The Hunchback of Notre Dame HTML version

Book VII
1. The Danger Of Confiding One's Secret To A Goat
Many weeks had elapsed.
The first of March had arrived. The sun, which Dubartas, that classic ancestor of
periphrase, had not yet dubbed the "Grand-duke of Candles," was none the less
radiant and joyous on that account. It was one of those spring days which
possesses so much sweetness and beauty, that all Paris turns out into the
squares and promenades and celebrates them as though they were Sundays. In
those days of brilliancy, warmth, and serenity, there is a certain hour above all
others, when the façade of Notre-Dame should be admired. It is the moment
when the sun, already declining towards the west, looks the cathedral almost full
in the face. Its rays, growing more and more horizontal, withdraw slowly from the
pavement of the square, and mount up the perpendicular façade, whose
thousand bosses in high relief they cause to start out from the shadows, while
the great central rose window flames like the eye of a cyclops, inflamed with the
reflections of the forge.
This was the hour.
Opposite the lofty cathedral, reddened by the setting sun, on the stone balcony
built above the porch of a rich Gothic house, which formed the angle of the
square and the Rue du Parvis, several young girls were laughing and chatting
with every sort of grace and mirth. From the length of the veil which fell from their
pointed coif, twined with pearls, to their heels, from the fineness of the
embroidered chemisette which covered their shoulders and allowed a glimpse,
according to the pleasing custom of the time, of the swell of their fair virgin
bosoms, from the opulence of their under-petticoats still more precious than their
overdress (marvellous refinement), from the gauze, the silk, the velvet, with
which all this was composed, and, above all, from the whiteness of their hands,
which certified to their leisure and idleness, it was easy to divine they were noble
and wealthy heiresses. They were, in fact, Damoiselle Fleur-de-Lys de
Gondelaurier and her companions, Diane de Christeuil, Amelotte de Montmichel,
Colombe de Gaillefontaine, and the little de Champchevrier maiden; all damsels
of good birth, assembled at that moment at the house of the dame widow de
Gondelaurier, on account of Monseigneur de Beaujeu and Madame his wife, who
were to come to Paris in the month of April, there to choose maids of honor for
the Dauphiness Marguerite, who was to be received in Picardy from the hands of
the Flemings. Now, all the squires for twenty leagues around were intriguing for
this favor for their daughters, and a goodly number of the latter had been already
brought or sent to Paris. These four maidens had been confided to the discreet
and venerable charge of Madame Aloise de Gondelaurier, widow of a former
commander of the king's cross-bowmen, who had retired with her only daughter
to her house in the Place du Parvis, Notre- Dame, in Paris.
The balcony on which these young girls stood opened from a chamber richly
tapestried in fawn-colored Flanders leather, stamped with golden foliage. The