The Hunchback of Notre Dame
4. Master Jacques Coppenole
While the pensioner of Ghent and his eminence were exchanging very low bows
and a few words in voices still lower, a man of lofty stature, with a large face and
broad shoulders, presented himself, in order to enter abreast with Guillaume
Rym; one would have pronounced him a bull-dog by the side of a fox. His felt
doublet and leather jerkin made a spot on the velvet and silk which surrounded
him. Presuming that he was some groom who had stolen in, the usher stopped
"Hold, my friend, you cannot pass!"
The man in the leather jerkin shouldered him aside.
"What does this knave want with me?" said he, in stentorian tones, which
rendered the entire hall attentive to this strange colloquy. "Don't you see that I
am one of them?"
"Your name?" demanded the usher.
"Hosier at the sign of the 'Three Little Chains,' of Ghent."
The usher recoiled. One might bring one's self to announce aldermen and
burgomasters, but a hosier was too much. The cardinal was on thorns. All the
people were staring and listening. For two days his eminence had been exerting
his utmost efforts to lick these Flemish bears into shape, and to render them a
little more presentable to the public, and this freak was startling. But Guillaume
Rym, with his polished smile, approached the usher.
"Announce Master Jacques Coppenole, clerk of the aldermen of the city of
Ghent," he whispered, very low.
"Usher," interposed the cardinal, aloud, "announce Master Jacques Coppenole,
clerk of the aldermen of the illustrious city of Ghent."
This was a mistake. Guillaume Rym alone might have conjured away the
difficulty, but Coppenole had heard the cardinal.
"No, cross of God?" he exclaimed, in his voice of thunder, "Jacques Coppenole,
hosier. Do you hear, usher? Nothing more, nothing less. Cross of God! hosier;
that's fine enough. Monsieur the Archduke has more than once sought his gant*
in my hose."
* Got the first idea of a timing.
Laughter and applause burst forth. A jest is always understood in Paris, and,
consequently, always applauded.
Let us add that Coppenole was of the people, and that the auditors which
surrounded him were also of the people. Thus the communication between him
and them had been prompt, electric, and, so to speak, on a level. The haughty air
of the Flemish hosier, by humiliating the courtiers, had touched in all these
plebeian souls that latent sentiment of dignity still vague and indistinct in the
This hosier was an equal, who had just held his own before monsieur the
cardinal. A very sweet reflection to poor fellows habituated to respect and