of misery and torture to crush so frail a creature.
There she was, wrapt in darkness, buried, entombed,
immured. Whoever had beheld her in this state, after
having seen her sporting and dancing in the sun, would
have shuddered. Cold as night, cold as death, not a
breath of air in her dark locks, not a human sound in her
ear, not a glimmer of light in her eyes, weighed down with
chains, bent double, crouched beside a pitcher and a loaf
of bread, on a little straw, in the pool formed beneath her
by the water that dripped from the walls of her dungeon,
motionless and scarcely breathing what more could she
suffer ? Phoebus, the sun, the day-light, the free air, the
streets of Paris, the dances which had won her such ap-
plause ; her love-prattle with the officer ; then the priest,
the dagger, the blood, the torture, the gallows ; all this
had again passed before her mind, sometimes like a gay and
golden vision, at others like a hideous nightmare : but it
was now no more than a horrible and indistinct struggle,
which was veiled in darkness, or than distant music played
above on the earth, and which was not heard at the depth
into which the unfortunate creature was sunk. Since she
had been there, she had not waked, she had not slept. In
this profound wretchedness, in the gloom of this dungeon,
she could no more distinguish waking from sleeping,
dream from reality, than night from day. She had ceased
to feel, to know, to think : at the utmost she mused.
280 THE HUNCHBACK OF NOTBE-DAME.
Never had living creature been plunged so deeply into
Thus torpid, frozen, petrified, she had scarcely noticed
the noise of a trap-door, which had opened twice or thrice
somewhere near her, but without admitting a glimmer of
light, and at which a hand had thrown down to her a
crust of black bread. It was nevertheless the sole commu-
nication still left to her with mankind the periodical
visit of the gaoler. Her ear was mechanically directed to
the only sound that now engaged it ; above her head the
wet filtered through the mossy stones of the vaulted roof, and
a drop of water fell from it at equal intervals. She listened
stupidly to the noise made by this drop falling into the
pool of water by her side. This was the only motion still
perceptible around her, the only clock that marked the
lapse of time, the only noise that reached her of all the
noises that are made on the face of the earth. Not but
that she did indeed feel from time to time, in this dark
and disgusting abode, something cold crawling about on
her foot or her arm, and she could not help shuddering.
How long she had been in this place she knew not. She
had a recollection of a sentence of death passed somewhere
upon somebody ; she remembered that she had then been
borne away, and that she had awoke chilled with cold, in
darkness and in silence. She had crawled about on her
hands : iron rings had then galled her ancle and chains
had rattled. She had ascertained that there was a solid
wall all around her, that under her there was a pavement
covered with water, and a bundle of straw She had then
seated herself on this straw, and sometimes, for change of
posture, on the lowest of the stone steps that led down to
her dungeon. At one time she had tried to count the dark
minutes measured by the drop of water ; but presently her
mind discontinued of itself this melancholy task imposed
by a diseased brain, and it left her in a state of stupor.
At length, one day, or one night for midnight and
noonday were of the same colour in this sepulchre she
heard above her a louder noise than that usually made by
the gaoler, when he brought her loaf and her pitcher of
water. She raised her head, and saw a reddish ray enter-
THE HUNCHBACK OP NOTRE-DAME. 281
ing through a cranny in a kind of trapdoor placed in the
vaulted roof of the in pace. At the same time the heavy
iron bars rattled ; the door grated on its rusty hinges ; it
turned, and she saw a lantern, a hand, and the nether
extremities of two figures, the door' being too low for her
to perceive their heads. The light so painfully affected
her that she closed her eyes.
When she opened them again, the door was shut, a lan-
tern was placed on one of the steps, and something like a
human form stood before her. A black wrapper descended
to its feet : a hood, of the same colour, concealed the face.
Nothing was to be seen of the person, not even the hands.
The figure looked like a long black winding-sheet stand-
ing upright, under which something might be perceived
moving. For some minutes she kept her eyes intently
fixed on this spectral shape. Neither spoke. You would
have taken them for two statues confronting each other.
Two things only gave signs of life in the dungeon : the
wick of the lantern which crackled owing to the dampness
of the atmosphere, and the drip of the roof breaking this
irregular crepitation by its monotonous plash, which
caused the light of the lantern to dance in concentric rings
on the oily surface of the pool.
At length the prisoner broke silence.
Who are you?"
ce A priest."
The word, the accent, the voice made her shudder.
' e Are you prepared ? " asked the priest, in a low tone.
" For what ? "
" Oh !" said she ; iC will it be soon ?"
Her head, which she had raised with a look of joy,
again sank upon her bosom. " 'Tis a long time till then,"
murmured she. " Why not to-day ? What difference
could it have made to them ? "
" You must be very unhappy, then ? " said the priest
after a moment's silence.
if I am very cold," she replied. She clasped her feet
with her hands, and her teeth chattered.
282 THE HUNCHBACK OF NOTRE-DAME.
The priest seemed from beneath the hood to cast his
eyes around the dungeon. " Without light ! without fire !
in the water ! 'Tis horrible !"
" Yes," answered she, with that air of timidity, which
suffering had imparted : " every body enjoys the light.
Why should I be thrust into darkness ? "
w Do you know," resumed the priest, after another
pause, " why you are here ? "
" I think I did know," said she, passing her attenuated
fingers over her brow, as if to assist her memory, " but I
All at once, she burst out a-crying like a child. " I
want to leave this place, sir. I am cold, I am afraid, and
there are loathsome things which crawl up me."
" Well, come along with me."
With these words the priest took hold of her arm. The
wretched girl was chilled to her inmost vitals, yet that
hand produced a sensation of cold.
" Oh !" murmured she, " it is the icy hand of death !
who are you then ? "
The priest pushed back his hood. She looked at him.
It was that sinister face which had so long haunted her,
that daemon-head which had appeared to her at Falourdel's
above the head of her adored Phoebus, that eye which she
had last seen glistening near a dagger.
This apparition, always so baneful to her, and which
had thus hurried her on from misery to misery, roused
her from her stupor. The thick veil which seemed to
have spread itself over her memory was rent asunder. AH
the circumstances of her dismal adventure, from the night-
scene at Falourdel's to her condemnation at La Tournelle,
rushed at once upon her mind, not vague and confused as
at the time of their occurrence, but distinct, fresh, pal-
pitating, terrible. These recollections, almost obliterated
by the excess of her sufferings, were revived by the sombre
figure before her ; as the invisible words written with
sympathetic ink upon white paper are brought out quite
fresh on its being held to the fire. All the wounds of
her heart seemed to be torn open afresh, and to bleed at
THE HUNCHBACK OF NOTItE-DAME. 283
" Ha !" cried she, with a convulsive tremor, and hold-
ing her hands over her eyes, " it is the priest \" Presently
dropping her enfeebled arms, she remained sitting, her
head bent forward, her eye fixed on the ground, mute and
trembling. The priest looked at her with the eye of a
hawk, which has long been descending in silence from the
topmost height of the heavens, in circles gradually more
and more contracted around a poor lark squatting in the
corn, and, having suddenly pounced like winged lightning
upon his prey, clutches the panting victim in his talons.
She began to murmur in a faint tone : " Finish !
finish ! Give the last blow !" and she bowed down her
head with terror, like the lamb awaiting the fatal stroke
from the hand of the butcher.
At length he asked, " Are you afraid of me then ? "
She made no reply.
" Are you afraid of me ? " he repeated.
' Her lips were compressed as though she smiled.
"Yes," said she, " the executioner jeers the condemned-
For months he has been haunting, threatening, terrifying
me ! But for him, O God, how happy I should be I 'Tis
he who has hurled me into this abyss 'tis he who killed
him who killed my Phcebus ! " Sobbing vehemently,
she raised her eyes to the priest. " Who are you,
wretch ? " she exclaimed. ' ' What have I done to you ?
Why should you hate me thus ? What grudge have you
against me ? "
" I love thee ! u said the priest.
Her tears suddenly ceased. She eyed him with the
vacant stare of an idiot. He had meanwhile sunk upon
his knees, and gazed upon her with eye of fire.
" Dost thou hear ? I love thee ! " he repeated.
"Ah! what love!" ejaculated the unhappy creature,
" The love of the damned,' he replied.
Both remained silent for some minutes, overwhelmed by
their emotions ; he frantic, she stupid.
" Listen," at length said the priest, who had all at once
recovered a wonderful degree of composure ; " thou shalt
know all. I will tell thee what hitherto I have scarcely
281 THE HUNCHBACK OP NOTRC-DAjIE.
dared tell myself, when I secretly examined my conscience,
in those hours of night on which rests such thick darkness,
that it seems as if God could no longer see us. Listen.
Before I saw thee I was happy."
" And I ! " she sighed forth faintly.
u Interrupt me not. Yes, I was happy, or at least I
fancied that I was so. I was innocent. No head was
lifted so high and so proudly as mine. Priests and doctors
consulted me. Science was all in all to mc : it was a
sister, and a sister sufficed me. In spite, however, of my
determination to acknowledge no ether influence, that
power of nature, which, silly youth as I was, I had hoped
to crush for life, had more than once convulsively shaken
the chain of those iron vows which bind me, miserable man
that I am, to the cold stones of the altar. But, fasting,
prayer, study, the mortifications of the cloister, restored to
the spirit the dominion over the passions. I shunned the
sex. Besides, I needed but to open a book, and aD the
impure vapours of my brain were dispelled by the splen-
dour of science. In a few minutes the dark things of
earth fled far away, and I found myself calm and serene
in the soothing light of everlasting truth. So long as the
daemon sent only vague shadows of women to attack me,
so long as they passed casually before my eyes, at church,
in the streets, in the fields, and scarcely recurred to my
thoughts, I vanquished him with ease. Alas ! if victory
has not remained with me, it is the fault of God, who has
not made man equal in strength to the daemon. List to
me. One day . . . ."
The priest paused, and deep sighs burst from his bosom.
He resumed :
" One day I was sitting at the window of my cell- I
was reading. The window looked upon an open place.
I heard the sound of a tambourine. Vexed at being dis-
turbed in my reverie, I cast my eyes upon the place.
What I there saw, and what others saw besides me, was
not a sight made for human eyes. There, in the middle
of the pavement it was noon brilliant sun-shine a
creature was dancing a creature so beautiful that she
might have served as a model for the mother of the Graces.
THE HUNCHBACK OF NOTRE-DAME. 285
Her eyes were black and splendid : amidst her dark hair
there were locks, which, saturated, as it were, by the sun's
beams, shone like threads of gold. Around her head, in her
black tresses, there were pieces of metal, which sparkled
in the sun, and formed a coronet of stars for her brow.
Her azure robe, besprinkled with a thousand spangles,
glistened like a summer night. Her feet, in their rapid
movements, appeared indistinct like the spokes of a wheel
that is whirling # quickly round. Her brown and supple
arms were tied and untied around her body like two scarfs.
Her figure was of surpassing beauty. Oh ! the resplendent
form, which had something luminous about it even in the
broad sunlight ! Surprised, charmed, intoxicated, I could
not forbear watching thee : I looked till I shuddered :
I felt that the hand of Fate was upon me."
The priest, oppressed* by emotion, again paused for a
moment. He then proceeded :
ie Half fascinated already, I endeavoured to grasp at
something to break my fall. I recollected the snares
which Satan had previously spread for me. The creature
before me possessed that superhuman beauty which can
proceed only from heaven or from hell. She was not a
mere girl, moulded of our common clay, and faintly lighted
within by the flickering ray of a female spirit. It was an
angel, but an angel of darkness of fire, not of light. At
the moment when these thoughts were crossing my brain,
I saw near her a goat, a beast which associates with
witches. It looked at me and laughed. The noontide sun
tipped its horns with flame. I then perceived the snare
of the daemon, and had no further doubt that thou wert
come from hell, and come for my perdition. I believed
The priest here looked stedfastly in the face of the
prisoner, and coldly added : " I believe so still.
" Meanwhile the charm began to operate by degrees.
Thy dancing turned my brain. I felt the mysterious spell
upon me. All that should have waked in my soul was
lulled to sleep ; and, like men perishing in the snow, I
took pleasure in yielding to this slumber. All at once I
286 THE HUNCHBACK OF NOTRE-DAME.
heard thee hegin to sing. What could I do ? Thy sing-
ing was more fascinating than thy dancing. I would have
fled. Impossible. I was rivetted, rooted, to the spot. I was
forced to remain till thou hadst finished. My feet were
ice, my head a furnace. At length, perhaps in pity to
me, thy song ceased, and I saw thee depart. The reflec-
tion of the dazzling vision, the sounds of the enchanting
music, vanished by degrees from my eyes, and died away
in my ears. I then sank into the corner of the window,
stiff and helpless as a fallen statue. The vesper bell
awoke me ; I fled : but alas ! something had fallen within
me which I could not raise up ; something had come upon
me, from which I could not flee ! "
He made another pause and thus proceeded :
w Yes, from that day, I was possessed with a spirit that
was strange to me. I had recourse to my remedies the
cloister, the altar, occupation, books. Follies ! O how
hollow science sounds when you dash against it in despair
a head filled with passions. Knowest thou, maiden, what
thenceforth I always saw between the book and me ? Thee,
thy shadow, the image of the luminous apparition which
had one day passed before me. But that image had no
longer the same colour : it was sombre, dark, gloomy, like
the black circle which long dances before the eye that has
been imprudent enough to gaze at the sun.
" Haunted by it incessantly, incessantly hearing thy
song ringing in my ears, incessantly seeing thy feet dancing
upon my breviary, my dreams by night, as well as my
thoughts by day, being full of thee. I was desirous to be-
hold thee again, to touch thee, to know who thou wert, to
ascertain whether thou resemblest the ideal image impressed
upon my mind, to dispel perhaps the phantasm by the
reality. At all events, I hoped that a new impression
would efface the first; for the first had become intolerable
to me. I sought thee. Again I beheld thee. When I
had seen thee twice, I wished to see thee a thousand times,
to have thee always in my sight. Then who can stop
himself on the steep descent to perdition ? then was I no
longer my own master. I became a vagrant, like thyself.
THE HUNCHBACK OP NOTRE-DAME. 287
I waited for thee beneath porches, I lurked at the corners
of streets, I watched thee from my tower. Each night, on
examining myself, I found that I was more helpless, more
spell -bound, more bewitched, more undone.
ec I learned who thou wert ; Egyptian, Bohemian,
gitana, zingara. How could I longer doubt, that there
was witchcraft in the case ! I hoped that the law would
break the charm. A sorceress had bewitched Bruno d'Ast :
he caused her to be burned, and was cured. I knew him.
I resolved to try the same remedy. In the first place I
obtained an ordinance forbidding thee to appear in the pre-
cincts of our church, hoping to forget thee if I should see
thee no more. Reckless of this prohibition thou earnest as
usual. Then did I conceive the idea of carrying thee off.
One night I attempted to put it into execution. There
were two of us. We had thee already in our clutches,
when that odious officer came up and rescued thee. Thus
did he commence thy sufferings, mine, and his own. At
length, not knowing what to do, I denounced thee to the
official. I thought that I should be cured, as Bruno
d'Ast was. I had also a confused notion that a judicial
process would deliver thee into my power ; that in a prison
I should have thee, should hold thee ; that there thou
couldst not escape me. When one is doing evil 'tis mad-
ness to stop half-way. The extremity of guilt has its
delirium of rapture.
<e I should perhaps have renounced my design ; my
hideous idea would perhaps have evaporated from my brain
without producing any result. I imagined that it would
depend on me to follow up or to stop the proceedings
whenever I pleased. But every wicked thought is inex-
orable, and hurries to become a fact; and where I
fancied myself all-powerful, Fate proved more mighty
than I. Alas ! alas ! it was Fate that caught thee, and
threw thee among the terrible works of the machine
which I had secretly constructed. List to me. I have
" One day another day of lovely sunshine I saw
a man walking before me, who pronounced thy name, who
288 THE HUNCHBACK OF NCTRE-DAJIE.
laughed, and whose eyes glistened with unhallowed fire. I
followed him thou knowest the rest."
He ceased speaking. " O my Phoebus ! " was all that
the poor girl could utter.
f* Not that name ! " said the priest, seizing her arm with
violence. i( Name not that name ! Wretched as we are,
'tis that name which has undone us ; or rather, we are
undoing one another through the unaccountable freaks of
fatality ! . . . Thou art suffering, I know it. Thou art
chilled ; the darkness blinds thee ; the dungeon clasps thee :
but perhaps thou hast still some light in the recesses of
thy soul, were it but thy childish love for that empty man
who plays with thy heart while I, I carry a dungeon
within me ; within me is the chill of winter, the chill of
despair ; darkness enwraps my soul. Knowest thou all that
I have suffered ? I was present at thy trial. Yes, one of
those priest's cowls covered torments unequalled but by
those of the damned. I was there when that savage
beast oh ! I foreboded not the torture ! bore thee off to
his den. I saw thee stripped, and thy delicate limbs
grasped by the infamous hands of the executioner. I saw
thy foot, which I would have given an empire to kiss, that
foot by which to have been trampled upon had been to me
happiness, I saw it encased in the horrible buskin, which
converts the members of a living being into a bloody
jelly. At the shriek which was forced from thee, I
plugged into my bosom a dagger that I carried beneath my
wrapper. Look, it still bleeds."
He threw open his cassock. His breast was lacerated
as by the claw of a tiger. The prisoner recoiled in
"O maiden!" said the priest; "take pity on me!
Thou deemest thyself miserable. Alas ! thou knowest not
what misery is. It is to love a woman r- to be a priest
to be hated to love with all the energies of your soul
to feel that you would give for the least of her smiles
your blood, your life, your character, your salvation, im-
mortality and eternity, this world and the next to re-
gret that you are not a king, an emperor, an archangel,
THE HUNCHBACK OF NOTRE-DAME. 289
that you might throw a greater slave at her feet ; to clasp
her night and day in your sleeping, and in your waking,
dreams to see her fond of a soldier's uniform, and to
have nothing to offer her but the squalid cassock, which is
to her an object of fear and disgust to be present, with
a heart bursting with jealousy and rage, while she lavishes
on a silly braggart the treasures of love and beauty to
think of that delicious form till you writhe for whole nights
on the floor of your cell, and to see all the endearments
which you have reserved for her in imagination end in
the torture these, these are pincers heated in the fire of
hell ! Happy in comparison is he who is sawn asunder
between two planks, or quartered by horses ! Knowest
thou what agony it is when, during the long nights, your
arteries boil, your heart is bursting, your head splitting,
and your teeth tear your own flesh ; when you are turned
incessantly as upon a red-hot gridiron by those inexorable
tormentors, love, jealousy, despair ! Mercy, maiden ! re-
lax for a moment ; or, if it must be so, torture me with
one hand, but fondle me with the other. Have pity on
me, girl ! have pity on me ! "
The priest rolled in the water on the floor, and dashed
his head against the stone steps of the dungeon. The
Egyptian listened to him, looked at him. When he ceased
speaking, breathless and exhausted, she repeated in a low
tone, " O my Phoebus I"
The priest crawled towards her upon his knees. " I
implore thee," he cried, " if thou hast any compassion, re-
pulse me not. I love thee I am miserable. When thou
utterest that name, it is as if thou wert rending all the
fibres of my heart. Only have pity. If thou goest to per-
dition, I must go with thee. All that I have done, I have
done for this. The place where thou art wilt be to me a
paradise : the sight of thee is more entrancing than that of
heaven. O say, wilt thou not have me ? I should have
thought that the day when a woman could reject such love
the mountains would dissolve. Oh ! if thou wouldst, how
happy might we yet be ! We would flee. ... I would en-
able thee to escape. ... we would seek that spot where
290 THE HUNCHBACK OF NOTRE-DAME.
there are the most trees, the most sunshine, the most azure
She interrupted him with a loud thrilling laugh. ce Look,
father, you have blood upon your fingers ! "
The priest, motionless for some moments, as if petrified,
looked stedfastly at his hand.
Ci Why, yes," he at length replied with unwonted mild-
ness, ei abuse me, jeer me, overwhelm me ! but come,
come ! Let us lose no time. It will be to-morrow, I tell
thee. The gibbet of the Greve thou knowest the gib-
bet it is always ready. It is horrible to see thee drawn
in that cart ! Oh, mercy, merpy ! Never did I feel as at
this moment how dearly I love thee ! Oh ! come along
with me. Thou shalt take thine own time to love me after
I have saved thee. Thou shalt hate me as long as thou
wilt. Only come. To-morrow ! to-morrow ! the gallows !
Oh, save thyself, spare me ! "
In a state approaching to madness, he seized her arm,
and would have hurried her along. She fixed her eyes in-
tently upon him. " What is become of my Phoebus?" she
' e Ah ! " said the priest, loosing her arm from his grasp,
" you have no pity ! "
" What is become of Phoebus ? " repeated she coldly.
iS He is dead," replied the priest.
<( Dead ! " said she, still cold and passionless, " then
why persuade me to live ? "
He heard her not. " O yes ! " said he, as if talking to
himself, " he must be dead. I struck home. The point
must have reached his heart."
The girl rushed upon him like an enraged tigress, and
thrust him towards the steps with supernatural force : '' Be-
gone, monster ! begone, murderer ! leave me to die ! May
the blood of us both mark thy brow with an everlasting
stain ! .... Be thine, priest ! Never ! never ! Nothing
shall bring us together, not even hell itself. Avaunt, ac-
cursed! never I"
The priest had stumbled upon the steps. Silently dis-
engaging his feet from the skirts of his cassock, he picked
THE HUNCHBACK OF NOTBE-DAME. 291
tip his lantern and began slowly to ascend to the door : he