Sir, answered the man, those on the right are the Councillors of the High Court, and those on the left the Examining Councillors the maîtres in black gowns, the messires in red ones.
And above them, there, continued Gringoire, who is the big, red-faced one sweating so profusely?
That is Monsieur the President.
And those sheepsheads behind him? Gringoire went on we know that he had no great love for the magistrature, owing, may-be, to the grudge he bore against the Palais de Justice ever since his dramatic misadventure.
Those are the lawyers of the Court of Appeal of the Royal Palace.
And that wild boar in front of them?
Is the Clerk of the Court of Parliaments.
And that crocodile to the right of him?
Maître Philippe Lheulier, Kings advocate extraordinary.
And to the left, that big black cat?
Maître Jacques Charmolue, procurator in the Ecclesiastical Court, with the members of the Holy Office.
And may I ask, sir, said Gringoire, what all these worthies are about?
They are trying some one.
Trying whom? I see no prisoner.
It is a woman, sir. You cannot see her. She has her back turned to us, and is hidden by the crowd. Look, she is over there where you see that group of partisans.
Who is the woman? asked Gringoire; do you know her name?
No, sir, I have but just arrived. I conclude, however, from the presence of the Office that there is some question of witchcraft in the matter.
Ah, ha! said our philosopher, so we shall have the pleasure of seeing these black gowns devouring human flesh! Well, it is a spectacle as good as any other.
Do you not think, sir, that Maître Jacques Charmolue has a very kindly air? observed his neighbour.
Hum! responded Gringoire. I am somewhat distrustful of kindness that has such thin nostrils and sharp lips.
Here the bystanders imposed silence on the two talkers. An important deposition was being heard.
My lords, an old woman was saying, whose face and shape generally was so muffled in her garments that she looked like an animated heap of rags; my lords, the thing is as true as that I am La Falourdel, for forty years a householder on the Pont Saint-Michel, and paying regularly all rents and dues and ground taxes the door opposite to the house of Tassin-Caillart, the dyer, which is on the side looking up the river. A poor old woman now, a pretty girl once-a-days, my lords! Only a few days before, they said to me: La Falourdel, do not spin too much of an evening, the devil is fond of combing old womens distaffs with his horns. Tis certain that the spectre-monk who haunted the Temple last year is going about the city just now; take care, La Falourdel, that he does not knock at your door. I ask whos there.
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