Eat Him If You Like
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16 August 1870, Alain de Monèys makes his way to the village fair. He arrives at two o'clock. Two hours later, the crowd has gone crazy; they have lynched, tortured, burned, and eaten him. With frightening precision, Jean Teulé reconstructs one of the most shameful stories in the history of France.
repeating his mother’s name. The villagers continued to clamour outside. It is surprising how quickly people can lose their heads. Alain lay panting on the floor. With the three men barring the door and Antony and Dubois at his side, he started to think he might still get away alive. ‘We’ll do all we can to save you,’ said Antony, reassuring him. ‘But it’s not easy with a cowardly mayor and faced with these madmen.’ ‘Thank you, thank you …’ Antony’s patient words and actions were worthy of a
deserving of pity. A man with glasses and beady eyes – Sarlat, the tailor from Nontronneau – yelled at Alain and tore at his yellow nankeen suit. ‘Filthy Prussian!’ ‘Why do you say that? You know him. You dressed him! And now you’re ripping clothes that you made!’ yelled Antony. ‘I did not make this suit!’ ‘Strewth!’ exploded Antony. ‘Look, there, in the lining, that’s your label sewn in there. Your name is on it, Sarlat!’ ‘Oh, the filthy Prussian!’ exclaimed the tailor, yanking off a
farmer.’ ‘Describe what happened on 16 August.’ ‘The sky fell on our heads.’ ‘Why did you kill Monsieur de Monéys?’ ‘Because people were saying that he’d shouted “Long live Prussia!”’ ‘Yet he had actually enlisted to go and fight the Prussians.’ ‘Really? No one mentioned it.’ ‘He did.’ The courtroom walls were covered in a wallpaper with a faint undulating pattern, evoking ocean waves. Everyone was foundering and Antoine Léchelle himself was carried by the tide. He wept over his washed-up
dozens of angry faces surrounding him. Their eyes, which had previously held only kindness, now contained a venom which was terrible to see. Having regained his breath, Alain rose and spoke to them. ‘You’ve misunderstood me, my friends,’ he croaked. ‘You’re mistaken.’ ‘You were rejoicing in our enemies’ success,’ said one man, shaking his fist at Alain. ‘I wasn’t!’ ‘You’re smiling!’ ‘No, I’m not!’ ‘You’d watch as they killed us all and spared your life!’ ‘No. In a week’s time I’ll be a
they’re beating him, beating him like a carpet! They want to hang him. They’re going to hang him, I tell you!’ said Anna, gasping as Alain had earlier. The priest went back inside and returned immediately, holding a big gun. ‘You have a weapon?’ asked Anna, shocked. ‘An heirloom from my uncle. He was in the military.’ The local priest, still in his cassock, jumped over his garden wall into the road. ‘Let me through! Make way!’ He pointed his gun at anyone who blocked his path. ‘Let me