en-de  A LODGING FOR THE NIGHT Medium
EIN NACHTQUARTIER von Robert Louis Stevenson (1877) - Teil I


Es war Ende November 1456. Der Schnee fiel auf Paris mit präziser, unerbittlicher Hartnäckigkeit; manchmal brach der Wind aus und verstreute ihn als fliegende Wirbel; manchmal gab es eine Ruhepause und Flocke für Flocke sank aus der schwarzen Nachtluft, still, umherschweifend, endlos.

Armen Leuten, die unter nassen Augenbrauen hochschauten, erschien es wie ein Wunder, wo alles herkam.

Meister Francis Villon hatte an diesem Nachmittag am Fenster einer Wirtschaft eine Alternative dargelegt: war es nur der heidnische Jupiter, der Gänse auf dem Olymp rupft? oder waren die heiligen Engel in der Mauser?

Er war nur ein armer Meister der Künste, fuhr er fort; und weil die Frage irgendwie die Theologie berührte, wagte er keine Schlussfolgerung.

Ein dummer alter Priester aus Montargis, der unter der Truppe war, spendierte dem jungen Frechdachs zu Ehren des Spaßes und den damit verbundenen Grimmassen eine Flasche Wein und schwor auf seinen eigenen weißen Bart, dass er auch so ein pietätloser Hund gewesen sei, als er in Villons Alter war.


Die Luft war rauh und schneidend, nah am Gefrierpunkt; und die Flocken waren groß, feucht und klebrig.

Die ganze Stadt war bedeckt.

Eine Armee hätte von einer Seite zur anderen marschieren können und kein Schritt hätte Alarm gegeben.

Wenn da irgendwelche verspäteten Vögel im Himmel waren, sahen sie die Insel wie einen großen weißen Flicken und die Brücken wie dünne weiße Spieren auf dem schwarzen Grund des Flusses.

Hoch oben in der Luft ließ sich der Schnee auf dem Filigranmuster der Kirchtürme nieder.

Viele Nischen waren zugeweht; viele Statuen trugen eine lange weiße Mütze auf ihrem grotesken oder geheiligten Kopf.

Die Wasserspeiher waren zu großen falschen Nasen verwandelt, nahe der Spitze tropfend. Die Steinblumen waren wie aufgeschüttelte Kissen auf einer Seite geschwollen.

In den Intervallen des Windes gab es einen dumpfen Klang, der auf die Umgebung der Kirche herabsickerte.

Der Friedhof von St. John hatte seinen eigenen Teil des Schnees übernommen.

Alle Gräber waren gehörig verschneit; hohe weiße Hausdächer standen in ernster stattlicher Reihe; achtbare Bürger waren lange schon im Bett, ahnungslos bedeckt wie ihr Domizil; in der ganzen Nachbarschaft war kein Licht, nur ein verstohlener Schimmer von einer Lampe, die im Chorraum der Kirche pendelte und die Schatten abhängig von den Schwingungen hin und her warf.

Es war kurz vor zehn, als die Patrouille mit Hellebarden und einer Laterne vorbeiging und ihre Hände schlug; und sie sahen nichts Verdächtiges um den Friedhof von St. John herum.


Aber da war ein kleines Haus mit dem Rücken zur Friedhofsmauer, das war noch wach und wach in böser Absicht in diesem verschlafenen Bezirk.

Von außen gab es kaum etwas, was verräterisch war; nur ein Hauch warmer Luft von der Schornsteinspitze, ein Fleck, wo der Schnee auf dem Dach schmolz und ein paar halbverwischte Fußabdrücke an der Tür.

Aber innen, hinter den geschlossenen Fensterläden, hielten Meister Francis Villon, der Dichter, und ein paar der diebischen Bande, mit denen er verkehrte, die Nacht in Atem und ließen die Flasche herumgehen.


Ein großer Haufen lebhafter Glut verbreitete ein starkes und rotes Glühen aus dem gewölbten Schornstein. Dom Nicolas, der Mönch aus der Picardie, stand mit hochgehobenen Röcken und seinen fetten, nackten Beinen breitbeinig vor der angenehmen Wärme.

Sein ausgedehnter Schatten teilte den Raum in zwei Hälften und der Feuerschein entwich nur auf beiden Seiten seines großrahmigen Wesens und in einer kleinen Lache zwischen seinen ausgebreiteten Füßen.

Sein Gesicht hatte das bierselige, zerschlagene Aussehen eines Dauersäufers; es war mit einem Netz von angestauten Venen bedeckt, unter normalen Umständen purpurrot, aber nun bleich-violett, weil ihn selbst mit seinem Rücken am Feuer die Kälte auf der anderen Seite kniff.
Seine Kapuze war halb heruntergerutscht und machte auf jeder Seite seines Stiernackens eine merkwürdige Wucherung.
So stand er mit gespreizten Beinen, murrend, und teilte den Raum mit dem Schatten seiner korpulenten Gestalt in zwei Hälften.

Rechts waren Villon und Guy Tabary über einem Stück Pergament zusammengekauert; Villon machte gerade eine Ballade, die er die "Ballade vom Bratfisch" nennen sollte und Tabary stotterte Bewunderung an seiner Schulter.

Der Dichter war ein Lump von einem Mann, dunkel, klein und mager mit hohlen Wangen und dünnen schwarzen Locken.

Er trug seine vierundzwanzig Jahre mit fieberhafter Lebhaftigkeit.

Gier hatte um seine Augen Falten gebildet, boshaftes Grinsen hatte seinen Mund gekräuselt.

In seinem Gesicht rangen Wolf und Schwein miteinander. Es war ein beredsamer, kantiger, hässlicher, irdischer Gesichtsausdruck

Seine Hände waren schmal und beweglich, mit Fingern knotig wie ein Strick; und sie fuchtelten ständig vor ihm in heftiger und ausdrucksstarker Pantomime herum.

Was Tabary angeht, atmete ein ausgedehnter, selbstgefälliger, bewundernswerter Schwachsinn aus seiner Kürbisnase und den sabbernden Lippen: er war ein Dieb geworden, genauso wie er ein sehr anständiger Bürger hätte werden können, durch die mächtigen Möglichkeiten, die das Leben von menschlichen Gänsen und menschlichen Eseln regelt.


Auf der anderen Seite des Mönchs spielten Montigny und Thevenin Pensete ein Glücksspiel.

Am Ersteren haftete ein wenig Aroma von edler Abkunft und Erziehung, wie an einem gefallenen Engel, etwas Großes, Geschmeidiges, Höfisches in der Gestalt; etwas Adlerähnliches und Düsteres im Gesicht.

Thevenin, die arme Seele, war groß in Form: er hatte diesen Nachmittag in der Faubourg St Jacques Schwein gehabt und die ganze Nacht hatte er von Montigny gewonnen.

Ein flaches Grinsen erhellte sein Gesicht; sein kahler Kopf schien rosa inmitten eines Kranzes aus roten Locken; sein kleiner vorstehender Bauch zitterte vor lautlosem Gekicher, als er seinen Gewinn einsackte.


"Verdoppeln oder Aufhören?" sagte Thevenin.

Montigny nickte verbissen.

'Manche bevorzugen es, würdevoll zu speisen' schrieb Villon ' mit Brot und Käse auf einem Silberteller.'

"Oder - - oder-- hilf mir, Guido!" ."

Tabary kicherte. < Oder Petersilie in einer goldenen Schale > kritzelte der Dichter.

Der Wind draußen frischte auf; er trieb den Schnee vor sich her und ab und zu schwoll die Stimme zu Siegessgeheul an und machte im Schornstein ein düsteres Geknurre.

Die Kälte wurde im Laufe der Nacht schärfer.

Villon stülpte seine Lippen vor und imitierte den Windstoß mit etwas zwischen Pfeifen und Stöhnen.

Es war eine unheimliche, unangenehme Fähigkeit des Dichters, die von den Picardie-Mönchen sehr gehasst wurde.

"Kannst du nicht hören, wie es am Galgen rüttelt?" fragte Villon.

"Sie tanzen alle nackt den Teufelsjig, dort oben.

Ihr könnt tanzen, meine Gecken, es wird euch kein bisschen wärmer werden! Hui! Was für eine Böe! Gerade starb einer! Eine Mispel weniger auf dem dreibeinigen Mispelbaum! - Ich sage, Dom Nicolas, es wird heute nacht kalt auf der St. Denis Road?" fragte er.


Dom Nicholas blinzelte mit seinen beiden großen Augen und schien an seinem Adamsapfel zu ersticken.

Montfaucon, der große, grausige Pariser Galgen stand nahe der St. Denis Road und die Hänselei traf ihn an einem wunden Punkt.
Was Tabary betraf, lachte er maßlos über die Mispeln; er hatte nie etwas Unbeschwerteres gehört; und er hielt seine Seiten und jauchzte.

Villon versetzte ihm einen Nasenstüber, was seine Heiterkeit in einen Hustenanfall verwandelte.

" Oh, hört auf zu streiten" sagte Villon "und überlegt , was sich auf "Fisch" reimt!"

"Verdoppeln oder Aufhören?" sagte Montigny verbissen.

"Von ganzem Herzen" sprach Thevenin.

"Ist noch was in der Flasche?" fragte der Mönch.

"Mach eine andere auf," sagte Villon.

"Wie hoffst du jemals dieses riesige Fass, deinen Körper, mit so kleinen Sachen wie Flaschen füllen zu können? Und wie erwartest du, in den Himmel zu kommen? Wie viele Engel, meinst du, kann man erübrigen, um einen einzigen Mönch aus der Picardie zu tragen? Oder hältst du dich für einen weiteren Elias - und sie senden die Kutsche für dich? ».

"Unmögliche Hominibus" erwiderte der Mönch, als er sein Glas füllte.

Tabary war in Ekstase.

Villon gab ihm nochmal einen Nasenstüber.

"Lach über meine Witze, wenn du willst" sagte er.

Villon schnitt ihm eine Grimasse.

"Denkt über Reime auf "Fisch" nach" sagte er.

"Was hast du mit Latein zu tun? Du wirst wünschen, nichts davon zu wissen beim jüngsten Gericht , wenn der Teufel den Geistlichen Guido Tabary aufruft, - der Teufel mit dem Buckel und rotglühenden Fingernägeln.

Apropos Teufel", fügte er flüsternd hinzu," seht Montigny an!" ».


Alle drei spähten unauffällig zum Spieler.
Er schien sein Glück nicht zu genießen.
Sein Mund war etwas schief; ein Nasenloch war fast zu und das andere sehr aufgebläht.

Der schwarze Hund saß auf seinem Rücken, wie man in einer schrecklichen Kindergartenmetapher sagt; und er atmete schwer unter der schaurigen Bürde.


" Er sieht aus, als ob er ihn erstechen könnte" flüsterte Tabary mit Kulleraugen.

Der Mönch zitterte, wandte sein Gesicht ab und spreizte seine Hände über die rote Glut. Es war die Kälte, die sich auf Dom Nicolas auswirkte und kein Übermaß von moralischem Einfühlungsvermögen.

"Was passiert nun mit dieser Ballade" sagte Villon.

Wie geht es damit weiter? Und mit der Hand den Takt schlagend, las er sie Tabary laut vor.

Sie wurden beim vierten Reim durch eine kurze und tödliche Bewegung unter den Spielern unterbrochen.

Die Runde war beendet und Thevening hatte gerade den Mund geöffnet, um einen weiteren Sieg zu beanspruchen, als Montigny aufsprang, schnell wie eine Viper, und ihn ins Herz stach.

Der Schlag wurde wirksam, bevor er Zeit hatte, einen Schrei von sich zu geben, bevor er Zeit hatte, sich zu bewegen.

Ein Beben oder zwei verkrampften seinen Körper; seine Hände öffneten und schlossen sich, seine Fersen ratterten auf dem Boden; dann rollte sein Kopf rückwärts über eine Schulter, die Augen weit geöffnet; und Thevenin Pensetes Geist war zu Ihm zurückgekehrt, der ihn geschaffen hatte.

Jeder sprang auf seine Füße; aber das Geschäft war in Nullkommanichts vorüber.

Die vier lebenden Kerle sahen einander auf ziemlich grässliche Art an, der tote Mann betrachtete eine Ecke des Daches mit einem sonderbaren und hässlichen, anzüglichen Grinsen.


"Mein Gott!" sagte Tabary und begann lateinisch zu beten.

Villon brach in hysterisches Gelächter aus.

Er kam einen Schritt nach vorne, wich Thevenin in einem lächerlichen Bogen aus und lachte noch lauter.

Dann sank er plötzlich auf einem Stuhl zusammen und lachte bitterlich weiter, als ob er in Stücke platzen würde.


Montigny fasste sich als Erster.


"Lasst uns mal sehen, was er so bei sich hat" bemerkte er; und er leerte die Taschen des Toten mit geübter Hand und teilte das Geld in vier gleiche Portionen auf dem Tisch.

Das ist für dich," sagte er.


Der Mönch nahm seinen Anteil mit einem tiefen Seufzer und einem verstohlenen Blick zu dem toten Thevenin entgegen, der anfing, in sich zusammenzusinken und seitwärts vom Stuhl zu kippen.


" Wir sind alle dran" schrie Villon, seine Heiterkeit verschluckend.

Das gibt eine Hinrichtung für jeden von uns, der hier ist, ausnahmslos - ganz zu schweigen von denen, die es nicht sind. Er machte mit seiner rechten erhobenen Hand eine schockierende Geste in die Luft, streckte die Zunge heraus und warf den Kopf auf eine Seite, um das Aussehen von jemandem nachzumachen, der erhängt worden war.

Then he pocketed his share of the spoil, and executed a shuffle with his feet as if to restore the circulation.

Tabary was the last to help himself; he made a dash at the money, and retired to the other end of the apartment.

Montigny stuck Thevenin upright in the chair, and drew out the dagger, which was followed by a jet of blood.

"You fellows had better be moving," he said, as he wiped the blade on his victim's doublet.

"I think we had," returned Villon, with a gulp. " Damn his fat head!" he broke out.

"It sticks in my throat like phlegm. What right has a man to have red hair when he is dead? ».

And he fell all of a heap again upon the stool, and fairly covered his face with his hands.

Montigny and Dom Nicolas laughed aloud, even Tabary feebly chiming in.
"Cry-baby!" said the monk.

"I always said he was a woman," added Montigny, with a sneer.

"Sit up, can't you?" he went on, giving another shake to the murdered body.

"Tread out that fire, Nick! ».


But Nick was better employed; he was quietly taking Villon's purse, as the poet sat, limp and trembling, on the stool where he had been making a ballade not three minutes before.

Montigny and Tabary dumbly demanded a share of the booty, which the monk silently promised as he passed the little bag into the bosom of his gown.

In many ways an artistic nature unfits a man for practical existence.


No sooner had the theft been accomplished than Villon shook himself, jumped to his feet, and began helping to scatter and extinguish the embers.

Meanwhile Montigny opened the door and cautiously peered into the street.

The coast was clear; there was no meddlesome patrol in sight.


Still it was judged wiser to slip out severally; and as Villon was himself in a hurry to escape from the neighborhood of the dead Thevenin, and the rest were in a still greater hurry to get rid of him before he should discover the loss of his money, he was the first by general consent to issue forth into the street.


The wind had triumphed and swept all the clouds from heaven.

Only a few vapours, as thin as moonlight, fleeted rapidly across the stars.

It was bitter cold; and, by a common optical effect, things seemed almost more definite than in the broadest daylight.

The sleeping city was absolutely still; a company of white hoods, a field full of little alps, below the twinkling stars.

Villon cursed his fortune. Would it were still snowing! Now, wherever he went, he left an indelible trail behind him on the glittering streets; wherever he went, he was still tethered to the house by the cemetery of St John; wherever he went, he must weave, with his own plodding feet, the rope that bound him to the crime and would bind him to the gallows.

The leer of the dead man came back to him with new significance. He snapped his fingers as if to pluck up his own spirits, and, choosing a street at random, stepped boldly forward in the snow.
unit 1
A LODGING FOR THE NIGHT BY ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON (1877) - Partie I.
1 Translations, 1 Upvotes, Last Activity 11 months, 2 weeks ago
unit 2
It was late in November 1456.
2 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 12 months ago
unit 4
To poor people, looking up under moist eyebrows, it seemed a wonder where it all came from.
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unit 6
or were the holy angels moulting?.
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unit 10
The whole city was sheeted up.
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unit 11
An army might have marched from end to end and not a footfall given the alarm.
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unit 13
High up overhead the snow settled among the tracery of the cathedral towers.
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unit 15
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The crockets were like upright pillows swollen on one side.
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unit 17
In the intervals of the wind there was a dull sound dripping about the precincts of the church.
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unit 18
The cemetery of St John had taken its own share of the snow.
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unit 24
A great pile of living embers diffused a strong and ruddy glow from the arched chimney.
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His cowl had half fallen back, and made a strange excrescence on either side of his bull neck.
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So he straddled, grumbling, and cut the room in half with the shadow of his portly frame.
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The poet was a rag of a man, dark, little, and lean, with hollow cheeks and thin black locks.
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He carried his four and twenty years with feverish animation.
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Greed had made folds about his eyes, evil smiles had puckered his mouth.
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The wolf and pig struggled together in his face.
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It was an eloquent, sharp, ugly, earthly countenance.
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At the monk's other hand, Montigny and Thevenin Pensete played a game of chance.
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"Doubles or quits?"
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said Thevenin.
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Montigny nodded grimly.
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« Some may prefer to dine in state," wrote Villon, "on bread and cheese on silver plate.
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Or -- or -— help me out, Guido!
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».
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unit 48
Tabary giggled. "
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unit 49
Or parsley on a golden dish," scribbled the poet.
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unit 51
The cold was growing sharper as the night went on.
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unit 52
Villon, protruding his lips, imitated the gust with something between a whistle and a groan.
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unit 53
It was an eerie, uncomfortable talent of the poet's, much detested by the Picardy monk.
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unit 54
"Can't you hear it rattle in the gibbet?"
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said Villon.
1 Translations, 3 Upvotes, Last Activity 11 months, 1 week ago
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"They are all dancing the devil's jig on nothing, up there.
1 Translations, 1 Upvotes, Last Activity 9 months, 2 weeks ago
unit 57
You may dance, my gallants, you'll be none the warmer!
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unit 58
Whew!
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what a gust!
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Down went somebody just now!
2 Translations, 1 Upvotes, Last Activity 11 months, 1 week ago
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A medlar the fewer on the three-legged medlar-tree!
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— I say, Dom Nicolas, it'll be cold to-night on the St Denis Road?"
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he asked.
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Dom Nicholas winked both his big eyes, and seemed to choke upon his Adam's apple.
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Villon fetched him a fillip on the nose, which turned his mirth into an attack of coughing.
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unit 68
"Oh, stop that row," said Villon, "and think of rhymes to ‘fish’!".
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unit 69
"Doubles or quits?
1 Translations, 1 Upvotes, Last Activity 11 months, 2 weeks ago
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Said Montigny, doggedly.
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"With all my heart," quoth Thevenin.
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"Is there any more in that bottle?"
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asked the monk.
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"Open another," said Villon.
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"How do you ever hope to fill that big hogshead, your body, with little things like bottles?
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And how do you expect to get to heaven?
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How many angels, do you fancy, can be spared to carry up a single monk from Picardy?
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Or do you think yourself another Elias -— and they'll send the coach for you?
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».
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"Hominibus impossible," replied the monk, as he filled his glass.
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Tabary was in ecstasies.
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Villon filliped his nose again.
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"Laugh at my jokes, if you like," he said.
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Villon made a face at him.
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"Think of rhymes to 'fish,'" he said.
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"What have you to do with Latin?
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Talking of the devil," he added, in a whisper, "look at Montigny!
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».
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unit 90
All three peered covertly at the gamester.
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unit 91
He did not seem to be enjoying his luck.
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His mouth was a little to a side; one nostril nearly shut, and the other much inflated.
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"He looks as if he could knife him," whispered Tabary, with round eyes.
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unit 95
The monk shuddered, and turned his face and spread his open hands to the red embers.
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unit 96
It was the cold that thus affected Dom Nicolas, and not any excess of moral sensibility.
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unit 97
"Come now," said Villon — "about this ballade.
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unit 98
How does it run so far?"
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unit 99
And beating time with his hand, he read it aloud to Tabary.
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unit 100
They were interrupted at the fourth rhyme by a brief and fatal movement among the gamesters.
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The blow took effect before he had time to utter a cry, before he had time to move.
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Every one sprang to his feet; but the business was over in two twos.
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unit 106
"My God!"
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said Tabary, and he began to pray in Latin.
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unit 108
Villon broke out into hysterical laughter.
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He came a step forward and ducked a ridiculous bow at Thevenin, and laughed still louder.
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Montigny recovered his composure first.
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unit 113
"There's for you," he said.
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unit 115
"We're all in for it," cried Villon, swallowing his mirth.
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unit 116
"It's a hanging job for every man Jack of us that's here—not to speak of those who aren’t. "
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unit 122
"I think we had," returned Villon, with a gulp. "
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unit 123
Damn his fat head!"
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he broke out.
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"It sticks in my throat like phlegm.
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unit 126
What right has a man to have red hair when he is dead?
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».
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Montigny and Dom Nicolas laughed aloud, even Tabary feebly chiming in.
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"Cry-baby!"
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said the monk.
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"I always said he was a woman," added Montigny, with a sneer.
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unit 133
"Sit up, can't you?"
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he went on, giving another shake to the murdered body.
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"Tread out that fire, Nick!
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».
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unit 139
In many ways an artistic nature unfits a man for practical existence.
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unit 142
The coast was clear; there was no meddlesome patrol in sight.
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unit 144
The wind had triumphed and swept all the clouds from heaven.
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unit 148
Villon cursed his fortune.
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Would it were still snowing!
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unit 151
The leer of the dead man came back to him with new significance.
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A LODGING FOR THE NIGHT
BY ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON (1877) - Partie I.


It was late in November 1456. The snow fell over Paris with rigorous, relentless persistence; sometimes the wind made a sally and scattered it in flying vortices; sometimes there was a lull, and flake after flake descended out of the black night air, silent, circuitous, interminable.

To poor people, looking up under moist eyebrows, it seemed a wonder where it all came from.

Master Francis Villon had propounded an alternative that afternoon, at a tavern window: was it only pagan Jupiter plucking geese upon Olympus? or were the holy angels moulting?.

He was only a poor Master of Arts, he went on; and as the question somewhat touched upon divinity, he durst not venture to conclude.

A silly old priest from Montargis, who was among the company, treated the young rascal to a bottle of wine in honor of the jest and grimaces with which it was accompanied, and swore on his own white beard that he had been just such another irreverent dog when he was Villon's age.

The air was raw and pointed, but not far below freezing; and the flakes were large, damp, and adhesive.

The whole city was sheeted up.

An army might have marched from end to end and not a footfall given the alarm.

If there were any belated birds in heaven, they saw the island like a large white patch, and the bridges like slim white spars, on the black ground of the river.

High up overhead the snow settled among the tracery of the cathedral towers.

Many a niche was drifted full; many a statue wore a long white bonnet on its grotesque or sainted head.

The gargoyles had been transformed into great false noses, drooping toward the point. The crockets were like upright pillows swollen on one side.

In the intervals of the wind there was a dull sound dripping about the precincts of the church.

The cemetery of St John had taken its own share of the snow.

All the graves were decently covered; tall white housetops stood around in grave array; worthy burghers were long ago in bed, benighted capped like their domiciles; there was no light in all the neighborhood but a little peep from a lamp that hung swinging in the church choir, and tossed the shadows to and fro in time to its oscillations.

The clock was hard on ten when the patrol went by with halberds and a lantern, beating their hands; and they saw nothing suspicious about the cemetery of St John.

Yet there was a small house, backed up against the cemetery wall, which was still awake, and awake to evil purpose, in that snoring district.

There was not much to betray it from without; only a stream of warm vapour from the chimney-top, a patch where the snow melted on the roof, and a few half-obliterated footprints at the door.

But within, behind the shuttered windows, Master Francis Villon the poet, and some of the thievish crew with whom he consorted, were keeping the night alive and passing round the bottle.

A great pile of living embers diffused a strong and ruddy glow from the arched chimney. Before this straddled Dom Nicolas, the Picardy monk, with his skirts picked up and his fat legs bared to the comfortable warmth.

His dilated shadow cut the room in half; and the firelight only escaped on either side of his broad person, and in a little pool between his outspread feet.

His face had the beery, bruised appearance of the continual drinker's; it was covered with a network of congested veins, purple in ordinary circumstances, but now pale violet, for even with his back to the fire the cold pinched him on the other side.
His cowl had half fallen back, and made a strange excrescence on either side of his bull neck.
So he straddled, grumbling, and cut the room in half with the shadow of his portly frame.

On the right, Villon and Guy Tabary were huddled together over a scrap of parchment; Villon making a ballade which he was to call the "Ballade of Roast Fish," and Tabary sputtering admiration at his shoulder.

The poet was a rag of a man, dark, little, and lean, with hollow cheeks and thin black locks.

He carried his four and twenty years with feverish animation.

Greed had made folds about his eyes, evil smiles had puckered his mouth.

The wolf and pig struggled together in his face. It was an eloquent, sharp, ugly, earthly countenance.

His hands were small and prehensile, with fingers knotted like a cord; and they were continually flickering in front of him in violent and expressive pantomime.

As for Tabary, a broad, complacent, admiring imbecility breathed from his squash nose and slobbering lips: he had become a thief, just as he might have become the most decent of burgesses, by the imperious chance that rules the lives of human geese and human donkeys.

At the monk's other hand, Montigny and Thevenin Pensete played a game of chance.

About the first there clung some flavour of good birth and training, as about a fallen angel; something long, lithe, and courtly in the person; something aquiline and darkling in the face.

Thevenin, poor soul, was in great feather: he had done a good stroke of knavery that afternoon in the Faubourg St Jacques, and all night he had been gaining from Montigny.

A flat smile illuminated his face; his bald head shone rosily in a garland of red curls; his little protuberant stomach shook with silent chucklings as he swept in his gains.

"Doubles or quits?" said Thevenin.

Montigny nodded grimly.

« Some may prefer to dine in state," wrote Villon, "on bread and cheese on silver plate.

Or -- or -— help me out, Guido! ».

Tabary giggled.

" Or parsley on a golden dish," scribbled the poet.

The wind was freshening without; it drove the snow before it, and sometimes raised its voice in a victorious whoop, and made sepulchral grumblings in the chimney.

The cold was growing sharper as the night went on.

Villon, protruding his lips, imitated the gust with something between a whistle and a groan.

It was an eerie, uncomfortable talent of the poet's, much detested by the Picardy monk.

"Can't you hear it rattle in the gibbet?" said Villon.

"They are all dancing the devil's jig on nothing, up there.

You may dance, my gallants, you'll be none the warmer! Whew! what a gust! Down went somebody just now! A medlar the fewer on the three-legged medlar-tree! — I say, Dom Nicolas, it'll be cold to-night on the St Denis Road?" he asked.

Dom Nicholas winked both his big eyes, and seemed to choke upon his Adam's apple.

Montfaucon, the great grisly Paris gibbet, stood hard by the St. Denis Road, and the pleasantry touched him on the raw.
As for Tabary, he laughed immoderately over the medlars; he had never heard anything more light-hearted; and he held his sides and crowed.

Villon fetched him a fillip on the nose, which turned his mirth into an attack of coughing.

"Oh, stop that row," said Villon, "and think of rhymes to ‘fish’!".

"Doubles or quits? Said Montigny, doggedly.

"With all my heart," quoth Thevenin.

"Is there any more in that bottle?" asked the monk.

"Open another," said Villon.

"How do you ever hope to fill that big hogshead, your body, with little things like bottles? And how do you expect to get to heaven? How many angels, do you fancy, can be spared to carry up a single monk from Picardy? Or do you think yourself another Elias -— and they'll send the coach for you? ».

"Hominibus impossible," replied the monk, as he filled his glass.

Tabary was in ecstasies.

Villon filliped his nose again.

"Laugh at my jokes, if you like," he said.

Villon made a face at him.

"Think of rhymes to 'fish,'" he said.

"What have you to do with Latin? You'll wish you knew none of it at the great assizes, when the devil calls for Guido Tabary, clericus —- the devil with the humpback and red-hot fingernails.

Talking of the devil," he added, in a whisper, "look at Montigny! ».

All three peered covertly at the gamester.
He did not seem to be enjoying his luck.
His mouth was a little to a side; one nostril nearly shut, and the other much inflated.

The black dog was on his back, as people say, in terrifying nursery metaphor; and he breathed hard under the gruesome burden.

"He looks as if he could knife him," whispered Tabary, with round eyes.

The monk shuddered, and turned his face and spread his open hands to the red embers. It was the cold that thus affected Dom Nicolas, and not any excess of moral sensibility.

"Come now," said Villon — "about this ballade.

How does it run so far?" And beating time with his hand, he read it aloud to Tabary.

They were interrupted at the fourth rhyme by a brief and fatal movement among the gamesters.

The round was completed, and Thevenin was just opening his mouth to claim another victory, when Montigny leaped up, swift as an adder, and stabbed him to the heart.

The blow took effect before he had time to utter a cry, before he had time to move.

A tremor or two convulsed his frame; his hands opened and shut, his heels rattled on the floor; then his head rolled backward over one shoulder, with eyes wide open; and Thevenin Pensete's spirit had returned to Him who made it.

Every one sprang to his feet; but the business was over in two twos.

The four living fellows looked at each other in rather a ghastly fashion, the dead man contemplating a corner of the roof with a singular and ugly leer.

"My God!" said Tabary, and he began to pray in Latin.

Villon broke out into hysterical laughter.

He came a step forward and ducked a ridiculous bow at Thevenin, and laughed still louder.

Then he sat down suddenly, all of a heap, upon a stool, and continued laughing bitterly, as though he would shake himself to pieces.

Montigny recovered his composure first.

"Let's see what he has about him," he remarked; and he picked the dead man's pockets with a practised hand, and divided the money into four equal portions on the table.

"There's for you," he said.

The monk received his share with a deep sigh, and a single stealthy glance at the dead Thevenin, who was beginning to sink into himself and topple sideways off the chair.

"We're all in for it," cried Villon, swallowing his mirth.

"It's a hanging job for every man Jack of us that's here—not to speak of those who aren’t.

" He made a shocking gesture in the air with his raised right hand, and put out his tongue and threw his head on one side, so as to counterfeit the appearance of one who has been hanged.

Then he pocketed his share of the spoil, and executed a shuffle with his feet as if to restore the circulation.

Tabary was the last to help himself; he made a dash at the money, and retired to the other end of the apartment.

Montigny stuck Thevenin upright in the chair, and drew out the dagger, which was followed by a jet of blood.

"You fellows had better be moving," he said, as he wiped the blade on his victim's doublet.

"I think we had," returned Villon, with a gulp.

" Damn his fat head!" he broke out.

"It sticks in my throat like phlegm. What right has a man to have red hair when he is dead? ».

And he fell all of a heap again upon the stool, and fairly covered his face with his hands.

Montigny and Dom Nicolas laughed aloud, even Tabary feebly chiming in.
"Cry-baby!" said the monk.

"I always said he was a woman," added Montigny, with a sneer.

"Sit up, can't you?" he went on, giving another shake to the murdered body.

"Tread out that fire, Nick! ».

But Nick was better employed; he was quietly taking Villon's purse, as the poet sat, limp and trembling, on the stool where he had been making a ballade not three minutes before.

Montigny and Tabary dumbly demanded a share of the booty, which the monk silently promised as he passed the little bag into the bosom of his gown.

In many ways an artistic nature unfits a man for practical existence.

No sooner had the theft been accomplished than Villon shook himself, jumped to his feet, and began helping to scatter and extinguish the embers.

Meanwhile Montigny opened the door and cautiously peered into the street.

The coast was clear; there was no meddlesome patrol in sight.

Still it was judged wiser to slip out severally; and as Villon was himself in a hurry to escape from the neighborhood of the dead Thevenin, and the rest were in a still greater hurry to get rid of him before he should discover the loss of his money, he was the first by general consent to issue forth into the street.

The wind had triumphed and swept all the clouds from heaven.

Only a few vapours, as thin as moonlight, fleeted rapidly across the stars.

It was bitter cold; and, by a common optical effect, things seemed almost more definite than in the broadest daylight.

The sleeping city was absolutely still; a company of white hoods, a field full of little alps, below the twinkling stars.

Villon cursed his fortune. Would it were still snowing! Now, wherever he went, he left an indelible trail behind him on the glittering streets; wherever he went, he was still tethered to the house by the cemetery of St John; wherever he went, he must weave, with his own plodding feet, the rope that bound him to the crime and would bind him to the gallows.

The leer of the dead man came back to him with new significance. He snapped his fingers as if to pluck up his own spirits, and, choosing a street at random, stepped boldly forward in the snow.