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Book 4 Chapter 1 Good Souls

Sixteen years previous to the epoch when this story takes place, one fine morning, on Quasimodo Sunday, a living creature had been deposited, after mass, in the church of Notre- Dame, on the wooden bed securely fixed in the vestibule on the left, opposite that great image of Saint Christopher, which the figure of Messire Antoine des Essarts, chevalier, carved in stone, had been gazing at on his knees since 1413, when they took it into their heads to overthrow the saint and the faithful follower. Upon this bed of wood it was customary to expose foundlings for public charity. Whoever cared to take them did so. In front of the wooden bed was a copper basin for alms.

The sort of living being which lay upon that plank on the morning of Quasimodo, in the year of the Lord, 1467, appeared to excite to a high degree, the curiosity of the numerous group which had congregated about the wooden bed. The group was formed for the most part of the fair sex. Hardly any one was there except old women.

In the first row, and among those who were most bent over the bed, four were noticeable, who, from their gray ~cagoule~, a sort of cassock, were recognizable as attached to some devout sisterhood. I do not see why history has not transmitted to posterity the names of these four discreet and venerable damsels. They were Agnes la Herme, Jehanne de la Tarme, Henriette la Gaultière, Gauchère la Violette, all four widows, all four dames of the Chapel Etienne Haudry, who had quitted their house with the permission of their mistress, and in conformity with the statutes of Pierre d'Ailly, in order to come and hear the sermon.

However, if these good Haudriettes were, for the moment, complying with the statutes of Pierre d'Ailly, they certainly violated with joy those of Michel de Brache, and the Cardinal of Pisa, which so inhumanly enjoined silence upon them.

"What is this, sister?" said Agnes to Gauchère, gazing at the little creature exposed, which was screaming and writhing on the wooden bed, terrified by so many glances.

"What is to become of us," said Jehanne, "if that is the way children are made now?"

"I'm not learned in the matter of children," resumed Agnes, "but it must be a sin to look at this one."

"'Tis not a child, Agnes."

"'Tis an abortion of a monkey," remarked Gauchère.

"'Tis a miracle," interposed Henriette la Gaultière.

"Then," remarked Agnes, "it is the third since the Sunday of the ~Loetare~: for, in less than a week, we had the miracle of the mocker of pilgrims divinely punished by Notre-Dame d'Aubervilliers, and that was the second miracle within a month."

"This pretended foundling is a real monster of abomination," resumed Jehanne.

"He yells loud enough to deafen a chanter," continued Gauchère. "Hold your tongue, you little howler!"

"To think that Monsieur of Reims sent this enormity to Monsieur of Paris," added la Gaultière, clasping her hands.

"I imagine," said Agnes la Herme, "that it is a beast, an animal,--the fruit of--a Jew and a sow; something not Christian, in short, which ought to be thrown into the fire or into the water."

"I really hope," resumed la Gaultière, "that nobody will apply for it."

"Ah, good heavens!" exclaimed Agnes; "those poor nurses yonder in the foundling asylum, which forms the lower end of the lane as you go to the river, just beside Monseigneur the bishop! what if this little monster were to be carried to them to suckle? I'd rather give suck to a vampire."

"How innocent that poor la Herme is!" resumed Jehanne; "don't you see, sister, that this little monster is at least four years old, and that he would have less appetite for your breast than for a turnspit."

The "little monster" we should find it difficult ourselves to describe him otherwise, was, in fact, not a new-born child. It was a very angular and very lively little mass, imprisoned in its linen sack, stamped with the cipher of Messire Guillaume Chartier, then bishop of Paris, with a head projecting. That head was deformed enough; one beheld only a forest of red hair, one eye, a mouth, and teeth. The eye wept, the mouth cried, and the teeth seemed to ask only to be allowed to bite. The whole struggled in the sack, to the great consternation of the crowd, which increased and was renewed incessantly around it.

Dame Aloise de Gondelaurier, a rich and noble woman, who held by the hand a pretty girl about five or six years of age, and dragged a long veil about, suspended to the golden horn of her headdress, halted as she passed the wooden bed, and gazed for a moment at the wretched creature, while her charming little daughter, Fleur-de-Lys de Gondelaurier, spelled out with her tiny, pretty finger, the permanent inscription attached to the wooden bed: "Foundlings."

"Really," said the dame, turning away in disgust, "I thought that they only exposed children here."

She turned her back, throwing into the basin a silver florin, which rang among the liards, and made the poor goodwives of the chapel of Etienne Haudry open their eyes.

A moment later, the grave and learned Robert Mistricolle, the king's protonotary, passed, with an enormous missal under one arm and his wife on the other (Damoiselle Guillemette la Mairesse), having thus by his side his two regulators,--spiritual and temporal.

"Foundling!" he said, after examining the object; "found, apparently, on the banks of the river Phlegethon."

"One can only see one eye," observed Damoiselle Guillemette; "there is a wart on the other."

"It's not a wart," returned Master Robert Mistricolle, "it is an egg which contains another demon exactly similar, who bears another little egg which contains another devil, and so on."

"How do you know that?" asked Guillemette la Mairesse.

"I know it pertinently," replied the protonotary.

"Monsieur le protonotare," asked Gauchère, "what do you prognosticate of this pretended foundling?"

"The greatest misfortunes," replied Mistricolle.

"Ah! good heavens!" said an old woman among the spectators, "and that besides our having had a considerable pestilence last year, and that they say that the English are going to disembark in a company at Harfleur."

"Perhaps that will prevent the queen from coming to Paris in the month of September," interposed another; "trade is so bad already."

"My opinion is," exclaimed Jehanne de la Tarme, "that it would be better for the louts of Paris, if this little magician were put to bed on a fagot than on a plank."

"A fine, flaming fagot," added the old woman.

"It would be more prudent," said Mistricolle.

For several minutes, a young priest had been listening to the reasoning of the Haudriettes and the sentences of the notary. He had a severe face, with a large brow, a profound glance. He thrust the crowd silently aside, scrutinized the "little magician," and stretched out his hand upon him. It was high time, for all the devotees were already licking their chops over the "fine, flaming fagot."

"I adopt this child," said the priest.

He took it in his cassock and carried it off. The spectators followed him with frightened glances. A moment later, he had disappeared through the "Red Door," which then led from the church to the cloister.

When the first surprise was over, Jehanne de la Tarme bent down to the ear of la Gaultière,--

"I told you so, sister,--that young clerk, Monsieur Claude Frollo, is a sorcerer."

 

这个故事发生在距那时十六年以前,在复活节后第一个美好的星期天早晨,做过早弥撒之后,一个活生生的小东西被放在圣母院前廊左侧的一张雕花木榻上,正对着圣·克利斯朵夫的巨大塑像。自从一四一三年以来,安东尼·代·艾沙尔骑士阁下的石雕像就跪在这座塑像面前,但人们却胆敢把这位圣者和这个信徒一起拆毁了。这种木榻是用来放置弃儿好求诸公众的慈悲的,谁愿意收养他们,就可以领去。木榻前面有一只放捐款的铜盆。

主历一四六七年复活节后第一个星期日早晨被放在这张木榻上的活生生的小东西,显然激起了挤在木榻四周的一群人的好奇心,这群人多半是妇女,差不多全都上了年纪。

第一排最靠近木榻的人中间有四个妇女,从她们的灰色披巾和黑色长袍上就可以看出她们是属于某个慈善团体的女信徒。我不知道历史为何没有把这四位神秘可敬的女士的名字流传下来,她们是阿涅丝·拉埃尔姆,让娜·德·拉特尔姆,昂西埃特·拉·戈蒂叶,戈歇尔·拉·维奥兰特。这是四个老寡妇,爱丁·俄德里礼拜堂的四个善女,她们是得到会长的许可,遵照比埃尔·达耶条例,从家里出来听传道的。

可是,假若这四个善女是遵守了比埃尔·达耶的条例,但她们同时却由于心头高兴而违犯了米歇尔·德·伯拉奇的条例和比萨的红衣主教的条例了,那些条例都是严格要求静默不语的。

“那是什么东西呀,我的教姊?”阿涅丝问戈歇尔,一面便死盯着蜷曲在木榻上号叫的小生物,他被许多陌生面孔吓坏了。

“要是如今人们生的孩子就是这种东西,”让娜说,“那这个世界将会变成什么样啊?”

“我对于孩子们的事不怎么熟悉,”阿涅丝又说,“但看到这种事可是一桩罪过。”

“它不象个小孩,阿涅丝。”

“它是一只残废的猴子。”戈歇尔品评道。

“这是一桩圣迹呀!”昂西埃特·拉·戈蒂叶补充说。

“那么,”阿涅丝提醒说,“这该是四旬斋第四个星期里的第三桩圣迹了。不到一个星期以前刚发生过俄贝尔·维叶尔的圣母惩罚一个假香客的圣迹,那就已经是本月份的第二桩圣迹啦。”

“这个所谓的弃儿,可是个真正丑恶的怪物。”让娜说。

“它号叫起来简直能把一个唱经人吓成哑巴呢,”戈蒂叶接口道,“别号哪,小叫猴!”

“听说兰斯的主教把这个怪物送给巴黎主教了!”戈蒂叶双手合掌说。

“我想,”阿涅丝·拉埃尔姆说,“它是一个畜生,一只野兽,是犹太人和母猪生下的东西。总之是个异教的怪物,应该扔到火里去烧死或是扔到水里去淹死。”

“我很希望,”戈蒂叶补充道,“没有人收养它。”

“我的天呀!”阿涅丝嚷道,“主教大人府邸旁边那河岸小巷孤儿院里的乳娘们该多么可怜,要是人们把这个小怪物交给她们去喂奶!我宁愿奶一个吸血鬼呢。”

“可怜的拉埃尔姆,她多么天真!”让娜说,“我的教姊,你没看见这小怪物至少有四岁了吗?它咬起肉来比咬你的奶头可要胃口好得多呢。”

“这个小怪物”(我们自己也很难找出别的话来形容它)的确并不是刚生下来的婴儿,它是一小块不成形的活动的肉,装在一条麻袋里,只留着脑袋伸出在外面,麻袋上有当时的巴黎主教居约姆·夏尔蒂耶的姓名的第一个字母。那个脑袋非常难看,只看得见一撮红头发,一只眼睛,一张嘴和几颗牙齿。那只眼睛在哭,那张嘴在号,那几颗牙齿好象只想咬人。他整个身子在麻袋里挣扎,使他周围的人们异常惊讶,他们来往不断,越聚越多。

阿洛伊思·德·贡德洛里耶夫人,一个有钱的贵族妇女,帽子角上挂着一条长长的面纱,手里搀着一个六岁左右的漂亮女孩,走到木榻前停住了,她看了看那个不幸的小东西,同时她那全身穿着丝绸和天鹅绒衣服的可爱的小女儿佛勒尔·德·丽丝,用漂亮的小手指着永远挂在木榻上的招牌念道:“弃儿放置处。”

“真是的,”那位夫人不高兴地转过脸去说,“人们就会把孩子放在这种地方。”

她丢了一枚银币在铜盆里就转过身走了,那枚银币在几个铜板当中显得锃亮,使艾丁·俄德里礼拜堂那四个贫穷的善女睁大了眼睛。

过了一会,庄严博学的王室宗教秘书罗贝尔·米斯特里果尔打这儿经过,他一只手拿着一本巨大的弥撒书,一只手挽着他的妻子居叶梅特·美雷斯小姐,因此他身边就有了两个调节者了,一个是精神方面的,一个是世俗的。

他注视了那可怜的生物一会,说道:“捡来的孩子!显然是在弗来吉多河岸上捡来的!”

“只看得见他一只眼睛,”居叶梅特小姐说,“另外那只眼睛上有一个大肉瘤。”

“那不是个肉瘤,”罗贝尔·米斯特里果尔阁下说,“那是个胚胎,里面装着一个同这鬼家伙一样的东西,那东西也长着这样一个小胚胎,里面装着同样的一个鬼东西,那东西又长……”

“你怎么知道呀?”居叶梅特·美雷斯问道。

“我知道得可清楚呢。”宗教秘书回答。

“宗教秘书先生,”戈歇尔问道,“这种捡来的孩子是预兆什么事呢?”

“预兆最大的灾难。”米斯特里果尔答道。

“啊,我的上帝!”人群里有个老妇人说,“怪不得去年发生过一次相当厉害的瘟疫,这阵子人们又说英国军队快要在阿尔弗勒登陆哪。”

“那就可能使王后不能在九月份到巴黎来啦,”另一个接口说,“买卖已经很不好做了。”

“我认为,”让娜·德·拉特尔姆嚷道,“要是不把这个小怪物放在木榻上,要是把他扔到一堆柴火上烧死,那时咱们巴黎老百姓倒会好得多呢。”

“一堆烧得旺旺的好柴火!”老妇人补充道。

“那才是最好的办法呢。”米斯特里果尔说。

有一位年轻教士,在那儿倾听善女们和宗教秘书的谈话已经好一会了。

他相貌严肃,前额宽大,眼光深邃。他悄悄地推开人群挤向前去,仔细观察那个“小妖怪”,并且把手伸到他的头上。这正是好时机,因为那些虔诚的人已经舔着嘴唇在等待“旺旺的好柴火”了。

“我收养这个孩子。”那神甫说道。

他把那孩子裹在自己的长袍里带走了,旁观者用惊讶的眼睛跟踪他,过了一会,他就在当时从圣母院教堂通往修道院的红门里不见了。

最初的一阵惊讶过去之后,让娜·德·拉特尔姆附在拉·戈蒂叶的耳边说道:“教姊,我不是给你讲过吗,这年轻的克洛德·孚罗洛教士可是个巫师呢。”



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