Notre-Dame de Paris The Hunchback of Notre Dame
Part 11 out of 13
"Is there, then, no way of forcing this door," exclaimed the
King of Thunes, stamping his foot.
The Duke of Egypt pointed sadly to the two streams of
boiling lead which did not cease to streak the black facade,
like two long distaffs of phosphorus.
"Churches have been known to defend themselves thus all
by themselves," he remarked with a sigh. "Saint-Sophia at
Constantinople, forty years ago, hurled to the earth three
times in succession, the crescent of Mahom, by shaking her
domes, which are her heads. Guillaume de Paris, who built
this one was a magician."
"Must we then retreat in pitiful fashion, like highwaymen?"
said Clopin. "Must we leave our sister here, whom those
hooded wolves will hang to-morrow."
"And the sacristy, where there are wagon-loads of gold!"
added a vagabond, whose name, we regret to say, we do not know.
"Beard of Mahom!" cried Trouillefou.
"Let us make another trial," resumed the vagabond.
Mathias Hungadi shook his head.
"We shall never get in by the door. We must find the
defect in the armor of the old fairy; a hole, a false postern,
some joint or other."
"Who will go with me?" said Clopin. "I shall go at it
again. By the way, where is the little scholar Jehan, who
is so encased in iron?"
"He is dead, no doubt," some one replied; "we no longer
hear his laugh."
The King of Thunes frowned: "So much the worse. There was a
brave heart under that ironmongery. And Master Pierre Gringoire?"
"Captain Clopin," said Andry the Red, "he slipped away
before we reached the Pont-aux-Changeurs,"
Clopin stamped his foot. "Gueule-Dieu! 'twas he who
pushed us on hither, and he has deserted us in the very middle
of the job! Cowardly chatterer, with a slipper for a helmet!"
"Captain Clopin," said Andry the Red, who was gazing
down Rue du Parvis, "yonder is the little scholar."
"Praised be Pluto!" said Clopin. "But what the devil is
he dragging after him?"
It was, in fact, Jehan, who was running as fast as his heavy
outfit of a Paladin, and a long ladder which trailed on the
pavement, would permit, more breathless than an ant harnessed
to a blade of grass twenty times longer than itself.
"Victory! ~Te Deum~!" cried the scholar. "Here is the
ladder of the longshoremen of Port Saint-Landry."
Clopin approached him.
"Child, what do you mean to do, ~corne-dieu~! with this ladder?"
"I have it," replied Jehan, panting. "I knew where it was
under the shed of the lieutenant's house. There's a wench
there whom I know, who thinks me as handsome as Cupido.
I made use of her to get the ladder, and I have the ladder,
~Pasque-Mahom~! The poor girl came to open the door to me
in her shift."
"Yes," said Clopin, "but what are you going to do with
Jehan gazed at him with a malicious, knowing look, and
cracked his fingers like castanets. At that moment he
was sublime. On his head he wore one of those overloaded
helmets of the fifteenth century, which frightened the enemy
with their fanciful crests. His bristled with ten iron beaks,
so that Jehan could have disputed with Nestor's Homeric
vessel the redoubtable title of ~dexeubolos~.
"What do I mean to do with it, august king of Thunes?
Do you see that row of statues which have such idiotic
expressions, yonder, above the three portals?"
"'Tis the gallery of the kings of France."
"What is that to me?" said Clopin.
"Wait! At the end of that gallery there is a door which is
never fastened otherwise than with a latch, and with this
ladder I ascend, and I am in the church."
"Child let me be the first to ascend."
"No, comrade, the ladder is mine. Come, you shall be the
"May Beelzebub strangle you!" said surly Clopin, "I won't be
second to anybody."
"Then find a ladder, Clopin!"
Jehan set out on a run across the Place, dragging his ladder
and shouting: "Follow me, lads!"
In an instant the ladder was raised, and propped against
the balustrade of the lower gallery, above one of the lateral
doors. The throng of vagabonds, uttering loud acclamations,
crowded to its foot to ascend. But Jehan maintained his
right, and was the first to set foot on the rungs. The
passage was tolerably long. The gallery of the kings of France
is to-day about sixty feet above the pavement. The eleven
steps of the flight before the door, made it still higher.
Jehan mounted slowly, a good deal incommoded by his
heavy armor, holding his crossbow in one hand, and clinging
to a rung with the other. When he reached the middle of
the ladder, he cast a melancholy glance at the poor dead
outcasts, with which the steps were strewn. "Alas!" said he,
"here is a heap of bodies worthy of the fifth book of the
Iliad!" Then he continued his ascent. The vagabonds
followed him. There was one on every rung. At the sight of
this line of cuirassed backs, undulating as they rose through
the gloom, one would have pronounced it a serpent with steel
scales, which was raising itself erect in front of the church.
Jehan who formed the head, and who was whistling, completed
The scholar finally reached the balcony of the gallery, and
climbed over it nimbly, to the applause of the whole vagabond
tribe. Thus master of the citadel, he uttered a shout of joy,
and suddenly halted, petrified. He had just caught sight of
Quasimodo concealed in the dark, with flashing eye, behind
one of the statues of the kings.
Before a second assailant could gain a foothold on the
gallery, the formidable hunchback leaped to the head of the
ladder, without uttering a word, seized the ends of the two
uprights with his powerful hands, raised them, pushed them
out from the wall, balanced the long and pliant ladder, loaded
with vagabonds from top to bottom for a moment, in the
midst of shrieks of anguish, then suddenly, with superhuman
force, hurled this cluster of men backward into the Place.
There was a moment when even the most resolute trembled.
The ladder, launched backwards, remained erect and standing
for an instant, and seemed to hesitate, then wavered, then
suddenly, describing a frightful arc of a circle eighty feet in
radius, crashed upon the pavement with its load of ruffians,
more rapidly than a drawbridge when its chains break.
There arose an immense imprecation, then all was still,
and a few mutilated wretches were seen, crawling over the
heap of dead.
A sound of wrath and grief followed the first cries of
triumph among the besiegers. Quasimodo, impassive, with
both elbows propped on the balustrade, looked on. He had
the air of an old, bushy-headed king at his window.
As for Jehan Frollo, he was in a critical position. He
found himself in the gallery with the formidable bellringer,
alone, separated from his companions by a vertical wall
eighty feet high. While Quasimodo was dealing with the
ladder, the scholar had run to the postern which he believed
to be open. It was not. The deaf man had closed it behind
him when he entered the gallery. Jehan had then concealed
himself behind a stone king, not daring to breathe, and fixing
upon the monstrous hunchback a frightened gaze, like the
man, who, when courting the wife of the guardian of a
menagerie, went one evening to a love rendezvous, mistook
the wall which he was to climb, and suddenly found himself
face to face with a white bear.
For the first few moments, the deaf man paid no heed to
him; but at last he turned his head, and suddenly straightened
up. He had just caught sight of the scholar.
Jehan prepared himself for a rough shock, but the deaf
man remained motionless; only he had turned towards the
scholar and was looking at him.
"Ho ho!" said Jehan, "what do you mean by staring at me with
that solitary and melancholy eye?"
As he spoke thus, the young scamp stealthily adjusted his
"Quasimodo!" he cried, "I am going to change your surname:
you shall be called the blind man."
The shot sped. The feathered vireton* whizzed and entered
the hunchback's left arm. Quasimodo appeared no more
moved by it than by a scratch to King Pharamond. He laid his
hand on the arrow, tore it from his arm, and tranquilly broke it
across his big knee; then he let the two pieces drop on the floor,
rather than threw them down. But Jehan had no opportunity
to fire a second time. The arrow broken, Quasimodo breathing
heavily, bounded like a grasshopper, and he fell upon the
scholar, whose armor was flattened against the wall by the blow.
* An arrow with a pyramidal head of iron and copper spiral wings by
which a rotatory motion was communicated,
Then in that gloom, wherein wavered the light of the torches, a
terrible thing was seen.
Quasimodo had grasped with his left hand the two arms of
Jehan, who did not offer any resistance, so thoroughly did he
feel that he was lost. With his right hand, the deaf man
detached one by one, in silence, with sinister slowness, all the
pieces of his armor, the sword, the daggers, the helmet, the
cuirass, the leg pieces. One would have said that it was a
monkey taking the shell from a nut. Quasimodo flung the
scholar's iron shell at his feet, piece by piece.
When the scholar beheld himself disarmed, stripped, weak,
and naked in those terrible hands, he made no attempt to
speak to the deaf man, but began to laugh audaciously in his
face, and to sing with his intrepid heedlessness of a child of
sixteen, the then popular ditty:-
"~Elle est bien habillée,
La ville de Cambrai;
Marafin l'a pillée~..."*
* The city of Cambrai is well dressed. Marafin plundered it.
He did not finish. Quasimodo was seen on the parapet of
the gallery, holding the scholar by the feet with one hand
and whirling him over the abyss like a sling; then a sound
like that of a bony structure in contact with a wall was
heard, and something was seen to fall which halted a third
of the way down in its fall, on a projection in the
architecture. It was a dead body which remained hanging
there, bent double, its loins broken, its skull empty.
A cry of horror rose among the vagabonds.
"Vengeance!" shouted Clopin. "To the sack!" replied the
multitude. "Assault! assault!"
There came a tremendous howl, in which were mingled
all tongues, all dialects, all accents. The death of the poor
scholar imparted a furious ardor to that crowd. It was seized
with shame, and the wrath of having been held so long in
check before a church by a hunchback. Rage found ladders,
multiplied the torches, and, at the expiration of a few minutes,
Quasimodo, in despair, beheld that terrible ant heap mount on
all sides to the assault of Notre-Dame. Those who had no
ladders had knotted ropes; those who had no ropes climbed
by the projections of the carvings. They hung from each
other's rags. There were no means of resisting that rising
tide of frightful faces; rage made these fierce countenances
ruddy; their clayey brows were dripping with sweat; their
eyes darted lightnings; all these grimaces, all these horrors
laid siege to Quasimodo. One would have said that some
other church had despatched to the assault of Notre-Dame its
gorgons, its dogs, its drées, its demons, its most fantastic
sculptures. It was like a layer of living monsters on the
stone monsters of the façade.
Meanwhile, the Place was studded with a thousand torches.
This scene of confusion, till now hid in darkness, was
suddenly flooded with light. The parvis was resplendent, and
cast a radiance on the sky; the bonfire lighted on the lofty
platform was still burning, and illuminated the city far away.
The enormous silhouette of the two towers, projected afar on
the roofs of Paris, and formed a large notch of black in this
light. The city seemed to be aroused. Alarm bells wailed in
the distance. The vagabonds howled, panted, swore, climbed;
and Quasimodo, powerless against so many enemies, shuddering
for the gypsy, beholding the furious faces approaching
ever nearer and nearer to his gallery, entreated heaven
for a miracle, and wrung his arms in despair.
THE RETREAT IN WHICH MONSIEUR LOUIS OF FRANCE SAYS HIS PRAYERS.
The reader has not, perhaps, forgotten that one moment
before catching sight of the nocturnal band of vagabonds,
Quasimodo, as he inspected Paris from the heights of his bell
tower, perceived only one light burning, which gleamed like a
star from a window on the topmost story of a lofty edifice
beside the Porte Saint-Antoine. This edifice was the Bastille.
That star was the candle of Louis XI.
King Louis XI. had, in fact, been two days in Paris. He
was to take his departure on the next day but one for his
citadel of Montilz-les-Tours. He made but seldom and brief
appearance in his good city of Paris, since there he did not
feel about him enough pitfalls, gibbets, and Scotch archers.
He had come, that day, to sleep at the Bastille. The great
chamber five toises* square, which he had at the Louvre, with
its huge chimney-piece loaded with twelve great beasts and
thirteen great prophets, and his grand bed, eleven feet by
twelve, pleased him but little. He felt himself lost amid
all this grandeur. This good bourgeois king preferred the
Bastille with a tiny chamber and couch. And then, the
Bastille was stronger than the Louvre.
* An ancient long measure in France, containing six feet
and nearly five inches English measure.
This little chamber, which the king reserved for himself in
the famous state prison, was also tolerably spacious and
occupied the topmost story of a turret rising from the donjon
keep. It was circular in form, carpeted with mats of shining
straw, ceiled with beams, enriched with fleurs-de-lis of gilded
metal with interjoists in color; wainscoated with rich woods
sown with rosettes of white metal, and with others painted a
fine, bright green, made of orpiment and fine indigo.
There was only one window, a long pointed casement, latticed
with brass wire and bars of iron, further darkened by fine
colored panes with the arms of the king and of the queen,
each pane being worth two and twenty sols.
There was but one entrance, a modern door, with a fiat arch,
garnished with a piece of tapestry on the inside, and on the
outside by one of those porches of Irish wood, frail edifices
of cabinet-work curiously wrought, numbers of which were
still to be seen in old houses a hundred and fifty years
ago. "Although they disfigure and embarrass the places,"
says Sauvel in despair, "our old people are still unwilling
to get rid of them, and keep them in spite of everybody."
In this chamber, nothing was to be found of what furnishes
ordinary apartments, neither benches, nor trestles, nor forms,
nor common stools in the form of a chest, nor fine stools
sustained by pillars and counter-pillars, at four sols a piece.
Only one easy arm-chair, very magnificent, was to be seen; the
wood was painted with roses on a red ground, the seat was of
ruby Cordovan leather, ornamented with long silken fringes,
and studded with a thousand golden nails. The loneliness of
this chair made it apparent that only one person had a right
to sit down in this apartment. Beside the chair, and quite
close to the window, there was a table covered with a cloth
with a pattern of birds. On this table stood an inkhorn
spotted with ink, some parchments, several pens, and a large
goblet of chased silver. A little further on was a brazier,
a praying stool in crimson velvet, relieved with small bosses
of gold. Finally, at the extreme end of the room, a simple
bed of scarlet and yellow damask, without either tinsel or
lace; having only an ordinary fringe. This bed, famous for
having borne the sleep or the sleeplessness of Louis XI., was
still to be seen two hundred years ago, at the house of a
councillor of state, where it was seen by old Madame Pilou,
celebrated in _Cyrus_ under the name "Arricidie" and of "la
Such was the chamber which was called "the retreat where
Monsieur Louis de France says his prayers."
At the moment when we have introduced the reader into it,
this retreat was very dark. The curfew bell had sounded an
hour before; night was come, and there was only one flickering
wax candle set on the table to light five persons variously
grouped in the chamber.
The first on which the light fell was a seigneur superbly
clad in breeches and jerkin of scarlet striped with silver,
and a loose coat with half sleeves of cloth of gold with black
figures. This splendid costume, on which the light played,
seemed glazed with flame on every fold. The man who wore
it had his armorial bearings embroidered on his breast in vivid
colors; a chevron accompanied by a deer passant. The shield
was flanked, on the right by an olive branch, on the left by a
deer's antlers. This man wore in his girdle a rich dagger
whose hilt, of silver gilt, was chased in the form of a helmet,
and surmounted by a count's coronet. He had a forbidding
air, a proud mien, and a head held high. At the first glance
one read arrogance on his visage; at the second, craft.
He was standing bareheaded, a long roll of parchment in
his hand, behind the arm-chair in which was seated, his body
ungracefully doubled up, his knees crossed, his elbow on the
table, a very badly accoutred personage. Let the reader
imagine in fact, on the rich seat of Cordova leather, two
crooked knees, two thin thighs, poorly clad in black worsted
tricot, a body enveloped in a cloak of fustian, with fur trimming
of which more leather than hair was visible; lastly, to crown
all, a greasy old hat of the worst sort of black cloth, bordered
with a circular string of leaden figures. This, in company with
a dirty skull-cap, which hardly allowed a hair to escape, was
all that distinguished the seated personage. He held his head
so bent upon his breast, that nothing was to be seen of his
face thus thrown into shadow, except the tip of his nose, upon
which fell a ray of light, and which must have been long.
From the thinness of his wrinkled hand, one divined that he
was an old man. It was Louis XI.
At some distance behind them, two men dressed in garments
of Flemish style were conversing, who were not sufficiently
lost in the shadow to prevent any one who had been present
at the performance of Gringoire's mystery from recognizing in
them two of the principal Flemish envoys, Guillaume Rym,
the sagacious pensioner of Ghent, and Jacques Coppenole, the
popular hosier. The reader will remember that these men
were mixed up in the secret politics of Louis XI.
Finally, quite at the end of the room, near the door, in
the dark, stood, motionless as a statue, a vigorous man with
thickset limbs, a military harness, with a surcoat of armorial
bearings, whose square face pierced with staring eyes, slit
with an immense mouth, his ears concealed by two large screens of
flat hair, had something about it both of the dog and the tiger.
All were uncovered except the king.
The gentleman who stood near the king was reading him a
sort of long memorial to which his majesty seemed to be
listening attentively. The two Flemings were whispering together.
"Cross of God!" grumbled Coppenole, "I am tired of standing; is
there no chair here?"
Rym replied by a negative gesture, accompanied by a discreet smile.
"Croix-Dieu!" resumed Coppenole, thoroughly unhappy at
being obliged to lower his voice thus, "I should like to sit
down on the floor, with my legs crossed, like a hosier, as I do
in my shop."
"Take good care that you do not, Master Jacques."
"Ouais! Master Guillaume! can one only remain here on his feet?"
"Or on his knees," said Rym.
At that moment the king's voice was uplifted. They held their peace.
"Fifty sols for the robes of our valets, and twelve livres for
the mantles of the clerks of our crown! That's it! Pour out
gold by the ton! Are you mad, Olivier?"
As he spoke thus, the old man raised his head. The golden
shells of the collar of Saint-Michael could be seen gleaming on
his neck. The candle fully illuminated his gaunt and morose
profile. He tore the papers from the other's hand.
"You are ruining us!" he cried, casting his hollow eyes
over the scroll. "What is all this? What need have we of so
prodigious a household? Two chaplains at ten livres a month
each, and, a chapel clerk at one hundred sols! A valet-de-
chambre at ninety livres a year. Four head cooks at six score
livres a year each! A spit-cook, an herb-cook, a sauce-cook,
a butler, two sumpter-horse lackeys, at ten livres a month
each! Two scullions at eight livres! A groom of the stables
and his two aids at four and twenty livres a month! A porter,
a pastry-cook, a baker, two carters, each sixty livres a year!
And the farrier six score livres! And the master of the
chamber of our funds, twelve hundred livres! And the
comptroller five hundred. And how do I know what else?
'Tis ruinous. The wages of our servants are putting France
to the pillage! All the ingots of the Louvre will melt before
such a fire of expenses! We shall have to sell our plate!
And next year, if God and our Lady (here he raised his hat)
lend us life, we shall drink our potions from a pewter pot!"
So saying, he cast a glance at the silver goblet which
gleamed upon the table. He coughed and continued,--
"Master Olivier, the princes who reign over great lordships,
like kings and emperors, should not allow sumptuousness in
their houses; for the fire spreads thence through the province.
Hence, Master Olivier, consider this said once for all. Our
expenditure increases every year. The thing displease us.
How, ~pasque-Dieu~! when in '79 it did not exceed six and
thirty thousand livres, did it attain in '80, forty-three
thousand six hundred and nineteen livres? I have the figures
in my head. In '81, sixty-six thousand six hundred and eighty
livres, and this year, by the faith of my body, it will reach
eighty thousand livres! Doubled in four years! Monstrous!"
He paused breathless, then resumed energetically,--
"I behold around me only people who fatten on my leanness! you
suck crowns from me at every pore."
All remained silent. This was one of those fits of wrath
which are allowed to take their course. He continued,--
"'Tis like that request in Latin from the gentlemen of
France, that we should re-establish what they call the grand
charges of the Crown! Charges in very deed! Charges which
crush! Ah! gentlemen! you say that we are not a king to
reign ~dapifero nullo, buticulario nullo~! We will let you see,
~pasque-Dieu~! whether we are not a king!"
Here he smiled, in the consciousness of his power; this
softened his bad humor, and he turned towards the Flemings,--
"Do you see, Gossip Guillaume? the grand warden of the
keys, the grand butler, the grand chamberlain, the grand
seneschal are not worth the smallest valet. Remember this,
Gossip Coppenole. They serve no purpose, as they stand thus
useless round the king; they produce upon me the effect of the
four Evangelists who surround the face of the big clock of the
palace, and which Philippe Brille has just set in order afresh.
They are gilt, but they do not indicate the hour; and the
hands can get on without them."
He remained in thought for a moment, then added, shaking
his aged head,--
"Ho! ho! by our Lady, I am not Philippe Brille, and I
shall not gild the great vassals anew. Continue, Olivier."
The person whom he designated by this name, took the
papers into his hands again, and began to read aloud,--
"To Adam Tenon, clerk of the warden of the seals of the
provostship of Paris; for the silver, making, and engraving
of said seals, which have been made new because the others
preceding, by reason of their antiquity and their worn condition,
could no longer be successfully used, twelve livres parisis.
"To Guillaume Frère, the sum of four livres, four sols parisis,
for his trouble and salary, for having nourished and fed
the doves in the two dove-cots of the Hôtel des Tournelles,
during the months of January, February, and March of this
year; and for this he hath given seven sextiers of barley.
"To a gray friar for confessing a criminal, four sols parisis."
The king listened in silence. From time to time be
coughed; then he raised the goblet to his lips and drank a
draught with a grimace.
"During this year there have been made by the ordinance
of justice, to the sound of the trumpet, through the squares of
Paris, fifty-six proclamations. Account to be regulated.
"For having searched and ransacked in certain places, in
Paris as well as elsewhere, for money said to be there concealed;
but nothing hath been found: forty-five livres parisis."
"Bury a crown to unearth a sou!" said the king.
"For having set in the Hôtel des Tournelles six panes
of white glass in the place where the iron cage is, thirteen
sols; for having made and delivered by command of the king,
on the day of the musters, four shields with the escutcheons of
the said seigneur, encircled with garlands of roses all about,
six livres; for two new sleeves to the king's old doublet,
twenty sols; for a box of grease to grease the boots of the
king, fifteen deniers; a stable newly made to lodge the king's
black pigs, thirty livres parisis; many partitions, planks, and
trap-doors, for the safekeeping of the lions at Saint-Paul,
"These be dear beasts," said Louis XI. "It matters not; it
is a fine magnificence in a king. There is a great red lion
whom I love for his pleasant ways. Have you seen him, Master
Guillaume? Princes must have these terrific animals; for
we kings must have lions for our dogs and tigers for our cats.
The great befits a crown. In the days of the pagans of Jupiter,
when the people offered the temples a hundred oxen and a
hundred sheep, the emperors gave a hundred lions and a
hundred eagles. This was wild and very fine. The kings of
France have always had roarings round their throne. Nevertheless,
people must do me this justice, that I spend still less
money on it than they did, and that I possess a greater modesty
of lions, bears, elephants, and leopards.--Go on, Master
Olivier. We wished to say thus much to our Flemish friends."
Guillaume Rym bowed low, while Coppenole, with his surly
mien, had the air of one of the bears of which his majesty was
speaking. The king paid no heed. He had just dipped his
lips into the goblet, and he spat out the beverage, saying:
"Foh! what a disagreeable potion!" The man who was reading
"For feeding a rascally footpad, locked up these six months
in the little cell of the flayer, until it should be determined
what to do with him, six livres, four sols."
"What's that?" interrupted the king; "feed what ought to
be hanged! ~Pasque-Dieu~! I will give not a sou more for
that nourishment. Olivier, come to an understanding about
the matter with Monsieur d'Estouteville, and prepare me this
very evening the wedding of the gallant and the gallows. Resume."
Olivier made a mark with his thumb against the article of
the "rascally foot soldier," and passed on.
"To Henriet Cousin, master executor of the high works of
justice in Paris, the sum of sixty sols parisis, to him assessed
and ordained by monseigneur the provost of Paris, for having
bought, by order of the said sieur the provost, a great broad
sword, serving to execute and decapitate persons who are by
justice condemned for their demerits, and he hath caused the
same to be garnished with a sheath and with all things thereto
appertaining; and hath likewise caused to be repointed and
set in order the old sword, which had become broken and
notched in executing justice on Messire Louis de Luxembourg,
as will more fully appear .
The king interrupted: "That suffices. I allow the sum
with great good will. Those are expenses which I do not
begrudge. I have never regretted that money. Continue."
"For having made over a great cage..."
"Ah!" said the king, grasping the arms of his chair in
both hands, "I knew well that I came hither to this Bastille
for some purpose. Hold, Master Olivier; I desire to see
that cage myself. You shall read me the cost while I am
examining it. Messieurs Flemings, come and see this; 'tis
Then he rose, leaned on the arm of his interlocutor, made a
sign to the sort of mute who stood before the door to precede
him, to the two Flemings to follow him, and quitted the room.
The royal company was recruited, at the door of the retreat,
by men of arms, all loaded down with iron, and by slender
pages bearing flambeaux. It marched for some time through
the interior of the gloomy donjon, pierced with staircases and
corridors even in the very thickness of the walls. The
captain of the Bastille marched at their head, and caused
the wickets to be opened before the bent and aged king, who
coughed as he walked.
At each wicket, all heads were obliged to stoop, except that
of the old man bent double with age. "Hum," said he between
his gums, for he had no longer any teeth, "we are already
quite prepared for the door of the sepulchre. For a low door,
a bent passer."
At length, after having passed a final wicket, so loaded
with locks that a quarter of an hour was required to open it,
they entered a vast and lofty vaulted hall, in the centre of
which they could distinguish by the light of the torches, a
huge cubic mass of masonry, iron, and wood. The interior
was hollow. It was one of those famous cages of prisoners
of state, which were called "the little daughters of the king."
In its walls there were two or three little windows so closely
trellised with stout iron bars; that the glass was not visible.
The door was a large flat slab of stone, as on tombs; the sort
of door which serves for entrance only. Only here, the occupant
The king began to walk slowly round the little edifice,
examining it carefully, while Master Olivier, who followed
him, read aloud the note.
"For having made a great cage of wood of solid beams,
timbers and wall-plates, measuring nine feet in length by
eight in breadth, and of the height of seven feet between
the partitions, smoothed and clamped with great bolts of iron,
which has been placed in a chamber situated in one of the
towers of the Bastille Saint-Antoine, in which cage is placed
and detained, by command of the king our lord, a prisoner
who formerly inhabited an old, decrepit, and ruined cage.
There have been employed in making the said new cage,
ninety-six horizontal beams, and fifty-two upright joists,
ten wall plates three toises long; there have been occupied
nineteen carpenters to hew, work, and fit all the said wood
in the courtyard of the Bastille during twenty days."
"Very fine heart of oak," said the king, striking the woodwork
with his fist.
"There have been used in this cage," continued the other,
"two hundred and twenty great bolts of iron, of nine feet,
and of eight, the rest of medium length, with the rowels,
caps and counterbands appertaining to the said bolts;
weighing, the said iron in all, three thousand, seven hundred
and thirty-five pounds; beside eight great squares of iron,
serving to attach the said cage in place with clamps and
nails weighing in all two hundred and eighteen pounds, not
reckoning the iron of the trellises for the windows of the
chamber wherein the cage hath been placed, the bars of iron
for the door of the cage and other things."
"'Tis a great deal of iron," said the king, "to contain the
light of a spirit."
"The whole amounts to three hundred and seventeen livres,
five sols, seven deniers."
"~Pasque-Dieu~!" exclaimed the king.
At this oath, which was the favorite of Louis XI., some one
seemed to awaken in the interior of the cage; the sound of
chains was heard, grating on the floor, and a feeble voice,
which seemed to issue from the tomb was uplifted. "Sire!
sire! mercy!" The one who spoke thus could not be seen.
"Three hundred and seventeen livres, five sols, seven deniers,"
repeated Louis XI.
The lamentable voice which had proceeded from the cage
had frozen all present, even Master Olivier himself. The
king alone wore the air of not having heard. At his order,
Master Olivier resumed his reading, and his majesty coldly
continued his inspection of the cage.
"In addition to this there hath been paid to a mason who
hath made the holes wherein to place the gratings of the
windows, and the floor of the chamber where the cage is,
because that floor could not support this cage by reason
of its weight, twenty-seven livres fourteen sols parisis."
The voice began to moan again.
"Mercy, sire! I swear to you that 'twas Monsieur the Cardinal
d'Angers and not I, who was guilty of treason."
"The mason is bold!" said the king. "Continue, Olivier."
"To a joiner for window frames, bedstead, hollow stool, and
other things, twenty livres, two sols parisis."
The voice also continued.
"Alas, sire! will you not listen to me? I protest to you
that 'twas not I who wrote the matter to Monseigneur do
Guyenne, but Monsieur le Cardinal Balue."
"The joiner is dear," quoth the king. "Is that all?"
"No, sire. To a glazier, for the windows of the said chamber,
forty-six sols, eight deniers parisis."
"Have mercy, sire! Is it not enough to have given all my
goods to my judges, my plate to Monsieur de Torcy, my
library to Master Pierre Doriolle, my tapestry to the governor
of the Roussillon? I am innocent. I have been shivering
in an iron cage for fourteen years. Have mercy, sire!
You will find your reward in heaven."
"Master Olivier," said the king, "the total?"
"Three hundred sixty-seven livres, eight sols, three deniers
"Notre-Dame!" cried the king. "This is an outrageous cage!"
He tore the book from Master Olivier's hands, and set to
reckoning it himself upon his fingers, examining the paper
and the cage alternately. Meanwhile, the prisoner could be
heard sobbing. This was lugubrious in the darkness, and
their faces turned pale as they looked at each other.
"Fourteen years, sire! Fourteen years now! since the
month of April, 1469. In the name of the Holy Mother of
God, sire, listen to me! During all this time you have
enjoyed the heat of the sun. Shall I, frail creature, never
more behold the day? Mercy, sire! Be pitiful! Clemency is
a fine, royal virtue, which turns aside the currents of wrath.
Does your majesty believe that in the hour of death it will
be a great cause of content for a king never to have left
any offence unpunished? Besides, sire, I did not betray your
majesty, 'twas Monsieur d'Angers; and I have on my foot a very
heavy chain, and a great ball of iron at the end, much heavier
than it should be in reason. Eh! sire! Have pity on me!"
"Olivier," cried the king, throwing back his head, "I observe
that they charge me twenty sols a hogshead for plaster, while
it is worth but twelve. You will refer back this account."
He turned his back on the cage, and set out to leave the
room. The miserable prisoner divined from the removal
of the torches and the noise, that the king was taking his
"Sire! sire!" be cried in despair.
The door closed again. He no longer saw anything, and
heard only the hoarse voice of the turnkey, singing in his ears
"~Maître Jean Balue,
A perdu la vue
De ses évêchés.
Monsieur de Verdun.
N'en a plus pas un;
Tous sont dépêchés~."*
* Master Jean Balue has lost sight of his bishoprics.
Monsieur of Verdun has no longer one; all have been
The king reascended in silence to his retreat, and his suite
followed him, terrified by the last groans of the condemned
man. All at once his majesty turned to the Governor of the
"By the way," said he, "was there not some one in that cage?"
"Pardieu, yes sire!" replied the governor, astounded by
"And who was it?"
"Monsieur the Bishop of Verdun."
The king knew this better than any one else. But it was a
mania of his.
"Ah!" said he, with the innocent air of thinking of it for
the first time, "Guillaume de Harancourt, the friend of
Monsieur the Cardinal Balue. A good devil of a bishop!"
At the expiration of a few moments, the door of the retreat
had opened again, then closed upon the five personages whom
the reader has seen at the beginning of this chapter, and who
resumed their places, their whispered conversations, and their
During the king's absence, several despatches had been
placed on his table, and he broke the seals himself. Then he
began to read them promptly, one after the other, made a sign
to Master Olivier who appeared to exercise the office of
minister, to take a pen, and without communicating to him
the contents of the despatches, he began to dictate in a low
voice, the replies which the latter wrote, on his knees, in an
inconvenient attitude before the table.
Guillaume Rym was on the watch.
The king spoke so low that the Flemings heard nothing of
his dictation, except some isolated and rather unintelligible
scraps, such as,--
"To maintain the fertile places by commerce, and the sterile
by manufactures....--To show the English lords our four
bombards, London, Brabant, Bourg-en-Bresse, Saint-
Omer....--Artillery is the cause of war being made more
judiciously now....--To Monsieur de Bressuire, our
friend....--Armies cannot be maintained without tribute, etc.
Once he raised his voice,--
"~Pasque Dieu~! Monsieur the King of Sicily seals his
letters with yellow wax, like a king of France. Perhaps
we are in the wrong to permit him so to do. My fair cousin
of Burgundy granted no armorial bearings with a field of gules.
The grandeur of houses is assured by the integrity of
prerogatives. Note this, friend Olivier."
"Oh! oh!" said he, "What a long message! What doth
our brother the emperor claim?" And running his eye over
the missive and breaking his reading with interjection:
"Surely! the Germans are so great and powerful, that it is
hardly credible--But let us not forget the old proverb: 'The
finest county is Flanders; the finest duchy, Milan; the finest
kingdom, France.' Is it not so, Messieurs Flemings?"
This time Coppenole bowed in company with Guillaume Rym. The
hosier's patriotism was tickled.
The last despatch made Louis XI. frown.
"What is this?" be said, "Complaints and fault finding
against our garrisons in Picardy! Olivier, write with diligence
to M. the Marshal de Rouault:--That discipline is relaxed.
That the gendarmes of the unattached troops, the feudal
nobles, the free archers, and the Swiss inflict infinite evils
on the rustics.--That the military, not content with what they
find in the houses of the rustics, constrain them with violent
blows of cudgel or of lash to go and get wine, spices, and
other unreasonable things in the town.--That monsieur the
king knows this. That we undertake to guard our people
against inconveniences, larcenies and pillage.--That such is
our will, by our Lady!--That in addition, it suits us not that
any fiddler, barber, or any soldier varlet should be clad like
a prince, in velvet, cloth of silk, and rings of gold.--That
these vanities are hateful to God.--That we, who are gentlemen,
content ourselves with a doublet of cloth at sixteen sols the
ell, of Paris.--That messieurs the camp-followers can very
well come down to that, also.--Command and ordain.--To
Monsieur de Rouault, our friend.--Good."
He dictated this letter aloud, in a firm tone, and in jerks.
At the moment when he finished it, the door opened and gave
passage to a new personage, who precipitated himself into the
chamber, crying in affright,--
"Sire! sire! there is a sedition of the populace in Paris!"
Louis XI.'s grave face contracted; but all that was visible
of his emotion passed away like a flash of lightning. He
controlled himself and said with tranquil severity,--
"Gossip Jacques, you enter very abruptly!"
"Sire! sire! there is a revolt!" repeated Gossip Jacques
The king, who had risen, grasped him roughly by the arm,
and said in his ear, in such a manner as to be heard by him
alone, with concentrated rage and a sidelong glance at the
"Hold your tongue! or speak low!"
The new comer understood, and began in a low tone to give
a very terrified account, to which the king listened calmly,
while Guillaume Rym called Coppenole's attention to the face
and dress of the new arrival, to his furred cowl, (~caputia
fourrata~), his short cape, (~epitogia curta~), his robe of black velvet,
which bespoke a president of the court of accounts.
Hardly had this personage given the king some explanations,
when Louis XI. exclaimed, bursting into a laugh,--
"In truth? Speak aloud, Gossip Coictier! What call is
there for you to talk so low? Our Lady knoweth that we conceal
nothing from our good friends the Flemings."
Gossip Coictier was struck dumb with surprise.
"So," resumed the king,--"speak sir,--there is a commotion
among the louts in our good city of Paris?"
"And which is moving you say, against monsieur the bailiff of
"So it appears," said the gossip, who still stammered, utterly
astounded by the abrupt and inexplicable change which had
just taken place in the king's thoughts.
Louis XI. continued: "Where did the watch meet the rabble?"
"Marching from the Grand Truanderie, towards the Pont-aux-
Changeurs. I met it myself as I was on my way hither to
obey your majesty's commands. I heard some of them shouting:
'Down with the bailiff of the palace!'"
"And what complaints have they against the bailiff?"
"Ah!" said Gossip Jacques, "because he is their lord."
"Yes, sire. They are knaves from the Cour-des-Miracles.
They have been complaining this long while, of the bailiff,
whose vassals they are. They do not wish to recognize him
either as judge or as voyer?"*
* One in charge of the highways.
"Yes, certainly!" retorted the king with a smile of satis-
faction which he strove in vain to disguise.
"In all their petitions to the Parliament, they claim to have
but two masters. Your majesty and their God, who is the
devil, I believe."
"Eh! eh!" said the king.
He rubbed his hands, he laughed with that inward mirth
which makes the countenance beam; he was unable to dissimulate
his joy, although he endeavored at moments to compose
himself. No one understood it in the least, not even Master
Olivier. He remained silent for a moment, with a thoughtful
but contented air.
"Are they in force?" he suddenly inquired.
"Yes, assuredly, sire," replied Gossip Jacques.
"Six thousand at the least."
The king could not refrain from saying: "Good!" he went on,--
"Are they armed?"
"With scythes, pikes, hackbuts, pickaxes. All sorts of very
The king did not appear in the least disturbed by this list.
Jacques considered it his duty to add,--
"If your majesty does not send prompt succor to the bailiff,
he is lost."
"We will send," said the king with an air of false seriousness.
"It is well. Assuredly we will send. Monsieur the bailiff
is our friend. Six thousand! They are desperate scamps!
Their audacity is marvellous, and we are greatly enraged at it.
But we have only a few people about us to-night. To-morrow
morning will be time enough."
Gossip Jacques exclaimed, "Instantly, sire! there will be
time to sack the bailiwick a score of times, to violate the
seignory, to hang the bailiff. For God's sake, sire! send
before to-morrow morning."
The king looked him full in the face. "I have told you
It was one Of those looks to which one does not reply.
After a silence, Louis XI. raised his voice once more,--
"You should know that, Gossip Jacques. What was--"
He corrected himself. "What is the bailiff's feudal jurisdiction?"
"Sire, the bailiff of the palace has the Rue Calendre as far
as the Rue de l'Herberie, the Place Saint-Michel, and the
localities vulgarly known as the Mureaux, situated near the
church of Notre-Dame des Champs (here Louis XI. raised
the brim of his hat), which hotels number thirteen, plus the
Cour des Miracles, plus the Maladerie, called the Banlieue,
plus the whole highway which begins at that Maladerie and
ends at the Porte Sainte-Jacques. Of these divers places he
is voyer, high, middle, and low, justiciary, full seigneur."
"Bless me!" said the king, scratching his left ear with his
right hand, "that makes a goodly bit of my city! Ah! monsieur
the bailiff was king of all that."
This time he did not correct himself. He continued dreamily,
and as though speaking to himself,--
"Very fine, monsieur the bailiff! You had there between
your teeth a pretty slice of our Paris."
All at once he broke out explosively, "~Pasque-Dieu~!"
What people are those who claim to be voyers, justiciaries,
lords and masters in our domains? who have their tollgates
at the end of every field? their gallows and their hangman
at every cross-road among our people? So that as the Greek
believed that he had as many gods as there were fountains,
and the Persian as many as he beheld stars, the Frenchman
counts as many kings as he sees gibbets! Pardieu! 'tis an
evil thing, and the confusion of it displeases me. I should
greatly like to know whether it be the mercy of God that
there should be in Paris any other lord than the king, any
other judge than our parliament, any other emperor than
ourselves in this empire! By the faith of my soul! the day
must certainly come when there shall exist in France but one
king, one lord, one judge, one headsman, as there is in paradise
but one God!"
He lifted his cap again, and continued, still dreamily, with
the air and accent of a hunter who is cheering on his pack of
hounds: "Good, my people! bravely done! break these false
lords! do your duty! at them! have at them! pillage them!
take them! sack them!....Ah! you want to be kings, messeigneurs?
On, my people on!"
Here he interrupted himself abruptly, bit his lips as though
to take back his thought which had already half escaped,
bent his piercing eyes in turn on each of the five persons
who surrounded him, and suddenly grasping his hat with
both hands and staring full at it, he said to it: "Oh! I
would burn you if you knew what there was in my head."
Then casting about him once more the cautious and uneasy
glance of the fox re-entering his hole,--
"No matter! we will succor monsieur the bailiff.
Unfortunately, we have but few troops here at the present moment,
against so great a populace. We must wait until to-morrow.
The order will be transmitted to the City and every one who
is caught will be immediately hung."
"By the way, sire," said Gossip Coictier, "I had forgotten
that in the first agitation, the watch have seized two laggards
of the band. If your majesty desires to see these men, they
"If I desire to see them!" cried the king. "What! ~Pasque-
Dieu~! You forget a thing like that! Run quick, you, Olivier!
Go, seek them!"
Master Olivier quitted the room and returned a moment
later with the two prisoners, surrounded by archers of the
guard. The first had a coarse, idiotic, drunken and
astonished face. He was clothed in rags, and walked with
one knee bent and dragging his leg. The second had a pallid
and smiling countenance, with which the reader is already
The king surveyed them for a moment without uttering a
word, then addressing the first one abruptly,--
"What's your name?"
"What were you going to do in this damnable sedition?"
The outcast stared at the king, and swung his arms with a
He had one of those awkwardly shaped heads where intelligence
is about as much at its ease as a light beneath an extinguisher.
"I know not," said he. "They went, I went."
"Were you not going to outrageously attack and pillage your lord,
the bailiff of the palace?"
"I know that they were going to take something from some one.
That is all."
A soldier pointed out to the king a billhook which he had seized
on the person of the vagabond.
"Do you recognize this weapon?" demanded the king.
"Yes; 'tis my billhook; I am a vine-dresser."
"And do you recognize this man as your companion?"
added Louis XI., pointing to the other prisoner.
"No, I do not know him."
"That will do," said the king, making a sign with his finger
to the silent personage who stood motionless beside the door,
to whom we have already called the reader's attention.
"Gossip Tristan, here is a man for you."
Tristan l'Hermite bowed. He gave an order in a low voice
to two archers, who led away the poor vagabond.
In the meantime, the king had approached the second prisoner,
who was perspiring in great drops: "Your name?"
"Sire, Pierre Gringoire."
"How do you permit yourself, knave, to go and besiege our
friend, monsieur the bailiff of the palace, and what have you
to say concerning this popular agitation?"
"Sire, I had nothing to do with it."
"Come, now! you wanton wretch, were not you apprehended
by the watch in that bad company?"
"No, sire, there is a mistake. 'Tis a fatality. I make
tragedies. Sire, I entreat your majesty to listen to me. I
am a poet. 'Tis the melancholy way of men of my profession
to roam the streets by night. I was passing there. It was
mere chance. I was unjustly arrested; I am innocent of this
civil tempest. Your majesty sees that the vagabond did
not recognize me. I conjure your majesty--"
"Hold your tongue!" said the king, between two swallows
of his ptisan. "You split our head!"
Tristan l'Hermite advanced and pointing to Gringoire,--
"Sire, can this one be hanged also?"
This was the first word that he had uttered.
"Phew!" replied the king, "I see no objection."
"I see a great many!" said Gringoire.
At that moment, our philosopher was greener than an olive.
He perceived from the king's cold and indifferent mien that
there was no other resource than something very pathetic,
and he flung himself at the feet of Louis XI., exclaiming,
with gestures of despair:--
"Sire! will your majesty deign to hear me. Sire! break
not in thunder over so small a thing as myself. God's great
lightning doth not bombard a lettuce. Sire, you are an
august and, very puissant monarch; have pity on a poor man
who is honest, and who would find it more difficult to stir up
a revolt than a cake of ice would to give out a spark! Very
gracious sire, kindness is the virtue of a lion and a king.
Alas! rigor only frightens minds; the impetuous gusts of
the north wind do not make the traveller lay aside his cloak;
the sun, bestowing his rays little by little, warms him in such
ways that it will make him strip to his shirt. Sire, you are
the sun. I protest to you, my sovereign lord and master, that
I am not an outcast, thief, and disorderly fellow. Revolt and
brigandage belong not to the outfit of Apollo. I am not the
man to fling myself into those clouds which break out into
seditious clamor. I am your majesty's faithful vassal. That
same jealousy which a husband cherisheth for the honor of
his wife, the resentment which the son hath for the love of
his father, a good vassal should feel for the glory of his king;
he should pine away for the zeal of this house, for the
aggrandizement of his service. Every other passion which
should transport him would be but madness. These, sire, are my
maxims of state: then do not judge me to be a seditious and
thieving rascal because my garment is worn at the elbows. If
you will grant me mercy, sire, I will wear it out on the knees
in praying to God for you night and morning! Alas! I am
not extremely rich, 'tis true. I am even rather poor. But
not vicious on that account. It is not my fault. Every one
knoweth that great wealth is not to be drawn from literature,
and that those who are best posted in good books do not
always have a great fire in winter. The advocate's trade
taketh all the grain, and leaveth only straw to the other
scientific professions. There are forty very excellent proverbs
anent the hole-ridden cloak of the philosopher. Oh, sire!
clemency is the only light which can enlighten the interior of
so great a soul. Clemency beareth the torch before all the other
virtues. Without it they are but blind men groping after
God in the dark. Compassion, which is the same thing as
clemency, causeth the love of subjects, which is the most
powerful bodyguard to a prince. What matters it to your
majesty, who dazzles all faces, if there is one poor man more
on earth, a poor innocent philosopher spluttering amid the
shadows of calamity, with an empty pocket which resounds
against his hollow belly? Moreover, sire, I am a man of
letters. Great kings make a pearl for their crowns by protecting
letters. Hercules did not disdain the title of Musagetes.
Mathias Corvin favored Jean de Monroyal, the ornament of
mathematics. Now, 'tis an ill way to protect letters to hang
men of letters. What a stain on Alexander if he had hung
Aristoteles! This act would not be a little patch on the face
of his reputation to embellish it, but a very malignant ulcer
to disfigure it. Sire! I made a very proper epithalamium for
Mademoiselle of Flanders and Monseigneur the very august
Dauphin. That is not a firebrand of rebellion. Your majesty
sees that I am not a scribbler of no reputation, that I have
studied excellently well, and that I possess much natural
eloquence. Have mercy upon me, sire! In so doing you will
perform a gallant deed to our Lady, and I swear to you that
I am greatly terrified at the idea of being hanged!"
So saying, the unhappy Gringoire kissed the king's slippers,
and Guillaume Rym said to Coppenole in a low tone: "He
doth well to drag himself on the earth. Kings are like the
Jupiter of Crete, they have ears only in their feet." And
without troubling himself about the Jupiter of Crete, the
hosier replied with a heavy smile, and his eyes fixed on
Gringoire: "Oh! that's it exactly! I seem to hear Chancellor
Hugonet craving mercy of me."
When Gringoire paused at last, quite out of breath, he
raised his head tremblingly towards the king, who was engaged
in scratching a spot on the knee of his breeches with his finger-
nail; then his majesty began to drink from the goblet of
ptisan. But he uttered not a word, and this silence tortured
Gringoire. At last the king looked at him. "Here is a terrible
bawler!" said, he. Then, turning to Tristan l'Hermite,
"Bali! let him go!"
Gringoire fell backwards, quite thunderstruck with joy.
"At liberty!" growled Tristan "Doth not your majesty
wish to have him detained a little while in a cage?"
"Gossip," retorted Louis XI., "think you that 'tis for birds
of this feather that we cause to be made cages at three hundred
and sixty-seven livres, eight sous, three deniers apiece?
Release him at once, the wanton (Louis XI. was fond of this
word which formed, with ~Pasque-Dieu~, the foundation of his
joviality), and put him out with a buffet."
"Ugh!" cried Gringoire, "what a great king is here!"
And for fear of a counter order, he rushed towards the door,
which Tristan opened for him with a very bad grace. The
soldiers left the room with him, pushing him before them
with stout thwacks, which Gringoire bore like a true stoical
The king's good humor since the revolt against the bailiff
had been announced to him, made itself apparent in every
way. This unwonted clemency was no small sign of it. Tristan
l'Hermite in his corner wore the surly look of a dog who
has had a bone snatched away from him.
Meanwhile, the king thrummed gayly with his fingers on the
arm of his chair, the March of Pont-Audemer. He was a
dissembling prince, but one who understood far better how to
hide his troubles than his joys. These external manifestations
of joy at any good news sometimes proceeded to very
great lengths thus, on the death, of Charles the Bold, to the
point of vowing silver balustrades to Saint Martin of Tours;
on his advent to the throne, so far as forgetting to order his
"Hé! sire!" suddenly exclaimed Jacques Coictier, "what
has become of the acute attack of illness for which your
majesty had me summoned?"
"Oh!" said the king, "I really suffer greatly, my gossip.
There is a hissing in my ear and fiery rakes rack my chest."
Coictier took the king's hand, and begun to feel of his pulse
with a knowing air.
"Look, Coppenole," said Rym, in a low voice. "Behold
him between Coictier and Tristan. They are his whole court.
A physician for himself, a headsman for others."
As he felt the king's pulse, Coictier assumed an air of
greater and greater alarm. Louis XI. watched him with some
anxiety. Coictier grew visibly more gloomy. The brave man
had no other farm than the king's bad health. He speculated
on it to the best of his ability.
"Oh! oh!" he murmured at length, "this is serious indeed."
"Is it not?" said the king, uneasily.
"~Pulsus creber, anhelans, crepitans, irregularis~," continued
"This may carry off its man in less than three days."
"Our Lady!" exclaimed the king. "And the remedy, gossip?"
"I am meditating upon that, sire."
He made Louis XI. put out his tongue, shook his head,
made a grimace, and in the very midst of these affectations,--
"Pardieu, sire," he suddenly said, "I must tell you that
there is a receivership of the royal prerogatives vacant, and
that I have a nephew."
"I give the receivership to your nephew, Gossip Jacques,"
replied the king; "but draw this fire from my breast."
"Since your majesty is so clement," replied the leech, "you
will not refuse to aid me a little in building my house, Rue
"Heugh!" said the king.
"I am at the end of my finances," pursued the doctor;
and it would really be a pity that the house should not have a
roof; not on account of the house, which is simple and thoroughly
bourgeois, but because of the paintings of Jehan Fourbault,
which adorn its wainscoating. There is a Diana flying
in the air, but so excellent, so tender, so delicate, of so
ingenuous an action, her hair so well coiffed and adorned with
a crescent, her flesh so white, that she leads into temptation
those who regard her too curiously. There is also a Ceres.
She is another very fair divinity. She is seated on sheaves
of wheat and crowned with a gallant garland of wheat ears
interlaced with salsify and other flowers. Never were seen
more amorous eyes, more rounded limbs, a nobler air, or a more
gracefully flowing skirt. She is one of the most innocent
and most perfect beauties whom the brush has ever produced."
"Executioner!" grumbled Louis XI., "what are you driving at?"
"I must have a roof for these paintings, sire, and, although
'tis but a small matter, I have no more money."
"How much doth your roof cost?"
"Why a roof of copper, embellished and gilt, two thousand
livres at the most."
"Ah, assassin!" cried the king, "He never draws out one
of my teeth which is not a diamond."
"Am I to have my roof?" said Coictier.
"Yes; and go to the devil, but cure me."
Jacques Coictier bowed low and said,--
"Sire, it is a repellent which will save you. We will
apply to your loins the great defensive composed of cerate,
Armenian bole, white of egg, oil, and vinegar. You will
continue your ptisan and we will answer for your majesty."
A burning candle does not attract one gnat alone. Master
Olivier, perceiving the king to be in a liberal mood, and judging
the moment to be propitious, approached in his turn.
"What is it now?" said Louis XI.
"Sire, your majesty knoweth that Simon Radin is dead?"
"He was councillor to the king in the matter of the courts
of the treasury."
"Sire, his place is vacant."
As he spoke thus, Master Olivier's haughty face quitted its
arrogant expression for a lowly one. It is the only change
which ever takes place in a courtier's visage. The king
looked him well in the face and said in a dry tone,--"I
"Master Olivier, the Marshal de Boucicaut was wont to say,
'There's no master save the king, there are no fishes save
in the sea.' I see that you agree with Monsieur de Boucicaut.
Now listen to this; we have a good memory. In '68
we made you valet of our chamber: in '69, guardian of the
fortress of the bridge of Saint-Cloud, at a hundred livres
of Tournay in wages (you wanted them of Paris). In November,
'73, by letters given to Gergeole, we instituted you
keeper of the Wood of Vincennes, in the place of Gilbert
Acle, equerry; in '75, gruyer* of the forest of Rouvray-lez-
Saint-Cloud, in the place of Jacques le Maire; in '78, we
graciously settled on you, by letters patent sealed doubly
with green wax, an income of ten livres parisis, for you and
your wife, on the Place of the Merchants, situated at the
School Saint-Germain; in '79, we made you gruyer of the
forest of Senart, in place of that poor Jehan Daiz; then
captain of the Château of Loches; then governor of Saint-
Quentin; then captain of the bridge of Meulan, of which
you cause yourself to be called comte. Out of the five sols
fine paid by every barber who shaves on a festival day, there
are three sols for you and we have the rest. We have been
good enough to change your name of Le Mauvais (The Evil),
which resembled your face too closely. In '76, we granted
you, to the great displeasure of our nobility, armorial
bearings of a thousand colors, which give you the breast of
a peacock. ~Pasque-Dieu~! Are not you surfeited? Is not the
draught of fishes sufficiently fine and miraculous? Are you
not afraid that one salmon more will make your boat sink?
Pride will be your ruin, gossip. Ruin and disgrace always
press hard on the heels of pride. Consider this and hold
* A lord having a right on the woods of his vassals.
These words, uttered with severity, made Master Olivier's
face revert to its insolence.
"Good!" he muttered, almost aloud, "'tis easy to see that
the king is ill to-day; he giveth all to the leech."
Louis XI. far from being irritated by this petulant insult,
resumed with some gentleness, "Stay, I was forgetting that I
made you my ambassador to Madame Marie, at Ghent. Yes,
gentlemen," added the king turning to the Flemings, "this
man hath been an ambassador. There, my gossip," he pursued,
addressing Master Olivier, "let us not get angry; we
are old friends. 'Tis very late. We have terminated
our labors. Shave me."
Our readers have not, without doubt, waited until the
present moment to recognize in Master Olivier that terrible
Figaro whom Providence, the great maker of dramas, mingled
so artistically in the long and bloody comedy of the reign of
Louis XI. We will not here undertake to develop that singular
figure. This barber of the king had three names. At
court he was politely called Olivier le Daim (the Deer);
among the people Olivier the Devil. His real name was
Olivier le Mauvais.
Accordingly, Olivier le Mauvais remained motionless, sulking
at the king, and glancing askance at Jacques Coictier.
"Yes, yes, the physician!" he said between his teeth.
"Ah, yes, the physician!" retorted Louis XI., with singular
good humor; "the physician has more credit than you.
'Tis very simple; he has taken hold upon us by the whole
body, and you hold us only by the chin. Come, my poor
barber, all will come right. What would you say and what
would become of your office if I were a king like Chilperic,
whose gesture consisted in holding his beard in one hand?
Come, gossip mine, fulfil your office, shave me. Go get what
you need therefor."
Olivier perceiving that the king had made up his mind to
laugh, and that there was no way of even annoying him, went
off grumbling to execute his orders.
The king rose, approached the window, and suddenly opening
it with extraordinary agitation,--
"Oh! yes!" he exclaimed, clapping his hands, "yonder is
a redness in the sky over the City. 'Tis the bailiff burning.
It can be nothing else but that. Ah! my good people! here
you are aiding me at last in tearing down the rights of
Then turning towards the Flemings: "Come, look at this,
gentlemen. Is it not a fire which gloweth yonder?"
The two men of Ghent drew near.
"A great fire," said Guillaume Rym.
"Oh!" exclaimed Coppenole, whose eyes suddenly flashed,
"that reminds me of the burning of the house of the Seigneur
d'Hymbercourt. There must be a goodly revolt yonder."
"You think so, Master Coppenole?" And Louis XI.'s
glance was almost as joyous as that of the hosier. "Will it
not be difficult to resist?"
"Cross of God! Sire! Your majesty will damage many companies
of men of war thereon."
"Ah! I! 'tis different," returned the king. "If I willed."
The hosier replied hardily,--
"If this revolt be what I suppose, sire, you might will in vain."
"Gossip," said Louis XI., "with the two companies of my
unattached troops and one discharge of a serpentine, short
work is made of a populace of louts."
The hosier, in spite of the signs made to him by Guillaume
Rym, appeared determined to hold his own against the king.
"Sire, the Swiss were also louts. Monsieur the Duke of
Burgundy was a great gentleman, and he turned up his nose
at that rabble rout. At the battle of Grandson, sire, he
cried: 'Men of the cannon! Fire on the villains!' and he
swore by Saint-George. But Advoyer Scharnachtal hurled himself
on the handsome duke with his battle-club and his people, and
when the glittering Burgundian army came in contact with
these peasants in bull hides, it flew in pieces like a pane
of glass at the blow of a pebble. Many lords were then
slain by low-born knaves; and Monsieur de Château-Guyon,
the greatest seigneur in Burgundy, was found dead, with his
gray horse, in a little marsh meadow."
"Friend," returned the king, "you are speaking of a battle.
The question here is of a mutiny. And I will gain the upper
hand of it as soon as it shall please me to frown."
The other replied indifferently,--
"That may be, sire; in that case, 'tis because the people's
hour hath not yet come."
Guillaume Rym considered it incumbent on him to intervene,--
"Master Coppenole, you are speaking to a puissant king."
"I know it," replied the hosier, gravely.
"Let him speak, Monsieur Rym, my friend," said the king;
"I love this frankness of speech. My father, Charles the
Seventh, was accustomed to say that the truth was ailing; I
thought her dead, and that she had found no confessor. Master
Coppenole undeceiveth me."
Then, laying his hand familiarly on Coppenole's shoulder,--
"You were saying, Master Jacques?"
"I say, sire, that you may possibly be in the right, that the
hour of the people may not yet have come with you."
Louis XI. gazed at him with his penetrating eye,--
"And when will that hour come, master?"
"You will hear it strike."
"On what clock, if you please?"
Coppenole, with his tranquil and rustic countenance, made
the king approach the window.
"Listen, sire! There is here a donjon keep, a belfry,
cannons, bourgeois, soldiers; when the belfry shall hum, when
the cannons shall roar, when the donjon shall fall in ruins
amid great noise, when bourgeois and soldiers shall howl and
slay each other, the hour will strike."
Louis's face grew sombre and dreamy. He remained
silent for a moment, then he gently patted with his hand
the thick wall of the donjon, as one strokes the haunches of
"Oh! no!" said he. "You will not crumble so easily, will
you, my good Bastille?"
And turning with an abrupt gesture towards the sturdy Fleming,--
"Have you never seen a revolt, Master Jacques?"
"I have made them," said the hosier.
"How do you set to work to make a revolt?" said the king.
"Ah!" replied Coppenole, "'tis not very difficult. There
are a hundred ways. In the first place, there must be
discontent in the city. The thing is not uncommon. And then,
the character of the inhabitants. Those of Ghent are easy to
stir into revolt. They always love the prince's son; the prince,
never. Well! One morning, I will suppose, some one enters
my shop, and says to me: 'Father Coppenole, there is this
and there is that, the Demoiselle of Flanders wishes to save
her ministers, the grand bailiff is doubling the impost on
shagreen, or something else,'--what you will. I leave my
work as it stands, I come out of my hosier's stall, and I shout:
'To the sack?' There is always some smashed cask at hand.
I mount it, and I say aloud, in the first words that occur to
me, what I have on my heart; and when one is of the people,
sire, one always has something on the heart: Then people
troop up, they shout, they ring the alarm bell, they arm the
louts with what they take from the soldiers, the market people
join in, and they set out. And it will always be thus, so long
as there are lords in the seignories, bourgeois in the bourgs,
and peasants in the country."
"And against whom do you thus rebel?" inquired the king;
"against your bailiffs? against your lords?"
"Sometimes; that depends. Against the duke, also, sometimes."
Louis XI. returned and seated himself, saying, with a smile,--
"Ah! here they have only got as far as the bailiffs."
At that instant Olivier le Daim returned. He was followed
by two pages, who bore the king's toilet articles; but what
struck Louis XI. was that he was also accompanied by the
provost of Paris and the chevalier of the watch, who appeared
to be in consternation. The spiteful barber also wore an air
of consternation, which was one of contentment beneath, however.
It was he who spoke first.
"Sire, I ask your majesty's pardon for the calamitous news
which I bring."
The king turned quickly and grazed the mat on the floor
with the feet of his chair,--
"What does this mean?"
"Sire," resumed Olivier le Daim, with the malicious air of
a man who rejoices that he is about to deal a violent blow,
"'tis not against the bailiff of the courts that this popular
sedition is directed."
"Against whom, then?"
"Against you, sire?'
The aged king rose erect and straight as a young man,--
"Explain yourself, Olivier! And guard your head well,
gossip; for I swear to you by the cross of Saint-Lô that, if
you lie to us at this hour, the sword which severed the head
of Monsieur de Luxembourg is not so notched that it cannot
yet sever yours!"
The oath was formidable; Louis XI. had only sworn twice
in the course of his life by the cross of Saint-Lô.
Olivier opened his mouth to reply.
"On your knees!" interrupted the king violently. "Tristan,
have an eye to this man."
Olivier knelt down and said coldly,--
"Sire, a sorceress was condemned to death by your court of
parliament. She took refuge in Notre-Dame. The people are
trying to take her from thence by main force. Monsieur the
provost and monsieur the chevalier of the watch, who have
just come from the riot, are here to give me the lie if this is
not the truth. The populace is besieging Notre-Dame."
"Yes, indeed!" said the king in a low voice, all pale and
trembling with wrath. "Notre-Dame! They lay siege to our
Lady, my good mistress in her cathedral!--Rise, Olivier.
You are right. I give you Simon Radin's charge. You are
right. 'Tis I whom they are attacking. The witch is under
the protection of this church, the church is under my protection.
And I thought that they were acting against the bailiff!
'Tis against myself!"
Then, rendered young by fury, he began to walk up and
down with long strides. He no longer laughed, he was
terrible, he went and came; the fox was changed into a hyaena.
He seemed suffocated to such a degree that he could not
speak; his lips moved, and his fleshless fists were clenched.
All at once he raised his head, his hollow eye appeared full
of light, and his voice burst forth like a clarion: "Down with
them, Tristan! A heavy hand for these rascals! Go, Tristan,
my friend! slay! slay!"
This eruption having passed, he returned to his seat, and
said with cold and concentrated wrath,--
"Here, Tristan! There are here with us in the Bastille
the fifty lances of the Vicomte de Gif, which makes three
hundred horse: you will take them. There is also the company
of our unattached archers of Monsieur de Châteaupers: you
will take it. You are provost of the marshals; you have the
men of your provostship: you will take them. At the Hôtel
Saint-Pol you will find forty archers of monsieur the
dauphin's new guard: you will take them. And, with all
these, you will hasten to Notre-Dame. Ah! messieurs, louts
of Paris, do you fling yourselves thus against the crown of
France, the sanctity of Notre-Dame, and the peace of this
commonwealth! Exterminate, Tristan! exterminate! and let
not a single one escape, except it be for Montfauçon."
Tristan bowed. "'Tis well, sire."
He added, after a silence, "And what shall I do with the
This question caused the king to meditate.
"Ah!" said he, "the sorceress! Monsieur d'Estouteville,
what did the people wish to do with her?"
"Sire," replied the provost of Paris, "I imagine that since
the populace has come to tear her from her asylum in Notre-
Dame, 'tis because that impunity wounds them, and they
desire to hang her."
The king appeared to reflect deeply: then, addressing Tristan
l'Hermite, "Well! gossip, exterminate the people and hang
"That's it," said Rym in a low tone to Coppenole, "punish
the people for willing a thing, and then do what they wish."
"Enough, sire," replied Tristan. "If the sorceress is
still in Notre-Dame, must she be seized in spite of the
"~Pasque-Dieu~! the sanctuary!" said the king, scratching
his ear. "But the woman must be hung, nevertheless."
Here, as though seized with a sudden idea, he flung himself
on his knees before his chair, took off his hat, placed it on the
seat, and gazing devoutly at one of the leaden amulets which
loaded it down, "Oh!" said he, with clasped hands, "our
Lady of Paris, my gracious patroness, pardon me. I will only
do it this once. This criminal must be punished. I assure
you, madame the virgin, my good mistress, that she is a
sorceress who is not worthy of your amiable protection.
You know, madame, that many very pious princes have
overstepped the privileges of the churches for the glory
of God and the necessities of the State. Saint Hugues, bishop
of England, permitted King Edward to hang a witch in his
church. Saint-Louis of France, my master, transgressed, with
the same object, the church of Monsieur Saint-Paul; and
Monsieur Alphonse, son of the king of Jerusalem, the very
church of the Holy Sepulchre. Pardon me, then, for this
once. Our Lady of Paris, I will never do so again, and I will
give you a fine statue of silver, like the one which I gave last
year to Our Lady of Ecouys. So be it."
He made the sign of the cross, rose, donned his hat once
more, and said to Tristan,--
"Be diligent, gossip. Take Monsieur Châteaupers with
you. You will cause the tocsin to be sounded. You will
crush the populace. You will seize the witch. 'Tis said.
And I mean the business of the execution to be done by you.
You will render me an account of it. Come, Olivier, I shall
not go to bed this night. Shave me."
Tristan l'Hermite bowed and departed. Then the king,
dismissing Rym and Coppenole with a gesture,--
"God guard you, messieurs, my good friends the Flemings.
Go, take a little repose. The night advances, and we are
nearer the morning than the evening."
Both retired and gained their apartments under the guidance
of the captain of the Bastille. Coppenole said to Guillaume Rym,--
"Hum! I have had enough of that coughing king! I have
seen Charles of Burgundy drunk, and he was less malignant
than Louis XI. when ailing."
"Master Jacques," replied Rym, "'tis because wine renders
kings less cruel than does barley water."
LITTLE SWORD IN POCKET.
On emerging from the Bastille, Gringoire descended the Rue
Saint-Antoine with the swiftness of a runaway horse. On
arriving at the Baudoyer gate, he walked straight to the stone
cross which rose in the middle of that place, as though he
were able to distinguish in the darkness the figure of a man
clad and cloaked in black, who was seated on the steps of
"Is it you, master?" said Gringoire.
The personage in black rose.
"Death and passion! You make me boil, Gringoire. The
man on the tower of Saint-Gervais has just cried half-past
one o'clock in the morning."
"Oh," retorted Gringoire, "'tis no fault of mine, but of the
watch and the king. I have just had a narrow escape. I
always just miss being hung. 'Tis my predestination."
"You lack everything," said the other. "But come quickly.
Have you the password?"
"Fancy, master, I have seen the king. I come from him.
He wears fustian breeches. 'Tis an adventure."
"Oh! distaff of words! what is your adventure to me!
Have you the password of the outcasts?"
"I have it. Be at ease. 'Little sword in pocket.'"
"Good. Otherwise, we could not make our way as far as
the church. The outcasts bar the streets. Fortunately, it
appears that they have encountered resistance. We may still
arrive in time."
"Yes, master, but how are we to get into Notre-Dame?"
"I have the key to the tower."
"And how are we to get out again?"
"Behind the cloister there is a little door which opens on
the Terrain and the water. I have taken the key to it, and I
moored a boat there this morning."
"I have had a beautiful escape from being hung!" Gringoire repeated.
"Eh, quick! come!" said the other.
Both descended towards the city with long strides.
CHATEAUPERS TO THE RESCUE.
The reader will, perhaps, recall the critical situation in
which we left Quasimodo. The brave deaf man, assailed on
all sides, had lost, if not all courage, at least all hope
of saving, not himself (he was not thinking of himself), but
the gypsy. He ran distractedly along the gallery. Notre-Dame
was on the point of being taken by storm by the outcasts.
All at once, a great galloping of horses filled the neighboring
streets, and, with a long file of torches and a thick column of
cavaliers, with free reins and lances in rest, these furious
sounds debouched on the Place like a hurricane,--
"France! France! cut down the louts! Châteaupers to
the rescue! Provostship! Provostship!"
The frightened vagabonds wheeled round.
Quasimodo who did not hear, saw the naked swords, the
torches, the irons of the pikes, all that cavalry, at the head
of which he recognized Captain Phoebus; he beheld the confusion
of the outcasts, the terror of some, the disturbance among the
bravest of them, and from this unexpected succor he recovered
so much strength, that he hurled from the church the first
assailants who were already climbing into the gallery.
It was, in fact, the king's troops who had arrived.
The vagabonds behaved bravely. They defended themselves
like desperate men. Caught on the flank, by the Rue Saint-
Pierre-aux-Boeufs, and in the rear through the Rue du Parvis,
driven to bay against Notre-Dame, which they still assailed
and Quasimodo defended, at the same time besiegers and
besieged, they were in the singular situation in which Comte
Henri Harcourt, ~Taurinum obsessor idem et obsessus~, as his
epitaph says, found himself later on, at the famous siege of
Turin, in 1640, between Prince Thomas of Savoy, whom he
was besieging, and the Marquis de Leganez, who was blockading
The battle was frightful. There was a dog's tooth for wolf's
flesh, as P. Mathieu says. The king's cavaliers, in whose
midst Phoebus de Châteaupers bore himself valiantly, gave no
quarter, and the slash of the sword disposed of those who
escaped the thrust of the lance. The outcasts, badly armed
foamed and bit with rage. Men, women, children, hurled
themselves on the cruppers and the breasts of the horses, and
hung there like cats, with teeth, finger nails and toe nails.
Others struck the archers' in the face with their torches.
Others thrust iron hooks into the necks of the cavaliers and
dragged them down. They slashed in pieces those who fell.
One was noticed who had a large, glittering scythe, and
who, for a long time, mowed the legs of the horses. He was
frightful. He was singing a ditty, with a nasal intonation,
he swung and drew back his scythe incessantly. At every blow
he traced around him a great circle of severed limbs. He
advanced thus into the very thickest of the cavalry, with the
tranquil slowness, the lolling of the head and the regular
breathing of a harvester attacking a field of wheat. It was
Chopin Trouillefou. A shot from an arquebus laid him low.
In the meantime, windows had been opened again. The
neighbors hearing the war cries of the king's troops, had
mingled in the affray, and bullets rained upon the outcasts
from every story. The Parvis was filled with a thick smoke,
which the musketry streaked with flame. Through it one could
confusedly distinguish the front of Notre-Dame, and the decrepit
Hôtel-Dieu with some wan invalids gazing down from the
heights of its roof all checkered with dormer windows.
At length the vagabonds gave way. Weariness, the lack of
good weapons, the fright of this surprise, the musketry from
the windows, the valiant attack of the king's troops, all
overwhelmed them. They forced the line of assailants, and fled
in every direction, leaving the Parvis encumbered with dead.
When Quasimodo, who had not ceased to fight for a moment,
beheld this rout, he fell on his knees and raised his
hands to heaven; then, intoxicated with joy, he ran, he
ascended with the swiftness of a bird to that cell, the
approaches to which he had so intrepidly defended. He had
but one thought now; it was to kneel before her whom he
had just saved for the second time.
When he entered the cell, he found it empty.
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
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