CHAPTER 7. THE MYSTERIOUS MONK.
The illustrious wine shop of "Eve's Apple" was situated in
the University, at the corner of the Rue de la Rondelle and
the Rue de la Bātonnier. It was a very spacious and very
low hail on the ground floor, with a vaulted ceiling whose
central spring rested upon a huge pillar of wood painted yellow;
tables everywhere, shining pewter jugs hanging on the walls,
always a large number of drinkers, a plenty of wenches, a
window on the street, a vine at the door, and over the door
a flaring piece of sheet-iron, painted with an apple and a
woman, rusted by the rain and turning with the wind on an
iron pin. This species of weather-vane which looked upon
the pavement was the signboard.
Night was falling; the square was dark; the wine-shop,
full of candles, flamed afar like a forge in the gloom; the
noise of glasses and feasting, of oaths and quarrels, which
escaped through the broken panes, was audible. Through the
mist which the warmth of the room spread over the window
in front, a hundred confused figures could be seen swarming,
and from time to time a burst of noisy laughter broke forth
from it. The passers-by who were going about their business,
slipped past this tumultuous window without glancing at it.
Only at intervals did some little ragged boy raise himself
on tiptoe as far as the ledge, and hurl into the drinking-shop,
that ancient, jeering hoot, with which drunken men were then
pursued: "Aux Houls, saouls, saouls, saouls!"
Nevertheless, one man paced imperturbably back and forth
in front of the tavern, gazing at it incessantly, and going no
further from it than a pikernan from his sentry-box. He was
enveloped in a mantle to his very nose. This mantle he had
just purchased of the old-clothes man, in the vicinity of the
"Eve's Apple," no doubt to protect himself from the cold of
the March evening, possibly also, to conceal his costume.
From time to time he paused in front of the dim window with
its leaden lattice, listened, looked, and stamped his foot.
At length the door of the dram-shop opened. This was
what he appeared to be waiting for. Two boon companions
came forth. The ray of light which escaped from the door
crimsoned for a moment their jovial faces.