Besos Para Golpes A kiss brings pain.

By the time Pierre Gringoire reached the Place de Gréve he was chilled to the bone. He had made his way across the Pont-aux-Meuniers—the Millers’ bridge—to avoid the crowd on the Pont-au-Change and the sight of Jehan Fourbault’s banners; but the wheel of the episcopal mills had splashed him as he passed, and his coat was wet through. In addition, it seemed to him that the failure of his play made him feel the cold more keenly. He hastened, therefore, to get near the splendid bonfire burning in the middle of the Place, but found it surrounded by a considerable crowd.

“Perdition take these Parisians!” said he to himself—for as a true dramatic poet, Gringoire was greatly addicted to monologue—“now they prevent me getting near the fire— and Heaven knows I have need of a warm corner! My shoes are veritable sponges, and those cursed mill-wheels have been raining upon me. Devil take the Bishop of Paris and his mills! I’d like to know what a bishop wants with a mill. Does he expect he may some day have to turn miller instead of bishop? If he is only waiting for my curse to effect this transformation, he is welcome to it, and may it include his cathedral and his mills as well. Now, let us see if these varlets will make room for me. What are they doing there, I’d like to know. Warming themselves—a fine pleasure indeed! Watching a pile of fagots burn—a grand spectacle, i’ faith!”

On looking closer, however, he perceived that the circle was much wider than necessary for merely warming one’s self at the King’s bonfire, and that such a crowd of spectators was not attracted solely by the beauty of a hundred blazing fagots. In the immense space left free between the crowd and the fire a girl was dancing, but whether she was a human being, a sprite, or an angel, was what Gringoire—sceptical philosopher, ironical poet though he might be—was unable for the moment to determine, so dazzled was he by the fascinating vision.

She was not tall, but her slender and elastic figure made her appear so. Her skin was brown, but one guessed that by day it would have the warm golden tint of the Andalusian and Roman women. Her small foot too, so perfectly at ease in its narrow, graceful shoe, was quite Andalusian. She was dancing, pirouetting, whirling on an old Persian carpet spread carelessly on the ground, and each time her radiant face passed before you, you caught the flash of her great dark eyes.

The crowd stood round her open-mouthed, every eye fixed upon her, and in truth, as she danced thus to the drumming of a tambourine held high above her head by her round and delicate arms, slender, fragile, airy as a wasp, with her gold-laced bodice closely moulded to her form, her bare shoulders, her gaily striped skirt swelling out round her, affording glimpses of her exquisitely shaped limbs, the dusky masses of her hair, her gleaming eyes, she seemed a creature of some other world.

“In very truth,” thought Gringoire, “it is a salamander —a nymph—’tis a goddess—a bacchante of Mount Mænalus!”

At this moment a tress of the “salamander’s” hair became uncoiled, and a piece of brass attached to it fell to the ground.

“Why, no,” said he, “’tis a gipsy!” and all illusion vanished.

She resumed her performance. Taking up two swords from the ground, she leaned the points against her forehead, and twisted them in one direction while she herself turned in another.

True, she was simply a gipsy; but however disenchanted Gringoire might feel, the scene was not without its charm, nor a certain weird magic under the glaring red light of the bonfire, which flared over the ring of faces and the figure of the dancing girl and cast a pale glimmer among the wavering shadows at the far end of the Place, flickering over the black and corrugated front of the old Maison-aux-Piliers, or the stone arms of the gibbet opposite.

Among the many faces dyed crimson by this glow was one which, more than all the others, seemed absorbed in contemplation of the dancer. It was the face of a man, austere, calm, and sombre. His

  By PanEris using Melati.

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