CHAPTER 2. HUNCHBACKED, ONE EYED, LAME.
Such respect was cherished for places of refuge that, according
to tradition, animals even felt it at times. Aymoire
relates that a stag, being chased by Dagobert, having taken
refuge near the tomb of Saint-Denis, the pack of hounds
stopped short and barked.
Churches generally had a small apartment prepared for the
reception of supplicants. In 1407, Nicolas Flamel caused to
be built on the vaults of Saint-Jacques de la Boucherie, a
chamber which cost him four livres six sous, sixteen farthings,
At Notre-Dame it was a tiny cell situated on the roof of the
side aisle, beneath the flying buttresses, precisely at the spot
where the wife of the present janitor of the towers has made
for herself a garden, which is to the hanging gardens of Babylon
what a lettuce is to a palm-tree, what a porter's wife is
to a Semiramis.
It was here that Quasimodo had deposited la Esmeralda,
after his wild and triumphant course. As long as that course
lasted, the young girl had been unable to recover her senses,
half unconscious, half awake, no longer feeling anything,
except that she was mounting through the air, floating in it,
flying in it, that something was raising her above the earth.
From time to time she heard the loud laughter, the noisy voice
of Quasimodo in her ear; she half opened her eyes; then
below her she confusedly beheld Paris checkered with its
thousand roofs of slate and tiles, like a red and blue mosaic,
above her head the frightful and joyous face of Quasimodo.
Then her eyelids drooped again; she thought that all was
over, that they had executed her during her swoon, and that
the misshapen spirit which had presided over her destiny,
had laid hold of her and was bearing her away. She dared
not look at him, and she surrendered herself to her fate.
But when the bellringer, dishevelled and panting, had deposited
her in the cell of refuge, when she felt his huge hands
gently detaching the cord which bruised her arms, she felt
that sort of shock which awakens with a start the passengers
of a vessel which runs aground in the middle of a dark
night. Her thoughts awoke also, and returned to her one by
one. She saw that she was in Notre-Dame; she remembered
having been torn from the hands of the executioner; that
Phoebus was alive, that Phoebus loved her no longer; and
as these two ideas, one of which shed so much bitterness over
the other, presented themselves simultaneously to the poor
condemned girl; she turned to Quasimodo, who was standing
in front of her, and who terrified her; she said to him,--"Why
have you saved me?"