The Gypsy


She was not tall, but her slender and elastic figure made her appear so. Her skin was brown, but one guessed that by day it would have the warm golden tint of the Andalusian and Roman women. Her small foot too, so perfectly at ease in its narrow, graceful shoe, was quite Andalusian. She was dancing, pirouetting, whirling on an old Persian carpet spread carelessly on the ground, and each time her radiant face passed before you, you caught the flash of her great dark eyes.

The crowd stood round her open-mouthed, every eye fixed upon her, and in truth, as she danced thus to the drumming of a tambourine held high above her head by her round and delicate arms, slender, fragile, airy as a wasp, with her gold-laced bodice closely moulded to her form, her bare shoulders, her gaily striped skirt swelling out round her, affording glimpses of her exquisitely shaped limbs, the dusky masses of her hair, her gleaming eyes, she seemed a creature of some other world.

“In very truth,” thought Grainier, “it is a salamander—a nymph—’tis a goddess—a bacchante of Mount Mænalus!”

At this moment a tress of the “salamander’s” hair became uncoiled, and a piece of brass attached to it fell to the ground.

“Why, no,” said he, “ ’tis a gipsy!” and all illusion vanished.
Victor Hugo, Notre Dame de Paris (The Hunchback of Notre-Dame)

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