The rope frayed and snapped, the noose came undone, and a second chance is given.
|Quand les années auront passé
On retrouvera sous terre
Nos deux squelettes enlacés
Pour dire à l'univers
Combien Quasimodo aimait
Esmeralda la Zingara.
“Fuyez de Paris, Quasimodo! Sauvez votre belle Esmeralda et fuyez!!”
Gringoire’s cry was swallowed into the night as the hunchback clutched Esmeralda to his chest and loped through the burning city. Notre Dame loomed behind the fleeing man, its hollow windows gazing upon his cowering form like listless eyes promising him hell for leaving her voiceless. Quasimodo dared not look upon his stone nest again and struggled on blind for the sake of the feebly breathing woman in his arms. Notre Dame had not answered his clamor for sanctuary tonight, but he’d seen the rope about Esmeralda’s neck fray and snap, as if sliced at by the executioner’s own blade.
Perhaps it was Sainte Marie’s final miracle. Perhaps it was a perverse attempt to apologize to the hunchback for the cross he’d been forced to bear alone for so long.
It mattered little to Quasimodo, lurching through Paris as fast as his uneven legs would carry him. She lived! The gypsy, all he had ever loved, Esmeralda-alive!
He’d seen the fall she’d suffered, a savage one that dealt her a nasty blow to the side of the head and left her unconscious amidst the chaos of a mutinous city. He heard Claude Frollo’s enraged howl at Esmeralda’s narrow escape, then killed him with a satisfied vengeance that frightened him now. He had swung from statue to statue, stone to stone, descending the face of the cathedral like a man possessed, and fought through the throng of bodies screaming, “Donnez-la moi!! Give her to me! She is mine!!!”
No man could withstand the hunchback’s bestial assault as he flung bodies aside like sacks, carving a path through the revolt to reach the forgotten body of his Esmeralda. Soldier and vagabond alike quailed under the ferocity in his eyes, struggling to keep away from the rampaging ape of a man.
By the time Quasimodo reached the scaffold, breath ragged and hands shaking with scarcely contained fury, the executioner had long disappeared.
Quasimodo finally seized the girl in his arms, pressed an ear to her breast and heard the heavily hammering heart beneath. With one last longing gaze at the cathedral, he had fled, determined to find safe haven for Esmeralda, determined to protect her as no one else had.
Clopin was dead. Phoebus had lied. Frollo’s passions had caused her misery, but Quasimodo would never fail her.
There was chaos in Paris as La Cour des Miracles exploded into a frenzy of fleeing men and women, shrieking children smothered into their mothers' shawls, homes and shops ransacked for only the necessary as the gypsies executed a mass exodus the likes of which had never been seen before. Soldiers on horseback had already begun to torch the streets and stragglers alike, eager to kill, eager to purge after what had almost resulted in a victorious battle for the commonplace people of the city.
"Flush them out!" Phoebus screamed, nostrils flared and eyes much too bloodshot as he forced his iron-gray charger to still its stomping with a cruel wrench to the reins. "Kill the lot of them, damn you! Close the gates of the city, let no one escape!"
He swung the horse around and glowered momentarily at the imposing figure of Notre Dame's stoutly cut silhouette against the red of the burning city. He knew not what sorcery had led to La Esmeralda's escape but silently swore an oath to end the heathen witch's life himself if she ever happened upon his path again.
A man possessed, Phoebus drew his sword, expression nastily contorted by a snarl as he rode into the growing pandemonium of the hunted.