Unfortunately, the admiration and satisfaction so universally excited by his costume died out during his harangue, and when he reached the unlucky concluding words, As soon as his Reverence the Cardinal arrives, we will begin, his voice was drowned in a tempest of hooting.
Begin on the spot! The Mystery, the Mystery at once! shouted the audience, the shrill voice of Joannes de Molendino sounding above all the rest, and piercing the general uproar like the fife in a charivari at Nîmes.
Begin! piped the boy.
Down with Jupiter and the Cardinal de Bourbon! yelled Robin Poussepain and the other scholars perched on the window-sill.
The Morality! roared the crowd. At onceon the spot. The sack and the rope for the players and the Cardinal!
Poor Jupiter, quaking, bewildered, pale beneath his rouge, dropped his thunder-bolt and took his helmet in his hand; then bowing and trembling: His Eminence, he stammered, the AmbassadorsMadame Marguerite of Flanders he could get no farther. Truth to tell, he was afraid of being hanged by the populace for beginning too late, hanged by the Cardinal for being too soon; on either side he beheld an abyssthat is to say, a gibbet.
Mercifully some one arrived upon the scene to extricate him from the dilemma and assume the responsibility.
An individual standing inside the balustrade in the space left clear round the marble table, and whom up till now no one had noticed, so effectually was his tall and spare figure concealed from view by the thickness of the pillar against which he leanedthis person, thin, sallow, light-haired, young still, though furrowed of brow and cheek, with gleaming eye and smiling mouth, clad in black serge threadbare and shiny with age, now approached the marble table and signed to the wretched victim. But the other was too perturbed to notice.
The newcomer advanced a step nearer. Jupiter, said he, my dear Jupiter.
The other heard nothing.
At last the tall young man losing patience, shouted almost in his face: Michel Giborne!
Who calls? said Jupiter, starting as if from a trance.
It is I, answered the stranger in black.
Ah! said Jupiter.
Begin at once, went on the other. Do you content the peopleI will undertake to appease Monsieur the provost, who, in his turn, will appease Monsieur the Cardinal.
Jupiter breathed again.
Messeigneurs the bourgeois, he shouted with all the force of his lungs to the audience, which had not ceased to hoot him, we are going to begin.
Evoe Jupiter! Plaudite cives!1yelled the scholars.
Noël! Noël! shouted the people.
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