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BOOK SECOND. CHAPTER I.
FROM CHARYBDIS TO SCYLLA.
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
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
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
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.
"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 cold!"
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 Greve.
"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."
-BOOK SECOND. CHAPTER II.
THE PLACE DE GREVE.
There remains to-day but a very imperceptible vestige of the Place de
Greve, 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 facades of Paris.
The persons who, like ourselves, never cross the Place de Greve 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
facades 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 Greve 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 Greve, the Halles, the Place
Dauphine, the Cross du Trahoir, the Marche aux Pourceaux, that hideous Montfaucon, 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 Chatelet, 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 Greve,--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.
-BOOK SECOND. CHAPTER III.
KISSES FOR BLOWS.
When Pierre Gringoire arrived on the Place de Greve, 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
"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 vision.
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
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.
"He, 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
facade 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
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 goat.
"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 tambourine.
"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 gypsy.
She shuddered and turned round; but applause broke forth and drowned the morose
It even effaced it so completely from her mind, that she continued to question her
"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.
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
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
The children's shouts had reminded him that he, also, had not supped, so he ran to the
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
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 stanza,--
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
"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
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 Greve,
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 Greve.
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 coesre, 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
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-Genevieve 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
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 Greve.
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
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
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
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
He made one bound as far as the priest, looked at him, and fell upon his knees.
The priest tore off his tiara, broke his crozier, and rent his tinsel cope.
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.
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
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?"
-BOOK SECOND. CHAPTER IV.
THE INCONVENIENCES OF FOLLOWING A PRETTY WOMAN THROUGH THE STREETS IN THE EVENING.
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
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 to-day.
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 sleep.
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 day--closing.
"After all," he half thought to himself, "she must lodge somewhere; gypsies have
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
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 measure?"
"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 Chatelet, took fright at the
Flemings and their procession, and overturned Master Philippe Avrillot, lay
monk of the Celestins."
"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
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 on.
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 cry.
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 step.
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
plaintively. "Murder! murder!" shrieked the unhappy
"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
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 usual,-- "What is your name, monsieur le gendarme?"
"Captain Phoebus de Chateaupers, 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 fled.
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."
-BOOK SECOND. CHAPTER V.
RESULT OF THE DANGERS.
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 surface.
"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 alchemists--"
The word "alchemists" suddenly suggested to his mind the idea of Archdeacon Claude
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
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.
"Ohe, Hennequin Dandeche!
Ohe, 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 Virgin. "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.
-BOOK SECOND. CHAPTER VI.
THE BROKEN JUG.
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
"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 Hotel 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
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!"
"Deuce take you," said Gringoire, "and me with you, if I know what you mean!"
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!"
"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
"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 pan!"
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 them.
"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 Chatelet
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 undressed.
It was a vast place, irregular and badly paved, like all the squares of Paris at
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 facades,
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' Sabbath.
It was like a new world, unknown, unheard of, misshapen, creeping, swarming,
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 king!"
"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 struggle.
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