The Hunchback of Notre Dame HTML version
5. Result Of The Dangers
Gringoire, thoroughly stunned by his fall, remained on the pavement in front of
the Holy Virgin at the street corner. Little by little, he regained his senses; at first,
for several minutes, he was floating in a sort of half-somnolent revery, which was
not without its charm, in which aeriel figures of the gypsy and her goat were
coupled with Quasimodo's heavy fist. This state lasted but a short time. A
decidedly vivid sensation of cold in the part of his body which was in contact with
the pavement, suddenly aroused him and caused his spirit to return to the
"Whence comes this chill?" he said abruptly, to himself. He then perceived that
he was lying half in the middle of the gutter.
"That devil of a hunchbacked cyclops!" he muttered between his teeth; and he
tried to rise. But he was too much dazed and bruised; he was forced to remain
where he was. Moreover, his hand was tolerably free; he stopped up his nose
and resigned himself.
"The mud of Paris," he said to himself--for decidedly he thought that he was sure
that the gutter would prove his refuge for the night; and what can one do in a
refuge, except dream?--"the mud of Paris is particularly stinking; it must contain a
great deal of volatile and nitric salts. That, moreover, is the opinion of Master
Nicholas Flamel, and of the alchemists--"
The word "alchemists" suddenly suggested to his mind the idea of Archdeacon
Claude Frollo. He recalled the violent scene which he had just witnessed in part;
that the gypsy was struggling with two men, that Quasimodo had a companion;
and the morose and haughty face of the archdeacon passed confusedly through
his memory. "That would be strange!" he said to himself. And on that fact and
that basis he began to construct a fantastic edifice of hypothesis, that card-castle
of philosophers; then, suddenly returning once more to reality, "Come! I'm
freezing!" he ejaculated.
The place was, in fact, becoming less and less tenable. Each molecule of the
gutter bore away a molecule of heat radiating from Gringoire's loins, and the
equilibrium between the temperature of his body and the temperature of the
brook, began to be established in rough fashion.
Quite a different annoyance suddenly assailed him. A group of children, those
little bare-footed savages who have always roamed the pavements of Paris
under the eternal name of gamins, and who, when we were also children
ourselves, threw stones at all of us in the afternoon, when we came out of
school, because our trousers were not torn--a swarm of these young scamps
rushed towards the square where Gringoire lay, with shouts and laughter which
seemed to pay but little heed to the sleep of the neighbors. They were dragging
after them some sort of hideous sack; and the noise of their wooden shoes alone
would have roused the dead. Gringoire who was not quite dead yet, half raised