It is extremely hot in the summer, especially for the European city Paris, where the suffocating sultriness is overwhelming. Surely it is not much a deal for the worry—free nobility, who are regular guests between country villas and Calais coast with their money and power. For the underclass who rub some centimes in the pocket, they can only stroll near the Bois de Boulogne.
It is 1847, when Baron Eugene Haussmann has yet to commence his restoration of Paris during the Second Empire, so there are shockingly few places to have some fun and idle away the summer. Still, people figure out how to kill time themselves. And at present, a crowd is gathering around a table in a dark room.
Judging from the piles of poker chips and Francs, they are obviously having an underground gambling. William Fichtner takes off his coat but still feels the unbearable stuffiness. He curses as he wipes the sweat with bare hands, “Damn it. I feel I am melting. Why don’t we change another place? It is freaking hot here.”
“My friend, Frascati’s perfect. The problem is that we cannot make it, can we?” Answered a young man next to him, followed by a roar of laughter right away. Not every man can go to the Frascati Casino after all.
Frascati was once the most extraordinary and luxurious casino in Paris and even Europe, with gamblers from the rest of Europe swarming in. Nevertheless, back in late 1837, the honorable French government decreed that all the casinos in Paris and nationwide should be shut down to “save French from the indulgence in the helpless vices”, which rendered the once bustling Richelieu Street lined with quite many casinos into bleak. Money blowing had long been a scene in the memories and conversations of them.
It can be imagined that just like the laws characterized with idealism enacted by the government, these stuff will not stop them from going to Gomorrah if they want to. Thus, very soon underground casinos are mushrooming all over Paris, most of which are illegal, and became the hotbeds of thefts and murders. Surely, the French government is beset with these problems but it can hardly do much about them. They are idealist laws, after all, which nobody will obey.
“We’re not gambling for real,” says William with obvious impatience, “Alright, let’s get down to business. Start it up and knock it off. Seriously, I can’t wait to get the hell out of here.” After he finishes, there is a solemn atmosphere within the room. Everyone is displaying a grave look, as if expecting something.
As a matter a fact, the crowd is not gambling as it appears. A middle—aged man sitting amid the people cannot help laughing at the sight of the passion and itches of several young men. He has a well—cut outline of the face. Time has left some imprints on it but has not worn out the vitality. He also has a robust figure. And judging from his square sitting posture, he definitely served in the army before.
“In this case, I will not take up too much of your time...” Then this guy reaches out a paper from his pocket and says in a serious tone, “Mr. Rouher just sent the latest news...”
Everyone seems to be lifting up as if all those frets have been long gone. In the dim candle light, they feel that they are with Eugene Rouher, a loyal advocate of Bonaparte and spiritual leader among Bonapartists. And this may shed light on the real purpose of the gathering, which is to rally up in the name of gambling. Of course, opinions vary on whether it is a gathering of justice or a conspiracy of evils.
“Louis—Philippe is doomed to an end. And the French government without humanity is to collapse. The citizens of Paris are opposing it and its previous pros are more willing to pull down this ridiculous dynasty to the ground, with a little push...” The middle—aged man reads slowly with the dim candle light. “To herald a new future, I implore you to abide by the deployment of Mr. Leon...”
Then he stops for a second and passes the letter to the people around him. After being read by everyone, the confidential letter is handed back to him. The sentences are beautiful but regretfully pointless. A participant asks in confusion what the specific measures they will be taking and the middle—aged man does not utter a word until he burns up the letter unhurriedly with the candle,
“They aren’t written in the letter. Now you have to cooperate with me, please.” For a plot, the less people know about it, the better things will be. Each one pulls his own weight and executes his own tasks, and therefore, any mistake will not lead to the exposure of the entire plan. The participants look face to face at each other and nod in concert.
“Mr. Celeon, you will be taking charge of the press as always and preparing for the printing work of fliers, which is an indispensable and important task. I do wish you’ll be equal to it.” The middle—aged man is assigning the tasks.
“No problem,” responds a participant promptly and the man continues to hand out their jobs, such as having Perott to get some help from the Paris Garrison. Then Marie takes a roll call and designates the tasks to each person, and each participant answers in promises.
“Mr. Fichtner,” Carrion mentions another name. The young man who teased William interrupts with the full last name of William, stirring dull chuckles. William Fichtner takes no offense and laughs at ease.
William Fichtner is a descendant of French nobles. Normally, such an origin will make him an orthodox reactionary and decadent class member, a typical antagonist or a cursed butcher and sworn enemy of the revolutionists. However, now William is taking a stately part in the conspiracy of the Bonapartists —— not so much a peculiar set—up of the fate as the regular and vicious joke made by the amazing history of France.
It seems that William has a fairly good character, Marie continues, smiling, “It is a very easy task for you, sir. All we need is that your grandfather can stand out and make voices at the given time. Sure, it will be better if his elder brother does so.”
William replies calmly, “Please be rest assured. I will not even sit with you without my grandfather’s consent. The thing is my granduncle will fall short of your expectations, I shall say. After all, he has maintained a rather close relationship with Duke of Dalmatie and Duke of Broglie. They are already helping us given that they have not put us in the prison.”
The current French premier, Duke of Dalmatie and former field marshal of the age of empire is called Soult, whose title of marshal, peerages, wealth and glories were conferred upon by Emperor Napoleon. But after the crowning power collapsed, he shifted his stand without effort towards the House of Bourbon and averted the liquidation of Bourbon Dynasty against the bigwigs of the former empire. While in the July Revolution of 1830, he effortlessly stood by Duke of Orleans and then made it all the way to the premiere of France and the implacable enemy—— another joke told by the French history, frequent and funny.
“In this case, everything proceeds as planned,” says Marie promptly, obviously with no further hope for the duke. Then he directs the actions towards other several guys. After that, the plotters recover the discursiveness and goes into whispers.
“My fellows, we can’t afford to waste any time, let’s...” when Mr. Marie has everything conveyed and is about to conclude the meeting, a few gunshots resound through the room, only to catch everyone in the room stunt. Almost everyone reaches to his pocket in an instant and even William is frowning and reaching to his clothes with one hand.
Only Marie remains somewhat composed, who listens carefully to the gunshots and then raises his hand to stop the panicky crowd. The gunshots spread further and even more, which means they are not the targets. People stretch their hands out of pockets as Marie tries to keep them calm.
Marie drops down his hand and dismisses the meeting, after which the plotter slides away from the secret tunnels and then scatters. The room is once again tranquil. It is almost completely dark when William Fichtner walks out of the tunnel, with the gunshots coming from afar on and off. He observes the surroundings carefully and creeps along the shadow of the buildings until turning into an alley. He relives as he sees his tilbury waiting there safe and sound.
“Jacques?” exclaims William. Upon the calling, the old groom searches for where the sound comes from. The wrinkled face squeezes a smile, “Sir, there you are.”
The gunshots never cease and the firing has been lasting for quite long time. William answers casually that he is fine and the asked what is going on with the place? Is it like policemen encircling the bandits or is there a riot nearby? What now? Another Rue Transnonain?
The old groom says seriously, “Sir, I have been waiting here as you instructed. Though I heard the gunshots, I have no idea what happened. I worry much about you, sir.”
William nods his head and does not linger for too long. He urges Jacques, who is equally anxious, to start off, and then the groom whips to get the horse moving. William is now sitting in the tilbury, appearing to be having a rest as his eyes are slightly shut, but his mind drifts far away.
He has a secret, and he tells it to no one. He is a time traveler, a German from the 21st century back to the France in the 19th century. And he was an orphan who lived on the caring of the government and his relatives in his original time and space. He went to a college like anyone else, got a job but never imagined he would come here one day.
He could not figure out how he traveled to here. It was like waking up from a sleep, only to find himself a new born to this world and restarting his new life. William was not adaptive to the whole situation and reality at the beginning, but as time went by, he learned to accept his new identity and his new family, and he then hopped on the brand—new journey with this new identity.
Now, except for the very few aspects, William has integrated himself with the times. And he is keeping an upright attitude towards life, separating himself from the indolent version of the previous life. Because he has a family here and everything that deserves his defenses and endeavors. He is now driven by the infinite energy and passion.