Fiction > Harvard Classics > Victor Hugo > Notre Dame de Paris > Book IX > Chapter VI
Victor Marie Hugo (1802–1885).  Notre Dame de Paris.
The Harvard Classics Shelf of Fiction.  1917.
Book IX
VI. Sequel to the Key of the Porte Rouge
THAT night Esmeralda had fallen asleep in her little chamber full of hope and sweet thoughts, the horrors of the past forgotten. She had been sleeping for some time, dreaming, as ever, of Phœbus, when she seemed to hear some sound. Her slumbers were light and broken—the sleep of a bird; the slightest thing awoke her. She opened her eyes.   1
  The night was very dark. Nevertheless, she saw a face peering in at her through the window—a lamp shed its light on this apparition. The moment it found itself observed by Esmeralda the apparition extinguished the lamp. However, the girl had had time to recognise the features. She closed her eyes in terror.   2
  “Oh,” she murmured weakly, “the priest!”   3
  All her past misfortunes flashed like lightning through her mind. She fell back upon her bed frozen with horror.   4
  The next moment she felt something in contact with the whole length of her body which sent such a shudder through her that she started up in bed, wide awake and furious. The priest had glided up beside her and clasped his arms about her.   5
  She tried to scream but could not.   6
  “Begone, monster! begone, assassin!” she said, in a voice hoarse with passion and dread.   7
  “Have pity! have pity!” murmured the priest, pressing his lips to her shoulder.   8
  She clutched his tonsured head by its scant remaining locks and strove to repel his kisses as if he had been biting her.   9
  “Have pity!” repeated the unhappy wretch. “Didst thou but know what my love for thee is! ’Tis fire! ’tis molten lead—a thousand daggers in my heart!”  10
  He held her arm fast with a superhuman grip. “Let me go!” she cried wildly, “or I spit in thy face!”  11
  He released her. “Vilify me—strike me—be angry—do what thou wilt; but in mercy, love me!”  12
  She struck him with the fury of a child. She raised her pretty hands to tear his face. “Away, demon!”  13
  “Love me! love me!” pleaded the unhappy priest, coming close to her again and answering her blows by caresses.  14
  Suddenly she felt that he was overpowering her. “There must be an end to this,” said he, grinding his teeth.  15
  She was vanquished, panting, broken, in his arms, at his mercy. She felt a lascivious hand groping over her, and making one supreme effort she screamed, “Help! help! a vampire! a vampire!”  16
  But no one came. Only Djali was awakened and bleating in terror.  17
  “Keep quiet,” panted the priest. Suddenly in her struggles the gipsy’s hand came against something cold and metallic. It was Quasimodo’s whistle. She seized it with a spasm of relief, put it to her lips, and blew with all her remaining strength. The whistle came clear, shrill, piercing.  18
  “What is that?” said the priest. Almost as he spoke he felt himself dragged away by vigorous arms; the cell was dark, he could not distinguish clearly who it was that held him, but he heard teeth gnashing with rage, and there was just sufficient light in the gloom to show him the glitter of a great knife-blade just above his head.  19
  The priest thought he could distinguish the outline of Quasimodo. He supposed it could be no one else. He recollected having stumbled, in entering, over a bundle lying across the outside of the door. Yet, as the new-comer uttered no word, he knew not what to think. He seized the arm that held the knife. “Quasimodo!” he cried, forgetting in this moment of danger that Quasimodo was deaf.  20
  In a trice the priest was thrown upon the floor and felt a knee of iron planted on his chest. By the pressure of that knee he recognised the hunchback. But what could he do—how make himself known to the other? Night made the deaf man blind.  21
  He was lost. The girl, pitiless as an enraged tigress, would not interfere to save him. The knife was nearing his head—it was a critical moment. Suddenly his adversary seemed to hesitate. “No blood near her!” he said under his breath.  22
  There was no mistaking—it was Quasimodo’s voice.  23
  On this the priest felt the huge hand dragging him out of the cell by the foot; he was to die outside.  24
  Fortunately for him the moon had just risen. As they crossed the threshold a pale ray fell across the priest’s face. Quasimodo stared at him, a tremor seized him, he relinquished his hold and shrank back.  25
  The gipsy girl, who had stolen to the door, was surprised to see them suddenly change parts; for now it was the priest who threatened and Quasimodo who entreated.  26
  The priest, overwhelming the deaf man with gestures of anger and reproof, motioned vehemently to him to withdraw.  27
  The hunchback hung his head, then went and knelt before the gipsy’s door. “Monseigneur,” he said in firm but resigned tones, “you will do as you think fit afterward, but you will have to kill me first.” So saying, he offered his knife to the priest.  28
  Claude, beside himself with passion, put out his hand to seize it, but the girl was too quick for him. She snatched the knife from Quasimodo and burst into a frantic laugh. “Now come!” she cried to the priest.  29
  She held the blade aloft. The priest faltered—she would most certainly have struck. “You dare not approach me, coward!” she cried. Then she added in a pitiless tone, and knowing well that she was plunging a thousand red-hot irons into the priest’s heart: “Ha! I know that Phœbus is not dead!”  30
  The priest threw Quasimodo to the ground with a furious kick; then, trembling with passion, hurled himself into the darkness of the stair-case.  31
  When he was gone, Quasimodo picked up the whistle which had just been the means of saving the gipsy. “It was getting rusty,” was all he said as he handed it back to her; then he left her to herself.  32
  Overpowered by the violent scene, the girl sank exhausted upon her couch and broke into bitter sobs. Her outlook was becoming sinister once more.  33
  Meanwhile the priest had groped his way back to his cell.  34
  It had come to this—Dom Claude was jealous of Quasimodo. Lost in thought, he repeated his baleful words, “No one shall have her.”  35



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