Gringoire has several bright ideas in succession in the Rue des Bernardins

Directly Gringoire had seen the turn affairs were taking, and that there was every prospect of the rope, the gallows, and various other disagreeables for the chief actors in this drama, he felt in nowise drawn to take part in it. The truands, with whom he had remained, considering them the best company in Paris — the truands continued to be interested in the gipsy girl. This he judged very natural in people who, like her, had nothing but Charmolue and Torterue to look forward to, and did not caracol in the regions of the imagination as he did astride of Pegasus. He had learned from them that his bride of the broken pitcher had taken refuge in Notre–Dame, and he rejoiced at it. But he was not even tempted to go and visit her there. He sometimes thought of the little goat, but that was the utmost. For the rest, he performed feats of strength during the daytime to earn a living, and at night he was engaged in elaborating a memorial against the Bishop of Paris, for he had not forgotten how the wheels of his mills had drenched him, and owed the bishop a grudge in consequence. He was also busy writing a commentary on the great work of Baudry le Rouge, Bishop of Noyon and Tournay, De Cupa Petrarum, which had inspired him with a violent taste for architecture, a love which had supplanted his passion for hermetics, of which, too, it was but a natural consequence, seeing that there is an intimate connection between hermetics and freemasonry. Gringoire had passed from the love of an idea to the love for its outward form.

He happened one day to stop near the Church of Saint–Germain–l’Auxerrois, at a corner of a building called the For–l’évêque, which was opposite another called the For–le–Roi. To the former was attached a charming fourteenth century chapel, the chancel of which was towards the street. Gringoire was absorbed in studying its external sculpture. It was one of those moments of selfish, exclusive, and supreme enjoyment in which the artist sees nothing in all the world but art, and sees the whole world in art. Suddenly a hand was laid heavily on his shoulder. He turned round — it was his former friend and master, the Archdeacon.

He stood gaping stupidly. It was long since he had seen the Archdeacon, and Dom Claude was one of those grave and intense men who invariably upset a sceptical philosopher’s equilibrium.

The Archdeacon kept silence for some moments, during which Gringoire found leisure to observe him more closely. He thought Dom Claude greatly altered, pallid as a winter’s morning, hollow–eyed, his hair nearly white. The priest was the first to break this silence:

“How fares it with you, Maitre Pierre?”he asked in a cold and even tone.

“My health?”returned Gringoire. “Well, as to that, it has its ups and downs; but on the whole, I may say it is good. I am moderate in all things. You know, master, the secret, according to Hippocrates; ‘id est: cibi, potus, somni, venus, omnia moderata sunt.”’ Food, drink, sleep, love — all in moderation.

“You have no care then, Maitre Gringoire?”resumed the priest, fixing Gringoire with a penetrating eye.

“Faith, not I.”

“And what are you doing now?”

“You see for yourself, master; I am examining the cutting of these stones, and the style of this bas–relief.”

The priest smiled faintly, but with that scornful smile which only curls one corner of the mouth. “And that amuses you?”

“It is paradise!”exclaimed Gringoire. And bending over the stone carvings with the fascinated air of a demonstrator of living phenomena — “For example,”he said, “look at this bas–relief: do you not consider its execution a marvel of skill, delicacy, and patience? Look at this small column: where would you find a capital whose leaves were more daintily entwined or more tenderly treated by the chisel? Here are three round alto–relievos by Jean Maillevin. They are not the finest examples of that great genius; nevertheless, the childlike simplicity, the sweetness of the faces, the sportive grace of the attitudes and the draperies, and the indefinable charm which is mingled with all the imperfections, makes the little figures wonderfully airy and delicate — perhaps almost too much so. You do not find that diverting?”

  By PanEris using Melati.

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