THE FURTHER ADVENTURES OF 'TOM' 153
this moment, and seeing this act of open rebellion ordered the corporal and his nine men to come down into the garden, whilst he himself stood on the top step to give orders.
Tom, interested in watching all these ceremonies, let his antagonist escape, and remained standing upright and immovable against the wall. Then began the inquiry. Tom was accused of introducing himself forcibly and by night into an inhabited house, and, further, of having attempted to murder a public functionary. Not being able to produce any witness to the contrary he was condemned to death, and the corporal was desired to proceed to immediate execution, and ordered his men to load their guns.
Then, amidst a profound silence throughout the crowd which had followed the soldiers into the garden, the corporal's voice alone was heard. He made his men go through the full number of evolutions, but when he came to the word ' present' he turned and looked towards the Commissioner of Police.
A murmur of pity ran through the crowd, but the Commissioner had been disturbed in the middle of his breakfast, and was inexorable. He stretched out his hand.
' Fi----' began the corporal; but before the word was
out of his mouth or the bullets out of the guns, a man hastily rushed through the crowd with a paper in his hand.
It was Alexandre Decamps wnth an order from Monsieur Cuvier for Tom's admission to the Zoological Gardens, under the special care of one of the most eminent keepers.
It came only just in time; but Tom was safe, and Alexandre led him off, amidst enthusiastic applause, to spend his remaining years in dignified retirement.