THE illustrious tavern of the Pomme d'Ève was situated in the University, on the corner of the rue de la Rondelle and the rue du Bâtonnier. It was a room at street level, quite spacious and very low, with a vaulted ceiling whose central springing rested on a massive wooden pillar painted yellow. There were tables everywhere, gleaming pewter jugs hanging on the wall, always a crowd of drinkers, plenty of girls, a window on to the street, a vine by the door, and over the door a gaudy metal sheet, with an apple and a woman painted on it, rusted by rain and swinging in the wind on an iron shaft. This sort of weathercock overlooking the street was the inn-sign.
Night was falling. The crossroads were dark. The tavern, bright with countless candles, blazed from afar like a forge in the shadows. The sound of glasses, feasting, swearing, and quarrelling could be heard through the broken window panes. The warmth of the room had misted over the glass front, but through it could be seen scores of hazy figures milling about, and breaking out now and then with a burst of resounding laughter. Passers-by going about their business did not look in through this turbulent window. Only at intervals some ragged urchin would stretch up on tiptoe to reach the window sill and shout into the tavern the mocking old cry with which drunkards were then harried: 'Aux Houls, drunk, drunk, drunk!'⋆
One man, however, was walking imperturbably up and down in front of the rowdy tavern, constantly looking inside and straying from it no further than a pikeman from his sentry-box. He had a cloak pulled up to his nose. He had just bought this cloak from the secondhand-clothes dealer near the Pomme d'Ève, no doubt as protection against the cold March evenings, perhaps to conceal his dress. From time to time he would stop in front of the