“That’s no good.”

“Show us another.”

“Guillemette Maugrepuis, look at that ox-muzzle. It only wants horns. It can’t be thy husband.”

“The next!”

Ventre du pape! What sort of a face do you call that?”

“Holá there—that’s cheating! no more than the face is to be shown!”

“Is that Perette Callebotte?—devil take her—it’s just what she would do!”

“Noël! Noël!”

“I shall choke!”

“Here’s one whose ears won’t come through.”

And so on, and so on.

To do our friend Jehan justice, however, he was still visible in the midst of the pandemonium, high up on his pillar like a ship’s boy in the mizzen, gesticulating like a maniac, his mouth wide open and emitting sounds that nobody heard; not because they were drowned by the all-pervading clamour, terrific as it was, but because doubtless they had reached the limit at which shrill sounds are audible—the twelve thousand vibrations of Sauveur, or the eight thousand of Biot.

As to Gringoire, the first moment of depression over, he had regained his self-possession, had stiffened his back against adversity.

“Go on,” said he for the third time to his players. “Go on, you speaking machines,” and proceeded to pace with long strides in front of the marble table. At one moment he was seized with the desire to go and present himself at the round window, if only for the gratification of pulling a face at this thankless crowd. “But no,” he said to himself, “that would be beneath our dignity—no vengeance. We will fight on to the end. The power of poetry over the people is great. I shall yet regain my hold. We shall see which will win the day, belles-lettres or grimaces.”

Alas! he was the sole spectator of his piece.

No, I am wrong. The big, patient man, whom he had already consulted at a critical moment, still faced the stage. As to Gisquette and Liènarde, they had long since deserted him.

Touched to the heart by the stanchness of this audience of one, Gringoire went up to him and accosted him, shaking him gently by the arm, for the good man was leaning against the balustrade dozing comfortably.

“Sir,” said Gringoire, “I thank you.”

“Sir,” returned the big man with a yawn, “for what?”

“I see the cause of your annoyance,” resumed the poet. “This infernal din prevents your listening in comfort. But never fear, your name shall go down to posterity. Your name, if I may ask?”

“Renault Château, Keeper of the Seal of the Châtelet of Paris, at your service.”

“Sir, you are the sole representative of the Muses,” said Gringoire.

  By PanEris using Melati.

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