By Author [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Title [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Language
all Classics books content using ISYS

Download this book: [ ASCII ]

Look for this book on Amazon

We have new books nearly every day.
If you would like a news letter once a week or once a month
fill out this form and we will give you a summary of the books for that week or month by email.

Title: Notre-Dame De Paris
Author: Hugo, Victor
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Notre-Dame De Paris" ***

This book is indexed by ISYS Web Indexing system to allow the reader find any word or number within the document.


Also known as:


By Victor Hugo

Translated by Isabel F. Hapgood


A few years ago, while visiting or, rather, rummaging about Notre-Dame,
the author of this book found, in an obscure nook of one of the towers,
the following word, engraved by hand upon the wall:--


These Greek capitals, black with age, and quite deeply graven in
the stone, with I know not what signs peculiar to Gothic caligraphy
imprinted upon their forms and upon their attitudes, as though with the
purpose of revealing that it had been a hand of the Middle Ages which
had inscribed them there, and especially the fatal and melancholy
meaning contained in them, struck the author deeply.

He questioned himself; he sought to divine who could have been that soul
in torment which had not been willing to quit this world without leaving
this stigma of crime or unhappiness upon the brow of the ancient church.

Afterwards, the wall was whitewashed or scraped down, I know not which,
and the inscription disappeared. For it is thus that people have been in
the habit of proceeding with the marvellous churches of the Middle Ages
for the last two hundred years. Mutilations come to them from every
quarter, from within as well as from without. The priest whitewashes
them, the archdeacon scrapes them down; then the populace arrives and
demolishes them.

Thus, with the exception of the fragile memory which the author of this
book here consecrates to it, there remains to-day nothing whatever
of the mysterious word engraved within the gloomy tower of
Notre-Dame,--nothing of the destiny which it so sadly summed up. The
man who wrote that word upon the wall disappeared from the midst of the
generations of man many centuries ago; the word, in its turn, has been
effaced from the wall of the church; the church will, perhaps, itself
soon disappear from the face of the earth.

It is upon this word that this book is founded.

March, 1831.




     I.    The Grand Hall
     II.   Pierre Gringoire
     III.  Monsieur the Cardinal
     IV.   Master Jacques Coppenole
     V.    Quasimodo
     VI.   Esmeralda

     I.    From Charybdis to Scylla
     II.   The Place de Grève
     III.  Kisses for Blows
     IV.   The Inconveniences of Following a Pretty Woman through
             the Streets in the Evening
     V.    Result of the Dangers
     VI.   The Broken Jug
     VII.  A Bridal Night

     I.    Notre-Dame
     II.   A Bird’s-eye View of Paris

     I.    Good Souls
     II.   Claude Frollo
     III.  Immanis Pecoris Custos, Immanior Ipse
     IV.   The Dog and his Master
     V.    More about Claude Frollo
     VI.   Unpopularity

     I.    Abbas Beati Martini
     II.   This will Kill That

     I.    An Impartial Glance at the Ancient Magistracy
     II.   The Rat-hole
     III.  History of a Leavened Cake of Maize
     IV.   A Tear for a Drop of Water
     V.    End of the Story of the Cake



Three hundred and forty-eight years, six months, and nineteen days ago
to-day, the Parisians awoke to the sound of all the bells in the triple
circuit of the city, the university, and the town ringing a full peal.

The sixth of January, 1482, is not, however, a day of which history has
preserved the memory. There was nothing notable in the event which
thus set the bells and the bourgeois of Paris in a ferment from early
morning. It was neither an assault by the Picards nor the Burgundians,
nor a hunt led along in procession, nor a revolt of scholars in the town
of Laas, nor an entry of “our much dread lord, monsieur the king,” nor
even a pretty hanging of male and female thieves by the courts of Paris.
Neither was it the arrival, so frequent in the fifteenth century, of
some plumed and bedizened embassy. It was barely two days since the last
cavalcade of that nature, that of the Flemish ambassadors charged with
concluding the marriage between the dauphin and Marguerite of Flanders,
had made its entry into Paris, to the great annoyance of M. le Cardinal
de Bourbon, who, for the sake of pleasing the king, had been obliged
to assume an amiable mien towards this whole rustic rabble of Flemish
burgomasters, and to regale them at his Hôtel de Bourbon, with a very
“pretty morality, allegorical satire, and farce,” while a driving rain
drenched the magnificent tapestries at his door.

What put the “whole population of Paris in commotion,” as Jehan de
Troyes expresses it, on the sixth of January, was the double solemnity,
united from time immemorial, of the Epiphany and the Feast of Fools.

On that day, there was to be a bonfire on the Place de Grève, a maypole
at the Chapelle de Braque, and a mystery at the Palais de Justice. It
had been cried, to the sound of the trumpet, the preceding evening at
all the cross roads, by the provost’s men, clad in handsome, short,
sleeveless coats of violet camelot, with large white crosses upon their

So the crowd of citizens, male and female, having closed their houses
and shops, thronged from every direction, at early morn, towards some
one of the three spots designated.

Each had made his choice; one, the bonfire; another, the maypole;
another, the mystery play. It must be stated, in honor of the good sense
of the loungers of Paris, that the greater part of this crowd directed
their steps towards the bonfire, which was quite in season, or towards
the mystery play, which was to be presented in the grand hall of the
Palais de Justice (the courts of law), which was well roofed and walled;
and that the curious left the poor, scantily flowered maypole to shiver
all alone beneath the sky of January, in the cemetery of the Chapel of

The populace thronged the avenues of the law courts in particular,
because they knew that the Flemish ambassadors, who had arrived two days
previously, intended to be present at the representation of the mystery,
and at the election of the Pope of the Fools, which was also to take
place in the grand hall.

It was no easy matter on that day, to force one’s way into that grand
hall, although it was then reputed to be the largest covered enclosure
in the world (it is true that Sauval had not yet measured the grand hall
of the Château of Montargis). The palace place, encumbered with people,
offered to the curious gazers at the windows the aspect of a sea; into
which five or six streets, like so many mouths of rivers, discharged
every moment fresh floods of heads. The waves of this crowd, augmented
incessantly, dashed against the angles of the houses which projected
here and there, like so many promontories, into the irregular basin of
the place. In the centre of the lofty Gothic* façade of the palace, the
grand staircase, incessantly ascended and descended by a double current,
which, after parting on the intermediate landing-place, flowed in broad
waves along its lateral slopes,--the grand staircase, I say, trickled
incessantly into the place, like a cascade into a lake. The cries, the
laughter, the trampling of those thousands of feet, produced a great
noise and a great clamor. From time to time, this noise and clamor
redoubled; the current which drove the crowd towards the grand staircase
flowed backwards, became troubled, formed whirlpools. This was produced
by the buffet of an archer, or the horse of one of the provost’s
sergeants, which kicked to restore order; an admirable tradition which
the provostship has bequeathed to the constablery, the constablery to
the _maréchaussée_, the _maréchaussée_ to our _gendarmeri_ of Paris.

     *  The word Gothic, in the sense in which it is generally employed,
is wholly unsuitable, but wholly consecrated. Hence we accept it and
we adopt it, like all the rest of the world, to characterize the
architecture of the second half of the Middle Ages, where the ogive is
the principle which succeeds the architecture of the first period, of
which the semi-circle is the father.

Thousands of good, calm, bourgeois faces thronged the windows, the
doors, the dormer windows, the roofs, gazing at the palace, gazing
at the populace, and asking nothing more; for many Parisians content
themselves with the spectacle of the spectators, and a wall behind which
something is going on becomes at once, for us, a very curious thing

If it could be granted to us, the men of 1830, to mingle in thought
with those Parisians of the fifteenth century, and to enter with them,
jostled, elbowed, pulled about, into that immense hall of the palace,
which was so cramped on that sixth of January, 1482, the spectacle would
not be devoid of either interest or charm, and we should have about us
only things that were so old that they would seem new.

With the reader’s consent, we will endeavor to retrace in thought,
the impression which he would have experienced in company with us
on crossing the threshold of that grand hall, in the midst of that
tumultuous crowd in surcoats, short, sleeveless jackets, and doublets.

And, first of all, there is a buzzing in the ears, a dazzlement in
the eyes. Above our heads is a double ogive vault, panelled with wood
carving, painted azure, and sown with golden fleurs-de-lis; beneath
our feet a pavement of black and white marble, alternating. A few paces
distant, an enormous pillar, then another, then another; seven pillars
in all, down the length of the hall, sustaining the spring of the arches
of the double vault, in the centre of its width. Around four of the
pillars, stalls of merchants, all sparkling with glass and tinsel;
around the last three, benches of oak, worn and polished by the trunk
hose of the litigants, and the robes of the attorneys. Around the hall,
along the lofty wall, between the doors, between the windows, between
the pillars, the interminable row of all the kings of France, from
Pharamond down: the lazy kings, with pendent arms and downcast eyes;
the valiant and combative kings, with heads and arms raised boldly
heavenward. Then in the long, pointed windows, glass of a thousand hues;
at the wide entrances to the hall, rich doors, finely sculptured; and
all, the vaults, pillars, walls, jambs, panelling, doors, statues,
covered from top to bottom with a splendid blue and gold illumination,
which, a trifle tarnished at the epoch when we behold it, had almost
entirely disappeared beneath dust and spiders in the year of grace,
1549, when du Breul still admired it from tradition.

Let the reader picture to himself now, this immense, oblong hall,
illuminated by the pallid light of a January day, invaded by a motley
and noisy throng which drifts along the walls, and eddies round the
seven pillars, and he will have a confused idea of the whole effect of
the picture, whose curious details we shall make an effort to indicate
with more precision.

It is certain, that if Ravaillac had not assassinated Henri IV., there
would have been no documents in the trial of Ravaillac deposited in the
clerk’s office of the Palais de Justice, no accomplices interested in
causing the said documents to disappear; hence, no incendiaries obliged,
for lack of better means, to burn the clerk’s office in order to burn
the documents, and to burn the Palais de Justice in order to burn the
clerk’s office; consequently, in short, no conflagration in 1618. The
old Palais would be standing still, with its ancient grand hall; I
should be able to say to the reader, “Go and look at it,” and we should
thus both escape the necessity,--I of making, and he of reading, a
description of it, such as it is. Which demonstrates a new truth: that
great events have incalculable results.

It is true that it may be quite possible, in the first place, that
Ravaillac had no accomplices; and in the second, that if he had any,
they were in no way connected with the fire of 1618. Two other very
plausible explanations exist: First, the great flaming star, a foot
broad, and a cubit high, which fell from heaven, as every one knows,
upon the law courts, after midnight on the seventh of March; second,
Théophile’s quatrain,--

    “Sure, ‘twas but a sorry game
    When at Paris, Dame Justice,
    Through having eaten too much spice,
    Set the palace all aflame.”

Whatever may be thought of this triple explanation, political, physical,
and poetical, of the burning of the law courts in 1618, the unfortunate
fact of the fire is certain. Very little to-day remains, thanks to this
catastrophe,--thanks, above all, to the successive restorations which
have completed what it spared,--very little remains of that first
dwelling of the kings of France,--of that elder palace of the Louvre,
already so old in the time of Philip the Handsome, that they sought
there for the traces of the magnificent buildings erected by King Robert
and described by Helgaldus. Nearly everything has disappeared. What has
become of the chamber of the chancellery, where Saint Louis consummated
his marriage? the garden where he administered justice, “clad in a
coat of camelot, a surcoat of linsey-woolsey, without sleeves, and a
sur-mantle of black sandal, as he lay upon the carpet with Joinville?”
 Where is the chamber of the Emperor Sigismond? and that of Charles IV.?
that of Jean the Landless? Where is the staircase, from which Charles
VI. promulgated his edict of pardon? the slab where Marcel cut the
throats of Robert de Clermont and the Marshal of Champagne, in the
presence of the dauphin? the wicket where the bulls of Pope Benedict
were torn, and whence those who had brought them departed decked out, in
derision, in copes and mitres, and making an apology through all Paris?
and the grand hall, with its gilding, its azure, its statues, its
pointed arches, its pillars, its immense vault, all fretted with
carvings? and the gilded chamber? and the stone lion, which stood at the
door, with lowered head and tail between his legs, like the lions on the
throne of Solomon, in the humiliated attitude which befits force in the
presence of justice? and the beautiful doors? and the stained glass?
and the chased ironwork, which drove Biscornette to despair? and the
delicate woodwork of Hancy? What has time, what have men done with these
marvels? What have they given us in return for all this Gallic history,
for all this Gothic art? The heavy flattened arches of M. de Brosse,
that awkward architect of the Saint-Gervais portal. So much for art;
and, as for history, we have the gossiping reminiscences of the great
pillar, still ringing with the tattle of the Patru.

It is not much. Let us return to the veritable grand hall of the
veritable old palace. The two extremities of this gigantic parallelogram
were occupied, the one by the famous marble table, so long, so broad,
and so thick that, as the ancient land rolls--in a style that would have
given Gargantua an appetite--say, “such a slice of marble as was never
beheld in the world”; the other by the chapel where Louis XI. had
himself sculptured on his knees before the Virgin, and whither he caused
to be brought, without heeding the two gaps thus made in the row of
royal statues, the statues of Charlemagne and of Saint Louis, two saints
whom he supposed to be great in favor in heaven, as kings of France.
This chapel, quite new, having been built only six years, was entirely
in that charming taste of delicate architecture, of marvellous
sculpture, of fine and deep chasing, which marks with us the end of
the Gothic era, and which is perpetuated to about the middle of the
sixteenth century in the fairylike fancies of the Renaissance. The
little open-work rose window, pierced above the portal, was, in
particular, a masterpiece of lightness and grace; one would have
pronounced it a star of lace.

In the middle of the hall, opposite the great door, a platform of gold
brocade, placed against the wall, a special entrance to which had been
effected through a window in the corridor of the gold chamber, had
been erected for the Flemish emissaries and the other great personages
invited to the presentation of the mystery play.

It was upon the marble table that the mystery was to be enacted, as
usual. It had been arranged for the purpose, early in the morning;
its rich slabs of marble, all scratched by the heels of law clerks,
supported a cage of carpenter’s work of considerable height, the upper
surface of which, within view of the whole hall, was to serve as the
theatre, and whose interior, masked by tapestries, was to take the place
of dressing-rooms for the personages of the piece. A ladder, naively
placed on the outside, was to serve as means of communication between
the dressing-room and the stage, and lend its rude rungs to entrances as
well as to exits. There was no personage, however unexpected, no sudden
change, no theatrical effect, which was not obliged to mount that
ladder. Innocent and venerable infancy of art and contrivances!

Four of the bailiff of the palace’s sergeants, perfunctory guardians of
all the pleasures of the people, on days of festival as well as on days
of execution, stood at the four corners of the marble table.

The piece was only to begin with the twelfth stroke of the great palace
clock sounding midday. It was very late, no doubt, for a theatrical
representation, but they had been obliged to fix the hour to suit the
convenience of the ambassadors.

Now, this whole multitude had been waiting since morning. A goodly
number of curious, good people had been shivering since daybreak before
the grand staircase of the palace; some even affirmed that they had
passed the night across the threshold of the great door, in order to
make sure that they should be the first to pass in. The crowd grew more
dense every moment, and, like water, which rises above its normal level,
began to mount along the walls, to swell around the pillars, to spread
out on the entablatures, on the cornices, on the window-sills, on
all the salient points of the architecture, on all the reliefs of the
sculpture. Hence, discomfort, impatience, weariness, the liberty of a
day of cynicism and folly, the quarrels which break forth for all sorts
of causes--a pointed elbow, an iron-shod shoe, the fatigue of long
waiting--had already, long before the hour appointed for the arrival
of the ambassadors, imparted a harsh and bitter accent to the clamor of
these people who were shut in, fitted into each other, pressed, trampled
upon, stifled. Nothing was to be heard but imprecations on the Flemish,
the provost of the merchants, the Cardinal de Bourbon, the bailiff of
the courts, Madame Marguerite of Austria, the sergeants with their rods,
the cold, the heat, the bad weather, the Bishop of Paris, the Pope of
the Fools, the pillars, the statues, that closed door, that open window;
all to the vast amusement of a band of scholars and lackeys scattered
through the mass, who mingled with all this discontent their teasing
remarks, and their malicious suggestions, and pricked the general bad
temper with a pin, so to speak.

Among the rest there was a group of those merry imps, who, after
smashing the glass in a window, had seated themselves hardily on
the entablature, and from that point despatched their gaze and their
railleries both within and without, upon the throng in the hall, and the
throng upon the Place. It was easy to see, from their parodied gestures,
their ringing laughter, the bantering appeals which they exchanged with
their comrades, from one end of the hall to the other, that these
young clerks did not share the weariness and fatigue of the rest of the
spectators, and that they understood very well the art of extracting,
for their own private diversion from that which they had under their
eyes, a spectacle which made them await the other with patience.

“Upon my soul, so it’s you, ‘Joannes Frollo de Molendino!’” cried one
of them, to a sort of little, light-haired imp, with a well-favored and
malign countenance, clinging to the acanthus leaves of a capital; “you
are well named John of the Mill, for your two arms and your two legs
have the air of four wings fluttering on the breeze. How long have you
been here?”

“By the mercy of the devil,” retorted Joannes Frollo, “these four
hours and more; and I hope that they will be reckoned to my credit in
purgatory. I heard the eight singers of the King of Sicily intone the
first verse of seven o’clock mass in the Sainte-Chapelle.”

“Fine singers!” replied the other, “with voices even more pointed than
their caps! Before founding a mass for Monsieur Saint John, the king
should have inquired whether Monsieur Saint John likes Latin droned out
in a Provençal accent.”

“He did it for the sake of employing those accursed singers of the King
of Sicily!” cried an old woman sharply from among the crowd beneath the
window. “I just put it to you! A thousand _livres parisi_ for a mass!
and out of the tax on sea fish in the markets of Paris, to boot!”

“Peace, old crone,” said a tall, grave person, stopping up his nose on
the side towards the fishwife; “a mass had to be founded. Would you wish
the king to fall ill again?”

“Bravely spoken, Sire Gilles Lecornu, master furrier of king’s robes!”
 cried the little student, clinging to the capital.

A shout of laughter from all the students greeted the unlucky name of
the poor furrier of the king’s robes.

“Lecornu! Gilles Lecornu!” said some.

“_Cornutus et hirsutus_, horned and hairy,” another went on.

“He! of course,” continued the small imp on the capital, “What are they
laughing at? An honorable man is Gilles Lecornu, brother of Master Jehan
Lecornu, provost of the king’s house, son of Master Mahiet Lecornu,
first porter of the Bois de Vincennes,--all bourgeois of Paris, all
married, from father to son.”

The gayety redoubled. The big furrier, without uttering a word in reply,
tried to escape all the eyes riveted upon him from all sides; but
he perspired and panted in vain; like a wedge entering the wood, his
efforts served only to bury still more deeply in the shoulders of his
neighbors, his large, apoplectic face, purple with spite and rage.

At length one of these, as fat, short, and venerable as himself, came to
his rescue.

“Abomination! scholars addressing a bourgeois in that fashion in my day
would have been flogged with a fagot, which would have afterwards been
used to burn them.”

The whole band burst into laughter.

“Holà hé! who is scolding so? Who is that screech owl of evil fortune?”

“Hold, I know him” said one of them; “‘tis Master Andry Musnier.”

“Because he is one of the four sworn booksellers of the university!”
 said the other.

“Everything goes by fours in that shop,” cried a third; “the four
nations, the four faculties, the four feasts, the four procurators, the
four electors, the four booksellers.”

“Well,” began Jean Frollo once more, “we must play the devil with
them.” *

     *  _Faire le diable a quatre_.

“Musnier, we’ll burn your books.”

“Musnier, we’ll beat your lackeys.”

“Musnier, we’ll kiss your wife.”

“That fine, big Mademoiselle Oudarde.”

“Who is as fresh and as gay as though she were a widow.”

“Devil take you!” growled Master Andry Musnier.

“Master Andry,” pursued Jean Jehan, still clinging to his capital, “hold
your tongue, or I’ll drop on your head!”

Master Andry raised his eyes, seemed to measure in an instant the height
of the pillar, the weight of the scamp, mentally multiplied that weight
by the square of the velocity and remained silent.

Jehan, master of the field of battle, pursued triumphantly:

“That’s what I’ll do, even if I am the brother of an archdeacon!”

“Fine gentry are our people of the university, not to have caused our
privileges to be respected on such a day as this! However, there is a
maypole and a bonfire in the town; a mystery, Pope of the Fools, and
Flemish ambassadors in the city; and, at the university, nothing!”

“Nevertheless, the Place Maubert is sufficiently large!” interposed one
of the clerks established on the window-sill.

“Down with the rector, the electors, and the procurators!” cried

“We must have a bonfire this evening in the Champ-Gaillard,” went on the
other, “made of Master Andry’s books.”

“And the desks of the scribes!” added his neighbor.

“And the beadles’ wands!”

“And the spittoons of the deans!”

“And the cupboards of the procurators!”

“And the hutches of the electors!”

“And the stools of the rector!”

“Down with them!” put in little Jehan, as counterpoint; “down with
Master Andry, the beadles and the scribes; the theologians, the doctors
and the decretists; the procurators, the electors and the rector!”

“The end of the world has come!,’ muttered Master Andry, stopping up his

“By the way, there’s the rector! see, he is passing through the Place,”
 cried one of those in the window.

Each rivalled his neighbor in his haste to turn towards the Place.

“Is it really our venerable rector, Master Thibaut?” demanded Jehan
Frollo du Moulin, who, as he was clinging to one of the inner pillars,
could not see what was going on outside.

“Yes, yes,” replied all the others, “it is really he, Master Thibaut,
the rector.”

It was, in fact, the rector and all the dignitaries of the university,
who were marching in procession in front of the embassy, and at that
moment traversing the Place. The students crowded into the window,
saluted them as they passed with sarcasms and ironical applause. The
rector, who was walking at the head of his company, had to support the
first broadside; it was severe.

“Good day, monsieur le recteur! Holà hé! good day there!”

“How does he manage to be here, the old gambler? Has he abandoned his

“How he trots along on his mule! her ears are not so long as his!”

“Holà hé! good day, monsieur le recteur Thibaut! _Tybalde aleator_! Old
fool! old gambler!”

“God preserve you! Did you throw double six often last night?”

“Oh! what a decrepit face, livid and haggard and drawn with the love of
gambling and of dice!”

“Where are you bound for in that fashion, Thibaut, _Tybalde ad dados_,
with your back turned to the university, and trotting towards the town?”

“He is on his way, no doubt, to seek a lodging in the Rue Thibautodé?” *
cried Jehan du M. Moulin.

     *  _Thibaut au des_,--Thibaut of the dice.

The entire band repeated this quip in a voice of thunder, clapping their
hands furiously.

“You are going to seek a lodging in the Rue Thibautodé, are you not,
monsieur le recteur, gamester on the side of the devil?”

Then came the turns of the other dignitaries.

“Down with the beadles! down with the mace-bearers!”

“Tell me, Robin Pouissepain, who is that yonder?”

“He is Gilbert de Suilly, _Gilbertus de Soliaco_, the chancellor of the
College of Autun.”

“Hold on, here’s my shoe; you are better placed than I, fling it in his

“_Saturnalitias mittimus ecce nuces_.”

“Down with the six theologians, with their white surplices!”

“Are those the theologians? I thought they were the white geese given by
Sainte-Geneviève to the city, for the fief of Roogny.”

“Down with the doctors!”

“Down with the cardinal disputations, and quibblers!”

“My cap to you, Chancellor of Sainte-Geneviève! You have done me a
wrong. ‘Tis true; he gave my place in the nation of Normandy to little
Ascanio Falzapada, who comes from the province of Bourges, since he is
an Italian.”

“That is an injustice,” said all the scholars. “Down with the Chancellor
of Sainte-Geneviève!”

“Ho hé! Master Joachim de Ladehors! Ho hé! Louis Dahuille! Ho he Lambert

“May the devil stifle the procurator of the German nation!”

“And the chaplains of the Sainte-Chapelle, with their gray _amices; cum
tunices grisis_!”

“_Seu de pellibus grisis fourratis_!”

“Holà hé! Masters of Arts! All the beautiful black copes! all the fine
red copes!”

“They make a fine tail for the rector.”

“One would say that he was a Doge of Venice on his way to his bridal
with the sea.”

“Say, Jehan! here are the canons of Sainte-Geneviève!”

“To the deuce with the whole set of canons!”

“Abbé Claude Choart! Doctor Claude Choart! Are you in search of Marie la

“She is in the Rue de Glatigny.”

“She is making the bed of the king of the debauchees. She is paying her
four deniers* _quatuor denarios_.”

     *  An old French coin, equal to the two hundred and
fortieth part of a pound.

“_Aut unum bombum_.”

“Would you like to have her pay you in the face?”

“Comrades! Master Simon Sanguin, the Elector of Picardy, with his wife
on the crupper!”

“_Post equitem seclet atra eura_--behind the horseman sits black care.”

“Courage, Master Simon!”

“Good day, Mister Elector!”

“Good night, Madame Electress!”

“How happy they are to see all that!” sighed Joannes de Molendino, still
perched in the foliage of his capital.

Meanwhile, the sworn bookseller of the university, Master Andry Musnier,
was inclining his ear to the furrier of the king’s robes, Master Gilles

“I tell you, sir, that the end of the world has come. No one has ever
beheld such outbreaks among the students! It is the accursed inventions
of this century that are ruining everything,--artilleries, bombards,
and, above all, printing, that other German pest. No more manuscripts,
no more books! printing will kill bookselling. It is the end of the
world that is drawing nigh.”

“I see that plainly, from the progress of velvet stuffs,” said the

At this moment, midday sounded.

“Ha!” exclaimed the entire crowd, in one voice.

The scholars held their peace. Then a great hurly-burly ensued; a vast
movement of feet, hands, and heads; a general outbreak of coughs and
handkerchiefs; each one arranged himself, assumed his post, raised
himself up, and grouped himself. Then came a great silence; all necks
remained outstretched, all mouths remained open, all glances were
directed towards the marble table. Nothing made its appearance there.
The bailiff’s four sergeants were still there, stiff, motionless, as
painted statues. All eyes turned to the estrade reserved for the Flemish
envoys. The door remained closed, the platform empty. This crowd had
been waiting since daybreak for three things: noonday, the embassy from
Flanders, the mystery play. Noonday alone had arrived on time.

On this occasion, it was too much.

They waited one, two, three, five minutes, a quarter of an hour; nothing
came. The dais remained empty, the theatre dumb. In the meantime, wrath
had succeeded to impatience. Irritated words circulated in a low tone,
still, it is true. “The mystery! the mystery!” they murmured, in hollow
voices. Heads began to ferment. A tempest, which was only rumbling in
the distance as yet, was floating on the surface of this crowd. It was
Jehan du Moulin who struck the first spark from it.

“The mystery, and to the devil with the Flemings!” he exclaimed at the
full force of his lungs, twining like a serpent around his pillar.

The crowd clapped their hands.

“The mystery!” it repeated, “and may all the devils take Flanders!”

“We must have the mystery instantly,” resumed the student; “or else,
my advice is that we should hang the bailiff of the courts, by way of a
morality and a comedy.”

“Well said,” cried the people, “and let us begin the hanging with his

A grand acclamation followed. The four poor fellows began to turn pale,
and to exchange glances. The crowd hurled itself towards them, and they
already beheld the frail wooden railing, which separated them from it,
giving way and bending before the pressure of the throng.

It was a critical moment.

“To the sack, to the sack!” rose the cry on all sides.

At that moment, the tapestry of the dressing-room, which we have
described above, was raised, and afforded passage to a personage, the
mere sight of whom suddenly stopped the crowd, and changed its wrath
into curiosity as by enchantment.

“Silence! silence!”

The personage, but little reassured, and trembling in every limb,
advanced to the edge of the marble table with a vast amount of bows,
which, in proportion as he drew nearer, more and more resembled

In the meanwhile, tranquillity had gradually been restored. All that
remained was that slight murmur which always rises above the silence of
a crowd.

“Messieurs the bourgeois,” said he, “and mesdemoiselles the
_bourgeoises_, we shall have the honor of declaiming and representing,
before his eminence, monsieur the cardinal, a very beautiful morality
which has for its title, ‘The Good Judgment of Madame the Virgin Mary.’
I am to play Jupiter. His eminence is, at this moment, escorting the
very honorable embassy of the Duke of Austria; which is detained,
at present, listening to the harangue of monsieur the rector of the
university, at the gate Baudets. As soon as his illustrious eminence,
the cardinal, arrives, we will begin.”

It is certain, that nothing less than the intervention of Jupiter was
required to save the four unfortunate sergeants of the bailiff of the
courts. If we had the happiness of having invented this very veracious
tale, and of being, in consequence, responsible for it before our Lady
Criticism, it is not against us that the classic precept, _Nec deus
intersit_, could be invoked. Moreover, the costume of Seigneur Jupiter,
was very handsome, and contributed not a little towards calming the
crowd, by attracting all its attention. Jupiter was clad in a coat of
mail, covered with black velvet, with gilt nails; and had it not been
for the rouge, and the huge red beard, each of which covered one-half of
his face,--had it not been for the roll of gilded cardboard, spangled,
and all bristling with strips of tinsel, which he held in his hand, and
in which the eyes of the initiated easily recognized thunderbolts,--had
not his feet been flesh-colored, and banded with ribbons in Greek
fashion, he might have borne comparison, so far as the severity of his
mien was concerned, with a Breton archer from the guard of Monsieur de


Nevertheless, as be harangued them, the satisfaction and admiration
unanimously excited by his costume were dissipated by his words; and
when he reached that untoward conclusion: “As soon as his illustrious
eminence, the cardinal, arrives, we will begin,” his voice was drowned
in a thunder of hooting.

“Begin instantly! The mystery! the mystery immediately!” shrieked the
people. And above all the voices, that of Johannes de Molendino
was audible, piercing the uproar like the fife’s derisive serenade:
“Commence instantly!” yelped the scholar.

“Down with Jupiter and the Cardinal de Bourbon!” vociferated Robin
Poussepain and the other clerks perched in the window.

“The morality this very instant!” repeated the crowd; “this very
instant! the sack and the rope for the comedians, and the cardinal!”

Poor Jupiter, haggard, frightened, pale beneath his rouge, dropped his
thunderbolt, took his cap in his hand; then he bowed and trembled
and stammered: “His eminence--the ambassadors--Madame Marguerite of
Flanders--.” He did not know what to say. In truth, he was afraid of
being hung.

Hung by the populace for waiting, hung by the cardinal for not having
waited, he saw between the two dilemmas only an abyss; that is to say, a

Luckily, some one came to rescue him from his embarrassment, and assume
the responsibility.

An individual who was standing beyond the railing, in the free space
around the marble table, and whom no one had yet caught sight of, since
his long, thin body was completely sheltered from every visual ray
by the diameter of the pillar against which he was leaning; this
individual, we say, tall, gaunt, pallid, blond, still young, although
already wrinkled about the brow and cheeks, with brilliant eyes and a
smiling mouth, clad in garments of black serge, worn and shining with
age, approached the marble table, and made a sign to the poor sufferer.
But the other was so confused that he did not see him. The new comer
advanced another step.

“Jupiter,” said he, “my dear Jupiter!”

The other did not hear.

At last, the tall blond, driven out of patience, shrieked almost in his

“Michel Giborne!”

“Who calls me?” said Jupiter, as though awakened with a start.

“I,” replied the person clad in black.

“Ah!” said Jupiter.

“Begin at once,” went on the other. “Satisfy the populace; I undertake
to appease the bailiff, who will appease monsieur the cardinal.”

Jupiter breathed once more.

“Messeigneurs the bourgeois,” he cried, at the top of his lungs to the
crowd, which continued to hoot him, “we are going to begin at once.”

“_Evoe Jupiter! Plaudite cives_! All hail, Jupiter! Applaud, citizens!”
 shouted the scholars.

“Noel! Noel! good, good,” shouted the people.

The hand clapping was deafening, and Jupiter had already withdrawn under
his tapestry, while the hall still trembled with acclamations.

In the meanwhile, the personage who had so magically turned the tempest
into dead calm, as our old and dear Corneille puts it, had modestly
retreated to the half-shadow of his pillar, and would, no doubt, have
remained invisible there, motionless, and mute as before, had he not
been plucked by the sleeve by two young women, who, standing in the
front row of the spectators, had noticed his colloquy with Michel

“Master,” said one of them, making him a sign to approach. “Hold your
tongue, my dear Liénarde,” said her neighbor, pretty, fresh, and very
brave, in consequence of being dressed up in her best attire. “He is not
a clerk, he is a layman; you must not say master to him, but messire.”

“Messire,” said Liénarde.

The stranger approached the railing.

“What would you have of me, damsels?” he asked, with alacrity.

“Oh! nothing,” replied Liénarde, in great confusion; “it is my neighbor,
Gisquette la Gencienne, who wishes to speak with you.”

“Not so,” replied Gisquette, blushing; “it was Liénarde who called you
master; I only told her to say messire.”

The two young girls dropped their eyes. The man, who asked nothing
better than to enter into conversation, looked at them with a smile.

“So you have nothing to say to me, damsels?”

“Oh! nothing at all,” replied Gisquette.

“Nothing,” said Liénarde.

The tall, light-haired young man retreated a step; but the two curious
maidens had no mind to let slip their prize.

“Messire,” said Gisquette, with the impetuosity of an open sluice, or
of a woman who has made up her mind, “do you know that soldier who is to
play the part of Madame the Virgin in the mystery?”

“You mean the part of Jupiter?” replied the stranger.

“Hé! yes,” said Liénarde, “isn’t she stupid? So you know Jupiter?”

“Michel Giborne?” replied the unknown; “yes, madam.”

“He has a fine beard!” said Liénarde.

“Will what they are about to say here be fine?” inquired Gisquette,

“Very fine, mademoiselle,” replied the unknown, without the slightest

“What is it to be?” said Liénarde.

“‘The Good Judgment of Madame the Virgin,’--a morality, if you please,

“Ah! that makes a difference,” responded Liénarde.

A brief silence ensued--broken by the stranger.

“It is a perfectly new morality, and one which has never yet been

“Then it is not the same one,” said Gisquette, “that was given two years
ago, on the day of the entrance of monsieur the legate, and where three
handsome maids played the parts--”

“Of sirens,” said Liénarde.

“And all naked,” added the young man.

Liénarde lowered her eyes modestly. Gisquette glanced at her and did the
same. He continued, with a smile,--

“It was a very pleasant thing to see. To-day it is a morality made
expressly for Madame the Demoiselle of Flanders.”

“Will they sing shepherd songs?” inquired Gisquette.

“Fie!” said the stranger, “in a morality? you must not confound styles.
If it were a farce, well and good.”

“That is a pity,” resumed Gisquette. “That day, at the Ponceau Fountain,
there were wild men and women, who fought and assumed many aspects, as
they sang little motets and bergerettes.”

“That which is suitable for a legate,” returned the stranger, with a
good deal of dryness, “is not suitable for a princess.”

“And beside them,” resumed Liénarde, “played many brass instruments,
making great melodies.”

“And for the refreshment of the passers-by,” continued Gisquette, “the
fountain spouted through three mouths, wine, milk, and hippocrass, of
which every one drank who wished.”

“And a little below the Ponceau, at the Trinity,” pursued Liénarde,
“there was a passion performed, and without any speaking.”

“How well I remember that!” exclaimed Gisquette; “God on the cross,
and the two thieves on the right and the left.” Here the young gossips,
growing warm at the memory of the entrance of monsieur the legate, both
began to talk at once.

“And, further on, at the Painters’ Gate, there were other personages,
very richly clad.”

“And at the fountain of Saint-Innocent, that huntsman, who was chasing a
hind with great clamor of dogs and hunting-horns.”

“And, at the Paris slaughter-houses, stages, representing the fortress
of Dieppe!”

“And when the legate passed, you remember, Gisquette? they made the
assault, and the English all had their throats cut.”

“And against the gate of the Châtelet, there were very fine personages!”

“And on the Port au Change, which was all draped above!”

“And when the legate passed, they let fly on the bridge more than two
hundred sorts of birds; wasn’t it beautiful, Liénarde?”

“It will be better to-day,” finally resumed their interlocutor, who
seemed to listen to them with impatience.

“Do you promise us that this mystery will be fine?” said Gisquette.

“Without doubt,” he replied; then he added, with a certain emphasis,--“I
am the author of it, damsels.”

“Truly?” said the young girls, quite taken aback.

“Truly!” replied the poet, bridling a little; “that is, to say, there
are two of us; Jehan Marchand, who has sawed the planks and erected
the framework of the theatre and the woodwork; and I, who have made the
piece. My name is Pierre Gringoire.”

The author of the “Cid” could not have said “Pierre Corneille” with more

Our readers have been able to observe, that a certain amount of time
must have already elapsed from the moment when Jupiter had retired
beneath the tapestry to the instant when the author of the new morality
had thus abruptly revealed himself to the innocent admiration of
Gisquette and Liénarde. Remarkable fact: that whole crowd, so tumultuous
but a few moments before, now waited amiably on the word of the
comedian; which proves the eternal truth, still experienced every day in
our theatres, that the best means of making the public wait patiently is
to assure them that one is about to begin instantly.

However, scholar Johannes had not fallen asleep.

“Holà hé!” he shouted suddenly, in the midst of the peaceable waiting
which had followed the tumult. “Jupiter, Madame the Virgin, buffoons of
the devil! are you jeering at us? The piece! the piece! commence or we
will commence again!”

This was all that was needed.

The music of high and low instruments immediately became audible from
the interior of the stage; the tapestry was raised; four personages,
in motley attire and painted faces, emerged from it, climbed the steep
ladder of the theatre, and, arrived upon the upper platform, arranged
themselves in a line before the public, whom they saluted with profound
reverences; then the symphony ceased.

The mystery was about to begin.

The four personages, after having reaped a rich reward of applause for
their reverences, began, in the midst of profound silence, a prologue,
which we gladly spare the reader. Moreover, as happens in our own day,
the public was more occupied with the costumes that the actors wore than
with the roles that they were enacting; and, in truth, they were right.
All four were dressed in parti-colored robes of yellow and white, which
were distinguished from each other only by the nature of the stuff; the
first was of gold and silver brocade; the second, of silk; the third, of
wool; the fourth, of linen. The first of these personages carried in his
right hand a sword; the second, two golden keys; the third, a pair of
scales; the fourth, a spade: and, in order to aid sluggish minds
which would not have seen clearly through the transparency of these
attributes, there was to be read, in large, black letters, on the hem of
the robe of brocade, MY NAME IS NOBILITY; on the hem of the silken
robe, MY NAME IS CLERGY; on the hem of the woolen robe, MY NAME IS
MERCHANDISE; on the hem of the linen robe, MY NAME IS LABOR. The sex
of the two male characters was briefly indicated to every judicious
spectator, by their shorter robes, and by the cap which they wore on
their heads; while the two female characters, less briefly clad, were
covered with hoods.

Much ill-will would also have been required, not to comprehend, through
the medium of the poetry of the prologue, that Labor was wedded to
Merchandise, and Clergy to Nobility, and that the two happy couples
possessed in common a magnificent golden dolphin, which they desired
to adjudge to the fairest only. So they were roaming about the world
seeking and searching for this beauty, and, after having successively
rejected the Queen of Golconda, the Princess of Trebizonde, the daughter
of the Grand Khan of Tartary, etc., Labor and Clergy, Nobility and
Merchandise, had come to rest upon the marble table of the Palais de
Justice, and to utter, in the presence of the honest audience, as many
sentences and maxims as could then be dispensed at the Faculty of Arts,
at examinations, sophisms, determinances, figures, and acts, where the
masters took their degrees.

All this was, in fact, very fine.

Nevertheless, in that throng, upon which the four allegories vied with
each other in pouring out floods of metaphors, there was no ear more
attentive, no heart that palpitated more, not an eye was more haggard,
no neck more outstretched, than the eye, the ear, the neck, and the
heart of the author, of the poet, of that brave Pierre Gringoire, who
had not been able to resist, a moment before, the joy of telling his
name to two pretty girls. He had retreated a few paces from them, behind
his pillar, and there he listened, looked, enjoyed. The amiable applause
which had greeted the beginning of his prologue was still echoing in
his bosom, and he was completely absorbed in that species of ecstatic
contemplation with which an author beholds his ideas fall, one by one,
from the mouth of the actor into the vast silence of the audience.
Worthy Pierre Gringoire!

It pains us to say it, but this first ecstasy was speedily disturbed.
Hardly had Gringoire raised this intoxicating cup of joy and triumph to
his lips, when a drop of bitterness was mingled with it.

A tattered mendicant, who could not collect any coins, lost as he was
in the midst of the crowd, and who had not probably found sufficient
indemnity in the pockets of his neighbors, had hit upon the idea of
perching himself upon some conspicuous point, in order to attract looks
and alms. He had, accordingly, hoisted himself, during the first verses
of the prologue, with the aid of the pillars of the reserve gallery, to
the cornice which ran round the balustrade at its lower edge; and there
he had seated himself, soliciting the attention and the pity of the
multitude, with his rags and a hideous sore which covered his right arm.
However, he uttered not a word.

The silence which he preserved allowed the prologue to proceed without
hindrance, and no perceptible disorder would have ensued, if ill-luck
had not willed that the scholar Joannes should catch sight, from the
heights of his pillar, of the mendicant and his grimaces. A wild fit of
laughter took possession of the young scamp, who, without caring that he
was interrupting the spectacle, and disturbing the universal composure,
shouted boldly,--

“Look! see that sickly creature asking alms!”

Any one who has thrown a stone into a frog pond, or fired a shot into
a covey of birds, can form an idea of the effect produced by these
incongruous words, in the midst of the general attention. It made
Gringoire shudder as though it had been an electric shock. The prologue
stopped short, and all heads turned tumultuously towards the beggar,
who, far from being disconcerted by this, saw, in this incident, a good
opportunity for reaping his harvest, and who began to whine in a doleful
way, half closing his eyes the while,--“Charity, please!”

“Well--upon my soul,” resumed Joannes, “it’s Clopin Trouillefou! Holà
he, my friend, did your sore bother you on the leg, that you have
transferred it to your arm?” So saying, with the dexterity of a monkey,
he flung a bit of silver into the gray felt hat which the beggar held
in his ailing arm. The mendicant received both the alms and the sarcasm
without wincing, and continued, in lamentable tones,--

“Charity, please!”

This episode considerably distracted the attention of the audience; and
a goodly number of spectators, among them Robin Poussepain, and all the
clerks at their head, gayly applauded this eccentric duet, which the
scholar, with his shrill voice, and the mendicant had just improvised in
the middle of the prologue.

Gringoire was highly displeased. On recovering from his first
stupefaction, he bestirred himself to shout, to the four personages on
the stage, “Go on! What the devil!--go on!”--without even deigning to
cast a glance of disdain upon the two interrupters.

At that moment, he felt some one pluck at the hem of his surtout;
he turned round, and not without ill-humor, and found considerable
difficulty in smiling; but he was obliged to do so, nevertheless. It
was the pretty arm of Gisquette la Gencienne, which, passed through the
railing, was soliciting his attention in this manner.

“Monsieur,” said the young girl, “are they going to continue?”

“Of course,” replied Gringoire, a good deal shocked by the question.

“In that case, messire,” she resumed, “would you have the courtesy to
explain to me--”

“What they are about to say?” interrupted Gringoire. “Well, listen.”

“No,” said Gisquette, “but what they have said so far.”

Gringoire started, like a man whose wound has been probed to the quick.

“A plague on the stupid and dull-witted little girl!” he muttered,
between his teeth.

From that moment forth, Gisquette was nothing to him.

In the meantime, the actors had obeyed his injunction, and the public,
seeing that they were beginning to speak again, began once more to
listen, not without having lost many beauties in the sort of soldered
joint which was formed between the two portions of the piece thus
abruptly cut short. Gringoire commented on it bitterly to himself.
Nevertheless, tranquillity was gradually restored, the scholar held his
peace, the mendicant counted over some coins in his hat, and the piece
resumed the upper hand.

It was, in fact, a very fine work, and one which, as it seems to us,
might be put to use to-day, by the aid of a little rearrangement. The
exposition, rather long and rather empty, that is to say, according to
the rules, was simple; and Gringoire, in the candid sanctuary of his own
conscience, admired its clearness. As the reader may surmise, the four
allegorical personages were somewhat weary with having traversed the
three sections of the world, without having found suitable opportunity
for getting rid of their golden dolphin. Thereupon a eulogy of the
marvellous fish, with a thousand delicate allusions to the young
betrothed of Marguerite of Flanders, then sadly cloistered in at
Amboise, and without a suspicion that Labor and Clergy, Nobility and
Merchandise had just made the circuit of the world in his behalf. The
said dauphin was then young, was handsome, was stout, and, above all
(magnificent origin of all royal virtues), he was the son of the Lion
of France. I declare that this bold metaphor is admirable, and that the
natural history of the theatre, on a day of allegory and royal marriage
songs, is not in the least startled by a dolphin who is the son of a
lion. It is precisely these rare and Pindaric mixtures which prove the
poet’s enthusiasm. Nevertheless, in order to play the part of critic
also, the poet might have developed this beautiful idea in something
less than two hundred lines. It is true that the mystery was to last
from noon until four o’clock, in accordance with the orders of monsieur
the provost, and that it was necessary to say something. Besides, the
people listened patiently.

All at once, in the very middle of a quarrel between Mademoiselle
Merchandise and Madame Nobility, at the moment when Monsieur Labor was
giving utterance to this wonderful line,--

    In forest ne’er was seen a more triumphant beast;

the door of the reserved gallery which had hitherto remained so
inopportunely closed, opened still more inopportunely; and the ringing
voice of the usher announced abruptly, “His eminence, Monseigneur the
Cardinal de Bourbon.”


Poor Gringoire! the din of all the great double petards of the
Saint-Jean, the discharge of twenty arquebuses on supports, the
detonation of that famous serpentine of the Tower of Billy, which,
during the siege of Paris, on Sunday, the twenty-sixth of September,
1465, killed seven Burgundians at one blow, the explosion of all the
powder stored at the gate of the Temple, would have rent his ears less
rudely at that solemn and dramatic moment, than these few words, which
fell from the lips of the usher, “His eminence, Monseigneur the Cardinal
de Bourbon.”

It is not that Pierre Gringoire either feared or disdained monsieur the
cardinal. He had neither the weakness nor the audacity for that. A true
eclectic, as it would be expressed nowadays, Gringoire was one of those
firm and lofty, moderate and calm spirits, which always know how to bear
themselves amid all circumstances (_stare in dimidio rerum_), and who
are full of reason and of liberal philosophy, while still setting
store by cardinals. A rare, precious, and never interrupted race of
philosophers to whom wisdom, like another Ariadne, seems to have given
a clew of thread which they have been walking along unwinding since
the beginning of the world, through the labyrinth of human affairs. One
finds them in all ages, ever the same; that is to say, always according
to all times. And, without reckoning our Pierre Gringoire, who may
represent them in the fifteenth century if we succeed in bestowing upon
him the distinction which he deserves, it certainly was their spirit
which animated Father du Breul, when he wrote, in the sixteenth, these
naively sublime words, worthy of all centuries: “I am a Parisian by
nation, and a Parrhisian in language, for _parrhisia_ in Greek signifies
liberty of speech; of which I have made use even towards messeigneurs
the cardinals, uncle and brother to Monsieur the Prince de Conty, always
with respect to their greatness, and without offending any one of their
suite, which is much to say.”

There was then neither hatred for the cardinal, nor disdain for his
presence, in the disagreeable impression produced upon Pierre Gringoire.
Quite the contrary; our poet had too much good sense and too threadbare
a coat, not to attach particular importance to having the numerous
allusions in his prologue, and, in particular, the glorification of the
dauphin, son of the Lion of France, fall upon the most eminent ear. But
it is not interest which predominates in the noble nature of poets. I
suppose that the entity of the poet may be represented by the number
ten; it is certain that a chemist on analyzing and pharmacopolizing it,
as Rabelais says, would find it composed of one part interest to nine
parts of self-esteem.

Now, at the moment when the door had opened to admit the cardinal, the
nine parts of self-esteem in Gringoire, swollen and expanded by
the breath of popular admiration, were in a state of prodigious
augmentation, beneath which disappeared, as though stifled, that
imperceptible molecule of which we have just remarked upon in the
constitution of poets; a precious ingredient, by the way, a ballast
of reality and humanity, without which they would not touch the earth.
Gringoire enjoyed seeing, feeling, fingering, so to speak an entire
assembly (of knaves, it is true, but what matters that?) stupefied,
petrified, and as though asphyxiated in the presence of the
incommensurable tirades which welled up every instant from all parts
of his bridal song. I affirm that he shared the general beatitude, and
that, quite the reverse of La Fontaine, who, at the presentation of his
comedy of the “Florentine,” asked, “Who is the ill-bred lout who made
that rhapsody?” Gringoire would gladly have inquired of his neighbor,
“Whose masterpiece is this?”

The reader can now judge of the effect produced upon him by the abrupt
and unseasonable arrival of the cardinal.

That which he had to fear was only too fully realized. The entrance of
his eminence upset the audience. All heads turned towards the gallery.
It was no longer possible to hear one’s self. “The cardinal! The
cardinal!” repeated all mouths. The unhappy prologue stopped short for
the second time.

The cardinal halted for a moment on the threshold of the estrade. While
he was sending a rather indifferent glance around the audience, the
tumult redoubled. Each person wished to get a better view of him.
Each man vied with the other in thrusting his head over his neighbor’s

He was, in fact, an exalted personage, the sight of whom was well worth
any other comedy. Charles, Cardinal de Bourbon, Archbishop and Comte of
Lyon, Primate of the Gauls, was allied both to Louis XI., through his
brother, Pierre, Seigneur de Beaujeu, who had married the king’s eldest
daughter, and to Charles the Bold through his mother, Agnes of Burgundy.
Now, the dominating trait, the peculiar and distinctive trait of the
character of the Primate of the Gauls, was the spirit of the courtier,
and devotion to the powers that be. The reader can form an idea of the
numberless embarrassments which this double relationship had caused him,
and of all the temporal reefs among which his spiritual bark had been
forced to tack, in order not to suffer shipwreck on either Louis or
Charles, that Scylla and that Charybdis which had devoured the Duc de
Nemours and the Constable de Saint-Pol. Thanks to Heaven’s mercy, he had
made the voyage successfully, and had reached home without hindrance.
But although he was in port, and precisely because he was in port, he
never recalled without disquiet the varied haps of his political career,
so long uneasy and laborious. Thus, he was in the habit of saying that
the year 1476 had been “white and black” for him--meaning thereby, that
in the course of that year he had lost his mother, the Duchesse de la
Bourbonnais, and his cousin, the Duke of Burgundy, and that one grief
had consoled him for the other.

Nevertheless, he was a fine man; he led a joyous cardinal’s life, liked
to enliven himself with the royal vintage of Challuau, did not hate
Richarde la Garmoise and Thomasse la Saillarde, bestowed alms on pretty
girls rather than on old women,--and for all these reasons was very
agreeable to the populace of Paris. He never went about otherwise
than surrounded by a small court of bishops and abbés of high lineage,
gallant, jovial, and given to carousing on occasion; and more than once
the good and devout women of Saint Germain d’ Auxerre, when passing
at night beneath the brightly illuminated windows of Bourbon, had been
scandalized to hear the same voices which had intoned vespers for
them during the day carolling, to the clinking of glasses, the bacchic
proverb of Benedict XII., that pope who had added a third crown to the
Tiara--_Bibamus papaliter_.

It was this justly acquired popularity, no doubt, which preserved him on
his entrance from any bad reception at the hands of the mob, which had
been so displeased but a moment before, and very little disposed to
respect a cardinal on the very day when it was to elect a pope. But the
Parisians cherish little rancor; and then, having forced the beginning
of the play by their authority, the good bourgeois had got the upper
hand of the cardinal, and this triumph was sufficient for them.
Moreover, the Cardinal de Bourbon was a handsome man,--he wore a fine
scarlet robe, which he carried off very well,--that is to say, he had
all the women on his side, and, consequently, the best half of the
audience. Assuredly, it would be injustice and bad taste to hoot a
cardinal for having come late to the spectacle, when he is a handsome
man, and when he wears his scarlet robe well.

He entered, then, bowed to those present with the hereditary smile of
the great for the people, and directed his course slowly towards his
scarlet velvet arm-chair, with the air of thinking of something quite
different. His cortege--what we should nowadays call his staff--of
bishops and abbés invaded the estrade in his train, not without causing
redoubled tumult and curiosity among the audience. Each man vied with
his neighbor in pointing them out and naming them, in seeing who should
recognize at least one of them: this one, the Bishop of Marseilles
(Alaudet, if my memory serves me right);--this one, the primicier of
Saint-Denis;--this one, Robert de Lespinasse, Abbé of Saint-Germain des
Prés, that libertine brother of a mistress of Louis XI.; all with many
errors and absurdities. As for the scholars, they swore. This was their
day, their feast of fools, their saturnalia, the annual orgy of the
corporation of Law clerks and of the school. There was no turpitude
which was not sacred on that day. And then there were gay gossips in the
crowd--Simone Quatrelivres, Agnes la Gadine, and Rabine Piédebou. Was
it not the least that one could do to swear at one’s ease and revile
the name of God a little, on so fine a day, in such good company as
dignitaries of the church and loose women? So they did not abstain; and,
in the midst of the uproar, there was a frightful concert of blasphemies
and enormities of all the unbridled tongues, the tongues of clerks and
students restrained during the rest of the year, by the fear of the hot
iron of Saint Louis. Poor Saint Louis! how they set him at defiance in
his own court of law! Each one of them selected from the new-comers on
the platform, a black, gray, white, or violet cassock as his target.
Joannes Frollo de Molendin, in his quality of brother to an archdeacon,
boldly attacked the scarlet; he sang in deafening tones, with his
impudent eyes fastened on the cardinal, “_Cappa repleta mero_!”

All these details which we here lay bare for the edification of the
reader, were so covered by the general uproar, that they were lost in it
before reaching the reserved platforms; moreover, they would have
moved the cardinal but little, so much a part of the customs were the
liberties of that day. Moreover, he had another cause for solicitude,
and his mien as wholly preoccupied with it, which entered the estrade
the same time as himself; this was the embassy from Flanders.

Not that he was a profound politician, nor was he borrowing trouble
about the possible consequences of the marriage of his cousin Marguerite
de Bourgoyne to his cousin Charles, Dauphin de Vienne; nor as to how
long the good understanding which had been patched up between the
Duke of Austria and the King of France would last; nor how the King of
England would take this disdain of his daughter. All that troubled him
but little; and he gave a warm reception every evening to the wine of
the royal vintage of Chaillot, without a suspicion that several flasks
of that same wine (somewhat revised and corrected, it is true, by Doctor
Coictier), cordially offered to Edward IV. by Louis XI., would, some
fine morning, rid Louis XI. of Edward IV. “The much honored embassy of
Monsieur the Duke of Austria,” brought the cardinal none of these cares,
but it troubled him in another direction. It was, in fact, somewhat
hard, and we have already hinted at it on the second page of this
book,--for him, Charles de Bourbon, to be obliged to feast and receive
cordially no one knows what bourgeois;--for him, a cardinal, to receive
aldermen;--for him, a Frenchman, and a jolly companion, to receive
Flemish beer-drinkers,--and that in public! This was, certainly, one
of the most irksome grimaces that he had ever executed for the good
pleasure of the king.

So he turned toward the door, and with the best grace in the world
(so well had he trained himself to it), when the usher announced, in a
sonorous voice, “Messieurs the Envoys of Monsieur the Duke of Austria.”
 It is useless to add that the whole hall did the same.

Then arrived, two by two, with a gravity which made a contrast in the
midst of the frisky ecclesiastical escort of Charles de Bourbon, the
eight and forty ambassadors of Maximilian of Austria, having at
their head the reverend Father in God, Jehan, Abbot of Saint-Bertin,
Chancellor of the Golden Fleece, and Jacques de Goy, Sieur Dauby, Grand
Bailiff of Ghent. A deep silence settled over the assembly, accompanied
by stifled laughter at the preposterous names and all the bourgeois
designations which each of these personages transmitted with
imperturbable gravity to the usher, who then tossed names and titles
pell-mell and mutilated to the crowd below. There were Master Loys
Roelof, alderman of the city of Louvain; Messire Clays d’Etuelde,
alderman of Brussels; Messire Paul de Baeust, Sieur de Voirmizelle,
President of Flanders; Master Jehan Coleghens, burgomaster of the city
of Antwerp; Master George de la Moere, first alderman of the kuere of
the city of Ghent; Master Gheldolf van der Hage, first alderman of the
_parchous_ of the said town; and the Sieur de Bierbecque, and Jehan
Pinnock, and Jehan Dymaerzelle, etc., etc., etc.; bailiffs, aldermen,
burgomasters; burgomasters, aldermen, bailiffs--all stiff, affectedly
grave, formal, dressed out in velvet and damask, hooded with caps of
black velvet, with great tufts of Cyprus gold thread; good Flemish
heads, after all, severe and worthy faces, of the family which Rembrandt
makes to stand out so strong and grave from the black background of his
“Night Patrol “; personages all of whom bore, written on their brows,
that Maximilian of Austria had done well in “trusting implicitly,” as
the manifest ran, “in their sense, valor, experience, loyalty, and good

There was one exception, however. It was a subtle, intelligent,
crafty-looking face, a sort of combined monkey and diplomat phiz, before
whom the cardinal made three steps and a profound bow, and whose name,
nevertheless, was only, “Guillaume Rym, counsellor and pensioner of the
City of Ghent.”

Few persons were then aware who Guillaume Rym was. A rare genius who
in a time of revolution would have made a brilliant appearance on the
surface of events, but who in the fifteenth century was reduced to
cavernous intrigues, and to “living in mines,” as the Duc de Saint-Simon
expresses it. Nevertheless, he was appreciated by the “miner” of Europe;
he plotted familiarly with Louis XI., and often lent a hand to the
king’s secret jobs. All which things were quite unknown to that throng,
who were amazed at the cardinal’s politeness to that frail figure of a
Flemish bailiff.


While the pensioner of Ghent and his eminence were exchanging very low
bows and a few words in voices still lower, a man of lofty stature, with
a large face and broad shoulders, presented himself, in order to enter
abreast with Guillaume Rym; one would have pronounced him a bull-dog by
the side of a fox. His felt doublet and leather jerkin made a spot on
the velvet and silk which surrounded him. Presuming that he was some
groom who had stolen in, the usher stopped him.

“Hold, my friend, you cannot pass!”

The man in the leather jerkin shouldered him aside.

“What does this knave want with me?” said he, in stentorian tones, which
rendered the entire hall attentive to this strange colloquy. “Don’t you
see that I am one of them?”

“Your name?” demanded the usher.

“Jacques Coppenole.”

“Your titles?”

“Hosier at the sign of the ‘Three Little Chains,’ of Ghent.”

The usher recoiled. One might bring one’s self to announce aldermen and
burgomasters, but a hosier was too much. The cardinal was on thorns.
All the people were staring and listening. For two days his eminence had
been exerting his utmost efforts to lick these Flemish bears into shape,
and to render them a little more presentable to the public, and this
freak was startling. But Guillaume Rym, with his polished smile,
approached the usher.

“Announce Master Jacques Coppenole, clerk of the aldermen of the city of
Ghent,” he whispered, very low.

“Usher,” interposed the cardinal, aloud, “announce Master Jacques
Coppenole, clerk of the aldermen of the illustrious city of Ghent.”

This was a mistake. Guillaume Rym alone might have conjured away the
difficulty, but Coppenole had heard the cardinal.

“No, cross of God?” he exclaimed, in his voice of thunder, “Jacques
Coppenole, hosier. Do you hear, usher? Nothing more, nothing less. Cross
of God! hosier; that’s fine enough. Monsieur the Archduke has more than
once sought his _gant_* in my hose.”

     *  Got the first idea of a timing.

Laughter and applause burst forth. A jest is always understood in Paris,
and, consequently, always applauded.

Let us add that Coppenole was of the people, and that the auditors which
surrounded him were also of the people. Thus the communication between
him and them had been prompt, electric, and, so to speak, on a level.
The haughty air of the Flemish hosier, by humiliating the courtiers,
had touched in all these plebeian souls that latent sentiment of dignity
still vague and indistinct in the fifteenth century.

This hosier was an equal, who had just held his own before monsieur the
cardinal. A very sweet reflection to poor fellows habituated to respect
and obedience towards the underlings of the sergeants of the bailiff of
Sainte-Geneviève, the cardinal’s train-bearer.

Coppenole proudly saluted his eminence, who returned the salute of the
all-powerful bourgeois feared by Louis XI. Then, while Guillaume Rym, a
“sage and malicious man,” as Philippe de Comines puts it, watched them
both with a smile of raillery and superiority, each sought his place,
the cardinal quite abashed and troubled, Coppenole tranquil and haughty,
and thinking, no doubt, that his title of hosier was as good as any
other, after all, and that Marie of Burgundy, mother to that Marguerite
whom Coppenole was to-day bestowing in marriage, would have been less
afraid of the cardinal than of the hosier; for it is not a cardinal
who would have stirred up a revolt among the men of Ghent against the
favorites of the daughter of Charles the Bold; it is not a cardinal
who could have fortified the populace with a word against her tears
and prayers, when the Maid of Flanders came to supplicate her people in
their behalf, even at the very foot of the scaffold; while the hosier
had only to raise his leather elbow, in order to cause to fall your
two heads, most illustrious seigneurs, Guy d’Hymbercourt and Chancellor
Guillaume Hugonet.

Nevertheless, all was over for the poor cardinal, and he was obliged to
quaff to the dregs the bitter cup of being in such bad company.

The reader has, probably, not forgotten the impudent beggar who had been
clinging fast to the fringes of the cardinal’s gallery ever since the
beginning of the prologue. The arrival of the illustrious guests had
by no means caused him to relax his hold, and, while the prelates
and ambassadors were packing themselves into the stalls--like genuine
Flemish herrings--he settled himself at his ease, and boldly crossed
his legs on the architrave. The insolence of this proceeding was
extraordinary, yet no one noticed it at first, the attention of all
being directed elsewhere. He, on his side, perceived nothing that
was going on in the hall; he wagged his head with the unconcern of a
Neapolitan, repeating from time to time, amid the clamor, as from a
mechanical habit, “Charity, please!” And, assuredly, he was, out of all
those present, the only one who had not deigned to turn his head at the
altercation between Coppenole and the usher. Now, chance ordained that
the master hosier of Ghent, with whom the people were already in lively
sympathy, and upon whom all eyes were riveted--should come and seat
himself in the front row of the gallery, directly above the mendicant;
and people were not a little amazed to see the Flemish ambassador, on
concluding his inspection of the knave thus placed beneath his eyes,
bestow a friendly tap on that ragged shoulder. The beggar turned round;
there was surprise, recognition, a lighting up of the two countenances,
and so forth; then, without paying the slightest heed in the world to
the spectators, the hosier and the wretched being began to converse in a
low tone, holding each other’s hands, in the meantime, while the rags
of Clopin Trouillefou, spread out upon the cloth of gold of the dais,
produced the effect of a caterpillar on an orange.

The novelty of this singular scene excited such a murmur of mirth and
gayety in the hall, that the cardinal was not slow to perceive it; he
half bent forward, and, as from the point where he was placed he could
catch only an imperfect view of Trouillerfou’s ignominious doublet,
he very naturally imagined that the mendicant was asking alms, and,
disgusted with his audacity, he exclaimed: “Bailiff of the Courts, toss
me that knave into the river!”

“Cross of God! monseigneur the cardinal,” said Coppenole, without
quitting Clopin’s hand, “he’s a friend of mine.”

“Good! good!” shouted the populace. From that moment, Master Coppenole
enjoyed in Paris as in Ghent, “great favor with the people; for men of
that sort do enjoy it,” says Philippe de Comines, “when they are thus
disorderly.” The cardinal bit his lips. He bent towards his neighbor,
the Abbé of Saint Geneviéve, and said to him in a low tone,--“Fine
ambassadors monsieur the archduke sends here, to announce to us Madame

“Your eminence,” replied the abbé, “wastes your politeness on these
Flemish swine. _Margaritas ante porcos_, pearls before swine.”

“Say rather,” retorted the cardinal, with a smile, “_Porcos ante
Margaritam_, swine before the pearl.”

The whole little court in cassocks went into ecstacies over this play
upon words. The cardinal felt a little relieved; he was quits with
Coppenole, he also had had his jest applauded.

Now, will those of our readers who possess the power of generalizing an
image or an idea, as the expression runs in the style of to-day, permit
us to ask them if they have formed a very clear conception of the
spectacle presented at this moment, upon which we have arrested their
attention, by the vast parallelogram of the grand hall of the palace.

In the middle of the hall, backed against the western wall, a large
and magnificent gallery draped with cloth of gold, into which enter in
procession, through a small, arched door, grave personages, announced
successively by the shrill voice of an usher. On the front benches were
already a number of venerable figures, muffled in ermine, velvet, and
scarlet. Around the dais--which remains silent and dignified--below,
opposite, everywhere, a great crowd and a great murmur. Thousands of
glances directed by the people on each face upon the dais, a thousand
whispers over each name. Certainly, the spectacle is curious, and well
deserves the attention of the spectators. But yonder, quite at the end,
what is that sort of trestle work with four motley puppets upon it, and
more below? Who is that man beside the trestle, with a black doublet
and a pale face? Alas! my dear reader, it is Pierre Gringoire and his

We have all forgotten him completely.

This is precisely what he feared.

From the moment of the cardinal’s entrance, Gringoire had never ceased
to tremble for the safety of his prologue. At first he had enjoined the
actors, who had stopped in suspense, to continue, and to raise their
voices; then, perceiving that no one was listening, he had stopped them;
and, during the entire quarter of an hour that the interruption lasted,
he had not ceased to stamp, to flounce about, to appeal to Gisquette and
Liénarde, and to urge his neighbors to the continuance of the prologue;
all in vain. No one quitted the cardinal, the embassy, and the
gallery--sole centre of this vast circle of visual rays. We must also
believe, and we say it with regret, that the prologue had begun slightly
to weary the audience at the moment when his eminence had arrived, and
created a diversion in so terrible a fashion. After all, on the gallery
as well as on the marble table, the spectacle was the same: the conflict
of Labor and Clergy, of Nobility and Merchandise. And many people
preferred to see them alive, breathing, moving, elbowing each other in
flesh and blood, in this Flemish embassy, in this Episcopal court, under
the cardinal’s robe, under Coppenole’s jerkin, than painted, decked
out, talking in verse, and, so to speak, stuffed beneath the yellow amid
white tunics in which Gringoire had so ridiculously clothed them.

Nevertheless, when our poet beheld quiet reestablished to some extent,
he devised a stratagem which might have redeemed all.

“Monsieur,” he said, turning towards one of his neighbors, a fine, big
man, with a patient face, “suppose we begin again.”

“What?” said his neighbor.

“Hé! the Mystery,” said Gringoire.

“As you like,” returned his neighbor.

This semi-approbation sufficed for Gringoire, and, conducting his own
affairs, he began to shout, confounding himself with the crowd as much
as possible: “Begin the mystery again! begin again!”

“The devil!” said Joannes de Molendino, “what are they jabbering down
yonder, at the end of the hall?” (for Gringoire was making noise enough
for four.) “Say, comrades, isn’t that mystery finished? They want to
begin it all over again. That’s not fair!”

“No, no!” shouted all the scholars. “Down with the mystery! Down with

But Gringoire had multiplied himself, and only shouted the more
vigorously: “Begin again! begin again!”

These clamors attracted the attention of the cardinal.

“Monsieur Bailiff of the Courts,” said he to a tall, black man, placed a
few paces from him, “are those knaves in a holy-water vessel, that they
make such a hellish noise?”

The bailiff of the courts was a sort of amphibious magistrate, a sort
of bat of the judicial order, related to both the rat and the bird, the
judge and the soldier.

He approached his eminence, and not without a good deal of fear of
the latter’s displeasure, he awkwardly explained to him the seeming
disrespect of the audience: that noonday had arrived before his
eminence, and that the comedians had been forced to begin without
waiting for his eminence.

The cardinal burst into a laugh.

“On my faith, the rector of the university ought to have done the same.
What say you, Master Guillaume Rym?”

“Monseigneur,” replied Guillaume Rym, “let us be content with having
escaped half of the comedy. There is at least that much gained.”

“Can these rascals continue their farce?” asked the bailiff.

“Continue, continue,” said the cardinal, “it’s all the same to me. I’ll
read my breviary in the meantime.”

The bailiff advanced to the edge of the estrade, and cried, after having
invoked silence by a wave of the hand,--

“Bourgeois, rustics, and citizens, in order to satisfy those who wish
the play to begin again, and those who wish it to end, his eminence
orders that it be continued.”

Both parties were forced to resign themselves. But the public and the
author long cherished a grudge against the cardinal.

So the personages on the stage took up their parts, and Gringoire hoped
that the rest of his work, at least, would be listened to. This hope was
speedily dispelled like his other illusions; silence had indeed,
been restored in the audience, after a fashion; but Gringoire had
not observed that at the moment when the cardinal gave the order to
continue, the gallery was far from full, and that after the Flemish
envoys there had arrived new personages forming part of the cortege,
whose names and ranks, shouted out in the midst of his dialogue by the
intermittent cry of the usher, produced considerable ravages in it. Let
the reader imagine the effect in the midst of a theatrical piece, of the
yelping of an usher, flinging in between two rhymes, and often in the
middle of a line, parentheses like the following,--

“Master Jacques Charmolue, procurator to the king in the Ecclesiastical

“Jehan de Harlay, equerry guardian of the office of chevalier of the
night watch of the city of Paris!”

“Messire Galiot de Genoilhac, chevalier, seigneur de Brussac, master of
the king’s artillery!”

“Master Dreux-Raguier, surveyor of the woods and forests of the king our
sovereign, in the land of France, Champagne and Brie!”

“Messire Louis de Graville, chevalier, councillor, and chamberlain of
the king, admiral of France, keeper of the Forest of Vincennes!”

“Master Denis le Mercier, guardian of the house of the blind at Paris!”
 etc., etc., etc.

This was becoming unbearable.

This strange accompaniment, which rendered it difficult to follow
the piece, made Gringoire all the more indignant because he could
not conceal from himself the fact that the interest was continually
increasing, and that all his work required was a chance of being heard.

It was, in fact, difficult to imagine a more ingenious and more
dramatic composition. The four personages of the prologue were bewailing
themselves in their mortal embarrassment, when Venus in person, (_vera
incessa patuit dea_) presented herself to them, clad in a fine robe
bearing the heraldic device of the ship of the city of Paris. She
had come herself to claim the dolphin promised to the most beautiful.
Jupiter, whose thunder could be heard rumbling in the dressing-room,
supported her claim, and Venus was on the point of carrying it
off,--that is to say, without allegory, of marrying monsieur the
dauphin, when a young child clad in white damask, and holding in her
hand a daisy (a transparent personification of Mademoiselle Marguerite
of Flanders) came to contest it with Venus.

Theatrical effect and change.

After a dispute, Venus, Marguerite, and the assistants agreed to submit
to the good judgment of time holy Virgin. There was another good part,
that of the king of Mesopotamia; but through so many interruptions,
it was difficult to make out what end he served. All these persons had
ascended by the ladder to the stage.

But all was over; none of these beauties had been felt nor understood.
On the entrance of the cardinal, one would have said that an invisible
magic thread had suddenly drawn all glances from the marble table to the
gallery, from the southern to the western extremity of the hall. Nothing
could disenchant the audience; all eyes remained fixed there, and
the new-comers and their accursed names, and their faces, and their
costumes, afforded a continual diversion. This was very distressing.
With the exception of Gisquette and Liénarde, who turned round from time
to time when Gringoire plucked them by the sleeve; with the exception of
the big, patient neighbor, no one listened, no one looked at the poor,
deserted morality full face. Gringoire saw only profiles.

With what bitterness did he behold his whole erection of glory and of
poetry crumble away bit by bit! And to think that these people had
been upon the point of instituting a revolt against the bailiff through
impatience to hear his work! now that they had it they did not care for
it. This same representation which had been begun amid so unanimous an
acclamation! Eternal flood and ebb of popular favor! To think that they
had been on the point of hanging the bailiff’s sergeant! What would he
not have given to be still at that hour of honey!

But the usher’s brutal monologue came to an end; every one had arrived,
and Gringoire breathed freely once more; the actors continued bravely.
But Master Coppenole, the hosier, must needs rise of a sudden, and
Gringoire was forced to listen to him deliver, amid universal attention,
the following abominable harangue.

“Messieurs the bourgeois and squires of Paris, I don’t know, cross of
God! what we are doing here. I certainly do see yonder in the corner on
that stage, some people who appear to be fighting. I don’t know whether
that is what you call a “mystery,” but it is not amusing; they quarrel
with their tongues and nothing more. I have been waiting for the first
blow this quarter of an hour; nothing comes; they are cowards who only
scratch each other with insults. You ought to send for the fighters of
London or Rotterdam; and, I can tell you! you would have had blows of
the fist that could be heard in the Place; but these men excite our
pity. They ought at least, to give us a moorish dance, or some other
mummer! That is not what was told me; I was promised a feast of fools,
with the election of a pope. We have our pope of fools at Ghent also;
we’re not behindhand in that, cross of God! But this is the way we
manage it; we collect a crowd like this one here, then each person in
turn passes his head through a hole, and makes a grimace at the rest;
time one who makes the ugliest, is elected pope by general acclamation;
that’s the way it is. It is very diverting. Would you like to make your
pope after the fashion of my country? At all events, it will be less
wearisome than to listen to chatterers. If they wish to come and make
their grimaces through the hole, they can join the game. What say you,
Messieurs les bourgeois? You have here enough grotesque specimens of
both sexes, to allow of laughing in Flemish fashion, and there are
enough of us ugly in countenance to hope for a fine grinning match.”

Gringoire would have liked to retort; stupefaction, rage, indignation,
deprived him of words. Moreover, the suggestion of the popular hosier
was received with such enthusiasm by these bourgeois who were flattered
at being called “squires,” that all resistance was useless. There was
nothing to be done but to allow one’s self to drift with the torrent.
Gringoire hid his face between his two hands, not being so fortunate
as to have a mantle with which to veil his head, like Agamemnon of


In the twinkling of an eye, all was ready to execute Coppenole’s idea.
Bourgeois, scholars and law clerks all set to work. The little chapel
situated opposite the marble table was selected for the scene of the
grinning match. A pane broken in the pretty rose window above the
door, left free a circle of stone through which it was agreed that the
competitors should thrust their heads. In order to reach it, it was only
necessary to mount upon a couple of hogsheads, which had been produced
from I know not where, and perched one upon the other, after a fashion.
It was settled that each candidate, man or woman (for it was possible to
choose a female pope), should, for the sake of leaving the impression of
his grimace fresh and complete, cover his face and remain concealed in
the chapel until the moment of his appearance. In less than an instant,
the chapel was crowded with competitors, upon whom the door was then

Coppenole, from his post, ordered all, directed all, arranged all.
During the uproar, the cardinal, no less abashed than Gringoire, had
retired with all his suite, under the pretext of business and vespers,
without the crowd which his arrival had so deeply stirred being in the
least moved by his departure. Guillaume Rym was the only one who noticed
his eminence’s discomfiture. The attention of the populace, like the
sun, pursued its revolution; having set out from one end of the hall,
and halted for a space in the middle, it had now reached the other end.
The marble table, the brocaded gallery had each had their day; it was
now the turn of the chapel of Louis XI. Henceforth, the field was open
to all folly. There was no one there now, but the Flemings and the

The grimaces began. The first face which appeared at the aperture,
with eyelids turned up to the reds, a mouth open like a maw, and a
brow wrinkled like our hussar boots of the Empire, evoked such an
inextinguishable peal of laughter that Homer would have taken all these
louts for gods. Nevertheless, the grand hall was anything but Olympus,
and Gringoire’s poor Jupiter knew it better than any one else. A second
and third grimace followed, then another and another; and the laughter
and transports of delight went on increasing. There was in this
spectacle, a peculiar power of intoxication and fascination, of which it
would be difficult to convey to the reader of our day and our salons any

Let the reader picture to himself a series of visages presenting
successively all geometrical forms, from the triangle to the trapezium,
from the cone to the polyhedron; all human expressions, from wrath
to lewdness; all ages, from the wrinkles of the new-born babe to the
wrinkles of the aged and dying; all religious phantasmagories, from Faun
to Beelzebub; all animal profiles, from the maw to the beak, from the
jowl to the muzzle. Let the reader imagine all these grotesque figures
of the Pont Neuf, those nightmares petrified beneath the hand of Germain
Pilon, assuming life and breath, and coming in turn to stare you in the
face with burning eyes; all the masks of the Carnival of Venice passing
in succession before your glass,--in a word, a human kaleidoscope.

The orgy grew more and more Flemish. Teniers could have given but a very
imperfect idea of it. Let the reader picture to himself in bacchanal
form, Salvator Rosa’s battle. There were no longer either scholars or
ambassadors or bourgeois or men or women; there was no longer any Clopin
Trouillefou, nor Gilles Lecornu, nor Marie Quatrelivres, nor Robin
Poussepain. All was universal license. The grand hall was no longer
anything but a vast furnace of effrontry and joviality, where every
mouth was a cry, every individual a posture; everything shouted and
howled. The strange visages which came, in turn, to gnash their teeth
in the rose window, were like so many brands cast into the brazier;
and from the whole of this effervescing crowd, there escaped, as from a
furnace, a sharp, piercing, stinging noise, hissing like the wings of a

“Ho hé! curse it!”

“Just look at that face!”

“It’s not good for anything.”

“Guillemette Maugerepuis, just look at that bull’s muzzle; it only lacks
the horns. It can’t be your husband.”


“Belly of the pope! what sort of a grimace is that?”

“Hola hé! that’s cheating. One must show only one’s face.”

“That damned Perrette Callebotte! she’s capable of that!”

“Good! Good!”

“I’m stifling!”

“There’s a fellow whose ears won’t go through!” Etc., etc.

But we must do justice to our friend Jehan. In the midst of this
witches’ sabbath, he was still to be seen on the top of his pillar, like
the cabin-boy on the topmast. He floundered about with incredible fury.
His mouth was wide open, and from it there escaped a cry which no one
heard, not that it was covered by the general clamor, great as that
was but because it attained, no doubt, the limit of perceptible sharp
sounds, the thousand vibrations of Sauveur, or the eight thousand of

As for Gringoire, the first moment of depression having passed, he
had regained his composure. He had hardened himself against
adversity.---“Continue!” he had said for the third time, to his
comedians, speaking machines; then as he was marching with great strides
in front of the marble table, a fancy seized him to go and appear in
his turn at the aperture of the chapel, were it only for the pleasure of
making a grimace at that ungrateful populace.--“But no, that would
not be worthy of us; no, vengeance! let us combat until the end,” he
repeated to himself; “the power of poetry over people is great; I will
bring them back. We shall see which will carry the day, grimaces or
polite literature.”

Alas! he had been left the sole spectator of his piece. It was far worse
than it had been a little while before. He no longer beheld anything but

I am mistaken. The big, patient man, whom he had already consulted in a
critical moment, had remained with his face turned towards the stage. As
for Gisquette and Liénarde, they had deserted him long ago.

Gringoire was touched to the heart by the fidelity of his only
spectator. He approached him and addressed him, shaking his arm
slightly; for the good man was leaning on the balustrade and dozing a

“Monsieur,” said Gringoire, “I thank you!”

“Monsieur,” replied the big man with a yawn, “for what?”

“I see what wearies you,” resumed the poet; “‘tis all this noise which
prevents your hearing comfortably. But be at ease! your name shall
descend to posterity! Your name, if you please?”

“Renauld Chateau, guardian of the seals of the Châtelet of Paris, at
your service.”

“Monsieur, you are the only representative of the muses here,” said

“You are too kind, sir,” said the guardian of the seals at the Châtelet.

“You are the only one,” resumed Gringoire, “who has listened to the
piece decorously. What do you think of it?”

“He! he!” replied the fat magistrate, half aroused, “it’s tolerably
jolly, that’s a fact.”

Gringoire was forced to content himself with this eulogy; for a
thunder of applause, mingled with a prodigious acclamation, cut their
conversation short. The Pope of the Fools had been elected.

“Noel! Noel! Noel!”* shouted the people on all sides. That was, in
fact, a marvellous grimace which was beaming at that moment through the
aperture in the rose window. After all the pentagonal, hexagonal, and
whimsical faces, which had succeeded each other at that hole without
realizing the ideal of the grotesque which their imaginations, excited
by the orgy, had constructed, nothing less was needed to win their
suffrages than the sublime grimace which had just dazzled the assembly.
Master Coppenole himself applauded, and Clopin Trouillefou, who had
been among the competitors (and God knows what intensity of ugliness his
visage could attain), confessed himself conquered: We will do the same.
We shall not try to give the reader an idea of that tetrahedral nose,
that horseshoe mouth; that little left eye obstructed with a red, bushy,
bristling eyebrow, while the right eye disappeared entirely beneath an
enormous wart; of those teeth in disarray, broken here and there, like
the embattled parapet of a fortress; of that callous lip, upon which one
of these teeth encroached, like the tusk of an elephant; of that forked
chin; and above all, of the expression spread over the whole; of that
mixture of malice, amazement, and sadness. Let the reader dream of this
whole, if he can.

     *  The ancient French hurrah.

The acclamation was unanimous; people rushed towards the chapel. They
made the lucky Pope of the Fools come forth in triumph. But it was then
that surprise and admiration attained their highest pitch; the grimace
was his face.

Or rather, his whole person was a grimace. A huge head, bristling
with red hair; between his shoulders an enormous hump, a counterpart
perceptible in front; a system of thighs and legs so strangely astray
that they could touch each other only at the knees, and, viewed from
the front, resembled the crescents of two scythes joined by the
handles; large feet, monstrous hands; and, with all this deformity,
an indescribable and redoubtable air of vigor, agility, and
courage,--strange exception to the eternal rule which wills that force
as well as beauty shall be the result of harmony. Such was the pope whom
the fools had just chosen for themselves.

One would have pronounced him a giant who had been broken and badly put
together again.

When this species of cyclops appeared on the threshold of the chapel,
motionless, squat, and almost as broad as he was tall; squared on the
base, as a great man says; with his doublet half red, half violet, sown
with silver bells, and, above all, in the perfection of his ugliness,
the populace recognized him on the instant, and shouted with one

“‘Tis Quasimodo, the bellringer! ‘tis Quasimodo, the hunchback of
Notre-Dame! Quasimodo, the one-eyed! Quasimodo, the bandy-legged! Noel!

It will be seen that the poor fellow had a choice of surnames.

“Let the women with child beware!” shouted the scholars.

“Or those who wish to be,” resumed Joannes.

The women did, in fact, hide their faces.

“Oh! the horrible monkey!” said one of them.

“As wicked as he is ugly,” retorted another.

“He’s the devil,” added a third.

“I have the misfortune to live near Notre-Dame; I hear him prowling
round the eaves by night.”

“With the cats.”

“He’s always on our roofs.”

“He throws spells down our chimneys.”

“The other evening, he came and made a grimace at me through my attic
window. I thought that it was a man. Such a fright as I had!”

“I’m sure that he goes to the witches’ sabbath. Once he left a broom on
my leads.”

“Oh! what a displeasing hunchback’s face!”

“Oh! what an ill-favored soul!”


The men, on the contrary, were delighted and applauded. Quasimodo, the
object of the tumult, still stood on the threshold of the chapel, sombre
and grave, and allowed them to admire him.

One scholar (Robin Poussepain, I think), came and laughed in his face,
and too close. Quasimodo contented himself with taking him by the
girdle, and hurling him ten paces off amid the crowd; all without
uttering a word.

Master Coppenole, in amazement, approached him.

“Cross of God! Holy Father! you possess the handsomest ugliness that I
have ever beheld in my life. You would deserve to be pope at Rome, as
well as at Paris.”

So saying, he placed his hand gayly on his shoulder. Quasimodo did not
stir. Coppenole went on,--

“You are a rogue with whom I have a fancy for carousing, were it to cost
me a new dozen of twelve livres of Tours. How does it strike you?”

Quasimodo made no reply.

“Cross of God!” said the hosier, “are you deaf?”

He was, in truth, deaf.

Nevertheless, he began to grow impatient with Coppenole’s behavior, and
suddenly turned towards him with so formidable a gnashing of teeth, that
the Flemish giant recoiled, like a bull-dog before a cat.

Then there was created around that strange personage, a circle of terror
and respect, whose radius was at least fifteen geometrical feet. An old
woman explained to Coppenole that Quasimodo was deaf.

“Deaf!” said the hosier, with his great Flemish laugh. “Cross of God!
He’s a perfect pope!”

“He! I recognize him,” exclaimed Jehan, who had, at last, descended from
his capital, in order to see Quasimodo at closer quarters, “he’s the
bellringer of my brother, the archdeacon. Good-day, Quasimodo!”

“What a devil of a man!” said Robin Poussepain still all bruised
with his fall. “He shows himself; he’s a hunchback. He walks; he’s
bandy-legged. He looks at you; he’s one-eyed. You speak to him; he’s
deaf. And what does this Polyphemus do with his tongue?”

“He speaks when he chooses,” said the old woman; “he became deaf through
ringing the bells. He is not dumb.”

“That he lacks,” remarks Jehan.

“And he has one eye too many,” added Robin Poussepain.

“Not at all,” said Jehan wisely. “A one-eyed man is far less complete
than a blind man. He knows what he lacks.”

In the meantime, all the beggars, all the lackeys, all the cutpurses,
joined with the scholars, had gone in procession to seek, in the
cupboard of the law clerks’ company, the cardboard tiara, and the
derisive robe of the Pope of the Fools. Quasimodo allowed them to array
him in them without wincing, and with a sort of proud docility. Then
they made him seat himself on a motley litter. Twelve officers of the
fraternity of fools raised him on their shoulders; and a sort of bitter
and disdainful joy lighted up the morose face of the cyclops, when he
beheld beneath his deformed feet all those heads of handsome, straight,
well-made men. Then the ragged and howling procession set out on its
march, according to custom, around the inner galleries of the Courts,
before making the circuit of the streets and squares.


We are delighted to be able to inform the reader, that during the whole
of this scene, Gringoire and his piece had stood firm. His actors,
spurred on by him, had not ceased to spout his comedy, and he had not
ceased to listen to it. He had made up his mind about the tumult, and
was determined to proceed to the end, not giving up the hope of a return
of attention on the part of the public. This gleam of hope acquired
fresh life, when he saw Quasimodo, Coppenole, and the deafening escort
of the pope of the procession of fools quit the hall amid great uproar.
The throng rushed eagerly after them. “Good,” he said to himself, “there
go all the mischief-makers.” Unfortunately, all the mischief-makers
constituted the entire audience. In the twinkling of an eye, the grand
hall was empty.

To tell the truth, a few spectators still remained, some scattered,
others in groups around the pillars, women, old men, or children,
who had had enough of the uproar and tumult. Some scholars were still
perched astride of the window-sills, engaged in gazing into the Place.

“Well,” thought Gringoire, “here are still as many as are required to
hear the end of my mystery. They are few in number, but it is a choice
audience, a lettered audience.”

An instant later, a symphony which had been intended to produce the
greatest effect on the arrival of the Virgin, was lacking. Gringoire
perceived that his music had been carried off by the procession of the
Pope of the Fools. “Skip it,” said he, stoically.

He approached a group of bourgeois, who seemed to him to be discussing
his piece. This is the fragment of conversation which he caught,--

“You know, Master Cheneteau, the Hôtel de Navarre, which belonged to
Monsieur de Nemours?”

“Yes, opposite the Chapelle de Braque.”

“Well, the treasury has just let it to Guillaume Alixandre, historian,
for six hivres, eight sols, parisian, a year.”

“How rents are going up!”

“Come,” said Gringoire to himself, with a sigh, “the others are

“Comrades,” suddenly shouted one of the young scamps from the window,
“La Esmeralda! La Esmeralda in the Place!”

This word produced a magical effect. Every one who was left in the hall
flew to the windows, climbing the walls in order to see, and repeating,
“La Esmeralda! La Esmeralda?” At the same time, a great sound of
applause was heard from without.

“What’s the meaning of this, of the Esmeralda?” said Gringoire, wringing
his hands in despair. “Ah, good heavens! it seems to be the turn of the
windows now.”

He returned towards the marble table, and saw that the representation
had been interrupted. It was precisely at the instant when Jupiter
should have appeared with his thunder. But Jupiter was standing
motionless at the foot of the stage.

“Michel Giborne!” cried the irritated poet, “what are you doing there?
Is that your part? Come up!”

“Alas!” said Jupiter, “a scholar has just seized the ladder.”

Gringoire looked. It was but too true. All communication between his
plot and its solution was intercepted.

“The rascal,” he murmured. “And why did he take that ladder?”

“In order to go and see the Esmeralda,” replied Jupiter piteously. “He
said, ‘Come, here’s a ladder that’s of no use!’ and he took it.”

This was the last blow. Gringoire received it with resignation.

“May the devil fly away with you!” he said to the comedian, “and if I
get my pay, you shall receive yours.”

Then he beat a retreat, with drooping head, but the last in the field,
like a general who has fought well.

And as he descended the winding stairs of the courts: “A fine rabble of
asses and dolts these Parisians!” he muttered between his teeth; “they
come to hear a mystery and don’t listen to it at all! They are engrossed
by every one, by Chopin Trouillefou, by the cardinal, by Coppenole, by
Quasimodo, by the devil! but by Madame the Virgin Mary, not at all. If
I had known, I’d have given you Virgin Mary; you ninnies! And I! to
come to see faces and behold only backs! to be a poet, and to reap the
success of an apothecary! It is true that Homerus begged through the
Greek towns, and that Naso died in exile among the Muscovites. But may
the devil flay me if I understand what they mean with their Esmeralda!
What is that word, in the first place?--‘tis Egyptian!”



Night comes on early in January. The streets were already dark when
Gringoire issued forth from the Courts. This gloom pleased him; he was
in haste to reach some obscure and deserted alley, in order there to
meditate at his ease, and in order that the philosopher might place the
first dressing upon the wound of the poet. Philosophy, moreover, was his
sole refuge, for he did not know where he was to lodge for the night.
After the brilliant failure of his first theatrical venture, he
dared not return to the lodging which he occupied in the Rue
Grenier-sur-l’Eau, opposite to the Port-au-Foin, having depended
upon receiving from monsieur the provost for his epithalamium, the
wherewithal to pay Master Guillaume Doulx-Sire, farmer of the taxes on
cloven-footed animals in Paris, the rent which he owed him, that is
to say, twelve sols parisian; twelve times the value of all that he
possessed in the world, including his trunk-hose, his shirt, and his
cap. After reflecting a moment, temporarily sheltered beneath the little
wicket of the prison of the treasurer of the Sainte-Chappelle, as to the
shelter which he would select for the night, having all the pavements of
Paris to choose from, he remembered to have noticed the week previously
in the Rue de la Savaterie, at the door of a councillor of the
parliament, a stepping stone for mounting a mule, and to have said to
himself that that stone would furnish, on occasion, a very excellent
pillow for a mendicant or a poet. He thanked Providence for having sent
this happy idea to him; but, as he was preparing to cross the Place,
in order to reach the tortuous labyrinth of the city, where meander
all those old sister streets, the Rues de la Barillerie, de la
Vielle-Draperie, de la Savaterie, de la Juiverie, etc., still extant
to-day, with their nine-story houses, he saw the procession of the Pope
of the Fools, which was also emerging from the court house, and rushing
across the courtyard, with great cries, a great flashing of torches, and
the music which belonged to him, Gringoire. This sight revived the
pain of his self-love; he fled. In the bitterness of his dramatic
misadventure, everything which reminded him of the festival of that day
irritated his wound and made it bleed.


He was on the point of turning to the Pont Saint-Michel; children were
running about here and there with fire lances and rockets.

“Pest on firework candles!” said Gringoire; and he fell back on the Pont
au Change. To the house at the head of the bridge there had been affixed
three small banners, representing the king, the dauphin, and Marguerite
of Flanders, and six little pennons on which were portrayed the Duke of
Austria, the Cardinal de Bourbon, M. de Beaujeu, and Madame Jeanne de
France, and Monsieur the Bastard of Bourbon, and I know not whom else;
all being illuminated with torches. The rabble were admiring.

“Happy painter, Jehan Fourbault!” said Gringoire with a deep sigh;
and he turned his back upon the bannerets and pennons. A street opened
before him; he thought it so dark and deserted that he hoped to there
escape from all the rumors as well as from all the gleams of the
festival. At the end of a few moments his foot came in contact with an
obstacle; he stumbled and fell. It was the May truss, which the clerks
of the clerks’ law court had deposited that morning at the door of
a president of the parliament, in honor of the solemnity of the day.
Gringoire bore this new disaster heroically; he picked himself up, and
reached the water’s edge. After leaving behind him the civic Tournelle*
and the criminal tower, and skirted the great walls of the king’s
garden, on that unpaved strand where the mud reached to his ankles, he
reached the western point of the city, and considered for some time
the islet of the Passeur-aux-Vaches, which has disappeared beneath the
bronze horse of the Pont Neuf. The islet appeared to him in the shadow
like a black mass, beyond the narrow strip of whitish water which
separated him from it. One could divine by the ray of a tiny light the
sort of hut in the form of a beehive where the ferryman of cows took
refuge at night.

     *  A chamber of the ancient parliament of Paris.

“Happy ferryman!” thought Gringoire; “you do not dream of glory, and
you do not make marriage songs! What matters it to you, if kings and
Duchesses of Burgundy marry? You know no other daisies (_marguerites_)
than those which your April greensward gives your cows to browse upon;
while I, a poet, am hooted, and shiver, and owe twelve sous, and the
soles of my shoes are so transparent, that they might serve as glasses
for your lantern! Thanks, ferryman, your cabin rests my eyes, and makes
me forget Paris!”

He was roused from his almost lyric ecstacy, by a big double Saint-Jean
cracker, which suddenly went off from the happy cabin. It was the cow
ferryman, who was taking his part in the rejoicings of the day, and
letting off fireworks.

This cracker made Gringoire’s skin bristle up all over.

“Accursed festival!” he exclaimed, “wilt thou pursue me everywhere? Oh!
good God! even to the ferryman’s!”

Then he looked at the Seine at his feet, and a horrible temptation took
possession of him:

“Oh!” said he, “I would gladly drown myself, were the water not so

Then a desperate resolution occurred to him. It was, since he could not
escape from the Pope of the Fools, from Jehan Fourbault’s bannerets,
from May trusses, from squibs and crackers, to go to the Place de Grève.

“At least,” he said to himself, “I shall there have a firebrand of joy
wherewith to warm myself, and I can sup on some crumbs of the three
great armorial bearings of royal sugar which have been erected on the
public refreshment-stall of the city.”


There remains to-day but a very imperceptible vestige of the Place
de Grève, such as it existed then; it consists in the charming little
turret, which occupies the angle north of the Place, and which, already
enshrouded in the ignoble plaster which fills with paste the delicate
lines of its sculpture, would soon have disappeared, perhaps submerged
by that flood of new houses which so rapidly devours all the ancient
façades of Paris.

The persons who, like ourselves, never cross the Place de Grève without
casting a glance of pity and sympathy on that poor turret strangled
between two hovels of the time of Louis XV., can easily reconstruct in
their minds the aggregate of edifices to which it belonged, and find
again entire in it the ancient Gothic place of the fifteenth century.

It was then, as it is to-day, an irregular trapezoid, bordered on one
side by the quay, and on the other three by a series of lofty, narrow,
and gloomy houses. By day, one could admire the variety of its edifices,
all sculptured in stone or wood, and already presenting complete
specimens of the different domestic architectures of the Middle Ages,
running back from the fifteenth to the eleventh century, from the
casement which had begun to dethrone the arch, to the Roman semicircle,
which had been supplanted by the ogive, and which still occupies, below
it, the first story of that ancient house de la Tour Roland, at the
corner of the Place upon the Seine, on the side of the street with the
Tannerie. At night, one could distinguish nothing of all that mass of
buildings, except the black indentation of the roofs, unrolling
their chain of acute angles round the place; for one of the radical
differences between the cities of that time, and the cities of the
present day, lay in the façades which looked upon the places and
streets, and which were then gables. For the last two centuries the
houses have been turned round.

In the centre of the eastern side of the Place, rose a heavy and hybrid
construction, formed of three buildings placed in juxtaposition. It was
called by three names which explain its history, its destination, and
its architecture: “The House of the Dauphin,” because Charles V., when
Dauphin, had inhabited it; “The Marchandise,” because it had served as
town hall; and “The Pillared House” (_domus ad piloria_), because of
a series of large pillars which sustained the three stories. The city
found there all that is required for a city like Paris; a chapel in
which to pray to God; a _plaidoyer_, or pleading room, in which to hold
hearings, and to repel, at need, the King’s people; and under the roof,
an _arsenac_ full of artillery. For the bourgeois of Paris were aware
that it is not sufficient to pray in every conjuncture, and to plead
for the franchises of the city, and they had always in reserve, in the
garret of the town hall, a few good rusty arquebuses. The Grève had then
that sinister aspect which it preserves to-day from the execrable ideas
which it awakens, and from the sombre town hall of Dominique Bocador,
which has replaced the Pillared House. It must be admitted that a
permanent gibbet and a pillory, “a justice and a ladder,” as they were
called in that day, erected side by side in the centre of the pavement,
contributed not a little to cause eyes to be turned away from that
fatal place, where so many beings full of life and health have agonized;
where, fifty years later, that fever of Saint Vallier was destined to
have its birth, that terror of the scaffold, the most monstrous of all
maladies because it comes not from God, but from man.

It is a consoling idea (let us remark in passing), to think that the
death penalty, which three hundred years ago still encumbered with its
iron wheels, its stone gibbets, and all its paraphernalia of torture,
permanent and riveted to the pavement, the Grève, the Halles, the Place
Dauphine, the Cross du Trahoir, the Marché aux Pourceaux, that hideous
Montfauçon, the barrier des Sergents, the Place aux Chats, the Porte
Saint-Denis, Champeaux, the Porte Baudets, the Porte Saint Jacques,
without reckoning the innumerable ladders of the provosts, the bishop of
the chapters, of the abbots, of the priors, who had the decree of life
and death,--without reckoning the judicial drownings in the river Seine;
it is consoling to-day, after having lost successively all the pieces of
its armor, its luxury of torment, its penalty of imagination and fancy,
its torture for which it reconstructed every five years a leather bed
at the Grand Châtelet, that ancient suzerain of feudal society almost
expunged from our laws and our cities, hunted from code to code, chased
from place to place, has no longer, in our immense Paris, any more than
a dishonored corner of the Grève,--than a miserable guillotine, furtive,
uneasy, shameful, which seems always afraid of being caught in the act,
so quickly does it disappear after having dealt its blow.


When Pierre Gringoire arrived on the Place de Grève, he was paralyzed.
He had directed his course across the Pont aux Meuniers, in order
to avoid the rabble on the Pont au Change, and the pennons of Jehan
Fourbault; but the wheels of all the bishop’s mills had splashed him as
he passed, and his doublet was drenched; it seemed to him besides, that
the failure of his piece had rendered him still more sensible to cold
than usual. Hence he made haste to draw near the bonfire, which was
burning magnificently in the middle of the Place. But a considerable
crowd formed a circle around it.

“Accursed Parisians!” he said to himself (for Gringoire, like a true
dramatic poet, was subject to monologues) “there they are obstructing my
fire! Nevertheless, I am greatly in need of a chimney corner; my shoes
drink in the water, and all those cursed mills wept upon me! That devil
of a Bishop of Paris, with his mills! I’d just like to know what use a
bishop can make of a mill! Does he expect to become a miller instead of
a bishop? If only my malediction is needed for that, I bestow it upon
him! and his cathedral, and his mills! Just see if those boobies will
put themselves out! Move aside! I’d like to know what they are doing
there! They are warming themselves, much pleasure may it give them! They
are watching a hundred fagots burn; a fine spectacle!”

On looking more closely, he perceived that the circle was much larger
than was required simply for the purpose of getting warm at the king’s
fire, and that this concourse of people had not been attracted solely by
the beauty of the hundred fagots which were burning.

In a vast space left free between the crowd and the fire, a young girl
was dancing.

Whether this young girl was a human being, a fairy, or an angel, is what
Gringoire, sceptical philosopher and ironical poet that he was, could
not decide at the first moment, so fascinated was he by this dazzling

She was not tall, though she seemed so, so boldly did her slender form
dart about. She was swarthy of complexion, but one divined that, by day,
her skin must possess that beautiful golden tone of the Andalusians and
the Roman women. Her little foot, too, was Andalusian, for it was both
pinched and at ease in its graceful shoe. She danced, she turned, she
whirled rapidly about on an old Persian rug, spread negligently under
her feet; and each time that her radiant face passed before you, as she
whirled, her great black eyes darted a flash of lightning at you.

All around her, all glances were riveted, all mouths open; and, in fact,
when she danced thus, to the humming of the Basque tambourine, which
her two pure, rounded arms raised above her head, slender, frail and
vivacious as a wasp, with her corsage of gold without a fold, her
variegated gown puffing out, her bare shoulders, her delicate limbs,
which her petticoat revealed at times, her black hair, her eyes of
flame, she was a supernatural creature.

“In truth,” said Gringoire to himself, “she is a salamander, she is a
nymph, she is a goddess, she is a bacchante of the Menelean Mount!”

At that moment, one of the salamander’s braids of hair became
unfastened, and a piece of yellow copper which was attached to it,
rolled to the ground.

“Hé, no!” said he, “she is a gypsy!”

All illusions had disappeared.

She began her dance once more; she took from the ground two swords,
whose points she rested against her brow, and which she made to turn
in one direction, while she turned in the other; it was a purely gypsy
effect. But, disenchanted though Gringoire was, the whole effect of
this picture was not without its charm and its magic; the bonfire
illuminated, with a red flaring light, which trembled, all alive, over
the circle of faces in the crowd, on the brow of the young girl, and at
the background of the Place cast a pallid reflection, on one side upon
the ancient, black, and wrinkled façade of the House of Pillars, on the
other, upon the old stone gibbet.

Among the thousands of visages which that light tinged with scarlet,
there was one which seemed, even more than all the others, absorbed in
contemplation of the dancer. It was the face of a man, austere, calm,
and sombre. This man, whose costume was concealed by the crowd which
surrounded him, did not appear to be more than five and thirty years of
age; nevertheless, he was bald; he had merely a few tufts of thin, gray
hair on his temples; his broad, high forehead had begun to be furrowed
with wrinkles, but his deep-set eyes sparkled with extraordinary
youthfulness, an ardent life, a profound passion. He kept them fixed
incessantly on the gypsy, and, while the giddy young girl of sixteen
danced and whirled, for the pleasure of all, his revery seemed to become
more and more sombre. From time to time, a smile and a sigh met upon his
lips, but the smile was more melancholy than the sigh.

The young girl, stopped at length, breathless, and the people applauded
her lovingly.

“Djali!” said the gypsy.

Then Gringoire saw come up to her, a pretty little white goat, alert,
wide-awake, glossy, with gilded horns, gilded hoofs, and gilded collar,
which he had not hitherto perceived, and which had remained lying curled
up on one corner of the carpet watching his mistress dance.

“Djali!” said the dancer, “it is your turn.”

And, seating herself, she gracefully presented her tambourine to the

“Djali,” she continued, “what month is this?”

The goat lifted its fore foot, and struck one blow upon the tambourine.
It was the first month in the year, in fact.

“Djali,” pursued the young girl, turning her tambourine round, “what day
of the month is this?”

Djali raised his little gilt hoof, and struck six blows on the

“Djali,” pursued the Egyptian, with still another movement of the
tambourine, “what hour of the day is it?”

Djali struck seven blows. At that moment, the clock of the Pillar House
rang out seven.

The people were amazed.

“There’s sorcery at the bottom of it,” said a sinister voice in the
crowd. It was that of the bald man, who never removed his eyes from the

She shuddered and turned round; but applause broke forth and drowned the
morose exclamation.

It even effaced it so completely from her mind, that she continued to
question her goat.

“Djali, what does Master Guichard Grand-Remy, captain of the pistoliers
of the town do, at the procession of Candlemas?”

Djali reared himself on his hind legs, and began to bleat, marching
along with so much dainty gravity, that the entire circle of spectators
burst into a laugh at this parody of the interested devoutness of the
captain of pistoliers.

“Djali,” resumed the young girl, emboldened by her growing success,
“how preaches Master Jacques Charmolue, procurator to the king in the
ecclesiastical court?”

The goat seated himself on his hind quarters, and began to bleat, waving
his fore feet in so strange a manner, that, with the exception of
the bad French, and worse Latin, Jacques Charmolue was there
complete,--gesture, accent, and attitude.

And the crowd applauded louder than ever.

“Sacrilege! profanation!” resumed the voice of the bald man.

The gypsy turned round once more.

“Ah!” said she, “‘tis that villanous man!” Then, thrusting her under
lip out beyond the upper, she made a little pout, which appeared to
be familiar to her, executed a pirouette on her heel, and set about
collecting in her tambourine the gifts of the multitude.

Big blanks, little blanks, targes* and eagle liards showered into it.

     *  A blank: an old French coin; six blanks were worth two sous
and a half; targe, an ancient coin of Burgundy, a farthing.

All at once, she passed in front of Gringoire. Gringoire put his hand so
recklessly into his pocket that she halted. “The devil!” said the poet,
finding at the bottom of his pocket the reality, that is, to say, a
void. In the meantime, the pretty girl stood there, gazing at him
with her big eyes, and holding out her tambourine to him and waiting.
Gringoire broke into a violent perspiration.

If he had all Peru in his pocket, he would certainly have given it to
the dancer; but Gringoire had not Peru, and, moreover, America had not
yet been discovered.

Happily, an unexpected incident came to his rescue.

“Will you take yourself off, you Egyptian grasshopper?” cried a sharp
voice, which proceeded from the darkest corner of the Place.

The young girl turned round in affright. It was no longer the voice of
the bald man; it was the voice of a woman, bigoted and malicious.

However, this cry, which alarmed the gypsy, delighted a troop of
children who were prowling about there.

“It is the recluse of the Tour-Roland,” they exclaimed, with wild
laughter, “it is the sacked nun who is scolding! Hasn’t she supped?
Let’s carry her the remains of the city refreshments!”

All rushed towards the Pillar House.

In the meanwhile, Gringoire had taken advantage of the dancer’s
embarrassment, to disappear. The children’s shouts had reminded him that
he, also, had not supped, so he ran to the public buffet. But the little
rascals had better legs than he; when he arrived, they had stripped the
table. There remained not so much as a miserable _camichon_ at five sous
the pound. Nothing remained upon the wall but slender fleurs-de-lis,
mingled with rose bushes, painted in 1434 by Mathieu Biterne. It was a
meagre supper.

It is an unpleasant thing to go to bed without supper, it is a still
less pleasant thing not to sup and not to know where one is to sleep.
That was Gringoire’s condition. No supper, no shelter; he saw himself
pressed on all sides by necessity, and he found necessity very crabbed.
He had long ago discovered the truth, that Jupiter created men during a
fit of misanthropy, and that during a wise man’s whole life, his destiny
holds his philosophy in a state of siege. As for himself, he had never
seen the blockade so complete; he heard his stomach sounding a parley,
and he considered it very much out of place that evil destiny should
capture his philosophy by famine.

This melancholy revery was absorbing him more and more, when a song,
quaint but full of sweetness, suddenly tore him from it. It was the
young gypsy who was singing.

Her voice was like her dancing, like her beauty. It was indefinable
and charming; something pure and sonorous, aerial, winged, so to speak.
There were continual outbursts, melodies, unexpected cadences, then
simple phrases strewn with aerial and hissing notes; then floods of
scales which would have put a nightingale to rout, but in which harmony
was always present; then soft modulations of octaves which rose and
fell, like the bosom of the young singer. Her beautiful face followed,
with singular mobility, all the caprices of her song, from the wildest
inspiration to the chastest dignity. One would have pronounced her now a
mad creature, now a queen.

The words which she sang were in a tongue unknown to Gringoire, and
which seemed to him to be unknown to herself, so little relation did
the expression which she imparted to her song bear to the sense of the
words. Thus, these four lines, in her mouth, were madly gay,--

  _Un cofre de gran riqueza
    Hallaron dentro un pilar,
  Dentro del, nuevas banderas
   Con figuras de espantar_.*

     *  A coffer of great richness
    In a pillar’s heart they found,
   Within it lay new banners,
    With figures to astound.

And an instant afterwards, at the accents which she imparted to this

  _Alarabes de cavallo
   Sin poderse menear,
  Con espadas, y los cuellos,
   Ballestas de buen echar_,

Gringoire felt the tears start to his eyes. Nevertheless, her song
breathed joy, most of all, and she seemed to sing like a bird, from
serenity and heedlessness.

The gypsy’s song had disturbed Gringoire’s revery as the swan disturbs
the water. He listened in a sort of rapture, and forgetfulness of
everything. It was the first moment in the course of many hours when he
did not feel that he suffered.

The moment was brief.

The same woman’s voice, which had interrupted the gypsy’s dance,
interrupted her song.

“Will you hold your tongue, you cricket of hell?” it cried, still from
the same obscure corner of the place.

The poor “cricket” stopped short. Gringoire covered up his ears.

“Oh!” he exclaimed, “accursed saw with missing teeth, which comes to
break the lyre!”

Meanwhile, the other spectators murmured like himself; “To the devil
with the sacked nun!” said some of them. And the old invisible kill-joy
might have had occasion to repent of her aggressions against the gypsy
had their attention not been diverted at this moment by the procession
of the Pope of the Fools, which, after having traversed many streets and
squares, debouched on the Place de Grève, with all its torches and all
its uproar.

This procession, which our readers have seen set out from the Palais
de Justice, had organized on the way, and had been recruited by all
the knaves, idle thieves, and unemployed vagabonds in Paris; so that it
presented a very respectable aspect when it arrived at the Grève.

First came Egypt. The Duke of Egypt headed it, on horseback, with his
counts on foot holding his bridle and stirrups for him; behind them, the
male and female Egyptians, pell-mell, with their little children
crying on their shoulders; all--duke, counts, and populace--in rags and
tatters. Then came the Kingdom of Argot; that is to say, all the thieves
of France, arranged according to the order of their dignity; the minor
people walking first. Thus defiled by fours, with the divers insignia of
their grades, in that strange faculty, most of them lame, some
cripples, others one-armed, shop clerks, pilgrim, _hubins_, bootblacks,
thimble-riggers, street arabs, beggars, the blear-eyed beggars, thieves,
the weakly, vagabonds, merchants, sham soldiers, goldsmiths, passed
masters of pickpockets, isolated thieves. A catalogue that would
weary Homer. In the centre of the conclave of the passed masters of
pickpockets, one had some difficulty in distinguishing the King of
Argot, the grand coësre, so called, crouching in a little cart drawn
by two big dogs. After the kingdom of the Argotiers, came the Empire of
Galilee. Guillaume Rousseau, Emperor of the Empire of Galilee, marched
majestically in his robe of purple, spotted with wine, preceded by
buffoons wrestling and executing military dances; surrounded by his
macebearers, his pickpockets and clerks of the chamber of accounts. Last
of all came the corporation of law clerks, with its maypoles crowned
with flowers, its black robes, its music worthy of the orgy, and its
large candles of yellow wax. In the centre of this crowd, the grand
officers of the Brotherhood of Fools bore on their shoulders a litter
more loaded down with candles than the reliquary of Sainte-Geneviève in
time of pest; and on this litter shone resplendent, with crosier, cope,
and mitre, the new Pope of the Fools, the bellringer of Notre-Dame,
Quasimodo the hunchback.

Each section of this grotesque procession had its own music. The
Egyptians made their drums and African tambourines resound. The slang
men, not a very musical race, still clung to the goat’s horn trumpet and
the Gothic rubebbe of the twelfth century. The Empire of Galilee was not
much more advanced; among its music one could hardly distinguish some
miserable rebec, from the infancy of the art, still imprisoned in the
_re-la-mi_. But it was around the Pope of the Fools that all the musical
riches of the epoch were displayed in a magnificent discord. It was
nothing but soprano rebecs, counter-tenor rebecs, and tenor rebecs,
not to reckon the flutes and brass instruments. Alas! our readers will
remember that this was Gringoire’s orchestra.

It is difficult to convey an idea of the degree of proud and blissful
expansion to which the sad and hideous visage of Quasimodo had attained
during the transit from the Palais de Justice, to the Place de Grève. It
was the first enjoyment of self-love that he had ever experienced. Down
to that day, he had known only humiliation, disdain for his condition,
disgust for his person. Hence, deaf though he was, he enjoyed, like a
veritable pope, the acclamations of that throng, which he hated because
he felt that he was hated by it. What mattered it that his people
consisted of a pack of fools, cripples, thieves, and beggars? it was
still a people and he was its sovereign. And he accepted seriously all
this ironical applause, all this derisive respect, with which the crowd
mingled, it must be admitted, a good deal of very real fear. For the
hunchback was robust; for the bandy-legged fellow was agile; for the
deaf man was malicious: three qualities which temper ridicule.

We are far from believing, however, that the new Pope of the Fools
understood both the sentiments which he felt and the sentiments which
he inspired. The spirit which was lodged in this failure of a body had,
necessarily, something incomplete and deaf about it. Thus, what he felt
at the moment was to him, absolutely vague, indistinct, and confused.
Only joy made itself felt, only pride dominated. Around that sombre and
unhappy face, there hung a radiance.

It was, then, not without surprise and alarm, that at the very moment
when Quasimodo was passing the Pillar House, in that semi-intoxicated
state, a man was seen to dart from the crowd, and to tear from his
hands, with a gesture of anger, his crosier of gilded wood, the emblem
of his mock popeship.

This man, this rash individual, was the man with the bald brow, who,
a moment earlier, standing with the gypsy’s group had chilled the
poor girl with his words of menace and of hatred. He was dressed in
an ecclesiastical costume. At the moment when he stood forth from the
crowd, Gringoire, who had not noticed him up to that time, recognized
him: “Hold!” he said, with an exclamation of astonishment. “Eh! ‘tis my
master in Hermes, Dom Claude Frollo, the archdeacon! What the devil does
he want of that old one-eyed fellow? He’ll get himself devoured!”

A cry of terror arose, in fact. The formidable Quasimodo had hurled
himself from the litter, and the women turned aside their eyes in order
not to see him tear the archdeacon asunder.

He made one bound as far as the priest, looked at him, and fell upon his

The priest tore off his tiara, broke his crozier, and rent his tinsel

Quasimodo remained on his knees, with head bent and hands clasped.
Then there was established between them a strange dialogue of signs
and gestures, for neither of them spoke. The priest, erect on his
feet, irritated, threatening, imperious; Quasimodo, prostrate, humble,
suppliant. And, nevertheless, it is certain that Quasimodo could have
crushed the priest with his thumb.

At length the archdeacon, giving Quasimodo’s powerful shoulder a rough
shake, made him a sign to rise and follow him.

Quasimodo rose.

Then the Brotherhood of Fools, their first stupor having passed off,
wished to defend their pope, so abruptly dethroned. The Egyptians, the
men of slang, and all the fraternity of law clerks, gathered howling
round the priest.

Quasimodo placed himself in front of the priest, set in play the muscles
of his athletic fists, and glared upon the assailants with the snarl of
an angry tiger.

The priest resumed his sombre gravity, made a sign to Quasimodo, and
retired in silence.

Quasimodo walked in front of him, scattering the crowd as he passed.

When they had traversed the populace and the Place, the cloud of curious
and idle were minded to follow them. Quasimodo then constituted himself
the rearguard, and followed the archdeacon, walking backwards, squat,
surly, monstrous, bristling, gathering up his limbs, licking his boar’s
tusks, growling like a wild beast, and imparting to the crowd immense
vibrations, with a look or a gesture.

Both were allowed to plunge into a dark and narrow street, where no
one dared to venture after them; so thoroughly did the mere chimera of
Quasimodo gnashing his teeth bar the entrance.

“Here’s a marvellous thing,” said Gringoire; “but where the deuce shall
I find some supper?”


Gringoire set out to follow the gypsy at all hazards. He had seen her,
accompanied by her goat, take to the Rue de la Coutellerie; he took the
Rue de la Coutellerie.

“Why not?” he said to himself.

Gringoire, a practical philosopher of the streets of Paris, had noticed
that nothing is more propitious to revery than following a pretty
woman without knowing whither she is going. There was in this voluntary
abdication of his freewill, in this fancy submitting itself to another
fancy, which suspects it not, a mixture of fantastic independence and
blind obedience, something indescribable, intermediate between slavery
and liberty, which pleased Gringoire,--a spirit essentially compound,
undecided, and complex, holding the extremities of all extremes,
incessantly suspended between all human propensities, and neutralizing
one by the other. He was fond of comparing himself to Mahomet’s coffin,
attracted in two different directions by two loadstones, and hesitating
eternally between the heights and the depths, between the vault and the
pavement, between fall and ascent, between zenith and nadir.

If Gringoire had lived in our day, what a fine middle course he would
hold between classicism and romanticism!

But he was not sufficiently primitive to live three hundred years,
and ‘tis a pity. His absence is a void which is but too sensibly felt

Moreover, for the purpose of thus following passers-by (and especially
female passers-by) in the streets, which Gringoire was fond of doing,
there is no better disposition than ignorance of where one is going to

So he walked along, very thoughtfully, behind the young girl, who
hastened her pace and made her goat trot as she saw the bourgeois
returning home and the taverns--the only shops which had been open that

“After all,” he half thought to himself, “she must lodge somewhere;
gypsies have kindly hearts. Who knows?--”

And in the points of suspense which he placed after this reticence in
his mind, there lay I know not what flattering ideas.

Meanwhile, from time to time, as he passed the last groups of bourgeois
closing their doors, he caught some scraps of their conversation, which
broke the thread of his pleasant hypotheses.

Now it was two old men accosting each other.

“Do you know that it is cold, Master Thibaut Fernicle?” (Gringoire had
been aware of this since the beginning of the winter.)

“Yes, indeed, Master Boniface Disome! Are we going to have a winter
such as we had three years ago, in ‘80, when wood cost eight sous the

“Bah! that’s nothing, Master Thibaut, compared with the winter of 1407,
when it froze from St. Martin’s Day until Candlemas! and so cold that
the pen of the registrar of the parliament froze every three words, in
the Grand Chamber! which interrupted the registration of justice.”

Further on there were two female neighbors at their windows, holding
candles, which the fog caused to sputter.

“Has your husband told you about the mishap, Mademoiselle la Boudraque?”

“No. What is it, Mademoiselle Turquant?”

“The horse of M. Gilles Godin, the notary at the Châtelet, took fright
at the Flemings and their procession, and overturned Master Philippe
Avrillot, lay monk of the Célestins.”



“A bourgeois horse! ‘tis rather too much! If it had been a cavalry
horse, well and good!”

And the windows were closed. But Gringoire had lost the thread of his
ideas, nevertheless.

Fortunately, he speedily found it again, and he knotted it together
without difficulty, thanks to the gypsy, thanks to Djali, who still
walked in front of him; two fine, delicate, and charming creatures,
whose tiny feet, beautiful forms, and graceful manners he was engaged in
admiring, almost confusing them in his contemplation; believing them
to be both young girls, from their intelligence and good friendship;
regarding them both as goats,--so far as the lightness, agility, and
dexterity of their walk were concerned.

But the streets were becoming blacker and more deserted every moment.
The curfew had sounded long ago, and it was only at rare intervals
now that they encountered a passer-by in the street, or a light in the
windows. Gringoire had become involved, in his pursuit of the gypsy, in
that inextricable labyrinth of alleys, squares, and closed courts
which surround the ancient sepulchre of the Saints-Innocents, and which
resembles a ball of thread tangled by a cat. “Here are streets which
possess but little logic!” said Gringoire, lost in the thousands of
circuits which returned upon themselves incessantly, but where the young
girl pursued a road which seemed familiar to her, without hesitation and
with a step which became ever more rapid. As for him, he would have been
utterly ignorant of his situation had he not espied, in passing, at the
turn of a street, the octagonal mass of the pillory of the fish markets,
the open-work summit of which threw its black, fretted outlines clearly
upon a window which was still lighted in the Rue Verdelet.

The young girl’s attention had been attracted to him for the last few
moments; she had repeatedly turned her head towards him with uneasiness;
she had even once come to a standstill, and taking advantage of a ray of
light which escaped from a half-open bakery to survey him intently, from
head to foot, then, having cast this glance, Gringoire had seen her make
that little pout which he had already noticed, after which she passed

This little pout had furnished Gringoire with food for thought. There
was certainly both disdain and mockery in that graceful grimace. So he
dropped his head, began to count the paving-stones, and to follow the
young girl at a little greater distance, when, at the turn of a street,
which had caused him to lose sight of her, he heard her utter a piercing

He hastened his steps.

The street was full of shadows. Nevertheless, a twist of tow soaked in
oil, which burned in a cage at the feet of the Holy Virgin at the street
corner, permitted Gringoire to make out the gypsy struggling in the arms
of two men, who were endeavoring to stifle her cries. The poor little
goat, in great alarm, lowered his horns and bleated.

“Help! gentlemen of the watch!” shouted Gringoire, and advanced bravely.
One of the men who held the young girl turned towards him. It was the
formidable visage of Quasimodo.

Gringoire did not take to flight, but neither did he advance another

Quasimodo came up to him, tossed him four paces away on the pavement
with a backward turn of the hand, and plunged rapidly into the gloom,
bearing the young girl folded across one arm like a silken scarf. His
companion followed him, and the poor goat ran after them all, bleating

“Murder! murder!” shrieked the unhappy gypsy.

“Halt, rascals, and yield me that wench!” suddenly shouted in a voice of
thunder, a cavalier who appeared suddenly from a neighboring square.

It was a captain of the king’s archers, armed from head to foot, with
his sword in his hand.

He tore the gypsy from the arms of the dazed Quasimodo, threw her across
his saddle, and at the moment when the terrible hunchback, recovering
from his surprise, rushed upon him to regain his prey, fifteen or
sixteen archers, who followed their captain closely, made their
appearance, with their two-edged swords in their fists. It was a squad
of the king’s police, which was making the rounds, by order of Messire
Robert d’Estouteville, guard of the provostship of Paris.

Quasimodo was surrounded, seized, garroted; he roared, he foamed at the
mouth, he bit; and had it been broad daylight, there is no doubt that
his face alone, rendered more hideous by wrath, would have put the
entire squad to flight. But by night he was deprived of his most
formidable weapon, his ugliness.

His companion had disappeared during the struggle.

The gypsy gracefully raised herself upright upon the officer’s saddle,
placed both hands upon the young man’s shoulders, and gazed fixedly at
him for several seconds, as though enchanted with his good looks and
with the aid which he had just rendered her. Then breaking silence
first, she said to him, making her sweet voice still sweeter than

“What is your name, monsieur le gendarme?”

“Captain Phoebus de Châteaupers, at your service, my beauty!” replied
the officer, drawing himself up.

“Thanks,” said she.

And while Captain Phoebus was turning up his moustache in Burgundian
fashion, she slipped from the horse, like an arrow falling to earth, and

A flash of lightning would have vanished less quickly.

“Nombrill of the Pope!” said the captain, causing Quasimodo’s straps to
be drawn tighter, “I should have preferred to keep the wench.”

“What would you have, captain?” said one gendarme. “The warbler has
fled, and the bat remains.”


Gringoire, thoroughly stunned by his fall, remained on the pavement
in front of the Holy Virgin at the street corner. Little by little, he
regained his senses; at first, for several minutes, he was floating in a
sort of half-somnolent revery, which was not without its charm, in which
aeriel figures of the gypsy and her goat were coupled with Quasimodo’s
heavy fist. This state lasted but a short time. A decidedly vivid
sensation of cold in the part of his body which was in contact with the
pavement, suddenly aroused him and caused his spirit to return to the

“Whence comes this chill?” he said abruptly, to himself. He then
perceived that he was lying half in the middle of the gutter.

“That devil of a hunchbacked cyclops!” he muttered between his teeth;
and he tried to rise. But he was too much dazed and bruised; he was
forced to remain where he was. Moreover, his hand was tolerably free; he
stopped up his nose and resigned himself.

“The mud of Paris,” he said to himself--for decidedly he thought that he
was sure that the gutter would prove his refuge for the night; and what
can one do in a refuge, except dream?--“the mud of Paris is particularly
stinking; it must contain a great deal of volatile and nitric salts.
That, moreover, is the opinion of Master Nicholas Flamel, and of the

The word “alchemists” suddenly suggested to his mind the idea of
Archdeacon Claude Frollo. He recalled the violent scene which he had
just witnessed in part; that the gypsy was struggling with two men,
that Quasimodo had a companion; and the morose and haughty face of
the archdeacon passed confusedly through his memory. “That would be
strange!” he said to himself. And on that fact and that basis he began
to construct a fantastic edifice of hypothesis, that card-castle of
philosophers; then, suddenly returning once more to reality, “Come! I’m
freezing!” he ejaculated.

The place was, in fact, becoming less and less tenable. Each molecule
of the gutter bore away a molecule of heat radiating from Gringoire’s
loins, and the equilibrium between the temperature of his body and the
temperature of the brook, began to be established in rough fashion.

Quite a different annoyance suddenly assailed him. A group of children,
those little bare-footed savages who have always roamed the pavements
of Paris under the eternal name of _gamins_, and who, when we were also
children ourselves, threw stones at all of us in the afternoon, when we
came out of school, because our trousers were not torn--a swarm of these
young scamps rushed towards the square where Gringoire lay, with shouts
and laughter which seemed to pay but little heed to the sleep of the
neighbors. They were dragging after them some sort of hideous sack;
and the noise of their wooden shoes alone would have roused the dead.
Gringoire who was not quite dead yet, half raised himself.

“Ohé, Hennequin Dandéche! Ohè, Jehan Pincebourde!” they shouted in
deafening tones, “old Eustache Moubon, the merchant at the corner, has
just died. We’ve got his straw pallet, we’re going to have a bonfire out
of it. It’s the turn of the Flemish to-day!”

And behold, they flung the pallet directly upon Gringoire, beside whom
they had arrived, without espying him. At the same time, one of them
took a handful of straw and set off to light it at the wick of the good

“S’death!” growled Gringoire, “am I going to be too warm now?”

It was a critical moment. He was caught between fire and water; he made
a superhuman effort, the effort of a counterfeiter of money who is on
the point of being boiled, and who seeks to escape. He rose to his feet,
flung aside the straw pallet upon the street urchins, and fled.

“Holy Virgin!” shrieked the children; “‘tis the merchant’s ghost!”

And they fled in their turn.

The straw mattress remained master of the field. Belleforet, Father
Le Juge, and Corrozet affirm that it was picked up on the morrow, with
great pomp, by the clergy of the quarter, and borne to the treasury
of the church of Saint Opportune, where the sacristan, even as late as
1789, earned a tolerably handsome revenue out of the great miracle of
the Statue of the Virgin at the corner of the Rue Mauconseil, which
had, by its mere presence, on the memorable night between the sixth and
seventh of January, 1482, exorcised the defunct Eustache Moubon, who,
in order to play a trick on the devil, had at his death maliciously
concealed his soul in his straw pallet.


After having run for some time at the top of his speed, without knowing
whither, knocking his head against many a street corner, leaping many a
gutter, traversing many an alley, many a court, many a square, seeking
flight and passage through all the meanderings of the ancient passages
of the Halles, exploring in his panic terror what the fine Latin of the
maps calls _tota via, cheminum et viaria_, our poet suddenly halted for
lack of breath in the first place, and in the second, because he had
been collared, after a fashion, by a dilemma which had just occurred to
his mind. “It strikes me, Master Pierre Gringoire,” he said to himself,
placing his finger to his brow, “that you are running like a madman. The
little scamps are no less afraid of you than you are of them. It strikes
me, I say, that you heard the clatter of their wooden shoes fleeing
southward, while you were fleeing northward. Now, one of two things,
either they have taken flight, and the pallet, which they must have
forgotten in their terror, is precisely that hospitable bed in search
of which you have been running ever since morning, and which madame the
Virgin miraculously sends you, in order to recompense you for having
made a morality in her honor, accompanied by triumphs and mummeries; or
the children have not taken flight, and in that case they have put the
brand to the pallet, and that is precisely the good fire which you need
to cheer, dry, and warm you. In either case, good fire or good bed, that
straw pallet is a gift from heaven. The blessed Virgin Marie who stands
at the corner of the Rue Mauconseil, could only have made Eustache
Moubon die for that express purpose; and it is folly on your part to
flee thus zigzag, like a Picard before a Frenchman, leaving behind you
what you seek before you; and you are a fool!”

Then he retraced his steps, and feeling his way and searching, with his
nose to the wind and his ears on the alert, he tried to find the
blessed pallet again, but in vain. There was nothing to be found but
intersections of houses, closed courts, and crossings of streets, in
the midst of which he hesitated and doubted incessantly, being more
perplexed and entangled in this medley of streets than he would have
been even in the labyrinth of the Hôtel des Tournelles. At length he
lost patience, and exclaimed solemnly: “Cursed be cross roads! ‘tis the
devil who has made them in the shape of his pitchfork!”

This exclamation afforded him a little solace, and a sort of reddish
reflection which he caught sight of at that moment, at the extremity of
a long and narrow lane, completed the elevation of his moral tone. “God
be praised!” said he, “There it is yonder! There is my pallet burning.”
 And comparing himself to the pilot who suffers shipwreck by night,
“_Salve_,” he added piously, “_salve, maris stella_!”

Did he address this fragment of litany to the Holy Virgin, or to the
pallet? We are utterly unable to say.

He had taken but a few steps in the long street, which sloped downwards,
was unpaved, and more and more muddy and steep, when he noticed a very
singular thing. It was not deserted; here and there along its extent
crawled certain vague and formless masses, all directing their course
towards the light which flickered at the end of the street, like those
heavy insects which drag along by night, from blade to blade of grass,
towards the shepherd’s fire.

Nothing renders one so adventurous as not being able to feel the place
where one’s pocket is situated. Gringoire continued to advance, and had
soon joined that one of the forms which dragged along most indolently,
behind the others. On drawing near, he perceived that it was nothing
else than a wretched legless cripple in a bowl, who was hopping along on
his two hands like a wounded field-spider which has but two legs left.
At the moment when he passed close to this species of spider with a
human countenance, it raised towards him a lamentable voice: “_La buona
mancia, signor! la buona mancia_!”*

     *  Alms.

“Deuce take you,” said Gringoire, “and me with you, if I know what you

And he passed on.

He overtook another of these itinerant masses, and examined it. It was
an impotent man, both halt and crippled, and halt and crippled to such
a degree that the complicated system of crutches and wooden legs which
sustained him, gave him the air of a mason’s scaffolding on the march.
Gringoire, who liked noble and classical comparisons, compared him in
thought to the living tripod of Vulcan.

This living tripod saluted him as he passed, but stopping his hat on a
level with Gringoire’s chin, like a shaving dish, while he shouted in
the latter’s ears: “_Senor cabellero, para comprar un pedaso de pan_!”*

     *  Give me the means to buy a bit of bread, sir.

“It appears,” said Gringoire, “that this one can also talk; but ‘tis a
rude language, and he is more fortunate than I if he understands it.”
 Then, smiting his brow, in a sudden transition of ideas: “By the way,
what the deuce did they mean this morning with their Esmeralda?”

He was minded to augment his pace, but for the third time something
barred his way. This something or, rather, some one was a blind man, a
little blind fellow with a bearded, Jewish face, who, rowing away in the
space about him with a stick, and towed by a large dog, droned through
his nose with a Hungarian accent: “_Facitote caritatem_!”

“Well, now,” said Gringoire, “here’s one at last who speaks a Christian
tongue. I must have a very charitable aspect, since they ask alms of
me in the present lean condition of my purse. My friend,” and he turned
towards the blind man, “I sold my last shirt last week; that is to say,
since you understand only the language of Cicero: _Vendidi hebdomade
nuper transita meam ultimam chemisan_.”

That said, he turned his back upon the blind man, and pursued his way.
But the blind man began to increase his stride at the same time; and,
behold! the cripple and the legless man, in his bowl, came up on their
side in great haste, and with great clamor of bowl and crutches, upon
the pavement. Then all three, jostling each other at poor Gringoire’s
heels, began to sing their song to him,--

“_Caritatem_!” chanted the blind man.

“_La buona mancia_!” chanted the cripple in the bowl.

And the lame man took up the musical phrase by repeating: “_Un pedaso de

Gringoire stopped up his ears. “Oh, tower of Babel!” he exclaimed.

He set out to run. The blind man ran! The lame man ran! The cripple in
the bowl ran!

And then, in proportion as he plunged deeper into the street, cripples
in bowls, blind men and lame men, swarmed about him, and men with one
arm, and with one eye, and the leprous with their sores, some emerging
from little streets adjacent, some from the air-holes of cellars,
howling, bellowing, yelping, all limping and halting, all flinging
themselves towards the light, and humped up in the mire, like snails
after a shower.

Gringoire, still followed by his three persecutors, and not knowing
very well what was to become of him, marched along in terror among them,
turning out for the lame, stepping over the cripples in bowls, with his
feet imbedded in that ant-hill of lame men, like the English captain who
got caught in the quicksand of a swarm of crabs.

The idea occurred to him of making an effort to retrace his steps. But
it was too late. This whole legion had closed in behind him, and his
three beggars held him fast. So he proceeded, impelled both by this
irresistible flood, by fear, and by a vertigo which converted all this
into a sort of horrible dream.

At last he reached the end of the street. It opened upon an immense
place, where a thousand scattered lights flickered in the confused mists
of night. Gringoire flew thither, hoping to escape, by the swiftness of
his legs, from the three infirm spectres who had clutched him.

“_Onde vas, hombre_?” (Where are you going, my man?) cried the cripple,
flinging away his crutches, and running after him with the best legs
that ever traced a geometrical step upon the pavements of Paris.

In the meantime the legless man, erect upon his feet, crowned Gringoire
with his heavy iron bowl, and the blind man glared in his face with
flaming eyes!

“Where am I?” said the terrified poet.

“In the Court of Miracles,” replied a fourth spectre, who had accosted

“Upon my soul,” resumed Gringoire, “I certainly do behold the blind who
see, and the lame who walk, but where is the Saviour?”

They replied by a burst of sinister laughter.

The poor poet cast his eyes about him. It was, in truth, that
redoubtable Cour des Miracles, whither an honest man had never
penetrated at such an hour; the magic circle where the officers of the
Châtelet and the sergeants of the provostship, who ventured thither,
disappeared in morsels; a city of thieves, a hideous wart on the face of
Paris; a sewer, from which escaped every morning, and whither returned
every night to crouch, that stream of vices, of mendicancy and
vagabondage which always overflows in the streets of capitals; a
monstrous hive, to which returned at nightfall, with their booty, all
the drones of the social order; a lying hospital where the bohemian, the
disfrocked monk, the ruined scholar, the ne’er-do-wells of all nations,
Spaniards, Italians, Germans,--of all religions, Jews, Christians,
Mahometans, idolaters, covered with painted sores, beggars by day, were
transformed by night into brigands; an immense dressing-room, in a word,
where, at that epoch, the actors of that eternal comedy, which theft,
prostitution, and murder play upon the pavements of Paris, dressed and

It was a vast place, irregular and badly paved, like all the squares of
Paris at that date. Fires, around which swarmed strange groups, blazed
here and there. Every one was going, coming, and shouting. Shrill
laughter was to be heard, the wailing of children, the voices of
women. The hands and heads of this throng, black against the luminous
background, outlined against it a thousand eccentric gestures. At times,
upon the ground, where trembled the light of the fires, mingled with
large, indefinite shadows, one could behold a dog passing, which
resembled a man, a man who resembled a dog. The limits of races and
species seemed effaced in this city, as in a pandemonium. Men, women,
beasts, age, sex, health, maladies, all seemed to be in common among
these people; all went together, they mingled, confounded, superposed;
each one there participated in all.

The poor and flickering flames of the fire permitted Gringoire to
distinguish, amid his trouble, all around the immense place, a hideous
frame of ancient houses, whose wormeaten, shrivelled, stunted façades,
each pierced with one or two lighted attic windows, seemed to him, in
the darkness, like enormous heads of old women, ranged in a circle,
monstrous and crabbed, winking as they looked on at the Witches’

It was like a new world, unknown, unheard of, misshapen, creeping,
swarming, fantastic.

Gringoire, more and more terrified, clutched by the three beggars as by
three pairs of tongs, dazed by a throng of other faces which frothed and
yelped around him, unhappy Gringoire endeavored to summon his presence
of mind, in order to recall whether it was a Saturday. But his efforts
were vain; the thread of his memory and of his thought was broken; and,
doubting everything, wavering between what he saw and what he felt, he
put to himself this unanswerable question,--

“If I exist, does this exist? if this exists, do I exist?”

At that moment, a distinct cry arose in the buzzing throng which
surrounded him, “Let’s take him to the king! let’s take him to the

“Holy Virgin!” murmured Gringoire, “the king here must be a ram.”

“To the king! to the king!” repeated all voices.

They dragged him off. Each vied with the other in laying his claws upon
him. But the three beggars did not loose their hold and tore him from
the rest, howling, “He belongs to us!”

The poet’s already sickly doublet yielded its last sigh in this

While traversing the horrible place, his vertigo vanished. After taking
a few steps, the sentiment of reality returned to him. He began to
become accustomed to the atmosphere of the place. At the first moment
there had arisen from his poet’s head, or, simply and prosaically,
from his empty stomach, a mist, a vapor, so to speak, which, spreading
between objects and himself, permitted him to catch a glimpse of them
only in the incoherent fog of nightmare,--in those shadows of dreams
which distort every outline, agglomerating objects into unwieldy groups,
dilating things into chimeras, and men into phantoms. Little by little,
this hallucination was succeeded by a less bewildered and exaggerating
view. Reality made its way to the light around him, struck his eyes,
struck his feet, and demolished, bit by bit, all that frightful poetry
with which he had, at first, believed himself to be surrounded. He was
forced to perceive that he was not walking in the Styx, but in mud, that
he was elbowed not by demons, but by thieves; that it was not his soul
which was in question, but his life (since he lacked that precious
conciliator, which places itself so effectually between the bandit and
the honest man--a purse). In short, on examining the orgy more closely,
and with more coolness, he fell from the witches’ sabbath to the

The Cour des Miracles was, in fact, merely a dram-shop; but a brigand’s
dram-shop, reddened quite as much with blood as with wine.

The spectacle which presented itself to his eyes, when his ragged escort
finally deposited him at the end of his trip, was not fitted to bear him
back to poetry, even to the poetry of hell. It was more than ever the
prosaic and brutal reality of the tavern. Were we not in the fifteenth
century, we would say that Gringoire had descended from Michael Angelo
to Callot.

Around a great fire which burned on a large, circular flagstone, the
flames of which had heated red-hot the legs of a tripod, which was
empty for the moment, some wormeaten tables were placed, here and there,
haphazard, no lackey of a geometrical turn having deigned to adjust
their parallelism, or to see to it that they did not make too unusual
angles. Upon these tables gleamed several dripping pots of wine and
beer, and round these pots were grouped many bacchic visages, purple
with the fire and the wine. There was a man with a huge belly and a
jovial face, noisily kissing a woman of the town, thickset and brawny.
There was a sort of sham soldier, a “naquois,” as the slang expression
runs, who was whistling as he undid the bandages from his fictitious
wound, and removing the numbness from his sound and vigorous knee, which
had been swathed since morning in a thousand ligatures. On the other
hand, there was a wretched fellow, preparing with celandine and beef’s
blood, his “leg of God,” for the next day. Two tables further on, a
palmer, with his pilgrim’s costume complete, was practising the lament
of the Holy Queen, not forgetting the drone and the nasal drawl. Further
on, a young scamp was taking a lesson in epilepsy from an old pretender,
who was instructing him in the art of foaming at the mouth, by chewing a
morsel of soap. Beside him, a man with the dropsy was getting rid of his
swelling, and making four or five female thieves, who were disputing
at the same table, over a child who had been stolen that evening, hold
their noses. All circumstances which, two centuries later, “seemed so
ridiculous to the court,” as Sauval says, “that they served as a pastime
to the king, and as an introduction to the royal ballet of Night,
divided into four parts and danced on the theatre of the Petit-Bourbon.”
 “Never,” adds an eye witness of 1653, “have the sudden metamorphoses of
the Court of Miracles been more happily presented. Benserade prepared us
for it by some very gallant verses.”

Loud laughter everywhere, and obscene songs. Each one held his own
course, carping and swearing, without listening to his neighbor. Pots
clinked, and quarrels sprang up at the shock of the pots, and the broken
pots made rents in the rags.

A big dog, seated on his tail, gazed at the fire. Some children were
mingled in this orgy. The stolen child wept and cried. Another, a big
boy four years of age, seated with legs dangling, upon a bench that was
too high for him, before a table that reached to his chin, and uttering
not a word. A third, gravely spreading out upon the table with his
finger, the melted tallow which dripped from a candle. Last of all, a
little fellow crouching in the mud, almost lost in a cauldron, which
he was scraping with a tile, and from which he was evoking a sound that
would have made Stradivarius swoon.

Near the fire was a hogshead, and on the hogshead a beggar. This was the
king on his throne.

The three who had Gringoire in their clutches led him in front of this
hogshead, and the entire bacchanal rout fell silent for a moment, with
the exception of the cauldron inhabited by the child.

Gringoire dared neither breathe nor raise his eyes.

“_Hombre, quita tu sombrero_!” said one of the three knaves, in whose
grasp he was, and, before he had comprehended the meaning, the other had
snatched his hat--a wretched headgear, it is true, but still good on a
sunny day or when there was but little rain. Gringoire sighed.

Meanwhile the king addressed him, from the summit of his cask,--

“Who is this rogue?”

Gringoire shuddered. That voice, although accentuated by menace,
recalled to him another voice, which, that very morning, had dealt the
deathblow to his mystery, by drawling, nasally, in the midst of the
audience, “Charity, please!” He raised his head. It was indeed Clopin

Clopin Trouillefou, arrayed in his royal insignia, wore neither one rag
more nor one rag less. The sore upon his arm had already disappeared.
He held in his hand one of those whips made of thongs of white leather,
which police sergeants then used to repress the crowd, and which were
called _boullayes_. On his head he wore a sort of headgear, bound round
and closed at the top. But it was difficult to make out whether it was
a child’s cap or a king’s crown, the two things bore so strong a
resemblance to each other.

Meanwhile Gringoire, without knowing why, had regained some hope, on
recognizing in the King of the Cour des Miracles his accursed mendicant
of the Grand Hall.

“Master,” stammered he; “monseigneur--sire--how ought I to address
you?” he said at length, having reached the culminating point of his
crescendo, and knowing neither how to mount higher, nor to descend

“Monseigneur, his majesty, or comrade, call me what you please. But make
haste. What have you to say in your own defence?”

“In your own defence?” thought Gringoire, “that displeases me.” He
resumed, stuttering, “I am he, who this morning--”

“By the devil’s claws!” interrupted Clopin, “your name, knave, and
nothing more. Listen. You are in the presence of three powerful
sovereigns: myself, Clopin Trouillefou, King of Thunes, successor to the
Grand Coësre, supreme suzerain of the Realm of Argot; Mathias Hunyadi
Spicali, Duke of Egypt and of Bohemia, the old yellow fellow whom
you see yonder, with a dish clout round his head; Guillaume Rousseau,
Emperor of Galilee, that fat fellow who is not listening to us but
caressing a wench. We are your judges. You have entered the Kingdom of
Argot, without being an _argotier_; you have violated the privileges of
our city. You must be punished unless you are a _capon_, a _franc-mitou_
or a _rifodé_; that is to say, in the slang of honest folks,--a thief, a
beggar, or a vagabond. Are you anything of that sort? Justify yourself;
announce your titles.”

“Alas!” said Gringoire, “I have not that honor. I am the author--”

“That is sufficient,” resumed Trouillefou, without permitting him
to finish. “You are going to be hanged. ‘Tis a very simple matter,
gentlemen and honest bourgeois! as you treat our people in your abode,
so we treat you in ours! The law which you apply to vagabonds, vagabonds
apply to you. ‘Tis your fault if it is harsh. One really must behold
the grimace of an honest man above the hempen collar now and then; that
renders the thing honorable. Come, friend, divide your rags gayly among
these damsels. I am going to have you hanged to amuse the vagabonds, and
you are to give them your purse to drink your health. If you have any
mummery to go through with, there’s a very good God the Father in that
mortar yonder, in stone, which we stole from Saint-Pierre aux Boeufs.
You have four minutes in which to fling your soul at his head.”

The harangue was formidable.

“Well said, upon my soul! Clopin Trouillefou preaches like the Holy
Father the Pope!” exclaimed the Emperor of Galilee, smashing his pot in
order to prop up his table.

“Messeigneurs, emperors, and kings,” said Gringoire coolly (for I know
not how, firmness had returned to him, and he spoke with resolution),
“don’t think of such a thing; my name is Pierre Gringoire. I am the
poet whose morality was presented this morning in the grand hall of the

“Ah! so it was you, master!” said Clopin. “I was there, _xête Dieu_!
Well! comrade, is that any reason, because you bored us to death this
morning, that you should not be hung this evening?”

“I shall find difficulty in getting out of it,” said Gringoire to
himself. Nevertheless, he made one more effort: “I don’t see why poets
are not classed with vagabonds,” said he. “Vagabond, Aesopus certainly
was; Homerus was a beggar; Mercurius was a thief--”

Clopin interrupted him: “I believe that you are trying to blarney us
with your jargon. Zounds! let yourself be hung, and don’t kick up such a
row over it!”

“Pardon me, monseigneur, the King of Thunes,” replied Gringoire,
disputing the ground foot by foot. “It is worth trouble--One
moment!--Listen to me--You are not going to condemn me without having
heard me”--

His unlucky voice was, in fact, drowned in the uproar which rose around
him. The little boy scraped away at his cauldron with more spirit than
ever; and, to crown all, an old woman had just placed on the tripod a
frying-pan of grease, which hissed away on the fire with a noise similar
to the cry of a troop of children in pursuit of a masker.

In the meantime, Clopin Trouillefou appeared to hold a momentary
conference with the Duke of Egypt, and the Emperor of Galilee, who
was completely drunk. Then he shouted shrilly: “Silence!” and, as the
cauldron and the frying-pan did not heed him, and continued their duet,
he jumped down from his hogshead, gave a kick to the boiler, which
rolled ten paces away bearing the child with it, a kick to the
frying-pan, which upset in the fire with all its grease, and gravely
remounted his throne, without troubling himself about the stifled
tears of the child, or the grumbling of the old woman, whose supper was
wasting away in a fine white flame.

Trouillefou made a sign, and the duke, the emperor, and the passed
masters of pickpockets, and the isolated robbers, came and ranged
themselves around him in a horseshoe, of which Gringoire, still roughly
held by the body, formed the centre. It was a semicircle of rags,
tatters, tinsel, pitchforks, axes, legs staggering with intoxication,
huge, bare arms, faces sordid, dull, and stupid. In the midst of this
Round Table of beggary, Clopin Trouillefou,--as the doge of this senate,
as the king of this peerage, as the pope of this conclave,--dominated;
first by virtue of the height of his hogshead, and next by virtue of
an indescribable, haughty, fierce, and formidable air, which caused his
eyes to flash, and corrected in his savage profile the bestial type of
the race of vagabonds. One would have pronounced him a boar amid a herd
of swine.

“Listen,” said he to Gringoire, fondling his misshapen chin with his
horny hand; “I don’t see why you should not be hung. It is true that
it appears to be repugnant to you; and it is very natural, for you
bourgeois are not accustomed to it. You form for yourselves a great idea
of the thing. After all, we don’t wish you any harm. Here is a means
of extricating yourself from your predicament for the moment. Will you
become one of us?”

The reader can judge of the effect which this proposition produced upon
Gringoire, who beheld life slipping away from him, and who was beginning
to lose his hold upon it. He clutched at it again with energy.

“Certainly I will, and right heartily,” said he.

“Do you consent,” resumed Clopin, “to enroll yourself among the people
of the knife?”

“Of the knife, precisely,” responded Gringoire.

“You recognize yourself as a member of the free bourgeoisie?” * added the
King of Thunes.

     *  A high-toned sharper.

“Of the free bourgeoisie.”

“Subject of the Kingdom of Argot?”

“Of the Kingdom of Argot*.”

     *  Thieves.

“A vagabond?”

“A vagabond.”

“In your soul?”

“In my soul.”

“I must call your attention to the fact,” continued the king, “that you
will be hung all the same.”

“The devil!” said the poet.

“Only,” continued Clopin imperturbably, “you will be hung later on, with
more ceremony, at the expense of the good city of Paris, on a handsome
stone gibbet, and by honest men. That is a consolation.”

“Just so,” responded Gringoire.

“There are other advantages. In your quality of a high-toned sharper,
you will not have to pay the taxes on mud, or the poor, or lanterns, to
which the bourgeois of Paris are subject.”

“So be it,” said the poet. “I agree. I am a vagabond, a thief, a
sharper, a man of the knife, anything you please; and I am all that
already, monsieur, King of Thunes, for I am a philosopher; _et omnia in
philosophia, omnes in philosopho continentur_,--all things are contained
in philosophy, all men in the philosopher, as you know.”

The King of Thunes scowled.

“What do you take me for, my friend? What Hungarian Jew patter are you
jabbering at us? I don’t know Hebrew. One isn’t a Jew because one is
a bandit. I don’t even steal any longer. I’m above that; I kill.
Cut-throat, yes; cutpurse, no.”

Gringoire tried to slip in some excuse between these curt words, which
wrath rendered more and more jerky.

“I ask your pardon, monseigneur. It is not Hebrew; ‘tis Latin.”

“I tell you,” resumed Clopin angrily, “that I’m not a Jew, and that I’ll
have you hung, belly of the synagogue, like that little shopkeeper of
Judea, who is by your side, and whom I entertain strong hopes of seeing
nailed to a counter one of these days, like the counterfeit coin that he

So saying, he pointed his finger at the little, bearded Hungarian Jew
who had accosted Gringoire with his _facitote caritatem_, and who,
understanding no other language beheld with surprise the King of
Thunes’s ill-humor overflow upon him.

At length Monsieur Clopin calmed down.

“So you will be a vagabond, you knave?” he said to our poet.

“Of course,” replied the poet.

“Willing is not all,” said the surly Clopin; “good will doesn’t put one
onion the more into the soup, and ‘tis good for nothing except to go
to Paradise with; now, Paradise and the thieves’ band are two different
things. In order to be received among the thieves,* you must prove that
you are good for something, and for that purpose, you must search the

     * L’argot.

“I’ll search anything you like,” said Gringoire.

Clopin made a sign. Several thieves detached themselves from the circle,
and returned a moment later. They brought two thick posts, terminated
at their lower extremities in spreading timber supports, which made them
stand readily upon the ground; to the upper extremity of the two posts
they fitted a cross-beam, and the whole constituted a very pretty
portable gibbet, which Gringoire had the satisfaction of beholding rise
before him, in a twinkling. Nothing was lacking, not even the rope,
which swung gracefully over the cross-beam.

“What are they going to do?” Gringoire asked himself with some
uneasiness. A sound of bells, which he heard at that moment, put an
end to his anxiety; it was a stuffed manikin, which the vagabonds were
suspending by the neck from the rope, a sort of scarecrow dressed in
red, and so hung with mule-bells and larger bells, that one might have
tricked out thirty Castilian mules with them. These thousand tiny bells
quivered for some time with the vibration of the rope, then gradually
died away, and finally became silent when the manikin had been brought
into a state of immobility by that law of the pendulum which has
dethroned the water clock and the hour-glass. Then Clopin, pointing out
to Gringoire a rickety old stool placed beneath the manikin,--“Climb up

“Death of the devil!” objected Gringoire; “I shall break my neck. Your
stool limps like one of Martial’s distiches; it has one hexameter leg
and one pentameter leg.”

“Climb!” repeated Clopin.

Gringoire mounted the stool, and succeeded, not without some
oscillations of head and arms, in regaining his centre of gravity.

“Now,” went on the King of Thunes, “twist your right foot round your
left leg, and rise on the tip of your left foot.”

“Monseigneur,” said Gringoire, “so you absolutely insist on my breaking
some one of my limbs?”

Clopin tossed his head.

“Hark ye, my friend, you talk too much. Here’s the gist of the matter
in two words: you are to rise on tiptoe, as I tell you; in that way you
will be able to reach the pocket of the manikin, you will rummage it,
you will pull out the purse that is there,--and if you do all this
without our hearing the sound of a bell, all is well: you shall be a
vagabond. All we shall then have to do, will be to thrash you soundly
for the space of a week.”

“_Ventre-Dieu_! I will be careful,” said Gringoire. “And suppose I do
make the bells sound?”

“Then you will be hanged. Do you understand?”

“I don’t understand at all,” replied Gringoire.

“Listen, once more. You are to search the manikin, and take away its
purse; if a single bell stirs during the operation, you will be hung. Do
you understand that?”

“Good,” said Gringoire; “I understand that. And then?”

“If you succeed in removing the purse without our hearing the bells, you
are a vagabond, and you will be thrashed for eight consecutive days. You
understand now, no doubt?”

“No, monseigneur; I no longer understand. Where is the advantage to me?
hanged in one case, cudgelled in the other?”

“And a vagabond,” resumed Clopin, “and a vagabond; is that nothing? It
is for your interest that we should beat you, in order to harden you to

“Many thanks,” replied the poet.

“Come, make haste,” said the king, stamping upon his cask, which
resounded like a huge drum! “Search the manikin, and let there be an end
to this! I warn you for the last time, that if I hear a single bell, you
will take the place of the manikin.”

The band of thieves applauded Clopin’s words, and arranged themselves
in a circle round the gibbet, with a laugh so pitiless that Gringoire
perceived that he amused them too much not to have everything to fear
from them. No hope was left for him, accordingly, unless it were the
slight chance of succeeding in the formidable operation which was
imposed upon him; he decided to risk it, but it was not without first
having addressed a fervent prayer to the manikin he was about to
plunder, and who would have been easier to move to pity than the
vagabonds. These myriad bells, with their little copper tongues, seemed
to him like the mouths of so many asps, open and ready to sting and to

“Oh!” he said, in a very low voice, “is it possible that my life depends
on the slightest vibration of the least of these bells? Oh!” he added,
with clasped hands, “bells, do not ring, hand-bells do not clang,
mule-bells do not quiver!”

He made one more attempt upon Trouillefou.

“And if there should come a gust of wind?”

“You will be hanged,” replied the other, without hesitation.

Perceiving that no respite, nor reprieve, nor subterfuge was possible,
he bravely decided upon his course of action; he wound his right foot
round his left leg, raised himself on his left foot, and stretched out
his arm: but at the moment when his hand touched the manikin, his body,
which was now supported upon one leg only, wavered on the stool which
had but three; he made an involuntary effort to support himself by the
manikin, lost his balance, and fell heavily to the ground, deafened
by the fatal vibration of the thousand bells of the manikin, which,
yielding to the impulse imparted by his hand, described first a rotary
motion, and then swayed majestically between the two posts.

“Malediction!” he cried as he fell, and remained as though dead, with
his face to the earth.

Meanwhile, he heard the dreadful peal above his head, the diabolical
laughter of the vagabonds, and the voice of Trouillefou saying,--

“Pick me up that knave, and hang him without ceremony.” He rose. They
had already detached the manikin to make room for him.

The thieves made him mount the stool, Clopin came to him, passed the
rope about his neck, and, tapping him on the shoulder,--

“Adieu, my friend. You can’t escape now, even if you digested with the
pope’s guts.”

The word “Mercy!” died away upon Gringoire’s lips. He cast his eyes
about him; but there was no hope: all were laughing.

“Bellevigne de l’Etoile,” said the King of Thunes to an enormous
vagabond, who stepped out from the ranks, “climb upon the cross beam.”

Bellevigne de l’Etoile nimbly mounted the transverse beam, and in
another minute, Gringoire, on raising his eyes, beheld him, with terror,
seated upon the beam above his head.

“Now,” resumed Clopin Trouillefou, “as soon as I clap my hands, you,
Andry the Red, will fling the stool to the ground with a blow of your
knee; you, François Chante-Prune, will cling to the feet of the rascal;
and you, Bellevigne, will fling yourself on his shoulders; and all three
at once, do you hear?”

Gringoire shuddered.

“Are you ready?” said Clopin Trouillefou to the three thieves, who held
themselves in readiness to fall upon Gringoire. A moment of horrible
suspense ensued for the poor victim, during which Clopin tranquilly
thrust into the fire with the tip of his foot, some bits of vine shoots
which the flame had not caught. “Are you ready?” he repeated, and opened
his hands to clap. One second more and all would have been over.

But he paused, as though struck by a sudden thought.

“One moment!” said he; “I forgot! It is our custom not to hang a man
without inquiring whether there is any woman who wants him. Comrade,
this is your last resource. You must wed either a female vagabond or the

This law of the vagabonds, singular as it may strike the reader, remains
to-day written out at length, in ancient English legislation. (See
_Burington’s Observations_.)

Gringoire breathed again. This was the second time that he had
returned to life within an hour. So he did not dare to trust to it too

“Holà!” cried Clopin, mounted once more upon his cask, “holà! women,
females, is there among you, from the sorceress to her cat, a wench who
wants this rascal? Holà, Colette la Charonne! Elisabeth Trouvain! Simone
Jodouyne! Marie Piédebou! Thonne la Longue! Bérarde Fanouel!
Michelle Genaille! Claude Ronge-oreille! Mathurine Girorou!--Holà!
Isabeau-la-Thierrye! Come and see! A man for nothing! Who wants him?”

Gringoire, no doubt, was not very appetizing in this miserable
condition. The female vagabonds did not seem to be much affected by the
proposition. The unhappy wretch heard them answer: “No! no! hang him;
there’ll be the more fun for us all!”

Nevertheless, three emerged from the throng and came to smell of
him. The first was a big wench, with a square face. She examined the
philosopher’s deplorable doublet attentively. His garment was worn, and
more full of holes than a stove for roasting chestnuts. The girl made a
wry face. “Old rag!” she muttered, and addressing Gringoire, “Let’s see
your cloak!” “I have lost it,” replied Gringoire. “Your hat?” “They took
it away from me.” “Your shoes?” “They have hardly any soles left.” “Your
purse?” “Alas!” stammered Gringoire, “I have not even a sou.” “Let
them hang you, then, and say ‘Thank you!’” retorted the vagabond wench,
turning her back on him.

The second,--old, black, wrinkled, hideous, with an ugliness conspicuous
even in the Cour des Miracles, trotted round Gringoire. He almost
trembled lest she should want him. But she mumbled between her teeth,
“He’s too thin,” and went off.

The third was a young girl, quite fresh, and not too ugly. “Save me!”
 said the poor fellow to her, in a low tone. She gazed at him for a
moment with an air of pity, then dropped her eyes, made a plait in her
petticoat, and remained in indecision. He followed all these movements
with his eyes; it was the last gleam of hope. “No,” said the young girl,
at length, “no! Guillaume Longuejoue would beat me.” She retreated into
the crowd.

“You are unlucky, comrade,” said Clopin.

Then rising to his feet, upon his hogshead. “No one wants him,” he
exclaimed, imitating the accent of an auctioneer, to the great delight
of all; “no one wants him? once, twice, three times!” and, turning
towards the gibbet with a sign of his hand, “Gone!”

Bellevigne de l’Etoile, Andry the Red, François Chante-Prune, stepped up
to Gringoire.

At that moment a cry arose among the thieves: “La Esmeralda! La

Gringoire shuddered, and turned towards the side whence the clamor

The crowd opened, and gave passage to a pure and dazzling form.

It was the gypsy.

“La Esmeralda!” said Gringoire, stupefied in the midst of his emotions,
by the abrupt manner in which that magic word knotted together all his
reminiscences of the day.

This rare creature seemed, even in the Cour des Miracles, to exercise
her sway of charm and beauty. The vagabonds, male and female, ranged
themselves gently along her path, and their brutal faces beamed beneath
her glance.

She approached the victim with her light step. Her pretty Djali followed
her. Gringoire was more dead than alive. She examined him for a moment
in silence.

“You are going to hang this man?” she said gravely, to Clopin.

“Yes, sister,” replied the King of Thunes, “unless you will take him for
your husband.”

She made her pretty little pout with her under lip. “I’ll take him,”
 said she.

Gringoire firmly believed that he had been in a dream ever since
morning, and that this was the continuation of it.

The change was, in fact, violent, though a gratifying one. They undid
the noose, and made the poet step down from the stool. His emotion was
so lively that he was obliged to sit down.

The Duke of Egypt brought an earthenware crock, without uttering a word.
The gypsy offered it to Gringoire: “Fling it on the ground,” said she.

The crock broke into four pieces.

“Brother,” then said the Duke of Egypt, laying his hands upon their
foreheads, “she is your wife; sister, he is your husband for four years.


A few moments later our poet found himself in a tiny arched chamber,
very cosy, very warm, seated at a table which appeared to ask nothing
better than to make some loans from a larder hanging near by, having
a good bed in prospect, and alone with a pretty girl. The adventure
smacked of enchantment. He began seriously to take himself for a
personage in a fairy tale; he cast his eyes about him from time to
time to time, as though to see if the chariot of fire, harnessed to
two-winged chimeras, which alone could have so rapidly transported him
from Tartarus to Paradise, were still there. At times, also, he fixed
his eyes obstinately upon the holes in his doublet, in order to cling
to reality, and not lose the ground from under his feet completely. His
reason, tossed about in imaginary space, now hung only by this thread.

The young girl did not appear to pay any attention to him; she went and
came, displaced a stool, talked to her goat, and indulged in a pout
now and then. At last she came and seated herself near the table, and
Gringoire was able to scrutinize her at his ease.

You have been a child, reader, and you would, perhaps, be very happy to
be one still. It is quite certain that you have not, more than once (and
for my part, I have passed whole days, the best employed of my life, at
it) followed from thicket to thicket, by the side of running water, on a
sunny day, a beautiful green or blue dragon-fly, breaking its flight in
abrupt angles, and kissing the tips of all the branches. You recollect
with what amorous curiosity your thought and your gaze were riveted
upon this little whirlwind, hissing and humming with wings of purple and
azure, in the midst of which floated an imperceptible body, veiled by
the very rapidity of its movement. The aerial being which was dimly
outlined amid this quivering of wings, appeared to you chimerical,
imaginary, impossible to touch, impossible to see. But when, at length,
the dragon-fly alighted on the tip of a reed, and, holding your breath
the while, you were able to examine the long, gauze wings, the long
enamel robe, the two globes of crystal, what astonishment you felt, and
what fear lest you should again behold the form disappear into a shade,
and the creature into a chimera! Recall these impressions, and you will
readily appreciate what Gringoire felt on contemplating, beneath her
visible and palpable form, that Esmeralda of whom, up to that time,
he had only caught a glimpse, amidst a whirlwind of dance, song, and

Sinking deeper and deeper into his revery: “So this,” he said to
himself, following her vaguely with his eyes, “is la Esmeralda! a
celestial creature! a street dancer! so much, and so little! ‘Twas she
who dealt the death-blow to my mystery this morning, ‘tis she who saves
my life this evening! My evil genius! My good angel! A pretty woman,
on my word! and who must needs love me madly to have taken me in that
fashion. By the way,” said he, rising suddenly, with that sentiment
of the true which formed the foundation of his character and his
philosophy, “I don’t know very well how it happens, but I am her

With this idea in his head and in his eyes, he stepped up to the young
girl in a manner so military and so gallant that she drew back.

“What do you want of me?” said she.

“Can you ask me, adorable Esmeralda?” replied Gringoire, with so
passionate an accent that he was himself astonished at it on hearing
himself speak.

The gypsy opened her great eyes. “I don’t know what you mean.”

“What!” resumed Gringoire, growing warmer and warmer, and supposing
that, after all, he had to deal merely with a virtue of the Cour des
Miracles; “am I not thine, sweet friend, art thou not mine?”

And, quite ingenuously, he clasped her waist.

The gypsy’s corsage slipped through his hands like the skin of an eel.
She bounded from one end of the tiny room to the other, stooped down,
and raised herself again, with a little poniard in her hand, before
Gringoire had even had time to see whence the poniard came; proud and
angry, with swelling lips and inflated nostrils, her cheeks as red as an
api apple,* and her eyes darting lightnings. At the same time, the white
goat placed itself in front of her, and presented to Gringoire a hostile
front, bristling with two pretty horns, gilded and very sharp. All this
took place in the twinkling of an eye.

     *  A small dessert apple, bright red on one side and
     greenish-white on the other.

The dragon-fly had turned into a wasp, and asked nothing better than to

Our philosopher was speechless, and turned his astonished eyes from the
goat to the young girl. “Holy Virgin!” he said at last, when surprise
permitted him to speak, “here are two hearty dames!”

The gypsy broke the silence on her side.

“You must be a very bold knave!”

“Pardon, mademoiselle,” said Gringoire, with a smile. “But why did you
take me for your husband?”

“Should I have allowed you to be hanged?”

“So,” said the poet, somewhat disappointed in his amorous hopes. “You
had no other idea in marrying me than to save me from the gibbet?”

“And what other idea did you suppose that I had?”

Gringoire bit his lips. “Come,” said he, “I am not yet so triumphant in
Cupido, as I thought. But then, what was the good of breaking that poor

Meanwhile Esmeralda’s dagger and the goat’s horns were still upon the

“Mademoiselle Esmeralda,” said the poet, “let us come to terms. I am
not a clerk of the court, and I shall not go to law with you for
thus carrying a dagger in Paris, in the teeth of the ordinances and
prohibitions of M. the Provost. Nevertheless, you are not ignorant of
the fact that Noel Lescrivain was condemned, a week ago, to pay ten
Parisian sous, for having carried a cutlass. But this is no affair of
mine, and I will come to the point. I swear to you, upon my share of
Paradise, not to approach you without your leave and permission, but do
give me some supper.”

The truth is, Gringoire was, like M. Despreaux, “not very voluptuous.”
 He did not belong to that chevalier and musketeer species, who take
young girls by assault. In the matter of love, as in all other affairs,
he willingly assented to temporizing and adjusting terms; and a good
supper, and an amiable tête-a-tête appeared to him, especially when
he was hungry, an excellent interlude between the prologue and the
catastrophe of a love adventure.

The gypsy did not reply. She made her disdainful little grimace, drew
up her head like a bird, then burst out laughing, and the tiny poniard
disappeared as it had come, without Gringoire being able to see where
the wasp concealed its sting.

A moment later, there stood upon the table a loaf of rye bread, a slice
of bacon, some wrinkled apples and a jug of beer. Gringoire began to eat
eagerly. One would have said, to hear the furious clashing of his
iron fork and his earthenware plate, that all his love had turned to

The young girl seated opposite him, watched him in silence, visibly
preoccupied with another thought, at which she smiled from time to time,
while her soft hand caressed the intelligent head of the goat, gently
pressed between her knees.

A candle of yellow wax illuminated this scene of voracity and revery.

Meanwhile, the first cravings of his stomach having been stilled,
Gringoire felt some false shame at perceiving that nothing remained but
one apple.

“You do not eat, Mademoiselle Esmeralda?”

She replied by a negative sign of the head, and her pensive glance fixed
itself upon the vault of the ceiling.

“What the deuce is she thinking of?” thought Gringoire, staring at what
she was gazing at; “‘tis impossible that it can be that stone dwarf
carved in the keystone of that arch, which thus absorbs her attention.
What the deuce! I can bear the comparison!”

He raised his voice, “Mademoiselle!”

She seemed not to hear him.

He repeated, still more loudly, “Mademoiselle Esmeralda!”

Trouble wasted. The young girl’s mind was elsewhere, and Gringoire’s
voice had not the power to recall it. Fortunately, the goat interfered.
She began to pull her mistress gently by the sleeve.

“What dost thou want, Djali?” said the gypsy, hastily, as though
suddenly awakened.

“She is hungry,” said Gringoire, charmed to enter into conversation.
Esmeralda began to crumble some bread, which Djali ate gracefully from
the hollow of her hand.

Moreover, Gringoire did not give her time to resume her revery. He
hazarded a delicate question.

“So you don’t want me for your husband?”

The young girl looked at him intently, and said, “No.”

“For your lover?” went on Gringoire.

She pouted, and replied, “No.”

“For your friend?” pursued Gringoire.

She gazed fixedly at him again, and said, after a momentary reflection,

This “perhaps,” so dear to philosophers, emboldened Gringoire.

“Do you know what friendship is?” he asked.

“Yes,” replied the gypsy; “it is to be brother and sister; two souls
which touch without mingling, two fingers on one hand.”

“And love?” pursued Gringoire.

“Oh! love!” said she, and her voice trembled, and her eye beamed. “That
is to be two and to be but one. A man and a woman mingled into one
angel. It is heaven.”

The street dancer had a beauty as she spoke thus, that struck Gringoire
singularly, and seemed to him in perfect keeping with the almost
oriental exaltation of her words. Her pure, red lips half smiled;
her serene and candid brow became troubled, at intervals, under her
thoughts, like a mirror under the breath; and from beneath her long,
drooping, black eyelashes, there escaped a sort of ineffable light,
which gave to her profile that ideal serenity which Raphael found at the
mystic point of intersection of virginity, maternity, and divinity.

Nevertheless, Gringoire continued,--

“What must one be then, in order to please you?”

“A man.”

“And I--” said he, “what, then, am I?”

“A man has a hemlet on his head, a sword in his hand, and golden spurs
on his heels.”

“Good,” said Gringoire, “without a horse, no man. Do you love any one?”

“As a lover?--”


She remained thoughtful for a moment, then said with a peculiar
expression: “That I shall know soon.”

“Why not this evening?” resumed the poet tenderly. “Why not me?”

She cast a grave glance upon him and said,--

“I can never love a man who cannot protect me.”

Gringoire colored, and took the hint. It was evident that the young girl
was alluding to the slight assistance which he had rendered her in the
critical situation in which she had found herself two hours previously.
This memory, effaced by his own adventures of the evening, now recurred
to him. He smote his brow.

“By the way, mademoiselle, I ought to have begun there. Pardon my
foolish absence of mind. How did you contrive to escape from the claws
of Quasimodo?”

This question made the gypsy shudder.

“Oh! the horrible hunchback,” said she, hiding her face in her hands.
And she shuddered as though with violent cold.

“Horrible, in truth,” said Gringoire, who clung to his idea; “but how
did you manage to escape him?”

La Esmeralda smiled, sighed, and remained silent.

“Do you know why he followed you?” began Gringoire again, seeking to
return to his question by a circuitous route.

“I don’t know,” said the young girl, and she added hastily, “but you
were following me also, why were you following me?”

“In good faith,” responded Gringoire, “I don’t know either.”

Silence ensued. Gringoire slashed the table with his knife. The young
girl smiled and seemed to be gazing through the wall at something. All
at once she began to sing in a barely articulate voice,--

   _Quando las pintadas aves,
   Mudas estan, y la tierra_--*

     *  When the gay-plumaged birds grow weary, and the earth--

She broke off abruptly, and began to caress Djali.

“That’s a pretty animal of yours,” said Gringoire.

“She is my sister,” she answered.

“Why are you called ‘la Esmeralda?’” asked the poet.

“I do not know.”

“But why?”

She drew from her bosom a sort of little oblong bag, suspended from her
neck by a string of adrézarach beads. This bag exhaled a strong odor of
camphor. It was covered with green silk, and bore in its centre a large
piece of green glass, in imitation of an emerald.

“Perhaps it is because of this,” said she.

Gringoire was on the point of taking the bag in his hand. She drew back.

“Don’t touch it! It is an amulet. You would injure the charm or the
charm would injure you.”

The poet’s curiosity was more and more aroused.

“Who gave it to you?”

She laid one finger on her mouth and concealed the amulet in her bosom.
He tried a few more questions, but she hardly replied.

“What is the meaning of the words, ‘la Esmeralda?’”

“I don’t know,” said she.

“To what language do they belong?”

“They are Egyptian, I think.”

“I suspected as much,” said Gringoire, “you are not a native of France?”

“I don’t know.”

“Are your parents alive?”

She began to sing, to an ancient air,--

 _Mon père est oiseau,
  Ma mère est oiselle.
  Je passe l’eau sans nacelle,
  Je passe l’eau sans bateau,
  Ma mère est oiselle,
  Mon père est oiseau_.*

     *  My father is a bird, my mother is a bird.  I cross the
water without a barque, I cross the water without a boat. My mother is a
bird, my father is a bird.

“Good,” said Gringoire. “At what age did you come to France?”

“When I was very young.”

“And when to Paris?”

“Last year. At the moment when we were entering the papal gate I saw
a reed warbler flit through the air, that was at the end of August; I
said, it will be a hard winter.”

“So it was,” said Gringoire, delighted at this beginning of a
conversation. “I passed it in blowing my fingers. So you have the gift
of prophecy?”

She retired into her laconics again.

“Is that man whom you call the Duke of Egypt, the chief of your tribe?”


“But it was he who married us,” remarked the poet timidly.

She made her customary pretty grimace.

“I don’t even know your name.”

“My name? If you want it, here it is,--Pierre Gringoire.”

“I know a prettier one,” said she.

“Naughty girl!” retorted the poet. “Never mind, you shall not provoke
me. Wait, perhaps you will love me more when you know me better; and
then, you have told me your story with so much confidence, that I
owe you a little of mine. You must know, then, that my name is Pierre
Gringoire, and that I am a son of the farmer of the notary’s office
of Gonesse. My father was hung by the Burgundians, and my mother
disembowelled by the Picards, at the siege of Paris, twenty years ago.
At six years of age, therefore, I was an orphan, without a sole to
my foot except the pavements of Paris. I do not know how I passed the
interval from six to sixteen. A fruit dealer gave me a plum here, a
baker flung me a crust there; in the evening I got myself taken up
by the watch, who threw me into prison, and there I found a bundle of
straw. All this did not prevent my growing up and growing thin, as you
see. In the winter I warmed myself in the sun, under the porch of the
Hôtel de Sens, and I thought it very ridiculous that the fire on Saint
John’s Day was reserved for the dog days. At sixteen, I wished to choose
a calling. I tried all in succession. I became a soldier; but I was not
brave enough. I became a monk; but I was not sufficiently devout; and
then I’m a bad hand at drinking. In despair, I became an apprentice
of the woodcutters, but I was not strong enough; I had more of an
inclination to become a schoolmaster; ‘tis true that I did not know how
to read, but that’s no reason. I perceived at the end of a certain time,
that I lacked something in every direction; and seeing that I was good
for nothing, of my own free will I became a poet and rhymester. That
is a trade which one can always adopt when one is a vagabond, and it’s
better than stealing, as some young brigands of my acquaintance advised
me to do. One day I met by luck, Dom Claude Frollo, the reverend
archdeacon of Notre-Dame. He took an interest in me, and it is to him
that I to-day owe it that I am a veritable man of letters, who knows
Latin from the _de Officiis_ of Cicero to the mortuology of the
Celestine Fathers, and a barbarian neither in scholastics, nor in
politics, nor in rhythmics, that sophism of sophisms. I am the author
of the Mystery which was presented to-day with great triumph and a great
concourse of populace, in the grand hall of the Palais de Justice.
I have also made a book which will contain six hundred pages, on the
wonderful comet of 1465, which sent one man mad. I have enjoyed still
other successes. Being somewhat of an artillery carpenter, I lent a hand
to Jean Mangue’s great bombard, which burst, as you know, on the day
when it was tested, on the Pont de Charenton, and killed four and twenty
curious spectators. You see that I am not a bad match in marriage. I
know a great many sorts of very engaging tricks, which I will teach your
goat; for example, to mimic the Bishop of Paris, that cursed Pharisee
whose mill wheels splash passers-by the whole length of the Pont aux
Meuniers. And then my mystery will bring me in a great deal of coined
money, if they will only pay me. And finally, I am at your orders, I and
my wits, and my science and my letters, ready to live with you, damsel,
as it shall please you, chastely or joyously; husband and wife, if you
see fit; brother and sister, if you think that better.”

Gringoire ceased, awaiting the effect of his harangue on the young girl.
Her eyes were fixed on the ground.

“‘Phoebus,’” she said in a low voice. Then, turning towards the poet,
“‘Phoebus’,--what does that mean?”

Gringoire, without exactly understanding what the connection could be
between his address and this question, was not sorry to display his
erudition. Assuming an air of importance, he replied,--

“It is a Latin word which means ‘sun.’”

“Sun!” she repeated.

“It is the name of a handsome archer, who was a god,” added Gringoire.

“A god!” repeated the gypsy, and there was something pensive and
passionate in her tone.

At that moment, one of her bracelets became unfastened and fell.
Gringoire stooped quickly to pick it up; when he straightened up, the
young girl and the goat had disappeared. He heard the sound of a bolt.
It was a little door, communicating, no doubt, with a neighboring cell,
which was being fastened on the outside.

“Has she left me a bed, at least?” said our philosopher.

He made the tour of his cell. There was no piece of furniture adapted to
sleeping purposes, except a tolerably long wooden coffer; and its cover
was carved, to boot; which afforded Gringoire, when he stretched himself
out upon it, a sensation somewhat similar to that which Micromégas would
feel if he were to lie down on the Alps.

“Come!” said he, adjusting himself as well as possible, “I must resign
myself. But here’s a strange nuptial night. ‘Tis a pity. There was
something innocent and antediluvian about that broken crock, which quite
pleased me.”



The church of Notre-Dame de Paris is still no doubt, a majestic and
sublime edifice. But, beautiful as it has been preserved in growing old,
it is difficult not to sigh, not to wax indignant, before the numberless
degradations and mutilations which time and men have both caused the
venerable monument to suffer, without respect for Charlemagne, who laid
its first stone, or for Philip Augustus, who laid the last.

On the face of this aged queen of our cathedrals, by the side of a
wrinkle, one always finds a scar. _Tempus edax, homo edacior*_; which I
should be glad to translate thus: time is blind, man is stupid.

     *  Time is a devourer; man, more so.

If we had leisure to examine with the reader, one by one, the diverse
traces of destruction imprinted upon the old church, time’s share would
be the least, the share of men the most, especially the men of art,
since there have been individuals who assumed the title of architects
during the last two centuries.

And, in the first place, to cite only a few leading examples, there
certainly are few finer architectural pages than this façade, where,
successively and at once, the three portals hollowed out in an arch; the
broidered and dentated cordon of the eight and twenty royal niches; the
immense central rose window, flanked by its two lateral windows, like
a priest by his deacon and subdeacon; the frail and lofty gallery of
trefoil arcades, which supports a heavy platform above its fine, slender
columns; and lastly, the two black and massive towers with their slate
penthouses, harmonious parts of a magnificent whole, superposed in five
gigantic stories;--develop themselves before the eye, in a mass and
without confusion, with their innumerable details of statuary, carving,
and sculpture, joined powerfully to the tranquil grandeur of the whole;
a vast symphony in stone, so to speak; the colossal work of one man
and one people, all together one and complex, like the Iliads and the
Romanceros, whose sister it is; prodigious product of the grouping
together of all the forces of an epoch, where, upon each stone, one sees
the fancy of the workman disciplined by the genius of the artist start
forth in a hundred fashions; a sort of human creation, in a word,
powerful and fecund as the divine creation of which it seems to have
stolen the double character,--variety, eternity.

And what we here say of the façade must be said of the entire church;
and what we say of the cathedral church of Paris, must be said of all
the churches of Christendom in the Middle Ages. All things are in place
in that art, self-created, logical, and well proportioned. To measure
the great toe of the foot is to measure the giant.

Let us return to the façade of Notre-Dame, as it still appears to us,
when we go piously to admire the grave and puissant cathedral, which
inspires terror, so its chronicles assert: _quæ mole sua terrorem
incutit spectantibus_.

Three important things are to-day lacking in that façade: in the first
place, the staircase of eleven steps which formerly raised it above the
soil; next, the lower series of statues which occupied the niches of
the three portals; and lastly the upper series, of the twenty-eight most
ancient kings of France, which garnished the gallery of the first story,
beginning with Childebert, and ending with Phillip Augustus, holding in
his hand “the imperial apple.”

Time has caused the staircase to disappear, by raising the soil of the
city with a slow and irresistible progress; but, while thus causing the
eleven steps which added to the majestic height of the edifice, to
be devoured, one by one, by the rising tide of the pavements of
Paris,--time has bestowed upon the church perhaps more than it has taken
away, for it is time which has spread over the façade that sombre hue of
the centuries which makes the old age of monuments the period of their

But who has thrown down the two rows of statues? who has left the niches
empty? who has cut, in the very middle of the central portal, that new
and bastard arch? who has dared to frame therein that commonplace and
heavy door of carved wood, à la Louis XV., beside the arabesques of
Biscornette? The men, the architects, the artists of our day.

And if we enter the interior of the edifice, who has overthrown that
colossus of Saint Christopher, proverbial for magnitude among statues,
as the grand hall of the Palais de Justice was among halls, as the spire
of Strasbourg among spires? And those myriads of statues, which peopled
all the spaces between the columns of the nave and the choir, kneeling,
standing, equestrian, men, women, children, kings, bishops, gendarmes,
in stone, in marble, in gold, in silver, in copper, in wax even,--who
has brutally swept them away? It is not time.

And who substituted for the ancient gothic altar, splendidly encumbered
with shrines and reliquaries, that heavy marble sarcophagus, with
angels’ heads and clouds, which seems a specimen pillaged from
the Val-de-Grâce or the Invalides? Who stupidly sealed that heavy
anachronism of stone in the Carlovingian pavement of Hercandus? Was it
not Louis XIV., fulfilling the request of Louis XIII.?

And who put the cold, white panes in the place of those windows, “high
in color,” which caused the astonished eyes of our fathers to hesitate
between the rose of the grand portal and the arches of the apse? And
what would a sub-chanter of the sixteenth century say, on beholding
the beautiful yellow wash, with which our archiepiscopal vandals have
desmeared their cathedral? He would remember that it was the color with
which the hangman smeared “accursed” edifices; he would recall the
Hôtel du Petit-Bourbon, all smeared thus, on account of the constable’s
treason. “Yellow, after all, of so good a quality,” said Sauval, “and so
well recommended, that more than a century has not yet caused it to lose
its color.” He would think that the sacred place had become infamous,
and would flee.

And if we ascend the cathedral, without mentioning a thousand barbarisms
of every sort,--what has become of that charming little bell tower,
which rested upon the point of intersection of the cross-roofs,
and which, no less frail and no less bold than its neighbor (also
destroyed), the spire of the Sainte-Chapelle, buried itself in the sky,
farther forward than the towers, slender, pointed, sonorous, carved
in open work. An architect of good taste amputated it (1787), and
considered it sufficient to mask the wound with that large, leaden
plaster, which resembles a pot cover.

‘Tis thus that the marvellous art of the Middle Ages has been treated in
nearly every country, especially in France. One can distinguish on
its ruins three sorts of lesions, all three of which cut into it at
different depths; first, time, which has insensibly notched its surface
here and there, and gnawed it everywhere; next, political and religious
revolution, which, blind and wrathful by nature, have flung themselves
tumultuously upon it, torn its rich garment of carving and sculpture,
burst its rose windows, broken its necklace of arabesques and tiny
figures, torn out its statues, sometimes because of their mitres,
sometimes because of their crowns; lastly, fashions, even more grotesque
and foolish, which, since the anarchical and splendid deviations of
the Renaissance, have followed each other in the necessary decadence
of architecture. Fashions have wrought more harm than revolutions. They
have cut to the quick; they have attacked the very bone and framework of
art; they have cut, slashed, disorganized, killed the edifice, in form
as in the symbol, in its consistency as well as in its beauty. And
then they have made it over; a presumption of which neither time nor
revolutions at least have been guilty. They have audaciously adjusted,
in the name of “good taste,” upon the wounds of gothic architecture,
their miserable gewgaws of a day, their ribbons of marble, their pompons
of metal, a veritable leprosy of egg-shaped ornaments, volutes, whorls,
draperies, garlands, fringes, stone flames, bronze clouds, pudgy cupids,
chubby-cheeked cherubim, which begin to devour the face of art in the
oratory of Catherine de Medicis, and cause it to expire, two centuries
later, tortured and grimacing, in the boudoir of the Dubarry.

Thus, to sum up the points which we have just indicated, three sorts of
ravages to-day disfigure Gothic architecture. Wrinkles and warts on the
epidermis; this is the work of time. Deeds of violence, brutalities,
contusions, fractures; this is the work of the revolutions from Luther
to Mirabeau. Mutilations, amputations, dislocation of the joints,
“restorations”; this is the Greek, Roman, and barbarian work of
professors according to Vitruvius and Vignole. This magnificent art
produced by the Vandals has been slain by the academies. The centuries,
the revolutions, which at least devastate with impartiality and
grandeur, have been joined by a cloud of school architects, licensed,
sworn, and bound by oath; defacing with the discernment and choice of
bad taste, substituting the _chicorées_ of Louis XV. for the Gothic
lace, for the greater glory of the Parthenon. It is the kick of the ass
at the dying lion. It is the old oak crowning itself, and which, to heap
the measure full, is stung, bitten, and gnawed by caterpillars.

How far it is from the epoch when Robert Cenalis, comparing Notre-Dame
de Paris to the famous temple of Diana at Ephesus, *so much lauded
by the ancient pagans*, which Erostatus *has* immortalized, found
the Gallic temple “more excellent in length, breadth, height, and
structure.” *

     *  _Histoire Gallicane_, liv. II. Periode III. fo. 130, p. 1.

Notre-Dame is not, moreover, what can be called a complete, definite,
classified monument. It is no longer a Romanesque church; nor is it a
Gothic church. This edifice is not a type. Notre-Dame de Paris has not,
like the Abbey of Tournus, the grave and massive frame, the large
and round vault, the glacial bareness, the majestic simplicity of the
edifices which have the rounded arch for their progenitor. It is not,
like the Cathedral of Bourges, the magnificent, light, multiform,
tufted, bristling efflorescent product of the pointed arch. Impossible
to class it in that ancient family of sombre, mysterious churches, low
and crushed as it were by the round arch, almost Egyptian, with the
exception of the ceiling; all hieroglyphics, all sacerdotal, all
symbolical, more loaded in their ornaments, with lozenges and zigzags,
than with flowers, with flowers than with animals, with animals than
with men; the work of the architect less than of the bishop; first
transformation of art, all impressed with theocratic and military
discipline, taking root in the Lower Empire, and stopping with the time
of William the Conqueror. Impossible to place our Cathedral in that
other family of lofty, aerial churches, rich in painted windows and
sculpture; pointed in form, bold in attitude; communal and bourgeois as
political symbols; free, capricious, lawless, as a work of art; second
transformation of architecture, no longer hieroglyphic, immovable and
sacerdotal, but artistic, progressive, and popular, which begins at the
return from the crusades, and ends with Louis IX. Notre-Dame de Paris is
not of pure Romanesque, like the first; nor of pure Arabian race, like
the second.

It is an edifice of the transition period. The Saxon architect completed
the erection of the first pillars of the nave, when the pointed arch,
which dates from the Crusade, arrived and placed itself as a conqueror
upon the large Romanesque capitals which should support only round
arches. The pointed arch, mistress since that time, constructed the rest
of the church. Nevertheless, timid and inexperienced at the start, it
sweeps out, grows larger, restrains itself, and dares no longer dart
upwards in spires and lancet windows, as it did later on, in so many
marvellous cathedrals. One would say that it were conscious of the
vicinity of the heavy Romanesque pillars.

However, these edifices of the transition from the Romanesque to the
Gothic, are no less precious for study than the pure types. They express
a shade of the art which would be lost without them. It is the graft of
the pointed upon the round arch.

Notre-Dame de Paris is, in particular, a curious specimen of this
variety. Each face, each stone of the venerable monument, is a page not
only of the history of the country, but of the history of science and
art as well. Thus, in order to indicate here only the principal details,
while the little Red Door almost attains to the limits of the Gothic
delicacy of the fifteenth century, the pillars of the nave, by their
size and weight, go back to the Carlovingian Abbey of Saint-Germain des
Prés. One would suppose that six centuries separated these pillars from
that door. There is no one, not even the hermetics, who does not find
in the symbols of the grand portal a satisfactory compendium of their
science, of which the Church of Saint-Jacques de la Boucherie was so
complete a hieroglyph. Thus, the Roman abbey, the philosophers’ church,
the Gothic art, Saxon art, the heavy, round pillar, which recalls
Gregory VII., the hermetic symbolism, with which Nicolas Flamel played
the prelude to Luther, papal unity, schism, Saint-Germain des Prés,
Saint-Jacques de la Boucherie,--all are mingled, combined, amalgamated
in Notre-Dame. This central mother church is, among the ancient churches
of Paris, a sort of chimera; it has the head of one, the limbs of
another, the haunches of another, something of all.

We repeat it, these hybrid constructions are not the least interesting
for the artist, for the antiquarian, for the historian. They make
one feel to what a degree architecture is a primitive thing, by
demonstrating (what is also demonstrated by the cyclopean vestiges,
the pyramids of Egypt, the gigantic Hindoo pagodas) that the greatest
products of architecture are less the works of individuals than of
society; rather the offspring of a nation’s effort, than the inspired
flash of a man of genius; the deposit left by a whole people; the heaps
accumulated by centuries; the residue of successive evaporations of
human society,--in a word, species of formations. Each wave of time
contributes its alluvium, each race deposits its layer on the monument,
each individual brings his stone. Thus do the beavers, thus do the bees,
thus do men. The great symbol of architecture, Babel, is a hive.

Great edifices, like great mountains, are the work of centuries. Art
often undergoes a transformation while they are pending, _pendent opera
interrupta_; they proceed quietly in accordance with the transformed
art. The new art takes the monument where it finds it, incrusts itself
there, assimilates it to itself, develops it according to its fancy,
and finishes it if it can. The thing is accomplished without trouble,
without effort, without reaction,--following a natural and tranquil
law. It is a graft which shoots up, a sap which circulates, a vegetation
which starts forth anew. Certainly there is matter here for many large
volumes, and often the universal history of humanity in the successive
engrafting of many arts at many levels, upon the same monument. The man,
the artist, the individual, is effaced in these great masses, which
lack the name of their author; human intelligence is there summed up and
totalized. Time is the architect, the nation is the builder.

Not to consider here anything except the Christian architecture of
Europe, that younger sister of the great masonries of the Orient,
it appears to the eyes as an immense formation divided into three
well-defined zones, which are superposed, the one upon the other: the
Romanesque zone*, the Gothic zone, the zone of the Renaissance, which
we would gladly call the Greco-Roman zone. The Roman layer, which is
the most ancient and deepest, is occupied by the round arch, which
reappears, supported by the Greek column, in the modern and upper layer
of the Renaissance. The pointed arch is found between the two. The
edifices which belong exclusively to any one of these three layers
are perfectly distinct, uniform, and complete. There is the Abbey of
Jumiéges, there is the Cathedral of Reims, there is the Sainte-Croix of
Orleans. But the three zones mingle and amalgamate along the edges, like
the colors in the solar spectrum. Hence, complex monuments, edifices
of gradation and transition. One is Roman at the base, Gothic in the
middle, Greco-Roman at the top. It is because it was six hundred years
in building. This variety is rare. The donjon keep of d’Etampes is a
specimen of it. But monuments of two formations are more frequent. There
is Notre-Dame de Paris, a pointed-arch edifice, which is imbedded by
its pillars in that Roman zone, in which are plunged the portal of
Saint-Denis, and the nave of Saint-Germain des Prés. There is the
charming, half-Gothic chapter-house of Bocherville, where the Roman
layer extends half way up. There is the cathedral of Rouen, which would
be entirely Gothic if it did not bathe the tip of its central spire in
the zone of the Renaissance.**

     *  This is the same which is called, according to locality,
climate, and races, Lombard, Saxon, or Byzantine. There are four sister
and parallel architectures, each having its special character, but
derived from the same origin, the round arch.

  _Facies non omnibus una,
  No diversa tamen, qualem_, etc.

Their faces not all alike, nor yet different, but such as the faces of
sisters ought to be.

     **  This portion of the spire, which was of woodwork, is precisely
that which was consumed by lightning, in 1823.

However, all these shades, all these differences, do not affect the
surfaces of edifices only. It is art which has changed its skin. The
very constitution of the Christian church is not attacked by it. There
is always the same internal woodwork, the same logical arrangement
of parts. Whatever may be the carved and embroidered envelope of a
cathedral, one always finds beneath it--in the state of a germ, and of
a rudiment at the least--the Roman basilica. It is eternally developed
upon the soil according to the same law. There are, invariably, two
naves, which intersect in a cross, and whose upper portion, rounded into
an apse, forms the choir; there are always the side aisles, for interior
processions, for chapels,--a sort of lateral walks or promenades where
the principal nave discharges itself through the spaces between the
pillars. That settled, the number of chapels, doors, bell towers,
and pinnacles are modified to infinity, according to the fancy of the
century, the people, and art. The service of religion once assured
and provided for, architecture does what she pleases. Statues,
stained glass, rose windows, arabesques, denticulations, capitals,
bas-reliefs,--she combines all these imaginings according to the
arrangement which best suits her. Hence, the prodigious exterior variety
of these edifices, at whose foundation dwells so much order and unity.
The trunk of a tree is immovable; the foliage is capricious.


We have just attempted to restore, for the reader’s benefit, that
admirable church of Notre-Dame de Paris. We have briefly pointed out
the greater part of the beauties which it possessed in the fifteenth
century, and which it lacks to-day; but we have omitted the principal
thing,--the view of Paris which was then to be obtained from the summits
of its towers.

That was, in fact,--when, after having long groped one’s way up the dark
spiral which perpendicularly pierces the thick wall of the belfries,
one emerged, at last abruptly, upon one of the lofty platforms inundated
with light and air,--that was, in fact, a fine picture which spread
out, on all sides at once, before the eye; a spectacle _sui generis_, of
which those of our readers who have had the good fortune to see a
Gothic city entire, complete, homogeneous,--a few of which still remain,
Nuremberg in Bavaria and Vittoria in Spain,--can readily form an idea;
or even smaller specimens, provided that they are well preserved,--Vitré
in Brittany, Nordhausen in Prussia.

The Paris of three hundred and fifty years ago--the Paris of the
fifteenth century--was already a gigantic city. We Parisians generally
make a mistake as to the ground which we think that we have gained,
since Paris has not increased much over one-third since the time of
Louis XI. It has certainly lost more in beauty than it has gained in

Paris had its birth, as the reader knows, in that old island of the City
which has the form of a cradle. The strand of that island was its
first boundary wall, the Seine its first moat. Paris remained for many
centuries in its island state, with two bridges, one on the north, the
other on the south; and two bridge heads, which were at the same time
its gates and its fortresses,--the Grand-Châtelet on the right bank,
the Petit-Châtelet on the left. Then, from the date of the kings of the
first race, Paris, being too cribbed and confined in its island, and
unable to return thither, crossed the water. Then, beyond the Grand,
beyond the Petit-Châtelet, a first circle of walls and towers began to
infringe upon the country on the two sides of the Seine. Some vestiges
of this ancient enclosure still remained in the last century; to-day,
only the memory of it is left, and here and there a tradition, the
Baudets or Baudoyer gate, “Porte Bagauda”.

Little by little, the tide of houses, always thrust from the heart of
the city outwards, overflows, devours, wears away, and effaces this
wall. Philip Augustus makes a new dike for it. He imprisons Paris in a
circular chain of great towers, both lofty and solid. For the period of
more than a century, the houses press upon each other, accumulate, and
raise their level in this basin, like water in a reservoir. They begin
to deepen; they pile story upon story; they mount upon each other; they
gush forth at the top, like all laterally compressed growth, and there
is a rivalry as to which shall thrust its head above its neighbors, for
the sake of getting a little air. The street glows narrower and deeper,
every space is overwhelmed and disappears. The houses finally leap the
wall of Philip Augustus, and scatter joyfully over the plain, without
order, and all askew, like runaways. There they plant themselves
squarely, cut themselves gardens from the fields, and take their
ease. Beginning with 1367, the city spreads to such an extent into the
suburbs, that a new wall becomes necessary, particularly on the right
bank; Charles V. builds it. But a city like Paris is perpetually
growing. It is only such cities that become capitals. They are funnels,
into which all the geographical, political, moral, and intellectual
water-sheds of a country, all the natural slopes of a people, pour;
wells of civilization, so to speak, and also sewers, where commerce,
industry, intelligence, population,--all that is sap, all that is life,
all that is the soul of a nation, filters and amasses unceasingly, drop
by drop, century by century.

So Charles V.’s wall suffered the fate of that of Philip Augustus. At
the end of the fifteenth century, the Faubourg strides across it, passes
beyond it, and runs farther. In the sixteenth, it seems to retreat
visibly, and to bury itself deeper and deeper in the old city, so thick
had the new city already become outside of it. Thus, beginning with the
fifteenth century, where our story finds us, Paris had already outgrown
the three concentric circles of walls which, from the time of Julian the
Apostate, existed, so to speak, in germ in the Grand-Châtelet and the
Petit-Châtelet. The mighty city had cracked, in succession, its four
enclosures of walls, like a child grown too large for his garments of
last year. Under Louis XI., this sea of houses was seen to be pierced
at intervals by several groups of ruined towers, from the ancient wall,
like the summits of hills in an inundation,--like archipelagos of the
old Paris submerged beneath the new. Since that time Paris has undergone
yet another transformation, unfortunately for our eyes; but it has
passed only one more wall, that of Louis XV., that miserable wall of
mud and spittle, worthy of the king who built it, worthy of the poet who
sung it,--

  _Le mur murant Paris rend Paris murmurant_.*

     *  The wall walling Paris makes Paris murmur.

In the fifteenth century, Paris was still divided into three wholly
distinct and separate towns, each having its own physiognomy, its own
specialty, its manners, customs, privileges, and history: the City, the
University, the Town. The City, which occupied the island, was the
most ancient, the smallest, and the mother of the other two, crowded in
between them like (may we be pardoned the comparison) a little old woman
between two large and handsome maidens. The University covered the left
bank of the Seine, from the Tournelle to the Tour de Nesle, points which
correspond in the Paris of to-day, the one to the wine market, the other
to the mint. Its wall included a large part of that plain where Julian
had built his hot baths. The hill of Sainte-Geneviève was enclosed in
it. The culminating point of this sweep of walls was the Papal gate,
that is to say, near the present site of the Pantheon. The Town, which
was the largest of the three fragments of Paris, held the right bank.
Its quay, broken or interrupted in many places, ran along the Seine,
from the Tour de Billy to the Tour du Bois; that is to say, from the
place where the granary stands to-day, to the present site of the
Tuileries. These four points, where the Seine intersected the wall of
the capital, the Tournelle and the Tour de Nesle on the right, the Tour
de Billy and the Tour du Bois on the left, were called pre-eminently,
“the four towers of Paris.” The Town encroached still more extensively
upon the fields than the University. The culminating point of the
Town wall (that of Charles V.) was at the gates of Saint-Denis and
Saint-Martin, whose situation has not been changed.

As we have just said, each of these three great divisions of Paris was a
town, but too special a town to be complete, a city which could not
get along without the other two. Hence three entirely distinct aspects:
churches abounded in the City; palaces, in the Town; and colleges,
in the University. Neglecting here the originalities, of secondary
importance in old Paris, and the capricious regulations regarding the
public highways, we will say, from a general point of view, taking only
masses and the whole group, in this chaos of communal jurisdictions,
that the island belonged to the bishop, the right bank to the provost of
the merchants, the left bank to the Rector; over all ruled the provost
of Paris, a royal not a municipal official. The City had Notre-Dame; the
Town, the Louvre and the Hôtel de Ville; the University, the Sorbonne.
The Town had the markets (Halles); the city, the Hospital; the
University, the Pré-aux-Clercs. Offences committed by the scholars
on the left bank were tried in the law courts on the island, and were
punished on the right bank at Montfauçon; unless the rector, feeling the
university to be strong and the king weak, intervened; for it was the
students’ privilege to be hanged on their own grounds.

The greater part of these privileges, it may be noted in passing, and
there were some even better than the above, had been extorted from the
kings by revolts and mutinies. It is the course of things from time
immemorial; the king only lets go when the people tear away. There is an
old charter which puts the matter naively: apropos of fidelity: _Civibus
fidelitas in reges, quæ tamen aliquoties seditionibus interrypta, multa
peperit privileyia_.

In the fifteenth century, the Seine bathed five islands within the walls
of Paris: Louviers island, where there were then trees, and where there
is no longer anything but wood; l’ile aux Vaches, and l’ile Notre-Dame,
both deserted, with the exception of one house, both fiefs of the
bishop--in the seventeenth century, a single island was formed out of
these two, which was built upon and named l’ile Saint-Louis--, lastly
the City, and at its point, the little islet of the cow tender, which
was afterwards engulfed beneath the platform of the Pont-Neuf. The City
then had five bridges: three on the right, the Pont Notre-Dame, and the
Pont au Change, of stone, the Pont aux Meuniers, of wood; two on the
left, the Petit Pont, of stone, the Pont Saint-Michel, of wood; all
loaded with houses.

The University had six gates, built by Philip Augustus; there were,
beginning with la Tournelle, the Porte Saint-Victor, the Porte Bordelle,
the Porte Papale, the Porte Saint-Jacques, the Porte Saint-Michel,
the Porte Saint-Germain. The Town had six gates, built by Charles V.;
beginning with the Tour de Billy they were: the Porte Saint-Antoine,
the Porte du Temple, the Porte Saint-Martin, the Porte Saint-Denis, the
Porte Montmartre, the Porte Saint-Honoré. All these gates were strong,
and also handsome, which does not detract from strength. A large, deep
moat, with a brisk current during the high water of winter, bathed the
base of the wall round Paris; the Seine furnished the water. At night,
the gates were shut, the river was barred at both ends of the city with
huge iron chains, and Paris slept tranquilly.

From a bird’s-eye view, these three burgs, the City, the Town, and
the University, each presented to the eye an inextricable skein of
eccentrically tangled streets. Nevertheless, at first sight, one
recognized the fact that these three fragments formed but one body.
One immediately perceived three long parallel streets, unbroken,
undisturbed, traversing, almost in a straight line, all three cities,
from one end to the other; from North to South, perpendicularly, to the
Seine, which bound them together, mingled them, infused them in each
other, poured and transfused the people incessantly, from one to the
other, and made one out of the three. The first of these streets ran
from the Porte Saint-Martin: it was called the Rue Saint-Jacques in
the University, Rue de la Juiverie in the City, Rue Saint-Martin in the
Town; it crossed the water twice, under the name of the Petit Pont and
the Pont Notre-Dame. The second, which was called the Rue de la Harpe
on the left bank, Rue de la Barillerié in the island, Rue Saint-Denis
on the right bank, Pont Saint-Michel on one arm of the Seine, Pont au
Change on the other, ran from the Porte Saint-Michel in the University,
to the Porte Saint-Denis in the Town. However, under all these names,
there were but two streets, parent streets, generating streets,--the two
arteries of Paris. All the other veins of the triple city either derived
their supply from them or emptied into them.

Independently of these two principal streets, piercing Paris
diametrically in its whole breadth, from side to side, common to the
entire capital, the City and the University had also each its own great
special street, which ran lengthwise by them, parallel to the Seine,
cutting, as it passed, at right angles, the two arterial thoroughfares.
Thus, in the Town, one descended in a straight line from the Porte
Saint-Antoine to the Porte Saint-Honoré; in the University from
the Porte Saint-Victor to the Porte Saint-Germain. These two great
thoroughfares intersected by the two first, formed the canvas upon which
reposed, knotted and crowded together on every hand, the labyrinthine
network of the streets of Paris. In the incomprehensible plan of
these streets, one distinguished likewise, on looking attentively, two
clusters of great streets, like magnified sheaves of grain, one in the
University, the other in the Town, which spread out gradually from the
bridges to the gates.

Some traces of this geometrical plan still exist to-day.

Now, what aspect did this whole present, when, as viewed from the summit
of the towers of Notre-Dame, in 1482? That we shall try to describe.

For the spectator who arrived, panting, upon that pinnacle, it was first
a dazzling confusing view of roofs, chimneys, streets, bridges, places,
spires, bell towers. Everything struck your eye at once: the carved
gable, the pointed roof, the turrets suspended at the angles of the
walls; the stone pyramids of the eleventh century, the slate obelisks of
the fifteenth; the round, bare tower of the donjon keep; the square and
fretted tower of the church; the great and the little, the massive and
the aerial. The eye was, for a long time, wholly lost in this labyrinth,
where there was nothing which did not possess its originality, its
reason, its genius, its beauty,--nothing which did not proceed from art;
beginning with the smallest house, with its painted and carved front,
with external beams, elliptical door, with projecting stories, to the
royal Louvre, which then had a colonnade of towers. But these are the
principal masses which were then to be distinguished when the eye began
to accustom itself to this tumult of edifices.

In the first place, the City.--“The island of the City,” as Sauval says,
who, in spite of his confused medley, sometimes has such happy turns of
expression,--“the island of the city is made like a great ship, stuck in
the mud and run aground in the current, near the centre of the Seine.”

We have just explained that, in the fifteenth century, this ship was
anchored to the two banks of the river by five bridges. This form of a
ship had also struck the heraldic scribes; for it is from that, and
not from the siege by the Normans, that the ship which blazons the old
shield of Paris, comes, according to Favyn and Pasquier. For him
who understands how to decipher them, armorial bearings are algebra,
armorial bearings have a tongue. The whole history of the second half of
the Middle Ages is written in armorial bearings,--the first half is
in the symbolism of the Roman churches. They are the hieroglyphics of
feudalism, succeeding those of theocracy.

Thus the City first presented itself to the eye, with its stern to the
east, and its prow to the west. Turning towards the prow, one had before
one an innumerable flock of ancient roofs, over which arched broadly the
lead-covered apse of the Sainte-Chapelle, like an elephant’s haunches
loaded with its tower. Only here, this tower was the most audacious, the
most open, the most ornamented spire of cabinet-maker’s work that ever
let the sky peep through its cone of lace. In front of Notre-Dame, and
very near at hand, three streets opened into the cathedral square,--a
fine square, lined with ancient houses. Over the south side of this
place bent the wrinkled and sullen façade of the Hôtel Dieu, and its
roof, which seemed covered with warts and pustules. Then, on the right
and the left, to east and west, within that wall of the City, which was
yet so contracted, rose the bell towers of its one and twenty churches,
of every date, of every form, of every size, from the low and wormeaten
belfry of Saint-Denis du Pas (_Carcer Glaueini_) to the slender needles
of Saint-Pierre aux Boeufs and Saint-Landry.

Behind Notre-Dame, the cloister and its Gothic galleries spread out
towards the north; on the south, the half-Roman palace of the bishop; on
the east, the desert point of the Terrain. In this throng of houses the
eye also distinguished, by the lofty open-work mitres of stone which
then crowned the roof itself, even the most elevated windows of the
palace, the Hôtel given by the city, under Charles VI., to Juvénal
des Ursins; a little farther on, the pitch-covered sheds of the Palus
Market; in still another quarter the new apse of Saint-Germain le Vieux,
lengthened in 1458, with a bit of the Rue aux Febves; and then, in
places, a square crowded with people; a pillory, erected at the corner
of a street; a fine fragment of the pavement of Philip Augustus, a
magnificent flagging, grooved for the horses’ feet, in the middle of the
road, and so badly replaced in the sixteenth century by the miserable
cobblestones, called the “pavement of the League;” a deserted back
courtyard, with one of those diaphanous staircase turrets, such as were
erected in the fifteenth century, one of which is still to be seen in
the Rue des Bourdonnais. Lastly, at the right of the Sainte-Chapelle,
towards the west, the Palais de Justice rested its group of towers at
the edge of the water. The thickets of the king’s gardens, which covered
the western point of the City, masked the Island du Passeur. As for the
water, from the summit of the towers of Notre-Dame one hardly saw it, on
either side of the City; the Seine was hidden by bridges, the bridges by

And when the glance passed these bridges, whose roofs were visibly
green, rendered mouldy before their time by the vapors from the water,
if it was directed to the left, towards the University, the first
edifice which struck it was a large, low sheaf of towers, the
Petit-Chàtelet, whose yawning gate devoured the end of the Petit-Pont.
Then, if your view ran along the bank, from east to west, from the
Tournelle to the Tour de Nesle, there was a long cordon of houses, with
carved beams, stained-glass windows, each story projecting over that
beneath it, an interminable zigzag of bourgeois gables, frequently
interrupted by the mouth of a street, and from time to time also by the
front or angle of a huge stone mansion, planted at its ease, with courts
and gardens, wings and detached buildings, amid this populace of crowded
and narrow houses, like a grand gentleman among a throng of rustics.
There were five or six of these mansions on the quay, from the house of
Lorraine, which shared with the Bernardins the grand enclosure adjoining
the Tournelle, to the Hôtel de Nesle, whose principal tower ended Paris,
and whose pointed roofs were in a position, during three months of the
year, to encroach, with their black triangles, upon the scarlet disk of
the setting sun.

This side of the Seine was, however, the least mercantile of the two.
Students furnished more of a crowd and more noise there than artisans,
and there was not, properly speaking, any quay, except from the Pont
Saint-Michel to the Tour de Nesle. The rest of the bank of the Seine was
now a naked strand, the same as beyond the Bernardins; again, a throng
of houses, standing with their feet in the water, as between the two

There was a great uproar of laundresses; they screamed, and talked, and
sang from morning till night along the beach, and beat a great deal of
linen there, just as in our day. This is not the least of the gayeties
of Paris.

The University presented a dense mass to the eye. From one end to
the other, it was homogeneous and compact. The thousand roofs, dense,
angular, clinging to each other, composed, nearly all, of the same
geometrical element, offered, when viewed from above, the aspect of a
crystallization of the same substance.

The capricious ravine of streets did not cut this block of houses into
too disproportionate slices. The forty-two colleges were scattered about
in a fairly equal manner, and there were some everywhere. The amusingly
varied crests of these beautiful edifices were the product of the same
art as the simple roofs which they overshot, and were, actually, only a
multiplication of the square or the cube of the same geometrical
figure. Hence they complicated the whole effect, without disturbing
it; completed, without overloading it. Geometry is harmony. Some
fine mansions here and there made magnificent outlines against the
picturesque attics of the left bank. The house of Nevers, the house of
Rome, the house of Reims, which have disappeared; the Hôtel de Cluny,
which still exists, for the consolation of the artist, and whose tower
was so stupidly deprived of its crown a few years ago. Close to Cluny,
that Roman palace, with fine round arches, were once the hot baths of
Julian. There were a great many abbeys, of a beauty more devout, of a
grandeur more solemn than the mansions, but not less beautiful, not less
grand. Those which first caught the eye were the Bernardins, with their
three bell towers; Sainte-Geneviève, whose square tower, which still
exists, makes us regret the rest; the Sorbonne, half college, half
monastery, of which so admirable a nave survives; the fine quadrilateral
cloister of the Mathurins; its neighbor, the cloister of Saint-Benoit,
within whose walls they have had time to cobble up a theatre, between
the seventh and eighth editions of this book; the Cordeliers, with their
three enormous adjacent gables; the Augustins, whose graceful spire
formed, after the Tour de Nesle, the second denticulation on this side
of Paris, starting from the west. The colleges, which are, in fact, the
intermediate ring between the cloister and the world, hold the middle
position in the monumental series between the Hôtels and the abbeys,
with a severity full of elegance, sculpture less giddy than the palaces,
an architecture less severe than the convents. Unfortunately, hardly
anything remains of these monuments, where Gothic art combined with
so just a balance, richness and economy. The churches (and they were
numerous and splendid in the University, and they were graded there also
in all the ages of architecture, from the round arches of Saint-Julian
to the pointed arches of Saint-Séverin), the churches dominated the
whole; and, like one harmony more in this mass of harmonies, they
pierced in quick succession the multiple open work of the gables with
slashed spires, with open-work bell towers, with slender pinnacles,
whose line was also only a magnificent exaggeration of the acute angle
of the roofs.

The ground of the University was hilly; Mount Sainte-Geneviève formed an
enormous mound to the south; and it was a sight to see from the summit
of Notre-Dame how that throng of narrow and tortuous streets (to-day
the Latin Quarter), those bunches of houses which, spread out in every
direction from the top of this eminence, precipitated themselves in
disorder, and almost perpendicularly down its flanks, nearly to the
water’s edge, having the air, some of falling, others of clambering up
again, and all of holding to one another. A continual flux of a thousand
black points which passed each other on the pavements made everything
move before the eyes; it was the populace seen thus from aloft and afar.

Lastly, in the intervals of these roofs, of these spires, of these
accidents of numberless edifices, which bent and writhed, and jagged in
so eccentric a manner the extreme line of the University, one caught a
glimpse, here and there, of a great expanse of moss-grown wall, a thick,
round tower, a crenellated city gate, shadowing forth the fortress;
it was the wall of Philip Augustus. Beyond, the fields gleamed green;
beyond, fled the roads, along which were scattered a few more suburban
houses, which became more infrequent as they became more distant. Some
of these faubourgs were important: there were, first, starting from la
Tournelle, the Bourg Saint-Victor, with its one arch bridge over the
Bièvre, its abbey where one could read the epitaph of Louis le Gros,
_epitaphium Ludovici Grossi_, and its church with an octagonal spire,
flanked with four little bell towers of the eleventh century (a similar
one can be seen at Etampes; it is not yet destroyed); next, the Bourg
Saint-Marceau, which already had three churches and one convent; then,
leaving the mill of the Gobelins and its four white walls on the left,
there was the Faubourg Saint-Jacques with the beautiful carved cross
in its square; the church of Saint-Jacques du Haut-Pas, which was then
Gothic, pointed, charming; Saint-Magloire, a fine nave of the fourteenth
century, which Napoleon turned into a hayloft; Notre-Dame des Champs,
where there were Byzantine mosaics; lastly, after having left behind,
full in the country, the Monastery des Chartreux, a rich edifice
contemporary with the Palais de Justice, with its little garden divided
into compartments, and the haunted ruins of Vauvert, the eye fell, to
the west, upon the three Roman spires of Saint-Germain des Prés. The
Bourg Saint-Germain, already a large community, formed fifteen or twenty
streets in the rear; the pointed bell tower of Saint-Sulpice marked
one corner of the town. Close beside it one descried the quadrilateral
enclosure of the fair of Saint-Germain, where the market is situated
to-day; then the abbot’s pillory, a pretty little round tower, well
capped with a leaden cone; the brickyard was further on, and the Rue du
Four, which led to the common bakehouse, and the mill on its hillock,
and the lazar house, a tiny house, isolated and half seen.

But that which attracted the eye most of all, and fixed it for a long
time on that point, was the abbey itself. It is certain that this
monastery, which had a grand air, both as a church and as a seignory;
that abbatial palace, where the bishops of Paris counted themselves
happy if they could pass the night; that refectory, upon which the
architect had bestowed the air, the beauty, and the rose window of a
cathedral; that elegant chapel of the Virgin; that monumental dormitory;
those vast gardens; that portcullis; that drawbridge; that envelope
of battlements which notched to the eye the verdure of the surrounding
meadows; those courtyards, where gleamed men at arms, intermingled with
golden copes;--the whole grouped and clustered about three lofty spires,
with round arches, well planted upon a Gothic apse, made a magnificent
figure against the horizon.

When, at length, after having contemplated the University for a long
time, you turned towards the right bank, towards the Town, the character
of the spectacle was abruptly altered. The Town, in fact much larger
than the University, was also less of a unit. At the first glance, one
saw that it was divided into many masses, singularly distinct. First, to
the eastward, in that part of the town which still takes its name from
the marsh where Camulogènes entangled Caesar, was a pile of palaces. The
block extended to the very water’s edge. Four almost contiguous Hôtels,
Jouy, Sens, Barbeau, the house of the Queen, mirrored their slate peaks,
broken with slender turrets, in the Seine.

These four edifices filled the space from the Rue des Nonaindières, to
the abbey of the Celestins, whose spire gracefully relieved their line
of gables and battlements. A few miserable, greenish hovels, hanging
over the water in front of these sumptuous Hôtels, did not prevent
one from seeing the fine angles of their façades, their large, square
windows with stone mullions, their pointed porches overloaded with
statues, the vivid outlines of their walls, always clear cut, and all
those charming accidents of architecture, which cause Gothic art to have
the air of beginning its combinations afresh with every monument.

Behind these palaces, extended in all directions, now broken, fenced in,
battlemented like a citadel, now veiled by great trees like a Carthusian
convent, the immense and multiform enclosure of that miraculous Hôtel
de Saint-Pol, where the King of France possessed the means of lodging
superbly two and twenty princes of the rank of the dauphin and the Duke
of Burgundy, with their domestics and their suites, without counting the
great lords, and the emperor when he came to view Paris, and the lions,
who had their separate Hôtel at the royal Hôtel. Let us say here that
a prince’s apartment was then composed of never less than eleven large
rooms, from the chamber of state to the oratory, not to mention the
galleries, baths, vapor-baths, and other “superfluous places,” with
which each apartment was provided; not to mention the private gardens
for each of the king’s guests; not to mention the kitchens, the
cellars, the domestic offices, the general refectories of the house, the
poultry-yards, where there were twenty-two general laboratories, from
the bakehouses to the wine-cellars; games of a thousand sorts, malls,
tennis, and riding at the ring; aviaries, fishponds, menageries,
stables, barns, libraries, arsenals and foundries. This was what a
king’s palace, a Louvre, a Hôtel de Saint-Pol was then. A city within a

From the tower where we are placed, the Hôtel Saint-Pol, almost half
hidden by the four great houses of which we have just spoken, was
still very considerable and very marvellous to see. One could there
distinguish, very well, though cleverly united with the principal
building by long galleries, decked with painted glass and slender
columns, the three Hôtels which Charles V. had amalgamated with his
palace: the Hôtel du Petit-Muce, with the airy balustrade, which formed
a graceful border to its roof; the Hôtel of the Abbe de Saint-Maur,
having the vanity of a stronghold, a great tower, machicolations,
loopholes, iron gratings, and over the large Saxon door, the armorial
bearings of the abbé, between the two mortises of the drawbridge; the
Hôtel of the Comte d’ Etampes, whose donjon keep, ruined at its summit,
was rounded and notched like a cock’s comb; here and there, three or
four ancient oaks, forming a tuft together like enormous cauliflowers;
gambols of swans, in the clear water of the fishponds, all in folds of
light and shade; many courtyards of which one beheld picturesque bits;
the Hôtel of the Lions, with its low, pointed arches on short, Saxon
pillars, its iron gratings and its perpetual roar; shooting up above
the whole, the scale-ornamented spire of the Ave-Maria; on the left, the
house of the Provost of Paris, flanked by four small towers, delicately
grooved, in the middle; at the extremity, the Hôtel Saint-Pol, properly
speaking, with its multiplied façades, its successive enrichments from
the time of Charles V., the hybrid excrescences, with which the fancy of
the architects had loaded it during the last two centuries, with all
the apses of its chapels, all the gables of its galleries, a thousand
weathercocks for the four winds, and its two lofty contiguous towers,
whose conical roof, surrounded by battlements at its base, looked like
those pointed caps which have their edges turned up.

Continuing to mount the stories of this amphitheatre of palaces spread
out afar upon the ground, after crossing a deep ravine hollowed out
of the roofs in the Town, which marked the passage of the Rue
Saint-Antoine, the eye reached the house of Angoulême, a vast
construction of many epochs, where there were perfectly new and very
white parts, which melted no better into the whole than a red patch on a
blue doublet. Nevertheless, the remarkably pointed and lofty roof of the
modern palace, bristling with carved eaves, covered with sheets of lead,
where coiled a thousand fantastic arabesques of sparkling incrustations
of gilded bronze, that roof, so curiously damascened, darted upwards
gracefully from the midst of the brown ruins of the ancient edifice;
whose huge and ancient towers, rounded by age like casks, sinking
together with old age, and rending themselves from top to bottom,
resembled great bellies unbuttoned. Behind rose the forest of spires of
the Palais des Tournelles. Not a view in the world, either at Chambord
or at the Alhambra, is more magic, more aerial, more enchanting, than
that thicket of spires, tiny bell towers, chimneys, weather-vanes,
winding staircases, lanterns through which the daylight makes its way,
which seem cut out at a blow, pavilions, spindle-shaped turrets, or, as
they were then called, “tournelles,” all differing in form, in height,
and attitude. One would have pronounced it a gigantic stone chess-board.

To the right of the Tournelles, that truss of enormous towers, black as
ink, running into each other and tied, as it were, by a circular moat;
that donjon keep, much more pierced with loopholes than with windows;
that drawbridge, always raised; that portcullis, always lowered,--is
the Bastille. Those sorts of black beaks which project from between the
battlements, and which you take from a distance to be cave spouts, are

Beneath them, at the foot of the formidable edifice, behold the Porte
Sainte-Antoine, buried between its two towers.

Beyond the Tournelles, as far as the wall of Charles V., spread out,
with rich compartments of verdure and of flowers, a velvet carpet of
cultivated land and royal parks, in the midst of which one recognized,
by its labyrinth of trees and alleys, the famous Daedalus garden which
Louis XI. had given to Coictier. The doctor’s observatory rose above the
labyrinth like a great isolated column, with a tiny house for a capital.
Terrible astrologies took place in that laboratory.

There to-day is the Place Royale.

As we have just said, the quarter of the palace, of which we have just
endeavored to give the reader some idea by indicating only the chief
points, filled the angle which Charles V.’s wall made with the Seine on
the east. The centre of the Town was occupied by a pile of houses for
the populace. It was there, in fact, that the three bridges disgorged
upon the right bank, and bridges lead to the building of houses rather
than palaces. That congregation of bourgeois habitations, pressed
together like the cells in a hive, had a beauty of its own. It is with
the roofs of a capital as with the waves of the sea,--they are grand.
First the streets, crossed and entangled, forming a hundred amusing
figures in the block; around the market-place, it was like a star with a
thousand rays.

The Rues Saint-Denis and Saint-Martin, with their innumerable
ramifications, rose one after the other, like trees intertwining their
branches; and then the tortuous lines, the Rues de la Plâtrerie, de la
Verrerie, de la Tixeranderie, etc., meandered over all. There were also
fine edifices which pierced the petrified undulations of that sea of
gables. At the head of the Pont aux Changeurs, behind which one beheld
the Seine foaming beneath the wheels of the Pont aux Meuniers, there was
the Chalelet, no longer a Roman tower, as under Julian the Apostate, but
a feudal tower of the thirteenth century, and of a stone so hard that
the pickaxe could not break away so much as the thickness of the fist
in a space of three hours; there was the rich square bell tower of
Saint-Jacques de la Boucherie, with its angles all frothing with
carvings, already admirable, although it was not finished in the
fifteenth century. (It lacked, in particular, the four monsters, which,
still perched to-day on the corners of its roof, have the air of so
many sphinxes who are propounding to new Paris the riddle of the ancient
Paris. Rault, the sculptor, only placed them in position in 1526, and
received twenty francs for his pains.) There was the Maison-aux-Piliers,
the Pillar House, opening upon that Place de Grève of which we have
given the reader some idea; there was Saint-Gervais, which a front “in
good taste” has since spoiled; Saint-Méry, whose ancient pointed arches
were still almost round arches; Saint-Jean, whose magnificent spire was
proverbial; there were twenty other monuments, which did not disdain to
bury their wonders in that chaos of black, deep, narrow streets. Add
the crosses of carved stone, more lavishly scattered through the
squares than even the gibbets; the cemetery of the Innocents, whose
architectural wall could be seen in the distance above the roofs; the
pillory of the Markets, whose top was visible between two chimneys of
the Rue de la Cossonnerie; the ladder of the Croix-du-Trahoir, in its
square always black with people; the circular buildings of the wheat
mart; the fragments of Philip Augustus’s ancient wall, which could be
made out here and there, drowned among the houses, its towers gnawed by
ivy, its gates in ruins, with crumbling and deformed stretches of wall;
the quay with its thousand shops, and its bloody knacker’s yards; the
Seine encumbered with boats, from the Port au Foin to Port-l’Evêque, and
you will have a confused picture of what the central trapezium of the
Town was like in 1482.

With these two quarters, one of Hôtels, the other of houses, the third
feature of aspect presented by the city was a long zone of abbeys, which
bordered it in nearly the whole of its circumference, from the rising to
the setting sun, and, behind the circle of fortifications which hemmed
in Paris, formed a second interior enclosure of convents and chapels.
Thus, immediately adjoining the park des Tournelles, between the
Rue Saint-Antoine and the Vielle Rue du Temple, there stood
Sainte-Catherine, with its immense cultivated lands, which were
terminated only by the wall of Paris. Between the old and the new Rue du
Temple, there was the Temple, a sinister group of towers, lofty, erect,
and isolated in the middle of a vast, battlemented enclosure. Between
the Rue Neuve-du-Temple and the Rue Saint-Martin, there was the Abbey
of Saint-Martin, in the midst of its gardens, a superb fortified church,
whose girdle of towers, whose diadem of bell towers, yielded in
force and splendor only to Saint-Germain des Prés. Between the Rue
Saint-Martin and the Rue Saint-Denis, spread the enclosure of the

Lastly, between the Rue Saint-Denis, and the Rue Montorgueil, stood the
Filles-Dieu. On one side, the rotting roofs and unpaved enclosure of the
Cour des Miracles could be descried. It was the sole profane ring which
was linked to that devout chain of convents.

Finally, the fourth compartment, which stretched itself out in the
agglomeration of the roofs on the right bank, and which occupied the
western angle of the enclosure, and the banks of the river down stream,
was a fresh cluster of palaces and Hôtels pressed close about the base
of the Louvre. The old Louvre of Philip Augustus, that immense edifice
whose great tower rallied about it three and twenty chief towers, not to
reckon the lesser towers, seemed from a distance to be enshrined in the
Gothic roofs of the Hôtel d’Alençon, and the Petit-Bourbon. This hydra
of towers, giant guardian of Paris, with its four and twenty heads,
always erect, with its monstrous haunches, loaded or scaled with slates,
and all streaming with metallic reflections, terminated with wonderful
effect the configuration of the Town towards the west.

Thus an immense block, which the Romans called _iusula_, or island, of
bourgeois houses, flanked on the right and the left by two blocks of
palaces, crowned, the one by the Louvre, the other by the Tournelles,
bordered on the north by a long girdle of abbeys and cultivated
enclosures, all amalgamated and melted together in one view; upon these
thousands of edifices, whose tiled and slated roofs outlined upon each
other so many fantastic chains, the bell towers, tattooed, fluted, and
ornamented with twisted bands, of the four and forty churches on the
right bank; myriads of cross streets; for boundary on one side, an
enclosure of lofty walls with square towers (that of the University had
round towers); on the other, the Seine, cut by bridges, and bearing
on its bosom a multitude of boats; behold the Town of Paris in the
fifteenth century.

Beyond the walls, several suburban villages pressed close about
the gates, but less numerous and more scattered than those of the
University. Behind the Bastille there were twenty hovels clustered round
the curious sculptures of the Croix-Faubin and the flying buttresses of
the Abbey of Saint-Antoine des Champs; then Popincourt, lost amid wheat
fields; then la Courtille, a merry village of wine-shops; the hamlet of
Saint-Laurent with its church whose bell tower, from afar, seemed to
add itself to the pointed towers of the Porte Saint-Martin; the
Faubourg Saint-Denis, with the vast enclosure of Saint-Ladre; beyond
the Montmartre Gate, the Grange-Batelière, encircled with white walls;
behind it, with its chalky slopes, Montmartre, which had then almost as
many churches as windmills, and which has kept only the windmills,
for society no longer demands anything but bread for the body. Lastly,
beyond the Louvre, the Faubourg Saint-Honoré, already considerable
at that time, could be seen stretching away into the fields, and
Petit-Bretagne gleaming green, and the Marché aux Pourceaux spreading
abroad, in whose centre swelled the horrible apparatus used for boiling
counterfeiters. Between la Courtille and Saint-Laurent, your eye had
already noticed, on the summit of an eminence crouching amid desert
plains, a sort of edifice which resembled from a distance a ruined
colonnade, mounted upon a basement with its foundation laid bare. This
was neither a Parthenon, nor a temple of the Olympian Jupiter. It was

Now, if the enumeration of so many edifices, summary as we have
endeavored to make it, has not shattered in the reader’s mind the
general image of old Paris, as we have constructed it, we will
recapitulate it in a few words. In the centre, the island of the City,
resembling as to form an enormous tortoise, and throwing out its bridges
with tiles for scales; like legs from beneath its gray shell of roofs.
On the left, the monolithic trapezium, firm, dense, bristling, of the
University; on the right, the vast semicircle of the Town, much
more intermixed with gardens and monuments. The three blocks, city,
university, and town, marbled with innumerable streets. Across all,
the Seine, “foster-mother Seine,” as says Father Du Breul, blocked with
islands, bridges, and boats. All about an immense plain, patched with
a thousand sorts of cultivated plots, sown with fine villages. On the
left, Issy, Vanvres, Vaugirarde, Montrouge, Gentilly, with its round
tower and its square tower, etc.; on the right, twenty others, from
Conflans to Ville-l’Evêque. On the horizon, a border of hills arranged
in a circle like the rim of the basin. Finally, far away to the east,
Vincennes, and its seven quadrangular towers to the south, Bicêtre and
its pointed turrets; to the north, Saint-Denis and its spire; to the
west, Saint Cloud and its donjon keep. Such was the Paris which the
ravens, who lived in 1482, beheld from the summits of the towers of

Nevertheless, Voltaire said of this city, that “before Louis XIV.,
it possessed but four fine monuments”: the dome of the Sorbonne, the
Val-de-Grâce, the modern Louvre, and I know not what the fourth was--the
Luxembourg, perhaps. Fortunately, Voltaire was the author of “Candide”
 in spite of this, and in spite of this, he is, among all the men who
have followed each other in the long series of humanity, the one who has
best possessed the diabolical laugh. Moreover, this proves that one can
be a fine genius, and yet understand nothing of an art to which one
does not belong. Did not Moliere imagine that he was doing Raphael and
Michael-Angelo a very great honor, by calling them “those Mignards of
their age?”

Let us return to Paris and to the fifteenth century.

It was not then merely a handsome city; it was a homogeneous city, an
architectural and historical product of the Middle Ages, a chronicle in
stone. It was a city formed of two layers only; the Romanesque layer and
the Gothic layer; for the Roman layer had disappeared long before, with
the exception of the Hot Baths of Julian, where it still pierced
through the thick crust of the Middle Ages. As for the Celtic layer, no
specimens were any longer to be found, even when sinking wells.

Fifty years later, when the Renaissance began to mingle with this
unity which was so severe and yet so varied, the dazzling luxury of
its fantasies and systems, its debasements of Roman round arches, Greek
columns, and Gothic bases, its sculpture which was so tender and so
ideal, its peculiar taste for arabesques and acanthus leaves, its
architectural paganism, contemporary with Luther, Paris, was perhaps,
still more beautiful, although less harmonious to the eye, and to the

But this splendid moment lasted only for a short time; the Renaissance
was not impartial; it did not content itself with building, it wished
to destroy; it is true that it required the room. Thus Gothic Paris was
complete only for a moment. Saint-Jacques de la Boucherie had barely
been completed when the demolition of the old Louvre was begun.

After that, the great city became more disfigured every day. Gothic
Paris, beneath which Roman Paris was effaced, was effaced in its turn;
but can any one say what Paris has replaced it?

There is the Paris of Catherine de Medicis at the Tuileries;*--the
Paris of Henri II., at the Hôtel de Ville, two edifices still in fine
taste;--the Paris of Henri IV., at the Place Royale: façades of brick
with stone corners, and slated roofs, tri-colored houses;--the Paris of
Louis XIII., at the Val-de-Grace: a crushed and squat architecture, with
vaults like basket-handles, and something indescribably pot-bellied in
the column, and thickset in the dome;--the Paris of Louis XIV., in
the Invalides: grand, rich, gilded, cold;--the Paris of Louis XV., in
Saint-Sulpice: volutes, knots of ribbon, clouds, vermicelli and chiccory
leaves, all in stone;--the Paris of Louis XVI., in the Pantheon: Saint
Peter of Rome, badly copied (the edifice is awkwardly heaped together,
which has not amended its lines);--the Paris of the Republic, in the
School of Medicine: a poor Greek and Roman taste, which resembles
the Coliseum or the Parthenon as the constitution of the year III.,
resembles the laws of Minos,--it is called in architecture, “the
Messidor” ** taste;--the Paris of Napoleon in the Place Vendome: this
one is sublime, a column of bronze made of cannons;--the Paris of the
Restoration, at the Bourse: a very white colonnade supporting a very
smooth frieze; the whole is square and cost twenty millions.

     *  We have seen with sorrow mingled with indignation, that it
is the intention to increase, to recast, to make over, that is to say,
to destroy this admirable palace. The architects of our day have too
heavy a hand to touch these delicate works of the Renaissance. We still
cherish a hope that they will not dare. Moreover, this demolition of the
Tuileries now, would be not only a brutal deed of violence, which
would make a drunken vandal blush--it would be an act of treason.
The Tuileries is not simply a masterpiece of the art of the sixteenth
century, it is a page of the history of the nineteenth. This palace no
longer belongs to the king, but to the people. Let us leave it as it is.
Our revolution has twice set its seal upon its front. On one of its two
façades, there are the cannon-balls of the 10th of August; on the other,
the balls of the 29th of July. It is sacred. Paris, April 1, 1831. (Note
to the fifth edition.)

     **  The tenth month of the French republican calendar, from the
19th of June to the 18th of July.

To each of these characteristic monuments there is attached by a
similarity of taste, fashion, and attitude, a certain number of
houses scattered about in different quarters and which the eyes of the
connoisseur easily distinguishes and furnishes with a date. When
one knows how to look, one finds the spirit of a century, and the
physiognomy of a king, even in the knocker on a door.

The Paris of the present day has then, no general physiognomy. It is
a collection of specimens of many centuries, and the finest have
disappeared. The capital grows only in houses, and what houses! At the
rate at which Paris is now proceeding, it will renew itself every fifty

Thus the historical significance of its architecture is being effaced
every day. Monuments are becoming rarer and rarer, and one seems to see
them gradually engulfed, by the flood of houses. Our fathers had a Paris
of stone; our sons will have one of plaster.

So far as the modern monuments of new Paris are concerned, we would
gladly be excused from mentioning them. It is not that we do not admire
them as they deserve. The Sainte-Geneviève of M. Soufflot is certainly
the finest Savoy cake that has ever been made in stone. The Palace of
the Legion of Honor is also a very distinguished bit of pastry. The
dome of the wheat market is an English jockey cap, on a grand scale. The
towers of Saint-Sulpice are two huge clarinets, and the form is as good
as any other; the telegraph, contorted and grimacing, forms an
admirable accident upon their roofs. Saint-Roch has a door which, for
magnificence, is comparable only to that of Saint-Thomas d’Aquin. It
has, also, a crucifixion in high relief, in a cellar, with a sun of
gilded wood. These things are fairly marvellous. The lantern of the
labyrinth of the Jardin des Plantes is also very ingenious.

As for the Palace of the Bourse, which is Greek as to its colonnade,
Roman in the round arches of its doors and windows, of the Renaissance
by virtue of its flattened vault, it is indubitably a very correct and
very pure monument; the proof is that it is crowned with an attic, such
as was never seen in Athens, a beautiful, straight line, gracefully
broken here and there by stovepipes. Let us add that if it is according
to rule that the architecture of a building should be adapted to its
purpose in such a manner that this purpose shall be immediately apparent
from the mere aspect of the building, one cannot be too much amazed at a
structure which might be indifferently--the palace of a king, a chamber
of communes, a town-hall, a college, a riding-school, an academy, a
warehouse, a court-house, a museum, a barracks, a sepulchre, a temple,
or a theatre. However, it is an Exchange. An edifice ought to be,
moreover, suitable to the climate. This one is evidently constructed
expressly for our cold and rainy skies. It has a roof almost as flat as
roofs in the East, which involves sweeping the roof in winter, when it
snows; and of course roofs are made to be swept. As for its purpose, of
which we just spoke, it fulfils it to a marvel; it is a bourse in France
as it would have been a temple in Greece. It is true that the architect
was at a good deal of trouble to conceal the clock face, which would
have destroyed the purity of the fine lines of the façade; but, on the
other hand, we have that colonnade which circles round the edifice and
under which, on days of high religious ceremony, the theories of
the stock-brokers and the courtiers of commerce can be developed so

These are very superb structures. Let us add a quantity of fine,
amusing, and varied streets, like the Rue de Rivoli, and I do not
despair of Paris presenting to the eye, when viewed from a balloon, that
richness of line, that opulence of detail, that diversity of aspect,
that grandiose something in the simple, and unexpected in the beautiful,
which characterizes a checker-board.

However, admirable as the Paris of to-day may seem to you, reconstruct
the Paris of the fifteenth century, call it up before you in thought;
look at the sky athwart that surprising forest of spires, towers, and
belfries; spread out in the centre of the city, tear away at the point
of the islands, fold at the arches of the bridges, the Seine, with
its broad green and yellow expanses, more variable than the skin of a
serpent; project clearly against an azure horizon the Gothic profile
of this ancient Paris. Make its contour float in a winter’s mist which
clings to its numerous chimneys; drown it in profound night and watch
the odd play of lights and shadows in that sombre labyrinth of edifices;
cast upon it a ray of light which shall vaguely outline it and cause to
emerge from the fog the great heads of the towers; or take that black
silhouette again, enliven with shadow the thousand acute angles of the
spires and gables, and make it start out more toothed than a shark’s jaw
against a copper-colored western sky,--and then compare.

And if you wish to receive of the ancient city an impression with which
the modern one can no longer furnish you, climb--on the morning of some
grand festival, beneath the rising sun of Easter or of Pentecost--climb
upon some elevated point, whence you command the entire capital; and be
present at the wakening of the chimes. Behold, at a signal given from
heaven, for it is the sun which gives it, all those churches quiver
simultaneously. First come scattered strokes, running from one church
to another, as when musicians give warning that they are about to begin.
Then, all at once, behold!--for it seems at times, as though the ear
also possessed a sight of its own,--behold, rising from each bell
tower, something like a column of sound, a cloud of harmony. First, the
vibration of each bell mounts straight upwards, pure and, so to speak,
isolated from the others, into the splendid morning sky; then, little
by little, as they swell they melt together, mingle, are lost in each
other, and amalgamate in a magnificent concert. It is no longer anything
but a mass of sonorous vibrations incessantly sent forth from the
numerous belfries; floats, undulates, bounds, whirls over the city,
and prolongs far beyond the horizon the deafening circle of its

Nevertheless, this sea of harmony is not a chaos; great and profound as
it is, it has not lost its transparency; you behold the windings of
each group of notes which escapes from the belfries. You can follow the
dialogue, by turns grave and shrill, of the treble and the bass; you can
see the octaves leap from one tower to another; you watch them spring
forth, winged, light, and whistling, from the silver bell, to fall,
broken and limping from the bell of wood; you admire in their midst the
rich gamut which incessantly ascends and re-ascends the seven bells
of Saint-Eustache; you see light and rapid notes running across it,
executing three or four luminous zigzags, and vanishing like flashes
of lightning. Yonder is the Abbey of Saint-Martin, a shrill, cracked
singer; here the gruff and gloomy voice of the Bastille; at the other
end, the great tower of the Louvre, with its bass. The royal chime of
the palace scatters on all sides, and without relaxation, resplendent
trills, upon which fall, at regular intervals, the heavy strokes from
the belfry of Notre-Dame, which makes them sparkle like the anvil under
the hammer. At intervals you behold the passage of sounds of all forms
which come from the triple peal of Saint-Germaine des Prés. Then, again,
from time to time, this mass of sublime noises opens and gives passage
to the beats of the Ave Maria, which bursts forth and sparkles like
an aigrette of stars. Below, in the very depths of the concert, you
confusedly distinguish the interior chanting of the churches, which
exhales through the vibrating pores of their vaulted roofs.

Assuredly, this is an opera which it is worth the trouble of listening
to. Ordinarily, the noise which escapes from Paris by day is the city
speaking; by night, it is the city breathing; in this case, it is the
city singing. Lend an ear, then, to this concert of bell towers; spread
over all the murmur of half a million men, the eternal plaint of the
river, the infinite breathings of the wind, the grave and distant
quartette of the four forests arranged upon the hills, on the horizon,
like immense stacks of organ pipes; extinguish, as in a half shade,
all that is too hoarse and too shrill about the central chime, and
say whether you know anything in the world more rich and joyful, more
golden, more dazzling, than this tumult of bells and chimes;--than
this furnace of music,--than these ten thousand brazen voices chanting
simultaneously in the flutes of stone, three hundred feet high,--than
this city which is no longer anything but an orchestra,--than this
symphony which produces the noise of a tempest.



Sixteen years previous to the epoch when this story takes place, one
fine morning, on Quasimodo Sunday, a living creature had been deposited,
after mass, in the church of Notre-Dame, on the wooden bed securely
fixed in the vestibule on the left, opposite that great image of Saint
Christopher, which the figure of Messire Antoine des Essarts, chevalier,
carved in stone, had been gazing at on his knees since 1413, when
they took it into their heads to overthrow the saint and the faithful
follower. Upon this bed of wood it was customary to expose foundlings
for public charity. Whoever cared to take them did so. In front of the
wooden bed was a copper basin for alms.

The sort of living being which lay upon that plank on the morning of
Quasimodo, in the year of the Lord, 1467, appeared to excite to a high
degree, the curiosity of the numerous group which had congregated about
the wooden bed. The group was formed for the most part of the fair sex.
Hardly any one was there except old women.

In the first row, and among those who were most bent over the bed, four
were noticeable, who, from their gray _cagoule_, a sort of cassock, were
recognizable as attached to some devout sisterhood. I do not see
why history has not transmitted to posterity the names of these four
discreet and venerable damsels. They were Agnes la Herme, Jehanne de la
Tarme, Henriette la Gaultière, Gauchère la Violette, all four widows,
all four dames of the Chapel Etienne Haudry, who had quitted their
house with the permission of their mistress, and in conformity with the
statutes of Pierre d’Ailly, in order to come and hear the sermon.

However, if these good Haudriettes were, for the moment, complying with
the statutes of Pierre d’Ailly, they certainly violated with joy those
of Michel de Brache, and the Cardinal of Pisa, which so inhumanly
enjoined silence upon them.

“What is this, sister?” said Agnes to Gauchère, gazing at the little
creature exposed, which was screaming and writhing on the wooden bed,
terrified by so many glances.

“What is to become of us,” said Jehanne, “if that is the way children
are made now?”

“I’m not learned in the matter of children,” resumed Agnes, “but it must
be a sin to look at this one.”

“‘Tis not a child, Agnes.”

“‘Tis an abortion of a monkey,” remarked Gauchère.

“‘Tis a miracle,” interposed Henriette la Gaultière.

“Then,” remarked Agnes, “it is the third since the Sunday of the
_Loetare_: for, in less than a week, we had the miracle of the mocker of
pilgrims divinely punished by Notre-Dame d’Aubervilliers, and that was
the second miracle within a month.”

“This pretended foundling is a real monster of abomination,” resumed

“He yells loud enough to deafen a chanter,” continued Gauchère. “Hold
your tongue, you little howler!”

“To think that Monsieur of Reims sent this enormity to Monsieur of
Paris,” added la Gaultière, clasping her hands.

“I imagine,” said Agnes la Herme, “that it is a beast, an animal,--the
fruit of--a Jew and a sow; something not Christian, in short, which
ought to be thrown into the fire or into the water.”

“I really hope,” resumed la Gaultière, “that nobody will apply for it.”

“Ah, good heavens!” exclaimed Agnes; “those poor nurses yonder in the
foundling asylum, which forms the lower end of the lane as you go to the
river, just beside Monseigneur the bishop! what if this little monster
were to be carried to them to suckle? I’d rather give suck to a

“How innocent that poor la Herme is!” resumed Jehanne; “don’t you see,
sister, that this little monster is at least four years old, and that he
would have less appetite for your breast than for a turnspit.”

The “little monster” we should find it difficult ourselves to describe
him otherwise, was, in fact, not a new-born child. It was a very angular
and very lively little mass, imprisoned in its linen sack, stamped with
the cipher of Messire Guillaume Chartier, then bishop of Paris, with a
head projecting. That head was deformed enough; one beheld only a forest
of red hair, one eye, a mouth, and teeth. The eye wept, the mouth
cried, and the teeth seemed to ask only to be allowed to bite. The whole
struggled in the sack, to the great consternation of the crowd, which
increased and was renewed incessantly around it.

Dame Aloise de Gondelaurier, a rich and noble woman, who held by the
hand a pretty girl about five or six years of age, and dragged a long
veil about, suspended to the golden horn of her headdress, halted as she
passed the wooden bed, and gazed for a moment at the wretched creature,
while her charming little daughter, Fleur-de-Lys de Gondelaurier,
spelled out with her tiny, pretty finger, the permanent inscription
attached to the wooden bed: “Foundlings.”

“Really,” said the dame, turning away in disgust, “I thought that they
only exposed children here.”

She turned her back, throwing into the basin a silver florin, which rang
among the liards, and made the poor goodwives of the chapel of Etienne
Haudry open their eyes.

A moment later, the grave and learned Robert Mistricolle, the king’s
protonotary, passed, with an enormous missal under one arm and his wife
on the other (Damoiselle Guillemette la Mairesse), having thus by his
side his two regulators,--spiritual and temporal.

“Foundling!” he said, after examining the object; “found, apparently, on
the banks of the river Phlegethon.”

“One can only see one eye,” observed Damoiselle Guillemette; “there is a
wart on the other.”

“It’s not a wart,” returned Master Robert Mistricolle, “it is an egg
which contains another demon exactly similar, who bears another little
egg which contains another devil, and so on.”

“How do you know that?” asked Guillemette la Mairesse.

“I know it pertinently,” replied the protonotary.

“Monsieur le protonotare,” asked Gauchère, “what do you prognosticate of
this pretended foundling?”

“The greatest misfortunes,” replied Mistricolle.

“Ah! good heavens!” said an old woman among the spectators, “and that
besides our having had a considerable pestilence last year, and that
they say that the English are going to disembark in a company at

“Perhaps that will prevent the queen from coming to Paris in the month
of September,” interposed another; “trade is so bad already.”

“My opinion is,” exclaimed Jehanne de la Tarme, “that it would be better
for the louts of Paris, if this little magician were put to bed on a
fagot than on a plank.”

“A fine, flaming fagot,” added the old woman.

“It would be more prudent,” said Mistricolle.

For several minutes, a young priest had been listening to the reasoning
of the Haudriettes and the sentences of the notary. He had a severe
face, with a large brow, a profound glance. He thrust the crowd silently
aside, scrutinized the “little magician,” and stretched out his hand
upon him. It was high time, for all the devotees were already licking
their chops over the “fine, flaming fagot.”

“I adopt this child,” said the priest.

He took it in his cassock and carried it off. The spectators followed
him with frightened glances. A moment later, he had disappeared through
the “Red Door,” which then led from the church to the cloister.

When the first surprise was over, Jehanne de la Tarme bent down to the
ear of la Gaultière,--

“I told you so, sister,--that young clerk, Monsieur Claude Frollo, is a


In fact, Claude Frollo was no common person.

He belonged to one of those middle-class families which were called
indifferently, in the impertinent language of the last century, the high
_bourgeoise_ or the petty nobility. This family had inherited from the
brothers Paclet the fief of Tirechappe, which was dependent upon the
Bishop of Paris, and whose twenty-one houses had been in the thirteenth
century the object of so many suits before the official. As possessor of
this fief, Claude Frollo was one of the twenty-seven seigneurs keeping
claim to a manor in fee in Paris and its suburbs; and for a long time,
his name was to be seen inscribed in this quality, between the Hôtel
de Tancarville, belonging to Master François Le Rez, and the college of
Tours, in the records deposited at Saint Martin des Champs.

Claude Frollo had been destined from infancy, by his parents, to the
ecclesiastical profession. He had been taught to read in Latin; he had
been trained to keep his eyes on the ground and to speak low. While
still a child, his father had cloistered him in the college of Torchi in
the University. There it was that he had grown up, on the missal and the

Moreover, he was a sad, grave, serious child, who studied ardently, and
learned quickly; he never uttered a loud cry in recreation hour, mixed
but little in the bacchanals of the Rue du Fouarre, did not know what it
was to _dare alapas et capillos laniare_, and had cut no figure in that
revolt of 1463, which the annalists register gravely, under the title
of “The sixth trouble of the University.” He seldom rallied the poor
students of Montaigu on the _cappettes_ from which they derived their
name, or the bursars of the college of Dormans on their shaved tonsure,
and their surtout parti-colored of bluish-green, blue, and violet cloth,
_azurini coloris et bruni_, as says the charter of the Cardinal des

On the other hand, he was assiduous at the great and the small schools
of the Rue Saint Jean de Beauvais. The first pupil whom the Abbé de
Saint Pierre de Val, at the moment of beginning his reading on
canon law, always perceived, glued to a pillar of the school
Saint-Vendregesile, opposite his rostrum, was Claude Frollo, armed with
his horn ink-bottle, biting his pen, scribbling on his threadbare knee,
and, in winter, blowing on his fingers. The first auditor whom Messire
Miles d’Isliers, doctor in decretals, saw arrive every Monday morning,
all breathless, at the opening of the gates of the school of the
Chef-Saint-Denis, was Claude Frollo. Thus, at sixteen years of age, the
young clerk might have held his own, in mystical theology, against a
father of the church; in canonical theology, against a father of the
councils; in scholastic theology, against a doctor of Sorbonne.

Theology conquered, he had plunged into decretals. From the “Master of
Sentences,” he had passed to the “Capitularies of Charlemagne;” and he
had devoured in succession, in his appetite for science, decretals upon
decretals, those of Theodore, Bishop of Hispalus; those of Bouchard,
Bishop of Worms; those of Yves, Bishop of Chartres; next the decretal
of Gratian, which succeeded the capitularies of Charlemagne; then
the collection of Gregory IX.; then the Epistle of _Superspecula_, of
Honorius III. He rendered clear and familiar to himself that vast and
tumultuous period of civil law and canon law in conflict and at strife
with each other, in the chaos of the Middle Ages,--a period which Bishop
Theodore opens in 618, and which Pope Gregory closes in 1227.

Decretals digested, he flung himself upon medicine, on the liberal arts.
He studied the science of herbs, the science of unguents; he became an
expert in fevers and in contusions, in sprains and abcesses. Jacques
d’ Espars would have received him as a physician; Richard Hellain, as a
surgeon. He also passed through all the degrees of licentiate, master,
and doctor of arts. He studied the languages, Latin, Greek, Hebrew, a
triple sanctuary then very little frequented. His was a veritable fever
for acquiring and hoarding, in the matter of science. At the age of
eighteen, he had made his way through the four faculties; it seemed to
the young man that life had but one sole object: learning.

It was towards this epoch, that the excessive heat of the summer of 1466
caused that grand outburst of the plague which carried off more than
forty thousand souls in the vicomty of Paris, and among others, as Jean
de Troyes states, “Master Arnoul, astrologer to the king, who was a very
fine man, both wise and pleasant.” The rumor spread in the University
that the Rue Tirechappe was especially devastated by the malady. It was
there that Claude’s parents resided, in the midst of their fief. The
young scholar rushed in great alarm to the paternal mansion. When
he entered it, he found that both father and mother had died on the
preceding day. A very young brother of his, who was in swaddling
clothes, was still alive and crying abandoned in his cradle. This was
all that remained to Claude of his family; the young man took the child
under his arm and went off in a pensive mood. Up to that moment, he had
lived only in science; he now began to live in life.

This catastrophe was a crisis in Claude’s existence. Orphaned, the
eldest, head of the family at the age of nineteen, he felt himself
rudely recalled from the reveries of school to the realities of this
world. Then, moved with pity, he was seized with passion and devotion
towards that child, his brother; a sweet and strange thing was a human
affection to him, who had hitherto loved his books alone.

This affection developed to a singular point; in a soul so new, it was
like a first love. Separated since infancy from his parents, whom he had
hardly known; cloistered and immured, as it were, in his books; eager
above all things to study and to learn; exclusively attentive up to
that time, to his intelligence which broadened in science, to his
imagination, which expanded in letters,--the poor scholar had not yet
had time to feel the place of his heart.

This young brother, without mother or father, this little child which
had fallen abruptly from heaven into his arms, made a new man of him.
He perceived that there was something else in the world besides the
speculations of the Sorbonne, and the verses of Homer; that man needed
affections; that life without tenderness and without love was only a set
of dry, shrieking, and rending wheels. Only, he imagined, for he was at
the age when illusions are as yet replaced only by illusions, that the
affections of blood and family were the sole ones necessary, and that a
little brother to love sufficed to fill an entire existence.

He threw himself, therefore, into the love for his little Jehan with the
passion of a character already profound, ardent, concentrated; that poor
frail creature, pretty, fair-haired, rosy, and curly,--that orphan with
another orphan for his only support, touched him to the bottom of his
heart; and grave thinker as he was, he set to meditating upon Jehan
with an infinite compassion. He kept watch and ward over him as over
something very fragile, and very worthy of care. He was more than a
brother to the child; he became a mother to him.

Little Jehan had lost his mother while he was still at the breast;
Claude gave him to a nurse. Besides the fief of Tirechappe, he had
inherited from his father the fief of Moulin, which was a dependency of
the square tower of Gentilly; it was a mill on a hill, near the château
of Winchestre (Bicêtre). There was a miller’s wife there who was nursing
a fine child; it was not far from the university, and Claude carried the
little Jehan to her in his own arms.

From that time forth, feeling that he had a burden to bear, he took life
very seriously. The thought of his little brother became not only his
recreation, but the object of his studies. He resolved to consecrate
himself entirely to a future for which he was responsible in the sight
of God, and never to have any other wife, any other child than the
happiness and fortune of his brother. Therefore, he attached himself
more closely than ever to the clerical profession. His merits, his
learning, his quality of immediate vassal of the Bishop of Paris, threw
the doors of the church wide open to him. At the age of twenty, by
special dispensation of the Holy See, he was a priest, and served as
the youngest of the chaplains of Notre-Dame the altar which is called,
because of the late mass which is said there, _altare pigrorum_.

There, plunged more deeply than ever in his dear books, which he quitted
only to run for an hour to the fief of Moulin, this mixture of learning
and austerity, so rare at his age, had promptly acquired for him
the respect and admiration of the monastery. From the cloister, his
reputation as a learned man had passed to the people, among whom it had
changed a little, a frequent occurrence at that time, into reputation as
a sorcerer.

It was at the moment when he was returning, on Quasimodo day, from
saying his mass at the Altar of the Lazy, which was by the side of the
door leading to the nave on the right, near the image of the Virgin,
that his attention had been attracted by the group of old women
chattering around the bed for foundlings.

Then it was that he approached the unhappy little creature, which was so
hated and so menaced. That distress, that deformity, that abandonment,
the thought of his young brother, the idea which suddenly occurred to
him, that if he were to die, his dear little Jehan might also be flung
miserably on the plank for foundlings,--all this had gone to his heart
simultaneously; a great pity had moved in him, and he had carried off
the child.

When he removed the child from the sack, he found it greatly deformed,
in very sooth. The poor little wretch had a wart on his left eye, his
head placed directly on his shoulders, his spinal column was crooked,
his breast bone prominent, and his legs bowed; but he appeared to
be lively; and although it was impossible to say in what language
he lisped, his cry indicated considerable force and health. Claude’s
compassion increased at the sight of this ugliness; and he made a vow in
his heart to rear the child for the love of his brother, in order that,
whatever might be the future faults of the little Jehan, he should have
beside him that charity done for his sake. It was a sort of investment
of good works, which he was effecting in the name of his young brother;
it was a stock of good works which he wished to amass in advance for
him, in case the little rogue should some day find himself short of that
coin, the only sort which is received at the toll-bar of paradise.

He baptized his adopted child, and gave him the name of Quasimodo,
either because he desired thereby to mark the day, when he had found
him, or because he wished to designate by that name to what a degree the
poor little creature was incomplete, and hardly sketched out. In fact,
Quasimodo, blind, hunchbacked, knock-kneed, was only an “almost.”


Now, in 1482, Quasimodo had grown up. He had become a few years
previously the bellringer of Notre-Dame, thanks to his father by
adoption, Claude Frollo,--who had become archdeacon of Josas, thanks
to his suzerain, Messire Louis de Beaumont,--who had become Bishop of
Paris, at the death of Guillaume Chartier in 1472, thanks to his patron,
Olivier Le Daim, barber to Louis XI., king by the grace of God.

So Quasimodo was the ringer of the chimes of Notre-Dame.

In the course of time there had been formed a certain peculiarly
intimate bond which united the ringer to the church. Separated forever
from the world, by the double fatality of his unknown birth and his
natural deformity, imprisoned from his infancy in that impassable double
circle, the poor wretch had grown used to seeing nothing in this world
beyond the religious walls which had received him under their shadow.
Notre-Dame had been to him successively, as he grew up and developed,
the egg, the nest, the house, the country, the universe.

There was certainly a sort of mysterious and pre-existing harmony
between this creature and this church. When, still a little fellow, he
had dragged himself tortuously and by jerks beneath the shadows of
its vaults, he seemed, with his human face and his bestial limbs, the
natural reptile of that humid and sombre pavement, upon which the shadow
of the Romanesque capitals cast so many strange forms.

Later on, the first time that he caught hold, mechanically, of the
ropes to the towers, and hung suspended from them, and set the bell to
clanging, it produced upon his adopted father, Claude, the effect of a
child whose tongue is unloosed and who begins to speak.

It is thus that, little by little, developing always in sympathy with
the cathedral, living there, sleeping there, hardly ever leaving it,
subject every hour to the mysterious impress, he came to resemble it, he
incrusted himself in it, so to speak, and became an integral part of it.
His salient angles fitted into the retreating angles of the cathedral
(if we may be allowed this figure of speech), and he seemed not only its
inhabitant but more than that, its natural tenant. One might almost
say that he had assumed its form, as the snail takes on the form of
its shell. It was his dwelling, his hole, his envelope. There existed
between him and the old church so profound an instinctive sympathy, so
many magnetic affinities, so many material affinities, that he adhered
to it somewhat as a tortoise adheres to its shell. The rough and
wrinkled cathedral was his shell.

It is useless to warn the reader not to take literally all the
similes which we are obliged to employ here to express the singular,
symmetrical, direct, almost consubstantial union of a man and an
edifice. It is equally unnecessary to state to what a degree that
whole cathedral was familiar to him, after so long and so intimate a
cohabitation. That dwelling was peculiar to him. It had no depths to
which Quasimodo had not penetrated, no height which he had not scaled.
He often climbed many stones up the front, aided solely by the uneven
points of the carving. The towers, on whose exterior surface he was
frequently seen clambering, like a lizard gliding along a perpendicular
wall, those two gigantic twins, so lofty, so menacing, so formidable,
possessed for him neither vertigo, nor terror, nor shocks of amazement.

To see them so gentle under his hand, so easy to scale, one would have
said that he had tamed them. By dint of leaping, climbing, gambolling
amid the abysses of the gigantic cathedral he had become, in some sort,
a monkey and a goat, like the Calabrian child who swims before he walks,
and plays with the sea while still a babe.

Moreover, it was not his body alone which seemed fashioned after the
Cathedral, but his mind also. In what condition was that mind? What
bent had it contracted, what form had it assumed beneath that knotted
envelope, in that savage life? This it would be hard to determine.
Quasimodo had been born one-eyed, hunchbacked, lame. It was with
great difficulty, and by dint of great patience that Claude Frollo had
succeeded in teaching him to talk. But a fatality was attached to the
poor foundling. Bellringer of Notre-Dame at the age of fourteen, a new
infirmity had come to complete his misfortunes: the bells had broken the
drums of his ears; he had become deaf. The only gate which nature had
left wide open for him had been abruptly closed, and forever.

In closing, it had cut off the only ray of joy and of light which still
made its way into the soul of Quasimodo. His soul fell into profound
night. The wretched being’s misery became as incurable and as complete
as his deformity. Let us add that his deafness rendered him to some
extent dumb. For, in order not to make others laugh, the very moment
that he found himself to be deaf, he resolved upon a silence which he
only broke when he was alone. He voluntarily tied that tongue which
Claude Frollo had taken so much pains to unloose. Hence, it came about,
that when necessity constrained him to speak, his tongue was torpid,
awkward, and like a door whose hinges have grown rusty.

If now we were to try to penetrate to the soul of Quasimodo through that
thick, hard rind; if we could sound the depths of that badly constructed
organism; if it were granted to us to look with a torch behind those
non-transparent organs to explore the shadowy interior of that opaque
creature, to elucidate his obscure corners, his absurd no-thoroughfares,
and suddenly to cast a vivid light upon the soul enchained at the
extremity of that cave, we should, no doubt, find the unhappy Psyche in
some poor, cramped, and ricketty attitude, like those prisoners beneath
the Leads of Venice, who grew old bent double in a stone box which was
both too low and too short for them.

It is certain that the mind becomes atrophied in a defective body.
Quasimodo was barely conscious of a soul cast in his own image, moving
blindly within him. The impressions of objects underwent a considerable
refraction before reaching his mind. His brain was a peculiar medium;
the ideas which passed through it issued forth completely distorted.
The reflection which resulted from this refraction was, necessarily,
divergent and perverted.

Hence a thousand optical illusions, a thousand aberrations of judgment,
a thousand deviations, in which his thought strayed, now mad, now

The first effect of this fatal organization was to trouble the glance
which he cast upon things. He received hardly any immediate perception
of them. The external world seemed much farther away to him than it does
to us.

The second effect of his misfortune was to render him malicious.

He was malicious, in fact, because he was savage; he was savage because
he was ugly. There was logic in his nature, as there is in ours.

His strength, so extraordinarily developed, was a cause of still greater
malevolence: “_Malus puer robustus_,” says Hobbes.

This justice must, however be rendered to him. Malevolence was not,
perhaps, innate in him. From his very first steps among men, he had felt
himself, later on he had seen himself, spewed out, blasted, rejected.
Human words were, for him, always a raillery or a malediction. As he
grew up, he had found nothing but hatred around him. He had caught the
general malevolence. He had picked up the weapon with which he had been

After all, he turned his face towards men only with reluctance;
his cathedral was sufficient for him. It was peopled with marble
figures,--kings, saints, bishops,--who at least did not burst out
laughing in his face, and who gazed upon him only with tranquillity
and kindliness. The other statues, those of the monsters and demons,
cherished no hatred for him, Quasimodo. He resembled them too much for
that. They seemed rather, to be scoffing at other men. The saints were
his friends, and blessed him; the monsters were his friends and guarded
him. So he held long communion with them. He sometimes passed whole
hours crouching before one of these statues, in solitary conversation
with it. If any one came, he fled like a lover surprised in his

And the cathedral was not only society for him, but the universe, and
all nature beside. He dreamed of no other hedgerows than the painted
windows, always in flower; no other shade than that of the foliage of
stone which spread out, loaded with birds, in the tufts of the Saxon
capitals; of no other mountains than the colossal towers of the church;
of no other ocean than Paris, roaring at their bases.

What he loved above all else in the maternal edifice, that which aroused
his soul, and made it open its poor wings, which it kept so miserably
folded in its cavern, that which sometimes rendered him even happy, was
the bells. He loved them, fondled them, talked to them, understood them.
From the chime in the spire, over the intersection of the aisles and
nave, to the great bell of the front, he cherished a tenderness for them
all. The central spire and the two towers were to him as three great
cages, whose birds, reared by himself, sang for him alone. Yet it was
these very bells which had made him deaf; but mothers often love best
that child which has caused them the most suffering.

It is true that their voice was the only one which he could still
hear. On this score, the big bell was his beloved. It was she whom he
preferred out of all that family of noisy girls which bustled above
him, on festival days. This bell was named Marie. She was alone in the
southern tower, with her sister Jacqueline, a bell of lesser size, shut
up in a smaller cage beside hers. This Jacqueline was so called from the
name of the wife of Jean Montagu, who had given it to the church, which
had not prevented his going and figuring without his head at Montfauçon.
In the second tower there were six other bells, and, finally, six
smaller ones inhabited the belfry over the crossing, with the wooden
bell, which rang only between after dinner on Good Friday and the
morning of the day before Easter. So Quasimodo had fifteen bells in his
seraglio; but big Marie was his favorite.

No idea can be formed of his delight on days when the grand peal was
sounded. At the moment when the archdeacon dismissed him, and said,
“Go!” he mounted the spiral staircase of the clock tower faster than any
one else could have descended it. He entered perfectly breathless into
the aerial chamber of the great bell; he gazed at her a moment, devoutly
and lovingly; then he gently addressed her and patted her with his
hand, like a good horse, which is about to set out on a long journey.
He pitied her for the trouble that she was about to suffer. After these
first caresses, he shouted to his assistants, placed in the lower story
of the tower, to begin. They grasped the ropes, the wheel creaked, the
enormous capsule of metal started slowly into motion. Quasimodo followed
it with his glance and trembled. The first shock of the clapper and
the brazen wall made the framework upon which it was mounted quiver.
Quasimodo vibrated with the bell.

“Vah!” he cried, with a senseless burst of laughter. However, the
movement of the bass was accelerated, and, in proportion as it described
a wider angle, Quasimodo’s eye opened also more and more widely,
phosphoric and flaming. At length the grand peal began; the whole tower
trembled; woodwork, leads, cut stones, all groaned at once, from the
piles of the foundation to the trefoils of its summit. Then Quasimodo
boiled and frothed; he went and came; he trembled from head to foot with
the tower. The bell, furious, running riot, presented to the two
walls of the tower alternately its brazen throat, whence escaped that
tempestuous breath, which is audible leagues away. Quasimodo stationed
himself in front of this open throat; he crouched and rose with the
oscillations of the bell, breathed in this overwhelming breath, gazed
by turns at the deep place, which swarmed with people, two hundred feet
below him, and at that enormous, brazen tongue which came, second after
second, to howl in his ear.

It was the only speech which he understood, the only sound which broke
for him the universal silence. He swelled out in it as a bird does in
the sun. All of a sudden, the frenzy of the bell seized upon him; his
look became extraordinary; he lay in wait for the great bell as it
passed, as a spider lies in wait for a fly, and flung himself abruptly
upon it, with might and main. Then, suspended above the abyss, borne
to and fro by the formidable swinging of the bell, he seized the brazen
monster by the ear-laps, pressed it between both knees, spurred it on
with his heels, and redoubled the fury of the peal with the whole shock
and weight of his body. Meanwhile, the tower trembled; he shrieked and
gnashed his teeth, his red hair rose erect, his breast heaving like a
bellows, his eye flashed flames, the monstrous bell neighed, panting,
beneath him; and then it was no longer the great bell of Notre-Dame nor
Quasimodo: it was a dream, a whirlwind, a tempest, dizziness mounted
astride of noise; a spirit clinging to a flying crupper, a strange
centaur, half man, half bell; a sort of horrible Astolphus, borne away
upon a prodigious hippogriff of living bronze.

The presence of this extraordinary being caused, as it were, a breath of
life to circulate throughout the entire cathedral. It seemed as though
there escaped from him, at least according to the growing superstitions
of the crowd, a mysterious emanation which animated all the stones of
Notre-Dame, and made the deep bowels of the ancient church to palpitate.
It sufficed for people to know that he was there, to make them believe
that they beheld the thousand statues of the galleries and the fronts in
motion. And the cathedral did indeed seem a docile and obedient creature
beneath his hand; it waited on his will to raise its great voice; it
was possessed and filled with Quasimodo, as with a familiar spirit.
One would have said that he made the immense edifice breathe. He was
everywhere about it; in fact, he multiplied himself on all points of the
structure. Now one perceived with affright at the very top of one of
the towers, a fantastic dwarf climbing, writhing, crawling on all
fours, descending outside above the abyss, leaping from projection to
projection, and going to ransack the belly of some sculptured gorgon; it
was Quasimodo dislodging the crows. Again, in some obscure corner of the
church one came in contact with a sort of living chimera, crouching
and scowling; it was Quasimodo engaged in thought. Sometimes one caught
sight, upon a bell tower, of an enormous head and a bundle of disordered
limbs swinging furiously at the end of a rope; it was Quasimodo ringing
vespers or the Angelus. Often at night a hideous form was seen wandering
along the frail balustrade of carved lacework, which crowns the towers
and borders the circumference of the apse; again it was the hunchback of
Notre-Dame. Then, said the women of the neighborhood, the whole church
took on something fantastic, supernatural, horrible; eyes and mouths
were opened, here and there; one heard the dogs, the monsters, and the
gargoyles of stone, which keep watch night and day, with outstretched
neck and open jaws, around the monstrous cathedral, barking. And, if
it was a Christmas Eve, while the great bell, which seemed to emit the
death rattle, summoned the faithful to the midnight mass, such an air
was spread over the sombre façade that one would have declared that
the grand portal was devouring the throng, and that the rose window was
watching it. And all this came from Quasimodo. Egypt would have taken
him for the god of this temple; the Middle Ages believed him to be its
demon: he was in fact its soul.

To such an extent was this disease that for those who know that
Quasimodo has existed, Notre-Dame is to-day deserted, inanimate, dead.
One feels that something has disappeared from it. That immense body is
empty; it is a skeleton; the spirit has quitted it, one sees its place
and that is all. It is like a skull which still has holes for the eyes,
but no longer sight.


Nevertheless, there was one human creature whom Quasimodo excepted from
his malice and from his hatred for others, and whom he loved even more,
perhaps, than his cathedral: this was Claude Frollo.

The matter was simple; Claude Frollo had taken him in, had adopted him,
had nourished him, had reared him. When a little lad, it was between
Claude Frollo’s legs that he was accustomed to seek refuge, when the
dogs and the children barked after him. Claude Frollo had taught him
to talk, to read, to write. Claude Frollo had finally made him the
bellringer. Now, to give the big bell in marriage to Quasimodo was to
give Juliet to Romeo.

Hence Quasimodo’s gratitude was profound, passionate, boundless; and
although the visage of his adopted father was often clouded or severe,
although his speech was habitually curt, harsh, imperious, that
gratitude never wavered for a single moment. The archdeacon had in
Quasimodo the most submissive slave, the most docile lackey, the most
vigilant of dogs. When the poor bellringer became deaf, there had
been established between him and Claude Frollo, a language of signs,
mysterious and understood by themselves alone. In this manner the
archdeacon was the sole human being with whom Quasimodo had preserved
communication. He was in sympathy with but two things in this world:
Notre-Dame and Claude Frollo.

There is nothing which can be compared with the empire of the archdeacon
over the bellringer; with the attachment of the bellringer for the
archdeacon. A sign from Claude and the idea of giving him pleasure would
have sufficed to make Quasimodo hurl himself headlong from the summit of
Notre-Dame. It was a remarkable thing--all that physical strength which
had reached in Quasimodo such an extraordinary development, and which
was placed by him blindly at the disposition of another. There was in
it, no doubt, filial devotion, domestic attachment; there was also the
fascination of one spirit by another spirit. It was a poor, awkward, and
clumsy organization, which stood with lowered head and supplicating eyes
before a lofty and profound, a powerful and superior intellect. Lastly,
and above all, it was gratitude. Gratitude so pushed to its extremest
limit, that we do not know to what to compare it. This virtue is not one
of those of which the finest examples are to be met with among men. We
will say then, that Quasimodo loved the archdeacon as never a dog, never
a horse, never an elephant loved his master.


In 1482, Quasimodo was about twenty years of age; Claude Frollo, about
thirty-six. One had grown up, the other had grown old.

Claude Frollo was no longer the simple scholar of the college of Torch,
the tender protector of a little child, the young and dreamy philosopher
who knew many things and was ignorant of many. He was a priest, austere,
grave, morose; one charged with souls; monsieur the archdeacon of Josas,
the bishop’s second acolyte, having charge of the two deaneries of
Montlhéry, and Châteaufort, and one hundred and seventy-four country
curacies. He was an imposing and sombre personage, before whom the choir
boys in alb and in jacket trembled, as well as the machicots*, and the
brothers of Saint-Augustine and the matutinal clerks of Notre-Dame,
when he passed slowly beneath the lofty arches of the choir, majestic,
thoughtful, with arms folded and his head so bent upon his breast that
all one saw of his face was his large, bald brow.

     *  An official of Notre-Dame, lower than a beneficed clergyman,
higher than simple paid chanters.

Dom Claude Frollo had, however, abandoned neither science nor the
education of his young brother, those two occupations of his life. But
as time went on, some bitterness had been mingled with these things
which were so sweet. In the long run, says Paul Diacre, the best lard
turns rancid. Little Jehan Frollo, surnamed (_du Moulin_) “of the Mill”
 because of the place where he had been reared, had not grown up in the
direction which Claude would have liked to impose upon him. The big
brother counted upon a pious, docile, learned, and honorable pupil. But
the little brother, like those young trees which deceive the gardener’s
hopes and turn obstinately to the quarter whence they receive sun and
air, the little brother did not grow and did not multiply, but only
put forth fine bushy and luxuriant branches on the side of laziness,
ignorance, and debauchery. He was a regular devil, and a very disorderly
one, who made Dom Claude scowl; but very droll and very subtle, which
made the big brother smile.

Claude had confided him to that same college of Torchi where he had
passed his early years in study and meditation; and it was a grief to
him that this sanctuary, formerly edified by the name of Frollo, should
to-day be scandalized by it. He sometimes preached Jehan very long and
severe sermons, which the latter intrepidly endured. After all, the
young scapegrace had a good heart, as can be seen in all comedies.
But the sermon over, he none the less tranquilly resumed his course of
seditions and enormities. Now it was a _bejaune_ or yellow beak (as they
called the new arrivals at the university), whom he had been mauling by
way of welcome; a precious tradition which has been carefully preserved
to our own day. Again, he had set in movement a band of scholars,
who had flung themselves upon a wine-shop in classic fashion, quasi
_classico excitati_, had then beaten the tavern-keeper “with offensive
cudgels,” and joyously pillaged the tavern, even to smashing in the
hogsheads of wine in the cellar. And then it was a fine report in Latin,
which the sub-monitor of Torchi carried piteously to Dom Claude with
this dolorous marginal comment,--_Rixa; prima causa vinum optimum
potatum_. Finally, it was said, a thing quite horrible in a boy of
sixteen, that his debauchery often extended as far as the Rue de

Claude, saddened and discouraged in his human affections, by all this,
had flung himself eagerly into the arms of learning, that sister which,
at least does not laugh in your face, and which always pays you, though
in money that is sometimes a little hollow, for the attention which you
have paid to her. Hence, he became more and more learned, and, at the
same time, as a natural consequence, more and more rigid as a
priest, more and more sad as a man. There are for each of us several
parallelisms between our intelligence, our habits, and our character,
which develop without a break, and break only in the great disturbances
of life.

As Claude Frollo had passed through nearly the entire circle of human
learning--positive, exterior, and permissible--since his youth, he
was obliged, unless he came to a halt, _ubi defuit orbis_, to proceed
further and seek other aliments for the insatiable activity of his
intelligence. The antique symbol of the serpent biting its tail is,
above all, applicable to science. It would appear that Claude Frollo had
experienced this. Many grave persons affirm that, after having exhausted
the _fas_ of human learning, he had dared to penetrate into the _nefas_.
He had, they said, tasted in succession all the apples of the tree of
knowledge, and, whether from hunger or disgust, had ended by tasting
the forbidden fruit. He had taken his place by turns, as the reader
has seen, in the conferences of the theologians in Sorbonne,--in the
assemblies of the doctors of art, after the manner of Saint-Hilaire,--in
the disputes of the decretalists, after the manner of Saint-Martin,--in
the congregations of physicians at the holy water font of Notre-Dame,
_ad cupam Nostroe-Dominoe_. All the dishes permitted and approved, which
those four great kitchens called the four faculties could elaborate and
serve to the understanding, he had devoured, and had been satiated with
them before his hunger was appeased. Then he had penetrated further,
lower, beneath all that finished, material, limited knowledge; he had,
perhaps, risked his soul, and had seated himself in the cavern at
that mysterious table of the alchemists, of the astrologers, of the
hermetics, of which Averroès, Gillaume de Paris, and Nicolas Flamel hold
the end in the Middle Ages; and which extends in the East, by the
light of the seven-branched candlestick, to Solomon, Pythagoras, and

That is, at least, what was supposed, whether rightly or not. It
is certain that the archdeacon often visited the cemetery of the
Saints-Innocents, where, it is true, his father and mother had been
buried, with other victims of the plague of 1466; but that he appeared
far less devout before the cross of their grave than before the strange
figures with which the tomb of Nicolas Flamel and Claude Pernelle,
erected just beside it, was loaded.

It is certain that he had frequently been seen to pass along the Rue des
Lombards, and furtively enter a little house which formed the corner
of the Rue des Ecrivans and the Rue Marivault. It was the house which
Nicolas Flamel had built, where he had died about 1417, and which,
constantly deserted since that time, had already begun to fall in
ruins,--so greatly had the hermetics and the alchemists of all countries
wasted away the walls, merely by carving their names upon them. Some
neighbors even affirm that they had once seen, through an air-hole,
Archdeacon Claude excavating, turning over, digging up the earth in the
two cellars, whose supports had been daubed with numberless couplets and
hieroglyphics by Nicolas Flamel himself. It was supposed that Flamel had
buried the philosopher’s stone in the cellar; and the alchemists, for
the space of two centuries, from Magistri to Father Pacifique, never
ceased to worry the soil until the house, so cruelly ransacked and
turned over, ended by falling into dust beneath their feet.

Again, it is certain that the archdeacon had been seized with a singular
passion for the symbolical door of Notre-Dame, that page of a conjuring
book written in stone, by Bishop Guillaume de Paris, who has, no doubt,
been damned for having affixed so infernal a frontispiece to the sacred
poem chanted by the rest of the edifice. Archdeacon Claude had the
credit also of having fathomed the mystery of the colossus of Saint
Christopher, and of that lofty, enigmatical statue which then stood at
the entrance of the vestibule, and which the people, in derision,
called “Monsieur Legris.” But, what every one might have noticed was the
interminable hours which he often employed, seated upon the parapet of
the area in front of the church, in contemplating the sculptures of the
front; examining now the foolish virgins with their lamps reversed, now
the wise virgins with their lamps upright; again, calculating the angle
of vision of that raven which belongs to the left front, and which is
looking at a mysterious point inside the church, where is concealed the
philosopher’s stone, if it be not in the cellar of Nicolas Flamel.

It was, let us remark in passing, a singular fate for the Church of
Notre-Dame at that epoch to be so beloved, in two different degrees,
and with so much devotion, by two beings so dissimilar as Claude and
Quasimodo. Beloved by one, a sort of instinctive and savage half-man,
for its beauty, for its stature, for the harmonies which emanated from
its magnificent ensemble; beloved by the other, a learned and passionate
imagination, for its myth, for the sense which it contains, for the
symbolism scattered beneath the sculptures of its front,--like the first
text underneath the second in a palimpsest,--in a word, for the enigma
which it is eternally propounding to the understanding.

Furthermore, it is certain that the archdeacon had established himself
in that one of the two towers which looks upon the Grève, just beside
the frame for the bells, a very secret little cell, into which no one,
not even the bishop, entered without his leave, it was said. This tiny
cell had formerly been made almost at the summit of the tower, among the
ravens’ nests, by Bishop Hugo de Besançon* who had wrought sorcery there
in his day. What that cell contained, no one knew; but from the strand
of the Terrain, at night, there was often seen to appear, disappear,
and reappear at brief and regular intervals, at a little dormer window
opening upon the back of the tower, a certain red, intermittent,
singular light which seemed to follow the panting breaths of a bellows,
and to proceed from a flame, rather than from a light. In the darkness,
at that height, it produced a singular effect; and the goodwives said:
“There’s the archdeacon blowing! hell is sparkling up yonder!”

     *  Hugo II. de Bisuncio, 1326-1332.

There were no great proofs of sorcery in that, after all, but there was
still enough smoke to warrant a surmise of fire, and the archdeacon bore
a tolerably formidable reputation. We ought to mention however, that the
sciences of Egypt, that necromancy and magic, even the whitest, even the
most innocent, had no more envenomed enemy, no more pitiless denunciator
before the gentlemen of the officialty of Notre-Dame. Whether this
was sincere horror, or the game played by the thief who shouts, “stop
thief!” at all events, it did not prevent the archdeacon from being
considered by the learned heads of the chapter, as a soul who had
ventured into the vestibule of hell, who was lost in the caves of the
cabal, groping amid the shadows of the occult sciences. Neither were
the people deceived thereby; with any one who possessed any sagacity,
Quasimodo passed for the demon; Claude Frollo, for the sorcerer. It
was evident that the bellringer was to serve the archdeacon for a given
time, at the end of which he would carry away the latter’s soul, by way
of payment. Thus the archdeacon, in spite of the excessive austerity of
his life, was in bad odor among all pious souls; and there was no devout
nose so inexperienced that it could not smell him out to be a magician.

And if, as he grew older, abysses had formed in his science, they had
also formed in his heart. That at least, is what one had grounds for
believing on scrutinizing that face upon which the soul was only seen
to shine through a sombre cloud. Whence that large, bald brow? that head
forever bent? that breast always heaving with sighs? What secret thought
caused his mouth to smile with so much bitterness, at the same moment
that his scowling brows approached each other like two bulls on the
point of fighting? Why was what hair he had left already gray? What was
that internal fire which sometimes broke forth in his glance, to such a
degree that his eye resembled a hole pierced in the wall of a furnace?

These symptoms of a violent moral preoccupation, had acquired an
especially high degree of intensity at the epoch when this story takes
place. More than once a choir-boy had fled in terror at finding him
alone in the church, so strange and dazzling was his look. More than
once, in the choir, at the hour of the offices, his neighbor in the
stalls had heard him mingle with the plain song, _ad omnem tonum_,
unintelligible parentheses. More than once the laundress of the Terrain
charged “with washing the chapter” had observed, not without affright,
the marks of nails and clenched fingers on the surplice of monsieur the
archdeacon of Josas.

However, he redoubled his severity, and had never been more exemplary.
By profession as well as by character, he had always held himself aloof
from women; he seemed to hate them more than ever. The mere rustling
of a silken petticoat caused his hood to fall over his eyes. Upon this
score he was so jealous of austerity and reserve, that when the Dame de
Beaujeu, the king’s daughter, came to visit the cloister of Notre-Dame,
in the month of December, 1481, he gravely opposed her entrance,
reminding the bishop of the statute of the Black Book, dating from the
vigil of Saint-Barthélemy, 1334, which interdicts access to the cloister
to “any woman whatever, old or young, mistress or maid.” Upon which the
bishop had been constrained to recite to him the ordinance of Legate
Odo, which excepts certain great dames, _aliquæ magnates mulieres,
quæ sine scandalo vitari non possunt_. And again the archdeacon had
protested, objecting that the ordinance of the legate, which dated back
to 1207, was anterior by a hundred and twenty-seven years to the Black
Book, and consequently was abrogated in fact by it. And he had refused
to appear before the princess.

It was also noticed that his horror for Bohemian women and gypsies had
seemed to redouble for some time past. He had petitioned the bishop for
an edict which expressly forbade the Bohemian women to come and dance
and beat their tambourines on the place of the Parvis; and for about the
same length of time, he had been ransacking the mouldy placards of
the officialty, in order to collect the cases of sorcerers and witches
condemned to fire or the rope, for complicity in crimes with rams, sows,
or goats.


The archdeacon and the bellringer, as we have already said, were but
little loved by the populace great and small, in the vicinity of the
cathedral. When Claude and Quasimodo went out together, which frequently
happened, and when they were seen traversing in company, the valet
behind the master, the cold, narrow, and gloomy streets of the block of
Notre-Dame, more than one evil word, more than one ironical quaver, more
than one insulting jest greeted them on their way, unless Claude Frollo,
which was rarely the case, walked with head upright and raised, showing
his severe and almost august brow to the dumbfounded jeerers.

Both were in their quarter like “the poets” of whom Régnier speaks,--

   “All sorts of persons run after poets,
   As warblers fly shrieking after owls.”

Sometimes a mischievous child risked his skin and bones for the
ineffable pleasure of driving a pin into Quasimodo’s hump. Again, a
young girl, more bold and saucy than was fitting, brushed the priest’s
black robe, singing in his face the sardonic ditty, “niche, niche, the
devil is caught.” Sometimes a group of squalid old crones, squatting in
a file under the shadow of the steps to a porch, scolded noisily as the
archdeacon and the bellringer passed, and tossed them this encouraging
welcome, with a curse: “Hum! there’s a fellow whose soul is made like
the other one’s body!” Or a band of schoolboys and street urchins,
playing hop-scotch, rose in a body and saluted him classically, with
some cry in Latin: “_Eia! eia! Claudius cum claudo_!”

But the insult generally passed unnoticed both by the priest and the
bellringer. Quasimodo was too deaf to hear all these gracious things,
and Claude was too dreamy.



Dom Claude’s fame had spread far and wide. It procured for him, at about
the epoch when he refused to see Madame de Beaujeu, a visit which he
long remembered.

It was in the evening. He had just retired, after the office, to
his canon’s cell in the cloister of Notre-Dame. This cell, with the
exception, possibly, of some glass phials, relegated to a corner, and
filled with a decidedly equivocal powder, which strongly resembled
the alchemist’s “powder of projection,” presented nothing strange or
mysterious. There were, indeed, here and there, some inscriptions on
the walls, but they were pure sentences of learning and piety, extracted
from good authors. The archdeacon had just seated himself, by the
light of a three-jetted copper lamp, before a vast coffer crammed with
manuscripts. He had rested his elbow upon the open volume of _Honorius
d’Autun_, _De predestinatione et libero arbitrio_, and he was turning
over, in deep meditation, the leaves of a printed folio which he had
just brought, the sole product of the press which his cell contained. In
the midst of his revery there came a knock at his door. “Who’s there?”
 cried the learned man, in the gracious tone of a famished dog, disturbed
over his bone.

A voice without replied, “Your friend, Jacques Coictier.” He went to
open the door.

It was, in fact, the king’s physician; a person about fifty years of
age, whose harsh physiognomy was modified only by a crafty eye. Another
man accompanied him. Both wore long slate-colored robes, furred with
minever, girded and closed, with caps of the same stuff and hue. Their
hands were concealed by their sleeves, their feet by their robes, their
eyes by their caps.

“God help me, messieurs!” said the archdeacon, showing them in; “I
was not expecting distinguished visitors at such an hour.” And while
speaking in this courteous fashion he cast an uneasy and scrutinizing
glance from the physician to his companion.

“‘Tis never too late to come and pay a visit to so considerable
a learned man as Dom Claude Frollo de Tirechappe,” replied Doctor
Coictier, whose Franche-Comté accent made all his phrases drag along
with the majesty of a train-robe.

There then ensued between the physician and the archdeacon one of those
congratulatory prologues which, in accordance with custom, at that
epoch preceded all conversations between learned men, and which did not
prevent them from detesting each other in the most cordial manner in
the world. However, it is the same nowadays; every wise man’s mouth
complimenting another wise man is a vase of honeyed gall.

Claude Frollo’s felicitations to Jacques Coictier bore reference
principally to the temporal advantages which the worthy physician had
found means to extract, in the course of his much envied career, from
each malady of the king, an operation of alchemy much better and more
certain than the pursuit of the philosopher’s stone.

“In truth, Monsieur le Docteur Coictier, I felt great joy on learning of
the bishopric given your nephew, my reverend seigneur Pierre Verse. Is
he not Bishop of Amiens?”

“Yes, monsieur Archdeacon; it is a grace and mercy of God.”

“Do you know that you made a great figure on Christmas Day at the bead
of your company of the chamber of accounts, Monsieur President?”

“Vice-President, Dom Claude. Alas! nothing more.”

“How is your superb house in the Rue Saint-André des Arcs coming on?
‘Tis a Louvre. I love greatly the apricot tree which is carved on the
door, with this play of words: ‘A L’ABRI-COTIER--Sheltered from reefs.’”

“Alas! Master Claude, all that masonry costeth me dear. In proportion as
the house is erected, I am ruined.”

“Ho! have you not your revenues from the jail, and the bailiwick of the
Palais, and the rents of all the houses, sheds, stalls, and booths of
the enclosure? ‘Tis a fine breast to suck.”

“My castellany of Poissy has brought me in nothing this year.”

“But your tolls of Triel, of Saint-James, of Saint-Germainen-Laye are
always good.”

“Six score livres, and not even Parisian livres at that.”

“You have your office of counsellor to the king. That is fixed.”

“Yes, brother Claude; but that accursed seigneury of Poligny, which
people make so much noise about, is worth not sixty gold crowns, year
out and year in.”

In the compliments which Dom Claude addressed to Jacques Coictier, there
was that sardonical, biting, and covertly mocking accent, and the sad
cruel smile of a superior and unhappy man who toys for a moment, by way
of distraction, with the dense prosperity of a vulgar man. The other did
not perceive it.

“Upon my soul,” said Claude at length, pressing his hand, “I am glad to
see you and in such good health.”

“Thanks, Master Claude.”

“By the way,” exclaimed Dom Claude, “how is your royal patient?”

“He payeth not sufficiently his physician,” replied the doctor, casting
a side glance at his companion.

“Think you so, Gossip Coictier,” said the latter.

These words, uttered in a tone of surprise and reproach, drew upon this
unknown personage the attention of the archdeacon which, to tell the
truth, had not been diverted from him a single moment since the stranger
had set foot across the threshold of his cell. It had even required all
the thousand reasons which he had for handling tenderly Doctor Jacques
Coictier, the all-powerful physician of King Louis XI., to induce him
to receive the latter thus accompanied. Hence, there was nothing very
cordial in his manner when Jacques Coictier said to him,--

“By the way, Dom Claude, I bring you a colleague who has desired to see
you on account of your reputation.”

“Monsieur belongs to science?” asked the archdeacon, fixing his piercing
eye upon Coictier’s companion. He found beneath the brows of the
stranger a glance no less piercing or less distrustful than his own.

He was, so far as the feeble light of the lamp permitted one to judge,
an old man about sixty years of age and of medium stature, who appeared
somewhat sickly and broken in health. His profile, although of a very
ordinary outline, had something powerful and severe about it; his eyes
sparkled beneath a very deep superciliary arch, like a light in the
depths of a cave; and beneath his cap which was well drawn down and fell
upon his nose, one recognized the broad expanse of a brow of genius.

He took it upon himself to reply to the archdeacon’s question,--

“Reverend master,” he said in a grave tone, “your renown has reached my
ears, and I wish to consult you. I am but a poor provincial gentleman,
who removeth his shoes before entering the dwellings of the learned. You
must know my name. I am called Gossip Tourangeau.”

“Strange name for a gentleman,” said the archdeacon to himself.

Nevertheless, he had a feeling that he was in the presence of a strong
and earnest character. The instinct of his own lofty intellect made him
recognize an intellect no less lofty under Gossip Tourangeau’s furred
cap, and as he gazed at the solemn face, the ironical smile which
Jacques Coictier’s presence called forth on his gloomy face, gradually
disappeared as twilight fades on the horizon of night. Stern and silent,
he had resumed his seat in his great armchair; his elbow rested as
usual, on the table, and his brow on his hand. After a few moments
of reflection, he motioned his visitors to be seated, and, turning to
Gossip Tourangeau he said,--

“You come to consult me, master, and upon what science?”

“Your reverence,” replied Tourangeau, “I am ill, very ill. You are said
to be great AEsculapius, and I am come to ask your advice in medicine.”

“Medicine!” said the archdeacon, tossing his head. He seemed to meditate
for a moment, and then resumed: “Gossip Tourangeau, since that is your
name, turn your head, you will find my reply already written on the

Gossip Tourangeau obeyed, and read this inscription engraved above his
head: “Medicine is the daughter of dreams.--JAMBLIQUE.”

Meanwhile, Doctor Jacques Coictier had heard his companion’s question
with a displeasure which Dom Claude’s response had but redoubled. He
bent down to the ear of Gossip Tourangeau, and said to him, softly
enough not to be heard by the archdeacon: “I warned you that he was mad.
You insisted on seeing him.”

“‘Tis very possible that he is right, madman as he is, Doctor Jacques,”
 replied his comrade in the same low tone, and with a bitter smile.

“As you please,” replied Coictier dryly. Then, addressing the
archdeacon: “You are clever at your trade, Dom Claude, and you are no
more at a loss over Hippocrates than a monkey is over a nut. Medicine
a dream! I suspect that the pharmacopolists and the master physicians
would insist upon stoning you if they were here. So you deny the
influence of philtres upon the blood, and unguents on the skin! You deny
that eternal pharmacy of flowers and metals, which is called the world,
made expressly for that eternal invalid called man!”

“I deny,” said Dom Claude coldly, “neither pharmacy nor the invalid. I
reject the physician.”

“Then it is not true,” resumed Coictier hotly, “that gout is an internal
eruption; that a wound caused by artillery is to be cured by the
application of a young mouse roasted; that young blood, properly
injected, restores youth to aged veins; it is not true that two and two
make four, and that emprostathonos follows opistathonos.”

The archdeacon replied without perturbation: “There are certain things
of which I think in a certain fashion.”

Coictier became crimson with anger.

“There, there, my good Coictier, let us not get angry,” said Gossip
Tourangeau. “Monsieur the archdeacon is our friend.”

Coictier calmed down, muttering in a low tone,--

“After all, he’s mad.”

“_Pasque-dieu_, Master Claude,” resumed Gossip Tourangeau, after a
silence, “You embarrass me greatly. I had two things to consult you
upon, one touching my health and the other touching my star.”

“Monsieur,” returned the archdeacon, “if that be your motive, you
would have done as well not to put yourself out of breath climbing my
staircase. I do not believe in Medicine. I do not believe in Astrology.”

“Indeed!” said the man, with surprise.

Coictier gave a forced laugh.

“You see that he is mad,” he said, in a low tone, to Gossip Tourangeau.
“He does not believe in astrology.”

“The idea of imagining,” pursued Dom Claude, “that every ray of a star
is a thread which is fastened to the head of a man!”

“And what then, do you believe in?” exclaimed Gossip Tourangeau.

The archdeacon hesitated for a moment, then he allowed a gloomy smile to
escape, which seemed to give the lie to his response: “_Credo in Deum_.”

“_Dominum nostrum_,” added Gossip Tourangeau, making the sign of the

“Amen,” said Coictier.

“Reverend master,” resumed Tourangeau, “I am charmed in soul to see you
in such a religious frame of mind. But have you reached the point, great
savant as you are, of no longer believing in science?”

“No,” said the archdeacon, grasping the arm of Gossip Tourangeau, and
a ray of enthusiasm lighted up his gloomy eyes, “no, I do not reject
science. I have not crawled so long, flat on my belly, with my nails in
the earth, through the innumerable ramifications of its caverns, without
perceiving far in front of me, at the end of the obscure gallery, a
light, a flame, a something, the reflection, no doubt, of the dazzling
central laboratory where the patient and the wise have found out God.”

“And in short,” interrupted Tourangeau, “what do you hold to be true and


Coictier exclaimed, “Pardieu, Dom Claude, alchemy has its use, no doubt,
but why blaspheme medicine and astrology?”

“Naught is your science of man, naught is your science of the stars,”
 said the archdeacon, commandingly.

“That’s driving Epidaurus and Chaldea very fast,” replied the physician
with a grin.

“Listen, Messire Jacques. This is said in good faith. I am not the
king’s physician, and his majesty has not given me the Garden of
Daedalus in which to observe the constellations. Don’t get angry, but
listen to me. What truth have you deduced, I will not say from medicine,
which is too foolish a thing, but from astrology? Cite to me the virtues
of the vertical boustrophedon, the treasures of the number ziruph and
those of the number zephirod!”

“Will you deny,” said Coictier, “the sympathetic force of the collar
bone, and the cabalistics which are derived from it?”

“An error, Messire Jacques! None of your formulas end in reality.
Alchemy on the other hand has its discoveries. Will you contest results
like this? Ice confined beneath the earth for a thousand years is
transformed into rock crystals. Lead is the ancestor of all metals. For
gold is not a metal, gold is light. Lead requires only four periods of
two hundred years each, to pass in succession from the state of lead, to
the state of red arsenic, from red arsenic to tin, from tin to silver.
Are not these facts? But to believe in the collar bone, in the full line
and in the stars, is as ridiculous as to believe with the inhabitants of
Grand-Cathay that the golden oriole turns into a mole, and that grains
of wheat turn into fish of the carp species.”

“I have studied hermetic science!” exclaimed Coictier, “and I affirm--”

The fiery archdeacon did not allow him to finish: “And I have studied
medicine, astrology, and hermetics. Here alone is the truth.” (As he
spoke thus, he took from the top of the coffer a phial filled with the
powder which we have mentioned above), “here alone is light! Hippocrates
is a dream; Urania is a dream; Hermes, a thought. Gold is the sun; to
make gold is to be God. Herein lies the one and only science. I have
sounded the depths of medicine and astrology, I tell you! Naught,
nothingness! The human body, shadows! the planets, shadows!”

And he fell back in his armchair in a commanding and inspired attitude.
Gossip Touraugeau watched him in silence. Coictier tried to grin,
shrugged his shoulders imperceptibly, and repeated in a low voice,--

“A madman!”

“And,” said Tourangeau suddenly, “the wondrous result,--have you
attained it, have you made gold?”

“If I had made it,” replied the archdeacon, articulating his words
slowly, like a man who is reflecting, “the king of France would be named
Claude and not Louis.”

The stranger frowned.

“What am I saying?” resumed Dom Claude, with a smile of disdain. “What
would the throne of France be to me when I could rebuild the empire of
the Orient?”

“Very good!” said the stranger.

“Oh, the poor fool!” murmured Coictier.

The archdeacon went on, appearing to reply now only to his thoughts,--

“But no, I am still crawling; I am scratching my face and knees against
the pebbles of the subterranean pathway. I catch a glimpse, I do not
contemplate! I do not read, I spell out!”

“And when you know how to read!” demanded the stranger, “will you make

“Who doubts it?” said the archdeacon.

“In that case Our Lady knows that I am greatly in need of money, and I
should much desire to read in your books. Tell me, reverend master, is
your science inimical or displeasing to Our Lady?”

“Whose archdeacon I am?” Dom Claude contented himself with replying,
with tranquil hauteur.

“That is true, my master. Well! will it please you to initiate me? Let
me spell with you.”

Claude assumed the majestic and pontifical attitude of a Samuel.

“Old man, it requires longer years than remain to you, to undertake this
voyage across mysterious things. Your head is very gray! One comes forth
from the cavern only with white hair, but only those with dark hair
enter it. Science alone knows well how to hollow, wither, and dry up
human faces; she needs not to have old age bring her faces already
furrowed. Nevertheless, if the desire possesses you of putting yourself
under discipline at your age, and of deciphering the formidable alphabet
of the sages, come to me; ‘tis well, I will make the effort. I will not
tell you, poor old man, to go and visit the sepulchral chambers of the
pyramids, of which ancient Herodotus speaks, nor the brick tower of
Babylon, nor the immense white marble sanctuary of the Indian temple of
Eklinga. I, no more than yourself, have seen the Chaldean masonry works
constructed according to the sacred form of the Sikra, nor the temple of
Solomon, which is destroyed, nor the stone doors of the sepulchre of the
kings of Israel, which are broken. We will content ourselves with the
fragments of the book of Hermes which we have here. I will explain to
you the statue of Saint Christopher, the symbol of the sower, and that
of the two angels which are on the front of the Sainte-Chapelle, and one
of which holds in his hands a vase, the other, a cloud--”

Here Jacques Coictier, who had been unhorsed by the archdeacon’s
impetuous replies, regained his saddle, and interrupted him with the
triumphant tone of one learned man correcting another,--“_Erras amice
Claudi_. The symbol is not the number. You take Orpheus for Hermes.”

“‘Tis you who are in error,” replied the archdeacon, gravely. “Daedalus
is the base; Orpheus is the wall; Hermes is the edifice,--that is all.
You shall come when you will,” he continued, turning to Tourangeau, “I
will show you the little parcels of gold which remained at the bottom of
Nicholas Flamel’s alembic, and you shall compare them with the gold of
Guillaume de Paris. I will teach you the secret virtues of the Greek
word, _peristera_. But, first of all, I will make you read, one after
the other, the marble letters of the alphabet, the granite pages of the
book. We shall go to the portal of Bishop Guillaume and of Saint-Jean le
Rond at the Sainte-Chapelle, then to the house of Nicholas Flamel, Rue
Manvault, to his tomb, which is at the Saints-Innocents, to his two
hospitals, Rue de Montmorency. I will make you read the hieroglyphics
which cover the four great iron cramps on the portal of the hospital
Saint-Gervais, and of the Rue de la Ferronnerie. We will
spell out in company, also, the façade of Saint-Come, of
Sainte-Geneviève-des-Ardents, of Saint Martin, of Saint-Jacques
de la Boucherie--.”

For a long time, Gossip Tourangeau, intelligent as was his glance, had
appeared not to understand Dom Claude. He interrupted.

“_Pasque-dieu_! what are your books, then?”

“Here is one of them,” said the archdeacon.

And opening the window of his cell he pointed out with his finger the
immense church of Notre-Dame, which, outlining against the starry sky
the black silhouette of its two towers, its stone flanks, its monstrous
haunches, seemed an enormous two-headed sphinx, seated in the middle of
the city.

The archdeacon gazed at the gigantic edifice for some time in silence,
then extending his right hand, with a sigh, towards the printed book
which lay open on the table, and his left towards Notre-Dame, and
turning a sad glance from the book to the church,--“Alas,” he said,
“this will kill that.”

Coictier, who had eagerly approached the book, could not repress an
exclamation. “Hé, but now, what is there so formidable in this: ‘GLOSSA
IN EPISTOLAS D. PAULI, _Norimbergoe, Antonius Koburger_, 1474.’ This is
not new. ‘Tis a book of Pierre Lombard, the Master of Sentences. Is it
because it is printed?”

“You have said it,” replied Claude, who seemed absorbed in a profound
meditation, and stood resting, his forefinger bent backward on the folio
which had come from the famous press of Nuremberg. Then he added these
mysterious words: “Alas! alas! small things come at the end of great
things; a tooth triumphs over a mass. The Nile rat kills the crocodile,
the swordfish kills the whale, the book will kill the edifice.”

The curfew of the cloister sounded at the moment when Master Jacques
was repeating to his companion in low tones, his eternal refrain, “He is
mad!” To which his companion this time replied, “I believe that he is.”

It was the hour when no stranger could remain in the cloister. The two
visitors withdrew. “Master,” said Gossip Tourangeau, as he took leave
of the archdeacon, “I love wise men and great minds, and I hold you
in singular esteem. Come to-morrow to the Palace des Tournelles, and
inquire for the Abbé de Sainte-Martin, of Tours.”

The archdeacon returned to his chamber dumbfounded, comprehending
at last who Gossip Tourangeau was, and recalling that passage of the
register of Sainte-Martin, of Tours:--_Abbas beati Martini, SCILICET REX
FRANCIAE, est canonicus de consuetudine et habet parvam proebendam quam
habet sanctus Venantius, et debet sedere in sede thesaurarii_.

It is asserted that after that epoch the archdeacon had frequent
conferences with Louis XI., when his majesty came to Paris, and that
Dom Claude’s influence quite overshadowed that of Olivier le Daim and
Jacques Coictier, who, as was his habit, rudely took the king to task on
that account.


Our lady readers will pardon us if we pause for a moment to seek what
could have been the thought concealed beneath those enigmatic words of
the archdeacon: “This will kill that. The book will kill the edifice.”

To our mind, this thought had two faces. In the first place, it was a
priestly thought. It was the affright of the priest in the presence of
a new agent, the printing press. It was the terror and dazzled amazement
of the men of the sanctuary, in the presence of the luminous press of
Gutenberg. It was the pulpit and the manuscript taking the alarm at the
printed word: something similar to the stupor of a sparrow which should
behold the angel Legion unfold his six million wings. It was the cry of
the prophet who already hears emancipated humanity roaring and
swarming; who beholds in the future, intelligence sapping faith,
opinion dethroning belief, the world shaking off Rome. It was the
prognostication of the philosopher who sees human thought, volatilized
by the press, evaporating from the theocratic recipient. It was the
terror of the soldier who examines the brazen battering ram, and
says:--“The tower will crumble.” It signified that one power was about
to succeed another power. It meant, “The press will kill the church.”

But underlying this thought, the first and most simple one, no doubt,
there was in our opinion another, newer one, a corollary of the first,
less easy to perceive and more easy to contest, a view as philosophical
and belonging no longer to the priest alone but to the savant and the
artist. It was a presentiment that human thought, in changing its form,
was about to change its mode of expression; that the dominant idea of
each generation would no longer be written with the same matter, and in
the same manner; that the book of stone, so solid and so durable, was
about to make way for the book of paper, more solid and still more
durable. In this connection the archdeacon’s vague formula had a second
sense. It meant, “Printing will kill architecture.”

In fact, from the origin of things down to the fifteenth century of the
Christian era, inclusive, architecture is the great book of humanity,
the principal expression of man in his different stages of development,
either as a force or as an intelligence.

When the memory of the first races felt itself overloaded, when the mass
of reminiscences of the human race became so heavy and so confused that
speech naked and flying, ran the risk of losing them on the way, men
transcribed them on the soil in a manner which was at once the most
visible, most durable, and most natural. They sealed each tradition
beneath a monument.

The first monuments were simple masses of rock, “which the iron had not
touched,” as Moses says. Architecture began like all writing. It was
first an alphabet. Men planted a stone upright, it was a letter, and
each letter was a hieroglyph, and upon each hieroglyph rested a group of
ideas, like the capital on the column. This is what the earliest races
did everywhere, at the same moment, on the surface of the entire world.
We find the “standing stones” of the Celts in Asian Siberia; in the
pampas of America.

Later on, they made words; they placed stone upon stone, they coupled
those syllables of granite, and attempted some combinations. The Celtic
dolmen and cromlech, the Etruscan tumulus, the Hebrew galgal, are words.
Some, especially the tumulus, are proper names. Sometimes even, when men
had a great deal of stone, and a vast plain, they wrote a phrase. The
immense pile of Karnac is a complete sentence.

At last they made books. Traditions had brought forth symbols, beneath
which they disappeared like the trunk of a tree beneath its foliage;
all these symbols in which humanity placed faith continued to grow, to
multiply, to intersect, to become more and more complicated; the first
monuments no longer sufficed to contain them, they were overflowing
in every part; these monuments hardly expressed now the primitive
tradition, simple like themselves, naked and prone upon the earth. The
symbol felt the need of expansion in the edifice. Then architecture was
developed in proportion with human thought; it became a giant with
a thousand heads and a thousand arms, and fixed all this floating
symbolism in an eternal, visible, palpable form. While Daedalus, who is
force, measured; while Orpheus, who is intelligence, sang;--the pillar,
which is a letter; the arcade, which is a syllable; the pyramid, which
is a word,--all set in movement at once by a law of geometry and by a
law of poetry, grouped themselves, combined, amalgamated, descended,
ascended, placed themselves side by side on the soil, ranged themselves
in stories in the sky, until they had written under the dictation of
the general idea of an epoch, those marvellous books which were also
marvellous edifices: the Pagoda of Eklinga, the Rhamseion of Egypt, the
Temple of Solomon.

The generating idea, the word, was not only at the foundation of
all these edifices, but also in the form. The temple of Solomon, for
example, was not alone the binding of the holy book; it was the holy
book itself. On each one of its concentric walls, the priests could read
the word translated and manifested to the eye, and thus they followed
its transformations from sanctuary to sanctuary, until they seized it in
its last tabernacle, under its most concrete form, which still belonged
to architecture: the arch. Thus the word was enclosed in an edifice, but
its image was upon its envelope, like the human form on the coffin of a

And not only the form of edifices, but the sites selected for them,
revealed the thought which they represented, according as the symbol to
be expressed was graceful or grave. Greece crowned her mountains with
a temple harmonious to the eye; India disembowelled hers, to chisel
therein those monstrous subterranean pagodas, borne up by gigantic rows
of granite elephants.

Thus, during the first six thousand years of the world, from the
most immemorial pagoda of Hindustan, to the cathedral of Cologne,
architecture was the great handwriting of the human race. And this is so
true, that not only every religious symbol, but every human thought, has
its page and its monument in that immense book.

All civilization begins in theocracy and ends in democracy. This law of
liberty following unity is written in architecture. For, let us insist
upon this point, masonry must not be thought to be powerful only in
erecting the temple and in expressing the myth and sacerdotal symbolism;
in inscribing in hieroglyphs upon its pages of stone the mysterious
tables of the law. If it were thus,--as there comes in all human society
a moment when the sacred symbol is worn out and becomes obliterated
under freedom of thought, when man escapes from the priest, when
the excrescence of philosophies and systems devour the face of
religion,--architecture could not reproduce this new state of human
thought; its leaves, so crowded on the face, would be empty on the back;
its work would be mutilated; its book would be incomplete. But no.

Let us take as an example the Middle Ages, where we see more clearly
because it is nearer to us. During its first period, while theocracy is
organizing Europe, while the Vatican is rallying and reclassing about
itself the elements of a Rome made from the Rome which lies in ruins
around the Capitol, while Christianity is seeking all the stages of
society amid the rubbish of anterior civilization, and rebuilding with
its ruins a new hierarchic universe, the keystone to whose vault is the
priest--one first hears a dull echo from that chaos, and then, little by
little, one sees, arising from beneath the breath of Christianity, from
beneath the hand of the barbarians, from the fragments of the dead Greek
and Roman architectures, that mysterious Romanesque architecture, sister
of the theocratic masonry of Egypt and of India, inalterable emblem of
pure catholicism, unchangeable hieroglyph of the papal unity. All the
thought of that day is written, in fact, in this sombre, Romanesque
style. One feels everywhere in it authority, unity, the impenetrable,
the absolute, Gregory VII.; always the priest, never the man; everywhere
caste, never the people.

But the Crusades arrive. They are a great popular movement, and every
great popular movement, whatever may be its cause and object, always
sets free the spirit of liberty from its final precipitate. New
things spring into life every day. Here opens the stormy period of the
Jacqueries, Pragueries, and Leagues. Authority wavers, unity is divided.
Feudalism demands to share with theocracy, while awaiting the inevitable
arrival of the people, who will assume the part of the lion: _Quia
nominor leo_. Seignory pierces through sacerdotalism; the commonality,
through seignory. The face of Europe is changed. Well! the face of
architecture is changed also. Like civilization, it has turned a
page, and the new spirit of the time finds her ready to write at its
dictation. It returns from the crusades with the pointed arch, like the
nations with liberty.

Then, while Rome is undergoing gradual dismemberment, Romanesque
architecture dies. The hieroglyph deserts the cathedral, and betakes
itself to blazoning the donjon keep, in order to lend prestige to
feudalism. The cathedral itself, that edifice formerly so dogmatic,
invaded henceforth by the bourgeoisie, by the community, by liberty,
escapes the priest and falls into the power of the artist. The artist
builds it after his own fashion. Farewell to mystery, myth, law. Fancy
and caprice, welcome. Provided the priest has his basilica and his
altar, he has nothing to say. The four walls belong to the artist. The
architectural book belongs no longer to the priest, to religion, to
Rome; it is the property of poetry, of imagination, of the people. Hence
the rapid and innumerable transformations of that architecture which
owns but three centuries, so striking after the stagnant immobility of
the Romanesque architecture, which owns six or seven. Nevertheless,
art marches on with giant strides. Popular genius amid originality
accomplish the task which the bishops formerly fulfilled. Each race
writes its line upon the book, as it passes; it erases the ancient
Romanesque hieroglyphs on the frontispieces of cathedrals, and at the
most one only sees dogma cropping out here and there, beneath the new
symbol which it has deposited. The popular drapery hardly permits the
religious skeleton to be suspected. One cannot even form an idea of the
liberties which the architects then take, even toward the Church. There
are capitals knitted of nuns and monks, shamelessly coupled, as on the
hall of chimney pieces in the Palais de Justice, in Paris. There is
Noah’s adventure carved to the last detail, as under the great portal
of Bourges. There is a bacchanalian monk, with ass’s ears and glass in
hand, laughing in the face of a whole community, as on the lavatory
of the Abbey of Bocherville. There exists at that epoch, for thought
written in stone, a privilege exactly comparable to our present liberty
of the press. It is the liberty of architecture.

This liberty goes very far. Sometimes a portal, a façade, an entire
church, presents a symbolical sense absolutely foreign to worship, or
even hostile to the Church. In the thirteenth century, Guillaume de
Paris, and Nicholas Flamel, in the fifteenth, wrote such seditious
pages. Saint-Jacques de la Boucherie was a whole church of the

Thought was then free only in this manner; hence it never wrote itself
out completely except on the books called edifices. Thought, under the
form of edifice, could have beheld itself burned in the public square
by the hands of the executioner, in its manuscript form, if it had been
sufficiently imprudent to risk itself thus; thought, as the door of a
church, would have been a spectator of the punishment of thought as a
book. Having thus only this resource, masonry, in order to make its way
to the light, flung itself upon it from all quarters. Hence the immense
quantity of cathedrals which have covered Europe--a number so prodigious
that one can hardly believe it even after having verified it. All
the material forces, all the intellectual forces of society converged
towards the same point: architecture. In this manner, under the pretext
of building churches to God, art was developed in its magnificent

Then whoever was born a poet became an architect. Genius, scattered in
the masses, repressed in every quarter under feudalism as under a
_testudo_ of brazen bucklers, finding no issue except in the direction
of architecture,--gushed forth through that art, and its Iliads assumed
the form of cathedrals. All other arts obeyed, and placed themselves
under the discipline of architecture. They were the workmen of the great
work. The architect, the poet, the master, summed up in his person the
sculpture which carved his façades, painting which illuminated his
windows, music which set his bells to pealing, and breathed into his
organs. There was nothing down to poor poetry,--properly speaking, that
which persisted in vegetating in manuscripts,--which was not forced, in
order to make something of itself, to come and frame itself in the
edifice in the shape of a hymn or of prose; the same part, after all,
which the tragedies of AEschylus had played in the sacerdotal festivals
of Greece; Genesis, in the temple of Solomon.

Thus, down to the time of Gutenberg, architecture is the principal
writing, the universal writing. In that granite book, begun by the
Orient, continued by Greek and Roman antiquity, the Middle Ages wrote
the last page. Moreover, this phenomenon of an architecture of the
people following an architecture of caste, which we have just been
observing in the Middle Ages, is reproduced with every analogous
movement in the human intelligence at the other great epochs of history.
Thus, in order to enunciate here only summarily, a law which it would
require volumes to develop: in the high Orient, the cradle of primitive
times, after Hindoo architecture came Phoenician architecture, that
opulent mother of Arabian architecture; in antiquity, after Egyptian
architecture, of which Etruscan style and cyclopean monuments are but
one variety, came Greek architecture (of which the Roman style is only
a continuation), surcharged with the Carthaginian dome; in modern
times, after Romanesque architecture came Gothic architecture. And by
separating there three series into their component parts, we shall find
in the three eldest sisters, Hindoo architecture, Egyptian architecture,
Romanesque architecture, the same symbol; that is to say, theocracy,
caste, unity, dogma, myth, God: and for the three younger sisters,
Phoenician architecture, Greek architecture, Gothic architecture,
whatever, nevertheless, may be the diversity of form inherent in their
nature, the same signification also; that is to say, liberty, the
people, man.

In the Hindu, Egyptian, or Romanesque architecture, one feels the
priest, nothing but the priest, whether he calls himself Brahmin,
Magian, or Pope. It is not the same in the architectures of the people.
They are richer and less sacred. In the Phoenician, one feels the
merchant; in the Greek, the republican; in the Gothic, the citizen.

The general characteristics of all theocratic architecture are
immutability, horror of progress, the preservation of traditional lines,
the consecration of the primitive types, the constant bending of all
the forms of men and of nature to the incomprehensible caprices of the
symbol. These are dark books, which the initiated alone understand how
to decipher. Moreover, every form, every deformity even, has there
a sense which renders it inviolable. Do not ask of Hindoo, Egyptian,
Romanesque masonry to reform their design, or to improve their
statuary. Every attempt at perfecting is an impiety to them. In these
architectures it seems as though the rigidity of the dogma had
spread over the stone like a sort of second petrifaction. The general
characteristics of popular masonry, on the contrary, are progress,
originality, opulence, perpetual movement. They are already sufficiently
detached from religion to think of their beauty, to take care of it, to
correct without relaxation their parure of statues or arabesques. They
are of the age. They have something human, which they mingle incessantly
with the divine symbol under which they still produce. Hence,
edifices comprehensible to every soul, to every intelligence, to every
imagination, symbolical still, but as easy to understand as nature.
Between theocratic architecture and this there is the difference
that lies between a sacred language and a vulgar language, between
hieroglyphics and art, between Solomon and Phidias.

If the reader will sum up what we have hitherto briefly, very briefly,
indicated, neglecting a thousand proofs and also a thousand objections
of detail, he will be led to this: that architecture was, down to the
fifteenth century, the chief register of humanity; that in that interval
not a thought which is in any degree complicated made its appearance in
the world, which has not been worked into an edifice; that every popular
idea, and every religious law, has had its monumental records; that
the human race has, in short, had no important thought which it has not
written in stone. And why? Because every thought, either philosophical
or religious, is interested in perpetuating itself; because the idea
which has moved one generation wishes to move others also, and leave a
trace. Now, what a precarious immortality is that of the manuscript! How
much more solid, durable, unyielding, is a book of stone! In order to
destroy the written word, a torch and a Turk are sufficient. To demolish
the constructed word, a social revolution, a terrestrial revolution are
required. The barbarians passed over the Coliseum; the deluge, perhaps,
passed over the Pyramids.

In the fifteenth century everything changes.

Human thought discovers a mode of perpetuating itself, not only more
durable and more resisting than architecture, but still more simple and
easy. Architecture is dethroned. Gutenberg’s letters of lead are about
to supersede Orpheus’s letters of stone.

   *The book is about to kill the edifice*.

The invention of printing is the greatest event in history. It is the
mother of revolution. It is the mode of expression of humanity which is
totally renewed; it is human thought stripping off one form and donning
another; it is the complete and definitive change of skin of that
symbolical serpent which since the days of Adam has represented

In its printed form, thought is more imperishable than ever; it is
volatile, irresistible, indestructible. It is mingled with the air. In
the days of architecture it made a mountain of itself, and took powerful
possession of a century and a place. Now it converts itself into a flock
of birds, scatters itself to the four winds, and occupies all points of
air and space at once.

We repeat, who does not perceive that in this form it is far more
indelible? It was solid, it has become alive. It passes from duration
in time to immortality. One can demolish a mass; how can one extirpate
ubiquity? If a flood comes, the mountains will have long disappeared
beneath the waves, while the birds will still be flying about; and if a
single ark floats on the surface of the cataclysm, they will alight upon
it, will float with it, will be present with it at the ebbing of the
waters; and the new world which emerges from this chaos will behold, on
its awakening, the thought of the world which has been submerged soaring
above it, winged and living.

And when one observes that this mode of expression is not only the most
conservative, but also the most simple, the most convenient, the most
practicable for all; when one reflects that it does not drag after it
bulky baggage, and does not set in motion a heavy apparatus; when one
compares thought forced, in order to transform itself into an edifice,
to put in motion four or five other arts and tons of gold, a whole
mountain of stones, a whole forest of timber-work, a whole nation of
workmen; when one compares it to the thought which becomes a book, and
for which a little paper, a little ink, and a pen suffice,--how can one
be surprised that human intelligence should have quitted architecture
for printing? Cut the primitive bed of a river abruptly with a canal
hollowed out below its level, and the river will desert its bed.

Behold how, beginning with the discovery of printing, architecture
withers away little by little, becomes lifeless and bare. How one feels
the water sinking, the sap departing, the thought of the times and of
the people withdrawing from it! The chill is almost imperceptible in
the fifteenth century; the press is, as yet, too weak, and, at the
most, draws from powerful architecture a superabundance of life.
But practically beginning with the sixteenth century, the malady of
architecture is visible; it is no longer the expression of society; it
becomes classic art in a miserable manner; from being Gallic, European,
indigenous, it becomes Greek and Roman; from being true and modern,
it becomes pseudo-classic. It is this decadence which is called the
Renaissance. A magnificent decadence, however, for the ancient Gothic
genius, that sun which sets behind the gigantic press of Mayence, still
penetrates for a while longer with its rays that whole hybrid pile of
Latin arcades and Corinthian columns.

It is that setting sun which we mistake for the dawn.

Nevertheless, from the moment when architecture is no longer anything
but an art like any other; as soon as it is no longer the total art, the
sovereign art, the tyrant art,--it has no longer the power to retain
the other arts. So they emancipate themselves, break the yoke of the
architect, and take themselves off, each one in its own direction. Each
one of them gains by this divorce. Isolation aggrandizes everything.
Sculpture becomes statuary, the image trade becomes painting, the canon
becomes music. One would pronounce it an empire dismembered at the death
of its Alexander, and whose provinces become kingdoms.

Hence Raphael, Michael Angelo, Jean Goujon, Palestrina, those splendors
of the dazzling sixteenth century.

Thought emancipates itself in all directions at the same time as the
arts. The arch-heretics of the Middle Ages had already made large
incisions into Catholicism. The sixteenth century breaks religious
unity. Before the invention of printing, reform would have been merely
a schism; printing converted it into a revolution. Take away the press;
heresy is enervated. Whether it be Providence or Fate, Gutenburg is the
precursor of Luther.

Nevertheless, when the sun of the Middle Ages is completely set, when
the Gothic genius is forever extinct upon the horizon, architecture
grows dim, loses its color, becomes more and more effaced. The printed
book, the gnawing worm of the edifice, sucks and devours it. It becomes
bare, denuded of its foliage, and grows visibly emaciated. It is petty,
it is poor, it is nothing. It no longer expresses anything, not even the
memory of the art of another time. Reduced to itself, abandoned by the
other arts, because human thought is abandoning it, it summons
bunglers in place of artists. Glass replaces the painted windows. The
stone-cutter succeeds the sculptor. Farewell all sap, all originality,
all life, all intelligence. It drags along, a lamentable workshop
mendicant, from copy to copy. Michael Angelo, who, no doubt, felt even
in the sixteenth century that it was dying, had a last idea, an idea of
despair. That Titan of art piled the Pantheon on the Parthenon, and made
Saint-Peter’s at Rome. A great work, which deserved to remain unique,
the last originality of architecture, the signature of a giant artist at
the bottom of the colossal register of stone which was closed forever.
With Michael Angelo dead, what does this miserable architecture, which
survived itself in the state of a spectre, do? It takes Saint-Peter
in Rome, copies it and parodies it. It is a mania. It is a pity. Each
century has its Saint-Peter’s of Rome; in the seventeenth century, the
Val-de-Grâce; in the eighteenth, Sainte-Geneviève. Each country has its
Saint-Peter’s of Rome. London has one; Petersburg has another; Paris has
two or three. The insignificant testament, the last dotage of a decrepit
grand art falling back into infancy before it dies.

If, in place of the characteristic monuments which we have just
described, we examine the general aspect of art from the sixteenth
to the eighteenth century, we notice the same phenomena of decay and
phthisis. Beginning with François II., the architectural form of the
edifice effaces itself more and more, and allows the geometrical form,
like the bony structure of an emaciated invalid, to become prominent.
The fine lines of art give way to the cold and inexorable lines of
geometry. An edifice is no longer an edifice; it is a polyhedron.
Meanwhile, architecture is tormented in her struggles to conceal this
nudity. Look at the Greek pediment inscribed upon the Roman pediment,
and vice versa. It is still the Pantheon on the Parthenon: Saint-Peter’s
of Rome. Here are the brick houses of Henri IV., with their stone
corners; the Place Royale, the Place Dauphine. Here are the churches
of Louis XIII., heavy, squat, thickset, crowded together, loaded with a
dome like a hump. Here is the Mazarin architecture, the wretched Italian
pasticcio of the Four Nations. Here are the palaces of Louis XIV., long
barracks for courtiers, stiff, cold, tiresome. Here, finally, is Louis
XV., with chiccory leaves and vermicelli, and all the warts, and all
the fungi, which disfigure that decrepit, toothless, and coquettish old
architecture. From François II. to Louis XV., the evil has increased in
geometrical progression. Art has no longer anything but skin upon its
bones. It is miserably perishing.

Meanwhile what becomes of printing? All the life which is leaving
architecture comes to it. In proportion as architecture ebbs, printing
swells and grows. That capital of forces which human thought had been
expending in edifices, it henceforth expends in books. Thus, from the
sixteenth century onward, the press, raised to the level of decaying
architecture, contends with it and kills it. In the seventeenth century
it is already sufficiently the sovereign, sufficiently triumphant,
sufficiently established in its victory, to give to the world the feast
of a great literary century. In the eighteenth, having reposed for a
long time at the Court of Louis XIV., it seizes again the old sword of
Luther, puts it into the hand of Voltaire, and rushes impetuously to
the attack of that ancient Europe, whose architectural expression it has
already killed. At the moment when the eighteenth century comes to
an end, it has destroyed everything. In the nineteenth, it begins to

Now, we ask, which of the three arts has really represented human
thought for the last three centuries? which translates it? which
expresses not only its literary and scholastic vagaries, but its vast,
profound, universal movement? which constantly superposes itself,
without a break, without a gap, upon the human race, which walks a
monster with a thousand legs?--Architecture or printing?

It is printing. Let the reader make no mistake; architecture is dead;
irretrievably slain by the printed book,--slain because it endures for
a shorter time,--slain because it costs more. Every cathedral represents
millions. Let the reader now imagine what an investment of funds it
would require to rewrite the architectural book; to cause thousands of
edifices to swarm once more upon the soil; to return to those epochs
when the throng of monuments was such, according to the statement of an
eye witness, “that one would have said that the world in shaking itself,
had cast off its old garments in order to cover itself with a white
vesture of churches.” _Erat enim ut si mundus, ipse excutiendo semet,
rejecta vetustate, candida ecclesiarum vestem indueret_. (GLABER

A book is so soon made, costs so little, and can go so far! How can it
surprise us that all human thought flows in this channel? This does not
mean that architecture will not still have a fine monument, an isolated
masterpiece, here and there. We may still have from time to time, under
the reign of printing, a column made I suppose, by a whole army from
melted cannon, as we had under the reign of architecture, Iliads and
Romanceros, Mahabâhrata, and Nibelungen Lieds, made by a whole people,
with rhapsodies piled up and melted together. The great accident of an
architect of genius may happen in the twentieth century, like that of
Dante in the thirteenth. But architecture will no longer be the social
art, the collective art, the dominating art. The grand poem, the grand
edifice, the grand work of humanity will no longer be built: it will be

And henceforth, if architecture should arise again accidentally, it will
no longer be mistress. It will be subservient to the law of literature,
which formerly received the law from it. The respective positions of the
two arts will be inverted. It is certain that in architectural epochs,
the poems, rare it is true, resemble the monuments. In India, Vyasa is
branching, strange, impenetrable as a pagoda. In Egyptian Orient, poetry
has like the edifices, grandeur and tranquillity of line; in antique
Greece, beauty, serenity, calm; in Christian Europe, the Catholic
majesty, the popular naivete, the rich and luxuriant vegetation of
an epoch of renewal. The Bible resembles the Pyramids; the Iliad, the
Parthenon; Homer, Phidias. Dante in the thirteenth century is the
last Romanesque church; Shakespeare in the sixteenth, the last Gothic

Thus, to sum up what we have hitherto said, in a fashion which is
necessarily incomplete and mutilated, the human race has two books, two
registers, two testaments: masonry and printing; the Bible of stone and
the Bible of paper. No doubt, when one contemplates these two Bibles,
laid so broadly open in the centuries, it is permissible to regret the
visible majesty of the writing of granite, those gigantic alphabets
formulated in colonnades, in pylons, in obelisks, those sorts of human
mountains which cover the world and the past, from the pyramid to the
bell tower, from Cheops to Strasburg. The past must be reread upon these
pages of marble. This book, written by architecture, must be admired
and perused incessantly; but the grandeur of the edifice which printing
erects in its turn must not be denied.

That edifice is colossal. Some compiler of statistics has calculated,
that if all the volumes which have issued from the press since
Gutenberg’s day were to be piled one upon another, they would fill
the space between the earth and the moon; but it is not that sort of
grandeur of which we wished to speak. Nevertheless, when one tries to
collect in one’s mind a comprehensive image of the total products of
printing down to our own days, does not that total appear to us like an
immense construction, resting upon the entire world, at which humanity
toils without relaxation, and whose monstrous crest is lost in the
profound mists of the future? It is the anthill of intelligence. It is
the hive whither come all imaginations, those golden bees, with their

The edifice has a thousand stories. Here and there one beholds on its
staircases the gloomy caverns of science which pierce its interior.
Everywhere upon its surface, art causes its arabesques, rosettes, and
laces to thrive luxuriantly before the eyes. There, every individual
work, however capricious and isolated it may seem, has its place and
its projection. Harmony results from the whole. From the cathedral of
Shakespeare to the mosque of Byron, a thousand tiny bell towers are
piled pell-mell above this metropolis of universal thought. At its base
are written some ancient titles of humanity which architecture had
not registered. To the left of the entrance has been fixed the ancient
bas-relief, in white marble, of Homer; to the right, the polyglot Bible
rears its seven heads. The hydra of the Romancero and some other hybrid
forms, the Vedas and the Nibelungen bristle further on.

Nevertheless, the prodigious edifice still remains incomplete. The
press, that giant machine, which incessantly pumps all the intellectual
sap of society, belches forth without pause fresh materials for its
work. The whole human race is on the scaffoldings. Each mind is a mason.
The humblest fills his hole, or places his stone. Retif dè le Bretonne
brings his hod of plaster. Every day a new course rises. Independently
of the original and individual contribution of each writer, there are
collective contingents. The eighteenth century gives the _Encyclopedia_,
the revolution gives the _Moniteur_. Assuredly, it is a construction
which increases and piles up in endless spirals; there also are
confusion of tongues, incessant activity, indefatigable labor, eager
competition of all humanity, refuge promised to intelligence, a new
Flood against an overflow of barbarians. It is the second tower of Babel
of the human race.



A very happy personage in the year of grace 1482, was the noble
gentleman Robert d’Estouteville, chevalier, Sieur de Beyne, Baron d’Ivry
and Saint Andry en la Marche, counsellor and chamberlain to the king,
and guard of the provostship of Paris. It was already nearly seventeen
years since he had received from the king, on November 7, 1465, the
comet year,* that fine charge of the provostship of Paris, which was
reputed rather a seigneury than an office. _Dignitas_, says Joannes
Loemnoeus, _quæ cum non exigua potestate politiam concernente, atque
proerogativis multis et juribus conjuncta est_. A marvellous thing in
‘82 was a gentleman bearing the king’s commission, and whose letters
of institution ran back to the epoch of the marriage of the natural
daughter of Louis XI. with Monsieur the Bastard of Bourbon.

     *  This comet against which Pope Calixtus, uncle of Borgia,
ordered public prayers, is the same which reappeared in 1835.

The same day on which Robert d’Estouteville took the place of Jacques
de Villiers in the provostship of Paris, Master Jehan Dauvet replaced
Messire Helye de Thorrettes in the first presidency of the Court of
Parliament, Jehan Jouvenel des Ursins supplanted Pierre de Morvilliers
in the office of chancellor of France, Regnault des Dormans ousted
Pierre Puy from the charge of master of requests in ordinary of the
king’s household. Now, upon how many heads had the presidency, the
chancellorship, the mastership passed since Robert d’Estouteville
had held the provostship of Paris. It had been “granted to him for
safekeeping,” as the letters patent said; and certainly he kept it
well. He had clung to it, he had incorporated himself with it, he had
so identified himself with it that he had escaped that fury for change
which possessed Louis XI., a tormenting and industrious king, whose
policy it was to maintain the elasticity of his power by frequent
appointments and revocations. More than this; the brave chevalier had
obtained the reversion of the office for his son, and for two years
already, the name of the noble man Jacques d’Estouteville, equerry, had
figured beside his at the head of the register of the salary list of the
provostship of Paris. A rare and notable favor indeed! It is true that
Robert d’Estouteville was a good soldier, that he had loyally raised his
pennon against “the league of public good,” and that he had presented
to the queen a very marvellous stag in confectionery on the day of her
entrance to Paris in 14... Moreover, he possessed the good friendship
of Messire Tristan l’Hermite, provost of the marshals of the king’s
household. Hence a very sweet and pleasant existence was that of Messire
Robert. In the first place, very good wages, to which were attached, and
from which hung, like extra bunches of grapes on his vine, the revenues
of the civil and criminal registries of the provostship, plus the civil
and criminal revenues of the tribunals of Embas of the Châtelet, without
reckoning some little toll from the bridges of Mantes and of Corbeil,
and the profits on the craft of Shagreen-makers of Paris, on the corders
of firewood and the measurers of salt. Add to this the pleasure of
displaying himself in rides about the city, and of making his fine
military costume, which you may still admire sculptured on his tomb
in the abbey of Valmont in Normandy, and his morion, all embossed at
Montlhéry, stand out a contrast against the parti-colored red and tawny
robes of the aldermen and police. And then, was it nothing to wield
absolute supremacy over the sergeants of the police, the porter and
watch of the Châtelet, the two auditors of the Châtelet, _auditores
castelleti_, the sixteen commissioners of the sixteen quarters, the
jailer of the Châtelet, the four enfeoffed sergeants, the hundred and
twenty mounted sergeants, with maces, the chevalier of the watch with
his watch, his sub-watch, his counter-watch and his rear-watch? Was it
nothing to exercise high and low justice, the right to interrogate,
to hang and to draw, without reckoning petty jurisdiction in the first
resort (_in prima instantia_, as the charters say), on that viscomty
of Paris, so nobly appanaged with seven noble bailiwicks? Can anything
sweeter be imagined than rendering judgments and decisions, as Messire
Robert d’Estouteville daily did in the Grand Châtelet, under the large
and flattened arches of Philip Augustus? and going, as he was wont to
do every evening, to that charming house situated in the Rue Galilee, in
the enclosure of the royal palace, which he held in right of his wife,
Madame Ambroise de Lore, to repose after the fatigue of having sent
some poor wretch to pass the night in “that little cell of the Rue de
Escorcherie, which the provosts and aldermen of Paris used to make their
prison; the same being eleven feet long, seven feet and four inches
wide, and eleven feet high?” *

     *  Comptes du domaine, 1383.

And not only had Messire Robert d’Estouteville his special court as
provost and vicomte of Paris; but in addition he had a share, both for
eye and tooth, in the grand court of the king. There was no head in the
least elevated which had not passed through his hands before it came to
the headsman. It was he who went to seek M. de Nemours at the Bastille
Saint Antoine, in order to conduct him to the Halles; and to conduct to
the Grève M. de Saint-Pol, who clamored and resisted, to the great joy
of the provost, who did not love monsieur the constable.

Here, assuredly, is more than sufficient to render a life happy and
illustrious, and to deserve some day a notable page in that interesting
history of the provosts of Paris, where one learns that Oudard de
Villeneuve had a house in the Rue des Boucheries, that Guillaume
de Hangest purchased the great and the little Savoy, that Guillaume
Thiboust gave the nuns of Sainte-Geneviève his houses in the Rue Clopin,
that Hugues Aubriot lived in the Hôtel du Pore-Epic, and other domestic

Nevertheless, with so many reasons for taking life patiently and
joyously, Messire Robert d’Estouteville woke up on the morning of the
seventh of January, 1482, in a very surly and peevish mood. Whence came
this ill temper? He could not have told himself. Was it because the sky
was gray? or was the buckle of his old belt of Montlhéry badly fastened,
so that it confined his provostal portliness too closely? had he beheld
ribald fellows, marching in bands of four, beneath his window, and
setting him at defiance, in doublets but no shirts, hats without crowns,
with wallet and bottle at their side? Was it a vague presentiment of the
three hundred and seventy livres, sixteen sous, eight farthings, which
the future King Charles VII. was to cut off from the provostship in the
following year? The reader can take his choice; we, for our part, are
much inclined to believe that he was in a bad humor, simply because he
was in a bad humor.

Moreover, it was the day after a festival, a tiresome day for every one,
and above all for the magistrate who is charged with sweeping away all
the filth, properly and figuratively speaking, which a festival day
produces in Paris. And then he had to hold a sitting at the Grand
Châtelet. Now, we have noticed that judges in general so arrange matters
that their day of audience shall also be their day of bad humor, so that
they may always have some one upon whom to vent it conveniently, in the
name of the king, law, and justice.

However, the audience had begun without him. His lieutenants, civil,
criminal, and private, were doing his work, according to usage; and
from eight o’clock in the morning, some scores of bourgeois and
_bourgeoises_, heaped and crowded into an obscure corner of the audience
chamber of Embas du Châtelet, between a stout oaken barrier and the
wall, had been gazing blissfully at the varied and cheerful spectacle of
civil and criminal justice dispensed by Master Florian Barbedienne,
auditor of the Châtelet, lieutenant of monsieur the provost, in a
somewhat confused and utterly haphazard manner.

The hall was small, low, vaulted. A table studded with fleurs-de-lis
stood at one end, with a large arm-chair of carved oak, which belonged
to the provost and was empty, and a stool on the left for the auditor,
Master Florian. Below sat the clerk of the court, scribbling; opposite
was the populace; and in front of the door, and in front of the table
were many sergeants of the provostship in sleeveless jackets of violet
camlet, with white crosses. Two sergeants of the Parloir-aux-Bourgeois,
clothed in their jackets of Toussaint, half red, half blue, were
posted as sentinels before a low, closed door, which was visible at
the extremity of the hall, behind the table. A single pointed window,
narrowly encased in the thick wall, illuminated with a pale ray of
January sun two grotesque figures,--the capricious demon of stone carved
as a tail-piece in the keystone of the vaulted ceiling, and the judge
seated at the end of the hall on the fleurs-de-lis.

Imagine, in fact, at the provost’s table, leaning upon his elbows
between two bundles of documents of cases, with his foot on the train
of his robe of plain brown cloth, his face buried in his hood of white
lamb’s skin, of which his brows seemed to be of a piece, red, crabbed,
winking, bearing majestically the load of fat on his cheeks which met
under his chin, Master Florian Barbedienne, auditor of the Châtelet.

Now, the auditor was deaf. A slight defect in an auditor. Master Florian
delivered judgment, none the less, without appeal and very suitably. It
is certainly quite sufficient for a judge to have the air of listening;
and the venerable auditor fulfilled this condition, the sole one in
justice, all the better because his attention could not be distracted by
any noise.

Moreover, he had in the audience, a pitiless censor of his deeds and
gestures, in the person of our friend Jehan Frollo du Moulin, that
little student of yesterday, that “stroller,” whom one was sure of
encountering all over Paris, anywhere except before the rostrums of the

“Stay,” he said in a low tone to his companion, Robin Poussepain, who
was grinning at his side, while he was making his comments on the scenes
which were being unfolded before his eyes, “yonder is Jehanneton
du Buisson. The beautiful daughter of the lazy dog at the
Marché-Neuf!--Upon my soul, he is condemning her, the old rascal! he
has no more eyes than ears. Fifteen sous, four farthings, parisian, for
having worn two rosaries! ‘Tis somewhat dear. _Lex duri carminis_. Who’s
that? Robin Chief-de-Ville, hauberkmaker. For having been passed and
received master of the said trade! That’s his entrance money. He! two
gentlemen among these knaves! Aiglet de Soins, Hutin de Mailly Two
equerries, _Corpus Christi_! Ah! they have been playing at dice. When
shall I see our rector here? A hundred livres parisian, fine to the
king! That Barbedienne strikes like a deaf man,--as he is! I’ll be my
brother the archdeacon, if that keeps me from gaming; gaming by day,
gaming by night, living at play, dying at play, and gaming away my soul
after my shirt. Holy Virgin, what damsels! One after the other my lambs.
Ambroise Lécuyere, Isabeau la Paynette, Bérarde Gironin! I know them
all, by Heavens! A fine! a fine! That’s what will teach you to wear
gilded girdles! ten sous parisis! you coquettes! Oh! the old snout of
a judge! deaf and imbecile! Oh! Florian the dolt! Oh! Barbedienne the
blockhead! There he is at the table! He’s eating the plaintiff, he’s
eating the suits, he eats, he chews, he crams, he fills himself. Fines,
lost goods, taxes, expenses, loyal charges, salaries, damages, and
interests, gehenna, prison, and jail, and fetters with expenses are
Christmas spice cake and marchpanes of Saint-John to him! Look at
him, the pig!--Come! Good! Another amorous woman! Thibaud-la-Thibaude,
neither more nor less! For having come from the Rue Glatigny! What
fellow is this? Gieffroy Mabonne, gendarme bearing the crossbow. He
has cursed the name of the Father. A fine for la Thibaude! A fine for
Gieffroy! A fine for them both! The deaf old fool! he must have mixed up
the two cases! Ten to one that he makes the wench pay for the oath and
the gendarme for the amour! Attention, Robin Poussepain! What are
they going to bring in? Here are many sergeants! By Jupiter! all the
bloodhounds of the pack are there. It must be the great beast of the
hunt--a wild boar. And ‘tis one, Robin, ‘tis one. And a fine one too!
_Hercle_! ‘tis our prince of yesterday, our Pope of the Fools,
our bellringer, our one-eyed man, our hunchback, our grimace! ‘Tis

It was he indeed.

It was Quasimodo, bound, encircled, roped, pinioned, and under good
guard. The squad of policemen who surrounded him was assisted by the
chevalier of the watch in person, wearing the arms of France embroidered
on his breast, and the arms of the city on his back. There was nothing,
however, about Quasimodo, except his deformity, which could justify the
display of halberds and arquebuses; he was gloomy, silent, and tranquil.
Only now and then did his single eye cast a sly and wrathful glance upon
the bonds with which he was loaded.

He cast the same glance about him, but it was so dull and sleepy that
the women only pointed him out to each other in derision.

Meanwhile Master Florian, the auditor, turned over attentively the
document in the complaint entered against Quasimodo, which the clerk
handed him, and, having thus glanced at it, appeared to reflect for a
moment. Thanks to this precaution, which he always was careful to take
at the moment when on the point of beginning an examination, he knew
beforehand the names, titles, and misdeeds of the accused, made cut
and dried responses to questions foreseen, and succeeded in extricating
himself from all the windings of the interrogation without allowing his
deafness to be too apparent. The written charges were to him what the
dog is to the blind man. If his deafness did happen to betray him
here and there, by some incoherent apostrophe or some unintelligible
question, it passed for profundity with some, and for imbecility with
others. In neither case did the honor of the magistracy sustain any
injury; for it is far better that a judge should be reputed imbecile
or profound than deaf. Hence he took great care to conceal his deafness
from the eyes of all, and he generally succeeded so well that he had
reached the point of deluding himself, which is, by the way, easier
than is supposed. All hunchbacks walk with their heads held high, all
stutterers harangue, all deaf people speak low. As for him, he believed,
at the most, that his ear was a little refractory. It was the sole
concession which he made on this point to public opinion, in his moments
of frankness and examination of his conscience.

Having, then, thoroughly ruminated Quasimodo’s affair, he threw back
his head and half closed his eyes, for the sake of more majesty and
impartiality, so that, at that moment, he was both deaf and blind. A
double condition, without which no judge is perfect. It was in this
magisterial attitude that he began the examination.

“Your name?”

Now this was a case which had not been “provided for by law,” where a
deaf man should be obliged to question a deaf man.

Quasimodo, whom nothing warned that a question had been addressed to
him, continued to stare intently at the judge, and made no reply. The
judge, being deaf, and being in no way warned of the deafness of the
accused, thought that the latter had answered, as all accused do in
general, and therefore he pursued, with his mechanical and stupid

“Very well. And your age?”

Again Quasimodo made no reply to this question. The judge supposed that
it had been replied to, and continued,--

“Now, your profession?”

Still the same silence. The spectators had begun, meanwhile, to whisper
together, and to exchange glances.

“That will do,” went on the imperturbable auditor, when he supposed that
the accused had finished his third reply. “You are accused before us,
_primo_, of nocturnal disturbance; _secundo_, of a dishonorable act
of violence upon the person of a foolish woman, _in proejudicium
meretricis; tertio_, of rebellion and disloyalty towards the archers
of the police of our lord, the king. Explain yourself upon all these
points.---Clerk, have you written down what the prisoner has said thus

At this unlucky question, a burst of laughter rose from the clerk’s
table caught by the audience, so violent, so wild, so contagious, so
universal, that the two deaf men were forced to perceive it. Quasimodo
turned round, shrugging his hump with disdain, while Master Florian,
equally astonished, and supposing that the laughter of the spectators
had been provoked by some irreverent reply from the accused, rendered
visible to him by that shrug of the shoulders, apostrophized him

“You have uttered a reply, knave, which deserves the halter. Do you know
to whom you are speaking?”

This sally was not fitted to arrest the explosion of general merriment.
It struck all as so whimsical, and so ridiculous, that the wild laughter
even attacked the sergeants of the Parloi-aux-Bourgeois, a sort of
pikemen, whose stupidity was part of their uniform. Quasimodo alone
preserved his seriousness, for the good reason that he understood
nothing of what was going on around him. The judge, more and more
irritated, thought it his duty to continue in the same tone, hoping
thereby to strike the accused with a terror which should react upon the
audience, and bring it back to respect.

“So this is as much as to say, perverse and thieving knave that you are,
that you permit yourself to be lacking in respect towards the Auditor
of the Châtelet, to the magistrate committed to the popular police
of Paris, charged with searching out crimes, delinquencies, and evil
conduct; with controlling all trades, and interdicting monopoly; with
maintaining the pavements; with debarring the hucksters of chickens,
poultry, and water-fowl; of superintending the measuring of fagots
and other sorts of wood; of purging the city of mud, and the air of
contagious maladies; in a word, with attending continually to public
affairs, without wages or hope of salary! Do you know that I am called
Florian Barbedienne, actual lieutenant to monsieur the provost, and,
moreover, commissioner, inquisitor, controller, and examiner, with equal
power in provostship, bailiwick, preservation, and inferior court of

There is no reason why a deaf man talking to a deaf man should stop.
God knows where and when Master Florian would have landed, when thus
launched at full speed in lofty eloquence, if the low door at the
extreme end of the room had not suddenly opened, and given entrance
to the provost in person. At his entrance Master Florian did not stop
short, but, making a half-turn on his heels, and aiming at the provost
the harangue with which he had been withering Quasimodo a moment

“Monseigneur,” said he, “I demand such penalty as you shall deem fitting
against the prisoner here present, for grave and aggravated offence
against the court.”

And he seated himself, utterly breathless, wiping away the great
drops of sweat which fell from his brow and drenched, like tears, the
parchments spread out before him. Messire Robert d’Estouteville frowned
and made a gesture so imperious and significant to Quasimodo, that the
deaf man in some measure understood it.

The provost addressed him with severity, “What have you done that you
have been brought hither, knave?”

The poor fellow, supposing that the provost was asking his name, broke
the silence which he habitually preserved, and replied, in a harsh and
guttural voice, “Quasimodo.”

The reply matched the question so little that the wild laugh began to
circulate once more, and Messire Robert exclaimed, red with wrath,--

“Are you mocking me also, you arrant knave?”

“Bellringer of Notre-Dame,” replied Quasimodo, supposing that what was
required of him was to explain to the judge who he was.

“Bellringer!” interpolated the provost, who had waked up early enough to
be in a sufficiently bad temper, as we have said, not to require to have
his fury inflamed by such strange responses. “Bellringer! I’ll play you
a chime of rods on your back through the squares of Paris! Do you hear,

“If it is my age that you wish to know,” said Quasimodo, “I think that I
shall be twenty at Saint Martin’s day.”

This was too much; the provost could no longer restrain himself.

“Ah! you are scoffing at the provostship, wretch! Messieurs the
sergeants of the mace, you will take me this knave to the pillory of the
Grève, you will flog him, and turn him for an hour. He shall pay me for
it, _tête Dieu_! And I order that the present judgment shall be cried,
with the assistance of four sworn trumpeters, in the seven castellanies
of the viscomty of Paris.”

The clerk set to work incontinently to draw up the account of the

“_Ventre Dieu_! ‘tis well adjudged!” cried the little scholar, Jehan
Frollo du Moulin, from his corner.

The provost turned and fixed his flashing eyes once more on Quasimodo.
“I believe the knave said ‘_Ventre Dieu_’ Clerk, add twelve deniers
Parisian for the oath, and let the vestry of Saint Eustache have the
half of it; I have a particular devotion for Saint Eustache.”

In a few minutes the sentence was drawn up. Its tenor was simple and
brief. The customs of the provostship and the viscomty had not yet
been worked over by President Thibaut Baillet, and by Roger Barmne, the
king’s advocate; they had not been obstructed, at that time, by that
lofty hedge of quibbles and procedures, which the two jurisconsults
planted there at the beginning of the sixteenth century. All was clear,
expeditious, explicit. One went straight to the point then, and at the
end of every path there was immediately visible, without thickets and
without turnings; the wheel, the gibbet, or the pillory. One at least
knew whither one was going.

The clerk presented the sentence to the provost, who affixed his seal to
it, and departed to pursue his round of the audience hall, in a frame
of mind which seemed destined to fill all the jails in Paris that day.
Jehan Frollo and Robin Poussepain laughed in their sleeves. Quasimodo
gazed on the whole with an indifferent and astonished air.

However, at the moment when Master Florian Barbedienne was reading the
sentence in his turn, before signing it, the clerk felt himself moved
with pity for the poor wretch of a prisoner, and, in the hope of
obtaining some mitigation of the penalty, he approached as near the
auditor’s ear as possible, and said, pointing to Quasimodo, “That man is

He hoped that this community of infirmity would awaken Master Florian’s
interest in behalf of the condemned man. But, in the first place, we
have already observed that Master Florian did not care to have his
deafness noticed. In the next place, he was so hard of hearing That he
did not catch a single word of what the clerk said to him; nevertheless,
he wished to have the appearance of hearing, and replied, “Ah! ah! that
is different; I did not know that. An hour more of the pillory, in that

And he signed the sentence thus modified.

“‘Tis well done,” said Robin Poussepain, who cherished a grudge against
Quasimodo. “That will teach him to handle people roughly.”


The reader must permit us to take him back to the Place de Grève, which
we quitted yesterday with Gringoire, in order to follow la Esmeralda.

It is ten o’clock in the morning; everything is indicative of the day
after a festival. The pavement is covered with rubbish; ribbons, rags,
feathers from tufts of plumes, drops of wax from the torches, crumbs of
the public feast. A goodly number of bourgeois are “sauntering,” as we
say, here and there, turning over with their feet the extinct brands of
the bonfire, going into raptures in front of the Pillar House, over the
memory of the fine hangings of the day before, and to-day staring at the
nails that secured them a last pleasure. The venders of cider and beer
are rolling their barrels among the groups. Some busy passers-by
come and go. The merchants converse and call to each other from the
thresholds of their shops. The festival, the ambassadors, Coppenole,
the Pope of the Fools, are in all mouths; they vie with each other, each
trying to criticise it best and laugh the most. And, meanwhile, four
mounted sergeants, who have just posted themselves at the four sides
of the pillory, have already concentrated around themselves a goodly
proportion of the populace scattered on the Place, who condemn
themselves to immobility and fatigue in the hope of a small execution.

If the reader, after having contemplated this lively and noisy scene
which is being enacted in all parts of the Place, will now transfer
his gaze towards that ancient demi-Gothic, demi-Romanesque house of the
Tour-Roland, which forms the corner on the quay to the west, he will
observe, at the angle of the façade, a large public breviary, with rich
illuminations, protected from the rain by a little penthouse, and from
thieves by a small grating, which, however, permits of the leaves being
turned. Beside this breviary is a narrow, arched window, closed by two
iron bars in the form of a cross, and looking on the square; the only
opening which admits a small quantity of light and air to a little cell
without a door, constructed on the ground-floor, in the thickness of the
walls of the old house, and filled with a peace all the more profound,
with a silence all the more gloomy, because a public place, the most
populous and most noisy in Paris swarms and shrieks around it.

This little cell had been celebrated in Paris for nearly three
centuries, ever since Madame Rolande de la Tour-Roland, in mourning for
her father who died in the Crusades, had caused it to be hollowed out
in the wall of her own house, in order to immure herself there forever,
keeping of all her palace only this lodging whose door was walled up,
and whose window stood open, winter and summer, giving all the rest to
the poor and to God. The afflicted damsel had, in fact, waited twenty
years for death in this premature tomb, praying night and day for
the soul of her father, sleeping in ashes, without even a stone for a
pillow, clothed in a black sack, and subsisting on the bread and water
which the compassion of the passers-by led them to deposit on the ledge
of her window, thus receiving charity after having bestowed it. At her
death, at the moment when she was passing to the other sepulchre, she
had bequeathed this one in perpetuity to afflicted women, mothers,
widows, or maidens, who should wish to pray much for others or for
themselves, and who should desire to inter themselves alive in a great
grief or a great penance. The poor of her day had made her a fine
funeral, with tears and benedictions; but, to their great regret, the
pious maid had not been canonized, for lack of influence. Those among
them who were a little inclined to impiety, had hoped that the matter
might be accomplished in Paradise more easily than at Rome, and had
frankly besought God, instead of the pope, in behalf of the deceased.
The majority had contented themselves with holding the memory of Rolande
sacred, and converting her rags into relics. The city, on its side, had
founded in honor of the damoiselle, a public breviary, which had been
fastened near the window of the cell, in order that passers-by might
halt there from time to time, were it only to pray; that prayer might
remind them of alms, and that the poor recluses, heiresses of Madame
Rolande’s vault, might not die outright of hunger and forgetfulness.

Moreover, this sort of tomb was not so very rare a thing in the cities
of the Middle Ages. One often encountered in the most frequented street,
in the most crowded and noisy market, in the very middle, under the feet
of the horses, under the wheels of the carts, as it were, a cellar, a
well, a tiny walled and grated cabin, at the bottom of which a human
being prayed night and day, voluntarily devoted to some eternal
lamentation, to some great expiation. And all the reflections which that
strange spectacle would awaken in us to-day; that horrible cell, a sort
of intermediary link between a house and the tomb, the cemetery and
the city; that living being cut off from the human community, and
thenceforth reckoned among the dead; that lamp consuming its last drop
of oil in the darkness; that remnant of life flickering in the grave;
that breath, that voice, that eternal prayer in a box of stone;
that face forever turned towards the other world; that eye already
illuminated with another sun; that ear pressed to the walls of a tomb;
that soul a prisoner in that body; that body a prisoner in that dungeon
cell, and beneath that double envelope of flesh and granite, the murmur
of that soul in pain;--nothing of all this was perceived by the crowd.
The piety of that age, not very subtle nor much given to reasoning, did
not see so many facets in an act of religion. It took the thing in the
block, honored, venerated, hallowed the sacrifice at need, but did not
analyze the sufferings, and felt but moderate pity for them. It brought
some pittance to the miserable penitent from time to time, looked
through the hole to see whether he were still living, forgot his name,
hardly knew how many years ago he had begun to die, and to the stranger,
who questioned them about the living skeleton who was perishing in that
cellar, the neighbors replied simply, “It is the recluse.”

Everything was then viewed without metaphysics, without exaggeration,
without magnifying glass, with the naked eye. The microscope had not yet
been invented, either for things of matter or for things of the mind.

Moreover, although people were but little surprised by it, the examples
of this sort of cloistration in the hearts of cities were in truth
frequent, as we have just said. There were in Paris a considerable
number of these cells, for praying to God and doing penance; they were
nearly all occupied. It is true that the clergy did not like to have
them empty, since that implied lukewarmness in believers, and that
lepers were put into them when there were no penitents on hand. Besides
the cell on the Grève, there was one at Montfauçon, one at the Charnier
des Innocents, another I hardly know where,--at the Clichon House, I
think; others still at many spots where traces of them are found in
traditions, in default of memorials. The University had also its own. On
Mount Sainte-Geneviève a sort of Job of the Middle Ages, for the space
of thirty years, chanted the seven penitential psalms on a dunghill at
the bottom of a cistern, beginning anew when he had finished, singing
loudest at night, _magna voce per umbras_, and to-day, the
antiquary fancies that he hears his voice as he enters the Rue du
Puits-qui-parle--the street of the “Speaking Well.”

To confine ourselves to the cell in the Tour-Roland, we must say that
it had never lacked recluses. After the death of Madame Roland, it
had stood vacant for a year or two, though rarely. Many women had come
thither to mourn, until their death, for relatives, lovers, faults.
Parisian malice, which thrusts its finger into everything, even into
things which concern it the least, affirmed that it had beheld but few
widows there.

In accordance with the fashion of the epoch, a Latin inscription on the
wall indicated to the learned passer-by the pious purpose of this cell.
The custom was retained until the middle of the sixteenth century of
explaining an edifice by a brief device inscribed above the door.
Thus, one still reads in France, above the wicket of the prison in the
seignorial mansion of Tourville, _Sileto et spera_; in Ireland, beneath
the armorial bearings which surmount the grand door to Fortescue Castle,
_Forte scutum, salus ducum_; in England, over the principal entrance
to the hospitable mansion of the Earls Cowper: _Tuum est_. At that time
every edifice was a thought.

As there was no door to the walled cell of the Tour-Roland, these two
words had been carved in large Roman capitals over the window,--

   TU, ORA.

And this caused the people, whose good sense does not perceive so much
refinement in things, and likes to translate _Ludovico Magno_ by “Porte
Saint-Denis,” to give to this dark, gloomy, damp cavity, the name of
“The Rat-Hole.” An explanation less sublime, perhaps, than the other;
but, on the other hand, more picturesque.


At the epoch of this history, the cell in the Tour-Roland was occupied.
If the reader desires to know by whom, he has only to lend an ear to the
conversation of three worthy gossips, who, at the moment when we have
directed his attention to the Rat-Hole, were directing their steps
towards the same spot, coming up along the water’s edge from the
Châtelet, towards the Grève.

Two of these women were dressed like good _bourgeoises_ of Paris. Their
fine white ruffs; their petticoats of linsey-woolsey, striped red and
blue; their white knitted stockings, with clocks embroidered in colors,
well drawn upon their legs; the square-toed shoes of tawny leather with
black soles, and, above all, their headgear, that sort of tinsel horn,
loaded down with ribbons and laces, which the women of Champagne still
wear, in company with the grenadiers of the imperial guard of Russia,
announced that they belonged to that class wives which holds the middle
ground between what the lackeys call a woman and what they term a lady.
They wore neither rings nor gold crosses, and it was easy to see that,
in their ease, this did not proceed from poverty, but simply from
fear of being fined. Their companion was attired in very much the same
manner; but there was that indescribable something about her dress and
bearing which suggested the wife of a provincial notary. One could see,
by the way in which her girdle rose above her hips, that she had not
been long in Paris.--Add to this a plaited tucker, knots of ribbon
on her shoes--and that the stripes of her petticoat ran horizontally
instead of vertically, and a thousand other enormities which shocked
good taste.

The two first walked with that step peculiar to Parisian ladies, showing
Paris to women from the country. The provincial held by the hand a big
boy, who held in his a large, flat cake.

We regret to be obliged to add, that, owing to the rigor of the season,
he was using his tongue as a handkerchief.

The child was making them drag him along, _non passibus Cequis_, as
Virgil says, and stumbling at every moment, to the great indignation of
his mother. It is true that he was looking at his cake more than at the
pavement. Some serious motive, no doubt, prevented his biting it (the
cake), for he contented himself with gazing tenderly at it. But the
mother should have rather taken charge of the cake. It was cruel to make
a Tantalus of the chubby-checked boy.

Meanwhile, the three demoiselles (for the name of dames was then
reserved for noble women) were all talking at once.

“Let us make haste, Demoiselle Mahiette,” said the youngest of the
three, who was also the largest, to the provincial, “I greatly fear that
we shall arrive too late; they told us at the Châtelet that they were
going to take him directly to the pillory.”

“Ah, bah! what are you saying, Demoiselle Oudarde Musnier?” interposed
the other Parisienne. “There are two hours yet to the pillory. We have
time enough. Have you ever seen any one pilloried, my dear Mahiette?”

“Yes,” said the provincial, “at Reims.”

“Ah, bah! What is your pillory at Reims? A miserable cage into which
only peasants are turned. A great affair, truly!”

“Only peasants!” said Mahiette, “at the cloth market in Reims! We have
seen very fine criminals there, who have killed their father and mother!
Peasants! For what do you take us, Gervaise?”

It is certain that the provincial was on the point of taking offence,
for the honor of her pillory. Fortunately, that discreet damoiselle,
Oudarde Musnier, turned the conversation in time.

“By the way, Damoiselle Mahiette, what say you to our Flemish
Ambassadors? Have you as fine ones at Reims?”

“I admit,” replied Mahiette, “that it is only in Paris that such
Flemings can be seen.”

“Did you see among the embassy, that big ambassador who is a hosier?”
 asked Oudarde.

“Yes,” said Mahiette. “He has the eye of a Saturn.”

“And the big fellow whose face resembles a bare belly?” resumed
Gervaise. “And the little one, with small eyes framed in red eyelids,
pared down and slashed up like a thistle head?”

“‘Tis their horses that are worth seeing,” said Oudarde, “caparisoned as
they are after the fashion of their country!”

“Ah my dear,” interrupted provincial Mahiette, assuming in her turn an
air of superiority, “what would you say then, if you had seen in ‘61, at
the consecration at Reims, eighteen years ago, the horses of the princes
and of the king’s company? Housings and caparisons of all sorts; some
of damask cloth, of fine cloth of gold, furred with sables; others of
velvet, furred with ermine; others all embellished with goldsmith’s work
and large bells of gold and silver! And what money that had cost! And
what handsome boy pages rode upon them!”

“That,” replied Oudarde dryly, “does not prevent the Flemings having
very fine horses, and having had a superb supper yesterday with
monsieur, the provost of the merchants, at the Hôtel-de-Ville, where
they were served with comfits and hippocras, and spices, and other

“What are you saying, neighbor!” exclaimed Gervaise. “It was with
monsieur the cardinal, at the Petit Bourbon that they supped.”

“Not at all. At the Hôtel-de-Ville.

“Yes, indeed. At the Petit Bourbon!”

“It was at the Hôtel-de-Ville,” retorted Oudarde sharply, “and Dr.
Scourable addressed them a harangue in Latin, which pleased them
greatly. My husband, who is sworn bookseller told me.”

“It was at the Petit Bourbon,” replied Gervaise, with no less spirit,
“and this is what monsieur the cardinal’s procurator presented to them:
twelve double quarts of hippocras, white, claret, and red; twenty-four
boxes of double Lyons marchpane, gilded; as many torches, worth two
livres a piece; and six demi-queues* of Beaune wine, white and claret,
the best that could be found. I have it from my husband, who is a
cinquantenier**, at the Parloir-aux Bourgeois, and who was this morning
comparing the Flemish ambassadors with those of Prester John and the
Emperor of Trebizond, who came from Mesopotamia to Paris, under the last
king, and who wore rings in their ears.”

     *  A Queue was a cask which held a hogshead and a half.

     **  A captain of fifty men.

“So true is it that they supped at the Hôtel-de-Ville,” replied Oudarde
but little affected by this catalogue, “that such a triumph of viands
and comfits has never been seen.”

“I tell you that they were served by Le Sec, sergeant of the city, at
the Hôtel du Petit-Bourbon, and that that is where you are mistaken.”

“At the Hôtel-de-Ville, I tell you!”

“At the Petit-Bourbon, my dear! and they had illuminated with magic
glasses the word hope, which is written on the grand portal.”

“At the Hôtel-de-Ville! At the Hôtel-de-Ville! And Husson-le-Voir played
the flute!”

“I tell you, no!”

“I tell you, yes!”

“I say, no!”

Plump and worthy Oudarde was preparing to retort, and the quarrel might,
perhaps, have proceeded to a pulling of caps, had not Mahiette suddenly
exclaimed,--“Look at those people assembled yonder at the end of the
bridge! There is something in their midst that they are looking at!”

“In sooth,” said Gervaise, “I hear the sounds of a tambourine. I believe
‘tis the little Esmeralda, who plays her mummeries with her goat. Eh,
be quick, Mahiette! redouble your pace and drag along your boy. You
are come hither to visit the curiosities of Paris. You saw the Flemings
yesterday; you must see the gypsy to-day.”

“The gypsy!” said Mahiette, suddenly retracing her steps, and clasping
her son’s arm forcibly. “God preserve me from it! She would steal my
child from me! Come, Eustache!”

And she set out on a run along the quay towards the Grève, until she had
left the bridge far behind her. In the meanwhile, the child whom she was
dragging after her fell upon his knees; she halted breathless. Oudarde
and Gervaise rejoined her.

“That gypsy steal your child from you!” said Gervaise. “That’s a
singular freak of yours!”

Mahiette shook her head with a pensive air.

“The singular point is,” observed Oudarde, “that _la sachette_ has the
same idea about the Egyptian woman.”

“What is _la sachette_?” asked Mahiette.

“Hé!” said Oudarde, “Sister Gudule.”

“And who is Sister Gudule?” persisted Mahiette.

“You are certainly ignorant of all but your Reims, not to know that!”
 replied Oudarde. “‘Tis the recluse of the Rat-Hole.”

“What!” demanded Mahiette, “that poor woman to whom we are carrying this

Oudarde nodded affirmatively.

“Precisely. You will see her presently at her window on the Grève. She
has the same opinion as yourself of these vagabonds of Egypt, who play
the tambourine and tell fortunes to the public. No one knows whence
comes her horror of the gypsies and Egyptians. But you, Mahiette--why do
you run so at the mere sight of them?”

“Oh!” said Mahiette, seizing her child’s round head in both hands,
“I don’t want that to happen to me which happened to Paquette la

“Oh! you must tell us that story, my good Mahiette,” said Gervaise,
taking her arm.

“Gladly,” replied Mahiette, “but you must be ignorant of all but your
Paris not to know that! I will tell you then (but ‘tis not necessary for
us to halt that I may tell you the tale), that Paquette la Chantefleurie
was a pretty maid of eighteen when I was one myself, that is to say,
eighteen years ago, and ‘tis her own fault if she is not to-day, like
me, a good, plump, fresh mother of six and thirty, with a husband and a
son. However, after the age of fourteen, it was too late! Well, she was
the daughter of Guybertant, minstrel of the barges at Reims, the same
who had played before King Charles VII., at his coronation, when he
descended our river Vesle from Sillery to Muison, when Madame the Maid
of Orleans was also in the boat. The old father died when Paquette was
still a mere child; she had then no one but her mother, the sister of
M. Pradon, master-brazier and coppersmith in Paris, Rue Farm-Garlin, who
died last year. You see she was of good family. The mother was a good
simple woman, unfortunately, and she taught Paquette nothing but a bit
of embroidery and toy-making which did not prevent the little one from
growing very large and remaining very poor. They both dwelt at Reims,
on the river front, Rue de Folle-Peine. Mark this: For I believe it
was this which brought misfortune to Paquette. In ‘61, the year of the
coronation of our King Louis XI. whom God preserve! Paquette was so gay
and so pretty that she was called everywhere by no other name than “la
Chantefleurie”--blossoming song. Poor girl! She had handsome teeth, she
was fond of laughing and displaying them. Now, a maid who loves to laugh
is on the road to weeping; handsome teeth ruin handsome eyes. So she was
la Chantefleurie. She and her mother earned a precarious living;
they had been very destitute since the death of the minstrel; their
embroidery did not bring them in more than six farthings a week, which
does not amount to quite two eagle liards. Where were the days
when Father Guybertant had earned twelve sous parisian, in a single
coronation, with a song? One winter (it was in that same year of ‘61),
when the two women had neither fagots nor firewood, it was very cold,
which gave la Chantefleurie such a fine color that the men called
her Paquette!* and many called her Pàquerette!** and she was
ruined.--Eustache, just let me see you bite that cake if you dare!--We
immediately perceived that she was ruined, one Sunday when she came to
church with a gold cross about her neck. At fourteen years of age! do
you see? First it was the young Vicomte de Cormontreuil, who has his
bell tower three leagues distant from Reims; then Messire Henri
de Triancourt, equerry to the King; then less than that, Chiart de
Beaulion, sergeant-at-arms; then, still descending, Guery Aubergeon,
carver to the King; then, Mace de Frépus, barber to monsieur the
dauphin; then, Thévenin le Moine, King’s cook; then, the men growing
continually younger and less noble, she fell to Guillaume Racine,
minstrel of the hurdy gurdy and to Thierry de Mer, lamplighter. Then,
poor Chantefleurie, she belonged to every one: she had reached the last
sou of her gold piece. What shall I say to you, my damoiselles? At the
coronation, in the same year, ‘61, ‘twas she who made the bed of the
king of the debauchees! In the same year!”

     *  Ox-eye daisy.

     **  Easter daisy.

Mahiette sighed, and wiped away a tear which trickled from her eyes.

“This is no very extraordinary history,” said Gervaise, “and in the
whole of it I see nothing of any Egyptian women or children.”

“Patience!” resumed Mahiette, “you will see one child.--In ‘66, ‘twill
be sixteen years ago this month, at Sainte-Paule’s day, Paquette was
brought to bed of a little girl. The unhappy creature! it was a great
joy to her; she had long wished for a child. Her mother, good woman, who
had never known what to do except to shut her eyes, her mother was dead.
Paquette had no longer any one to love in the world or any one to love
her. La Chantefleurie had been a poor creature during the five years
since her fall. She was alone, alone in this life, fingers were pointed
at her, she was hooted at in the streets, beaten by the sergeants,
jeered at by the little boys in rags. And then, twenty had arrived: and
twenty is an old age for amorous women. Folly began to bring her in no
more than her trade of embroidery in former days; for every wrinkle that
came, a crown fled; winter became hard to her once more, wood became
rare again in her brazier, and bread in her cupboard. She could no
longer work because, in becoming voluptuous, she had grown lazy; and she
suffered much more because, in growing lazy, she had become voluptuous.
At least, that is the way in which monsieur the cure of Saint-Remy
explains why these women are colder and hungrier than other poor women,
when they are old.”

“Yes,” remarked Gervaise, “but the gypsies?”

“One moment, Gervaise!” said Oudarde, whose attention was less
impatient. “What would be left for the end if all were in the beginning?
Continue, Mahiette, I entreat you. That poor Chantefleurie!”

Mahiette went on.

“So she was very sad, very miserable, and furrowed her cheeks with
tears. But in the midst of her shame, her folly, her debauchery,
it seemed to her that she should be less wild, less shameful, less
dissipated, if there were something or some one in the world whom she
could love, and who could love her. It was necessary that it should be a
child, because only a child could be sufficiently innocent for that. She
had recognized this fact after having tried to love a thief, the only
man who wanted her; but after a short time, she perceived that the thief
despised her. Those women of love require either a lover or a child to
fill their hearts. Otherwise, they are very unhappy. As she could not
have a lover, she turned wholly towards a desire for a child, and as she
had not ceased to be pious, she made her constant prayer to the good
God for it. So the good God took pity on her, and gave her a little
daughter. I will not speak to you of her joy; it was a fury of
tears, and caresses, and kisses. She nursed her child herself, made
swaddling-bands for it out of her coverlet, the only one which she
had on her bed, and no longer felt either cold or hunger. She became
beautiful once more, in consequence of it. An old maid makes a
young mother. Gallantry claimed her once more; men came to see la
Chantefleurie; she found customers again for her merchandise, and out
of all these horrors she made baby clothes, caps and bibs, bodices
with shoulder-straps of lace, and tiny bonnets of satin, without even
thinking of buying herself another coverlet.--Master Eustache, I have
already told you not to eat that cake.--It is certain that little Agnes,
that was the child’s name, a baptismal name, for it was a long time
since la Chantefleurie had had any surname--it is certain that
that little one was more swathed in ribbons and embroideries than a
dauphiness of Dauphiny! Among other things, she had a pair of little
shoes, the like of which King Louis XI. certainly never had! Her mother
had stitched and embroidered them herself; she had lavished on them all
the delicacies of her art of embroideress, and all the embellishments of
a robe for the good Virgin. They certainly were the two prettiest little
pink shoes that could be seen. They were no longer than my thumb, and
one had to see the child’s little feet come out of them, in order to
believe that they had been able to get into them. ‘Tis true that those
little feet were so small, so pretty, so rosy! rosier than the satin of
the shoes! When you have children, Oudarde, you will find that there is
nothing prettier than those little hands and feet.”

“I ask no better,” said Oudarde with a sigh, “but I am waiting until it
shall suit the good pleasure of M. Andry Musnier.”

“However, Paquette’s child had more that was pretty about it besides its
feet. I saw her when she was only four months old; she was a love! She
had eyes larger than her mouth, and the most charming black hair, which
already curled. She would have been a magnificent brunette at the age
of sixteen! Her mother became more crazy over her every day. She kissed
her, caressed her, tickled her, washed her, decked her out, devoured
her! She lost her head over her, she thanked God for her. Her pretty,
little rosy feet above all were an endless source of wonderment, they
were a delirium of joy! She was always pressing her lips to them, and
she could never recover from her amazement at their smallness. She put
them into the tiny shoes, took them out, admired them, marvelled at
them, looked at the light through them, was curious to see them try to
walk on her bed, and would gladly have passed her life on her knees,
putting on and taking off the shoes from those feet, as though they had
been those of an Infant Jesus.”

“The tale is fair and good,” said Gervaise in a low tone; “but where do
gypsies come into all that?”

“Here,” replied Mahiette. “One day there arrived in Reims a very queer
sort of people. They were beggars and vagabonds who were roaming over
the country, led by their duke and their counts. They were browned by
exposure to the sun, they had closely curling hair, and silver rings in
their ears. The women were still uglier than the men. They had blacker
faces, which were always uncovered, a miserable frock on their bodies,
an old cloth woven of cords bound upon their shoulder, and their hair
hanging like the tail of a horse. The children who scrambled
between their legs would have frightened as many monkeys. A band of
excommunicates. All these persons came direct from lower Egypt to
Reims through Poland. The Pope had confessed them, it was said, and had
prescribed to them as penance to roam through the world for seven years,
without sleeping in a bed; and so they were called penancers, and smelt
horribly. It appears that they had formerly been Saracens, which was
why they believed in Jupiter, and claimed ten livres of Tournay from all
archbishops, bishops, and mitred abbots with croziers. A bull from the
Pope empowered them to do that. They came to Reims to tell fortunes in
the name of the King of Algiers, and the Emperor of Germany. You can
readily imagine that no more was needed to cause the entrance to the
town to be forbidden them. Then the whole band camped with good grace
outside the gate of Braine, on that hill where stands a mill, beside the
cavities of the ancient chalk pits. And everybody in Reims vied with his
neighbor in going to see them. They looked at your hand, and told you
marvellous prophecies; they were equal to predicting to Judas that he
would become Pope. Nevertheless, ugly rumors were in circulation in
regard to them; about children stolen, purses cut, and human flesh
devoured. The wise people said to the foolish: “Don’t go there!” and
then went themselves on the sly. It was an infatuation. The fact is,
that they said things fit to astonish a cardinal. Mothers triumphed
greatly over their little ones after the Egyptians had read in their
hands all sorts of marvels written in pagan and in Turkish. One had an
emperor; another, a pope; another, a captain. Poor Chantefleurie was
seized with curiosity; she wished to know about herself, and whether
her pretty little Agnes would not become some day Empress of Armenia,
or something else. So she carried her to the Egyptians; and the Egyptian
women fell to admiring the child, and to caressing it, and to kissing it
with their black mouths, and to marvelling over its little band, alas!
to the great joy of the mother. They were especially enthusiastic over
her pretty feet and shoes. The child was not yet a year old. She already
lisped a little, laughed at her mother like a little mad thing, was
plump and quite round, and possessed a thousand charming little gestures
of the angels of paradise.

“She was very much frightened by the Egyptians, and wept. But her mother
kissed her more warmly and went away enchanted with the good fortune
which the soothsayers had foretold for her Agnes. She was to be a
beauty, virtuous, a queen. So she returned to her attic in the Rue
Folle-Peine, very proud of bearing with her a queen. The next day she
took advantage of a moment when the child was asleep on her bed, (for
they always slept together), gently left the door a little way open, and
ran to tell a neighbor in the Rue de la Séchesserie, that the day would
come when her daughter Agnes would be served at table by the King of
England and the Archduke of Ethiopia, and a hundred other marvels. On
her return, hearing no cries on the staircase, she said to herself:
‘Good! the child is still asleep!’ She found her door wider open than
she had left it, but she entered, poor mother, and ran to the bed.---The
child was no longer there, the place was empty. Nothing remained of the
child, but one of her pretty little shoes. She flew out of the room,
dashed down the stairs, and began to beat her head against the wall,
crying: ‘My child! who has my child? Who has taken my child?’ The street
was deserted, the house isolated; no one could tell her anything about
it. She went about the town, searched all the streets, ran hither and
thither the whole day long, wild, beside herself, terrible, snuffing at
doors and windows like a wild beast which has lost its young. She was
breathless, dishevelled, frightful to see, and there was a fire in her
eyes which dried her tears. She stopped the passers-by and cried: ‘My
daughter! my daughter! my pretty little daughter! If any one will give
me back my daughter, I will be his servant, the servant of his dog, and
he shall eat my heart if he will.’ She met M. le Curé of Saint-Remy, and
said to him: ‘Monsieur, I will till the earth with my finger-nails, but
give me back my child!’ It was heartrending, Oudarde; and IL saw a very
hard man, Master Ponce Lacabre, the procurator, weep. Ah! poor mother!
In the evening she returned home. During her absence, a neighbor had
seen two gypsies ascend up to it with a bundle in their arms, then
descend again, after closing the door. After their departure, something
like the cries of a child were heard in Paquette’s room. The mother,
burst into shrieks of laughter, ascended the stairs as though on wings,
and entered.--A frightful thing to tell, Oudarde! Instead of her pretty
little Agnes, so rosy and so fresh, who was a gift of the good God, a
sort of hideous little monster, lame, one-eyed, deformed, was crawling
and squalling over the floor. She hid her eyes in horror. ‘Oh!’ said
she, ‘have the witches transformed my daughter into this horrible
animal?’ They hastened to carry away the little club-foot; he would have
driven her mad. It was the monstrous child of some gypsy woman, who had
given herself to the devil. He appeared to be about four years old,
and talked a language which was no human tongue; there were words in it
which were impossible. La Chantefleurie flung herself upon the little
shoe, all that remained to her of all that she loved. She remained so
long motionless over it, mute, and without breath, that they thought she
was dead. Suddenly she trembled all over, covered her relic with furious
kisses, and burst out sobbing as though her heart were broken. I assure
you that we were all weeping also. She said: ‘Oh, my little daughter! my
pretty little daughter! where art thou?’--and it wrung your very heart.
I weep still when I think of it. Our children are the marrow of our
bones, you see.---My poor Eustache! thou art so fair!--If you only knew
how nice he is! yesterday he said to me: ‘I want to be a gendarme,
that I do.’ Oh! my Eustache! if I were to lose thee!--All at once la
Chantefleurie rose, and set out to run through Reims, screaming: ‘To the
gypsies’ camp! to the gypsies’ camp! Police, to burn the witches!’ The
gypsies were gone. It was pitch dark. They could not be followed. On the
morrow, two leagues from Reims, on a heath between Gueux and Tilloy, the
remains of a large fire were found, some ribbons which had belonged to
Paquette’s child, drops of blood, and the dung of a ram. The night
just past had been a Saturday. There was no longer any doubt that
the Egyptians had held their Sabbath on that heath, and that they had
devoured the child in company with Beelzebub, as the practice is among
the Mahometans. When La Chantefleurie learned these horrible things, she
did not weep, she moved her lips as though to speak, but could not. On
the morrow, her hair was gray. On the second day, she had disappeared.

“‘Tis in truth, a frightful tale,” said Oudarde, “and one which would
make even a Burgundian weep.”

“I am no longer surprised,” added Gervaise, “that fear of the gypsies
should spur you on so sharply.”

“And you did all the better,” resumed Oudarde, “to flee with your
Eustache just now, since these also are gypsies from Poland.”

“No,” said Gervais, “‘tis said that they come from Spain and Catalonia.”

“Catalonia? ‘tis possible,” replied Oudarde. “Pologne, Catalogue,
Valogne, I always confound those three provinces, One thing is certain,
that they are gypsies.”

“Who certainly,” added Gervaise, “have teeth long enough to eat little
children. I should not be surprised if la Sméralda ate a little of them
also, though she pretends to be dainty. Her white goat knows tricks that
are too malicious for there not to be some impiety underneath it all.”

Mahiette walked on in silence. She was absorbed in that revery which is,
in some sort, the continuation of a mournful tale, and which ends only
after having communicated the emotion, from vibration to vibration, even
to the very last fibres of the heart. Nevertheless, Gervaise addressed
her, “And did they ever learn what became of la Chantefleurie?” Mahiette
made no reply. Gervaise repeated her question, and shook her arm,
calling her by name. Mahiette appeared to awaken from her thoughts.

“What became of la Chantefleurie?” she said, repeating mechanically
the words whose impression was still fresh in her ear; then, ma king an
effort to recall her attention to the meaning of her words, “Ah!” she
continued briskly, “no one ever found out.”

She added, after a pause,--

“Some said that she had been seen to quit Reims at nightfall by the
Fléchembault gate; others, at daybreak, by the old Basée gate. A poor
man found her gold cross hanging on the stone cross in the field where
the fair is held. It was that ornament which had wrought her ruin, in
‘61. It was a gift from the handsome Vicomte de Cormontreuil, her first
lover. Paquette had never been willing to part with it, wretched as she
had been. She had clung to it as to life itself. So, when we saw that
cross abandoned, we all thought that she was dead. Nevertheless, there
were people of the Cabaret les Vantes, who said that they had seen her
pass along the road to Paris, walking on the pebbles with her bare feet.
But, in that case, she must have gone out through the Porte de Vesle,
and all this does not agree. Or, to speak more truly, I believe that
she actually did depart by the Porte de Vesle, but departed from this

“I do not understand you,” said Gervaise.

“La Vesle,” replied Mahiette, with a melancholy smile, “is the river.”

“Poor Chantefleurie!” said Oudarde, with a shiver,--“drowned!”

“Drowned!” resumed Mahiette, “who could have told good Father
Guybertant, when he passed under the bridge of Tingueux with the
current, singing in his barge, that one day his dear little Paquette
would also pass beneath that bridge, but without song or boat.

“And the little shoe?” asked Gervaise.

“Disappeared with the mother,” replied Mahiette.

“Poor little shoe!” said Oudarde.

Oudarde, a big and tender woman, would have been well pleased to sigh in
company with Mahiette. But Gervaise, more curious, had not finished her

“And the monster?” she said suddenly, to Mahiette.

“What monster?” inquired the latter.

“The little gypsy monster left by the sorceresses in Chantefleurie’s
chamber, in exchange for her daughter. What did you do with it? I hope
you drowned it also.”

“No.” replied Mahiette.

“What? You burned it then? In sooth, that is more just. A witch child!”

“Neither the one nor the other, Gervaise. Monseigneur the archbishop
interested himself in the child of Egypt, exorcised it, blessed it,
removed the devil carefully from its body, and sent it to Paris, to be
exposed on the wooden bed at Notre-Dame, as a foundling.”

“Those bishops!” grumbled Gervaise, “because they are learned, they do
nothing like anybody else. I just put it to you, Oudarde, the idea of
placing the devil among the foundlings! For that little monster was
assuredly the devil. Well, Mahiette, what did they do with it in Paris?
I am quite sure that no charitable person wanted it.”

“I do not know,” replied the Rémoise, “‘twas just at that time that my
husband bought the office of notary, at Bern, two leagues from the town,
and we were no longer occupied with that story; besides, in front
of Bern, stand the two hills of Cernay, which hide the towers of the
cathedral in Reims from view.”

While chatting thus, the three worthy _bourgeoises_ had arrived at the
Place de Grève. In their absorption, they had passed the public breviary
of the Tour-Roland without stopping, and took their way mechanically
towards the pillory around which the throng was growing more dense with
every moment. It is probable that the spectacle which at that moment
attracted all looks in that direction, would have made them forget
completely the Rat-Hole, and the halt which they intended to make there,
if big Eustache, six years of age, whom Mahiette was dragging along by
the hand, had not abruptly recalled the object to them: “Mother,” said
he, as though some instinct warned him that the Rat-Hole was behind him,
“can I eat the cake now?”

If Eustache had been more adroit, that is to say, less greedy, he
would have continued to wait, and would only have hazarded that simple
question, “Mother, can I eat the cake, now?” on their return to the
University, to Master Andry Musnier’s, Rue Madame la Valence, when he
had the two arms of the Seine and the five bridges of the city between
the Rat-Hole and the cake.

This question, highly imprudent at the moment when Eustache put it,
aroused Mahiette’s attention.

“By the way,” she exclaimed, “we are forgetting the recluse! Show me the
Rat-Hole, that I may carry her her cake.”

“Immediately,” said Oudarde, “‘tis a charity.”

But this did not suit Eustache.

“Stop! my cake!” said he, rubbing both ears alternatively with his
shoulders, which, in such cases, is the supreme sign of discontent.

The three women retraced their steps, and, on arriving in the vicinity
of the Tour-Roland, Oudarde said to the other two,--

“We must not all three gaze into the hole at once, for fear of alarming
the recluse. Do you two pretend to read the _Dominus_ in the breviary,
while I thrust my nose into the aperture; the recluse knows me a little.
I will give you warning when you can approach.”

She proceeded alone to the window. At the moment when she looked in,
a profound pity was depicted on all her features, and her frank, gay
visage altered its expression and color as abruptly as though it had
passed from a ray of sunlight to a ray of moonlight; her eye became
humid; her mouth contracted, like that of a person on the point of
weeping. A moment later, she laid her finger on her lips, and made a
sign to Mahiette to draw near and look.

Mahiette, much touched, stepped up in silence, on tiptoe, as though
approaching the bedside of a dying person.

It was, in fact, a melancholy spectacle which presented itself to
the eyes of the two women, as they gazed through the grating of the
Rat-Hole, neither stirring nor breathing.

The cell was small, broader than it was long, with an arched ceiling,
and viewed from within, it bore a considerable resemblance to the
interior of a huge bishop’s mitre. On the bare flagstones which formed
the floor, in one corner, a woman was sitting, or rather, crouching. Her
chin rested on her knees, which her crossed arms pressed forcibly to
her breast. Thus doubled up, clad in a brown sack, which enveloped
her entirely in large folds, her long, gray hair pulled over in front,
falling over her face and along her legs nearly to her feet, she
presented, at the first glance, only a strange form outlined against the
dark background of the cell, a sort of dusky triangle, which the ray of
daylight falling through the opening, cut roughly into two shades, the
one sombre, the other illuminated. It was one of those spectres,
half light, half shadow, such as one beholds in dreams and in the
extraordinary work of Goya, pale, motionless, sinister, crouching over a
tomb, or leaning against the grating of a prison cell.

It was neither a woman, nor a man, nor a living being, nor a definite
form; it was a figure, a sort of vision, in which the real and the
fantastic intersected each other, like darkness and day. It was with
difficulty that one distinguished, beneath her hair which spread to
the ground, a gaunt and severe profile; her dress barely allowed the
extremity of a bare foot to escape, which contracted on the hard, cold
pavement. The little of human form of which one caught a sight beneath
this envelope of mourning, caused a shudder.

That figure, which one might have supposed to be riveted to the
flagstones, appeared to possess neither movement, nor thought, nor
breath. Lying, in January, in that thin, linen sack, lying on a granite
floor, without fire, in the gloom of a cell whose oblique air-hole
allowed only the cold breeze, but never the sun, to enter from without,
she did not appear to suffer or even to think. One would have said that
she had turned to stone with the cell, ice with the season. Her hands
were clasped, her eyes fixed. At first sight one took her for a spectre;
at the second, for a statue.

Nevertheless, at intervals, her blue lips half opened to admit a breath,
and trembled, but as dead and as mechanical as the leaves which the wind
sweeps aside.

Nevertheless, from her dull eyes there escaped a look, an ineffable
look, a profound, lugubrious, imperturbable look, incessantly fixed upon
a corner of the cell which could not be seen from without; a gaze which
seemed to fix all the sombre thoughts of that soul in distress upon some
mysterious object.

Such was the creature who had received, from her habitation, the name of
the “recluse”; and, from her garment, the name of “the sacked nun.”

The three women, for Gervaise had rejoined Mahiette and Oudarde, gazed
through the window. Their heads intercepted the feeble light in the
cell, without the wretched being whom they thus deprived of it seeming
to pay any attention to them. “Do not let us trouble her,” said Oudarde,
in a low voice, “she is in her ecstasy; she is praying.”

Meanwhile, Mahiette was gazing with ever-increasing anxiety at that wan,
withered, dishevelled head, and her eyes filled with tears. “This is
very singular,” she murmured.

She thrust her head through the bars, and succeeded in casting a glance
at the corner where the gaze of the unhappy woman was immovably riveted.

When she withdrew her head from the window, her countenance was
inundated with tears.

“What do you call that woman?” she asked Oudarde.

Oudarde replied,--

“We call her Sister Gudule.”

“And I,” returned Mahiette, “call her Paquette la Chantefleurie.”

Then, laying her finger on her lips, she motioned to the astounded
Oudarde to thrust her head through the window and look.

Oudarde looked and beheld, in the corner where the eyes of the
recluse were fixed in that sombre ecstasy, a tiny shoe of pink satin,
embroidered with a thousand fanciful designs in gold and silver.

Gervaise looked after Oudarde, and then the three women, gazing upon the
unhappy mother, began to weep.

But neither their looks nor their tears disturbed the recluse. Her hands
remained clasped; her lips mute; her eyes fixed; and that little shoe,
thus gazed at, broke the heart of any one who knew her history.

The three women had not yet uttered a single word; they dared not speak,
even in a low voice. This deep silence, this deep grief, this profound
oblivion in which everything had disappeared except one thing, produced
upon them the effect of the grand altar at Christmas or Easter. They
remained silent, they meditated, they were ready to kneel. It seemed to
them that they were ready to enter a church on the day of Tenebrae.

At length Gervaise, the most curious of the three, and consequently the
least sensitive, tried to make the recluse speak:

“Sister! Sister Gudule!”

She repeated this call three times, raising her voice each time. The
recluse did not move; not a word, not a glance, not a sigh, not a sign
of life.

Oudarde, in her turn, in a sweeter, more caressing voice,--“Sister!”
 said she, “Sister Sainte-Gudule!”

The same silence; the same immobility.

“A singular woman!” exclaimed Gervaise, “and one not to be moved by a

“Perchance she is deaf,” said Oudarde.

“Perhaps she is blind,” added Gervaise.

“Dead, perchance,” returned Mahiette.

It is certain that if the soul had not already quitted this inert,
sluggish, lethargic body, it had at least retreated and concealed itself
in depths whither the perceptions of the exterior organs no longer

“Then we must leave the cake on the window,” said Oudarde; “some scamp
will take it. What shall we do to rouse her?”

Eustache, who, up to that moment had been diverted by a little carriage
drawn by a large dog, which had just passed, suddenly perceived that his
three conductresses were gazing at something through the window, and,
curiosity taking possession of him in his turn, he climbed upon a stone
post, elevated himself on tiptoe, and applied his fat, red face to the
opening, shouting, “Mother, let me see too!”

At the sound of this clear, fresh, ringing child’s voice, the recluse
trembled; she turned her head with the sharp, abrupt movement of a steel
spring, her long, fleshless hands cast aside the hair from her brow,
and she fixed upon the child, bitter, astonished, desperate eyes. This
glance was but a lightning flash.

“Oh my God!” she suddenly exclaimed, hiding her head on her knees, and
it seemed as though her hoarse voice tore her chest as it passed from
it, “do not show me those of others!”

“Good day, madam,” said the child, gravely.

Nevertheless, this shock had, so to speak, awakened the recluse. A long
shiver traversed her frame from head to foot; her teeth chattered; she
half raised her head and said, pressing her elbows against her hips, and
clasping her feet in her hands as though to warm them,--

“Oh, how cold it is!”

“Poor woman!” said Oudarde, with great compassion, “would you like a
little fire?”

She shook her head in token of refusal.

“Well,” resumed Oudarde, presenting her with a flagon; “here is some
hippocras which will warm you; drink it.”

Again she shook her head, looked at Oudarde fixedly and replied,

Oudarde persisted,--“No, sister, that is no beverage for January. You
must drink a little hippocras and eat this leavened cake of maize, which
we have baked for you.”

She refused the cake which Mahiette offered to her, and said, “Black

“Come,” said Gervaise, seized in her turn with an impulse of charity,
and unfastening her woolen cloak, “here is a cloak which is a little
warmer than yours.”

She refused the cloak as she had refused the flagon and the cake, and
replied, “A sack.”

“But,” resumed the good Oudarde, “you must have perceived to some
extent, that yesterday was a festival.”

“I do perceive it,” said the recluse; “‘tis two days now since I have
had any water in my crock.”

She added, after a silence, “‘Tis a festival, I am forgotten. People do
well. Why should the world think of me, when I do not think of it? Cold
charcoal makes cold ashes.”

And as though fatigued with having said so much, she dropped her head on
her knees again. The simple and charitable Oudarde, who fancied that
she understood from her last words that she was complaining of the cold,
replied innocently, “Then you would like a little fire?”

“Fire!” said the sacked nun, with a strange accent; “and will you also
make a little for the poor little one who has been beneath the sod for
these fifteen years?”

Every limb was trembling, her voice quivered, her eyes flashed, she had
raised herself upon her knees; suddenly she extended her thin,
white hand towards the child, who was regarding her with a look of
astonishment. “Take away that child!” she cried. “The Egyptian woman is
about to pass by.”

Then she fell face downward on the earth, and her forehead struck the
stone, with the sound of one stone against another stone. The three
women thought her dead. A moment later, however, she moved, and they
beheld her drag herself, on her knees and elbows, to the corner where
the little shoe was. Then they dared not look; they no longer saw her;
but they heard a thousand kisses and a thousand sighs, mingled with
heartrending cries, and dull blows like those of a head in contact with
a wall. Then, after one of these blows, so violent that all three of
them staggered, they heard no more.

“Can she have killed herself?” said Gervaise, venturing to pass her head
through the air-hole. “Sister! Sister Gudule!”

“Sister Gudule!” repeated Oudarde.

“Ah! good heavens! she no longer moves!” resumed Gervaise; “is she dead?
Gudule! Gudule!”

Mahiette, choked to such a point that she could not speak, made an
effort. “Wait,” said she. Then bending towards the window, “Paquette!”
 she said, “Paquette le Chantefleurie!”

A child who innocently blows upon the badly ignited fuse of a bomb, and
makes it explode in his face, is no more terrified than was Mahiette
at the effect of that name, abruptly launched into the cell of Sister

The recluse trembled all over, rose erect on her bare feet, and leaped
at the window with eyes so glaring that Mahiette and Oudarde, and the
other woman and the child recoiled even to the parapet of the quay.

Meanwhile, the sinister face of the recluse appeared pressed to the
grating of the air-hole. “Oh! oh!” she cried, with an appalling laugh;
“‘tis the Egyptian who is calling me!”

At that moment, a scene which was passing at the pillory caught her wild
eye. Her brow contracted with horror, she stretched her two skeleton
arms from her cell, and shrieked in a voice which resembled a
death-rattle, “So ‘tis thou once more, daughter of Egypt! ‘Tis thou
who callest me, stealer of children! Well! Be thou accursed! accursed!
accursed! accursed!”


These words were, so to speak, the point of union of two scenes, which
had, up to that time, been developed in parallel lines at the same
moment, each on its particular theatre; one, that which the reader has
just perused, in the Rat-Hole; the other, which he is about to read, on
the ladder of the pillory. The first had for witnesses only the three
women with whom the reader has just made acquaintance; the second had
for spectators all the public which we have seen above, collecting on
the Place de Grève, around the pillory and the gibbet.

That crowd which the four sergeants posted at nine o’clock in the
morning at the four corners of the pillory had inspired with the hope
of some sort of an execution, no doubt, not a hanging, but a whipping,
a cropping of ears, something, in short,--that crowd had increased so
rapidly that the four policemen, too closely besieged, had had occasion
to “press” it, as the expression then ran, more than once, by sound
blows of their whips, and the haunches of their horses.

This populace, disciplined to waiting for public executions, did not
manifest very much impatience. It amused itself with watching the
pillory, a very simple sort of monument, composed of a cube of masonry
about six feet high and hollow in the interior. A very steep staircase,
of unhewn stone, which was called by distinction “the ladder,” led to
the upper platform, upon which was visible a horizontal wheel of solid
oak. The victim was bound upon this wheel, on his knees, with his hands
behind his back. A wooden shaft, which set in motion a capstan concealed
in the interior of the little edifice, imparted a rotatory motion to
the wheel, which always maintained its horizontal position, and in this
manner presented the face of the condemned man to all quarters of the
square in succession. This was what was called “turning” a criminal.

As the reader perceives, the pillory of the Grève was far from
presenting all the recreations of the pillory of the Halles. Nothing
architectural, nothing monumental. No roof to the iron cross, no
octagonal lantern, no frail, slender columns spreading out on the edge
of the roof into capitals of acanthus leaves and flowers, no waterspouts
of chimeras and monsters, on carved woodwork, no fine sculpture, deeply
sunk in the stone.

They were forced to content themselves with those four stretches of
rubble work, backed with sandstone, and a wretched stone gibbet, meagre
and bare, on one side.

The entertainment would have been but a poor one for lovers of Gothic
architecture. It is true that nothing was ever less curious on the score
of architecture than the worthy gapers of the Middle Ages, and that they
cared very little for the beauty of a pillory.

The victim finally arrived, bound to the tail of a cart, and when he had
been hoisted upon the platform, where he could be seen from all points
of the Place, bound with cords and straps upon the wheel of the pillory,
a prodigious hoot, mingled with laughter and acclamations, burst forth
upon the Place. They had recognized Quasimodo.

It was he, in fact. The change was singular. Pilloried on the very place
where, on the day before, he had been saluted, acclaimed, and proclaimed
Pope and Prince of Fools, in the cortege of the Duke of Egypt, the King
of Thunes, and the Emperor of Galilee! One thing is certain, and that
is, that there was not a soul in the crowd, not even himself, though in
turn triumphant and the sufferer, who set forth this combination clearly
in his thought. Gringoire and his philosophy were missing at this

Soon Michel Noiret, sworn trumpeter to the king, our lord, imposed
silence on the louts, and proclaimed the sentence, in accordance with
the order and command of monsieur the provost. Then he withdrew behind
the cart, with his men in livery surcoats.

Quasimodo, impassible, did not wince. All resistance had been rendered
impossible to him by what was then called, in the style of the criminal
chancellery, “the vehemence and firmness of the bonds” which means that
the thongs and chains probably cut into his flesh; moreover, it is a
tradition of jail and wardens, which has not been lost, and which the
handcuffs still preciously preserve among us, a civilized, gentle,
humane people (the galleys and the guillotine in parentheses).

He had allowed himself to be led, pushed, carried, lifted, bound,
and bound again. Nothing was to be seen upon his countenance but the
astonishment of a savage or an idiot. He was known to be deaf; one might
have pronounced him to be blind.

They placed him on his knees on the circular plank; he made no
resistance. They removed his shirt and doublet as far as his girdle; he
allowed them to have their way. They entangled him under a fresh system
of thongs and buckles; he allowed them to bind and buckle him. Only from
time to time he snorted noisily, like a calf whose head is hanging and
bumping over the edge of a butcher’s cart.

“The dolt,” said Jehan Frollo of the Mill, to his friend Robin
Poussepain (for the two students had followed the culprit, as was to
have been expected), “he understands no more than a cockchafer shut up
in a box!”

There was wild laughter among the crowd when they beheld Quasimodo’s
hump, his camel’s breast, his callous and hairy shoulders laid bare.
During this gayety, a man in the livery of the city, short of stature
and robust of mien, mounted the platform and placed himself near the
victim. His name speedily circulated among the spectators. It was Master
Pierrat Torterue, official torturer to the Châtelet.

He began by depositing on an angle of the pillory a black hour-glass,
the upper lobe of which was filled with red sand, which it allowed
to glide into the lower receptacle; then he removed his parti-colored
surtout, and there became visible, suspended from his right hand, a
thin and tapering whip of long, white, shining, knotted, plaited thongs,
armed with metal nails. With his left hand, he negligently folded back
his shirt around his right arm, to the very armpit.

In the meantime, Jehan Frollo, elevating his curly blonde head above
the crowd (he had mounted upon the shoulders of Robin Poussepain for the
purpose), shouted: “Come and look, gentle ladies and men! they are
going to peremptorily flagellate Master Quasimodo, the bellringer of
my brother, monsieur the archdeacon of Josas, a knave of oriental
architecture, who has a back like a dome, and legs like twisted

And the crowd burst into a laugh, especially the boys and young girls.

At length the torturer stamped his foot. The wheel began to turn.
Quasimodo wavered beneath his bonds. The amazement which was suddenly
depicted upon his deformed face caused the bursts of laughter to
redouble around him.

All at once, at the moment when the wheel in its revolution presented to
Master Pierrat, the humped back of Quasimodo, Master Pierrat raised his
arm; the fine thongs whistled sharply through the air, like a handful of
adders, and fell with fury upon the wretch’s shoulders.

Quasimodo leaped as though awakened with a start. He began to
understand. He writhed in his bonds; a violent contraction of surprise
and pain distorted the muscles of his face, but he uttered not a single
sigh. He merely turned his head backward, to the right, then to the
left, balancing it as a bull does who has been stung in the flanks by a

A second blow followed the first, then a third, and another and another,
and still others. The wheel did not cease to turn, nor the blows to rain

Soon the blood burst forth, and could be seen trickling in a thousand
threads down the hunchback’s black shoulders; and the slender thongs, in
their rotatory motion which rent the air, sprinkled drops of it upon the

Quasimodo had resumed, to all appearance, his first imperturbability. He
had at first tried, in a quiet way and without much outward movement,
to break his bonds. His eye had been seen to light up, his muscles
to stiffen, his members to concentrate their force, and the straps
to stretch. The effort was powerful, prodigious, desperate; but the
provost’s seasoned bonds resisted. They cracked, and that was all.
Quasimodo fell back exhausted. Amazement gave way, on his features, to
a sentiment of profound and bitter discouragement. He closed his single
eye, allowed his head to droop upon his breast, and feigned death.

From that moment forth, he stirred no more. Nothing could force a
movement from him. Neither his blood, which did not cease to flow, nor
the blows which redoubled in fury, nor the wrath of the torturer, who
grew excited himself and intoxicated with the execution, nor the sound
of the horrible thongs, more sharp and whistling than the claws of

At length a bailiff from the Châtelet clad in black, mounted on a black
horse, who had been stationed beside the ladder since the beginning
of the execution, extended his ebony wand towards the hour-glass. The
torturer stopped. The wheel stopped. Quasimodo’s eye opened slowly.

The scourging was finished. Two lackeys of the official torturer bathed
the bleeding shoulders of the patient, anointed them with some unguent
which immediately closed all the wounds, and threw upon his back a sort
of yellow vestment, in cut like a chasuble. In the meanwhile, Pierrat
Torterue allowed the thongs, red and gorged with blood, to drip upon the

All was not over for Quasimodo. He had still to undergo that hour of
pillory which Master Florian Barbedienne had so judiciously added to the
sentence of Messire Robert d’Estouteville; all to the greater glory
of the old physiological and psychological play upon words of Jean de
Cumène, _Surdus absurdus_: a deaf man is absurd.

So the hour-glass was turned over once more, and they left the hunchback
fastened to the plank, in order that justice might be accomplished to
the very end.

The populace, especially in the Middle Ages, is in society what the
child is in the family. As long as it remains in its state of primitive
ignorance, of moral and intellectual minority, it can be said of it as
of the child,--

   ‘Tis the pitiless age.

We have already shown that Quasimodo was generally hated, for more than
one good reason, it is true. There was hardly a spectator in that crowd
who had not or who did not believe that he had reason to complain of the
malevolent hunchback of Notre-Dame. The joy at seeing him appear thus
in the pillory had been universal; and the harsh punishment which he had
just suffered, and the pitiful condition in which it had left him, far
from softening the populace had rendered its hatred more malicious by
arming it with a touch of mirth.

Hence, the “public prosecution” satisfied, as the bigwigs of the law
still express it in their jargon, the turn came of a thousand private
vengeances. Here, as in the Grand Hall, the women rendered themselves
particularly prominent. All cherished some rancor against him, some for
his malice, others for his ugliness. The latter were the most furious.

“Oh! mask of Antichrist!” said one.

“Rider on a broom handle!” cried another.

“What a fine tragic grimace,” howled a third, “and who would make him
Pope of the Fools if to-day were yesterday?”

“‘Tis well,” struck in an old woman. “This is the grimace of the
pillory. When shall we have that of the gibbet?”

“When will you be coiffed with your big bell a hundred feet under
ground, cursed bellringer?”

“But ‘tis the devil who rings the Angelus!”

“Oh! the deaf man! the one-eyed creature! the hunch-back! the monster!”

“A face to make a woman miscarry better than all the drugs and

And the two scholars, Jehan du Moulin, and Robin Poussepain, sang at the
top of their lungs, the ancient refrain,--

   “_Une hart
   Pour le pendard!
   Un fagot
   Pour le magot_!”*

     *  A rope for the gallows bird!  A fagot for the ape.

A thousand other insults rained down upon him, and hoots and
imprecations, and laughter, and now and then, stones.

Quasimodo was deaf but his sight was clear, and the public fury was
no less energetically depicted on their visages than in their words.
Moreover, the blows from the stones explained the bursts of laughter.

At first he held his ground. But little by little that patience which
had borne up under the lash of the torturer, yielded and gave way before
all these stings of insects. The bull of the Asturias who has been but
little moved by the attacks of the picador grows irritated with the dogs
and banderilleras.

He first cast around a slow glance of hatred upon the crowd. But bound
as he was, his glance was powerless to drive away those flies which
were stinging his wound. Then he moved in his bonds, and his furious
exertions made the ancient wheel of the pillory shriek on its axle. All
this only increased the derision and hooting.

Then the wretched man, unable to break his collar, like that of a
chained wild beast, became tranquil once more; only at intervals a sigh
of rage heaved the hollows of his chest. There was neither shame nor
redness on his face. He was too far from the state of society, and too
near the state of nature to know what shame was. Moreover, with such
a degree of deformity, is infamy a thing that can be felt? But wrath,
hatred, despair, slowly lowered over that hideous visage a cloud
which grew ever more and more sombre, ever more and more charged with
electricity, which burst forth in a thousand lightning flashes from the
eye of the cyclops.

Nevertheless, that cloud cleared away for a moment, at the passage of
a mule which traversed the crowd, bearing a priest. As far away as
he could see that mule and that priest, the poor victim’s visage grew
gentler. The fury which had contracted it was followed by a strange
smile full of ineffable sweetness, gentleness, and tenderness. In
proportion as the priest approached, that smile became more clear, more
distinct, more radiant. It was like the arrival of a Saviour, which the
unhappy man was greeting. But as soon as the mule was near enough to the
pillory to allow of its rider recognizing the victim, the priest dropped
his eyes, beat a hasty retreat, spurred on rigorously, as though in
haste to rid himself of humiliating appeals, and not at all desirous of
being saluted and recognized by a poor fellow in such a predicament.

This priest was Archdeacon Dom Claude Frollo.

The cloud descended more blackly than ever upon Quasimodo’s brow. The
smile was still mingled with it for a time, but was bitter, discouraged,
profoundly sad.

Time passed on. He had been there at least an hour and a half,
lacerated, maltreated, mocked incessantly, and almost stoned.

All at once he moved again in his chains with redoubled despair, which
made the whole framework that bore him tremble, and, breaking the
silence which he had obstinately preserved hitherto, he cried in a
hoarse and furious voice, which resembled a bark rather than a human
cry, and which was drowned in the noise of the hoots--“Drink!”

This exclamation of distress, far from exciting compassion, only added
amusement to the good Parisian populace who surrounded the ladder, and
who, it must be confessed, taken in the mass and as a multitude, was
then no less cruel and brutal than that horrible tribe of robbers among
whom we have already conducted the reader, and which was simply the
lower stratum of the populace. Not a voice was raised around the unhappy
victim, except to jeer at his thirst. It is certain that at that moment
he was more grotesque and repulsive than pitiable, with his face purple
and dripping, his eye wild, his mouth foaming with rage and pain, and
his tongue lolling half out. It must also be stated that if a charitable
soul of a bourgeois or _bourgeoise_, in the rabble, had attempted to
carry a glass of water to that wretched creature in torment, there
reigned around the infamous steps of the pillory such a prejudice of
shame and ignominy, that it would have sufficed to repulse the good

At the expiration of a few moments, Quasimodo cast a desperate glance
upon the crowd, and repeated in a voice still more heartrending:

And all began to laugh.

“Drink this!” cried Robin Poussepain, throwing in his face a sponge
which had been soaked in the gutter. “There, you deaf villain, I’m your

A woman hurled a stone at his head,--

“That will teach you to wake us up at night with your peal of a dammed

“He, good, my son!” howled a cripple, making an effort to reach him with
his crutch, “will you cast any more spells on us from the top of the
towers of Notre-Dame?”

“Here’s a drinking cup!” chimed in a man, flinging a broken jug at his
breast. “‘Twas you that made my wife, simply because she passed near
you, give birth to a child with two heads!”

“And my cat bring forth a kitten with six paws!” yelped an old crone,
launching a brick at him.

“Drink!” repeated Quasimodo panting, and for the third time.

At that moment he beheld the crowd give way. A young girl, fantastically
dressed, emerged from the throng. She was accompanied by a little white
goat with gilded horns, and carried a tambourine in her hand.

Quasimodo’s eyes sparkled. It was the gypsy whom he had attempted to
carry off on the preceding night, a misdeed for which he was dimly
conscious that he was being punished at that very moment; which was
not in the least the case, since he was being chastised only for the
misfortune of being deaf, and of having been judged by a deaf man. He
doubted not that she had come to wreak her vengeance also, and to deal
her blow like the rest.

He beheld her, in fact, mount the ladder rapidly. Wrath and spite
suffocate him. He would have liked to make the pillory crumble into
ruins, and if the lightning of his eye could have dealt death, the gypsy
would have been reduced to powder before she reached the platform.

She approached, without uttering a syllable, the victim who writhed in
a vain effort to escape her, and detaching a gourd from her girdle, she
raised it gently to the parched lips of the miserable man.

Then, from that eye which had been, up to that moment, so dry and
burning, a big tear was seen to fall, and roll slowly down that deformed
visage so long contracted with despair. It was the first, in all
probability, that the unfortunate man had ever shed.

Meanwhile, he had forgotten to drink. The gypsy made her little pout,
from impatience, and pressed the spout to the tusked month of Quasimodo,
with a smile.

He drank with deep draughts. His thirst was burning.

When he had finished, the wretch protruded his black lips, no doubt,
with the object of kissing the beautiful hand which had just succoured
him. But the young girl, who was, perhaps, somewhat distrustful, and who
remembered the violent attempt of the night, withdrew her hand with the
frightened gesture of a child who is afraid of being bitten by a beast.

Then the poor deaf man fixed on her a look full of reproach and
inexpressible sadness.

It would have been a touching spectacle anywhere,--this beautiful,
fresh, pure, and charming girl, who was at the same time so weak, thus
hastening to the relief of so much misery, deformity, and malevolence.
On the pillory, the spectacle was sublime.

The very populace were captivated by it, and began to clap their hands,

“Noel! Noel!”

It was at that moment that the recluse caught sight, from the window of
her bole, of the gypsy on the pillory, and hurled at her her sinister

“Accursed be thou, daughter of Egypt! Accursed! accursed!”


La Esmeralda turned pale and descended from the pillory, staggering as
she went. The voice of the recluse still pursued her,--

“Descend! descend! Thief of Egypt! thou shalt ascend it once more!”

“The sacked nun is in one of her tantrums,” muttered the populace;
and that was the end of it. For that sort of woman was feared; which
rendered them sacred. People did not then willingly attack one who
prayed day and night.

The hour had arrived for removing Quasimodo. He was unbound, the crowd

Near the Grand Pont, Mahiette, who was returning with her two
companions, suddenly halted,--

“By the way, Eustache! what did you do with that cake?”

“Mother,” said the child, “while you were talking with that lady in the
bole, a big dog took a bite of my cake, and then I bit it also.”

“What, sir, did you eat the whole of it?” she went on.

“Mother, it was the dog. I told him, but he would not listen to me. Then
I bit into it, also.”

“‘Tis a terrible child!” said the mother, smiling and scolding at one
and the same time. “Do you see, Oudarde? He already eats all the fruit
from the cherry-tree in our orchard of Charlerange. So his grandfather
says that he will be a captain. Just let me catch you at it again,
Master Eustache. Come along, you greedy fellow!”

                       End of Volume 1.



BOOK SEVENTH. I. The Danger of Confiding One’s Secret to a Goat II. A
Priest and a Philosopher are two Different Things III. The Bells IV.
_ANANKE_ V. The Two Men Clothed in Black VI. The Effect which Seven
Oaths in the Open Air can Produce VII. The Mysterious Monk VIII. The
Utility of Windows which Open on the River

BOOK EIGHTH. I. The Crown Changed into a Dry Leaf II. Continuation of
the Crown which was Changed into a Dry Leaf III. End of the Crown which
was Changed into a Dry Leaf IV. _Lasciate Ogni Speranza_--Leave all
hope behind, ye who Enter here V. The Mother VI. Three Human Hearts
differently Constructed

BOOK NINTH. I. Delirium II. Hunchbacked, One Eyed, Lame III. Deaf IV.
Earthenware and Crystal V. The Key to the Red Door VI. Continuation of
the Key to the Red Door

BOOK TENTH. I. Gringoire has Many Good Ideas in Succession.--Rue des
Bernardins II. Turn Vagabond III. Long Live Mirth IV. An Awkward Friend
V. The Retreat in which Monsieur Louis of France says his Prayers VI.
Little Sword in Pocket VII. Chateaupers to the Rescue


I. The Little Shoe II. The Beautiful Creature Clad in White III. The
Marriage of Pinnbus IV. The Marriage of Quasimodo--Note added to
Definitive Edition


Many weeks had elapsed.

The first of March had arrived. The sun, which Dubartas, that classic
ancestor of periphrase, had not yet dubbed the “Grand-duke of Candles,”
 was none the less radiant and joyous on that account. It was one of
those spring days which possesses so much sweetness and beauty, that all
Paris turns out into the squares and promenades and celebrates them
as though they were Sundays. In those days of brilliancy, warmth, and
serenity, there is a certain hour above all others, when the façade of
Notre-Dame should be admired. It is the moment when the sun, already
declining towards the west, looks the cathedral almost full in the face.
Its rays, growing more and more horizontal, withdraw slowly from the
pavement of the square, and mount up the perpendicular façade, whose
thousand bosses in high relief they cause to start out from the shadows,
while the great central rose window flames like the eye of a cyclops,
inflamed with the reflections of the forge.

This was the hour.

Opposite the lofty cathedral, reddened by the setting sun, on the stone
balcony built above the porch of a rich Gothic house, which formed the
angle of the square and the Rue du Parvis, several young girls were
laughing and chatting with every sort of grace and mirth. From the
length of the veil which fell from their pointed coif, twined with
pearls, to their heels, from the fineness of the embroidered chemisette
which covered their shoulders and allowed a glimpse, according to the
pleasing custom of the time, of the swell of their fair virgin bosoms,
from the opulence of their under-petticoats still more precious than
their overdress (marvellous refinement), from the gauze, the silk,
the velvet, with which all this was composed, and, above all, from the
whiteness of their hands, which certified to their leisure and idleness,
it was easy to divine they were noble and wealthy heiresses. They were,
in fact, Damoiselle Fleur-de-Lys de Gondelaurier and her companions,
Diane de Christeuil, Amelotte de Montmichel, Colombe de Gaillefontaine,
and the little de Champchevrier maiden; all damsels of good birth,
assembled at that moment at the house of the dame widow de Gondelaurier,
on account of Monseigneur de Beaujeu and Madame his wife, who were to
come to Paris in the month of April, there to choose maids of honor for
the Dauphiness Marguerite, who was to be received in Picardy from the
hands of the Flemings. Now, all the squires for twenty leagues around
were intriguing for this favor for their daughters, and a goodly number
of the latter had been already brought or sent to Paris. These four
maidens had been confided to the discreet and venerable charge of
Madame Aloise de Gondelaurier, widow of a former commander of the king’s
cross-bowmen, who had retired with her only daughter to her house in the
Place du Parvis, Notre-Dame, in Paris.

The balcony on which these young girls stood opened from a chamber
richly tapestried in fawn-colored Flanders leather, stamped with golden
foliage. The beams, which cut the ceiling in parallel lines, diverted
the eye with a thousand eccentric painted and gilded carvings. Splendid
enamels gleamed here and there on carved chests; a boar’s head in
faience crowned a magnificent dresser, whose two shelves announced that
the mistress of the house was the wife or widow of a knight banneret. At
the end of the room, by the side of a lofty chimney blazoned with
arms from top to bottom, in a rich red velvet arm-chair, sat Dame de
Gondelaurier, whose five and fifty years were written upon her garments
no less distinctly than upon her face.

Beside her stood a young man of imposing mien, although partaking
somewhat of vanity and bravado--one of those handsome fellows whom all
women agree to admire, although grave men learned in physiognomy shrug
their shoulders at them. This young man wore the garb of a captain of
the king’s unattached archers, which bears far too much resemblance to
the costume of Jupiter, which the reader has already been enabled to
admire in the first book of this history, for us to inflict upon him a
second description.

The damoiselles were seated, a part in the chamber, a part in the
balcony, some on square cushions of Utrecht velvet with golden corners,
others on stools of oak carved in flowers and figures. Each of them held
on her knee a section of a great needlework tapestry, on which they
were working in company, while one end of it lay upon the rush mat which
covered the floor.

They were chatting together in that whispering tone and with the
half-stifled laughs peculiar to an assembly of young girls in whose
midst there is a young man. The young man whose presence served to set
in play all these feminine self-conceits, appeared to pay very little
heed to the matter, and, while these pretty damsels were vying with one
another to attract his attention, he seemed to be chiefly absorbed in
polishing the buckle of his sword belt with his doeskin glove. From time
to time, the old lady addressed him in a very low tone, and he
replied as well as he was able, with a sort of awkward and constrained

From the smiles and significant gestures of Dame Aloise, from the
glances which she threw towards her daughter, Fleur-de-Lys, as she spoke
low to the captain, it was easy to see that there was here a question of
some betrothal concluded, some marriage near at hand no doubt, between
the young man and Fleur-de-Lys. From the embarrassed coldness of the
officer, it was easy to see that on his side, at least, love had
no longer any part in the matter. His whole air was expressive of
constraint and weariness, which our lieutenants of the garrison would
to-day translate admirably as, “What a beastly bore!”

The poor dame, very much infatuated with her daughter, like any other
silly mother, did not perceive the officer’s lack of enthusiasm, and
strove in low tones to call his attention to the infinite grace with
which Fleur-de-Lys used her needle or wound her skein.

“Come, little cousin,” she said to him, plucking him by the sleeve, in
order to speak in his ear, “Look at her, do! see her stoop.”

“Yes, truly,” replied the young man, and fell back into his glacial and
absent-minded silence.

A moment later, he was obliged to bend down again, and Dame Aloise said
to him,--

“Have you ever beheld a more gay and charming face than that of your
betrothed? Can one be more white and blonde? are not her hands perfect?
and that neck--does it not assume all the curves of the swan in
ravishing fashion? How I envy you at times! and how happy you are to be
a man, naughty libertine that you are! Is not my Fleur-de-Lys adorably
beautiful, and are you not desperately in love with her?”

“Of course,” he replied, still thinking of something else.

“But do say something,” said Madame Aloise, suddenly giving his shoulder
a push; “you have grown very timid.”

We can assure our readers that timidity was neither the captain’s virtue
nor his defect. But he made an effort to do what was demanded of him.

“Fair cousin,” he said, approaching Fleur-de-Lys, “what is the subject
of this tapestry work which you are fashioning?” “Fair cousin,”
 responded Fleur-de-Lys, in an offended tone, “I have already told you
three times. ‘Tis the grotto of Neptune.”

It was evident that Fleur-de-Lys saw much more clearly than her mother
through the captain’s cold and absent-minded manner. He felt the
necessity of making some conversation.

“And for whom is this Neptunerie destined?”

“For the Abbey of Saint-Antoine des Champs,” answered Fleur-de-Lys,
without raising her eyes.

The captain took up a corner of the tapestry.

“Who, my fair cousin, is this big gendarme, who is puffing out his
cheeks to their full extent and blowing a trumpet?”

“‘Tis Triton,” she replied.

There was a rather pettish intonation in Fleur-de-Lys’s--laconic words.
The young man understood that it was indispensable that he should
whisper something in her ear, a commonplace, a gallant compliment, no
matter what. Accordingly he bent down, but he could find nothing in his
imagination more tender and personal than this,--

“Why does your mother always wear that surcoat with armorial designs,
like our grandmothers of the time of Charles VII.? Tell her, fair
cousin, that ‘tis no longer the fashion, and that the hinge (gond)
and the laurel (laurier) embroidered on her robe give her the air of
a walking mantlepiece. In truth, people no longer sit thus on their
banners, I assure you.”

Fleur-de-Lys raised her beautiful eyes, full of reproach, “Is that all
of which you can assure me?” she said, in a low voice.

In the meantime, Dame Aloise, delighted to see them thus bending towards
each other and whispering, said as she toyed with the clasps of her

“Touching picture of love!”

The captain, more and more embarrassed, fell back upon the subject of
the tapestry,--“‘Tis, in sooth, a charming work!” he exclaimed.

Whereupon Colombe de Gaillefontaine, another beautiful blonde, with a
white skin, dressed to the neck in blue damask, ventured a timid remark
which she addressed to Fleur-de-Lys, in the hope that the handsome
captain would reply to it, “My dear Gondelaurier, have you seen the
tapestries of the Hôtel de la Roche-Guyon?”

“Is not that the hotel in which is enclosed the garden of the Lingère
du Louvre?” asked Diane de Christeuil with a laugh; for she had handsome
teeth, and consequently laughed on every occasion.

“And where there is that big, old tower of the ancient wall of Paris,”
 added Amelotte de Montmichel, a pretty fresh and curly-headed brunette,
who had a habit of sighing just as the other laughed, without knowing

“My dear Colombe,” interpolated Dame Aloise, “do you not mean the hotel
which belonged to Monsieur de Bacqueville, in the reign of King Charles
VI.? there are indeed many superb high warp tapestries there.”

“Charles VI.! Charles VI.!” muttered the young captain, twirling his
moustache. “Good heavens! what old things the good dame does remember!”

Madame de Gondelaurier continued, “Fine tapestries, in truth. A work so
esteemed that it passes as unrivalled.”

At that moment Bérangère de Champchevrier, a slender little maid of
seven years, who was peering into the square through the trefoils of
the balcony, exclaimed, “Oh! look, fair Godmother Fleur-de-Lys, at that
pretty dancer who is dancing on the pavement and playing the tambourine
in the midst of the loutish bourgeois!”

The sonorous vibration of a tambourine was, in fact, audible. “Some
gypsy from Bohemia,” said Fleur-de-Lys, turning carelessly toward the

“Look! look!” exclaimed her lively companions; and they all ran to the
edge of the balcony, while Fleur-de-Lys, rendered thoughtful by the
coldness of her betrothed, followed them slowly, and the latter,
relieved by this incident, which put an end to an embarrassing
conversation, retreated to the farther end of the room, with the
satisfied air of a soldier released from duty. Nevertheless, the
fair Fleur-de-Lys’s was a charming and noble service, and such it had
formerly appeared to him; but the captain had gradually become blase’;
the prospect of a speedy marriage cooled him more every day. Moreover,
he was of a fickle disposition, and, must we say it, rather vulgar in
taste. Although of very noble birth, he had contracted in his official
harness more than one habit of the common trooper. The tavern and its
accompaniments pleased him. He was only at his ease amid gross language,
military gallantries, facile beauties, and successes yet more easy.
He had, nevertheless, received from his family some education and some
politeness of manner; but he had been thrown on the world too young, he
had been in garrison at too early an age, and every day the polish of
a gentleman became more and more effaced by the rough friction of his
gendarme’s cross-belt. While still continuing to visit her from time to
time, from a remnant of common respect, he felt doubly embarrassed with
Fleur-de-Lys; in the first place, because, in consequence of having
scattered his love in all sorts of places, he had reserved very little
for her; in the next place, because, amid so many stiff, formal, and
decent ladies, he was in constant fear lest his mouth, habituated to
oaths, should suddenly take the bit in its teeth, and break out into the
language of the tavern. The effect can be imagined!

Moreover, all this was mingled in him, with great pretentions to
elegance, toilet, and a fine appearance. Let the reader reconcile these
things as best he can. I am simply the historian.

He had remained, therefore, for several minutes, leaning in silence
against the carved jamb of the chimney, and thinking or not thinking,
when Fleur-de-Lys suddenly turned and addressed him. After all, the poor
young girl was pouting against the dictates of her heart.

“Fair cousin, did you not speak to us of a little Bohemian whom you
saved a couple of months ago, while making the patrol with the watch at
night, from the hands of a dozen robbers?”

“I believe so, fair cousin,” said the captain.

“Well,” she resumed, “perchance ‘tis that same gypsy girl who is dancing
yonder, on the church square. Come and see if you recognize her, fair
Cousin Phoebus.”

A secret desire for reconciliation was apparent in this gentle
invitation which she gave him to approach her, and in the care which she
took to call him by name. Captain Phoebus de Châteaupers (for it is
he whom the reader has had before his eyes since the beginning of this
chapter) slowly approached the balcony. “Stay,” said Fleur-de-Lys,
laying her hand tenderly on Phoebus’s arm; “look at that little girl
yonder, dancing in that circle. Is she your Bohemian?”

Phoebus looked, and said,--

“Yes, I recognize her by her goat.”

“Oh! in fact, what a pretty little goat!” said Amelotte, clasping her
hands in admiration.

“Are his horns of real gold?” inquired Bérangère.

Without moving from her arm-chair, Dame Aloise interposed, “Is she not
one of those gypsy girls who arrived last year by the Gibard gate?”

“Madame my mother,” said Fleur-de-Lys gently, “that gate is now called
the Porte d’Enfer.”

Mademoiselle de Gondelaurier knew how her mother’s antiquated mode of
speech shocked the captain. In fact, he began to sneer, and muttered
between his teeth: “Porte Gibard! Porte Gibard! ‘Tis enough to make King
Charles VI. pass by.”

“Godmother!” exclaimed Bérangère, whose eyes, incessantly in motion, had
suddenly been raised to the summit of the towers of Notre-Dame, “who is
that black man up yonder?”

All the young girls raised their eyes. A man was, in truth, leaning
on the balustrade which surmounted the northern tower, looking on the
Grève. He was a priest. His costume could be plainly discerned, and his
face resting on both his hands. But he stirred no more than if he had
been a statue. His eyes, intently fixed, gazed into the Place.

It was something like the immobility of a bird of prey, who has just
discovered a nest of sparrows, and is gazing at it.

“‘Tis monsieur the archdeacon of Josas,” said Fleur-de-Lys.

“You have good eyes if you can recognize him from here,” said the

“How he is staring at the little dancer!” went on Diane de Christeuil.

“Let the gypsy beware!” said Fleur-de-Lys, “for he loves not Egypt.”

“‘Tis a great shame for that man to look upon her thus,” added Amelotte
de Montmichel, “for she dances delightfully.”

“Fair cousin Phoebus,” said Fleur-de-Lys suddenly, “Since you know this
little gypsy, make her a sign to come up here. It will amuse us.”

“Oh, yes!” exclaimed all the young girls, clapping their hands.

“Why! ‘tis not worth while,” replied Phoebus. “She has forgotten me, no
doubt, and I know not so much as her name. Nevertheless, as you wish it,
young ladies, I will make the trial.” And leaning over the balustrade of
the balcony, he began to shout, “Little one!”

The dancer was not beating her tambourine at the moment. She turned her
head towards the point whence this call proceeded, her brilliant eyes
rested on Phoebus, and she stopped short.

“Little one!” repeated the captain; and he beckoned her to approach.

The young girl looked at him again, then she blushed as though a flame
had mounted into her cheeks, and, taking her tambourine under her arm,
she made her way through the astonished spectators towards the door of
the house where Phoebus was calling her, with slow, tottering steps, and
with the troubled look of a bird which is yielding to the fascination of
a serpent.

A moment later, the tapestry portière was raised, and the gypsy appeared
on the threshold of the chamber, blushing, confused, breathless, her
large eyes drooping, and not daring to advance another step.

Bérangère clapped her hands.

Meanwhile, the dancer remained motionless upon the threshold. Her
appearance had produced a singular effect upon these young girls. It
is certain that a vague and indistinct desire to please the handsome
officer animated them all, that his splendid uniform was the target of
all their coquetries, and that from the moment he presented himself,
there existed among them a secret, suppressed rivalry, which they hardly
acknowledged even to themselves, but which broke forth, none the less,
every instant, in their gestures and remarks. Nevertheless, as they were
all very nearly equal in beauty, they contended with equal arms, and
each could hope for the victory.--The arrival of the gypsy suddenly
destroyed this equilibrium. Her beauty was so rare, that, at the moment
when she appeared at the entrance of the apartment, it seemed as though
she diffused a sort of light which was peculiar to herself. In that
narrow chamber, surrounded by that sombre frame of hangings and
woodwork, she was incomparably more beautiful and more radiant than on
the public square. She was like a torch which has suddenly been brought
from broad daylight into the dark. The noble damsels were dazzled by her
in spite of themselves. Each one felt herself, in some sort, wounded
in her beauty. Hence, their battle front (may we be allowed the
expression,) was immediately altered, although they exchanged not a
single word. But they understood each other perfectly. Women’s instincts
comprehend and respond to each other more quickly than the intelligences
of men. An enemy had just arrived; all felt it--all rallied together.
One drop of wine is sufficient to tinge a glass of water red; to diffuse
a certain degree of ill temper throughout a whole assembly of pretty
women, the arrival of a prettier woman suffices, especially when there
is but one man present.

Hence the welcome accorded to the gypsy was marvellously glacial. They
surveyed her from head to foot, then exchanged glances, and all was
said; they understood each other. Meanwhile, the young girl was waiting
to be spoken to, in such emotion that she dared not raise her eyelids.

The captain was the first to break the silence. “Upon my word,” said
he, in his tone of intrepid fatuity, “here is a charming creature! What
think you of her, fair cousin?”

This remark, which a more delicate admirer would have uttered in a lower
tone, at least was not of a nature to dissipate the feminine jealousies
which were on the alert before the gypsy.

Fleur-de-Lys replied to the captain with a bland affectation of
disdain;--“Not bad.”

The others whispered.

At length, Madame Aloise, who was not the less jealous because she was
so for her daughter, addressed the dancer,--“Approach, little one.”

“Approach, little one!” repeated, with comical dignity, little
Bérangère, who would have reached about as high as her hips.

The gypsy advanced towards the noble dame.

“Fair child,” said Phoebus, with emphasis, taking several steps towards
her, “I do not know whether I have the supreme honor of being recognized
by you.”

She interrupted him, with a smile and a look full of infinite

“Oh! yes,” said she.

“She has a good memory,” remarked Fleur-de-Lys.

“Come, now,” resumed Phoebus, “you escaped nimbly the other evening. Did
I frighten you!”

“Oh! no,” said the gypsy.

There was in the intonation of that “Oh! no,” uttered after that “Oh!
yes,” an ineffable something which wounded Fleur-de-Lys.

“You left me in your stead, my beauty,” pursued the captain, whose
tongue was unloosed when speaking to a girl out of the street, “a
crabbed knave, one-eyed and hunchbacked, the bishop’s bellringer,
I believe. I have been told that by birth he is the bastard of
an archdeacon and a devil. He has a pleasant name: he is called
_Quatre-Temps_ (Ember Days), _Paques-Fleuries_ (Palm Sunday), Mardi-Gras
(Shrove Tuesday), I know not what! The name of some festival when the
bells are pealed! So he took the liberty of carrying you off, as though
you were made for beadles! ‘Tis too much. What the devil did that
screech-owl want with you? Hey, tell me!”

“I do not know,” she replied.

“The inconceivable impudence! A bellringer carrying off a wench, like a
vicomte! a lout poaching on the game of gentlemen! that is a rare piece
of assurance. However, he paid dearly for it. Master Pierrat Torterue is
the harshest groom that ever curried a knave; and I can tell you, if
it will be agreeable to you, that your bellringer’s hide got a thorough
dressing at his hands.”

“Poor man!” said the gypsy, in whom these words revived the memory of
the pillory.

The captain burst out laughing.

“Corne-de-boeuf! here’s pity as well placed as a feather in a pig’s
tail! May I have as big a belly as a pope, if--”

He stopped short. “Pardon me, ladies; I believe that I was on the point
of saying something foolish.”

“Fie, sir” said la Gaillefontaine.

“He talks to that creature in her own tongue!” added Fleur-de-Lys, in
a low tone, her irritation increasing every moment. This irritation was
not diminished when she beheld the captain, enchanted with the gypsy,
and, most of all, with himself, execute a pirouette on his heel,
repeating with coarse, naïve, and soldierly gallantry,--

“A handsome wench, upon my soul!”

“Rather savagely dressed,” said Diane de Christeuil, laughing to show
her fine teeth.

This remark was a flash of light to the others. Not being able to impugn
her beauty, they attacked her costume.

“That is true,” said la Montmichel; “what makes you run about the
streets thus, without guimpe or ruff?”

“That petticoat is so short that it makes one tremble,” added la

“My dear,” continued Fleur-de-Lys, with decided sharpness, “You will get
yourself taken up by the sumptuary police for your gilded girdle.”

“Little one, little one;” resumed la Christeuil, with an implacable
smile, “if you were to put respectable sleeves upon your arms they would
get less sunburned.”

It was, in truth, a spectacle worthy of a more intelligent spectator
than Phoebus, to see how these beautiful maidens, with their envenomed
and angry tongues, wound, serpent-like, and glided and writhed around
the street dancer. They were cruel and graceful; they searched and
rummaged maliciously in her poor and silly toilet of spangles and
tinsel. There was no end to their laughter, irony, and humiliation.
Sarcasms rained down upon the gypsy, and haughty condescension and
malevolent looks. One would have thought they were young Roman dames
thrusting golden pins into the breast of a beautiful slave. One would
have pronounced them elegant grayhounds, circling, with inflated
nostrils, round a poor woodland fawn, whom the glance of their master
forbade them to devour.

After all, what was a miserable dancer on the public squares in the
presence of these high-born maidens? They seemed to take no heed of her
presence, and talked of her aloud, to her face, as of something unclean,
abject, and yet, at the same time, passably pretty.

The gypsy was not insensible to these pin-pricks. From time to time a
flush of shame, a flash of anger inflamed her eyes or her cheeks; with
disdain she made that little grimace with which the reader is already
familiar, but she remained motionless; she fixed on Phoebus a sad,
sweet, resigned look. There was also happiness and tenderness in that
gaze. One would have said that she endured for fear of being expelled.

Phoebus laughed, and took the gypsy’s part with a mixture of
impertinence and pity.

“Let them talk, little one!” he repeated, jingling his golden spurs. “No
doubt your toilet is a little extravagant and wild, but what difference
does that make with such a charming damsel as yourself?”

“Good gracious!” exclaimed the blonde Gaillefontaine, drawing up her
swan-like throat, with a bitter smile. “I see that messieurs the archers
of the king’s police easily take fire at the handsome eyes of gypsies!”

“Why not?” said Phoebus.

At this reply uttered carelessly by the captain, like a stray stone,
whose fall one does not even watch, Colombe began to laugh, as well as
Diane, Amelotte, and Fleur-de-Lys, into whose eyes at the same time a
tear started.

The gypsy, who had dropped her eyes on the floor at the words of Colombe
de Gaillefontaine, raised them beaming with joy and pride and fixed them
once more on Phoebus. She was very beautiful at that moment.

The old dame, who was watching this scene, felt offended, without
understanding why.

“Holy Virgin!” she suddenly exclaimed, “what is it moving about my legs?
Ah! the villanous beast!”

It was the goat, who had just arrived, in search of his mistress, and
who, in dashing towards the latter, had begun by entangling his horns in
the pile of stuffs which the noble dame’s garments heaped up on her feet
when she was seated.

This created a diversion. The gypsy disentangled his horns without
uttering a word.

“Oh! here’s the little goat with golden hoofs!” exclaimed Bérangère,
dancing with joy.

The gypsy crouched down on her knees and leaned her cheek against the
fondling head of the goat. One would have said that she was asking
pardon for having quitted it thus.

Meanwhile, Diane had bent down to Colombe’s ear.

“Ah! good heavens! why did not I think of that sooner? ‘Tis the gypsy
with the goat. They say she is a sorceress, and that her goat executes
very miraculous tricks.”

“Well!” said Colombe, “the goat must now amuse us in its turn, and
perform a miracle for us.”

Diane and Colombe eagerly addressed the gypsy.

“Little one, make your goat perform a miracle.”

“I do not know what you mean,” replied the dancer.

“A miracle, a piece of magic, a bit of sorcery, in short.”

“I do not understand.” And she fell to caressing the pretty animal,
repeating, “Djali! Djali!”

At that moment Fleur-de-Lys noticed a little bag of embroidered leather
suspended from the neck of the goat,--“What is that?” she asked of the

The gypsy raised her large eyes upon her and replied gravely,--“That is
my secret.”

“I should really like to know what your secret is,” thought

Meanwhile, the good dame had risen angrily,--“Come now, gypsy, if
neither you nor your goat can dance for us, what are you doing here?”

The gypsy walked slowly towards the door, without making any reply.
But the nearer she approached it, the more her pace slackened. An
irresistible magnet seemed to hold her. Suddenly she turned her eyes,
wet with tears, towards Phoebus, and halted.

“True God!” exclaimed the captain, “that’s not the way to depart. Come
back and dance something for us. By the way, my sweet love, what is your

“La Esmeralda,” said the dancer, never taking her eyes from him.

At this strange name, a burst of wild laughter broke from the young

“Here’s a terrible name for a young lady,” said Diane.

“You see well enough,” retorted Amelotte, “that she is an enchantress.”

“My dear,” exclaimed Dame Aloise solemnly, “your parents did not commit
the sin of giving you that name at the baptismal font.”

In the meantime, several minutes previously, Bérangère had coaxed the
goat into a corner of the room with a marchpane cake, without any one
having noticed her. In an instant they had become good friends. The
curious child had detached the bag from the goat’s neck, had opened
it, and had emptied out its contents on the rush matting; it was an
alphabet, each letter of which was separately inscribed on a tiny block
of boxwood. Hardly had these playthings been spread out on the matting,
when the child, with surprise, beheld the goat (one of whose “miracles”
 this was no doubt), draw out certain letters with its golden hoof, and
arrange them, with gentle pushes, in a certain order. In a moment they
constituted a word, which the goat seemed to have been trained to write,
so little hesitation did it show in forming it, and Bérangère suddenly
exclaimed, clasping her hands in admiration,--

“Godmother Fleur-de-Lys, see what the goat has just done!”

Fleur-de-Lys ran up and trembled. The letters arranged upon the floor
formed this word,--


“Was it the goat who wrote that?” she inquired in a changed voice.

“Yes, godmother,” replied Bérangêre.

It was impossible to doubt it; the child did not know how to write.

“This is the secret!” thought Fleur-de-Lys.

Meanwhile, at the child’s exclamation, all had hastened up, the mother,
the young girls, the gypsy, and the officer.

The gypsy beheld the piece of folly which the goat had committed. She
turned red, then pale, and began to tremble like a culprit before the
captain, who gazed at her with a smile of satisfaction and amazement.

“Phoebus!” whispered the young girls, stupefied: “‘tis the captain’s

“You have a marvellous memory!” said Fleur-de-Lys, to the petrified
gypsy. Then, bursting into sobs: “Oh!” she stammered mournfully, hiding
her face in both her beautiful hands, “she is a magician!” And she
heard another and a still more bitter voice at the bottom of her heart,
saying,--“She is a rival!”

She fell fainting.

“My daughter! my daughter!” cried the terrified mother. “Begone, you
gypsy of hell!”

In a twinkling, La Esmeralda gathered up the unlucky letters, made a
sign to Djali, and went out through one door, while Fleur-de-Lys was
being carried out through the other.

Captain Phoebus, on being left alone, hesitated for a moment between the
two doors, then he followed the gypsy.


The priest whom the young girls had observed at the top of the North
tower, leaning over the Place and so attentive to the dance of the
gypsy, was, in fact, Archdeacon Claude Frollo.

Our readers have not forgotten the mysterious cell which the archdeacon
had reserved for himself in that tower. (I do not know, by the way be
it said, whether it be not the same, the interior of which can be seen
to-day through a little square window, opening to the east at the height
of a man above the platform from which the towers spring; a bare and
dilapidated den, whose badly plastered walls are ornamented here
and there, at the present day, with some wretched yellow engravings
representing the façades of cathedrals. I presume that this hole is
jointly inhabited by bats and spiders, and that, consequently, it wages
a double war of extermination on the flies).

Every day, an hour before sunset, the archdeacon ascended the staircase
to the tower, and shut himself up in this cell, where he sometimes
passed whole nights. That day, at the moment when, standing before the
low door of his retreat, he was fitting into the lock the complicated
little key which he always carried about him in the purse suspended to
his side, a sound of tambourine and castanets had reached his ear. These
sounds came from the Place du Parvis. The cell, as we have already said,
had only one window opening upon the rear of the church. Claude Frollo
had hastily withdrawn the key, and an instant later, he was on the top
of the tower, in the gloomy and pensive attitude in which the maidens
had seen him.

There he stood, grave, motionless, absorbed in one look and one thought.
All Paris lay at his feet, with the thousand spires of its edifices and
its circular horizon of gentle hills--with its river winding under its
bridges, and its people moving to and fro through its streets,--with
the clouds of its smoke,--with the mountainous chain of its roofs which
presses Notre-Dame in its doubled folds; but out of all the city,
the archdeacon gazed at one corner only of the pavement, the Place du
Parvis; in all that throng at but one figure,--the gypsy.

It would have been difficult to say what was the nature of this look,
and whence proceeded the flame that flashed from it. It was a fixed
gaze, which was, nevertheless, full of trouble and tumult. And, from the
profound immobility of his whole body, barely agitated at intervals
by an involuntary shiver, as a tree is moved by the wind; from the
stiffness of his elbows, more marble than the balustrade on which
they leaned; or the sight of the petrified smile which contracted his
face,--one would have said that nothing living was left about Claude
Frollo except his eyes.

The gypsy was dancing; she was twirling her tambourine on the tip of her
finger, and tossing it into the air as she danced Provençal sarabands;
agile, light, joyous, and unconscious of the formidable gaze which
descended perpendicularly upon her head.

The crowd was swarming around her; from time to time, a man accoutred in
red and yellow made them form into a circle, and then returned, seated
himself on a chair a few paces from the dancer, and took the goat’s head
on his knees. This man seemed to be the gypsy’s companion. Claude Frollo
could not distinguish his features from his elevated post.

From the moment when the archdeacon caught sight of this stranger, his
attention seemed divided between him and the dancer, and his face became
more and more gloomy. All at once he rose upright, and a quiver ran
through his whole body: “Who is that man?” he muttered between his
teeth: “I have always seen her alone before!”

Then he plunged down beneath the tortuous vault of the spiral staircase,
and once more descended. As he passed the door of the bell chamber,
which was ajar, he saw something which struck him; he beheld Quasimodo,
who, leaning through an opening of one of those slate penthouses which
resemble enormous blinds, appeared also to be gazing at the Place. He
was engaged in so profound a contemplation, that he did not notice the
passage of his adopted father. His savage eye had a singular expression;
it was a charmed, tender look. “This is strange!” murmured Claude. “Is
it the gypsy at whom he is thus gazing?” He continued his descent. At
the end of a few minutes, the anxious archdeacon entered upon the Place
from the door at the base of the tower.

“What has become of the gypsy girl?” he said, mingling with the group of
spectators which the sound of the tambourine had collected.

“I know not,” replied one of his neighbors, “I think that she has gone
to make some of her fandangoes in the house opposite, whither they have
called her.”

In the place of the gypsy, on the carpet, whose arabesques had seemed to
vanish but a moment previously by the capricious figures of her dance,
the archdeacon no longer beheld any one but the red and yellow man,
who, in order to earn a few testers in his turn, was walking round the
circle, with his elbows on his hips, his head thrown back, his face red,
his neck outstretched, with a chair between his teeth. To the chair he
had fastened a cat, which a neighbor had lent, and which was spitting in
great affright.

“Notre-Dame!” exclaimed the archdeacon, at the moment when the juggler,
perspiring heavily, passed in front of him with his pyramid of chair and
his cat, “What is Master Pierre Gringoire doing here?”

The harsh voice of the archdeacon threw the poor fellow into such a
commotion that he lost his equilibrium, together with his whole edifice,
and the chair and the cat tumbled pell-mell upon the heads of the
spectators, in the midst of inextinguishable hootings.

It is probable that Master Pierre Gringoire (for it was indeed he) would
have had a sorry account to settle with the neighbor who owned the cat,
and all the bruised and scratched faces which surrounded him, if he
had not hastened to profit by the tumult to take refuge in the church,
whither Claude Frollo had made him a sign to follow him.

The cathedral was already dark and deserted; the side-aisles were full
of shadows, and the lamps of the chapels began to shine out like stars,
so black had the vaulted ceiling become. Only the great rose window of
the façade, whose thousand colors were steeped in a ray of horizontal
sunlight, glittered in the gloom like a mass of diamonds, and threw its
dazzling reflection to the other end of the nave.

When they had advanced a few paces, Dom Claude placed his back against a
pillar, and gazed intently at Gringoire. The gaze was not the one which
Gringoire feared, ashamed as he was of having been caught by a grave and
learned person in the costume of a buffoon. There was nothing mocking or
ironical in the priest’s glance, it was serious, tranquil, piercing. The
archdeacon was the first to break the silence.

“Come now, Master Pierre. You are to explain many things to me. And
first of all, how comes it that you have not been seen for two months,
and that now one finds you in the public squares, in a fine equipment in
truth! Motley red and yellow, like a Caudebec apple?”

“Messire,” said Gringoire, piteously, “it is, in fact, an amazing
accoutrement. You see me no more comfortable in it than a cat coiffed
with a calabash. ‘Tis very ill done, I am conscious, to expose messieurs
the sergeants of the watch to the liability of cudgelling beneath this
cassock the humerus of a Pythagorean philosopher. But what would you
have, my reverend master? ‘tis the fault of my ancient jerkin, which
abandoned me in cowardly wise, at the beginning of the winter, under the
pretext that it was falling into tatters, and that it required repose in
the basket of a rag-picker. What is one to do? Civilization has not yet
arrived at the point where one can go stark naked, as ancient Diogenes
wished. Add that a very cold wind was blowing, and ‘tis not in the month
of January that one can successfully attempt to make humanity take
this new step. This garment presented itself, I took it, and I left my
ancient black smock, which, for a hermetic like myself, was far
from being hermetically closed. Behold me then, in the garments of a
stage-player, like Saint Genest. What would you have? ‘tis an eclipse.
Apollo himself tended the flocks of Admetus.”

“‘Tis a fine profession that you are engaged in!” replied the

“I agree, my master, that ‘tis better to philosophize and poetize, to
blow the flame in the furnace, or to receive it from carry cats on a
shield. So, when you addressed me, I was as foolish as an ass before a
turnspit. But what would you have, messire? One must eat every day, and
the finest Alexandrine verses are not worth a bit of Brie cheese. Now, I
made for Madame Marguerite of Flanders, that famous epithalamium, as you
know, and the city will not pay me, under the pretext that it was not
excellent; as though one could give a tragedy of Sophocles for four
crowns! Hence, I was on the point of dying with hunger. Happily, I found
that I was rather strong in the jaw; so I said to this jaw,--perform
some feats of strength and of equilibrium: nourish thyself. _Ale te
ipsam_. A pack of beggars who have become my good friends, have taught
me twenty sorts of herculean feats, and now I give to my teeth every
evening the bread which they have earned during the day by the sweat of
my brow. After all, concede, I grant that it is a sad employment for
my intellectual faculties, and that man is not made to pass his life in
beating the tambourine and biting chairs. But, reverend master, it is
not sufficient to pass one’s life, one must earn the means for life.”

Dom Claude listened in silence. All at once his deep-set eye assumed so
sagacious and penetrating an expression, that Gringoire felt himself, so
to speak, searched to the bottom of the soul by that glance.

“Very good, Master Pierre; but how comes it that you are now in company
with that gypsy dancer?”

“In faith!” said Gringoire, “‘tis because she is my wife and I am her

The priest’s gloomy eyes flashed into flame.

“Have you done that, you wretch!” he cried, seizing Gringoire’s arm with
fury; “have you been so abandoned by God as to raise your hand against
that girl?”

“On my chance of paradise, monseigneur,” replied Gringoire, trembling
in every limb, “I swear to you that I have never touched her, if that is
what disturbs you.”

“Then why do you talk of husband and wife?” said the priest. Gringoire
made haste to relate to him as succinctly as possible, all that the
reader already knows, his adventure in the Court of Miracles and the
broken-crock marriage. It appeared, moreover, that this marriage had led
to no results whatever, and that each evening the gypsy girl cheated
him of his nuptial right as on the first day. “‘Tis a mortification,”
 he said in conclusion, “but that is because I have had the misfortune to
wed a virgin.”

“What do you mean?” demanded the archdeacon, who had been gradually
appeased by this recital.

“‘Tis very difficult to explain,” replied the poet. “It is a
superstition. My wife is, according to what an old thief, who is called
among us the Duke of Egypt, has told me, a foundling or a lost child,
which is the same thing. She wears on her neck an amulet which, it is
affirmed, will cause her to meet her parents some day, but which will
lose its virtue if the young girl loses hers. Hence it follows that both
of us remain very virtuous.”

“So,” resumed Claude, whose brow cleared more and more, “you believe,
Master Pierre, that this creature has not been approached by any man?”

“What would you have a man do, Dom Claude, as against a superstition?
She has got that in her head. I assuredly esteem as a rarity this
nunlike prudery which is preserved untamed amid those Bohemian girls
who are so easily brought into subjection. But she has three things to
protect her: the Duke of Egypt, who has taken her under his safeguard,
reckoning, perchance, on selling her to some gay abbé; all his tribe,
who hold her in singular veneration, like a Notre-Dame; and a certain
tiny poignard, which the buxom dame always wears about her, in some
nook, in spite of the ordinances of the provost, and which one causes to
fly out into her hands by squeezing her waist. ‘Tis a proud wasp, I can
tell you!”

The archdeacon pressed Gringoire with questions.

La Esmeralda, in the judgment of Gringoire, was an inoffensive and
charming creature, pretty, with the exception of a pout which was
peculiar to her; a naïve and passionate damsel, ignorant of everything
and enthusiastic about everything; not yet aware of the difference
between a man and a woman, even in her dreams; made like that; wild
especially over dancing, noise, the open air; a sort of woman bee, with
invisible wings on her feet, and living in a whirlwind. She owed this
nature to the wandering life which she had always led. Gringoire had
succeeded in learning that, while a mere child, she had traversed Spain
and Catalonia, even to Sicily; he believed that she had even been taken
by the caravan of Zingari, of which she formed a part, to the kingdom
of Algiers, a country situated in Achaia, which country adjoins, on one
side Albania and Greece; on the other, the Sicilian Sea, which is the
road to Constantinople. The Bohemians, said Gringoire, were vassals of
the King of Algiers, in his quality of chief of the White Moors. One
thing is certain, that la Esmeralda had come to France while still very
young, by way of Hungary. From all these countries the young girl had
brought back fragments of queer jargons, songs, and strange ideas, which
made her language as motley as her costume, half Parisian, half African.
However, the people of the quarters which she frequented loved her for
her gayety, her daintiness, her lively manners, her dances, and her
songs. She believed herself to be hated, in all the city, by but two
persons, of whom she often spoke in terror: the sacked nun of the
Tour-Roland, a villanous recluse who cherished some secret grudge
against these gypsies, and who cursed the poor dancer every time that
the latter passed before her window; and a priest, who never met her
without casting at her looks and words which frightened her.

The mention of this last circumstance disturbed the archdeacon greatly,
though Gringoire paid no attention to his perturbation; to such an
extent had two months sufficed to cause the heedless poet to forget the
singular details of the evening on which he had met the gypsy, and
the presence of the archdeacon in it all. Otherwise, the little dancer
feared nothing; she did not tell fortunes, which protected her against
those trials for magic which were so frequently instituted against gypsy
women. And then, Gringoire held the position of her brother, if not of
her husband. After all, the philosopher endured this sort of platonic
marriage very patiently. It meant a shelter and bread at least. Every
morning, he set out from the lair of the thieves, generally with the
gypsy; he helped her make her collections of targes* and little blanks**
in the squares; each evening he returned to the same roof with her,
allowed her to bolt herself into her little chamber, and slept the sleep
of the just. A very sweet existence, taking it all in all, he said,
and well adapted to revery. And then, on his soul and conscience, the
philosopher was not very sure that he was madly in love with the gypsy.
He loved her goat almost as dearly. It was a charming animal, gentle,
intelligent, clever; a learned goat. Nothing was more common in the
Middle Ages than these learned animals, which amazed people greatly, and
often led their instructors to the stake. But the witchcraft of the goat
with the golden hoofs was a very innocent species of magic. Gringoire
explained them to the archdeacon, whom these details seemed to interest
deeply. In the majority of cases, it was sufficient to present the
tambourine to the goat in such or such a manner, in order to obtain from
him the trick desired. He had been trained to this by the gypsy, who
possessed, in these delicate arts, so rare a talent that two months
had sufficed to teach the goat to write, with movable letters, the word

     *  An ancient Burgundian coin.

     ** An ancient French coin.

“‘Phoebus!’” said the priest; “why ‘Phoebus’?”

“I know not,” replied Gringoire. “Perhaps it is a word which she
believes to be endowed with some magic and secret virtue. She often
repeats it in a low tone when she thinks that she is alone.”

“Are you sure,” persisted Claude, with his penetrating glance, “that it
is only a word and not a name?”

“The name of whom?” said the poet.

“How should I know?” said the priest.

“This is what I imagine, messire. These Bohemians are something like
Guebrs, and adore the sun. Hence, Phoebus.”

“That does not seem so clear to me as to you, Master Pierre.”

“After all, that does not concern me. Let her mumble her Phoebus at her
pleasure. One thing is certain, that Djali loves me almost as much as he
does her.”

“Who is Djali?”

“The goat.”

The archdeacon dropped his chin into his hand, and appeared to reflect
for a moment. All at once he turned abruptly to Gringoire once more.

“And do you swear to me that you have not touched her?”

“Whom?” said Gringoire; “the goat?”

“No, that woman.”

“My wife? I swear to you that I have not.”

“You are often alone with her?”

“A good hour every evening.”

Porn Claude frowned.

“Oh! oh! _Solus cum sola non cogitabuntur orare Pater Noster_.”

“Upon my soul, I could say the _Pater_, and the _Ave Maria_, and
the _Credo in Deum patrem omnipotentem_ without her paying any more
attention to me than a chicken to a church.”

“Swear to me, by the body of your mother,” repeated the archdeacon
violently, “that you have not touched that creature with even the tip of
your finger.”

“I will also swear it by the head of my father, for the two things
have more affinity between them. But, my reverend master, permit me a
question in my turn.”

“Speak, sir.”

“What concern is it of yours?”

The archdeacon’s pale face became as crimson as the cheek of a young
girl. He remained for a moment without answering; then, with visible

“Listen, Master Pierre Gringoire. You are not yet damned, so far as
I know. I take an interest in you, and wish you well. Now the least
contact with that Egyptian of the demon would make you the vassal of
Satan. You know that ‘tis always the body which ruins the soul. Woe to
you if you approach that woman! That is all.”

“I tried once,” said Gringoire, scratching his ear; “it was the first
day: but I got stung.”

“You were so audacious, Master Pierre?” and the priest’s brow clouded
over again.

“On another occasion,” continued the poet, with a smile, “I peeped
through the keyhole, before going to bed, and I beheld the most
delicious dame in her shift that ever made a bed creak under her bare

“Go to the devil!” cried the priest, with a terrible look; and, giving
the amazed Gringoire a push on the shoulders, he plunged, with long
strides, under the gloomiest arcades of the cathedral.


After the morning in the pillory, the neighbors of Notre-Dame thought
they noticed that Quasimodo’s ardor for ringing had grown cool.
Formerly, there had been peals for every occasion, long morning
serenades, which lasted from prime to compline; peals from the belfry
for a high mass, rich scales drawn over the smaller bells for a wedding,
for a christening, and mingling in the air like a rich embroidery of all
sorts of charming sounds. The old church, all vibrating and sonorous,
was in a perpetual joy of bells. One was constantly conscious of the
presence of a spirit of noise and caprice, who sang through all those
mouths of brass. Now that spirit seemed to have departed; the cathedral
seemed gloomy, and gladly remained silent; festivals and funerals had
the simple peal, dry and bare, demanded by the ritual, nothing more. Of
the double noise which constitutes a church, the organ within, the bell
without, the organ alone remained. One would have said that there was
no longer a musician in the belfry. Quasimodo was always there,
nevertheless; what, then, had happened to him? Was it that the shame and
despair of the pillory still lingered in the bottom of his heart, that
the lashes of his tormentor’s whip reverberated unendingly in his soul,
and that the sadness of such treatment had wholly extinguished in him
even his passion for the bells? or was it that Marie had a rival in the
heart of the bellringer of Notre-Dame, and that the great bell and her
fourteen sisters were neglected for something more amiable and more

It chanced that, in the year of grace 1482, Annunciation Day fell on
Tuesday, the twenty-fifth of March. That day the air was so pure and
light that Quasimodo felt some returning affection for his bells. He
therefore ascended the northern tower while the beadle below was opening
wide the doors of the church, which were then enormous panels of stout
wood, covered with leather, bordered with nails of gilded iron, and
framed in carvings “very artistically elaborated.”

On arriving in the lofty bell chamber, Quasimodo gazed for some time
at the six bells and shook his head sadly, as though groaning over some
foreign element which had interposed itself in his heart between them
and him. But when he had set them to swinging, when he felt that cluster
of bells moving under his hand, when he saw, for he did not hear it, the
palpitating octave ascend and descend that sonorous scale, like a bird
hopping from branch to branch; when the demon Music, that demon who
shakes a sparkling bundle of strette, trills and arpeggios, had taken
possession of the poor deaf man, he became happy once more, he forgot
everything, and his heart expanding, made his face beam.

He went and came, he beat his hands together, he ran from rope to rope,
he animated the six singers with voice and gesture, like the leader of
an orchestra who is urging on intelligent musicians.

“Go on,” said he, “go on, go on, Gabrielle, pour out all thy noise
into the Place, ‘tis a festival to-day. No laziness, Thibauld; thou art
relaxing; go on, go on, then, art thou rusted, thou sluggard? That is
well! quick! quick! let not thy clapper be seen! Make them all deaf like
me. That’s it, Thibauld, bravely done! Guillaume! Guillaume! thou art
the largest, and Pasquier is the smallest, and Pasquier does best. Let
us wager that those who hear him will understand him better than they
understand thee. Good! good! my Gabrielle, stoutly, more stoutly! Eli!
what are you doing up aloft there, you two Moineaux (sparrows)? I do not
see you making the least little shred of noise. What is the meaning of
those beaks of copper which seem to be gaping when they should sing?
Come, work now, ‘tis the Feast of the Annunciation. The sun is fine, the
chime must be fine also. Poor Guillaume! thou art all out of breath, my
big fellow!”

He was wholly absorbed in spurring on his bells, all six of which vied
with each other in leaping and shaking their shining haunches, like
a noisy team of Spanish mules, pricked on here and there by the
apostrophes of the muleteer.

All at once, on letting his glance fall between the large slate scales
which cover the perpendicular wall of the bell tower at a certain
height, he beheld on the square a young girl, fantastically dressed,
stop, spread out on the ground a carpet, on which a small goat took
up its post, and a group of spectators collect around her. This sight
suddenly changed the course of his ideas, and congealed his enthusiasm
as a breath of air congeals melted rosin. He halted, turned his back to
the bells, and crouched down behind the projecting roof of slate, fixing
upon the dancer that dreamy, sweet, and tender look which had already
astonished the archdeacon on one occasion. Meanwhile, the forgotten
bells died away abruptly and all together, to the great disappointment
of the lovers of bell ringing, who were listening in good faith to the
peal from above the Pont du Change, and who went away dumbfounded, like
a dog who has been offered a bone and given a stone.


It chanced that upon a fine morning in this same month of March, I think
it was on Saturday the 29th, Saint Eustache’s day, our young friend the
student, Jehan Frollo du Moulin, perceived, as he was dressing himself,
that his breeches, which contained his purse, gave out no metallic ring.
“Poor purse,” he said, drawing it from his fob, “what! not the smallest
parisis! how cruelly the dice, beer-pots, and Venus have depleted thee!
How empty, wrinkled, limp, thou art! Thou resemblest the throat of a
fury! I ask you, Messer Cicero, and Messer Seneca, copies of whom, all
dog’s-eared, I behold scattered on the floor, what profits it me to
know, better than any governor of the mint, or any Jew on the Pont aux
Changeurs, that a golden crown stamped with a crown is worth thirty-five
unzains of twenty-five sous, and eight deniers parisis apiece, and
that a crown stamped with a crescent is worth thirty-six unzains of
twenty-six sous, six deniers tournois apiece, if I have not a single
wretched black liard to risk on the double-six! Oh! Consul Cicero! this
is no calamity from which one extricates one’s self with periphrases,
_quemadmodum_, and _verum enim vero_!”

He dressed himself sadly. An idea had occurred to him as he laced his
boots, but he rejected it at first; nevertheless, it returned, and he
put on his waistcoat wrong side out, an evident sign of violent internal
combat. At last he dashed his cap roughly on the floor, and exclaimed:
“So much the worse! Let come of it what may. I am going to my brother! I
shall catch a sermon, but I shall catch a crown.”

Then he hastily donned his long jacket with furred half-sleeves, picked
up his cap, and went out like a man driven to desperation.

He descended the Rue de la Harpe toward the City. As he passed the
Rue de la Huchette, the odor of those admirable spits, which were
incessantly turning, tickled his olfactory apparatus, and he bestowed
a loving glance toward the Cyclopean roast, which one day drew from the
Franciscan friar, Calatagirone, this pathetic exclamation: _Veramente,
queste rotisserie sono cosa stupenda_!* But Jehan had not the
wherewithal to buy a breakfast, and he plunged, with a profound sigh,
under the gateway of the Petit-Châtelet, that enormous double trefoil of
massive towers which guarded the entrance to the City.

     *  Truly, these roastings are a stupendous thing!

He did not even take the trouble to cast a stone in passing, as was the
usage, at the miserable statue of that Périnet Leclerc who had delivered
up the Paris of Charles VI. to the English, a crime which his effigy,
its face battered with stones and soiled with mud, expiated for three
centuries at the corner of the Rue de la Harpe and the Rue de Buci, as
in an eternal pillory.

The Petit-Pont traversed, the Rue Neuve-Sainte-Geneviève crossed, Jehan
de Molendino found himself in front of Notre-Dame. Then indecision
seized upon him once more, and he paced for several minutes round the
statue of M. Legris, repeating to himself with anguish: “The sermon is
sure, the crown is doubtful.”

He stopped a beadle who emerged from the cloister,--“Where is monsieur
the archdeacon of Josas?”

“I believe that he is in his secret cell in the tower,” said the beadle;
“I should advise you not to disturb him there, unless you come from some
one like the pope or monsieur the king.”

Jehan clapped his hands.

“_Bécliable_! here’s a magnificent chance to see the famous sorcery

This reflection having brought him to a decision, he plunged resolutely
into the small black doorway, and began the ascent of the spiral of
Saint-Gilles, which leads to the upper stories of the tower. “I am
going to see,” he said to himself on the way. “By the ravens of the Holy
Virgin! it must needs be a curious thing, that cell which my reverend
brother hides so secretly! ‘Tis said that he lights up the kitchens of
hell there, and that he cooks the philosopher’s stone there over a hot
fire. _Bédieu_! I care no more for the philosopher’s stone than for a
pebble, and I would rather find over his furnace an omelette of Easter
eggs and bacon, than the biggest philosopher’s stone in the world.”’

On arriving at the gallery of slender columns, he took breath for a
moment, and swore against the interminable staircase by I know not how
many million cartloads of devils; then he resumed his ascent through
the narrow door of the north tower, now closed to the public.
Several moments after passing the bell chamber, he came upon a little
landing-place, built in a lateral niche, and under the vault of a low,
pointed door, whose enormous lock and strong iron bars he was enabled
to see through a loophole pierced in the opposite circular wall of the
staircase. Persons desirous of visiting this door at the present day
will recognize it by this inscription engraved in white letters on the
black wall: “J’ADORE CORALIE, 1823. SIGNE UGENE.” “Signé” stands in the

“Ugh!” said the scholar; “‘tis here, no doubt.”

The key was in the lock, the door was very close to him; he gave it a
gentle push and thrust his head through the opening.

The reader cannot have failed to turn over the admirable works of
Rembrandt, that Shakespeare of painting. Amid so many marvellous
engravings, there is one etching in particular, which is supposed
to represent Doctor Faust, and which it is impossible to contemplate
without being dazzled. It represents a gloomy cell; in the centre is a
table loaded with hideous objects; skulls, spheres, alembics, compasses,
hieroglyphic parchments. The doctor is before this table clad in his
large coat and covered to the very eyebrows with his furred cap. He is
visible only to his waist. He has half risen from his immense arm-chair,
his clenched fists rest on the table, and he is gazing with curiosity
and terror at a large luminous circle, formed of magic letters, which
gleams from the wall beyond, like the solar spectrum in a dark chamber.
This cabalistic sun seems to tremble before the eye, and fills the wan
cell with its mysterious radiance. It is horrible and it is beautiful.

Something very similar to Faust’s cell presented itself to Jehan’s view,
when he ventured his head through the half-open door. It also was a
gloomy and sparsely lighted retreat. There also stood a large arm-chair
and a large table, compasses, alembics, skeletons of animals suspended
from the ceiling, a globe rolling on the floor, hippocephali mingled
promiscuously with drinking cups, in which quivered leaves of gold,
skulls placed upon vellum checkered with figures and characters, huge
manuscripts piled up wide open, without mercy on the cracking corners of
the parchment; in short, all the rubbish of science, and everywhere
on this confusion dust and spiders’ webs; but there was no circle of
luminous letters, no doctor in an ecstasy contemplating the flaming
vision, as the eagle gazes upon the sun.

Nevertheless, the cell was not deserted. A man was seated in the
arm-chair, and bending over the table. Jehan, to whom his back was
turned, could see only his shoulders and the back of his skull; but
he had no difficulty in recognizing that bald head, which nature had
provided with an eternal tonsure, as though desirous of marking, by this
external symbol, the archdeacon’s irresistible clerical vocation.

Jehan accordingly recognized his brother; but the door had been
opened so softly, that nothing warned Dom Claude of his presence. The
inquisitive scholar took advantage of this circumstance to examine the
cell for a few moments at his leisure. A large furnace, which he had
not at first observed, stood to the left of the arm-chair, beneath the
window. The ray of light which penetrated through this aperture made
its way through a spider’s circular web, which tastefully inscribed its
delicate rose in the arch of the window, and in the centre of which the
insect architect hung motionless, like the hub of this wheel of lace.
Upon the furnace were accumulated in disorder, all sorts of vases,
earthenware bottles, glass retorts, and mattresses of charcoal. Jehan
observed, with a sigh, that there was no frying-pan. “How cold the
kitchen utensils are!” he said to himself.

In fact, there was no fire in the furnace, and it seemed as though none
had been lighted for a long time. A glass mask, which Jehan noticed
among the utensils of alchemy, and which served no doubt, to protect the
archdeacon’s face when he was working over some substance to be dreaded,
lay in one corner covered with dust and apparently forgotten. Beside it
lay a pair of bellows no less dusty, the upper side of which bore this
inscription incrusted in copper letters: SPIRA SPERA.

Other inscriptions were written, in accordance with the fashion of the
hermetics, in great numbers on the walls; some traced with ink, others
engraved with a metal point. There were, moreover, Gothic letters,
Hebrew letters, Greek letters, and Roman letters, pell-mell; the
inscriptions overflowed at haphazard, on top of each other, the more
recent effacing the more ancient, and all entangled with each other,
like the branches in a thicket, like pikes in an affray. It was, in
fact, a strangely confused mingling of all human philosophies, all
reveries, all human wisdom. Here and there one shone out from among the
rest like a banner among lance heads. Generally, it was a brief Greek
or Roman device, such as the Middle Ages knew so well how to
formulate.--_Unde? Inde?--Homo homini monstrurn-Ast’ra, castra, nomen,
numen.--Meya Bibklov, ueya xaxov.--Sapere aude. Fiat ubi vult_--etc.;
sometimes a word devoid of all apparent sense, _Avayxoqpayia_, which
possibly contained a bitter allusion to the regime of the cloister;
sometimes a simple maxim of clerical discipline formulated in a regular
hexameter _Coelestem dominum terrestrem dicite dominum_. There was
also Hebrew jargon, of which Jehan, who as yet knew but little Greek,
understood nothing; and all were traversed in every direction by stars,
by figures of men or animals, and by intersecting triangles; and this
contributed not a little to make the scrawled wall of the cell resemble
a sheet of paper over which a monkey had drawn back and forth a pen
filled with ink.

The whole chamber, moreover, presented a general aspect of abandonment
and dilapidation; and the bad state of the utensils induced the
supposition that their owner had long been distracted from his labors
by other preoccupations. Meanwhile, this master, bent over a vast
manuscript, ornamented with fantastical illustrations, appeared to be
tormented by an idea which incessantly mingled with his meditations.
That at least was Jehan’s idea, when he heard him exclaim, with the
thoughtful breaks of a dreamer thinking aloud,--

“Yes, Manou said it, and Zoroaster taught it! the sun is born from fire,
the moon from the sun; fire is the soul of the universe; its elementary
atoms pour forth and flow incessantly upon the world through infinite
channels! At the point where these currents intersect each other in the
heavens, they produce light; at their points of intersection on earth,
they produce gold. Light, gold; the same thing! From fire to the
concrete state. The difference between the visible and the palpable,
between the fluid and the solid in the same substance, between water and
ice, nothing more. These are no dreams; it is the general law of nature.
But what is one to do in order to extract from science the secret of
this general law? What! this light which inundates my hand is gold!
These same atoms dilated in accordance with a certain law need only be
condensed in accordance with another law. How is it to be done?
Some have fancied by burying a ray of sunlight, Averroës,--yes, ‘tis
Averroës,--Averroës buried one under the first pillar on the left of the
sanctuary of the Koran, in the great Mahometan mosque of Cordova; but
the vault cannot be opened for the purpose of ascertaining whether the
operation has succeeded, until after the lapse of eight thousand years.

“The devil!” said Jehan, to himself, “‘tis a long while to wait for a

“Others have thought,” continued the dreamy archdeacon, “that it
would be better worth while to operate upon a ray of Sirius. But ‘tis
exceeding hard to obtain this ray pure, because of the simultaneous
presence of other stars whose rays mingle with it. Flamel esteemed
it more simple to operate upon terrestrial fire. Flamel! there’s
predestination in the name! _Flamma_! yes, fire. All lies there. The
diamond is contained in the carbon, gold is in the fire. But how to
extract it? Magistri affirms that there are certain feminine names,
which possess a charm so sweet and mysterious, that it suffices to
pronounce them during the operation. Let us read what Manon says on the
matter: ‘Where women are honored, the divinities are rejoiced; where
they are despised, it is useless to pray to God. The mouth of a woman
is constantly pure; it is a running water, it is a ray of sunlight. The
name of a woman should be agreeable, sweet, fanciful; it should end in
long vowels, and resemble words of benediction.’ Yes, the sage is right;
in truth, Maria, Sophia, la Esmeral--Damnation! always that thought!”

And he closed the book violently.

He passed his hand over his brow, as though to brush away the idea which
assailed him; then he took from the table a nail and a small hammer,
whose handle was curiously painted with cabalistic letters.

“For some time,” he said with a bitter smile, “I have failed in all my
experiments! one fixed idea possesses me, and sears my brain like fire.
I have not even been able to discover the secret of Cassiodorus,
whose lamp burned without wick and without oil. A simple matter,

“The deuce!” muttered Jehan in his beard.

“Hence,” continued the priest, “one wretched thought is sufficient to
render a man weak and beside himself! Oh! how Claude Pernelle would
laugh at me. She who could not turn Nicholas Flamel aside, for one
moment, from his pursuit of the great work! What! I hold in my hand the
magic hammer of Zéchiélé! at every blow dealt by the formidable rabbi,
from the depths of his cell, upon this nail, that one of his enemies
whom he had condemned, were he a thousand leagues away, was buried a
cubit deep in the earth which swallowed him. The King of France himself,
in consequence of once having inconsiderately knocked at the door of the
thermaturgist, sank to the knees through the pavement of his own Paris.
This took place three centuries ago. Well! I possess the hammer and the
nail, and in my hands they are utensils no more formidable than a club
in the hands of a maker of edge tools. And yet all that is required
is to find the magic word which Zéchiélé pronounced when he struck his

“What nonsense!” thought Jehan.

“Let us see, let us try!” resumed the archdeacon briskly. “Were I to
succeed, I should behold the blue spark flash from the head of the nail.
Emen-Hétan! Emen-Hétan! That’s not it. Sigéani! Sigéani! May this nail
open the tomb to any one who bears the name of Phoebus! A curse upon it!
Always and eternally the same idea!”

And he flung away the hammer in a rage. Then he sank down so deeply on
the arm-chair and the table, that Jehan lost him from view behind the
great pile of manuscripts. For the space of several minutes, all that he
saw was his fist convulsively clenched on a book. Suddenly, Dom Claude
sprang up, seized a compass and engraved in silence upon the wall in
capital letters, this Greek word


“My brother is mad,” said Jehan to himself; “it would have been far more
simple to write _Fatum_, every one is not obliged to know Greek.”

The archdeacon returned and seated himself in his armchair, and placed
his head on both his hands, as a sick man does, whose head is heavy and

The student watched his brother with surprise. He did not know, he who
wore his heart on his sleeve, he who observed only the good old law
of Nature in the world, he who allowed his passions to follow their
inclinations, and in whom the lake of great emotions was always dry, so
freely did he let it off each day by fresh drains,--he did not know with
what fury the sea of human passions ferments and boils when all egress
is denied to it, how it accumulates, how it swells, how it overflows,
how it hollows out the heart; how it breaks in inward sobs, and dull
convulsions, until it has rent its dikes and burst its bed. The austere
and glacial envelope of Claude Frollo, that cold surface of steep and
inaccessible virtue, had always deceived Jehan. The merry scholar had
never dreamed that there was boiling lava, furious and profound, beneath
the snowy brow of AEtna.

We do not know whether he suddenly became conscious of these things;
but, giddy as he was, he understood that he had seen what he ought not
to have seen, that he had just surprised the soul of his elder brother
in one of its most secret altitudes, and that Claude must not be allowed
to know it. Seeing that the archdeacon had fallen back into his former
immobility, he withdrew his head very softly, and made some noise with
his feet outside the door, like a person who has just arrived and is
giving warning of his approach.

“Enter!” cried the archdeacon, from the interior of his cell; “I
was expecting you. I left the door unlocked expressly; enter Master

The scholar entered boldly. The archdeacon, who was very much
embarrassed by such a visit in such a place, trembled in his arm-chair.
“What! ‘tis you, Jehan?”

“‘Tis a J, all the same,” said the scholar, with his ruddy, merry, and
audacious face.

Dom Claude’s visage had resumed its severe expression.

“What are you come for?”

“Brother,” replied the scholar, making an effort to assume a decent,
pitiful, and modest mien, and twirling his cap in his hands with an
innocent air; “I am come to ask of you--”


“A little lecture on morality, of which I stand greatly in need,” Jehan
did not dare to add aloud,--“and a little money of which I am in still
greater need.” This last member of his phrase remained unuttered.

“Monsieur,” said the archdeacon, in a cold tone, “I am greatly
displeased with you.”

“Alas!” sighed the scholar.

Dom Claude made his arm-chair describe a quarter circle, and gazed
intently at Jehan.

“I am very glad to see you.”

This was a formidable exordium. Jehan braced himself for a rough

“Jehan, complaints are brought me about you every day. What affray was
that in which you bruised with a cudgel a little vicomte, Albert de

“Oh!” said Jehan, “a vast thing that! A malicious page amused himself by
splashing the scholars, by making his horse gallop through the mire!”

“Who,” pursued the archdeacon, “is that Mahiet Fargel, whose gown you
have torn? _Tunicam dechiraverunt_, saith the complaint.”

“Ah bah! a wretched cap of a Montaigu! Isn’t that it?”

“The complaint says _tunicam_ and not _cappettam_. Do you know Latin?”

Jehan did not reply.

“Yes,” pursued the priest shaking his head, “that is the state of
learning and letters at the present day. The Latin tongue is hardly
understood, Syriac is unknown, Greek so odious that ‘tis accounted no
ignorance in the most learned to skip a Greek word without reading it,
and to say, ‘_Groecum est non legitur_.’”

The scholar raised his eyes boldly. “Monsieur my brother, doth it please
you that I shall explain in good French vernacular that Greek word which
is written yonder on the wall?”

“What word?”


A slight flush spread over the cheeks of the priest with their high
bones, like the puff of smoke which announces on the outside the secret
commotions of a volcano. The student hardly noticed it.

“Well, Jehan,” stammered the elder brother with an effort, “What is the
meaning of yonder word?”


Dom Claude turned pale again, and the scholar pursued carelessly.

“And that word below it, graved by the same hand, ‘_Ayáyvela_, signifies
‘impurity.’ You see that people do know their Greek.”

And the archdeacon remained silent. This Greek lesson had rendered him

Master Jehan, who possessed all the artful ways of a spoiled child,
judged that the moment was a favorable one in which to risk his request.
Accordingly, he assumed an extremely soft tone and began,--

“My good brother, do you hate me to such a degree as to look savagely
upon me because of a few mischievous cuffs and blows distributed in a
fair war to a pack of lads and brats, _quibusdam marmosetis_? You see,
good Brother Claude, that people know their Latin.”

But all this caressing hypocrisy did not have its usual effect on the
severe elder brother. Cerberus did not bite at the honey cake. The
archdeacon’s brow did not lose a single wrinkle.

“What are you driving at?” he said dryly.

“Well, in point of fact, this!” replied Jehan bravely, “I stand in need
of money.”

At this audacious declaration, the archdeacon’s visage assumed a
thoroughly pedagogical and paternal expression.

“You know, Monsieur Jehan, that our fief of Tirechappe, putting the
direct taxes and the rents of the nine and twenty houses in a block,
yields only nine and thirty livres, eleven sous, six deniers, Parisian.
It is one half more than in the time of the brothers Paclet, but it is
not much.”

“I need money,” said Jehan stoically.

“You know that the official has decided that our twenty-one houses
should he moved full into the fief of the Bishopric, and that we could
redeem this homage only by paying the reverend bishop two marks of
silver gilt of the price of six livres parisis. Now, these two marks I
have not yet been able to get together. You know it.”

“I know that I stand in need of money,” repeated Jehan for the third

“And what are you going to do with it?”

This question caused a flash of hope to gleam before Jehan’s eyes. He
resumed his dainty, caressing air.

“Stay, dear Brother Claude, I should not come to you, with any evil
motive. There is no intention of cutting a dash in the taverns with your
unzains, and of strutting about the streets of Paris in a caparison of
gold brocade, with a lackey, _cum meo laquasio_. No, brother, ‘tis for a
good work.”

“What good work?” demanded Claude, somewhat surprised.

“Two of my friends wish to purchase an outfit for the infant of a poor
Haudriette widow. It is a charity. It will cost three forms, and I
should like to contribute to it.”

“What are names of your two friends?”

“Pierre l’Assommeur and Baptiste Croque-Oison*.”

     *  Peter the Slaughterer; and Baptist Crack-Gosling.

“Hum,” said the archdeacon; “those are names as fit for a good work as a
catapult for the chief altar.”

It is certain that Jehan had made a very bad choice of names for his two
friends. He realized it too late.

“And then,” pursued the sagacious Claude, “what sort of an infant’s
outfit is it that is to cost three forms, and that for the child of a
Haudriette? Since when have the Haudriette widows taken to having babes
in swaddling-clothes?”

Jehan broke the ice once more.

“Eh, well! yes! I need money in order to go and see Isabeau la Thierrye
to-night; in the Val-d’ Amour!”

“Impure wretch!” exclaimed the priest.

“_Avayveia_!” said Jehan.

This quotation, which the scholar borrowed with malice, perchance, from
the wall of the cell, produced a singular effect on the archdeacon. He
bit his lips and his wrath was drowned in a crimson flush.

“Begone,” he said to Jehan. “I am expecting some one.”

The scholar made one more effort.

“Brother Claude, give me at least one little parisis to buy something to

“How far have you gone in the Decretals of Gratian?” demanded Dom

“I have lost my copy books.

“Where are you in your Latin humanities?”

“My copy of Horace has been stolen.”

“Where are you in Aristotle?”

“I’ faith! brother what father of the church is it, who says that the
errors of heretics have always had for their lurking place the thickets
of Aristotle’s metaphysics? A plague on Aristotle! I care not to tear my
religion on his metaphysics.”

“Young man,” resumed the archdeacon, “at the king’s last entry, there
was a young gentleman, named Philippe de Comines, who wore embroidered
on the housings of his horse this device, upon which I counsel you to
meditate: _Qui non laborat, non manducet_.”

The scholar remained silent for a moment, with his finger in his ear,
his eyes on the ground, and a discomfited mien.

All at once he turned round to Claude with the agile quickness of a

“So, my good brother, you refuse me a sou parisis, wherewith to buy a
crust at a baker’s shop?”

“_Qui non laborat, non manducet_.”

At this response of the inflexible archdeacon, Jehan hid his head in
his hands, like a woman sobbing, and exclaimed with an expression of
despair: “_Orororororoi_.”

“What is the meaning of this, sir?” demanded Claude, surprised at this

“What indeed!” said the scholar; and he lifted to Claude his impudent
eyes into which he had just thrust his fists in order to communicate to
them the redness of tears; “‘tis Greek! ‘tis an anapaest of AEschylus
which expresses grief perfectly.”

And here he burst into a laugh so droll and violent that it made the
archdeacon smile. It was Claude’s fault, in fact: why had he so spoiled
that child?

“Oh! good Brother Claude,” resumed Jehan, emboldened by this smile,
“look at my worn out boots. Is there a cothurnus in the world more
tragic than these boots, whose soles are hanging out their tongues?”

The archdeacon promptly returned to his original severity.

“I will send you some new boots, but no money.”

“Only a poor little parisis, brother,” continued the suppliant Jehan. “I
will learn Gratian by heart, I will believe firmly in God, I will be
a regular Pythagoras of science and virtue. But one little parisis, in
mercy! Would you have famine bite me with its jaws which are gaping in
front of me, blacker, deeper, and more noisome than a Tartarus or the
nose of a monk?”

Dom Claude shook his wrinkled head: “_Qui non laborat_--”

Jehan did not allow him to finish.

“Well,” he exclaimed, “to the devil then! Long live joy! I will live in
the tavern, I will fight, I will break pots and I will go and see the
wenches.” And thereupon, he hurled his cap at the wall, and snapped his
fingers like castanets.

The archdeacon surveyed him with a gloomy air.

“Jehan, you have no soul.”

“In that case, according to Epicurius, I lack a something made of
another something which has no name.”

“Jehan, you must think seriously of amending your ways.”

“Oh, come now,” cried the student, gazing in turn at his brother and the
alembics on the furnace, “everything is preposterous here, both ideas
and bottles!”

“Jehan, you are on a very slippery downward road. Do you know whither
you are going?”

“To the wine-shop,” said Jehan.

“The wine-shop leads to the pillory.”

“‘Tis as good a lantern as any other, and perchance with that one,
Diogenes would have found his man.”

“The pillory leads to the gallows.”

“The gallows is a balance which has a man at one end and the whole earth
at the other. ‘Tis fine to be the man.”

“The gallows leads to hell.”

“‘Tis a big fire.”.

“Jehan, Jehan, the end will be bad.”

“The beginning will have been good.”

At that moment, the sound of a footstep was heard on the staircase.

“Silence!” said the archdeacon, laying his finger on his mouth, “here is
Master Jacques. Listen, Jehan,” he added, in a low voice; “have a care
never to speak of what you shall have seen or heard here. Hide yourself
quickly under the furnace, and do not breathe.”

The scholar concealed himself; just then a happy idea occurred to him.

“By the way, Brother Claude, a form for not breathing.”

“Silence! I promise.”

“You must give it to me.”

“Take it, then!” said the archdeacon angrily, flinging his purse at him.

Jehan darted under the furnace again, and the door opened.


The personage who entered wore a black gown and a gloomy mien. The first
point which struck the eye of our Jehan (who, as the reader will readily
surmise, had ensconced himself in his nook in such a manner as to enable
him to see and hear everything at his good pleasure) was the perfect
sadness of the garments and the visage of this new-corner. There was,
nevertheless, some sweetness diffused over that face, but it was the
sweetness of a cat or a judge, an affected, treacherous sweetness. He
was very gray and wrinkled, and not far from his sixtieth year, his
eyes blinked, his eyebrows were white, his lip pendulous, and his hands
large. When Jehan saw that it was only this, that is to say, no doubt
a physician or a magistrate, and that this man had a nose very far from
his mouth, a sign of stupidity, he nestled down in his hole, in despair
at being obliged to pass an indefinite time in such an uncomfortable
attitude, and in such bad company.

The archdeacon, in the meantime, had not even risen to receive this
personage. He had made the latter a sign to seat himself on a stool near
the door, and, after several moments of a silence which appeared to be
a continuation of a preceding meditation, he said to him in a rather
patronizing way, “Good day, Master Jacques.”

“Greeting, master,” replied the man in black.

There was in the two ways in which “Master Jacques” was pronounced
on the one hand, and the “master” by preeminence on the other, the
difference between monseigneur and monsieur, between _domine_ and
_domne_. It was evidently the meeting of a teacher and a disciple.

“Well!” resumed the archdeacon, after a fresh silence which Master
Jacques took good care not to disturb, “how are you succeeding?”

“Alas! master,” said the other, with a sad smile, “I am still seeking
the stone. Plenty of ashes. But not a spark of gold.”

Dom Claude made a gesture of impatience. “I am not talking to you of
that, Master Jacques Charmolue, but of the trial of your magician. Is it
not Marc Cenaine that you call him? the butler of the Court of Accounts?
Does he confess his witchcraft? Have you been successful with the

“Alas! no,” replied Master Jacques, still with his sad smile; “we have
not that consolation. That man is a stone. We might have him boiled in
the Marché aux Pourceaux, before he would say anything. Nevertheless, we
are sparing nothing for the sake of getting at the truth; he is already
thoroughly dislocated, we are applying all the herbs of Saint John’s
day; as saith the old comedian Plautus,--

        _‘Advorsum stimulos, laminas, crucesque, compedesque,
        Nerros, catenas, carceres, numellas, pedicas, boias_.’

Nothing answers; that man is terrible. I am at my wit’s end over him.”

“You have found nothing new in his house?”

“I’ faith, yes,” said Master Jacques, fumbling in his pouch; “this
parchment. There are words in it which we cannot comprehend. The
criminal advocate, Monsieur Philippe Lheulier, nevertheless, knows a
little Hebrew, which he learned in that matter of the Jews of the Rue
Kantersten, at Brussels.”

So saying, Master Jacques unrolled a parchment. “Give it here,” said the
archdeacon. And casting his eyes upon this writing: “Pure magic, Master
Jacques!” he exclaimed. “‘Emen-Hétan!’ ‘Tis the cry of the vampires
when they arrive at the witches’ sabbath. _Per ipsum, et cum ipso, et in
ipso_! ‘Tis the command which chains the devil in hell. _Hax, pax, max_!
that refers to medicine. A formula against the bite of mad dogs. Master
Jacques! you are procurator to the king in the Ecclesiastical Courts:
this parchment is abominable.”

“We will put the man to the torture once more. Here again,” added Master
Jacques, fumbling afresh in his pouch, “is something that we have found
at Marc Cenaine’s house.”

It was a vessel belonging to the same family as those which covered Dom
Claude’s furnace.

“Ah!” said the archdeacon, “a crucible for alchemy.”

“I will confess to you,” continued Master Jacques, with his timid
and awkward smile, “that I have tried it over the furnace, but I have
succeeded no better than with my own.”

The archdeacon began an examination of the vessel. “What has he engraved
on his crucible? _Och! och_! the word which expels fleas! That Marc
Cenaine is an ignoramus! I verily believe that you will never make gold
with this! ‘Tis good to set in your bedroom in summer and that is all!”

“Since we are talking about errors,” said the king’s procurator, “I
have just been studying the figures on the portal below before ascending
hither; is your reverence quite sure that the opening of the work of
physics is there portrayed on the side towards the Hôtel-Dieu, and that
among the seven nude figures which stand at the feet of Notre-Dame, that
which has wings on his heels is Mercurius?”

“Yes,” replied the priest; “‘tis Augustin Nypho who writes it, that
Italian doctor who had a bearded demon who acquainted him with all
things. However, we will descend, and I will explain it to you with the
text before us.”

“Thanks, master,” said Charmolue, bowing to the earth. “By the way, I
was on the point of forgetting. When doth it please you that I shall
apprehend the little sorceress?”

“What sorceress?”

“That gypsy girl you know, who comes every day to dance on the church
square, in spite of the official’s prohibition! She hath a demoniac
goat with horns of the devil, which reads, which writes, which knows
mathematics like Picatrix, and which would suffice to hang all Bohemia.
The prosecution is all ready; ‘twill soon be finished, I assure you! A
pretty creature, on my soul, that dancer! The handsomest black eyes! Two
Egyptian carbuncles! When shall we begin?”

The archdeacon was excessively pale.

“I will tell you that hereafter,” he stammered, in a voice that was
barely articulate; then he resumed with an effort, “Busy yourself with
Marc Cenaine.”

“Be at ease,” said Charmolue with a smile; “I’ll buckle him down again
for you on the leather bed when I get home. But ‘tis a devil of a man;
he wearies even Pierrat Torterue himself, who hath hands larger than my
own. As that good Plautus saith,--

         ‘_Nudus vinctus, centum pondo,
          es quando pendes per pedes_.’

The torture of the wheel and axle! ‘Tis the most effectual! He shall
taste it!”

Dom Claude seemed absorbed in gloomy abstraction. He turned to

“Master Pierrat--Master Jacques, I mean, busy yourself with Marc

“Yes, yes, Dom Claude. Poor man! he will have suffered like Mummol.
What an idea to go to the witches’ sabbath! a butler of the Court of
Accounts, who ought to know Charlemagne’s text; _Stryga vel masea_!--In
the matter of the little girl,--Smelarda, as they call her,--I will
await your orders. Ah! as we pass through the portal, you will explain
to me also the meaning of the gardener painted in relief, which one sees
as one enters the church. Is it not the Sower? Hé! master, of what are
you thinking, pray?”

Dom Claude, buried in his own thoughts, no longer listened to him.
Charmolue, following the direction of his glance, perceived that it was
fixed mechanically on the great spider’s web which draped the window.
At that moment, a bewildered fly which was seeking the March sun, flung
itself through the net and became entangled there. On the agitation of
his web, the enormous spider made an abrupt move from his central cell,
then with one bound, rushed upon the fly, which he folded together with
his fore antennae, while his hideous proboscis dug into the victim’s
bead. “Poor fly!” said the king’s procurator in the ecclesiastical
court; and he raised his hand to save it. The archdeacon, as though
roused with a start, withheld his arm with convulsive violence.

“Master Jacques,” he cried, “let fate take its course!” The procurator
wheeled round in affright; it seemed to him that pincers of iron had
clutched his arm. The priest’s eye was staring, wild, flaming, and
remained riveted on the horrible little group of the spider and the fly.

“Oh, yes!” continued the priest, in a voice which seemed to proceed from
the depths of his being, “behold here a symbol of all. She flies, she is
joyous, she is just born; she seeks the spring, the open air, liberty:
oh, yes! but let her come in contact with the fatal network, and
the spider issues from it, the hideous spider! Poor dancer! poor,
predestined fly! Let things take their course, Master Jacques, ‘tis
fate! Alas! Claude, thou art the spider! Claude, thou art the fly also!
Thou wert flying towards learning, light, the sun. Thou hadst no other
care than to reach the open air, the full daylight of eternal truth; but
in precipitating thyself towards the dazzling window which opens upon
the other world,--upon the world of brightness, intelligence, and
science--blind fly! senseless, learned man! thou hast not perceived
that subtle spider’s web, stretched by destiny betwixt the light
and thee--thou hast flung thyself headlong into it, and now thou art
struggling with head broken and mangled wings between the iron antennae
of fate! Master Jacques! Master Jacques! let the spider work its will!”

“I assure you,” said Charmolue, who was gazing at him without
comprehending him, “that I will not touch it. But release my arm,
master, for pity’s sake! You have a hand like a pair of pincers.”

The archdeacon did not hear him. “Oh, madman!” he went on, without
removing his gaze from the window. “And even couldst thou have broken
through that formidable web, with thy gnat’s wings, thou believest that
thou couldst have reached the light? Alas! that pane of glass which is
further on, that transparent obstacle, that wall of crystal, harder than
brass, which separates all philosophies from the truth, how wouldst thou
have overcome it? Oh, vanity of science! how many wise men come flying
from afar, to dash their heads against thee! How many systems vainly
fling themselves buzzing against that eternal pane!”

He became silent. These last ideas, which had gradually led him back
from himself to science, appeared to have calmed him. Jacques Charmolue
recalled him wholly to a sense of reality by addressing to him this
question: “Come, now, master, when will you come to aid me in making
gold? I am impatient to succeed.”

The archdeacon shook his head, with a bitter smile. “Master Jacques read
Michel Psellus’ ‘_Dialogus de Energia et Operatione Daemonum_.’ What we
are doing is not wholly innocent.”

“Speak lower, master! I have my suspicions of it,” said Jacques
Charmolue. “But one must practise a bit of hermetic science when one
is only procurator of the king in the ecclesiastical court, at thirty
crowns tournois a year. Only speak low.”

At that moment the sound of jaws in the act of mastication, which
proceeded from beneath the furnace, struck Charmolue’s uneasy ear.

“What’s that?” he inquired.

It was the scholar, who, ill at ease, and greatly bored in his
hiding-place, had succeeded in discovering there a stale crust and a
triangle of mouldy cheese, and had set to devouring the whole without
ceremony, by way of consolation and breakfast. As he was very hungry,
he made a great deal of noise, and he accented each mouthful strongly,
which startled and alarmed the procurator.

“‘Tis a cat of mine,” said the archdeacon, quickly, “who is regaling
herself under there with a mouse.”

This explanation satisfied Charmolue.

“In fact, master,” he replied, with a respectful smile, “all great
philosophers have their familiar animal. You know what Servius saith:
‘_Nullus enim locus sine genio est_,--for there is no place that hath
not its spirit.’”

But Dom Claude, who stood in terror of some new freak on the part of
Jehan, reminded his worthy disciple that they had some figures on
the façade to study together, and the two quitted the cell, to the
accompaniment of a great “ouf!” from the scholar, who began to seriously
fear that his knee would acquire the imprint of his chin.


“_Te Deum Laudamus_!” exclaimed Master Jehan, creeping out from his
hole, “the screech-owls have departed. Och! och! Hax! pax! max! fleas!
mad dogs! the devil! I have had enough of their conversation! My head
is humming like a bell tower. And mouldy cheese to boot! Come on! Let us
descend, take the big brother’s purse and convert all these coins into

He cast a glance of tenderness and admiration into the interior of the
precious pouch, readjusted his toilet, rubbed up his boots, dusted his
poor half sleeves, all gray with ashes, whistled an air, indulged in a
sportive pirouette, looked about to see whether there were not something
more in the cell to take, gathered up here and there on the furnace some
amulet in glass which might serve to bestow, in the guise of a trinket,
on Isabeau la Thierrye, finally pushed open the door which his brother
had left unfastened, as a last indulgence, and which he, in his
turn, left open as a last piece of malice, and descended the circular
staircase, skipping like a bird.

In the midst of the gloom of the spiral staircase, he elbowed something
which drew aside with a growl; he took it for granted that it was
Quasimodo, and it struck him as so droll that he descended the remainder
of the staircase holding his sides with laughter. On emerging upon the
Place, he laughed yet more heartily.

He stamped his foot when he found himself on the ground once again.
“Oh!” said he, “good and honorable pavement of Paris, cursed staircase,
fit to put the angels of Jacob’s ladder out of breath! What was I
thinking of to thrust myself into that stone gimlet which pierces the
sky; all for the sake of eating bearded cheese, and looking at the
bell-towers of Paris through a hole in the wall!”

He advanced a few paces, and caught sight of the two screech owls,
that is to say, Dom Claude and Master Jacques Charmolue, absorbed in
contemplation before a carving on the façade. He approached them on
tiptoe, and heard the archdeacon say in a low tone to Charmolue: “‘Twas
Guillaume de Paris who caused a Job to be carved upon this stone of
the hue of lapis-lazuli, gilded on the edges. Job represents the
philosopher’s stone, which must also be tried and martyrized in order
to become perfect, as saith Raymond Lulle: _Sub conservatione formoe
speciftoe salva anima_.”

“That makes no difference to me,” said Jehan, “‘tis I who have the

At that moment he heard a powerful and sonorous voice articulate behind
him a formidable series of oaths. “_Sang Dieu! Ventre-.Dieu! Bédieu!
Corps de Dieu! Nombril de Belzebuth! Nom d’un pape! Come et tonnerre_.”

“Upon my soul!” exclaimed Jehan, “that can only be my friend, Captain

This name of Phoebus reached the ears of the archdeacon at the moment
when he was explaining to the king’s procurator the dragon which is
hiding its tail in a bath, from which issue smoke and the head of
a king. Dom Claude started, interrupted himself and, to the great
amazement of Charmolue, turned round and beheld his brother Jehan
accosting a tall officer at the door of the Gondelaurier mansion.

It was, in fact, Captain Phoebus de Châteaupers. He was backed up
against a corner of the house of his betrothed and swearing like a

“By my faith! Captain Phoebus,” said Jehan, taking him by the hand, “you
are cursing with admirable vigor.”

“Horns and thunder!” replied the captain.

“Horns and thunder yourself!” replied the student. “Come now, fair
captain, whence comes this overflow of fine words?”

“Pardon me, good comrade Jehan,” exclaimed Phoebus, shaking his hand, “a
horse going at a gallop cannot halt short. Now, I was swearing at a hard
gallop. I have just been with those prudes, and when I come forth, I
always find my throat full of curses, I must spit them out or strangle,
_ventre et tonnerre_!”

“Will you come and drink?” asked the scholar.

This proposition calmed the captain.

“I’m willing, but I have no money.”

“But I have!”

“Bah! let’s see it!”

Jehan spread out the purse before the captain’s eyes, with dignity and
simplicity. Meanwhile, the archdeacon, who had abandoned the dumbfounded
Charmolue where he stood, had approached them and halted a few paces
distant, watching them without their noticing him, so deeply were they
absorbed in contemplation of the purse.

Phoebus exclaimed: “A purse in your pocket, Jehan! ‘tis the moon in a
bucket of water, one sees it there but ‘tis not there. There is nothing
but its shadow. Pardieu! let us wager that these are pebbles!”

Jehan replied coldly: “Here are the pebbles wherewith I pave my fob!”

And without adding another word, he emptied the purse on a neighboring
post, with the air of a Roman saving his country.

“True God!” muttered Phoebus, “targes, big-blanks, little blanks,
mailles,* every two worth one of Tournay, farthings of Paris, real eagle
liards! ‘Tis dazzling!”

     *  An ancient copper coin, the forty-fourth part of a sou or
the twelfth part of a farthing.

Jehan remained dignified and immovable. Several liards had rolled into
the mud; the captain in his enthusiasm stooped to pick them up. Jehan
restrained him.

“Fye, Captain Phoebus de Châteaupers!”

Phoebus counted the coins, and turning towards Jehan with solemnity, “Do
you know, Jehan, that there are three and twenty sous parisis! whom have
you plundered to-night, in the Street Cut-Weazand?”

Jehan flung back his blonde and curly head, and said, half-closing his
eyes disdainfully,--

“We have a brother who is an archdeacon and a fool.”

“_Corne de Dieu_!” exclaimed Phoebus, “the worthy man!”

“Let us go and drink,” said Jehan.

“Where shall we go?” said Phoebus; “‘To Eve’s Apple.’”

“No, captain, to ‘Ancient Science.’ An old woman sawing a basket
handle*; ‘tis a rebus, and I like that.”

     * _Une vielle qui scie une anse_.

“A plague on rebuses, Jehan! the wine is better at ‘Eve’s Apple’; and
then, beside the door there is a vine in the sun which cheers me while I
am drinking.”

“Well! here goes for Eve and her apple,” said the student, and taking
Phoebus’s arm. “By the way, my dear captain, you just mentioned the Rue
Coupe-Gueule* That is a very bad form of speech; people are no longer so
barbarous. They say, Coupe-Gorge**.”

     *  Cut-Weazand Street.

     ** Cut-Throat Street.

The two friends set out towards “Eve’s Apple.” It is unnecessary
to mention that they had first gathered up the money, and that the
archdeacon followed them.

The archdeacon followed them, gloomy and haggard. Was this the Phoebus
whose accursed name had been mingled with all his thoughts ever since
his interview with Gringoire? He did not know it, but it was at least a
Phoebus, and that magic name sufficed to make the archdeacon follow the
two heedless comrades with the stealthy tread of a wolf, listening
to their words and observing their slightest gestures with anxious
attention. Moreover, nothing was easier than to hear everything they
said, as they talked loudly, not in the least concerned that the
passers-by were taken into their confidence. They talked of duels,
wenches, wine pots, and folly.

At the turning of a street, the sound of a tambourine reached them from
a neighboring square. Dom Claude heard the officer say to the scholar,--

“Thunder! Let us hasten our steps!”

“Why, Phoebus?”

“I’m afraid lest the Bohemian should see me.”

“What Bohemian?”

“The little girl with the goat.”

“La Smeralda?”

“That’s it, Jehan. I always forget her devil of a name. Let us make
haste, she will recognize me. I don’t want to have that girl accost me
in the street.”

“Do you know her, Phoebus?”

Here the archdeacon saw Phoebus sneer, bend down to Jehan’s ear, and say
a few words to him in a low voice; then Phoebus burst into a laugh, and
shook his head with a triumphant air.

“Truly?” said Jehan.

“Upon my soul!” said Phoebus.

“This evening?”

“This evening.”

“Are you sure that she will come?”

“Are you a fool, Jehan? Does one doubt such things?”

“Captain Phoebus, you are a happy gendarme!”

The archdeacon heard the whole of this conversation. His teeth
chattered; a visible shiver ran through his whole body. He halted for a
moment, leaned against a post like a drunken man, then followed the two
merry knaves.

At the moment when he overtook them once more, they had changed their
conversation. He heard them singing at the top of their lungs the
ancient refrain,--

         _Les enfants des Petits-Carreaux
         Se font pendre cornme des veaux_*.

     * The children of the Petits Carreaux let themselves be hung
like calves.


The illustrious wine shop of “Eve’s Apple” was situated in the
University, at the corner of the Rue de la Rondelle and the Rue de la
Bâtonnier. It was a very spacious and very low hail on the ground floor,
with a vaulted ceiling whose central spring rested upon a huge pillar of
wood painted yellow; tables everywhere, shining pewter jugs hanging on
the walls, always a large number of drinkers, a plenty of wenches, a
window on the street, a vine at the door, and over the door a flaring
piece of sheet-iron, painted with an apple and a woman, rusted by
the rain and turning with the wind on an iron pin. This species of
weather-vane which looked upon the pavement was the signboard.

Night was falling; the square was dark; the wine-shop, full of candles,
flamed afar like a forge in the gloom; the noise of glasses and
feasting, of oaths and quarrels, which escaped through the broken panes,
was audible. Through the mist which the warmth of the room spread over
the window in front, a hundred confused figures could be seen swarming,
and from time to time a burst of noisy laughter broke forth from it.
The passers-by who were going about their business, slipped past this
tumultuous window without glancing at it. Only at intervals did some
little ragged boy raise himself on tiptoe as far as the ledge, and hurl
into the drinking-shop, that ancient, jeering hoot, with which drunken
men were then pursued: “Aux Houls, saouls, saouls, saouls!”

Nevertheless, one man paced imperturbably back and forth in front of the
tavern, gazing at it incessantly, and going no further from it than a
pikernan from his sentry-box. He was enveloped in a mantle to his very
nose. This mantle he had just purchased of the old-clothes man, in the
vicinity of the “Eve’s Apple,” no doubt to protect himself from the cold
of the March evening, possibly also, to conceal his costume. From time
to time he paused in front of the dim window with its leaden lattice,
listened, looked, and stamped his foot.

At length the door of the dram-shop opened. This was what he appeared to
be waiting for. Two boon companions came forth. The ray of light which
escaped from the door crimsoned for a moment their jovial faces.

The man in the mantle went and stationed himself on the watch under a
porch on the other side of the street.

“_Corne et tonnerre_!” said one of the comrades. “Seven o’clock is on
the point of striking. ‘Tis the hour of my appointed meeting.”

“I tell you,” repeated his companion, with a thick tongue, “that I don’t
live in the Rue des Mauvaises Paroles, _indignus qui inter mala verba
habitat_. I have a lodging in the Rue Jean-Pain-Mollet, _in vico
Johannis Pain-Mollet_. You are more horned than a unicorn if you assert
the contrary. Every one knows that he who once mounts astride a bear
is never after afraid; but you have a nose turned to dainties like
Saint-Jacques of the hospital.”

“Jehan, my friend, you are drunk,” said the other.

The other replied staggering, “It pleases you to say so, Phoebus; but it
hath been proved that Plato had the profile of a hound.”

The reader has, no doubt, already recognized our two brave friends, the
captain and the scholar. It appears that the man who was lying in
wait for them had also recognized them, for he slowly followed all the
zigzags that the scholar caused the captain to make, who being a more
hardened drinker had retained all his self-possession. By listening to
them attentively, the man in the mantle could catch in its entirety the
following interesting conversation,--

“_Corbacque_! Do try to walk straight, master bachelor; you know that I
must leave you. Here it is seven o’clock. I have an appointment with a

“Leave me then! I see stars and lances of fire. You are like the Chateau
de Dampmartin, which is bursting with laughter.”

“By the warts of my grandmother, Jehan, you are raving with too much
rabidness. By the way, Jehan, have you any money left?”

“Monsieur Rector, there is no mistake; the little butcher’s shop, _parva

“Jehau! my friend Jehan! You know that I made an appointment with that
little girl at the end of the Pont Saint-Michel, and I can only take her
to the Falourdel’s, the old crone of the bridge, and that I must pay
for a chamber. The old witch with a white moustache would not trust me.
Jehan! for pity’s sake! Have we drunk up the whole of the curé’s purse?
Have you not a single parisis left?”

“The consciousness of having spent the other hours well is a just and
savory condiment for the table.”

“Belly and guts! a truce to your whimsical nonsense! Tell me, Jehan of
the devil! have you any money left? Give it to me, _bédieu_! or I will
search you, were you as leprous as Job, and as scabby as Caesar!”

“Monsieur, the Rue Galiache is a street which hath at one end the Rue de
la Verrerie, and at the other the Rue de la Tixeranderie.”

“Well, yes! my good friend Jehan, my poor comrade, the Rue Galiache is
good, very good. But in the name of heaven collect your wits. I must
have a sou parisis, and the appointment is for seven o’clock.”

“Silence for the rondo, and attention to the refrain,--

         “_Quand les rats mangeront les cas,
         Le roi sera seigneur d’Arras;
         Quand la mer, qui est grande et le(e
         Sera a la Saint-Jean gele(e,
         On verra, par-dessus la glace,
         Sortir ceux d’Arras de leur place_*.”

     *  When the rats eat the cats, the king will be lord of Arras;
when the sea which is great and wide, is frozen over at St. John’s tide,
men will see across the ice, those who dwell in Arras quit their place.

“Well, scholar of Antichrist, may you be strangled with the entrails of
your mother!” exclaimed Phoebus, and he gave the drunken scholar a rough
push; the latter slipped against the wall, and slid flabbily to the
pavement of Philip Augustus. A remnant of fraternal pity, which never
abandons the heart of a drinker, prompted Phoebus to roll Jehan with his
foot upon one of those pillows of the poor, which Providence keeps in
readiness at the corner of all the street posts of Paris, and which
the rich blight with the name of “a rubbish-heap.” The captain adjusted
Jehan’s head upon an inclined plane of cabbage-stumps, and on the very
instant, the scholar fell to snoring in a magnificent bass. Meanwhile,
all malice was not extinguished in the captain’s heart. “So much the
worse if the devil’s cart picks you up on its passage!” he said to the
poor, sleeping clerk; and he strode off.

The man in the mantle, who had not ceased to follow him, halted for a
moment before the prostrate scholar, as though agitated by indecision;
then, uttering a profound sigh, he also strode off in pursuit of the

We, like them, will leave Jehan to slumber beneath the open sky, and
will follow them also, if it pleases the reader.

On emerging into the Rue Saint-André-des-Arcs, Captain Phoebus perceived
that some one was following him. On glancing sideways by chance, he
perceived a sort of shadow crawling after him along the walls. He
halted, it halted; he resumed his march, it resumed its march. This
disturbed him not overmuch. “Ah, bah!” he said to himself, “I have not a

He paused in front of the College d’Autun. It was at this college that
he had sketched out what he called his studies, and, through a scholar’s
teasing habit which still lingered in him, he never passed the façade
without inflicting on the statue of Cardinal Pierre Bertrand, sculptured
to the right of the portal, the affront of which Priapus complains so
bitterly in the satire of Horace, _Olim truncus eram ficulnus_. He
had done this with so much unrelenting animosity that the inscription,
_Eduensis episcopus_, had become almost effaced. Therefore, he halted
before the statue according to his wont. The street was utterly
deserted. At the moment when he was coolly retying his shoulder knots,
with his nose in the air, he saw the shadow approaching him with slow
steps, so slow that he had ample time to observe that this shadow wore
a cloak and a hat. On arriving near him, it halted and remained more
motionless than the statue of Cardinal Bertrand. Meanwhile, it riveted
upon Phoebus two intent eyes, full of that vague light which issues in
the night time from the pupils of a cat.

The captain was brave, and would have cared very little for a
highwayman, with a rapier in his hand. But this walking statue, this
petrified man, froze his blood. There were then in circulation, strange
stories of a surly monk, a nocturnal prowler about the streets of Paris,
and they recurred confusedly to his memory. He remained for several
minutes in stupefaction, and finally broke the silence with a forced

“Monsieur, if you are a robber, as I hope you are, you produce upon me
the effect of a heron attacking a nutshell. I am the son of a ruined
family, my dear fellow. Try your hand near by here. In the chapel of
this college there is some wood of the true cross set in silver.”

The hand of the shadow emerged from beneath its mantle and descended
upon the arm of Phoebus with the grip of an eagle’s talon; at the same
time the shadow spoke,--

“Captain Phoebus de Châteaupers!”

“What, the devil!” said Phoebus, “you know my name!”

“I know not your name alone,” continued the man in the mantle, with his
sepulchral voice. “You have a rendezvous this evening.”

“Yes,” replied Phoebus in amazement.

“At seven o’clock.”

“In a quarter of an hour.”

“At la Falourdel’s.”


“The lewd hag of the Pont Saint-Michel.”

“Of Saint Michel the archangel, as the Pater Noster saith.”

“Impious wretch!” muttered the spectre. “With a woman?”

“_Confiteor_,--I confess--.”

“Who is called--?”

“La Smeralda,” said Phoebus, gayly. All his heedlessness had gradually

At this name, the shadow’s grasp shook the arm of Phoebus in a fury.

“Captain Phoebus de Châteaupers, thou liest!”

Any one who could have beheld at that moment the captain’s inflamed
countenance, his leap backwards, so violent that he disengaged himself
from the grip which held him, the proud air with which he clapped his
hand on his swordhilt, and, in the presence of this wrath the gloomy
immobility of the man in the cloak,--any one who could have beheld this
would have been frightened. There was in it a touch of the combat of Don
Juan and the statue.

“Christ and Satan!” exclaimed the captain. “That is a word which rarely
strikes the ear of a Châteaupers! Thou wilt not dare repeat it.”

“Thou liest!” said the shadow coldly.

The captain gnashed his teeth. Surly monk, phantom, superstitions,--he
had forgotten all at that moment. He no longer beheld anything but a
man, and an insult.

“Ah! this is well!” he stammered, in a voice stifled with rage. He
drew his sword, then stammering, for anger as well as fear makes a
man tremble: “Here! On the spot! Come on! Swords! Swords! Blood on the

But the other never stirred. When he beheld his adversary on guard and
ready to parry,--

“Captain Phoebus,” he said, and his tone vibrated with bitterness, “you
forget your appointment.”

The rages of men like Phoebus are milk-soups, whose ebullition is calmed
by a drop of cold water. This simple remark caused the sword which
glittered in the captain’s hand to be lowered.

“Captain,” pursued the man, “to-morrow, the day after to-morrow, a month
hence, ten years hence, you will find me ready to cut your throat; but
go first to your rendezvous.”

“In sooth,” said Phoebus, as though seeking to capitulate with himself,
“these are two charming things to be encountered in a rendezvous,--a
sword and a wench; but I do not see why I should miss the one for the
sake of the other, when I can have both.”

He replaced his sword in its scabbard.

“Go to your rendezvous,” said the man.

“Monsieur,” replied Phoebus with some embarrassment, “many thanks for
your courtesy. In fact, there will be ample time to-morrow for us to
chop up father Adam’s doublet into slashes and buttonholes. I am obliged
to you for allowing me to pass one more agreeable quarter of an hour.
I certainly did hope to put you in the gutter, and still arrive in time
for the fair one, especially as it has a better appearance to make the
women wait a little in such cases. But you strike me as having the air
of a gallant man, and it is safer to defer our affair until to-morrow.
So I will betake myself to my rendezvous; it is for seven o’clock, as
you know.” Here Phoebus scratched his ear. “Ah. _Corne Dieu_! I had
forgotten! I haven’t a sou to discharge the price of the garret, and the
old crone will insist on being paid in advance. She distrusts me.”

“Here is the wherewithal to pay.”

Phoebus felt the stranger’s cold hand slip into his a large piece of
money. He could not refrain from taking the money and pressing the hand.

“_Vrai Dieu_!” he exclaimed, “you are a good fellow!”

“One condition,” said the man. “Prove to me that I have been wrong and
that you were speaking the truth. Hide me in some corner whence I can
see whether this woman is really the one whose name you uttered.”

“Oh!” replied Phoebus, “‘tis all one to me. We will take, the
Sainte-Marthe chamber; you can look at your ease from the kennel hard

“Come then,” said the shadow.

“At your service,” said the captain, “I know not whether you are
Messer Diavolus in person; but let us be good friends for this evening;
to-morrow I will repay you all my debts, both of purse and sword.”

They set out again at a rapid pace. At the expiration of a few minutes,
the sound of the river announced to them that they were on the Pont
Saint-Michel, then loaded with houses.

“I will first show you the way,” said Phoebus to his companion, “I
will then go in search of the fair one who is awaiting me near the

His companion made no reply; he had not uttered a word since they had
been walking side by side. Phoebus halted before a low door, and knocked
roughly; a light made its appearance through the cracks of the door.

“Who is there?” cried a toothless voice.

“_Corps-Dieu! Tête-Dieu! Ventre-Dieu_!” replied the captain.

The door opened instantly, and allowed the new-corners to see an old
woman and an old lamp, both of which trembled. The old woman was bent
double, clad in tatters, with a shaking head, pierced with two small
eyes, and coiffed with a dish clout; wrinkled everywhere, on hands and
face and neck; her lips retreated under her gums, and about her mouth
she had tufts of white hairs which gave her the whiskered look of a cat.

The interior of the den was no less dilapitated than she; there were
chalk walls, blackened beams in the ceiling, a dismantled chimney-piece,
spiders’ webs in all the corners, in the middle a staggering herd of
tables and lame stools, a dirty child among the ashes, and at the back a
staircase, or rather, a wooden ladder, which ended in a trap door in the

On entering this lair, Phoebus’s mysterious companion raised his mantle
to his very eyes. Meanwhile, the captain, swearing like a Saracen,
hastened to “make the sun shine in a crown” as saith our admirable

“The Sainte-Marthe chamber,” said he.

The old woman addressed him as monseigneur, and shut up the crown in a
drawer. It was the coin which the man in the black mantle had given to
Phoebus. While her back was turned, the bushy-headed and ragged little
boy who was playing in the ashes, adroitly approached the drawer,
abstracted the crown, and put in its place a dry leaf which he had
plucked from a fagot.

The old crone made a sign to the two gentlemen, as she called them, to
follow her, and mounted the ladder in advance of them. On arriving at
the upper story, she set her lamp on a coffer, and, Phoebus, like a
frequent visitor of the house, opened a door which opened on a dark
hole. “Enter here, my dear fellow,” he said to his companion. The man in
the mantle obeyed without a word in reply, the door closed upon him; he
heard Phoebus bolt it, and a moment later descend the stairs again with
the aged hag. The light had disappeared.


Claude Frollo (for we presume that the reader, more intelligent than
Phoebus, has seen in this whole adventure no other surly monk than the
archdeacon), Claude Frollo groped about for several moments in the dark
lair into which the captain had bolted him. It was one of those nooks
which architects sometimes reserve at the point of junction between
the roof and the supporting wall. A vertical section of this kennel, as
Phoebus had so justly styled it, would have made a triangle. Moreover,
there was neither window nor air-hole, and the slope of the roof
prevented one from standing upright. Accordingly, Claude crouched down
in the dust, and the plaster which cracked beneath him; his head was on
fire; rummaging around him with his hands, he found on the floor a
bit of broken glass, which he pressed to his brow, and whose cool-ness
afforded him some relief.

What was taking place at that moment in the gloomy soul of the
archdeacon? God and himself could alone know.

In what order was he arranging in his mind la Esmeralda, Phoebus,
Jacques Charmolue, his young brother so beloved, yet abandoned by him in
the mire, his archdeacon’s cassock, his reputation perhaps dragged to la
Falourdel’s, all these adventures, all these images? I cannot say. But
it is certain that these ideas formed in his mind a horrible group.

He had been waiting a quarter of an hour; it seemed to him that he had
grown a century older. All at once he heard the creaking of the boards
of the stairway; some one was ascending. The trapdoor opened once more;
a light reappeared. There was a tolerably large crack in the worm-eaten
door of his den; he put his face to it. In this manner he could see
all that went on in the adjoining room. The cat-faced old crone was the
first to emerge from the trap-door, lamp in hand; then Phoebus, twirling
his moustache, then a third person, that beautiful and graceful figure,
la Esmeralda. The priest beheld her rise from below like a dazzling
apparition. Claude trembled, a cloud spread over his eyes, his pulses
beat violently, everything rustled and whirled around him; he no longer
saw nor heard anything.

When he recovered himself, Phoebus and Esmeralda were alone seated on
the wooden coffer beside the lamp which made these two youthful figures
and a miserable pallet at the end of the attic stand out plainly before
the archdeacon’s eyes.

Beside the pallet was a window, whose panes broken like a spider’s web
upon which rain has fallen, allowed a view, through its rent meshes, of
a corner of the sky, and the moon lying far away on an eiderdown bed of
soft clouds.

The young girl was blushing, confused, palpitating. Her long, drooping
lashes shaded her crimson cheeks. The officer, to whom she dared
not lift her eyes, was radiant. Mechanically, and with a charmingly
unconscious gesture, she traced with the tip of her finger incoherent
lines on the bench, and watched her finger. Her foot was not visible.
The little goat was nestling upon it.

The captain was very gallantly clad; he had tufts of embroidery at his
neck and wrists; a great elegance at that day.

It was not without difficulty that Dom Claude managed to hear what they
were saying, through the humming of the blood, which was boiling in his

(A conversation between lovers is a very commonplace affair. It is a
perpetual “I love you.” A musical phrase which is very insipid and very
bald for indifferent listeners, when it is not ornamented with some
_fioriture_; but Claude was not an indifferent listener.)

“Oh!” said the young girl, without raising her eyes, “do not despise me,
monseigneur Phoebus. I feel that what I am doing is not right.”

“Despise you, my pretty child!” replied the officer with an air of
superior and distinguished gallantry, “despise you, _tête-Dieu_! and

“For having followed you!”

“On that point, my beauty, we don’t agree. I ought not to despise you,
but to hate you.”

The young girl looked at him in affright: “Hate me! what have I done?”

“For having required so much urging.”

“Alas!” said she, “‘tis because I am breaking a vow. I shall not find my
parents! The amulet will lose its virtue. But what matters it? What need
have I of father or mother now?”

So saying, she fixed upon the captain her great black eyes, moist with
joy and tenderness.

“Devil take me if I understand you!” exclaimed Phoebus. La Esmeralda
remained silent for a moment, then a tear dropped from her eyes, a sigh
from her lips, and she said,--“Oh! monseigneur, I love you.”

Such a perfume of chastity, such a charm of virtue surrounded the young
girl, that Phoebus did not feel completely at his ease beside her. But
this remark emboldened him: “You love me!” he said with rapture, and he
threw his arm round the gypsy’s waist. He had only been waiting for this

The priest saw it, and tested with the tip of his finger the point of a
poniard which he wore concealed in his breast.

“Phoebus,” continued the Bohemian, gently releasing her waist from the
captain’s tenacious hands, “You are good, you are generous, you are
handsome; you saved me, me who am only a poor child lost in Bohemia. I
had long been dreaming of an officer who should save my life. ‘Twas of
you that I was dreaming, before I knew you, my Phoebus; the officer of
my dream had a beautiful uniform like yours, a grand look, a sword; your
name is Phoebus; ‘tis a beautiful name. I love your name; I love your
sword. Draw your sword, Phoebus, that I may see it.”

“Child!” said the captain, and he unsheathed his sword with a smile.

The gypsy looked at the hilt, the blade; examined the cipher on the
guard with adorable curiosity, and kissed the sword, saying,--

“You are the sword of a brave man. I love my captain.” Phoebus again
profited by the opportunity to impress upon her beautiful bent neck a
kiss which made the young girl straighten herself up as scarlet as a
poppy. The priest gnashed his teeth over it in the dark.

“Phoebus,” resumed the gypsy, “let me talk to you. Pray walk a little,
that I may see you at full height, and that I may hear your spurs
jingle. How handsome you are!”

The captain rose to please her, chiding her with a smile of

“What a child you are! By the way, my charmer, have you seen me in my
archer’s ceremonial doublet?”

“Alas! no,” she replied.

“It is very handsome!”

Phoebus returned and seated himself beside her, but much closer than

“Listen, my dear--”

The gypsy gave him several little taps with her pretty hand on his
mouth, with a childish mirth and grace and gayety.

“No, no, I will not listen to you. Do you love me? I want you to tell me
whether you love me.”

“Do I love thee, angel of my life!” exclaimed the captain, half
kneeling. “My body, my blood, my soul, all are thine; all are for thee.
I love thee, and I have never loved any one but thee.”

The captain had repeated this phrase so many times, in many similar
conjunctures, that he delivered it all in one breath, without committing
a single mistake. At this passionate declaration, the gypsy raised to
the dirty ceiling which served for the skies a glance full of angelic

“Oh!” she murmured, “this is the moment when one should die!”

Phoebus found “the moment” favorable for robbing her of another kiss,
which went to torture the unhappy archdeacon in his nook. “Die!”
 exclaimed the amorous captain, “What are you saying, my lovely angel?
‘Tis a time for living, or Jupiter is only a scamp! Die at the beginning
of so sweet a thing! _Corne-de-boeuf_, what a jest! It is not that.
Listen, my dear Similar, Esmenarda--Pardon! you have so prodigiously
Saracen a name that I never can get it straight. ‘Tis a thicket which
stops me short.”

“Good heavens!” said the poor girl, “and I thought my name pretty
because of its singularity! But since it displeases you, I would that I
were called Goton.”

“Ah! do not weep for such a trifle, my graceful maid! ‘tis a name to
which one must get accustomed, that is all. When I once know it by
heart, all will go smoothly. Listen then, my dear Similar; I adore you
passionately. I love you so that ‘tis simply miraculous. I know a girl
who is bursting with rage over it--”

The jealous girl interrupted him: “Who?”

“What matters that to us?” said Phoebus; “do you love me?”

“Oh!”--said she.

“Well! that is all. You shall see how I love you also. May the great
devil Neptunus spear me if I do not make you the happiest woman in the
world. We will have a pretty little house somewhere. I will make my
archers parade before your windows. They are all mounted, and set at
defiance those of Captain Mignon. There are _voulgiers, cranequiniers_
and hand _couleveiniers_*. I will take you to the great sights of the
Parisians at the storehouse of Rully. Eighty thousand armed men, thirty
thousand white harnesses, short coats or coats of mail; the sixty-seven
banners of the trades; the standards of the parliaments, of the chamber
of accounts, of the treasury of the generals, of the aides of the mint;
a devilish fine array, in short! I will conduct you to see the lions of
the Hôtel du Roi, which are wild beasts. All women love that.”

     * Varieties of the crossbow.

For several moments the young girl, absorbed in her charming thoughts,
was dreaming to the sound of his voice, without listening to the sense
of his words.

“Oh! how happy you will be!” continued the captain, and at the same time
he gently unbuckled the gypsy’s girdle.

“What are you doing?” she said quickly. This “act of violence” had
roused her from her revery.

“Nothing,” replied Phoebus, “I was only saying that you must abandon all
this garb of folly, and the street corner when you are with me.”

“When I am with you, Phoebus!” said the young girl tenderly.

She became pensive and silent once more.

The captain, emboldened by her gentleness, clasped her waist without
resistance; then began softly to unlace the poor child’s corsage, and
disarranged her tucker to such an extent that the panting priest beheld
the gypsy’s beautiful shoulder emerge from the gauze, as round and brown
as the moon rising through the mists of the horizon.

The young girl allowed Phoebus to have his way. She did not appear to
perceive it. The eye of the bold captain flashed.

Suddenly she turned towards him,--

“Phoebus,” she said, with an expression of infinite love, “instruct me
in thy religion.”

“My religion!” exclaimed the captain, bursting with laughter, “I
instruct you in my religion! _Corne et tonnerre_! What do you want with
my religion?”

“In order that we may be married,” she replied.

The captain’s face assumed an expression of mingled surprise and
disdain, of carelessness and libertine passion.

“Ah, bah!” said he, “do people marry?”

The Bohemian turned pale, and her head drooped sadly on her breast.

“My beautiful love,” resumed Phoebus, tenderly, “what nonsense is this?
A great thing is marriage, truly! one is none the less loving for not
having spit Latin into a priest’s shop!”

While speaking thus in his softest voice, he approached extremely near
the gypsy; his caressing hands resumed their place around her supple and
delicate waist, his eye flashed more and more, and everything announced
that Monsieur Phoebus was on the verge of one of those moments when
Jupiter himself commits so many follies that Homer is obliged to summon
a cloud to his rescue.

But Dom Claude saw everything. The door was made of thoroughly rotten
cask staves, which left large apertures for the passage of his hawklike
gaze. This brown-skinned, broad-shouldered priest, hitherto condemned to
the austere virginity of the cloister, was quivering and boiling in the
presence of this night scene of love and voluptuousness. This young
and beautiful girl given over in disarray to the ardent young man, made
melted lead flow in his-veins; his eyes darted with sensual jealousy
beneath all those loosened pins. Any one who could, at that moment, have
seen the face of the unhappy man glued to the wormeaten bars, would have
thought that he beheld the face of a tiger glaring from the depths of
a cage at some jackal devouring a gazelle. His eye shone like a candle
through the cracks of the door.

All at once, Phoebus, with a rapid gesture, removed the gypsy’s
gorgerette. The poor child, who had remained pale and dreamy, awoke
with a start; she recoiled hastily from the enterprising officer, and,
casting a glance at her bare neck and shoulders, red, confused, mute
with shame, she crossed her two beautiful arms on her breast to conceal
it. Had it not been for the flame which burned in her cheeks, at the
sight of her so silent and motionless, one would have declared her a
statue of Modesty. Her eyes were lowered.

But the captain’s gesture had revealed the mysterious amulet which she
wore about her neck.

“What is that?” he said, seizing this pretext to approach once more the
beautiful creature whom he had just alarmed.

“Don’t touch it!” she replied, quickly, “‘tis my guardian. It will make
me find my family again, if I remain worthy to do so. Oh, leave me,
monsieur le capitaine! My mother! My poor mother! My mother! Where art
thou? Come to my rescue! Have pity, Monsieur Phoebus, give me back my

Phoebus retreated amid said in a cold tone,--

“Oh, mademoiselle! I see plainly that you do not love me!”

“I do not love him!” exclaimed the unhappy child, and at the same time
she clung to the captain, whom she drew to a seat beside her. “I do not
love thee, my Phoebus? What art thou saying, wicked man, to break my
heart? Oh, take me! take all! do what you will with me, I am thine. What
matters to me the amulet! What matters to me my mother! ‘Tis thou who
art my mother since I love thee! Phoebus, my beloved Phoebus, dost thou
see me? ‘Tis I. Look at me; ‘tis the little one whom thou wilt surely
not repulse, who comes, who comes herself to seek thee. My soul, my
life, my body, my person, all is one thing--which is thine, my captain.
Well, no! We will not marry, since that displeases thee; and then, what
am I? a miserable girl of the gutters; whilst thou, my Phoebus, art a
gentleman. A fine thing, truly! A dancer wed an officer! I was mad. No,
Phoebus, no; I will be thy mistress, thy amusement, thy pleasure, when
thou wilt; a girl who shall belong to thee. I was only made for that,
soiled, despised, dishonored, but what matters it?--beloved. I shall be
the proudest and the most joyous of women. And when I grow old or ugly,
Phoebus, when I am no longer good to love you, you will suffer me to
serve you still. Others will embroider scarfs for you; ‘tis I, the
servant, who will care for them. You will let me polish your spurs,
brush your doublet, dust your riding-boots. You will have that pity,
will you not, Phoebus? Meanwhile, take me! here, Phoebus, all this
belongs to thee, only love me! We gypsies need only air and love.”

So saying, she threw her arms round the officer’s neck; she looked up
at him, supplicatingly, with a beautiful smile, and all in tears.
Her delicate neck rubbed against his cloth doublet with its rough
embroideries. She writhed on her knees, her beautiful body half naked.
The intoxicated captain pressed his ardent lips to those lovely African
shoulders. The young girl, her eyes bent on the ceiling, as she leaned
backwards, quivered, all palpitating, beneath this kiss.

All at once, above Phoebus’s head she beheld another head; a green,
livid, convulsed face, with the look of a lost soul; near this face was
a hand grasping a poniard.--It was the face and hand of the priest; he
had broken the door and he was there. Phoebus could not see him. The
young girl remained motionless, frozen with terror, dumb, beneath that
terrible apparition, like a dove which should raise its head at the
moment when the hawk is gazing into her nest with its round eyes.

She could not even utter a cry. She saw the poniard descend upon
Phoebus, and rise again, reeking.

“Maledictions!” said the captain, and fell.

She fainted.

At the moment when her eyes closed, when all feeling vanished in her,
she thought that she felt a touch of fire imprinted upon her lips, a
kiss more burning than the red-hot iron of the executioner.

When she recovered her senses, she was surrounded by soldiers of the
watch they were carrying away the captain, bathed in his blood the
priest had disappeared; the window at the back of the room which opened
on the river was wide open; they picked up a cloak which they supposed
to belong to the officer and she heard them saying around her,

“‘Tis a sorceress who has stabbed a captain.”



Gringoire and the entire Court of Miracles were suffering mortal
anxiety. For a whole month they had not known what had become of la
Esmeralda, which greatly pained the Duke of Egypt and his friends the
vagabonds, nor what had become of the goat, which redoubled Gringoire’s
grief. One evening the gypsy had disappeared, and since that time had
given no signs of life. All search had proved fruitless. Some tormenting
bootblacks had told Gringoire about meeting her that same evening near
the Pont Saint-Michel, going off with an officer; but this husband,
after the fashion of Bohemia, was an incredulous philosopher, and
besides, he, better than any one else, knew to what a point his wife was
virginal. He had been able to form a judgment as to the unconquerable
modesty resulting from the combined virtues of the amulet and the gypsy,
and he had mathematically calculated the resistance of that chastity to
the second power. Accordingly, he was at ease on that score.

Still he could not understand this disappearance. It was a profound
sorrow. He would have grown thin over it, had that been possible. He had
forgotten everything, even his literary tastes, even his great work,
_De figuris regularibus et irregularibus_, which it was his intention
to have printed with the first money which he should procure (for he had
raved over printing, ever since he had seen the “Didascalon” of Hugues
de Saint Victor, printed with the celebrated characters of Vindelin de

One day, as he was passing sadly before the criminal Tournelle, he
perceived a considerable crowd at one of the gates of the Palais de

“What is this?” he inquired of a young man who was coming out.

“I know not, sir,” replied the young man. “‘Tis said that they are
trying a woman who hath assassinated a gendarme. It appears that there
is sorcery at the bottom of it, the archbishop and the official have
intervened in the case, and my brother, who is the archdeacon of Josas,
can think of nothing else. Now, I wished to speak with him, but I
have not been able to reach him because of the throng, which vexes me
greatly, as I stand in need of money.”

“Alas! sir,” said Gringoire, “I would that I could lend you some, but,
my breeches are worn to holes, and ‘tis not crowns which have done it.”

He dared not tell the young man that he was acquainted with his brother
the archdeacon, to whom he had not returned after the scene in the
church; a negligence which embarrassed him.

The scholar went his way, and Gringoire set out to follow the crowd
which was mounting the staircase of the great chamber. In his opinion,
there was nothing like the spectacle of a criminal process for
dissipating melancholy, so exhilaratingly stupid are judges as a rule.
The populace which he had joined walked and elbowed in silence. After
a slow and tiresome march through a long, gloomy corridor, which
wound through the court-house like the intestinal canal of the ancient
edifice, he arrived near a low door, opening upon a hall which his lofty
stature permitted him to survey with a glance over the waving heads of
the rabble.

The hall was vast and gloomy, which latter fact made it appear still
more spacious. The day was declining; the long, pointed windows
permitted only a pale ray of light to enter, which was extinguished
before it reached the vaulted ceiling, an enormous trellis-work of
sculptured beams, whose thousand figures seemed to move confusedly in
the shadows, many candles were already lighted here and there on tables,
and beaming on the heads of clerks buried in masses of documents. The
anterior portion of the ball was occupied by the crowd; on the right and
left were magistrates and tables; at the end, upon a platform, a
number of judges, whose rear rank sank into the shadows, sinister and
motionless faces. The walls were sown with innumerable fleurs-de-lis. A
large figure of Christ might be vaguely descried above the judges,
and everywhere there were pikes and halberds, upon whose points the
reflection of the candles placed tips of fire.

“Monsieur,” Gringoire inquired of one of his neighbors, “who are all
those persons ranged yonder, like prelates in council?”

“Monsieur,” replied the neighbor, “those on the right are the
counsellors of the grand chamber; those on the left, the councillors of
inquiry; the masters in black gowns, the messires in red.”

“Who is that big red fellow, yonder above them, who is sweating?”
 pursued Gringoire.

“It is monsieur the president.”

“And those sheep behind him?” continued Gringoire, who as we have seen,
did not love the magistracy, which arose, possibly, from the grudge
which he cherished against the Palais de Justice since his dramatic

“They are messieurs the masters of requests of the king’s household.”

“And that boar in front of him?”

“He is monsieur the clerk of the Court of Parliament.”

“And that crocodile on the right?”

“Master Philippe Lheulier, advocate extraordinary of the king.”

“And that big, black tom-cat on the left?”

“Master Jacques Charmolue, procurator of the king in the Ecclesiastical
Court, with the gentlemen of the officialty.”

“Come now, monsieur,” said Gringoire, “pray what are all those fine
fellows doing yonder?”

“They are judging.”

“Judging whom? I do not see the accused.”

“‘Tis a woman, sir. You cannot see her. She has her back turned to us,
and she is hidden from us by the crowd. Stay, yonder she is, where you
see a group of partisans.”

“Who is the woman?” asked Gringoire. “Do you know her name?”

“No, monsieur, I have but just arrived. I merely assume that there is
some sorcery about it, since the official is present at the trial.”

“Come!” said our philosopher, “we are going to see all these magistrates
devour human flesh. ‘Tis as good a spectacle as any other.”

“Monsieur,” remarked his neighbor, “think you not, that Master Jacques
Charmolue has a very sweet air?”

“Hum!” replied Gringoire. “I distrust a sweetness which hath pinched
nostrils and thin lips.”

Here the bystanders imposed silence upon the two chatterers. They were
listening to an important deposition.

“Messeigneurs,” said an old woman in the middle of the hall, whose form
was so concealed beneath her garments that one would have pronounced her
a walking heap of rags; “Messeigneurs, the thing is as true as that I
am la Falourdel, established these forty years at the Pont Saint Michel,
and paying regularly my rents, lord’s dues, and quit rents; at the gate
opposite the house of Tassin-Caillart, the dyer, which is on the side
up the river--a poor old woman now, but a pretty maid in former days,
my lords. Some one said to me lately, ‘La Falourdel, don’t use your
spinning-wheel too much in the evening; the devil is fond of combing the
distaffs of old women with his horns. ‘Tis certain that the surly monk
who was round about the temple last year, now prowls in the City. Take
care, La Falourdel, that he doth not knock at your door.’ One evening I
was spinning on my wheel, there comes a knock at my door; I ask who it
is. They swear. I open. Two men enter. A man in black and a handsome
officer. Of the black man nothing could be seen but his eyes, two
coals of fire. All the rest was hat and cloak. They say to me,--‘The
Sainte-Marthe chamber.’--‘Tis my upper chamber, my lords, my cleanest.
They give me a crown. I put the crown in my drawer, and I say: ‘This
shall go to buy tripe at the slaughter-house of la Gloriette to-morrow.’
We go up stairs. On arriving at the upper chamber, and while my back is
turned, the black man disappears. That dazed me a bit. The officer, who
was as handsome as a great lord, goes down stairs again with me. He goes
out. In about the time it takes to spin a quarter of a handful of flax,
he returns with a beautiful young girl, a doll who would have shone like
the sun had she been coiffed. She had with her a goat; a big billy-goat,
whether black or white, I no longer remember. That set me to thinking.
The girl does not concern me, but the goat! I love not those beasts,
they have a beard and horns. They are so like a man. And then, they
smack of the witches, sabbath. However, I say nothing. I had the crown.
That is right, is it not, Monsieur Judge? I show the captain and the
wench to the upper chamber, and I leave them alone; that is to say, with
the goat. I go down and set to spinning again--I must inform you that
my house has a ground floor and story above. I know not why I fell to
thinking of the surly monk whom the goat had put into my head again, and
then the beautiful girl was rather strangely decked out. All at once,
I hear a cry upstairs, and something falls on the floor and the window
opens. I run to mine which is beneath it, and I behold a black mass pass
before my eyes and fall into the water. It was a phantom clad like
a priest. It was a moonlight night. I saw him quite plainly. He was
swimming in the direction of the city. Then, all of a tremble, I call
the watch. The gentlemen of the police enter, and not knowing just at
the first moment what the matter was, and being merry, they beat me. I
explain to them. We go up stairs, and what do we find? my poor chamber
all blood, the captain stretched out at full length with a dagger in
his neck, the girl pretending to be dead, and the goat all in a fright.
‘Pretty work!’ I say, ‘I shall have to wash that floor for more than a
fortnight. It will have to be scraped; it will be a terrible job.’ They
carried off the officer, poor young man, and the wench with her bosom
all bare. But wait, the worst is that on the next day, when I wanted to
take the crown to buy tripe, I found a dead leaf in its place.”

The old woman ceased. A murmur of horror ran through the audience.

“That phantom, that goat,--all smacks of magic,” said one of Gringoire’s

“And that dry leaf!” added another.

“No doubt about it,” joined in a third, “she is a witch who has dealings
with the surly monk, for the purpose of plundering officers.”

Gringoire himself was not disinclined to regard this as altogether
alarming and probable.

“Goody Falourdel,” said the president majestically, “have you nothing
more to communicate to the court?”

“No, monseigneur,” replied the crone, “except that the report has
described my house as a hovel and stinking; which is an outrageous
fashion of speaking. The houses on the bridge are not imposing, because
there are such multitudes of people; but, nevertheless, the butchers
continue to dwell there, who are wealthy folk, and married to very
proper and handsome women.”

The magistrate who had reminded Gringoire of a crocodile rose,--

“Silence!” said he. “I pray the gentlemen not to lose sight of the fact
that a dagger was found on the person of the accused. Goody Falourdel,
have you brought that leaf into which the crown which the demon gave you
was transformed?

“Yes, monseigneur,” she replied; “I found it again. Here it is.”

A bailiff banded the dead leaf to the crocodile, who made a doleful
shake of the head, and passed it on to the president, who gave it to the
procurator of the king in the ecclesiastical court, and thus it made the
circuit of the hail.

“It is a birch leaf,” said Master Jacques Charmolue. “A fresh proof of

A counsellor took up the word.

“Witness, two men went upstairs together in your house: the black man,
whom you first saw disappear and afterwards swimming in the Seine, with
his priestly garments, and the officer. Which of the two handed you
the crown?” The old woman pondered for a moment and then said,--“The

A murmur ran through the crowd.

“Ah!” thought Gringoire, “this makes some doubt in my mind.”

But Master Philippe Lheulier, advocate extraordinary to the king,
interposed once more.

“I will recall to these gentlemen, that in the deposition taken at his
bedside, the assassinated officer, while declaring that he had a vague
idea when the black man accosted him that the latter might be the surly
monk, added that the phantom had pressed him eagerly to go and make
acquaintance with the accused; and upon his, the captain’s, remarking
that he had no money, he had given him the crown which the said officer
paid to la Falourdel. Hence, that crown is the money of hell.”

This conclusive observation appeared to dissipate all the doubts of
Gringoire and the other sceptics in the audience.

“You have the documents, gentlemen,” added the king’s advocate, as
he took his seat; “you can consult the testimony of Phoebus de

At that name, the accused sprang up, her head rose above the throng.
Gringoire with horror recognized la Esmeralda.

She was pale; her tresses, formerly so gracefully braided and spangled
with sequins, hung in disorder; her lips were blue, her hollow eyes were
terrible. Alas!

“Phoebus!” she said, in bewilderment; “where is he? O messeigneurs!
before you kill me, tell me, for pity sake, whether he still lives?”

“Hold your tongue, woman,” replied the president, “that is no affair of

“Oh! for mercy’s sake, tell me if he is alive!” she repeated, clasping
her beautiful emaciated hands; and the sound of her chains in contact
with her dress, was heard.

“Well!” said the king’s advocate roughly, “he is dying. Are you

The unhappy girl fell back on her criminal’s seat, speechless, tearless,
white as a wax figure.

The president bent down to a man at his feet, who wore a gold cap and a
black gown, a chain on his neck and a wand in his hand.

“Bailiff, bring in the second accused.”

All eyes turned towards a small door, which opened, and, to the great
agitation of Gringoire, gave passage to a pretty goat with horns and
hoofs of gold. The elegant beast halted for a moment on the threshold,
stretching out its neck as though, perched on the summit of a rock, it
had before its eyes an immense horizon. Suddenly it caught sight of the
gypsy girl, and leaping over the table and the head of a clerk, in two
bounds it was at her knees; then it rolled gracefully on its mistress’s
feet, soliciting a word or a caress; but the accused remained
motionless, and poor Djali himself obtained not a glance.

“Eh, why--‘tis my villanous beast,” said old Falourdel, “I recognize the
two perfectly!”

Jacques Charmolue interfered.

“If the gentlemen please, we will proceed to the examination of the
goat.” He was, in fact, the second criminal. Nothing more simple in
those days than a suit of sorcery instituted against an animal. We find,
among others in the accounts of the provost’s office for 1466, a curious
detail concerning the expenses of the trial of Gillet-Soulart and his
sow, “executed for their demerits,” at Corbeil. Everything is there, the
cost of the pens in which to place the sow, the five hundred bundles of
brushwood purchased at the port of Morsant, the three pints of wine
and the bread, the last repast of the victim fraternally shared by the
executioner, down to the eleven days of guard and food for the sow,
at eight deniers parisis each. Sometimes, they went even further than
animals. The capitularies of Charlemagne and of Louis le Débonnaire
impose severe penalties on fiery phantoms which presume to appear in the

Meanwhile the procurator had exclaimed: “If the demon which possesses
this goat, and which has resisted all exorcisms, persists in its deeds
of witchcraft, if it alarms the court with them, we warn it that we
shall be forced to put in requisition against it the gallows or the
stake. Gringoire broke out into a cold perspiration. Charmolue took from
the table the gypsy’s tambourine, and presenting it to the goat, in a
certain manner, asked the latter,--

“What o’clock is it?”

The goat looked at it with an intelligent eye, raised its gilded hoof,
and struck seven blows.

It was, in fact, seven o’clock. A movement of terror ran through the

Gringoire could not endure it.

“He is destroying himself!” he cried aloud; “You see well that he does
not know what he is doing.”

“Silence among the louts at the end of the hail!” said the bailiff

Jacques Charmolue, by the aid of the same manoeuvres of the tambourine,
made the goat perform many other tricks connected with the date of
the day, the month of the year, etc., which the reader has already
witnessed. And, by virtue of an optical illusion peculiar to judicial
proceedings, these same spectators who had, probably, more than once
applauded in the public square Djali’s innocent magic were terrified by
it beneath the roof of the Palais de Justice. The goat was undoubtedly
the devil.

It was far worse when the procurator of the king, having emptied upon a
floor a certain bag filled with movable letters, which Djali wore round
his neck, they beheld the goat extract with his hoof from the scattered
alphabet the fatal name of Phoebus. The witchcraft of which the captain
had been the victim appeared irresistibly demonstrated, and in the eyes
of all, the gypsy, that ravishing dancer, who had so often dazzled
the passers-by with her grace, was no longer anything but a frightful

However, she betrayed no sign of life; neither Djali’s graceful
evolutions, nor the menaces of the court, nor the suppressed
imprecations of the spectators any longer reached her mind.

In order to arouse her, a police officer was obliged to shake her
unmercifully, and the president had to raise his voice,--“Girl, you
are of the Bohemian race, addicted to deeds of witchcraft. You, in
complicity with the bewitched goat implicated in this suit, during
the night of the twenty-ninth of March last, murdered and stabbed, in
concert with the powers of darkness, by the aid of charms and underhand
practices, a captain of the king’s arches of the watch, Phoebus de
Châteaupers. Do you persist in denying it?”

“Horror!” exclaimed the young girl, hiding her face in her hands. “My
Phoebus! Oh, this is hell!”

“Do you persist in your denial?” demanded the president coldly.

“Do I deny it?” she said with terrible accents; and she rose with
flashing eyes.

The president continued squarely,--

“Then how do you explain the facts laid to your charge?”

She replied in a broken voice,--

“I have already told you. I do not know. ‘Twas a priest, a priest whom I
do not know; an infernal priest who pursues me!”

“That is it,” retorted the judge; “the surly monk.”

“Oh, gentlemen! have mercy! I am but a poor girl--”

“Of Egypt,” said the judge.

Master Jacques Charmolue interposed sweetly,--

“In view of the sad obstinacy of the accused, I demand the application
of the torture.”

“Granted,” said the president.

The unhappy girl quivered in every limb. But she rose at the command of
the men with partisans, and walked with a tolerably firm step, preceded
by Charmolue and the priests of the officiality, between two rows of
halberds, towards a medium-sized door which suddenly opened and closed
again behind her, and which produced upon the grief-stricken Gringoire
the effect of a horrible mouth which had just devoured her.

When she disappeared, they heard a plaintive bleating; it was the little
goat mourning.

The sitting of the court was suspended. A counsellor having remarked
that the gentlemen were fatigued, and that it would be a long time
to wait until the torture was at an end, the president replied that a
magistrate must know how to sacrifice himself to his duty.

“What an annoying and vexatious hussy,” said an aged judge, “to get
herself put to the question when one has not supped!”


After ascending and descending several steps in the corridors, which
were so dark that they were lighted by lamps at mid-day, La Esmeralda,
still surrounded by her lugubrious escort, was thrust by the police into
a gloomy chamber. This chamber, circular in form, occupied the ground
floor of one of those great towers, which, even in our own century,
still pierce through the layer of modern edifices with which modern
Paris has covered ancient Paris. There were no windows to this cellar;
no other opening than the entrance, which was low, and closed by an
enormous iron door. Nevertheless, light was not lacking; a furnace had
been constructed in the thickness of the wall; a large fire was lighted
there, which filled the vault with its crimson reflections and deprived
a miserable candle, which stood in one corner, of all radiance. The iron
grating which served to close the oven, being raised at that moment,
allowed only a view at the mouth of the flaming vent-hole in the dark
wall, the lower extremity of its bars, like a row of black and pointed
teeth, set flat apart; which made the furnace resemble one of those
mouths of dragons which spout forth flames in ancient legends. By the
light which escaped from it, the prisoner beheld, all about the room,
frightful instruments whose use she did not understand. In the centre
lay a leather mattress, placed almost flat upon the ground, over which
hung a strap provided with a buckle, attached to a brass ring in the
mouth of a flat-nosed monster carved in the keystone of the vault.
Tongs, pincers, large ploughshares, filled the interior of the furnace,
and glowed in a confused heap on the coals. The sanguine light of the
furnace illuminated in the chamber only a confused mass of horrible

This Tartarus was called simply, The Question Chamber.

On the bed, in a negligent attitude, sat Pierrat Torterue, the official
torturer. His underlings, two gnomes with square faces, leather aprons,
and linen breeches, were moving the iron instruments on the coals.

In vain did the poor girl summon up her courage; on entering this
chamber she was stricken with horror.

The sergeants of the bailiff of the courts drew up in line on one side,
the priests of the officiality on the other. A clerk, inkhorn, and a
table were in one corner.

Master Jacques Charmolue approached the gypsy with a very sweet smile.

“My dear child,” said he, “do you still persist in your denial?”

“Yes,” she replied, in a dying voice.

“In that case,” replied Charmolue, “it will be very painful for us to
have to question you more urgently than we should like. Pray take the
trouble to seat yourself on this bed. Master Pierrat, make room for
mademoiselle, and close the door.”

Pierrat rose with a growl.

“If I shut the door,” he muttered, “my fire will go out.”

“Well, my dear fellow,” replied Charmolue, “leave it open then.”

Meanwhile, la Esmeralda had remained standing. That leather bed on which
so many unhappy wretches had writhed, frightened her. Terror chilled the
very marrow of her bones; she stood there bewildered and stupefied. At
a sign from Charmolue, the two assistants took her and placed her in
a sitting posture on the bed. They did her no harm; but when these
men touched her, when that leather touched her, she felt all her blood
retreat to her heart. She cast a frightened look around the chamber. It
seemed to her as though she beheld advancing from all quarters towards
her, with the intention of crawling up her body and biting and pinching
her, all those hideous implements of torture, which as compared to the
instruments of all sorts she had hitherto seen, were like what bats,
centipedes, and spiders are among insects and birds.

“Where is the physician?” asked Charmolue.

“Here,” replied a black gown whom she had not before noticed.

She shuddered.

“Mademoiselle,” resumed the caressing voice of the procucrator of the
Ecclesiastical court, “for the third time, do you persist in denying the
deeds of which you are accused?”

This time she could only make a sign with her head.

“You persist?” said Jacques Charmolue. “Then it grieves me deeply, but I
must fulfil my office.”

“Monsieur le Procureur du Roi,” said Pierrat abruptly, “How shall we

Charmolue hesitated for a moment with the ambiguous grimace of a poet in
search of a rhyme.

“With the boot,” he said at last.

The unfortunate girl felt herself so utterly abandoned by God and men,
that her head fell upon her breast like an inert thing which has no
power in itself.

The tormentor and the physician approached her simultaneously. At
the same time, the two assistants began to fumble among their hideous

At the clanking of their frightful irons, the unhappy child quivered
like a dead frog which is being galvanized. “Oh!” she murmured, so low
that no one heard her; “Oh, my Phoebus!” Then she fell back once more
into her immobility and her marble silence. This spectacle would have
rent any other heart than those of her judges. One would have pronounced
her a poor sinful soul, being tortured by Satan beneath the scarlet
wicket of hell. The miserable body which that frightful swarm of saws,
wheels, and racks were about to clasp in their clutches, the being
who was about to be manipulated by the harsh hands of executioners
and pincers, was that gentle, white, fragile creature, a poor grain of
millet which human justice was handing over to the terrible mills of
torture to grind. Meanwhile, the callous hands of Pierrat Torterue’s
assistants had bared that charming leg, that tiny foot, which had so
often amazed the passers-by with their delicacy and beauty, in the
squares of Paris.

“‘Tis a shame!” muttered the tormentor, glancing at these graceful and
delicate forms.

Had the archdeacon been present, he certainly would have recalled at
that moment his symbol of the spider and the fly. Soon the unfortunate
girl, through a mist which spread before her eyes, beheld the boot
approach; she soon beheld her foot encased between iron plates disappear
in the frightful apparatus. Then terror restored her strength.

“Take that off!” she cried angrily; and drawing herself up, with her
hair all dishevelled: “Mercy!”

She darted from the bed to fling herself at the feet of the king’s
procurator, but her leg was fast in the heavy block of oak and iron, and
she sank down upon the boot, more crushed than a bee with a lump of lead
on its wing.

At a sign from Charmolue, she was replaced on the bed, and two coarse
hands adjusted to her delicate waist the strap which hung from the

“For the last time, do you confess the facts in the case?” demanded
Charmolue, with his imperturbable benignity.

“I am innocent.”

“Then, mademoiselle, how do you explain the circumstance laid to your

“Alas, monseigneur, I do not know.”

“So you deny them?”


“Proceed,” said Charmolue to Pierrat.

Pierrat turned the handle of the screw-jack, the boot was contracted,
and the unhappy girl uttered one of those horrible cries which have no
orthography in any human language.

“Stop!” said Charmolue to Pierrat. “Do you confess?” he said to the

“All!” cried the wretched girl. “I confess! I confess! Mercy!”

She had not calculated her strength when she faced the torture. Poor
child, whose life up to that time had been so joyous, so pleasant, so
sweet, the first pain had conquered her!

“Humanity forces me to tell you,” remarked the king’s procurator, “that
in confessing, it is death that you must expect.”

“I certainly hope so!” said she. And she fell back upon the leather bed,
dying, doubled up, allowing herself to hang suspended from the strap
buckled round her waist.

“Come, fair one, hold up a little,” said Master Pierrat, raising her.
“You have the air of the lamb of the Golden Fleece which hangs from
Monsieur de Bourgogne’s neck.”

Jacques Charmolue raised his voice,

“Clerk, write. Young Bohemian maid, you confess your participation in
the feasts, witches’ sabbaths, and witchcrafts of hell, with ghosts,
hags, and vampires? Answer.”

“Yes,” she said, so low that her words were lost in her breathing.

“You confess to having seen the ram which Beelzebub causes to appear in
the clouds to call together the witches’ sabbath, and which is beheld by
socerers alone?”


“You confess to having adored the heads of Bophomet, those abominable
idols of the Templars?”


“To having had habitual dealings with the devil under the form of a goat
familiar, joined with you in the suit?”


“Lastly, you avow and confess to having, with the aid of the demon, and
of the phantom vulgarly known as the surly monk, on the night of the
twenty-ninth of March last, murdered and assassinated a captain named
Phoebus de Châteaupers?”

She raised her large, staring eyes to the magistrate, and replied, as
though mechanically, without convulsion or agitation,--


It was evident that everything within her was broken.

“Write, clerk,” said Charmolue. And, addressing the torturers, “Release
the prisoner, and take her back to the court.”

When the prisoner had been “unbooted,” the procurator of the
ecclesiastical court examined her foot, which was still swollen with
pain. “Come,” said he, “there’s no great harm done. You shrieked in good
season. You could still dance, my beauty!”

Then he turned to his acolytes of the officiality,--“Behold justice
enlightened at last! This is a solace, gentlemen! Madamoiselle will bear
us witness that we have acted with all possible gentleness.”


When she re-entered the audience hall, pale and limping, she was
received with a general murmur of pleasure. On the part of the audience
there was the feeling of impatience gratified which one experiences at
the theatre at the end of the last entr’acte of the comedy, when the
curtain rises and the conclusion is about to begin. On the part of the
judges, it was the hope of getting their suppers sooner.

The little goat also bleated with joy. He tried to run towards his
mistress, but they had tied him to the bench.

Night was fully set in. The candles, whose number had not been
increased, cast so little light, that the walls of the hall could not be
seen. The shadows there enveloped all objects in a sort of mist. A few
apathetic faces of judges alone could be dimly discerned. Opposite them,
at the extremity of the long hail, they could see a vaguely white point
standing out against the sombre background. This was the accused.

She had dragged herself to her place. When Charmolue had installed
himself in a magisterial manner in his own, he seated himself, then
rose and said, without exhibiting too much self-complacency at his
success,--“The accused has confessed all.”

“Bohemian girl,” the president continued, “have you avowed all
your deeds of magic, prostitution, and assassination on Phoebus de

Her heart contracted. She was heard to sob amid the darkness.

“Anything you like,” she replied feebly, “but kill me quickly!”

“Monsieur, procurator of the king in the ecclesiastical courts,” said
the president, “the chamber is ready to hear you in your charge.”

Master Charmolue exhibited an alarming note book, and began to read,
with many gestures and the exaggerated accentuation of the pleader, an
oration in Latin, wherein all the proofs of the suit were piled up
in Ciceronian periphrases, flanked with quotations from Plautus, his
favorite comic author. We regret that we are not able to offer to our
readers this remarkable piece. The orator pronounced it with marvellous
action. Before he had finished the exordium, the perspiration was
starting from his brow, and his eyes from his bead.

All at once, in the middle of a fine period, he interrupted himself, and
his glance, ordinarily so gentle and even stupid, became menacing.

“Gentlemen,” he exclaimed (this time in French, for it was not in
his copy book), “Satan is so mixed up in this affair, that here he is
present at our debates, and making sport of their majesty. Behold!”

So saying, he pointed to the little goat, who, on seeing Charmolue
gesticulating, had, in point of fact, thought it appropriate to do the
same, and had seated himself on his haunches, reproducing to the best
of his ability, with his forepaws and his bearded head the pathetic
pantomine of the king’s procurator in the ecclesiastical court. This
was, if the reader remembers, one of his prettiest accomplishments. This
incident, this last proof, produced a great effect. The goat’s
hoofs were tied, and the king’s procurator resumed the thread of his

It was very long, but the peroration was admirable. Here is the
concluding phrase; let the reader add the hoarse voice and the
breathless gestures of Master Charmolue,

“_Ideo, domni, coram stryga demonstrata, crimine patente, intentione
criminis existente, in nornine sanctoe ecclesioe Nostroe-Domince
Parisiensis quæ est in saisina habendi omnimodam altam et bassam
justitiam in illa hac intemerata Civitatis insula, tenore proesentium
declaremus nos requirere, primo, aliquamdam pecuniariam indemnitatem;
secundo, amendationem honorabilem ante portalium maximum
Nostroe-Dominoe, ecclesioe cathedralis; tertio, sententiani in virtute
cujus ista styrga cum sua capella, seu in trivio vulgariter dicto_ la
Grève, _seu in insula exeunte in fluvio Secanoe, juxta pointam juardini
regalis, executatoe sint_!”*

     * The substance of this exordium is contained in the president’s

He put on his cap again and seated himself.

“Eheu!” sighed the broken-hearted Gringoire, “_bassa latinitas_--bastard

Another man in a black gown rose near the accused; he was her
lawyer.--The judges, who were fasting, began to grumble.

“Advocate, be brief,” said the president.

“Monsieur the President,” replied the advocate, “since the defendant
has confessed the crime, I have only one word to say to these gentlemen.
Here is a text from the Salic law; ‘If a witch hath eaten a man, and if
she be convicted of it, she shall pay a fine of eight thousand deniers,
which amount to two hundred sous of gold.’ May it please the chamber to
condemn my client to the fine?”

“An abrogated text,” said the advocate extraordinary of the king.

“Nego, I deny it,” replied the advocate.

“Put it to the vote!” said one of the councillors; “the crime is
manifest, and it is late.”

They proceeded to take a vote without leaving the room. The judges
signified their assent without giving their reasons, they were in a
hurry. Their capped heads were seen uncovering one after the other, in
the gloom, at the lugubrious question addressed to them by the president
in a low voice. The poor accused had the appearance of looking at them,
but her troubled eye no longer saw.

Then the clerk began to write; then he handed a long parch-ment to the

Then the unhappy girl heard the people moving, the pikes clashing, and a
freezing voice saying to her,--“Bohemian wench, on the day when it shall
seem good to our lord the king, at the hour of noon, you will be taken
in a tumbrel, in your shift, with bare feet, and a rope about your
neck, before the grand portal of Notre-Dame, and you will there make an
apology with a wax torch of the weight of two pounds in your hand, and
thence you will be conducted to the Place de Grève, where you will be
hanged and strangled on the town gibbet; and likewise your goat; and
you will pay to the official three lions of gold, in reparation of the
crimes by you committed and by you confessed, of sorcery and magic,
debauchery and murder, upon the person of the Sieur Phoebus de
Châteaupers. May God have mercy on your soul!”

“Oh! ‘tis a dream!” she murmured; and she felt rough hands bearing her


In the Middle Ages, when an edifice was complete, there was almost
as much of it in the earth as above it. Unless built upon piles, like
Notre-Dame, a palace, a fortress, a church, had always a double bottom.
In cathedrals, it was, in some sort, another subterranean cathedral,
low, dark, mysterious, blind, and mute, under the upper nave which was
overflowing with light and reverberating with organs and bells day and
night. Sometimes it was a sepulchre. In palaces, in fortresses, it was
a prison, sometimes a sepulchre also, sometimes both together. These
mighty buildings, whose mode of formation and vegetation we have
elsewhere explained, had not simply foundations, but, so to speak,
roots which ran branching through the soil in chambers, galleries,
and staircases, like the construction above. Thus churches, palaces,
fortresses, had the earth half way up their bodies. The cellars of an
edifice formed another edifice, into which one descended instead
of ascending, and which extended its subterranean grounds under the
external piles of the monument, like those forests and mountains which
are reversed in the mirror-like waters of a lake, beneath the forests
and mountains of the banks.

At the fortress of Saint-Antoine, at the Palais de Justice of Paris,
at the Louvre, these subterranean edifices were prisons. The stories of
these prisons, as they sank into the soil, grew constantly narrower and
more gloomy. They were so many zones, where the shades of horror were
graduated. Dante could never imagine anything better for his hell. These
tunnels of cells usually terminated in a sack of a lowest dungeon, with
a vat-like bottom, where Dante placed Satan, where society placed those
condemned to death. A miserable human existence, once interred there;
farewell light, air, life, _ogni speranza_--every hope; it only came
forth to the scaffold or the stake. Sometimes it rotted there; human
justice called this “forgetting.” Between men and himself, the condemned
man felt a pile of stones and jailers weighing down upon his head;
and the entire prison, the massive bastille was nothing more than an
enormous, complicated lock, which barred him off from the rest of the

It was in a sloping cavity of this description, in the _oubliettes_
excavated by Saint-Louis, in the _inpace_ of the Tournelle, that la
Esmeralda had been placed on being condemned to death, through fear of
her escape, no doubt, with the colossal court-house over her head. Poor
fly, who could not have lifted even one of its blocks of stone!

Assuredly, Providence and society had been equally unjust; such an
excess of unhappiness and of torture was not necessary to break so frail
a creature.

There she lay, lost in the shadows, buried, hidden, immured. Any one
who could have beheld her in this state, after having seen her laugh and
dance in the sun, would have shuddered. Cold as night, cold as death,
not a breath of air in her tresses, not a human sound in her ear,
no longer a ray of light in her eyes; snapped in twain, crushed with
chains, crouching beside a jug and a loaf, on a little straw, in a
pool of water, which was formed under her by the sweating of the prison
walls; without motion, almost without breath, she had no longer the
power to suffer; Phoebus, the sun, midday, the open air, the streets of
Paris, the dances with applause, the sweet babblings of love with the
officer; then the priest, the old crone, the poignard, the blood,
the torture, the gibbet; all this did, indeed, pass before her mind,
sometimes as a charming and golden vision, sometimes as a hideous
nightmare; but it was no longer anything but a vague and horrible
struggle, lost in the gloom, or distant music played up above ground,
and which was no longer audible at the depth where the unhappy girl had

Since she had been there, she had neither waked nor slept. In that
misfortune, in that cell, she could no longer distinguish her waking
hours from slumber, dreams from reality, any more than day from night.
All this was mixed, broken, floating, disseminated confusedly in her
thought. She no longer felt, she no longer knew, she no longer thought;
at the most, she only dreamed. Never had a living creature been thrust
more deeply into nothingness.

Thus benumbed, frozen, petrified, she had barely noticed on two or three
occasions, the sound of a trap door opening somewhere above her, without
even permitting the passage of a little light, and through which a hand
had tossed her a bit of black bread. Nevertheless, this periodical
visit of the jailer was the sole communication which was left her with

A single thing still mechanically occupied her ear; above her head, the
dampness was filtering through the mouldy stones of the vault, and
a drop of water dropped from them at regular intervals. She listened
stupidly to the noise made by this drop of water as it fell into the
pool beside her.

This drop of water falling from time to time into that pool, was the
only movement which still went on around her, the only clock which
marked the time, the only noise which reached her of all the noise made
on the surface of the earth.

To tell the whole, however, she also felt, from time to time, in that
cesspool of mire and darkness, something cold passing over her foot or
her arm, and she shuddered.

How long had she been there? She did not know. She had a recollection
of a sentence of death pronounced somewhere, against some one, then
of having been herself carried away, and of waking up in darkness and
silence, chilled to the heart. She had dragged herself along on her
hands. Then iron rings that cut her ankles, and chains had rattled. She
had recognized the fact that all around her was wall, that below her
there was a pavement covered with moisture and a truss of straw; but
neither lamp nor air-hole. Then she had seated herself on that straw
and, sometimes, for the sake of changing her attitude, on the last
stone step in her dungeon. For a while she had tried to count the black
minutes measured off for her by the drop of water; but that melancholy
labor of an ailing brain had broken off of itself in her head, and had
left her in stupor.

At length, one day, or one night, (for midnight and midday were of the
same color in that sepulchre), she heard above her a louder noise than
was usually made by the turnkey when he brought her bread and jug of
water. She raised her head, and beheld a ray of reddish light passing
through the crevices in the sort of trapdoor contrived in the roof of
the _inpace_.

At the same time, the heavy lock creaked, the trap grated on its rusty
hinges, turned, and she beheld a lantern, a hand, and the lower portions
of the bodies of two men, the door being too low to admit of her seeing
their heads. The light pained her so acutely that she shut her eyes.

When she opened them again the door was closed, the lantern was
deposited on one of the steps of the staircase; a man alone stood before
her. A monk’s black cloak fell to his feet, a cowl of the same color
concealed his face. Nothing was visible of his person, neither face nor
hands. It was a long, black shroud standing erect, and beneath which
something could be felt moving. She gazed fixedly for several minutes
at this sort of spectre. But neither he nor she spoke. One would have
pronounced them two statues confronting each other. Two things only
seemed alive in that cavern; the wick of the lantern, which sputtered
on account of the dampness of the atmosphere, and the drop of water
from the roof, which cut this irregular sputtering with its monotonous
splash, and made the light of the lantern quiver in concentric waves on
the oily water of the pool.

At last the prisoner broke the silence.

“Who are you?”

“A priest.”

The words, the accent, the sound of his voice made her tremble.

The priest continued, in a hollow voice,--

“Are you prepared?”

“For what?”

“To die.”

“Oh!” said she, “will it be soon?”


Her head, which had been raised with joy, fell back upon her breast.

“‘Tis very far away yet!” she murmured; “why could they not have done it

“Then you are very unhappy?” asked the priest, after a silence.

“I am very cold,” she replied.

She took her feet in her hands, a gesture habitual with unhappy wretches
who are cold, as we have already seen in the case of the recluse of the
Tour-Roland, and her teeth chattered.

The priest appeared to cast his eyes around the dungeon from beneath his

“Without light! without fire! in the water! it is horrible!”

“Yes,” she replied, with the bewildered air which unhappiness had given
her. “The day belongs to every one, why do they give me only night?”

“Do you know,” resumed the priest, after a fresh silence, “why you are

“I thought I knew once,” she said, passing her thin fingers over her
eyelids, as though to aid her memory, “but I know no longer.”

All at once she began to weep like a child.

“I should like to get away from here, sir. I am cold, I am afraid, and
there are creatures which crawl over my body.”

“Well, follow me.”

So saying, the priest took her arm. The unhappy girl was frozen to her
very soul. Yet that hand produced an impression of cold upon her.

“Oh!” she murmured, “‘tis the icy hand of death. Who are you?”

The priest threw back his cowl; she looked. It was the sinister visage
which had so long pursued her; that demon’s head which had appeared at
la Falourdel’s, above the head of her adored Phoebus; that eye which she
last had seen glittering beside a dagger.

This apparition, always so fatal for her, and which had thus driven her
on from misfortune to misfortune, even to torture, roused her from her
stupor. It seemed to her that the sort of veil which had lain thick upon
her memory was rent away. All the details of her melancholy adventure,
from the nocturnal scene at la Falourdel’s to her condemnation to the
Tournelle, recurred to her memory, no longer vague and confused as
heretofore, but distinct, harsh, clear, palpitating, terrible. These
souvenirs, half effaced and almost obliterated by excess of suffering,
were revived by the sombre figure which stood before her, as the
approach of fire causes letters traced upon white paper with invisible
ink, to start out perfectly fresh. It seemed to her that all the wounds
of her heart opened and bled simultaneously.

“Hah!” she cried, with her hands on her eyes, and a convulsive
trembling, “‘tis the priest!”

Then she dropped her arms in discouragement, and remained seated, with
lowered head, eyes fixed on the ground, mute and still trembling.

The priest gazed at her with the eye of a hawk which has long been
soaring in a circle from the heights of heaven over a poor lark cowering
in the wheat, and has long been silently contracting the formidable
circles of his flight, and has suddenly swooped down upon his prey like
a flash of lightning, and holds it panting in his talons.

She began to murmur in a low voice,--

“Finish! finish! the last blow!” and she drew her head down in terror
between her shoulders, like the lamb awaiting the blow of the butcher’s

“So I inspire you with horror?” he said at length.

She made no reply.

“Do I inspire you with horror?” he repeated.

Her lips contracted, as though with a smile.

“Yes,” said she, “the headsman scoffs at the condemned. Here he has been
pursuing me, threatening me, terrifying me for months! Had it not been
for him, my God, how happy it should have been! It was he who cast me
into this abyss! Oh heavens! it was he who killed him! my Phoebus!”

Here, bursting into sobs, and raising her eyes to the priest,--

“Oh! wretch, who are you? What have I done to you? Do you then, hate me
so? Alas! what have you against me?”

“I love thee!” cried the priest.

Her tears suddenly ceased, she gazed at him with the look of an idiot.
He had fallen on his knees and was devouring her with eyes of flame.

“Dost thou understand? I love thee!” he cried again.

“What love!” said the unhappy girl with a shudder.

He resumed,--

“The love of a damned soul.”

Both remained silent for several minutes, crushed beneath the weight of
their emotions; he maddened, she stupefied.

“Listen,” said the priest at last, and a singular calm had come over
him; “you shall know all I am about to tell you that which I have
hitherto hardly dared to say to myself, when furtively interrogating my
conscience at those deep hours of the night when it is so dark that it
seems as though God no longer saw us. Listen. Before I knew you, young
girl, I was happy.”

“So was I!” she sighed feebly.

“Do not interrupt me. Yes, I was happy, at least I believed myself to be
so. I was pure, my soul was filled with limpid light. No head was raised
more proudly and more radiantly than mine. Priests consulted me on
chastity; doctors, on doctrines. Yes, science was all in all to me; it
was a sister to me, and a sister sufficed. Not but that with age other
ideas came to me. More than once my flesh had been moved as a woman’s
form passed by. That force of sex and blood which, in the madness of
youth, I had imagined that I had stifled forever had, more than once,
convulsively raised the chain of iron vows which bind me, a miserable
wretch, to the cold stones of the altar. But fasting, prayer, study,
the mortifications of the cloister, rendered my soul mistress of my body
once more, and then I avoided women. Moreover, I had but to open a book,
and all the impure mists of my brain vanished before the splendors of
science. In a few moments, I felt the gross things of earth flee far
away, and I found myself once more calm, quieted, and serene, in the
presence of the tranquil radiance of eternal truth. As long as the demon
sent to attack me only vague shadows of women who passed occasionally
before my eyes in church, in the streets, in the fields, and who hardly
recurred to my dreams, I easily vanquished him. Alas! if the victory has
not remained with me, it is the fault of God, who has not created man
and the demon of equal force. Listen. One day--”

Here the priest paused, and the prisoner heard sighs of anguish break
from his breast with a sound of the death rattle.

He resumed,--

“One day I was leaning on the window of my cell. What book was I reading
then? Oh! all that is a whirlwind in my head. I was reading. The window
opened upon a Square. I heard a sound of tambourine and music. Annoyed
at being thus disturbed in my revery, I glanced into the Square. What
I beheld, others saw beside myself, and yet it was not a spectacle made
for human eyes. There, in the middle of the pavement,--it was midday,
the sun was shining brightly,--a creature was dancing. A creature so
beautiful that God would have preferred her to the Virgin and have
chosen her for his mother and have wished to be born of her if she
had been in existence when he was made man! Her eyes were black and
splendid; in the midst of her black locks, some hairs through which the
sun shone glistened like threads of gold. Her feet disappeared in their
movements like the spokes of a rapidly turning wheel. Around her head,
in her black tresses, there were disks of metal, which glittered in the
sun, and formed a coronet of stars on her brow. Her dress thick set with
spangles, blue, and dotted with a thousand sparks, gleamed like a summer
night. Her brown, supple arms twined and untwined around her waist, like
two scarfs. The form of her body was surprisingly beautiful. Oh! what
a resplendent figure stood out, like something luminous even in the
sunlight! Alas, young girl, it was thou! Surprised, intoxicated,
charmed, I allowed myself to gaze upon thee. I looked so long that I
suddenly shuddered with terror; I felt that fate was seizing hold of

The priest paused for a moment, overcome with emotion. Then he

“Already half fascinated, I tried to cling fast to something and hold
myself back from falling. I recalled the snares which Satan had already
set for me. The creature before my eyes possessed that superhuman beauty
which can come only from heaven or hell. It was no simple girl made with
a little of our earth, and dimly lighted within by the vacillating ray
of a woman’s soul. It was an angel! but of shadows and flame, and not of
light. At the moment when I was meditating thus, I beheld beside you a
goat, a beast of witches, which smiled as it gazed at me. The midday sun
gave him golden horns. Then I perceived the snare of the demon, and I no
longer doubted that you had come from hell and that you had come thence
for my perdition. I believed it.”

Here the priest looked the prisoner full in the face, and added,

“I believe it still. Nevertheless, the charm operated little by little;
your dancing whirled through my brain; I felt the mysterious spell
working within me. All that should have awakened was lulled to sleep;
and like those who die in the snow, I felt pleasure in allowing this
sleep to draw on. All at once, you began to sing. What could I do,
unhappy wretch? Your song was still more charming than your dancing. I
tried to flee. Impossible. I was nailed, rooted to the spot. It seemed
to me that the marble of the pavement had risen to my knees. I was
forced to remain until the end. My feet were like ice, my head was on
fire. At last you took pity on me, you ceased to sing, you disappeared.
The reflection of the dazzling vision, the reverberation of the
enchanting music disappeared by degrees from my eyes and my ears. Then I
fell back into the embrasure of the window, more rigid, more feeble than
a statue torn from its base. The vesper bell roused me. I drew myself
up; I fled; but alas! something within me had fallen never to rise
again, something had come upon me from which I could not flee.”

He made another pause and went on,--

“Yes, dating from that day, there was within me a man whom I did not
know. I tried to make use of all my remedies. The cloister, the altar,
work, books,--follies! Oh, how hollow does science sound when one in
despair dashes against it a head full of passions! Do you know, young
girl, what I saw thenceforth between my book and me? You, your shade,
the image of the luminous apparition which had one day crossed the space
before me. But this image had no longer the same color; it was sombre,
funereal, gloomy as the black circle which long pursues the vision of
the imprudent man who has gazed intently at the sun.

“Unable to rid myself of it, since I heard your song humming ever in
my head, beheld your feet dancing always on my breviary, felt even at
night, in my dreams, your form in contact with my own, I desired to see
you again, to touch you, to know who you were, to see whether I should
really find you like the ideal image which I had retained of you, to
shatter my dream, perchance, with reality. At all events, I hoped that
a new impression would efface the first, and the first had become
insupportable. I sought you. I saw you once more. Calamity! When I had
seen you twice, I wanted to see you a thousand times, I wanted to see
you always. Then--how stop myself on that slope of hell?--then I no
longer belonged to myself. The other end of the thread which the demon
had attached to my wings he had fastened to his foot. I became vagrant
and wandering like yourself. I waited for you under porches, I stood on
the lookout for you at the street corners, I watched for you from the
summit of my tower. Every evening I returned to myself more charmed,
more despairing, more bewitched, more lost!

“I had learned who you were; an Egyptian, Bohemian, gypsy, zingara. How
could I doubt the magic? Listen. I hoped that a trial would free me from
the charm. A witch enchanted Bruno d’Ast; he had her burned, and was
cured. I knew it. I wanted to try the remedy. First I tried to have you
forbidden the square in front of Notre-Dame, hoping to forget you if you
returned no more. You paid no heed to it. You returned. Then the idea of
abducting you occurred to me. One night I made the attempt. There were
two of us. We already had you in our power, when that miserable officer
came up. He delivered you. Thus did he begin your unhappiness, mine, and
his own. Finally, no longer knowing what to do, and what was to become
of me, I denounced you to the official.

“I thought that I should be cured like Bruno d’Ast. I also had a
confused idea that a trial would deliver you into my hands; that, as a
prisoner I should hold you, I should have you; that there you could not
escape from me; that you had already possessed me a sufficiently long
time to give me the right to possess you in my turn. When one does
wrong, one must do it thoroughly. ‘Tis madness to halt midway in the
monstrous! The extreme of crime has its deliriums of joy. A priest and a
witch can mingle in delight upon the truss of straw in a dungeon!

“Accordingly, I denounced you. It was then that I terrified you when
we met. The plot which I was weaving against you, the storm which I
was heaping up above your head, burst from me in threats and lightning
glances. Still, I hesitated. My project had its terrible sides which
made me shrink back.

“Perhaps I might have renounced it; perhaps my hideous thought would
have withered in my brain, without bearing fruit. I thought that
it would always depend upon me to follow up or discontinue this
prosecution. But every evil thought is inexorable, and insists on
becoming a deed; but where I believed myself to be all powerful, fate
was more powerful than I. Alas! ‘tis fate which has seized you and
delivered you to the terrible wheels of the machine which I had
constructed doubly. Listen. I am nearing the end.

“One day,--again the sun was shining brilliantly--I behold man pass me
uttering your name and laughing, who carries sensuality in his eyes.
Damnation! I followed him; you know the rest.”

He ceased.

The young girl could find but one word:

“Oh, my Phoebus!”

“Not that name!” said the priest, grasping her arm violently. “Utter not
that name! Oh! miserable wretches that we are, ‘tis that name which has
ruined us! or, rather we have ruined each other by the inexplicable play
of fate! you are suffering, are you not? you are cold; the night makes
you blind, the dungeon envelops you; but perhaps you still have some
light in the bottom of your soul, were it only your childish love for
that empty man who played with your heart, while I bear the dungeon
within me; within me there is winter, ice, despair; I have night in my

“Do you know what I have suffered? I was present at your trial. I was
seated on the official’s bench. Yes, under one of the priests’ cowls,
there were the contortions of the damned. When you were brought in, I
was there; when you were questioned, I was there.--Den of wolves!--It
was my crime, it was my gallows that I beheld being slowly reared over
your head. I was there for every witness, every proof, every plea; I
could count each of your steps in the painful path; I was still there
when that ferocious beast--oh! I had not foreseen torture! Listen.
I followed you to that chamber of anguish. I beheld you stripped and
handled, half naked, by the infamous hands of the tormentor. I beheld
your foot, that foot which I would have given an empire to kiss and die,
that foot, beneath which to have had my head crushed I should have felt
such rapture,--I beheld it encased in that horrible boot, which converts
the limbs of a living being into one bloody clod. Oh, wretch! while
I looked on at that, I held beneath my shroud a dagger, with which I
lacerated my breast. When you uttered that cry, I plunged it into my
flesh; at a second cry, it would have entered my heart. Look! I believe
that it still bleeds.”

He opened his cassock. His breast was in fact, mangled as by the claw of
a tiger, and on his side he had a large and badly healed wound.

The prisoner recoiled with horror.

“Oh!” said the priest, “young girl, have pity upon me! You think
yourself unhappy; alas! alas! you know not what unhappiness is. Oh! to
love a woman! to be a priest! to be hated! to love with all the fury
of one’s soul; to feel that one would give for the least of her
smiles, one’s blood, one’s vitals, one’s fame, one’s salvation, one’s
immortality and eternity, this life and the other; to regret that one
is not a king, emperor, archangel, God, in order that one might place
a greater slave beneath her feet; to clasp her night and day in one’s
dreams and one’s thoughts, and to behold her in love with the trappings
of a soldier and to have nothing to offer her but a priest’s dirty
cassock, which will inspire her with fear and disgust! To be present
with one’s jealousy and one’s rage, while she lavishes on a miserable,
blustering imbecile, treasures of love and beauty! To behold that body
whose form burns you, that bosom which possesses so much sweetness, that
flesh palpitate and blush beneath the kisses of another! Oh heaven! to
love her foot, her arm, her shoulder, to think of her blue veins, of her
brown skin, until one writhes for whole nights together on the pavement
of one’s cell, and to behold all those caresses which one has dreamed
of, end in torture! To have succeeded only in stretching her upon the
leather bed! Oh! these are the veritable pincers, reddened in the fires
of hell. Oh! blessed is he who is sawn between two planks, or torn
in pieces by four horses! Do you know what that torture is, which is
imposed upon you for long nights by your burning arteries, your bursting
heart, your breaking head, your teeth-knawed hands; mad tormentors which
turn you incessantly, as upon a red-hot gridiron, to a thought of love,
of jealousy, and of despair! Young girl, mercy! a truce for a moment!
a few ashes on these live coals! Wipe away, I beseech you, the
perspiration which trickles in great drops from my brow! Child! torture
me with one hand, but caress me with the other! Have pity, young girl!
Have pity upon me!”

The priest writhed on the wet pavement, beating his head against the
corners of the stone steps. The young girl gazed at him, and listened to

When he ceased, exhausted and panting, she repeated in a low voice,--

“Oh my Phoebus!”

The priest dragged himself towards her on his knees.

“I beseech you,” he cried, “if you have any heart, do not repulse me!
Oh! I love you! I am a wretch! When you utter that name, unhappy girl,
it is as though you crushed all the fibres of my heart between your
teeth. Mercy! If you come from hell I will go thither with you. I have
done everything to that end. The hell where you are, shall he paradise;
the sight of you is more charming than that of God! Oh! speak! you will
have none of me? I should have thought the mountains would be shaken in
their foundations on the day when a woman would repulse such a love.
Oh! if you only would! Oh! how happy we might be. We would flee--I would
help you to flee,--we would go somewhere, we would seek that spot on
earth, where the sun is brightest, the sky the bluest, where the trees
are most luxuriant. We would love each other, we would pour our two
souls into each other, and we would have a thirst for ourselves which we
would quench in common and incessantly at that fountain of inexhaustible

She interrupted with a terrible and thrilling laugh.

“Look, father, you have blood on your fingers!”

The priest remained for several moments as though petrified, with his
eyes fixed upon his hand.

“Well, yes!” he resumed at last, with strange gentleness, “insult me,
scoff at me, overwhelm me with scorn! but come, come. Let us make haste.
It is to be to-morrow, I tell you. The gibbet on the Grève, you know it?
it stands always ready. It is horrible! to see you ride in that tumbrel!
Oh mercy! Until now I have never felt the power of my love for you.--Oh!
follow me. You shall take your time to love me after I have saved you.
You shall hate me as long as you will. But come. To-morrow! to-morrow!
the gallows! your execution! Oh! save yourself! spare me!”

He seized her arm, he was beside himself, he tried to drag her away.

She fixed her eye intently on him.

“What has become of my Phoebus?”

“Ah!” said the priest, releasing her arm, “you are pitiless.”

“What has become of Phoebus?” she repeated coldly.

“He is dead!” cried the priest.

“Dead!” said she, still icy and motionless “then why do you talk to me
of living?”

He was not listening to her.

“Oh! yes,” said he, as though speaking to himself, “he certainly must be
dead. The blade pierced deeply. I believe I touched his heart with the
point. Oh! my very soul was at the end of the dagger!”

The young girl flung herself upon him like a raging tigress, and pushed
him upon the steps of the staircase with supernatural force.

“Begone, monster! Begone, assassin! Leave me to die! May the blood
of both of us make an eternal stain upon your brow! Be thine, priest!
Never! never! Nothing shall unite us! not hell itself! Go, accursed man!

The priest had stumbled on the stairs. He silently disentangled his
feet from the folds of his robe, picked up his lantern again, and slowly
began the ascent of the steps which led to the door; he opened the door
and passed through it.

All at once, the young girl beheld his head reappear; it wore a
frightful expression, and he cried, hoarse with rage and despair,--

“I tell you he is dead!”

She fell face downwards upon the floor, and there was no longer any
sound audible in the cell than the sob of the drop of water which made
the pool palpitate amid the darkness.


I do not believe that there is anything sweeter in the world than the
ideas which awake in a mother’s heart at the sight of her child’s tiny
shoe; especially if it is a shoe for festivals, for Sunday, for baptism,
the shoe embroidered to the very sole, a shoe in which the infant has
not yet taken a step. That shoe has so much grace and daintiness, it is
so impossible for it to walk, that it seems to the mother as though she
saw her child. She smiles upon it, she kisses it, she talks to it; she
asks herself whether there can actually be a foot so tiny; and if the
child be absent, the pretty shoe suffices to place the sweet and fragile
creature before her eyes. She thinks she sees it, she does see it,
complete, living, joyous, with its delicate hands, its round head, its
pure lips, its serene eyes whose white is blue. If it is in winter, it
is yonder, crawling on the carpet, it is laboriously climbing upon an
ottoman, and the mother trembles lest it should approach the fire. If it
is summer time, it crawls about the yard, in the garden, plucks up the
grass between the paving-stones, gazes innocently at the big dogs, the
big horses, without fear, plays with the shells, with the flowers, and
makes the gardener grumble because he finds sand in the flower-beds and
earth in the paths. Everything laughs, and shines and plays around it,
like it, even the breath of air and the ray of sun which vie with each
other in disporting among the silky ringlets of its hair. The shoe shows
all this to the mother, and makes her heart melt as fire melts wax.

But when the child is lost, these thousand images of joy, of charms, of
tenderness, which throng around the little shoe, become so many
horrible things. The pretty broidered shoe is no longer anything but an
instrument of torture which eternally crushes the heart of the mother.
It is always the same fibre which vibrates, the tenderest and most
sensitive; but instead of an angel caressing it, it is a demon who is
wrenching at it.

One May morning, when the sun was rising on one of those dark blue skies
against which Garofolo loves to place his Descents from the Cross, the
recluse of the Tour-Roland heard a sound of wheels, of horses and irons
in the Place de Grève. She was somewhat aroused by it, knotted her hair
upon her ears in order to deafen herself, and resumed her contemplation,
on her knees, of the inanimate object which she had adored for fifteen
years. This little shoe was the universe to her, as we have already
said. Her thought was shut up in it, and was destined never more to quit
it except at death. The sombre cave of the Tour-Roland alone knew how
many bitter imprecations, touching complaints, prayers and sobs she had
wafted to heaven in connection with that charming bauble of rose-colored
satin. Never was more despair bestowed upon a prettier and more graceful

It seemed as though her grief were breaking forth more violently than
usual; and she could be heard outside lamenting in a loud and monotonous
voice which rent the heart.

“Oh my daughter!” she said, “my daughter, my poor, dear little child, so
I shall never see thee more! It is over! It always seems to me that it
happened yesterday! My God! my God! it would have been better not to
give her to me than to take her away so soon. Did you not know that our
children are part of ourselves, and that a mother who has lost her child
no longer believes in God? Ah! wretch that I am to have gone out that
day! Lord! Lord! to have taken her from me thus; you could never have
looked at me with her, when I was joyously warming her at my fire, when
she laughed as she suckled, when I made her tiny feet creep up my breast
to my lips? Oh! if you had looked at that, my God, you would have taken
pity on my joy; you would not have taken from me the only love which
lingered, in my heart! Was I then, Lord, so miserable a creature, that
you could not look at me before condemning me?--Alas! Alas! here is
the shoe; where is the foot? where is the rest? Where is the child? My
daughter! my daughter! what did they do with thee? Lord, give her back
to me. My knees have been worn for fifteen years in praying to thee,
my God! Is not that enough? Give her back to me one day, one hour,
one minute; one minute, Lord! and then cast me to the demon for all
eternity! Oh! if I only knew where the skirt of your garment trails, I
would cling to it with both hands, and you would be obliged to give me
back my child! Have you no pity on her pretty little shoe? Could you
condemn a poor mother to this torture for fifteen years? Good Virgin!
good Virgin of heaven! my infant Jesus has been taken from me, has been
stolen from me; they devoured her on a heath, they drank her blood, they
cracked her bones! Good Virgin, have pity upon me. My daughter, I want
my daughter! What is it to me that she is in paradise? I do not want
your angel, I want my child! I am a lioness, I want my whelp. Oh! I will
writhe on the earth, I will break the stones with my forehead, and I
will damn myself, and I will curse you, Lord, if you keep my child from
me! you see plainly that my arms are all bitten, Lord! Has the good God
no mercy?--Oh! give me only salt and black bread, only let me have my
daughter to warm me like a sun! Alas! Lord my God. Alas! Lord my God,
I am only a vile sinner; but my daughter made me pious. I was full of
religion for the love of her, and I beheld you through her smile as
through an opening into heaven. Oh! if I could only once, just once
more, a single time, put this shoe on her pretty little pink foot, I
would die blessing you, good Virgin. Ah! fifteen years! she will be
grown up now!--Unhappy child! what! it is really true then I shall never
see her more, not even in heaven, for I shall not go there myself. Oh!
what misery to think that here is her shoe, and that that is all!”

The unhappy woman flung herself upon that shoe; her consolation and her
despair for so many years, and her vitals were rent with sobs as on the
first day; because, for a mother who has lost her child, it is always
the first day. That grief never grows old. The mourning garments may
grow white and threadbare, the heart remains dark.

At that moment, the fresh and joyous cries of children passed in front
of the cell. Every time that children crossed her vision or struck
her ear, the poor mother flung herself into the darkest corner of her
sepulchre, and one would have said, that she sought to plunge her head
into the stone in order not to hear them. This time, on the contrary,
she drew herself upright with a start, and listened eagerly. One of the
little boys had just said,--

“They are going to hang a gypsy to-day.”

With the abrupt leap of that spider which we have seen fling itself upon
a fly at the trembling of its web, she rushed to her air-hole, which
opened as the reader knows, on the Place de Grève. A ladder had, in
fact, been raised up against the permanent gibbet, and the hangman’s
assistant was busying himself with adjusting the chains which had been
rusted by the rain. There were some people standing about.

The laughing group of children was already far away. The sacked nun
sought with her eyes some passer-by whom she might question. All at
once, beside her cell, she perceived a priest making a pretext of
reading the public breviary, but who was much less occupied with the
“lectern of latticed iron,” than with the gallows, toward which he cast
a fierce and gloomy glance from time to time. She recognized monsieur
the archdeacon of Josas, a holy man.

“Father,” she inquired, “whom are they about to hang yonder?”

The priest looked at her and made no reply; she repeated her question.
Then he said,--

“I know not.”

“Some children said that it was a gypsy,” went on the recluse.

“I believe so,” said the priest.

Then Paquette la Chantefleurie burst into hyena-like laughter.

“Sister,” said the archdeacon, “do you then hate the gypsies heartily?”

“Do I hate them!” exclaimed the recluse, “they are vampires, stealers
of children! They devoured my little daughter, my child, my only child!
I have no longer any heart, they devoured it!”

She was frightful. The priest looked at her coldly.

“There is one in particular whom I hate, and whom I have cursed,” she
resumed; “it is a young one, of the age which my daughter would be if
her mother had not eaten my daughter. Every time that that young viper
passes in front of my cell, she sets my blood in a ferment.”

“Well, sister, rejoice,” said the priest, icy as a sepulchral statue;
“that is the one whom you are about to see die.”

His head fell upon his bosom and he moved slowly away.

The recluse writhed her arms with joy.

“I predicted it for her, that she would ascend thither! Thanks, priest!”
 she cried.

And she began to pace up and down with long strides before the grating
of her window, her hair dishevelled, her eyes flashing, with her
shoulder striking against the wall, with the wild air of a female wolf
in a cage, who has long been famished, and who feels the hour for her
repast drawing near.


Phoebus was not dead, however. Men of that stamp die hard. When Master
Philippe Lheulier, advocate extraordinary of the king, had said to poor
Esmeralda; “He is dying,” it was an error or a jest. When the archdeacon
had repeated to the condemned girl; “He is dead,” the fact is that he
knew nothing about it, but that he believed it, that he counted on it,
that he did not doubt it, that he devoutly hoped it. It would have been
too hard for him to give favorable news of his rival to the woman whom
he loved. Any man would have done the same in his place.

It was not that Phoebus’s wound had not been serious, but it had not
been as much so as the archdeacon believed. The physician, to whom the
soldiers of the watch had carried him at the first moment, had feared
for his life during the space of a week, and had even told him so in
Latin. But youth had gained the upper hand; and, as frequently happens,
in spite of prognostications and diagnoses, nature had amused herself by
saving the sick man under the physician’s very nose. It was while he
was still lying on the leech’s pallet that he had submitted to the
interrogations of Philippe Lheulier and the official inquisitors,
which had annoyed him greatly. Hence, one fine morning, feeling himself
better, he had left his golden spurs with the leech as payment, and had
slipped away. This had not, however, interfered with the progress of the
affair. Justice, at that epoch, troubled itself very little about the
clearness and definiteness of a criminal suit. Provided that the accused
was hung, that was all that was necessary. Now the judge had plenty of
proofs against la Esmeralda. They had supposed Phoebus to be dead, and
that was the end of the matter.

Phoebus, on his side, had not fled far. He had simply rejoined his
company in garrison at Queue-en-Brie, in the Isle-de-France, a few
stages from Paris.

After all, it did not please him in the least to appear in this suit.
He had a vague feeling that he should play a ridiculous figure in it.
On the whole, he did not know what to think of the whole affair.
Superstitious, and not given to devoutness, like every soldier who is
only a soldier, when he came to question himself about this adventure,
he did not feel assured as to the goat, as to the singular fashion in
which he had met La Esmeralda, as to the no less strange manner in which
she had allowed him to divine her love, as to her character as a gypsy,
and lastly, as to the surly monk. He perceived in all these incidents
much more magic than love, probably a sorceress, perhaps the devil;
a comedy, in short, or to speak in the language of that day, a very
disagreeable mystery, in which he played a very awkward part, the role
of blows and derision. The captain was quite put out of countenance
about it; he experienced that sort of shame which our La Fontaine has so
admirably defined,--

        Ashamed as a fox who has been caught by a fowl.

Moreover, he hoped that the affair would not get noised abroad, that his
name would hardly be pronounced in it, and that in any case it would
not go beyond the courts of the Tournelle. In this he was not mistaken,
there was then no “Gazette des Tribunaux;” and as not a week passed
which had not its counterfeiter to boil, or its witch to hang, or its
heretic to burn, at some one of the innumerable justices of Paris,
people were so accustomed to seeing in all the squares the ancient
feudal Themis, bare armed, with sleeves stripped up, performing her duty
at the gibbets, the ladders, and the pillories, that they hardly paid
any heed to it. Fashionable society of that day hardly knew the name
of the victim who passed by at the corner of the street, and it was the
populace at the most who regaled themselves with this coarse fare. An
execution was an habitual incident of the public highways, like the
braising-pan of the baker or the slaughter-house of the knacker. The
executioner was only a sort of butcher of a little deeper dye than the

Hence Phoebus’s mind was soon at ease on the score of the enchantress
Esmeralda, or Similar, as he called her, concerning the blow from the
dagger of the Bohemian or of the surly monk (it mattered little which
to him), and as to the issue of the trial. But as soon as his heart was
vacant in that direction, Fleur-de-Lys returned to it. Captain Phoebus’s
heart, like the physics of that day, abhorred a vacuum.

Queue-en-Brie was a very insipid place to stay at then, a village
of farriers, and cow-girls with chapped hands, a long line of poor
dwellings and thatched cottages, which borders the grand road on both
sides for half a league; a tail (queue), in short, as its name imports.

Fleur-de-Lys was his last passion but one, a pretty girl, a charming
dowry; accordingly, one fine morning, quite cured, and assuming that,
after the lapse of two months, the Bohemian affair must be completely
finished and forgotten, the amorous cavalier arrived on a prancing horse
at the door of the Gondelaurier mansion.

He paid no attention to a tolerably numerous rabble which had assembled
in the Place du Parvis, before the portal of Notre-Dame; he remembered
that it was the month of May; he supposed that it was some procession,
some Pentecost, some festival, hitched his horse to the ring at the
door, and gayly ascended the stairs to his beautiful betrothed.

She was alone with her mother.

The scene of the witch, her goat, her cursed alphabet, and Phoebus’s
long absences, still weighed on Fleur-de-Lys’s heart. Nevertheless, when
she beheld her captain enter, she thought him so handsome, his doublet
so new, his baldrick so shining, and his air so impassioned, that she
blushed with pleasure. The noble damsel herself was more charming than
ever. Her magnificent blond hair was plaited in a ravishing manner, she
was dressed entirely in that sky blue which becomes fair people so well,
a bit of coquetry which she had learned from Colombe, and her eyes were
swimming in that languor of love which becomes them still better.

Phoebus, who had seen nothing in the line of beauty, since he left the
village maids of Queue-en-Brie, was intoxicated with Fleur-de-Lys, which
imparted to our officer so eager and gallant an air, that his peace
was immediately made. Madame de Gondelaurier herself, still maternally
seated in her big arm-chair, had not the heart to scold him. As for
Fleur-de-Lys’s reproaches, they expired in tender cooings.

The young girl was seated near the window still embroidering her grotto
of Neptune. The captain was leaning over the back of her chair, and she
was addressing her caressing reproaches to him in a low voice.

“What has become of you these two long months, wicked man?”

“I swear to you,” replied Phoebus, somewhat embarrassed by the question,
“that you are beautiful enough to set an archbishop to dreaming.”

She could not repress a smile.

“Good, good, sir. Let my beauty alone and answer my question. A fine
beauty, in sooth!”

“Well, my dear cousin, I was recalled to the garrison.

“And where is that, if you please? and why did not you come to say

“At Queue-en-Brie.”

Phoebus was delighted with the first question, which helped him to avoid
the second.

“But that is quite close by, monsieur. Why did you not come to see me a
single time?”

Here Phoebus was rather seriously embarrassed.

“Because--the service--and then, charming cousin, I have been ill.”

“Ill!” she repeated in alarm.

“Yes, wounded!”


She poor child was completely upset.

“Oh! do not be frightened at that,” said Phoebus, carelessly, “it was
nothing. A quarrel, a sword cut; what is that to you?”

“What is that to me?” exclaimed Fleur-de-Lys, raising her beautiful eyes
filled with tears. “Oh! you do not say what you think when you speak
thus. What sword cut was that? I wish to know all.”

“Well, my dear fair one, I had a falling out with Mahè Fédy, you know?
the lieutenant of Saint-Germain-en-Laye, and we ripped open a few inches
of skin for each other. That is all.”

The mendacious captain was perfectly well aware that an affair of
honor always makes a man stand well in the eyes of a woman. In fact,
Fleur-de-Lys looked him full in the face, all agitated with fear,
pleasure, and admiration. Still, she was not completely reassured.

“Provided that you are wholly cured, my Phoebus!” said she. “I do not
know your Mahè Fédy, but he is a villanous man. And whence arose this

Here Phoebus, whose imagination was endowed with but mediocre power
of creation, began to find himself in a quandary as to a means of
extricating himself for his prowess.

“Oh! how do I know?--a mere nothing, a horse, a remark! Fair cousin,”
 he exclaimed, for the sake of changing the conversation, “what noise is
this in the Cathedral Square?”

He approached the window.

“Oh! _Mon Dieu_, fair cousin, how many people there are on the Place!”

“I know not,” said Fleur-de-Lys; “it appears that a witch is to do
penance this morning before the church, and thereafter to be hung.”

The captain was so thoroughly persuaded that la Esmeralda’s affair was
concluded, that he was but little disturbed by Fleur-de-Lys’s words.
Still, he asked her one or two questions.

“What is the name of this witch?”

“I do not know,” she replied.

“And what is she said to have done?”

She shrugged her white shoulders.

“I know not.”

“Oh, _mon Dieu_ Jesus!” said her mother; “there are so many witches
nowadays that I dare say they burn them without knowing their names. One
might as well seek the name of every cloud in the sky. After all, one
may be tranquil. The good God keeps his register.” Here the venerable
dame rose and came to the window. “Good Lord! you are right, Phoebus,”
 said she. “The rabble is indeed great. There are people on all the
roofs, blessed be God! Do you know, Phoebus, this reminds me of my best
days. The entrance of King Charles VII., when, also, there were many
people. I no longer remember in what year that was. When I speak of this
to you, it produces upon you the effect,--does it not?--the effect of
something very old, and upon me of something very young. Oh! the
crowd was far finer than at the present day. They even stood upon the
machicolations of the Porte Sainte-Antoine. The king had the queen on a
pillion, and after their highnesses came all the ladies mounted behind
all the lords. I remember that they laughed loudly, because beside
Amanyon de Garlande, who was very short of stature, there rode the
Sire Matefelon, a chevalier of gigantic size, who had killed heaps of
English. It was very fine. A procession of all the gentlemen of France,
with their oriflammes waving red before the eye. There were some with
pennons and some with banners. How can I tell? the Sire de Calm with a
pennon; Jean de Châteaumorant with a banner; the Sire de Courcy with a
banner, and a more ample one than any of the others except the Duc de
Bourbon. Alas! ‘tis a sad thing to think that all that has existed and
exists no longer!”

The two lovers were not listening to the venerable dowager. Phoebus
had returned and was leaning on the back of his betrothed’s chair, a
charming post whence his libertine glance plunged into all the openings
of Fleur-de-Lys’s gorget. This gorget gaped so conveniently, and allowed
him to see so many exquisite things and to divine so many more, that
Phoebus, dazzled by this skin with its gleams of satin, said to himself,
“How can any one love anything but a fair skin?”

Both were silent. The young girl raised sweet, enraptured eyes to him
from time to time, and their hair mingled in a ray of spring sunshine.

“Phoebus,” said Fleur-de-Lys suddenly, in a low voice, “we are to be
married three months hence; swear to me that you have never loved any
other woman than myself.”

“I swear it, fair angel!” replied Phoebus, and his passionate glances
aided the sincere tone of his voice in convincing Fleur-de-Lys.

Meanwhile, the good mother, charmed to see the betrothed pair on terms
of such perfect understanding, had just quitted the apartment to attend
to some domestic matter; Phoebus observed it, and this so emboldened
the adventurous captain that very strange ideas mounted to his brain.
Fleur-de-Lys loved him, he was her betrothed; she was alone with him;
his former taste for her had re-awakened, not with all its fresh-ness
but with all its ardor; after all, there is no great harm in tasting
one’s wheat while it is still in the blade; I do not know whether
these ideas passed through his mind, but one thing is certain, that
Fleur-de-Lys was suddenly alarmed by the expression of his glance. She
looked round and saw that her mother was no longer there.

“Good heavens!” said she, blushing and uneasy, “how very warm I am?”

“I think, in fact,” replied Phoebus, “that it cannot be far from midday.
The sun is troublesome. We need only lower the curtains.”

“No, no,” exclaimed the poor little thing, “on the contrary, I need

And like a fawn who feels the breath of the pack of hounds, she rose,
ran to the window, opened it, and rushed upon the balcony.

Phoebus, much discomfited, followed her.

The Place du Parvis Notre-Dame, upon which the balcony looked, as the
reader knows, presented at that moment a singular and sinister spectacle
which caused the fright of the timid Fleur-de-Lys to change its nature.

An immense crowd, which overflowed into all the neighboring streets,
encumbered the Place, properly speaking. The little wall, breast high,
which surrounded the Place, would not have sufficed to keep it free
had it not been lined with a thick hedge of sergeants and hackbuteers,
culverines in hand. Thanks to this thicket of pikes and arquebuses, the
Parvis was empty. Its entrance was guarded by a force of halberdiers
with the armorial bearings of the bishop. The large doors of the church
were closed, and formed a contrast with the innumerable windows on the
Place, which, open to their very gables, allowed a view of thousands of
heads heaped up almost like the piles of bullets in a park of artillery.

The surface of this rabble was dingy, dirty, earthy. The spectacle
which it was expecting was evidently one of the sort which possess the
privilege of bringing out and calling together the vilest among the
populace. Nothing is so hideous as the noise which was made by that
swarm of yellow caps and dirty heads. In that throng there were more
laughs than cries, more women than men.

From time to time, a sharp and vibrating voice pierced the general

“Ohé! Mahiet Baliffre! Is she to be hung yonder?”

“Fool! t’is here that she is to make her apology in her shift! the good
God is going to cough Latin in her face! That is always done here, at
midday. If ‘tis the gallows that you wish, go to the Grève.”

“I will go there, afterwards.”

“Tell me, la Boucanbry? Is it true that she has refused a confessor?”

“It appears so, La Bechaigne.”

“You see what a pagan she is!”

“‘Tis the custom, monsieur. The bailiff of the courts is bound to
deliver the malefactor ready judged for execution if he be a layman, to
the provost of Paris; if a clerk, to the official of the bishopric.”

“Thank you, sir.”

“Oh, God!” said Fleur-de-Lys, “the poor creature!”

This thought filled with sadness the glance which she cast upon the
populace. The captain, much more occupied with her than with that pack
of the rabble, was amorously rumpling her girdle behind. She turned
round, entreating and smiling.

“Please let me alone, Phoebus! If my mother were to return, she would
see your hand!”

At that moment, midday rang slowly out from the clock of Notre-Dame. A
murmur of satisfaction broke out in the crowd. The last vibration of the
twelfth stroke had hardly died away when all heads surged like the waves
beneath a squall, and an immense shout went up from the pavement, the
windows, and the roofs,

“There she is!”

Fleur-de-Lys pressed her hands to her eyes, that she might not see.

“Charming girl,” said Phoebus, “do you wish to withdraw?”

“No,” she replied; and she opened through curiosity, the eyes which she
had closed through fear.

A tumbrel drawn by a stout Norman horse, and all surrounded by cavalry
in violet livery with white crosses, had just debouched upon the Place
through the Rue Saint-Pierre-aux-Boeufs. The sergeants of the watch were
clearing a passage for it through the crowd, by stout blows from their
clubs. Beside the cart rode several officers of justice and police,
recognizable by their black costume and their awkwardness in the saddle.
Master Jacques Charmolue paraded at their head.

In the fatal cart sat a young girl with her arms tied behind her back,
and with no priest beside her. She was in her shift; her long black hair
(the fashion then was to cut it off only at the foot of the gallows)
fell in disorder upon her half-bared throat and shoulders.

Athwart that waving hair, more glossy than the plumage of a raven, a
thick, rough, gray rope was visible, twisted and knotted, chafing her
delicate collar-bones and twining round the charming neck of the poor
girl, like an earthworm round a flower. Beneath that rope glittered a
tiny amulet ornamented with bits of green glass, which had been left to
her no doubt, because nothing is refused to those who are about to die.
The spectators in the windows could see in the bottom of the cart her
naked legs which she strove to hide beneath her, as by a final feminine
instinct. At her feet lay a little goat, bound. The condemned girl held
together with her teeth her imperfectly fastened shift. One would have
said that she suffered still more in her misery from being thus exposed
almost naked to the eyes of all. Alas! modesty is not made for such

“Jesus!” said Fleur-de-Lys hastily to the captain. “Look fair cousin,
‘tis that wretched Bohemian with the goat.”

So saying, she turned to Phoebus. His eyes were fixed on the tumbrel. He
was very pale.

“What Bohemian with the goat?” he stammered.

“What!” resumed Fleur-de-Lys, “do you not remember?”

Phoebus interrupted her.

“I do not know what you mean.”

He made a step to re-enter the room, but Fleur-de-Lys, whose jealousy,
previously so vividly aroused by this same gypsy, had just been
re-awakened, Fleur-de-Lys gave him a look full of penetration and
distrust. She vaguely recalled at that moment having heard of a captain
mixed up in the trial of that witch.

“What is the matter with you?” she said to Phoebus, “one would say, that
this woman had disturbed you.”

Phoebus forced a sneer,--

“Me! Not the least in the world! Ah! yes, certainly!”

“Remain, then!” she continued imperiously, “and let us see the end.”

The unlucky captain was obliged to remain. He was somewhat reassured by
the fact that the condemned girl never removed her eyes from the bottom
of the cart. It was but too surely la Esmeralda. In this last stage of
opprobrium and misfortune, she was still beautiful; her great black eyes
appeared still larger, because of the emaciation of her cheeks; her pale
profile was pure and sublime. She resembled what she had been, in
the same degree that a virgin by Masaccio, resembles a virgin of
Raphael,--weaker, thinner, more delicate.

Moreover, there was nothing in her which was not shaken in some sort,
and which with the exception of her modesty, she did not let go at
will, so profoundly had she been broken by stupor and despair. Her body
bounded at every jolt of the tumbrel like a dead or broken thing; her
gaze was dull and imbecile. A tear was still visible in her eyes, but
motionless and frozen, so to speak.

Meanwhile, the lugubrious cavalcade has traversed the crowd amid cries
of joy and curious attitudes. But as a faithful historian, we must state
that on beholding her so beautiful, so depressed, many were moved with
pity, even among the hardest of them.

The tumbrel had entered the Parvis.

It halted before the central portal. The escort ranged themselves in
line on both sides. The crowd became silent, and, in the midst of this
silence full of anxiety and solemnity, the two leaves of the grand door
swung back, as of themselves, on their hinges, which gave a creak like
the sound of a fife. Then there became visible in all its length, the
deep, gloomy church, hung in black, sparely lighted with a few candles
gleaming afar off on the principal altar, opened in the midst of the
Place which was dazzling with light, like the mouth of a cavern. At the
very extremity, in the gloom of the apse, a gigantic silver cross
was visible against a black drapery which hung from the vault to the
pavement. The whole nave was deserted. But a few heads of priests could
be seen moving confusedly in the distant choir stalls, and, at the
moment when the great door opened, there escaped from the church a
loud, solemn, and monotonous chanting, which cast over the head of the
condemned girl, in gusts, fragments of melancholy psalms,--

“_Non timebo millia populi circumdantis me: exsurge, Domine; salvum me
fac, Deus_!”

“_Salvum me fac, Deus, quoniam intraverunt aquæ usque ad animam meam_.

“_Infixus sum in limo profundi; et non est substantia_.”

At the same time, another voice, separate from the choir, intoned upon
the steps of the chief altar, this melancholy offertory,--“_Qui verbum
meum audit, et credit ei qui misit me, habet vitam oeternam et in
judicium non venit; sed transit a morte im vitam_*.”

     * “He that heareth my word and believeth on Him that sent me,
hath eternal life, and hath not come into condemnation; but is passed
from death to life.”

This chant, which a few old men buried in the gloom sang from afar over
that beautiful creature, full of youth and life, caressed by the warm
air of spring, inundated with sunlight was the mass for the dead.

The people listened devoutly.

The unhappy girl seemed to lose her sight and her consciousness in
the obscure interior of the church. Her white lips moved as though in
prayer, and the headsman’s assistant who approached to assist her
to alight from the cart, heard her repeating this word in a low

They untied her hands, made her alight, accompanied by her goat, which
had also been unbound, and which bleated with joy at finding itself
free: and they made her walk barefoot on the hard pavement to the foot
of the steps leading to the door. The rope about her neck trailed behind
her. One would have said it was a serpent following her.

Then the chanting in the church ceased. A great golden cross and a row
of wax candles began to move through the gloom. The halberds of the
motley beadles clanked; and, a few moments later, a long procession of
priests in chasubles, and deacons in dalmatics, marched gravely towards
the condemned girl, as they drawled their song, spread out before her
view and that of the crowd. But her glance rested on the one who marched
at the head, immediately after the cross-bearer.

“Oh!” she said in a low voice, and with a shudder, “‘tis he again! the

It was in fact, the archdeacon. On his left he had the sub-chanter, on
his right, the chanter, armed with his official wand. He advanced with
head thrown back, his eyes fixed and wide open, intoning in a strong

“_De ventre inferi clamavi, et exaudisti vocem meam_.

“_Et projecisti me in profundum in corde mans, et flumem circumdedit

     *  “Out of the belly of hell cried I, and thou heardest
my voice. For thou hadst cast me into the deep in the midst of the seas,
and the floods compassed me about.”

At the moment when he made his appearance in the full daylight beneath
the lofty arched portal, enveloped in an ample cope of silver barred
with a black cross, he was so pale that more than one person in the
crowd thought that one of the marble bishops who knelt on the sepulchral
stones of the choir had risen and was come to receive upon the brink of
the tomb, the woman who was about to die.

She, no less pale, no less like a statue, had hardly noticed that they
had placed in her hand a heavy, lighted candle of yellow wax; she had
not heard the yelping voice of the clerk reading the fatal contents
of the apology; when they told her to respond with Amen, she responded
Amen. She only recovered life and force when she beheld the priest make
a sign to her guards to withdraw, and himself advance alone towards her.

Then she felt her blood boil in her head, and a remnant of indignation
flashed up in that soul already benumbed and cold.

The archdeacon approached her slowly; even in that extremity, she beheld
him cast an eye sparkling with sensuality, jealousy, and desire, over
her exposed form. Then he said aloud,--

“Young girl, have you asked God’s pardon for your faults and

He bent down to her ear, and added (the spectators supposed that he
was receiving her last confession): “Will you have me? I can still save

She looked intently at him: “Begone, demon, or I will denounce you!”

He gave vent to a horrible smile: “You will not be believed. You will
only add a scandal to a crime. Reply quickly! Will you have me?”

“What have you done with my Phoebus?”

“He is dead!” said the priest.

At that moment the wretched archdeacon raised his head mechanically and
beheld at the other end of the Place, in the balcony of the Gondelaurier
mansion, the captain standing beside Fleur-de-Lys. He staggered, passed
his hand across his eyes, looked again, muttered a curse, and all his
features were violently contorted.

“Well, die then!” he hissed between his teeth. “No one shall have
you.” Then, raising his hand over the gypsy, he exclaimed in a funereal
voice:--“_I nunc, anima anceps, et sit tibi Deus misenicors_!”*

     *  “Go now, soul, trembling in the balance, and God have mercy
upon thee.”

This was the dread formula with which it was the custom to conclude
these gloomy ceremonies. It was the signal agreed upon between the
priest and the executioner.

The crowd knelt.

“_Kyrie eleison_,” * said the priests, who had remained beneath the arch
of the portal.

     *  “Lord have mercy upon us.”

“_Kyrie eleison_,” repeated the throng in that murmur which runs over
all heads, like the waves of a troubled sea.

“Amen,” said the archdeacon.

He turned his back on the condemned girl, his head sank upon his breast
once more, he crossed his hands and rejoined his escort of priests, and
a moment later he was seen to disappear, with the cross, the candles,
and the copes, beneath the misty arches of the cathedral, and his
sonorous voice was extinguished by degrees in the choir, as he chanted
this verse of despair,--

“_Omnes gurgites tui et fluctus tui super me transierunt_.” *

     *  “All thy waves and thy billows have gone over me.”

At the same time, the intermittent clash of the iron butts of the
beadles’ halberds, gradually dying away among the columns of the nave,
produced the effect of a clock hammer striking the last hour of the

The doors of Notre-Dame remained open, allowing a view of the empty
desolate church, draped in mourning, without candles, and without

The condemned girl remained motionless in her place, waiting to be
disposed of. One of the sergeants of police was obliged to notify Master
Charmolue of the fact, as the latter, during this entire scene, had been
engaged in studying the bas-relief of the grand portal which represents,
according to some, the sacrifice of Abraham; according to others, the
philosopher’s alchemical operation: the sun being figured forth by the
angel; the fire, by the fagot; the artisan, by Abraham.

There was considerable difficulty in drawing him away from that
contemplation, but at length he turned round; and, at a signal which he
gave, two men clad in yellow, the executioner’s assistants, approached
the gypsy to bind her hands once more.

The unhappy creature, at the moment of mounting once again the fatal
cart, and proceeding to her last halting-place, was seized, possibly,
with some poignant clinging to life. She raised her dry, red eyes to
heaven, to the sun, to the silvery clouds, cut here and there by a blue
trapezium or triangle; then she lowered them to objects around her, to
the earth, the throng, the houses; all at once, while the yellow man was
binding her elbows, she uttered a terrible cry, a cry of joy. Yonder, on
that balcony, at the corner of the Place, she had just caught sight of
him, of her friend, her lord, Phoebus, the other apparition of her life!

The judge had lied! the priest had lied! it was certainly he, she could
not doubt it; he was there, handsome, alive, dressed in his brilliant
uniform, his plume on his head, his sword by his side!

“Phoebus!” she cried, “my Phoebus!”

And she tried to stretch towards him arms trembling with love and
rapture, but they were bound.

Then she saw the captain frown, a beautiful young girl who was leaning
against him gazed at him with disdainful lips and irritated eyes; then
Phoebus uttered some words which did not reach her, and both disappeared
precipitately behind the window opening upon the balcony, which closed
after them.

“Phoebus!” she cried wildly, “can it be you believe it?” A monstrous
thought had just presented itself to her. She remembered that she had
been condemned to death for murder committed on the person of Phoebus de

She had borne up until that moment. But this last blow was too harsh.
She fell lifeless on the pavement.

“Come,” said Charmolue, “carry her to the cart, and make an end of it.”

No one had yet observed in the gallery of the statues of the kings,
carved directly above the arches of the portal, a strange spectator, who
had, up to that time, observed everything with such impassiveness, with
a neck so strained, a visage so hideous that, in his motley accoutrement
of red and violet, he might have been taken for one of those stone
monsters through whose mouths the long gutters of the cathedral have
discharged their waters for six hundred years. This spectator had missed
nothing that had taken place since midday in front of the portal of
Notre-Dame. And at the very beginning he had securely fastened to one of
the small columns a large knotted rope, one end of which trailed on the
flight of steps below. This being done, he began to look on tranquilly,
whistling from time to time when a blackbird flitted past. Suddenly,
at the moment when the superintendent’s assistants were preparing
to execute Charmolue’s phlegmatic order, he threw his leg over the
balustrade of the gallery, seized the rope with his feet, his knees and
his hands; then he was seen to glide down the façade, as a drop of
rain slips down a window-pane, rush to the two executioners with the
swiftness of a cat which has fallen from a roof, knock them down with
two enormous fists, pick up the gypsy with one hand, as a child would
her doll, and dash back into the church with a single bound, lifting the
young girl above his head and crying in a formidable voice,--


This was done with such rapidity, that had it taken place at night,
the whole of it could have been seen in the space of a single flash of

“Sanctuary! Sanctuary!” repeated the crowd; and the clapping of ten
thousand hands made Quasimodo’s single eye sparkle with joy and pride.

This shock restored the condemned girl to her senses. She raised her
eyelids, looked at Quasimodo, then closed them again suddenly, as though
terrified by her deliverer.

Charmolue was stupefied, as well as the executioners and the entire
escort. In fact, within the bounds of Notre-Dame, the condemned girl
could not be touched. The cathedral was a place of refuge. All temporal
jurisdiction expired upon its threshold.

Quasimodo had halted beneath the great portal, his huge feet seemed
as solid on the pavement of the church as the heavy Roman pillars.
His great, bushy head sat low between his shoulders, like the heads of
lions, who also have a mane and no neck. He held the young girl, who was
quivering all over, suspended from his horny hands like a white drapery;
but he carried her with as much care as though he feared to break her
or blight her. One would have said that he felt that she was a delicate,
exquisite, precious thing, made for other hands than his. There were
moments when he looked as if not daring to touch her, even with his
breath. Then, all at once, he would press her forcibly in his arms,
against his angular bosom, like his own possession, his treasure, as
the mother of that child would have done. His gnome’s eye, fastened upon
her, inundated her with tenderness, sadness, and pity, and was suddenly
raised filled with lightnings. Then the women laughed and wept, the
crowd stamped with enthusiasm, for, at that moment Quasimodo had a
beauty of his own. He was handsome; he, that orphan, that foundling,
that outcast, he felt himself august and strong, he gazed in the face
of that society from which he was banished, and in which he had so
powerfully intervened, of that human justice from which he had wrenched
its prey, of all those tigers whose jaws were forced to remain empty, of
those policemen, those judges, those executioners, of all that force of
the king which he, the meanest of creatures, had just broken, with the
force of God.

And then, it was touching to behold this protection which had fallen
from a being so hideous upon a being so unhappy, a creature condemned to
death saved by Quasimodo. They were two extremes of natural and social
wretchedness, coming into contact and aiding each other.

Meanwhile, after several moments of triumph, Quasimodo had plunged
abruptly into the church with his burden. The populace, fond of all
prowess, sought him with their eyes, beneath the gloomy nave, regretting
that he had so speedily disappeared from their acclamations. All at
once, he was seen to re-appear at one of the extremities of the gallery
of the kings of France; he traversed it, running like a madman, raising
his conquest high in his arms and shouting: “Sanctuary!” The crowd broke
forth into fresh applause. The gallery passed, he plunged once more
into the interior of the church. A moment later, he re-appeared upon the
upper platform, with the gypsy still in his arms, still running madly,
still crying, “Sanctuary!” and the throng applauded. Finally, he made
his appearance for the third time upon the summit of the tower where
hung the great bell; from that point he seemed to be showing to the
entire city the girl whom he had saved, and his voice of thunder, that
voice which was so rarely heard, and which he never heard himself,
repeated thrice with frenzy, even to the clouds: “Sanctuary! Sanctuary!

“Noel! Noel!” shouted the populace in its turn; and that immense
acclamation flew to astonish the crowd assembled at the Grève on the
other bank, and the recluse who was still waiting with her eyes riveted
on the gibbet.



Claude Frollo was no longer in Notre-Dame when his adopted son so
abruptly cut the fatal web in which the archdeacon and the gypsy were
entangled. On returning to the sacristy he had torn off his alb, cope,
and stole, had flung all into the hands of the stupefied beadle, had
made his escape through the private door of the cloister, had ordered a
boatman of the Terrain to transport him to the left bank of the Seine,
and had plunged into the hilly streets of the University, not knowing
whither he was going, encountering at every step groups of men and women
who were hurrying joyously towards the Pont Saint-Michel, in the hope
of still arriving in time to see the witch hung there,--pale, wild, more
troubled, more blind and more fierce than a night bird let loose and
pursued by a troop of children in broad daylight. He no longer knew
where he was, what he thought, or whether he were dreaming. He went
forward, walking, running, taking any street at haphazard, making no
choice, only urged ever onward away from the Grève, the horrible Grève,
which he felt confusedly, to be behind him.

In this manner he skirted Mount Sainte-Geneviève, and finally emerged
from the town by the Porte Saint-Victor. He continued his flight as long
as he could see, when he turned round, the turreted enclosure of the
University, and the rare houses of the suburb; but, when, at length, a
rise of ground had completely concealed from him that odious Paris, when
he could believe himself to be a hundred leagues distant from it, in the
fields, in the desert, he halted, and it seemed to him that he breathed
more freely.

Then frightful ideas thronged his mind. Once more he could see clearly
into his soul, and he shuddered. He thought of that unhappy girl who had
destroyed him, and whom he had destroyed. He cast a haggard eye over the
double, tortuous way which fate had caused their two destinies to pursue
up to their point of intersection, where it had dashed them against each
other without mercy. He meditated on the folly of eternal vows, on
the vanity of chastity, of science, of religion, of virtue, on the
uselessness of God. He plunged to his heart’s content in evil thoughts,
and in proportion as he sank deeper, he felt a Satanic laugh burst forth
within him.

And as he thus sifted his soul to the bottom, when he perceived how
large a space nature had prepared there for the passions, he sneered
still more bitterly. He stirred up in the depths of his heart all his
hatred, all his malevolence; and, with the cold glance of a physician
who examines a patient, he recognized the fact that this malevolence
was nothing but vitiated love; that love, that source of every virtue in
man, turned to horrible things in the heart of a priest, and that a man
constituted like himself, in making himself a priest, made himself a
demon. Then he laughed frightfully, and suddenly became pale again,
when he considered the most sinister side of his fatal passion, of that
corrosive, venomous malignant, implacable love, which had ended only in
the gibbet for one of them and in hell for the other; condemnation for
her, damnation for him.

And then his laughter came again, when he reflected that Phoebus
was alive; that after all, the captain lived, was gay and happy, had
handsomer doublets than ever, and a new mistress whom he was conducting
to see the old one hanged. His sneer redoubled its bitterness when he
reflected that out of the living beings whose death he had desired, the
gypsy, the only creature whom he did not hate, was the only one who had
not escaped him.

Then from the captain, his thought passed to the people, and there came
to him a jealousy of an unprecedented sort. He reflected that the people
also, the entire populace, had had before their eyes the woman whom he
loved exposed almost naked. He writhed his arms with agony as he thought
that the woman whose form, caught by him alone in the darkness would
have been supreme happiness, had been delivered up in broad daylight at
full noonday, to a whole people, clad as for a night of voluptuousness.
He wept with rage over all these mysteries of love, profaned, soiled,
laid bare, withered forever. He wept with rage as he pictured to himself
how many impure looks had been gratified at the sight of that badly
fastened shift, and that this beautiful girl, this virgin lily, this cup
of modesty and delight, to which he would have dared to place his lips
only trembling, had just been transformed into a sort of public bowl,
whereat the vilest populace of Paris, thieves, beggars, lackeys, had
come to quaff in common an audacious, impure, and depraved pleasure.

And when he sought to picture to himself the happiness which he might
have found upon earth, if she had not been a gypsy, and if he had not
been a priest, if Phoebus had not existed and if she had loved him; when
he pictured to himself that a life of serenity and love would have been
possible to him also, even to him; that there were at that very moment,
here and there upon the earth, happy couples spending the hours in sweet
converse beneath orange trees, on the banks of brooks, in the presence
of a setting sun, of a starry night; and that if God had so willed,
he might have formed with her one of those blessed couples,--his heart
melted in tenderness and despair.

Oh! she! still she! It was this fixed idea which returned incessantly,
which tortured him, which ate into his brain, and rent his vitals. He
did not regret, he did not repent; all that he had done he was ready
to do again; he preferred to behold her in the hands of the executioner
rather than in the arms of the captain. But he suffered; he suffered
so that at intervals he tore out handfuls of his hair to see whether it
were not turning white.

Among other moments there came one, when it occurred to him that it was
perhaps the very minute when the hideous chain which he had seen
that morning, was pressing its iron noose closer about that frail and
graceful neck. This thought caused the perspiration to start from every

There was another moment when, while laughing diabolically at himself,
he represented to himself la Esmeralda as he had seen her on that
first day, lively, careless, joyous, gayly attired, dancing, winged,
harmonious, and la Esmeralda of the last day, in her scanty shift, with
a rope about her neck, mounting slowly with her bare feet, the angular
ladder of the gallows; he figured to himself this double picture in such
a manner that he gave vent to a terrible cry.

While this hurricane of despair overturned, broke, tore up, bent,
uprooted everything in his soul, he gazed at nature around him. At his
feet, some chickens were searching the thickets and pecking, enamelled
beetles ran about in the sun; overhead, some groups of dappled gray
clouds were floating across the blue sky; on the horizon, the spire
of the Abbey Saint-Victor pierced the ridge of the hill with its slate
obelisk; and the miller of the Copeaue hillock was whistling as he
watched the laborious wings of his mill turning. All this active,
organized, tranquil life, recurring around him under a thousand forms,
hurt him. He resumed his flight.

He sped thus across the fields until evening. This flight from nature,
life, himself, man, God, everything, lasted all day long. Sometimes he
flung himself face downward on the earth, and tore up the young blades
of wheat with his nails. Sometimes he halted in the deserted street of
a village, and his thoughts were so intolerable that he grasped his head
in both hands and tried to tear it from his shoulders in order to dash
it upon the pavement.

Towards the hour of sunset, he examined himself again, and found himself
nearly mad. The tempest which had raged within him ever since the
instant when he had lost the hope and the will to save the gypsy,--that
tempest had not left in his conscience a single healthy idea, a single
thought which maintained its upright position. His reason lay there
almost entirely destroyed. There remained but two distinct images in his
mind, la Esmeralda and the gallows; all the rest was blank. Those two
images united, presented to him a frightful group; and the more he
concentrated what attention and thought was left to him, the more he
beheld them grow, in accordance with a fantastic progression, the one in
grace, in charm, in beauty, in light, the other in deformity and horror;
so that at last la Esmeralda appeared to him like a star, the gibbet
like an enormous, fleshless arm.

One remarkable fact is, that during the whole of this torture, the idea
of dying did not seriously occur to him. The wretch was made so. He
clung to life. Perhaps he really saw hell beyond it.

Meanwhile, the day continued to decline. The living being which still
existed in him reflected vaguely on retracing its steps. He believed
himself to be far away from Paris; on taking his bearings, he perceived
that he had only circled the enclosure of the University. The spire of
Saint-Sulpice, and the three lofty needles of Saint Germain-des-Prés,
rose above the horizon on his right. He turned his steps in that
direction. When he heard the brisk challenge of the men-at-arms of the
abbey, around the crenelated, circumscribing wall of Saint-Germain, he
turned aside, took a path which presented itself between the abbey and
the lazar-house of the bourg, and at the expiration of a few minutes
found himself on the verge of the Pré-aux-Clercs. This meadow was
celebrated by reason of the brawls which went on there night and day;
it was the hydra of the poor monks of Saint-Germain: _quod mouachis
Sancti-Germaini pratensis hydra fuit, clericis nova semper dissidiorum
capita suscitantibus_. The archdeacon was afraid of meeting some one
there; he feared every human countenance; he had just avoided the
University and the Bourg Saint-Germain; he wished to re-enter the
streets as late as possible. He skirted the Pré-aux-Clercs, took the
deserted path which separated it from the Dieu-Neuf, and at last reached
the water’s edge. There Dom Claude found a boatman, who, for a few
farthings in Parisian coinage, rowed him up the Seine as far as the
point of the city, and landed him on that tongue of abandoned land
where the reader has already beheld Gringoire dreaming, and which
was prolonged beyond the king’s gardens, parallel to the Ile du

The monotonous rocking of the boat and the ripple of the water had, in
some sort, quieted the unhappy Claude. When the boatman had taken his
departure, he remained standing stupidly on the strand, staring straight
before him and perceiving objects only through magnifying oscillations
which rendered everything a sort of phantasmagoria to him. The fatigue
of a great grief not infrequently produces this effect on the mind.

The sun had set behind the lofty Tour-de-Nesle. It was the twilight
hour. The sky was white, the water of the river was white. Between these
two white expanses, the left bank of the Seine, on which his eyes were
fixed, projected its gloomy mass and, rendered ever thinner and thinner
by perspective, it plunged into the gloom of the horizon like a black
spire. It was loaded with houses, of which only the obscure outline
could be distinguished, sharply brought out in shadows against the light
background of the sky and the water. Here and there windows began to
gleam, like the holes in a brazier. That immense black obelisk thus
isolated between the two white expanses of the sky and the river,
which was very broad at this point, produced upon Dom Claude a singular
effect, comparable to that which would be experienced by a man who,
reclining on his back at the foot of the tower of Strasburg, should gaze
at the enormous spire plunging into the shadows of the twilight above
his head. Only, in this case, it was Claude who was erect and the
obelisk which was lying down; but, as the river, reflecting the sky,
prolonged the abyss below him, the immense promontory seemed to be as
boldly launched into space as any cathedral spire; and the impression
was the same. This impression had even one stronger and more profound
point about it, that it was indeed the tower of Strasbourg, but the
tower of Strasbourg two leagues in height; something unheard of,
gigantic, immeasurable; an edifice such as no human eye has ever seen;
a tower of Babel. The chimneys of the houses, the battlements of the
walls, the faceted gables of the roofs, the spire of the Augustines,
the tower of Nesle, all these projections which broke the profile of
the colossal obelisk added to the illusion by displaying in eccentric
fashion to the eye the indentations of a luxuriant and fantastic

Claude, in the state of hallucination in which he found himself,
believed that he saw, that he saw with his actual eyes, the bell tower
of hell; the thousand lights scattered over the whole height of the
terrible tower seemed to him so many porches of the immense interior
furnace; the voices and noises which escaped from it seemed so many
shrieks, so many death groans. Then he became alarmed, he put his hands
on his ears that he might no longer hear, turned his back that he might
no longer see, and fled from the frightful vision with hasty strides.

But the vision was in himself.

When he re-entered the streets, the passers-by elbowing each other by
the light of the shop-fronts, produced upon him the effect of a constant
going and coming of spectres about him. There were strange noises in his
ears; extraordinary fancies disturbed his brain. He saw neither
houses, nor pavements, nor chariots, nor men and women, but a chaos of
indeterminate objects whose edges melted into each other. At the corner
of the Rue de la Barillerie, there was a grocer’s shop whose porch was
garnished all about, according to immemorial custom, with hoops of tin
from which hung a circle of wooden candles, which came in contact with
each other in the wind, and rattled like castanets. He thought he heard
a cluster of skeletons at Montfauçon clashing together in the gloom.

“Oh!” he muttered, “the night breeze dashes them against each other,
and mingles the noise of their chains with the rattle of their bones!
Perhaps she is there among them!”

In his state of frenzy, he knew not whither he was going. After a few
strides he found himself on the Pont Saint-Michel. There was a light
in the window of a ground-floor room; he approached. Through a cracked
window he beheld a mean chamber which recalled some confused memory
to his mind. In that room, badly lighted by a meagre lamp, there was a
fresh, light-haired young man, with a merry face, who amid loud bursts
of laughter was embracing a very audaciously attired young girl; and
near the lamp sat an old crone spinning and singing in a quavering
voice. As the young man did not laugh constantly, fragments of the old
woman’s ditty reached the priest; it was something unintelligible yet

         “_Grève, aboie, Grève, grouille!
         File, file, ma quenouille,
         File sa corde au bourreau,
         Qui siffle dans le pre au,
         Grève, aboie, Grève, grouille_!

        “_La belle corde de chanvre!
        Semez d’Issy jusqu’á Vanvre
        Du chanvre et non pas du bleu.
        Le voleur n’a pas vole
        La belle corde de chanvre_.

        “_Grève, grouille, Grève, aboie!
        Pour voir la fille de joie,
        Prendre au gibet chassieux,
        Les fenêtres sont des yeux.
        Grève, grouille, Grève, aboie!_“*

     *  Bark, Grève, grumble, Grève!  Spin, spin, my distaff, spin
her rope for the hangman, who is whistling in the meadow. What a
beautiful hempen rope! Sow hemp, not wheat, from Issy to Vanvre. The
thief hath not stolen the beautiful hempen rope. Grumble, Grève, bark,
Grève! To see the dissolute wench hang on the blear-eyed gibbet, windows
are eyes.

Thereupon the young man laughed and caressed the wench. The crone was
la Falourdel; the girl was a courtesan; the young man was his brother

He continued to gaze. That spectacle was as good as any other.

He saw Jehan go to a window at the end of the room, open it, cast a
glance on the quay, where in the distance blazed a thousand lighted
casements, and he heard him say as he closed the sash,--

“‘Pon my soul! How dark it is; the people are lighting their candles,
and the good God his stars.”

Then Jehan came back to the hag, smashed a bottle standing on the table,

“Already empty, _cor-boeuf_! and I have no more money! Isabeau, my dear,
I shall not be satisfied with Jupiter until he has changed your two
white nipples into two black bottles, where I may suck wine of Beaune
day and night.”

This fine pleasantry made the courtesan laugh, and Jehan left the room.

Dom Claude had barely time to fling himself on the ground in order that
he might not be met, stared in the face and recognized by his brother.
Luckily, the street was dark, and the scholar was tipsy. Nevertheless,
he caught sight of the archdeacon prone upon the earth in the mud.

“Oh! oh!” said he; “here’s a fellow who has been leading a jolly life,

He stirred up Dom Claude with his foot, and the latter held his breath.

“Dead drunk,” resumed Jehan. “Come, he’s full. A regular leech detached
from a hogshead. He’s bald,” he added, bending down, “‘tis an old man!
_Fortunate senex_!”

Then Dom Claude heard him retreat, saying,--

“‘Tis all the same, reason is a fine thing, and my brother the
archdeacon is very happy in that he is wise and has money.”

Then the archdeacon rose to his feet, and ran without halting, towards
Notre-Dame, whose enormous towers he beheld rising above the houses
through the gloom.

At the instant when he arrived, panting, on the Place du Parvis, he
shrank back and dared not raise his eyes to the fatal edifice.

“Oh!” he said, in a low voice, “is it really true that such a thing took
place here, to-day, this very morning?”

Still, he ventured to glance at the church. The front was sombre; the
sky behind was glittering with stars. The crescent of the moon, in her
flight upward from the horizon, had paused at the moment, on the summit
of the light hand tower, and seemed to have perched itself, like a
luminous bird, on the edge of the balustrade, cut out in black trefoils.

The cloister door was shut; but the archdeacon always carried with him
the key of the tower in which his laboratory was situated. He made use
of it to enter the church.

In the church he found the gloom and silence of a cavern. By the deep
shadows which fell in broad sheets from all directions, he recognized
the fact that the hangings for the ceremony of the morning had not yet
been removed. The great silver cross shone from the depths of the
gloom, powdered with some sparkling points, like the milky way of
that sepulchral night. The long windows of the choir showed the upper
extremities of their arches above the black draperies, and their painted
panes, traversed by a ray of moonlight had no longer any hues but the
doubtful colors of night, a sort of violet, white and blue, whose tint
is found only on the faces of the dead. The archdeacon, on perceiving
these wan spots all around the choir, thought he beheld the mitres of
damned bishops. He shut his eyes, and when he opened them again, he
thought they were a circle of pale visages gazing at him.

He started to flee across the church. Then it seemed to him that the
church also was shaking, moving, becoming endued with animation, that it
was alive; that each of the great columns was turning into an enormous
paw, which was beating the earth with its big stone spatula, and that
the gigantic cathedral was no longer anything but a sort of prodigious
elephant, which was breathing and marching with its pillars for feet,
its two towers for trunks and the immense black cloth for its housings.

This fever or madness had reached such a degree of intensity that the
external world was no longer anything more for the unhappy man than a
sort of Apocalypse,--visible, palpable, terrible.

For one moment, he was relieved. As he plunged into the side aisles, he
perceived a reddish light behind a cluster of pillars. He ran towards it
as to a star. It was the poor lamp which lighted the public breviary
of Notre-Dame night and day, beneath its iron grating. He flung himself
eagerly upon the holy book in the hope of finding some consolation, or
some encouragement there. The hook lay open at this passage of Job, over
which his staring eye glanced,--

“And a spirit passed before my face, and I heard a small voice, and the
hair of my flesh stood up.”

On reading these gloomy words, he felt that which a blind man feels when
he feels himself pricked by the staff which he has picked up. His knees
gave way beneath him, and he sank upon the pavement, thinking of her who
had died that day. He felt so many monstrous vapors pass and discharge
themselves in his brain, that it seemed to him that his head had become
one of the chimneys of hell.

It would appear that he remained a long time in this attitude, no longer
thinking, overwhelmed and passive beneath the hand of the demon. At
length some strength returned to him; it occurred to him to take refuge
in his tower beside his faithful Quasimodo. He rose; and, as he was
afraid, he took the lamp from the breviary to light his way. It was a
sacrilege; but he had got beyond heeding such a trifle now.

He slowly climbed the stairs of the towers, filled with a secret fright
which must have been communicated to the rare passers-by in the Place
du Parvis by the mysterious light of his lamp, mounting so late from
loophole to loophole of the bell tower.

All at once, he felt a freshness on his face, and found himself at the
door of the highest gallery. The air was cold; the sky was filled with
hurrying clouds, whose large, white flakes drifted one upon another like
the breaking up of river ice after the winter. The crescent of the moon,
stranded in the midst of the clouds, seemed a celestial vessel caught in
the ice-cakes of the air.

He lowered his gaze, and contemplated for a moment, through the railing
of slender columns which unites the two towers, far away, through a
gauze of mists and smoke, the silent throng of the roofs of Paris,
pointed, innumerable, crowded and small like the waves of a tranquil sea
on a sum-mer night.

The moon cast a feeble ray, which imparted to earth and heaven an ashy

At that moment the clock raised its shrill, cracked voice. Midnight rang
out. The priest thought of midday; twelve o’clock had come back again.

“Oh!” he said in a very low tone, “she must be cold now.”

All at once, a gust of wind extinguished his lamp, and almost at the
same instant, he beheld a shade, a whiteness, a form, a woman, appear
from the opposite angle of the tower. He started. Beside this woman was
a little goat, which mingled its bleat with the last bleat of the clock.

He had strength enough to look. It was she.

She was pale, she was gloomy. Her hair fell over her shoulders as in the
morning; but there was no longer a rope on her neck, her hands were no
longer bound; she was free, she was dead.

She was dressed in white and had a white veil on her head.

She came towards him, slowly, with her gaze fixed on the sky. The
supernatural goat followed her. He felt as though made of stone and
too heavy to flee. At every step which she took in advance, he took one
backwards, and that was all. In this way he retreated once more beneath
the gloomy arch of the stairway. He was chilled by the thought that she
might enter there also; had she done so, he would have died of terror.

She did arrive, in fact, in front of the door to the stairway, and
paused there for several minutes, stared intently into the darkness, but
without appearing to see the priest, and passed on. She seemed taller
to him than when she had been alive; he saw the moon through her white
robe; he heard her breath.

When she had passed on, he began to descend the staircase again, with
the slowness which he had observed in the spectre, believing himself to
be a spectre too, haggard, with hair on end, his extinguished lamp still
in his hand; and as he descended the spiral steps, he distinctly heard
in his ear a voice laughing and repeating,--

“A spirit passed before my face, and I heard a small voice, and the hair
of my flesh stood up.”


Every city during the Middle Ages, and every city in France down to the
time of Louis XII. had its places of asylum. These sanctuaries, in the
midst of the deluge of penal and barbarous jurisdictions which inundated
the city, were a species of islands which rose above the level of human
justice. Every criminal who landed there was safe. There were in every
suburb almost as many places of asylum as gallows. It was the abuse of
impunity by the side of the abuse of punishment; two bad things which
strove to correct each other. The palaces of the king, the hotels of
the princes, and especially churches, possessed the right of asylum.
Sometimes a whole city which stood in need of being repeopled was
temporarily created a place of refuge. Louis XI. made all Paris a refuge
in 1467.

His foot once within the asylum, the criminal was sacred; but he must
beware of leaving it; one step outside the sanctuary, and he fell back
into the flood. The wheel, the gibbet, the strappado, kept good guard
around the place of refuge, and lay in watch incessantly for their prey,
like sharks around a vessel. Hence, condemned men were to be seen whose
hair had grown white in a cloister, on the steps of a palace, in the
enclosure of an abbey, beneath the porch of a church; in this manner the
asylum was a prison as much as any other. It sometimes happened that
a solemn decree of parliament violated the asylum and restored the
condemned man to the executioner; but this was of rare occurrence.
Parliaments were afraid of the bishops, and when there was friction
between these two robes, the gown had but a poor chance against the
cassock. Sometimes, however, as in the affair of the assassins of
Petit-Jean, the headsman of Paris, and in that of Emery Rousseau, the
murderer of Jean Valleret, justice overleaped the church and passed on
to the execution of its sentences; but unless by virtue of a decree of
Parliament, woe to him who violated a place of asylum with armed force!
The reader knows the manner of death of Robert de Clermont, Marshal
of France, and of Jean de Châlons, Marshal of Champagne; and yet
the question was only of a certain Perrin Marc, the clerk of a
money-changer, a miserable assassin; but the two marshals had broken the
doors of St. Méry. Therein lay the enormity.

Such respect was cherished for places of refuge that, according to
tradition, animals even felt it at times. Aymoire relates that a
stag, being chased by Dagobert, having taken refuge near the tomb of
Saint-Denis, the pack of hounds stopped short and barked.

Churches generally had a small apartment prepared for the reception of
supplicants. In 1407, Nicolas Flamel caused to be built on the vaults of
Saint-Jacques de la Boucherie, a chamber which cost him four livres six
sous, sixteen farthings, parisis.

At Notre-Dame it was a tiny cell situated on the roof of the side aisle,
beneath the flying buttresses, precisely at the spot where the wife of
the present janitor of the towers has made for herself a garden, which
is to the hanging gardens of Babylon what a lettuce is to a palm-tree,
what a porter’s wife is to a Semiramis.

It was here that Quasimodo had deposited la Esmeralda, after his wild
and triumphant course. As long as that course lasted, the young girl
had been unable to recover her senses, half unconscious, half awake, no
longer feeling anything, except that she was mounting through the air,
floating in it, flying in it, that something was raising her above the
earth. From time to time she heard the loud laughter, the noisy voice
of Quasimodo in her ear; she half opened her eyes; then below her she
confusedly beheld Paris checkered with its thousand roofs of slate and
tiles, like a red and blue mosaic, above her head the frightful and
joyous face of Quasimodo. Then her eyelids drooped again; she thought
that all was over, that they had executed her during her swoon, and that
the misshapen spirit which had presided over her destiny, had laid hold
of her and was bearing her away. She dared not look at him, and she
surrendered herself to her fate. But when the bellringer, dishevelled
and panting, had deposited her in the cell of refuge, when she felt his
huge hands gently detaching the cord which bruised her arms, she felt
that sort of shock which awakens with a start the passengers of a vessel
which runs aground in the middle of a dark night. Her thoughts
awoke also, and returned to her one by one. She saw that she was in
Notre-Dame; she remembered having been torn from the hands of the
executioner; that Phoebus was alive, that Phoebus loved her no longer;
and as these two ideas, one of which shed so much bitterness over the
other, presented themselves simultaneously to the poor condemned girl;
she turned to Quasimodo, who was standing in front of her, and who
terrified her; she said to him,--“Why have you saved me?”

He gazed at her with anxiety, as though seeking to divine what she was
saying to him. She repeated her question. Then he gave her a profoundly
sorrowful glance and fled. She was astonished.

A few moments later he returned, bearing a package which he cast at
her feet. It was clothing which some charitable women had left on the
threshold of the church for her.

Then she dropped her eyes upon herself and saw that she was almost
naked, and blushed. Life had returned.

Quasimodo appeared to experience something of this modesty. He covered
his eyes with his large hand and retired once more, but slowly.

She made haste to dress herself. The robe was a white one with a white
veil,--the garb of a novice of the Hôtel-Dien.

She had barely finished when she beheld Quasimodo returning. He carried
a basket under one arm and a mattress under the other. In the basket
there was a bottle, bread, and some provisions. He set the basket on the
floor and said, “Eat!” He spread the mattress on the flagging and said,

It was his own repast, it was his own bed, which the bellringer had gone
in search of.

The gypsy raised her eyes to thank him, but she could not articulate a
word. She dropped her head with a quiver of terror.

Then he said to her.--

“I frighten you. I am very ugly, am I not? Do not look at me; only
listen to me. During the day you will remain here; at night you can walk
all over the church. But do not leave the church either by day or by
night. You would be lost. They would kill you, and I should die.”

She was touched and raised her head to answer him. He had disappeared.
She found herself alone once more, meditating upon the singular words of
this almost monstrous being, and struck by the sound of his voice, which
was so hoarse yet so gentle.

Then she examined her cell. It was a chamber about six feet square,
with a small window and a door on the slightly sloping plane of the roof
formed of flat stones. Many gutters with the figures of animals seemed
to be bending down around her, and stretching their necks in order to
stare at her through the window. Over the edge of her roof she perceived
the tops of thousands of chimneys which caused the smoke of all the
fires in Paris to rise beneath her eyes. A sad sight for the poor gypsy,
a foundling, condemned to death, an unhappy creature, without country,
without family, without a hearthstone.

At the moment when the thought of her isolation thus appeared to her
more poignant than ever, she felt a bearded and hairy head glide between
her hands, upon her knees. She started (everything alarmed her now) and
looked. It was the poor goat, the agile Djali, which had made its escape
after her, at the moment when Quasimodo had put to flight Charmolue’s
brigade, and which had been lavishing caresses on her feet for nearly
an hour past, without being able to win a glance. The gypsy covered him
with kisses.

“Oh! Djali!” she said, “how I have forgotten thee! And so thou still
thinkest of me! Oh! thou art not an ingrate!”

At the same time, as though an invisible hand had lifted the weight
which had repressed her tears in her heart for so long, she began to
weep, and, in proportion as her tears flowed, she felt all that was most
acrid and bitter in her grief depart with them.

Evening came, she thought the night so beautiful that she made the
circuit of the elevated gallery which surrounds the church. It afforded
her some relief, so calm did the earth appear when viewed from that


On the following morning, she perceived on awaking, that she had
been asleep. This singular thing astonished her. She had been so long
unaccustomed to sleep! A joyous ray of the rising sun entered through
her window and touched her face. At the same time with the sun, she
beheld at that window an object which frightened her, the unfortunate
face of Quasimodo. She involuntarily closed her eyes again, but in vain;
she fancied that she still saw through the rosy lids that gnome’s mask,
one-eyed and gap-toothed. Then, while she still kept her eyes closed,
she heard a rough voice saying, very gently,--

“Be not afraid. I am your friend. I came to watch you sleep. It does not
hurt you if I come to see you sleep, does it? What difference does it
make to you if I am here when your eyes are closed! Now I am going.
Stay, I have placed myself behind the wall. You can open your eyes

There was something more plaintive than these words, and that was the
accent in which they were uttered. The gypsy, much touched, opened
her eyes. He was, in fact, no longer at the window. She approached the
opening, and beheld the poor hunchback crouching in an angle of the
wall, in a sad and resigned attitude. She made an effort to surmount the
repugnance with which he inspired her. “Come,” she said to him gently.
From the movement of the gypsy’s lips, Quasimodo thought that she
was driving him away; then he rose and retired limping, slowly, with
drooping head, without even daring to raise to the young girl his gaze
full of despair. “Do come,” she cried, but he continued to retreat. Then
she darted from her cell, ran to him, and grasped his arm. On feeling
her touch him, Quasimodo trembled in every limb. He raised his suppliant
eye, and seeing that she was leading him back to her quarters, his whole
face beamed with joy and tenderness. She tried to make him enter the
cell; but he persisted in remaining on the threshold. “No, no,” said he;
“the owl enters not the nest of the lark.”

Then she crouched down gracefully on her couch, with her goat asleep at
her feet. Both remained motionless for several moments, considering
in silence, she so much grace, he so much ugliness. Every moment she
discovered some fresh deformity in Quasimodo. Her glance travelled from
his knock knees to his humped back, from his humped back to his only
eye. She could not comprehend the existence of a being so awkwardly
fashioned. Yet there was so much sadness and so much gentleness spread
over all this, that she began to become reconciled to it.

He was the first to break the silence. “So you were telling me to

She made an affirmative sign of the head, and said, “Yes.”

He understood the motion of the head. “Alas!” he said, as though
hesitating whether to finish, “I am--I am deaf.”

“Poor man!” exclaimed the Bohemian, with an expression of kindly pity.

He began to smile sadly.

“You think that that was all that I lacked, do you not? Yes, I am
deaf, that is the way I am made. ‘Tis horrible, is it not? You are so

There lay in the accents of the wretched man so profound a consciousness
of his misery, that she had not the strength to say a word. Besides, he
would not have heard her. He went on,--

“Never have I seen my ugliness as at the present moment. When I compare
myself to you, I feel a very great pity for myself, poor unhappy monster
that I am! Tell me, I must look to you like a beast. You, you are a
ray of sunshine, a drop of dew, the song of a bird! I am something
frightful, neither man nor animal, I know not what, harder, more
trampled under foot, and more unshapely than a pebble stone!”

Then he began to laugh, and that laugh was the most heartbreaking thing
in the world. He continued,--

“Yes, I am deaf; but you shall talk to me by gestures, by signs. I have
a master who talks with me in that way. And then, I shall very soon know
your wish from the movement of your lips, from your look.”

“Well!” she interposed with a smile, “tell me why you saved me.”

He watched her attentively while she was speaking.

“I understand,” he replied. “You ask me why I saved you. You have
forgotten a wretch who tried to abduct you one night, a wretch to whom
you rendered succor on the following day on their infamous pillory. A
drop of water and a little pity,--that is more than I can repay with my
life. You have forgotten that wretch; but he remembers it.”

She listened to him with profound tenderness. A tear swam in the eye of
the bellringer, but did not fall. He seemed to make it a sort of point
of honor to retain it.

“Listen,” he resumed, when he was no longer afraid that the tear would
escape; “our towers here are very high, a man who should fall from them
would be dead before touching the pavement; when it shall please you
to have me fall, you will not have to utter even a word, a glance will

Then he rose. Unhappy as was the Bohemian, this eccentric being still
aroused some compassion in her. She made him a sign to remain.

“No, no,” said he; “I must not remain too long. I am not at my ease. It
is out of pity that you do not turn away your eyes. I shall go to some
place where I can see you without your seeing me: it will be better so.”

He drew from his pocket a little metal whistle.

“Here,” said he, “when you have need of me, when you wish me to come,
when you will not feel too ranch horror at the sight of me, use this
whistle. I can hear this sound.”

He laid the whistle on the floor and fled.


Day followed day. Calm gradually returned to the soul of la Esmeralda.
Excess of grief, like excess of joy is a violent thing which lasts but
a short time. The heart of man cannot remain long in one extremity. The
gypsy had suffered so much, that nothing was left her but astonishment.
With security, hope had returned to her. She was outside the pale of
society, outside the pale of life, but she had a vague feeling that it
might not be impossible to return to it. She was like a dead person, who
should hold in reserve the key to her tomb.

She felt the terrible images which had so long persecuted her,
gradually departing. All the hideous phantoms, Pierrat Torterue, Jacques
Charmolue, were effaced from her mind, all, even the priest.

And then, Phoebus was alive; she was sure of it, she had seen him. To
her the fact of Phoebus being alive was everything. After the series of
fatal shocks which had overturned everything within her, she had found
but one thing intact in her soul, one sentiment,--her love for the
captain. Love is like a tree; it sprouts forth of itself, sends its
roots out deeply through our whole being, and often continues to
flourish greenly over a heart in ruins.

And the inexplicable point about it is that the more blind is this
passion, the more tenacious it is. It is never more solid than when it
has no reason in it.

La Esmeralda did not think of the captain without bitterness, no doubt.
No doubt it was terrible that he also should have been deceived; that he
should have believed that impossible thing, that he could have conceived
of a stab dealt by her who would have given a thousand lives for him.
But, after all, she must not be too angry with him for it; had she not
confessed her crime? had she not yielded, weak woman that she was, to
torture? The fault was entirely hers. She should have allowed her finger
nails to be torn out rather than such a word to be wrenched from her. In
short, if she could but see Phoebus once more, for a single minute,
only one word would be required, one look, in order to undeceive him,
to bring him back. She did not doubt it. She was astonished also at many
singular things, at the accident of Phoebus’s presence on the day of the
penance, at the young girl with whom he had been. She was his sister, no
doubt. An unreasonable explanation, but she contented herself with it,
because she needed to believe that Phoebus still loved her, and loved
her alone. Had he not sworn it to her? What more was needed, simple and
credulous as she was? And then, in this matter, were not appearances
much more against her than against him? Accordingly, she waited. She

Let us add that the church, that vast church, which surrounded her on
every side, which guarded her, which saved her, was itself a sovereign
tranquillizer. The solemn lines of that architecture, the religious
attitude of all the objects which surrounded the young girl, the serene
and pious thoughts which emanated, so to speak, from all the pores of
that stone, acted upon her without her being aware of it. The edifice
had also sounds fraught with such benediction and such majesty,
that they soothed this ailing soul. The monotonous chanting of the
celebrants, the responses of the people to the priest, sometimes
inarticulate, sometimes thunderous, the harmonious trembling of the
painted windows, the organ, bursting forth like a hundred trumpets, the
three belfries, humming like hives of huge bees, that whole orchestra on
which bounded a gigantic scale, ascending, descending incessantly
from the voice of a throng to that of one bell, dulled her memory, her
imagination, her grief. The bells, in particular, lulled her. It was
something like a powerful magnetism which those vast instruments shed
over her in great waves.

Thus every sunrise found her more calm, breathing better, less pale. In
proportion as her inward wounds closed, her grace and beauty blossomed
once more on her countenance, but more thoughtful, more reposeful. Her
former character also returned to her, somewhat even of her gayety, her
pretty pout, her love for her goat, her love for singing, her modesty.
She took care to dress herself in the morning in the corner of her
cell for fear some inhabitants of the neighboring attics might see her
through the window.

When the thought of Phoebus left her time, the gypsy sometimes thought
of Quasimodo. He was the sole bond, the sole connection, the sole
communication which remained to her with men, with the living.
Unfortunate girl! she was more outside the world than Quasimodo. She
understood not in the least the strange friend whom chance had given
her. She often reproached herself for not feeling a gratitude which
should close her eyes, but decidedly, she could not accustom herself to
the poor bellringer. He was too ugly.

She had left the whistle which he had given her lying on the ground.
This did not prevent Quasimodo from making his appearance from time to
time during the first few days. She did her best not to turn aside with
too much repugnance when he came to bring her her basket of provisions
or her jug of water, but he always perceived the slightest movement of
this sort, and then he withdrew sadly.

Once he came at the moment when she was caressing Djali. He stood
pensively for several minutes before this graceful group of the goat and
the gypsy; at last he said, shaking his heavy and ill-formed head,--

“My misfortune is that I still resemble a man too much. I should like to
be wholly a beast like that goat.”

She gazed at him in amazement.

He replied to the glance,--

“Oh! I well know why,” and he went away.

On another occasion he presented himself at the door of the cell (which
he never entered) at the moment when la Esmeralda was singing an old
Spanish ballad, the words of which she did not understand, but which had
lingered in her ear because the gypsy women had lulled her to sleep
with it when she was a little child. At the sight of that villanous form
which made its appearance so abruptly in the middle of her song, the
young girl paused with an involuntary gesture of alarm. The unhappy
bellringer fell upon his knees on the threshold, and clasped his large,
misshapen hands with a suppliant air. “Oh!” he said, sorrowfully,
“continue, I implore you, and do not drive me away.” She did not wish to
pain him, and resumed her lay, trembling all over. By degrees, however,
her terror disappeared, and she yielded herself wholly to the slow and
melancholy air which she was singing. He remained on his knees with
hands clasped, as in prayer, attentive, hardly breathing, his gaze
riveted upon the gypsy’s brilliant eyes.

On another occasion, he came to her with an awkward and timid air.
“Listen,” he said, with an effort; “I have something to say to you.”
 She made him a sign that she was listening. Then he began to sigh, half
opened his lips, appeared for a moment to be on the point of speaking,
then he looked at her again, shook his head, and withdrew slowly, with
his brow in his hand, leaving the gypsy stupefied. Among the grotesque
personages sculptured on the wall, there was one to whom he was
particularly attached, and with which he often seemed to exchange
fraternal glances. Once the gypsy heard him saying to it,--

“Oh! why am not I of stone, like you!”

At last, one morning, la Esmeralda had advanced to the edge of the roof,
and was looking into the Place over the pointed roof of Saint-Jean le
Rond. Quasimodo was standing behind her. He had placed himself in that
position in order to spare the young girl, as far as possible, the
displeasure of seeing him. All at once the gypsy started, a tear and a
flash of joy gleamed simultaneously in her eyes, she knelt on the
brink of the roof and extended her arms towards the Place with anguish,
exclaiming: “Phoebus! come! come! a word, a single word in the name of
heaven! Phoebus! Phoebus!” Her voice, her face, her gesture, her whole
person bore the heartrending expression of a shipwrecked man who is
making a signal of distress to the joyous vessel which is passing afar
off in a ray of sunlight on the horizon.

Quasimodo leaned over the Place, and saw that the object of this tender
and agonizing prayer was a young man, a captain, a handsome cavalier
all glittering with arms and decorations, prancing across the end of the
Place, and saluting with his plume a beautiful lady who was smiling at
him from her balcony. However, the officer did not hear the unhappy girl
calling him; he was too far away.

But the poor deaf man heard. A profound sigh heaved his breast; he
turned round; his heart was swollen with all the tears which he was
swallowing; his convulsively-clenched fists struck against his head, and
when he withdrew them there was a bunch of red hair in each hand.

The gypsy paid no heed to him. He said in a low voice as he gnashed his

“Damnation! That is what one should be like! ‘Tis only necessary to be
handsome on the outside!”

Meanwhile, she remained kneeling, and cried with extraor-dinary
agitation,--“Oh! there he is alighting from his horse! He is about to
enter that house!--Phoebus!--He does not hear me! Phoebus!--How wicked
that woman is to speak to him at the same time with me! Phoebus!

The deaf man gazed at her. He understood this pantomime. The poor
bellringer’s eye filled with tears, but he let none fall. All at once he
pulled her gently by the border of her sleeve. She turned round. He had
assumed a tranquil air; he said to her,--

“Would you like to have me bring him to you?”

She uttered a cry of joy.

“Oh! go! hasten! run! quick! that captain! that captain! bring him to
me! I will love you for it!”

She clasped his knees. He could not refrain from shaking his head sadly.

“I will bring him to you,” he said, in a weak voice. Then he turned his
head and plunged down the staircase with great strides, stifling with

When he reached the Place, he no longer saw anything except the handsome
horse hitched at the door of the Gondelaurier house; the captain had
just entered there.

He raised his eyes to the roof of the church. La Esmeralda was there
in the same spot, in the same attitude. He made her a sad sign with his
head; then he planted his back against one of the stone posts of the
Gondelaurier porch, determined to wait until the captain should come

In the Gondelaurier house it was one of those gala days which precede
a wedding. Quasimodo beheld many people enter, but no one come out. He
cast a glance towards the roof from time to time; the gypsy did not stir
any more than himself. A groom came and unhitched the horse and led it
to the stable of the house.

The entire day passed thus, Quasimodo at his post, la Esmeralda on the
roof, Phoebus, no doubt, at the feet of Fleur-de-Lys.

At length night came, a moonless night, a dark night. Quasimodo
fixed his gaze in vain upon la Esmeralda; soon she was no more than
a whiteness amid the twilight; then nothing. All was effaced, all was

Quasimodo beheld the front windows from top to bottom of the
Gondelaurier mansion illuminated; he saw the other casements in the
Place lighted one by one, he also saw them extinguished to the very
last, for he remained the whole evening at his post. The officer did not
come forth. When the last passers-by had returned home, when the windows
of all the other houses were extinguished, Quasimodo was left entirely
alone, entirely in the dark. There were at that time no lamps in the
square before Notre-Dame.

Meanwhile, the windows of the Gondelaurier mansion remained lighted,
even after midnight. Quasimodo, motionless and attentive, beheld a
throng of lively, dancing shadows pass athwart the many-colored
painted panes. Had he not been deaf, he would have heard more and more
distinctly, in proportion as the noise of sleeping Paris died away, a
sound of feasting, laughter, and music in the Gondelaurier mansion.

Towards one o’clock in the morning, the guests began to take their
leave. Quasimodo, shrouded in darkness watched them all pass out through
the porch illuminated with torches. None of them was the captain.

He was filled with sad thoughts; at times he looked upwards into the
air, like a person who is weary of waiting. Great black clouds, heavy,
torn, split, hung like crape hammocks beneath the starry dome of night.
One would have pronounced them spiders’ webs of the vault of heaven.

In one of these moments he suddenly beheld the long window on the
balcony, whose stone balustrade projected above his head, open
mysteriously. The frail glass door gave passage to two persons, and
closed noiselessly behind them; it was a man and a woman.

It was not without difficulty that Quasimodo succeeded in recognizing
in the man the handsome captain, in the woman the young lady whom he
had seen welcome the officer in the morning from that very balcony. The
place was perfectly dark, and a double crimson curtain which had fallen
across the door the very moment it closed again, allowed no light to
reach the balcony from the apartment.

The young man and the young girl, so far as our deaf man could judge,
without hearing a single one of their words, appeared to abandon
themselves to a very tender tête-a-tête. The young girl seemed to have
allowed the officer to make a girdle for her of his arm, and gently
repulsed a kiss.

Quasimodo looked on from below at this scene which was all the more
pleasing to witness because it was not meant to be seen. He contemplated
with bitterness that beauty, that happiness. After all, nature was not
dumb in the poor fellow, and his human sensibility, all maliciously
contorted as it was, quivered no less than any other. He thought of the
miserable portion which Providence had allotted to him; that woman and
the pleasure of love, would pass forever before his eyes, and that he
should never do anything but behold the felicity of others. But that
which rent his heart most in this sight, that which mingled indignation
with his anger, was the thought of what the gypsy would suffer could she
behold it. It is true that the night was very dark, that la Esmeralda,
if she had remained at her post (and he had no doubt of this), was very
far away, and that it was all that he himself could do to distinguish
the lovers on the balcony. This consoled him.

Meanwhile, their conversation grew more and more animated. The young
lady appeared to be entreating the officer to ask nothing more of her.
Of all this Quasimodo could distinguish only the beautiful clasped
hands, the smiles mingled with tears, the young girl’s glances directed
to the stars, the eyes of the captain lowered ardently upon her.

Fortunately, for the young girl was beginning to resist but feebly, the
door of the balcony suddenly opened once more and an old dame appeared;
the beauty seemed confused, the officer assumed an air of displeasure,
and all three withdrew.

A moment later, a horse was champing his bit under the porch, and the
brilliant officer, enveloped in his night cloak, passed rapidly before

The bellringer allowed him to turn the corner of the street, then he ran
after him with his ape-like agility, shouting: “Hey there! captain!”

The captain halted.

“What wants this knave with me?” he said, catching sight through the
gloom of that hipshot form which ran limping after him.

Meanwhile, Quasimodo had caught up with him, and had boldly grasped his
horse’s bridle: “Follow me, captain; there is one here who desires to
speak with you!

“_Cornemahom_!” grumbled Phoebus, “here’s a villanous; ruffled bird
which I fancy I have seen somewhere. Holà master, will you let my
horse’s bridle alone?”

“Captain,” replied the deaf man, “do you not ask me who it is?”

“I tell you to release my horse,” retorted Phoebus, impatiently. “What
means the knave by clinging to the bridle of my steed? Do you take my
horse for a gallows?”

Quasimodo, far from releasing the bridle, prepared to force him to
retrace his steps. Unable to comprehend the captain’s resistance, he
hastened to say to him,--

“Come, captain, ‘tis a woman who is waiting for you.” He added with an
effort: “A woman who loves you.”

“A rare rascal!” said the captain, “who thinks me obliged to go to all
the women who love me! or who say they do. And what if, by chance, she
should resemble you, you face of a screech-owl? Tell the woman who has
sent you that I am about to marry, and that she may go to the devil!”

“Listen,” exclaimed Quasimodo, thinking to overcome his hesitation with
a word, “come, monseigneur! ‘tis the gypsy whom you know!”

This word did, indeed, produce a great effect on Phoebus, but not of the
kind which the deaf man expected. It will be remembered that our gallant
officer had retired with Fleur-de-Lys several moments before Quasimodo
had rescued the condemned girl from the hands of Charmolue. Afterwards,
in all his visits to the Gondelaurier mansion he had taken care not to
mention that woman, the memory of whom was, after all, painful to him;
and on her side, Fleur-de-Lys had not deemed it politic to tell him that
the gypsy was alive. Hence Phoebus believed poor “Similar” to be dead,
and that a month or two had elapsed since her death. Let us add that
for the last few moments the captain had been reflecting on the profound
darkness of the night, the supernatural ugliness, the sepulchral voice
of the strange messenger; that it was past midnight; that the street was
deserted, as on the evening when the surly monk had accosted him; and
that his horse snorted as it looked at Quasimodo.

“The gypsy!” he exclaimed, almost frightened. “Look here, do you come
from the other world?”

And he laid his hand on the hilt of his dagger.

“Quick, quick,” said the deaf man, endeavoring to drag the horse along;
“this way!”

Phoebus dealt him a vigorous kick in the breast.

Quasimodo’s eye flashed. He made a motion to fling himself on the
captain. Then he drew himself up stiffly and said,--

“Oh! how happy you are to have some one who loves you!”

He emphasized the words “some one,” and loosing the horse’s bridle,--


Phoebus spurred on in all haste, swearing. Quasimodo watched him
disappear in the shades of the street.

“Oh!” said the poor deaf man, in a very low voice; “to refuse that!”

He re-entered Notre-Dame, lighted his lamp and climbed to the tower
again. The gypsy was still in the same place, as he had supposed.

She flew to meet him as far off as she could see him. “Alone!” she
cried, clasping her beautiful hands sorrowfully.

“I could not find him,” said Quasimodo coldly.

“You should have waited all night,” she said angrily.

He saw her gesture of wrath, and understood the reproach.

“I will lie in wait for him better another time,” he said, dropping his

“Begone!” she said to him.

He left her. She was displeased with him. He preferred to have her
abuse him rather than to have afflicted her. He had kept all the pain to

From that day forth, the gypsy no longer saw him. He ceased to come to
her cell. At the most she occasionally caught a glimpse at the summit of
the towers, of the bellringer’s face turned sadly to her. But as soon as
she perceived him, he disappeared.

We must admit that she was not much grieved by this voluntary absence
on the part of the poor hunchback. At the bottom of her heart she was
grateful to him for it. Moreover, Quasimodo did not deceive himself on
this point.

She no longer saw him, but she felt the presence of a good genius about
her. Her provisions were replenished by an invisible hand during her
slumbers. One morning she found a cage of birds on her window. There
was a piece of sculpture above her window which frightened her. She had
shown this more than once in Quasimodo’s presence. One morning, for
all these things happened at night, she no longer saw it, it had been
broken. The person who had climbed up to that carving must have risked
his life.

Sometimes, in the evening, she heard a voice, concealed beneath the wind
screen of the bell tower, singing a sad, strange song, as though to lull
her to sleep. The lines were unrhymed, such as a deaf person can make.

         _Ne regarde pas la figure,
         Jeune fille, regarde le coeur.
         Le coeur d’un beau jeune homme est souvent difforme.
         Il y a des coeurs ou l’amour ne se conserve pas_.

         _Jeune fille, le sapin n’est pas beau,
         N’est pas beau comme le peuplier,
         Mais il garde son feuillage l’hiver_.

         _Hélas! a quoi bon dire cela?
         Ce qui n’est pas beau a tort d’être;
         La beauté n’aime que la beauté,
         Avril tourne le dos a Janvier_.

         _La beauté est parfaite,
         La beauté peut tout,
         La beauté est la seule chose qui n’existe pàs a demi_.

         _Le corbeau ne vole que le jour,
         Le hibou ne vole que la nuit,
         Le cygne vole la nuit et le jour_.*

     *  Look not at the face, young girl, look at the heart.  The
heart of a handsome young man is often deformed. There are hearts in
which love does not keep. Young girl, the pine is not beautiful; it is
not beautiful like the poplar, but it keeps its foliage in winter. Alas!
What is the use of saying that? That which is not beautiful has no right
to exist; beauty loves only beauty; April turns her back on January.
Beauty is perfect, beauty can do all things, beauty is the only thing
which does not exist by halves. The raven flies only by day, the owl
flies only by night, the swan flies by day and by night.

One morning, on awaking, she saw on her window two vases filled with
flowers. One was a very beautiful and very brilliant but cracked vase of
glass. It had allowed the water with which it had been filled to escape,
and the flowers which it contained were withered. The other was an
earthenware pot, coarse and common, but which had preserved all its
water, and its flowers remained fresh and crimson.

I know not whether it was done intentionally, but La Esmeralda took the
faded nosegay and wore it all day long upon her breast.

That day she did not hear the voice singing in the tower.

She troubled herself very little about it. She passed her days in
caressing Djali, in watching the door of the Gondelaurier house, in
talking to herself about Phoebus, and in crumbling up her bread for the

She had entirely ceased to see or hear Quasimodo. The poor bellringer
seemed to have disappeared from the church. One night, nevertheless,
when she was not asleep, but was thinking of her handsome captain, she
heard something breathing near her cell. She rose in alarm, and saw by
the light of the moon, a shapeless mass lying across her door on the
outside. It was Quasimodo asleep there upon the stones.


In the meantime, public minor had informed the archdeacon of the
miraculous manner in which the gypsy had been saved. When he learned it,
he knew not what his sensations were. He had reconciled himself to la
Esmeralda’s death. In that matter he was tranquil; he had reached the
bottom of personal suffering. The human heart (Dora Claude had meditated
upon these matters) can contain only a certain quantity of despair.
When the sponge is saturated, the sea may pass over it without causing a
single drop more to enter it.

Now, with la Esmeralda dead, the sponge was soaked, all was at an end on
this earth for Dom Claude. But to feel that she was alive, and Phoebus
also, meant that tortures, shocks, alternatives, life, were beginning
again. And Claude was weary of all this.

When he heard this news, he shut himself in his cell in the cloister. He
appeared neither at the meetings of the chapter nor at the services. He
closed his door against all, even against the bishop. He remained thus
immured for several weeks. He was believed to be ill. And so he was, in

What did he do while thus shut up? With what thoughts was the
unfortunate man contending? Was he giving final battle to his formidable
passion? Was he concocting a final plan of death for her and of
perdition for himself?

His Jehan, his cherished brother, his spoiled child, came once to his
door, knocked, swore, entreated, gave his name half a score of times.
Claude did not open.

He passed whole days with his face close to the panes of his window.
From that window, situated in the cloister, he could see la Esmeralda’s
chamber. He often saw herself with her goat, sometimes with Quasimodo.
He remarked the little attentions of the ugly deaf man, his obedience,
his delicate and submissive ways with the gypsy. He recalled, for he had
a good memory, and memory is the tormentor of the jealous, he recalled
the singular look of the bellringer, bent on the dancer upon a certain
evening. He asked himself what motive could have impelled Quasimodo to
save her. He was the witness of a thousand little scenes between the
gypsy and the deaf man, the pantomime of which, viewed from afar and
commented on by his passion, appeared very tender to him. He distrusted
the capriciousness of women. Then he felt a jealousy which he could
never have believed possible awakening within him, a jealousy which made
him redden with shame and indignation: “One might condone the captain,
but this one!” This thought upset him.

His nights were frightful. As soon as he learned that the gypsy was
alive, the cold ideas of spectre and tomb which had persecuted him for
a whole day vanished, and the flesh returned to goad him. He turned and
twisted on his couch at the thought that the dark-skinned maiden was so
near him.

Every night his delirious imagination represented la Esmeralda to him in
all the attitudes which had caused his blood to boil most. He beheld her
outstretched upon the poniarded captain, her eyes closed, her beautiful
bare throat covered with Phoebus’s blood, at that moment of bliss when
the archdeacon had imprinted on her pale lips that kiss whose burn the
unhappy girl, though half dead, had felt. He beheld her, again, stripped
by the savage hands of the torturers, allowing them to bare and to
enclose in the boot with its iron screw, her tiny foot, her delicate
rounded leg, her white and supple knee. Again he beheld that ivory knee
which alone remained outside of Torterue’s horrible apparatus. Lastly,
he pictured the young girl in her shift, with the rope about her neck,
shoulders bare, feet bare, almost nude, as he had seen her on that last
day. These images of voluptuousness made him clench his fists, and a
shiver run along his spine.

One night, among others, they heated so cruelly his virgin and priestly
blood, that he bit his pillow, leaped from his bed, flung on a surplice
over his shirt, and left his cell, lamp in hand, half naked, wild, his
eyes aflame.

He knew where to find the key to the red door, which connected the
cloister with the church, and he always had about him, as the reader
knows, the key of the staircase leading to the towers.


That night, la Esmeralda had fallen asleep in her cell, full of
oblivion, of hope, and of sweet thoughts. She had already been asleep
for some time, dreaming as always, of Phoebus, when it seemed to her
that she heard a noise near her. She slept lightly and uneasily, the
sleep of a bird; a mere nothing waked her. She opened her eyes. The
night was very dark. Nevertheless, she saw a figure gazing at her
through the window; a lamp lighted up this apparition. The moment that
the figure saw that la Esmeralda had perceived it, it blew out the
lamp. But the young girl had had time to catch a glimpse of it; her eyes
closed again with terror.

“Oh!” she said in a faint voice, “the priest!”

All her past unhappiness came back to her like a flash of lightning. She
fell back on her bed, chilled.

A moment later she felt a touch along her body which made her shudder
so that she straightened herself up in a sitting posture, wide awake and

The priest had just slipped in beside her. He encircled her with both

She tried to scream and could not.

“Begone, monster! begone assassin!” she said, in a voice which was low
and trembling with wrath and terror.

“Mercy! mercy!” murmured the priest, pressing his lips to her shoulder.

She seized his bald head by its remnant of hair and tried to thrust
aside his kisses as though they had been bites.

“Mercy!” repeated the unfortunate man. “If you but knew what my love for
you is! ‘Tis fire, melted lead, a thousand daggers in my heart.”

She stopped his two arms with superhuman force.

“Let me go,” she said, “or I will spit in your face!”

He released her. “Vilify me, strike me, be malicious! Do what you will!
But have mercy! love me!”

Then she struck him with the fury of a child. She made her beautiful
hands stiff to bruise his face. “Begone, demon!”

“Love me! love mepity!” cried the poor priest returning her blows with

All at once she felt him stronger than herself.

“There must be an end to this!” he said, gnashing his teeth.

She was conquered, palpitating in his arms, and in his power. She felt a
wanton hand straying over her. She made a last effort, and began to cry:
“Help! Help! A vampire! a vampire!”

Nothing came. Djali alone was awake and bleating with anguish.

“Hush!” said the panting priest.

All at once, as she struggled and crawled on the floor, the gypsy’s hand
came in contact with something cold and metal-lic-it was Quasimodo’s
whistle. She seized it with a convulsive hope, raised it to her lips and
blew with all the strength that she had left. The whistle gave a clear,
piercing sound.

“What is that?” said the priest.

Almost at the same instant he felt himself raised by a vigorous arm. The
cell was dark; he could not distinguish clearly who it was that held
him thus; but he heard teeth chattering with rage, and there was just
sufficient light scattered among the gloom to allow him to see above his
head the blade of a large knife.

The priest fancied that he perceived the form of Quasimodo. He assumed
that it could be no one but he. He remembered to have stumbled, as
he entered, over a bundle which was stretched across the door on the
outside. But, as the newcomer did not utter a word, he knew not what
to think. He flung himself on the arm which held the knife, crying:
“Quasimodo!” He forgot, at that moment of distress, that Quasimodo was

In a twinkling, the priest was overthrown and a leaden knee rested on
his breast.

From the angular imprint of that knee he recognized Quasimodo; but what
was to be done? how could he make the other recognize him? the darkness
rendered the deaf man blind.

He was lost. The young girl, pitiless as an enraged tigress, did not
intervene to save him. The knife was approaching his head; the
moment was critical. All at once, his adversary seemed stricken with

“No blood on her!” he said in a dull voice.

It was, in fact, Quasimodo’s voice.

Then the priest felt a large hand dragging him feet first out of the
cell; it was there that he was to die. Fortunately for him, the moon had
risen a few moments before.

When they had passed through the door of the cell, its pale rays fell
upon the priest’s countenance. Quasimodo looked him full in the face, a
trembling seized him, and he released the priest and shrank back.

The gypsy, who had advanced to the threshold of her cell, beheld
with surprise their roles abruptly changed. It was now the priest who
menaced, Quasimodo who was the suppliant.

The priest, who was overwhelming the deaf man with gestures of wrath and
reproach, made the latter a violent sign to retire.

The deaf man dropped his head, then he came and knelt at the gypsy’s
door,--“Monseigneur,” he said, in a grave and resigned voice, “you shall
do all that you please afterwards, but kill me first.”

So saying, he presented his knife to the priest. The priest, beside
himself, was about to seize it. But the young girl was quicker than be;
she wrenched the knife from Quasimodo’s hands and burst into a frantic
laugh,--“Approach,” she said to the priest.

She held the blade high. The priest remained undecided.

She would certainly have struck him.

Then she added with a pitiless expression, well aware that she was about
to pierce the priest’s heart with thousands of red-hot irons,--

“Ah! I know that Phoebus is not dead!”

The priest overturned Quasimodo on the floor with a kick, and, quivering
with rage, darted back under the vault of the staircase.

When he was gone, Quasimodo picked up the whistle which had just saved
the gypsy.

“It was getting rusty,” he said, as he handed it back to her; then he
left her alone.

The young girl, deeply agitated by this violent scene, fell back
exhausted on her bed, and began to sob and weep. Her horizon was
becoming gloomy once more.

The priest had groped his way back to his cell.

It was settled. Dom Claude was jealous of Quasimodo!

He repeated with a thoughtful air his fatal words: “No one shall have



As soon as Pierre Gringoire had seen how this whole affair was
turning, and that there would decidedly be the rope, hanging, and other
disagreeable things for the principal personages in this comedy, he had
not cared to identify himself with the matter further. The outcasts
with whom he had remained, reflecting that, after all, it was the best
company in Paris,--the outcasts had continued to interest themselves in
behalf of the gypsy. He had thought it very simple on the part of
people who had, like herself, nothing else in prospect but Charmolue and
Torterue, and who, unlike himself, did not gallop through the regions
of imagination between the wings of Pegasus. From their remarks, he
had learned that his wife of the broken crock had taken refuge in
Notre-Dame, and he was very glad of it. But he felt no temptation to
go and see her there. He meditated occasionally on the little goat, and
that was all. Moreover, he was busy executing feats of strength during
the day for his living, and at night he was engaged in composing a
memorial against the Bishop of Paris, for he remembered having been
drenched by the wheels of his mills, and he cherished a grudge against
him for it. He also occupied himself with annotating the fine work of
Baudry-le-Rouge, Bishop of Noyon and Tournay, _De Cupa Petrarum_, which
had given him a violent passion for architecture, an inclination which
had replaced in his heart his passion for hermeticism, of which it was,
moreover, only a natural corollary, since there is an intimate relation
between hermeticism and masonry. Gringoire had passed from the love of
an idea to the love of the form of that idea.

One day he had halted near Saint Germain-l’Auxerrois, at the corner of
a mansion called “For-l’Evêque” (the Bishop’s Tribunal), which stood
opposite another called “For-le-Roi” (the King’s Tribunal). At this
For-l’Evêque, there was a charming chapel of the fourteenth century,
whose apse was on the street. Gringoire was devoutly examining its
exterior sculptures. He was in one of those moments of egotistical,
exclusive, supreme, enjoyment when the artist beholds nothing in the
world but art, and the world in art. All at once he feels a hand laid
gravely on his shoulder. He turns round. It was his old friend, his
former master, monsieur the archdeacon.

He was stupefied. It was a long time since he had seen the archdeacon,
and Dom Claude was one of those solemn and impassioned men, a meeting
with whom always upsets the equilibrium of a sceptical philosopher.

The archdeacon maintained silence for several minutes, during which
Gringoire had time to observe him. He found Dom Claude greatly changed;
pale as a winter’s morning, with hollow eyes, and hair almost white. The
priest broke the silence at length, by saying, in a tranquil but glacial

“How do you do, Master Pierre?”

“My health?” replied Gringoire. “Eh! eh! one can say both one thing and
another on that score. Still, it is good, on the whole. I take not too
much of anything. You know, master, that the secret of keeping well,
according to Hippocrates; _id est: cibi, potus, somni, venus, omnia
moderata sint_.”

“So you have no care, Master Pierre?” resumed the archdeacon, gazing
intently at Gringoire.

“None, i’ faith!”

“And what are you doing now?”

“You see, master. I am examining the chiselling of these stones, and the
manner in which yonder bas-relief is thrown out.”

The priest began to smile with that bitter smile which raises only one
corner of the mouth.

“And that amuses you?”

“‘Tis paradise!” exclaimed Gringoire. And leaning over the sculptures
with the fascinated air of a demonstrator of living phenomena: “Do
you not think, for instance, that yon metamorphosis in bas-relief is
executed with much adroitness, delicacy and patience? Observe that
slender column. Around what capital have you seen foliage more tender
and better caressed by the chisel. Here are three raised bosses of
Jean Maillevin. They are not the finest works of this great master.
Nevertheless, the naivete, the sweetness of the faces, the gayety of the
attitudes and draperies, and that inexplicable charm which is mingled
with all the defects, render the little figures very diverting and
delicate, perchance, even too much so. You think that it is not

“Yes, certainly!” said the priest.

“And if you were to see the interior of the chapel!” resumed the poet,
with his garrulous enthusiasm. “Carvings everywhere. ‘Tis as thickly
clustered as the head of a cabbage! The apse is of a very devout, and so
peculiar a fashion that I have never beheld anything like it elsewhere!”

Dom Claude interrupted him,--

“You are happy, then?”

Gringoire replied warmly;--

“On my honor, yes! First I loved women, then animals. Now I love stones.
They are quite as amusing as women and animals, and less treacherous.”

The priest laid his hand on his brow. It was his habitual gesture.


“Stay!” said Gringoire, “one has one’s pleasures!” He took the arm of
the priest, who let him have his way, and made him enter the staircase
turret of For-l’Evêque. “Here is a staircase! every time that I see it I
am happy. It is of the simplest and rarest manner of steps in Paris. All
the steps are bevelled underneath. Its beauty and simplicity consist
in the interspacing of both, being a foot or more wide, which are
interlaced, interlocked, fitted together, enchained enchased, interlined
one upon another, and bite into each other in a manner that is truly
firm and graceful.”

“And you desire nothing?”


“And you regret nothing?”

“Neither regret nor desire. I have arranged my mode of life.”

“What men arrange,” said Claude, “things disarrange.”

“I am a Pyrrhonian philosopher,” replied Gringoire, “and I hold all
things in equilibrium.”

“And how do you earn your living?”

“I still make epics and tragedies now and then; but that which brings me
in most is the industry with which you are acquainted, master; carrying
pyramids of chairs in my teeth.”

“The trade is but a rough one for a philosopher.”

“‘Tis still equilibrium,” said Gringoire. “When one has an idea, one
encounters it in everything.”

“I know that,” replied the archdeacon.

After a silence, the priest resumed,--

“You are, nevertheless, tolerably poor?”

“Poor, yes; unhappy, no.”

At that moment, a trampling of horses was heard, and our two
interlocutors beheld defiling at the end of the street, a company of the
king’s unattached archers, their lances borne high, an officer at
their head. The cavalcade was brilliant, and its march resounded on the

“How you gaze at that officer!” said Gringoire, to the archdeacon.

“Because I think I recognize him.”

“What do you call him?”

“I think,” said Claude, “that his name is Phoebus de Châteaupers.”

“Phoebus! A curious name! There is also a Phoebus, Comte de Foix. I
remember having known a wench who swore only by the name of Phoebus.”

“Come away from here,” said the priest. “I have something to say to

From the moment of that troop’s passing, some agitation had pierced
through the archdeacon’s glacial envelope. He walked on. Gringoire
followed him, being accustomed to obey him, like all who had once
approached that man so full of ascendency. They reached in silence the
Rue des Bernardins, which was nearly deserted. Here Dom Claude paused.

“What have you to say to me, master?” Gringoire asked him.

“Do you not think that the dress of those cavaliers whom we have just
seen is far handsomer than yours and mine?”

Gringoire tossed his head.

“I’ faith! I love better my red and yellow jerkin, than those scales
of iron and steel. A fine pleasure to produce, when you walk, the same
noise as the Quay of Old Iron, in an earthquake!”

“So, Gringoire, you have never cherished envy for those handsome fellows
in their military doublets?”

“Envy for what, monsieur the archdeacon? their strength, their armor,
their discipline? Better philosophy and independence in rags. I prefer
to be the head of a fly rather than the tail of a lion.”

“That is singular,” said the priest dreamily. “Yet a handsome uniform is
a beautiful thing.”

Gringoire, perceiving that he was in a pensive mood, quitted him to go
and admire the porch of a neighboring house. He came back clapping his

“If you were less engrossed with the fine clothes of men of war,
monsieur the archdeacon, I would entreat you to come and see this door.
I have always said that the house of the Sieur Aubry had the most superb
entrance in the world.”

“Pierre Gringoire,” said the archdeacon, “What have you done with that
little gypsy dancer?”

“La Esmeralda? You change the conversation very abruptly.”

“Was she not your wife?”

“Yes, by virtue of a broken crock. We were to have four years of it. By
the way,” added Gringoire, looking at the archdeacon in a half bantering
way, “are you still thinking of her?”

“And you think of her no longer?”

“Very little. I have so many things. Good heavens, how pretty that
little goat was!”

“Had she not saved your life?”

“‘Tis true, pardieu!”

“Well, what has become of her? What have you done with her?”

“I cannot tell you. I believe that they have hanged her.”

“You believe so?”

“I am not sure. When I saw that they wanted to hang people, I retired
from the game.”

“That is all you know of it?”

“Wait a bit. I was told that she had taken refuge in Notre-Dame, and
that she was safe there, and I am delighted to hear it, and I have not
been able to discover whether the goat was saved with her, and that is
all I know.”

“I will tell you more,” cried Dom Claude; and his voice, hitherto low,
slow, and almost indistinct, turned to thunder. “She has in fact, taken
refuge in Notre-Dame. But in three days justice will reclaim her, and
she will be hanged on the Grève. There is a decree of parliament.”

“That’s annoying,” said Gringoire.

The priest, in an instant, became cold and calm again.

“And who the devil,” resumed the poet, “has amused himself with
soliciting a decree of reintegration? Why couldn’t they leave parliament
in peace? What harm does it do if a poor girl takes shelter under the
flying buttresses of Notre-Dame, beside the swallows’ nests?”

“There are satans in this world,” remarked the archdeacon.

“‘Tis devilish badly done,” observed Gringoire.

The archdeacon resumed after a silence,--

“So, she saved your life?”

“Among my good friends the outcasts. A little more or a little less and
I should have been hanged. They would have been sorry for it to-day.”

“Would not you like to do something for her?”

“I ask nothing better, Dom Claude; but what if I entangle myself in some
villanous affair?”

“What matters it?”

“Bah! what matters it? You are good, master, that you are! I have two
great works already begun.”

The priest smote his brow. In spite of the calm which he affected, a
violent gesture betrayed his internal convulsions from time to time.

“How is she to be saved?”

Gringoire said to him; “Master, I will reply to you; _Il padelt_, which
means in Turkish, ‘God is our hope.’”

“How is she to be saved?” repeated Claude dreamily.

Gringoire smote his brow in his turn.

“Listen, master. I have imagination; I will devise expedients for you.
What if one were to ask her pardon from the king?”

“Of Louis XI.! A pardon!”

“Why not?”

“To take the tiger’s bone from him!”

Gringoire began to seek fresh expedients.

“Well, stay! Shall I address to the midwives a request accompanied by
the declaration that the girl is with child!”

This made the priest’s hollow eye flash.

“With child! knave! do you know anything of this?”

Gringoire was alarmed by his air. He hastened to say, “Oh, no, not I!
Our marriage was a real _forismaritagium_. I stayed outside. But one
might obtain a respite, all the same.”

“Madness! Infamy! Hold your tongue!”

“You do wrong to get angry,” muttered Gringoire. “One obtains a respite;
that does no harm to any one, and allows the midwives, who are poor
women, to earn forty deniers parisis.”

The priest was not listening to him!

“But she must leave that place, nevertheless!” he murmured, “the decree
is to be executed within three days. Moreover, there will be no decree;
that Quasimodo! Women have very depraved tastes!” He raised his voice:
“Master Pierre, I have reflected well; there is but one means of safety
for her.”

“What? I see none myself.”

“Listen, Master Pierre, remember that you owe your life to her. I will
tell you my idea frankly. The church is watched night and day; only
those are allowed to come out, who have been seen to enter. Hence
you can enter. You will come. I will lead you to her. You will change
clothes with her. She will take your doublet; you will take her

“So far, it goes well,” remarked the philosopher, “and then?”

“And then? she will go forth in your garments; you will remain with
hers. You will be hanged, perhaps, but she will be saved.”

Gringoire scratched his ear, with a very serious air. “Stay!” said he,
“that is an idea which would never have occurred to me unaided.”

At Dom Claude’s proposition, the open and benign face of the poet had
abruptly clouded over, like a smiling Italian landscape, when an unlucky
squall comes up and dashes a cloud across the sun.

“Well! Gringoire, what say you to the means?”

“I say, master, that I shall not be hanged, perchance, but that I shall
be hanged indubitably.

“That concerns us not.”

“The deuce!” said Gringoire.

“She has saved your life. ‘Tis a debt that you are discharging.”

“There are a great many others which I do not discharge.”

“Master Pierre, it is absolutely necessary.”

The archdeacon spoke imperiously.

“Listen, Dom Claude,” replied the poet in utter consternation. “You cling
to that idea, and you are wrong. I do not see why I should get myself
hanged in some one else’s place.”

“What have you, then, which attaches you so strongly to life?”

“Oh! a thousand reasons!”

“What reasons, if you please?”

“What? The air, the sky, the morning, the evening, the moonlight, my
good friends the thieves, our jeers with the old hags of go-betweens,
the fine architecture of Paris to study, three great books to make, one
of them being against the bishops and his mills; and how can I tell all?
Anaxagoras said that he was in the world to admire the sun. And then,
from morning till night, I have the happiness of passing all my days
with a man of genius, who is myself, which is very agreeable.”

“A head fit for a mule bell!” muttered the archdeacon. “Oh! tell me who
preserved for you that life which you render so charming to yourself? To
whom do you owe it that you breathe that air, behold that sky, and can
still amuse your lark’s mind with your whimsical nonsense and madness?
Where would you be, had it not been for her? Do you then desire that
she through whom you are alive, should die? that she should die, that
beautiful, sweet, adorable creature, who is necessary to the light of
the world and more divine than God, while you, half wise, and half fool,
a vain sketch of something, a sort of vegetable, which thinks that it
walks, and thinks that it thinks, you will continue to live with the
life which you have stolen from her, as useless as a candle in broad
daylight? Come, have a little pity, Gringoire; be generous in your turn;
it was she who set the example.”

The priest was vehement. Gringoire listened to him at first with an
undecided air, then he became touched, and wound up with a grimace which
made his pallid face resemble that of a new-born infant with an attack
of the colic.

“You are pathetic!” said he, wiping away a tear. “Well! I will think
about it. That’s a queer idea of yours.--After all,” he continued after
a pause, “who knows? perhaps they will not hang me. He who becomes
betrothed does not always marry. When they find me in that little
lodging so grotesquely muffled in petticoat and coif, perchance they
will burst with laughter. And then, if they do hang me,--well! the
halter is as good a death as any. ‘Tis a death worthy of a sage who has
wavered all his life; a death which is neither flesh nor fish, like the
mind of a veritable sceptic; a death all stamped with Pyrrhonism and
hesitation, which holds the middle station betwixt heaven and earth,
which leaves you in suspense. ‘Tis a philosopher’s death, and I was
destined thereto, perchance. It is magnificent to die as one has lived.”

The priest interrupted him: “Is it agreed.”

“What is death, after all?” pursued Gringoire with exaltation. “A
disagreeable moment, a toll-gate, the passage of little to nothingness.
Some one having asked Cercidas, the Megalopolitan, if he were willing to
die: ‘Why not?’ he replied; ‘for after my death I shall see those great
men, Pythagoras among the philosophers, Hecataeus among historians,
Homer among poets, Olympus among musicians.’”

The archdeacon gave him his hand: “It is settled, then? You will come

This gesture recalled Gringoire to reality.

“Ah! i’ faith no!” he said in the tone of a man just waking up. “Be
hanged! ‘tis too absurd. I will not.”

“Farewell, then!” and the archdeacon added between his teeth: “I’ll find
you again!”

“I do not want that devil of a man to find me,” thought Gringoire; and
he ran after Dom Claude. “Stay, monsieur the archdeacon, no ill-feeling
between old friends! You take an interest in that girl, my wife, I mean,
and ‘tis well. You have devised a scheme to get her out of Notre-Dame,
but your way is extremely disagreeable to me, Gringoire. If I had only
another one myself! I beg to say that a luminous inspiration has just
occurred to me. If I possessed an expedient for extricating her from
a dilemma, without compromising my own neck to the extent of a single
running knot, what would you say to it? Will not that suffice you? Is it
absolutely necessary that I should be hanged, in order that you may be

The priest tore out the buttons of his cassock with impatience: “Stream
of words! What is your plan?”

“Yes,” resumed Gringoire, talking to himself and touching his nose with
his forefinger in sign of meditation,--“that’s it!--The thieves are
brave fellows!--The tribe of Egypt love her!--They will rise at the
first word!--Nothing easier!--A sudden stroke.--Under cover of the
disorder, they will easily carry her off!--Beginning to-morrow evening.
They will ask nothing better.

“The plan! speak,” cried the archdeacon shaking him.

Gringoire turned majestically towards him: “Leave me! You see that I am
composing.” He meditated for a few moments more, then began to clap his
hands over his thought, crying: “Admirable! success is sure!”

“The plan!” repeated Claude in wrath.

Gringoire was radiant.

“Come, that I may tell you that very softly. ‘Tis a truly gallant
counter-plot, which will extricate us all from the matter. Pardieu, it
must be admitted that I am no fool.”

He broke off.

“Oh, by the way! is the little goat with the wench?”

“Yes. The devil take you!”

“They would have hanged it also, would they not?”

“What is that to me?”

“Yes, they would have hanged it. They hanged a sow last month. The
headsman loveth that; he eats the beast afterwards. Take my pretty
Djali! Poor little lamb!”

“Malediction!” exclaimed Dom Claude. “You are the executioner. What
means of safety have you found, knave? Must your idea be extracted with
the forceps?”

“Very fine, master, this is it.”

Gringoire bent his head to the archdeacon’s head and spoke to him in a
very low voice, casting an uneasy glance the while from one end to the
other of the street, though no one was passing. When he had finished,
Dom Claude took his hand and said coldly: “‘Tis well. Farewell until

“Until to-morrow,” repeated Gringoire. And, while the archdeacon was
disappearing in one direction, he set off in the other, saying to
himself in a low voice: “Here’s a grand affair, Monsieur Pierre
Gringoire. Never mind! ‘Tis not written that because one is of small
account one should take fright at a great enterprise. Bitou carried a
great bull on his shoulders; the water-wagtails, the warblers, and the
buntings traverse the ocean.”


On re-entering the cloister, the archdeacon found at the door of his
cell his brother Jehan du Moulin, who was waiting for him, and who had
beguiled the tedium of waiting by drawing on the wall with a bit of
charcoal, a profile of his elder brother, enriched with a monstrous

Dom Claude hardly looked at his brother; his thoughts were elsewhere.
That merry scamp’s face whose beaming had so often restored serenity
to the priest’s sombre physiognomy, was now powerless to melt the gloom
which grew more dense every day over that corrupted, mephitic, and
stagnant soul.

“Brother,” said Jehan timidly, “I am come to see you.”

The archdeacon did not even raise his eyes.

“What then?”

“Brother,” resumed the hypocrite, “you are so good to me, and you give
me such wise counsels that I always return to you.”

“What next?”

“Alas! brother, you were perfectly right when you said to me,--“Jehan!
Jehan! _cessat doctorum doctrina, discipulorum disciplina_. Jehan,
be wise, Jehan, be learned, Jehan, pass not the night outside of the
college without lawful occasion and due leave of the master. Cudgel
not the Picards: _noli, Joannes, verberare Picardos_. Rot not like an
unlettered ass, _quasi asinus illitteratus_, on the straw seats of the
school. Jehan, allow yourself to be punished at the discretion of the
master. Jehan go every evening to chapel, and sing there an anthem
with verse and orison to Madame the glorious Virgin Mary.”--Alas! what
excellent advice was that!”

“And then?”

“Brother, you behold a culprit, a criminal, a wretch, a libertine, a man
of enormities! My dear brother, Jehan hath made of your counsels straw
and dung to trample under foot. I have been well chastised for it, and
God is extraordinarily just. As long as I had money, I feasted, I lead a
mad and joyous life. Oh! how ugly and crabbed behind is debauch which
is so charming in front! Now I have no longer a blank; I have sold my
napery, my shirt and my towels; no more merry life! The beautiful candle
is extinguished and I have henceforth, only a wretched tallow dip
which smokes in my nose. The wenches jeer at me. I drink water.--I am
overwhelmed with remorse and with creditors.

“The rest?” said the archdeacon.

“Alas! my very dear brother, I should like to settle down to a better
life. I come to you full of contrition, I am penitent. I make my
confession. I beat my breast violently. You are quite right in wishing
that I should some day become a licentiate and sub-monitor in the
college of Torchi. At the present moment I feel a magnificent vocation
for that profession. But I have no more ink and I must buy some; I
have no more paper, I have no more books, and I must buy some. For this
purpose, I am greatly in need of a little money, and I come to you,
brother, with my heart full of contrition.”

“Is that all?”

“Yes,” said the scholar. “A little money.”

“I have none.”

Then the scholar said, with an air which was both grave and resolute:
“Well, brother, I am sorry to be obliged to tell you that very fine
offers and propositions are being made to me in another quarter.
You will not give me any money? No. In that case I shall become a
professional vagabond.”

As he uttered these monstrous words, he assumed the mien of Ajax,
expecting to see the lightnings descend upon his head.

The archdeacon said coldly to him,--“Become a vagabond.”

Jehan made him a deep bow, and descended the cloister stairs, whistling.

At the moment when he was passing through the courtyard of the cloister,
beneath his brother’s window, he heard that window open, raised his eyes
and beheld the archdeacon’s severe head emerge.

“Go to the devil!” said Dom Claude; “here is the last money which you
will get from me?”

At the same time, the priest flung Jehan a purse, which gave the scholar
a big bump on the forehead, and with which Jehan retreated, both vexed
and content, like a dog who had been stoned with marrow bones.


The reader has probably not forgotten that a part of the Cour de
Miracles was enclosed by the ancient wall which surrounded the city, a
goodly number of whose towers had begun, even at that epoch, to fall to
ruin. One of these towers had been converted into a pleasure resort by
the vagabonds. There was a drain-shop in the underground story, and the
rest in the upper stories. This was the most lively, and consequently
the most hideous, point of the whole outcast den. It was a sort of
monstrous hive, which buzzed there night and day. At night, when the
remainder of the beggar horde slept, when there was no longer a window
lighted in the dingy façades of the Place, when not a cry was any longer
to be heard proceeding from those innumerable families, those ant-hills
of thieves, of wenches, and stolen or bastard children, the merry tower
was still recognizable by the noise which it made, by the scarlet light
which, flashing simultaneously from the air-holes, the windows, the
fissures in the cracked walls, escaped, so to speak, from its every

The cellar then, was the dram-shop. The descent to it was through a
low door and by a staircase as steep as a classic Alexandrine. Over the
door, by way of a sign there hung a marvellous daub, representing new
sons and dead chickens,* with this, pun below: _Aux sonneurs pour les
trépassés_,--The wringers for the dead.

     *  _Sols neufs: poulets tués_.

One evening when the curfew was sounding from all the belfries in Paris,
the sergeants of the watch might have observed, had it been granted to
them to enter the formidable Court of Miracles, that more tumult than
usual was in progress in the vagabonds’ tavern, that more drinking was
being done, and louder swearing. Outside in the Place, there, were many
groups conversing in low tones, as when some great plan is being framed,
and here and there a knave crouching down engaged in sharpening a
villanous iron blade on a paving-stone.

Meanwhile, in the tavern itself, wine and gaming offered such a powerful
diversion to the ideas which occupied the vagabonds’ lair that evening,
that it would have been difficult to divine from the remarks of the
drinkers, what was the matter in hand. They merely wore a gayer air than
was their wont, and some weapon could be seen glittering between the
legs of each of them,--a sickle, an axe, a big two-edged sword or the
hook of an old hackbut.

The room, circular in form, was very spacious; but the tables were
so thickly set and the drinkers so numerous, that all that the tavern
contained, men, women, benches, beer-jugs, all that were drinking, all
that were sleeping, all that were playing, the well, the lame, seemed
piled up pell-mell, with as much order and harmony as a heap of oyster
shells. There were a few tallow dips lighted on the tables; but the real
luminary of this tavern, that which played the part in this dram-shop of
the chandelier of an opera house, was the fire. This cellar was so damp
that the fire was never allowed to go out, even in midsummer; an immense
chimney with a sculptured mantel, all bristling with heavy iron andirons
and cooking utensils, with one of those huge fires of mixed wood and
peat which at night, in village streets make the reflection of forge
windows stand out so red on the opposite walls. A big dog gravely seated
in the ashes was turning a spit loaded with meat before the coals.

Great as was the confusion, after the first glance one could distinguish
in that multitude, three principal groups which thronged around three
personages already known to the reader. One of these personages,
fantastically accoutred in many an oriental rag, was Mathias Hungadi
Spicali, Duke of Egypt and Bohemia. The knave was seated on a table with
his legs crossed, and in a loud voice was bestowing his knowledge of
magic, both black and white, on many a gaping face which surrounded him.
Another rabble pressed close around our old friend, the valiant King of
Thunes, armed to the teeth. Clopin Trouillefou, with a very serious air
and in a low voice, was regulating the distribution of an enormous cask
of arms, which stood wide open in front of him and from whence poured
out in profusion, axes, swords, bassinets, coats of mail, broadswords,
lance-heads, arrows, and viretons,* like apples and grapes from a horn
of plenty. Every one took something from the cask, one a morion, another
a long, straight sword, another a dagger with a cross--shaped hilt. The
very children were arming themselves, and there were even cripples in
bowls who, in armor and cuirass, made their way between the legs of the
drinkers, like great beetles.

     *  An arrow with a pyramidal head of iron and copper spiral
wings, by which a rotatory motion was communicated.

Finally, a third audience, the most noisy, the most jovial, and the most
numerous, encumbered benches and tables, in the midst of which harangued
and swore a flute-like voice, which escaped from beneath a heavy armor,
complete from casque to spurs. The individual who had thus screwed a
whole outfit upon his body, was so hidden by his warlike accoutrements
that nothing was to be seen of his person save an impertinent, red,
snub nose, a rosy mouth, and bold eyes. His belt was full of daggers and
poniards, a huge sword on his hip, a rusted cross-bow at his left, and a
vast jug of wine in front of him, without reckoning on his right, a fat
wench with her bosom uncovered. All mouths around him were laughing,
cursing, and drinking.

Add twenty secondary groups, the waiters, male and female, running with
jugs on their heads, gamblers squatting over taws, merelles,* dice,
vachettes, the ardent game of tringlet, quarrels in one corner, kisses
in another, and the reader will have some idea of this whole picture,
over which flickered the light of a great, flaming fire, which made a
thousand huge and grotesque shadows dance over the walls of the drinking

     *  A game played on a checker-board containing three concentric
sets of squares, with small stones. The game consisted in getting three
stones in a row.

As for the noise, it was like the inside of a bell at full peal.

The dripping-pan, where crackled a rain of grease, filled with its
continual sputtering the intervals of these thousand dialogues, which
intermingled from one end of the apartment to the other.

In the midst of this uproar, at the extremity of the tavern, on the
bench inside the chimney, sat a philosopher meditating with his feet in
the ashes and his eyes on the brands. It was Pierre Gringoire.

“Be quick! make haste, arm yourselves! we set out on the march in an
hour!” said Clopin Trouillefou to his thieves.

A wench was humming,--

         “_Bonsoir mon père et ma mere,
         Les derniers couvrent le feu_.” *

     * Good night, father and mother, the last cover up the fire.

Two card players were disputing,--

“Knave!” cried the reddest faced of the two, shaking his fist at the
other; “I’ll mark you with the club. You can take the place of Mistigri
in the pack of cards of monseigneur the king.”

“Ugh!” roared a Norman, recognizable by his nasal accent; “we are packed
in here like the saints of Caillouville!”

“My sons,” the Duke of Egypt was saying to his audience, in a falsetto
voice, “sorceresses in France go to the witches’ sabbath without
broomsticks, or grease, or steed, merely by means of some magic words.
The witches of Italy always have a buck waiting for them at their door.
All are bound to go out through the chimney.”

The voice of the young scamp armed from head to foot, dominated the

“Hurrah! hurrah!” he was shouting. “My first day in armor! Outcast! I
am an outcast. Give me something to drink. My friends, my name is Jehan
Frollo du Moulin, and I am a gentleman. My opinion is that if God were a
_gendarme_, he would turn robber. Brothers, we are about to set out on
a fine expedition. Lay siege to the church, burst in the doors, drag out
the beautiful girl, save her from the judges, save her from the priests,
dismantle the cloister, burn the bishop in his palace--all this we will
do in less time than it takes for a burgomaster to eat a spoonful of
soup. Our cause is just, we will plunder Notre-Dame and that will be the
end of it. We will hang Quasimodo. Do you know Quasimodo, ladies?
Have you seen him make himself breathless on the big bell on a grand
Pentecost festival! _Corne du Père_! ‘tis very fine! One would say he
was a devil mounted on a man. Listen to me, my friends; I am a vagabond
to the bottom of my heart, I am a member of the slang thief gang in
my soul, I was born an independent thief. I have been rich, and I have
devoured all my property. My mother wanted to make an officer of me; my
father, a sub-deacon; my aunt, a councillor of inquests; my grandmother,
prothonotary to the king; my great aunt, a treasurer of the short
robe,--and I have made myself an outcast. I said this to my father,
who spit his curse in my face; to my mother, who set to weeping and
chattering, poor old lady, like yonder fagot on the and-irons. Long live
mirth! I am a real Bicêtre. Waitress, my dear, more wine. I have still
the wherewithal to pay. I want no more Surène wine. It distresses my
throat. I’d as lief, _corboeuf_! gargle my throat with a basket.”

Meanwhile, the rabble applauded with shouts of laughter; and seeing that
the tumult was increasing around him, the scholar cried,--.

“Oh! what a fine noise! _Populi debacchantis populosa debacchatio_!”
 Then he began to sing, his eye swimming in ecstasy, in the tone of a
canon intoning vespers, _quæ cantica! quæ organa! quæ cantilenoe!
quæ meloclioe hic sine fine decantantur! Sonant melliflua hymnorum
organa, suavissima angelorum melodia, cantica canticorum mira_! He broke
off: “Tavern-keeper of the devil, give me some supper!”

There was a moment of partial silence, during which the sharp voice of
the Duke of Egypt rose, as he gave instructions to his Bohemians.

“The weasel is called Adrune; the fox, Blue-foot, or the Racer of the
Woods; the wolf, Gray-foot, or Gold-foot; the bear the Old Man, or
Grandfather. The cap of a gnome confers invisibility, and causes one to
behold invisible things. Every toad that is baptized must be clad in red
or black velvet, a bell on its neck, a bell on its feet. The godfather
holds its head, the godmother its hinder parts. ‘Tis the demon
Sidragasum who hath the power to make wenches dance stark naked.”

“By the mass!” interrupted Jehan, “I should like to be the demon

Meanwhile, the vagabonds continued to arm themselves and whisper at the
other end of the dram-shop.

“That poor Esmeralda!” said a Bohemian. “She is our sister. She must be
taken away from there.”

“Is she still at Notre-Dame?” went on a merchant with the appearance of
a Jew.

“Yes, pardieu!”

“Well! comrades!” exclaimed the merchant, “to Notre-Dame! So much the
better, since there are in the chapel of Saints Féréol and Ferrution
two statues, the one of John the Baptist, the other of Saint-Antoine, of
solid gold, weighing together seven marks of gold and fifteen estellins;
and the pedestals are of silver-gilt, of seventeen marks, five ounces. I
know that; I am a goldsmith.”

Here they served Jehan with his supper. As he threw himself back on the
bosom of the wench beside him, he exclaimed,--

“By Saint Voult-de-Lucques, whom people call Saint Goguelu, I am
perfectly happy. I have before me a fool who gazes at me with the smooth
face of an archduke. Here is one on my left whose teeth are so long that
they hide his chin. And then, I am like the Marshal de Gié at the siege
of Pontoise, I have my right resting on a hillock. _Ventre-Mahom_!
Comrade! you have the air of a merchant of tennis-balls; and you come
and sit yourself beside me! I am a nobleman, my friend! Trade is
incompatible with nobility. Get out of that! Hola hé! You others, don’t
fight! What, Baptiste Croque-Oison, you who have such a fine nose are
going to risk it against the big fists of that lout! Fool! _Non cuiquam
datum est habere nasum_--not every one is favored with a nose. You are
really divine, Jacqueline Ronge-Oreille! ‘tis a pity that you have no
hair! Holà! my name is Jehan Frollo, and my brother is an archdeacon.
May the devil fly off with him! All that I tell you is the truth. In
turning vagabond, I have gladly renounced the half of a house situated
in paradise, which my brother had promised me. _Dimidiam domum in
paradiso_. I quote the text. I have a fief in the Rue Tirechappe, and
all the women are in love with me, as true as Saint Eloy was an
excellent goldsmith, and that the five trades of the good city of
Paris are the tanners, the tawers, the makers of cross-belts, the
purse-makers, and the sweaters, and that Saint Laurent was burnt
with eggshells. I swear to you, comrades.

         “_Que je ne beuvrai de piment,
         Devant un an, si je cy ment_.*

     *  That I will drink no spiced and honeyed wine for a year,
if I am lying now.

“‘Tis moonlight, my charmer; see yonder through the window how the
wind is tearing the clouds to tatters! Even thus will I do to
your gorget.--Wenches, wipe the children’s noses and snuff the
candles.--Christ and Mahom! What am I eating here, Jupiter? Ohé!
innkeeper! the hair which is not on the heads of your hussies one finds
in your omelettes. Old woman! I like bald omelettes. May the devil
confound you!--A fine hostelry of Beelzebub, where the hussies comb
their heads with the forks!

         “Et je n’ai moi,
         Par la sang-Dieu!
         Ni foi, ni loi,
         Ni feu, ni lieu,
         Ni roi,
         Ni Dieu.” *

     *  And by the blood of God, I have neither faith nor law, nor
     fire nor dwelling-place, nor king nor God.

In the meantime, Clopin Trouillefou had finished the distribution of
arms. He approached Gringoire, who appeared to be plunged in a profound
revery, with his feet on an andiron.

“Friend Pierre,” said the King of Thunes, “what the devil are you
thinking about?”

Gringoire turned to him with a melancholy smile.

“I love the fire, my dear lord. Not for the trivial reason that fire
warms the feet or cooks our soup, but because it has sparks. Sometimes I
pass whole hours in watching the sparks. I discover a thousand things in
those stars which are sprinkled over the black background of the hearth.
Those stars are also worlds.”

“Thunder, if I understand you!” said the outcast. “Do you know what
o’clock it is?”

“I do not know,” replied Gringoire.

Clopin approached the Duke of Egypt.

“Comrade Mathias, the time we have chosen is not a good one. King Louis
XI. is said to be in Paris.”

“Another reason for snatching our sister from his claws,” replied the
old Bohemian.

“You speak like a man, Mathias,” said the King of Thunes. “Moreover,
we will act promptly. No resistance is to be feared in the church. The
canons are hares, and we are in force. The people of the parliament will
be well balked to-morrow when they come to seek her! Guts of the pope I
don’t want them to hang the pretty girl!”

Chopin quitted the dram-shop.

Meanwhile, Jehan was shouting in a hoarse voice:

“I eat, I drink, I am drunk, I am Jupiter! Eh! Pierre, the Slaughterer,
if you look at me like that again, I’ll fillip the dust off your nose
for you.”

Gringoire, torn from his meditations, began to watch the wild and noisy
scene which surrounded him, muttering between his teeth: “_Luxuriosa
res vinum et tumultuosa ebrietas_. Alas! what good reason I have not to
drink, and how excellently spoke Saint-Benoit: ‘_Vinum apostatare facit
etiam sapientes!_’”

At that moment, Clopin returned and shouted in a voice of thunder:

At this word, which produced the effect of the call to boot and saddle
on a regiment at a halt, all the outcasts, men, women, children,
rushed in a mass from the tavern, with great noise of arms and old iron

The moon was obscured.

The Cour des Miracles was entirely dark. There was not a single light.
One could make out there a throng of men and women conversing in low
tones. They could be heard buzzing, and a gleam of all sorts of weapons
was visible in the darkness. Clopin mounted a large stone.

“To your ranks, Argot!”* he cried. “Fall into line, Egypt! Form ranks,

     *  Men of the brotherhood of slang: thieves.

A movement began in the darkness. The immense multitude appeared to form
in a column. After a few minutes, the King of Thunes raised his voice
once more,--

“Now, silence to march through Paris! The password is, ‘Little sword
in pocket!’ The torches will not be lighted till we reach Notre-Dame!
Forward, march!”

Ten minutes later, the cavaliers of the watch fled in terror before a
long procession of black and silent men which was descending towards
the Pont an Change, through the tortuous streets which pierce the
close-built neighborhood of the markets in every direction.


That night, Quasimodo did not sleep. He had just made his last round of
the church. He had not noticed, that at the moment when he was closing
the doors, the archdeacon had passed close to him and betrayed some
displeasure on seeing him bolting and barring with care the enormous
iron locks which gave to their large leaves the solidity of a wall. Dom
Claude’s air was even more preoccupied than usual. Moreover, since the
nocturnal adventure in the cell, he had constantly abused Quasimodo,
but in vain did he ill treat, and even beat him occasionally, nothing
disturbed the submission, patience, the devoted resignation of
the faithful bellringer. He endured everything on the part of the
archdeacon, insults, threats, blows, without murmuring a complaint. At
the most, he gazed uneasily after Dom Claude when the latter ascended
the staircase of the tower; but the archdeacon had abstained from
presenting himself again before the gypsy’s eyes.

On that night, accordingly, Quasimodo, after having cast a glance at his
poor bells which he so neglected now, Jacqueline, Marie, and Thibauld,
mounted to the summit of the Northern tower, and there setting his dark
lanturn, well closed, upon the leads, he began to gaze at Paris. The
night, as we have already said, was very dark. Paris which, so to
speak was not lighted at that epoch, presented to the eye a confused
collection of black masses, cut here and there by the whitish curve of
the Seine. Quasimodo no longer saw any light with the exception of one
window in a distant edifice, whose vague and sombre profile was outlined
well above the roofs, in the direction of the Porte Sainte-Antoine.
There also, there was some one awake.

As the only eye of the bellringer peered into that horizon of mist and
night, he felt within him an inexpressible uneasiness. For several days
he had been upon his guard. He had perceived men of sinister mien, who
never took their eyes from the young girl’s asylum, prowling constantly
about the church. He fancied that some plot might be in process of
formation against the unhappy refugee. He imagined that there existed
a popular hatred against her, as against himself, and that it was very
possible that something might happen soon. Hence he remained upon his
tower on the watch, “dreaming in his dream-place,” as Rabelais says,
with his eye directed alternately on the cell and on Paris, keeping
faithful guard, like a good dog, with a thousand suspicions in his mind.

All at once, while he was scrutinizing the great city with that eye
which nature, by a sort of compensation, had made so piercing that it
could almost supply the other organs which Quasimodo lacked, it
seemed to him that there was something singular about the Quay de la
Vieille-Pelleterie, that there was a movement at that point, that the
line of the parapet, standing out blackly against the whiteness of the
water was not straight and tranquil, like that of the other quays, but
that it undulated to the eye, like the waves of a river, or like the
heads of a crowd in motion.

This struck him as strange. He redoubled his attention. The movement
seemed to be advancing towards the City. There was no light. It lasted
for some time on the quay; then it gradually ceased, as though that
which was passing were entering the interior of the island; then
it stopped altogether, and the line of the quay became straight and
motionless again.

At the moment when Quasimodo was lost in conjectures, it seemed to
him that the movement had re-appeared in the Rue du Parvis, which is
prolonged into the city perpendicularly to the façade of Notre-Dame.
At length, dense as was the darkness, he beheld the head of a column
debouch from that street, and in an instant a crowd--of which nothing
could be distinguished in the gloom except that it was a crowd--spread
over the Place.

This spectacle had a terror of its own. It is probable that this
singular procession, which seemed so desirous of concealing itself under
profound darkness, maintained a silence no less profound. Nevertheless,
some noise must have escaped it, were it only a trampling. But this
noise did not even reach our deaf man, and this great multitude, of
which he saw hardly anything, and of which he heard nothing, though it
was marching and moving so near him, produced upon him the effect of a
rabble of dead men, mute, impalpable, lost in a smoke. It seemed to
him, that he beheld advancing towards him a fog of men, and that he saw
shadows moving in the shadow.

Then his fears returned to him, the idea of an attempt against the gypsy
presented itself once more to his mind. He was conscious, in a confused
way, that a violent crisis was approaching. At that critical moment he
took counsel with himself, with better and prompter reasoning than one
would have expected from so badly organized a brain. Ought he to awaken
the gypsy? to make her escape? Whither? The streets were invested, the
church backed on the river. No boat, no issue!--There was but one
thing to be done; to allow himself to be killed on the threshold of
Notre-Dame, to resist at least until succor arrived, if it should
arrive, and not to trouble la Esmeralda’s sleep. This resolution once
taken, he set to examining the enemy with more tranquillity.

The throng seemed to increase every moment in the church square. Only,
he presumed that it must be making very little noise, since the windows
on the Place remained closed. All at once, a flame flashed up, and in
an instant seven or eight lighted torches passed over the heads of the
crowd, shaking their tufts of flame in the deep shade. Quasimodo then
beheld distinctly surging in the Parvis a frightful herd of men and
women in rags, armed with scythes, pikes, billhooks and partisans, whose
thousand points glittered. Here and there black pitchforks formed horns
to the hideous faces. He vaguely recalled this populace, and thought
that he recognized all the heads who had saluted him as Pope of the
Fools some months previously. One man who held a torch in one hand and
a club in the other, mounted a stone post and seemed to be haranguing
them. At the same time the strange army executed several evolutions, as
though it were taking up its post around the church. Quasimodo picked up
his lantern and descended to the platform between the towers, in order
to get a nearer view, and to spy out a means of defence.

Clopin Trouillefou, on arriving in front of the lofty portal of
Notre-Dame had, in fact, ranged his troops in order of battle. Although
he expected no resistance, he wished, like a prudent general, to
preserve an order which would permit him to face, at need, a sudden
attack of the watch or the police. He had accordingly stationed his
brigade in such a manner that, viewed from above and from a distance,
one would have pronounced it the Roman triangle of the battle of
Ecnomus, the boar’s head of Alexander or the famous wedge of Gustavus
Adolphus. The base of this triangle rested on the back of the Place in
such a manner as to bar the entrance of the Rue du Parvis; one of its
sides faced Hôtel-Dieu, the other the Rue Saint-Pierre-aux-Boeufs.
Clopin Trouillefou had placed himself at the apex with the Duke of
Egypt, our friend Jehan, and the most daring of the scavengers.

An enterprise like that which the vagabonds were now undertaking against
Notre-Dame was not a very rare thing in the cities of the Middle Ages.
What we now call the “police” did not exist then. In populous cities,
especially in capitals, there existed no single, central, regulating
power. Feudalism had constructed these great communities in a singular
manner. A city was an assembly of a thousand seigneuries, which
divided it into compartments of all shapes and sizes. Hence, a thousand
conflicting establishments of police; that is to say, no police at all.
In Paris, for example, independently of the hundred and forty-one lords
who laid claim to a manor, there were five and twenty who laid claim to
a manor and to administering justice, from the Bishop of Paris, who had
five hundred streets, to the Prior of Notre-Dame des Champs, who had
four. All these feudal justices recognized the suzerain authority of the
king only in name. All possessed the right of control over the roads.
All were at home. Louis XI., that indefatigable worker, who so largely
began the demolition of the feudal edifice, continued by Richelieu and
Louis XIV. for the profit of royalty, and finished by Mirabeau for the
benefit of the people,--Louis XI. had certainly made an effort to break
this network of seignories which covered Paris, by throwing violently
across them all two or three troops of general police. Thus, in 1465, an
order to the inhabitants to light candles in their windows at nightfall,
and to shut up their dogs under penalty of death; in the same year,
an order to close the streets in the evening with iron chains, and a
prohibition to wear daggers or weapons of offence in the streets
at night. But in a very short time, all these efforts at communal
legislation fell into abeyance. The bourgeois permitted the wind to
blow out their candles in the windows, and their dogs to stray; the iron
chains were stretched only in a state of siege; the prohibition to
wear daggers wrought no other changes than from the name of the Rue
Coupe-Gueule to the name of the Rue-Coupe-Gorge* which is an evident
progress. The old scaffolding of feudal jurisdictions remained standing;
an immense aggregation of bailiwicks and seignories crossing each
other all over the city, interfering with each other, entangled in one
another, enmeshing each other, trespassing on each other; a useless
thicket of watches, sub-watches and counter-watches, over which, with
armed force, passed brigandage, rapine, and sedition. Hence, in this
disorder, deeds of violence on the part of the populace directed against
a palace, a hotel, or house in the most thickly populated quarters, were
not unheard-of occurrences. In the majority of such cases, the neighbors
did not meddle with the matter unless the pillaging extended to
themselves. They stopped up their ears to the musket shots, closed their
shutters, barricaded their doors, allowed the matter to be concluded
with or without the watch, and the next day it was said in Paris,
“Etienne Barbette was broken open last night. The Marshal de Clermont
was seized last night, etc.” Hence, not only the royal habitations, the
Louvre, the Palace, the Bastille, the Tournelles, but simply seignorial
residences, the Petit-Bourbon, the Hôtel de Sens, the Hôtel d’
Angoulême, etc., had battlements on their walls, and machicolations over
their doors. Churches were guarded by their sanctity. Some, among the
number Notre-Dame, were fortified. The Abbey of Saint-German-des-Pres
was castellated like a baronial mansion, and more brass expended about
it in bombards than in bells. Its fortress was still to be seen in 1610.
To-day, barely its church remains.

     *  Cut-throat.  Coupe-gueule being the vulgar word for cut-weazand.

Let us return to Notre-Dame.

When the first arrangements were completed, and we must say, to the
honor of vagabond discipline, that Clopin’s orders were executed in
silence, and with admirable precision, the worthy chief of the band,
mounted on the parapet of the church square, and raised his hoarse and
surly voice, turning towards Notre-Dame, and brandishing his torch whose
light, tossed by the wind, and veiled every moment by its own smoke,
made the reddish façade of the church appear and disappear before the

“To you, Louis de Beaumont, bishop of Paris, counsellor in the Court of
Parliament, I, Clopin Trouillefou, king of Thunes, grand Coësre, prince
of Argot, bishop of fools, I say: Our sister, falsely condemned for
magic, hath taken refuge in your church, you owe her asylum and safety.
Now the Court of Parliament wishes to seize her once more there, and you
consent to it; so that she would be hanged to-morrow in the Grève, if
God and the outcasts were not here. If your church is sacred, so is our
sister; if our sister is not sacred, neither is your church. That is why
we call upon you to return the girl if you wish to save your church, or
we will take possession of the girl again and pillage the church, which
will be a good thing. In token of which I here plant my banner, and may
God preserve you, bishop of Paris.”

Quasimodo could not, unfortunately, hear these words uttered with a sort
of sombre and savage majesty. A vagabond presented his banner to Clopin,
who planted it solemnly between two paving-stones. It was a pitchfork
from whose points hung a bleeding quarter of carrion meat.

That done, the King of Thunes turned round and cast his eyes over his
army, a fierce multitude whose glances flashed almost equally with their
pikes. After a momentary pause,--“Forward, my Sons!” he cried; “to work,

Thirty bold men, square shouldered, and with pick-lock faces, stepped
from the ranks, with hammers, pincers, and bars of iron on their
shoulders. They betook themselves to the principal door of the church,
ascended the steps, and were soon to be seen squatting under the arch,
working at the door with pincers and levers; a throng of vagabonds
followed them to help or look on. The eleven steps before the portal
were covered with them.

But the door stood firm. “The devil! ‘tis hard and obstinate!” said one.
“It is old, and its gristles have become bony,” said another. “Courage,
comrades!” resumed Clopin. “I wager my head against a dipper that you
will have opened the door, rescued the girl, and despoiled the chief
altar before a single beadle is awake. Stay! I think I hear the lock
breaking up.”

Clopin was interrupted by a frightful uproar which re-sounded behind him
at that moment. He wheeled round. An enormous beam had just fallen from
above; it had crushed a dozen vagabonds on the pavement with the sound
of a cannon, breaking in addition, legs here and there in the crowd
of beggars, who sprang aside with cries of terror. In a twinkling, the
narrow precincts of the church parvis were cleared. The locksmiths,
although protected by the deep vaults of the portal, abandoned the door
and Clopin himself retired to a respectful distance from the church.

“I had a narrow escape!” cried Jehan. “I felt the wind, of it,
_tête-de-boeuf_! but Pierre the Slaughterer is slaughtered!”

It is impossible to describe the astonishment mingled with fright which
fell upon the ruffians in company with this beam.

They remained for several minutes with their eyes in the air, more
dismayed by that piece of wood than by the king’s twenty thousand

“Satan!” muttered the Duke of Egypt, “this smacks of magic!”

“‘Tis the moon which threw this log at us,” said Andry the Red.

“Call the moon the friend of the Virgin, after that!” went on Francois

“A thousand popes!” exclaimed Clopin, “you are all fools!” But he did
not know how to explain the fall of the beam.

Meanwhile, nothing could be distinguished on the façade, to whose summit
the light of the torches did not reach. The heavy beam lay in the middle
of the enclosure, and groans were heard from the poor wretches who had
received its first shock, and who had been almost cut in twain, on the
angle of the stone steps.

The King of Thunes, his first amazement passed, finally found an
explanation which appeared plausible to his companions.

“Throat of God! are the canons defending themselves? To the sack, then!
to the sack!”

“To the sack!” repeated the rabble, with a furious hurrah. A discharge
of crossbows and hackbuts against the front of the church followed.

At this detonation, the peaceable inhabitants of the surrounding houses
woke up; many windows were seen to open, and nightcaps and hands holding
candles appeared at the casements.

“Fire at the windows,” shouted Clopin. The windows were immediately
closed, and the poor bourgeois, who had hardly had time to cast
a frightened glance on this scene of gleams and tumult, returned,
perspiring with fear to their wives, asking themselves whether the
witches’ sabbath was now being held in the parvis of Notre-Dame,
or whether there was an assault of Burgundians, as in ‘64. Then the
husbands thought of theft; the wives, of rape; and all trembled.

“To the sack!” repeated the thieves’ crew; but they dared not approach.
They stared at the beam, they stared at the church. The beam did not
stir, the edifice preserved its calm and deserted air; but something
chilled the outcasts.

“To work, locksmiths!” shouted Trouillefou. “Let the door be forced!”

No one took a step.

“Beard and belly!” said Clopin, “here be men afraid of a beam.”

An old locksmith addressed him--

“Captain, ‘tis not the beam which bothers us, ‘tis the door, which is
all covered with iron bars. Our pincers are powerless against it.”

“What more do you want to break it in?” demanded Clopin.

“Ah! we ought to have a battering ram.”

The King of Thunes ran boldly to the formidable beam, and placed his
foot upon it: “Here is one!” he exclaimed; “‘tis the canons who send it
to you.” And, making a mocking salute in the direction of the church,
“Thanks, canons!”

This piece of bravado produced its effects,--the spell of the beam was
broken. The vagabonds recovered their courage; soon the heavy joist,
raised like a feather by two hundred vigorous arms, was flung with fury
against the great door which they had tried to batter down. At the sight
of that long beam, in the half-light which the infrequent torches of
the brigands spread over the Place, thus borne by that crowd of men who
dashed it at a run against the church, one would have thought that he
beheld a monstrous beast with a thousand feet attacking with lowered
head the giant of stone.

At the shock of the beam, the half metallic door sounded like an immense
drum; it was not burst in, but the whole cathedral trembled, and the
deepest cavities of the edifice were heard to echo.

At the same moment, a shower of large stones began to fall from the top
of the façade on the assailants.

“The devil!” cried Jehan, “are the towers shaking their balustrades down
on our heads?”

But the impulse had been given, the King of Thunes had set the example.
Evidently, the bishop was defending himself, and they only battered the
door with the more rage, in spite of the stones which cracked skulls
right and left.

It was remarkable that all these stones fell one by one; but they
followed each other closely. The thieves always felt two at a time, one
on their legs and one on their heads. There were few which did not
deal their blow, and a large layer of dead and wounded lay bleeding
and panting beneath the feet of the assailants who, now grown furious,
replaced each other without intermission. The long beam continued to
belabor the door, at regular intervals, like the clapper of a bell, the
stones to rain down, the door to groan.

The reader has no doubt divined that this unexpected resistance which
had exasperated the outcasts came from Quasimodo.

Chance had, unfortunately, favored the brave deaf man.

When he had descended to the platform between the towers, his ideas were
all in confusion. He had run up and down along the gallery for several
minutes like a madman, surveying from above, the compact mass of
vagabonds ready to hurl itself on the church, demanding the safety of
the gypsy from the devil or from God. The thought had occurred to him of
ascending to the southern belfry and sounding the alarm, but before
he could have set the bell in motion, before Marie’s voice could have
uttered a single clamor, was there not time to burst in the door of the
church ten times over? It was precisely the moment when the locksmiths
were advancing upon it with their tools. What was to be done?

All at once, he remembered that some masons had been at work all day
repairing the wall, the timber-work, and the roof of the south tower.
This was a flash of light. The wall was of stone, the roof of lead, the
timber-work of wood. (That prodigious timber-work, so dense that it was
called “the forest.”)

Quasimodo hastened to that tower. The lower chambers were, in fact, full
of materials. There were piles of rough blocks of stone, sheets of lead
in rolls, bundles of laths, heavy beams already notched with the saw,
heaps of plaster.

Time was pressing, The pikes and hammers were at work below. With a
strength which the sense of danger increased tenfold, he seized one
of the beams--the longest and heaviest; he pushed it out through a
loophole, then, grasping it again outside of the tower, he made it slide
along the angle of the balustrade which surrounds the platform, and
let it fly into the abyss. The enormous timber, during that fall of a
hundred and sixty feet, scraping the wall, breaking the carvings, turned
many times on its centre, like the arm of a windmill flying off alone
through space. At last it reached the ground, the horrible cry arose,
and the black beam, as it rebounded from the pavement, resembled a
serpent leaping.

Quasimodo beheld the outcasts scatter at the fall of the beam, like
ashes at the breath of a child. He took advantage of their fright, and
while they were fixing a superstitious glance on the club which had
fallen from heaven, and while they were putting out the eyes of the
stone saints on the front with a discharge of arrows and buckshot,
Quasimodo was silently piling up plaster, stones, and rough blocks of
stone, even the sacks of tools belonging to the masons, on the edge of
the balustrade from which the beam had already been hurled.

Thus, as soon as they began to batter the grand door, the shower of
rough blocks of stone began to fall, and it seemed to them that the
church itself was being demolished over their heads.

Any one who could have beheld Quasimodo at that moment would have been
frightened. Independently of the projectiles which he had piled upon the
balustrade, he had collected a heap of stones on the platform itself. As
fast as the blocks on the exterior edge were exhausted, he drew on the
heap. Then he stooped and rose, stooped and rose again with incredible
activity. His huge gnome’s head bent over the balustrade, then an
enormous stone fell, then another, then another. From time to time, he
followed a fine stone with his eye, and when it did good execution, he
said, “Hum!”

Meanwhile, the beggars did not grow discouraged. The thick door on which
they were venting their fury had already trembled more than twenty
times beneath the weight of their oaken battering-ram, multiplied by the
strength of a hundred men. The panels cracked, the carved work flew into
splinters, the hinges, at every blow, leaped from their pins, the planks
yawned, the wood crumbled to powder, ground between the iron sheathing.
Fortunately for Quasimodo, there was more iron than wood.

Nevertheless, he felt that the great door was yielding. Although he did
not hear it, every blow of the ram reverberated simultaneously in the
vaults of the church and within it. From above he beheld the vagabonds,
filled with triumph and rage, shaking their fists at the gloomy façade;
and both on the gypsy’s account and his own he envied the wings of the
owls which flitted away above his head in flocks.

His shower of stone blocks was not sufficient to repel the assailants.

At this moment of anguish, he noticed, a little lower down than the
balustrade whence he was crushing the thieves, two long stone gutters
which discharged immediately over the great door; the internal orifice
of these gutters terminated on the pavement of the platform. An idea
occurred to him; he ran in search of a fagot in his bellringer’s den,
placed on this fagot a great many bundles of laths, and many rolls of
lead, munitions which he had not employed so far, and having arranged
this pile in front of the hole to the two gutters, he set it on fire
with his lantern.

During this time, since the stones no longer fell, the outcasts ceased
to gaze into the air. The bandits, panting like a pack of hounds who are
forcing a boar into his lair, pressed tumultuously round the great
door, all disfigured by the battering ram, but still standing. They were
waiting with a quiver for the great blow which should split it open.
They vied with each other in pressing as close as possible, in order to
dash among the first, when it should open, into that opulent cathedral,
a vast reservoir where the wealth of three centuries had been piled up.
They reminded each other with roars of exultation and greedy lust, of
the beautiful silver crosses, the fine copes of brocade, the beautiful
tombs of silver gilt, the great magnificences of the choir, the
dazzling festivals, the Christmasses sparkling with torches, the
Easters sparkling with sunshine,--all those splendid solemneties wherein
chandeliers, ciboriums, tabernacles, and reliquaries, studded the altars
with a crust of gold and diamonds. Certainly, at that fine moment,
thieves and pseudo sufferers, doctors in stealing, and vagabonds, were
thinking much less of delivering the gypsy than of pillaging Notre-Dame.
We could even easily believe that for a goodly number among them la
Esmeralda was only a pretext, if thieves needed pretexts.

All at once, at the moment when they were grouping themselves round the
ram for a last effort, each one holding his breath and stiffening his
muscles in order to communicate all his force to the decisive blow, a
howl more frightful still than that which had burst forth and expired
beneath the beam, rose among them. Those who did not cry out, those who
were still alive, looked. Two streams of melted lead were falling from
the summit of the edifice into the thickest of the rabble. That sea of
men had just sunk down beneath the boiling metal, which had made, at the
two points where it fell, two black and smoking holes in the crowd, such
as hot water would make in snow. Dying men, half consumed and groaning
with anguish, could be seen writhing there. Around these two principal
streams there were drops of that horrible rain, which scattered over the
assailants and entered their skulls like gimlets of fire. It was a heavy
fire which overwhelmed these wretches with a thousand hailstones.

The outcry was heartrending. They fled pell-mell, hurling the beam upon
the bodies, the boldest as well as the most timid, and the parvis was
cleared a second time.

All eyes were raised to the top of the church. They beheld there an
extraordinary sight. On the crest of the highest gallery, higher than
the central rose window, there was a great flame rising between the two
towers with whirlwinds of sparks, a vast, disordered, and furious flame,
a tongue of which was borne into the smoke by the wind, from time to
time. Below that fire, below the gloomy balustrade with its trefoils
showing darkly against its glare, two spouts with monster throats were
vomiting forth unceasingly that burning rain, whose silvery stream stood
out against the shadows of the lower façade. As they approached the
earth, these two jets of liquid lead spread out in sheaves, like water
springing from the thousand holes of a watering-pot. Above the flame,
the enormous towers, two sides of each of which were visible in sharp
outline, the one wholly black, the other wholly red, seemed still more
vast with all the immensity of the shadow which they cast even to the

Their innumerable sculptures of demons and dragons assumed a lugubrious
aspect. The restless light of the flame made them move to the eye. There
were griffins which had the air of laughing, gargoyles which one fancied
one heard yelping, salamanders which puffed at the fire, tarasques*
which sneezed in the smoke. And among the monsters thus roused from
their sleep of stone by this flame, by this noise, there was one who
walked about, and who was seen, from time to time, to pass across the
glowing face of the pile, like a bat in front of a candle.

     *  The representation of a monstrous animal solemnly drawn about
in Tarascon and other French towns.

Without doubt, this strange beacon light would awaken far away, the
woodcutter of the hills of Bicêtre, terrified to behold the gigantic
shadow of the towers of Notre-Dame quivering over his heaths.

A terrified silence ensued among the outcasts, during which nothing was
heard, but the cries of alarm of the canons shut up in their cloister,
and more uneasy than horses in a burning stable, the furtive sound
of windows hastily opened and still more hastily closed, the internal
hurly-burly of the houses and of the Hôtel-Dieu, the wind in the flame,
the last death-rattle of the dying, and the continued crackling of the
rain of lead upon the pavement.

In the meanwhile, the principal vagabonds had retired beneath the porch
of the Gondelaurier mansion, and were holding a council of war.

The Duke of Egypt, seated on a stone post, contemplated the
phantasmagorical bonfire, glowing at a height of two hundred feet in the
air, with religious terror. Clopin Trouillefou bit his huge fists with

“Impossible to get in!” he muttered between his teeth.

“An old, enchanted church!” grumbled the aged Bohemian, Mathias Hungadi

“By the Pope’s whiskers!” went on a sham soldier, who had once been in
service, “here are church gutters spitting melted lead at you better
than the machicolations of Lectoure.”

“Do you see that demon passing and repassing in front of the fire?”
 exclaimed the Duke of Egypt.

“Pardieu, ‘tis that damned bellringer, ‘tis Quasimodo,” said Clopin.

The Bohemian tossed his head. “I tell you, that ‘tis the spirit Sabnac,
the grand marquis, the demon of fortifications. He has the form of an
armed soldier, the head of a lion. Sometimes he rides a hideous horse.
He changes men into stones, of which he builds towers. He commands
fifty legions ‘Tis he indeed; I recognize him. Sometimes he is clad in a
handsome golden robe, figured after the Turkish fashion.”

“Where is Bellevigne de l’Etoile?” demanded Clopin.

“He is dead.”

Andry the Red laughed in an idiotic way: “Notre-Dame is making work for
the hospital,” said he.

“Is there, then, no way of forcing this door,” exclaimed the King of
Thunes, stamping his foot.

The Duke of Egypt pointed sadly to the two streams of boiling lead which
did not cease to streak the black facade, like two long distaffs of

“Churches have been known to defend themselves thus all by themselves,”
 he remarked with a sigh. “Saint-Sophia at Constantinople, forty years
ago, hurled to the earth three times in succession, the crescent of
Mahom, by shaking her domes, which are her heads. Guillaume de Paris,
who built this one was a magician.”

“Must we then retreat in pitiful fashion, like highwaymen?” said Clopin.
“Must we leave our sister here, whom those hooded wolves will hang

“And the sacristy, where there are wagon-loads of gold!” added a
vagabond, whose name, we regret to say, we do not know.

“Beard of Mahom!” cried Trouillefou.

“Let us make another trial,” resumed the vagabond.

Mathias Hungadi shook his head.

“We shall never get in by the door. We must find the defect in the armor
of the old fairy; a hole, a false postern, some joint or other.”

“Who will go with me?” said Clopin. “I shall go at it again. By the way,
where is the little scholar Jehan, who is so encased in iron?”

“He is dead, no doubt,” some one replied; “we no longer hear his laugh.”

The King of Thunes frowned: “So much the worse. There was a brave heart
under that ironmongery. And Master Pierre Gringoire?”

“Captain Clopin,” said Andry the Red, “he slipped away before we reached
the Pont-aux-Changeurs.”

Clopin stamped his foot. “Gueule-Dieu! ‘twas he who pushed us on
hither, and he has deserted us in the very middle of the job! Cowardly
chatterer, with a slipper for a helmet!”

“Captain Clopin,” said Andry the Red, who was gazing down Rue du Parvis,
“yonder is the little scholar.”

“Praised be Pluto!” said Clopin. “But what the devil is he dragging
after him?”

It was, in fact, Jehan, who was running as fast as his heavy outfit of a
Paladin, and a long ladder which trailed on the pavement, would permit,
more breathless than an ant harnessed to a blade of grass twenty times
longer than itself.

“Victory! _Te Deum_!” cried the scholar. “Here is the ladder of the
longshoremen of Port Saint-Landry.”

Clopin approached him.

“Child, what do you mean to do, _corne-dieu_! with this ladder?”

“I have it,” replied Jehan, panting. “I knew where it was under the shed
of the lieutenant’s house. There’s a wench there whom I know, who thinks
me as handsome as Cupido. I made use of her to get the ladder, and I
have the ladder, _Pasque-Mahom_! The poor girl came to open the door to
me in her shift.”

“Yes,” said Clopin, “but what are you going to do with that ladder?”

Jehan gazed at him with a malicious, knowing look, and cracked his
fingers like castanets. At that moment he was sublime. On his head he
wore one of those overloaded helmets of the fifteenth century, which
frightened the enemy with their fanciful crests. His bristled with ten
iron beaks, so that Jehan could have disputed with Nestor’s Homeric
vessel the redoubtable title of _dexeubolos_.

“What do I mean to do with it, august king of Thunes? Do you see that
row of statues which have such idiotic expressions, yonder, above the
three portals?”

“Yes. Well?”

“‘Tis the gallery of the kings of France.”

“What is that to me?” said Clopin.

“Wait! At the end of that gallery there is a door which is never
fastened otherwise than with a latch, and with this ladder I ascend, and
I am in the church.”

“Child let me be the first to ascend.”

“No, comrade, the ladder is mine. Come, you shall be the second.”

“May Beelzebub strangle you!” said surly Clopin, “I won’t be second to

“Then find a ladder, Clopin!”

Jehan set out on a run across the Place, dragging his ladder and
shouting: “Follow me, lads!”

In an instant the ladder was raised, and propped against the balustrade
of the lower gallery, above one of the lateral doors. The throng of
vagabonds, uttering loud acclamations, crowded to its foot to ascend.
But Jehan maintained his right, and was the first to set foot on the
rungs. The passage was tolerably long. The gallery of the kings of
France is to-day about sixty feet above the pavement. The eleven steps
of the flight before the door, made it still higher. Jehan mounted
slowly, a good deal incommoded by his heavy armor, holding his crossbow
in one hand, and clinging to a rung with the other. When he reached
the middle of the ladder, he cast a melancholy glance at the poor dead
outcasts, with which the steps were strewn. “Alas!” said he, “here is a
heap of bodies worthy of the fifth book of the Iliad!” Then he continued
his ascent. The vagabonds followed him. There was one on every rung.
At the sight of this line of cuirassed backs, undulating as they rose
through the gloom, one would have pronounced it a serpent with steel
scales, which was raising itself erect in front of the church. Jehan who
formed the head, and who was whistling, completed the illusion.

The scholar finally reached the balcony of the gallery, and climbed over
it nimbly, to the applause of the whole vagabond tribe. Thus master of
the citadel, he uttered a shout of joy, and suddenly halted, petrified.
He had just caught sight of Quasimodo concealed in the dark, with
flashing eye, behind one of the statues of the kings.

Before a second assailant could gain a foothold on the gallery, the
formidable hunchback leaped to the head of the ladder, without uttering
a word, seized the ends of the two uprights with his powerful hands,
raised them, pushed them out from the wall, balanced the long and pliant
ladder, loaded with vagabonds from top to bottom for a moment, in the
midst of shrieks of anguish, then suddenly, with superhuman force,
hurled this cluster of men backward into the Place. There was a moment
when even the most resolute trembled. The ladder, launched backwards,
remained erect and standing for an instant, and seemed to hesitate, then
wavered, then suddenly, describing a frightful arc of a circle eighty
feet in radius, crashed upon the pavement with its load of ruffians,
more rapidly than a drawbridge when its chains break. There arose an
immense imprecation, then all was still, and a few mutilated wretches
were seen, crawling over the heap of dead.

A sound of wrath and grief followed the first cries of triumph among
the besiegers. Quasimodo, impassive, with both elbows propped on the
balustrade, looked on. He had the air of an old, bushy-headed king at
his window.

As for Jehan Frollo, he was in a critical position. He found himself in
the gallery with the formidable bellringer, alone, separated from his
companions by a vertical wall eighty feet high. While Quasimodo was
dealing with the ladder, the scholar had run to the postern which he
believed to be open. It was not. The deaf man had closed it behind him
when he entered the gallery. Jehan had then concealed himself behind
a stone king, not daring to breathe, and fixing upon the monstrous
hunchback a frightened gaze, like the man, who, when courting the wife
of the guardian of a menagerie, went one evening to a love rendezvous,
mistook the wall which he was to climb, and suddenly found himself face
to face with a white bear.

For the first few moments, the deaf man paid no heed to him; but at last
he turned his head, and suddenly straightened up. He had just caught
sight of the scholar.

Jehan prepared himself for a rough shock, but the deaf man remained
motionless; only he had turned towards the scholar and was looking at

“Ho ho!” said Jehan, “what do you mean by staring at me with that
solitary and melancholy eye?”

As he spoke thus, the young scamp stealthily adjusted his crossbow.

“Quasimodo!” he cried, “I am going to change your surname: you shall be
called the blind man.”

The shot sped. The feathered vireton* whizzed and entered the
hunchback’s left arm. Quasimodo appeared no more moved by it than by a
scratch to King Pharamond. He laid his hand on the arrow, tore it from
his arm, and tranquilly broke it across his big knee; then he let the
two pieces drop on the floor, rather than threw them down. But Jehan
had no opportunity to fire a second time. The arrow broken, Quasimodo
breathing heavily, bounded like a grasshopper, and he fell upon the
scholar, whose armor was flattened against the wall by the blow.

     *  An arrow with a pyramidal head of iron and copper spiral wings by
which a rotatory motion was communicated.

Then in that gloom, wherein wavered the light of the torches, a terrible
thing was seen.

Quasimodo had grasped with his left hand the two arms of Jehan, who did
not offer any resistance, so thoroughly did he feel that he was lost.
With his right hand, the deaf man detached one by one, in silence, with
sinister slowness, all the pieces of his armor, the sword, the daggers,
the helmet, the cuirass, the leg pieces. One would have said that it was
a monkey taking the shell from a nut. Quasimodo flung the scholar’s
iron shell at his feet, piece by piece. When the scholar beheld himself
disarmed, stripped, weak, and naked in those terrible hands, he made no
attempt to speak to the deaf man, but began to laugh audaciously in his
face, and to sing with his intrepid heedlessness of a child of sixteen,
the then popular ditty:--

         “_Elle est bien habillée,
         La ville de Cambrai;
         Marafin l’a pillée_...” *

     * The city of Cambrai is well dressed.  Marafin plundered it.

He did not finish. Quasimodo was seen on the parapet of the gallery,
holding the scholar by the feet with one hand and whirling him over
the abyss like a sling; then a sound like that of a bony structure in
contact with a wall was heard, and something was seen to fall which
halted a third of the way down in its fall, on a projection in the
architecture. It was a dead body which remained hanging there, bent
double, its loins broken, its skull empty.

A cry of horror rose among the vagabonds.

“Vengeance!” shouted Clopin. “To the sack!” replied the multitude.
“Assault! assault!”

There came a tremendous howl, in which were mingled all tongues, all
dialects, all accents. The death of the poor scholar imparted a furious
ardor to that crowd. It was seized with shame, and the wrath of having
been held so long in check before a church by a hunchback. Rage found
ladders, multiplied the torches, and, at the expiration of a few
minutes, Quasimodo, in despair, beheld that terrible ant heap mount on
all sides to the assault of Notre-Dame. Those who had no ladders had
knotted ropes; those who had no ropes climbed by the projections of
the carvings. They hung from each other’s rags. There were no means of
resisting that rising tide of frightful faces; rage made these fierce
countenances ruddy; their clayey brows were dripping with sweat; their
eyes darted lightnings; all these grimaces, all these horrors laid siege
to Quasimodo. One would have said that some other church had despatched
to the assault of Notre-Dame its gorgons, its dogs, its drées, its
demons, its most fantastic sculptures. It was like a layer of living
monsters on the stone monsters of the façade.

Meanwhile, the Place was studded with a thousand torches. This scene of
confusion, till now hid in darkness, was suddenly flooded with light.
The parvis was resplendent, and cast a radiance on the sky; the bonfire
lighted on the lofty platform was still burning, and illuminated the
city far away. The enormous silhouette of the two towers, projected afar
on the roofs of Paris, and formed a large notch of black in this light.
The city seemed to be aroused. Alarm bells wailed in the distance.
The vagabonds howled, panted, swore, climbed; and Quasimodo, powerless
against so many enemies, shuddering for the gypsy, beholding the furious
faces approaching ever nearer and nearer to his gallery, entreated
heaven for a miracle, and wrung his arms in despair.


The reader has not, perhaps, forgotten that one moment before catching
sight of the nocturnal band of vagabonds, Quasimodo, as he inspected
Paris from the heights of his bell tower, perceived only one light
burning, which gleamed like a star from a window on the topmost story
of a lofty edifice beside the Porte Saint-Antoine. This edifice was the
Bastille. That star was the candle of Louis XI. King Louis XI. had, in
fact, been two days in Paris. He was to take his departure on the next
day but one for his citadel of Montilz-les-Tours. He made but seldom and
brief appearance in his good city of Paris, since there he did not feel
about him enough pitfalls, gibbets, and Scotch archers.

He had come, that day, to sleep at the Bastille. The great chamber five
toises* square, which he had at the Louvre, with its huge chimney-piece
loaded with twelve great beasts and thirteen great prophets, and his
grand bed, eleven feet by twelve, pleased him but little. He felt
himself lost amid all this grandeur. This good bourgeois king preferred
the Bastille with a tiny chamber and couch. And then, the Bastille was
stronger than the Louvre.

     *  An ancient long measure in France, containing six feet
and nearly five inches English measure.

This little chamber, which the king reserved for himself in the famous
state prison, was also tolerably spacious and occupied the topmost
story of a turret rising from the donjon keep. It was circular in form,
carpeted with mats of shining straw, ceiled with beams, enriched with
fleurs-de-lis of gilded metal with interjoists in color; wainscoated
with rich woods sown with rosettes of white metal, and with others
painted a fine, bright green, made of orpiment and fine indigo.

There was only one window, a long pointed casement, latticed with brass
wire and bars of iron, further darkened by fine colored panes with the
arms of the king and of the queen, each pane being worth two and twenty

There was but one entrance, a modern door, with a fiat arch, garnished
with a piece of tapestry on the inside, and on the outside by one of
those porches of Irish wood, frail edifices of cabinet-work curiously
wrought, numbers of which were still to be seen in old houses a hundred
and fifty years ago. “Although they disfigure and embarrass the places,”
 says Sauvel in despair, “our old people are still unwilling to get rid
of them, and keep them in spite of everybody.”

In this chamber, nothing was to be found of what furnishes ordinary
apartments, neither benches, nor trestles, nor forms, nor common
stools in the form of a chest, nor fine stools sustained by pillars and
counter-pillars, at four sols a piece. Only one easy arm-chair, very
magnificent, was to be seen; the wood was painted with roses on a red
ground, the seat was of ruby Cordovan leather, ornamented with long
silken fringes, and studded with a thousand golden nails. The loneliness
of this chair made it apparent that only one person had a right to sit
down in this apartment. Beside the chair, and quite close to the window,
there was a table covered with a cloth with a pattern of birds. On this
table stood an inkhorn spotted with ink, some parchments, several pens,
and a large goblet of chased silver. A little further on was a brazier,
a praying stool in crimson velvet, relieved with small bosses of gold.
Finally, at the extreme end of the room, a simple bed of scarlet and
yellow damask, without either tinsel or lace; having only an ordinary
fringe. This bed, famous for having borne the sleep or the sleeplessness
of Louis XI., was still to be seen two hundred years ago, at the
house of a councillor of state, where it was seen by old Madame Pilou,
celebrated in _Cyrus_ under the name “Arricidie” and of “la Morale

Such was the chamber which was called “the retreat where Monsieur Louis
de France says his prayers.”

At the moment when we have introduced the reader into it, this retreat
was very dark. The curfew bell had sounded an hour before; night was
come, and there was only one flickering wax candle set on the table to
light five persons variously grouped in the chamber.

The first on which the light fell was a seigneur superbly clad in
breeches and jerkin of scarlet striped with silver, and a loose coat
with half sleeves of cloth of gold with black figures. This splendid
costume, on which the light played, seemed glazed with flame on every
fold. The man who wore it had his armorial bearings embroidered on his
breast in vivid colors; a chevron accompanied by a deer passant. The
shield was flanked, on the right by an olive branch, on the left by a
deer’s antlers. This man wore in his girdle a rich dagger whose hilt,
of silver gilt, was chased in the form of a helmet, and surmounted by a
count’s coronet. He had a forbidding air, a proud mien, and a head
held high. At the first glance one read arrogance on his visage; at the
second, craft.

He was standing bareheaded, a long roll of parchment in his hand, behind
the arm-chair in which was seated, his body ungracefully doubled up, his
knees crossed, his elbow on the table, a very badly accoutred personage.
Let the reader imagine in fact, on the rich seat of Cordova leather, two
crooked knees, two thin thighs, poorly clad in black worsted tricot, a
body enveloped in a cloak of fustian, with fur trimming of which more
leather than hair was visible; lastly, to crown all, a greasy old hat of
the worst sort of black cloth, bordered with a circular string of leaden
figures. This, in company with a dirty skull-cap, which hardly allowed a
hair to escape, was all that distinguished the seated personage. He held
his head so bent upon his breast, that nothing was to be seen of his
face thus thrown into shadow, except the tip of his nose, upon which
fell a ray of light, and which must have been long. From the thinness of
his wrinkled hand, one divined that he was an old man. It was Louis XI.
At some distance behind them, two men dressed in garments of Flemish
style were conversing, who were not sufficiently lost in the shadow to
prevent any one who had been present at the performance of Gringoire’s
mystery from recognizing in them two of the principal Flemish envoys,
Guillaume Rym, the sagacious pensioner of Ghent, and Jacques Coppenole,
the popular hosier. The reader will remember that these men were mixed
up in the secret politics of Louis XI. Finally, quite at the end of
the room, near the door, in the dark, stood, motionless as a statue, a
vigorous man with thickset limbs, a military harness, with a surcoat
of armorial bearings, whose square face pierced with staring eyes, slit
with an immense mouth, his ears concealed by two large screens of flat
hair, had something about it both of the dog and the tiger.

All were uncovered except the king.

The gentleman who stood near the king was reading him a sort of long
memorial to which his majesty seemed to be listening attentively. The
two Flemings were whispering together.

“Cross of God!” grumbled Coppenole, “I am tired of standing; is there no
chair here?”

Rym replied by a negative gesture, accompanied by a discreet smile.

“Croix-Dieu!” resumed Coppenole, thoroughly unhappy at being obliged to
lower his voice thus, “I should like to sit down on the floor, with my
legs crossed, like a hosier, as I do in my shop.”

“Take good care that you do not, Master Jacques.”

“Ouais! Master Guillaume! can one only remain here on his feet?”

“Or on his knees,” said Rym.

At that moment the king’s voice was uplifted. They held their peace.

“Fifty sols for the robes of our valets, and twelve livres for the
mantles of the clerks of our crown! That’s it! Pour out gold by the ton!
Are you mad, Olivier?”

As he spoke thus, the old man raised his head. The golden shells of the
collar of Saint-Michael could be seen gleaming on his neck. The candle
fully illuminated his gaunt and morose profile. He tore the papers from
the other’s hand.

“You are ruining us!” he cried, casting his hollow eyes over the scroll.
“What is all this? What need have we of so prodigious a household? Two
chaplains at ten livres a month each, and, a chapel clerk at one hundred
sols! A valet-de-chambre at ninety livres a year. Four head cooks at
six score livres a year each! A spit-cook, an herb-cook, a sauce-cook,
a butler, two sumpter-horse lackeys, at ten livres a month each! Two
scullions at eight livres! A groom of the stables and his two aids at
four and twenty livres a month! A porter, a pastry-cook, a baker, two
carters, each sixty livres a year! And the farrier six score livres! And
the master of the chamber of our funds, twelve hundred livres! And the
comptroller five hundred. And how do I know what else? ‘Tis ruinous. The
wages of our servants are putting France to the pillage! All the ingots
of the Louvre will melt before such a fire of expenses! We shall have to
sell our plate! And next year, if God and our Lady (here he raised his
hat) lend us life, we shall drink our potions from a pewter pot!”

So saying, he cast a glance at the silver goblet which gleamed upon the
table. He coughed and continued,--

“Master Olivier, the princes who reign over great lordships, like kings
and emperors, should not allow sumptuousness in their houses; for
the fire spreads thence through the province. Hence, Master Olivier,
consider this said once for all. Our expenditure increases every year.
The thing displease us. How, _pasque-Dieu_! when in ‘79 it did not
exceed six and thirty thousand livres, did it attain in ‘80, forty-three
thousand six hundred and nineteen livres? I have the figures in my head.
In ‘81, sixty-six thousand six hundred and eighty livres, and this year,
by the faith of my body, it will reach eighty thousand livres! Doubled
in four years! Monstrous!”

He paused breathless, then resumed energetically,--

“I behold around me only people who fatten on my leanness! you suck
crowns from me at every pore.”

All remained silent. This was one of those fits of wrath which are
allowed to take their course. He continued,--

“‘Tis like that request in Latin from the gentlemen of France, that
we should re-establish what they call the grand charges of the Crown!
Charges in very deed! Charges which crush! Ah! gentlemen! you say that
we are not a king to reign _dapifero nullo, buticulario nullo_! We will
let you see, _pasque-Dieu_! whether we are not a king!”

Here he smiled, in the consciousness of his power; this softened his bad
humor, and he turned towards the Flemings,--

“Do you see, Gossip Guillaume? the grand warden of the keys, the grand
butler, the grand chamberlain, the grand seneschal are not worth the
smallest valet. Remember this, Gossip Coppenole. They serve no purpose,
as they stand thus useless round the king; they produce upon me the
effect of the four Evangelists who surround the face of the big clock of
the palace, and which Philippe Brille has just set in order afresh. They
are gilt, but they do not indicate the hour; and the hands can get on
without them.”

He remained in thought for a moment, then added, shaking his aged

“Ho! ho! by our Lady, I am not Philippe Brille, and I shall not gild the
great vassals anew. Continue, Olivier.”

The person whom he designated by this name, took the papers into his
hands again, and began to read aloud,--

“To Adam Tenon, clerk of the warden of the seals of the provostship of
Paris; for the silver, making, and engraving of said seals, which have
been made new because the others preceding, by reason of their antiquity
and their worn condition, could no longer be successfully used, twelve
livres parisis.

“To Guillaume Frère, the sum of four livres, four sols parisis, for his
trouble and salary, for having nourished and fed the doves in the two
dove-cots of the Hôtel des Tournelles, during the months of January,
February, and March of this year; and for this he hath given seven
sextiers of barley.

“To a gray friar for confessing a criminal, four sols parisis.”

The king listened in silence. From time to time he coughed; then he
raised the goblet to his lips and drank a draught with a grimace.

“During this year there have been made by the ordinance of justice,
to the sound of the trumpet, through the squares of Paris, fifty-six
proclamations. Account to be regulated.

“For having searched and ransacked in certain places, in Paris as well
as elsewhere, for money said to be there concealed; but nothing hath
been found: forty-five livres parisis.”

“Bury a crown to unearth a sou!” said the king.

“For having set in the Hôtel des Tournelles six panes of white glass
in the place where the iron cage is, thirteen sols; for having made
and delivered by command of the king, on the day of the musters, four
shields with the escutcheons of the said seigneur, encircled with
garlands of roses all about, six livres; for two new sleeves to the
king’s old doublet, twenty sols; for a box of grease to grease the boots
of the king, fifteen deniers; a stable newly made to lodge the king’s
black pigs, thirty livres parisis; many partitions, planks, and
trap-doors, for the safekeeping of the lions at Saint-Paul, twenty-two

“These be dear beasts,” said Louis XI. “It matters not; it is a fine
magnificence in a king. There is a great red lion whom I love for his
pleasant ways. Have you seen him, Master Guillaume? Princes must have
these terrific animals; for we kings must have lions for our dogs and
tigers for our cats. The great befits a crown. In the days of the pagans
of Jupiter, when the people offered the temples a hundred oxen and a
hundred sheep, the emperors gave a hundred lions and a hundred eagles.
This was wild and very fine. The kings of France have always had
roarings round their throne. Nevertheless, people must do me this
justice, that I spend still less money on it than they did, and that I
possess a greater modesty of lions, bears, elephants, and leopards.--Go
on, Master Olivier. We wished to say thus much to our Flemish friends.”

Guillaume Rym bowed low, while Coppenole, with his surly mien, had the
air of one of the bears of which his majesty was speaking. The king paid
no heed. He had just dipped his lips into the goblet, and he spat out
the beverage, saying: “Foh! what a disagreeable potion!” The man who was
reading continued:--

“For feeding a rascally footpad, locked up these six months in the
little cell of the flayer, until it should be determined what to do with
him, six livres, four sols.”

“What’s that?” interrupted the king; “feed what ought to be hanged!
_Pasque-Dieu_! I will give not a sou more for that nourishment. Olivier,
come to an understanding about the matter with Monsieur d’Estouteville,
and prepare me this very evening the wedding of the gallant and the
gallows. Resume.”

Olivier made a mark with his thumb against the article of the “rascally
foot soldier,” and passed on.

“To Henriet Cousin, master executor of the high works of justice in
Paris, the sum of sixty sols parisis, to him assessed and ordained by
monseigneur the provost of Paris, for having bought, by order of the
said sieur the provost, a great broad sword, serving to execute and
decapitate persons who are by justice condemned for their demerits,
and he hath caused the same to be garnished with a sheath and with all
things thereto appertaining; and hath likewise caused to be repointed
and set in order the old sword, which had become broken and notched in
executing justice on Messire Louis de Luxembourg, as will more fully

The king interrupted: “That suffices. I allow the sum with great good
will. Those are expenses which I do not begrudge. I have never regretted
that money. Continue.”

“For having made over a great cage...”

“Ah!” said the king, grasping the arms of his chair in both hands, “I
knew well that I came hither to this Bastille for some purpose. Hold,
Master Olivier; I desire to see that cage myself. You shall read me the
cost while I am examining it. Messieurs Flemings, come and see this;
‘tis curious.”

Then he rose, leaned on the arm of his interlocutor, made a sign to
the sort of mute who stood before the door to precede him, to the two
Flemings to follow him, and quitted the room.

The royal company was recruited, at the door of the retreat, by men of
arms, all loaded down with iron, and by slender pages bearing flambeaux.
It marched for some time through the interior of the gloomy donjon,
pierced with staircases and corridors even in the very thickness of the
walls. The captain of the Bastille marched at their head, and caused the
wickets to be opened before the bent and aged king, who coughed as he

At each wicket, all heads were obliged to stoop, except that of the old
man bent double with age. “Hum,” said he between his gums, for he had
no longer any teeth, “we are already quite prepared for the door of the
sepulchre. For a low door, a bent passer.”

At length, after having passed a final wicket, so loaded with locks that
a quarter of an hour was required to open it, they entered a vast and
lofty vaulted hall, in the centre of which they could distinguish by the
light of the torches, a huge cubic mass of masonry, iron, and wood. The
interior was hollow. It was one of those famous cages of prisoners of
state, which were called “the little daughters of the king.” In its
walls there were two or three little windows so closely trellised with
stout iron bars; that the glass was not visible. The door was a large
flat slab of stone, as on tombs; the sort of door which serves for
entrance only. Only here, the occupant was alive.

The king began to walk slowly round the little edifice, examining it
carefully, while Master Olivier, who followed him, read aloud the note.

“For having made a great cage of wood of solid beams, timbers and
wall-plates, measuring nine feet in length by eight in breadth, and of
the height of seven feet between the partitions, smoothed and clamped
with great bolts of iron, which has been placed in a chamber situated in
one of the towers of the Bastille Saint-Antoine, in which cage is placed
and detained, by command of the king our lord, a prisoner who formerly
inhabited an old, decrepit, and ruined cage. There have been employed
in making the said new cage, ninety-six horizontal beams, and fifty-two
upright joists, ten wall plates three toises long; there have been
occupied nineteen carpenters to hew, work, and fit all the said wood in
the courtyard of the Bastille during twenty days.”

“Very fine heart of oak,” said the king, striking the woodwork with his

“There have been used in this cage,” continued the other, “two hundred
and twenty great bolts of iron, of nine feet, and of eight, the rest of
medium length, with the rowels, caps and counterbands appertaining to
the said bolts; weighing, the said iron in all, three thousand, seven
hundred and thirty-five pounds; beside eight great squares of iron,
serving to attach the said cage in place with clamps and nails weighing
in all two hundred and eighteen pounds, not reckoning the iron of the
trellises for the windows of the chamber wherein the cage hath been
placed, the bars of iron for the door of the cage and other things.”

“‘Tis a great deal of iron,” said the king, “to contain the light of a

“The whole amounts to three hundred and seventeen livres, five sols,
seven deniers.”

“_Pasque-Dieu_!” exclaimed the king.

At this oath, which was the favorite of Louis XI., some one seemed
to awaken in the interior of the cage; the sound of chains was heard,
grating on the floor, and a feeble voice, which seemed to issue from the
tomb was uplifted. “Sire! sire! mercy!” The one who spoke thus could not
be seen.

“Three hundred and seventeen livres, five sols, seven deniers,” repeated
Louis XI. The lamentable voice which had proceeded from the cage had
frozen all present, even Master Olivier himself. The king alone wore
the air of not having heard. At his order, Master Olivier resumed his
reading, and his majesty coldly continued his inspection of the cage.

“In addition to this there hath been paid to a mason who hath made the
holes wherein to place the gratings of the windows, and the floor of
the chamber where the cage is, because that floor could not support
this cage by reason of its weight, twenty-seven livres fourteen sols

The voice began to moan again.

“Mercy, sire! I swear to you that ‘twas Monsieur the Cardinal d’Angers
and not I, who was guilty of treason.”

“The mason is bold!” said the king. “Continue, Olivier.” Olivier

“To a joiner for window frames, bedstead, hollow stool, and other
things, twenty livres, two sols parisis.”

The voice also continued.

“Alas, sire! will you not listen to me? I protest to you that ‘twas
not I who wrote the matter to Monseigneur do Guyenne, but Monsieur le
Cardinal Balue.”

“The joiner is dear,” quoth the king. “Is that all?”

“No, sire. To a glazier, for the windows of the said chamber, forty-six
sols, eight deniers parisis.”

“Have mercy, sire! Is it not enough to have given all my goods to my
judges, my plate to Monsieur de Torcy, my library to Master Pierre
Doriolle, my tapestry to the governor of the Roussillon? I am innocent.
I have been shivering in an iron cage for fourteen years. Have mercy,
sire! You will find your reward in heaven.”

“Master Olivier,” said the king, “the total?”

“Three hundred sixty-seven livres, eight sols, three deniers parisis.

“Notre-Dame!” cried the king. “This is an outrageous cage!”

He tore the book from Master Olivier’s hands, and set to reckoning it
himself upon his fingers, examining the paper and the cage alternately.
Meanwhile, the prisoner could be heard sobbing. This was lugubrious in
the darkness, and their faces turned pale as they looked at each other.

“Fourteen years, sire! Fourteen years now! since the month of April,
1469. In the name of the Holy Mother of God, sire, listen to me! During
all this time you have enjoyed the heat of the sun. Shall I, frail
creature, never more behold the day? Mercy, sire! Be pitiful! Clemency
is a fine, royal virtue, which turns aside the currents of wrath. Does
your majesty believe that in the hour of death it will be a great
cause of content for a king never to have left any offence unpunished?
Besides, sire, I did not betray your majesty, ‘twas Monsieur d’Angers;
and I have on my foot a very heavy chain, and a great ball of iron at
the end, much heavier than it should be in reason. Eh! sire! Have pity
on me!”

“Olivier,” cried the king, throwing back his head, “I observe that they
charge me twenty sols a hogshead for plaster, while it is worth but
twelve. You will refer back this account.”

He turned his back on the cage, and set out to leave the room. The
miserable prisoner divined from the removal of the torches and the
noise, that the king was taking his departure.

“Sire! sire!” he cried in despair.

The door closed again. He no longer saw anything, and heard only the
hoarse voice of the turnkey, singing in his ears this ditty,--

         “_Maître Jean Balue,
         A perdu la vue
         De ses évêchés.
         Monsieur de Verdun.
         N’en a plus pas un;
         Tous sont dépêchés_.” *

     * Master Jean Balue has lost sight of his bishoprics.
Monsieur of Verdun has no longer one; all have been killed off.

The king reascended in silence to his retreat, and his suite followed
him, terrified by the last groans of the condemned man. All at once his
majesty turned to the Governor of the Bastille,--

“By the way,” said he, “was there not some one in that cage?”

“Pardieu, yes sire!” replied the governor, astounded by the question.

“And who was it?”

“Monsieur the Bishop of Verdun.”

The king knew this better than any one else. But it was a mania of his.

“Ah!” said he, with the innocent air of thinking of it for the first
time, “Guillaume de Harancourt, the friend of Monsieur the Cardinal
Balue. A good devil of a bishop!”

At the expiration of a few moments, the door of the retreat had opened
again, then closed upon the five personages whom the reader has seen
at the beginning of this chapter, and who resumed their places, their
whispered conversations, and their attitudes.

During the king’s absence, several despatches had been placed on his
table, and he broke the seals himself. Then he began to read them
promptly, one after the other, made a sign to Master Olivier who
appeared to exercise the office of minister, to take a pen, and without
communicating to him the contents of the despatches, he began to dictate
in a low voice, the replies which the latter wrote, on his knees, in an
inconvenient attitude before the table.

Guillaume Rym was on the watch.

The king spoke so low that the Flemings heard nothing of his dictation,
except some isolated and rather unintelligible scraps, such as,--

“To maintain the fertile places by commerce, and the sterile by
manufactures....--To show the English lords our four bombards, London,
Brabant, Bourg-en-Bresse, Saint-Omer....--Artillery is the cause of
war being made more judiciously now....--To Monsieur de Bressuire, our
friend....--Armies cannot be maintained without tribute, etc.”

Once he raised his voice,--

“_Pasque Dieu_! Monsieur the King of Sicily seals his letters with
yellow wax, like a king of France. Perhaps we are in the wrong to permit
him so to do. My fair cousin of Burgundy granted no armorial bearings
with a field of gules. The grandeur of houses is assured by the
integrity of prerogatives. Note this, friend Olivier.”


“Oh! oh!” said he, “What a long message! What doth our brother the
emperor claim?” And running his eye over the missive and breaking
his reading with interjection: “Surely! the Germans are so great and
powerful, that it is hardly credible--But let us not forget the old
proverb: ‘The finest county is Flanders; the finest duchy, Milan; the
finest kingdom, France.’ Is it not so, Messieurs Flemings?”

This time Coppenole bowed in company with Guillaume Rym. The hosier’s
patriotism was tickled.

The last despatch made Louis XI. frown.

“What is this?” he said, “Complaints and fault finding against our
garrisons in Picardy! Olivier, write with diligence to M. the Marshal
de Rouault:--That discipline is relaxed. That the gendarmes of the
unattached troops, the feudal nobles, the free archers, and the Swiss
inflict infinite evils on the rustics.--That the military, not content
with what they find in the houses of the rustics, constrain them with
violent blows of cudgel or of lash to go and get wine, spices, and other
unreasonable things in the town.--That monsieur the king knows this.
That we undertake to guard our people against inconveniences, larcenies
and pillage.--That such is our will, by our Lady!--That in addition, it
suits us not that any fiddler, barber, or any soldier varlet should be
clad like a prince, in velvet, cloth of silk, and rings of gold.--That
these vanities are hateful to God.--That we, who are gentlemen,
content ourselves with a doublet of cloth at sixteen sols the ell, of
Paris.--That messieurs the camp-followers can very well come down
to that, also.--Command and ordain.--To Monsieur de Rouault, our

He dictated this letter aloud, in a firm tone, and in jerks. At the
moment when he finished it, the door opened and gave passage to a
new personage, who precipitated himself into the chamber, crying in

“Sire! sire! there is a sedition of the populace in Paris!” Louis XI.’s
grave face contracted; but all that was visible of his emotion passed
away like a flash of lightning. He controlled himself and said with
tranquil severity,--

“Gossip Jacques, you enter very abruptly!”

“Sire! sire! there is a revolt!” repeated Gossip Jacques breathlessly.

The king, who had risen, grasped him roughly by the arm, and said in
his ear, in such a manner as to be heard by him alone, with concentrated
rage and a sidelong glance at the Flemings,--

“Hold your tongue! or speak low!”

The new comer understood, and began in a low tone to give a very
terrified account, to which the king listened calmly, while Guillaume
Rym called Coppenole’s attention to the face and dress of the new
arrival, to his furred cowl, (_caputia fourrata_), his short cape,
(_epitogia curta_), his robe of black velvet, which bespoke a president
of the court of accounts.

Hardly had this personage given the king some explanations, when Louis
XI. exclaimed, bursting into a laugh,--

“In truth? Speak aloud, Gossip Coictier! What call is there for you
to talk so low? Our Lady knoweth that we conceal nothing from our good
friends the Flemings.”

“But sire...”

“Speak loud!”

Gossip Coictier was struck dumb with surprise.

“So,” resumed the king,--“speak sir,--there is a commotion among the
louts in our good city of Paris?”

“Yes, sire.”

“And which is moving you say, against monsieur the bailiff of the

“So it appears,” said the gossip, who still stammered, utterly astounded
by the abrupt and inexplicable change which had just taken place in the
king’s thoughts.

Louis XI. continued: “Where did the watch meet the rabble?”

“Marching from the Grand Truanderie, towards the Pont-aux-Changeurs. I
met it myself as I was on my way hither to obey your majesty’s commands.
I heard some of them shouting: ‘Down with the bailiff of the palace!’”

“And what complaints have they against the bailiff?”

“Ah!” said Gossip Jacques, “because he is their lord.”


“Yes, sire. They are knaves from the Cour-des-Miracles. They have been
complaining this long while, of the bailiff, whose vassals they are.
They do not wish to recognize him either as judge or as voyer?” *

     * One in charge of the highways.

“Yes, certainly!” retorted the king with a smile of satis-faction which
he strove in vain to disguise.

“In all their petitions to the Parliament, they claim to have but two
masters. Your majesty and their God, who is the devil, I believe.”

“Eh! eh!” said the king.

He rubbed his hands, he laughed with that inward mirth which makes the
countenance beam; he was unable to dissimulate his joy, although he
endeavored at moments to compose himself. No one understood it in the
least, not even Master Olivier. He remained silent for a moment, with a
thoughtful but contented air.

“Are they in force?” he suddenly inquired.

“Yes, assuredly, sire,” replied Gossip Jacques.

“How many?”

“Six thousand at the least.”

The king could not refrain from saying: “Good!” he went on,--

“Are they armed?”

“With scythes, pikes, hackbuts, pickaxes. All sorts of very violent

The king did not appear in the least disturbed by this list. Jacques
considered it his duty to add,--

“If your majesty does not send prompt succor to the bailiff, he is

“We will send,” said the king with an air of false seriousness. “It is
well. Assuredly we will send. Monsieur the bailiff is our friend. Six
thousand! They are desperate scamps! Their audacity is marvellous, and
we are greatly enraged at it. But we have only a few people about us
to-night. To-morrow morning will be time enough.”

Gossip Jacques exclaimed, “Instantly, sire! there will be time to sack
the bailiwick a score of times, to violate the seignory, to hang the
bailiff. For God’s sake, sire! send before to-morrow morning.”

The king looked him full in the face. “I have told you to-morrow

It was one Of those looks to which one does not reply. After a silence,
Louis XI. raised his voice once more,--

“You should know that, Gossip Jacques. What was--”

He corrected himself. “What is the bailiff’s feudal jurisdiction?”

“Sire, the bailiff of the palace has the Rue Calendre as far as the Rue
de l’Herberie, the Place Saint-Michel, and the localities vulgarly known
as the Mureaux, situated near the church of Notre-Dame des Champs (here
Louis XI. raised the brim of his hat), which hotels number thirteen,
plus the Cour des Miracles, plus the Maladerie, called the Banlieue,
plus the whole highway which begins at that Maladerie and ends at the
Porte Sainte-Jacques. Of these divers places he is voyer, high, middle,
and low, justiciary, full seigneur.”

“Bless me!” said the king, scratching his left ear with his right hand,
“that makes a goodly bit of my city! Ah! monsieur the bailiff was king
of all that.”

This time he did not correct himself. He continued dreamily, and as
though speaking to himself,--

“Very fine, monsieur the bailiff! You had there between your teeth a
pretty slice of our Paris.”

All at once he broke out explosively, “_Pasque-Dieu_! What people are
those who claim to be voyers, justiciaries, lords and masters in our
domains? who have their tollgates at the end of every field? their
gallows and their hangman at every cross-road among our people? So that
as the Greek believed that he had as many gods as there were fountains,
and the Persian as many as he beheld stars, the Frenchman counts as many
kings as he sees gibbets! Pardieu! ‘tis an evil thing, and the confusion
of it displeases me. I should greatly like to know whether it be the
mercy of God that there should be in Paris any other lord than the king,
any other judge than our parliament, any other emperor than ourselves in
this empire! By the faith of my soul! the day must certainly come when
there shall exist in France but one king, one lord, one judge, one
headsman, as there is in paradise but one God!”

He lifted his cap again, and continued, still dreamily, with the air
and accent of a hunter who is cheering on his pack of hounds: “Good, my
people! bravely done! break these false lords! do your duty! at them!
have at them! pillage them! take them! sack them!... Ah! you want to be
kings, messeigneurs? On, my people on!”

Here he interrupted himself abruptly, bit his lips as though to take
back his thought which had already half escaped, bent his piercing eyes
in turn on each of the five persons who surrounded him, and suddenly
grasping his hat with both hands and staring full at it, he said to it:
“Oh! I would burn you if you knew what there was in my head.”

Then casting about him once more the cautious and uneasy glance of the
fox re-entering his hole,--

“No matter! we will succor monsieur the bailiff. Unfortunately, we have
but few troops here at the present moment, against so great a populace.
We must wait until to-morrow. The order will be transmitted to the City
and every one who is caught will be immediately hung.”

“By the way, sire,” said Gossip Coictier, “I had forgotten that in the
first agitation, the watch have seized two laggards of the band. If your
majesty desires to see these men, they are here.”

“If I desire to see them!” cried the king. “What! _Pasque-Dieu_! You
forget a thing like that! Run quick, you, Olivier! Go, seek them!”

Master Olivier quitted the room and returned a moment later with the two
prisoners, surrounded by archers of the guard. The first had a coarse,
idiotic, drunken and astonished face. He was clothed in rags, and walked
with one knee bent and dragging his leg. The second had a pallid and
smiling countenance, with which the reader is already acquainted.

The king surveyed them for a moment without uttering a word, then
addressing the first one abruptly,--

“What’s your name?”

“Gieffroy Pincebourde.”

“Your trade.”


“What were you going to do in this damnable sedition?” The outcast
stared at the king, and swung his arms with a stupid air.

He had one of those awkwardly shaped heads where intelligence is about
as much at its ease as a light beneath an extinguisher.

“I know not,” said he. “They went, I went.”

“Were you not going to outrageously attack and pillage your lord, the
bailiff of the palace?”

“I know that they were going to take something from some one. That is

A soldier pointed out to the king a billhook which he had seized on the
person of the vagabond.

“Do you recognize this weapon?” demanded the king.

“Yes; ‘tis my billhook; I am a vine-dresser.”

“And do you recognize this man as your companion?” added Louis XI.,
pointing to the other prisoner.

“No, I do not know him.”

“That will do,” said the king, making a sign with his finger to the
silent personage who stood motionless beside the door, to whom we have
already called the reader’s attention.

“Gossip Tristan, here is a man for you.”

Tristan l’Hermite bowed. He gave an order in a low voice to two archers,
who led away the poor vagabond.

In the meantime, the king had approached the second prisoner, who was
perspiring in great drops: “Your name?”

“Sire, Pierre Gringoire.”

“Your trade?”

“Philosopher, sire.”

“How do you permit yourself, knave, to go and besiege our friend,
monsieur the bailiff of the palace, and what have you to say concerning
this popular agitation?”

“Sire, I had nothing to do with it.”

“Come, now! you wanton wretch, were not you apprehended by the watch in
that bad company?”

“No, sire, there is a mistake. ‘Tis a fatality. I make tragedies. Sire,
I entreat your majesty to listen to me. I am a poet. ‘Tis the melancholy
way of men of my profession to roam the streets by night. I was passing
there. It was mere chance. I was unjustly arrested; I am innocent
of this civil tempest. Your majesty sees that the vagabond did not
recognize me. I conjure your majesty--”

“Hold your tongue!” said the king, between two swallows of his ptisan.
“You split our head!”

Tristan l’Hermite advanced and pointing to Gringoire,--

“Sire, can this one be hanged also?”

This was the first word that he had uttered.

“Phew!” replied the king, “I see no objection.”

“I see a great many!” said Gringoire.

At that moment, our philosopher was greener than an olive. He perceived
from the king’s cold and indifferent mien that there was no other
resource than something very pathetic, and he flung himself at the feet
of Louis XI., exclaiming, with gestures of despair:--

“Sire! will your majesty deign to hear me. Sire! break not in thunder
over so small a thing as myself. God’s great lightning doth not bombard
a lettuce. Sire, you are an august and, very puissant monarch; have pity
on a poor man who is honest, and who would find it more difficult to
stir up a revolt than a cake of ice would to give out a spark! Very
gracious sire, kindness is the virtue of a lion and a king. Alas! rigor
only frightens minds; the impetuous gusts of the north wind do not make
the traveller lay aside his cloak; the sun, bestowing his rays little by
little, warms him in such ways that it will make him strip to his shirt.
Sire, you are the sun. I protest to you, my sovereign lord and master,
that I am not an outcast, thief, and disorderly fellow. Revolt and
brigandage belong not to the outfit of Apollo. I am not the man to fling
myself into those clouds which break out into seditious clamor. I am
your majesty’s faithful vassal. That same jealousy which a husband
cherisheth for the honor of his wife, the resentment which the son hath
for the love of his father, a good vassal should feel for the glory
of his king; he should pine away for the zeal of this house, for
the aggrandizement of his service. Every other passion which should
transport him would be but madness. These, sire, are my maxims of state:
then do not judge me to be a seditious and thieving rascal because my
garment is worn at the elbows. If you will grant me mercy, sire, I will
wear it out on the knees in praying to God for you night and morning!
Alas! I am not extremely rich, ‘tis true. I am even rather poor. But
not vicious on that account. It is not my fault. Every one knoweth that
great wealth is not to be drawn from literature, and that those who are
best posted in good books do not always have a great fire in winter.
The advocate’s trade taketh all the grain, and leaveth only straw to the
other scientific professions. There are forty very excellent proverbs
anent the hole-ridden cloak of the philosopher. Oh, sire! clemency is
the only light which can enlighten the interior of so great a soul.
Clemency beareth the torch before all the other virtues. Without it they
are but blind men groping after God in the dark. Compassion, which is
the same thing as clemency, causeth the love of subjects, which is the
most powerful bodyguard to a prince. What matters it to your majesty,
who dazzles all faces, if there is one poor man more on earth, a poor
innocent philosopher spluttering amid the shadows of calamity, with an
empty pocket which resounds against his hollow belly? Moreover, sire,
I am a man of letters. Great kings make a pearl for their crowns by
protecting letters. Hercules did not disdain the title of Musagetes.
Mathias Corvin favored Jean de Monroyal, the ornament of mathematics.
Now, ‘tis an ill way to protect letters to hang men of letters. What a
stain on Alexander if he had hung Aristoteles! This act would not be a
little patch on the face of his reputation to embellish it, but a very
malignant ulcer to disfigure it. Sire! I made a very proper epithalamium
for Mademoiselle of Flanders and Monseigneur the very august Dauphin.
That is not a firebrand of rebellion. Your majesty sees that I am not
a scribbler of no reputation, that I have studied excellently well, and
that I possess much natural eloquence. Have mercy upon me, sire! In so
doing you will perform a gallant deed to our Lady, and I swear to you
that I am greatly terrified at the idea of being hanged!”

So saying, the unhappy Gringoire kissed the king’s slippers, and
Guillaume Rym said to Coppenole in a low tone: “He doth well to drag
himself on the earth. Kings are like the Jupiter of Crete, they have
ears only in their feet.” And without troubling himself about the
Jupiter of Crete, the hosier replied with a heavy smile, and his eyes
fixed on Gringoire: “Oh! that’s it exactly! I seem to hear Chancellor
Hugonet craving mercy of me.”

When Gringoire paused at last, quite out of breath, he raised his head
tremblingly towards the king, who was engaged in scratching a spot on
the knee of his breeches with his finger-nail; then his majesty began
to drink from the goblet of ptisan. But he uttered not a word, and this
silence tortured Gringoire. At last the king looked at him. “Here is a
terrible bawler!” said, he. Then, turning to Tristan l’Hermite, “Bali!
let him go!”

Gringoire fell backwards, quite thunderstruck with joy.

“At liberty!” growled Tristan “Doth not your majesty wish to have him
detained a little while in a cage?”

“Gossip,” retorted Louis XI., “think you that ‘tis for birds of this
feather that we cause to be made cages at three hundred and sixty-seven
livres, eight sous, three deniers apiece? Release him at once,
the wanton (Louis XI. was fond of this word which formed, with
_Pasque-Dieu_, the foundation of his joviality), and put him out with a

“Ugh!” cried Gringoire, “what a great king is here!”

And for fear of a counter order, he rushed towards the door, which
Tristan opened for him with a very bad grace. The soldiers left the room
with him, pushing him before them with stout thwacks, which Gringoire
bore like a true stoical philosopher.

The king’s good humor since the revolt against the bailiff had been
announced to him, made itself apparent in every way. This unwonted
clemency was no small sign of it. Tristan l’Hermite in his corner wore
the surly look of a dog who has had a bone snatched away from him.

Meanwhile, the king thrummed gayly with his fingers on the arm of his
chair, the March of Pont-Audemer. He was a dissembling prince, but one
who understood far better how to hide his troubles than his joys. These
external manifestations of joy at any good news sometimes proceeded to
very great lengths thus, on the death, of Charles the Bold, to the point
of vowing silver balustrades to Saint Martin of Tours; on his advent to
the throne, so far as forgetting to order his father’s obsequies.

“Hé! sire!” suddenly exclaimed Jacques Coictier, “what has become of the
acute attack of illness for which your majesty had me summoned?”

“Oh!” said the king, “I really suffer greatly, my gossip. There is a
hissing in my ear and fiery rakes rack my chest.”

Coictier took the king’s hand, and begun to feel of his pulse with a
knowing air.

“Look, Coppenole,” said Rym, in a low voice. “Behold him between
Coictier and Tristan. They are his whole court. A physician for himself,
a headsman for others.”

As he felt the king’s pulse, Coictier assumed an air of greater and
greater alarm. Louis XI. watched him with some anxiety. Coictier grew
visibly more gloomy. The brave man had no other farm than the king’s bad
health. He speculated on it to the best of his ability.

“Oh! oh!” he murmured at length, “this is serious indeed.”

“Is it not?” said the king, uneasily.

“_Pulsus creber, anhelans, crepitans, irregularis_,” continued the


“This may carry off its man in less than three days.”

“Our Lady!” exclaimed the king. “And the remedy, gossip?”

“I am meditating upon that, sire.”

He made Louis XI. put out his tongue, shook his head, made a grimace,
and in the very midst of these affectations,--

“Pardieu, sire,” he suddenly said, “I must tell you that there is
a receivership of the royal prerogatives vacant, and that I have a

“I give the receivership to your nephew, Gossip Jacques,” replied the
king; “but draw this fire from my breast.”

“Since your majesty is so clement,” replied the leech, “you will
not refuse to aid me a little in building my house, Rue

“Heugh!” said the king.

“I am at the end of my finances,” pursued the doctor; “and it would
really be a pity that the house should not have a roof; not on account
of the house, which is simple and thoroughly bourgeois, but because of
the paintings of Jehan Fourbault, which adorn its wainscoating. There is
a Diana flying in the air, but so excellent, so tender, so delicate,
of so ingenuous an action, her hair so well coiffed and adorned with a
crescent, her flesh so white, that she leads into temptation those who
regard her too curiously. There is also a Ceres. She is another very
fair divinity. She is seated on sheaves of wheat and crowned with a
gallant garland of wheat ears interlaced with salsify and other flowers.
Never were seen more amorous eyes, more rounded limbs, a nobler air,
or a more gracefully flowing skirt. She is one of the most innocent and
most perfect beauties whom the brush has ever produced.”

“Executioner!” grumbled Louis XI., “what are you driving at?”

“I must have a roof for these paintings, sire, and, although ‘tis but a
small matter, I have no more money.”

“How much doth your roof cost?”

“Why a roof of copper, embellished and gilt, two thousand livres at the

“Ah, assassin!” cried the king, “He never draws out one of my teeth
which is not a diamond.”

“Am I to have my roof?” said Coictier.

“Yes; and go to the devil, but cure me.”

Jacques Coictier bowed low and said,--

“Sire, it is a repellent which will save you. We will apply to your
loins the great defensive composed of cerate, Armenian bole, white of
egg, oil, and vinegar. You will continue your ptisan and we will answer
for your majesty.”

A burning candle does not attract one gnat alone. Master Olivier,
perceiving the king to be in a liberal mood, and judging the moment to
be propitious, approached in his turn.


“What is it now?” said Louis XI. “Sire, your majesty knoweth that Simon
Radin is dead?”


“He was councillor to the king in the matter of the courts of the


“Sire, his place is vacant.”

As he spoke thus, Master Olivier’s haughty face quitted its arrogant
expression for a lowly one. It is the only change which ever takes place
in a courtier’s visage. The king looked him well in the face and said in
a dry tone,--“I understand.”

He resumed,

“Master Olivier, the Marshal de Boucicaut was wont to say, ‘There’s no
master save the king, there are no fishes save in the sea.’ I see that
you agree with Monsieur de Boucicaut. Now listen to this; we have a good
memory. In ‘68 we made you valet of our chamber: in ‘69, guardian of the
fortress of the bridge of Saint-Cloud, at a hundred livres of Tournay in
wages (you wanted them of Paris). In November, ‘73, by letters given
to Gergeole, we instituted you keeper of the Wood of Vincennes, in
the place of Gilbert Acle, equerry; in ‘75, gruyer* of the forest of
Rouvray-lez-Saint-Cloud, in the place of Jacques le Maire; in ‘78, we
graciously settled on you, by letters patent sealed doubly with green
wax, an income of ten livres parisis, for you and your wife, on the
Place of the Merchants, situated at the School Saint-Germain; in ‘79,
we made you gruyer of the forest of Senart, in place of that poor
Jehan Daiz; then captain of the Château of Loches; then governor of
Saint-Quentin; then captain of the bridge of Meulan, of which you cause
yourself to be called comte. Out of the five sols fine paid by every
barber who shaves on a festival day, there are three sols for you and
we have the rest. We have been good enough to change your name of Le
Mauvais (The Evil), which resembled your face too closely. In ‘76, we
granted you, to the great displeasure of our nobility, armorial
bearings of a thousand colors, which give you the breast of a peacock.
_Pasque-Dieu_! Are not you surfeited? Is not the draught of fishes
sufficiently fine and miraculous? Are you not afraid that one salmon
more will make your boat sink? Pride will be your ruin, gossip. Ruin and
disgrace always press hard on the heels of pride. Consider this and hold
your tongue.”

     *  A lord having a right on the woods of his vassals.

These words, uttered with severity, made Master Olivier’s face revert to
its insolence.

“Good!” he muttered, almost aloud, “‘tis easy to see that the king is
ill to-day; he giveth all to the leech.”

Louis XI. far from being irritated by this petulant insult, resumed with
some gentleness, “Stay, I was forgetting that I made you my ambassador
to Madame Marie, at Ghent. Yes, gentlemen,” added the king turning to
the Flemings, “this man hath been an ambassador. There, my gossip,” he
pursued, addressing Master Olivier, “let us not get angry; we are old
friends. ‘Tis very late. We have terminated our labors. Shave me.”

Our readers have not, without doubt, waited until the present moment to
recognize in Master Olivier that terrible Figaro whom Providence, the
great maker of dramas, mingled so artistically in the long and bloody
comedy of the reign of Louis XI. We will not here undertake to develop
that singular figure. This barber of the king had three names. At court
he was politely called Olivier le Daim (the Deer); among the people
Olivier the Devil. His real name was Olivier le Mauvais.

Accordingly, Olivier le Mauvais remained motionless, sulking at the
king, and glancing askance at Jacques Coictier.

“Yes, yes, the physician!” he said between his teeth.

“Ah, yes, the physician!” retorted Louis XI., with singular good humor;
“the physician has more credit than you. ‘Tis very simple; he has taken
hold upon us by the whole body, and you hold us only by the chin. Come,
my poor barber, all will come right. What would you say and what would
become of your office if I were a king like Chilperic, whose gesture
consisted in holding his beard in one hand? Come, gossip mine, fulfil
your office, shave me. Go get what you need therefor.”

Olivier perceiving that the king had made up his mind to laugh, and that
there was no way of even annoying him, went off grumbling to execute his

The king rose, approached the window, and suddenly opening it with
extraordinary agitation,--

“Oh! yes!” he exclaimed, clapping his hands, “yonder is a redness in the
sky over the City. ‘Tis the bailiff burning. It can be nothing else but
that. Ah! my good people! here you are aiding me at last in tearing down
the rights of lordship!”

Then turning towards the Flemings: “Come, look at this, gentlemen. Is it
not a fire which gloweth yonder?”

The two men of Ghent drew near.

“A great fire,” said Guillaume Rym.

“Oh!” exclaimed Coppenole, whose eyes suddenly flashed, “that reminds me
of the burning of the house of the Seigneur d’Hymbercourt. There must be
a goodly revolt yonder.”

“You think so, Master Coppenole?” And Louis XI.’s glance was almost as
joyous as that of the hosier. “Will it not be difficult to resist?”

“Cross of God! Sire! Your majesty will damage many companies of men of
war thereon.”

“Ah! I! ‘tis different,” returned the king. “If I willed.” The hosier
replied hardily,--

“If this revolt be what I suppose, sire, you might will in vain.”

“Gossip,” said Louis XI., “with the two companies of my unattached
troops and one discharge of a serpentine, short work is made of a
populace of louts.”

The hosier, in spite of the signs made to him by Guillaume Rym, appeared
determined to hold his own against the king.

“Sire, the Swiss were also louts. Monsieur the Duke of Burgundy was a
great gentleman, and he turned up his nose at that rabble rout. At the
battle of Grandson, sire, he cried: ‘Men of the cannon! Fire on the
villains!’ and he swore by Saint-George. But Advoyer Scharnachtal hurled
himself on the handsome duke with his battle-club and his people, and
when the glittering Burgundian army came in contact with these peasants
in bull hides, it flew in pieces like a pane of glass at the blow of a
pebble. Many lords were then slain by low-born knaves; and Monsieur de
Château-Guyon, the greatest seigneur in Burgundy, was found dead, with
his gray horse, in a little marsh meadow.”

“Friend,” returned the king, “you are speaking of a battle. The question
here is of a mutiny. And I will gain the upper hand of it as soon as it
shall please me to frown.”

The other replied indifferently,--

“That may be, sire; in that case, ‘tis because the people’s hour hath
not yet come.”

Guillaume Rym considered it incumbent on him to intervene,--

“Master Coppenole, you are speaking to a puissant king.”

“I know it,” replied the hosier, gravely.

“Let him speak, Monsieur Rym, my friend,” said the king; “I love this
frankness of speech. My father, Charles the Seventh, was accustomed
to say that the truth was ailing; I thought her dead, and that she had
found no confessor. Master Coppenole undeceiveth me.”

Then, laying his hand familiarly on Coppenole’s shoulder,--

“You were saying, Master Jacques?”

“I say, sire, that you may possibly be in the right, that the hour of
the people may not yet have come with you.”

Louis XI. gazed at him with his penetrating eye,--

“And when will that hour come, master?”

“You will hear it strike.”

“On what clock, if you please?”

Coppenole, with his tranquil and rustic countenance, made the king
approach the window.

“Listen, sire! There is here a donjon keep, a belfry, cannons,
bourgeois, soldiers; when the belfry shall hum, when the cannons
shall roar, when the donjon shall fall in ruins amid great noise, when
bourgeois and soldiers shall howl and slay each other, the hour will

Louis’s face grew sombre and dreamy. He remained silent for a moment,
then he gently patted with his hand the thick wall of the donjon, as one
strokes the haunches of a steed.

“Oh! no!” said he. “You will not crumble so easily, will you, my good

And turning with an abrupt gesture towards the sturdy Fleming,--

“Have you never seen a revolt, Master Jacques?”

“I have made them,” said the hosier.

“How do you set to work to make a revolt?” said the king.

“Ah!” replied Coppenole, “‘tis not very difficult. There are a hundred
ways. In the first place, there must be discontent in the city. The
thing is not uncommon. And then, the character of the inhabitants. Those
of Ghent are easy to stir into revolt. They always love the prince’s
son; the prince, never. Well! One morning, I will suppose, some one
enters my shop, and says to me: ‘Father Coppenole, there is this and
there is that, the Demoiselle of Flanders wishes to save her ministers,
the grand bailiff is doubling the impost on shagreen, or something
else,’--what you will. I leave my work as it stands, I come out of my
hosier’s stall, and I shout: ‘To the sack?’ There is always some smashed
cask at hand. I mount it, and I say aloud, in the first words that occur
to me, what I have on my heart; and when one is of the people, sire,
one always has something on the heart: Then people troop up, they shout,
they ring the alarm bell, they arm the louts with what they take from
the soldiers, the market people join in, and they set out. And it will
always be thus, so long as there are lords in the seignories, bourgeois
in the bourgs, and peasants in the country.”

“And against whom do you thus rebel?” inquired the king; “against your
bailiffs? against your lords?”

“Sometimes; that depends. Against the duke, also, sometimes.”

Louis XI. returned and seated himself, saying, with a smile,--

“Ah! here they have only got as far as the bailiffs.”

At that instant Olivier le Daim returned. He was followed by two pages,
who bore the king’s toilet articles; but what struck Louis XI. was that
he was also accompanied by the provost of Paris and the chevalier of
the watch, who appeared to be in consternation. The spiteful barber
also wore an air of consternation, which was one of contentment beneath,
however. It was he who spoke first.

“Sire, I ask your majesty’s pardon for the calamitous news which I

The king turned quickly and grazed the mat on the floor with the feet of
his chair,--

“What does this mean?”

“Sire,” resumed Olivier le Daim, with the malicious air of a man who
rejoices that he is about to deal a violent blow, “‘tis not against the
bailiff of the courts that this popular sedition is directed.”

“Against whom, then?”

“Against you, sire?’

The aged king rose erect and straight as a young man,--

“Explain yourself, Olivier! And guard your head well, gossip; for I
swear to you by the cross of Saint-Lô that, if you lie to us at this
hour, the sword which severed the head of Monsieur de Luxembourg is not
so notched that it cannot yet sever yours!”

The oath was formidable; Louis XI. had only sworn twice in the course of
his life by the cross of Saint-Lô.

Olivier opened his mouth to reply.


“On your knees!” interrupted the king violently. “Tristan, have an eye
to this man.”

Olivier knelt down and said coldly,--

“Sire, a sorceress was condemned to death by your court of parliament.
She took refuge in Notre-Dame. The people are trying to take her from
thence by main force. Monsieur the provost and monsieur the chevalier of
the watch, who have just come from the riot, are here to give me the lie
if this is not the truth. The populace is besieging Notre-Dame.”

“Yes, indeed!” said the king in a low voice, all pale and trembling with
wrath. “Notre-Dame! They lay siege to our Lady, my good mistress in
her cathedral!--Rise, Olivier. You are right. I give you Simon Radin’s
charge. You are right. ‘Tis I whom they are attacking. The witch is
under the protection of this church, the church is under my protection.
And I thought that they were acting against the bailiff! ‘Tis against

Then, rendered young by fury, he began to walk up and down with long
strides. He no longer laughed, he was terrible, he went and came; the
fox was changed into a hyaena. He seemed suffocated to such a degree
that he could not speak; his lips moved, and his fleshless fists were
clenched. All at once he raised his head, his hollow eye appeared full
of light, and his voice burst forth like a clarion: “Down with them,
Tristan! A heavy hand for these rascals! Go, Tristan, my friend! slay!

This eruption having passed, he returned to his seat, and said with cold
and concentrated wrath,--

“Here, Tristan! There are here with us in the Bastille the fifty lances
of the Vicomte de Gif, which makes three hundred horse: you will take
them. There is also the company of our unattached archers of Monsieur de
Châteaupers: you will take it. You are provost of the marshals; you have
the men of your provostship: you will take them. At the Hôtel Saint-Pol
you will find forty archers of monsieur the dauphin’s new guard: you
will take them. And, with all these, you will hasten to Notre-Dame.
Ah! messieurs, louts of Paris, do you fling yourselves thus against
the crown of France, the sanctity of Notre-Dame, and the peace of this
commonwealth! Exterminate, Tristan! exterminate! and let not a single
one escape, except it be for Montfauçon.”

Tristan bowed. “‘Tis well, sire.”

He added, after a silence, “And what shall I do with the sorceress?”

This question caused the king to meditate.

“Ah!” said he, “the sorceress! Monsieur d’Estouteville, what did the
people wish to do with her?”

“Sire,” replied the provost of Paris, “I imagine that since the populace
has come to tear her from her asylum in Notre-Dame, ‘tis because that
impunity wounds them, and they desire to hang her.”

The king appeared to reflect deeply: then, addressing Tristan l’Hermite,
“Well! gossip, exterminate the people and hang the sorceress.”

“That’s it,” said Rym in a low tone to Coppenole, “punish the people for
willing a thing, and then do what they wish.”

“Enough, sire,” replied Tristan. “If the sorceress is still in
Notre-Dame, must she be seized in spite of the sanctuary?”

“_Pasque-Dieu_! the sanctuary!” said the king, scratching his ear. “But
the woman must be hung, nevertheless.”

Here, as though seized with a sudden idea, he flung himself on his knees
before his chair, took off his hat, placed it on the seat, and gazing
devoutly at one of the leaden amulets which loaded it down, “Oh!” said
he, with clasped hands, “our Lady of Paris, my gracious patroness,
pardon me. I will only do it this once. This criminal must be punished.
I assure you, madame the virgin, my good mistress, that she is a
sorceress who is not worthy of your amiable protection. You know,
madame, that many very pious princes have overstepped the privileges
of the churches for the glory of God and the necessities of the State.
Saint Hugues, bishop of England, permitted King Edward to hang a witch
in his church. Saint-Louis of France, my master, transgressed, with the
same object, the church of Monsieur Saint-Paul; and Monsieur Alphonse,
son of the king of Jerusalem, the very church of the Holy Sepulchre.
Pardon me, then, for this once. Our Lady of Paris, I will never do so
again, and I will give you a fine statue of silver, like the one which I
gave last year to Our Lady of Ecouys. So be it.”

He made the sign of the cross, rose, donned his hat once more, and said
to Tristan,--

“Be diligent, gossip. Take Monsieur Châteaupers with you. You will cause
the tocsin to be sounded. You will crush the populace. You will seize
the witch. ‘Tis said. And I mean the business of the execution to be
done by you. You will render me an account of it. Come, Olivier, I shall
not go to bed this night. Shave me.”

Tristan l’Hermite bowed and departed. Then the king, dismissing Rym and
Coppenole with a gesture,--

“God guard you, messieurs, my good friends the Flemings. Go, take a
little repose. The night advances, and we are nearer the morning than
the evening.”

Both retired and gained their apartments under the guidance of the
captain of the Bastille. Coppenole said to Guillaume Rym,--

“Hum! I have had enough of that coughing king! I have seen Charles of
Burgundy drunk, and he was less malignant than Louis XI. when ailing.”

“Master Jacques,” replied Rym, “‘tis because wine renders kings less
cruel than does barley water.”


On emerging from the Bastille, Gringoire descended the Rue Saint-Antoine
with the swiftness of a runaway horse. On arriving at the Baudoyer gate,
he walked straight to the stone cross which rose in the middle of that
place, as though he were able to distinguish in the darkness the figure
of a man clad and cloaked in black, who was seated on the steps of the

“Is it you, master?” said Gringoire.

The personage in black rose.

“Death and passion! You make me boil, Gringoire. The man on the tower of
Saint-Gervais has just cried half-past one o’clock in the morning.”

“Oh,” retorted Gringoire, “‘tis no fault of mine, but of the watch and
the king. I have just had a narrow escape. I always just miss being
hung. ‘Tis my predestination.”

“You lack everything,” said the other. “But come quickly. Have you the

“Fancy, master, I have seen the king. I come from him. He wears fustian
breeches. ‘Tis an adventure.”

“Oh! distaff of words! what is your adventure to me! Have you the
password of the outcasts?”

“I have it. Be at ease. ‘Little sword in pocket.’”

“Good. Otherwise, we could not make our way as far as the church.
The outcasts bar the streets. Fortunately, it appears that they have
encountered resistance. We may still arrive in time.”

“Yes, master, but how are we to get into Notre-Dame?”

“I have the key to the tower.”

“And how are we to get out again?”

“Behind the cloister there is a little door which opens on the Terrain
and the water. I have taken the key to it, and I moored a boat there
this morning.”

“I have had a beautiful escape from being hung!” Gringoire repeated.

“Eh, quick! come!” said the other.

Both descended towards the city with long strides.


The reader will, perhaps, recall the critical situation in which we left
Quasimodo. The brave deaf man, assailed on all sides, had lost, if
not all courage, at least all hope of saving, not himself (he was not
thinking of himself), but the gypsy. He ran distractedly along the
gallery. Notre-Dame was on the point of being taken by storm by
the outcasts. All at once, a great galloping of horses filled the
neighboring streets, and, with a long file of torches and a thick column
of cavaliers, with free reins and lances in rest, these furious sounds
debouched on the Place like a hurricane,--

“France! France! cut down the louts! Châteaupers to the rescue!
Provostship! Provostship!”

The frightened vagabonds wheeled round.

Quasimodo who did not hear, saw the naked swords, the torches, the
irons of the pikes, all that cavalry, at the head of which he recognized
Captain Phoebus; he beheld the confusion of the outcasts, the terror
of some, the disturbance among the bravest of them, and from this
unexpected succor he recovered so much strength, that he hurled from the
church the first assailants who were already climbing into the gallery.

It was, in fact, the king’s troops who had arrived. The vagabonds
behaved bravely. They defended themselves like desperate men. Caught on
the flank, by the Rue Saint-Pierre-aux-Boeufs, and in the rear through
the Rue du Parvis, driven to bay against Notre-Dame, which they
still assailed and Quasimodo defended, at the same time besiegers and
besieged, they were in the singular situation in which Comte Henri
Harcourt, _Taurinum obsessor idem et obsessus_, as his epitaph says,
found himself later on, at the famous siege of Turin, in 1640, between
Prince Thomas of Savoy, whom he was besieging, and the Marquis de
Leganez, who was blockading him.

The battle was frightful. There was a dog’s tooth for wolf’s flesh,
as P. Mathieu says. The king’s cavaliers, in whose midst Phoebus de
Châteaupers bore himself valiantly, gave no quarter, and the slash of
the sword disposed of those who escaped the thrust of the lance. The
outcasts, badly armed foamed and bit with rage. Men, women, children,
hurled themselves on the cruppers and the breasts of the horses, and
hung there like cats, with teeth, finger nails and toe nails. Others
struck the archers’ in the face with their torches. Others thrust
iron hooks into the necks of the cavaliers and dragged them down. They
slashed in pieces those who fell.

One was noticed who had a large, glittering scythe, and who, for a long
time, mowed the legs of the horses. He was frightful. He was singing
a ditty, with a nasal intonation, he swung and drew back his scythe
incessantly. At every blow he traced around him a great circle of
severed limbs. He advanced thus into the very thickest of the cavalry,
with the tranquil slowness, the lolling of the head and the regular
breathing of a harvester attacking a field of wheat. It was Chopin
Trouillefou. A shot from an arquebus laid him low.

In the meantime, windows had been opened again. The neighbors hearing
the war cries of the king’s troops, had mingled in the affray, and
bullets rained upon the outcasts from every story. The Parvis was filled
with a thick smoke, which the musketry streaked with flame. Through
it one could confusedly distinguish the front of Notre-Dame, and the
decrepit Hôtel-Dieu with some wan invalids gazing down from the heights
of its roof all checkered with dormer windows.

At length the vagabonds gave way. Weariness, the lack of good weapons,
the fright of this surprise, the musketry from the windows, the valiant
attack of the king’s troops, all overwhelmed them. They forced the
line of assailants, and fled in every direction, leaving the Parvis
encumbered with dead.

When Quasimodo, who had not ceased to fight for a moment, beheld
this rout, he fell on his knees and raised his hands to heaven; then,
intoxicated with joy, he ran, he ascended with the swiftness of a bird
to that cell, the approaches to which he had so intrepidly defended.
He had but one thought now; it was to kneel before her whom he had just
saved for the second time.

When he entered the cell, he found it empty.



La Esmeralda was sleeping at the moment when the outcasts assailed the

Soon the ever-increasing uproar around the edifice, and the uneasy
bleating of her goat which had been awakened, had roused her from
her slumbers. She had sat up, she had listened, she had looked; then,
terrified by the light and noise, she had rushed from her cell to see.
The aspect of the Place, the vision which was moving in it, the disorder
of that nocturnal assault, that hideous crowd, leaping like a cloud of
frogs, half seen in the gloom, the croaking of that hoarse multitude,
those few red torches running and crossing each other in the darkness
like the meteors which streak the misty surfaces of marshes, this whole
scene produced upon her the effect of a mysterious battle between the
phantoms of the witches’ sabbath and the stone monsters of the church.
Imbued from her very infancy with the superstitions of the Bohemian
tribe, her first thought was that she had caught the strange beings
peculiar to the night, in their deeds of witchcraft. Then she ran in
terror to cower in her cell, asking of her pallet some less terrible

But little by little the first vapors of terror had been dissipated;
from the constantly increasing noise, and from many other signs of
reality, she felt herself besieged not by spectres, but by human beings.
Then her fear, though it did not increase, changed its character. She
had dreamed of the possibility of a popular mutiny to tear her from her
asylum. The idea of once more recovering life, hope, Phoebus, who was
ever present in her future, the extreme helplessness of her condition,
flight cut off, no support, her abandonment, her isolation,--these
thoughts and a thousand others overwhelmed her. She fell upon her knees,
with her head on her bed, her hands clasped over her head, full of
anxiety and tremors, and, although a gypsy, an idolater, and a pagan,
she began to entreat with sobs, mercy from the good Christian God, and
to pray to our Lady, her hostess. For even if one believes in nothing,
there are moments in life when one is always of the religion of the
temple which is nearest at hand.

She remained thus prostrate for a very long time, trembling in truth,
more than praying, chilled by the ever-closer breath of that furious
multitude, understanding nothing of this outburst, ignorant of what was
being plotted, what was being done, what they wanted, but foreseeing a
terrible issue.

In the midst of this anguish, she heard some one walking near her. She
turned round. Two men, one of whom carried a lantern, had just entered
her cell. She uttered a feeble cry.

“Fear nothing,” said a voice which was not unknown to her, “it is I.”

“Who are you?” she asked.

“Pierre Gringoire.”

This name reassured her. She raised her eyes once more, and recognized
the poet in very fact. But there stood beside him a black figure veiled
from head to foot, which struck her by its silence.

“Oh!” continued Gringoire in a tone of reproach, “Djali recognized me
before you!”

The little goat had not, in fact, waited for Gringoire to announce his
name. No sooner had he entered than it rubbed itself gently against his
knees, covering the poet with caresses and with white hairs, for it was
shedding its hair. Gringoire returned the caresses.

“Who is this with you?” said the gypsy, in a low voice.

“Be at ease,” replied Gringoire. “‘Tis one of my friends.” Then the
philosopher setting his lantern on the ground, crouched upon the stones,
and exclaimed enthusiastically, as he pressed Djali in his arms,--

“Oh! ‘tis a graceful beast, more considerable no doubt, for it’s
neatness than for its size, but ingenious, subtle, and lettered as a
grammarian! Let us see, my Djali, hast thou forgotten any of thy pretty
tricks? How does Master Jacques Charmolue?...”

The man in black did not allow him to finish. He approached Gringoire
and shook him roughly by the shoulder.

Gringoire rose.

“‘Tis true,” said he: “I forgot that we are in haste. But that is no
reason master, for getting furious with people in this manner. My dear
and lovely child, your life is in danger, and Djali’s also. They want
to hang you again. We are your friends, and we have come to save you.
Follow us.”

“Is it true?” she exclaimed in dismay.

“Yes, perfectly true. Come quickly!”

“I am willing,” she stammered. “But why does not your friend speak?”

“Ah!” said Gringoire, “‘tis because his father and mother were fantastic
people who made him of a taciturn temperament.”

She was obliged to content herself with this explanation. Gringoire took
her by the hand; his companion picked up the lantern and walked on in
front. Fear stunned the young girl. She allowed herself to be led away.
The goat followed them, frisking, so joyous at seeing Gringoire again
that it made him stumble every moment by thrusting its horns between his

“Such is life,” said the philosopher, every time that he came
near falling down; “‘tis often our best friends who cause us to be

They rapidly descended the staircase of the towers, crossed the church,
full of shadows and solitude, and all reverberating with uproar, which
formed a frightful contrast, and emerged into the courtyard of the
cloister by the red door. The cloister was deserted; the canons had
fled to the bishop’s palace in order to pray together; the courtyard
was empty, a few frightened lackeys were crouching in dark corners. They
directed their steps towards the door which opened from this court upon
the Terrain. The man in black opened it with a key which he had about
him. Our readers are aware that the Terrain was a tongue of land
enclosed by walls on the side of the City and belonging to the chapter
of Notre-Dame, which terminated the island on the east, behind the
church. They found this enclosure perfectly deserted. There was here
less tumult in the air. The roar of the outcasts’ assault reached them
more confusedly and less clamorously. The fresh breeze which follows the
current of a stream, rustled the leaves of the only tree planted on the
point of the Terrain, with a noise that was already perceptible. But
they were still very close to danger. The nearest edifices to them were
the bishop’s palace and the church. It was plainly evident that there
was great internal commotion in the bishop’s palace. Its shadowy mass
was all furrowed with lights which flitted from window to window; as,
when one has just burned paper, there remains a sombre edifice of ashes
in which bright sparks run a thousand eccentric courses. Beside them,
the enormous towers of Notre-Dame, thus viewed from behind, with the
long nave above which they rise cut out in black against the red and
vast light which filled the Parvis, resembled two gigantic andirons of
some cyclopean fire-grate.

What was to be seen of Paris on all sides wavered before the eye in
a gloom mingled with light. Rembrandt has such backgrounds to his

The man with the lantern walked straight to the point of the Terrain.
There, at the very brink of the water, stood the wormeaten remains of a
fence of posts latticed with laths, whereon a low vine spread out a
few thin branches like the fingers of an outspread hand. Behind, in the
shadow cast by this trellis, a little boat lay concealed. The man made
a sign to Gringoire and his companion to enter. The goat followed them.
The man was the last to step in. Then he cut the boat’s moorings, pushed
it from the shore with a long boat-hook, and, seizing two oars, seated
himself in the bow, rowing with all his might towards midstream. The
Seine is very rapid at this point, and he had a good deal of trouble in
leaving the point of the island.

Gringoire’s first care on entering the boat was to place the goat on
his knees. He took a position in the stern; and the young girl, whom the
stranger inspired with an indefinable uneasiness, seated herself close
to the poet.

When our philosopher felt the boat sway, he clapped his hands and kissed
Djali between the horns.

“Oh!” said he, “now we are safe, all four of us.”

He added with the air of a profound thinker, “One is indebted
sometimes to fortune, sometimes to ruse, for the happy issue of great

The boat made its way slowly towards the right shore. The young girl
watched the unknown man with secret terror. He had carefully turned off
the light of his dark lantern. A glimpse could be caught of him in the
obscurity, in the bow of the boat, like a spectre. His cowl, which was
still lowered, formed a sort of mask; and every time that he spread his
arms, upon which hung large black sleeves, as he rowed, one would have
said they were two huge bat’s wings. Moreover, he had not yet uttered a
word or breathed a syllable. No other noise was heard in the boat than
the splashing of the oars, mingled with the rippling of the water along
her sides.

“On my soul!” exclaimed Gringoire suddenly, “we are as cheerful and
joyous as young owls! We preserve the silence of Pythagoreans or fishes!
_Pasque-Dieu_! my friends, I should greatly like to have some one speak
to me. The human voice is music to the human ear. ‘Tis not I who
say that, but Didymus of Alexandria, and they are illustrious words.
Assuredly, Didymus of Alexandria is no mediocre philosopher.--One word,
my lovely child! say but one word to me, I entreat you. By the way, you
had a droll and peculiar little pout; do you still make it? Do you
know, my dear, that parliament hath full jurisdiction over all places of
asylum, and that you were running a great risk in your little chamber at
Notre-Dame? Alas! the little bird trochylus maketh its nest in the jaws
of the crocodile.--Master, here is the moon re-appearing. If only
they do not perceive us. We are doing a laudable thing in saving
mademoiselle, and yet we should be hung by order of the king if we were
caught. Alas! human actions are taken by two handles. That is branded
with disgrace in one which is crowned in another. He admires Cicero who
blames Catiline. Is it not so, master? What say you to this
philosophy? I possess philosophy by instinct, by nature, _ut apes
geometriam_.--Come! no one answers me. What unpleasant moods you two are
in! I must do all the talking alone. That is what we call a monologue
in tragedy.--_Pasque-Dieu_! I must inform you that I have just seen
the king, Louis XI., and that I have caught this oath from
him,--_Pasque-Dieu_! They are still making a hearty howl in the
city.--‘Tis a villanous, malicious old king. He is all swathed in furs.
He still owes me the money for my epithalamium, and he came within a
nick of hanging me this evening, which would have been very inconvenient
to me.--He is niggardly towards men of merit. He ought to read the four
books of Salvien of Cologne, _Adversits Avaritiam_. In truth! ‘Tis a
paltry king in his ways with men of letters, and one who commits very
barbarous cruelties. He is a sponge, to soak money raised from the
people. His saving is like the spleen which swelleth with the leanness
of all the other members. Hence complaints against the hardness of the
times become murmurs against the prince. Under this gentle and pious
sire, the gallows crack with the hung, the blocks rot with blood, the
prisons burst like over full bellies. This king hath one hand which
grasps, and one which hangs. He is the procurator of Dame Tax and
Monsieur Gibbet. The great are despoiled of their dignities, and
the little incessantly overwhelmed with fresh oppressions. He is an
exorbitant prince. I love not this monarch. And you, master?”

The man in black let the garrulous poet chatter on. He continued to
struggle against the violent and narrow current, which separates the
prow of the City and the stem of the island of Notre-Dame, which we call
to-day the Isle St. Louis.

“By the way, master!” continued Gringoire suddenly. “At the moment
when we arrived on the Parvis, through the enraged outcasts, did your
reverence observe that poor little devil whose skull your deaf man was
just cracking on the railing of the gallery of the kings? I am near
sighted and I could not recognize him. Do you know who he could be?”

The stranger answered not a word. But he suddenly ceased rowing,
his arms fell as though broken, his head sank on his breast, and la
Esmeralda heard him sigh convulsively. She shuddered. She had heard such
sighs before.

The boat, abandoned to itself, floated for several minutes with the
stream. But the man in black finally recovered himself, seized the oars
once more and began to row against the current. He doubled the point of
the Isle of Notre Dame, and made for the landing-place of the Port an

“Ah!” said Gringoire, “yonder is the Barbeau mansion.--Stay, master,
look: that group of black roofs which make such singular angles yonder,
above that heap of black, fibrous grimy, dirty clouds, where the moon is
completely crushed and spread out like the yolk of an egg whose shell
is broken.--‘Tis a fine mansion. There is a chapel crowned with a small
vault full of very well carved enrichments. Above, you can see the bell
tower, very delicately pierced. There is also a pleasant garden, which
consists of a pond, an aviary, an echo, a mall, a labyrinth, a house
for wild beasts, and a quantity of leafy alleys very agreeable to Venus.
There is also a rascal of a tree which is called ‘the lewd,’ because it
favored the pleasures of a famous princess and a constable of France,
who was a gallant and a wit.--Alas! we poor philosophers are to a
constable as a plot of cabbages or a radish bed to the garden of the
Louvre. What matters it, after all? human life, for the great as well
as for us, is a mixture of good and evil. Pain is always by the side
of joy, the spondee by the dactyl.--Master, I must relate to you the
history of the Barbeau mansion. It ends in tragic fashion. It was in
1319, in the reign of Philippe V., the longest reign of the kings of
France. The moral of the story is that the temptations of the flesh are
pernicious and malignant. Let us not rest our glance too long on our
neighbor’s wife, however gratified our senses may be by her beauty.
Fornication is a very libertine thought. Adultery is a prying into the
pleasures of others--Ohé! the noise yonder is redoubling!”

The tumult around Notre-Dame was, in fact, increasing. They listened.
Cries of victory were heard with tolerable distinctness. All at once, a
hundred torches, the light of which glittered upon the helmets of men
at arms, spread over the church at all heights, on the towers, on the
galleries, on the flying buttresses. These torches seemed to be in
search of something; and soon distant clamors reached the fugitives
distinctly:--“The gypsy! the sorceress! death to the gypsy!”

The unhappy girl dropped her head upon her hands, and the unknown began
to row furiously towards the shore. Meanwhile our philosopher reflected.
He clasped the goat in his arms, and gently drew away from the gypsy,
who pressed closer and closer to him, as though to the only asylum which
remained to her.

It is certain that Gringoire was enduring cruel perplexity. He was
thinking that the goat also, “according to existing law,” would be hung
if recaptured; which would be a great pity, poor Djali! that he had thus
two condemned creatures attached to him; that his companion asked no
better than to take charge of the gypsy. A violent combat began between
his thoughts, in which, like the Jupiter of the Iliad, he weighed in
turn the gypsy and the goat; and he looked at them alternately with eyes
moist with tears, saying between his teeth:

“But I cannot save you both!”

A shock informed them that the boat had reached the land at last. The
uproar still filled the city. The unknown rose, approached the gypsy,
and endeavored to take her arm to assist her to alight. She repulsed him
and clung to the sleeve of Gringoire, who, in his turn, absorbed in the
goat, almost repulsed her. Then she sprang alone from the boat. She was
so troubled that she did not know what she did or whither she was going.
Thus she remained for a moment, stunned, watching the water flow past;
when she gradually returned to her senses, she found herself alone
on the wharf with the unknown. It appears that Gringoire had taken
advantage of the moment of debarcation to slip away with the goat into
the block of houses of the Rue Grenier-sur-l’Eau.

The poor gypsy shivered when she beheld herself alone with this man. She
tried to speak, to cry out, to call Gringoire; her tongue was dumb
in her mouth, and no sound left her lips. All at once she felt
the stranger’s hand on hers. It was a strong, cold hand. Her teeth
chattered, she turned paler than the ray of moonlight which illuminated
her. The man spoke not a word. He began to ascend towards the Place de
Grève, holding her by the hand.

At that moment, she had a vague feeling that destiny is an irresistible
force. She had no more resistance left in her, she allowed herself to be
dragged along, running while he walked. At this spot the quay ascended.
But it seemed to her as though she were descending a slope.

She gazed about her on all sides. Not a single passer-by. The quay was
absolutely deserted. She heard no sound, she felt no people moving save
in the tumultuous and glowing city, from which she was separated only by
an arm of the Seine, and whence her name reached her, mingled with cries
of “Death!” The rest of Paris was spread around her in great blocks of

Meanwhile, the stranger continued to drag her along with the same
silence and the same rapidity. She had no recollection of any of the
places where she was walking. As she passed before a lighted window, she
made an effort, drew up suddenly, and cried out, “Help!”

The bourgeois who was standing at the window opened it, appeared there
in his shirt with his lamp, stared at the quay with a stupid air,
uttered some words which she did not understand, and closed his shutter
again. It was her last gleam of hope extinguished.

The man in black did not utter a syllable; he held her firmly, and set
out again at a quicker pace. She no longer resisted, but followed him,
completely broken.

From time to time she called together a little strength, and said, in a
voice broken by the unevenness of the pavement and the breathlessness of
their flight, “Who are you? Who are you?” He made no reply.

They arrived thus, still keeping along the quay, at a tolerably spacious
square. It was the Grève. In the middle, a sort of black, erect cross
was visible; it was the gallows. She recognized all this, and saw where
she was.

The man halted, turned towards her and raised his cowl.

“Oh!” she stammered, almost petrified, “I knew well that it was he

It was the priest. He looked like the ghost of himself; that is an
effect of the moonlight, it seems as though one beheld only the spectres
of things in that light.

“Listen!” he said to her; and she shuddered at the sound of that fatal
voice which she had not heard for a long time. He continued speaking
with those brief and panting jerks, which betoken deep internal
convulsions. “Listen! we are here. I am going to speak to you. This is
the Grève. This is an extreme point. Destiny gives us to one another. I
am going to decide as to your life; you will decide as to my soul. Here
is a place, here is a night beyond which one sees nothing. Then listen
to me. I am going to tell you...In the first place, speak not to me
of your Phoebus. (As he spoke thus he paced to and fro, like a man who
cannot remain in one place, and dragged her after him.) Do not speak to
me of him. Do you see? If you utter that name, I know not what I shall
do, but it will be terrible.”

Then, like a body which recovers its centre of gravity, he became
motionless once more, but his words betrayed no less agitation. His
voice grew lower and lower.

“Do not turn your head aside thus. Listen to me. It is a serious matter.
In the first place, here is what has happened.--All this will not be
laughed at. I swear it to you.--What was I saying? Remind me! Oh!--There
is a decree of Parliament which gives you back to the scaffold. I have
just rescued you from their hands. But they are pursuing you. Look!”

He extended his arm toward the City. The search seemed, in fact, to
be still in progress there. The uproar drew nearer; the tower of the
lieutenant’s house, situated opposite the Grève, was full of clamors
and light, and soldiers could be seen running on the opposite quay with
torches and these cries, “The gypsy! Where is the gypsy! Death! Death!”

“You see that they are in pursuit of you, and that I am not lying to
you. I love you.--Do not open your mouth; refrain from speaking to me
rather, if it be only to tell me that you hate me. I have made up my
mind not to hear that again.--I have just saved you.--Let me finish
first. I can save you wholly. I have prepared everything. It is yours at
will. If you wish, I can do it.”

He broke off violently. “No, that is not what I should say!”

As he went with hurried step and made her hurry also, for he did not
release her, he walked straight to the gallows, and pointed to it with
his finger,--

“Choose between us two,” he said, coldly.

She tore herself from his hands and fell at the foot of the gibbet,
embracing that funereal support, then she half turned her beautiful
head, and looked at the priest over her shoulder. One would have said
that she was a Holy Virgin at the foot of the cross. The priest remained
motionless, his finger still raised toward the gibbet, preserving his
attitude like a statue. At length the gypsy said to him,--

“It causes me less horror than you do.”

Then he allowed his arm to sink slowly, and gazed at the pavement in
profound dejection.

“If these stones could speak,” he murmured, “yes, they would say that a
* very unhappy man stands here.”

He went on. The young girl, kneeling before the gallows, enveloped in
her long flowing hair, let him speak on without interruption. He now had
a gentle and plaintive accent which contrasted sadly with the haughty
harshness of his features.

“I love you. Oh! how true that is! So nothing comes of that fire which
burns my heart! Alas! young girl, night and day--yes, night and day I
tell you,--it is torture. Oh! I suffer too much, my poor child. ‘Tis a
thing deserving of compassion, I assure you. You see that I speak gently
to you. I really wish that you should no longer cherish this horror
of me.--After all, if a man loves a woman, ‘tis not his fault!--Oh, my
God!--What! So you will never pardon me? You will always hate me? All is
over then. It is that which renders me evil, do you see? and horrible
to myself.--You will not even look at me! You are thinking of something
else, perchance, while I stand here and talk to you, shuddering on the
brink of eternity for both of us! Above all things, do not speak to me
of the officer!--I would cast myself at your knees, I would kiss not
your feet, but the earth which is under your feet; I would sob like
a child, I would tear from my breast not words, but my very heart and
vitals, to tell you that I love you;--all would be useless, all!--And
yet you have nothing in your heart but what is tender and merciful.
You are radiant with the most beautiful mildness; you are wholly sweet,
good, pitiful, and charming. Alas! You cherish no ill will for any one
but me alone! Oh! what a fatality!”

He hid his face in his hands. The young girl heard him weeping. It was
for the first time. Thus erect and shaken by sobs, he was more
miserable and more suppliant than when on his knees. He wept thus for a
considerable time.

“Come!” he said, these first tears passed, “I have no more words. I had,
however, thought well as to what you would say. Now I tremble and shiver
and break down at the decisive moment, I feel conscious of something
supreme enveloping us, and I stammer. Oh! I shall fall upon the pavement
if you do not take pity on me, pity on yourself. Do not condemn us both.
If you only knew how much I love you! What a heart is mine! Oh! what
desertion of all virtue! What desperate abandonment of myself! A doctor,
I mock at science; a gentleman, I tarnish my own name; a priest, I make
of the missal a pillow of sensuality, I spit in the face of my God! all
this for thee, enchantress! to be more worthy of thy hell! And you will
not have the apostate! Oh! let me tell you all! more still, something
more horrible, oh! Yet more horrible!....”

As he uttered these last words, his air became utterly distracted. He
was silent for a moment, and resumed, as though speaking to himself, and
in a strong voice,--

“Cain, what hast thou done with thy brother?”

There was another silence, and he went on--

“What have I done with him, Lord? I received him, I reared him, I
nourished him, I loved him, I idolized him, and I have slain him! Yes,
Lord, they have just dashed his head before my eyes on the stone of
thine house, and it is because of me, because of this woman, because of

His eye was wild. His voice grew ever weaker; he repeated many times,
yet, mechanically, at tolerably long intervals, like a bell prolonging
its last vibration: “Because of her.--Because of her.”

Then his tongue no longer articulated any perceptible sound; but
his lips still moved. All at once he sank together, like something
crumbling, and lay motionless on the earth, with his head on his knees.

A touch from the young girl, as she drew her foot from under him,
brought him to himself. He passed his hand slowly over his hollow
cheeks, and gazed for several moments at his fingers, which were wet,
“What!” he murmured, “I have wept!”

And turning suddenly to the gypsy with unspeakable anguish,--

“Alas! you have looked coldly on at my tears! Child, do you know that
those tears are of lava? Is it indeed true? Nothing touches when it
comes from the man whom one does not love. If you were to see me die,
you would laugh. Oh! I do not wish to see you die! One word! A single
word of pardon! Say not that you love me, say only that you will do it;
that will suffice; I will save you. If not--oh! the hour is passing. I
entreat you by all that is sacred, do not wait until I shall have turned
to stone again, like that gibbet which also claims you! Reflect that
I hold the destinies of both of us in my hand, that I am mad,--it is
terrible,--that I may let all go to destruction, and that there is
beneath us a bottomless abyss, unhappy girl, whither my fall will follow
yours to all eternity! One word of kindness! Say one word! only one

She opened her mouth to answer him. He flung himself on his knees to
receive with adoration the word, possibly a tender one, which was on the
point of issuing from her lips. She said to him, “You are an assassin!”

The priest clasped her in his arms with fury, and began to laugh with an
abominable laugh.

“Well, yes, an assassin!” he said, “and I will have you. You will not
have me for your slave, you shall have me for your master. I will have
you! I have a den, whither I will drag you. You will follow me, you
will be obliged to follow me, or I will deliver you up! You must die, my
beauty, or be mine! belong to the priest! belong to the apostate! belong
to the assassin! this very night, do you hear? Come! joy; kiss me, mad
girl! The tomb or my bed!”

His eyes sparkled with impurity and rage. His lewd lips reddened the
young girl’s neck. She struggled in his arms. He covered her with
furious kisses.

“Do not bite me, monster!” she cried. “Oh! the foul, odious monk! leave
me! I will tear out thy ugly gray hair and fling it in thy face by the

He reddened, turned pale, then released her and gazed at her with a
gloomy air. She thought herself victorious, and continued,--

“I tell you that I belong to my Phoebus, that ‘tis Phoebus whom I love,
that ‘tis Phoebus who is handsome! you are old, priest! you are ugly!

He gave vent to a horrible cry, like the wretch to whom a hot iron is
applied. “Die, then!” he said, gnashing his teeth. She saw his terrible
look and tried to fly. He caught her once more, he shook her, he flung
her on the ground, and walked with rapid strides towards the corner
of the Tour-Roland, dragging her after him along the pavement by her
beautiful hands.

On arriving there, he turned to her,--

“For the last time, will you be mine?”

She replied with emphasis,--


Then he cried in a loud voice,--

“Gudule! Gudule! here is the gypsy! take your vengeance!”

The young girl felt herself seized suddenly by the elbow. She looked.
A fleshless arm was stretched from an opening in the wall, and held her
like a hand of iron.

“Hold her well,” said the priest; “‘tis the gypsy escaped. Release her
not. I will go in search of the sergeants. You shall see her hanged.”

A guttural laugh replied from the interior of the wall to these bloody
words--“Hah! hah! hah!”--The gypsy watched the priest retire in
the direction of the Pont Notre-Dame. A cavalcade was heard in that

The young girl had recognized the spiteful recluse. Panting with terror,
she tried to disengage herself. She writhed, she made many starts of
agony and despair, but the other held her with incredible strength. The
lean and bony fingers which bruised her, clenched on her flesh and met
around it. One would have said that this hand was riveted to her arm. It
was more than a chain, more than a fetter, more than a ring of iron, it
was a living pair of pincers endowed with intelligence, which emerged
from the wall.

She fell back against the wall exhausted, and then the fear of death
took possession of her. She thought of the beauty of life, of youth, of
the view of heaven, the aspects of nature, of her love for Phoebus, of
all that was vanishing and all that was approaching, of the priest who
was denouncing her, of the headsman who was to come, of the gallows
which was there. Then she felt terror mount to the very roots of her
hair and she heard the mocking laugh of the recluse, saying to her in a
very low tone: “Hah! hah! hah! you are going to be hanged!”

She turned a dying look towards the window, and she beheld the fierce
face of the sacked nun through the bars.

“What have I done to you?” she said, almost lifeless.

The recluse did not reply, but began to mumble with a singsong
irritated, mocking intonation: “Daughter of Egypt! daughter of Egypt!
daughter of Egypt!”

The unhappy Esmeralda dropped her head beneath her flowing hair,
comprehending that it was no human being she had to deal with.

All at once the recluse exclaimed, as though the gypsy’s question had
taken all this time to reach her brain,--“‘What have you done to me?’
you say! Ah! what have you done to me, gypsy! Well! listen.--I had a
child! you see! I had a child! a child, I tell you!--a pretty little
girl!--my Agnes!” she went on wildly, kissing something in the
dark.--“Well! do you see, daughter of Egypt? they took my child from me;
they stole my child; they ate my child. That is what you have done to

The young girl replied like a lamb,--

“Alas! perchance I was not born then!”

“Oh! yes!” returned the recluse, “you must have been born. You were
among them. She would be the same age as you! so!--I have been here
fifteen years; fifteen years have I suffered; fifteen years have I
prayed; fifteen years have I beat my head against these four walls--I
tell you that ‘twas the gypsies who stole her from me, do you hear that?
and who ate her with their teeth.--Have you a heart? imagine a child
playing, a child sucking; a child sleeping. It is so innocent a
thing!--Well! that, that is what they took from me, what they killed.
The good God knows it well! To-day, it is my turn; I am going to eat the
gypsy.--Oh! I would bite you well, if the bars did not prevent me! My
head is too large!--Poor little one! while she was asleep! And if
they woke her up when they took her, in vain she might cry; I was not
there!--Ah! gypsy mothers, you devoured my child! come see your own.”

Then she began to laugh or to gnash her teeth, for the two things
resembled each other in that furious face. The day was beginning to
dawn. An ashy gleam dimly lighted this scene, and the gallows grew more
and more distinct in the square. On the other side, in the direction of
the bridge of Notre-Dame, the poor condemned girl fancied that she heard
the sound of cavalry approaching.

“Madam,” she cried, clasping her hands and falling on her knees,
dishevelled, distracted, mad with fright; “madam! have pity! They are
coming. I have done nothing to you. Would you wish to see me die in this
horrible fashion before your very eyes? You are pitiful, I am sure. It
is too frightful. Let me make my escape. Release me! Mercy. I do not
wish to die like that!”

“Give me back my child!” said the recluse.

“Mercy! Mercy!”

“Give me back my child!”

“Release me, in the name of heaven!”

“Give me back my child!”

Again the young girl fell; exhausted, broken, and having already the
glassy eye of a person in the grave.

“Alas!” she faltered, “you seek your child, I seek my parents.”

“Give me back my little Agnes!” pursued Gudule. “You do not know where
she is? Then die!--I will tell you. I was a woman of the town, I had a
child, they took my child. It was the gypsies. You see plainly that you
must die. When your mother, the gypsy, comes to reclaim you, I shall say
to her: ‘Mother, look at that gibbet!--Or, give me back my child. Do you
know where she is, my little daughter? Stay! I will show you. Here is
her shoe, all that is left me of her. Do you know where its mate is? If
you know, tell me, and if it is only at the other end of the world, I
will crawl to it on my knees.”

As she spoke thus, with her other arm extended through the window,
she showed the gypsy the little embroidered shoe. It was already light
enough to distinguish its shape and its colors.

“Let me see that shoe,” said the gypsy, quivering. “God! God!”

And at the same time, with her hand which was at liberty, she quickly
opened the little bag ornamented with green glass, which she wore about
her neck.

“Go on, go on!” grumbled Gudule, “search your demon’s amulet!”

All at once, she stopped short, trembled in every limb, and cried in a
voice which proceeded from the very depths of her being: “My daughter!”

The gypsy had just drawn from the bag a little shoe absolutely similar
to the other. To this little shoe was attached a parchment on which was
inscribed this charm,--

         _Quand le parell retrouveras
         Ta mere te tendras les bras_.*

     * When thou shalt find its mate, thy mother will stretch out
her arms to thee.

Quicker than a flash of lightning, the recluse had laid the two shoes
together, had read the parchment and had put close to the bars of the
window her face beaming with celestial joy as she cried,--

“My daughter! my daughter!”

“My mother!” said the gypsy.

Here we are unequal to the task of depicting the scene. The wall and the
iron bars were between them. “Oh! the wall!” cried the recluse. “Oh! to
see her and not to embrace her! Your hand! your hand!”

The young girl passed her arm through the opening; the recluse threw
herself on that hand, pressed her lips to it and there remained, buried
in that kiss, giving no other sign of life than a sob which heaved her
breast from time to time. In the meanwhile, she wept in torrents, in
silence, in the dark, like a rain at night. The poor mother poured out
in floods upon that adored hand the dark and deep well of tears, which
lay within her, and into which her grief had filtered, drop by drop, for
fifteen years.

All at once she rose, flung aside her long gray hair from her brow, and
without uttering a word, began to shake the bars of her cage cell, with
both hands, more furiously than a lioness. The bars held firm. Then she
went to seek in the corner of her cell a huge paving stone, which served
her as a pillow, and launched it against them with such violence that
one of the bars broke, emitting thousands of sparks. A second blow
completely shattered the old iron cross which barricaded the window.
Then with her two hands, she finished breaking and removing the rusted
stumps of the bars. There are moments when woman’s hands possess
superhuman strength.

A passage broken, less than a minute was required for her to seize her
daughter by the middle of her body, and draw her into her cell. “Come
let me draw you out of the abyss,” she murmured.

When her daughter was inside the cell, she laid her gently on the
ground, then raised her up again, and bearing her in her arms as though
she were still only her little Agnes, she walked to and fro in her
little room, intoxicated, frantic, joyous, crying out, singing, kissing
her daughter, talking to her, bursting into laughter, melting into
tears, all at once and with vehemence.

“My daughter! my daughter!” she said. “I have my daughter! here she is!
The good God has given her back to me! Ha you! come all of you! Is there
any one there to see that I have my daughter? Lord Jesus, how beautiful
she is! You have made me wait fifteen years, my good God, but it was in
order to give her back to me beautiful.--Then the gypsies did not eat
her! Who said so? My little daughter! my little daughter! Kiss me. Those
good gypsies! I love the gypsies!--It is really you! That was what made
my heart leap every time that you passed by. And I took that for hatred!
Forgive me, my Agnes, forgive me. You thought me very malicious, did
you not? I love you. Have you still the little mark on your neck? Let
us see. She still has it. Oh! you are beautiful! It was I who gave you
those big eyes, mademoiselle. Kiss me. I love you. It is nothing to me
that other mothers have children; I scorn them now. They have only to
come and see. Here is mine. See her neck, her eyes, her hair, her hands.
Find me anything as beautiful as that! Oh! I promise you she will have
lovers, that she will! I have wept for fifteen years. All my beauty has
departed and has fallen to her. Kiss me.”

She addressed to her a thousand other extravagant remarks, whose accent
constituted their sole beauty, disarranged the poor girl’s garments even
to the point of making her blush, smoothed her silky hair with her hand,
kissed her foot, her knee, her brow, her eyes, was in raptures over
everything. The young girl let her have her way, repeating at intervals
and very low and with infinite tenderness, “My mother!”

“Do you see, my little girl,” resumed the recluse, interspersing her
words with kisses, “I shall love you dearly? We will go away from here.
We are going to be very happy. I have inherited something in Reims, in
our country. You know Reims? Ah! no, you do not know it; you were too
small! If you only knew how pretty you were at the age of four months!
Tiny feet that people came even from Epernay, which is seven leagues
away, to see! We shall have a field, a house. I will put you to sleep in
my bed. My God! my God! who would believe this? I have my daughter!”

“Oh, my mother!” said the young girl, at length finding strength to
speak in her emotion, “the gypsy woman told me so. There was a good
gypsy of our band who died last year, and who always cared for me like
a nurse. It was she who placed this little bag about my neck. She always
said to me: ‘Little one, guard this jewel well! ‘Tis a treasure. It will
cause thee to find thy mother once again. Thou wearest thy mother about
thy neck.’--The gypsy predicted it!”

The sacked nun again pressed her daughter in her arms.

“Come, let me kiss you! You say that prettily. When we are in the
country, we will place these little shoes on an infant Jesus in the
church. We certainly owe that to the good, holy Virgin. What a pretty
voice you have! When you spoke to me just now, it was music! Ah! my Lord
God! I have found my child again! But is this story credible? Nothing
will kill one--or I should have died of joy.”

And then she began to clap her hands again and to laugh and to cry out:
“We are going to be so happy!”

At that moment, the cell resounded with the clang of arms and a
galloping of horses which seemed to be coming from the Pont Notre-Dame,
amid advancing farther and farther along the quay. The gypsy threw
herself with anguish into the arms of the sacked nun.

“Save me! save me! mother! they are coming!”

“Oh, heaven! what are you saying? I had forgotten! They are in pursuit
of you! What have you done?”

“I know not,” replied the unhappy child; “but I am condemned to die.”

“To die!” said Gudule, staggering as though struck by lightning; “to
die!” she repeated slowly, gazing at her daughter with staring eyes.

“Yes, mother,” replied the frightened young girl, “they want to kill me.
They are coming to seize me. That gallows is for me! Save me! save me!
They are coming! Save me!”

The recluse remained for several moments motionless and petrified, then
she moved her head in sign of doubt, and suddenly giving vent to a burst
of laughter, but with that terrible laugh which had come back to her,--

“Ho! ho! no! ‘tis a dream of which you are telling me. Ah, yes! I lost
her, that lasted fifteen years, and then I found her again, and that
lasted a minute! And they would take her from me again! And now, when
she is beautiful, when she is grown up, when she speaks to me, when she
loves me; it is now that they would come to devour her, before my very
eyes, and I her mother! Oh! no! these things are not possible. The good
God does not permit such things as that.”

Here the cavalcade appeared to halt, and a voice was heard to say in the

“This way, Messire Tristan! The priest says that we shall find her at
the Rat-Hole.” The noise of the horses began again.

The recluse sprang to her feet with a shriek of despair. “Fly! fly! my
child! All comes back to me. You are right. It is your death! Horror!
Maledictions! Fly!”

She thrust her head through the window, and withdrew it again hastily.

“Remain,” she said, in a low, curt, and lugubrious tone, as she pressed
the hand of the gypsy, who was more dead than alive. “Remain! Do not
breathe! There are soldiers everywhere. You cannot get out. It is too

Her eyes were dry and burning. She remained silent for a moment; but she
paced the cell hurriedly, and halted now and then to pluck out handfuls
of her gray hairs, which she afterwards tore with her teeth.

Suddenly she said: “They draw near. I will speak with them. Hide
yourself in this corner. They will not see you. I will tell them that
you have made your escape. That I released you, i’ faith!”

She set her daughter (down for she was still carrying her), in one
corner of the cell which was not visible from without. She made her
crouch down, arranged her carefully so that neither foot nor hand
projected from the shadow, untied her black hair which she spread over
her white robe to conceal it, placed in front of her her jug and her
paving stone, the only articles of furniture which she possessed,
imagining that this jug and stone would hide her. And when this was
finished she became more tranquil, and knelt down to pray. The day,
which was only dawning, still left many shadows in the Rat-Hole.

At that moment, the voice of the priest, that infernal voice, passed
very close to the cell, crying,--

“This way, Captain Phoebus de Châteaupers.”

At that name, at that voice, la Esmeralda, crouching in her corner, made
a movement.

“Do not stir!” said Gudule.

She had barely finished when a tumult of men, swords, and horses halted
around the cell. The mother rose quickly and went to post herself before
her window, in order to stop it up. She beheld a large troop of armed
men, both horse and foot, drawn up on the Grève.

The commander dismounted, and came toward her.

“Old woman!” said this man, who had an atrocious face, “we are in search
of a witch to hang her; we were told that you had her.”

The poor mother assumed as indifferent an air as she could, and

“I know not what you mean.”

The other resumed, “_Tête Dieu_! What was it that frightened archdeacon
said? Where is he?”

“Monseigneur,” said a soldier, “he has disappeared.”

“Come, now, old madwoman,” began the commander again, “do not lie. A
sorceress was given in charge to you. What have you done with her?”

The recluse did not wish to deny all, for fear of awakening suspicion,
and replied in a sincere and surly tone,--

“If you are speaking of a big young girl who was put into my hands a
while ago, I will tell you that she bit me, and that I released her.
There! Leave me in peace.”

The commander made a grimace of disappointment. “Don’t lie to me, old
spectre!” said he. “My name is Tristan l’Hermite, and I am the king’s
gossip. Tristan the Hermit, do you hear?” He added, as he glanced at the
Place de Grève around him, “‘Tis a name which has an echo here.”

“You might be Satan the Hermit,” replied Gudule, who was regaining hope,
“but I should have nothing else to say to you, and I should never be
afraid of you.”

“_Tête-Dieu_,” said Tristan, “here is a crone! Ah! So the witch girl
hath fled! And in which direction did she go?” Gudule replied in a
careless tone,--

“Through the Rue du Mouton, I believe.”

Tristan turned his head and made a sign to his troop to prepare to set
out on the march again. The recluse breathed freely once more.

“Monseigneur,” suddenly said an archer, “ask the old elf why the bars of
her window are broken in this manner.”

This question brought anguish again to the heart of the miserable
mother. Nevertheless, she did not lose all presence of mind.

“They have always been thus,” she stammered.

“Bah!” retorted the archer, “only yesterday they still formed a fine
black cross, which inspired devotion.”

Tristan east a sidelong glance at the recluse.

“I think the old dame is getting confused!”

The unfortunate woman felt that al