The Hunchback of Notre-Dame: Novel Summary: Book II Chapter 6

Gringoire ran until he was out of breath and then realized that the mattress, whether abandoned or on fire, would provide him with either a bed or warmth and that he was a fool to run away. He began to retrace his steps but soon finds that he cannot relocate the spot. Finally he perceives a reddish glow at the end of a narrow, descending street and, believing it to be the burning mattress, happily walks toward the fire. As he proceeds down the street he notices that other forms are making their way toward the glow as well and he soon perceives that many are mangled bodies including one man who, lacking legs, walks using his hands and cries out supplications in a foreign tongue. Several more mangled beggars cry out to him for alms in languages he does not understand. Gringoire runs but he is soon surrounded by a throng of mangled and diseased beggars. He is carried inexorably into an area the beggars identify as the dreaded Court of Miracles – the spot where all the various elements of vice, mendacity and vagrancy passed each night and where no officer of the law dared to tread. The square is densely populated with people of all nationalities, sexes and ages and several fires impart a hellish glow to the scene. The three beggars seize the terrified Gringoire and propel him toward a large fire. In the light Gringoire perceives various figures unbinding or reapplying false wounds and two women arguing over possession of a stolen child. The king of the beggars is seated on a barrel near the fire and Gringoire recognizes the beggar Clopin Trouillefou who had disturbed his play earlier in the day. Gringoire begins to explain himself but Trouillefou stops him and admonishes him to show proper respect since he is before three mighty prelates, Trouillefou, King of Tunis and supreme sovereign of the kingdom of Argot, Mathias Hungadi Spicali, Duke of Egypt and Bohemia and Guillaume Rosseau, Emperor of Galilee. He tells Gringoire to speak carefully because he is on trial for trespassing into their city and he will be hanged unless he is a thief, a beggar or a vagrant. Gringoire stammers that he is an author and the King cuts him short and declares that he will be hanged in four mintues. Gringoire tries to convince the judges that poets are vagabonds and thieves by using ancient poets as examples but the judges are not convinced. The King tells Gringoire that the only way to save his self is to join them and Gringoire readily agrees to be a subject of the kingdom of Truand. The King explains to Gringoire that he will most likely be hanged anyway but at a later date by the city of Paris. To prove his dexterity and worthiness as a thief the judges make Gringoire balance upon a rickety stool and attempt to pick the pocket of a scarecrow suspended on a gallows and covered with bells. If Gringoire rings one of the mannequins bells while picking its pocket explains the King then Gringoire will be hanged as unworthy of the title Truand. If he succeeds he will become a Truand after being beaten for eight days. Gringoire makes a valiant effort but fails and the King orders him hanged. Before this happens, however, the King remembers that before a man can be hanged the women must be asked to see if any are willing to marry him and save his life. Three of the women come to inspect the poor poet but they all refuse him. At the last moment Esmeralda comes forward and, with her familiar pout of disgust agrees to marry the poet. The truands quickly remove Gringoire from the noose and bring him a clay pitcher and tell him to throw it on the ground. The pitcher breaks into four pieces and the Duke of Egypt pronounces them married for a period of four years.