Notre-Dame de Paris

By Victor Hugo ; Alban Krailsheimer | Go to book overview
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BOOK NINE

I
FEVER

CLAUDE FROLLO was no longer in Notre-Dame when his adoptive son so abruptly cut through the fatal knot in which the unhappy archdeacon had trapped the gypsy girl and trapped himself. On his return to the sacristy he had ripped off alb, stole, and cope, tossed the lot into the hands of the astonished beadle; he had made his escape through the concealed door into the cloister, ordered a boatman from the Terrain to take him across to the left bank of the Seine, and had plunged into the steep streets of the University, without any idea where he was going, at every step running into bands of men and women gleefully hurrying towards the Pont Saint-Michel in the hope of 'getting there in time' to see the witch hanged; he was pale, distraught, more confused, more blind, more unapproachable than a night bird released and pursued by a pack of children in broad daylight. He no longer knew where he was, what he was thinking about, whether he was dreaming. He went on, walking, running, taking any street at random, making no choice, simply driven on all the time by the Grève, by the horrible Grève, which he vaguely felt lay behind him.

He thus passed round the Montagne Sainte-Geneviève, and finally left the town by the Porte Saint-Victor. He continued to flee for as long as he could see, when he turned his head, the ring of the University's towers and the scattered houses of the suburbs, but when at last a fold in the ground completely hid that hateful Paris from his sight, when he could feel that he was a hundred leagues away, in the country, in a desert, he stopped and seemed able to breathe again.

Then dreadful thoughts crowded into his mind. He saw clearly again into his soul, and shuddered. He thought of

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