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The Hunchback of Notre Dame

Book II
1. From Charybdis To Scylla
Night comes on early in January. The streets were already dark when Gringoire
issued forth from the Courts. This gloom pleased him; he was in haste to reach
some obscure and deserted alley, in order there to meditate at his ease, and in
order that the philosopher might place the first dressing upon the wound of the
poet. Philosophy, moreover, was his sole refuge, for he did not know where he
was to lodge for the night. After the brilliant failure of his first theatrical venture,
he dared not return to the lodging which he occupied in the Rue Grenier-sur-
l'Eau, opposite to the Port-au-Foin, having depended upon receiving from
monsieur the provost for his epithalamium, the wherewithal to pay Master
Guillaume Doulx-Sire, farmer of the taxes on cloven-footed animals in Paris, the
rent which he owed him, that is to say, twelve sols parisian; twelve times the
value of all that he possessed in the world, including his trunk-hose, his shirt, and
his cap. After reflecting a moment, temporarily sheltered beneath the little wicket
of the prison of the treasurer of the Sainte- Chappelle, as to the shelter which he
would select for the night, having all the pavements of Paris to choose from, he
remembered to have noticed the week previously in the Rue de la Savaterie, at
the door of a councillor of the parliament, a stepping stone for mounting a mule,
and to have said to himself that that stone would furnish, on occasion, a very
excellent pillow for a mendicant or a poet. He thanked Providence for having sent
this happy idea to him; but, as he was preparing to cross the Place, in order to
reach the tortuous labyrinth of the city, where meander all those old sister
streets, the Rues de la Barillerie, de la Vielle-Draperie, de la Savaterie, de la
Juiverie, etc., still extant to-day, with their nine-story houses, he saw the
procession of the Pope of the Fools, which was also emerging from the court
house, and rushing across the courtyard, with great cries, a great flashing of
torches, and the music which belonged to him, Gringoire. This sight revived the
pain of his self-love; he fled. In the bitterness of his dramatic misadventure,
everything which reminded him of the festival of that day irritated his wound and
made it bleed.
He was on the point of turning to the Pont Saint-Michel; children were running
about here and there with fire lances and rockets.
"Pest on firework candles!" said Gringoire; and he fell back on the Pont au
Change. To the house at the head of the bridge there had been affixed three
small banners, representing the king, the dauphin, and Marguerite of Flanders,
and six little pennons on which were portrayed the Duke of Austria, the Cardinal
de Bourbon, M. de Beaujeu, and Madame Jeanne de France, and Monsieur the
Bastard of Bourbon, and I know not whom else; all being illuminated with torches.
The rabble were admiring.
"Happy painter, Jehan Fourbault!" said Gringoire with a deep sigh; and he turned
his back upon the bannerets and pennons. A street opened before him; he