Part 7 out of 13
"You were so audacious, Master Pierre?" and the priest's
brow clouded over again.
"On another occasion," continued the poet, with a smile, "I
peeped through the keyhole, before going to bed, and I beheld
the most delicious dame in her shift that ever made a bed
creak under her bare foot."
"Go to the devil!" cried the priest, with a terrible look;
and, giving the amazed Gringoire a push on the shoulders, he
plunged, with long strides, under the gloomiest arcades of the
After the morning in the pillory, the neighbors of Notre-
Dame thought they noticed that Quasimodo's ardor for
ringing had grown cool. Formerly, there had been peals for
every occasion, long morning serenades, which lasted from
prime to compline; peals from the belfry for a high mass,
rich scales drawn over the smaller bells for a wedding, for a
christening, and mingling in the air like a rich embroidery of
all sorts of charming sounds. The old church, all vibrating
and sonorous, was in a perpetual joy of bells. One was
constantly conscious of the presence of a spirit of noise and
caprice, who sang through all those mouths of brass. Now
that spirit seemed to have departed; the cathedral seemed
gloomy, and gladly remained silent; festivals and funerals
had the simple peal, dry and bare, demanded by the ritual,
nothing more. Of the double noise which constitutes a
church, the organ within, the bell without, the organ alone
remained. One would have said that there was no longer
a musician in the belfry. Quasimodo was always there,
nevertheless; what, then, had happened to him? Was it that
the shame and despair of the pillory still lingered in the
bottom of his heart, that the lashes of his tormentor's whip
reverberated unendingly in his soul, and that the sadness of
such treatment had wholly extinguished in him even his passion
for the bells? or was it that Marie had a rival in the heart
of the bellringer of Notre-Dame, and that the great bell and
her fourteen sisters were neglected for something more amiable
and more beautiful?
It chanced that, in the year of grace 1482, Annunciation
Day fell on Tuesday, the twenty-fifth of March. That day
the air was so pure and light that Quasimodo felt some
returning affection for his bells. He therefore ascended
the northern tower while the beadle below was opening wide
the doors of the church, which were then enormous panels of
stout wood, covered with leather, bordered with nails of gilded
iron, and framed in carvings "very artistically elaborated."
On arriving in the lofty bell chamber, Quasimodo gazed for
some time at the six bells and shook his head sadly, as though
groaning over some foreign element which had interposed
itself in his heart between them and him. But when he had
set them to swinging, when he felt that cluster of bells
moving under his hand, when he saw, for he did not hear it,
the palpitating octave ascend and descend that sonorous scale,
like a bird hopping from branch to branch; when the demon
Music, that demon who shakes a sparkling bundle of strette,
trills and arpeggios, had taken possession of the poor deaf
man, he became happy once more, he forgot everything, and
his heart expanding, made his face beam.
He went and came, he beat his hands together, he ran from
rope to rope, he animated the six singers with voice and
gesture, like the leader of an orchestra who is urging on
"Go on," said he, "go on, go on, Gabrielle, pour out all thy
noise into the Place, 'tis a festival to-day. No laziness,
Thibauld; thou art relaxing; go on, go on, then, art thou rusted,
thou sluggard? That is well! quick! quick! let not thy
clapper be seen! Make them all deaf like me. That's it,
Thibauld, bravely done! Guillaume! Guillaume! thou art
the largest, and Pasquier is the smallest, and Pasquier does
best. Let us wager that those who hear him will understand
him better than they understand thee. Good! good! my
Gabrielle, stoutly, more stoutly! Eli! what are you doing up
aloft there, you two Moineaux (sparrows)? I do not see you
making the least little shred of noise. What is the meaning
of those beaks of copper which seem to be gaping when they
should sing? Come, work now, 'tis the Feast of the
Annunciation. The sun is fine, the chime must be fine
also. Poor Guillaume! thou art all out of breath, my
He was wholly absorbed in spurring on his bells, all six of
which vied with each other in leaping and shaking their
shining haunches, like a noisy team of Spanish mules, pricked
on here and there by the apostrophes of the muleteer.
All at once, on letting his glance fall between the large
slate scales which cover the perpendicular wall of the bell
tower at a certain height, he beheld on the square a young
girl, fantastically dressed, stop, spread out on the ground a
carpet, on which a small goat took up its post, and a group of
spectators collect around her. This sight suddenly changed
the course of his ideas, and congealed his enthusiasm as a
breath of air congeals melted rosin. He halted, turned his
back to the bells, and crouched down behind the projecting
roof of slate, fixing upon the dancer that dreamy, sweet, and
tender look which had already astonished the archdeacon on
one occasion. Meanwhile, the forgotten bells died away
abruptly and all together, to the great disappointment of the
lovers of bell ringing, who were listening in good faith to the
peal from above the Pont du Change, and who went away
dumbfounded, like a dog who has been offered a bone and
given a stone.
It chanced that upon a fine morning in this same month of
March, I think it was on Saturday the 29th, Saint Eustache's
day, our young friend the student, Jehan Frollo du Moulin,
perceived, as he was dressing himself, that his breeches, which
contained his purse, gave out no metallic ring. "Poor purse,"
he said, drawing it from his fob, "what! not the smallest
parisis! how cruelly the dice, beer-pots, and Venus have
depleted thee! How empty, wrinkled, limp, thou art! Thou
resemblest the throat of a fury! I ask you, Messer Cicero,
and Messer Seneca, copies of whom, all dog's-eared, I behold
scattered on the floor, what profits it me to know, better
than any governor of the mint, or any Jew on the Pont aux
Changeurs, that a golden crown stamped with a crown is worth
thirty-five unzains of twenty-five sous, and eight deniers
parisis apiece, and that a crown stamped with a crescent is
worth thirty-six unzains of twenty-six sous, six deniers
tournois apiece, if I have not a single wretched black liard
to risk on the double-six! Oh! Consul Cicero! this is no
calamity from which one extricates one's self with periphrases,
~quemadmodum~, and ~verum enim vero~!"
He dressed himself sadly. An idea had occurred to him as
he laced his boots, but he rejected it at first; nevertheless,
it returned, and he put on his waistcoat wrong side out, an
evident sign of violent internal combat. At last he dashed his
cap roughly on the floor, and exclaimed: "So much the worse!
Let come of it what may. I am going to my brother! I
shall catch a sermon, but I shall catch a crown."
Then be hastily donned his long jacket with furred half-
sleeves, picked up his cap, and went out like a man driven
He descended the Rue de la Harpe toward the City. As he
passed the Rue de la Huchette, the odor of those admirable
spits, which were incessantly turning, tickled his olfactory
apparatus, and he bestowed a loving glance toward the
Cyclopean roast, which one day drew from the Franciscan friar,
Calatagirone, this pathetic exclamation: ~Veramente, queste
rotisserie sono cosa stupenda~!* But Jehan had not the
wherewithal to buy a breakfast, and he plunged, with a
profound sigh, under the gateway of the Petit-Châtelet, that
enormous double trefoil of massive towers which guarded the
entrance to the City.
* Truly, these roastings are a stupendous thing!
He did not even take the trouble to cast a stone in passing,
as was the usage, at the miserable statue of that Périnet
Leclerc who had delivered up the Paris of Charles VI. to the
English, a crime which his effigy, its face battered with
stones and soiled with mud, expiated for three centuries at
the corner of the Rue de la Harpe and the Rue de Buci, as in
an eternal pillory.
The Petit-Pont traversed, the Rue Neuve-Sainte-Geneviève
crossed, Jehan de Molendino found himself in front of Notre-
Dame. Then indecision seized upon him once more, and he
paced for several minutes round the statue of M. Legris,
repeating to himself with anguish: "The sermon is sure, the
crown is doubtful."
He stopped a beadle who emerged from the cloister,--"Where
is monsieur the archdeacon of Josas?"
"I believe that he is in his secret cell in the tower," said
the beadle; "I should advise you not to disturb him there,
unless you come from some one like the pope or monsieur the king."
Jehan clapped his hands.
"~Bécliable~! here's a magnificent chance to see the famous
This reflection having brought him to a decision, he plunged
resolutely into the small black doorway, and began the
ascent of the spiral of Saint-Gilles, which leads to the upper
stories of the tower. "I am going to see," he said to himself
on the way. "By the ravens of the Holy Virgin! it must
needs be a curious thing, that cell which my reverend brother
hides so secretly! 'Tis said that he lights up the kitchens
of hell there, and that he cooks the philosopher's stone there
over a hot fire. ~Bédieu~! I care no more for the philosopher's
stone than for a pebble, and I would rather find over his furnace
an omelette of Easter eggs and bacon, than the biggest
philosopher's stone in the world."'
On arriving at the gallery of slender columns, he took
breath for a moment, and swore against the interminable
staircase by I know not how many million cartloads of devils;
then he resumed his ascent through the narrow door of the
north tower, now closed to the public. Several moments
after passing the bell chamber, he came upon a little
landing-place, built in a lateral niche, and under the vault
of a low, pointed door, whose enormous lock and strong iron
bars he was enabled to see through a loophole pierced in the
opposite circular wall of the staircase. Persons desirous of
visiting this door at the present day will recognize it by this
inscription engraved in white letters on the black wall: "J'ADORE
CORALIE, 1823. SIGNE UGENE." "Signé" stands in the text.
"Ugh!" said the scholar; "'tis here, no doubt."
The key was in the lock, the door was very close to him;
he gave it a gentle push and thrust his head through the opening.
The reader cannot have failed to turn over the admirable
works of Rembrandt, that Shakespeare of painting. Amid so
many marvellous engravings, there is one etching in particular,
which is supposed to represent Doctor Faust, and which
it is impossible to contemplate without being dazzled. It
represents a gloomy cell; in the centre is a table loaded
with hideous objects; skulls, spheres, alembics, compasses,
hieroglyphic parchments. The doctor is before this table clad
in his large coat and covered to the very eyebrows with his
furred cap. He is visible only to his waist. He has half
risen from his immense arm-chair, his clenched fists rest on
the table, and he is gazing with curiosity and terror at a large
luminous circle, formed of magic letters, which gleams from
the wall beyond, like the solar spectrum in a dark chamber.
This cabalistic sun seems to tremble before the eye, and fills
the wan cell with its mysterious radiance. It is horrible and
it is beautiful.
Something very similar to Faust's cell presented itself to
Jehan's view, when he ventured his head through the half-
open door. It also was a gloomy and sparsely lighted retreat.
There also stood a large arm-chair and a large table, compasses,
alembics, skeletons of animals suspended from the ceiling,
a globe rolling on the floor, hippocephali mingled
promiscuously with drinking cups, in which quivered leaves
of gold, skulls placed upon vellum checkered with figures and
characters, huge manuscripts piled up wide open, without
mercy on the cracking corners of the parchment; in short, all
the rubbish of science, and everywhere on this confusion dust
and spiders' webs; but there was no circle of luminous letters,
no doctor in an ecstasy contemplating the flaming vision,
as the eagle gazes upon the sun.
Nevertheless, the cell was not deserted. A man was seated
in the arm-chair, and bending over the table. Jehan, to whom
his back was turned, could see only his shoulders and the
back of his skull; but he had no difficulty in recognizing that
bald head, which nature had provided with an eternal tonsure,
as though desirous of marking, by this external symbol, the
archdeacon's irresistible clerical vocation.
Jehan accordingly recognized his brother; but the door
had been opened so softly, that nothing warned Dom Claude of
his presence. The inquisitive scholar took advantage of this
circumstance to examine the cell for a few moments at his
leisure. A large furnace, which he had not at first observed,
stood to the left of the arm-chair, beneath the window. The
ray of light which penetrated through this aperture made its
way through a spider's circular web, which tastefully inscribed
its delicate rose in the arch of the window, and in the centre
of which the insect architect hung motionless, like the hub
of this wheel of lace. Upon the furnace were accumulated
in disorder, all sorts of vases, earthenware bottles, glass
retorts, and mattresses of charcoal. Jehan observed, with a
sigh, that there was no frying-pan. "How cold the kitchen
utensils are!" he said to himself.
In fact, there was no fire in the furnace, and it seemed as
though none had been lighted for a long time. A glass mask,
which Jehan noticed among the utensils of alchemy, and
which served no doubt, to protect the archdeacon's face when
he was working over some substance to be dreaded, lay in one
corner covered with dust and apparently forgotten. Beside it
lay a pair of bellows no less dusty, the upper side of which
bore this inscription incrusted in copper letters: SPIRA SPERA.
Other inscriptions were written, in accordance with the
fashion of the hermetics, in great numbers on the walls; some
traced with ink, others engraved with a metal point. There
were, moreover, Gothic letters, Hebrew letters, Greek letters,
and Roman letters, pell-mell; the inscriptions overflowed at
haphazard, on top of each other, the more recent effacing the
more ancient, and all entangled with each other, like the
branches in a thicket, like pikes in an affray. It was, in
fact, a strangely confused mingling of all human philosophies,
all reveries, all human wisdom. Here and there one shone
out from among the rest like a banner among lance heads.
Generally, it was a brief Greek or Roman device, such as the
Middle Ages knew so well how to formulate.--~Unde? Inde?--Homo
homini monstrurn-Ast'ra, castra, nomen, numen.--Meya Bibklov,
ueya xaxov.--Sapere aude. Fiat ubi vult~--etc.; sometimes
a word devoid of all apparent sense, ~Avayxoqpayia~, which
possibly contained a bitter allusion to the regime of the
cloister; sometimes a simple maxim of clerical discipline
formulated in a regular hexameter ~Coelestem dominum terrestrem
dicite dominum~. There was also Hebrew jargon, of which
Jehan, who as yet knew but little Greek, understood nothing;
and all were traversed in every direction by stars, by
figures of men or animals, and by intersecting triangles; and
this contributed not a little to make the scrawled wall of the
cell resemble a sheet of paper over which a monkey had
drawn back and forth a pen filled with ink.
The whole chamber, moreover, presented a general aspect
of abandonment and dilapidation; and the bad state of the
utensils induced the supposition that their owner had long
been distracted from his labors by other preoccupations.
Meanwhile, this master, bent over a vast manuscript,
ornamented with fantastical illustrations, appeared to be
tormented by an idea which incessantly mingled with his
meditations. That at least was Jehan's idea, when he heard him
exclaim, with the thoughtful breaks of a dreamer thinking
"Yes, Manou said it, and Zoroaster taught it! the sun is
born from fire, the moon from the sun; fire is the soul
of the universe; its elementary atoms pour forth and flow
incessantly upon the world through infinite channels! At
the point where these currents intersect each other in the
heavens, they produce light; at their points of intersection
on earth, they produce gold. Light, gold; the same thing!
From fire to the concrete state. The difference between the
visible and the palpable, between the fluid and the solid in
the same substance, between water and ice, nothing more.
These are no dreams; it is the general law of nature. But
what is one to do in order to extract from science the secret
of this general law? What! this light which inundates my
hand is gold! These same atoms dilated in accordance with
a certain law need only be condensed in accordance with
another law. How is it to be done? Some have fancied by
burying a ray of sunlight, Averroës,--yes, 'tis Averroës,--
Averroës buried one under the first pillar on the left of the
sanctuary of the Koran, in the great Mahometan mosque of
Cordova; but the vault cannot he opened for the purpose of
ascertaining whether the operation has succeeded, until after
the lapse of eight thousand years.
"The devil!" said Jehan, to himself, "'tis a long while to
wait for a crown!"
"Others have thought," continued the dreamy archdeacon,
"that it would be better worth while to operate upon a
ray of Sirius. But 'tis exceeding hard to obtain this
ray pure, because of the simultaneous presence of other
stars whose rays mingle with it. Flamel esteemed it more
simple to operate upon terrestrial fire. Flamel! there's
predestination in the name! ~Flamma~! yes, fire. All lies
there. The diamond is contained in the carbon, gold is in the
fire. But how to extract it? Magistri affirms that there are
certain feminine names, which possess a charm so sweet and
mysterious, that it suffices to pronounce them during the
operation. Let us read what Manon says on the matter: 'Where
women are honored, the divinities are rejoiced; where they are
despised, it is useless to pray to God. The mouth of a woman
is constantly pure; it is a running water, it is a ray of
sunlight. The name of a woman should be agreeable, sweet,
fanciful; it should end in long vowels, and resemble words
of benediction.' Yes, the sage is right; in truth, Maria,
Sophia, la Esmeral--Damnation! always that thought!"
And he closed the book violently.
He passed his hand over his brow, as though to brush away
the idea which assailed him; then he took from the table a
nail and a small hammer, whose handle was curiously painted
with cabalistic letters.
"For some time," he said with a bitter smile, "I have failed
in all my experiments! one fixed idea possesses me, and sears
my brain like fire. I have not even been able to discover the
secret of Cassiodorus, whose lamp burned without wick and
without oil. A simple matter, nevertheless--"
"The deuce!" muttered Jehan in his beard.
"Hence," continued the priest, "one wretched thought is
sufficient to render a man weak and beside himself! Oh!
how Claude Pernelle would laugh at me. She who could not
turn Nicholas Flamel aside, for one moment, from his pursuit
of the great work! What! I hold in my hand the magic
hammer of Zéchiélé! at every blow dealt by the formidable
rabbi, from the depths of his cell, upon this nail, that
one of his enemies whom he had condemned, were he a thousand
leagues away, was buried a cubit deep in the earth which
swallowed him. The King of France himself, in consequence
of once having inconsiderately knocked at the door of the
thermaturgist, sank to the knees through the pavement of
his own Paris. This took place three centuries ago. Well!
I possess the hammer and the nail, and in my hands they are
utensils no more formidable than a club in the hands of a
maker of edge tools. And yet all that is required is to find
the magic word which Zéchiélé pronounced when he struck
"What nonsense!" thought Jehan.
"Let us see, let us try!" resumed the archdeacon briskly.
"Were I to succeed, I should behold the blue spark flash
from the head of the nail. Emen-Hétan! Emen-Hétan!
That's not it. Sigéani! Sigéani! May this nail open the
tomb to any one who bears the name of Phoebus! A curse
upon it! Always and eternally the same idea!"
And he flung away the hammer in a rage. Then he sank
down so deeply on the arm-chair and the table, that Jehan
lost him from view behind the great pile of manuscripts. For
the space of several minutes, all that he saw was his fist
convulsively clenched on a book. Suddenly, Dom Claude sprang
up, seized a compass and engraved in silence upon the wall in
capital letters, this Greek word
"My brother is mad," said Jehan to himself; "it would
have been far more simple to write ~Fatum~, every one is not
obliged to know Greek."
The archdeacon returned and seated himself in his armchair,
and placed his head on both his hands, as a sick man does,
whose head is heavy and burning.
The student watched his brother with surprise. He did not
know, he who wore his heart on his sleeve, he who observed
only the good old law of Nature in the world, he who allowed
his passions to follow their inclinations, and in whom the lake
of great emotions was always dry, so freely did he let it off
each day by fresh drains,--he did not know with what fury
the sea of human passions ferments and boils when all egress
is denied to it, how it accumulates, how it swells, how it
overflows, how it hollows out the heart; how it breaks in inward
sobs, and dull convulsions, until it has rent its dikes and
burst its bed. The austere and glacial envelope of Claude
Frollo, that cold surface of steep and inaccessible virtue,
had always deceived Jehan. The merry scholar had never
dreamed that there was boiling lava, furious and profound,
beneath the snowy brow of AEtna.
We do not know whether he suddenly became conscious of
these things; but, giddy as he was, he understood that he had
seen what he ought not to have seen, that he had just surprised
the soul of his elder brother in one of its most secret
altitudes, and that Claude must not be allowed to know it.
Seeing that the archdeacon had fallen back into his former
immobility, he withdrew his head very softly, and made some
noise with his feet outside the door, like a person who has
just arrived and is giving warning of his approach.
"Enter!" cried the archdeacon, from the interior of his
cell; "I was expecting you. I left the door unlocked
expressly; enter Master Jacques!"
The scholar entered boldly. The archdeacon, who was very
much embarrassed by such a visit in such a place, trembled
in his arm-chair. "What! 'tis you, Jehan?"
"'Tis a J, all the same," said the scholar, with his ruddy,
merry, and audacious face.
Dom Claude's visage had resumed its severe expression.
"What are you come for?"
"Brother," replied the scholar, making an effort to assume
a decent, pitiful, and modest mien, and twirling his cap in his
hands with an innocent air; "I am come to ask of you--"
"A little lecture on morality, of which I stand greatly in
need," Jehan did not dare to add aloud,--"and a little money
of which I am in still greater need." This last member of
his phrase remained unuttered.
"Monsieur," said the archdeacon, in a cold tone, "I am greatly
displeased with you."
"Alas!" sighed the scholar.
Dom Claude made his arm-chair describe a quarter circle,
and gazed intently at Jehan.
"I am very glad to see you."
This was a formidable exordium. Jehan braced himself
for a rough encounter.
"Jehan, complaints are brought me about you every day.
What affray was that in which you bruised with a cudgel a
little vicomte, Albert de Ramonchamp?"
"Oh!" said Jehan, "a vast thing that! A malicious page
amused himself by splashing the scholars, by making his
horse gallop through the mire!"
"Who," pursued the archdeacon, "is that Mahiet Fargel,
whose gown you have torn? ~Tunicam dechiraverunt~, saith
"Ah bah! a wretched cap of a Montaigu! Isn't that it?"
"The complaint says ~tunicam~ and not ~cappettam~. Do you
Jehan did not reply.
"Yes," pursued the priest shaking his head, "that is the
state of learning and letters at the present day. The Latin
tongue is hardly understood, Syriac is unknown, Greek so
odious that 'tis accounted no ignorance in the most learned to
skip a Greek word without reading it, and to say, '~Groecum
est non legitur~.'"
The scholar raised his eyes boldly. "Monsieur my brother,
doth it please you that I shall explain in good French
vernacular that Greek word which is written yonder on the wall?"
A slight flush spread over the cheeks of the priest with
their high bones, like the puff of smoke which announces on
the outside the secret commotions of a volcano. The student
hardly noticed it.
"Well, Jehan," stammered the elder brother with an effort,
"What is the meaning of yonder word?"
Dom Claude turned pale again, and the scholar pursued carelessly.
"And that word below it, graved by the same hand,
'~Ayáyvela~, signifies 'impurity.' You see that people do know
And the archdeacon remained silent. This Greek lesson
had rendered him thoughtful.
Master Jehan, who possessed all the artful ways of a spoiled
child, judged that the moment was a favorable one in which
to risk his request. Accordingly, he assumed an extremely
soft tone and began,--
"My good brother, do you hate me to such a degree as to
look savagely upon me because of a few mischievous cuffs and
blows distributed in a fair war to a pack of lads and brats,
~quibusdam marmosetis~? You see, good Brother Claude, that
people know their Latin."
But all this caressing hypocrisy did not have its usual effect
on the severe elder brother. Cerberus did not bite at the
honey cake. The archdeacon's brow did not lose a single wrinkle.
"What are you driving at?" he said dryly.
"Well, in point of fact, this!" replied Jehan bravely, "I stand
in need of money."
At this audacious declaration, the archdeacon's visage
assumed a thoroughly pedagogical and paternal expression.
"You know, Monsieur Jehan, that our fief of Tirecbappe,
putting the direct taxes and the rents of the nine and twenty
houses in a block, yields only nine and thirty livres, eleven
sous, six deniers, Parisian. It is one half more than in the
time of the brothers Paclet, but it is not much."
"I need money," said Jehan stoically.
"You know that the official has decided that our twenty-one
houses should he moved full into the fief of the Bishopric,
and that we could redeem this homage only by paying the
reverend bishop two marks of silver gilt of the price of six
livres parisis. Now, these two marks I have not yet been
able to get together. You know it."
"I know that I stand in need of money," repeated Jehan
for the third time.
"And what are you going to do with it?"
This question caused a flash of hope to gleam before Jehan's
eyes. He resumed his dainty, caressing air.
"Stay, dear Brother Claude, I should not come to you, with
any evil motive. There is no intention of cutting a dash in
the taverns with your unzains, and of strutting about the
streets of Paris in a caparison of gold brocade, with a lackey,
~cum meo laquasio~. No, brother, 'tis for a good work."
"What good work?" demanded Claude, somewhat surprised.
"Two of my friends wish to purchase an outfit for the
infant of a poor Haudriette widow. It is a charity. It will
cost three forms, and I should like to contribute to it."
"What are names of your two friends?"
"Pierre l'Assommeur and Baptiste Croque-Oison*."
* Peter the Slaughterer; and Baptist Crack-Gosling.
"Hum," said the archdeacon; "those are names as fit for
a good work as a catapult for the chief altar."
It is certain that Jehan had made a very bad choice of
names for his two friends. He realized it too late.
"And then," pursued the sagacious Claude, "what sort of
an infant's outfit is it that is to cost three forms, and
that for the child of a Haudriette? Since when have the
Haudriette widows taken to having babes in swaddling-clothes?"
Jehan broke the ice once more.
"Eh, well! yes! I need money in order to go and see
Isabeau la Thierrye to-night; in the Val-d' Amour!"
"Impure wretch!" exclaimed the priest.
"~Avayveia~!" said Jehan.
This quotation, which the scholar borrowed with malice,
perchance, from the wall of the cell, produced a singular
effect on the archdeacon. He bit his lips and his wrath was
drowned in a crimson flush.
"Begone," he said to Jehan. "I am expecting some one."
The scholar made one more effort.
"Brother Claude, give me at least one little parisis to buy
something to eat."
"How far have you gone in the Decretals of Gratian?"
demanded Dom Claude.
"I have lost my copy books.
"Where are you in your Latin humanities?"
"My copy of Horace has been stolen."
"Where are you in Aristotle?"
"I' faith! brother what father of the church is it, who says
that the errors of heretics have always had for their lurking
place the thickets of Aristotle's metaphysics? A plague on
Aristotle! I care not to tear my religion on his metaphysics."
"Young man," resumed the archdeacon, "at the king's last
entry, there was a young gentleman, named Philippe de
Comines, who wore embroidered on the housings of his horse
this device, upon which I counsel you to meditate: ~Qui non
laborat, non manducet~."
The scholar remained silent for a moment, with his finger
in his ear, his eyes on the ground, and a discomfited mien.
All at once he turned round to Claude with the agile quickness
of a wagtail.
"So, my good brother, you refuse me a sou parisis, wherewith
to buy a crust at a baker's shop?"
"~Qui non laborat, non manducet~."
At this response of the inflexible archdeacon, Jehan hid his
head in his hands, like a woman sobbing, and exclaimed with
an expression of despair: "~Orororororoi~."
"What is the meaning of this, sir?" demanded Claude, surprised
at this freak.
"What indeed!" said the scholar; and he lifted to Claude
his impudent eyes into which he had just thrust his fists in
order to communicate to them the redness of tears; "'tis
Greek! 'tis an anapaest of AEschylus which expresses grief
And here he burst into a laugh so droll and violent that it
made the archdeacon smile. It was Claude's fault, in fact:
why had he so spoiled that child?
"Oh! good Brother Claude," resumed Jehan, emboldened by
this smile, "look at my worn out boots. Is there a cothurnus
in the world more tragic than these boots, whose soles are
hanging out their tongues?"
The archdeacon promptly returned to his original severity.
"I will send you some new boots, but no money."
"Only a poor little parisis, brother," continued the suppliant
Jehan. "I will learn Gratian by heart, I will believe
firmly in God, I will be a regular Pythagoras of science and
virtue. But one little parisis, in mercy! Would you have
famine bite me with its jaws which are gaping in front of me,
blacker, deeper, and more noisome than a Tartarus or the nose
of a monk?"
Dom Claude shook his wrinkled head: "~Qui non laborat~--"
Jehan did not allow him to finish.
"Well," he exclaimed, "to the devil then! Long live joy! I
will live in the tavern, I will fight, I will break pots and
I will go and see the wenches." And thereupon, he hurled his
cap at the wall, and snapped his fingers like castanets.
The archdeacon surveyed him with a gloomy air.
"Jehan, you have no soul."
"In that case, according to Epicurius, I lack a something
made of another something which has no name."
"Jehan, you must think seriously of amending your ways."
"Oh, come now," cried the student, gazing in turn at his
brother and the alembics on the furnace, "everything is
preposterous here, both ideas and bottles!"
"Jehan, you are on a very slippery downward road. Do
you know whither you are going?"
"To the wine-shop," said Jehan.
"The wine-shop leads to the pillory."
"'Tis as good a lantern as any other, and perchance with
that one, Diogenes would have found his man."
"The pillory leads to the gallows."
"The gallows is a balance which has a man at one end and
the whole earth at the other. 'Tis fine to be the man."
"The gallows leads to hell."
"'Tis a big fire.".
"Jehan, Jehan, the end will be bad."
"The beginning will have been good."
At that moment, the sound of a footstep was heard on the
"Silence!" said the archdeacon, laying his finger on his
mouth, "here is Master Jacques. Listen, Jehan," he added,
in a low voice; "have a care never to speak of what you shall
have seen or heard here. Hide yourself quickly under the
furnace, and do not breathe."
The scholar concealed himself; just then a happy idea occurred
"By the way, Brother Claude, a form for not breathing."
"Silence! I promise."
"You must give it to me."
"Take it, then!" said the archdeacon angrily, flinging his
purse at him.
Jehan darted under the furnace again, and the door opened.
THE TWO MEN CLOTHED IN BLACK.
The personage who entered wore a black gown and a gloomy
mien. The first point which struck the eye of our Jehan
(who, as the reader will readily surmise, had ensconced
himself in his nook in such a manner as to enable him to
see and hear everything at his good pleasure) was the perfect
sadness of the garments and the visage of this new-corner.
There was, nevertheless, some sweetness diffused over that
face, but it was the sweetness of a cat or a judge, an affected,
treacherous sweetness. He was very gray and wrinkled, and
not far from his sixtieth year, his eyes blinked, his eyebrows
were white, his lip pendulous, and his hands large. When Jehan
saw that it was only this, that is to say, no doubt a physician
or a magistrate, and that this man had a nose very far from
his mouth, a sign of stupidity, he nestled down in his hole,
in despair at being obliged to pass an indefinite time in such
an uncomfortable attitude, and in such bad company.
The archdeacon, in the meantime, had not even risen to
receive this personage. He had made the latter a sign to seat
himself on a stool near the door, and, after several moments
of a silence which appeared to be a continuation of a preceding
meditation, he said to him in a rather patronizing way,
"Good day, Master Jacques."
"Greeting, master," replied the man in black.
There was in the two ways in which "Master Jacques"
was pronounced on the one hand, and the "master" by
preeminence on the other, the difference between monseigneur
and monsieur, between ~domine~ and ~domne~. It was evidently
the meeting of a teacher and a disciple.
"Well!" resumed the archdeacon, after a fresh silence
which Master Jacques took good care not to disturb, "how
are you succeeding?"
"Alas! master," said the other, with a sad smile, "I am
still seeking the stone. Plenty of ashes. But not a spark
Dom Claude made a gesture of impatience. "I am not talking
to you of that, Master Jacques Charmolue, but of the trial
of your magician. Is it not Marc Cenaine that you call
him? the butler of the Court of Accounts? Does he confess
his witchcraft? Have you been successful with the torture?"
"Alas! no," replied Master Jacques, still with his sad
smile; "we have not that consolation. That man is a stone.
We might have him boiled in the Marché aux Pourceaux, before
he would say anything. Nevertheless, we are sparing nothing
for the sake of getting at the truth; he is already thoroughly
dislocated, we are applying all the herbs of Saint John's day;
as saith the old comedian Plautus,--
~'Advorsum stimulos, laminas, crucesque, compedesque,
Nerros, catenas, carceres, numellas, pedicas, boias~.'
Nothing answers; that man is terrible. I am at my wit's end
"You have found nothing new in his house?"
"I' faith, yes," said Master Jacques, fumbling in his pouch;
"this parchment. There are words in it which we cannot
comprehend. The criminal advocate, Monsieur Philippe
Lheulier, nevertheless, knows a little Hebrew, which he
learned in that matter of the Jews of the Rue Kantersten,
So saying, Master Jacques unrolled a parchment. "Give it
here," said the archdeacon. And casting his eyes upon this
writing: "Pure magic, Master Jacques!" he exclaimed.
"'Emen-Hétan!' 'Tis the cry of the vampires when they
arrive at the witches' sabbath. ~Per ipsum, et cum ipso, et
in ipso~! 'Tis the command which chains the devil in hell.
~Hax, pax, max~! that refers to medicine. A formula against
the bite of mad dogs. Master Jacques! you are procurator
to the king in the Ecclesiastical Courts: this parchment
"We will put the man to the torture once more. Here
again," added Master Jacques, fumbling afresh in his pouch,
"is something that we have found at Marc Cenaine's house."
It was a vessel belonging to the same family as those which
covered Dom Claude's furnace.
"Ah!" said the archdeacon, "a crucible for alchemy."
"I will confess to you," continued Master Jacques, with his
timid and awkward smile, "that I have tried it over the
furnace, but I have succeeded no better than with my own."
The archdeacon began an examination of the vessel.
"What has he engraved on his crucible? ~Och! och~!
the word which expels fleas! That Marc Cenaine is an
ignoramus! I verily believe that you will never make gold
with this! 'Tis good to set in your bedroom in summer and
that is all!"
"Since we are talking about errors," said the king's
procurator, "I have just been studying the figures on the
portal below before ascending hither; is your reverence quite
sure that the opening of the work of physics is there portrayed
on the side towards the Hôtel-Dieu, and that among the seven
nude figures which stand at the feet of Notre-Dame, that
which has wings on his heels is Mercurius?"
"Yes," replied the priest; "'tis Augustin Nypho who
writes it, that Italian doctor who had a bearded demon who
acquainted him with all things. However, we will descend,
and I will explain it to you with the text before us."
"Thanks, master," said Charmolue, bowing to the earth.
"By the way, I was on the point of forgetting. When doth
it please you that I shall apprehend the little sorceress?"
"That gypsy girl you know, who comes every day to dance
on the church square, in spite of the official's prohibition!
She hath a demoniac goat with horns of the devil, which
reads, which writes, which knows mathematics like Picatrix,
and which would suffice to hang all Bohemia. The prosecution
is all ready; 'twill soon be finished, I assure you! A
pretty creature, on my soul, that dancer! The handsomest
black eyes! Two Egyptian carbuncles! When shall we
The archdeacon was excessively pale.
"I will tell you that hereafter," he stammered, in a voice
that was barely articulate; then he resumed with an effort,
"Busy yourself with Marc Cenaine."
"Be at ease," said Charmolue with a smile; "I'll buckle
him down again for you on the leather bed when I get home.
But 'tis a devil of a man; he wearies even Pierrat Torterue
himself, who hath hands larger than my own. As that good
'~Nudus vinctus, centum pondo,
es quando pendes per pedes~.'
The torture of the wheel and axle! 'Tis the most effectual!
He shall taste it!"
Dom Claude seemed absorbed in gloomy abstraction. He
turned to Charmolue,--
"Master Pierrat--Master Jacques, I mean, busy yourself
with Marc Cenaine."
"Yes, yes, Dom Claude. Poor man! he will have suffered
like Mummol. What an idea to go to the witches' sabbath!
a butler of the Court of Accounts, who ought to know
Charlemagne's text; ~Stryga vel masea~!--In the matter of
the little girl,--Smelarda, as they call her,--I will await
your orders. Ah! as we pass through the portal, you will explain
to me also the meaning of the gardener painted in relief, which
one sees as one enters the church. Is it not the Sower? Hé!
master, of what are you thinking, pray?"
Dom Claude, buried in his own thoughts, no longer listened
to him. Charmolue, following the direction of his glance,
perceived that it was fixed mechanically on the great spider's
web which draped the window. At that moment, a bewildered
fly which was seeking the March sun, flung itself
through the net and became entangled there. On the agitation
of his web, the enormous spider made an abrupt move
from his central cell, then with one bound, rushed upon the
fly, which he folded together with his fore antennae, while his
hideous proboscis dug into the victim's bead. "Poor fly!"
said the king's procurator in the ecclesiastical court; and he
raised his hand to save it. The archdeacon, as though roused
with a start, withheld his arm with convulsive violence.
"Master Jacques," he cried, "let fate take its course!"
The procurator wheeled round in affright; it seemed to
him that pincers of iron had clutched his arm. The priest's
eye was staring, wild, flaming, and remained riveted on the
horrible little group of the spider and the fly.
"Oh, yes!" continued the priest, in a voice which seemed
to proceed from the depths of his being, "behold here a
symbol of all. She flies, she is joyous, she is just born; she
seeks the spring, the open air, liberty: oh, yes! but let her
come in contact with the fatal network, and the spider issues
from it, the hideous spider! Poor dancer! poor, predestined
fly! Let things take their course, Master Jacques, 'tis fate!
Alas! Claude, thou art the spider! Claude, thou art the fly
also! Thou wert flying towards learning, light, the sun.
Thou hadst no other care than to reach the open air, the
full daylight of eternal truth; but in precipitating thyself
towards the dazzling window which opens upon the other
world,--upon the world of brightness, intelligence, and
science--blind fly! senseless, learned man! thou hast not
perceived that subtle spider's web, stretched by destiny betwixt
the light and thee--thou hast flung thyself headlong into it, and
now thou art struggling with head broken and mangled wings
between the iron antennae of fate! Master Jacques! Master
Jacques! let the spider work its will!"
"I assure you," said Charmolue, who was gazing at him
without comprehending him, "that I will not touch it. But
release my arm, master, for pity's sake! You have a hand
like a pair of pincers."
The archdeacon did not hear him. "Oh, madman!" he
went on, without removing his gaze from the window. "And
even couldst thou have broken through that formidable web,
with thy gnat's wings, thou believest that thou couldst have
reached the light? Alas! that pane of glass which is further
on, that transparent obstacle, that wall of crystal, harder than
brass, which separates all philosophies from the truth, how
wouldst thou have overcome it? Oh, vanity of science! how
many wise men come flying from afar, to dash their heads
against thee! How many systems vainly fling themselves
buzzing against that eternal pane!"
He became silent. These last ideas, which had gradually
led him back from himself to science, appeared to have calmed
him. Jacques Charmolue recalled him wholly to a sense of
reality by addressing to him this question: "Come, now,
master, when will you come to aid me in making gold? I am
impatient to succeed."
The archdeacon shook his head, with a bitter smile. "Master
Jacques read Michel Psellus' '~Dialogus de Energia et
Operatione Daemonum~_.' What we are doing is not wholly innocent."
"Speak lower, master! I have my suspicions of it," said
Jacques Charmolue. "But one must practise a bit of hermetic
science when one is only procurator of the king in the
ecclesiastical court, at thirty crowns tournois a year. Only
At that moment the sound of jaws in the act of mastication,
which proceeded from beneath the furnace, struck Charmolue's
"What's that?" he inquired.
It was the scholar, who, ill at ease, and greatly bored in his
hiding-place, had succeeded in discovering there a stale crust
and a triangle of mouldy cheese, and had set to devouring the
whole without ceremony, by way of consolation and breakfast.
As he was very hungry, he made a great deal of noise,
and he accented each mouthful strongly, which startled and
alarmed the procurator.
"'Tis a cat of mine," said the archdeacon, quickly, "who is
regaling herself under there with a mouse,"
This explanation satisfied Charmolue.
"In fact, master," he replied, with a respectful smile, "all
great philosophers have their familiar animal. You know
what Servius saith: '~Nullus enim locus sine genio est~,--for
there is no place that hath not its spirit.'"
But Dom Claude, who stood in terror of some new freak on
the part of Jehan, reminded his worthy disciple that they had
some figures on the façade to study together, and the two
quitted the cell, to the accompaniment of a great "ouf!" from
the scholar, who began to seriously fear that his knee would
acquire the imprint of his chin.
THE EFFECT WHICH SEVEN OATHS IN THE OPEN AIR CAN PRODUCE.
"~Te Deum Laudamus~!" exclaimed Master Jehan, creeping
out from his hole, "the screech-owls have departed. Och!
och! Hax! pax! max! fleas! mad dogs! the devil! I have
had enough of their conversation! My head is humming like
a bell tower. And mouldy cheese to boot! Come on! Let us
descend, take the big brother's purse and convert all these
coins into bottles!"
He cast a glance of tenderness and admiration into the
interior of the precious pouch, readjusted his toilet, rubbed
up his boots, dusted his poor half sleeves, all gray with ashes,
whistled an air, indulged in a sportive pirouette, looked about
to see whether there were not something more in the cell to
take, gathered up here and there on the furnace some amulet
in glass which might serve to bestow, in the guise of a trinket,
on Isabeau la Thierrye, finally pushed open the door which his
brother had left unfastened, as a last indulgence, and which
he, in his turn, left open as a last piece of malice, and
descended the circular staircase, skipping like a bird.
In the midst of the gloom of the spiral staircase, he elbowed
something which drew aside with a growl; he took it for
granted that it was Quasimodo, and it struck him as so droll
that he descended the remainder of the staircase holding his
sides with laughter. On emerging upon the Place, he laughed
yet more heartily.
He stamped his foot when he found himself on the ground
once again. "Oh!" said he, "good and honorable pavement
of Paris, cursed staircase, fit to put the angels of Jacob's
ladder out of breath! What was I thinking of to thrust
myself into that stone gimlet which pierces the sky; all for
the sake of eating bearded cheese, and looking at the bell-
towers of Paris through a hole in the wall!"
He advanced a few paces, and caught sight of the two
screech owls, that is to say, Dom Claude and Master Jacques
Charmolue, absorbed in contemplation before a carving on the
façade. He approached them on tiptoe, and heard the
archdeacon say in a low tone to Charmolue: "'Twas Guillaume
de Paris who caused a Job to be carved upon this stone of the
hue of lapis-lazuli, gilded on the edges. Job represents the
philosopher's stone, which must also be tried and martyrized
in order to become perfect, as saith Raymond Lulle: ~Sub
conservatione formoe speciftoe salva anima~."
"That makes no difference to me," said Jehan, "'tis I who
have the purse."
At that moment he heard a powerful and sonorous voice
articulate behind him a formidable series of oaths. "~Sang
Dieu! Ventre-.Dieu! Bédieu! Corps de Dieu! Nombril de
Belzebuth! Nom d'un pape! Come et tonnerre~."
"Upon my soul!" exclaimed Jehan, "that can only be my
friend, Captain Phoebus!"
This name of Phoebus reached the ears of the archdeacon at
the moment when he was explaining to the king's procurator
the dragon which is hiding its tail in a bath, from which issue
smoke and the head of a king. Dom Claude started, interrupted
himself and, to the great amazement of Charmolue, turned round
and beheld his brother Jehan accosting a tall officer at the
door of the Gondelaurier mansion.
It was, in fact, Captain Phoebus de Châteaupers. He was
backed up against a corner of the house of his betrothed and
swearing like a heathen.
"By my faith! Captain Phoebus," said Jehan, taking him
by the hand, "you are cursing with admirable vigor."
"Horns and thunder!" replied the captain.
"Horns and thunder yourself!" replied the student. "Come
now, fair captain, whence comes this overflow of fine words?"
"Pardon me, good comrade Jehan," exclaimed Phoebus,
shaking his hand, "a horse going at a gallop cannot halt
short. Now, I was swearing at a hard gallop. I have just
been with those prudes, and when I come forth, I always find
my throat full of curses, I must spit them out or strangle,
~ventre et tonnerre~!"
"Will you come and drink?" asked the scholar.
This proposition calmed the captain.
"I'm willing, but I have no money."
"But I have!"
"Bah! let's see it!"
Jehan spread out the purse before the captain's eyes, with
dignity and simplicity. Meanwhile, the archdeacon, who had
abandoned the dumbfounded Charmolue where he stood, had
approached them and halted a few paces distant, watching
them without their noticing him, so deeply were they absorbed
in contemplation of the purse.
Phoebus exclaimed: "A purse in your pocket, Jehan!
'tis the moon in a bucket of water, one sees it there but 'tis
not there. There is nothing but its shadow. Pardieu! let us
wager that these are pebbles!"
Jehan replied coldly: "Here are the pebbles wherewith
I pave my fob!"
And without adding another word, he emptied the purse on a
neighboring post, with the air of a Roman saving his country.
"True God!" muttered Phoebus, "targes, big-blanks, little
blanks, mailles,* every two worth one of Tournay, farthings
of Paris, real eagle liards! 'Tis dazzling!"
* An ancient copper coin, the forty-fourth part of a sou or
the twelfth part of a farthing.
Jehan remained dignified and immovable. Several liards
had rolled into the mud; the captain in his enthusiasm
stooped to pick them up. Jehan restrained him.
"Fye, Captain Phoebus de Châteaupers!"
Phoebus counted the coins, and turning towards Jehan with
solemnity, "Do you know, Jehan, that there are three and
twenty sous parisis! whom have you plundered to-night, in
the Street Cut-Weazand?"
Jehan flung back his blonde and curly head, and said, half-
closing his eyes disdainfully,--
"We have a brother who is an archdeacon and a fool."
"~Corne de Dieu~!" exclaimed Phoebus, "the worthy man!"
"Let us go and drink," said Jehan.
"Where shall we go?" said Phoebus; "'To Eve's Apple.'"
"No, captain, to 'Ancient Science.' An old woman sawing
a basket handle*; 'tis a rebus, and I like that."
* ~Une vielle qui scie une anse~.
"A plague on rebuses, Jehan! the wine is better at 'Eve's
Apple'; and then, beside the door there is a vine in the sun
which cheers me while I am drinking."
"Well! here goes for Eve and her apple," said the student,
and taking Phoebus's arm. "By the way, my dear captain,
you just mentioned the Rue Coupe-Gueule* That is a very
bad form of speech; people are no longer so barbarous. They
* Cut-Weazand Street.
** Cut-Throat Street.
The two friends set out towards "Eve's Apple." It is
unnecessary to mention that they had first gathered up the
money, and that the archdeacon followed them.
The archdeacon followed them, gloomy and haggard. Was
this the Phoebus whose accursed name had been mingled with
all his thoughts ever since his interview with Gringoire? He
did not know it, but it was at least a Phoebus, and that magic
name sufficed to make the archdeacon follow the two heedless
comrades with the stealthy tread of a wolf, listening to their
words and observing their slightest gestures with anxious
attention. Moreover, nothing was easier than to hear everything
they said, as they talked loudly, not in the least concerned
that the passers-by were taken into their confidence. They
talked of duels, wenches, wine pots, and folly.
At the turning of a street, the sound of a tambourine
reached them from a neighboring square. Dom Claude heard
the officer say to the scholar,--
"Thunder! Let us hasten our steps!"
"I'm afraid lest the Bohemian should see me."
"The little girl with the goat."
"That's it, Jehan. I always forget her devil of a name.
Let us make haste, she will recognize me. I don't want to
have that girl accost me in the street."
"Do you know her, Phoebus?"
Here the archdeacon saw Phoebus sneer, bend down to
Jehan's ear, and say a few words to him in a low voice;
then Phoebus burst into a laugh, and shook his head with a
"Truly?" said Jehan.
"Upon my soul!" said Phoebus.
"Are you sure that she will come?"
"Are you a fool, Jehan? Does one doubt such things?"
"Captain Phoebus, you are a happy gendarme!"
The archdeacon heard the whole of this conversation. His
teeth chattered; a visible shiver ran through his whole body.
He halted for a moment, leaned against a post like a drunken
man, then followed the two merry knaves.
At the moment when he overtook them once more, they
had changed their conversation. He heard them singing at
the top of their lungs the ancient refrain,--
~Les enfants des Petits-Carreaux
Se font pendre cornme des veaux~*.
* The children of the Petits Carreaux let themselves be hung
THE MYSTERIOUS MONK.
The illustrious wine shop of "Eve's Apple" was situated in
the University, at the corner of the Rue de la Rondelle and
the Rue de la Bâtonnier. It was a very spacious and very
low hail on the ground floor, with a vaulted ceiling whose
central spring rested upon a huge pillar of wood painted yellow;
tables everywhere, shining pewter jugs hanging on the walls,
always a large number of drinkers, a plenty of wenches, a
window on the street, a vine at the door, and over the door
a flaring piece of sheet-iron, painted with an apple and a
woman, rusted by the rain and turning with the wind on an
iron pin. This species of weather-vane which looked upon
the pavement was the signboard.
Night was falling; the square was dark; the wine-shop,
full of candles, flamed afar like a forge in the gloom; the
noise of glasses and feasting, of oaths and quarrels, which
escaped through the broken panes, was audible. Through the
mist which the warmth of the room spread over the window
in front, a hundred confused figures could be seen swarming,
and from time to time a burst of noisy laughter broke forth
from it. The passers-by who were going about their business,
slipped past this tumultuous window without glancing at it.
Only at intervals did some little ragged boy raise himself
on tiptoe as far as the ledge, and hurl into the drinking-shop,
that ancient, jeering hoot, with which drunken men were then
pursued: "Aux Houls, saouls, saouls, saouls!"
Nevertheless, one man paced imperturbably back and forth
in front of the tavern, gazing at it incessantly, and going no
further from it than a pikernan from his sentry-box. He was
enveloped in a mantle to his very nose. This mantle he had
just purchased of the old-clothes man, in the vicinity of the
"Eve's Apple," no doubt to protect himself from the cold of
the March evening, possibly also, to conceal his costume.
From time to time he paused in front of the dim window with
its leaden lattice, listened, looked, and stamped his foot.
At length the door of the dram-shop opened. This was
what he appeared to be waiting for. Two boon companions
came forth. The ray of light which escaped from the door
crimsoned for a moment their jovial faces.
The man in the mantle went and stationed himself on the
watch under a porch on the other side of the street.
"~Corne et tonnerre~!" said one of the comrades. "Seven
o'clock is on the point of striking. 'Tis the hour of my
"I tell you," repeated his companion, with a thick tongue,
"that I don't live in the Rue des Mauvaises Paroles, ~indignus
qui inter mala verba habitat~. I have a lodging in the Rue
Jean-Pain-Mollet, ~in vico Johannis Pain-Mollet~. You are
more horned than a unicorn if you assert the contrary.
Every one knows that he who once mounts astride a bear is
never after afraid; but you have a nose turned to dainties
like Saint-Jacques of the hospital."
"Jehan, my friend, you are drunk," said the other.
The other replied staggering, "It pleases you to say so,
Phoebus; but it hath been proved that Plato had the profile
of a hound."
The reader has, no doubt, already recognized our two brave
friends, the captain and the scholar. It appears that the man
who was lying in wait for them had also recognized them, for
he slowly followed all the zigzags that the scholar caused the
captain to make, who being a more hardened drinker had
retained all his self-possession. By listening to them
attentively, the man in the mantle could catch in its
entirety the following interesting conversation,--
"~Corbacque~! Do try to walk straight, master bachelor;
you know that I must leave you. Here it is seven o'clock.
I have an appointment with a woman."
"Leave me then! I see stars and lances of fire. You are like
the Chateau de Dampmartin, which is bursting with laughter."
"By the warts of my grandmother, Jehan, you are raving
with too much rabidness. By the way, Jehan, have you any
"Monsieur Rector, there is no mistake; the little butcher's
shop, ~parva boucheria~."
"Jehau! my friend Jehan! You know that I made an
appointment with that little girl at the end of the Pont Saint-
Michel, and I can only take her to the Falourdel's, the old
crone of the bridge, and that I must pay for a chamber. The
old witch with a white moustache would not trust me. Jehan!
for pity's sake! Have we drunk up the whole of the curé's
purse? Have you not a single parisis left?"
"The consciousness of having spent the other hours well is
a just and savory condiment for the table."
"Belly and guts! a truce to your whimsical nonsense! Tell
me, Jehan of the devil! have you any money left? Give
it to me, ~bédieu~!" or I will search you, were you as
leprous as Job, and as scabby as Caesar!"
"Monsieur, the Rue Galiache is a street which hath at one
end the Rue de la Verrerie, and at the other the Rue de la
"Well, yes! my good friend Jehan, my poor comrade, the
Rue Galiache is good, very good. But in the name of heaven
collect your wits. I must have a sou parisis, and the
appointment is for seven o'clock."
"Silence for the rondo, and attention to the refrain,--
"~Quand les rats mangeront les cas,
Le roi sera seigneur d'Arras;
Quand la mer, qui est grande et le(e
Sera a la Saint-Jean gele(e,
On verra, par-dessus la glace,
Sortir ceux d'Arras de leur place~*."
* When the rats eat the cats, the king will be lord of Arras;
when the sea which is great and wide, is frozen over at St.
John's tide, men will see across the ice, those who dwell
in Arras quit their place.
"Well, scholar of Antichrist, may you be strangled with the
entrails of your mother!" exclaimed Phoebus, and he gave
the drunken scholar a rough push; the latter slipped against
the wall, and slid flabbily to the pavement of Philip
Augustus. A remnant of fraternal pity, which never abandons
the heart of a drinker, prompted Phoebus to roll Jehan with
his foot upon one of those pillows of the poor, which Providence
keeps in readiness at the corner of all the street posts
of Paris, and which the rich blight with the name of "a rubbish-
heap." The captain adjusted Jehan's head upon an inclined
plane of cabbage-stumps, and on the very instant, the
scholar fell to snoring in a magnificent bass. Meanwhile, all
malice was not extinguished in the captain's heart. "So much
the worse if the devil's cart picks you up on its passage!" he
said to the poor, sleeping clerk; and he strode off.
The man in the mantle, who had not ceased to follow him,
halted for a moment before the prostrate scholar, as though
agitated by indecision; then, uttering a profound sigh, he
also strode off in pursuit of the captain.
We, like them, will leave Jehan to slumber beneath the
open sky, and will follow them also, if it pleases the reader.
On emerging into the Rue Saint-André-des-Arcs, Captain
Phoebus perceived that some one was following him. On
glancing sideways by chance, he perceived a sort of shadow
crawling after him along the walls. He halted, it halted; he
resumed his march, it resumed its march. This disturbed
him not overmuch. "Ah, bah!" he said to himself, "I have
not a sou."
He paused in front of the College d'Autun. It was at this
college that he had sketched out what he called his studies,
and, through a scholar's teasing habit which still lingered in
him, he never passed the façade without inflicting on the
statue of Cardinal Pierre Bertrand, sculptured to the right of
the portal, the affront of which Priapus complains so bitterly
in the satire of Horace, ~Olim truncus eram ficulnus~. He had
done this with so much unrelenting animosity that the
inscription, ~Eduensis episcopus~, had become almost effaced.
Therefore, he halted before the statue according to his wont.
The street was utterly deserted. At the moment when he
was coolly retying his shoulder knots, with his nose in the
air, he saw the shadow approaching him with slow steps, so
slow that he had ample time to observe that this shadow wore
a cloak and a hat. On arriving near him, it halted and
remained more motionless than the statue of Cardinal Bertrand.
Meanwhile, it riveted upon Phoebus two intent eyes, full of
that vague light which issues in the night time from the pupils
of a cat.
The captain was brave, and would have cared very little for
a highwayman, with a rapier in his hand. But this walking
statue, this petrified man, froze his blood. There were then
in circulation, strange stories of a surly monk, a nocturnal
prowler about the streets of Paris, and they recurred
confusedly to his memory. He remained for several minutes in
stupefaction, and finally broke the silence with a forced laugh.
"Monsieur, if you are a robber, as I hope you are, you produce
upon me the effect of a heron attacking a nutshell. I
am the son of a ruined family, my dear fellow. Try your
hand near by here. In the chapel of this college there is
some wood of the true cross set in silver."
The hand of the shadow emerged from beneath its mantle
and descended upon the arm of Phoebus with the grip of an
eagle's talon; at the same time the shadow spoke,--
"Captain Phoebus de Châteaupers!"
What, the devil!" said Phoebus, "you know my name!"
"I know not your name alone," continued the man in the
mantle, with his sepulchral voice. "You have a rendezvous
"Yes," replied Phoebus in amazement.
"At seven o'clock."
"In a quarter of an hour."
"At la Falourdel's."
"The lewd hag of the Pont Saint-Michel."
"Of Saint Michel the archangel, as the Pater Noster saith."
"Impious wretch!" muttered the spectre. "With a woman?"
"Who is called--?"
"La Smeralda," said Phoebus, gayly. All his heedlessness
had gradually returned.
At this name, the shadow's grasp shook the arm of Phoebus
in a fury.
"Captain Phoebus de Châteaupers, thou liest!"
Any one who could have beheld at that moment the captain's
inflamed countenance, his leap backwards, so violent that
he disengaged himself from the grip which held him,
the proud air with which he clapped his hand on his swordhilt,
and, in the presence of this wrath the gloomy immobility
of the man in the cloak,--any one who could have beheld
this would have been frightened. There was in it a touch of
the combat of Don Juan and the statue.
"Christ and Satan!" exclaimed the captain. "That is a
word which rarely strikes the ear of a Châteaupers! Thou
wilt not dare repeat it."
"Thou liest!" said the shadow coldly.
The captain gnashed his teeth. Surly monk, phantom,
superstitions,--he had forgotten all at that moment. He no
longer beheld anything but a man, and an insult.
"Ah! this is well!" he stammered, in a voice stifled with
rage. He drew his sword, then stammering, for anger as well
as fear makes a man tremble: "Here! On the spot! Come
on! Swords! Swords! Blood on the pavement!"
But the other never stirred. When he beheld his adversary
on guard and ready to parry,--
"Captain Phoebus," he said, and his tone vibrated with
bitterness, "you forget your appointment."
The rages of men like Phoebus are milk-soups, whose ebullition
is calmed by a drop of cold water. This simple remark
caused the sword which glittered in the captain's hand to
"Captain," pursued the man, "to-morrow, the day after
to-morrow, a month hence, ten years hence, you will find me
ready to cut your throat; but go first to your rendezvous."
"In sooth," said Phoebus, as though seeking to capitulate
with himself, "these are two charming things to be
encountered in a rendezvous,--a sword and a wench; but I
do not see why I should miss the one for the sake of the
other, when I can have both."
He replaced his sword in its scabbard.
"Go to your rendezvous," said the man.
"Monsieur," replied Phoebus with some embarrassment,
"many thanks for your courtesy. In fact, there will be
ample time to-morrow for us to chop up father Adam's doublet
into slashes and buttonholes. I am obliged to you for
allowing me to pass one more agreeable quarter of an hour. I
certainly did hope to put you in the gutter, and still arrive
in time for the fair one, especially as it has a better appearance
to make the women wait a little in such cases. But you
strike me as having the air of a gallant man, and it is safer to
defer our affair until to-morrow. So I will betake myself to
my rendezvous; it is for seven o'clock, as you know." Here
Phoebus scratched his ear. "Ah. ~Corne Dieu~! I had forgotten!
I haven't a sou to discharge the price of the garret,
and the old crone will insist on being paid in advance. She
"Here is the wherewithal to pay."
Phoebus felt the stranger's cold hand slip into his a large
piece of money. He could not refrain from taking the money
and pressing the hand.
"~Vrai Dieu~!" he exclaimed, "you are a good fellow!"
"One condition," said the man. "Prove to me that I have
been wrong and that you were speaking the truth. Hide me
in some corner whence I can see whether this woman is really
the one whose name you uttered."
"Oh!" replied Phoebus, "'tis all one to me. We will take,
the Sainte-Marthe chamber; you can look at your ease from
the kennel hard by."
"Come then," said the shadow.
"At your service," said the captain, "I know not whether
you are Messer Diavolus in person; but let us be good friends
for this evening; to-morrow I will repay you all my debts,
both of purse and sword."
They set out again at a rapid pace. At the expiration of a
few minutes, the sound of the river announced to them that
they were on the Pont Saint-Michel, then loaded with houses.
"I will first show you the way," said Phoebus to his companion,
"I will then go in search of the fair one who is awaiting
me near the Petit-Châtelet."
His companion made no reply; he had not uttered a word
since they had been walking side by side. Phoebus halted
before a low door, and knocked roughly; a light made its
appearance through the cracks of the door.
"Who is there?" cried a toothless voice.
"~Corps-Dieu! Tête-Dieu! Ventre-Dieu~!" replied the captain.
The door opened instantly, and allowed the new-corners to
see an old woman and an old lamp, both of which trembled.
The old woman was bent double, clad in tatters, with a shaking
head, pierced with two small eyes, and coiffed with a dish
clout; wrinkled everywhere, on hands and face and neck; her
lips retreated under her gums, and about her mouth she had
tufts of white hairs which gave her the whiskered look of a cat.
The interior of the den was no less dilapitated than she;
there were chalk walls, blackened beams in the ceiling, a
dismantled chimney-piece, spiders' webs in all the corners, in
the middle a staggering herd of tables and lame stools, a dirty
child among the ashes, and at the back a staircase, or rather,
a wooden ladder, which ended in a trap door in the ceiling.
On entering this lair, Phoebus's mysterious companion raised
his mantle to his very eyes. Meanwhile, the captain, swearing
like a Saracen, hastened to "make the sun shine in a
crown" as saith our admirable Régnier.
"The Sainte-Marthe chamber," said he.
The old woman addressed him as monseigneur, and shut up
the crown in a drawer. It was the coin which the man in the
black mantle had given to Phoebus. While her back was
turned, the bushy-headed and ragged little boy who was playing
in the ashes, adroitly approached the drawer, abstracted
the crown, and put in its place a dry leaf which he had plucked
from a fagot.
The old crone made a sign to the two gentlemen, as she
called them, to follow her, and mounted the ladder in advance
of them. On arriving at the upper story, she set her lamp on
a coffer, and, Phoebus, like a frequent visitor of the house,
opened a door which opened on a dark hole. "Enter here,
my dear fellow," he said to his companion. The man in the
mantle obeyed without a word in reply, the door closed upon
him; he heard Phoebus bolt it, and a moment later descend
the stairs again with the aged hag. The light had disappeared.
THE UTILITY OF WINDOWS WHICH OPEN ON THE RIVER.
Claude Frollo (for we presume that the reader, more intelligent
than Phoebus, has seen in this whole adventure no other
surly monk than the archdeacon), Claude Frollo groped about
for several moments in the dark lair into which the captain
had bolted him. It was one of those nooks which architects
sometimes reserve at the point of junction between the roof
and the supporting wall. A vertical section of this kennel, as
Phoebus had so justly styled it, would have made a triangle.
Moreover, there was neither window nor air-hole, and the slope
of the roof prevented one from standing upright. Accordingly,
Claude crouched down in the dust, and the plaster
which cracked beneath him; his head was on fire; rummaging
around him with his hands, be found on the floor a bit of
broken glass, which he pressed to his brow, and whose cool-
ness afforded him some relief.
What was taking place at that moment in the gloomy soul
of the archdeacon? God and himself could alone know.
In what order was he arranging in his mind la Esmeralda,
Phoebus, Jacques Charmolue, his young brother so beloved, yet
abandoned by him in the mire, his archdeacon's cassock, his
reputation perhaps dragged to la Falourdel's, all these adventures,
all these images? I cannot say. But it is certain that
these ideas formed in his mind a horrible group.
He had been waiting a quarter of an hour; it seemed to
him that he had grown a century older. All at once be heard
the creaking of the boards of the stairway; some one was
ascending. The trapdoor opened once more; a light reappeared.
There was a tolerably large crack in the worm-eaten
door of his den; he put his face to it. In this manner
he could see all that went on in the adjoining room. The
cat-faced old crone was the first to emerge from the trap-door,
lamp in hand; then Phoebus, twirling his moustache, then a
third person, that beautiful and graceful figure, la Esmeralda.
The priest beheld her rise from below like a dazzling
apparition. Claude trembled, a cloud spread over his eyes,
his pulses beat violently, everything rustled and whirled
around him; he no longer saw nor heard anything.
When he recovered himself, Phoebus and Esmeralda were
alone seated on the wooden coffer beside the lamp which
made these two youthful figures and a miserable pallet at
the end of the attic stand out plainly before the
Beside the pallet was a window, whose panes broken like a
spider's web upon which rain has fallen, allowed a view, through
its rent meshes, of a corner of the sky, and the moon lying
far away on an eiderdown bed of soft clouds.
The young girl was blushing, confused, palpitating. Her
long, drooping lashes shaded her crimson cheeks. The officer,
to whom she dared not lift her eyes, was radiant. Mechanically,
and with a charmingly unconscious gesture, she traced
with the tip of her finger incoherent lines on the bench, and
watched her finger. Her foot was not visible. The little
goat was nestling upon it.
The captain was very gallantly clad; he had tufts of embroidery
at his neck and wrists; a great elegance at that day.
It was not without difficulty that Dom Claude managed to
hear what they were saying, through the humming of the
blood, which was boiling in his temples.
(A conversation between lovers is a very commonplace
affair. It is a perpetual "I love you." A musical phrase
which is very insipid and very bald for indifferent listeners,
when it is not ornamented with some ~fioriture~; but Claude
was not an indifferent listener.)
"Oh!" said the young girl, without raising her eyes, "do
not despise me, monseigneur Phoebus. I feel that what I am
doing is not right."
"Despise you, my pretty child!" replied the officer with
an air of superior and distinguished gallantry, "despise you,
~tête-Dieu~! and why?"
"For having followed you!"
"On that point, my beauty, we don't agree. I ought not to
despise you, but to hate you."
The young girl looked at him in affright: "Hate me! what
have I done?"
"For having required so much urging."
"Alas!" said she, "'tis because I am breaking a vow. I
shall not find my parents! The amulet will lose its virtue.
But what matters it? What need have I of father or mother now?"
So saying, she fixed upon the captain her great black eyes,
moist with joy and tenderness.
"Devil take me if I understand you!" exclaimed Phoebus.
La Esmeralda remained silent for a moment, then a tear
dropped from her eyes, a sigh from her lips, and she said,--
"Oh! monseigneur, I love you."
Such a perfume of chastity, such a charm of virtue surrounded
the young girl, that Phoebus did not feel completely
at his ease beside her. But this remark emboldened him:
"You love me!" he said with rapture, and he threw his arm
round the gypsy's waist. He had only been waiting for this
The priest saw it, and tested with the tip of his finger the
point of a poniard which he wore concealed in his breast.
"Phoebus," continued the Bohemian, gently releasing her
waist from the captain's tenacious hands, "You are good, you
are generous, you are handsome; you saved me, me who am
only a poor child lost in Bohemia. I had long been dreaming
of an officer who should save my life. 'Twas of you that I
was dreaming, before I knew you, my Phoebus; the officer of
my dream had a beautiful uniform like yours, a grand look, a
sword; your name is Phoebus; 'tis a beautiful name. I love
your name; I love your sword. Draw your sword, Phoebus,
that I may see it."
"Child!" said the captain, and he unsheathed his sword
with a smile.
The gypsy looked at the hilt, the blade; examined the
cipher on the guard with adorable curiosity, and kissed the
You are the sword of a brave man. I love my captain."
Phoebus again profited by the opportunity to impress upon
her beautiful bent neck a kiss which made the young girl
straighten herself up as scarlet as a poppy. The priest
gnashed his teeth over it in the dark.
"Phoebus," resumed the gypsy, "let me talk to you. Pray
walk a little, that I may see you at full height, and that I
may hear your spurs jingle. How handsome you are!"
The captain rose to please her, chiding her with a smile of
"What a child you are! By the way, my charmer, have you seen
me in my archer's ceremonial doublet?"
"Alas! no," she replied.
"It is very handsome!"
Phoebus returned and seated himself beside her, but much
closer than before.
"Listen, my dear--"
The gypsy gave him several little taps with her pretty
hand on his mouth, with a childish mirth and grace and gayety.
"No, no, I will not listen to you. Do you love me? I want
you to tell me whether you love me."
"Do I love thee, angel of my life!" exclaimed the captain,
half kneeling. "My body, my blood, my soul, all are thine;
all are for thee. I love thee, and I have never loved any one
The captain had repeated this phrase so many times, in
many similar conjunctures, that he delivered it all in one
breath, without committing a single mistake. At this passionate
declaration, the gypsy raised to the dirty ceiling which
served for the skies a glance full of angelic happiness.
"Oh!" she murmured, "this is the moment when one should die!"
Phoebus found "the moment" favorable for robbing her of
another kiss, which went to torture the unhappy archdeacon
in his nook. "Die!" exclaimed the amorous captain, "What
are you saying, my lovely angel? 'Tis a time for living, or
Jupiter is only a scamp! Die at the beginning of so sweet a
thing! ~Corne-de-boeuf~, what a jest! It is not that. Listen,
my dear Similar, Esmenarda--Pardon! you have so prodigiously
Saracen a name that I never can get it straight. 'Tis a thicket
which stops me short."
"Good heavens!" said the poor girl, "and I thought my
name pretty because of its singularity! But since it displeases
you, I would that I were called Goton."
"Ah! do not weep for such a trifle, my graceful maid!
'tis a name to which one must get accustomed, that is all.
When I once know it by heart, all will go smoothly. Listen
then, my dear Similar; I adore you passionately. I love you
so that 'tis simply miraculous. I know a girl who is
bursting with rage over it--"
The jealous girl interrupted him: "Who?"
"What matters that to us?" said Phoebus; "do you love me?"
"Well! that is all. You shall see how I love you also.
May the great devil Neptunus spear me if I do not make you
the happiest woman in the world. We will have a pretty
little house somewhere. I will make my archers parade
before your windows. They are all mounted, and set at
defiance those of Captain Mignon. There are ~voulgiers,
cranequiniers~ and hand ~couleveiniers~*. I will take you to
the great sights of the Parisians at the storehouse of Rully.
Eighty thousand armed men, thirty thousand white harnesses, short
coats or coats of mail; the sixty-seven banners of the trades;
the standards of the parliaments, of the chamber of accounts,
of the treasury of the generals, of the aides of the mint; a
devilish fine array, in short! I will conduct you to see the
lions of the Hôtel du Roi, which are wild beasts. All women
* Varieties of the crossbow.
For several moments the young girl, absorbed in her charming
thoughts, was dreaming to the sound of his voice, without
listening to the sense of his words.
"Oh! how happy you will be!" continued the captain, and
at the same time he gently unbuckled the gypsy's girdle.
"What are you doing?" she said quickly. This "act of
violence" had roused her from her revery.
"Nothing," replied Phoebus, "I was only saying that you
must abandon all this garb of folly, and the street corner
when you are with me."
"When I am with you, Phoebus!" said the young girl tenderly.
She became pensive and silent once more.
The captain, emboldened by her gentleness, clasped her
waist without resistance; then began softly to unlace the
poor child's corsage, and disarranged her tucker to such an
extent that the panting priest beheld the gypsy's beautiful
shoulder emerge from the gauze, as round and brown as the
moon rising through the mists of the horizon.
The young girl allowed Phoebus to have his way. She did
not appear to perceive it. The eye of the bold captain flashed.
Suddenly she turned towards him,--
"Phoebus," she said, with an expression of infinite love,
"instruct me in thy religion."
"My religion!" exclaimed the captain, bursting with laughter,
"I instruct you in my religion! ~Corne et tonnerre~! What
do you want with my religion?"
"In order that we may be married," she replied.
The captain's face assumed an expression of mingled surprise
and disdain, of carelessness and libertine passion.
"Ah, bah!" said he, "do people marry?"
The Bohemian turned pale, and her head drooped sadly on
"My beautiful love," resumed Phoebus, tenderly, "what
nonsense is this? A great thing is marriage, truly! one
is none the less loving for not having spit Latin into a