THE BROKEN PITCHER
AFTER running at full pelt for some time, with no idea where he was going, rushing round many a street corner, stepping over many a gutter, crossing many an alley, culde-sac, crossroads, seeking an escape route and passage through all the twists and turns of the old cobbles of the Halles, exploring in his panic what the beautiful Latin of the charters calls tota via, cheminum et viaria [every road, pathway, and thoroughfare], our poet suddenly stopped, first because he was out of breath, then because he was pulled up short by a dilemma which had just occurred to him. 'It seems to me, Maître Pierre Gringoire,' he said to himself, pressing a finger to his forehead, 'that you are running away like a featherbrain. The little rascals were just as scared of you as you were of them. It seems to me, I tell you, that you heard the clatter of their clogs running off to the south, while you ran north. Now one of two things must have happened: either they have made themselves scarce, in which case the palliasse they must have forgotten in their terror is precisely that hospitable bed you have been chasing after since this morning, and which Our Lady the Virgin miraculously sent you as a reward for composing in her honour a morality accompanied by triumphs and mummeries; or the children have not made themselves scarce, in which case they have set the palliasse alight, and there you will find the excellent fire you need to cheer you up, dry you, and warm you. In either case, good fire or good bed, the palliasse is a gift from heaven. The Blessed Virgin Mary, at the corner of the rue Mauconseil, may well have caused Eustache Moubon to die just to that end, and it's silly of you to run away like that, helterskelter like a Picard with a Frenchman after him, leaving behind the very thing you were chasing after; and you are a fool!'