“Yes, truly.”

“Just an ordinary horse too! That’s rather too bad. If it had been a cavalry horse, now!”

And the windows were shut again; but not before Gringoire had lost the thread of his ideas.

Fortunately he soon picked it up again, and had no difficulty in resuming it, thanks to the gipsy and to Djali, who continued to walk before him—two graceful, delicate creatures, whose small feet, pretty forms, and engaging ways he admired exceedingly, almost confounding them in his contemplation: regarding them for their intelligence and good fellowship both as girls, while for their sure-footed, light and graceful gait, they might both have been goats.

Meanwhile the streets were momentarily becoming darker and more deserted. Curfew had rung long ago, and it was only at rare intervals that one encountered a foot-passenger in the street or a light in a window. In following the gipsy, Gringoire had become involved in that inextricable maze of alleys, lanes, and culs-de-sac which surrounds the ancient burial-ground of the Holy Innocents, and which resembles nothing so much as a skein of cotton ravelled by a kitten.

“Very illogical streets, i’ faith!” said Gringoire, quite lost in the thousand windings which seemed forever to return upon themselves, but through which the girl followed a path apparently quite familiar to her, and at an increasingly rapid pace. For his part, he would have been perfectly ignorant of his whereabouts, had he not caught sight at a turning of the octagonal mass of the pillory of the Halles, the perforated top of which was outlined sharply against a solitary lighted window in the Rue Verdelet.

For some moments the girl had been aware of his presence, turning round two or three times uneasily; once, even, she had stopped short, and taking advantage of a ray of light from a half-open bakehouse door, had scanned him steadily from head to foot; then, with the little pouting grimace which Gringoire had already noticed, she had proceeded on her way.

That little moue gave Gringoire food for reflection. There certainly was somewhat of disdain and mockery in that captivating grimace. In consequence he hung his head and began to count the paving-stones, and to follow the girl at a more respectful distance. Suddenly, at a street corner which for the moment had caused him to lose sight of her, he heard her utter a piercing shriek. He hastened forward. The street was very dark, but a twist of cotton steeped in oil that burned behind an iron grating at the feet of an image of the Virgin, enabled Gringoire to descry the gipsy struggling in the arms of two men who were endeavouring to stifle her cries. The poor, frightened little goat lowered its horns and bleated piteously.

“Help! help! gentlemen of the watch!” cried Gringoire, advancing bravely. One of the men holding the girl turned towards him—it was the formidable countenance of Quasimodo.

Gringoire did not take to his heels, but neither did he advance one step.

Quasimodo came at him, dealt him a blow that hurled him four paces off on the pavement, and disappeared rapidly into the darkness, carrying off the girl hanging limply over one of his arms like a silken scarf. His companion followed him, and the poor little goat ran after them bleating piteously.

“Murder! murder!” screamed the hapless gipsy.

“Hold, villains, and drop that wench!” thundered a voice suddenly, and a horseman sprang out from a neighbouring cross-road.

It was a captain of the Royal Archers, armed cap-á-pie, and sabre in hand.

He snatched the gipsy from the grasp of the stupefied Quasimodo and laid her across his saddle; and as the redoubtable hunchback, recovered from his surprise, was about to throw himself upon him and recover his prey, fifteen or sixteen archers who had followed close upon their captain appeared, broadsword

  By PanEris using Melati.

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