Goliath, not aware of the reports circulated in the neighborhood, did not at first understand of what he was accused. The men raised their voices as they called on him to answer the charge; but he, trusting to his strength, shrugged his shoulders in disdain, and roughly demanded the change, which the pale and frightened hostess no longer thought of giving him.
“Rascal!” cried one of the men, with so much violence that several of the passers-by stopped to listen; “you shall have your change when you tell us what you threw in the pot!”
“Ha! did he throw anything into the wine-pot?” said one of the passers by.
“It is, perhaps, a poisoner,” said another.
“He ought to be taken up,” added a third.
“Yes, yes,” cried those in the house—honest people perhaps, but under the influence of the general panic; “he must be taken up, for he has been throwing poison into the wine-pots.”
The words “He is a poisoner” soon spread through the group, which, at first composed of three or four persons, increased every instant around the door of the wine-shop. A dull, menacing clamor began to rise from the crowd; the first accuser, seeing his fears thus shared and almost justified, thought he was acting like a good and courageous citizen in taking Goliath by the collar, and saying to him: “Come and explain yourself at the guard-house, villain!”
The giant, already provoked at insults of which he did not perceive the real meaning, was exasperated at this sudden attack; yielding to his natural brutality, he knocked his adversary down upon the counter, and began to hammer him with his fists. During this collision, several bottles and two or three panes of glass were broken with much noise, whilst the woman of the house, more and more frightened, cried out with all her might; “Help! a poisoner! Help! murder!”
At the sound of the breaking windows and these cries of distress, the passers-by, of whom the greater number believed in the stories about the poisoners, rushed into the shop to aid in securing Goliath. But the latter, thanks to his herculean strength, after struggling for some moments with seven or eight persons, knocked down two of his most furious assailants, disengaged himself from the others, drew near the counter, and, taking a vigorous spring, rushed head-foremost, like a bull about to butt, upon the crowd that blocked up the door; then, forcing a passage, by the help of his enormous shoulders and athletic arms, he made his way into the street, and ran with all speed in the direction of the square of Notre-Dame, his garments torn, his head bare, and his countenance pale and full of rage. Immediately, a number of persons from amongst the crowd started in pursuit of Goliath, and a hundred voices exclaimed: “Stop—stop the poisoner!”