Victor Hugo: The Hunchback of Notre Dame

BOOK ELEVENTH.
CHAPTER 4. THE MARRIAGE OF QUASIMODO.

We have just said that Quasimodo disappeared from Notre- Dame on the day of the gypsy's and of the archdeacon's death. He was not seen again, in fact; no one knew what had become of him.

During the night which followed the execution of la Esmeralda, the night men had detached her body from the gibbet, and had carried it, according to custom, to the cellar of Montfaušon.

Montfaušon was, as Sauval says, "the most ancient and the most superb gibbet in the kingdom." Between the faubourgs of the Temple and Saint Martin, about a hundred and sixty toises from the walls of Paris, a few bow shots from La Courtille, there was to be seen on the crest of a gentle, almost imperceptible eminence, but sufficiently elevated to be seen for several leagues round about, an edifice of strange form, bearing considerable resemblance to a Celtic cromlech, and where also human sacrifices were offered.

Let the reader picture to himself, crowning a limestone hillock, an oblong mass of masonry fifteen feet in height, thirty wide, forty long, with a gate, an external railing and a platform; on this platform sixteen enormous pillars of rough hewn stone, thirty feet in height, arranged in a colonnade round three of the four sides of the mass which support them, bound together at their summits by heavy beams, whence hung chains at intervals; on all these chains, skeletons; in the vicinity, on the plain, a stone cross and two gibbets of secondary importance, which seemed to have sprung up as shoots around the central gallows; above all this, in the sky, a perpetual flock of crows; that was Montfaušon.

At the end of the fifteenth century, the formidable gibbet which dated from 1328, was already very much dilapidated; the beams were wormeaten, the chains rusted, the pillars green with mould; the layers of hewn stone were all cracked at their joints, and grass was growing on that platform which no feet touched. The monument made a horrible profile against the sky; especially at night when there was a little moonlight on those white skulls, or when the breeze of evening brushed the chains and the skeletons, and swayed all these in the darkness. The presence of this gibbet sufficed to render gloomy all the surrounding places.

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