CHAPTER 1. THE CROWN CHANGED INTO A DRY LEAF.
Gringoire and the entire Court of Miracles were suffering
mortal anxiety. For a whole month they had not known what
had become of la Esmeralda, which greatly pained the Duke of
Egypt and his friends the vagabonds, nor what had become of
the goat, which redoubled Gringoire's grief. One evening the
gypsy had disappeared, and since that time had given no signs
of life. All search had proved fruitless. Some tormenting
bootblacks had told Gringoire about meeting her that same
evening near the Pont Saint-Michel, going off with an officer;
but this husband, after the fashion of Bohemia, was an
incredulous philosopher, and besides, he, better than any one
else, knew to what a point his wife was virginal. He had been
able to form a judgment as to the unconquerable modesty
resulting from the combined virtues of the amulet and the
gypsy, and he had mathematically calculated the resistance of
that chastity to the second power. Accordingly, he was at
ease on that score.
Still he could not understand this disappearance. It was
a profound sorrow. He would have grown thin over it, had
that been possible. He had forgotten everything, even his
literary tastes, even his great work, De figuris regularibus
et irregularibus, which it was his intention to have printed
with the first money which he should procure (for he had raved
over printing, ever since he had seen the "Didascalon" of
Hugues de Saint Victor, printed with the celebrated characters
of Vindelin de Spire).
One day, as he was passing sadly before the criminal Tournelle,
he perceived a considerable crowd at one of the gates of the
Palais de Justice.
"What is this?" he inquired of a young man who was coming out.
"I know not, sir," replied the young man. "'Tis said that
they are trying a woman who hath assassinated a gendarme.
It appears that there is sorcery at the bottom of it,
the archbishop and the official have intervened in the case,
and my brother, who is the archdeacon of Josas, can think
of nothing else. Now, I wished to speak with him, but I
have not been able to reach him because of the throng, which
vexes me greatly, as I stand in need of money."