Night was almost come, as the mutilated body of Goliath was thrown into the river. The oscillations of the mob had carried into the street, which runs along the left side of the cathedral, the group into whose power Father d’Aigrigny had fallen. Having succeeded in freeing himself from the grasp of the quarryman, but still closely pressed by the multitude that surrounded him, crying, “Death to the poisoner!” he retreated step by step, trying to parry the blows that were dealt him. By presence of mind, address, and courage, recovering at that critical moment his old military energy, he had hitherto been able to resist and to remain firm on his feet—knowing, by the example of Goliath, that to fall was to die. Though he had little hope of being heard to any purpose, the abbe continued to call for help with all his might. Disputing the ground inch by inch, he manoeuvred so as to draw near one of the lateral walls of the church, and at length succeeded in ensconcing himself in a corner formed by the projection of a buttress, and close by a little door.
This position was rather favorable. Leaning with his back against the wall, Father d’Aigrigny was sheltered from the attacks of a portion of his assailants. But the quarryman, wishing to deprive him of this last chance of safety, rushed upon him, with the intention of dragging him out into the circle where he would have been trampled under foot. The fear of death gave Father d’Aigrigny extraordinary strength, and he was able once more to repulse the quarryman, and remain entrenched in the corner where he had taken refuge. The resistance of the victim redoubled the rage of the assailants. Cries of murderous import resounded with new violence. The quarryman again rushed upon Father d’Aigrigny, saying, “Follow me, friends! this lasts too long. Let us make an end of it.”
Father d’Aigrigny saw that he was lost. His strength was exhausted, and he felt himself sinking; his legs trembled under him, and a cloud obscured his sight; the howling of the furious mob began to sound dull upon his ear. The effects of violent contusions, received during the struggle, both on the head and chest, were now very perceptible. Two or three times, a mixture of blood and foam rose to the lips of the abbe; his position was a desperate one.
“To be slaughtered by these brutes, after escaping death so often in war!” Such was the thought of Father d’Aigrigny, as the quarryman rushed upon him.
Suddenly, at the very moment when the abbe, yielding to the instinct of self-preservation, uttered one last call for help, in a heart-piercing voice, the door against which he leaned opened behind him, and a firm hand caught hold of him, and pulled him into the church. Thanks to this movement, performed with the rapidity of lightning, the quarryman, thrown forward in his attempt to seize Father d’Aigrigny, could not check his progress, and found himself just opposite to the person who had come, as it were, to take the place of the victim.