longed to that class of wealthy tradesfolk which comes
between what lacqueys call a woman and what they style
a lady. They wore neither gold rings nor gold crosses.
THE HUNCHBACK OF NOTRE-DAME. l6Q
evidently not on account of poverty, but simply for fear of
fine. Their companion was tyred nearly in the same
fashion, but in her dress and manner there was some-
thing which betrayed the countrywoman. The height of
her belt above the hips told that she had not been long
in Paris. Add to this a plaited neckerchief, bows of
ribands at her shoes, the stripes of her petticoat running
breadthwise instead of lengthwise, and various other enor-
mities equally abhorrent to good taste.
The first two walked with the step peculiar to the
women of Paris who are showing the lions to their pro-
vincial friends. The third held a big boy by one hand,
while he carried a large cake in the other. The boy did
not care to keep up with her, but suffered himself to be
dragged along, and stumbled every moment, to the no small
alarm of his mother. It is true that he paid much greater
attention to the cake than to the pavement. Some weighty
reason no doubt prevented his taking a bite, for he did no
more than look wistfully at it. ' Twas cruel to make a
Tantalus of the jolt-headed cub.
Meanwhile the three damoiselles for the term dames
was then reserved for noble females were talking all a -
" Let us make haste, damoiselle Mahiette," said the
youngest, who was also the lustiest of the three, to her
country friend. " I am afraid we shall be too late. We
were told at the Chatelet that he was to be put in the pil-
" Pooh ! pooh ! What are you talking of, damoiselle
Oudarde Musnier ? " replied the other Parisian. " He is to
stay two hours in the pillory. We shall have plenty of
time. Have you ever seen any one in the pillory my dear
Mahiette ? "
" Yes," answered Mahiette, <e at Reims."
** Your pillory at Reims ! why, 'tis not worth mention-
ing. A wretched cage, where they turn nothing but clod-
poles ! "
'* Clodpoles, forsooth!" rejoined Mahiette, " in the
Cloth Market at Reims ! We have had some noted cri-
minals there, however people who had murdered both
170 THE HUNCHBACK OP NOTRE-DAME.
father and mother. Clodpoles, indeed ! what do you take
us for, Gervaise ? "
It is certain that the provincial lady felt somewhat net-
tled at the attack on the honour of her pillory. Luckily
the discreet damoiselle Oudarde gave a seasonable turn to
** What say you, Mahiette," she asked, " to our Fle-
mish ambassadors ? Have you ever had any like them at
" I confess/' replied Mahiette, " that Paris is the only
place for seeing Flemings such as they."
(C And their horses, what beautiful animals, dressed out
as they are in the fashion of their country ! "
fC Ah, my dear ! " exclaimed Mahiette, assuming in her
turn an air of superiority, " what would you say had you
been at Reims at the coronation in the year 6*1, and seen
the horses of the princes and of the king's retinue ! There
were housings and trappings of all sorts ; some of damask
cloth and fine cloth of gold garnished with sable ; others
of velvet furred with ermine ; others all covered with jew-
ellery, and large gold and silver bells. Think of the
money that all this must have cost ! And then the beau-
tiful pages that were upon them."
c ' Heyday ! " cried Oudarde, ( ' what is there to do
yonder ? See what a crowd is collected at the foot of the
bridge ! There seems to be something in the midst of them
that they are looking at."
" Surely I hear the sound of a tambourine," said Ger-
vaise. a I dare say it is young Esmeralda playing her
antics with her goat. Quick, Mahiette, and pull your boy
along. You are come to see the curiosities of Paris. Yes-
terday you saw the Flemings ; to-day you must see the
" The Egyptian!" exclaimed Mahiette, starting back,
and forcibly grasping the arm of her son. " God forbid .
she might steal my boy. Come Eustache !"
With these words she began to run along the quay to-
wards the Greve, till she had left the bridge at a consider-
able distance behind her. Presently the boy, whom she
drew after her, tripped and fell upon his knees : she stop-
THE HUNCHBACK OF NOTRE-DAME. 171
ped to recover breath, and Oudarde and Gervaise overtook
" That Egyptian steal your boy!" said Gervaise;
" beshrew me if this be not a strange fancy ! "
Mahiette shook her head with a pensive look.
iC And, what is still more strange/' observed Oudarde,
" Sister Gudule has the same notion of the Egyptians."
" Who is Sister Gudule ? " enquired Mahiette.
w You must be vastly ignorant at your Reims not to
know that," replied Oudarde. * Why, the recluse of the
Trou aux Rats."
" What ! the poor woman to whom we are carrying the
cake ? "
Oudarde nodded affirmatively. " Just so. You will
see her presently at her window on the Greve. She holds
just the same opinion as you of those Egyptian vagabonds,
who go about drumming on tambourines and telling for-
tunes. Nobody knows why she has such a horror of the
Zingari and Egyptians. But you, Mahiette, wherefore
should you take to your heels thus, at the mere sight of
them ? "
' ' Oh ! " said Mahiette, clasping her boy's head in both
her hands, <e I would not for the world that the same
thing should happen to me as befel Paquette la Chante-
u Ah ! you must tell us that story, good Mahiette,"
said Gervaise, taking her by the arm.
" I will," answered Mahiette; "but how ignorant you
must be in your Paris not to know that ! But we need not
stop while I tell you the story. You must know then,
that Paquette la Chantefleurie was a handsome girl of
eighteen just when I was so myself, that is, eighteen years
ago, and it is her own fault that she is not at this day, like
me, a hearty comely mother of six and thirty, with a hus-
band and a boy. She was the daughter of Guybertaut,
minstrel of Reims, the same that played before king
Charles VII. at his coronation, when he went down our
river Vesle from Sillery to Muison, and the Maid of Or-
leans was in the barge with him. Paquette's father died
while she was quite an infant ; so she had only her mo-
172 THE HUNCHBACK OF NOTRE-DAME
ther, who was the sister of Monsieur Matthieu Pradon,
master-brazier here at Paris, in the Rue Parin-Garlin, who
died only last year. You see she came of a good family.
The mother was unluckily a kind, easy woman, and taught
Paquette nothing but to do a little needlework and make
herself finery, which helped to keep them very poor. They
lived at Reims, in the Rue Folle Peine. In 6l, the year
of the coronation of our king Louis XL, whom God pre-
serve ! Paquette was so lively and so handsome that every
body called her La Chantefleurie. Poor girl ! what beautiful
teeth she had ! and how she would laugh that she might
show them ! Now a girl that laughs a great deal is in the
way to cry ; fine teeth spoil fine eyes. Chantefleurie and
her mother had great difficulty to earn a livelihood ; since
the death of the old minstrel their circumstances had been
getting worse and worse ; their needlework produced them
no more than six deniers a week. How different from the
time when old Guybertaut received twelve sols Parisis for
a single song, as he did at the coronation ! One winter
it was that of the same year 6l when the poor creatures
had neither cord- wood nor faggots, the weather was very
cold, which gave Chantefleurie such a beautiful colour
that she was admired by all the men, and this led to her
ruin Eustache, don't meddle with the cake! We all
knew what had happened as soon as we saw her come
to church one Sunday with a gold cross at her breast.
And, look you, she was not fifteen at the time. Her first
lover was the young viscount de Cormontreuil, whose castle
is about three quarters of a league from Reims; and
when she was deserted by him, she took up first with one
and then with another, till at last all men became alike to
her. Poor Chantefleurie ! " sighed Mahiette, brushing
away a tear that started from her eye.
" There is nothing very extraordinary in this history,"
said Gervaise ; '* nor, as far as I can see, has it anything
to do with Egyptians or children."
" Have patience," replied Mahiette ; f( you will soon
see that it has. In 66, it will be sixteen years this very
month on St. Paula's day, Paquette was brought to bed of
a little girl. How delighted she was, poor thing ! She
THE HUNCHBACK OF NOTRE-DAME. 173
nad long been wishing for a child. Her mother, good
soul, who had always winked at her faults, was now dead :
so that Paquette had nothing in the world to love, and none
to love her. For five years, ever since her fall, she had
been a miserable creature, poor Chantefleurie ! She was
alone, alone in this life, pointed at and hooted in the
streets, cuffed by the beadles, teased by little ragged
urchins. By this time she was twenty an age at which
it is said, such women begin to be old. Her way of life
scarcely brought her in more than her needlework had
formerly done ; the winter had set in sharp, and wood was
again rare on her hearth, and bread in her cupboard. She
was, of course, very sorrowful, very miserable, and her
tears wore deep channels in her cheeks. But in her de-
graded and forlorn condition it seemed to her that she
should be less degraded and less forlorn, if she had any
thing or any one in the world that she could love, and
that could love her. She felt that this must needs be a
child, because nothing but a child could be innocent
enough for that. Women of her class must have either a
lover or a child to engage their affections, or they are very
unhappy. Now as Paquette could not find a lover, she
set her whole heart upon a child, and prayed to God night
and day for one. And he took compassion on her, and
gave her a little girl. Her joy is not to be described.
How she did hug and fondle her infant ! it was quite a
tempest of tears and kisses. She suckled it herself, made
it clothes out of her own, and thenceforward felt neither
cold nor hunger. Her beauty returned. An old maid
makes a young mother. In a short time she again betook
herself to her former courses, and she laid out all the
money that she received on frocks and caps and lace
and little satin bonnets, and all sorts of finery for her
child. Monsieur Eustache, hav'n't I told you not to
meddle with that cake? It is certain that little Agnes,
that was the name given to the child at her christening,
was more bedizened with ribands and embroidery than a
princess. Among other things she had a pair of little
shoes, such as I '11 be bound Louis XI. never had. Her
mother had made and embroidered them herself with the
17 4 THE HUNCHBACK OF NOTRE-DAME.
utmost art and skill of her needle. A prettier pair of
little rose-coloured shoes was never seen. They were not
longer than ray thumb, and you must have seen the
child's tiny feet come out or you would never believe they
could go into them. But then those feet were so small, so
pretty, so rosy more so than the satin of the shoes.
"When you have children, Oudarde, you will know that
nothing is so pretty as those delicate little feet and hands.'*
" I desire nothing better," said Oudarde, with a sigh ;
" but I must wait till it is the good pleasure of Monsieur
" Paquette's baby," resumed Mahiette, " had not
merely handsome feet. I saw it when but four months
old. Oh ! it was a love ! Her eyes were larger than her
mouth, and she had the most beautiful dark hair, which
already began to curl. What a superb brunette she would
have made at sixteen ! Her mother became every day
more and more dotingly fond of her. She hugged her,
she kissed her, she tickled her, she washed her, she pranked
her up she was ready to eat her. In the wildness of
her joy she thanked God for the gift. But it was her
tiny rosy feet above all that she was never tired of admir-
ing. She would pass whole hours in putting on them the
little shoes, taking them off again, gazing at them, and
pressing them to her lips."
" The story is well enough," said Gervaise in an under-
tone ; " but where are the Egyptians ? "
" Why, here," replied Mahiette. " One day a party of
very strange-looking people on horseback arrived at Reims.
They were beggars and vagabonds, who roved about the
country, headed by their duke and their counts. Their
visage was tawny ; they had curly hair, and wore silver
rings in their ears. The women were uglier than the
men. Their complexion was darker. They went bare-
headed ; a shabby mantle covered the body, an old piece of
sackcloth was tied about the shoulders, and their hair was
like a horse's tail. The children, who were tumbling
about upon their laps, were enough to frighten an ape.
These hideous people had come so it was said
straightway from Egypt to Reims through Poland ; the
THE HUNCHBACK OP NOTRE-DAME. 175
pope had confessed them, and ordered them by way of
penance to wander for seven years together through the
world without lying in a bed ; and they claim ten livres
tournois of all archbishops, bishops, and crosiered and
mitred abbots, by virtue of a bull of the pope. They came
to Reims to tell fortunes in the name of the king of Al-
giers and the emperor of Germany. This was quite
enough, as you may suppose, to cause them to be forbidden
to enter the city. The whole band then encamped without
more ado on the mill-hill, by the old chalk-pits, and all
Reims went to see them. They looked at your palm and
foretold wonderful things. At the same time there were
various reports about their stealing children, cutting purses,
and eating human flesh. Prudent persons said to the simple,
' Go not near them,' and yet went themselves in secret. It
was quite the rage. The fact is, they told things which would
have astonished a cardinal. Mothers were not a little proud
of their children after the Egyptians had read all sorts of
marvels written in their hands in Pagan gibberish. One
had an emperor, another a pope, a third a great captain.
Poor Chantefleurie was seized with curiosity ; she was
anxious to know her luck, and whether little Agnes
should one day be empress of Armenia or something of
that sort. She carried her to the encampment of the
Egyptians ; the women admired the infant, they fondled
icy kissed her with their dark lips, they were asto-
nished at her tiny hand, to the no small delight of the
poor mother. But above all they extolled her delicate feet
and her pretty little shoes. The child was not quite a
year old. She had begun to lisp a word or two, laughed at
her mother like a little madcap, and was plump and fat and
played a thousand engaging antics. But she was fright-
ened at the Egyptians and fell a-crying. Her mother
kissed and cuddled her, and away she went overjoyed at
the good-luck which the fortune-tellers had promised her
Agnes. She was to be a beauty, a virtue, a queen. She
returned to her garret in the Rue Folle Peine quite proud
of her burden. Next day she softly slipped out for a
moment while the infant lay asleep on the bed, leaving
the door ajar and ran to tell an acquaintance in the Rue
176 THE HUNCHBACK OF NOTRE-DAME.
Sechesserie how that there would come a time when her
dear little Agnes would have the king of England and the
archduke of Ethiopia to wait upon her at table, and a
hundred other marvellous things. On her return, not
hearing the child cry as she went up stairs, she said to
herself, ' That's lucky ! baby is asleep yet.' She found
the door wider open than she had left it ; she went in
hastily and ran to the bed. Poor mother ! the infant was
gone, and nothing belonging to it was left except one of
its pretty little shoes. She rushed out of the room,
darted down stairs, screaming, ' My child ! my child !
who has taken my child ? ' The house stood by itself,
and the street was a lonely one ; nobody could give her
any clue. She went through the town, searching every
street ; she ran to and fro the whole day, distracted, mad-
dened, glaring in at the doors and windows, like a wild
beast that has lost her young. Her dress was in disorder,
her hair hung loose down her back, she was fearful to look
at, and there was a fire in her eyes that dried up her
tears. She stopped the passengers, crying, ' My child !
my child ! my dear little child ! Tell me where to find
my child, and I will be your slave, and you shall do with
me what you please.' It was quite cutting, Oudarde, and
I assure you I saw a very hard-hearted man, Master Ponce
Lucabre the attorney, shed tears at it. Poor, poor mother !
In the evening she went home. Whilst she was away, a
neighbour had seen two Egyptian women slip slily up her
stairs with a large bundle, and presently come down again,
shut the door and hurry off. After they were gone, cries
as if of a child, had been heard proceeding from Paquette's
lodging. The mother laughed with joy, flew up stairs,
dashed open the door, and went in. Only think, Oudarde,
instead of her lovely baby, so smiling, and so plump, and so
ruddy, there she found a sort of little monster, a hideous,
deformed, one-eyed, limping thing, squalling, and creeping
about the floor. She covered her eyes in horror. ' Oh,'
said she, ' can it be that the witches have changed my
Agnes into this frightful animal?' Her neighbours took
the little imp away forthwith ; he would have driven her
mad. He was the misshapen child of some Egyptian or
THE HUNCHBACK OF NOTRE-DAME. 177
other, who had given herself up to the devil. He appeared
to be about four years old, and talked a language which
was not a human language such words were never before
heard in this world. Chantefleurie snatched up the tiny
shoe, all that was left her of all that she had loved. She
lay so long, without moving, without speaking, apparently
without breathing, that every body thought stie was dead.
All at once she trembled in every limb ; she covered the
precious relic with passionate kisses, and burst into a fit
of sobs, as if her heart was going to break. I assure you
we all wept along with her. i Oh, my baby ! ' said she,
f my dear little baby ! where art thou ? ' It made one's
heart bleed. I can't help crying still at the thought of it.
Our children, you see, are as the very marrow of our
bones. O my Eustache, my poor Eustache, if I were to
lose thee, what would become of me ! At length Chante-
fleurie suddenly sprang up, and ran through the streets
of Reims, shouting, e To the camp of the Egyptians !
Let the witches be burnt ! ' The Egyptians were gone.
It was dark night : nobody could tell which way they
had gone. Next day, which was Sunday, there were
found on a heath between Gueux and Tilley, about two
leagues from Reims, the remains of a large fire, bits of
ribands which had belonged to the dress of Paquette's
child, and several drops of blood. There could be no
further doubt that the Egyptians had the night before held
their Sabbath on this heath, and feasted upon the child in
company with their master, Belzebub. When Chante-
fleurie heard these horrid particulars, she did not weep ;
she moved her lips, as if to speak, but could not. The
day after her hair was quite gray, and on the next she had
" A frightful story, indeed," exclaimed Oudarde, " and
enough to draw tears from a Burgundian ! "
li I am no longer surprised," said Gervaise, " that you
are so dreadfully afraid of the Egyptians."
" You did quite right," replied Oudarde, " to get out
of their way with Eustache, especially as these are Egyp-
tians from Poland."
1 7t> THE HUNCHBACK OF NOTRE-DAME.
(< Not so," said Gervaise; " it is said that they come
from Spain and Catalonia."
" At any rate," answered Oudarde, " it is certain that
they are Egyptians."
" And not less certain," continued Gervaise, " that their
teeth are long enough to eat little children. And I should
not be surprised if Smeralda were to pick a bit now and
then, though she has such a small pretty mouth. Her white
goat plays so many marvellous tricks that there must be
something wrong at bottom."
Mahiette walked on in silence. She was absorbed in that
reverie which is a sort of prolongation of a doleful story,
and which continues till it has communicated its vibration
to the inmost fibres of the heart. " And did you never
know what became of Chantefleurie ? " asked Gervaise.
Mahiette made no reply. Gervaise repeated the question,
gently shaking her arm and calling her by her name.
'* What became of Chantefleurie?" said she mechanically
repeating the words whose impression was still fresh upon
her ear. Then making an effort to recall her attention to
the sense of those words : " Ah ! " said she sharply, " it
was never known what became of her."
After a pause she added : " Some said they saw her
leave Reims in the dusk of the evening by the Porte Fle-
chembault ; and others at daybreak by the old Porte
Basee. Her gold cross was found hanging on the stone
cross in the field where the fair is held. It was this trinket
that occasioned her fall in 6l. It was a present from the
handsome Viscount de Cermontreuil, her first admirer. Pa-
quette never would part with it, distressed as she had often
been. She clung to it as to life. Of course, when we heard
how and where it was found, we all concluded that she was
dead. Yet there were persons who declared they had seen
her on the road to Paris walking barefoot upon the flints.
But, in this case, she must have gone out at the gate of
Vesle, and all these accounts cannot be true. My own
opinion is that she did actually go by the gate of Vesle,
not only out of the town, but out of the world."
" I don't understand you," said Gervaise.
THE HUNCHBACK OF NOTRE-DAME. 179
" The Vesle," replied Mahiette, with a melancholj
smile, " is our river."
" Poor Chantefleurie ! " said Oudarde shuddering,
u drowned ! "
" Drowned!" replied Mahiette. " Ah ! how it would
have spoiled good father Guybertaut's singing, while float-
ing in his bark beneath the bridge of Tinqueux, had he
been told that his dear little Paquette would some day pass
under that same bridge, but without song and without bark ! "
' ' And the little shoe ? " said Gervaise.
" Disappeared with the mother," replied Mahiette.
Oudarde, a comely tender-hearted woman, would have
been satisfied to sigh in company with Mahiette ; but Ger-
vaise, who was of a more inquisitive disposition, had not
got to the end of her questions.
" And the monster?" said she all at once, resuming her
" What monster ? " asked Mahiette.
" The little Egyptian monster, left by the witches at
Chantefleurie's in exchange for her child. What was done
with it ? I hope you drowned that too."
' ' O no ! " replied Mahiette.
fi Burnt then, I suppose ? The best thing too that
could be done with a witch's child."
" Nor that either, Gervaise. The archbishop had com-
passion on the Egyptian boy ; he carefully took the devil
out of him, blessed him, and sent him to Paris to be ex-
posed in the wooden cradle at Notre-Dame as a foundling. "
" Those bishops," said Gervaise, grumblingly, " because
they are learned men, never do any thing like other people.
Only think, Oudarde, to pop the devil into the place 01 the
foundlings ! for it is quite certain that this little monster
could be nothing else. Well, Mahiette, and what became
of him at Paris ? No charitable person would look at him,
" I don't know," replied her country friend. " Just
at that time my husband bought the place of notary at
Beru, about two leagues from Reims, and, being fully en-
gaged with our own business, we lost sight of the matter."
Amid such conversation the worthy trio reaelieu the
180 THE HUNCHBACK OP NOTRfi-DAM /:.
Place tie Greve. Engrossed by the subject of their dis-
course, they had passed Roland's Tower without being
aware of it, and turned mechanically towards the pillory,
around which the concourse of people was every moment
increasing. It is probable that the scene which at this
moment met their view would have made them completely
forget the Trou aux Rats and their intention of calling
there, had not Eustache, whom Mahiette still led by the
hand, as if apprised by some instinct that they had passed
the place of their destination, cried, " Mother, now may I
eat the cake ? "
Had the boy been less hasty, that is to say less greedy,
he would have waited till the party had returned to the
house of Master Andry Musnier, Rue Madame la Valence
in the University, when there would have been the two