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The Hunchback of Notre Dame

6. Esmeralda
We are delighted to be able to inform the reader, that during the whole of this
scene, Gringoire and his piece had stood firm. His actors, spurred on by him, had
not ceased to spout his comedy, and he had not ceased to listen to it. He had
made up his mind about the tumult, and was determined to proceed to the end,
not giving up the hope of a return of attention on the part of the public. This
gleam of hope acquired fresh life, when he saw Quasimodo, Coppenole, and the
deafening escort of the pope of the procession of fools quit the hall amid great
uproar. The throng rushed eagerly after them. "Good," he said to himself, "there
go all the mischief- makers." Unfortunately, all the mischief-makers constituted
the entire audience. In the twinkling of an eye, the grand hall was empty.
To tell the truth, a few spectators still remained, some scattered, others in groups
around the pillars, women, old men, or children, who had had enough of the
uproar and tumult. Some scholars were still perched astride of the window-sills,
engaged in gazing into the Place.
"Well," thought Gringoire, "here are still as many as are required to hear the end
of my mystery. They are few in number, but it is a choice audience, a lettered
audience."
An instant later, a symphony which had been intended to produce the greatest
effect on the arrival of the Virgin, was lacking. Gringoire perceived that his music
had been carried off by the procession of the Pope of the Fools. "Skip it," said he,
stoically.
He approached a group of bourgeois, who seemed to him to be discussing his
piece. This is the fragment of conversation which he caught,--
"You know, Master Cheneteau, the Hôtel de Navarre, which belonged to
Monsieur de Nemours?"
"Yes, opposite the Chapelle de Braque."
"Well, the treasury has just let it to Guillaume Alixandre, historian, for six hivres,
eight sols, parisian, a year."
"How rents are going up!"
"Come," said Gringoire to himself, with a sigh, "the others are listening."
"Comrades," suddenly shouted one of the young scamps from the window, "La
Esmeralda! La Esmeralda in the Place!"
This word produced a magical effect. Every one who was left in the hall flew to
the windows, climbing the walls in order to see, and repeating, "La Esmeralda! La
Esmeralda?" At the same time, a great sound of applause was heard from
without.
"What's the meaning of this, of the Esmeralda?" said Gringoire, wringing his
hands in despair. "Ah, good heavens! it seems to be the turn of the windows
now."
He returned towards the marble table, and saw that the representation had been
interrupted. It was precisely at the instant when Jupiter should have appeared
with his thunder. But Jupiter was standing motionless at the foot of the stage.
 
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