Notre-Dame de Paris

By Victor Hugo ; Alban Krailsheimer | Go to book overview
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IV
QUASIMODO'S MARRIAGE

WE have just said that Quasimodo disappeared from Notre-Dame on the day of the gypsy's and the archdeacon's deaths. He was in fact never seen again, and no one knew what had become of him.

During the night following la Esmeralda's execution, the executioner's men had taken down her body from the gibbet and carried it, according to custom, into the cellar at Montfaucon.

Montfaucon was, as Sauval says, 'the most ancient and superb gibbet in the kingdom'. Between the suburbs of the Temple and Saint-Martin, about 160 toises from the walls of Paris, a few crossbow shots from la Courtille, could be seen on the top of a gentle, imperceptible eminence, high enough to be visible for several leagues around, a strangely shaped structure, somewhat resembling a Celtic cromlech, and where human sacrifices were also made.

Imagine, then, crowning a mound of plaster, a huge parallelepiped of masonry, 15 feet high, 30 feet wide, 40 feet long, with a door, an outside ramp and a platform: on this platform stand sixteen enormous pillars of rough stone, 30 feet high, arranged in a colonnade round three of the four sides of the massive structure supporting them, connected at the top by stout beams from which chains hang at intervals; on all these chains, skeletons; nearby on the plain, a stone cross and two secondary gibbets, which seem to be growing like shoots around the central fork; above it all, in the sky, crows perpetually circle. That is Montfaucon.

At the end of the fifteenth century the formidable gibbet, which dated from 1328, was already very dilapidated. The beams were worm-eaten, the chains rusty, the pillars green with mould. The courses of dressed stone were all cracked at their joins, and grass grew on the platform where feet never trod. This monument presented a horrible profile,

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