One fine morning in this same month of March—it was Saturday, the 29th, St. Eustache’s Day, I think—our young friend, Jehan Frollo of the Mill, discovered, while putting on his breeches, that his purse gave forth no faintest chink of coin. “Poor purse!” said he, drawing it out of his pocket, “what, not a single little parisis? How cruelly have dice, Venus, and pots of beer disembowelled thee! Behold thee empty, wrinkled, and flabby, like the bosom of a fury! I would ask you, Messer Cicero and Messer Seneca, whose dogeared volumes I see scattered upon the floor, of what use is it for me to know better than any master of the Mint or a Jew of the Pont-au-Changeurs, that a gold crown piece is worth thirty-five unzain at twenty-five sous eight deniers parisis each, if I have not a single miserable black liard to risk upon the double-six? Oh, Consul Cicero! this is not a calamity from which one can extricate one’s self by periphrases—by quemadmodum, and verum enim vero!

He completed his toilet dejectedly. An idea occurred to him as he was lacing his boots which he at first rejected: it returned, however, and he put on his vest wrong side out, a sure sign of a violent inward struggle. At length he cast his cap vehemently on the ground, and exclaimed: “Be it so! the worst has come to the worst—I shall go to my brother. I shall catch a sermon, I know, but also I shall catch a crown piece.”

He threw himself hastily into his fur-edged gown, picked up his cap, and rushed out with an air of desperate resolve.

He turned down the Rue de la Harpe towards the City. Passing the Rue de la Huchette, the odour wafted from those splendid roasting-spits which turned incessantly, tickled his olfactory nerves, and he cast a lustful eye into the Cyclopean kitchen which once extorted from the Franciscan monk, Calatigiron, the pathetic exclamation: “Veramente, queste rotisscrie sono cosa stupenda!” But Jehan had not the wherewithal to obtain a breakfast, so with a profound sigh he passed on under the gateway of the Petit- Châtelet, the enormous double trio of massive towers guarding the entrance to the City.

He did not even take time to throw the customary stone at the dishonoured statue of that Perinet Leclerc who betrayed the Paris of Charles VI to the English, a crime which his effigy, its face all battered with stones and stained with mud, expiated during three centuries at the corner of the streets de la Harpe and de Bussy, as on an everlasting pillory.

Having crossed the Petit-Pont and walked down the Rue Neuve-Sainte-Geneviève, Jehan de Molendino found himself in front of Notre-Dame. Then all his indecision returned, and he circled for some minutes round the statue of “Monsieur Legris,” repeating to himself with a tortured mind:

“The sermon is certain, the florin is doubtful.”

He stopped a beadle who was coming from the cloister. “Where is Monsieur the Archdeacon of Josas?”

“In his secret cell in the tower, I believe,” answered the man; “but I counsel you not to disturb him, unless you come from some one such as the Pope or the King himself.”

Jehan clapped his hands.

Bédiable! what a magnificent chance for seeing the famous magician’s cave!”

This decided him, and he advanced resolutely through the little dark doorway, and began to mount the spiral staircase of Saint-Gilles, which leads to the upper stories of the tower.

“We shall see!” he said as he proceeded. “By the pangs of the Virgin! it must be a curious place, this cell which my reverend brother keeps so strictly concealed. They say he lights up hell’s own fires there on which to cook the philosopher’s stone. Bédieu! I care no more for the philosopher’s stone than for a pebble; and I’d rather find on his furnace an omelet of Easter eggs in lard, than the biggest philosopher’s stone in the world!”

  By PanEris using Melati.

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