opened it and went forth. The prisoner gazed after him.
All at once his head again appeared stooping over the stairs.
His face was ghastly. With a rattle of rage and despair,
he cried, ' c I tell thee he is dead ! "
She fell with her face to the ground ; and no sound was
then to be heard in the dungeon save the plash of the drop-
ping water, which rippled the pool amid the profound
I cannot conceive any thing in the world more delightful
than the ideas awakened in the heart of a mother at the
sight of her child's little shoe, especially if it be a holy day,
a Sunday, a baptismal shoe ; a shoe embroidered down
to the very sole ; a shoe upon which the infant has never
yet stepped. This shoe is so small and so pretty ; it is so
impossible for it to walk, that it seems to the mother as
though she saw her child. She smiles at it, she kisses it,
she talks to it ; she asks herself if a foot can really be so
small ; and, if the infant should be absent, the pretty shoe
is sufficient to set the sweet and tender creature before her
eyes. She fancies she sees it < she does see it all alive,
all joyous, with its delicate hands, its round head, its pure
lips, its serene eyes, the white of which is blue. If it be
winter, there it is, crawling upon the carpet, climbing labo-
riously upon a stool, and the mother trembles lest it should
approach too near to the fire. If it be summer, it is creep-
ing about in the court-yard or in the garden, looking
innocently and fearlessly at the big dogs and the big horses,
pulling up the grass growing between the stones, playing
with the shells and the flowers, and making the gardener
scold on finding sand on his borders and mould on his paths.
All about it is bright, joyous, and playful, like itself, even
292 THE HUNCHBACK OF NOTRE-DAME.
to the very breeze and the sunshine, which sport toge-
ther in the locks of its soft hair. All this the little
shoe sets before the mother, and it makes her heart melt like
wax before the fire.
But when the child is lost, these thousand images of joy,
delight, and affection, which crowd around the little shoe,
are transformed into as many frightful things. The pretty
little embroidered shoe then becomes but an instrument of
torture, which is incessantly racking the heart of the mo-
ther. It is still the same fibre that vibrates the deepest
and the most keenly sensitive fibre not under the
caresses of an angel, but in the gripe of a daemon.
One morning when the sun of May was rising in one of
those deep blue skies, beneath which Garofalo loved to pic-
ture the taking down from the cross, the recluse of Roland's
Tower heard the rumbling of wheels, the tramp of horses,
and the clanking of iron in the Place de Greve. The noise
scarcely roused her ; she tied her hair over her ears that
she might not hear it, and again fell to gaze upon her
knees at the inanimate object which she had thus adored
for fifteen years. To her this litle shoe was, as we have
already observed, the universe. Her thoughts were wrap-
ped up in it, never to be parted from it but by death.
How many bitter imprecations, how many touching com-
plaints, how many earnest prayers she had addressed to
Heaven on the subject of this charming little shoe of rose-
coloured satin, was known to the cell of Roland's Tower
alone. Never were keener sorrows poured forth over
object so pretty and so delicate. On this particular morn-
ing her grief seemed to burst forth with greater violence
than usual ; and she was heard from without bewailing
herself with a loud and monotonous voice which wrung the
" O my child I" said she, " my child ! my poor dear
little child ! never, no never shall I see thee more !
and still it seems as if it had happened but yesterday. O my
God ! my God ! better she had not been given to me at all
than to have her take'a from me so soon ! And yet thou
must know that our children are a part of ourselves, and
that a mother who has lost her child is tempted
THE HUNCHBACK OF NOTRE-DAME. 2p3
. . . Ah ! wretch that I was, to go out that day ! . . . . O
Lord ! Lord ! to snatch her from me thus, thou couldst
never have seen me with her, when I warmed her, all glee,
before the fire, when she ceased sucking to laugh in my
face, when I made her little feet step up my bosom to my
very lips ! Hadst thou seen this, O my God ! thou wouldst
have had pity on my joy ; thou wouldst not have ravished
from me the only love that was left in my heart ! Was I
then so vile a wretch, O Lord ! that thou couldst not look
at me before condemning me ! AJas ! alas ! there is the
shoe, but where is the foot? where is the child? My
child ! my own child ! what have they done with thee ! O
Lord ! give me back my child ! My knees have been flayed
for these fifteen years in praying to thee : is not this enough ?
Restore her to me for a day, an hour, a minute, only one
minute, O Lord ! and then cast me forth to the evil one to
all eternity. Oh, did I but know where to find thee, I
would grasp the skirts of thy garment with both these
hands, and not let thee go till thou hadst given me back
my child ! Behold her pretty little shoe ! Hast thou no
compassion ? Canst thou doom a wretched mother to fif-
teen years of such torment as this? Blessed Virgin of
heaven ! they have stolen my child ; they have devoured
her on the moor ; they have drunk her blood ; they have
gnawed her bones. Kind Virgin, have pity on me ! My
child ! I want my child ! What is it to me that she is
in Paradise? I want none of your angels; I want my
child. Oh, I will writhe upon the ground, I will dash
my head against the stones, I will gladly seal my own
perdition, so thou wilt but restore to me my child ! Thou
seest how these arms are torn ! Has then the good God no
compassion ? O let them give me but black bread and salt
provided I have my daughter ; she will be to me both meat
and drink, and warmth and sunshine. I confess that I am
but a vile sinner, but my child was making me pious. Out of
love to her I was amending my life, and I saAv thee through
her smile as through the opened heavens. . . . Oh, that I
could but once more, only once, put this pretty shoe on her
rosy little foot, I would die blessing thee, Holy Virgin !
294 THE HUNCHBACK OF NOTBE-DAME.
But no fifteen years ! she must be grown up now I
Unfortunate girl ! 't is too certain that I shall never see
thee more, not even in heaven, for there I shall never
enter. O what anguish ! to say, there is her shoe and
that is all."
The wretched creature threw herself upon that shoe, a
source of solace and of sorrow for so many years ; and she
sobbed as though her heart would break, just as she had
done on the very first day. Grief like this never grows
old. Though the garments of mourning become thread-
bare and lose their colour, the heart remains black as ever.
At this moment the brisk and merry voices of boys
passed before her cell. At the sight or the sound of chil-
dren, the unhappy mother would always dart into the dark-
est nook of her sepulchre, with such precipitation that you
would think she was striving to bury her head in the wall,
in order that she might not hear them. On this occasion,
contrary to her custom, she started up and listened atten-
tively. One of the boys was just saying to another,
" They are going to hang an Egyptian to-day."
With the sudden bound of the spider, that we lately saw
rushing upon the fly entangled in his net, she sprang to
the aperture which looked, as the reader knows, towards
the Place de Greve. A ladder was actually reared against
the permanent gallows, and the hangman was engaged in
adjusting the chains, which had become rusty with the wet,
A few people were standing around.
The laughing troop of boys was already far off. The
recluse looked about for some passenger whom she might
question. She perceived close to her cell a priest, who
feigned to be reading in the public breviary, but whose
thoughts were much less engaged by the book than by the
gibbet, towards which he glanced from time to time with
wild and gloomy look. She recognised in him the arch-
deacon of Josas, an austere and holy man.
" Father," she enquired, w whom are they going to
The priest looked at her without answering. She re-
peated the question. " I know not," said he.
THE HUNCHBACK OF NOTRE-DAME. 295
" Some boys/' rejoined the recluse, " said just now that
it was an Egyptian."
" I believe so," replied the priest.
Paquette la Chantefleurie burst into an hysterical laugh.
<( Sister," said the archdeacon, " you seem to hate the
Egyptians with all your heart."
"Hate them ! " cried the recluse ; "why, they are witches,
child-stealers ! They devoured my little girl, my child,
my only child ! They ate my heart along with her I
have none now ! "
The priest eyed her coldly.
" There is one in particular," she resumed, " that I hate
and that I have cursed ; a young girl about the same age
that my child would have been now had they not eaten her.
Whenever this young viper passes my cell, she sets all my
" Well then, sister, rejoice," said the priest, cold as the
statue on a sepulchre ; " 'tis for her that these preparations
His head sunk upon his bosom and he slowly withdrew.
The recluse waved her arms in triumph. '.* Thanks,
sir priest," cried she. " I told her what she would come
She then began, with hurried step, to pace to and fro
before her window, her hair dishevelled, her eye glaring,
dashing against the wall with her shoulder, with the wild
air of a caged she-wolf, which has long been hungry and
is aware that the hour for her repast is approaching.
THREE HUMAN HEARTS DIFFERENTLY CONSTITUTED.
Phcebus, meanwhile, was not dead. Men of that kind are
hard to kill. When Master Philip Lheulier, advocate ex-
traordinary to the king, said to poor Esmeralda, He is dying
he was either misinformed or joking. When the arch-
29^ TUB HUNCHBACK OF NOTRE-DAME.
deacon repeated to her, after condemnation, He is dying
the fact was that he knew nothing about the matter ; but
he believed it, he had no doubt of it, he made sure of it,
he hoped it. It would have gone too much against the
grain to give good tidings of his rival to the female of whom
he was enamoured. Every man in his place would have
done the same.
Not that Phcebus's wound was not severe, but the injury
was less serious than the archdeacon flattered himself it was.
The master- chirurgeon to whose house the soldiers of the
watch had immediately carried him, was for above a week
under apprehensions for his life, and had even told him so
in Latin. Youth, however, enabled him to get the better
of it ; and, as it frequently happens, notwithstanding pro-
gnostics and diagnostics, Nature had amused herself in sav-
ing the patient in spite of the doctor's teeth. It was while
lying on the master-chirurgeon's truckle-bed that he had
undergone the first interrogatories of Philip Lheulier and
the inquisitors of the official, which had annoyed him ex-
ceedingly. One fine morning, therefore, finding himself
better, he had left his gold spurs in payment at the chi-
rurgeon's and decamped without beat of drum. This cir-
cumstance, however, had not in the least affected the judicial
proceedings. Justice in those days cared but little about
propriety and accuracy in a criminal process ; provided that
the accused were hung, it was perfectly satisfied. Now_,
the judges had evidence sufficient against Esmeralda. They
believed Phoebus to be dead, and that was quite enough.
Phoebus, on his part, had not fled far. He had merely
rejoined his company, in garrison at Queue-en-Brie, in the
Isle of France, a few relays from Paris. He felt no in-
clination whatever to come forward personally in this
process. He had a vague impression that he should cut a
ridiculous figure in it. At bottom, he knew not what to
think of the whole affair. Irreligious and superstitious,
like every soldier who is nothing but a soldier, when he
called to mind all the circumstances of this adventure, he
could not tell what to make of the goat, of the odd way in
which he had first met with La Esmeralda, of the not less
strange manner in which she had betrayed her love, of her
THE HUNCHBACK OF NOTRE-DAME. 2)7
being an Egyptian, and, lastly, of the goblin-monk. He
imagined that in this history there was much more of
magic than of love, probably a sorceress, perhaps the devil;
in short, a comedy, or to use the language of those days, a
mystery, of a very disagreeable nature, in which he played
an extremely awkward part that of the butt for blows
and laughter. The captain was quite dashed : he felt the
sort of shame which La Fontaine so admirably compares
with that of a fox caught by a hen. He hoped, besides,
that the affair would not be bruited abroad, that in his
absence his name would scarcely be mentioned in connec-
tion with it, or at any rate not beyond the pleadings at the
Tournelle. Neither was he far wrong in this expectation:
there were then no newspapers ; and, as scarcely a week
passed but there was some coiner boiled, some witch
hanged, or some heretic burned, at one of the numberless
justices of Paris, people were so accustomed to see the old
feudal Themis, with bare arms and tucked-up sleeves,
performing her office at the gallows and the pillory, that
they scarcely took any notice of such events. In those
days, the higher classes scarcely knew the name of the
sufferer who was carried past to the corner of the street,
and the populace at most regaled itself with this coarse
fare. An execution was a familiar incident in the public
ways, like the oven of the baker, or the butcher's slaughter-
house. The hangman was but a kind of butcher, a shade
darker than the other.
Phoebus therefore soon set his mind at ease respecting
the sorceress Esmeralda, or Similar, as he called her, the
wound inflicted by the Bohemian or the goblin-monk
he cared not which and the issue of the proceedings.
But no sooner was his heart vacant on this score than the
image of Fleur-de-Lys returned thither. The heart of
Captain Phoebus, like the philosophy of those times, ab-
horred a vacuum.
Besides, Queue-en-Brie was a very stupid place, a
village of blacksmiths and dairy-women with chapped
hands, a long line of crazy cottages bordering both sides of
the high road for a mile. Fleur-de-Lys was his last
passion but one, a handsome girl, with a good dower.
298 THE HUNCHBACK OF NOTRE-DAME.
One fine morning, therefore, being quite convalescent, and
presuming that the affair with the Bohemian must after
the lapse of two months be completely blown over and
forgotten, the amorous cavalier came swaggering to the
door of the Gondelaurier mansion. He took no notice of a
numerous concourse assembled in the Place du Parvis, be-
fore the porch of Notre-Dame : he recollected that it was
the month of May, and, supposing that the people might be
drawn together by some religious holyday or procession, he
fastened his horse to the ring at the gate and gaily went
up stairs to his fair betrothed.
She was alone with her mother. Fleur_de-Lys had
always felt sore about the scene with the sorceress, her goat,
her cursed alphabet, and the long absences of Phoebus :
nevertheless, at the entrance of her truant, he looked so
well, had such a new uniform, such a smart shoulder-belt,
and so impassioned an air, that she reddened with pleasure.
The noble demoiselle was herself more charming than
ever. Her magnificent light hair was admirably plaited ;
she was attired completely in sky-blue, which so well suits
females of a fair complexion a piece of coquetry which
she had been taught by Colombe and her eye swam in
that languor of love which suits them so much better.
Phoebus, who had so long set eyes on nothing superior in
beauty to the wenches of Queue-en-Brie, was transported
with Fleur-de-Lys ; and this imparted such a warmth and
such a tone of gallantry to his manner that his peace was
instantly made. Madame de Gondelaurier herself, ma-
ternally seated as usual in her great arm-chair, had not the
heart to scold him ; and as for the reproaches of Fleur-de-
Lys, they expired in accents of tenderness.
The young lady was seated near the window, still
working away at her grotto of Neptune. The captain
leant over the back of her chair, and in an under-tone
she commenced her half-caressing, half-scolding enquiries.
" What have you been doing with yourself for these two
months, you naughty man ? "
" I swear," replied Phoebus, who did not relish the
question, " you are so beautiful that an archbishop could
not help falling in love with you."
THE HUNCHBACK OF NOTRE-DAME. 299
She could not forbear smiling. " Beautiful, forsooth I
My beauty is nothing to the purpose, sir : I want an answer
to my question."
" Well, then, my dear cousin, I was ordered away to
" Where, if you please ? and why not come to bid me
adieu ? "
(i At Queue-en-Brie."
Phoebus was delighted that the first question enabled
him to shirk the second.
" But that is close by, sir. How is it that you have not
been once to see me ? "
Here Phoebus was seriously embarrassed. " Why ....
our duty .... and, besides, charming cousin, I have
" 111 ! " she exclaimed in alarm.
" Yes, wounded."
The poor girl was thunderstruck.
" Oh, you need not frighten yourself about that," said
Phoebus carelessly ; " it was nothing. A quarrel, a
scratch with a sword ; how can that concern you ? "
'* Not concern me ? " cried Fleur-de-Lys, raising her
beautiful eyes swimming in tears. ' ' Oh, in saying so you
do not say what you think. How came you by the
scratch you talk of? I insist on knowing all."
" Well then, my fair cousin, I had a squabble with
Mahe Fedy you know him the lieutenant of St.
Germain-en-Laye, and eacn of us ripped up a few inches
of the other's skin. That is all."
The mendacious captain well knew that an affair of
honour always raises a man in the estimation of a female.
Accordingly, Fleur-de-Lys turned about and looked him
in the face with emotions of fear, pleasure, and admiration.
Still she was not completely satisfied.
" Ah, Phoebus," said she, " how I rejoice that you
are quite well again ! I do not know your Mahe Fedy
but he is a scurvy fellow. And what was the cause of
300 THE HUNCHBACK OF N0TRE-DA3IE.
Here Phoebus, whose imagination was not the most fer-
tile, began to be puzzled how to get out of the dilemma.
" Oh, I hardly recollect a mere nothing, a word
about a horse but, fair cousin," cried he, in order to
change the conversation, " what is the occasion of this
bustle in the Parvis ? Only look," he continued, stepping
to the window, u what a crowd there is in the Place !"
** I know not," replied Fleur-de-Lys. " I did hear
that a witch is to do penance this morning before the
church, and to be hung afterwards."
The captain made so sure that the affair with La Esme-
ralda was long since over that he took but little interest in
the information given to him by Fleur-de-Lys. He never-
theless asked her one or two questions.
u What is the name of this witch ? "
" I know not," answered she
w And what do they say she has done ? "
" I know not," said she, with another shrug of her fair
" O my God! " said the mother, " there are now-a-daj s
so many sorcerers and witches, that they burn them, I
verily believe, without knowing their names. You might as
well ask the name of every cloud in the sky. But what need
we care ? God Almighty will be sure to keep a correct
list" Here the venerable lady rose and advanced to the
window. iC Bless me ! there is indeed a crowd, as you
say, Phcebus. Why, the very roofs are covered with the
populace ! Do you know, Phcebus, this reminds me of my
young days, of the entry of King Charles VII., when
there was as great a crowd as this only the people were
much more con.ely than now. Every spot was thronged
with them even to the battlements of the gate of St. An-
toine. The King had the Queen on the crupper behind
him, and after their Highnesses came all the ladies riding
in the same way behind their lords. A procession of all
the gentlemen of France with their banners waving in the
air. Ah ! well-a-day ! 't is sad to think that all this pomp
has been, and that nothing of it is now left ! "
The lovers were not listening to the worthy dowager.
Phcebus had again planted himself behind his betrothed,
THE HUNCHBACK OF NOTRE-DAME. SOI
and was leaning over the back of her chair, wandering over
so much of her neck as was not covered by her dress.
Dazzled by that skin which shone like satin, the captain
said within himself: " How can one love any but a fair
woman ? " Both kept silence. The lady gave him from
time to time a look of delight and fondness ; and their hair
mingled together in the spring sunshine.
(i Phcebus," said Fleur-de-Lys, abruptly, in a low tone,
** we are to be married in three months : swear that you
never loved any other but me."
" I do swear it, beautiful angel!" replied Phcebus, and
his impassioned look concurred with the emphatic accent
of his words to convince Fleur-de-Lys. It is possible that
at the moment he himself believed what he asserted.
Meanwhile the good mother, pleased to see the young
people on such excellent terms, had left the apartment to
attend to some domestic matter or other. Phcebus perceived
her absence, which emboldened the enterprising captain.
Fleur-de-Lys loved him; she was betrothed to him; she
was alone with him : his former fondness for her was re-
vived, if not in all its freshness, at any rate in all its
ardour. I know not precisely what ideas crossed his mind ;
but so much is certain, that Fleur-de-Lys became sud-
denly alarmed at the expression of his countenance. She
looked around her her mother was gone !
" Bless me ! " said she, flushed and agitated. * 1 am
very hot ! "
'.' Why," replied Phoebus, " I dare say it is almost
noon. The sun is troublesome. I will draw the cur-
" No, no ! " cried the trembling damsel ; " on the con-
trary, I have need of air ; " and rising, she ran to the win-
dow, and stepped out on the balcony. Phoebus followed
The Place du Parvis, in front of Notre- Dame, into which,
as the reader knows, this balcony looked, exhibited at this
moment a sinister and singular spectacle, which quickly
changed the nature of the timid Fleur_de-Lys' alarm. An
immense crowd, which flowed back into all the adjacent
302 THE HUNCHBACK OP NOTRE-DAME.
streets, covered the Place, properly so called. The low
wall which encompassed the Parvis would not have been
sufficient to keep it clear, had it not been thickly lined by
sergeants of the Onze-vingts and arquebusiers, with their
pieces in their hands. The wide portals of the church
were closed, contrasting with the numberless windows
around the Place, which, thrown open up to the very
roofs, displayed thousands of heads heaped one above
another, nearly like piles of cannon-balls in a park of ar-
tillery. The surface of this crowd was grey, squalid,
dirty. The sight which it was awaiting was evidently one
of those which have the privilege of calling together all
that is most disgusting in the population. Nothing could
be more hideous than the noise that arose from this assem-
blage of sallow caps and unkempt heads. In this con-
course there were more women than men, more laughing
Ever and anon some harsh or shrill voice was heard
above the general din to this effect :
" I say, Mahiet Baliffre, is she to be hanged yon-
" No, simpleton only to do penance there in chemise
The priest is going to fling Latin in her face. 'T is
always done here, at noon precisely. If you want to see the
hanging, you must e'en go to the Greve.
" I will go afterwards."
" Is it true, La Boucandry, that she has refused a con
fessor ? "
" I am told so, La Bechaigne."
" Only think! the Pagan !"
** It is the custom, sir. The bailiff of the Palace is
bound to deliver over the culprit for 'execution,. if of the
laity, to the provost of Paris ; but if a clerk, to the official
of the bishopric"
THE HUNCHBACK OF NOTRE-DAME. 303
' I thank you, sir."
Such were the dialogues carried on at this moment among
the spectators collected by the ceremony.
' ' O my God ! the poor creature ! " exclaimed Fleur-
de-Lys, surveying the populace with a sorrowful look.
The captain was too much engaged with her to notice the