Part 6 out of 13
with his shoulders, which, in such cases, is the supreme sign
The three women retraced their steps, and, on arriving in
the vicinity of the Tour-Roland, Oudarde said to the other two,--
"We must not all three gaze into the hole at once, for fear
of alarming the recluse. Do you two pretend to read the
_Dominus_ in the breviary, while I thrust my nose into the
aperture; the recluse knows me a little. I will give you
warning when you can approach."
She proceeded alone to the window. At the moment when
she looked in, a profound pity was depicted on all her
features, and her frank, gay visage altered its expression
and color as abruptly as though it had passed from a ray of
sunlight to a ray of moonlight; her eye became humid; her
mouth contracted, like that of a person on the point of
weeping. A moment later, she laid her finger on her lips,
and made a sign to Mahiette to draw near and look.
Mahiette, much touched, stepped up in silence, on tiptoe, as
though approaching the bedside of a dying person.
It was, in fact, a melancholy spectacle which presented
itself to the eyes of the two women, as they gazed through
the grating of the Rat-Hole, neither stirring nor breathing.
The cell was small, broader than it was long, with an arched
ceiling, and viewed from within, it bore a considerable
resemblance to the interior of a huge bishop's mitre. On the bare
flagstones which formed the floor, in one corner, a woman
was sitting, or rather, crouching. Her chin rested on her
knees, which her crossed arms pressed forcibly to her breast.
Thus doubled up, clad in a brown sack, which enveloped her
entirely in large folds, her long, gray hair pulled over in
front, falling over her face and along her legs nearly to her
feet, she presented, at the first glance, only a strange form
outlined against the dark background of the cell, a sort of
dusky triangle, which the ray of daylight falling through
the opening, cut roughly into two shades, the one sombre, the
other illuminated. It was one of those spectres, half
light, half shadow, such as one beholds in dreams and in the
extraordinary work of Goya, pale, motionless, sinister,
crouching over a tomb, or leaning against the grating of
a prison cell.
It was neither a woman, nor a man, nor a living being, nor
a definite form; it was a figure, a sort of vision, in which
the real and the fantastic intersected each other, like
darkness and day. It was with difficulty that one distinguished,
beneath her hair which spread to the ground, a gaunt and
severe profile; her dress barely allowed the extremity of a
bare foot to escape, which contracted on the hard, cold pavement.
The little of human form of which one caught a sight
beneath this envelope of mourning, caused a shudder.
That figure, which one might have supposed to be riveted
to the flagstones, appeared to possess neither movement, nor
thought, nor breath. Lying, in January, in that thin, linen
sack, lying on a granite floor, without fire, in the gloom of a
cell whose oblique air-hole allowed only the cold breeze, but
never the sun, to enter from without, she did not appear to
suffer or even to think. One would have said that she had
turned to stone with the cell, ice with the season. Her hands
were clasped, her eyes fixed. At first sight one took her for
a spectre; at the second, for a statue.
Nevertheless, at intervals, her blue lips half opened to
admit a breath, and trembled, but as dead and as mechanical
as the leaves which the wind sweeps aside.
Nevertheless, from her dull eyes there escaped a look, an
ineffable look, a profound, lugubrious, imperturbable look,
incessantly fixed upon a corner of the cell which could
not be seen from without; a gaze which seemed to fix all
the sombre thoughts of that soul in distress upon some
Such was the creature who had received, from her habitation,
the name of the "recluse"; and, from her garment, the
name of "the sacked nun."
The three women, for Gervaise had rejoined Mahiette and
Oudarde, gazed through the window. Their heads intercepted
the feeble light in the cell, without the wretched being whom
they thus deprived of it seeming to pay any attention to
them. "Do not let us trouble her," said Oudarde, in a low
voice, "she is in her ecstasy; she is praying."
Meanwhile, Mahiette was gazing with ever-increasing
anxiety at that wan, withered, dishevelled head, and her eyes
filled with tears. "This is very singular," she murmured.
She thrust her head through the bars, and succeeded in
casting a glance at the corner where the gaze of the unhappy
woman was immovably riveted.
When she withdrew her head from the window, her countenance
was inundated with tears.
"What do you call that woman?" she asked Oudarde.
"We call her Sister Gudule."
"And I," returned Mahiette, "call her Paquette la Chantefleurie."
Then, laying her finger on her lips, she motioned to the
astounded Oudarde to thrust her head through the window
Oudarde looked and beheld, in the corner where the eyes of
the recluse were fixed in that sombre ecstasy, a tiny shoe of
pink satin, embroidered with a thousand fanciful designs in
gold and silver.
Gervaise looked after Oudarde, and then the three women,
gazing upon the unhappy mother, began to weep.
But neither their looks nor their tears disturbed the recluse.
Her hands remained clasped; her lips mute; her eyes fixed;
and that little shoe, thus gazed at, broke the heart of any one
who knew her history.
The three women had not yet uttered a single word; they
dared not speak, even in a low voice. This deep silence, this
deep grief, this profound oblivion in which everything had
disappeared except one thing, produced upon them the effect of
the grand altar at Christmas or Easter. They remained silent,
they meditated, they were ready to kneel. It seemed to them
that they were ready to enter a church on the day of Tenebrae.
At length Gervaise, the most curious of the three, and consequently
the least sensitive, tried to make the recluse speak:
"Sister! Sister Gudule!"
She repeated this call three times, raising her voice each
time. The recluse did not move; not a word, not a glance,
not a sigh, not a sign of life.
Oudarde, in her turn, in a sweeter, more caressing voice,--"Sister!"
said she, "Sister Sainte-Gudule!"
The same silence; the same immobility.
"A singular woman!" exclaimed Gervaise, "and one not to be moved
by a catapult!"
"Perchance she is deaf," said Oudarde.
"Perhaps she is blind," added Gervaise.
"Dead, perchance," returned Mahiette.
It is certain that if the soul had not already quitted this
inert, sluggish, lethargic body, it had at least retreated and
concealed itself in depths whither the perceptions of the
exterior organs no longer penetrated.
"Then we must leave the cake on the window," said Oudarde;
"some scamp will take it. What shall we do to rouse her?"
Eustache, who, up to that moment had been diverted by a
little carriage drawn by a large dog, which had just passed,
suddenly perceived that his three conductresses were gazing
at something through the window, and, curiosity taking
possession of him in his turn, he climbed upon a stone post,
elevated himself on tiptoe, and applied his fat, red face to the
opening, shouting, "Mother, let me see too!"
At the sound of this clear, fresh, ringing child's voice, the
recluse trembled; she turned her head with the sharp, abrupt
movement of a steel spring, her long, fleshless hands cast
aside the hair from her brow, and she fixed upon the child,
bitter, astonished, desperate eyes. This glance was but a
"Oh my God!" she suddenly exclaimed, hiding her head on
her knees, and it seemed as though her hoarse voice tore her
chest as it passed from it, "do not show me those of others!"
"Good day, madam," said the child, gravely.
Nevertheless, this shock had, so to speak, awakened the
recluse. A long shiver traversed her frame from head to
foot; her teeth chattered; she half raised her head and said,
pressing her elbows against her hips, and clasping her feet
in her hands as though to warm them,--
"Oh, how cold it is!"
"Poor woman!" said Oudarde, with great compassion, "would you
like a little fire?"
She shook her head in token of refusal.
"Well," resumed Oudarde, presenting her with a flagon;
"here is some hippocras which will warm you; drink it."
Again she shook her head, looked at Oudarde fixedly and
Oudarde persisted,--"No, sister, that is no beverage for
January. You must drink a little hippocras and eat this
leavened cake of maize, which we have baked for you."
She refused the cake which Mahiette offered to her, and
said, "Black bread."
"Come," said Gervaise, seized in her turn with an impulse
of charity, and unfastening her woolen cloak, "here is a cloak
which is a little warmer than yours."
She refused the cloak as she had refused the flagon and
the cake, and replied, "A sack."
"But," resumed the good Oudarde, "you must have perceived
to some extent, that yesterday was a festival."
"I do perceive it," said the recluse; "'tis two days now
since I have had any water in my crock."
She added, after a silence, "'Tis a festival, I am forgotten.
People do well. Why should the world think of me, when I
do not think of it? Cold charcoal makes cold ashes."
And as though fatigued with having said so much, she
dropped her head on her knees again. The simple and charitable
Oudarde, who fancied that she understood from her last
words that she was complaining of the cold, replied innocently,
"Then you would like a little fire?"
"Fire!" said the sacked nun, with a strange accent; "and
will you also make a little for the poor little one who has
been beneath the sod for these fifteen years?"
Every limb was trembling, her voice quivered, her eyes
flashed, she had raised herself upon her knees; suddenly she
extended her thin, white hand towards the child, who was
regarding her with a look of astonishment. "Take away
that child!" she cried. "The Egyptian woman is about to
Then she fell face downward on the earth, and her forehead
struck the stone, with the sound of one stone against another
stone. The three women thought her dead. A moment later,
however, she moved, and they beheld her drag herself, on her
knees and elbows, to the corner where the little shoe was.
Then they dared not look; they no longer saw her; but they
heard a thousand kisses and a thousand sighs, mingled with
heartrending cries, and dull blows like those of a head in
contact with a wall. Then, after one of these blows, so violent
that all three of them staggered, they heard no more.
"Can she have killed herself?" said Gervaise, venturing to
pass her head through the air-hole. "Sister! Sister Gudule!"
"Sister Gudule!" repeated Oudarde.
"Ah! good heavens! she no longer moves!" resumed Gervaise;
"is she dead? Gudule! Gudule!"
Mahiette, choked to such a point that she could not speak,
made an effort. "Wait," said she. Then bending towards
the window, "Paquette!" she said, "Paquette le Chantefleurie!"
A child who innocently blows upon the badly ignited fuse
of a bomb, and makes it explode in his face, is no more
terrified than was Mahiette at the effect of that name,
abruptly launched into the cell of Sister Gudule.
The recluse trembled all over, rose erect on her bare feet,
and leaped at the window with eyes so glaring that Mahiette
and Oudarde, and the other woman and the child recoiled even
to the parapet of the quay.
Meanwhile, the sinister face of the recluse appeared pressed
to the grating of the air-hole. "Oh! oh!" she cried, with
an appalling laugh; "'tis the Egyptian who is calling me!"
At that moment, a scene which was passing at the pillory
caught her wild eye. Her brow contracted with horror, she
stretched her two skeleton arms from her cell, and shrieked in
a voice which resembled a death-rattle, "So 'tis thou once
more, daughter of Egypt! 'Tis thou who callest me, stealer
of children! Well! Be thou accursed! accursed! accursed!
A TEAR FOR A DROP OF WATER.
These words were, so to speak, the point of union of two
scenes, which had, up to that time, been developed in parallel
lines at the same moment, each on its particular theatre; one,
that which the reader has just perused, in the Rat-Hole;
the other, which he is about to read, on the ladder of the
pillory. The first had for witnesses only the three women
with whom the reader has just made acquaintance; the second
had for spectators all the public which we have seen above,
collecting on the Place de Grève, around the pillory and the
That crowd which the four sergeants posted at nine o'clock
in the morning at the four corners of the pillory had inspired
with the hope of some sort of an execution, no doubt, not a
hanging, but a whipping, a cropping of ears, something, in
short,--that crowd had increased so rapidly that the four
policemen, too closely besieged, had had occasion to "press"
it, as the expression then ran, more than once, by sound blows
of their whips, and the haunches of their horses.
This populace, disciplined to waiting for public executions,
did not manifest very much impatience. It amused itself
with watching the pillory, a very simple sort of monument,
composed of a cube of masonry about six feet high and hollow
in the interior. A very steep staircase, of unhewn stone,
which was called by distinction "the ladder," led to the upper
platform, upon which was visible a horizontal wheel of solid
oak. The victim was bound upon this wheel, on his knees,
with his hands behind his back. A wooden shaft, which set
in motion a capstan concealed in the interior of the little
edifice, imparted a rotatory motion to the wheel, which always
maintained its horizontal position, and in this manner
presented the face of the condemned man to all quarters of
the square in succession. This was what was called "turning"
As the reader perceives, the pillory of the Grève was far
from presenting all the recreations of the pillory of the Halles.
Nothing architectural, nothing monumental. No roof to the
iron cross, no octagonal lantern, no frail, slender columns
spreading out on the edge of the roof into capitals of acanthus
leaves and flowers, no waterspouts of chimeras and monsters,
on carved woodwork, no fine sculpture, deeply sunk in the stone.
They were forced to content themselves with those four
stretches of rubble work, backed with sandstone, and a
wretched stone gibbet, meagre and bare, on one side.
The entertainment would have been but a poor one for
lovers of Gothic architecture. It is true that nothing was
ever less curious on the score of architecture than the worthy
gapers of the Middle Ages, and that they cared very little for
the beauty of a pillory.
The victim finally arrived, bound to the tail of a cart, and
when he had been hoisted upon the platform, where he could
be seen from all points of the Place, bound with cords and
straps upon the wheel of the pillory, a prodigious hoot,
mingled with laughter and acclamations, burst forth upon the
Place. They had recognized Quasimodo.
It was he, in fact. The change was singular. Pilloried on
the very place where, on the day before, he had been saluted,
acclaimed, and proclaimed Pope and Prince of Fools, in the
cortege of the Duke of Egypt, the King of Thunes, and the
Emperor of Galilee! One thing is certain, and that is, that
there was not a soul in the crowd, not even himself, though
in turn triumphant and the sufferer, who set forth this
combination clearly in his thought. Gringoire and his
philosophy were missing at this spectacle.
Soon Michel Noiret, sworn trumpeter to the king, our lord,
imposed silence on the louts, and proclaimed the sentence, in
accordance with the order and command of monsieur the provost.
Then he withdrew behind the cart, with his men in livery surcoats.
Quasimodo, impassible, did not wince. All resistance had
been rendered impossible to him by what was then called, in
the style of the criminal chancellery, "the vehemence and
firmness of the bonds" which means that the thongs and chains
probably cut into his flesh; moreover, it is a tradition of jail
and wardens, which has not been lost, and which the handcuffs
still preciously preserve among us, a civilized, gentle, humane
people (the galleys and the guillotine in parentheses).
He had allowed himself to be led, pushed, carried, lifted,
bound, and bound again. Nothing was to be seen upon his
countenance but the astonishment of a savage or an idiot.
He was known to be deaf; one might have pronounced him
to be blind.
They placed him on his knees on the circular plank; he
made no resistance. They removed his shirt and doublet as
far as his girdle; he allowed them to have their way. They
entangled him under a fresh system of thongs and buckles;
he allowed them to bind and buckle him. Only from time to
time he snorted noisily, like a calf whose head is hanging and
bumping over the edge of a butcher's cart.
"The dolt," said Jehan Frollo of the Mill, to his friend
Robin Poussepain (for the two students had followed the
culprit, as was to have been expected), "he understands no
more than a cockchafer shut up in a box!"
There was wild laughter among the crowd when they beheld
Quasimodo's hump, his camel's breast, his callous and hairy
shoulders laid bare. During this gayety, a man in the livery
of the city, short of stature and robust of mien, mounted the
platform and placed himself near the victim. His name
speedily circulated among the spectators. It was Master
Pierrat Torterue, official torturer to the Châtelet.
He began by depositing on an angle of the pillory a black
hour-glass, the upper lobe of which was filled with red sand,
which it allowed to glide into the lower receptacle; then he
removed his parti-colored surtout, and there became visible,
suspended from his right hand, a thin and tapering whip of
long, white, shining, knotted, plaited thongs, armed with
metal nails. With his left hand, he negligently folded back
his shirt around his right arm, to the very armpit.
In the meantime, Jehan Frollo, elevating his curly blonde
head above the crowd (he had mounted upon the shoulders of
Robin Poussepain for the purpose), shouted: "Come and
look, gentle ladies and men! they are going to peremptorily
flagellate Master Quasimodo, the bellringer of my brother,
monsieur the archdeacon of Josas, a knave of oriental
architecture, who has a back like a dome, and legs like
And the crowd burst into a laugh, especially the boys and
At length the torturer stamped his foot. The wheel began
to turn. Quasimodo wavered beneath his bonds. The amazement
which was suddenly depicted upon his deformed face
caused the bursts of laughter to redouble around him.
All at once, at the moment when the wheel in its revolution
presented to Master Pierrat, the humped back of Quasimodo,
Master Pierrat raised his arm; the fine thongs whistled
sharply through the air, like a handful of adders, and fell
with fury upon the wretch's shoulders.
Quasimodo leaped as though awakened with a start. He
began to understand. He writhed in his bonds; a violent
contraction of surprise and pain distorted the muscles of his
face, but he uttered not a single sigh. He merely turned his
head backward, to the right, then to the left, balancing it as a
bull does who has been stung in the flanks by a gadfly.
A second blow followed the first, then a third, and another
and another, and still others. The wheel did not cease to
turn, nor the blows to rain down.
Soon the blood burst forth, and could be seen trickling in a
thousand threads down the hunchback's black shoulders; and
the slender thongs, in their rotatory motion which rent the
air, sprinkled drops of it upon the crowd.
Quasimodo had resumed, to all appearance, his first
imperturbability. He had at first tried, in a quiet way and
without much outward movement, to break his bonds. His eye had
been seen to light up, his muscles to stiffen, his members to
concentrate their force, and the straps to stretch. The effort
was powerful, prodigious, desperate; but the provost's seasoned
bonds resisted. They cracked, and that was all. Quasimodo
fell back exhausted. Amazement gave way, on his features,
to a sentiment of profound and bitter discouragement. He
closed his single eye, allowed his head to droop upon his
breast, and feigned death.
From that moment forth, he stirred no more. Nothing
could force a movement from him. Neither his blood, which
did not cease to flow, nor the blows which redoubled in fury,
nor the wrath of the torturer, who grew excited himself and
intoxicated with the execution, nor the sound of the horrible
thongs, more sharp and whistling than the claws of scorpions.
At length a bailiff from the Châtelet clad in black, mounted
on a black horse, who had been stationed beside the ladder
since the beginning of the execution, extended his ebony wand
towards the hour-glass. The torturer stopped. The wheel
stopped. Quasimodo's eye opened slowly.
The scourging was finished. Two lackeys of the official
torturer bathed the bleeding shoulders of the patient, anointed
them with some unguent which immediately closed all the
wounds, and threw upon his back a sort of yellow vestment,
in cut like a chasuble. In the meanwhile, Pierrat Torterue
allowed the thongs, red and gorged with blood, to drip upon
All was not over for Quasimodo. He had still to undergo
that hour of pillory which Master Florian Barbedienne had so
judiciously added to the sentence of Messire Robert d'Estouteville;
all to the greater glory of the old physiological and psychological
play upon words of Jean de Cumène, ~Surdus absurdus~: a deaf man
So the hour-glass was turned over once more, and they left
the hunchback fastened to the plank, in order that justice
might be accomplished to the very end.
The populace, especially in the Middle Ages, is in society
what the child is in the family. As long as it remains in its
state of primitive ignorance, of moral and intellectual minority,
it can be said of it as of the child,--
'Tis the pitiless age.
We have already shown that Quasimodo was generally
hated, for more than one good reason, it is true. There was
hardly a spectator in that crowd who had not or who did not
believe that he had reason to complain of the malevolent
hunchback of Notre-Dame. The joy at seeing him appear
thus in the pillory had been universal; and the harsh punishment
which he had just suffered, and the pitiful condition in
which it had left him, far from softening the populace had
rendered its hatred more malicious by arming it with a touch
Hence, the "public prosecution" satisfied, as the bigwigs
of the law still express it in their jargon, the turn came of a
thousand private vengeances. Here, as in the Grand Hall, the
women rendered themselves particularly prominent. All
cherished some rancor against him, some for his malice, others
for his ugliness. The latter were the most furious.
"Oh! mask of Antichrist!" said one.
"Rider on a broom handle!" cried another.
"What a fine tragic grimace," howled a third, "and who
would make him Pope of the Fools if to-day were yesterday?"
"'Tis well," struck in an old woman. "This is the grimace
of the pillory. When shall we have that of the gibbet?"
"When will you be coiffed with your big bell a hundred feet
under ground, cursed bellringer?"
"But 'tis the devil who rings the Angelus!"
"Oh! the deaf man! the one-eyed creature! the hunch-
back! the monster!"
"A face to make a woman miscarry better than all the
drugs and medicines!"
And the two scholars, Jehan du Moulin, and Robin Poussepain,
sang at the top of their lungs, the ancient refrain,--
Pour le pendard!
Pour le magot~!"*
* A rope for the gallows bird! A fagot for the ape.
A thousand other insults rained down upon him, and hoots
and imprecations, and laughter, and now and then, stones.
Quasimodo was deaf but his sight was clear, and the public
fury was no less energetically depicted on their visages than
in their words. Moreover, the blows from the stones explained
the bursts of laughter.
At first he held his ground. But little by little that
patience which had borne up under the lash of the torturer,
yielded and gave way before all these stings of insects. The
bull of the Asturias who has been but little moved by the
attacks of the picador grows irritated with the dogs and
He first cast around a slow glance of hatred upon the crowd.
But bound as he was, his glance was powerless to drive away
those flies which were stinging his wound. Then he moved in
his bonds, and his furious exertions made the ancient wheel of
the pillory shriek on its axle. All this only increased the
derision and hooting.
Then the wretched man, unable to break his collar, like that
of a chained wild beast, became tranquil once more; only at
intervals a sigh of rage heaved the hollows of his chest.
There was neither shame nor redness on his face. He was
too far from the state of society, and too near the state of
nature to know what shame was. Moreover, with such a degree
of deformity, is infamy a thing that can be felt? But
wrath, hatred, despair, slowly lowered over that hideous visage
a cloud which grew ever more and more sombre, ever more and
more charged with electricity, which burst forth in a thousand
lightning flashes from the eye of the cyclops.
Nevertheless, that cloud cleared away for a moment, at the
passage of a mule which traversed the crowd, bearing a priest.
As far away as he could see that mule and that priest, the poor
victim's visage grew gentler. The fury which had contracted
it was followed by a strange smile full of ineffable sweetness,
gentleness, and tenderness. In proportion as the priest
approached, that smile became more clear, more distinct, more
radiant. It was like the arrival of a Saviour, which the
unhappy man was greeting. But as soon as the mule was near
enough to the pillory to allow of its rider recognizing the
victim, the priest dropped his eyes, beat a hasty retreat, spurred
on rigorously, as though in haste to rid himself of humiliating
appeals, and not at all desirous of being saluted and recognized
by a poor fellow in such a predicament.
This priest was Archdeacon Dom Claude Frollo.
The cloud descended more blackly than ever upon Quasimodo's brow.
The smile was still mingled with it for a time, but was bitter,
discouraged, profoundly sad.
Time passed on. He had been there at least an hour and a
half, lacerated, maltreated, mocked incessantly, and almost stoned.
All at once he moved again in his chains with redoubled
despair, which made the whole framework that bore him tremble,
and, breaking the silence which he had obstinately preserved
hitherto, he cried in a hoarse and furious voice, which
resembled a bark rather than a human cry, and which was
drowned in the noise of the hoots--"Drink!"
This exclamation of distress, far from exciting compassion,
only added amusement to the good Parisian populace who
surrounded the ladder, and who, it must be confessed, taken in
the mass and as a multitude, was then no less cruel and brutal
than that horrible tribe of robbers among whom we have
already conducted the reader, and which was simply the lower
stratum of the populace. Not a voice was raised around the
unhappy victim, except to jeer at his thirst. It is certain
that at that moment he was more grotesque and repulsive
than pitiable, with his face purple and dripping, his eye wild,
his mouth foaming with rage and pain, and his tongue lolling
half out. It must also be stated that if a charitable soul of a
bourgeois or ~bourgeoise~, in the rabble, had attempted to carry
a glass of water to that wretched creature in torment, there
reigned around the infamous steps of the pillory such a prejudice
of shame and ignominy, that it would have sufficed to repulse
the good Samaritan.
At the expiration of a few moments, Quasimodo cast a desperate
glance upon the crowd, and repeated in a voice still
more heartrending: "Drink!"
And all began to laugh.
"Drink this!" cried Robin Poussepain, throwing in his
face a sponge which had been soaked in the gutter. "There,
you deaf villain, I'm your debtor."
A woman hurled a stone at his head,--
"That will teach you to wake us up at night with your peal
of a dammed soul."
"He, good, my son!" howled a cripple, making an effort to
reach him with his crutch, "will you cast any more spells on
us from the top of the towers of Notre-Dame?"
"Here's a drinking cup!" chimed in a man, flinging a
broken jug at his breast. "'Twas you that made my wife,
simply because she passed near you, give birth to a child with
"And my cat bring forth a kitten with six paws!" yelped
an old crone, launching a brick at him.
"Drink!" repeated Quasimodo panting, and for the third
At that moment he beheld the crowd give way. A young
girl, fantastically dressed, emerged from the throng. She
was accompanied by a little white goat with gilded horns, and
carried a tambourine in her hand.
Quasimodo's eyes sparkled. It was the gypsy whom he had
attempted to carry off on the preceding night, a misdeed for
which he was dimly conscious that he was being punished at
that very moment; which was not in the least the case, since
he was being chastised only for the misfortune of being deaf,
and of having been judged by a deaf man. He doubted not
that she had come to wreak her vengeance also, and to deal
her blow like the rest.
He beheld her, in fact, mount the ladder rapidly. Wrath
and spite suffocate him. He would have liked to make the
pillory crumble into ruins, and if the lightning of his eye
could have dealt death, the gypsy would have been reduced
to powder before she reached the platform.
She approached, without uttering a syllable, the victim
who writhed in a vain effort to escape her, and detaching a
gourd from her girdle, she raised it gently to the parched lips
of the miserable man.
Then, from that eye which had been, up to that moment, so
dry and burning, a big tear was seen to fall, and roll slowly
down that deformed visage so long contracted with despair.
It was the first, in all probability, that the unfortunate man
had ever shed.
Meanwhile, be had forgotten to drink. The gypsy made
her little pout, from impatience, and pressed the spout to the
tusked month of Quasimodo, with a smile.
He drank with deep draughts. His thirst was burning.
When he had finished, the wretch protruded his black lips,
no doubt, with the object of kissing the beautiful hand which
had just succoured him. But the young girl, who was, perhaps,
somewhat distrustful, and who remembered the violent attempt
of the night, withdrew her hand with the frightened gesture
of a child who is afraid of being bitten by a beast.
Then the poor deaf man fixed on her a look full of reproach
and inexpressible sadness.
It would have been a touching spectacle anywhere,--this
beautiful, fresh, pure, and charming girl, who was at the
same time so weak, thus hastening to the relief of so much
misery, deformity, and malevolence. On the pillory, the
spectacle was sublime.
The very populace were captivated by it, and began to clap
their hands, crying,--
It was at that moment that the recluse caught sight, from
the window of her bole, of the gypsy on the pillory, and
hurled at her her sinister imprecation,--
"Accursed be thou, daughter of Egypt! Accursed! accursed!"
END OF THE STORY OF THE CAKE.
La Esmeralda turned pale and descended from the pillory,
staggering as she went. The voice of the recluse still
"Descend! descend! Thief of Egypt! thou shalt ascend it
"The sacked nun is in one of her tantrums," muttered the
populace; and that was the end of it. For that sort of woman
was feared; which rendered them sacred. People did not then
willingly attack one who prayed day and night.
The hour had arrived for removing Quasimodo. He was
unbound, the crowd dispersed.
Near the Grand Pont, Mahiette, who was returning with her
two companions, suddenly halted,--
"By the way, Eustache! what did you do with that cake?"
"Mother," said the child, "while you were talking with
that lady in the bole, a big dog took a bite of my cake, and
then I bit it also."
"What, sir, did you eat the whole of it?" she went on.
"Mother, it was the dog. I told him, but he would not
listen to me. Then I bit into it, also."
"'Tis a terrible child!" said the mother, smiling and
scolding at one and the same time. "Do you see, Oudarde? He
already eats all the fruit from the cherry-tree in our orchard
of Charlerange. So his grandfather says that be will be a
captain. Just let me catch you at it again, Master Eustache.
Come along, you greedy fellow!"
End of Volume 1.
TABLE OF CONTENTS.
I. The Danger of Confiding One's Secret to a Goat
II. A Priest and a Philosopher are two Different Things
III. The Bells
V. The Two Men Clothed in Black
VI. The Effect which Seven Oaths in the Open Air can Produce
VII. The Mysterious Monk
VIII. The Utility of Windows which Open on the River
I. The Crown Changed into a Dry Leaf
II. Continuation of the Crown which was Changed into a Dry Leaf
III. End of the Crown which was Changed into a Dry Leaf
IV. ~Lasciate Ogni Speranza~--Leave all hope behind, ye who Enter here
V. The Mother
VI. Three Human Hearts differently Constructed
II. Hunchbacked, One Eyed, Lame
IV. Earthenware and Crystal
V. The Key to the Red Door
VI. Continuation of the Key to the Red Door
I. Gringoire has Many Good Ideas in Succession.--Rue des Bernardins
II. Turn Vagabond
III. Long Live Mirth
IV. An Awkward Friend
V. The Retreat in which Monsieur Louis of France says his Prayers
VI. Little Sword in Pocket
VII. Chateaupers to the Rescue
I. The Little Shoe
II. The Beautiful Creature Clad in White
III. The Marriage of Pinnbus
IV. The Marriage of Quasimodo
Note added to Definitive Edition
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 façade of Notre-Dame should be admired.
It is the moment when the sun, already declining towards the
west, looks the cathedral almost full in the face. Its rays,
growing more and more horizontal, withdraw slowly from the
pavement of the square, and mount up the perpendicular
façade, whose thousand bosses in high relief they cause to
start out from the shadows, while the great central rose
window flames like the eye of a cyclops, inflamed with the
reflections of the forge.
This was the hour.
Opposite the lofty cathedral, reddened by the setting sun,
on the stone balcony built above the porch of a rich Gothic
house, which formed the angle of the square and the Rue du
Parvis, several young girls were laughing and chatting with
every sort of grace and mirth. From the length of the veil
which fell from their pointed coif, twined with pearls, to
their heels, from the fineness of the embroidered chemisette
which covered their shoulders and allowed a glimpse, according
to the pleasing custom of the time, of the swell of their fair
virgin bosoms, from the opulence of their under-petticoats
still more precious than their overdress (marvellous
refinement), from the gauze, the silk, the velvet, with which
all this was composed, and, above all, from the whiteness of
their hands, which certified to their leisure and idleness, it
was easy to divine they were noble and wealthy heiresses. They
were, in fact, Damoiselle Fleur-de-Lys de Gondelaurier and
her companions, Diane de Christeuil, Amelotte de Montmichel,
Colombe de Gaillefontaine, and the little de Champchevrier
maiden; all damsels of good birth, assembled at that moment
at the house of the dame widow de Gondelaurier, on account
of Monseigneur de Beaujeu and Madame his wife, who were
to come to Paris in the month of April, there to choose maids
of honor for the Dauphiness Marguerite, who was to be
received in Picardy from the hands of the Flemings. Now,
all the squires for twenty leagues around were intriguing for
this favor for their daughters, and a goodly number of the
latter had been already brought or sent to Paris. These four
maidens had been confided to the discreet and venerable
charge of Madame Aloise de Gondelaurier, widow of a former
commander of the king's cross-bowmen, who had retired with
her only daughter to her house in the Place du Parvis, Notre-
Dame, in Paris.
The balcony on which these young girls stood opened from
a chamber richly tapestried in fawn-colored Flanders leather,
stamped with golden foliage. The beams, which cut the ceiling
in parallel lines, diverted the eye with a thousand eccentric
painted and gilded carvings. Splendid enamels gleamed
here and there on carved chests; a boar's head in faience
crowned a magnificent dresser, whose two shelves announced
that the mistress of the house was the wife or widow of a
knight banneret. At the end of the room, by the side of a
lofty chimney blazoned with arms from top to bottom, in
a rich red velvet arm-chair, sat Dame de Gondelaurier, whose
five and fifty years were written upon her garments no less
distinctly than upon her face.
Beside her stood a young man of imposing mien, although
partaking somewhat of vanity and bravado--one of those
handsome fellows whom all women agree to admire, although
grave men learned in physiognomy shrug their shoulders at
them. This young man wore the garb of a captain of the king's
unattached archers, which bears far too much resemblance to
the costume of Jupiter, which the reader has already been
enabled to admire in the first book of this history, for us to
inflict upon him a second description.
The damoiselles were seated, a part in the chamber, a part
in the balcony, some on square cushions of Utrecht velvet
with golden corners, others on stools of oak carved in flowers
and figures. Each of them held on her knee a section of a
great needlework tapestry, on which they were working in
company, while one end of it lay upon the rush mat which
covered the floor.
They were chatting together in that whispering tone and
with the half-stifled laughs peculiar to an assembly of young
girls in whose midst there is a young man. The young man
whose presence served to set in play all these feminine self-
conceits, appeared to pay very little heed to the matter, and,
while these pretty damsels were vying with one another to
attract his attention, he seemed to be chiefly absorbed in
polishing the buckle of his sword belt with his doeskin glove.
From time to time, the old lady addressed him in a very
low tone, and he replied as well as he was able, with a sort of
awkward and constrained 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
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
"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
"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
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!"
Whereupon Colombe de Gaillefontaine, another beautiful
blonde, with a white skin, dressed to the neck in blue damask,
ventured a timid remark which she addressed to Fleur-de-Lys,
in the hope that the handsome captain would reply to it, "My
dear Gondelaurier, have you seen the tapestries of the Hôtel
de la Roche-Guyon?"
"Is not that the hotel in which is enclosed the garden of
the Lingère du Louvre?" asked Diane de Christeuil with a
laugh; for she had handsome teeth, and consequently laughed
on every occasion.
"And where there is that big, old tower of the ancient
wall of Paris," added Amelotte de Montmichel, a pretty fresh
and curly-headed brunette, who had a habit of sighing just as
the other laughed, without knowing 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 Bérangère de Champchevrier, a slender
little maid of seven years, who was peering into the square
through the trefoils of the balcony, exclaimed, "Oh! look,
fair Godmother Fleur-de-Lys, at that pretty dancer who is
dancing on the pavement and playing the tambourine in the
midst of the loutish bourgeois!"
The sonorous vibration of a tambourine was, in fact, audible.
"Some gypsy from Bohemia," said Fleur-de-Lys, turning
carelessly toward the 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
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
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
"I believe so, fair cousin,." said the captain.
"Well," she resumed, "perchance 'tis that same gypsy girl
who is dancing yonder, on the church square. Come and see
if you recognize her, fair Cousin Phoebus."
A secret desire for reconciliation was apparent in this gentle
invitation which she gave him to approach her, and in the
care which she took to call him by name. Captain Phoebus
de Châteaupers (for it is he whom the reader has had before
his eyes since the beginning of this chapter) slowly approached
the balcony. "Stay," said Fleur-de-Lys, laying her hand tenderly
on Phoebus's arm; "look at that little girl yonder, dancing
in that circle. Is she your Bohemian?"
Phoebus looked, and said,--
"Yes, I recognize her by her goat."
"Oh! in fact, what a pretty little goat!" said Amelotte,
clasping her hands in admiration.
"Are his horns of real gold?" inquired Bérangère.
Without moving from her arm-chair, Dame Aloise interposed,
"Is she not one of those gypsy girls who arrived last
year by the Gibard gate?"
"Madame my mother," said Fleur-de-Lys gently, "that gate
is now called the Porte d'Enfer."
Mademoiselle de Gondelaurier knew how her mother's
antiquated mode of speech shocked the captain. In fact, he
began to sneer, and muttered between his teeth: "Porte
Gibard! Porte Gibard! 'Tis enough to make King Charles VI.
"Godmother!" exclaimed Bérangère, whose eyes, incessantly
in motion, had suddenly been raised to the summit of
the towers of Notre-Dame, "who is that black man up
All the young girls raised their eyes. A man was, in truth,
leaning on the balustrade which surmounted the northern
tower, looking on the Grève. He was a priest. His costume
could be plainly discerned, and his face resting on both his
hands. But he stirred no more than if he had been a statue.
His eyes, intently fixed, gazed into the Place.
It was something like the immobility of a bird of prey, who
has just discovered a nest of sparrows, and is gazing at it.
"'Tis monsieur the archdeacon of Josas," said Fleur-de-Lys.
"You have good eyes if you can recognize him from here,"
said the Gaillefontaine.
"How he is staring at the little dancer!" went on Diane
"Let the gypsy beware!" said Fleur-de-Lys, "for he loves
"'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
"Little one!" repeated the captain; and he beckoned her
The young girl looked at him again, then she blushed as
though a flame had mounted into her cheeks, and, taking her
tambourine under her arm, she made her way through the
astonished spectators towards the door of the house where
Phoebus was calling her, with slow, tottering steps, and with
the troubled look of a bird which is yielding to the
fascination of a serpent.
A moment later, the tapestry portière was raised, and the
gypsy appeared on the threshold of the chamber, blushing,
confused, breathless, her large eyes drooping, and not daring
to advance another step.
Bérangère clapped her hands.
Meanwhile, the dancer remained motionless upon the
threshold. Her appearance had produced a singular effect upon
these young girls. It is certain that a vague and indistinct
desire to please the handsome officer animated them all, that
his splendid uniform was the target of all their coquetries,
and that from the moment he presented himself, there existed
among them a secret, suppressed rivalry, which they hardly
acknowledged even to themselves, but which broke forth,
none the less, every instant, in their gestures and remarks.
Nevertheless, as they were all very nearly equal in beauty,
they contended with equal arms, and each could hope for the
victory.--The arrival of the gypsy suddenly destroyed this
equilibrium. Her beauty was so rare, that, at the moment
when she appeared at the entrance of the apartment, it
seemed as though she diffused a sort of light which was
peculiar to herself. In that narrow chamber, surrounded
by that sombre frame of hangings and woodwork, she was
incomparably more beautiful and more radiant than on the
public square. She was like a torch which has suddenly
been brought from broad daylight into the dark. The noble
damsels were dazzled by her in spite of themselves. Each
one felt herself, in some sort, wounded in her beauty. Hence,
their battle front (may we be allowed the expression,) was
immediately altered, although they exchanged not a single
word. But they understood each other perfectly. Women's
instincts comprehend and respond to each other more quickly
than the intelligences of men. An enemy had just arrived;
all felt it--all rallied together. One drop of wine is
sufficient to tinge a glass of water red; to diffuse a certain
degree of ill temper throughout a whole assembly of pretty women,
the arrival of a prettier woman suffices, especially when there
is but one man present.
Hence the welcome accorded to the gypsy was marvellously
glacial. They surveyed her from head to foot, then
exchanged glances, and all was said; they understood each
other. Meanwhile, the young girl was waiting to be spoken
to, in such emotion that she dared not raise her eyelids.
The captain was the first to break the silence. "Upon my
word," said he, in his tone of intrepid fatuity, "here is a
charming creature! What think you of her, fair cousin?"
This remark, which a more delicate admirer would have
uttered in a lower tone, at least was not of a nature to
dissipate the feminine jealousies which were on the alert
before the gypsy.
Fleur-de-Lys replied to the captain with a bland affectation
of disdain;--"Not bad."
The others whispered.
At length, Madame Aloise, who was not the less jealous
because she was so for her daughter, addressed the
dancer,--"Approach, little one."
"Approach, little one!" repeated, with comical dignity,
little Bérangère, who would have reached about as high as
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
"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
"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,
"I do not know," she replied.
"The inconceivable impudence! A bellringer carrying off
a wench, like a vicomte! a lout poaching on the game of
gentlemen! that is a rare piece of assurance. However, he paid
dearly for it. Master Pierrat Torterue is the harshest groom
that ever curried a knave; and I can tell you, if it will be
agreeable to you, that your bellringer's hide got a thorough
dressing at his hands."
"Poor man!" said the gypsy, in whom these words revived the
memory of the pillory.
The captain burst out laughing.
"Corne-de-boeuf! here's pity as well placed as a feather in
a pig's tail! May I have as big a belly as a pope, if--"
He stopped short. "Pardon me, ladies; I believe that I
was on the point of saying something foolish."
"Fie, sir" said la Gaillefontaine.
"He talks to that creature in her own tongue!" added
Fleur-de-Lys, in a low tone, her irritation increasing every
moment. This irritation was not diminished when she beheld
the captain, enchanted with the gypsy, and, most of all, with
himself, execute a pirouette on his heel, repeating with coarse,
naïve, and soldierly gallantry,--
"A handsome wench, upon my soul!"
"Rather savagely dressed," said Diane de Christeuil, laughing
to show her fine teeth.
This remark was a flash of light to the others. Not being
able to impugn her beauty, they attacked her costume.
"That is true," said la Montmichel; "what makes you run
about the streets thus, without guimpe or ruff?"
"That petticoat is so short that it makes one tremble,"
added la 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
After all, what was a miserable dancer on the public squares
in the presence of these high-born maidens? They seemed
to take no heed of her presence, and talked of her aloud, to
her face, as of something unclean, abject, and yet, at the
same time, passably pretty.
The gypsy was not insensible to these pin-pricks. From
time to time a flush of shame, a flash of anger inflamed her
eyes or her cheeks; with disdain she made that little grimace
with which the reader is already familiar, but she remained
motionless; she fixed on Phoebus a sad, sweet, resigned look.
There was also happiness and tenderness in that gaze. One
would have said that she endured for fear of being expelled.
Phoebus laughed, and took the gypsy's part with a mixture
of impertinence and pity.
"Let them talk, little one!" he repeated, jingling his golden
spurs. "No doubt your toilet is a little extravagant and wild,
but what difference does that make with such a charming
damsel as yourself?"
"Good gracious!" exclaimed the blonde Gaillefontaine,
drawing up her swan-like throat, with a bitter smile. "I see
that messieurs the archers of the king's police easily take fire
at the handsome eyes of gypsies!"
"Why not?" said Phoebus.
At this reply uttered carelessly by the captain, like a stray
stone, whose fall one does not even watch, Colombe began to
laugh, as well as Diane, Amelotte, and Fleur-de-Lys, into
whose eyes at the same time a tear started.
The gypsy, who had dropped her eyes on the floor at the
words of Colombe de Gaillefontaine, raised them beaming with
joy and pride and fixed them once more on Phoebus. She was
very beautiful at that moment.
The old dame, who was watching this scene, felt offended,
without understanding why.
"Holy Virgin!" she suddenly exclaimed, "what is it moving
about my legs? Ah! the villanous beast!"
It was the goat, who had just arrived, in search of his
mistress, and who, in dashing towards the latter, had begun
by entangling his horns in the pile of stuffs which the noble
dame's garments heaped up on her feet when she was seated.
This created a diversion. The gypsy disentangled his
horns without uttering a word.
"Oh! here's the little goat with golden hoofs!" exclaimed
Bérangère, dancing with joy.
The gypsy crouched down on her knees and leaned her
cheek against the fondling head of the goat. One would have
said that she was asking pardon for having quitted it thus.
Meanwhile, Diane had bent down to Colombe's ear.
"Ah! good heavens! why did not I think of that sooner?
'Tis the gypsy with the goat. They say she is a sorceress,
and that her goat executes very miraculous tricks."
"Well!" said Colombe, "the goat must now amuse us in
its turn, and perform a miracle for us."
Diane and Colombe eagerly addressed the gypsy.
"Little one, make your goat perform a miracle."
"I do not know what you mean," replied the dancer.
"A miracle, a piece of magic, a bit of sorcery, in short."
"I do not understand." And she fell to caressing the
pretty animal, repeating, "Djali! Djali!"
At that moment Fleur-de-Lys noticed a little bag of
embroidered leather suspended from the neck of the goat,--
"What is that?" she asked of the 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
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
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
"My dear," exclaimed Dame Aloise solemnly, "your parents
did not commit the sin of giving you that name at the
In the meantime, several minutes previously, Bérangère had
coaxed the goat into a corner of the room with a marchpane
cake, without any one having noticed her. In an instant they
had become good friends. The curious child had detached
the bag from the goat's neck, had opened it, and had emptied
out its contents on the rush matting; it was an alphabet, each
letter of which was separately inscribed on a tiny block of
boxwood. Hardly had these playthings been spread out on
the matting, when the child, with surprise, beheld the
goat (one of whose "miracles" this was no doubt), draw out
certain letters with its golden hoof, and arrange them, with
gentle pushes, in a certain order. In a moment they
constituted a word, which the goat seemed to have been trained
to write, so little hesitation did it show in forming it, and
Bérangère suddenly exclaimed, clasping her hands in admiration,--
"Godmother Fleur-de-Lys, see what the goat has just done!"
Fleur-de-Lys ran up and trembled. The letters arranged
upon the floor formed this word,--
"Was it the goat who wrote that?" she inquired in a
"Yes, godmother," replied Bérangêre.
It was impossible to doubt it; the child did not know how
"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.
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 façades of cathedrals. I presume
that this hole is jointly inhabited by bats and spiders, and
that, consequently, it wages a double war of extermination
on the flies).
Every day, an hour before sunset, the archdeacon ascended
the staircase to the tower, and shut himself up in this cell,
where he sometimes passed whole nights. That day, at the
moment when, standing before the low door of his retreat, he
was fitting into the lock the complicated little key which he
always carried about him in the purse suspended to his side,
a sound of tambourine and castanets had reached his ear.
These sounds came from the Place du Parvis. The cell, as we
have already said, had only one window opening upon the rear
of the church. Claude Frollo had hastily withdrawn the key,
and an instant later, he was on the top of the tower, in the
gloomy and pensive attitude in which the maidens had seen
There he stood, grave, motionless, absorbed in one look and
one thought. All Paris lay at his feet, with the thousand spires
of its edifices and its circular horizon of gentle hills--with
its river winding under its bridges, and its people moving to
and fro through its streets,--with the clouds of its smoke,--with
the mountainous chain of its roofs which presses Notre-Dame in
its doubled folds; but out .of all the city, the archdeacon
gazed at one corner only of the pavement, the Place du
Parvis; in all that throng at but one figure,--the gypsy.
It would have been difficult to say what was the nature of this
look, and whence proceeded the flame that flashed from it. It
was a fixed gaze, which was, nevertheless, full of trouble and
tumult. And, from the profound immobility of his whole
body, barely agitated at intervals by an involuntary shiver, as
a tree is moved by the wind; from the stiffness of his elbows,
more marble than the balustrade on which they leaned; or
the sight of the petrified smile which contracted his face,--
one would have said that nothing living was left about Claude
Frollo except his eyes.
The gypsy was dancing; she was twirling her tambourine
on the tip of her finger, and tossing it into the air as she
danced Provençal sarabands; agile, light, joyous, and
unconscious of the formidable gaze which descended
perpendicularly upon her head.
The crowd was swarming around her; from time to time, a
man accoutred in red and yellow made them form into a circle,
and then returned, seated himself on a chair a few paces from
the dancer, and took the goat's head on his knees. This man
seemed to be the gypsy's companion. Claude Frollo could not
distinguish his features from his elevated post.
From the moment when the archdeacon caught sight of this
stranger, his attention seemed divided between him and the
dancer, and his face became more and more gloomy. All at
once he rose upright, and a quiver ran through his whole
body: "Who is that man?" he muttered between his teeth:
"I have always seen her alone before!"
Then he plunged down beneath the tortuous vault of the
spiral staircase, and once more descended. As he passed the
door of the bell chamber, which was ajar, be 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
"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
It is probable that Master Pierre Gringoire (for it was
indeed he) would have had a sorry account to settle with the
neighbor who owned the cat, and all the bruised and scratched
faces which surrounded him, if he had not hastened to profit
by the tumult to take refuge in the church, whither Claude
Frollo had made him a sign to follow him.
The cathedral was already dark and deserted; the side-aisles
were full of shadows, and the lamps of the chapels began to
shine out like stars, so black had the vaulted ceiling become.
Only the great rose window of the façade, whose thousand
colors were steeped in a ray of horizontal sunlight, glittered
in the gloom like a mass of diamonds, and threw its dazzling
reflection to the other end of the nave.
When they had advanced a few paces, Dom Claude placed
his back against a pillar, and gazed intently at Gringoire.
The gaze was not the one which Gringoire feared, ashamed as
he was of having been caught by a grave and learned person
in the costume of a buffoon. There was nothing mocking or
ironical in the priest's glance, it was serious, tranquil,
piercing. The archdeacon was the first to break the silence.
"Come now, Master Pierre. You are to explain many
things to me. And first of all, how comes it that you have
not been seen for two months, and that now one finds you in
the public squares, in a fine equipment in truth! Motley red
and yellow, like a Caudebec apple?"
"Messire," said Gringoire, piteously, "it is, in fact, an
amazing accoutrement. You see me no more comfortable in it
than a cat coiffed with a calabash. 'Tis very ill done, I am
conscious, to expose messieurs the sergeants of the watch to
the liability of cudgelling beneath this cassock the humerus
of a Pythagorean philosopher. But what would you have,
my reverend master? 'tis the fault of my ancient jerkin,
which abandoned me in cowardly wise, at the beginning of
the winter, under the pretext that it was falling into tatters,
and that it required repose in the basket of a rag-picker.
What is one to do? Civilization has not yet arrived at the
point where one can go stark naked, as ancient Diogenes
wished. Add that a very cold wind was blowing, and 'tis not
in the month of January that one can successfully attempt to
make humanity take this new step. This garment presented
itself, I took it, and I left my ancient black smock, which,
for a hermetic like myself, was far from being hermetically
closed. Behold me then, in the garments of a stage-player,
like Saint Genest. What would you have? 'tis an eclipse.
Apollo himself tended the flocks of Admetus."
"'Tis a fine profession that you are engaged in!" replied
"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 abbé; all his
tribe, who hold her in singular veneration, like a Notre-Dame;
and a certain tiny poignard, which the buxom dame always
wears about her, in some nook, in spite of the ordinances of
the provost, and which one causes to fly out into her hands
by squeezing her waist. 'Tis a proud wasp, I can tell you!"
The archdeacon pressed Gringoire with questions.
La Esmeralda, in the judgment of Gringoire, was an inoffensive
and charming creature, pretty, with the exception of a
pout which was peculiar to her; a naïve and passionate damsel,
ignorant of everything and enthusiastic about everything;
not yet aware of the difference between a man and a woman,
even in her dreams; made like that; wild especially over
dancing, noise, the open air; a sort of woman bee, with
invisible wings on her feet, and living in a whirlwind. She
owed this nature to the wandering life which she had always
led. Gringoire had succeeded in learning that, while a mere
child, she had traversed Spain and Catalonia, even to Sicily;
he believed that she had even been taken by the caravan of
Zingari, of which she formed a part, to the kingdom of Algiers,
a country situated in Achaia, which country adjoins, on one
side Albania and Greece; on the other, the Sicilian Sea, which
is the road to Constantinople. The Bohemians, said Gringoire,
were vassals of the King of Algiers, in his quality of chief of
the White Moors. One thing is certain, that la Esmeralda
had come to France while still very young, by way of
Hungary. From all these countries the young girl had brought
back fragments of queer jargons, songs, and strange ideas,
which made her language as motley as her costume, half
Parisian, half African. However, the people of the quarters
which she frequented loved her for her gayety, her daintiness,
her lively manners, her dances, and her songs. She believed
herself to be hated, in all the city, by but two persons, of
whom she often spoke in terror: the sacked nun of the
Tour-Roland, a villanous recluse who cherished some secret
grudge against these gypsies, and who cursed the poor dancer
every time that the latter passed before her window; and a
priest, who never met her without casting at her looks and
words which frightened her.
The mention of this last circumstance disturbed the
archdeacon greatly, though Gringoire paid no attention to
his perturbation; to such an extent had two months sufficed
to cause the heedless poet to forget the singular details of
the evening on which he had met the gypsy, and the presence
of the archdeacon in it all. Otherwise, the little dancer
feared nothing; she did not tell fortunes, which protected
her against those trials for magic which were so frequently
instituted against gypsy women. And then, Gringoire held the
position of her brother, if not of her husband. After all,
the philosopher endured this sort of platonic marriage very
patiently. It meant a shelter and bread at least. Every
morning, he set out from the lair of the thieves, generally
with the gypsy; he helped her make her collections of
targes* and little blanks** in the squares; each evening he
returned to the same roof with her, allowed her to bolt herself
into her little chamber, and slept the sleep of the just. A
very sweet existence, taking it all in all, he said, and well
adapted to revery. And then, on his soul and conscience, the
philosopher was not very sure that he was madly in love with
the gypsy. He loved her goat almost as dearly. It was a
charming animal, gentle, intelligent, clever; a learned
goat. Nothing was more common in the Middle Ages than these
learned animals, which amazed people greatly, and often led
their instructors to the stake. But the witchcraft of the
goat with the golden hoofs was a very innocent species of
magic. Gringoire explained them to the archdeacon, whom these
details seemed to interest deeply. In the majority of cases,
it was sufficient to present the tambourine to the goat in
such or such a manner, in order to obtain from him the trick
desired. He had been trained to this by the gypsy, who
possessed, in these delicate arts, so rare a talent that two
months had sufficed to teach the goat to write, with movable
letters, the word "Phoebus."
* An ancient Burgundian coin.
** An ancient French coin.
"'Phoebus!'" said the priest; "why 'Phoebus'?"
"I know not," replied Gringoire. "Perhaps it is a word
which she believes to be endowed with some magic and secret
virtue. She often repeats it in a low tone when she thinks
that she is alone."
"Are you sure," persisted Claude, with his penetrating
glance, "that it is only a word and not a name?"
"The name of whom?" said the poet.
"How should I know?" said the priest.
"This is what I imagine, messire. These Bohemians are
something like Guebrs, and adore the sun. Hence, Phoebus."
"That does not seem so clear to me as to you, Master Pierre."
"After all, that does not concern me. Let her mumble her
Phoebus at her pleasure. One thing is certain, that Djali loves
me almost as much as he does her."
"Who is Djali?"
The 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."
"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."