“Rascal,” he muttered, “what did he want with the ladder?”

“To help him to see Esmeralda,” answered Jupiter, in an injured tone. “He said, ’Hallo, here’s a ladder that nobody’s using,’ and away he went with it.”

This was the last straw. Gringoire accepted it with resignation.

“May the devil fly away with you!” said he to the actors, “and if I am paid you shall be.” Whereupon he beat a retreat, hanging his head, but the last in the field, like a general who has made a good fight.

“A precious set of boobies and asses, these Parisians!” he growled between his teeth, as he descended the tortuous stairs of the Palais. “They come to hear a Mystery, and don’t listen to a word. They’ve been taken up with all the world—with Clopin Trouillefou, with the Cardinal, with Coppenole, with Quasimodo, with the devil; but with Madame the Virgin Mary not a bit. Dolts! if I had only known! I’d have given you some Virgin Marys with a vengeance. To think that I should have come here to see faces and found nothing but backs! I, a poet, to have the success of an apothecary! True, Homerus had to beg his bread through the Greek villages, and Ovidius Naso died in exile among the Muscovites. But the devil flay me if I know what they mean with their Esmeralda. To begin with, where can the word come from?—ah, it’s Egyptian.”

  By PanEris using Melati.

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