“You are too good, sir,” replied the Keeper of the Seal of Châtelet.

“The one person who has paid suitable attention to the piece. What do you think of it?”

“H’m, h’m,” replied the big official drowsily. “Really quite entertaining.”

Gringoire had to be content with this faint praise, for the conversation was abruptly cut short by a thunder of applause mingled with shouts of acclamation. The Fools had elected their Pope.

“Noël! Noël! Noël!” roared the crowd from all sides.

In truth, the grimace that beamed through the broken rose-window at this moment was nothing short of miraculous. After all the faces—pentagonal, hexagonal, and heteroclite— which had succeeded each other in the stone frame, without which had succeeded each other in the stone frame, without realizing the grotesque ideal set up by the inflamed popular imagination, nothing inferior to the supreme effort now dazzling the spectators would have sufficed to carry every vote. Master Coppenole himself applauded, and Clopin Trouillefou, who had competed—and Lord knows to what heights his ugliness could attain—had to own himself defeated. We will do likewise, nor attempt to convey to the reader a conception of that tetrahedral nose, that horse-shoe mouth, of that small left eye obscured by a red and bristling brow, while the right disappeared entirely under a monstrous wart, of those uneven teeth, with breaches here and there like the crenated walls of a fortress, of that horny lip over which one of the teeth projected like an elephant’s tusk, of that cloven chin, nor, above all, of the expression overlying the whole—an indefinable mixture of malice, bewilderment, and sadness. Picture such an cnsemble to yourself if you can.

There was not a single dissentient voice. They rushed to the Chapel and in triumph dragged forth the thrice lucky Pope of Fools. Then surprise and admiration reached the culminating point—he had but shown his natural countenance.

Rather, let us say, his whole person was a grimace. An enormous head covered with red bristles; between the shoulders a great hump balanced by one in front; a system of thighs and legs so curiously misplaced that they only touched at the knees, and, viewed from the front, appeared like two sickles joined at the handles; huge splay feet, monstrous hands, and, with all this deformity, a nameless impression of formidable strength, agility, and courage—strange exception to the eternal rule, which decrees that strength, like beauty, shall be the outcome of harmony.

Such was he whom the Fools had chosen for their Pope. He looked like a giant broken and badly repaired.

The moment this species of Cyclops appeared in the doorway of the Chapel, standing motionless, squat, almost as broad as he was long, squared by the base, as a great man has described it, he was instantly recognised by his party-coloured coat, half red, half violet, sprinkled with little silver bells, and above all, by the perfection of his ugliness.

“ ’Tis Quasimodo the bell-ringer!” shouted the people with one voice; “Quasimodo the Hunchback of Notre-Dame! Quasimodo the one-eyed! Quasimodo the bandy-legged! Noël! Noël!”

The poor devil had evidently a large stock of nicknames to choose from.

“Let all pregnant women beware!” cried the scholars.

“Or those that wish to be!” added Joannes.

And in effect the women hastily covered their faces.

“Oh, the hideous ape!” exclaimed one.

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