“Oh, mercy!” cried Agnès, “what if those poor nurses at the foundling-house at the bottom of the lane by the river, close beside the Lord Bishop’s—what if they take this little brute to them to be suckled! I would rather give suck to a vampire.”

“What a simpleton she is, that poor La Herme!” returned Jehanne; “don’t you see, ma sœur, that this little monster is at least four years old, and that a piece of meat would be more to his taste than your breast?”

And in truth “the little monster” (for we ourselves would be at a loss to describe it by any other name) was not a newborn babe. It was a little angular, wriggling lump, tied up in a canvas sack marked with the monogram of Messire Guillaume Chartier, the then Bishop of Paris, with only its head sticking out at one end. But what a head! All that was visible was a thatch of red hair, an eye, a mouth, and some teeth. The eye wept, the mouth roared, and the teeth seemed only too ready to bite. The whole creature struggled violently in the sack, to the great wonderment of the crowd, constantly increasing and collecting afresh.

The Lady Aloïse de Gondelaurier, a wealthy and noble dame, with a long veil trailing from the peak of her head-dress, and holding by the hand a pretty little girl of about six years of age, stopped in passing and looked for a moment at the hapless creature, while her charming little daughter, Fleur-de-Lys de Gondelaurier, all clad in silks and velvets, traced with her pretty finger on the permanent tablet attached to the bed the words: “Enfants trouvés.”

“Good lack!” said the lady, turning away in disgust. “I thought they exposed here nothing but babes.”

And she went on her way, first, however, tossing a silver florin into the basin among the coppers, causing the eyes of the poor sisters of the Chapelle étienne-Haudry to open wide with astonishment.

A moment afterward the grave and learned Robert Mistricolle, protonotary to the King, came along, with an enormous missal under one arm, and on the other his wife (Dame Guillemette la Mairesse), having thus at his side his two monitors —the spiritual and the temporal.

“Foundling!” said he, after examining the object. “Found evidently on the brink of the river Phlegethon.”

“You can see but one eye,” observed Dame Guillemette. “There is a wart over the other.”

“That is no wart,” returned Maître Robert Mistricolle. “That is an egg containing just such another demon, which has a similar little egg with another little devil inside it, and so on.”

“How do you know that?” asked Dame Guillemette.

“I know it for a fact,” replied the protonotary.

“Monsieur the protonotary,” asked Gauchère, “what do you predict from this pretended foundling?”

“The greatest calamities,” returned Mistricolle.

“Ah, mon Dieu!” cried an old woman among the by-standers, “and there was already a considerable pestilence last year, and they say that the English are prepared to land in great companies at Harfleur.”

“Maybe that will prevent the Queen coming to Paris in September,” remarked another, “and trade is bad enough as it is.”

“It’s my opinion,” cried Jehanne de la Tarme, “that it would be better for the people of Paris if this little wizard were lying on a bundle of fagots instead of a bed.”

“And nice blazing fagots too,” added the old woman.

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