It was in the evening

He had just retired, after the office, to his canon’s cell in the cloister of Notre-Dame.This cell, with the exception, possibly, of some glass phials, relegated to a corner, and filled with a decidedly equivocal powder, which strongly resembled the alchemist’s “powder of projection,” presented nothing strange or mysterious.There were, indeed, here and there, some inscriptions on the walls, but they were pure sentences of learning and piety, extracted from good authors.The archdeacon had just seated himself, by the light of a three-jetted copper lamp, before a vast coffer crammed with manuscripts.He had rested his elbow upon the open volume of _Honorius d’Autun_, ~De predestinatione et libero arbitrio~, and he was turning over, in deep meditation, the leaves of a printed folio which he had just brought, the sole product of the press which his cell contained.In the midst of his revery there came a knock at his door.”Who’s there?” cried the learned man, in the gracious tone of a famished dog, disturbed over his bone bioderma matricium.

A voice without replied, “Your friend, Jacques Coictier.” He went to open the door.

It was, in fact, the king’s physician; a person about fifty years of age, whose harsh physiognomy was modified only by a crafty eye.Another man accompanied him.Both wore long slate-colored robes, furred with minever, girded and closed, with caps of the same stuff and hue.Their hands were concealed by their sleeves, their feet by their robes, their eyes by their caps Espresso Coffee.

“God help me, messieurs!” said the archdeacon, showing them in; “I was not expecting distinguished visitors at such an hour.” And while speaking in this courteous fashion he cast an uneasy and scrutinizing glance from the physician to his companion.

“‘Tis never too late to come and pay a visit to so considerable a learned man as Dom Claude Frollo de Tirechappe,” replied Doctor Coictier, whose Franche-Comté accent made all his phrases drag along with the majesty of a train-robe.

There then ensued between the physician and the archdeacon one of those congratulatory prologues which, in accordance with custom, at that epoch preceded all conversations between learned men, and which did not prevent them from detesting each other in the most cordial manner in the world. However, it is the same nowadays; every wise man’s mouth complimenting another wise man is a vase of honeyed gall Espresso Machine.

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