BESOS PARA GOLPES⋆
BY the time Pierre Gringoire reached the Place de Grève he was numb with cold. He had gone by way of the Pont-aux- Meuniers to avoid the throng at the Pont-au-Change and Jehan Fourbault's banners; but the wheels of all the bishop's water-mills had splashed him as he went by and his smock was wringing wet. Moreover, the failure of his play seemed to have made him feel the cold much more. So he hurried to get near the splendid bonfire blazing in the middle of the square. But a considerable crowd was massed all round it.
'Damned Parisians!' he said to himself, for Gringoire, like any true dramatic poet, was given to monologues; 'now they're blocking me from the fire! Yet I could really do with a fireside corner. My shoes leak and all those blasted millwheels have given me a cold shower! Devil take the Bishop of Paris and his water-mills! I'd like to know what use a mill is to a bishop! Does he expect to change from being a bishop into a miller? If all he needs for that is my curse, then I freely give it to him, his cathedral, and his mills! Just see whether these idlers will move aside! What are they doing there, I ask you? They are having a warm; fine way to enjoy yourself! They're watching a hundred faggots burn; a fine entertainment!'
Looking more closely, he realized that the circle was much wider than it needed to be for enjoying the warmth of the bonfire and that such a mass of spectators had not been attracted merely by the beauty of a hundred faggots blazing away.
In the huge open space left between the crowd and the fire, a girl was dancing. Whether this girl was a human being, a fairy, or an angel was something that Gringoire, sceptical philosopher, ironic poet though he was, could not decide straight away, so fascinated was he by the dazzling vision.