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The Exiles - Honore de Balzac

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The Exiles

by Honore de Balzac

Translated by Clara Bell and James Waring


In the year 1308 few houses were yet standing on the Island formed by
the alluvium and sand deposited by the Seine above the Cite, behind
the Church of Notre-Dame. The first man who was so bold as to build on
this strand, then liable to frequent floods, was a constable of the
watch of the City of Paris, who had been able to do some service to
their Reverences the Chapter of the Cathedral; and in return the
Bishop leased him twenty-five perches of land, with exemptions from
all feudal dues or taxes on the buildings he might erect.

Seven years before the beginning of this narrative, Joseph Tirechair,
one of the sternest of Paris constables, as his name (Tear Flesh)
would indicate, had, thanks to his share of the fines collected by him
for delinquencies committed within the precincts of the Cite, had been
able to build a house on the bank of the Seine just at the end of the
Rue du Port-Saint-Landry. To protect the merchandise landed on the
strand, the municipality had constructed a sort of break-water of
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