IT was sixteen years before the beginning of this story when one fine Quasimodo (or Low) Sunday morning a living creature had been left after mass in the church of Notre- Dame, on the bedstead fixed into the parvis on the lefthand side, facing the 'great image' of Saint Christopher at which the carved stone effigy of Messire Antoine des Essarts, knight, had been gazing on his knees ever since 1413, when it was decided to pull down both saint and devotee. It was on this bedstead that foundlings were customarily exposed to public charity. Whoever wished could take them. In front of the bedstead was a copper bowl for alms.
The sort of living creature which lay on those boards that Quasimodo morning in the year of Our Lord 1467 seemed to be arousing intense curiosity among the very considerable group collected round the bed. This group was mainly composed of persons of the fair sex. They were nearly all old women.
In the front row, bending most closely over the bed, could be seen four women who, from their grey cowls, a sort of cassock, presumably belonged to some religious sisterhood. I see no reason why history should not transmit to posterity the names of these four discreet and venerable ladies. They were Agnès la Herme, Jehanne de la Tarme, Henriette la Gaultière, Gauchère la Violette, all four of them widows, all four bonnes-femmes or religious from the Chapel of Étienne Haudry,⋆ who had left their house with their superior's permission, and in accordance with Pierre d'Ailly's statutes, to come and hear the sermon.
However, if these haudriettes were for the moment observing Pierre d'Ailly's statutes, they were certainly transgress-