Notre-Dame de Paris

By Victor Hugo ; Alban Krailsheimer | Go to book overview

V
QUASIMODO

IN less than no time everything was ready for carrying out Coppenole 's idea. Townsfolk, students, and law clerks had set to work. The small chapel facing the marble table was chosen as the scene for the face-pulling. Where glass had been broken from the pretty rose-window it had left open a stone circle through which, it was agreed, the contestants would stick their heads. All they had to do to reach it was to clamber up a couple of barrels, which had been brought from somewhere and precariously balanced one on top of the other. It was laid down that every candidate, man or woman (for a female pope might be chosen) should preserve the impression of their grimace unspoiled and intact by covering their faces and staying out of sight in the chapel until it was time for them to make their appearance. In a moment the chapel was full of contestants and the door was closed behind them.

From his place on the tribune Coppenole organized, directed, and arranged everything. During the commotion the cardinal, no less put out than Gringoire, had taken himself off with all his suite on the pretext of having business and vespers to attend to, without the crowd, which had been so excited by his arrival, taking the slightest notice of his departure. Guillaume Rym was the only one to notice His Eminence put to flight. The attention of the people, like the sun, pursued its revolution; starting at one end of the hall, after pausing for a time in the middle, it was now at the other end. The marble table, the brocaded tribune had had their moment; it was now the turn of Louis XI's chapel. From now on the field was clear for unbridled folly. Only the Flemings and the rabble remained.

The face-pulling began. The first face to appear at the hole, with eyelids turned inside out with rouge, mouth agape like a monster's jaws, and brows all wrinkled like our

-54-

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