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Notre-Dame De Paris by Victor Hugo
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contained in them, struck the author deeply.

He questioned himself; he sought to divine who could have
been that soul in torment which had not been willing to quit
this world without leaving this stigma of crime or unhappiness
upon the brow of the ancient church.

Afterwards, the wall was whitewashed or scraped down, I
know not which, and the inscription disappeared. For it is
thus that people have been in the habit of proceeding with
the marvellous churches of the Middle Ages for the last two
hundred years. Mutilations come to them from every quarter,
from within as well as from without. The priest whitewashes
them, the archdeacon scrapes them down; then the
populace arrives and demolishes them.

Thus, with the exception of the fragile memory which the
author of this book here consecrates to it, there remains
to-day nothing whatever of the mysterious word engraved
within the gloomy tower of Notre-Dame,--nothing of the
destiny which it so sadly summed up. The man who wrote
that word upon the wall disappeared from the midst of the
generations of man many centuries ago; the word, in its turn,
has been effaced from the wall of the church; the church
will, perhaps, itself soon disappear from the face of the
earth.

It is upon this word that this book is founded.

March, 1831.