“Oh, yes,”said the priest.

“And if you were to see the interior of the chapel!”continued the poet with his loquacious enthusiasm. “Carvings everywhere — leafy as the heart of a cabbage! The chancel is most devout in style and quite unique. Nowhere have I seen anything similar!”

Dom Claude interrupted him: “You are happy, then?”

“Upon my honour, yes!”returned Gringoire rapturously. “I began by loving women, and went on to animals; now I am in love with stones. It is quite as diverting as beasts or women, and less fickle.”

The priest passed his hand across his brow. The gesture was habitual with him. “Say you so?”

“Look you,”said Gringoire, “what joys are to be extracted from it!”He took the priest by the arm, who yielded passively, and led him into the stair turret of the For–l’Evêque. “Look at that stair! Every time I see it it makes me happy. The style of that flight of steps is the simplest and most rare in Paris. Each step is sloped underneath. Its beauty and its simplicity consist in the fact of the steps, which are about a foot broad, being interlaced, mortised, jointed, linked, interwoven, and fitting into one another in a manner truly both firm and elegant.”

“And you long for nothing?”


“And you have no regrets?”

“Neither regrets nor desires. I have arranged my life to my satisfaction.”

“What man arranges,”said Claude, “circumstances may disarrange.”

“I am a Pyrrhonian philosopher,”returned Gringoire, “and I hold the equilibrium in everything.”

“And how do you get your living?”

“I still write an epopee or a tragedy now and then; but what brings me in the most is that industry in which you have already seen me engaged, master — carrying a pyramid of chairs in my teeth.”

“A gross occupation for a philosopher.”

“’Tis always a form of equilibrium,”returned Gringoire. “When one takes up an idea, one finds something of it everywhere.”

“I know it,”answered the Archdeacon. Then after a pause he went on: “Nevertheless, you are very poor?”

“Poor, yes; unhappy, no.”

There was a clatter of horses’ hoofs, and the two friends saw a company of the King’s archers file past the end of the street, their lances high and an officer at their head. The cavalcade was brilliant, and the street echoed to their tread.

“How you look at that officer!”said Gringoire to the Archdeacon.

“It is because I seem to know him.”

“What is his name?”

“I think,”answered Claude, “it is Phœbus de Châteaupers.”

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