CHAPTER 4. A TEAR FOR A DROP OF WATER.
These words were, so to speak, the point of union of two
scenes, which had, up to that time, been developed in parallel
lines at the same moment, each on its particular theatre; one,
that which the reader has just perused, in the Rat-Hole;
the other, which he is about to read, on the ladder of the
pillory. The first had for witnesses only the three women
with whom the reader has just made acquaintance; the second
had for spectators all the public which we have seen above,
collecting on the Place de Grève, around the pillory and the
That crowd which the four sergeants posted at nine o'clock
in the morning at the four corners of the pillory had inspired
with the hope of some sort of an execution, no doubt, not a
hanging, but a whipping, a cropping of ears, something, in
short,--that crowd had increased so rapidly that the four
policemen, too closely besieged, had had occasion to "press"
it, as the expression then ran, more than once, by sound blows
of their whips, and the haunches of their horses.
This populace, disciplined to waiting for public executions,
did not manifest very much impatience. It amused itself
with watching the pillory, a very simple sort of monument,
composed of a cube of masonry about six feet high and hollow
in the interior. A very steep staircase, of unhewn stone,
which was called by distinction "the ladder," led to the upper
platform, upon which was visible a horizontal wheel of solid
oak. The victim was bound upon this wheel, on his knees,
with his hands behind his back. A wooden shaft, which set
in motion a capstan concealed in the interior of the little
edifice, imparted a rotatory motion to the wheel, which always
maintained its horizontal position, and in this manner
presented the face of the condemned man to all quarters of
the square in succession. This was what was called "turning"
As the reader perceives, the pillory of the Grève was far
from presenting all the recreations of the pillory of the Halles.
Nothing architectural, nothing monumental. No roof to the
iron cross, no octagonal lantern, no frail, slender columns
spreading out on the edge of the roof into capitals of acanthus
leaves and flowers, no waterspouts of chimeras and monsters,
on carved woodwork, no fine sculpture, deeply sunk in the stone.