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-BOOK TENTH. CHAPTER I.
GRINGOIRE HAS MANY GOOD IDEAS IN SUCCESSION.--RUE DES BERNARDINS.
As soon as Pierre Gringoire had seen how this whole affair was turning, and that
there would decidedly be the rope, hanging, and other disagreeable things for the
principal personages in this comedy, he had
not cared to identify himself with the matter further.
The outcasts with whom he had remained, reflecting that, after all, it was the best
company in Paris,--the outcasts had continued to interest themselves in behalf
of the gypsy.
He had thought it very simple on the part of people who had, like herself, nothing
else in prospect but Charmolue and Torterue, and who, unlike himself, did not
gallop through the regions of imagination between the wings of Pegasus.
From their remarks, he had learned that his wife of the broken crock had taken refuge
in Notre-Dame, and he was very glad of it.
But he felt no temptation to go and see her there.
He meditated occasionally on the little goat, and that was all.
Moreover, he was busy executing feats of strength during the day for his living, and
at night he was engaged in composing a memorial against the Bishop of Paris, for
he remembered having been drenched by the
wheels of his mills, and he cherished a grudge against him for it.
He also occupied himself with annotating the fine work of Baudry-le-Rouge, Bishop of
Noyon and Tournay, De Cupa Petrarum, which had given him a violent passion for
architecture, an inclination which had
replaced in his heart his passion for hermeticism, of which it was, moreover,
only a natural corollary, since there is an intimate relation between hermeticism and
masonry.
Gringoire had passed from the love of an idea to the love of the form of that idea.
One day he had halted near Saint Germain- l'Auxerrois, at the corner of a mansion
called "For-l'Eveque" (the Bishop's Tribunal), which stood opposite another
called "For-le-Roi" (the King's Tribunal).
At this For-l'Eveque, there was a charming chapel of the fourteenth century, whose
apse was on the street. Gringoire was devoutly examining its
exterior sculptures.
He was in one of those moments of egotistical, exclusive, supreme, enjoyment
when the artist beholds nothing in the world but art, and the world in art.
All at once he feels a hand laid gravely on his shoulder.
He turns round. It was his old friend, his former master,
monsieur the archdeacon.
He was stupefied.
It was a long time since he had seen the archdeacon, and Dom Claude was one of those
solemn and impassioned men, a meeting with whom always upsets the equilibrium of a
sceptical philosopher.
The archdeacon maintained silence for several minutes, during which Gringoire had
time to observe him.
He found Dom Claude greatly changed; pale as a winter's morning, with hollow eyes,
and hair almost white. The priest broke the silence at length, by
saying, in a tranquil but glacial tone,--
"How do you do, Master Pierre?" "My health?" replied Gringoire.
"Eh! eh! one can say both one thing and another on that score.
Still, it is good, on the whole.
I take not too much of anything. You know, master, that the secret of
keeping well, according to Hippocrates; id est: cibi, potus, somni, venus, omnia
moderata sint."
"So you have no care, Master Pierre?" resumed the archdeacon, gazing intently at
Gringoire. "None, i' faith!"
"And what are you doing now?"
"You see, master. I am examining the chiselling of these
stones, and the manner in which yonder bas- relief is thrown out."
The priest began to smile with that bitter smile which raises only one corner of the
mouth. "And that amuses you?"
"'Tis paradise!" exclaimed Gringoire.
And leaning over the sculptures with the fascinated air of a demonstrator of living
phenomena: "Do you not think, for instance, that yon metamorphosis in bas-relief is
executed with much adroitness, delicacy and patience?
Observe that slender column.
Around what capital have you seen foliage more tender and better caressed by the
chisel. Here are three raised bosses of Jean
Maillevin.
They are not the finest works of this great master.
Nevertheless, the naivete, the sweetness of the faces, the gayety of the attitudes and
draperies, and that inexplicable charm which is mingled with all the defects,
render the little figures very diverting and delicate, perchance, even too much so.
You think that it is not diverting?" "Yes, certainly!" said the priest.
"And if you were to see the interior of the chapel!" resumed the poet, with his
garrulous enthusiasm. "Carvings everywhere.
'Tis as thickly clustered as the head of a cabbage!
The apse is of a very devout, and so peculiar a fashion that I have never beheld
anything like it elsewhere!"
Dom Claude interrupted him,-- "You are happy, then?"
Gringoire replied warmly;-- "On my honor, yes!
First I loved women, then animals.
Now I love stones. They are quite as amusing as women and
animals, and less treacherous." The priest laid his hand on his brow.
It was his habitual gesture.
"Really?" "Stay!" said Gringoire, "one has one's
pleasures!"
He took the arm of the priest, who let him have his way, and made him enter the
staircase turret of For-l'Eveque. "Here is a staircase! every time that I see
it I am happy.
It is of the simplest and rarest manner of steps in Paris.
All the steps are bevelled underneath.
Its beauty and simplicity consist in the interspacing of both, being a foot or more
wide, which are interlaced, interlocked, fitted together, enchained enchased,
interlined one upon another, and bite into
each other in a manner that is truly firm and graceful."
"And you desire nothing?" "No."
"And you regret nothing?"
"Neither regret nor desire. I have arranged my mode of life."
"What men arrange," said Claude, "things disarrange."
"I am a Pyrrhonian philosopher," replied Gringoire, "and I hold all things in
equilibrium." "And how do you earn your living?"
"I still make epics and tragedies now and then; but that which brings me in most is
the industry with which you are acquainted, master; carrying pyramids of chairs in my
teeth."
"The trade is but a rough one for a philosopher."
"'Tis still equilibrium," said Gringoire. "When one has an idea, one encounters it in
everything."
"I know that," replied the archdeacon. After a silence, the priest resumed,--
"You are, nevertheless, tolerably poor?" "Poor, yes; unhappy, no."
At that moment, a trampling of horses was heard, and our two interlocutors beheld
defiling at the end of the street, a company of the king's unattached archers,
their lances borne high, an officer at their head.
The cavalcade was brilliant, and its march resounded on the pavement.
"How you gaze at that officer!" said Gringoire, to the archdeacon.
"Because I think I recognize him." "What do you call him?"
"I think," said Claude, "that his name is Phoebus de Chateaupers."
"Phoebus! A curious name!
There is also a Phoebus, Comte de Foix.
I remember having known a wench who swore only by the name of Phoebus."
"Come away from here," said the priest. "I have something to say to you."
From the moment of that troop's passing, some agitation had pierced through the
archdeacon's glacial envelope. He walked on.
Gringoire followed him, being accustomed to obey him, like all who had once approached
that man so full of ascendency. They reached in silence the Rue des
Bernardins, which was nearly deserted.
Here Dom Claude paused. "What have you to say to me, master?"
Gringoire asked him.
"Do you not think that the dress of those cavaliers whom we have just seen is far
handsomer than yours and mine?" Gringoire tossed his head.
"I' faith!
I love better my red and yellow jerkin, than those scales of iron and steel.
A fine pleasure to produce, when you walk, the same noise as the Quay of Old Iron, in
an earthquake!"
"So, Gringoire, you have never cherished envy for those handsome fellows in their
military doublets?"
"Envy for what, monsieur the archdeacon? their strength, their armor, their
discipline? Better philosophy and independence in rags.
I prefer to be the head of a fly rather than the tail of a lion."
"That is singular," said the priest dreamily.
"Yet a handsome uniform is a beautiful thing."
Gringoire, perceiving that he was in a pensive mood, quitted him to go and admire
the porch of a neighboring house.
He came back clapping his hands. "If you were less engrossed with the fine
clothes of men of war, monsieur the archdeacon, I would entreat you to come and
see this door.
I have always said that the house of the Sieur Aubry had the most superb entrance in
the world."
"Pierre Gringoire," said the archdeacon, "What have you done with that little gypsy
dancer?" "La Esmeralda?
You change the conversation very abruptly."
"Was she not your wife?" "Yes, by virtue of a broken crock.
We were to have four years of it.
By the way," added Gringoire, looking at the archdeacon in a half bantering way,
"are you still thinking of her?" "And you think of her no longer?"
"Very little.
I have so many things. Good heavens, how pretty that little goat
was!" "Had she not saved your life?"
"'Tis true, pardieu!"
"Well, what has become of her? What have you done with her?"
"I cannot tell you. I believe that they have hanged her."
"You believe so?"
"I am not sure. When I saw that they wanted to hang people,
I retired from the game." "That is all you know of it?"
"Wait a bit.
I was told that she had taken refuge in Notre-Dame, and that she was safe there,
and I am delighted to hear it, and I have not been able to discover whether the goat
was saved with her, and that is all I know."
"I will tell you more," cried Dom Claude; and his voice, hitherto low, slow, and
almost indistinct, turned to thunder.
"She has in fact, taken refuge in Notre- Dame.
But in three days justice will reclaim her, and she will be hanged on the Greve.
There is a decree of parliament."
"That's annoying," said Gringoire. The priest, in an instant, became cold and
calm again.
"And who the devil," resumed the poet, "has amused himself with soliciting a decree of
reintegration? Why couldn't they leave parliament in
peace?
What harm does it do if a poor girl takes shelter under the flying buttresses of
Notre-Dame, beside the swallows' nests?" "There are satans in this world," remarked
the archdeacon.
"'Tis devilish badly done," observed Gringoire.
The archdeacon resumed after a silence,-- "So, she saved your life?"
"Among my good friends the outcasts.
A little more or a little less and I should have been hanged.
They would have been sorry for it to-day." "Would not you like to do something for
her?"
"I ask nothing better, Dom Claude; but what if I entangle myself in some villanous
affair?" "What matters it?"
"Bah! what matters it?
You are good, master, that you are! I have two great works already begun."
The priest smote his brow.
In spite of the calm which he affected, a violent gesture betrayed his internal
convulsions from time to time. "How is she to be saved?"
Gringoire said to him; "Master, I will reply to you; Il padelt, which means in
Turkish, 'God is our hope.'" "How is she to be saved?" repeated Claude
dreamily.
Gringoire smote his brow in his turn. "Listen, master.
I have imagination; I will devise expedients for you.
What if one were to ask her pardon from the king?"
"Of Louis XI.! A pardon!"
"Why not?"
"To take the tiger's bone from him!" Gringoire began to seek fresh expedients.
"Well, stay!
Shall I address to the midwives a request accompanied by the declaration that the
girl is with child!" This made the priest's hollow eye flash.
"With child! knave! do you know anything of this?"
Gringoire was alarmed by his air. He hastened to say, "Oh, no, not I!
Our marriage was a real forismaritagium.
I stayed outside. But one might obtain a respite, all the
same." "Madness!
Infamy!
Hold your tongue!" "You do wrong to get angry," muttered
Gringoire.
"One obtains a respite; that does no harm to any one, and allows the midwives, who
are poor women, to earn forty deniers parisis."
The priest was not listening to him!
"But she must leave that place, nevertheless!" he murmured, "the decree is
to be executed within three days. Moreover, there will be no decree; that
Quasimodo!
Women have very depraved tastes!" He raised his voice: "Master Pierre, I have
reflected well; there is but one means of safety for her."
"What?
I see none myself." "Listen, Master Pierre, remember that you
owe your life to her. I will tell you my idea frankly.
The church is watched night and day; only those are allowed to come out, who have
been seen to enter. Hence you can enter.
You will come.
I will lead you to her. You will change clothes with her.
She will take your doublet; you will take her petticoat."
"So far, it goes well," remarked the philosopher, "and then?"
"And then? she will go forth in your garments; you will remain with hers.
You will be hanged, perhaps, but she will be saved."
Gringoire scratched his ear, with a very serious air.
"Stay!" said he, "that is an idea which would never have occurred to me unaided."
At Dom Claude's proposition, the open and benign face of the poet had abruptly
clouded over, like a smiling Italian landscape, when an unlucky squall comes up
and dashes a cloud across the sun.
"Well! Gringoire, what say you to the means?"
"I say, master, that I shall not be hanged, perchance, but that I shall be hanged
indubitably.
"That concerns us not." "The deuce!" said Gringoire.
"She has saved your life. 'Tis a debt that you are discharging."
"There are a great many others which I do not discharge."
"Master Pierre, it is absolutely necessary."
The archdeacon spoke imperiously.
"Listen, Dom Claude," replied the poet in utter consternation.
"You cling to that idea, and you are wrong. I do not see why I should get myself hanged
in some one else's place."
"What have you, then, which attaches you so strongly to life?"
"Oh! a thousand reasons!" "What reasons, if you please?"
"What?
The air, the sky, the morning, the evening, the moonlight, my good friends the thieves,
our jeers with the old hags of go-betweens, the fine architecture of Paris to study,
three great books to make, one of them
being against the bishops and his mills; and how can I tell all?
Anaxagoras said that he was in the world to admire the sun.
And then, from morning till night, I have the happiness of passing all my days with a
man of genius, who is myself, which is very agreeable."
"A head fit for a mule bell!" muttered the archdeacon.
"Oh! tell me who preserved for you that life which you render so charming to
yourself?
To whom do you owe it that you breathe that air, behold that sky, and can still amuse
your lark's mind with your whimsical nonsense and madness?
Where would you be, had it not been for her?
Do you then desire that she through whom you are alive, should die? that she should
die, that beautiful, sweet, adorable creature, who is necessary to the light of
the world and more divine than God, while
you, half wise, and half fool, a vain sketch of something, a sort of vegetable,
which thinks that it walks, and thinks that it thinks, you will continue to live with
the life which you have stolen from her, as useless as a candle in broad daylight?
Come, have a little pity, Gringoire; be generous in your turn; it was she who set
the example."
The priest was vehement.
Gringoire listened to him at first with an undecided air, then he became touched, and
wound up with a grimace which made his pallid face resemble that of a new-born
infant with an attack of the colic.
"You are pathetic!" said he, wiping away a tear.
"Well! I will think about it.
That's a queer idea of yours.--After all," he continued after a pause, "who knows?
perhaps they will not hang me. He who becomes betrothed does not always
marry.
When they find me in that little lodging so grotesquely muffled in petticoat and coif,
perchance they will burst with laughter. And then, if they do hang me,--well! the
halter is as good a death as any.
'Tis a death worthy of a sage who has wavered all his life; a death which is
neither flesh nor fish, like the mind of a veritable sceptic; a death all stamped with
Pyrrhonism and hesitation, which holds the
middle station betwixt heaven and earth, which leaves you in suspense.
'Tis a philosopher's death, and I was destined thereto, perchance.
It is magnificent to die as one has lived."
The priest interrupted him: "Is it agreed." "What is death, after all?" pursued
Gringoire with exaltation. "A disagreeable moment, a toll-gate, the
passage of little to nothingness.
Some one having asked Cercidas, the Megalopolitan, if he were willing to die:
'Why not?' he replied; 'for after my death I shall see those great men, Pythagoras
among the philosophers, Hecataeus among
historians, Homer among poets, Olympus among musicians.'"
The archdeacon gave him his hand: "It is settled, then?
You will come to-morrow?"
This gesture recalled Gringoire to reality. "Ah! i' faith no!" he said in the tone of a
man just waking up. "Be hanged!
'tis too absurd.
I will not." "Farewell, then!" and the archdeacon added
between his teeth: "I'll find you again!"
"I do not want that devil of a man to find me," thought Gringoire; and he ran after
Dom Claude. "Stay, monsieur the archdeacon, no ill-
feeling between old friends!
You take an interest in that girl, my wife, I mean, and 'tis well.
You have devised a scheme to get her out of Notre-Dame, but your way is extremely
disagreeable to me, Gringoire.
If I had only another one myself! I beg to say that a luminous inspiration
has just occurred to me.
If I possessed an expedient for extricating her from a dilemma, without compromising my
own neck to the extent of a single running knot, what would you say to it?
Will not that suffice you?
Is it absolutely necessary that I should be hanged, in order that you may be content?"
The priest tore out the buttons of his cassock with impatience: "Stream of words!
What is your plan?"
"Yes," resumed Gringoire, talking to himself and touching his nose with his
forefinger in sign of meditation,--"that's it!--The thieves are brave fellows!--The
tribe of Egypt love her!--They will rise at
the first word!--Nothing easier!--A sudden stroke.--Under cover of the disorder, they
will easily carry her off!--Beginning to- morrow evening.
They will ask nothing better.
"The plan! speak," cried the archdeacon shaking him.
Gringoire turned majestically towards him: "Leave me!
You see that I am composing."
He meditated for a few moments more, then began to clap his hands over his thought,
crying: "Admirable! success is sure!" "The plan!" repeated Claude in wrath.
Gringoire was radiant.
"Come, that I may tell you that very softly.
'Tis a truly gallant counter-plot, which will extricate us all from the matter.
Pardieu, it must be admitted that I am no fool."
He broke off. "Oh, by the way! is the little goat with
the wench?"
"Yes. The devil take you!"
"They would have hanged it also, would they not?"
"What is that to me?"
"Yes, they would have hanged it. They hanged a sow last month.
The headsman loveth that; he eats the beast afterwards.
Take my pretty Djali!
Poor little lamb!" "Malediction!" exclaimed Dom Claude.
"You are the executioner. What means of safety have you found, knave?
Must your idea be extracted with the forceps?"
"Very fine, master, this is it."
Gringoire bent his head to the archdeacon's head and spoke to him in a very low voice,
casting an uneasy glance the while from one end to the other of the street, though no
one was passing.
When he had finished, Dom Claude took his hand and said coldly: "'Tis well.
Farewell until to-morrow." "Until to-morrow," repeated Gringoire.
And, while the archdeacon was disappearing in one direction, he set off in the other,
saying to himself in a low voice: "Here's a grand affair, Monsieur Pierre Gringoire.
Never mind!
'Tis not written that because one is of small account one should take fright at a
great enterprise.
Bitou carried a great bull on his shoulders; the water-wagtails, the
warblers, and the buntings traverse the ocean."
-BOOK TENTH. CHAPTER II.
TURN VAGABOND.
On re-entering the cloister, the archdeacon found at the door of his cell his brother
Jehan du Moulin, who was waiting for him, and who had beguiled the tedium of waiting
by drawing on the wall with a bit of
charcoal, a profile of his elder brother, enriched with a monstrous nose.
Dom Claude hardly looked at his brother; his thoughts were elsewhere.
That merry scamp's face whose beaming had so often restored serenity to the priest's
sombre physiognomy, was now powerless to melt the gloom which grew more dense every
day over that corrupted, mephitic, and stagnant soul.
"Brother," said Jehan timidly, "I am come to see you."
The archdeacon did not even raise his eyes.
"What then?" "Brother," resumed the hypocrite, "you are
so good to me, and you give me such wise counsels that I always return to you."
"What next?"
"Alas! brother, you were perfectly right when you said to me,--"Jehan!
Jehan! cessat doctorum doctrina, discipulorum disciplina.
Jehan, be wise, Jehan, be learned, Jehan, pass not the night outside of the college
without lawful occasion and due leave of the master.
Cudgel not the Picards: noli, Joannes, verberare Picardos.
Rot not like an unlettered ass, quasi asinus illitteratus, on the straw seats of
the school.
Jehan, allow yourself to be punished at the discretion of the master.
Jehan go every evening to chapel, and sing there an anthem with verse and orison to
Madame the glorious Virgin Mary."--Alas! what excellent advice was that!"
"And then?"
"Brother, you behold a culprit, a criminal, a wretch, a libertine, a man of enormities!
My dear brother, Jehan hath made of your counsels straw and dung to trample under
foot.
I have been well chastised for it, and God is extraordinarily just.
As long as I had money, I feasted, I lead a mad and joyous life.
Oh! how ugly and crabbed behind is debauch which is so charming in front!
Now I have no longer a blank; I have sold my napery, my shirt and my towels; no more
merry life!
The beautiful candle is extinguished and I have henceforth, only a wretched tallow dip
which smokes in my nose. The wenches jeer at me.
I drink water.--I am overwhelmed with remorse and with creditors.
"The rest?" said the archdeacon. "Alas! my very dear brother, I should like
to settle down to a better life.
I come to you full of contrition, I am penitent.
I make my confession. I beat my breast violently.
You are quite right in wishing that I should some day become a licentiate and
sub-monitor in the college of Torchi. At the present moment I feel a magnificent
vocation for that profession.
But I have no more ink and I must buy some; I have no more paper, I have no more books,
and I must buy some.
For this purpose, I am greatly in need of a little money, and I come to you, brother,
with my heart full of contrition." "Is that all?"
"Yes," said the scholar.
"A little money." "I have none."
Then the scholar said, with an air which was both grave and resolute: "Well,
brother, I am sorry to be obliged to tell you that very fine offers and propositions
are being made to me in another quarter.
You will not give me any money? No. In that case I shall become a
professional vagabond."
As he uttered these monstrous words, he assumed the mien of Ajax, expecting to see
the lightnings descend upon his head. The archdeacon said coldly to him,--"Become
a vagabond."
Jehan made him a deep bow, and descended the cloister stairs, whistling.
At the moment when he was passing through the courtyard of the cloister, beneath his
brother's window, he heard that window open, raised his eyes and beheld the
archdeacon's severe head emerge.
"Go to the devil!" said Dom Claude; "here is the last money which you will get from
me?"
At the same time, the priest flung Jehan a purse, which gave the scholar a big bump on
the forehead, and with which Jehan retreated, both vexed and content, like a
dog who had been stoned with marrow bones.
-BOOK TENTH. CHAPTER IV.
AN AWKWARD FRIEND.
That night, Quasimodo did not sleep. He had just made his last round of the
church.
He had not noticed, that at the moment when he was closing the doors, the archdeacon
had passed close to him and betrayed some displeasure on seeing him bolting and
barring with care the enormous iron locks
which gave to their large leaves the solidity of a wall.
Dom Claude's air was even more preoccupied than usual.
Moreover, since the nocturnal adventure in the cell, he had constantly abused
Quasimodo, but in vain did he ill treat, and even beat him occasionally, nothing
disturbed the submission, patience, the
devoted resignation of the faithful bellringer.
He endured everything on the part of the archdeacon, insults, threats, blows,
without murmuring a complaint.
At the most, he gazed uneasily after Dom Claude when the latter ascended the
staircase of the tower; but the archdeacon had abstained from presenting himself again
before the gypsy's eyes.
On that night, accordingly, Quasimodo, after having cast a glance at his poor
bells which he so neglected now, Jacqueline, Marie, and Thibauld, mounted to
the summit of the Northern tower, and there
setting his dark lanturn, well closed, upon the leads, he began to gaze at Paris.
The night, as we have already said, was very dark.
Paris which, so to speak was not lighted at that epoch, presented to the eye a confused
collection of black masses, cut here and there by the whitish curve of the Seine.
Quasimodo no longer saw any light with the exception of one window in a distant
edifice, whose vague and sombre profile was outlined well above the roofs, in the
direction of the Porte Sainte-Antoine.
There also, there was some one awake. As the only eye of the bellringer peered
into that horizon of mist and night, he felt within him an inexpressible
uneasiness.
For several days he had been upon his guard.
He had perceived men of sinister mien, who never took their eyes from the young girl's
asylum, prowling constantly about the church.
He fancied that some plot might be in process of formation against the unhappy
refugee.
He imagined that there existed a popular hatred against her, as against himself, and
that it was very possible that something might happen soon.
Hence he remained upon his tower on the watch, "dreaming in his dream-place," as
Rabelais says, with his eye directed alternately on the cell and on Paris,
keeping faithful guard, like a good dog, with a thousand suspicions in his mind.
All at once, while he was scrutinizing the great city with that eye which nature, by a
sort of compensation, had made so piercing that it could almost supply the other
organs which Quasimodo lacked, it seemed to
him that there was something singular about the Quay de la Vieille-Pelleterie, that
there was a movement at that point, that the line of the parapet, standing out
blackly against the whiteness of the water
was not straight and tranquil, like that of the other quays, but that it undulated to
the eye, like the waves of a river, or like the heads of a crowd in motion.
This struck him as strange.
He redoubled his attention. The movement seemed to be advancing towards
the City. There was no light.
It lasted for some time on the quay; then it gradually ceased, as though that which
was passing were entering the interior of the island; then it stopped altogether, and
the line of the quay became straight and motionless again.
At the moment when Quasimodo was lost in conjectures, it seemed to him that the
movement had re-appeared in the Rue du Parvis, which is prolonged into the city
perpendicularly to the facade of Notre- Dame.
At length, dense as was the darkness, he beheld the head of a column debouch from
that street, and in an instant a crowd--of which nothing could be distinguished in the
gloom except that it was a crowd--spread over the Place.
This spectacle had a terror of its own.
It is probable that this singular procession, which seemed so desirous of
concealing itself under profound darkness, maintained a silence no less profound.
Nevertheless, some noise must have escaped it, were it only a trampling.
But this noise did not even reach our deaf man, and this great multitude, of which he
saw hardly anything, and of which he heard nothing, though it was marching and moving
so near him, produced upon him the effect
of a rabble of dead men, mute, impalpable, lost in a smoke.
It seemed to him, that he beheld advancing towards him a fog of men, and that he saw
shadows moving in the shadow.
Then his fears returned to him, the idea of an attempt against the gypsy presented
itself once more to his mind. He was conscious, in a confused way, that a
violent crisis was approaching.
At that critical moment he took counsel with himself, with better and prompter
reasoning than one would have expected from so badly organized a brain.
Ought he to awaken the gypsy? to make her escape?
Whither? The streets were invested, the church
backed on the river.
No boat, no issue!--There was but one thing to be done; to allow himself to be killed
on the threshold of Notre-Dame, to resist at least until succor arrived, if it should
arrive, and not to trouble la Esmeralda's sleep.
This resolution once taken, he set to examining the enemy with more tranquillity.
The throng seemed to increase every moment in the church square.
Only, he presumed that it must be making very little noise, since the windows on the
Place remained closed.
All at once, a flame flashed up, and in an instant seven or eight lighted torches
passed over the heads of the crowd, shaking their tufts of flame in the deep shade.
Quasimodo then beheld distinctly surging in the Parvis a frightful herd of men and
women in rags, armed with scythes, pikes, billhooks and partisans, whose thousand
points glittered.
Here and there black pitchforks formed horns to the hideous faces.
He vaguely recalled this populace, and thought that he recognized all the heads
who had saluted him as Pope of the Fools some months previously.
One man who held a torch in one hand and a club in the other, mounted a stone post and
seemed to be haranguing them.
At the same time the strange army executed several evolutions, as though it were
taking up its post around the church.
Quasimodo picked up his lantern and descended to the platform between the
towers, in order to get a nearer view, and to spy out a means of defence.
Clopin Trouillefou, on arriving in front of the lofty portal of Notre-Dame had, in
fact, ranged his troops in order of battle.
Although he expected no resistance, he wished, like a prudent general, to preserve
an order which would permit him to face, at need, a sudden attack of the watch or the
police.
He had accordingly stationed his brigade in such a manner that, viewed from above and
from a distance, one would have pronounced it the Roman triangle of the battle of
Ecnomus, the boar's head of Alexander or the famous wedge of Gustavus Adolphus.
The base of this triangle rested on the back of the Place in such a manner as to
bar the entrance of the Rue du Parvis; one of its sides faced Hotel-Dieu, the other
the Rue Saint-Pierre-aux-Boeufs.
Clopin Trouillefou had placed himself at the apex with the Duke of Egypt, our friend
Jehan, and the most daring of the scavengers.
An enterprise like that which the vagabonds were now undertaking against Notre-Dame was
not a very rare thing in the cities of the Middle Ages.
What we now call the "police" did not exist then.
In populous cities, especially in capitals, there existed no single, central,
regulating power.
Feudalism had constructed these great communities in a singular manner.
A city was an assembly of a thousand seigneuries, which divided it into
compartments of all shapes and sizes.
Hence, a thousand conflicting establishments of police; that is to say,
no police at all.
In Paris, for example, independently of the hundred and forty-one lords who laid claim
to a manor, there were five and twenty who laid claim to a manor and to administering
justice, from the Bishop of Paris, who had
five hundred streets, to the Prior of Notre-Dame des Champs, who had four.
All these feudal justices recognized the suzerain authority of the king only in
name.
All possessed the right of control over the roads.
All were at home.
Louis XI., that indefatigable worker, who so largely began the demolition of the
feudal edifice, continued by Richelieu and Louis XIV. for the profit of royalty, and
finished by Mirabeau for the benefit of the
people,--Louis XI. had certainly made an effort to break this network of seignories
which covered Paris, by throwing violently across them all two or three troops of
general police.
Thus, in 1465, an order to the inhabitants to light candles in their windows at
nightfall, and to shut up their dogs under penalty of death; in the same year, an
order to close the streets in the evening
with iron chains, and a prohibition to wear daggers or weapons of offence in the
streets at night. But in a very short time, all these efforts
at communal legislation fell into abeyance.
The bourgeois permitted the wind to blow out their candles in the windows, and their
dogs to stray; the iron chains were stretched only in a state of siege; the
prohibition to wear daggers wrought no
other changes than from the name of the Rue Coupe-Gueule to the name of the Rue-Coupe-
Gorge which is an evident progress.
The old scaffolding of feudal jurisdictions remained standing; an immense aggregation
of bailiwicks and seignories crossing each other all over the city, interfering with
each other, entangled in one another,
enmeshing each other, trespassing on each other; a useless thicket of watches, sub-
watches and counter-watches, over which, with armed force, passed brigandage,
rapine, and sedition.
Hence, in this disorder, deeds of violence on the part of the populace directed
against a palace, a hotel, or house in the most thickly populated quarters, were not
unheard-of occurrences.
In the majority of such cases, the neighbors did not meddle with the matter
unless the pillaging extended to themselves.
They stopped up their ears to the musket shots, closed their shutters, barricaded
their doors, allowed the matter to be concluded with or without the watch, and
the next day it was said in Paris, "Etienne Barbette was broken open last night.
The Marshal de Clermont was seized last night, etc."
Hence, not only the royal habitations, the Louvre, the Palace, the Bastille, the
Tournelles, but simply seignorial residences, the Petit-Bourbon, the Hotel de
Sens, the Hotel d' Angouleme, etc., had
battlements on their walls, and machicolations over their doors.
Churches were guarded by their sanctity. Some, among the number Notre-Dame, were
fortified.
The Abbey of Saint-German-des-Pres was castellated like a baronial mansion, and
more brass expended about it in bombards than in bells.
Its fortress was still to be seen in 1610.
To-day, barely its church remains. Let us return to Notre-Dame.
When the first arrangements were completed, and we must say, to the honor of vagabond
discipline, that Clopin's orders were executed in silence, and with admirable
precision, the worthy chief of the band,
mounted on the parapet of the church square, and raised his hoarse and surly
voice, turning towards Notre-Dame, and brandishing his torch whose light, tossed
by the wind, and veiled every moment by its
own smoke, made the reddish facade of the church appear and disappear before the eye.
"To you, Louis de Beaumont, bishop of Paris, counsellor in the Court of
Parliament, I, Clopin Trouillefou, king of Thunes, grand Coesre, prince of Argot,
bishop of fools, I say: Our sister, falsely
condemned for magic, hath taken refuge in your church, you owe her asylum and safety.
Now the Court of Parliament wishes to seize her once more there, and you consent to it;
so that she would be hanged to-morrow in the Greve, if God and the outcasts were not
here.
If your church is sacred, so is our sister; if our sister is not sacred, neither is
your church.
That is why we call upon you to return the girl if you wish to save your church, or we
will take possession of the girl again and pillage the church, which will be a good
thing.
In token of which I here plant my banner, and may God preserve you, bishop of Paris."
Quasimodo could not, unfortunately, hear these words uttered with a sort of sombre
and savage majesty.
A vagabond presented his banner to Clopin, who planted it solemnly between two paving-
stones. It was a pitchfork from whose points hung a
bleeding quarter of carrion meat.
That done, the King of Thunes turned round and cast his eyes over his army, a fierce
multitude whose glances flashed almost equally with their pikes.
After a momentary pause,--"Forward, my Sons!" he cried; "to work, locksmiths!"
Thirty bold men, square shouldered, and with pick-lock faces, stepped from the
ranks, with hammers, pincers, and bars of iron on their shoulders.
They betook themselves to the principal door of the church, ascended the steps, and
were soon to be seen squatting under the arch, working at the door with pincers and
levers; a throng of vagabonds followed them to help or look on.
The eleven steps before the portal were covered with them.
But the door stood firm.
"The devil! 'tis hard and obstinate!" said one.
"It is old, and its gristles have become bony," said another.
"Courage, comrades!" resumed Clopin.
"I wager my head against a dipper that you will have opened the door, rescued the
girl, and despoiled the chief altar before a single beadle is awake.
Stay!
I think I hear the lock breaking up." Clopin was interrupted by a frightful
uproar which re-sounded behind him at that moment.
He wheeled round.
An enormous beam had just fallen from above; it had crushed a dozen vagabonds on
the pavement with the sound of a cannon, breaking in addition, legs here and there
in the crowd of beggars, who sprang aside with cries of terror.
In a twinkling, the narrow precincts of the church parvis were cleared.
The locksmiths, although protected by the deep vaults of the portal, abandoned the
door and Clopin himself retired to a respectful distance from the church.
"I had a narrow escape!" cried Jehan.
"I felt the wind, of it, tete-de-boeuf! but Pierre the Slaughterer is slaughtered!"
It is impossible to describe the astonishment mingled with fright which fell
upon the ruffians in company with this beam.
They remained for several minutes with their eyes in the air, more dismayed by
that piece of wood than by the king's twenty thousand archers.
"Satan!" muttered the Duke of Egypt, "this smacks of magic!"
"'Tis the moon which threw this log at us," said Andry the Red.
"Call the moon the friend of the Virgin, after that!" went on Francois Chanteprune.
"A thousand popes!" exclaimed Clopin, "you are all fools!"
But he did not know how to explain the fall of the beam.
Meanwhile, nothing could be distinguished on the facade, to whose summit the light of
the torches did not reach.
The heavy beam lay in the middle of the enclosure, and groans were heard from the
poor wretches who had received its first shock, and who had been almost cut in
twain, on the angle of the stone steps.
The King of Thunes, his first amazement passed, finally found an explanation which
appeared plausible to his companions. "Throat of God! are the canons defending
themselves?
To the sack, then! to the sack!" "To the sack!" repeated the rabble, with a
furious hurrah. A discharge of crossbows and hackbuts
against the front of the church followed.
At this detonation, the peaceable inhabitants of the surrounding houses woke
up; many windows were seen to open, and nightcaps and hands holding candles
appeared at the casements.
"Fire at the windows," shouted Clopin.
The windows were immediately closed, and the poor bourgeois, who had hardly had time
to cast a frightened glance on this scene of gleams and tumult, returned, perspiring
with fear to their wives, asking themselves
whether the witches' sabbath was now being held in the parvis of Notre-Dame, or
whether there was an assault of Burgundians, as in '64.
Then the husbands thought of theft; the wives, of rape; and all trembled.
"To the sack!" repeated the thieves' crew; but they dared not approach.
They stared at the beam, they stared at the church.
The beam did not stir, the edifice preserved its calm and deserted air; but
something chilled the outcasts.
"To work, locksmiths!" shouted Trouillefou. "Let the door be forced!"
No one took a step. "Beard and belly!" said Clopin, "here be
men afraid of a beam."
An old locksmith addressed him-- "Captain, 'tis not the beam which bothers
us, 'tis the door, which is all covered with iron bars.
Our pincers are powerless against it."
"What more do you want to break it in?" demanded Clopin.
"Ah! we ought to have a battering ram."
The King of Thunes ran boldly to the formidable beam, and placed his foot upon
it: "Here is one!" he exclaimed; "'tis the canons who send it to you."
And, making a mocking salute in the direction of the church, "Thanks, canons!"
This piece of bravado produced its effects,--the spell of the beam was broken.
The vagabonds recovered their courage; soon the heavy joist, raised like a feather by
two hundred vigorous arms, was flung with fury against the great door which they had
tried to batter down.
At the sight of that long beam, in the half-light which the infrequent torches of
the brigands spread over the Place, thus borne by that crowd of men who dashed it at
a run against the church, one would have
thought that he beheld a monstrous beast with a thousand feet attacking with lowered
head the giant of stone.
At the shock of the beam, the half metallic door sounded like an immense drum; it was
not burst in, but the whole cathedral trembled, and the deepest cavities of the
edifice were heard to echo.
At the same moment, a shower of large stones began to fall from the top of the
facade on the assailants.
"The devil!" cried Jehan, "are the towers shaking their balustrades down on our
heads?" But the impulse had been given, the King of
Thunes had set the example.
Evidently, the bishop was defending himself, and they only battered the door
with the more rage, in spite of the stones which cracked skulls right and left.
It was remarkable that all these stones fell one by one; but they followed each
other closely. The thieves always felt two at a time, one
on their legs and one on their heads.
There were few which did not deal their blow, and a large layer of dead and wounded
lay bleeding and panting beneath the feet of the assailants who, now grown furious,
replaced each other without intermission.
The long beam continued to belabor the door, at regular intervals, like the
clapper of a bell, the stones to rain down, the door to groan.
The reader has no doubt divined that this unexpected resistance which had exasperated
the outcasts came from Quasimodo. Chance had, unfortunately, favored the
brave deaf man.
When he had descended to the platform between the towers, his ideas were all in
confusion.
He had run up and down along the gallery for several minutes like a madman,
surveying from above, the compact mass of vagabonds ready to hurl itself on the
church, demanding the safety of the gypsy from the devil or from God.
The thought had occurred to him of ascending to the southern belfry and
sounding the alarm, but before he could have set the bell in motion, before Marie's
voice could have uttered a single clamor,
was there not time to burst in the door of the church ten times over?
It was precisely the moment when the locksmiths were advancing upon it with
their tools.
What was to be done? All at once, he remembered that some masons
had been at work all day repairing the wall, the timber-work, and the roof of the
south tower.
This was a flash of light. The wall was of stone, the roof of lead,
the timber-work of wood. (That prodigious timber-work, so dense that
it was called "the forest.")
Quasimodo hastened to that tower. The lower chambers were, in fact, full of
materials.
There were piles of rough blocks of stone, sheets of lead in rolls, bundles of laths,
heavy beams already notched with the saw, heaps of plaster.
Time was pressing, The pikes and hammers were at work below.
With a strength which the sense of danger increased tenfold, he seized one of the
beams--the longest and heaviest; he pushed it out through a loophole, then, grasping
it again outside of the tower, he made it
slide along the angle of the balustrade which surrounds the platform, and let it
fly into the abyss.
The enormous timber, during that fall of a hundred and sixty feet, scraping the wall,
breaking the carvings, turned many times on its centre, like the arm of a windmill
flying off alone through space.
At last it reached the ground, the horrible cry arose, and the black beam, as it
rebounded from the pavement, resembled a serpent leaping.
Quasimodo beheld the outcasts scatter at the fall of the beam, like ashes at the
breath of a child.
He took advantage of their fright, and while they were fixing a superstitious
glance on the club which had fallen from heaven, and while they were putting out the
eyes of the stone saints on the front with
a discharge of arrows and buckshot, Quasimodo was silently piling up plaster,
stones, and rough blocks of stone, even the sacks of tools belonging to the masons, on
the edge of the balustrade from which the beam had already been hurled.
Thus, as soon as they began to batter the grand door, the shower of rough blocks of
stone began to fall, and it seemed to them that the church itself was being demolished
over their heads.
Any one who could have beheld Quasimodo at that moment would have been frightened.
Independently of the projectiles which he had piled upon the balustrade, he had
collected a heap of stones on the platform itself.
As fast as the blocks on the exterior edge were exhausted, he drew on the heap.
Then he stooped and rose, stooped and rose again with incredible activity.
His huge gnome's head bent over the balustrade, then an enormous stone fell,
then another, then another.
From time to time, he followed a fine stone with his eye, and when it did good
execution, he said, "Hum!" Meanwhile, the beggars did not grow
discouraged.
The thick door on which they were venting their fury had already trembled more than
twenty times beneath the weight of their oaken battering-ram, multiplied by the
strength of a hundred men.
The panels cracked, the carved work flew into splinters, the hinges, at every blow,
leaped from their pins, the planks yawned, the wood crumbled to powder, ground between
the iron sheathing.
Fortunately for Quasimodo, there was more iron than wood.
Nevertheless, he felt that the great door was yielding.
Although he did not hear it, every blow of the ram reverberated simultaneously in the
vaults of the church and within it.
From above he beheld the vagabonds, filled with triumph and rage, shaking their fists
at the gloomy facade; and both on the gypsy's account and his own he envied the
wings of the owls which flitted away above his head in flocks.
His shower of stone blocks was not sufficient to repel the assailants.
At this moment of anguish, he noticed, a little lower down than the balustrade
whence he was crushing the thieves, two long stone gutters which discharged
immediately over the great door; the
internal orifice of these gutters terminated on the pavement of the platform.
An idea occurred to him; he ran in search of a fagot in his bellringer's den, placed
on this fagot a great many bundles of laths, and many rolls of lead, munitions
which he had not employed so far, and
having arranged this pile in front of the hole to the two gutters, he set it on fire
with his lantern.
During this time, since the stones no longer fell, the outcasts ceased to gaze
into the air.
The bandits, panting like a pack of hounds who are forcing a boar into his lair,
pressed tumultuously round the great door, all disfigured by the battering ram, but
still standing.
They were waiting with a quiver for the great blow which should split it open.
They vied with each other in pressing as close as possible, in order to dash among
the first, when it should open, into that opulent cathedral, a vast reservoir where
the wealth of three centuries had been piled up.
They reminded each other with roars of exultation and greedy lust, of the
beautiful silver crosses, the fine copes of brocade, the beautiful tombs of silver
gilt, the great magnificences of the choir,
the dazzling festivals, the Christmasses sparkling with torches, the Easters
sparkling with sunshine,--all those splendid solemneties wherein chandeliers,
ciboriums, tabernacles, and reliquaries,
studded the altars with a crust of gold and diamonds.
Certainly, at that fine moment, thieves and pseudo sufferers, doctors in stealing, and
vagabonds, were thinking much less of delivering the gypsy than of pillaging
Notre-Dame.
We could even easily believe that for a goodly number among them la Esmeralda was
only a pretext, if thieves needed pretexts.
All at once, at the moment when they were grouping themselves round the ram for a
last effort, each one holding his breath and stiffening his muscles in order to
communicate all his force to the decisive
blow, a howl more frightful still than that which had burst forth and expired beneath
the beam, rose among them. Those who did not cry out, those who were
still alive, looked.
Two streams of melted lead were falling from the summit of the edifice into the
thickest of the rabble.
That sea of men had just sunk down beneath the boiling metal, which had made, at the
two points where it fell, two black and smoking holes in the crowd, such as hot
water would make in snow.
Dying men, half consumed and groaning with anguish, could be seen writhing there.
Around these two principal streams there were drops of that horrible rain, which
scattered over the assailants and entered their skulls like gimlets of fire.
It was a heavy fire which overwhelmed these wretches with a thousand hailstones.
The outcry was heartrending.
They fled pell-mell, hurling the beam upon the bodies, the boldest as well as the most
timid, and the parvis was cleared a second time.
All eyes were raised to the top of the church.
They beheld there an extraordinary sight.
On the crest of the highest gallery, higher than the central rose window, there was a
great flame rising between the two towers with whirlwinds of sparks, a vast,
disordered, and furious flame, a tongue of
which was borne into the smoke by the wind, from time to time.
Below that fire, below the gloomy balustrade with its trefoils showing darkly
against its glare, two spouts with monster throats were vomiting forth unceasingly
that burning rain, whose silvery stream
stood out against the shadows of the lower facade.
As they approached the earth, these two jets of liquid lead spread out in sheaves,
like water springing from the thousand holes of a watering-pot.
Above the flame, the enormous towers, two sides of each of which were visible in
sharp outline, the one wholly black, the other wholly red, seemed still more vast
with all the immensity of the shadow which they cast even to the sky.
Their innumerable sculptures of demons and dragons assumed a lugubrious aspect.
The restless light of the flame made them move to the eye.
There were griffins which had the air of laughing, gargoyles which one fancied one
heard yelping, salamanders which puffed at the fire, tarasques which sneezed in the
smoke.
And among the monsters thus roused from their sleep of stone by this flame, by this
noise, there was one who walked about, and who was seen, from time to time, to pass
across the glowing face of the pile, like a bat in front of a candle.
Without doubt, this strange beacon light would awaken far away, the woodcutter of
the hills of Bicetre, terrified to behold the gigantic shadow of the towers of Notre-
Dame quivering over his heaths.
A terrified silence ensued among the outcasts, during which nothing was heard,
but the cries of alarm of the canons shut up in their cloister, and more uneasy than
horses in a burning stable, the furtive
sound of windows hastily opened and still more hastily closed, the internal hurly-
burly of the houses and of the Hotel-Dieu, the wind in the flame, the last death-
rattle of the dying, and the continued
crackling of the rain of lead upon the pavement.
In the meanwhile, the principal vagabonds had retired beneath the porch of the
Gondelaurier mansion, and were holding a council of war.
The Duke of Egypt, seated on a stone post, contemplated the phantasmagorical bonfire,
glowing at a height of two hundred feet in the air, with religious terror.
Clopin Trouillefou bit his huge fists with rage.
"Impossible to get in!" he muttered between his teeth.
"An old, enchanted church!" grumbled the aged Bohemian, Mathias Hungadi Spicali.
"By the Pope's whiskers!" went on a sham soldier, who had once been in service,
"here are church gutters spitting melted lead at you better than the machicolations
of Lectoure."
"Do you see that demon passing and repassing in front of the fire?" exclaimed
the Duke of Egypt. "Pardieu, 'tis that damned bellringer, 'tis
Quasimodo," said Clopin.
The Bohemian tossed his head. "I tell you, that 'tis the spirit Sabnac,
the grand marquis, the demon of fortifications.
He has the form of an armed soldier, the head of a lion.
Sometimes he rides a hideous horse. He changes men into stones, of which he
builds towers.
He commands fifty legions 'Tis he indeed; I recognize him.
Sometimes he is clad in a handsome golden robe, figured after the Turkish fashion."
"Where is Bellevigne de l'Etoile?" demanded Clopin.