Notre-Dame de Paris

By Victor Hugo ; Alban Krailsheimer | Go to book overview

BOOK ELEVEN

I
THE LITTLE SHOE

AT the moment when the truands launched their assault on the church, la Esmeralda was sleeping.

Soon the ever-increasing uproar round the building and the anxious bleating of her goat, which had already woken up, roused her from sleep. She sat up, listened, looked, and then, frightened by the glow and the noise, rushed out of the cell and went to look. The appearance of the square, the sight astir there, the disorder of this night attack, the hideous crowd, hopping up and down like a horde of frogs, dimly spied in the darkness, the hoarse croaking of this multitude, the few red torches speeding along and passing each other against the background of shadow, like the fires to be seen at night streaking over the misty surface of marshes, the whole scene looked to her like some mysterious battle being waged between the phantoms of a witches' sabbath and the stone monsters of the church. Imbued from childhood with the superstitions of the Bohemian tribe, her first thought was that she had surprised at their evil spells the strange beings of the night. So she ran back in terror to cower in her cell, asking her pallet for a nightmare less full of horror.

Gradually, however, the first vapours of fear cleared away; the noise, constantly increasing, and several other signs of reality, made her realize that her besiegers were not spectres but human beings. This did not increase her fright, but transformed it. She thought about the possibility of a popular insurrection to snatch her from her refuge. The idea of yet again losing life, hope, Phoebus, whom she still glimpsed in her future, the absolute void in which her weakness left her, all escape cut off, unsupported, abandoned, isolated, all these thoughts and countless others

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