CHAPTER 1. DELIRIUM.
Claude Frollo was no longer in Notre-Dame when his
adopted son so abruptly cut the fatal web in which the
archdeacon and the gypsy were entangled. On returning to the
sacristy he had torn off his alb, cope, and stole, had flung all
into the hands of the stupefied beadle, had made his escape
through the private door of the cloister, had ordered a boatman
of the Terrain to transport him to the left bank of the
Seine, and had plunged into the hilly streets of the
University, not knowing whither he was going, encountering
at every step groups of men and women who were hurrying
joyously towards the Pont Saint-Michel, in the hope of still
arriving in time to see the witch hung there,--pale, wild,
more troubled, more blind and more fierce than a night bird
let loose and pursued by a troop of children in broad
daylight. He no longer knew where he was, what he thought,
or whether he were dreaming. He went forward, walking,
running, taking any street at haphazard, making no choice,
only urged ever onward away from the Grève, the horrible
Grève, which he felt confusedly, to be behind him.
In this manner he skirted Mount Sainte-Geneviève, and
finally emerged from the town by the Porte Saint-Victor.
He continued his flight as long as he could see, when he
turned round, the turreted enclosure of the University, and
the rare houses of the suburb; but, when, at length, a rise of
ground had completely concealed from him that odious Paris,
when he could believe himself to be a hundred leagues distant
from it, in the fields, in the desert, he halted, and it
seemed to him that he breathed more freely.
Then frightful ideas thronged his mind. Once more he
could see clearly into his soul, and he shuddered. He
thought of that unhappy girl who had destroyed him, and
whom he had destroyed. He cast a haggard eye over the
double, tortuous way which fate had caused their two destinies
to pursue up to their point of intersection, where it had
dashed them against each other without mercy. He meditated
on the folly of eternal vows, on the vanity of chastity,
of science, of religion, of virtue, on the uselessness of God.
He plunged to his heart's content in evil thoughts, and in
proportion as he sank deeper, he felt a Satanic laugh burst
forth within him.