The Hunchback of Notre Dame
2. Pierre Gringoire
Nevertheless, as be harangued them, the satisfaction and admiration
unanimously excited by his costume were dissipated by his words; and when he
reached that untoward conclusion: "As soon as his illustrious eminence, the
cardinal, arrives, we will begin," his voice was drowned in a thunder of hooting.
"Begin instantly! The mystery! the mystery immediately!" shrieked the people.
And above all the voices, that of Johannes de Molendino was audible, piercing
the uproar like the fife's derisive serenade: "Commence instantly!" yelped the
"Down with Jupiter and the Cardinal de Bourbon!" vociferated Robin Poussepain
and the other clerks perched in the window.
"The morality this very instant!" repeated the crowd; "this very instant! the sack
and the rope for the comedians, and the cardinal!"
Poor Jupiter, haggard, frightened, pale beneath his rouge, dropped his
thunderbolt, took his cap in his hand; then he bowed and trembled and
stammered: "His eminence--the ambassadors--Madame Marguerite of Flanders--
." He did not know what to say. In truth, he was afraid of being hung.
Hung by the populace for waiting, hung by the cardinal for not having waited, he
saw between the two dilemmas only an abyss; that is to say, a gallows.
Luckily, some one came to rescue him from his embarrassment, and assume the
An individual who was standing beyond the railing, in the free space around the
marble table, and whom no one had yet caught sight of, since his long, thin body
was completely sheltered from every visual ray by the diameter of the pillar
against which he was leaning; this individual, we say, tall, gaunt, pallid, blond,
still young, although already wrinkled about the brow and cheeks, with brilliant
eyes and a smiling mouth, clad in garments of black serge, worn and shining with
age, approached the marble table, and made a sign to the poor sufferer. But the
other was so confused that he did not see him. The new comer advanced
"Jupiter," said he, "my dear Jupiter!"
The other did not hear.
At last, the tall blond, driven out of patience, shrieked almost in his face,--
"Who calls me?" said Jupiter, as though awakened with a start.
"I," replied the person clad in black.
"Ah!" said Jupiter.
"Begin at once," went on the other. "Satisfy the populace; I undertake to appease
the bailiff, who will appease monsieur the cardinal."
Jupiter breathed once more.
"Messeigneurs the bourgeois," he cried, at the top of his lungs to the crowd,
which continued to hoot him, "we are going to begin at once."