Marius is foolish and Enjolras is badgered into pretending to be someone he is not. Tower Boys: the group chat is born.
It was a mark of how desperate the teachers were that Gavroche happily announced Tuesday after school that all their Chaperone forms were approved.
On the morning of the fifteenth, a sober Grantaire got a ride to the school with Joly and Bossuet who used Musichetta’s car, while Jehan and Bahorel walked and Enjolras drove Combeferre and Courfeyrac to the school. Marius assured them that he would get a ride the day before. Those with vehicles all offered to drive Gavroche in, but he insisted he would use the school bus.
“I wonder what we will have to do on this trip.” Joly said reflectively to no one in particular while stalled in early morning traffic
“Shepherd the kids from place to place? Watch them?” Bossuet answered. Grantaire laughed.
“What’s so funny?”
“I’m imagining you as a shepherd. You’d trip over the sheep, knock yourself out with your crook, wake up in a pile of sheep dung and a pack of feral dogs would have taken over your job.”
“That’s oddly specific.”
“Haven’t had breakfast, I’m not at my best.”
“Coffee mixed with alcohol does not count as breakfast.” Joly reminded him.
“Morning mix then. Happy?” Joly was silent, sometimes the amount that Grantaire drank worried him. Other times he could put if off with the rationalization that pointing out that problem would only make Grantaire scoff and wax eloquent for an hour or two on the uselessness of everything.
“You would make a horrible shepherd as well.” Bossuet changed the subject to a safer area.
“In what way?”
“The sheep would grow bored of listening to you talk and you’d shrug, take a nap and get drunk.”
“I wouldn’t want to be a shepherd. Too many germs, bugs and dangers. Not to mention the unhygienic life style I would have to live working so closely with animals.” Joly announced. The light changed and traffic started to move once more.
“In comparison to sheep, children seem much better.”
8:35 AM Eagle’s phone
Courf: Place your bets; who will stay out of trouble the longest.
Courf: Drinks at the Musain. What else?
“I’m looking forward to this.” Courfeyrac was surprised to admit in between bites of his breakfast bagel.
“It’ll certainly be a new experience, none of us have had prolonged contact with many kids since we reached adulthood.” Combeferre agreed.
“Well, that too. However, I was talking about running a bet to see who can stay out of trouble the longest. And by trouble I mean a reprimand from the teacher. Not a freak accident or something like that. The stakes are drinks at the Musain.”
“I’m in. Can you bet on yourself?”
“Then my drinks are on Marius.”
“You’re his roommate, haven’t you noticed how he endears himself to people through his utter clumsiness and lack of guile? Even if he messes up, all he’ll have to do is apologize sheepishly and the teacher will immediately say it’s okay.”
“Fair enough. I’m placing my bets on you. Marius would still get reprimanded before he charms his way out of it, but you are generally very responsible and rule abiding.”
“Thanks I guess.”
“Enjolras, who are you picking?” Courfeyrac asked.
“I’m only driving you guys, not actually going on the field trip so I shouldn’t be involved with this.”
“But in theory.”
“Jehan. He has a way with people, not antagonizing them.”
“But think about it, the Eiffel Tower. Romantic stuff. He’ll get in trouble for paying too much attention to it and not the kids.”
“I should hope he has more sense than that.”
“Well, I’d never place my bet on you.”
“Why is that?”
“You’d start correcting the teacher and the guide then get into an argument with passerby.”
“If someone is obviously misguided, it is my duty as a Citizen to endeavor to correct them.” Enjolras said haughtily. There was however, a smile peeking at the corners of his mouth.
8:45 AM Bahorel’s phone
Eagle: Nearly there?
Bahorel: Three blocks away
Eagle: Courf is running a bet on who will stay out of trouble the longest. Stakes are drinks at the Musain.
Bahorel: Jehan says Comb
Bahorel: I’m going with Jolllly
Eagle: I’ll pass it on
They made an clashing pair, walking down the streets of Paris. Bahorel was big and muscled, casually dressed in shades of true red. Slight Jehan wore pink floral print leggings, a vibrant green shirt complemented with a gray waistcoat and a sparkling yellow infinity scarf. On anyone else, it would have looked horrendous, yet on Jehan, his garish ensemble only contributed to his overall impression of whimsy. Nevertheless, these were the streets of Paris and worst things had happened than clashing clothes and body builds.
“Trust Courfeyrac to turn this trip into a game.” Bahorel said.
“It adds incentive to do our tasks well, taken all together; we do consume conspicuous amounts of alcohol.”
“I’ll bet Courf never thought of that.”
They walked in companionable silence, taking in the already busy streets, blessedly lacking in tourists so early in the morning.
“I do question the wisdom of a trip to the Eiffel Tower. The lines are always so long.”
“Gavroche says the trip happens every year that there is enough chaperones, so the school must have secured some sort of bypass.”
“We’ll find out soon enough, we’re here.”
9:00 AM Eagle and Courf’s phone
Bahorel: We are here. Where r u?
Eagle: Parked in visitors parking, come In thru purple side door
Bahorel: Enjy’s car, be there in five
Courf: Teacher wants to meet us chaperones before the trip
Courf: Don’t call me Enjy
Courf: Sorry folks, ENJOLRAS is now reading over my shoulder
Eagle: At least we don’t call you Apollo
Eagle: R says only he can call you that.
Eagle: R also says to make a group chat so he doesn't have to read over my shoulder to make sure no one is abusing his nickname for ENJOLRAS
Bahorel: I’ll do it
Bahorel: We have arrived
The classroom was empty save for two teachers and they couldn’t help but do a double take when seven of les amis came funneling into the classroom.
“Marius is late. Typical. Sorry about that.” A man with circular glasses that dominated his face advanced from the pack with his hand outstretched.
“I’m Maîtresse Anile and this is Maître Pathelin, no relation to the lawyer.” She chuckled nervously.
“La Farce du Maître Pathelin? My sympathies.”
“I’m surprised you know it.”
“I read a lot Maîtresse."
“Please call me Marie.”
“And I’m Paul. You are the Chaperones for this trip?”
“So Gavroche says.”
“I’ll admit I was skeptical when he said he could get eight chaperones. You are all his uncles?”
“Yeah.” Paul looked at them suspiciously.
“There are only seven of you.”
“As I said, Marius is running late.” At this, a rather tall man in a tropical shirt began to text.
“As nice as this is, shouldn’t we introduce ourselves?” A crooked tooth and red-nosed man with wild black curls called from his slouch against a wall from which hung a irregular verb chart.
“Right.” Glasses chuckled nervously. “I’m Combeferre and that wit against the wall is Grantaire.”
“Courfeyrac.” The texting man looked up to smile charmingly at Marie.
“Joly.” He pronounced it with four l’s because sometimes, pronouncing letters that aren’t there makes more sense than not pronouncing all the letters.
“I’m Bossuet. I promise to try to only be a danger to me.” He laughed self deprecatingly. Paul looked worried.
"He’s rather accident-prone.” Joly explained, laying a hand on Bossuet’s forearm. Marie’s gaze followed the movement.
“My name is Jehan.” He pushed his way to the front to shake both their hands.
“Pleasure to meet you.”
“Bahorel. I don’t bite.” Bahorel laughed as he waved in a friendly manner. “Usually.” He added.
“Marius was taking the bus, it must have been delayed.”
“Indeed it was.” The door swung open and Enjolras walked in, marched to the teachers and announced,
“My name is Marius Pontmercy, reporting for chaperone duty.” Grantaire began to choke and Joly hit him on the back a few times, the rest of les Amis stared at him in shock. Enjolras’ glare dared them to comment.
“Nice that you could make it Marius.” Courfeyrac said, stepping up and giving Enjolras a friendly slap on the shoulder.
“He can be a bit intense sometimes.” He apologized. Enjolras only glared some more. The two teachers looked an awful lot like they were having second thoughts about the wisdom of having these students be chaperones.
“Well, now that introductions are out of the way, the way this is going to work is that each of you will be in charge of watching six kids. Just take them from place to place, mediate disputes and follow the schedules. The bus leaves for the tower at 9:40 so be ready to go by then. Got it?” Paul explained hurriedly, looking at the clock.
“School starts in two minutes, so just hang out at the back of the class room. It’ll get crowded as both classes will be meeting in this room, so try not to move.” The bell rang and les Amis moved to sit, perch or lean on the back-counter in between paper mache modules of the solar system.
Group chat: Tower boys
Bahorel has added Eagle, Courf, R, Enjy, Joly, Ferre and Jean
Enjy has changed names to Marius
R: What’s with this Marius charade?
Marius: I must stay in character
Marius: Those teachers haven’t met Marius before and they have now.
Ferre: Courf, what is going on here?
Courf has added RealMarius to the chat
RealMarius: Yesterday I was going to the bus stop, then I ran into Cosette!
RealMarius: The girl I was telling Courf about. She dropped her handkerchief and I had to return it but turns out it was her dad's and he was saying it was time for them to go so they left. I spent the whole day outside hoping for her to return.
Joly: It was pouring rain yesterday!
RealMarius: I woke up with a cold and could barely make it out of bed.
Courf: Anyways, Marius was out of commission, so I had to think fast
Marius: He badgered me into taking Marius' place
R: How did you do it? I must know!!! Did you learn some delicious secret to manipulate him with???
Courf: I have my ways...
Marius: Stop trying to sound mysterious. Eight chaperones were promised and eight chaperones there are
Marius: If it means I must go by his name, then so be it
Bahorel: Taking one for the team
Eagle: So Marius got sick because of a girl and Courf convinced Enjy to take his place. We now have to call Enjy Marius?
Bahorel: This should be fun!
RealMarius: I’m sorry for abandoning you guys.
Marius: It’s okay.
RealMarius has left the group chat
R: I mean Marius, can I still call you Apollo?
Marius: I never said you could in the first place
R: And when has that ever stopped me?
Marius: So why're you asking?
Eagle: No fighting, the class is finishing announcements. Now act your age and prepare to be Chaperones.
Jean: Yes sir!
Marius: you’re all ridiculous
Eagle: And you love it
Courf: Admit it
Jean: Come on
Marius: don’t push your luck
Marius has left the group chat
La Farce de Maître Pathelin is an anonymous 15th century medieval farce that greatly influenced the emerging genre. The french verb 'Pateliner' essentially means speaking in a dishonest, manipulative and manner and 'Patelin' as a adjective translates to smooth-tongued. These were named after the titular character in this farce.
Chapter 3: The Bus's Wheels
First challenge of the trip: Survive the Bus
There is also singing.
“I’m giving you lot your group assignments now.” Paul looked at the combined class and their eager fidgeting stopped for a moment.
“The Eiffel Tower is a very busy place; there will be many other people there. You are to stay with your group of six and keep your assigned chaperone in sight at all times. That means no spontaneous bathroom breaks Loiselle.” Paul glanced mildly at a girl who sheepishly lowered her hand.
“Can the chaperones come to the front of the class?”
“Can we?” Bahorel mumbled. He answered the question by weaving through the tight rows between desks, high stepping over backpacks and windbreakers.
“These are Gavroche’s uncles, say hello class.”
“Hello class!” Gavroche’s voice cut over the general sounds of greeting and the boys around him snickered. Paul began to read out from a list of names, gesturing to each amis in turn.
“Why do you guys have such strange names?” Loiselle asked Courfeyrac, assigned to his group.
“They’re French. All names are strange.”
“Yes, but almost all your guy’s names are last names.”
“Perceptive. Do you want to know a secret?” He asked, Loiselle and the other kids in his group nodded.
“Almost all of our first names are some variation of Jean.”
“That’s not true!”
“Believe what you like, but it gets mighty confusing if all of us are called Jean.”
“That’s why you chaperones were introduced with your last names!” A boy with bright red hair said.
"Don't be silly Felix, we always call chaperones by their last names, it's only polite. Courfeyrac is just trying to mess with you."
"Stuff it Emilie."
“For all intents and purposes they are our names.” Courfeyrac said.
“Class! You can talk later, the bus is here and if we want to get you all through security and at the tower before all the lines get long, we’d best get a move on.” Marie interrupted their conversation with her call to readiness. Les Amis stood awkwardly at the front of the class as they watched everyone slowly gather their jackets, the chaos directed by the two teachers.
“Marc, I said no full backpacks! We’re going to be doing a lot of walking.” Paul made him remove two textbooks and three hard cover books.
“What if I want to read?”
“That is what the paperback is for.”
“Rachelle It may be nice out, but it gets windy. Your t-shirt is not enough.” Marie admonished as she de-knotted a shoelace.
“Gavroche! What are you doing with that exacto knife?” Gavroche quickly put it back in the arts and crafts drawer.
“Nicholas, bring your phone to the drawer to be locked up. I won’t have anybody losing their devices on the Tower.”
“But pictures!” He protested.
“There are stock photos on the internet for a reason.” Paul told him.
“Last call for bathroom breaks!” Marie said.
Joly and Bossuet immediately left the classroom. Grantaire followed a moment later, absently patting his jacket pocket. Three kids left as well. Marie checked her watch.
“I’ll tell them to come to the bus, you take the others.” Enjolras volunteered.
“Thanks Marius.” She said, obviously pleased he had anticipated her request, He smiled stiffly and moved to the side as the kids, the teachers and half of the chaperones left for the boot room and the waiting bus.
The classroom felt strange without all the bodies jostling for space in it. Enjolras rubbed his forehead, feeling a headache beginning to form. They hadn’t even left the school!
“Are we left behind?” Grantaire asked, he had approached silently and Enjolras startled.
“Don’t do that!”
“I merely asked a question.”
“The others are waiting on you lot.” At this, Joly and Bossuet took off after the three kids who made a beeline for the boot room.
“Coming Marius?” Grantaire asked him, customary smirk in place.
“You’re never going to let me live this down, are you?”
“Don’t bet on it Apollo.”
Logically, everyone should be two to a seat. But no, the door to the bus was bottle-necked by the kids who wanted to sit in the back and when those lucky few got on, three, four people ended up in each seat.
The teachers wanted the chaperones placed evenly around the bus, but few wanted to sit next to the strange college students who would be their chaperones for this trip. Too much too soon.
As it stood when Enjolras, who was the last to board the bus got on, the back was filled with kids eager to have the bone-jarring pothole experience, the middle hosted the majority of his friends and the front had the teachers along with a few kids who sat on their own.
“Sit down Marius, I must take a headcount.” Marie gestured to the empty seat beside hers. Enjolras sat and watched as she called out all 48 names. He counted.
“We’re good to go.” She told the bus driver, a portly and bored looking middle-aged man.
“Eiffel Tower, right?” The bus driver asked.
“Yes.” The bus began the half-hour journey. Enjolras stared out of the window, nursing his headache. Marie looked at him from across the aisle.
“So, are you all really uncles of Gavroche?”
“Family isn’t always blood related.” Enjolras responded, a nice evasion.
“And you’re all students at the University.”
“Not much of a talker are you?”
“I don’t do so well with small talk.”
“He’s much better at addressing crowds, getting them into a revolutionary frenzy.” Jehan interjected, leaning over the top of the gray leather seat.
“Why would you be getting people in a frenzy? That doesn’t sound safe.”
“To make them care about justice and equality for all. To inspire the people to take action, rise to the challenge!”
“Now is not the proper time for a speech.” Combeferre turned around in his seat and reached to place a calming hand on Enjolras’s forearm.
“I suppose not.” Enjolras frowned; he always welcomed the chance to talk about his beliefs. At the same time, he had enough self-awareness to realize that he was not the best at reading social cues and that he should and could trust Combeferre to point out when it was not the appropriate moment.
“Can we get back to the uncles? Gavroche just happened to have eight ‘uncles’ of various races and appearances, all around the same age, who just happen to attend the same university?” Paul asked. The three amis in the area were saved from answering by the start of a loud and off-key song coming from the back of the bus.
“The wheels on the bus go ‘round and ‘round, ‘round and ‘round, ‘round and ‘round. The wheels on the bus go ‘round and ‘round, all through the town!” More and more kids joined in the singing, enthusiastically if not nicely. From the middle of the bus a clear tenor voice made up verses, each more ludicrous than the next.
“I’m going to kill Courfeyrac.” Enjolras growled. Marie and Paul looked uncomfortably at each other.
“He doesn’t mean it.” Combeferre assured them.
“And even if he does kill Courfeyrac, I’ll write Courf an amazing poem to memorialize his life.” Jehan added. When they turned to look wearily at Jehan, he shrugged sheepishly and sat back down in his seat, only to promptly join in on the song.
It would be a long trip, thought Enjolras.
“The doggie on the road goes squish squish-” Courfeyrac realized what he was singing and stopped, it didn’t stop Bahorel’s elbow from digging into his side. Without him, the singing began to die down, Courfeyrac was relieved. He had been humming the song to himself, when Loiselle, who seemed to have attached herself to him, began to sing it aloud. One thing led to another and soon almost all the kids were singing.
“I want to hear the rest of that verse!” Loiselle complained once the nose level had subsided to yelling across three seats.
“Make it up yourself.” He suggested. That should buy him some time away from her constant questions.
“Hey, Bossuet.” A small, freckled boy tugged on Bossuet’s jacket.
“What’s up Yves?”
“I don’t feel very good.”
“Carsick?” Joly asked as his worried voice cutting through two rows and ten kids. The boy nodded.
“Can you survive ten more minutes till we arrive?”
“My maman told me to eat something if I felt sick.”
“Then eat.” Bahorel suggested impatiently as he pushed off a kid who was attempting to use his bald head as a drum, gently as possible. Yves nodded and pulled a purple sucker from his pocket.
“Why does he get candy and I don’t?” Loiselle demanded.
“It’s his own.” Bossuet informed her solemnly.
“Why don’t you tell me quietly what you came up with for the rest of that verse?” Courfeyrac prompted and Loiselle soon forgot about the sucker, for road kill was much more interesting. Courfeyrac wondered if it would be tempting fate to congratulate himself.
Grantaire didn’t mind being surrounded on all sides by Gavroche and his friends. In fact, it was rather flattering that they seemed impressed by him. Hardly anyone was impressed with Grantaire.
“So you really box?”
“Have you ever beat anyone up?”
“You don’t really look like a boxer.”
“Sure he does, his nose is all broken. All the boxers I’ve seen on TV have broken noses.”
“That’s not true!”
All Grantaire had to do was sit there slouched over and occasionally answer direct questions, the boys carried the speculative conversation all by themselves.
“Grantaire’s showing me how to box.” Gavroche boasted.
“No way.” Rene, proudly skeptical and the other ringleader of Gavroche’s mischievous friends, scoffed.
“It’s true, right Grantaire? You showed me how to punch properly and I used it to escape a bar fight. It was amazing the way that guy toppled!”
“Yeah.” Grantaire mumbled. “Wait, bar fight?” He straightened up. Gavroche’s eyes widened.
“It was a while ago.”
“I showed you two weeks ago!”
“You won’t tell Eponine, right?” Gavroche’s friends were silent as they watched events unfold.
“She’d kill us both.” Grantaire sighed, all the while thinking; I’m much too sober for this.
The Eiffel Tower came into view as they crossed Pont d’Iéna, the glass security wall distorting the view of the base.
“It’s a shame they had to put up that wall.” Jehan said. “At one time, everyone could walk underneath it and take in the view.”
“That was only a few years ago.” Combeferre said. “At least it’s transparent now.”
“But the gardens are now private! Controlled. It completely changes the aesthetic of this part of Paris.”
“Aesthetic, is that all you care about? The walls built are to protect one of the biggest tourist attractions in the world from terror attacks!” Paul protested.
“But it’s giving into fear!”
“Such is the new reality.”
“I can’t believe I’m saying this but, Jehan, now is not the time to debate the newly erected security wall.” Enjolras told him while gesturing to the few kids listening to the conversation.
“En- Marius counselling backing down! I never thought I’d see the day.” Combeferre exclaimed, hoping no one noticed the name slip.
“I just want to get this trip over with.” Sensing more than Combeferre suggested, Jehan looked significantly at him.
“He also has a significant stake in the Bet riding on you.” Combeferre whisper-shouted. The girl on the seat next to him looked at him with interest.
“What’s the Bet?”
“No more time for chattering, we have arrived and I need all chaperones alert and ready to get us through security!” Marie cut him off (she seemed to enjoy doing that) and stood up, steadying herself on a seat when the bus lurched to a stop and the noise level rose once more.
“I can’t believe you bet on me.” Jehan was all smiles once more.
“Don’t make me regret it, you all consume too much alcohol without it being free, courtesy of me.” Enjolras said gruffly.
The next chapters will be taking place on the Eiffel Tower. As a Canadian who is almost beginning to regret basing a story on a well-know tourist attraction I have never been to and, as a result, heavily leaning on the instructive powers of the internet, I apologize for any contradictions or false information given. Correct me in the comments if you so desire.
Chapter 4: Security's Measures
Les amis must combat the most chaos-inducing of enemies among young humans: Boredom.
Security is tight and does not look kindly upon banned items, or people holding up the line.
“This is a ridiculous field trip! The class would be served better if everyone just visited Champ de Mars and took in the greenspace.” Combeferre muttered as he watched his group of antsy kids steadily grow bored as they waited in the security line.
“The school wanted to do this and we agreed to be chaperones.” Courfeyrac said genially, already looking around at all the people waiting in line.
“How much longer Monsieur Combeferre?” A bespeckeld girl asked.
“Just to get through the first security checkpoint? Twenty minutes. To get through security that lets one ascend the Eiffel Tower should take another twenty. We’re lucky we came so early.”
“Forty-ish minutes of waiting in line? This is a dumb field trip.” She grumbled.
“The view should be worth it.”
“Are you trying to convince me or yourself?”
“Touché. What is your name?”
“Well Margot, we are all stuck in this line so we’d best make the best of it.”
“We could play a game.”
“Oh yes, a game!” Courfeyrac butted into the conversation. At the mention of this, his kids looked up from their foot-to-foot shifting with interest.
“Do you all know how to play telephone?”
“I don’t.” Margot admitted.
“We’re all in a line so this should be easy. The person at the head of the line whispers a sentence into the next person’s ear. Then that person repeats what they heard to the next person. It continues its journey down the line, getting more and more warped until the person at the end has to say the result aloud. Make sense?” Combeferre explained the game easily for it was a game favored by his friends when inebriated.
“Can I go first?” She asked.
“You’re at the head of the line. Choose a sentence and whisper it to- Noe?”
“Yup. That’s me.” His face turned red.
“Shh! I’ve got it.” Margot leaned over and whispered something in his ear. Noe giggled and turned even redder. This continued down the line as Courfeyrac grinned at Combeferre over the heads of his charges. Ten minutes occupied with kids accusing the others of not speaking loud enough and asking to hear it again. Glorious.
Fier, a short boy with an under bite and part of Courfeyrac’s group was the last in line.
“Easily laid man crisis farts with Toys.” He barley got it out before bursting into laughter.
“What did he say?” The kids at the front of the line demanded. Combeferre repeated it, ignoring Courfeyrac’s snickers.
“That’s not what I said! I said the easiest way to make a grown man cry is to make him watch Toy story 3. My older sister told me that you know, she’s studying in America.” Margot said.
“That’s the point of the game.” Courfeyrac told her.
A chorus of eager volunteers; boredom banished for the moment.
“You have to stay in the line Rachel.” Joly gestured meaningfully to her groupmates, standing in line.
“But I want to go meet that lady with the little dogs!”
“Do you know how dangerous that is? Dogs could carry rabies! What if one bit you!”
“They’re just little things.”
“It only takes one bite.”
“Pets have to be vaccinated, right? That means they wouldn’t have rabies.” Samuel bit off a hangnail worriedly.
“Monsieur Joly, are pets even allowed on the Eiffel Tower?” He asked.
“Nope, a sign says that right there.” Joly gestured to a sign that had ‘No Pets Allowed unless certified guide animals’ first in French, then in English.
“Oh, right. I didn’t notice that.”
“I’m bored.” Mason complained while draping his arms dramatically around two of his friends’ shoulders and letting his weight fall to the ground.
“Get off me Mason.” One said genially, ducking out of support pillar duty. Mason fell to the ground.
“Are you hurt?” Joly demanded, sympathetic hypochondria kicking into even higher gear.
“I’m fine. I’m fine.” Mason got up and bowed to his friends. Everyone clapped. Lovely, thought Joly, I’m stuck with the class clown.
Bossuet was also picking himself off the ground where he had tripped over a discarded soda can, much to the amusement of his charges.
“I had no idea someone could hurt themselves this much! It’s amazing!” Ava marveled. Bossuet shrugged and said,
“You have an interesting accent.”
“I know. Our family moved to Paris from Mexico six months ago but I spent the first seven years of my existence in Quebec.”
“It’s very different here in France.”
“I can imagine.”
“My mums like to travel around; and now that I’m old enough, they can travel again. We’re going to Ireland next year you know.”
“You don’t talk much do you?” Ava asked. Bossuet smiled.
“It depends on what you mean by talking much. Currently, I am attempting to catch my breath after crashing into the cement ground.”
“Because you tripped over a soda can.”
“So you saw.”
“Stella Ella Ola, Clap Clap Clap, Sing an es Chigga Chigga, Chigga Chigga Chap, Sing an es Chigga Chigga, Love, Love, Love, Love, Love, Love! one, two, three, four-“
“Five!” Louis slapped Bahorel’s hand as hard as possibly but he didn’t even flinch.
“I’m afraid you’re out.” Jehan said. Bahorel nodded and stepped out of the circle. Jehan’s idea was inspired. It had taken over fifteen minutes to teach the kids the various chants and now all twelve of them were busy trying to slap each other’s hands.
“Where did you learn this game then?”
“I dunno, probably school when I was their age. I know a bunch of other clapping games besides Stella Ella Ola.”
“I don’t recall people playing those sorts of games.”
“That’s because you spent most of your free periods in detention.”
“Hey, I was always in the right.”
“Tell that to the kids whose noses’ you broke.”
“It was only two, and they were bullying that one kid.”
“Chaperones, Inzo just hit me in the face!” Nicholas, the kid whose’ phone had been taken away, complained.
“Was it on purpose?” Bahorel asked.
“It wasn’t! He just moved out of the way too fast and I was trying to get his hand!” Inzo immediately defended himself.
“Then I don’t think there will be a problem.”
“While the rest finish the games, do you kids who got out want to learn concentration?” Jehan proposed. Inzo, who had failed to slap Nicolas's hand, and the the others nodded.
The lines were getting longer and some tourists were giving them dirty looks for taking up a rather large portion of the roped funnel path to preliminary security but they didn’t care. They were nearly there and their charges were distracted.
“School group?” The guard who stood by the entrance asked.
“Yes, and more on the way.” She looked at the unusually large number of kids engaged in various activities in the line.
“You the teacher?”
“No, they are in the next group. I’m merely a chaperone”
“Alright, we just have to for obvious signs of threats here. The next checkpoint that you must pass to ascend the tower has an x-ray, then you need to present your tickets if you have prepaid. So if you all want to make good time, you’ll go there before the line gets too long.”
“Can we go now?”
“Yup, just watch out for pickpockets and grifters, they’re everywhere. Got that kids?”
“I know that. I read a book once about thieves based at the Eiffel Tower. They used all sots of clever tricks.” Mathilde told her, rolling her eyes.
“It might be clever in theory, but it’s not so fun when you’re the mark. Head on in now, I’ve got lots of others to check.” They passed the glass wall and panned out, staring in awe at the massive iron grid structure so immortalized in popular culture.
“Will we really get to go up there Monsieur Marius?” Cher asked in a simpering voice, staring up at Enjolras instead of the tower.
“That’s the purpose of this field trip.”
I hate x-ray machines, thought Grantaire as his group passed through the second security check. He was the last of all the school party to go through.
“Empty your pockets Monsieur.” The guard told him after the metal detector beeped. Grantaire sighed and put his keys, wallet, lighter, an empty cigarette pack, his phone and the dented metal flask on the gray tray.
“Lighters are not allowed on the Tower. I’m afraid we will have to confiscate that.” The guard took it and placed it in a clear container pulled from under the booth.
“You are also not allowed to bring alcoholic beverages on the tower.”
“It’s not-” The guard unscrewed the lid and sniffed pointedly. Grantaire gave it up for a lost cause. The liquid strength inside was the price he had to pay.
“I heard there was a wine bar here.”
“You may purchase from the tower restaurants, but aside from water, we do not allow beverages.”
“Fine, take it, can I go now?” Grantaire tried not to look longingly at his favorite flask. (It was for a higher goal. He reminded himself.)
“Step through the detector one more time.” Grantaire did, recovering his aplomb and smirking at the annoyed faces waiting for him to go so they could go and climb the highly overrated landmark.
“My thanks Officeir.” He bowed, quickly collected his things, minus the lighter and flask and joined the large group waiting to enter the tower.
“Took you long enough.” Enjolras muttered, casting an annoyed glance at him.
“Bringing alcohol on a trip with children? That was highly irresponsible.” Marie marched up to Grantaire, eyes ablaze as the combined class and chaperones turned to watch.
“Are you entering the tower or not? We get nearly seven million visitors each year and the ones running this show would only love more.” The ticket salesperson interrupted them, yelling over the noise of hundreds of people with practiced volume.
“Yes we are, Marie, perhaps you should get the tickets?” Paul, the calming influence this time, suggested.
“Fine, bit I’m not done with you yet Grantaire!”
“No one ever is Maîtresse.” He retorted.
-There is surprisingly little on the internet about human security measures around the Eiffel Tower. All the links bring me to articles about the costly security walls or a history of Operation Sentinelle, which is a a nationwide effort to guard against more terror attacks. The Eiffel Tower is guarded/patrolled by soldiers and police. Though criticized in some corners for going against the french traditions of 'liberté, égalité et fraternité', it seems to have revived French tourism.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Op%C3%A9ration_Sentinelle (Wikipwidia article on this, always a good place to commence research)
-The second security checkpoint is likened to airport security. I have made my assumptions based upon that.
-One can enter the Tower quicker and cheaper by buying a ticket online. School groups are encouraged to do so and that is what this one has done.
https://www.toureiffel.paris/en/teachers (Link to the official Eiffel Tower website and the section about group rates)
Chapter 5: Joly's aid
The prospect of herding 48 kids up 328 steps is not an enviable one. Inhalers will drop. Disagreements will arise. Stunts will be pulled. Hands will be stuck. Miscommunication will occur.
The Bet claims its first victims.
Here, have this chapter I wrote when I should've been studying.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
The prospect of herding 48 kids up the 328 steps the Tower’s South Pillar to the first floor was not an enticing one. Yet here Enjolras was, flanked on either side by Cher and Thomas.
“I hate this.” Thomas said after a small cough.
“This is more physical activity than I get in a month.”
“Does your school not have gym class?” Enjolras asked him.
“Well yeah, but I usually have to sit out.” Here Thomas pulled a blue inhaler from his pocket and took a puff.
“That’s because he’s a weakling.” Cher informed Enjolras.
“Why would you say that?” Enjolras inquired
“Because he can’t do anything without breaking down and coughing.”
“I’m not weak! I just have asthma!”
“Well, you’ll hold everybody up with your coughing. I, on the other hand can easily climb all these steps. Did you know that Monsieur Marius?” Enjolras frowned and instead of answering directly said,
“We must not fight amongst ourselves. It is divisive and if we all want to make it to the top in one piece, we must work together.”
“I could do without going up the tower.” Thomas offered.
“Yet here you are.” Enjolras retorted. He got a foothold on the next stair in front of the two kids, putting them behind his back. As a result, he missed the mouthing of the words ‘weak baby’ and schoolyard insult involving the tongue on the part of Cher.
“I am not a baby!” Thomas responded fiercely, Enjolras turned around, but he was too late. Thomas had thrown his inhaler off the side of the Eiffel Tower in anger.
“Oops.” Cher said sheepishly. Enjolras rubbed his temples, this headache could quite possibly turn into a migraine, he thought.
“Will you be able to make it without your inhaler Thomas?”
“Um, maybe? I just get really bad coughing fits.”
“Do you have a spare inhaler?”
“Maître Pathelin keeps one for me.” Enjolras growled internally.
“Well, he’s at the back and there is no way we will reach him until the first floor. You will have to make do. Cher, that was very irresponsible, don’t let me catch you talking to Thomas for the rest of the trip. Walk in front of me, you who can climb these stairs without a sweat. Thomas, I suppose I’ll hear if you start coughing. We’ll deal with that then. Now, we’re holding up the flow. Let’s get a move on.”
It was a calculated risk. As a chaperone, he had a certain degree of authority, but he was not their teacher, nor did he have any proper idea of how to solve their disputes. If they were clever, they could see the loophole Enjolras had left them when he told them to separate and not talk, but at least it wouldn’t be his problem.
If Enjolras had been a bit more self-aware, he might have realized that the force of his personality and his looks would have a greater influence than his words on these two, but the result was the same and Enjolras was not self-aware.
“Hey Monsieur Joly, look at me!” Mason was perched on the edge of the stairs, leaning precariously against bars that were just to narrow for his body to pass through.
“Get down from there!” Joly called, forced to keep moving by the press of people. Mason smirked and crab-walked sideways up the ledge.
“It’s not like I’ll fall.” Two of Mason’s friends joined him in his endeavor, laughing with the carelessness typical to young boys.
“They always do stuff like this and don’t get hurt.” Rachel informed him, taking the stairs a skip at a time despite her labored breathing.
“Have they ever done these stunts high in the air?”
“Well, no. But I’m sure they’ll be fine. Nothing you can do about them, so why worry?” Rachel shrugged.
“Because they could get hurt?”
“But they haven’t!” Rachel seemed quite pleased with her logic and pushed through two others, leaving her place to be taken by Samuel.
“You okay?” Joly asked the boy who was muttering under his breath.
“127, 128, 129-” So he was counting the stairs, Joly observed. He had to admit to himself that he was surprised the kid could hold concentration like that for that long. No use disturbing him. Attempting to take Rachel’s advice to heart, he concentrated on what view he could see from the press of people, mostly impressive lattice work he would have liked to view at a more leisurely pace, but also vertigo-inducing glimpses of the ground, the distance between him and it was not a pleasant thought. Joly’s head shot up when he heard a cry. Others were looking for the source as well. Had Mason and his friends hurt themselves? Joly increased his pace and began to push through the crowd of school kids.
“It’s okay Nicholas, it’s okay.” Jehan repeated this to himself, a mantra. It’s okay, it’s okay. It’s- okay?
“Has someone hurt themselves?” Joly powered through the crowd of curious onlookers, holding up the flow even more.
“Nicholas just got his hand stuck in the side of the tower.”
“What?” Jehan gestured impatiently to Nicholas, who’s right hand was indeed wedged between a plastic pop-out sign announcing they were halfway to the first floor and the iron strip it was bolted to.
“Just hold still and draw it out gently.” Joly advised, hoping onto the ledge he had previously warned Mason off to let curious others pass through.
“But it hurts!”
“It’ll hurt more if you panic and twist it.” Jehan said.
“Can I help you?” Joly asked calmly. Nicholas nodded hesitantly. Joly placed a hand on his wrist.
“Hold still, relax, I’ll guide the hand out.” Joly held his wrist till it stopped shaking then carefully guided it out. After all, if it made it in, it could make it out. Nicholas began to furiously rub it, a red band of abraded skin appearing around three quarters of his wrist.
“Thank you.” He said quietly, wiping a traitorous tear form his eye quickly.
“We must keep walking, halfway to the top. Come Nicholas, tell what type of photos you like to take.” Jehan placed a gentle hand on his shoulder blades to guide Nicholas back onto the stairs. At the mention of his hobby, Nicholas became noticeably more cheerful.
“Sorry for getting stuck.”
“Just keep your hands to yourself, eh?” Jehan said calmly as they walked on.
“What happened?” Called Combeferre. “Maîtresse would want to know.”
“Nicholas got his hand stuck in the side of the tower, he is fine and has moved on.”
“Nicholas got his hand stuck in the side of the Eiffel Tower. Pass it on to Maîtresse. Remember Telephone?” Combeferre told Noe. Noe nodded and turned to the kid behind him.
“Nicholas was stuck in the side of the Tower. He is fine now. Pass it on.”
“Nicholas got stuck in the Tower. He made it out. Pass it on.”
“Nicholas got stuck in the Eiffel Tower. Pass it on.”
The message made it’s way through many kids. Courfeyrac made eye contact with Combeferre quizzically. Combeferre smiled encouragingly and made a gesture with his hand that was meant to be interpreted as “pass it on, all is well, just relaying a message.” Unfortunately, hand gestures can be very vague and Courfeyrac interpreted this as “doing just fine, entertaining the kids.” The result would be the same, the message would be continually relayed till it reached it’s recipient. However, because Courfeyrac interpreted this in a casual, game sort of way, he thought nothing of passing on the phrase;
“Nicholas got his head chopped off in the Tower, but he is fine. Pass it on.” To the kid behind him.
“Hey, slow down, you have longer legs than us!” Inzo said to Bahorel, who’s long stride easily took him up the metal stairs.
“Apologies.” Bahorel shortened his stride so that Inzo and Louis could walk beside him.
“Why did someone scream up there?” Louis asked.
“Someone probably tripped. We can’t do anything about it, so let’s concentrate on getting up the stairs to the first floor.” Bahorel answered easily, he wasn’t too concerned.
“Isn’t the view nice?” Inzo then commented. Bahorel nodded and peered through the lattice work walls.
“It really gives one a perspective of just how big Paris is.”
“I wish I could see it.” Louis muttered.
“Just look around you.”
“I broke my glasses this morning and now I can’t see more than a few meters ahead of me.” Bahorel frowned, this was a problem. What was the point of going up the Eiffel Tower if one couldn’t even see the impressive view?
“Do you have them with you?” Louis patted his pocket.
“Then let me see them.”
“Are you going to fix them?” Inzo asked.
“If I can.” Louis handed Bahorel the glasses. The bridge of the wire rim had snapped in two and one of the lenses was half out of the frame. Bahorel whistled.
“What’s the story behind this?”
“I ran into my room’s doorknob while trying to put on my shoes and eat a granola bar at the same time.” Louis admitted, panting slightly. Bahorel slowed down his steps once again, it mustn’t be easy for their small legs to climb so many stairs.
“Good thing you aren’t in Bossuet’s group. You two would be a force to be reckoned with.”
“The craziest accidents happen.”
“Can you fix the glasses?” Inzo inquired.
“I could tape the bridge together with medical tape now and then set the lens with super glue when we reach the first floor.”
“Thank you! That could last me through the day!”
“Monsieur Bahorel, why do you have medical tape and superglue on you?” Inzo demanded. Bahorel turned to grin at him.
“You never know when you need to punch someone.”
“Oh. Right. And the superglue?” Bahorel only smiled.
10:47 AM Joly’s phone
Eagle: I’m here with Marie. She wants to know just what the hell is happening up there.
Joly: Didn’t the message get to you?
Eagle: What? Nicholas is farting while getting his head chopped off in the Tower of London?
Joly: That mutated.
Eagle: Please my dear, just tell me what happened.
Joly: Nicholas got his hand stuck between a sign and the tower, he yelled. I got his hand out and Jehan calmed him down. Crisis dealt with.
Eagle: Oh, I thought there was a real problem.
Joly: There could be if you keep texting while walking up the steps.
Eagle: Point, see you at the top.
“That took way to long.” Grantaire grumbled as he stepped off the last step and onto the semi-transparent first floor.
“That was fun!” Gavroche bounced on the balls of his feet, he had the audacity to look just as fresh as he did before he climbed 328 steps. Most of his friends were just as jumpy. Ah, the resilience of youth. Slowly, the rest were trickling up the stairs, their school group distinguishable from the other tourists only by the sheer amount of kids in multiple clumps.
“I need to rest.”
“Maîtresse, my feet hurt!”
“Look at that view!”
Plaintiff cries and exclamations arose from the kids, most of whom were exhausted and draping themselves against the walls, legs out and tripping others. Grantaire wasn’t as tired as he thought he’d be, what with the steady increase in the amount of alcohol he’d been imbibing. His friends didn’t believe it, but he knew exactly what he was doing. (On second thoughts, it was probably better that they didn’t know.) Grantaire scanned his charges and was relieved to count the same number of kids as when they had started.
Marie and Paul were both rushing about, dealing with the various crisis that had occurred. Enjolras had his hand on the shoulder of a boy who inhaled dramatically from an inhaler. Bahorel was crouched against the wall, many heads bent around him as he fiddled with something in his hands. Marie had another scowl on her face and was glaring fiercely whilst dressing down Joly and Jehan, who shifted form foot to foot uncomfortably while others looked on in amusement. Look who was in trouble now! Taking one last look around to assure himself he didn’t have to do anything, Grantaire pulled out his phone.
11:00am R’s phone
R: Courf, I know I was the first to get in trouble from the teachers but not one betted on me
R: You’re running the Bet, did anyone bet on Joly or Jehan?
Courf: Bahorel went with Joly and Enjolras went with Jehan, theoretically, but he is on the trip now so it’s valid now.
R: Ha! They’ll have to pay now
Courf: I’ll tell them they lost
R: No, I want to tell Enjy in person
Courf: You’ll just get him mad, you know how he despises your drinking
R: That’s the point
R: I of course, bet on Enjolras, but he is pretending to be Marius, so if Enjy gets in trouble because I reiled up his temper, I don’t lose the bet and anyone who bet on Marius will have to pay up
Courf: Clever. Here I thought you just liked it when he reacted to you
R: I think a kid is trying to put her gum in your pocket
“Bossuet, would you hold these papers?” Paul shoved a large bundle of printed booklets into his arms. Bossuet stumbled and narrowly missed falling and tossing the booklets to the wind.
“Listen up class!” Paul yelled. Hardly anyone paid attention. Grantaire raised two fingers to his mouth and gave a sharp whistle. When the piercing sound attracted everyone’s attention, he gestured in a sarcastic manner towards Paul, managing to look helpful yet secretly amused at the same time.
“Everyone has now made it to the first floor. I understand if you’re all tired. That’s fine, you’ve just climbed many steps. Take some time to rest. Each of the chaperones will hand out these booklets. In the hour allotted for this level of the Tower, you are all to complete the ‘Follow Gus’ activity using information gleaned form the signs. Take in the view, wander around. I want everyone to stay in sight of their chaperones and if you need to use the washroom, tell the chaperone and take a buddy. Stay out of trouble. And most importantly, have fun. Understood?”
“Understood.” The kids yelled as one, as if Paul had finished previous speeches before in the same way. Which he probably had, thought Bossuet, thinking back to his own experience when he was their age.
“Monsieur Bossuet, can I have one of the Follow Gus books?” Ava asked him.
“Of course, let me just give these to the other chaperones.” Once the other amis were distributing the booklets to their respective groups, Bossuet handed his out. Ava leafed through the pages.
“It’s in English and French! You know, I’m fluent in both. Because we travel a lot and all.”
“Ava, we’re learning both English and French in school. It’s nothing to brag about.” Ollie said sourly.
“No need to fight, the important thing is to read the packet and understand it.” Bossuet decided to stop the argument before it truly began.
“That makes sense.” Ava agreed cheerfully. Ollie rolled her eyes.
“Can we go explore now?” She asked.
“That’s what Maître Pathelin told us to do.” Bossuet said as began to lea d his group away form the stairwell.
They had made it up the stairs.
-Follow Gus is a bilingual activity booklet you can get at the Eiffel Tower which is designed for ages 6-10. If you want to check it out, the pdf is here:
-I'll admit it, the French school system confuses me. I'm operating under the assumption that most classes are in french but English is also taught. Correct me if i'm wrong.