Victor Hugo – The Hunchback Of Notre Dame: Quasimodo (5/61)

book first chapter 5 of The Hunchback of Notre Dom by Victor Hugo this LibriVox recording is in the public domain book 1st chapter 5 Quasimodo in the twinkling of an eye all was ready to execute coppenole's idea boo ha scholars and law clerks all set to work the little chapel situated opposite the marble table was selected for the scene of the grinning match a pane broken in the pretty Rose window above the door left free a circle of stone through which it was agreed that the competitors should thrust their heads in order to reach it it was only necessary to mount upon a couple of hogs heads which had been produced from I know not where and perched one upon the other after a fashion it was settled that each candidate man or woman for it was possible to choose a female Pope should for the sake of leaving the impression of his grimace fresh and complete cover his face and remain concealed in the chapel until the moment of his appearance in less than an instant that chapel was crowded with competitors upon whom the door was then closed coppenole from his post ordered all directed all arranged all during the uproar the Cardinal no less abashed then Gringoire had retired with all his suite under the pretext of business and Vespers without the crowd which his arrival had so deeply stirred being in the least moved by his departure gyeom rhyme was the only one who noticed his eminences discomfiture the attention of the populace like the Sun pursued its revolution having set out from one end of the hall and halted for a space in the middle it had now reached the other end the marble table the Brocade gallery had each had their day it was now the turn of the chapel of louis xi henceforth the field was open to all folly there was no one there now but the Fleming's and the rabble the grimaces began the first face which appeared at the aperture with eyelids turned up to the Reds a mouth open like a maw and a brow wrinkled like our HUS our boots of the Empire evoked such an inextinguishable peal of laughter that homer would have taken all these louts for God's nevertheless the Grand Hall was anything but Olympus and gringoire's poor Jupiter knew it better than anyone else a second and third grimace followed then another and another and the laughter and transports of delight went on increasing there was in this spectacle a peculiar power of intoxication and fascination of which it would be difficult to convey to the reader of our day and our salons any idea let the reader picture to himself a series of visages presenting successfully all geometric forms from the triangle to the trapezium from the cone to the polyhedron all human expressions from Wrath to lewdness all ages from the wrinkles of the newborn babe to the wrinkles of the agent and dying all religious phantasmagoria from faun to Beelzebub all animal profiles from the maw to the beak from the jowl to the muzzle let the reader imagine all these grotesque figures of the pont-neuf whose nightmares petrified beneath the hand of Jermaine Pilon assuming life and breath and coming in to stare at you in the face with burning eyes all the masks of a carnival of Venice passing in succession before your glass in a word a human kaleidoscope the orgy grew more and more Flemish ten years could have given but a very imperfect idea of it let the reader picture to himself in bacchanal form Salvatore roses battle they were no longer either scholars or ambassadors or bourgeois or men or women there was no longer any clopin Truffaut or Gio's lecornu armory cuatro livres or robbing Post pan all was you know a license the grand hall was no longer anything but a vast furnace of effrontery and joviality where every mouth was a cry every individual a posture everything shouted and howled the strange visitors which came in turn to gnashed their teeth in the Rose window were like so many brands cast into the brazier and from the whole of this effervescent crowd there escaped as from a furnace a sharp piercing stinging noise hissing like the wings of a gnat ho a curse it just look at that face it's not good for anything oh I met ma sharp we just look at that bulls muzzled it only lacks the horns it can't be your husband another belly of the Pope what sort of a grimace is that ha ay that's cheating one must show only one's face that damned parrot Callebaut she is capable of that good good I'm stifling there's a fellow whose ears won't go through etc etc but we must do justice to our friend Jehan in the midst of this witch's Sabbath he was still to be seen on the top of his pillar like the cabin boy on the top mast he floundered about with incredible fury his mouth was wide open and from it there escaped a cry which no one heard not that it was covered by the general clamor great as that was but because it attained no doubt the limit of perceptible sharp sounds the thousand vibrations of Savior or the eight thousands of Bo as for Gringoire the first moment of depression having passed he had regained his composure he had hardened himself against adversity continued he had said for the third time to his comedians speaking machines then as he was marching with great strides in front of the marble table a fancy seized him to go and appear in his turn at the aperture of the chapel were it only for the pleasure of making a grimace at that ungrateful populace but no that would not be worthy of us no vengeance let us combat until the end he repeated to himself the power of poetry over people is great I will bring them back we shall see which will carry the day grimaces or polite literature alas he had been left the sole spectator of his peace it was far worse than it had been a little while before he no longer beheld anything but backs I am mistaken the big patient man whom he had already consulted in a critical moment had remained with his face turned towards the stage as for justget and Leonardo they had deserted him long ago Gringoire was touched to the heart by the fidelity of his only spectator he approached him and addressed him shaking his arm slightly for the good man was leaning on the balustrade and dozing a little Monsieur say Gringoire I thank you once your replied the big man with the yarn for what I see what we Ruiz you resumed the poet tis all this noise which prevents your hearing comfortably but be at ease your name shall descend to posterity your name if you please reno chateau guardian of the seers of the Chatelet of paris at your service Monsieur you are the only representative of the muses here said Gringoire you are too kind sir said the guardian of the seals at the Chatelet you are the only one resumed Gringoire who has listened to the Peace decorously what do you think of it eh replied the fat magistrate half aroused its tolerably jolly that's a fact Gringoire was forced to content himself with this eulogy for a thunder of applause mingled with a as a clinician cut their conversations short the Pope of the fools had been elected Noel Noel Noel shouted the people on all sides that was in fact a marvelous grimace which was beaming at that moment through the aperture in the Rose window after all the pentagonal hexagonal and whimsical faces which had succeeded each other at the whole without realizing the ideal of the grotesque which their imaginations excited by the orgy had constructed nothing less was needed to win their suffrages than the sublime grimace which had just dazzled the Assembly Master coppenole himself applauded and cloaked pantry foe who had been among the competitors and God knows what intensity of ugliness his visit could attain confessed himself conquered we will do the same we shall not try to give the reader an idea of that tetrahedral nose that horseshoe mouth that little left eye obstructed with a red bushy bristling eyebrow while the right I disappeared entirely beneath an enormous wart of those teeth in disarray broken here and there like the embattled parapet of a fortress of that callous lip upon which one of those teeth encroached like the Tusk of an elephant of that forked chin and above all of the expression spread over the whole of that mixture of malice amazement and sadness let the reader dream of this hole if he can the acclamation was unanimous people rushed towards the chapel they made the lucky pope of the fools come forth in triumph but it was then that surprise and admiration attained their highest pitch the grimace was his face or rather his whole person was a grimace a huge head bristling with red hair between his shoulders an enormous hump a counterpart perceptible in front a system of thighs and legs so strangely astray that they could touch each other only at the knees and viewed from the front resembled the crescents of two size joined by the handles large feets monstrous hands and with all this deformity and indescribable and redoubtable air of vigor agility and courage strange exception to the eternal rule which wills that force as well as beauty shall be the result of harmony such was the Pope whom the fools had just chosen for themselves one would have pronounced him a giant who had been broken and badly put together again when this species of cyclops appeared on the threshold of the chapel motionless squats and almost as broad as he was tall squared on the base as a great man says with his doublet half red half violet sown with silver bells and above all in the perfection of his ugliness the populace recognized him on the instant and shouted with one voice tis Quasimodo the bellringer tis Quasimodo The Hunchback of notre-dame Quasimodo the one-eyed Quasimodo the bandy leg Noel Noel it will be seen that the poor fellow had a choice of surnames let the women with child beware shouted the scholars or those who wish to be resumed Joanne the women did in fact hide their faces oh the horrible monkey said one of them has wicked as he is ugly retorted another he is the devil added a third I have the misfortune to live near Nora Dom I hear him prowling around the eaves by night with the cats he's always on our roofs he throws spells down our chimneys the other evening he came and made a grimace at me through my attic window I thought that it was a man such a fright as I had I'm sure that he goes to the witches Sabbath once he left a broom on my deeds oh what a display easing hunchbacks face Oh what an ill-favored soul you the men on the contrary were delighted and applauded Quasimodo the object of the tumult still stood on the threshold of the chapel somber and grave and allowed them to admire him one scholar robe and twist pen I think came and laughed in his face and to close Quasimodo contented himself with taking him by the girdle and hurting him ten paces off amid the crowd all without uttering a word Master coppenole in amazement approached him cross of God holy father you possess the handsomest ugliness that I have ever beheld in my life you would deserve to be Pope at Rome as well as at Paris so saying he placed his hand gaily on his shoulder Quasimodo did not stir coppenole went on you are a rogue with whom I have a fancy for carousing were it took cost me a new dozen of twelve livres of Tours how does it strike you Quasimodo made no reply cross of God said the hozier are you deaf he was in truth deaf nevertheless he began to grow impatient with coppenole's behavior and suddenly turned towards him with so formidable and gnashing of teeth that the flemish giant recoiled like a bulldog before a cat then there was created around that strange personage a circle of Terror and respect whose radius was at least fifteen geometrical feet an old woman explained to coppenole that Quasimodo was deaf deaf said the hozier with his great Flemish laugh cross of God he's a perfect Pope he I recognized him exclaimed Jehan who had at last descended from his capital in order to see Quasimodo at closer quarters he's the bellringer of my brother the Archdeacon good day Quasimodo what a devil of a man said Robin Pooh span still all bruised with his fault he shows himself he's a hunchback he walks he's bandy-legged he looks at you he's one-eyed you speak to him he's deaf and what does this Polyphemus do with his tongue he speaks when he chooses said the old woman he became death through ringing the bells he is not dumb that he lacks remarks Jehan and he has one eye too many added robe and post pan not at all says Johann wisely a one-eyed man is far less complete than a blind man he knows what he lacks in the meantime all the beggars all the lackeys all the cut purses joined with the scholars had gone in procession to seek in the cupboard of the law clerks company the cardboard tiara and the derisive robe of the Pope of fools Quasimodo allowed them to array him in them without wincing and with a sort of proud docility then they made him seat himself on a motley litter twelve officers of the fraternity of fools raised him on their shoulders and a sort of bitter and disdainful joy lighted up the morose face of the Cyclops when he beheld beneath his deformed feet all those heads of the handsome straights well made men then the ragged and howling procession set out on its March according to custom around the inner galleries of the courts before making the circuit of the streets and squares end of chapter 5 you

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