The Hunchback of Notre-Dame: Novel Summary: Book VIII Chapter 1

A month passes and all of Esmeraldas friends, especially Pierre Gringoire, are worried about her absence. One day as he is passing the Tournelle Criminelle Gringoire notices a large crowd and learns that a young woman is being tried for the murder of a soldier and for practicing witchcraft. He also learns that Archdeacon Cluade Frollo is very interested in the case and out of curiousity he enters. Inside the darkening and candlelit chamber he perceives many notable figures, including several from the royal court, trying the case but his view of the defendant is blocked and her back is to him. The first witness is the old woman from the boarding house. She tells how the soldier first appeared at her door with a black monk and, after giving her a coin, returned with a young girl and her goat. She explains that soon thereafter she heard a terrible sound and rushed the window to see the black figure jump into the river and swim away. She called the guards and discovered the stabbed soldier, the girl feigning death and the goat. She says that later when she went for the coin she discovered that it had turned into a dried leaf. The court suspects witchcraft and the dried leaf is passed around for closer inspection. The Kings Advocate reminds the court that they have copies of the bedside deposition of Phoebus de Chateaupers to look over and hearing the name “Phoebus” the prisoner lifts her head and Pierre Gringoire is shocked to recognize Esmeralda. She begs the court for news of the soldier and the Advocate tells her that he is dying and she collapses. The Advocate orders the second prisoner brought in and Gringoire is again alarmed to see Djali the goat brought into the room. Using the tambourine the Kings Attorney in the Ecclesiastical Court, the same Maitre Jacques who is friends with Claude Frollo, makes the goat answer several questions and then, using the wooden blocks of letters, has the goat spell the name “Phoebus.” Gringoire is distraught and cries out that the poor creature cannot help itself but the court calls for silence and all are convinced the goat is possessed. The Advocate asks Esmeralda if she pleads guilty to the crime of being in league with the specter monk to kill the soldier and she is mortified at the thought. She is led off to be tortured in order to extract a confession.