OATHS UTTERED IN THE OPEN AIR
'Te Deum laudamus!' exclaimed Maitre Jehan as he came out of his hole, 'the two screech-owls have gone. Och! och! Hax! pax! max! Fleas! mad dogs! The devil! I have had enough of their conversation! My head is ringing like a belfry. Mouldy cheese into the bargain! Come on! let's go on down, take our big brother's wallet and convert all these coins into bottles!'
He cast an affectionate and admiring glance inside the precious wallet, straightened his clothes, rubbed his boots, dusted his poor padded sleeves, all grey with ash, whistled a tune, spun a caper, looked to see if there was anything else left in the cell for him to take, picked up here and there on the furnace some glass amulets good enough to present to Isabeau la Thierrye as jewellery, finally pushed the door, which his brother had left open as a final piece of indulgence, and which he left open in his turn as a final piece of mischief, and went hopping down the circular stairway like a bird.
In the darkness of the spiral stairs his elbow bumped into something which withdrew with a grunt; he presumed it was Quasimodo, and found that so funny that he went down the rest of the stairs holding his sides with laughter. He was still laughing as he emerged into the square.
He stamped his foot once he was back on the ground. 'Oh!' he said, 'good honourable Paris paving! That cursed staircase would make the angels on Jacob's ladder gasp for breath! What was I thinking of, sticking my nose into that stone gimlet that goes boring up into the sky; all to eat some whiskery cheese and see the steeples of Paris through a little window!'
He walked on a few steps, and noticed the two screechowls, that is Dom Claude and Maître Jacques Charmolue,