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  • BOOK ELEVENTH. CHAPTER I - PART 1.

  • THE LITTLE SHOE.

  • La Esmeralda was sleeping at the moment when the outcasts assailed the church.

  • Soon the ever-increasing uproar around the edifice, and the uneasy bleating of her

  • goat which had been awakened, had roused her from her slumbers.

  • She had sat up, she had listened, she had looked; then, terrified by the light and

  • noise, she had rushed from her cell to see.

  • The aspect of the Place, the vision which was moving in it, the disorder of that

  • nocturnal assault, that hideous crowd, leaping like a cloud of frogs, half seen in

  • the gloom, the croaking of that hoarse

  • multitude, those few red torches running and crossing each other in the darkness

  • like the meteors which streak the misty surfaces of marshes, this whole scene

  • produced upon her the effect of a

  • mysterious battle between the phantoms of the witches' sabbath and the stone monsters

  • of the church.

  • Imbued from her very infancy with the superstitions of the Bohemian tribe, her

  • first thought was that she had caught the strange beings peculiar to the night, in

  • their deeds of witchcraft.

  • Then she ran in terror to cower in her cell, asking of her pallet some less

  • terrible nightmare.

  • But little by little the first vapors of terror had been dissipated; from the

  • constantly increasing noise, and from many other signs of reality, she felt herself

  • besieged not by spectres, but by human beings.

  • Then her fear, though it did not increase, changed its character.

  • She had dreamed of the possibility of a popular mutiny to tear her from her asylum.

  • The idea of once more recovering life, hope, Phoebus, who was ever present in her

  • future, the extreme helplessness of her condition, flight cut off, no support, her

  • abandonment, her isolation,--these thoughts and a thousand others overwhelmed her.

  • She fell upon her knees, with her head on her bed, her hands clasped over her head,

  • full of anxiety and tremors, and, although a gypsy, an idolater, and a pagan, she

  • began to entreat with sobs, mercy from the

  • good Christian God, and to pray to our Lady, her hostess.

  • For even if one believes in nothing, there are moments in life when one is always of

  • the religion of the temple which is nearest at hand.

  • She remained thus prostrate for a very long time, trembling in truth, more than

  • praying, chilled by the ever-closer breath of that furious multitude, understanding

  • nothing of this outburst, ignorant of what

  • was being plotted, what was being done, what they wanted, but foreseeing a terrible

  • issue. In the midst of this anguish, she heard

  • some one walking near her.

  • She turned round. Two men, one of whom carried a lantern, had

  • just entered her cell. She uttered a feeble cry.

  • "Fear nothing," said a voice which was not unknown to her, "it is I."

  • "Who are you?" she asked. "Pierre Gringoire."

  • This name reassured her.

  • She raised her eyes once more, and recognized the poet in very fact.

  • But there stood beside him a black figure veiled from head to foot, which struck her

  • by its silence.

  • "Oh!" continued Gringoire in a tone of reproach, "Djali recognized me before you!"

  • The little goat had not, in fact, waited for Gringoire to announce his name.

  • No sooner had he entered than it rubbed itself gently against his knees, covering

  • the poet with caresses and with white hairs, for it was shedding its hair.

  • Gringoire returned the caresses.

  • "Who is this with you?" said the gypsy, in a low voice.

  • "Be at ease," replied Gringoire. "'Tis one of my friends."

  • Then the philosopher setting his lantern on the ground, crouched upon the stones, and

  • exclaimed enthusiastically, as he pressed Djali in his arms,--

  • "Oh! 'tis a graceful beast, more considerable no doubt, for it's neatness

  • than for its size, but ingenious, subtle, and lettered as a grammarian!

  • Let us see, my Djali, hast thou forgotten any of thy pretty tricks?

  • How does Master Jacques Charmolue?..." The man in black did not allow him to

  • finish.

  • He approached Gringoire and shook him roughly by the shoulder.

  • Gringoire rose. "'Tis true," said he: "I forgot that we are

  • in haste.

  • But that is no reason master, for getting furious with people in this manner.

  • My dear and lovely child, your life is in danger, and Djali's also.

  • They want to hang you again.

  • We are your friends, and we have come to save you.

  • Follow us." "Is it true?" she exclaimed in dismay.

  • "Yes, perfectly true.

  • Come quickly!" "I am willing," she stammered.

  • "But why does not your friend speak?"

  • "Ah!" said Gringoire, "'tis because his father and mother were fantastic people who

  • made him of a taciturn temperament." She was obliged to content herself with

  • this explanation.

  • Gringoire took her by the hand; his companion picked up the lantern and walked

  • on in front. Fear stunned the young girl.

  • She allowed herself to be led away.

  • The goat followed them, frisking, so joyous at seeing Gringoire again that it made him

  • stumble every moment by thrusting its horns between his legs.

  • "Such is life," said the philosopher, every time that he came near falling down; "'tis

  • often our best friends who cause us to be overthrown."

  • They rapidly descended the staircase of the towers, crossed the church, full of shadows

  • and solitude, and all reverberating with uproar, which formed a frightful contrast,

  • and emerged into the courtyard of the cloister by the red door.

  • The cloister was deserted; the canons had fled to the bishop's palace in order to

  • pray together; the courtyard was empty, a few frightened lackeys were crouching in

  • dark corners.

  • They directed their steps towards the door which opened from this court upon the

  • Terrain. The man in black opened it with a key which

  • he had about him.

  • Our readers are aware that the Terrain was a tongue of land enclosed by walls on the

  • side of the City and belonging to the chapter of Notre-Dame, which terminated the

  • island on the east, behind the church.

  • They found this enclosure perfectly deserted.

  • There was here less tumult in the air. The roar of the outcasts' assault reached

  • them more confusedly and less clamorously.

  • The fresh breeze which follows the current of a stream, rustled the leaves of the only

  • tree planted on the point of the Terrain, with a noise that was already perceptible.

  • But they were still very close to danger.

  • The nearest edifices to them were the bishop's palace and the church.

  • It was plainly evident that there was great internal commotion in the bishop's palace.

  • Its shadowy mass was all furrowed with lights which flitted from window to window;

  • as, when one has just burned paper, there remains a sombre edifice of ashes in which

  • bright sparks run a thousand eccentric courses.

  • Beside them, the enormous towers of Notre- Dame, thus viewed from behind, with the

  • long nave above which they rise cut out in black against the red and vast light which

  • filled the Parvis, resembled two gigantic andirons of some cyclopean fire-grate.

  • What was to be seen of Paris on all sides wavered before the eye in a gloom mingled

  • with light.

  • Rembrandt has such backgrounds to his pictures.

  • The man with the lantern walked straight to the point of the Terrain.

  • There, at the very brink of the water, stood the wormeaten remains of a fence of

  • posts latticed with laths, whereon a low vine spread out a few thin branches like

  • the fingers of an outspread hand.

  • Behind, in the shadow cast by this trellis, a little boat lay concealed.

  • The man made a sign to Gringoire and his companion to enter.

  • The goat followed them.

  • The man was the last to step in.

  • Then he cut the boat's moorings, pushed it from the shore with a long boat-hook, and,

  • seizing two oars, seated himself in the bow, rowing with all his might towards

  • midstream.

  • The Seine is very rapid at this point, and he had a good deal of trouble in leaving

  • the point of the island. Gringoire's first care on entering the boat

  • was to place the goat on his knees.

  • He took a position in the stern; and the young girl, whom the stranger inspired with

  • an indefinable uneasiness, seated herself close to the poet.

  • When our philosopher felt the boat sway, he clapped his hands and kissed Djali between

  • the horns. "Oh!" said he, "now we are safe, all four

  • of us."

  • He added with the air of a profound thinker, "One is indebted sometimes to

  • fortune, sometimes to ruse, for the happy issue of great enterprises."

  • The boat made its way slowly towards the right shore.

  • The young girl watched the unknown man with secret terror.

  • He had carefully turned off the light of his dark lantern.

  • A glimpse could be caught of him in the obscurity, in the bow of the boat, like a

  • spectre.

  • His cowl, which was still lowered, formed a sort of mask; and every time that he spread

  • his arms, upon which hung large black sleeves, as he rowed, one would have said

  • they were two huge bat's wings.

  • Moreover, he had not yet uttered a word or breathed a syllable.

  • No other noise was heard in the boat than the splashing of the oars, mingled with the

  • rippling of the water along her sides.

  • "On my soul!" exclaimed Gringoire suddenly, "we are as cheerful and joyous as young

  • owls! We preserve the silence of Pythagoreans or

  • fishes!

  • Pasque-Dieu! my friends, I should greatly like to have some one speak to me.

  • The human voice is music to the human ear. 'Tis not I who say that, but Didymus of

  • Alexandria, and they are illustrious words.

  • Assuredly, Didymus of Alexandria is no mediocre philosopher.--One word, my lovely

  • child! say but one word to me, I entreat you.

  • By the way, you had a droll and peculiar little pout; do you still make it?

  • Do you know, my dear, that parliament hath full jurisdiction over all places of

  • asylum, and that you were running a great risk in your little chamber at Notre-Dame?

  • Alas! the little bird trochylus maketh its nest in the jaws of the crocodile.--Master,

  • here is the moon re-appearing. If only they do not perceive us.

  • We are doing a laudable thing in saving mademoiselle, and yet we should be hung by

  • order of the king if we were caught. Alas! human actions are taken by two

  • handles.

  • That is branded with disgrace in one which is crowned in another.

  • He admires Cicero who blames Catiline. Is it not so, master?

  • What say you to this philosophy?

  • I possess philosophy by instinct, by nature, ut apes geometriam.--Come! no one

  • answers me. What unpleasant moods you two are in!

  • I must do all the talking alone.

  • That is what we call a monologue in tragedy.--Pasque-Dieu!

  • I must inform you that I have just seen the king, Louis XI., and that I have caught

  • this oath from him,--Pasque-Dieu!

  • They are still making a hearty howl in the city.--'Tis a villanous, malicious old

  • king. He is all swathed in furs.

  • He still owes me the money for my epithalamium, and he came within a nick of

  • hanging me this evening, which would have been very inconvenient to me.--He is

  • niggardly towards men of merit.

  • He ought to read the four books of Salvien of Cologne, Adversits Avaritiam.

  • In truth!

  • 'Tis a paltry king in his ways with men of letters, and one who commits very barbarous

  • cruelties. He is a sponge, to soak money raised from

  • the people.

  • His saving is like the spleen which swelleth with the leanness of all the other

  • members.

  • Hence complaints against the hardness of the times become murmurs against the

  • prince.

  • Under this gentle and pious sire, the gallows crack with the hung, the blocks rot

  • with blood, the prisons burst like over full bellies.

  • This king hath one hand which grasps, and one which hangs.

  • He is the procurator of Dame Tax and Monsieur Gibbet.

  • The great are despoiled of their dignities, and the little incessantly overwhelmed with

  • fresh oppressions. He is an exorbitant prince.

  • I love not this monarch.

  • And you, master?" The man in black let the garrulous poet

  • chatter on.

  • He continued to struggle against the violent and narrow current, which separates

  • the prow of the City and the stem of the island of Notre-Dame, which we call to-day

  • the Isle St. Louis.

  • "By the way, master!" continued Gringoire suddenly.

  • "At the moment when we arrived on the Parvis, through the enraged outcasts, did

  • your reverence observe that poor little devil whose skull your deaf man was just

  • cracking on the railing of the gallery of the kings?

  • I am near sighted and I could not recognize him.

  • Do you know who he could be?"

  • The stranger answered not a word. But he suddenly ceased rowing, his arms

  • fell as though broken, his head sank on his breast, and la Esmeralda heard him sigh

  • convulsively.

  • She shuddered. She had heard such sighs before.

  • The boat, abandoned to itself, floated for several minutes with the stream.

  • But the man in black finally recovered himself, seized the oars once more and

  • began to row against the current.

  • He doubled the point of the Isle of Notre Dame, and made for the landing-place of the

  • Port an Foin.

  • "Ah!" said Gringoire, "yonder is the Barbeau mansion.--Stay, master, look: that

  • group of black roofs which make such singular angles yonder, above that heap of

  • black, fibrous grimy, dirty clouds, where

  • the moon is completely crushed and spread out like the yolk of an egg whose shell is

  • broken.--'Tis a fine mansion. There is a chapel crowned with a small

  • vault full of very well carved enrichments.

  • Above, you can see the bell tower, very delicately pierced.

  • There is also a pleasant garden, which consists of a pond, an aviary, an echo, a

  • mall, a labyrinth, a house for wild beasts, and a quantity of leafy alleys very

  • agreeable to Venus.

  • There is also a rascal of a tree which is called 'the lewd,' because it favored the

  • pleasures of a famous princess and a constable of France, who was a gallant and

  • a wit.--Alas! we poor philosophers are to a

  • constable as a plot of cabbages or a radish bed to the garden of the Louvre.

  • What matters it, after all? human life, for the great as well as for us, is a mixture

  • of good and evil.

  • Pain is always by the side of joy, the spondee by the dactyl.--Master, I must

  • relate to you the history of the Barbeau mansion.

  • It ends in tragic fashion.

  • It was in 1319, in the reign of Philippe V., the longest reign of the kings of

  • France.