The King of Thunes ran boldly to the formidable beam, and placed his foot upon it: "Here is one!" he exclaimed; "'tis the canons who send it to you." And, making a mocking salute in the direction of the church, "Thanks, canons!"
This piece of bravado produced its effects,--the spell of the beam was broken.
At the shock of the beam, the half metallic door sounded like an immense drum; it was not burst in, but the whole cathedral trembled, and the deepest cavities of the edifice were heard to echo.
The long beam continued to belabor the door, at regular intervals, like the clapper of a bell, the stones to rain down, the door to groan.
At last it reached the ground, the horrible cry arose, and the black beam, as it rebounded from the pavement, resembled a serpent leaping.
Quasimodo beheld the outcasts scatter at the fall of the beam, like ashes at the breath of a child.
All at once, at the moment when they were grouping themselves round the ram for a last effort, each one holding his breath and stiffening his muscles in order to communicate all his force to the decisive blow, a howl more frightful still than that which had burst forth and expired beneath the beam, rose among them.
They fled pell-mell, hurling the beam upon the bodies, the boldest as well as the most timid, and the parvis was cleared a second time.
There were piles of rough blocks of stone, sheets of lead in rolls, bundles of laths, heavy beams already notched with the saw, heaps of plaster.
She falls stern first, our beam upon her; slides like a lost soul down that pitiless ladder of light, and the Atlantic takes her.
She warns us to look out for the back-wash of the bad vortex in which (her beam shows it) she is even now reeling.
Bristol and Cardiff Double Lights (those statelily inclined beams over Severnmouth) are dead ahead of us; for we keep the Southern Winter Route.