Corresponding to the upper opening, through which, according to the time and the season, sun and rain passed, was a large and wet circle on the floor, a pool in winter, mud in summer. A cryptlike day fell from this crevasse into the quarry. After some moments the eye grew accustomed to it, and one ended up distinguishing the lineaments of subterranean roads, the debris of the breach inserted here and there with horizontal bands of limestone, and the leperous puckerings of the stone on the ceiling of the passages; in this twilight these rough vaults resembled the stomachs of elephants, whose legs made the pillars. Seeing all these monstrous feet, motionless in the shadow, one could have believed oneself beneath an enormous herd of petrified mastodons.
As Enjolras finished speaking, vague faces appeared at the edges of the faint light. There was a noise as of naked feet in the mud. The young men turned around. A new audience was making its entrance. Unexpected audience. In the darkest part of the quarry, eyes shone, some round and phosphorescent; strange heads moved in the earthen pallor of the underground; several yawned as if they had just left sleep. A semicircle of wild masks formed confusedly in the haze. These faces watched and approached. They were probably men.
“Who are you?” asked Enjolras.
A voice, in which a police agent could have recognized Babet’s rather proper accent, answered, “We are protestors like you.”
“Different from us,” said Combeferre.
“We are your friends and your brothers.”
“Our brothers, yes; our friends, no,” said Enjolras.
There was a silence.
Enjolras continued, “I can see who you are.”
“We are thieves,” cried another voice, that of Gueulemer.
“You are the social disease,” replied Enjolras. “We want to cure you. We have seen you. Very well. Now leave.”
The voice that had spoken first questioned Enjolras again. “Citizen, we were there. We heard you. What you have said is good. We are, like you, enemies of the existing world. If there’s something, if they’re tearing up the paving stones, count on us.”
Enjolras responded, “You are victims. You are the painful products of misery. No misery, no theft; no degradation, no crime. We want a new society where there won’t be any more men like you. We want men like you to be healed as wounded men, not killed as enemies. We want a country so happy that you will become honest again. We want to save you. We feel moved to the depths of our insides by your misfortune. We pity you, we weep over you, we work for you.”
“Bravo!” cried the darkened group.
“Thank you,” said the one who seemed to be the leader.
“Now,” Enjolras continued, “I have something to say to you. If any one of you comes into my barricade, I will have him shot.”
They separated. The young men climbed back into the daylight, and the others re-entered the night.