Notre-Dame de Paris

By Victor Hugo ; Alban Krailsheimer | Go to book overview

VII
A WEDDING NIGHT

A FEW moments later our poet found himself in a little Gothic vaulted room, nicely private and warm, sitting in front of a table which looked as if it would be only too pleased to borrow one or two things from a meatsafe hanging nearby, with the prospect of a decent bed, and alone in the company of a pretty girl. The adventure had a touch of magic about it. He was beginning to take himself seriously as a character in a fairy tale; from time to time he looked around as if to see whether the fiery chariot hitched to two winged chimeras, for nothing else could have conveyed him so swiftly from hell to paradise, was still there. At times too he riveted his gaze on the holes in his doublet, in order to cling to reality and not completely to lose contact with the earth. His reason, bouncing around in imaginary space, was now secured only by that thread.

The girl seemed to be taking no notice of him; she came and went, moved a stool, talked to her goat, pouted now and then. At length she came to sit by the table and Gringoire was able to contemplate her at leisure.

You were once a child, reader, and perhaps you are fortunate enough to be one still. You must then more than once (and speaking for myself, I have spent whole days at it, the most profitable of my life) have followed from bush to bush, beside a running brook, on a sunny day, some lovely green or blue dragonfly, darting in zigzag flight, kissing the tip of every branch. You will recall the loving curiosity with which your mind and eyes fastened on that little whirlwind, humming and whirring on its purple and azure wings, in the midst of which floated an elusive shape, veiled by the very speed of its movement. The aerial creature whose shape could be vaguely discerned through the vibrating wings seemed to you chimerical, imaginary, impossible to touch, impossible to see. But when at last the

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