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BOOK SEVENTH. CHAPTER I.
THE DANGER OF CONFIDING ONE'S SECRET TO A GOAT.
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 facade 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 facade, 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 politeness.
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 prayer-book,--
"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 Hotel de la Roche-Guyon?"
"Is not that the hotel in which is enclosed the garden of the Lingere 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 why.
"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 Berangere 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 square.
"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 Chateaupers (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 Berangere.
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 Berangere, 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 Greve.
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 Gaillefontaine.
"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 portiere 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.
Berangere 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 Berangere, 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 sweetness,--
"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, naive, 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 Gaillefontaine.
"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 Berangere, 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 gypsy.
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 Fleur-de-Lys.
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 name?"
"La Esmeralda," said the dancer, never taking her eyes from him.
At this strange name, a burst of wild laughter broke from the young girls.
"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, Berangere 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 Berangere 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,--
PHOEBUS. "Was it the goat who wrote that?" she
inquired in a changed voice.
"Yes, godmother," replied Berangere. 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 name!"
"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.
-BOOK SEVENTH. CHAPTER II.
A PRIEST AND A PHILOSOPHER ARE TWO DIFFERENT THINGS.
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 facades 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 Provencal 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 facade, 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 archdeacon.
"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 husband."
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 abbe; 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 naive 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 "Phoebus."
"'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 embarrassment,--
"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 foot."
"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.
-BOOK SEVENTH. CHAPTER III.
THE BELLS.
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 beautiful?
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.
-BOOK SEVENTH. CHAPTER IV.
ANArKH.
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.