CHAPTER 5. THE RETREAT IN WHICH MONSIEUR LOUIS OF FRANCE SAYS HIS PRAYERS.
The reader has not, perhaps, forgotten that one moment
before catching sight of the nocturnal band of vagabonds,
Quasimodo, as he inspected Paris from the heights of his bell
tower, perceived only one light burning, which gleamed like a
star from a window on the topmost story of a lofty edifice
beside the Porte Saint-Antoine. This edifice was the Bastille.
That star was the candle of Louis XI.
King Louis XI. had, in fact, been two days in Paris. He
was to take his departure on the next day but one for his
citadel of Montilz-les-Tours. He made but seldom and brief
appearance in his good city of Paris, since there he did not
feel about him enough pitfalls, gibbets, and Scotch archers.
He had come, that day, to sleep at the Bastille. The great
chamber five toises* square, which he had at the Louvre, with
its huge chimney-piece loaded with twelve great beasts and
thirteen great prophets, and his grand bed, eleven feet by
twelve, pleased him but little. He felt himself lost amid
all this grandeur. This good bourgeois king preferred the
Bastille with a tiny chamber and couch. And then, the
Bastille was stronger than the Louvre.
* An ancient long measure in France, containing six feet
and nearly five inches English measure.
This little chamber, which the king reserved for himself in
the famous state prison, was also tolerably spacious and
occupied the topmost story of a turret rising from the donjon
keep. It was circular in form, carpeted with mats of shining
straw, ceiled with beams, enriched with fleurs-de-lis of gilded
metal with interjoists in color; wainscoated with rich woods
sown with rosettes of white metal, and with others painted a
fine, bright green, made of orpiment and fine indigo.
There was only one window, a long pointed casement, latticed
with brass wire and bars of iron, further darkened by fine
colored panes with the arms of the king and of the queen,
each pane being worth two and twenty sols.