Notre-Dame de Paris

By Victor Hugo ; Alban Krailsheimer | Go to book overview

III
IMMANIS PECORIS CUSTOS IMMANIOR IPSE
[OF A MONSTROUS FLOCK A STILL MORE
MONSTROUS KEEPER]

Now, in 1482, Quasimodo had grown up. Several years before he had become bell-ringer of Notre-Dame, thanks to his adoptive father Claude Frollo, who himself had become archdeacon of Josas, thanks to his suzerain, Messire Louis de Beaumont, who had become Bishop of Paris in 1472, on the death of Guillaume Chartier, thanks to his patron Olivier le Daim, barber of Louis XI, King by the grace of God.

So Quasimodo was in charge of the peal at Notre-Dame. With time an indefinable close bond had been formed uniting the bell-ringer and the church. Cut off for ever from the world by the double fatality of his unknown birth and his natural deformity, imprisoned since infancy within this double circle from which there was no escape, the poor unfortunate had become accustomed to seeing nothing of the world beyond the religious walls which had received him into their shadow. Notre-Dame had been successively, as he grew and developed, his egg, his nest, his home, his country, his universe.

And assuredly there was some sort of mysterious preexistent harmony between that creature and the building. When, while still only small, he dragged himself tortuously and jerkily beneath the gloom of its vaults he seemed with his human face and animal's limbs to be the native reptile of the damp and sombre paving over which the shadows of the Romanesque capitals cast so many strange shapes.

Later, the first time he clung automatically to the rope in the towers, hung on it, and set the bell swinging, the effect it produced on Claude, his adoptive father, was of a child whose tongue is loosened and who begins to talk.

Thus it was that little by little, always developing in tune with the cathedral, living, sleeping there, almost never

-163-

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