We are charmed to be able to inform our readers that during this whole scene Gringoire and his piece held their own. Spurred on by him, the actors had not ceased to declaim, nor he to listen. He had contributed his share to the clamour and was determined to stand fast to the end; nor did he despair of finally regaining the attention of the public. This spark of hope revived when he beheld Quasimodo, Coppenole, and the yelling cortége of the Pope of Fools troop out of the Hall with deafening uproar, the crowd eagerly at their heels.
Good, said he, there goes the disturbing element.
But unfortunately the disturbing element comprised the entire public. In a twinkling the Hall was empty.
To be exact, a sprinkling of spectators still remained, scattered about singly or grouped round the pillarswomen, old men, and children who had had enough of the noise and the tumult. A few scholars sat astride the windows looking down into the Place.
Well, thought Gringoire, here we have at least enough to listen to the end of my Mystery. They are few, but select a lettered audience.
A moment afterward it was discovered that a band of music, which should have been immensely effective at the entry of the Blessed Virgin, was missing. Gringoire found that his musicians had been pressed into the service of the Pope of Fools. Go on without it, he said stoically.
Approaching a group of townsfolk who appeared to be discussing his play, he caught the following scraps of conversation:
Maître Cheneteau, you know the Hôtel de Navarre, which used to belong to M. de Nemours?
Opposite the Chapelle de Braqueyes.
Well, the fiscal authorities have just let it to Guillaume Alisandre, the historical painter, for six livres eight sols parisis a year.
How rents are rising!
Come, thought Gringoire with a sigh, at least the others are listening.
Comrades! suddenly cried one of the young rascals at the window, EsmeraldaEsmeralda down in the Place!
The name acted like a charm. Every soul in the Hall rushed to the window, clambering up the walls to see, and repeating Esmeralda! Esmeralda! while from the outside came a great burst of applause.
Now what do they mean with their Esmeralda? Gringoire inquired, clasping his hands in despair. Ah, mon Dieu! it appears that the windows are the attraction now.
He turned towards the marble table and discovered that the play had suffered an interruption. It was the moment at which Jupiter was to appear on the scene with his thunder. But Jupiter was standing stock- still below the stage.
Michel Giborne, what are you doing there? cried the exasperated poet. Is that playing your part? Get up on the stage at once.
Alas! said Jupiter, one of the scholars has just taken away the ladder.
Gringoire looked. It was but too true; the connection between the knot of his play and the untying had been cut.
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